...Bookfanatic

 

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

First off let me just say...

Infamous - Jenny Holiday, Michael Fell

"THIS ONE TAKES PLACE IN CANADA!!!!!!!" and I didn't even realize this until I got listening to the story...yeah, I know it says 'Toronto' in the blurb but I admit it, I skimmed the blurb and listened to the audible sample and then said 'yes please'  I'm not even sure why because on of the MCs is a rock star...not my favorite. I have one series that I love with rock stars in it...just one...that's it and I read a lot so I think that speaks to how much I like rock stars...usually.

 

'Infamous' is the second book in Jenny Holiday's 'Famous' series and while I'm pretty sure that one of the MCs from book one is connected to Jess Jamison, I truly did not feel lost or like I was missing something at any time while I was listening to this story. 

 

When Jess boards the train...yes that's right, the train...hey, don't laugh those train tickets aren't cheap...anyways, Jess's goal is to get on the train and have a quiet ride home...well, it was until he spots the very handsome, young silver fox sitting alone and before his brain can censure his mouth he strikes up a conversation in which he discovers that his seat mate's name is Hunter Wyatt and he's a Pediatrician who works as a hospitalist (in plain speak he's a doctor who works strictly out of the hospital managing patient care for children who are critically ill...that's right children, Wyatt's a doctor at Toronto's Sick Kids Hospital and yes, it's really a place. They do a lot of amazing work there. Meanwhile Wyatt discovers that Jess is an up and coming...hopeful, wanna' be rock star. Plus before their train arrives at Union Station in Toronto they also discover they have one other thing in common they're both getting out of relationships that didn't work...

 

Wyatt when he realized that his 'roommate' of 10 years was never going to step out of the closet and make him more than a dirty little secret and Jess while they're on the train to Toronto and his current girlfriend sees the picture of Jess playing tonsil hockey with someone who's not only not her but not 'a' her at all. A few hours and several small bottles of wine later. Jess and Wyatt exchange contact information promising to stay in touch and move on...fast forward...

 

two years and Karma brings Jess and Wyatt back together and a friendship is born.

 

So that's the gist of things and really it's only the barest of outlines. Now where do I start in explaining how much I enjoyed this story...well first off let's start with how much I loved the interaction between Jess and Hunter...this one's slow folks, I mean seriously these two men are not rushing to dive under the covers...they're friends. Jess has had his wake-up call...remember the train ride? Yeah, his band was riding the rails and the new management flat out told him...NO MEN! Jess is bi so no problem right...no problem except for a certain young silver fox...but, Wyatt's not a problem he's had his fill of straight guys...so as far as he's concerned Jess is friendship material and that's it because there's no way in hell that anyone's putting Wyatt back in the closet again. No matter how much of a sexy, tattooed, bad-ass rocker they are or seem to be just because they're hiding a kind and gentle heart that's willing to visit a kid with a bad heart and teach her how to play guitar and help her and some other sick kids have their own rock band...or MC a charity fundraiser and then donate $200,000 to said charity and if you want to know how this happened you really need to read the story because...'Oh my god!!! So freakin' sweet.' and that's all I'm saying about that. 

 

Now, just to tease a little more we have the ending...and can I just say the ending on this one was "so freakin' melt my heart good". Yeah, it was a little bit over the top but in all the right ways and don't get me started on the secondary characters...like Jess's band and his sister and his nephew and Avery...the kid in the hospital...seriously they're all so awesome...You know, I really want to go listen to this one, again...oh and I almost forgot this one was narrated by Michael Fell. While Michael Fell isn't exactly a new to me narrator, this is my third audio book narrated by him and he's done a solid job on every one of them...this one had kids in it and if you know me you know how well I do with kids in audio books and folks I have to say Mr. Fell must have done ok because my ears didn't bleed, I wasn't running for the brain bleach, I didn't want to hurl my tablet (yeah, that's right Karen's got a new toy) and nope, no bad experiences so let's chalk up an extra point for this one because kid's voices and me are usually a really bad...like bad as in this book just got tanked and as you can tell by the 4.5 stars that didn't happen here. 

 

So hopefully there will be more from Jess and his band because truthfully, I'm dying to know if Bobby finally gets those bedbugs that he keeps obsessing about.

 

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An audio book of 'Infamous' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away there was...

Asylum - Robert Winter

No this isn't a fairy tale and while it is a work of fiction sadly and I say sadly with all sincerity it is based on real life events...things that never should have happened, did.

 

In writing this story the author has accomplished a few things...one he's told us a story that for the most part is interesting, entertaining and a testament to the strength of the human soul and it's ability to endure.

 

Hernan is a young man born and raised  in El Salvador until he comes under the scrutiny of a gang known as 'Cuernos del Diablo (Horns of the Devil) for being gay. Hernan has struggled with this all his life knowing that he dare not tell a soul about himself...being gay and living in El Salvador is not good for a person's continued existence. Unfortunately Cuernos del Diablo doesn't really ask if a person's gay they just decided. After being stabbed by members of Cuernos, Hernan is forced to flee his homeland. With only his Tio Juan (Uncle) to help him Hernan undergoes a journey that no one should have to experience.

 

Finally arriving in America, Hernan begins life as an illegal immigrant fearing only the long arm of Cuernos but that of ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement). If he's caught it means being departed back to El Salvador where he's sure he'll meet with certain death. 

 

Hernan doesn't trust people and truthfully I wouldn't if I was him either. What he doesn't count on is meeting a man who's honorable and simply wants to help him.  Colin Felton knows that he's lived a blessed life. He's been raised amidst a level of privilege that few can truly lay claim to. He also tries to keep this little fact about himself from becoming public knowledge.  He just wants to do his job and live a quiet life...maybe, meet someone he can share that live with one day and one day is coming sooner than he realizes when he goes for a walk in P-town following the wedding of his best friend Brandon to his fiance David. It was fun seeing the men from September again...well, except not so much with Gerald and Ethan...I really can't say I've missed these two, but we did decide that they'd be a really good couple, however, I'll pass on that story thank you very much. 

 

It takes more than a little effort on Colin's part to convince Hernan that not only can Colin help him, but Hernan can also trust him. 

 

This one started out really good and we were loving it...yes, I say we, not the royal we or even the 'hey, she's got a few screws loose we', no by we I mean my Buddy Read Besties...Josy, Simone and Christelle...the awesome ladies who continue to go on book adventures with me and we had not one...not two...but three stalkers... I mean cheerleaders...yes, cheerleaders...no actually they were awesome friends who stopped by from time to time to visit. A big thank you to Anne, Shile and Ariana your insight and shared thoughts only made things that much more enjoyable.

 

So for most of this story I was looking at 4 stars not a problem...sure there were a couple of things that maybe felt a little problematic for me but over all I liked what the author was doing here. You see Hernan's experience is based on the real life experiences of two young men who have lived through circumstances similar to what happens to Hernan and these are stories that need to be told...if for no other reason than to remind those of us who are luck enough to live in countries where not only can we speak our mind but we can be who we are...we can be gay, straight, bi, trans...we can be a rainbow and we can celebrate that rainbow. 

 

I think I got a little further along in the story before things started to tank for me but sadly they did. One of my biggest niggles was Colin...or more accurately his money...all the money...for me it felt like he started out rich and...well, I believe what I said to my friends was I know he's a trust fund  baby but it feels like he started with 'money' and then he had 'Money' and suddenly it was Colin has 'MONEY!!!' and yes, I know Colin didn't want people to know how rich he was, I get that but nope, sorry I just can't reconcile this with how it all came out and more importantly that his best friend seemed to be more concerned that Colin kept this from him than with the fact that his best friend was possibly in a great deal of danger, but hey, even though it didn't feel quite right, it still didn't spoil the story for me.  It takes a lot to really spoil a story for me...I mean full out make me feel like I want those hours of my life that I lost reading that story back spoil and that wasn't happening. 

 

I know a couple of my friends were bothered by a life changing event that happened to Hernan and/or how it played out at a point where he should have been feeling safe, feeling like things were finally going to get better and while I agree that it was unfortunate I think we all agree that it was almost inevitable...sadly, the writing was on the wall for this to occur.

 

Now, here's the part that took me from 4 stars to well...a rather shaky 3.5...please bare with me on this. I'm going to ramble a bit. I love a good HEA as much as the next person...hell, there are times that I live for them, but and this is a big but for me...I really, really need to feel that HEA, it has to be believable and real. I want to feel it in my heart. I want happy tears, I want to be able to sob and think 'Oh thank heavens. Hernan got to be happy, he found that person who deserved his love and whose love he deserved. They fit, they work in a way that is real. Sadly that wasn't how I was feeling by the end of this...somewhere along the line my happy ending turned into a cookie cutter Disney romance where Prince Charming...played by Colin Felton rode to the rescue of the Princess (in this case another Prince named Hernan) and his fairy godmother (Colin's father) waved his magic wand (got out his 'black' credit card...because black is the color that says "I am rich beyond your wildest dreams bitches!) and fixed everything...well everything except for the fact that while I was willing to overlook  a lot of the niggles in this book that weren't feeling quite right for me because there was a bigger picture story that needed to be told and it was real and at times brutal and gut wrenching and for so many people too many people it's so very real because somewhere in there were words that resonated with them...suddenly it just all turned into a fairy tale. I'm sure if most of us think about it we'll realize that we've known more than one immigrant in our lives and I have to say the ones that I've known have been incredibly strong and amazing people... 

 

Men and women who were doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers and held other well educated and high paying professional positions in their homeland and now...well now they get to drive cabs and work as home support workers, waiters, generally as unskilled labor and even then there's still some kind of course or training that they need to take, so yes, while much of Hernan's story felt real and brought out my protective instincts and had me sitting on the edge of my seat and praying...praying that his ordeal would end soon. that he'd be ok, he'd get his happily ever after. When it came to the ending where he got his prince and they rode off into the sunset in their golden carriage on behalf of the immigrants that I've had the privilege to know both legal and illegal...I have to say I'm sorry but I can no longer suspend my disbelief. 

 

Maybe, this was someone's happy ending but somehow on top of all the other amazing things that happened to Hernan...and yes, I realize he also endured a great deal of tragedy...the ending for me rather than being enough...was just too much and maybe that's the cynic in me having a bad day...I know, let's call it that and move on because at the end of it all this was a story worth telling and mostly, worth reading.

 

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

There are so many reasons why we love the books we love...

Second Chance - Jay Northcote

and one of the biggest reasons that I loved this one is right there in the title...'Second Chance'...we all want them...need them and mostly we deserve them and this book is about just that second chances...so many second chances for so many people.

 

First there's Nate and Jack. Childhood friends who are reunited after years of separation and change. Both men have had so many changes in their lives and now here they are at the age of 45...that's right folks, our MCs are not young men. They're mature men...men who have been through a lot, they've been through good and bad and now they've come home to the place where they both started their lives and their friendship. A place that's filled with memories for them both...good and bad memories.

 

Jack's trying to get his life together after a bad break-up that sent him into a serious downward spiral...depression and addiction are his constant companions and Jack really wants to change that and it's going to take time and the help of his parents to get past everything and rebuild his life.

 

Nate's come home to help his mom following the death of his father and to get his daughter away from life in a larger city and temptations that seemed to be around every corner waiting to lead a young person astray. It's been years since Nate's lived in the small village...the place where people knew him as 'Nat or Natalie'...Nate's transgender and he's not use to living in a place where this is common knowledge.

 

In among the backdrop of the main story which is about Jack and Nate's second chance to return to the friendship that they shared years ago but maybe to have even more...something that Nate has secretly wanted since their school days.  We have Nate's daughter, Cass. Who's given a second chance to get her life on track after having run off the rails when they were in the city. We have Nate's mom, who's getting a second chance to have a relationship not just with her Granddaughter but her son and while things were never bad between them...they weren't nearly as good as they could have been and this is her chance to change that...to fix it and there's Jack's parents who also need that second chance to try and get things right with their son. 

 

Now don't misunderstand me while these are some of the second chances that happen in this story and there's at least one more but I'm not going into that one. It doesn't mean that they all happen or that things are perfect. Each second chance has its own solution and degree of positive outcome and that's part of what made this story work so well for me.

 

What I loved even more than the fact that this is a wonderful second chance story not just for Nate and Jack but for some many other people in it...is the fact that one of the second chances that it's about is Nate. Not just Nate's second chance with Jack but it's about his second chance to live life as the real Nate...Nate the man and not Natalie the woman the person that everyone else mistakenly thinks he is.

 

'Second Chance' is a story about love, second chances and it's told from a realistic perspective it's not about over the top magical solutions. It's two men dealing with what life has thrown their way one gay and the other gay and transgender and they're real. They're living with their parents because that's where life has taken them, reuniting as two people who were once friends and want to revive that friendship but in the process what they realize is that they both want more than their friendship...they want a chance at a life together. Sure they have misunderstanding but then they do what grown-ups do...they talk about it. But more than this is the perspective we are given into the more intimate times between these two men. It's real and there's passion and humor, awkward moments, interruptions and even a moment or two of frustration...ohmygod!!! It's like real life!

 

While every story is unique, each of us can often see bits and pieces of our story or that of some one we know in the story of others. It's often that commonality that draws us in and lets us relate to what we're reading. For me 'Second Chance' held tiny little pieces of a story that while it's not mine, is one that I'm almost as familiar with as my own and it was those small pieces that connected me to this story and kept me engaged and wanting to read it all.  This one's definitely going on my favorites shelf...well done Mr. Northcote...very well done indeed! Thank you.

 

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

And they all lived happily ever after...sorta'...

Until You - T.J. Klune

This one was perfect...perfectly hilarious at times, perfectly adorable and just perfectly wonderful to listen to.

 

Paul and Vince are getting ready for the big day and all their friends and family are on board to help...even the parrot Johnny Depp. I've loved listening to this series and I know I'll be going back for a replay...this series is definitely going on my 'Comfort Food' list.

The Queen & the Homo Jock King  - T.J. Klune, Michael Lesley

I finished this one a few days ago and as much as I'd love to just review the hell out of it. Time is not my friend at the moment. So I'm going to have to suffice it to say that I loved this book...seriously I need to laugh and rant and just enjoy the hell outta' something right now and this was the perfect time for this one. It's awesome with it's over the top Sandy drama. #SandyRules4EVAH!!! 

Ok, the end. I gotta' go do the things and hopefully the next time I get to listen to it I'll have the opportunity to do some kind of review that explains how amazing I think the writing of TJ Klune is, ok? Have a good one and if you need a laugh...seriously check this out but for even more fun start with 22722642 then this one and you can probably finish with 35060337  that's what I've done...or at least I'm going to because...Josy told me I needed to and Josy never steers me wrong. Ok, really, now I've gotta' go there's packing to be done...fml!

This isn't a love story...but it is a story about love...

Crocus - Amy Lane

First off...if you haven't read 'Bonfires' you need to scoot off and do that because reading this book without that one is like going to a movie and not having popcorn...you can do it, but it's going to feel like something's missing and honestly, it's just not going to be as much fun.

 

Ok, so you've been warned this is one of those times when book #2 needs to follow book #1.  In the first book we got to meet Deputy Aaron George and Principal Larkin (a,k.a. Larx)  and see them do their adorable mating dance and cheer for them as they figured out how to make their lives mesh...kids and all.

 

So here we are after the events of 'Bonfires' and Larx and Aaron are together...well, there's Larx and Aaron and their combined family of 5 kids (Larx has 2 and Aaron has 3) and then we have some strays...see, Larx and Aaron are both nurturers in their own right and they're men with big hearts and a lot of love. So as we lovingly say at my house they take in strays and I'm not talking about four-legged furry ones, either...although I'm pretty sure they take in those as well. I'm talking about kids who got the short end of the stick in the life lottery...kids who's parents weren't bright enough or unselfish enough to get what being a parent really means...kids who just need someone to love and believe in them so that they can show the world what an awesome person they really are.

 

'Crocus' is still Larx and Aaron's story but it's a busy one and you can't have the jobs that these men have and the number of people depending on you that these men have and not have a busy life...it's neither possible nor realistic. 

 

You can't have a big family and not have chaos and confusion...I know  I came from a big family and whether it's the family you're given like mine was or the one that you've created like Aaron and Larx's the results are pretty predictable and this family that we get see here is just filled with love.

 

'Crocus' is about two men who are in love but like many of us they don't live in a bubble and much of what happens in their world intersects with their private life whether they want it to or not and luckily for these men love is something that the more you open up your heart and share the more you seem to have and 'Crocus' shows that in so many ways.

 

Larx and Aaron are already living together in a house that's packed tight not just with love but with kids...they've got Christiana, Kelsey and Kellen living with them and then there's Dozer...Larx's (read Aaron's) big blonde retriever dog. So do they really need a pregnant Olivia knocking on their door followed by Elton (Wombat Willie) and Jamie and his brother Berto...of course not but sometimes life gives to us that which we can handle and not necessarily only what we want.

 

I have to admit I loved this. I'm not bothered by big, noisy family type stories for me it's the familiar and having lived away from mine for a few years now for me stories like this are becoming comfort food and I'm not sure that anyone does this recipe better than Ms Lane. 

 

For me 'Crocus' was about family and love. It's set in a small town and sure there's more going on in this small town than the usual but let's face it if there wasn't a little extra imagination added to this...well, we'd all be bored silly. Yeah, I've lived in small towns for most of my life and really there's only so much of neighbor 'A' sleeping with neighbor 'C' while neighbor 'B' gets quietly sloshed every night that one can take before 'neighbor 'D' falls asleep from the sheer boredom and repetition of it.

 

While Larx and Aaron both seemed to frequently have the same objective...one that, while it seemed simple enough, was often a task of monumental proportions for them to accomplish and that was simply getting some time together...alone as couple...trust me when I say while it may not have happened often when it did these two men know how to take full advantage of their time together and it as worth the wait.

 

We've got a world of opportunities here for what can happen next in this series and while I'm on board for pretty much anything even different MCs for the next story. I'm still hoping that no matter what we'll always get more Aaron and Larx because truthfully I'm not even close to having had my fill of these two men. I'm so enjoying having a series with 'mature' men as the MC's, men who love and have messy, busy, crazy at times overwhelming and larger than but still real lives that we get to be a part of.

 

From start to finish for me it never felt like the happiness that Aaron and Larx had found was at risk it was more about the reader getting to see what as individuals we already know...if you are lucky enough to get an HEA in life, then keeping it means a lot of hard work and effort, keeping it takes a lot of effort and hard work, you have to hang on to it with everything you've got...but and I'm sure that Aaron and Larx would agree with me when I say...it's worth it, so very worth it.

 

This one definitely gets 5 big, shiny, messy, happy family stars from me as I try to patiently wait for what comes next.

 

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

I'm not really sure how to say this but...

Free Falling - S.E. Jakes, Dorian Bane

well, quite frankly this one bored me. I have a couple of theories why and I'm honestly not feeling the least bit shy about admitting that this time around I'm pretty sure the book and I can share the blame on this one.

 

'Free Falling' is the first book in S.E. Jakes 'Extreme Escapes' series or the second I'm not really sure because when I look this series up on GR it shows that there are 10 books to 'Extreme Escapes' and the listings seems to be a combination of some previously written smaller series by this author. The first story being 'Bound for Keeps' shows as being book #5 from her series 'Men of Honor' and from the sounds of the blurb the characters from it aren't a part of this book so I figured I'd be ok in terms of following the story and from that perspective I'm pretty sure I was, however, the next couple of books in the series are books the first two books from the series 'Hell or High Water' and then we jump to Dirty Deeds book #1 from a series with the same title, 'Dirty Deeds' and then it seems to jump back to the 'Hell or High Water' series...ok, I have to say this is a bit confusing to me because I'm kind of wondering where that leaves the rest of the books from the 'Men of Honor' series? Should they be read before starting this? After? Maybe it doesn't matter? But it also has me wondering how connected any of these stories are...so really does it matter what order they're read in at all? 

 

Blue's a thief and Mick's a mercenary but the one thing that's obvious from the word go in this story is that they have a history...at times it actually feels like a lot of history and some of it may have occurred in another book in another series I don't know. But after reading the blurbs from those books it doesn't seem like it and without having read the books I can't be sure. However, as far as background for the individual characters I felt like we got more about Blue than Mick in this story, but we did at least get a bit about both of them and while it may have zero effect on this story in terms of understanding. That bit of previous history for me helps me to establish a bond if you will with the characters. It's nice to feel like you're there from the beginning rather than just getting plunked in the middle.

 

And for me getting plunked down in the middle of what turned out to be a rather prolonged mating dance between these two men but at the same time they had this perpetual game of 'come here, come here, come here...no get away, get away...wait come here...' going on and for me that game becomes real tired real fast and I become a bored person. I think if I'd been there for more of their relationship in the early stages maybe when they  first met a couple of subsequent encounters I might have found myself more invested and ultimately more interested in that moment when they both realized that they wanted to be together...I can't really say for sure but what I do know for sure is that from start to end this one just let me feeling disconnected and wondering if maybe I should have read some of the other books first? 

 

At the end of it all I just know this was me...

 

However, I did manage to pay attention long enough to be able to say that my issue was definitely in regards to the story and not connected to the narrator...sorry Mr. Bane, I truly didn't forget or ignore you.

 

Dorian Bane was the narrator for this one and I do want to make note of the fact that his efforts did not go unnoticed. While I liked Blue's voice for me the winner was Mick. Mick had that husky gravelly voice that held a slight edge of ongoing frustration and anger to it and for me that was so reflective of Mick, who I quickly came to identify as someone whose anger and frustration was a constant simmer beneath the surface and given what he did for a living this felt like it should be a natural emotional state for him. He deals with the part of humanity that quite frankly most of us would rather pretend didn't exist...Mick's voice very definitely worked for me as did profit with his subtle English accent and huge helping of snarky, attitude. So yeah, the narration for me on this one was definitely solid.

 

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An audio book of 'Free Falling' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

 

Well this one slammed into me like a freight train out of control...

Rock Solid - Riley Hart, Joe Arden

As a rule I tend to shy away from books about addicts. They're a mixed bag of feelings for me and sometimes it makes it hard to read a story and even pretend to be objective, but I decided to give this one a go...what I didn't expect was that this author would have me crying my eyes out at the end of it. 

 

Ok, let me explain here. I'm not nor have I ever been an addict...I am however, that person who fell in love or at least thought they were in love with an addict. In a previous life when I was young and foolish I was sure that he loved me enough not to want the booze more than me and he kept promising so it was going to happen right? I was going to save him...yeah, we all lie to ourselves and it's this part of my past that connected me to this story because Trevor was that person...the addict who whether he realized it or not had the strength to do what it takes to do battle with his addiction because you don't get cured and you never beat addiction...you fight it every day and every day that you don't give in you get a victory...a small victory in a battle that you have to be willing to fight again the next day and the next day. 

 

If you're really lucky, when you fight this battle, you have people who believe in you who tell you that you can do it and you know that they really mean it and if they're lucky you win the battle one day at a time.  Unfortunately many an addict will tell you by the time that they're truly on the road to recovery and winning the battle one day at a time on a regular basis they've managed to break faith with most, if not all of those who have believed in them with unfaltering faith...

 

Enter Trevor Dixon...Trevor's been clean for a year and he's come home to help his brother build his construction company, Rock Solid Construction into a company that's 'rock solid' and to show his twin brother, Blake and his momma that he's clean, he's getting his life together, they can have faith, trust him, believe in him again and stop worrying about him. But it's not Blake or their momma who gives Trevor the faith and trust that he needs to let him know that the bad days are worth the struggle, it's a stranger, a possible client for 'Rock Solid' and someone who's as messed up as Trevor in their own way. Dr. Simon Malone's trying to rebuild not just his new home but his life...he's a heart surgeon who can't perform surgery and has no idea what direction his life needs to go in but there's something about the undeniably attractive contractor who's comes to give him an estimate on his renovations.

 

Trevor and Simon get off to a decidedly rocky start and it takes a bit of effort on Trevor's part to convince Simone to give Rock Solid a chance at doing his renovations, but Trevor's sheer determination and tenacity finally wear him down.

 

I was definitely enjoying this story and if you'd asked me at any point up until around the halfway point I'd have told you this and Joe Arden's narration for the story was...'rock solid' (see what I did there). But somewhere along the way in the second half of the story my like went to 'oh-my-god-I-need-to-hear-the-rest-of-this-book' something just slipped into place for me with this story. Trevor's struggle to stay clean and not relapse broke my heart and while I understood where Trevor's mom and brother were coming from it didn't stop me from being angry at them that they couldn't find it in themselves to trust him one more time...he was trying so freaking hard and struggling on his own...feeling alone in the world until he realized that Simone was there for him...always there for him. Maybe he wasn't doing everything right...ok, no maybe about it. Simone screwed up superbly at times but he kept trying...something he'd never done for anyone before.

 

I've read more than a few books that I've really loved and enjoyed but it's not that often that I feel like I've connected with a book on such a visceral level. But this one did. I was cheering for Trevor and more than once I held my breath as I silently prayed 'don't do it Trevor, don't give in you're better than this.' and I raged at Blake and their mom as they tore away at Trevor's heart and his determination...I know they didn't mean to but it's what they were doing and the hurt it caused Trevor was palpable. Please don't get me wrong I do understand their hesitation as I said back at the beginning...I've been them and it's taken me a lot of years to realize that everyone deserves a second chance...they may not make good use of it but it doesn't mean they don't deserve it and Trevor well for me Trevor represents the second chance that isn't lost or wasted. 

 

I haven't read a lot of books by Riley Hart and maybe this isn't the best of what's been written but it's a story that I connected with and it truly touched my heart and for that reason it'll always have a special place on my bookshelves.

 

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Well this was a new spin on an old fairy tale...

Never - Tara Lain, Kale Williams

"Never" is the fourth book in 'The Pennymaker Tales' which are all based on traditional fairy tales...the first book was 'Sinders and Ash' based on the story of Cinderella' while the next one was 'Driven Snow' and based on Snow White, also I have to admit this is the one story in this series that I have neither read not listened to on audio and book #3 was entitled 'Beauty Inc.' and you guessed it loosely based on 'Beauty and the Beast'.

 

So now that you're basically all caught up here we are on book #4 which is entitled 'Never' and yes it is based on the story of Peter Pan. We have Wen Darling (otherwise known as Wendell Darling) and he's raising his brother and sister because Dad was a dull and boring accountant who did nothing but work to provided for his family...how very irresponsible of him and mom was a flighty, ditsy, artistic and totally irresponsible person who was more worried about saving whales and doing whatever it is that flighty ditsy artistic people do then the caring for the 3 children she brought into this world...you go mom!  But be that all as it may, both mom and dad are no longer in the picture...both have departed this plane of existence leaving Wen to be the responsible one.

 

Wen's managed ok, he's working in an advertising agency and while money's tight he's managed to provide food and shelter for his siblings and himself and he provides acting lessons for his brother, John...and can I just say as much as he seems to love his brother this little dude comes off as an ungrateful little sod at times and music lessons for his sister, Michaela,  who is incredibly responsible for a sixteen year old. Taking care of the her younger brother and just generally playing mother to both of her brothers.

 

When an advertising campaign falls through because Wen's boss doesn't have the foresight to listen to Wen and use a more innovative approach...there's a silver lining for Wen and his co-workers when they are given the opportunity to come up with a better campaign for the...wait for it...you're going to love this one...PEANUT BUTTER!!! Now come on who doesn't remember Peter Pan peanut butter? Which I believe is still available in the US but I haven't seen it on the shelves here in Canada in a while and Google didn't want to share info about Peter Pan Peanut Butter with me...it did tell me that 'Skippy Peanut Butter' is no longer sold in Canada. Personally I'm a Kraft Peanut Butter fan myself...oops, sorry I squirreled again...back to Wen and his advertising dilemma...

 

Faced with the prospect of an opportunity that could make or break is career Wen and the team throw themselves into the job and after a long and exhausting not to mention fruitless day Wen heads home to his family. It's this trip home that changes everything for Wen as he's waiting for the subway train to take him home he encounters an unusual girl with a parasol and the most extraordinary piece of artwork he's every seen...the problem is the artworks been done on the subway walls by a graffiti artist who wants to remain anonymous. 

 

With the encouragement of his siblings Wen stakes out the subway station where he saw the artwork in the hopes that he'll return. So far I'm loving this I mean it's good. The characters are solid and with the arrival of Peter and his gang they become even more interesting and things begin to happen...not all of it's good either. 

 

Kale Williams is the narrator for this one as he was for the previous stories and as with 'Beauty Inc.' the only other book I've listened to on audio he did an admirable job. I like his voices and they suited the characters quite well...especially Tink, I enjoyed his voice for Tink and Shamu (sorry, I'm not sure about the name or spelling on this character...it's the downside of audio books, you can't do a quick reference to check things like spelling) anyways, this character was one of the lost boys and we also have Hook and Smee (actually I believe his name was Hooker, but whatever we all know he's the bad guy and he sounded like one too. His voice had just a bit of a 'you don't want to trust this dude sound to it) and of course Mr. Pennymaker was back and sounding very much like the Mr. Pennymaker that I remembered from Beauty Inc. this is bonus because I love it when a character's voice stays consistent from story to story which is one of the reasons that I totally support having the same narrator for a series that carries the same characters from book to book even if the MCs change if the central core of characters are basically the same having then sound the same in book 5 as they did in book 3 goes a long way towards contributing towards listening pleasure for me.

 

So we have a cute story, good characters, solid narration on a scale of 1 to 5, I'm giving the narration a solid 4) and also on the upside the cheese factor that bothered me in 'Beauty Inc.' didn't seem to be here...so, why only 3.5 and not say 4? 4.5? or even 5 stars  you might wonder...well, it was the ending. I was enjoying the hell outta' myself here boys and girls...I mean fun times. I like a cute, fluffy story as much as the next person and this one was all that minus the overabundance of cheese and the ending didn't have to much cheese...nope, nope, nope the ending for me had more sap than a forest of maple trees in the spring time and add to that the fact that even though this story like the fairytale was suppose end with 'and they all lived happily ever after' I couldn't buy it not when it felt like one of those characters wasn't totally on board with the HEA and seemed to resolve himself to more of an 'ok, whatevs I get hot monkey sex. So let's do this thing' type of attitude and that my friends is as close as I'm going to go in terms of details as to why this went from 4+ stars to 3.5 rounded down in those places where 1/2 stars don't exist.

 

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An audio book of 'Never' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Can two broken souls create one happily ever after? They can when they’re strong enough to take another chance.

Soul to Keep - Garrett Leigh

‘Soul to Keep’ is the second book in Garrett Leigh’s series ‘Rented Hearts’ the book that introduced first introduced us to Jamie Yorke…former rentboy and recovering drug addict.  Zac’s friend who we last saw in California where Liam, the other MC from ‘Rented Heart’ who helped Jamie get to California for his rehab.

 

In ‘Soul to Keep’ we catch up with Jamie as he’s returning to England. He’s been clean for a year and while California is warm and sunny for this Brit it’s just not home and Jamie needs to go home.

 

It’s on his flight home that Jaime meets the older and equally damaged ex-army medic and present-day trauma specialist, Mark Ramsey returning home following surgery in Chicago.

 

When Jamie’s nervousness gets the better of him on the flight home, Marc’s need to nurture and fix things takes over and he helps Jamie to overcome his nervousness. Once the plane lands both men go their separate ways and while neither really man really forgets the other they both have their own lives to get back to and are equally surprise a couple of weeks later when their paths cross yet again when they discover that they are living just minutes from each other.

 

I really loved this story for me it clicked. While the attraction happened fairly quickly and was easily felt between these two men that didn’t mean that the relationship was instantaneous. For as much as they felt their attraction to each other both men were also hesitant to enter into a relationship because of their own personal demons.

 

As well as his addiction issues, Jamie is caught up in the grip of OCD and his self esteem is low, to say the least, but he soon finds that being around Marc gives him a sense of peace and grounds him as few if any other things do, so while he kept running from Marc when things got to intense he also kept coming back. Jamie’s convince that the other shoes going to drop and Marc’s going to send him away but until that happens he’s not going to leave permanently.

 

Marc’s convinced that Jamie’s going to cut and run once he’s had enough of being with a man who’s only got one leg. He’s so conscious of his injury unlike Jamie who sees beyond Marc’s injury to the man and the goodness he contains. To Jamie…Marc is strong, handsome and sexy and so much more than he could ever possibly deserve.

 

But Marc sees Jamie in such a different light. He sees someone who’s fought in a different type of war and he wants to help Jamie feel good about himself to learn to control the things that are controlling him…he’s a doctor it’s his nature to want o fix things but Jamie’s gotten under his skin in a way that goes beyond simple doctor/patient relationships. He’s coming to care very deeply for the beautiful, damaged young man.

 

I admit I’m totally a sucker for second chance stories, stories about people who life has repeatedly sucker punched but who have just as repeatedly pulled themselves back up only to keep going, keep trying moving towards their goal of becoming the person they want to be…someone better and stronger than who they were…someone they can be proud of…someone who deserves love and happiness as much an anyone else in this world and that’s what Garrett Leigh writes  and writes so incredibly well are stories like this. Stories that remind us that the human spirit is strong and indomitable that giving up should never be a part of anyone’s vocabulary and that everyone is worthy of a second chance at both life and love.

 

Garrett Leigh is quickly becoming a favorite for me. Without fail I have loved everything that I’ve read by this author so far and while I haven’t read everything that she’s written I’m working on it.

 

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An ARC of ‘Soul to Keep’ was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Firemen, dalmatians, sick kids...

Smoldering Flame - Andrew  Grey

This one had potential...so much potential and then...it didn't.

 

Dean's a firefighter whose life revolves around the two things he loves most...his job and his son, Sammy.  Sammy's illness doesn't leave Dean time for anything else...like dating, falling in love, having a relationship. So when Sammy drags his father into Marco's photography studio the last thing he wants, needs or expects is to be attracted to said photographer. 

 

Marco's not looking for anything other than to make a sick little boy happy when he offers to take some pictures of the young child who's barged into his studio wanting to see the big stuffed fire dog that Marco uses as a prop during his photo shoots with kids. Marco knows what Sammy's going through and while Marco knows he can't fix things for Sammy if he can bring a smile to his sweet little face for even a moment he'll do what he can and taking a few pictures is definitely not a hardship for him especially if some of those pictures include Sammy's sexy, fireman father.

 

Dean's got more than his son to be concerned about though when it comes to him and Marco. His parents have been a godsend for him while Sammy's been sick and while his mom's more than happy to see him find someone he might be happy with, his father's a whole different story. Dad's ex-military and he hasn't a made it out of the dark ages with some of his ideas...like demanding that Dean 'find a nice woman' because he needs to settle down Sammy needs a mom.

 

I really liked the overall concept of this story. There was a lot of potential for this one to tug at my heartstrings and leave me with all the warm fuzzies. Unfortunately when it came down to the actual story well...it got bogged down in a lot of flowery descriptions and conversations that quite frankly had me rolling my eyes...sorry, but there's only so much 'gosh, darn melodic sex' that a girl can handle. 

 

I'm a fan of descriptions that paint a picture and draw me into the story...truly I am. But and here is where things get really subjective...there's this fine line that goes from creating a story...painting an image and when it gets crossed well the story gets lost in an excess of descriptions that become distracting and that's what happened for me with this one...so as I said this is entirely subjective and other may find the descriptives in this book to be perfect...I'm just not part of this group.

 

Michael Pauley is once again the narrator for this story and I have to admit I'm not really sure why but like the story and maybe because of the story I didn't enjoy the narration quite as much has I did the previous two stories also narrated by the same person and once again we are left with a very subjective viewpoint here so please keep this in mind. Just one more note about the narration there's a child in this story and as my friends will tell you me and children's voices in audio books do not have a very good track record however, I do want to give a nod to the narrator on this one. While it maybe wasn't the best child's voice I've ever heard it was considerably better than many others that I've heard. 

 

I've been a fan of this series from the beginning and while this one didn't work so well for me the first two stories worked much better for me and I really enjoyed them...enough that I'm more than willing wait and see what's next in this series...hopefully for me it'll be a return to the story style that I've come to enjoy so much. 

 

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An audio book of 'Rekindled Flame' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Change is coming...

Twisted and Tied - Mary Calmes

Without a doubt this is my favorite series by Mary Calmes. I love all of her writings but this one is definitely at the top of my list and with each new story I've come to love all things Miro and Ian.

 

When things ended in 'Tied Up In Knots' Miro and Ian were planing on tying the knot and between then and now it's become a done deal and life for Ian couldn't be better. He's married to the man of his dreams, his friends are doing well, work is going well...until things at work begin to change and change is not Ian's friend...Ian doesn't do well with change.

 

While I'm a little late to the party with this one...real life just refuses to quit kicking my backside these day...so my sincerest apologies to both the publisher and the author  and I promise like other reviews there are no spoilers here because regardless of this there's no way I'd want to spoil the awesomeness that was this book.

 

At the same time as 'Twisted and Tied' brings some things to a close for Ian and Miro, it also opens up a wealth of new possibilities for the author to continue sharing this wonderful world that she has created for us to enjoy, as readers and fans of this series.

 

'Twisted and Tied' while creating new paths to be traveled in the world of the Marshals has also given closure to others and all while answering some questions and creating new ones.  

 

There's so much in this book that I loved from beginning to end with all of the changes and connections that came about this was one hella' fun and awesome adventure and I'm so looking forward to seeing what comes next for this series...in the immortal words of Shrek..."Change is good donkey." and in this case it's much of the change that's going to keep this series fresh, interesting, fun and just generally full of Mary Calmes awesomeness!!!

 

Now without details I just need to say the ending for this story was surprising but not and much of it came to what for me was the natural...even inevitable conclusion. I have to admit the only real issue I have is with the fact that the next installment in this series isn't sitting on my e-reader waiting for me...oh well, good things come to he...mmmmm ....eeerrrr...she who waits, right?

 

P.S. You also might want to keep a pen and paper handy to keep track of who all shows up for this party because it's a fun and interesting list.

 

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An ARC of 'Twisted and Tied' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Excuse me while I gush a little over this one...

Taking the Long Way  - Max MacGowan

I've been very fortunate since realizing that contrary to my original thoughts I really enjoy audio books. I've listened to some awesome stories...some because the narrator was incredibly good...like Greg Tremblay or Nick J. Russo, just to name a couple or because the author has written an amazing story. Authors like T.J. Klune, Megan Derr or Mary Calmes writing books such as 'A Destiny of Dragons', 'The High King's Golden Tongue or 'Acrobat' again, just to name a few...or stories like this one by both an author and a narrator who are new to me.

 

Rye's a rent boy, paid companion, male escort...pick your term bottom line (no pun intended) he makes his living selling himself. Sometimes we do things out of necessity whether we like it or not really isn't the issue...for Rye is survival...it's all he knows.

 

Marcus is a functionally blind army vet given the opportunity to see a doctor who may be able to help him...but that doctor's on the other side of the country and flying is not an option for Marcus because of his injury and driving...well, did I mention functionally blind. Marcus wants this and who can blame him maybe he can recover at least some of his eyesight but getting there seems like the impossible dream until Rye and circumstances come together to make this a trip that could save them both.

 

So we've got a male escort, a wounded military vet and they're making a road trip add in some interesting and colorful secondary characters not to mention a couple of awesome dogs and back-up all of this with a narrator whose voice totally blew me away. I've come across narrators who have seemed more than a little amazing to me...narrators like Greg Tremblay, Nick J. Russo, Michael Ferraiuolo, Sean Crisden...there really are a lot of good narrators out there and several really exceptional ones...I think if future endeavors prove to be as well done as this one was that Matt Milne will fall into the latter category of being exceptional for me.

 

Throughout this book it wasn't like having someone read me a story or sitting down with a friend...no, it was better it was like having Marcus and Rye right there leaning over my shoulder whispering to me as they shared their story with me...now, this may sound scary to some but trust me at times this was really, really hella' hot...like cold shower, fanning my face hot...and sometimes that had nothing to do with the sex...I'ma just sayin'...listening to the story of how these two met and came to care about themselves and to mean so much to each other was simply delicious...I just don't have another word for it.

 

I honestly can't even begin to explain how much I loved the sound of their voices...both of them just absolutely totally did it for me but especially Rye. There were times that his voice had this slow, sexy, sultry tone that simply melted me the man could have asked me for the keys to Fort Knox and if I had them in my possession I would have gift wrapped them for him.

 

So simply put Matt Milne is totally on my radar as an audio narrator and while there currently only seems to be 4 books to this narrator's credit, I will definitely be on the lookout for more.

 

Truthfully, if I had to make one criticism about the narration I guess I'd have to say it was the fact that while the book is set in the United States both of the MCs have a slight British tone to their voices...and you know what, I didn't care. I admit there are times when this is enough to make me want to throw my laptop out the window...not this time...I simply didn't care. I just wanted to keep listening to Rye and Marcus talk...so, there you go, if accents are a big issue for you this might not be the book for you...but just to be sure you should head on over to Amazon or audible and check out the sound clip before making your choice...you might find that you don't care either and if you do than, you've saved yourself some time and money...either way it's all good.

 

Ok, now that I've gushed a bit about how much I loved the narration of this book let's move back to the actual story. As far as Rye being a 'male escort' I'm honestly neither here nor there in terms of this. For Rye being a male escort as I said was a life choice...he wanted to stay alive and the only way to do this was to be able to provide for himself...so, truthfully who am I to criticize? Sure I can say things like 'well, I'm sure there were other things that he could have done? there had to be another way?' but just like in the real world we can't know the hows and whys of someone's life if we haven't lived it. So to me Rye did what he had to in order to keep himself alive and I can absolutely respect that and to by honest I really liked Rye. I like his caring and his compassion, his snark and the fact that even though he maybe should have been one of the most cynical people out there given the hand that life dealt him he wasn't.

 

Then there's Marcus...again he should have been someone other than who he was considering his circumstances but for all of his bluff and bluster, he was a good and caring person...Marcus truly had a good heart and I loved his determination to remain so fiercely independent. I couldn't imagine going out into a world that I could no longer really see. I'm pretty sure I'd be hiding in a corner somewhere.

 

I loved the road trip setting for this one. I am totally a fan of road trip stories and the connection between Rye and Marcus for me was perfect. It wasn't a love at first sight for them it started with simply liking and being comfortable with each other and the banter between these two was filled with snarky humor and often enough honesty to have one or both of them feeling uncomfortable. 

 

'Taking the Long Way' was a story about more than just one journey. Yes, there was the obvious trip across country for Marcus to get to his doctor's appointment but there was also a journey made by each of these men to find themselves...a journey that they needed to make in order to make that final journey that would allow them to find their way back to each other. 

 

I loved this story and yes, it may have some flaws in it but ultimately I connected with it on a level that left me feeling like I'd gone on a bit of a road trip as well, as I traveled along with Rye and Marcus on their cross country journey. 

 

I'm looking forward to more from both this author and the narrator of what is  very probably going to be one of my favorite audio books EVAH!!!

 

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An audio book of 'Take the Long Way' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I thought maybe things would be different this time...

Secrets of You - Skylar M. Cates

'Secrets of You' is the last book in Skylar M. Cates 'Sunshine and Happiness' series and while this is my favorite couple from this series and I had thought that maybe have had some time and listening to the audio version I might warm up to this one  a little more than I had when I originally read the book I have to confess that sadly that has not happened. 

 

River and Morgan are the fourth pairing in this series and while they are my favorite pairing sadly their story didn't really work much better for me than any of the previous ones in this series. 

 

Once again after listening to the audio book and looking back at my original review from nearly a year ago, I find that not a lot has changed for me so I'm just going to borrow some highlights from that earlier review to explain why things aren't working for me...

Morgan has been through such a scary experience when he was attacked behind a club in a previous book but he's learning to deal with his fears and thankfully he was rescued by a mysterious stranger who didn't hang around once he knew Morgan was safe. While Morgan doesn't remember a lot of what happened because he was drugged it was still an incredibly scary experience and he's dealing with it with the help of his friends and his therapist. Morgan's also had a crush on River since the minute he first saw him.

River's dark and brooding and when things get to be too much he jumps on his Harley and he rides. No good-byes, see you laters, I'll be back...he's just gone. He disappears...he runs it's his back-up plan when he can no longer deal. That is until he realizes he's tired. Tired of being alone, of running, of all the dark and bad that's in his life. But mostly River just needs to learn to forgive himself. He's got things in his past. Memories that won't let go of him, things that he blames himself for but maybe...just maybe if he'd open up and talk to someone...he'd gain a better perspective on things and maybe he'd see that while he wasn't totally without blame, he also wasn't responsible for some of it.

 

I was sure if anyone's story was going to make me gush it was going to be River's. He's been my favorite since the beginning. I can't help it, I like me a dark, brooding man of mystery in my books it just pushes all my hot buttons and River does that...his story...not so much.

 

When you get down to it this should have all worked for me. I mean seriously worked and yet somehow...I just didn't connect. River and Morgan should have had me crying and laughing and melting into a puddle of goo on the floor...it was all there and it just never happened. So I'm thinking it's me, that's right for whatever reason I'm just not connecting with these stories anymore and sometimes things happen that way.

 

'Secrets of You' was about letting go of the past and looking for a future, learning to forgive yourself and accepting that who you are is ok and it's who you're meant to be. it's also about really loving someone for the first time and knowing when to stay, when you've only ever run.

Michael Stellman did the narration for this story and this one was by no means a first time listen for me with this narrator...actually it was more like my eighth or ninth audio book narrated him. He's also the narrator for a series that's an absolute favorite of mine. So all things considered I can honestly say that I have no issues with the narration of this book it was well done and a solid performance. At the end of it all it's just a case of 'it's not a bad story, it's just not the story for me'.

 

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An audio book of 'Secret's of You' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This was good...I mean it was totally good...

Together Tied - Mary Calmes

'Together Tied' was an awesome little present from the author. Seriously before you read this one you need to read or refresh yourself on the authors series 'A Matter of Time', the standalone story 'Acrobat' (one of my personal favorites) and truthfully being relevant on 'Mine' and the her latest series 'The Vault' might be helpful as well...all I'm going to say here is 'gun' and what the hell while we're at it let's throw in a refresher on 'Kairos' for good measure.

 

I actually read this one in the middle of the night. My brain was not in sleep mode so I figured what the hell, why waste some good reading time and I dove right into this little gem and emerged just in time to grab a couple of hours of sleep before I had to start my day.

 

'Together Tied' is definitely more than a cute little Valentine's/ 'slice of life' story. As well as giving us a glimpse at what some of my favorite MC characters are up to...this one bridges a events from a whole lot of stories together. Touching either directly or indirectly on how certain events and people connect. 

 

I've decided that when it comes to playing the game 'six degrees of separation' in books Ms. Calmes is the master of the game. I don't think I've ever encountered an author who has so skillfully joined so many books both series and standalones together and not only that but we need to keep in mind that her books have also oveflowed into series by other authors as well...I'mma lookin' at you Ms Rhys Ford. I realize that for some this can become confusing especially if you've missed out on some of those books but I can't help but say that for me it's like catnip...I want more and yes, it does make me so happy that I purr with delight. 

 

While there are a few books by this author that haven't connected to these stories yet...I look forward to seeing how long that will last...will Jory and Stefan Josh ever meet? I hope not because I'm pretty sure the world would implode and what about Sam Kage and Rand? Seriously that's more testosterone than any one room or ranch in Texas could every handle...but, at the same time...think about it? Wouldn't it be fabulous? And then we could add in Ian and Miro, Ceaton & Brin, Darius & Efrem, Trevon & Landry and Lee...please, can we have more about The Vault's Knight, Lee and just all the secondary characters who haven't gotten their stories yet...the connections to be made...seriously...mind blown!!! on how amazing this would be.

 

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A copy of 'Together Tied' is available to readers through 'instafreebie' or on the authors website.

Holy Hell! What is it about me and this book...

Kairos - Mary Calmes, Michael Fell

In the world of Mary Calmes stories I sadly have to admit this one is not at the top of my list but in a effort to be fair when I saw that it was out in audio book format I was helpless to resist and needed to give it another try...now, on the down side the narrator was not one of the usual suspects...I've gotten use to my Mary Calmes books being narrated by Greg Tremblay, Tristan James or Sean Crisden...not that there haven't been other narrators...there have, it's just been a while. So I freely admit I did take a moment to pause when I saw that Michael Fell was the narrator, but I decided that since I've listened to other audio books narrated by him and had no complaints I needed to not be snobbish about this and give the man a chance so I did and given that my rating for this went from 3 stars to 3.5 stars, I'd say that Mr. Fell held his own on this one. 

 

However, overall my feelings about the story haven't changed so again I'm not into re-inventing the wheel so I'm going to steal from my original review as to what wasn't working for me...

it was ok but that connection that I usually feel and just the overall fun of reading a new Mary Calmes book wasn't there. Try as I might I never quite felt the connection between Kade and Joe and honestly neither of these men struck me as being overly dynamic or alpha...for me there just wasn't a Sam Kage or an Ian Doyle, no Trevan Bean, Ceaton Mercer or Darius Hawhtorne...dammit!!!! Where was my ober alpha male!!! Because I'm telling you neither Kade or Joe filled that role for me

...and...

Along with the lack of connection between the MCs that happened for me there were parts of the storyline that just weren't working for me. The biggest thing being Joe's reasons for leaving his family...it just wasn't convincing for me which created a bit of a domino effect in regard to why Joe and Kade were such good friends. Along with this was the fact that Kade knew that his so called friend and mentor Vaughn who was also a precinct captain did shady things and yet he idolized him anyway? Sorry, I don't get that much less that fact that he basically made a conscious decision to ignore this. Somehow no matter how hard I tried 2 + 2 was just not adding up to 4...maybe more like 3.5.

And while the things that didn't work for me the first time still weren't working now...the things that worked the first time, well they're working every bit as good now as they did then...things like...the fact that...

in true Mary Calmes fashion I could not totally resist her writing prowess because irregardless of how I felt about the overall story, she drew me in with her mom's...there was Joe's mom...I adored her...ok, I can totally relate to her. She had a very dry sense of humor and used it frequently to deal with situations...

 

"You could maybe tell other people what is going on in your head now and then."
"But I'm telling you now."
"But did you tell him?"
"Shouldn't he know after this many years?"
"Mom--"
"I can't be married to a stupid man, dear. What would people say?"
"You don't give a good god--"
"That was sarcasm, sweetheart. Do they not have that in Chicago?"

 

It's that mom instinct...you see someone who needs to be loved and sheltered from the world and it's just instinct to want to do what the world has failed to do for that person so far. This is one of my favorite things about Mary Calmes books not only are the characters bigger than life but there's often at least one or more character who brings things like 'mom love' to the story in such an overwhelmingly big way. Nothing gives me a warm fuzzy like that moment in a Mary Calmes book when a character...in this case Joe's mom sweeps in takes one look at another character...and in this case it was Kade and Declan and just instinctively knows that they need 'mom love' and in this book there was two of them there was Joe's mom and Donatella Gallo who was his family's housekeeper and cook.

So maybe not my favorite Mary Calmes story but still a pleasant enough read that I'm sure I'll be revisiting it at some point in the future and I'm also pretty sure that at some point I'll be reading a book and going...'Oh, I remember that. That happened or that person was from the book 'Kairos' because when it comes to Mary Calmes that seems to be just the way the world rolls.

 

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An audio book of 'Kairos' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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