...Bookfanatic

 

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

Ok, tell me you didn't see this one coming...

Late in the Day  - Mary Calmes, Greg Boudreaux

I'm betting if you follow my reviews to any degree and saw this audio book your mind said..."yep, Karen's going to review this because it's Mary Calmes and it's narrated by Greg Tremblay which means it's inevitable with her." 

 

So here I am having listened to the audio book and loving this story every bit as much as when I read it back when it was first released as an e-book. The one thing I realized about this story is that possibly more than a lot of other Mary Calmes stories it needs to be read more than once, at least I needed to experience this story more than once. 'The Vault' is so aptly named because it's about the man who is now known as 'The Vault' but also because this story is like a vault in that once you open it and start looking inside you there is a wealth of answers to questions that connect so many things from so many different stories.

 

My review for the e-book version of this was...maybe...a tad on the longer side so rather than try and reinvent the wheel I'm just going to add what I feel is the most pertinent part of that review here...

This story worked for me from start to finish. Ms Calmes has given us the answers to so many questions and I loved having those blanks filled in and more. Although a lot of this story focused on Conrad's past with Efrem not all of it did and all those little gaps that are filled in were just a whole lot of happy moments for me and while I loved all the glimpses of Conrad's connections to characters we've met in previous stories it was equally as enjoyable getting to see some new characters and potential new stories. 

'Late in the Day' is a bit unique in that it's a story that is essentially set in the past, with the changes that have happened recently in Conrad's life it's become time for him to reclaim his past to create a life for himself that's real and permanent but in order to have the future that Conrad truly wants it's time for him to deal with his past...a past that he believed lost to him forever. A past that involved the one man that Conrad loved with all his heart...Efrem Lahm.

The focus in this book was more about filling in Conrad's background and giving us a more complete person to go forward with and while the romance took a bit of a back burner to this, I definitely wasn't disappointed with the glimpse we were given of Conrad and Efrem both in the past and the present and I absolutely loved the fact that these are two mature men...over 40 folks...45!!! Yeah, for life after 25!!! 

Now the only thing that I really need to add here is 'Greg Tremblay' seriously people in the world of audio books this is one narrator that you don't want to miss. This man not only reads the books but he brings them to life. I know I've sung his praises on more than one occasion and I'm sure I'll do so again in the future I'm just not sure how I'll do it without sounding repetitive but I'll definitely give it my best efforts. 

 

So in brief summary...Mary Calmes + Greg Tremblay = one very, very happy place!!! As always 'highly recommended'.

 

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An audio book of 'Late In The Day' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

As much as I liked the first book this one was just as good...maybe, a tiny bit better...

Heart Unheard - Andrew  Grey, Greg Trembley

Brent Berkheimer and Scott Spearman have been flirting with each other for a while now and it's not gone unnoticed by more than a few people but Brent's determined not to act on his feelings because it just wouldn't be fair...he's Scott's boss, he's a lot older...so as far as Brent's concerned when it comes to Scott...the man is strictly hands off.

 

Scott's tried...he's flirted and done is best to let Brent know that he's definitely interested in more than an employer/employee relationship but so far it's gotten him nowhere.

 

When a hit and run accident leaves Scott seriously injured Brent's forced to re-evaluate what's truly important to him making him realize that what's truly important to him is lying in a hospital bed and Brent decides that he's done denying what matters the most and while it may be too late for him and Scott, he's still going to be there for him...even if it's only as a friend, if that's what Scott wants and needs then that's what Brent's going to be for him.

 

There's more to Scott's accident than it seems at first and Brent's got his own demons to battle if he wants to be the man that he thinks Scott deserves. It's not all smooth sailing as Scott has to learn how to live without his hearing and in spite of how strong and dependable Brent's been Scott's got his doubts about how long Brent will stay around if he doesn't get his hearing back and Brent's battling his own self-doubts about whether or not he can be what Scott needs leaving both men felling insecure about whether or not they can last no matter how much they want each other. It's going to take some tough love from their family and friends to make then each see that the heart wants what the heart wants and it's just going to take a leap of faith for them to be together.

 

I loved Brent and Scott and seeing them finally give in to their feelings for each other as they worked through finding ways to communicate with each other now that Scott can't hear. Getting to know each other and understand each other isn't an easy task when being able to talk and hear what the other is saying gets removed from the equation. 

 

I loved that Brent didn't try to just step in and do things for Scott, instead he encouraged Scott to speak up for himself and keep his independence and if he needed to he stood up for Scott's right to retain his independence even going to far as to bring in friends who understood what Scott was going through...that's right  he brought in the big guns and we got to see Trevor and James...no, neither of these men are deaf but James knows what it's like to suddenly loose one of his senses. James lost his sight when he was about 12 years old and he remembers what it's like to be able to see and then lose his sight...he knows what it's like to have something and then lose it, to grieve for the loss and James also knows that sometimes as a friend you have to end the pity party and hand out some tough love if you really want to help the people you care about.

 

Scott's parents added an interesting dynamic to this story for me. As a parent while I could understand his mother's desire to shelter and protect him, I was equally as frustrated by the fact that she viewed his decision to learn sign language and get on with his life as a deaf person as giving up because the doctors didn't know for sure that the deafness was permanent, whereas I viewed it as Scott dealing with what was and what he was given to deal with. I would have been far more bothered by things if Scott had decided he was going to do nothing and wait to see if his hearing came back...seriously? How long should he wait and what was he giving up on? For me he was choosing not to waste his time waiting for something that might never happen when at worst if he got his hearing back while he was learning sign language, he'd still have another skill that he could always use. Thankfully Scott had a support system in his friends who saw this as being  a positive choice on Scott's part.

 

I'm not sure what's coming next in this series but I'm really looking forward to finding out. So far the stories have really worked for me, giving me characters and stories that wrap themselves around my heart and make me smile at the strength of the characters I'm introduced to.

 

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

Just a little touch of different going on here...

Rended Hearts - Riza Curtis

When I read the blurb for this one I was intrigued. While I'm not a huge fan of the paranormal everyone once in a while something will catch my eye and get me to step outside of my little comfort zone and that's what happened with 'Rended Hearts' it held just that little something different for me it was honestly the fact that this was a story that didn't have the usual werewolf/vampire match-up. In 'Rended Heart' we're given a witch named Gabriel and an Alpha werewolf named Simon. 

 

But what really added an  interesting twist was the history between wolves and witches and their origins and no, I'm not spilling the bean on that it's definitely an integral part of the story that made the fact that Gabriel and Simon were mates all the more intriguing for me. 

 

I really liked Gabriel. He struck me as being someone who was comfortable with his abilities but  not overly confident. He'd spent his life in hiding from the covens who had taken his family from him and just wanted to live his life quietly in his small village serving the community as a healer. 

 

While Simon was the alpha of his pack he really wasn't your typical alpha in that like Gabriel he was confident in his abilities but I never felt his character to be overly confident let alone arrogant. Again a character that I liked. 

 

Simon was definitely the pursuer in this pairing with Gabriel being interested but for his own reasons feeling like a relationship with Simon wasn't in the cards for him. Until circumstances made him see that running from what he feared was no longer an option and that it was time for him to stand and fight for not just his freedom but for the safety of the community he's come to care about.

 

I really liked this story. It wasn't hugely bizarre or unusual, which granted can be a fun thing but it held subtle details that created a story that was just that little bit of different that made it fun...like the ending and how Gabriel resolved things...that was not what I was expecting and I liked it. 

 

As for the sexy times they were there and I was good with the fact that they weren't blown into big graphic events. In fact there was more than one instance of the romance in this story slipping to the back burner while the conflict between Gabriel and the the coven's got center stage. So while there was definitely a romance going on here for me this was as much a paranormal mystery/thriller at time more of one than it was a paranormal romance which for me kept the relationship development from feeling rushed.  

 

All in all there was more about this story that I liked than didn't and I would honestly like to see more of Gabriel and Simon as a couple maybe with a little more focus on their relationship development. The other thing that I enjoyed about this story is the potential...for me it felt like there was so many possibilities for the author to give us further stories about Gabriel, Simon and his pack, opportunities to create an even more fleshed out world...expanding on not just the relationship between Gabriel and Simon but to expand not just on the events of the past but the present and future as well...I think that's my subtle way of saying that I'd be happy to see the author expand this into a maybe a trilogy? or a series? Sometimes less is more but sometimes more can be better. 

 

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

This one left me a little misty eyed...

Shared Revelations - Andrew  Grey

I first read this story back in 2012 when the e-book was originally released and while I only gave it 3 stars because I do remember it being an enjoyable read...not anything overwhelmingly good or amazing but nice...sweet even. Here I am nearly 6 years later listening to the audio book narrated by J.J. Boyer a new to me narrator, whom I would definitely say held his own on this one because he took this story from 3 stars to 4 for me.

 

'Shared Revelations' is a story that has it's beginnings in the 60s...a time that was known for hippies and flower power, peace and free love and yet, being gay in the 60s was neither accepted or something that people talked about especially if you played football in the NFL or were a young man working in a factory in Green Bay.

 

Eddie Baronski and his friends spent as much of their free time as they could at Green Bay's Lambeau Field watching the Packer's practice and for Eddie there was one player in particular that he liked to watch...Johnny Grant.

 

Eddie's more than a little flattered after practice one night when Johnny offers him a ride home to save him having to walk after his bike develops a flat and he's more than willing to let one night become more as things go from a ride home to dinners at the local drive-in restaurant and drives around town lead to spending time together in quiet places...places where they can be alone. As their relationship grows so do Eddie's feelings...but maybe not Johnny's. As summer comes to an end so do things between the two men, leaving Eddie alone and heartbroken until his friend Jack confronts him.

 

Eddie's always looked out for Jack who's hearing impaired, defending  him against classmates who would bully and tease him for his disability always patient and kind and more than happy to spend time with Jack...Eddie fails to see what's right in front of his face. So when Jack confronts him Eddie's more than a little surprised by the truths that his friend Jack shares with him.

 

'Shared Revelations' is both a story about coming of age and coming out, second chances and friends to lovers. At not quite an hour and a half 'Shared Revelations' covers nearly 6 decades from the sixties to the present as seen and experienced by Eddie Baronski as he goes from being a young man barely out of high school to someone in their 70s who ultimately lives live with his best friend and the man he loves. While there was a bit of a time jump to bring us up to the present day at the end it worked for me. I loved the ending it was believable and not a magical happy ever after that made all of their obstacles disappear but more of a happy ending that's earned and deserved by a couple in love who have faced life's challenges together  with love and dignity.  The ending while sweet was lacking in over the top flower descriptives and that made it all the more appealing and heartwarming for me and while I enjoyed reading this story it was listening to the audio book that really touched my heart and left me feeling warm fuzzies and with eyes that were feeling a bit damp.

 

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

So here's the deal...

Tell Me It's Real - T.J. Klune

I'm going to keep this short and sweet or now because times a wasting and I have to dedicate my attention to other thing...you see big changes are coming in my life those of you who have chatted with me over the past few years will know I've been living in a different province than the one I was born and grew up in but that's about change so it's time to pack my things because we're going home but in the mean time...

 

This book was awesome, it was at times touching and frequently amusing from quiet 'isn't that adorable' smiles to laugh out loud I I think I just peed my pants hilarity. I loved it. For me it was just what I needed during a challenging time and while I do need to take a break from this series at the moment I am very much looking forward to returning to it...maybe on the drive back to Ontario. Who knows...all I know for sure is I will finish listening to it as soon as possible. I definitely recommend this book for anyone who likes to cheer for the underdog and needs a chuckle...the kind where you're laughing with someone but not at them.

 

Ok, cheers and I'm outta' here. Hopefully I'll get to come back one day soon and write something that does this story justice but in the meantime if I don't read the story and have a chuckle or two. Paul and Vince really are a fun pair.

So daddy kink...not my thing...nope, nope, nope, I've always said it's on my 'no go' list...

Power Play - Cara Colter

and I have been frequently known to say 'never say never.' what happened here is not only proof of that but it's proof of the fact that a good book is a good book and when it comes to Cara Dee and her series 'Camassia Cove' a good book seems to be a given. While 'Power Play' isn't listed as one of the books in the 'Camassia Cove' series but as a stand alone it not only takes place mostly in 'Camassia Cove' it involves many of the characters that have been introduced in that series and for me it really should be it's just too connected to so many of the characters not to be...but that's just my meandering thoughts. I haven't read all of the 'Camassia Cove' books, but,  I have read enough to be familiar with the characters and their background stories. A fact that I think made this story just that little bit more enjoyable for me. 

 

Now, if you haven't read this book or any of the other books in this series but plan to than please stop here and come back when you've read the books. If you don't ever plan to read these books...well, I'm not sure I get you and if we're friends? Well, really you must be freakin' amazing for us to...no never mind, we're friends of course you're  amazing... anyways, carry on.

 

The other fun part of reading this story for me was that I got to read it with my Buddy Read Besties...Christelle, Josy and Simone, because what's a buddy read without an official stalker, right? You are all awesome and reading a story like this with friends like you is...well, it's just more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

 

'Power Play' is about a relationship that most people would deem outside of the norm...some would even say it's wrong, but that's because sometimes people are quick to judge. So lets take a look at the basic dynamics here before I get into all the thoughts, feelings and questions that this story provoked in me...

 

Madigan has known Abel and his brother from a very early age and was a close friend not only to their father but to Adie and Lincoln their adoptive parents he became a regular fixture in their lives when their father passed away and has always shared a special bond with Abel but Abel's not a little boy anymore...he's a hockey player in the NHL and he deals not only with the attention that this brings which can be challenging for anyone but for someone who has Bipolar Disorder it's an even more stressful life to lead. Consistency and routine are crucial to Abel but no one grounds him and just gets him like Mad (Madigan) and when Abel sends a simple text that reveals how he feels about Mad things between them become strained and suddenly Abel finds Mad avoiding him at every opportunity and Abel begins to unravel little by little until he suddenly finds himself with too much time on his hands after getting suspended from his team and decides to head home to Camassia, his family and to face Madigan.

 

Ok so now you've got the gist of things. We've got Madigan Monroe who's 40ish, making him approximately 20ish some years older than Abel and he's known Abel for most of Abel's  life...yeah, that's right we've arrived folks...we're in the land of Daddy kink...now, before you question the blurb or wonder how I missed this...I didn't I knew what I was getting myself into but I have these awesome friends who were there and saying 'come on Karen, read it with us. We'll hold your hand and keep you safe and then there was Christelle sitting there with me going I will if you will and Josy who being much braver than the apprehensive old ladies just smiled and offered encouragement and support until we all admitted that we knew we were doing this and got on with it.

 

I have to admit I've only ever read one other book that was about daddy kink...ok, I didn't really read it I listened to the audio book and can I just say...I totally blame Nick J. Russo for that one, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. So back to 'Power Play'. I have no other words for this but apprehension. Abel's not figuratively young enough to be Mad's son, he's literally young enough and he's known Mad since he was a wee little guy and Mad's been a sort of father figure for him for a good chunk of his life...seriously I was not seeing this as something that would go well and part way through it what I realized was that I was seeing how I thought the story would work for me and not how it really did work.

 

I was pretty much blown away by how easily the author just sucked me right into this one. It's got Daddy kink and DD/lb (which I didn't have to look up because I have friends who write awesome reviews and I might have done some peeking before I went into this one...not the norm for me but sometimes a little research helps. So if you want to know more before you read this one check out the book page and the fabulous reviews already posted on GoodReads for this title and others in Cara Dee's 'Camassia Cove' series. 

 

Ok, so at the bottom of all this was a story about two men who have loved each other for a long time but as with most things in this world they have both grown and changed and when this happens what was isn't always what's needed. Mad and Abel have both grown and the changes that's brought about in each of their lives has necessitated a change in their relationship dynamics and how it's going to work for them. I found myself wondering if Abel was my kid would I want this type of relationship for him and surprisingly I realized that yes I would. If it was as positive for him and enabled him to continue to spread his wings and grow to become all that he was capable of being while meeting his needs regardless of how I may feel about or perceive those needs because it's not for me to judge, than yes, I would love and support my child in their relationship. Ultimately as a parent it should be my child's happiness that matters most not whether or not my perceptions are met and then I wondered...if Madigan was my friend would I want this for him? and again my head and my heart said yes, if it made him truly happy than as his friend I should want that for him because again perceptions vs. happiness for those I care about...there's no real decision to be made here.

 

'Power Play' is not the first Cara Dee novel that's made me ask myself questions like these and I really enjoy that when an author not only draws me into an incredible story but leave me wondering and questioning myself and what I would think or do at the end of it...touching base with myself to ensure that I'm still the person that I want to be.

 

 There were other events in this story that I know concerned some readers and just to name the elephant in the room because it's been discussed to death and hey, you warned ages ago that if you planned on reading this book you needed to not go any further so I'm just going to touch briefly on the threesome that occurred towards the end of the book and all I'm going to say is that for me this was handled by the author in such a way as to make it totally a non-issue in my reading experience. In fact to be totally honest it was hot and really solidified the connection for me that was between Madigan and Abel. 

 

So far all the books that I've read in this series have all gotten 5 stars and while I only gave this one 4 stars that was probably as much a reflection of my personal comfort level with the topic of age play and daddy kink and it was any niggles that I may have had. But despite that I am so glad that I read this book and I really enjoyed it, I may not have loved every page but I definitely loved a whole lot more than I didn't so overall this was a win no doubt about it and if you're looking to check out a story about daddy kink, DD/lb, age play or just something good to read I definitely recommend this one...right after you've at  least read book #5 and possibly #3 from 'Camassia Cove' trust me you'll enjoy this all the more for having done that little thing and they're good stories by an awesome author...really, what have you got to loose?

Yes...I'm the great prorastinator...procrastinating all over town...

Dantes Unglued  - Rinda Elliott, Jocelynn Drake

My need is such that I procrastinate too much...

 

Ok, I've procrastinated more than a little bit on this one. It's been well over a month since I went on a buddy read adventure with my awesome buddy read friends, Simone, Josy & Christelle...yep, the usual suspects and while I can only speak for myself, I know I was really, really excited to read this one...because...Quinn!!! Quinn is the awesome adorable oober geek at Ward Security and he's been around for a while. We've gotten a peek at him here and there in previous stories and I have a soft spot for geeks so naturally I was vary, vary happy to see him get a story of his own and I have to admit I was kind of hoping it would be with one of the men who worked as security for Ward Security... because you know adorable geek and big hunky security guard? What's not to love...but that's not quite what we got, however we did get adorable geek and hunky security guard...just not one of Ward's. So I can deal, I'm all grown up and stuff...that and the fact that our lovely Spymama, Simone posted copies of the authors inspiration for Quinn and can I just say for me they nailed it. I mean let's face it how the author envisions a character isn't always the same as what the reader is imagining but in this case the author's inspiration for Quinn and actually for Shane as well were both perfect.

 

Shane works for a private investigations firm and we were given a brief glimpse of him in a previous book when Hollis was let go from the local police force and accepted a position working with Shane at the Merleau Detection Agency and if this is all getting a bit confusing for you I strongly recommend reading this series from the beginning or better yet go back and start with the first book in the authors' series 'Unbreakable Bonds' because that's were a lot the background for this series really begins. So I'm going to jump back into this story and leave the background research up to you the reader.

 

When Shane accepts a case working for the mayor of Cincinnati he quickly figures out two things one he needs a computer expert and two things are not as he's been led to believe them to be. After meeting with Rowan Ward the owner of Ward Securities and one of the main characters from 'Unbreakable Bonds' he has himself a computer specialist...a very, sexy, cute, hot, adorable, geeky and oh my god why is he noticing this computer specialist named Quinn.

 

Quinn on the other hand takes one look at Shane and knows he's screwed 'Shane is pure trouble' for Quinn. He pushes all of Quinn's hot buttons and while resistance may be futile neither man is going to give in without a fight.

 

While I know that 3.5 stars is not a bad rating by any means I was feeling a bit disappointed because I truthfully was expecting to be over the moon crazy about this one. Maybe, I was being ridiculously silly with my expectations...I'm still not sure. I know there was a lot that I liked about this story. I honestly liked dichotomy of Quinn's work persona versus his personal image. When it came to his work Quinn was confident and outspoken he had total faith in his skills and abilities but when it came to his personal life it was a whole different story...Quinn was quiet, reserved, at times very obviously insecure and when it comes to relationships Quinn's not a one night stand. He's a take him home to meet the rents kind of guy but Shane...well, he likes his life, he enjoys playing things fast and easy...wham, bam thank you ma'am...err...sir? anyways, you get my drift.

 

Not only did Shane and Quinn have very differing ideas on relationships but they also had very different mothers. Shane's mother was...well...basically she was a total bitch and Quinn's mother...well, she was epic, awesome and incredibly heartbreaking all at once...this had me clutching my teddy bear and grabbing the tissues.

 

I also very much enjoyed getting a peek at Sven and Geoffrey, yes they are still adorable and Royce...we all love Royce. His story hasn't happened yet but soon...it's happening very soon and we are all going to be there...right ladies? and I think we all fell a little in love with Dominic and his boxer shorts, right?

 

So we've got characters that I absolutely loved both main and secondary, a story that I was totally on board with and an overall solid plot problem was the connection between Shane and Quinn just never quite happened for me...I mean I read and I read...well actually we did me and my buddy read besties...read and read to the very end and as I've already said there was a lot that I liked even some things that I loved and still that moment when things click into place and I could feel the connection between the MCs just never quite happened.

 

For some of us it was one character or the other that didn't work and for others like myself it I can't honestly say why I didn't feel the connection, but I didn't, things just didn't click and that's why this ended up being a 3.5 it was good and I liked it read rather than the 5 'oh-my-stars-and-garters-this-book-rocked-my-world' read that I'd been hoping for and yet, I'm totally on board for the next story...'Deadly Dorian' that's right folks dust off your classics and get ready for Royce's story it coming soon and I can't wait to see how this will all pan out...I'm going in with 5 stars for this next one, just like always for me they all start out with 5 stars it's what happens once I start reading that determines whether they keep them or not.

Let me just start by saying 3.5 stars is not that bad...unless...

Guns n' Boys: Gilded Agony - K.A. Merikan

everyone else is giving it 5 stars?

 

In the scheme of things I just couldn't connect with Seth and Dom this time around and in a strange way I think it kind of speaks to how good the author are because for much of this story Seth and Dom were at odds and they just weren't connecting with each other. So maybe I was just being overly empathetic...I don't know.

 

First off I'm just going to say if you haven't read the previous books in this series...well, seriously I'm not sure I understand you because I love this series and these guys are seriously hot...broken in so many ways but hot!!!

 

While this story does have its fair share of action and suspense in it...Dom's lost a five million dollar gun shipment and to add to his matters he's got to deal with the mysterious Diago who seems to rub on Dom in all the wrong ways while trying to rub on Seth in all the ways that could get a man dead if Dom has his way and then there's the issue of what exactly he thinks he's up to where Mark's concerned...so can we just say 'this guy is a jerk...total, absolute jerk.

 

At the end of  it all for Seth is a very old lesson to be learned and learned at a price that Seth never wanted to pay...'be careful what you wish for'...Seth wanted to not be part of the violence that had become their life. He just didn't want to know. So Dom took him at his word and in so doing has isolated Seth not just from the world but from Dom, himself. 

 

Seth knows this and because it's what he wanted he doesn't feel that he can complain about it now that he realizes that what he wished for and what he wanted aren't the same thing and sometimes when wishes come true the price we pay is more than we're willing to give up, the question becomes how to fix things. It's going to take some hard work on both of their parts to get back to where they were and with everything that's going on it becomes questionable as to whether or not Dom and Seth will survive much less keep their relationship in tact.

 

Meanwhile, Mark's playing the field and making some poor choices as to who he's playing with. It seems that Mark either wants who he shouldn't or gets who he's not suppose to. Both lead to disastrous results for Mark and ultimately the objects of his desires.

 

While this may not have been one of my favorite books to date I was definitely fascinated with  the look that we got at Dom and Seth's relationship now that they've been together for a while and given how explosive things can get between these two men seeing what happens when the outside world pulls and tugs at them drawing each in a different direction until priorities become unclear and things often times get taken for granted or are just assumed to be a certain way by one or both of them was definitely a huge contributing factor to how events played out. 

 

I honestly liked and enjoyed reading this story, but I just never felt connected to things like I have in other books from this series. However, I did get enough of a glimpse at what's coming next to know that I'm totally on board for the next one.  As for 'Gilded Agony' given how much so many of my friends loved it...I'm going to say that this may have been a case of 'right book, wrong time' for me but 3.5 stars is a far cry from "why did I read this?" Well, I already know that answer to that one. I read it because overall I love this series and I'll see you all for whatever comes next  because I'm not going anywhere.

 

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An ARC of 'Gilded Agony' was graciously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.

What can I say...when it works, it works...

Red Fish, Dead Fish (Fish Out of Water Book 2) - Amy Lane, Greg Tremblay

I considered trying to write a whole new review for this book but honestly I couldn't think of anything to say that was truly different or better than my original review for 'Red Fish, Dead Fish' other than to say that once again Greg Tremblay did a totally fabulous job of narrating this book giving Jackson and Ellery even more depth and character and making me love this couple even more. 

 

'Red Fish, Dead Fish' is the second book in Amy Lane's 'Fish Out of Water' series and like the first one I was gobsmacked. I loved this book. It was more complex, grittier and the sexy times...well they were sexy and sadly Jackson did not come out of things unscathed.

There's a serial killer on the loose and he's got a specific target in mind...and it's Jackson. He's going after anyone he can who's connected to him, but Jackson's surrounded by a strong group of people who care...people like Jade. She's more than his best friend's sister, she's his friend and she loves him like family, his neighbor and friend, Mike. Lucy Satan or more affectionately known as Ellery's mother and my idol...when I grow up I wanna' be just like her. But most importantly he's got Ellery and Ellery's a shark in the courtroom but out of it he's a man in love willing to use every trick he has at his disposal to save Jackson not just from Owen but from himself...

"That's sweet you think your cat loves anybody as much as he loves you. No. Because once you're out of my life, he's coming after me. Think about it, Jackson. Me, all alone in the house, you not there to protect me--I'd be naked."

Transparent. And effective.

Ellery is awesome. He's got his priorities and he understands that this is not just war...against Owen but it a battle for love...his love for Jackson and in his eyes all's fair in both.

And Jackson...Jackson is about as cuddly as a brillo pad and yet he's the one who breaks my heart over and over again...

"Because the duplex isn't mine anymore," Jackson said softly. "And...and if this place isn't home, I don't have anywhere to go."

and then you put these two together and the romance is off the charts, I mean seriously these two take sweet talk to a whole new level...

"Are we going to live?" Ellery asked, acid in his voice.

"Probably not--but I may like you more than anyone else I've ever killed."

Now tell me that just doesn't just melt you into a puddle of goo on the floor. Ok, seriously there are actual words of love spoken between these two and yeah, at times it's different and maybe not quite what you'd expect but it's also sweet and heartbreaking. As determined as Ellery is to make things work between him and Jackson and to make Jackson see how good they are together, Jackson's equally determined that he just doesn't deserve this and that he's not good enough for Ellery...he's just an alley cat that no one's ever really going to want to keep.

Like the first book we're given a story in it's entirety with possible links to what's going to come next but definitely not a cliffhanger. You could easily read this one and stop there if you wanted to but I would however strongly recommend reading the first book to give yourself a better understanding of the connections between a lot of the secondary characters and the MCs. Again not a necessity but potentially the difference between 'it was ok' and 'I loved it'.

I tend to be more a fan of series that have a different couple in every book but when it works and it's done well like it was in Abigail Roux's series 'Cut & Run' or Josh Lanyon's 'Adrien English' and more recently Eden Winters' 'Diversion' or Kate Sherwood's 'Common Law' series, I will happily jump on board for a series with storylines as strong as the men who carry them and while this is only the second book in Amy Lane's 'Fish Out of Water' series it's shaping up to be excellent and for me the only thing that's missing right now is the next book and maybe more Lucy Satan because...damn that woman rocks.  I truly hope that Ms Lane isn't going to keep me  waiting too long before I get to share a new adventure with Jackson and Ellery.

 

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An audio book of 'Red Fish, Dead Fish' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This one may not be my favorite but it's definitely one of the better stories...

Room for Recovery (Hearts and Health #4) - D.J.  Jamison

'Room For Recovery' is the fourth book in D.J . Jamison's series 'Hearts and Health' and we've actually met both of the characters in this pairing previously.

 

Beau James is the nephew of Xavier James from book 2, Bedside Manner and book 3 Urgent Care and  we were introduced briefly to Wade Ritter in book 3 as well. Wade was the troubled young son of Trent's friend and part of the family that Trent helped move to Ashe at the end of 'Urgent Care' and for more on that...you guessed it read the book...hey, it's a good one. It's my favorite.

 

I have to admit at the time that I requested this one for review I hadn't read the first 3 books yet and in a way I'm glad because I would have definitely had a much stronger sense of who these two characters were and I probably wouldn't have requested this book...why? you might wonder well, it's simple...they're young adults...not my cuppa'. But since I hadn't read those books I didn't realize how young Beau and Wade were...high school, folks...senior year but still not an age group that I tend to read about much. Surprisingly though I really enjoyed this one.

 

Was there drama and angst? Well, hell yeah!!! It's high school and really you show me a teenager who isn't a walking definition of drama and angst? It's how they survive and when you have a large group of them...well, let the games begin.

 

Beau's got his life together...mostly and he's tried since he first met Wade to be friends with him but Wade's not having any of it. He's a young man who's been off the rails for a while now and he's so deep in the closet that if he can find a door I'm pretty sure it's the one to Narnia.

 

However, Wade's attraction to Beau seems to be getting stronger than the reasons that he's kept himself buried in the closet for so long and with Wade's surrogate uncle, Trent living with Xavier who happens to be Beau's uncle. Wade can only avoid coming into contact with Beau for so long and when he sees Beau getting bullied his protective instincts kick into high gear and he becomes determined to keep Beau safe even if it means that he has to crack the closet door open and take a peek to see what's out there.

 

I enjoyed this story a whole lot more than I expected to once I realized the age of these two, but I decided that in all fairness I needed to read the story and base my rating on everything and not just the age of two characters even if they were the MCs and I'm definitely glad that I did.

 

While there was a lot of angst and drama as I said before this is an age where that's more the norm than the exception. As well though there were things going on that definitely added authenticity to this story and made for an even more enjoyable reading experience in my opinion. 

 

As has been the case all along with this series we're also introduced to the characters for the next story in the series...or at least one of them because we met the other one earlier in the series. So I'm definitely looking forward to what's next in D.J. Jamison's Hearts and Health series and while this book was more of a YA or NA story it fit in beautifully with the series and I'm really glad that I didn't miss out on the reading experience.

 

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

This one's a 3 for 1 deal...

Heart and Health Volume 1 - D.J.  Jamison

"Hearts and Health" Vol. 1 is a compilation of the first 3 books in this series. So I'm going to basically break this review down into 4 parts first I'm going to talk about the series in general and then I'll do a brief review of each of the books.

 

The series...overall I've enjoyed this series and while I think you could probably read the stories as standalones and not become lost, I would definitely recommend reading the stories from the beginning and in order. Each book has a different couple as the MCs and in subsequent stories they become secondary characters which for me makes the overall reading experience more enjoyable as the reader is given the connections between the characters as and when they are made helping to create an overall more complete picture.

 

The stories in 'Heart and Health' are each set within the medical community of the fictional town of Ashe, Kansas and this series appears to be a spin-off from the author's original series 'Ashe Sentinel Connections' since 'Heart Trouble' is the first book for this series and the 6th book of 'Ashe Sentinel Connections' I'm going to guess that I've made a safe assumption with this. Now that I've given you a little bit of background about the series from a very general perspective...let's move on the the individual stories.

 

Book 1 - Heart Trouble

Karen's rating:  3.5 stars

ER nurse Ben Griggs has basically sworn off of men. He's had his heart broken one time too many. But when Gage Evans enters the emergency room where he works after a motorcycle accident Ben's life is thrown into chaos when Gage sets his sights on the sexy, sweet nurse and try and he might Ben can't seem to fully deny that he's attracted to the man that he believes to be an adrenaline junkie.

 

I liked Gage and Ben as a couple they were cute together and as individual's they seemed like genuinely nice people. While their relationship seemed to be more tangled up by assumptions and miscommunications than anything else getting to know this pair as their lives collided and they went on a series of unusual dates was sweet and enjoyable. For me the connection between Ben and Gage was there but not as strong as I would have liked it to be.  Ben and Gage's relationship was a bit of one step forward and two steps back because of misunderstandings and miscommunications and the individual insecurities and self-doubt that both men had but while it might have been a bit much for some I found that this all stopped short of that over the top mark for me and I enjoyed this first book a little more than average as well we get to meet a number of secondary characters who show up in subsequent books like Zane and Paul who are the central figures in...

 

Book #2 - Bedside Manner

Karen's rating:  3 stars

We were introduced to both of these characters in book #1. Zane is a student of Gage's and ends up in the ER as a patient where he meets Ben and Dr. Paul Johnston. But it's Ben and Gage who help Zane and take care of him once he leaves the hospital until he can get  back on his feet...taking him in and looking after him until he's well enough to be on his own moves in with his friend, Xavier.  However, Ben and Gage remain Zane's surrogate parental units much to Zane's annoyance at times. 

 

Zane meets Dr. Paul Johnston for the first time when he's to say the least 'not at his best' and while the good doctor notices that Zane's an attractive young man in spite of his injuries even he's not pervy enough to be comfortable with any kind of attraction given Zane's state when they first meet.

 

This one's definitely a slow burn as both men have other issues that they're dealing with.

 

This was definitely my least favorite of the stories in this volume. I wasn't a fan of Paul in the first story and that didn't really change much here. The age gap between these two was a bit more than I'm comfortable with and not just because Paul was literally old enough to be Zane's father but because of the actual age of each man. Paul's just this side of 40 and when they initially meet Zane's not even 21. One man's established in his life and career and the other's just starting to stretch his wings and become independent ...for me there's a power dynamic here that just doesn't work and while the story was ok, I struggled with that age difference enough that it definitely put a damper on things and kept the story from being one that I could truly enjoy...so let's just say this one's on me and call it a day. I know a lot of people out there wouldn't have an issue with this so it's very much about personal preference in my eyes.

 

Book #3 - Urgent Care

Karen's rating:  4 stars

We were first introduced to Xavier back in book #2 as Zane's roommate. Xav's a nursing student and he's what most would call a mature student. It seems that when Xav graduated high school he had family who needed him so it took him a bit of time to get back to school to complete his education and become a nurse. 

 

Trent's a part of Xav's past...a part that Xav thought was done and over with until the day that he approached Xav in a local gay bar. It's been 12 years since these men have seen each other. A lot has happened...a lot has changed except for the fact that Trent still loves Xavier and wants him back. Xavier's still got feelings for Trent...strong feelings but he's not sure that he's willing to trust Trent with his heart again. 

 

This was absolutely my favorite story from this group. I loved this one. Trent and Xavier worked for me. I'm a total sucker for second chance stories and this one was heart meltingly sweet...not sugary over the top sweet though. There were issues that both of these men had to work through before they could fully commit to making things work. There was steam and heat and a very palpable sexual tension between these two men.

 

So at the end of it all while I could have done a pick and choose thing with the stories in here I can honestly say that I enjoyed and appreciated each story more for having read the one before it.

 

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An advance copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

Good-bye Sam and Jory. Hello Aaron and Duncan...

Parting Shot - Tristan James, Mary Calmes

'Parting Shot' is the final book in Mary Calmes's series 'A Matter of Time' and while the previous books have all focused on the relationship between Sam and Jory in this one we are given a closer look at Duncan Stiel and Aaron Sutter...one of Jory's ex's. 

 

We've met both of these characters in previous books in this series and I have to admit when I first read this book I wasn't sure how well this was going to work out for me. While Duncan was a little bit intriguing and I was ok with finding out more about  him, I was in all honesty not a fan of Aaron Sutter. This was not a character that I wanted to be bothered with but as always Ms Calmes knew better and she drew me into a story about that got me involved and showed me a different side of Mr Sutter and gave him the perfect match in Duncan Stiel. Someone who could go toe to toe with him and not be intimidated by his wealth and for Duncan Aaron was bold enough to step into his world and face danger with him and have his back...these two men worked much better as a pairing than I had anticipated wrapping up this series with a story that was every bit as interesting and enjoyable as anything that has gone before in the series.

 

So when I decided to revisit 'A Matter of Time' on audio and saw that Tristan James was the narrator well you can be sure that I was really looking forward to getting to this book and once again this is a perfect example of what a difference a good narrator can make because as much as I enjoyed reading the book...listening to the audio book was just that much better. While I enjoyed my adventures with Sam and Jory I have to say admit 'Parting Shot was my favorite audio book from this series...

 

Tristan James + Mary Calmes = one of my best happy places and I will be going back.

One last time with Sam and Jory...

But For You - Mary Calmes, Finn Sterling

Ok so this is the last book in the series with Sam and Jory as the MCs and we have yet another new narrator. This time it's Finn Sterling and once again the narration was good but the voices just weren't working for me and while I liked the story because I wasn't over the moon with the narrators voices for Sam and Jory things were ok but not awesome.

 

And again if I have a chance I'll give this one a real review in the near further but really this series has been around for quite a while so I'm not sure that there's much more to say that hasn't already been said, but for now I'm done and on to the next book.

And yet more fun with Sam and Jory...

Bulletproof - Jeff Gelder, Mary Calmes

Ok so real quick here this time it's Jeff Gelder who's giving us the voices of Sam and Jory and unfortunately while the narration was ok, but I was once again not quite feeling a connection between the voices and the characters. So all in all an enjoyable listening experience but not quite hitting the 'oh-wow-this-is-awesome' zone. But it was Mary Calmes, Sam and Jory how could I resist? and again if time permits I'll revisit this and hopefully do a better job of creating a real review.

More fun with Sam and Jory...

A Matter of Time, Vol. 2 - Mary Calmes

So here we are at Vol 2 which is comprised of books 3 and 4 in Mary Calmes's series 'A Matter of Time' and again the narrator is Paul Morey and again this was an enjoyable listening experience...not great but no really issues. I like Paul Morey but for me he just didn't quite capture the character and voices of Sam and Jory...close but not quite.

 

Ok, so I'm outta' here for now to may RL things are demanding my attention so hopefully I'll revisit this and do a real review one day soon and if not I'll just have to re-listen to these audiobooks and then do a review. For now I'm outta' here.

It's time to visit Sam and Jory again...

A Matter of Time, Vol. 1 - Paul Morey, Mary Calmes

So I finally caved and listened to the audio books for this series and I have to admit this all came down a notch for me...partially because the narrators were ok but I wasn't enchanted with them and partially because while I enjoy this series please don't hate me when I say that this is not my favorite series by Mary Calmes...I'm sorry...not, I love the Marshals...true facts! And with any luck one day I'll do a more thorough review otherwise we'll just call it a day with this.

 

So Mary Calmes always a win for me narrated by Paul Morey and it was still good...not as great for me as other narrators but still I enjoyed myself.

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