...Bookfanatic

 

Happiness is a cup of coffee and a really good book.

Amy Lane does cute and fluffy...

The Virgin Manny (Dreamspun Desires Book 25) - Amy Lane

The 'Virgin Manny' is #25 in Dreamspinner's 'Dreamspun Desires' series and #1 in Amy Lane's 'The Mannies' series and in general this was just a cute, fluffy story about falling in love when you least expect it. But I have to admit I did have one issue that took me the better part of the story to get past and that was...the dreaded age difference. It's not even the fact that it's 10 years. It's the fact that Tino is 22 and Channing is 32 and in the scheme of age differences this is one of my least favorite age gaps because people tend to beat such different points in their lives during this time and while this initially niggles at me a little, as the story progressed my discomfort with this eased and finally just didn't seem to matter.

 

Now about that housekeeper...I don't even know where to begin with her. She gave me rage people total rage. I couldn't stand her, she was a horrible, horrible person. I never fully understood her feelings towards anyone. She was blatantly rude and disrespectful towards everyone in this story and I'm pretty sure that by the second time she opened her mouth I wanted to her kicked to the curb. Seriously I think I did a happy dance when Channing finally got rid of her.

 

I really liked Channing and Tino their attraction to each other was intense but it was also tempered by their mutual concern for Sammy. Sammy is Channing's nephew and following the death of Channing's sister Channing is trying to rearrange is life so that he can become the guardian that Sammy needs to raise him.

 

Sammy is also my one point of contention between the e-book and the audiobook. I get that children's voices are hard to do. I really do and while I must admit Sammy didn't annoy me as much as some of the other children that I've encountered in stories. He did annoy me and that really left me feeling a bit disconcerted because for me Sammy should have been a grief stricken little boy who was acting out due to the loss of his mother and yet, what I felt like I was getting was an obnoxious little sh!t who was use to getting his way and just needed a good old fashioned spanking...let me just tell you if you think this didn't cause me a little discomfort when I realized that instead of wanting to hug him and feed him milk and cookies, I wanted to give him a spanking, send him to his room...you'd be wrong.

 

Simply put I wanted to feel Sammy's grief and pain in his voice and instead it was just a whiny annoying child...sorry but while better than some this kid still just didn't work for me. Maybe I should just give up on audiobooks with children in them because other than that one little thing I very much enjoyed John Solo's narration of 'The Virgin Manny'. So while this probably would have otherwise been a 4.5 star read for me, I'm taking a 1/2 star back because...annoying whiny kids make me cranky and calling it a day at 4 slightly cranky stars.

 

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An Audiobook of 'The Virgin Manny was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Well this was a pleasant little surprise...

Sound Proof - C.A. Blocke

Chris is dumped by his partner of 6 years and let me just say...good thing. I was not a fan of her from the word go. Vanessa basically dumps him when they're out on a date so yes, out in public and of course it's all his fault. Sorry no, sweetie it takes two. I'm not saying he doesn't have a role in this but at least he's not the one who ends the relationship and announces their engagement to someone else on Facebook the same day.

 

That's cold and to add insult to injury she ends the relationship without coming clean about the fact that not only is she getting engaged that day but she's been cheating on him for at least a year, but it's Chris's fault? WTF? I think not. Ok that's all the time we're dedicating to Vanessa, I'm over and done with her. I want to discuss the important part of the story...the part where Chris moves on.

 

Now in case you haven't figured it out yet, Chris is bisexual and I wouldn't say he's in denial, but he's not totally comfortable with his attraction to men either and right now he's trying to get over being blindsided by 'she who shall no longer be named'. Enter Thomas, Chris's best friend who is gay, a bit older than Chris, slightly overweight and truly the kind of friend most of us hope for because while Thomas is in love with Chris, he's never acted on his feelings because Chris was in a relationship and right now he just wants to help him get back on his feel and move forward with his life. He doesn't want to take advantage of his friend while he's weak, he doesn't want to be Chris's rebound.

 

I loved how hard Thomas worked to just be Chris's friend, to not take advantage of him when he was vulnerable. Add to this that Thomas is pretty insecure about his looks not over the top, ridiculous insecure but realistically, I can believe this insecure. 

 

Watching them go from friends to lovers as they both deal with their insecurities and just the awkward moments of a changing relationship as each person tries to get comfortable with the changes and what they mean. I liked that while Chris may not be fully out of the closet about his bisexuality, he wasn't so deeply entrenched in it that he refused to explore how he felt about Thomas nor did he try to deny that things were changing between them.

 

For a short story containing only about 50 pages I was impressed with the detail and the amount of emotion it contained.  The story started with the end of Vanessa and Chris's relationship and this was okay because I so did not need more of her, but I would have liked a bit more Chris and Thomas at the end after they were well and truly a couple. That would have made me a very happy girl.

 

I'm looking forward to seeing future stories from this author and who knows maybe somewhere in there I'll get to find out a bit more about this pair as well. I don't think I can call the ending a HEA but it's definitely a strong HFN with a lot of promise for that HEA.

 

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An ARC of 'Sound Proof' was graciously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

What do you get when you take...

Imago - N.R. Walker

Butteflies, a border collie, an office manager named Karen and two of the cutest, dorkiest, sexiest men known to fiction...well it's obvious, you get N.R. Walker writing IMAGO, one of the sweetest books I've read in a long time.

 

Oh I really, really loved this one. I started smiling somewhere around page 1 and I'm still feeling a little flutter in my heart.

 

First off there's zero angst folks, so if you like angst free just stop here you've found it. This is a story about two men and one of them, Lawson Gale just happens to be a freakin' genius who likes to wear bowties and study butterflies while the other one, Jack Brighton is a tall, muscular, cool drink of water who works as a Parks and Wildlife officer, lives with a Border Collie named Rosemary and finds bowties to be a turn on. 

 

These men meet on a flight from Australia to Tasmania where Lawson is heading to search for a rare breed of butterfly and Jack is returning home from a conference. 

 

IMAGO is the story of how Lawson and Jack meet and their courtship and yes this is a sweet old fashioned courtship complete with dates and flowers and a bit of adventure thrown in. It's levels of sweet, dorky, adorableness are off the charts and will melt your heart. There really are no words to explain how much I enjoyed this story except maybe...'when can I get the next book?'

 

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An ARC of 'IMAGO' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Songs for everyone...

Bitter Legacy - Dal Maclean

I'm going to try not to be too spoilerish here but be warned I'm not using spoiler tags on this one so please proceed with caution if you haven't read this book and plan too.

 

I'm not really sure what to say here because if you go over to GR you'll see a whole lot of reviews for this book a lot are good like "I seriously loved this book" good and admittedly I'm in that group. So I'll start with what I know...
 
A huge, ginormous thank you to Wonder Woman & Supergirl (Josy & Christelle) my BR Besties. This book was good, really, really freakin' good but as always reading it with you two made it amazingly better.  Sometimes when we do a buddy read between the three of us we find songs...songs that work for a certain scene or a character and this time we found songs for Ben, Jamie and Steggie (the neighbor and while not an MC a very strong secondary character) so if you want something to listen to while your reading here are the links...

 

Ben's song... Leave Out All the Rest by Linkin Park

Jamie's song...Hanging by a Moment by Lifehouse

and Steggie's song...What I've Done by Linkin Park

 

Now about the book. While 'Bitter Legacy' isn't a straight up romance it's not lacking in that department either. It's really more of a mystery/romance so at times the romance takes a bit of a back seat but there were also times that the mystery took a bit of a backseat as well. Maybe not everyone's cuppa' but I liked...really, really liked it. 

 

Let's start off talking about the elephant in the room or in this case the elephant in the story...that's right let's talk about the 'cheating'. I know it's a real stumbling block for some and a deal breaker for others and I'm not trying to change anyone's ideals or concepts here. I'd say it's more a case of explaining why at the end of it all even though I don't condone Ben's behavior for me technically I can't say he cheated either and I think that this is something that maybe needs to be determined by each person's concept of what truly constitutes 'cheating' in a relationship. So here goes...

 

Ben and Jamie (Posh Boy, I love that nickname) hook-up, they have some time together but Ben made no promises, in fact he's pretty clear about his 'promiscuity'. Jamie made assumptions and we all know about the word ASS-U-ME, right? It makes an ASS-out of-You-and-ME. Also Jamie never in fact verbally clarified the parameters of their relationship he just hoped and assumed. Honestly when it came to Ben, Jamie wasn't always thinking clearly. However, having said this I do think Ben was aware of the fact that Jamie was more emotionally invested in the relationship than Ben seemed to be and Ben could have handled things better with more consideration to Jamie's feelings and having said all that sometimes things aren't always what they seem and that's as spoilerish as I'm getting on this issue.

 

While there may have been parts where the story seemed to progress at a slower pace those times also gave us insight into the characters and their relationships. Ben and Jamie come from such different backgrounds and their lives at present are different in so many ways.

 

Jamie's a police officer on the fast track for promotion. His job is his focus and basically his life. He's practical, analytical and his social life is non-existent. Ben is a photographer he works in the world of advertising so his world is filled with models and 'beautiful people' of which he's one and his social life is prolific.

 

There were so many secondary characters in this story who added to everything that I'd practically need to write another book to be able to cover it and while Jamie and Ben were obviously very central to the story it was the addition of people like Jamie's father, Steggie who was Ben's downstairs neighbor, Jamie's boss...Herself (or Detective Chief Inspector Ingham), Jamie's co-workers Scrivenor & Kaur and a veritable entourage of others. Each with their own role to play and each adding something to the overall story whether it was a little or a lot they all added to the depth of the story and the events that played out on these pages.

 

I was immediately drawn into this story from the very beginning. There was so much about this story that wasn't simple, easy or straight forward and the relationships were very much entangled with the case that Jamie was working that in order to truly understand the personal aspects you had to solve the mystery. This was a book well worth the time needed to read it and while I felt that I knew much of what was happening it wasn't until the end that everything totally fell into place.

 

Dal MacLean is a new author and based on this book...this is an author that I look forward to seeing more of.

Have you ever wondered about the one that got away or...

Dating in Retrospect (States of Love Book 1) - Lila Leigh Hunter

Have you ever wondered about the one that got away or...

                                   maybe it was the one that you let slip away...

 

It's been 15 years since Clint last say Aaron and in all that time he's never forgotten the man that he'd planned to spend the rest of his life with.

 

Clint went off to California and Aaron was suppose to join him there. They were going to start their life together...follow their dreams and make their fortunes and all their dreams come true. But as can sometimes be the case with distance dreams fade and become little more than memories. Aaron never joined Clint in California...it was just never the right time and there was always something keeping him in Iowa. Eventually Clint decided that he needed to let Aaron go so they could both move on but neither time nor distance has changed how Clint feels about Aaron and after 15 years he's ready to go back and hopefully reclaim the love he gave up.

 

I liked that Clint was determined to win Aaron back and that he wasn't wishy, washy about it. Their relationship wasn't a one night stand or a weekend fling. They were together throughout most of college and for him to show up after 15 years of basically silence between the two of them was a pretty ballsy move and to do anything less than believe that Aaron still love  him, as much as he loved Aaron just wouldn't have been very convincing, but he was also smart enough to know that he could only push so far and his plan of them dating over the course of a year to give them a chance to become re-acquainted and re-build their relationship just seemed perfect because it also gave Clint the time to show Aaron that he was serious and committed to making it work and last between them.

 

I enjoyed the dates that Clint arranged for these two they had meaning and relevance to their shared background. I also appreciated that while Aaron didn't give in right away he also didn't play games and keep Clint dancing on pins and needles when he knew that in his heart he still loved him. He was cautious and rightfully so but he was also willing to take that second chance.

 

I also very much appreciated that both of these men were un-apologetically bisexual, yes they were both male and in a relationship but there was no instances of 'I'm gay because I'm with a guy'. They were two bisexual men who happened to fall in love with a guy. 

 

Unfortunately I didn't feel the over the top passion that I wanted to with Clint and Aaron. I really wanted to and when you have someone making the grand gestures that Clint was making I think the emotion between the couple needs to be reflective of that so for that reason this was a sweet story with little to no angst and while I really liked it. I wasn't over the moon blown away with it. But still a sweet, little second-chance story that gave me some laughs and allowed me to relax for a while as Aaron and Clint fell in love all over again, how can that be bad?

 

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An ARC of 'Dating in Retrospect' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

Warning train wreck ahead...

Jumping In - Cardeno C.

But on the upside I've learned something about my self. I really, really hate writing reviews for books that I didn't enjoy. I know...I'm not alone. I've been procrastinating and putting this one off. Seriously did you know I have a million and one things that I need to do before I can get this done...ok, not really but I wish I did.

 

So here goes short version. In theory this sounded good, cute a nice feel good story about love at first sight...insta-love, whatever term you want to use. I was ready to settle in for a cute, feel good read that would leave me sighing happily and smiling. Sadly that did not happen.

 

In execution what I got was a story about a small town deputy who had the day from hell, crashed his ex's engagement party because even though he was sent an invitation he wasn't actually suppose to go, got drunk and honestly I don't blame him. If I'd had his day I'd have been heading for the bar as well. Then he ended up being taken home but the deputy mayor whose name was Hawk Black and let me just say we're not having this conversation because I've deleted it twice. Anyways, so Hawk Black who is the deputy mayor and laid eyes on Clint once then proceeded to close his business as a political and managerial consultant in DC and move across the country from Washington DC to New Mexico based on seeing a guy once to pursue him..."HELLO!!! Can we say STALKER!" and this is where the story went from cute and fluffy to a big old clusterf*ck of a train wreck for me. 

 

I needed not to know this...If dear, sweet Hawk Black had moved to New Mexico for the job and discovered that Clint floated his boat, I would have been all over this. I know it's just one  teeny, tiny, little detail but for me it's a biggy. It's the detail that took this from aaaahhhh!!!! to eeeewwww!!!! Because not only did he move half-way across the country to pursue Clint but he basically continued to stalk him and then picked him up when he was drunk under the pretense of taking him home but instead took Clint to his place to 'sober him up' so they could have copious amounts of sex...what-the-hell? Where's the relationship?

 

Ok so now that I'm over my little hissy fit about this story. I just want add that while this story obviously didn't work for me, I know it worked for a lot of other people so at the end of it all am I saying this is a bad story...no, it's simply not the story for me. I've read a few other stories by this author and I've loved them and I plan on reading more. This for me is a case of we all got the same words and just didn't read the same story.

 

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An ARC of "Jumping In" was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Uuuuummmm...excuse me, but where do I sign up for book #2?

Warlock in Training - T.J. Nichols

Because I want it...like yesterday...now would be good but yesterday would have been even better because then I could reading it now.

 

I admit this book probably isn't for everyone but when I saw the blurb I was curious and fairly certain it would work for me...well, that was an understatement. I loved it. It's magic and wizards, warlocks, mages, demons and Oh hell yeah! There's a dragon or two just for good measure. 

 

Let's start with Angus, he's definitely the center of the story. He's a warlock in training and in his world any warlock worth his salt has a demon and Angus manages to get the demon to end all demons because his demon's a mage.

 

Have I confused you yet? Well let me clarify things a little. Angus is human and he lives on the humanside and he's training to be a warlock, not that he wants to be but daddy thinks he should or at least he does until he doesn't but we're not going to go there right now.

 

For the purposes of this story a warlock is someone who is trained in the use of magic and draws their magic from his demon who he calls forth from the other side of the void, which is essentially the demonside of this world. Now a wizard is someone who uses magic but it's magic that they gather and they don't use a demon. Which is nice considering that no one asked the demon if he wanted to do this they just use them until they've used up their power and a mage is a demon who can use magic, so basically a combination of a wizard and a warlock in that they're trained but they draw their power from their surroundings more like a wizard and that's all the world building we're going to cover for now. 

 

So we have Angus a warlock in training who just happens to call forth Saka who is a mage and not in training and powerful. Now I'm going to talk about why I want the next book so freakin' bad.

 

First off while there is a romance in this book it's definitely a secondary part of the story and let's just say it's unusual...there's even a bit of a romantic triangle...potentially and bonus points boys and girls there's a orgy that's right a full on demon ritual orgy and it does involve both boy and girl bits, however, I really didn't find the details to be excessively graphic or offensive and lastly there's also a definite cliffhanger to the ending, so if any of this is an issue for you, than this might not be the book for you. 

 

T. J. Nichols is a new to me author who basically blew me out of the water with this book. I loved the world building and the character development, especially with Angus. He showed a lot of growth from start to finish and given everything he went through I probably would have tanked things if it had been any different.  

 

Saka was more than a little interesting and I'm really not sure how to explain him because...hello? demon here and a really interesting one not to mention pretty hot if we take Angus's word on things and did I mention he's got a tail...I'mma just sayin'.

 

Saka is a mage and a powerful one even by his people's standards. He's also a teacher, he wants to restore the magical balance to both humanside and demonside but what he also wants is to do it in a way that is beneficial to both races and without war between the two sides, however, time's running out for everyone because the humanside of this world is getting colder and demonside is getting hotter, so while a long term fix is the ultimate objective neither world can ignore the need for stop gap measures as well.

 

My only little niggle with this book was that the pacing occasionally felt a little slow but at the same time there's not anything in this story that I'm willing to give up...so little niggle from my perspective.

 

At the end of it all if fantasy, with some awesome world building, a side of romance and a strong plot is your thing you need to check this one out. Do I wish I had the next book...of course, if it's anywhere near as good as this one it's going to be one hella' good read. Am I sorry I read this one only to be left sitting on the edge of a cliff...nope, not even a little bit...the view from here is very promising.

 

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An ARC of 'Warlock in Training' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Well this is going to be a tough one...

Hard Wired - Megan Erickson, Santino Hassell

and not because I didn't love the book because holy hell, that's an understatement if ever there was one. Nope, it's more because there are already some really, really excellent reviews out there and I'm trying to figure out what I can say that hasn't already been said.

 

This series is amazing from the first book to this one, I've been more than a little impressed with every story. But I found 'Hardwired' felt just that tiny bit more real for me. While the Cyberlove series is fiction it's also very reflective of the world today. We live in an age of technology. An age that has both simplified and complicated out lives. I've read this series not from the perspective of someone who is part of the generation born to this new age, but as one of the parents of this generation. I've watched my children make those connections that are sometimes half a world away and I've silently sat back and prayed that the person my kid is putting so much faith and trust in has been who and what they said they were.  What I've come to realize with each of these books is that in some ways the more things change, the more they stay the same.

 

In each story we are given two people looking for a connection, someone who gets them like no one else ever has. Someone they can trust with the most precious thing they have...their heart. But nowhere was this more evident than in 'Hardwired'. 

 

We were introduced to both Jesse  and Ian/Cherrycakes/Cherise in 'Strong Signal', Kai and Garrett's story and they showed up again in 'Fast Connection', Dominic and Luke's story, but 'Hardwired' is their story and we get to find out how and why Ian needed to become both 'Cherrycakes' and 'Cherise'. 

 

Neither of these young men have had an easy life but between the two of them Jesse's has in many ways been the better life. Jesse is introverted and often times fails to speak up for himself and what he wants. While Ian's life has been filled with abuse, betrayal and rejection. All leading to the creation of Cherise. Cherise is the persona that he shows the world. It's who he becomes in order to deal with the world and feel in control. It's a part of him...his strength. Cherrycakes is the part of him that's allowed to be happy and have fun.

 

For me, Ian was heartbreaking. I've known this young man...oh, the name was different and on occasion so was the gender. But the person...the why and how of who they are...is real, they're out there trying to survive and find their way. I've known Jesse as well. he's that young person who never sees what the rest of us do. He's insecure and sure that he's lacking when in fact he's truly amazing. 

 

This was by far the most angst filled story of the group and maybe that's why it worked so well for me. This was not a story that would have felt real without the angst because sometimes life is full of drama and angst...that's just how it is. It was also a story filled with so much potential for future stories...Jesse's cousin and best friend Beau, TrashyZane, Lyrix, who I have to admit was probably one of my least favorite characters in the bunch but if he can have a story that gives him a bit of redemption...sign me up, I'll read that baby because I'm all about the stories where authors make me love a character that I had firmly planted on my 'Your a douchebag' list. Mostly because I believe in second chances and I like to be reminded that they're for everyone and not just the people that we like.

 

"Hardwired" wasn't a Cinderella story with a hearts and flowers ending it was a 'sometimes life sucks but I'm not going to let it win' story with an 'I got my man and I plan on keeping him' ending and I really, really like those stories because sometime in real life that happens too.

 

Santino Hassell and Megan Erickson may be writing stories about fictitious people but they are doing it with a flare of realism that defies many of the stories out there today and sometimes I need stories that take me out of the real world and let me forget about what's happening for a while but sometimes I like a story that reminds me that things can get better if we just keep trying.

 

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An ARC of "Hardwired" was graciously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.

 

I'd almost forgotten...

David, Renewed - Diana Copland

How much I really, really enjoyed this story. Ironically it's been less than 6 months since I first read this book but when the chance to listen to the audiobook came up I was all over it because as soon as I saw the title it made me smile and that's always a sure sign that I loved the book for me. 

 

Once again I went back and took a look at my review after I'd finished listening to the audio version and I'm good with that review and once again it seems that it was another long, rambly one but there's really nothing that I would change about it so...if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Here's the link, if you want to check it out... David, Renewed

 

The only real difference this time around was that I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by Michael Pauley, who is another new to me narrator, but if future audiobooks prove to be as enjoyable for me as this one was it won't be the last time that I listen to this narrator.

 

I was totally into this one so much so that I was more than a little annoyed when real life intruded and I had to stop listening the first day. I loved Michael Pauley's interpretation of how these characters would sound when they spoke for example even though both David and Michael were not considered to be big, hunky macho dudes. Their voices were not what would be considered that of the make my ears bleed, over the top, squealing drama queens either and in general the voices just worked for me I was able to attache them to the physical representation that my mind had created and wasn't jarred out of the story with any 'what the hell? there's no way that person would sound like that' moments.

 

In fact I can happily say that it's looking like I might have found another narrator whose name will go on my list of 'narrators I really like'. As I've been doing this review I've been listening to samples of other audiobooks by this narrator and so far I'm liking what I'm hearing.

 

Originally I gave 'David, Renewed' 4 stars and other than the fact that this time around I did the audiobook not a lot has changed but I'm going to bump my rating up to 5 stars to reflect the fact that not only did I enjoy the story just as much this time but I also really enjoyed the audiobook and was definitely impressed with the Michael Pauley's narrating skills which enabled me to enjoy this story the second time every bit as much as I did the first...maybe even a tiny bit more. 

 

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An audiobook of "David, Renewed" was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If you love the books and you've read them....

The Visit: Fast Connection Bonus Scene - Megan Erickson, Santino Hassell

You need this.

 

'Fast Connection' was a fast, cute, sexy, fun gift from the authors to the fans of this series. We got a bit of Kai and Garrett as they prepare for visit from their friends Dominic and Luke. 

 

It's free and while it's only about 13 pages it's hella' good. So if you've read the first two book in this series you'll want to read this. Happy reading!

Do you know the difference between a twink, a twunk and a twank?

Don't Twunk With My Heart (Loving You Book 2) - Renae Kaye

You will after you read this book ;)

 

'Don't Twunk With My Heart' is the second book in Renae Kaye's 'Loving You' series and while I have to admit I did like 'Loving Jay' a bit more this one was a cute, fun story with little to no angst and drama, so it made for a fairly pleasant read.

 

Kee's been out of circulation for a while following a bad break-up with his ex but his friends have convinced him that it's time to get back out there and happily one of his friends is Jay from the first book in this series. It's on Kee's first foray back into the social scene with his friends that he encounters Tate.

 

Kee's attention isn't normally drawn to Tate's type, but for some reason that changes as they have a little bump 'n grind competition on the dance floor to see who will get the attention of the big, burly dude that both men seem to be drawn to and as fate would have it burly dude doesn't end up with either of them because both men are happy to keep the dance partner that they started with...each other.

 

From a chance encounter on the dance floor these two men progress to dating and it's a sweet relationship that unfolds. I very much enjoyed watching as their feelings for each other grew and their relationship developed with relatively normal obstacles.

 

While each man had their own issues to deal with and to share with the other as they became closer and their role in each other's lives increased. Kee's family is a bit of a challenge as are his residual fears from his break-up with 'Matt the rat' andTate deals with a demanding job in the fashion industry and the effects that it has on his image and his self esteem.  

 

They also dealt with things as a couple and there was communication. I loved how they compromised to make things work. Tate went to the football games because Kee wanted him too. Kee let Tate dress him up and basically use him for a model at events because it made Tate happy. Compromise...it's a thing and in a relationship it's a necessary thing. 

 

As well as enjoying the interaction between Kee and Tate, I liked getting to see them interact with their friends and family. It was often times both cute and humorous while adding some realistic depth to the relationship.

 

While the story gets 4 stars from me. The narration gets 3 so I'm settling on an overall rating of 3.5 for this one. Joel Leslie was a new to me narrator with this one and some of his voices just weren't working with my internal monologue so for me the audio book wasn't as enjoyable as it might have been and I have to admit this is a very subjective thing in my opinion. Another book and maybe I would have been over the moon with this narrator but facts are it was this book and the narrator's version of some of the characters just didn't mesh with what my brain was conjuring up.

 

My recommendation if you're looking for a cute low to zero angst story that makes you feel good and smile check this one out, if you're not sure about the audio version listen to the audio sample and decide for yourself if this is a narrator you'll enjoy. 

 

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An audiobook of 'Don't Twunk With My Heart' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

Sometimes there's just no explaining what went wrong...

The Black Sheep and The Rotten Apple - K.A. Merikan

Let me start by saying I'm totally a fan of K. A. Merikan this writing duo is amazing. In general they are one of my go to for stories that have a darker, edgier undertone to them. Their 'Guns 'n Boys' series is just so much book crack for me and this one sounded like it was a guaranteed win. Sure it was historical which isn't my favorite time frame but it's not a deal breaker by any means either and I mean...really, who doesn't like a sexy highwayman?

 

I know it wasn't too dark for my taste. Hell I loved ICoS (In the Company of Shadows), willingly sobbed my way through 'A Little Life', 'When All the World Sleeps', 'Into This River I Drown', Avril Ashton's 'Run This Town' series and on and on...so not too dark, in fact compared to some of those it was practically fluff and no that wasn't the problem either because I like fluff too (I won't bother with a list for that).  

 

I can't even fault the writing because I was impressed by the writing. The attention to detail was for me just right not so much that it bored me and definitely enough to keep my in the historical setting. So just right from my perspective.

 

I actually finished reading this one a couple of days ago and have been pondering things and trying to see if in hindsight it would become clear as to why I didn't love this book the way I had thought I would and so far I have to say "I got nothin'."

 

I think at the end of the day what it came down to for me is that just like we sometimes love a book and can't really explain why...we just know we do. The opposite can also happen we read a book it's good and we feel like we should really love it, we should have devoured it and been over the moon with the story, we aren't. Something just didn't fall into place...maybe the stars weren't in alignment. Who knows...I don't.

 

What I do know is I'm still a fan of K. A. Merikan. There is no chance that I won't be making grabby hands for the next 'Guns 'n Boys'...oh, wait I've already done that and I look forward to the day that I can dive into some of the other books that I have diligently hoarded on my TBR list waiting for the time when I can just curl up in a corner and fall into a dark, edgy marathon of Merikan goodness with their 'Sex 'n Mayhem' series or 'The Werewolves of Chernobyl' or maybe some 'Zombie Gentlemen' as a rule I don't do zombie books but I'm totally willing to make an exception with this author.

 

So this one was good just not great for me and I don't know why, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it, however, if you like historical and don't mind your stories a little on the darker side from time to time. You need to give this one a good look because it may just be the next read that you're looking for.

 

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An ARC of 'The Black Sheep and The Rotten Apple' was graciously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.

Well that was fun...

Where There's Smoke - Cari Z.

 

Once again I've gotten to enjoy a book that's sat on my TBR list for much longer than it should have thanks to the fun that is audio books.

 

Panopolis is an unusual city that seems to be filled with superheroes and super villains and a lot of ordinary normal people who tend to get caught in the cross-fire of their battles.  Edward Dinges just happens to be one of those ordinary, normal people and his life is about to become rather complicated and extra-ordinary when the bank he works at is robbed by one of those super villains.

 

Eddie and Raul, a.k.a. The Mad Bombardier meet when The Mad Bombardier robs the bank where Eddie works and to say the least their's is not an easy relationship. Along with the usual relationship challenges there's the whole issue of Raul being a super villain...but, in his defense he is a super villain with scruples...so there is that. Of course there's also the fact that Eddie's nosy neighbor is the grandmother to a superhero by the name of 'Freight Train' who just happens to like Eddie. Like I said relationship challenges these boys have them. While there is more than a romance story being told here, have no fear there is still a sweet and adorkable romance going on as well.

 

A good portion of the world-building for Panopolis is given to us through the broadcasting of a local radio announcer named 'Super Truther' who seems to be a bit of an enigma, himself. I know I'm probably going to date myself here (not because I remember this personally but my parents do and by default to a degree that dates me) anyways, this character made me think of the radio propaganda announcers used during WWII, Axis Sally and Tokyo Rose were probably the most well known names from that time, but it was small things like this that gave life to the setting of this story and helped to draw me into what was happening.

 

When I was a kid I loved reading comic books and with 4 brothers I was pretty much kept in an endless supply of them and on occasion I can still be found with one in my hand or more often than not going to the theater to catch the latest Marvel movie release or standing in the check-out line with the latest Marvel dvd/blueray release included in my purchases. My point being this one was smack dab in the middle of my wheelhouse. How I managed to keep from reading it until now is a bit of a mystery even to me.

 

Now about the audio portion of this review in a nutshell Nick J. Russo was the narrator and needless to say I was not disappointed in the slightest. In fact, I'm considering whether I want to go ahead and read the remaining two books in this series or wait for the audio books...it's a very tempting possibility and one that I'm going to have to give strong consideration.

 

If you're a fan of superheroes or more importantly you find yourself cheering for the the underdog (no I'm not talking about the cartoon here) I mean the guy who's not suppose to win, who the odds are stacked against...that's right the villain. Then you need to check this one out. It's short and fun and if you like it there's more where it came from. 

 

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An audiobook of 'Where There's Smoke' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

You've heard the expression one man's trash is another man's treasure, right?

Unshakeable Faith - Lisa Worrall

Well this is a case of one man's burden... 

Nash's father left him a company to run. Nash had other plans but he loved his father and so he pushed his dreams aside, closed his heart and became just another suit buying and selling other people's dreams. Fulfilling an obligation that becomes a heavier burden with each passing year. 

 

is another man's blessing...

Brody runs a bar that he inherited from his grandfather. He was suppose to sell it and use the money to finance his dream but he loved his grandpa too much and his life plan changed...feeling blessed to keep this part of his grandfather alive and thriving.

 

This book was for me totally, unapologetically a treat from start to finish. 'Unshakeable Faith' just worked for me. Sometimes I just want a good story to take me out of my head and entertains me and that's what this one did...of course that meant spending a bit of time in Brody's head...which, was ok. I liked Brody, he was gregarious and from the sounds of it one sexy as hell dude with really bad taste in clothes...but, I have great taste when it comes to clothes so I could really help him out there. Brody was also giving and loving and loyal to a fault. I mean seriously when he loved this dude was all in. So yeah, in a nutshell I liked Brody...no scrap that...I loved Brody.

 

Now moving on to Nash...he was a little harder to love...at times and not nearly as safe to be around. Seems someone wants Nash out of the way, if he could just remember things...like who he is? where he's from? what he does for a living? You know just all those things that help a person carry on with their life. He might be able to avoid getting himself dead.

 

Thankfully, Brody doesn't care that Nash is a man who can't remember his past because Brody sees a man who needs help and he's kind hearted enough to offer that help. But then if you ask Wyatt, he'll tell you this is Brody's strength and his biggest weakness. 

 

So just about the time Brody and Nash are driving the world crazy with how adorably cute and in love they are...guess what? Nash not only looses his memory...again, he disappears and when Brody finally catches up with him...it's not his Nash anymore. No this Nash is bitter and caustic and wants nothing to do with Brody, hell he has no clue who Brody is other than his bodyguard. 

 

"Unshakeable Faith" was one hella' fun story and I found myself laughing out loud more than once either at one of the perpetual internal monologues that these men were constantly having with themselves or one of the conversations they kept trying to have with each other that frequently ended with one or both of them less than happy with the other.

 

And now for the audio portion of this review.  Sean Lenhart was the narrator on this venture and I totally enjoyed his narration especially his interpretation of Nash. His slow easy drawl that definitely held a perpetual growl to it when Nash was angry, frustrated or both was awesome as was the snide tone that it developed when Nash as feeling sarcastic or condescending. 

 

I have to admit I had a great movie rolling in my head as I listened to this one. Truth be told I was thinking Hallmark could do this one up right...now if we could just get them to boldly go where they've dared not go before and do a movie with a non-hetero couple. I'd watch it. Even if it did mean no on screen sex. The story is definitely strong enough that it could still be a good thing...a few good kisses and we're golden.

 

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An audiobook of 'Unshakeable Faith' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Can a divorce lawyer and a wedding planner find love...

The Secrets in My Scowl - A.E. Via

This was another awesome buddy read with my beautiful besties Josy and Christelle. I really enjoyed this one, but I'm a sap for that story where the embittered, heartless soul gets blindsided by love...yeah, I'm a hopeless romantic at the end of the day.

 

Jacob's a divorce lawyer and he's no fan of love. Unfortunately his life's been filled with heartbreak and disappointments so he's made the decision to keep the world at arms length while standing behind a brick wall and he thinks that he's doing just fine with this until he gets a new business neighbor...a wedding planner...seriously? Could there be a better match...I think not. This is not just any wedding planner either this is Wylde, who has a sister named Star and a brother named Warrus...it's a hippie thing, ok? 

 

Wylde is...well...he's...Wylde. He's almost perfect...I mean seriously almost Mary Calmes...Jory perfect, so if this is something that bothers you...you've been warned, personally if it's done right I can totally get behind the idea. I did actually have one little issue with Wylde and that was this...

The biggest problem was Ken was bisexual. Wylde preferred to be with a gay man. Last thing he needed was his man to suddenly request a woman to join them in bed.

Seriously, Wylde. I expected better than this from you. Being committed to your relationship is not a gay, straight or bi issue, it's a personal issue...so for this I say shame on you.

 

Moving right along, as I was saying, Wylde is almost perfect...he's gorgeous, has a deep sexy voice that'll melt your insides (and let me just say I hope I get the chance to check this one out on audio) anyways, back to Wylde...as I was saying he's perfect and he wants someone to love but not just anyone. Nope, our Wylde is looking for Mr. Right, not Mr. Right-Now but one look at Jacob tells  him that in spite of his growly, scowly self Jacob may very well be that Mr. Right that he's looking for and Wylde just needs to hang in there and be patiently persistent.

 

Admittedly there were a couple of other things that niggled at my brain but whether it was my mood, the fact that this was a buddy read and so just a hella' lot of fun, or a little of both, they really didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the story. The first thing being that there was a stretch in the middle of the book that left me tinsy weensy bit bored and that was Jacob and Wylde's dating/getting to know you phase, it just seemed a little blasé. Fortunately right about the time I was feeling a little wft? about it the story started to pick up and I happily moved on.  My other little niggle was the whole issue around Jacob's mother's disappearance and why she left...sorry, nope I just couldn't buy that.  She disappeared from Jacob's life when he was a teenager and now we're 20+ years later and she reappears and the reason we're given was just a big old 'nope' for me, I just couldn't buy it. Fortunately the story didn't really dwell on it for too long and once again I happily moved on with the story.

 

So overall it was 4 stars for the book and once again a big thanks to Josy and Christelle for sharing this adventure in reading with me. It was awesome as always ladies and I'll see you on the 18th at my place when we start our next adventure.

 

By the way  I found a song for Wylde and Jocob...

One Call Away by Charlie Puth (It played while I was doing this review and my brain and heart said this is one belongs to them).

 

 

Definitely not your typical romance...

Hidden Gem - Lissa Kasey

I've been making grabby hands at this one for a while now. I bought the e-book back in...ok, never mind I bought the e-book ok. Then I was offered the opportunity to review the audio book so I jumped at it and am I ever happy I did that little thing.

 

This story is...awesome? Mind blowing? Fascinating? Ok, let's just say I thought it was pretty damned amazing.

 

Misaki “Aki” Itou is a psi, he's also a highly paid whore and he's in love with Shane McNaughton who happens to be a police officer and a survivor of the third world war. Only Shane didn't survive totally unscathed. His genes were mutated so now he's a shifter. People don't know about his 'kind' and he doesn't want anyone seeing the monster he guards so closely but Shane's in love with Aki and he wants him in his life all the time. 

 

In a nutshell there's a romance in this story it's good and in a lot of ways it's really, really sweet. I love these two but their romance is definitely not the main focus of this story. Although I never felt like it got thrown to the wayside, it was subtle and understated at times.

 

'Hidden Gem' is the name of the house where Aki works along with his best friend 'Candy' (but you have to wait until book 3 for Candy's story). Strange as it seems Aki is grateful to have the life he has. When he was found by Bart, the man who holds his contract and own's the Hidden Gem and Paris, the man who trained him to work for Bart and himself a former whore until he bought out his own contract, Aki was living on borrowed time and had no idea how he was going to survive.

 

To say that life as a whore is challenging for Aki is an understatement given that his psi power is that he sees other peoples memories and feels their emotions when he touches them and he's never been trained to manage his powers, but, while there are limits on what he can and will do Aki is beautiful and men want him. So where there's a want there's a way and as Paris promised he soon becomes one of Bart's top earning whores.

 

Given that fantasy/scifi/dystopian/post-apocolyptic/paranormal/shifter type stories while something that I'm cautious with have also been genres that have fairly consistently drawn me in, as well, it doesn't surprise that I enjoyed this one. What does surprise me is how much I enjoyed this story.

 

I loved the world building...it was fabulous, I loved so a many of the secondary characters Paris (his story is next), Candy, Bart, Shane's partner...Jackson Taylor (another MC for book 3). If books 2 and 3 hook me in as well as this one has...well, I'm a happy, happy girl.

 

So while the book was damned near perfect I have to admit I'm not quite as over the moon about the narration but having said that I was so enchanted with the story that the narrator really didn't seem to detract from it either. I honestly have to admit I may have to give this audiobook a second go round because I was so focused on the story that I'm not truly convinced that I gave Adam McLaughlin, the narrator in question a fair listen but since he definitely didn't spoil the story for me I'm going to give him 4 stars.

 

So that's 4 stars for the narrator, 5 stars for the story leaving us with a happy median of 4.5 stars and a happy me with two more stories awaiting my time. 

 

Was this a perfect story...probably not, but, it was a story that worked perfectly for me.

 

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An audiobook of 'Hidden Gem' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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