...Bookfanatic

 

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

Second chances can be such a good idea...

So Into You - S.E. Harmon, Herrmann Michael Stellman

'Stay With Me' was the first book in S. E. Harmon's 'PI Guys' series and I admit I considered taking a pass on this one...at least for now, but my little book OCD voice said "No you can't do that, you need to finish what you started...yadda, yadda, yadda..." that book OCD biotch is annoying as all get out when she gets started...so in an effort to shut her up I agreed to do this. Turns out she maybe a biotch but sometimes she has good ideas. Psst, don't tell her she's egotistical enough  as it is, ok?

 

So after giving in to my Book OCD...which yes, does include audio books. I clicked on 'So Into You' and pressed the play button and yeah, I really got into this one. I liked...I mean really liked both Drew and Noah. I liked their banter and their snark and...uuuhhhmmm...the sex...*fans herself*...well, lets just say it was 'hella hot'. 

 

I loved that both of these men were relationship phobic and yet, both of them fell into one like kids in a candy store. They just couldn't get enough and when it came to willpower 'they had none'.

 

Michael Stellman was the narrator for this book and while he was definitely the shining star for 'Stay With Me' if it's possible I think I liked him even better this time around.

 

Between Drew's ex-con father, his recalcitrant brother and a mother with less than stellar taste in men and a PI partner who possibly needs his own keeper...thank heavens for Jordan and the fact that Noah's life is on the other side of the country and his family is not even close to what could be called conventional. Watching these two men maneuver themselves into a relationship was more than a little entertaining to say the least.

 

While 'Stay With Me' overall just didn't work for me...'So Into You' was the polar opposite and I really enjoyed it, so much more than the first book and I can easily see more S. E. Harmon stories in my future.

This one was delightful...

His Convenient Husband (Love and Sports) - Robin Covington

 

'His Convenient Husband' is about what could happen when a man who has everything loses the love of his life...his forever after meets a man who's still looking for his.

 

Raising his son and playing professional football in the NFL has probably been what's gotten Isaiah Blackwell through the past three years since his beloved husband Stephen was taken from them.  What Isaiah's not ready for is the attraction that he feels towards the sensual, gender fluid, outspoken and confident ballet dancer Victor Aleksandrov whose stance on Russia's treatment of gays has put his life in jeopardy if his request for asylum in the United States is denied and he is forced to return to his homeland.

 

Isaiah may not be out and proud but he's not hiding in any closets either. He really just wants to play football and raise the son that he and Stephen adopted. While someone like Victor may not be his type, he can't deny the pull of attraction that he feels and after spending a passionate night with Victor, Isaiah learns that Victor has been denied asylum he does what any decent man would do...he proposes...a marriage of convenience.

 

I really enjoyed this one it ticked more than a few boxes for me. I loved Victor, he was simply a wonderful character that worked beautifully in my mind. I can't say that I thought he was perfect but he was wonderful. To me he was neither brash nor loud. He was confident and outspoken, he believed in his cause, having gotten outside the borders of Russia he felt that he had a duty to speak out about the treatment of the LGBTQ community in Russia but he truly did this with style and finesse. Sadly at the end of it all though Victor was outspoken about what he believed in and Isaiah played for the NFL and was a man who like to keep a low profile on his private life and his priority was to give his son as normal of a life as possible out of the limelight.

 

While Isaiah's intentions were admirable what he failed to factor in was how amazing his son was. Evan was definitely a favorite in this story. He was an amazing human being and if the author ever decides to give us Evan's story...maybe a few years down the road in his life...sign me up and consider me there.

 

Along with Evan the other secondary character in this book whose story I would totally be on board for was Isaiah's best friend and agent Ian Carmichael...this man is begging to be struck by lightening. His idea of a long-term relationship means he paid for the hotel for a long weekend. He's British, he's snarky and calls a spade a spade but at the heart of it all he wants the best for the people he cares about. 

 

What starts as a marriage of convenience to keep Victor from being deported quickly becomes a quagmire of emotional landmines for both of these men as their attraction grows and real life intrudes bringing with it some much unwanted attention that leads to misunderstandings and leaves both men frustrated and hurt.

 

I really enjoyed this and the only little niggle that I had was the ending. It was good I just needed it to go a little further...I wanted a little more of this sexy as hell couple but as I said it's only a little niggle because we were definitely left with these men in a good place...this one was a HEA to be sure but still, I'm greedy I want more.

 

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An ARC of 'A Marriage of Convenience' was graciously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I'm sorry, I tried...I really, really tried...

Stay With Me - S.E. Harmon,  Michael Stellman

Well this was surprise...I had zero doubt...zero I tell you that I was going to like this...well, I guess this was my reminder to 'never say never'. 

 

What I like was the narration. Michael Stellman was the narrator on this one and for me he did an awesome job. If I was just rating the narrator this one would have gotten at least 3 stars probably 4 from me.

 

I liked the humor there was some really funny stuff and I found myself chuckling out loud on more than one occasion and this is pretty much where this list ends with the exception of the occasional moments where I started to like Mackenzie, one of the MCs.

 

What I didn't like...well there's a laundry list for you. For the most part I didn't like the MCs a lot of the time I just wanted to give one or both of them a shake and tell them to get their heads out of their behinds, stop thinking with their little heads and try using the big one...you know the one that actually has a brain in it. I wanted to send Mackenzie for counselling to get back some of his self esteem and then there was Jordan...seriously? WTF? This guy was more confusing than trying to do a Rubik's cube in the dark. He's not gay and doesn't want to be but damned if he can stay away from Mackenzie and holy hell does he know his way around in the bedroom when he gets him there and that's just the tip of the iceberg with him. I found myself raging at Jordan more often than not and there really wasn't a point at which I even remotely liked him. I might have liked some of the secondary characters if someone anyone had bothered to treat Mackenzie with even a fraction of something that indicated they thought he had feelings worth considering. 

 

I get that he was maybe his own worst enemy and the source of a majority of his problems but damn, if I treated my friends the way that everyone treated Mackenzie... well, I think I could pretty well expect that I'd be told where to go and how to get there in short order. 

 

I've read the reviews and I get that this one worked for more people than not, I just happen to be one of the 'nots', but I'm also a bit of a die hard and since this is my first time with an S. E. Harmon story, I can't help but wonder if it's just this particular story or  if maybe it's a case of this author just isn't for me so you guessed it I'm giving it one more try with 'So Into You' book #2 in 'The PI Guys'...cross your fingers for me, ok?

More Bo & Lucky...need I say more...

Reunion - Eden Winters

So last Wednesday a couple of my Buddy Read Besties and I did this thing where we all pulled up our copies of 'Reunion' by Eden Winters and we jumped, we dived and we unrepentantly fell into this story. It was Bo and Lucky at their best and without a doubt it was one of our best buddy reads EVAH!!!...well, almost we were missing a member...*side-eyes Josy* but she did pop in to visit from time to time so that helped.

 

I'm probably going to take my lazy reviewers way out on this one for a couple of reasons...one because hey already some awesome reviews out there, here's proof...

Simone's Awesome 'Reunion' Review

Christelle's Amazing Reunion Review

Thanks for sharing the fun with me ladies as always you made something fantastic even more so.

 

So I'm just going to add a few random thoughts on this one before moving on. First if you haven't read the previous books in this series...ok, I admit it I don't really understand but ok, yes I do...so many books so little time, but honestly make time for this series you won't regret or at least I can't imagine that you will...*side-eyes Josy, again*.

 

If you have read been reading this series I think you're really going to love this one. I know we've been left hanging white-knuckles and all on the edge of a cliff at times, we've been left wondering how these guys are every going to make it, clutching our teddys with tears in our eyes and diligently praying for more...like yesterday but in this one at the end of it all we were left feeling pretty damned good about things and yes, still wanting more.

 

'Reunion' was filled with so much emotion we laughed...Oh how we laughed, we had a couple of 'what the hell?' moments and there may have been a tissue or two sacrificed along the way but at the end of it all without a doubt this one was 100% worth reading. 

 

Like my friend and Buddy Read Bestie Simone, I've been with this amazing series for a few years now and there is zero doubt in my mind that I'm in it for the long haul and I love that we've added Christelle to team #LUCKYandBOforever! For as much as I loved reading this one Christelle and Simone sharing the experience with you both made it even better and I can't wait until the next one because I just know that we'll have our fourth member of this buddy read team on board and up to speed for it..."right Josy?" *that's right I'ma lookin' at you girlfriend*...no pressure though ;)

So things got a little hot at my house for a while because...

Cover Up: A Skin Deep, Inc Novel (Skin Deep Inc.) - L.A. Witt

I've been reading L. A. Witt again...specifically 'Cover Up'  which is Nate'and Lucas's story. We first met Nate and Lucas in 'Pounding Skin' book #2 in Ms Witts' 'Skin Deep Inc.' series.

 

Nate and Lucas meet for the first time when Nate goes to Skin Deep at the urging of his friend Jon because he wants to cover the tiger tattoo on his arm that matches the one his now ex-husband has. According to Jon if you need a tattoo covered Lucas is the artist to see. What neither man anticipated was the intense reaction that Nate would have to the incredibly sexy but nearly 10 years younger tattoo artist.

 

Things heat up fairly quickly between these two men but hey, it's just a friends with benefits thing...sex for fun...no strings attached. Nate's still working on getting out of a marriage that ended badly, Lucas has ridden that merry-go-round twice already and has no interest in taking another ride, so nothing serious right?...well, it isn't until it is.

 

I've been looking forward to this one every since I was introduced to Nate in 'Pounding Skin' when he walked in and found his husband in their bed with another man...because damn, he seemed like such a nice guy and no one deserves that...no one, so I really, really wanted to see Nate get a better ending to his story. I was more than a little happy to learn that his story was next and while I did enjoy it. It turned out that I was also a little disappointed as well. This could have been so much more than it was.

 

Nate's story wasn't just about finding love it was about dealing with losing it as well. Learning to let go and move on. Saying good-bye to the future you thought you were going to have an finding something new...something better and while it was about those things there were times that the potential of this got lost in the sex...sure, I admit it was pretty steamy stuff. Ms Witt writes some hella' hot sex when you get right down to it, but for me this was a case of sometimes less is more. I would have loved just a little less when it came to the sex and a little more when it came to the character and relationship development especially towards the end. 

 

Nate and Lucas made for an incredibly likable and sexy pairing when it came time to address their issues...because let's face it every could has a point where there are things that need to be worked out and Nate and Lucas are no exception to this. That moment for me felt to rushed to quickly and readily resolved. I wasn't looking for a big dramatic filled with angst event but it just seemed like their issues and in particular Nate's weren't something that could be resolved in less than a day. 

 

Overall though this was still an enjoyable read with some really good moments in it and as always I loved getting a peek at what was going on with Matt and Jon from 'Pounding Skin' and I really enjoyed seeing more of Colin and Daniel from 'Back Piece'.  Although each of these books have the ability to be read as a stand alone story for myself I found it to be a far more enjoyable reading experience for having read the previous stories but I admit I'm a bit of a dork when it comes to knowing the full background of secondary characters who turn up to add a bit of color to a story.

 

I have to wonder though if this isn't the end of the road for this series since we've been introduced to at least one of the MCs for each book in the previous one. In the first book 'Back Piece' we got Colin and Daniel's story and were introduced to Matt. Then in 'Pounding Skin' we met Nate as Jon's best friend and Lucas as the newest employee of 'Skin Deep Inc' but in 'Cover Up' we've been given no likely candidates for another story but rest assured if there is one I'll be watching for them and if not well then one can only wonder what this author has planned for us next and if you're also wondering what happened to Nate's tattoo...well, you'll just have to read the book to find out.

 

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

 

This was surprising little gem...

Out of the Shadows (Dreamspun Desires Book 40) - K.C. Wells, Finn Sterling

I have to admit I wasn't sure what to expect with this one  but it's K. C. Wells so I felt fairly certain that at the worst I was going to at least like this one. Well I did and I was even more pleasantly surprised to realize that I more than liked it. 

 

'Out of the Shadows' turned out to be a sweet story about a Christian Hernandez, a man who is left severely scared on the right side of his body...specifically his face and arm and how he comes to see that while the scars he was left with are a part of him they don't have to define him and Josh the sweet man who enters his life due to renovations that are being made in the apartment complex where he lives who sees beyond how Christian looks to the man he is. One of my favorite things about this story is the banter between Josh and Christian. From their first conversation I found them to be totally charming and adorable.

 

While there's not really any angst in this one neither does Josh's entrance into Christian's life magically fix things. This is a slow burn as Josh and Christian go from strangers to a very tenuous relationship as acquaintances and with time and patience they become friends as Josh slowly and persistently strives to bring Christian out of his shell and help him accept to reclaim his life...a life that can exist outside of the walls of his apartment.

 

I think for me this was a case of right story right time. I loved the simplicity of this story that was quite honestly filled with a whole lot of people who seemed really nice and had the ability to see beyond the surface and appreciate the person inside. I also liked that this was not a story filled with insta-love, insta-fix...insta-anything nor was it a story of overly complicated and convoluted solutions. Sometimes the solutions in life are straightforward solutions that just need time and effort which is how things felt in this story.

 

'Out of the Shadows' was narrated by a new to me narrator named Finn Sterling and I have to admit that not all of the voices he created for these characters matched what my mind conjured but I was ok with this because while they didn't match my imaginings they were unique and expressive to each character. 

 

This book #40 in Dreamspinner's Dreamspun Desires series and can easily be read or listened to on audio as a standalone story.

 

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

Well this was a cute way to pass a bit of time...

Horny - Anne Tenino, Nick J. Russo

'Horny' was a cute story that took more than a little poetic license with Greek mythology. When Ryan Caulfield ends up with a group of supernatural law enforcers in his bar hunting for a less than law abiding Zeus the last thing Ryan expects to happen is that he'll be attracted to one of them and even more surprising they're attracted to him. As a paranormal investigator and an eroté, Leander's use to not having to work for his conquest but when it comes to Ryan things just are coming easy to Leander and not everything's as it seems to be.

 

With a title like 'Horny' the one thing that you could reasonably safely assume is that this is not a serious story and you're right. There were some funny and entertaining moments in this one unfortunately they were interspersed with moments of what felt a little bit like the story was maybe trying too hard. While the first half of this story waffled between 2 and 3 stars the second part made up for it and was a little more consistently on a 3 star level. I found myself far more interested and invested in what was happening and where my mind had wandered a bit at the beginning I found myself paying closer attention to what was happening and enjoying myself a bit more during the last half of the story.

 

While the story started out feeling very much like insta-love/lust at first things became far more interesting when it got dialed back a notch and Leander had to start working for what he wanted and both men are taking the time to get to know each other along with still having a wayward Zeus to bring to justice.

 

Nick J. Russo was the narrator for this light and amusing story and his voice added depth and character to the story and making for yet another entertaining listening experience.

 

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

What can I say..."I just wasn't wild about Wild."...

WILD - Adrienne Wilder

So me and my Buddy Read Besties...Christelle, Josy & Simone decided that we needed to read this one together because it's the perfect book for a buddy read and 'EVERYONE' is loving this one...well...everyone except me and Simone and Josy (I think)...but we liked it really we did.

 

I have to admit I'm feeling a bit lazy today and Simone really covered a lot of reasons that I happen to agree with so in the most efficient lazy reviewer style ever here's the link to Simone's review...

Simone's 'WILD' Review definitely worth reading and can I just say "cutest wolf pup evah!"  Also sorry Simone but in my part of the world that bet would be what we call a sucker bet.

I think about the only other thing that didn't work for me was part of the ending. There were things at the end that were just to quickly and easily wrapped up all nice, neat and tidy with a bow...sorry, I like a good HEA but this one just didn't work for me. 

 

And in fairness to all those who haven't read this book and to the lovely Christelle who ended up being the odd man out on this one because she loved this book and made some very valid points in her review for why this story worked so well for her here's the link to her wonderful review so that you can see both sides of this coin...

Christelle's WILD Review

 

And that's not to say that there weren't things I liked in this story because there were...

like my friend Simone I was enchanted with the setting the wild's of Alaska for all it's savagery it is also a bold and beautiful country and it takes an incredibly bold and strong person to be able to live there. In short the author chose a setting that is both scary and breathtakingly beautiful.

 

Daisy...Daisy  and August are the perfect example of what can happen when man and nature work together...

and then there's the she bitch or the permanently pissed off momma bear as I can to think of her...

 Unfortunately the addition of Alaska and all of it's natural beauty was not enough to take this book over the top for me but it certainly gave this story a beautiful setting to play out against and the addition of my Buddy Read Besties as always provided me with the best of company to take this adventure with. 

 

 

 

 

 

“…Nothing worth anything was ever easy…”

First Season - V.L. Locey, R.J. Scott

And for Layton Foxx and Adler Lockhart it’s going to be an uphill battle. Layton’s a spin doctor, PR troubleshooter…whatever title you want to use he’s the man you need when things are going FUBAR for you and/or your organization. He comes in and does damage control, makes a plan and fixes things, handles the media. He’s all about the success both for his clients and himself but don’t make it personal he doesn’t do personal. His past has taught him where that road leads and it’s a trip he doesn’t want to take again any time soon or ever. But he’s not a coward by any means either and letting his past rule his future isn’t something he’s prepared to do.

 

Adler’s had life handed to him on a silver tray. The best of everything…cars, homes, schools, whatever he’s wanted…whatever’s kept him out of his parent’s lives because they don’t do kids. Adler’s grown up feeling like he’s never good enough, no matter what he’s done, it’s not enough to get him the love he wants from his parents and it’s left him feeling more than a little inadequate about himself so he tries to fill the void with his gruff joking exterior and following his parent’s role model that ‘love comes in a box with a fancy price tag’. Adler for me was like that puppy you see when you enter the pound the one that looks at you with hope and optimism in his eyes because each new person that enters his world is another opportunity to find his place, but it’s not until he encounters Layton that he begins to learn that it’s not about finding your place in the world it’s about creating something new…(I admit it, you’ll have to read the story to fully understand this quote and how it came to be.)

“I want to be paint with you.”

 

“Oh…kay. I want to be paint with you too?”

 

A raspy, coughing laugh rolled out of me. “Cool. We’re going to make one truly vibrant and unique color, Layton.”

On the surface, this is probably one of the most unlikely pairings that I’ve encountered in a while but at the end of it all, it’s also one of the sweetest.

 

I really enjoyed ‘Changing Lines’ the first story in this series and with this story while we have new MCs in Layton and Adler and they really are the focus of the story we also get more about Jared and Tennant, which I really liked since they’re story really isn’t finished. I have to admit I’m more than a little impressed with how well balanced this story is the events of the story that pertain to Jared and Tennant neither overwhelm nor get lost in what’s developing between Layton and Adler and if you pay close attention the groundwork is laid for the next book in this series.

 

So far I’m a fan of the characters we’ve been given…not just the MCs, there are lot of awesome secondary characters in these stories…Adler’s best friend Apollo was intriguing, I love Landry’s family. They were big and loud and in your face protective of him and with good reason and all the players that we get little glimpses of both from the Railers and other teams.

 

While I’m not a huge fan of sports themed stories this series was just too tempting to resist. It’s hockey and I am Canadian…so the least I could do was give it a try, right? But what’s got me wanting more isn’t the hockey it’s the wonderful stories that the writing team of R.J. Scott & V.L. Locey have produced. I can’t wait to see what’s ahead for this team because so far it looks like the Harrisburg Railers are shaping up to be a winning team.

 

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An ARC of ‘First Season’ was graciously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.

A little extra something from the author...

Momento Amare: All About the Memories - D. G. Cox

'Memento Amare: All About the Memories' is a short, sweet angst free and just generally free story that the author has made available and while I can be read at any time I strongly recommend reading it after reading Momento Amare as it will put a smile on your face and be far more enjoyable with the background of the original story to support it.

So if reading the book was hard...

Memento Amare - D. G. Cox

Writing the review may be damned near impossible.  I could probably give you a laundry list of why this book shouldn't have worked because there is a bit of just about everything in this book that has at times driven me crazy while reading other books and yet somehow this time they either didn't bother me or they just made the story work and I mean work. 

 

While the storyline in 'Memento Amare' may not seem that unusual it's a mystery/romance/spy/thriller type book what sets it apart for me is how the author has brought this story to life. First off this story covers a really long time period we first meet Phalen Cole when he's a very young child and by the end of this story both men are well in to their 50s/60s and what a life they've had. But I'm not even going to start with that because this would easily go from a review to a very lengthy essay because at 130,000+ words be prepared for a lengthy read but trust me it's so worth it.

 

So why shouldn't this story have worked well it's insta-love...sort of but not really. I'd probably call it more of an insta-attraction and when all was said and done it worked for me because while the attraction was instant acting on it wasn't.  While insta-love's not really my thing this isn't the first book that I've read where the author made it work...so really, all in all this was a small niggle and like I said it worked because while it may seemed like insta-love these guys didn't automatically fall into bed and live happily ever.

 

The bigger issue and the one that really should have had me doing a DNF was how the story played out. We get alternating POVs from the MCs which this part I like. I often don't do well spending too much time in one MCs head but the part that surprised me was that when it comes to the time line it's not linear folks we're all over the map and I think this is probably the first story I've ever read where I can honestly say that at the end of it all this was in a lot of ways what probably made this story work so well. As we're taken through Phalen's life and his relationship with Clyde we are given this story both as it happens and through memories and flashbacks by both MCs. Sometimes these memories are revisited more than once but from a different perspective, but I have to admit It took me a bit of contemplation to figure out why I was ok with this and what I realized was that often times when a person reflects on their life or even recounts it to others memories aren't always given in a linear order but often tend to be related in relevance of what has happened in the present to make that memory become relevant or important to events or the person recalling it. So as I was reading this I realized that this ironically was also one of the reasons that I was becoming so engaged in the story because more important than a chronological time line I was getting things that as they became relevant to the story. 

 

Most of this story actually takes place during the time that Cole and Clyde are members of the 'Global Anti Terrorist Force' or 'GATF' both Cole and Clyde's lives are woven in and what starts as a spy type story turns into an incredible love story filled with action and suspense that grabs the reader and wrenches on the heart. This is by no means the first book that's made me cry but it definitely is one of a select few that I can honestly say probably got as much teary time from me as not...seriously more than once I had to set this one aside because...too many tears to keep reading. 

 

In spite of the fact that Cole and Clyde are agents for the GATF the most important mission that these two men have is the one to save their life together as partners and as the story unfolds what we see is that the strongest weapon in either man's arsenal are words...words offering love, promise, hope, trust, faith, salvation and in the end redemption...

"What does it say about this world that men are rewarded for killing another man, and punished for loving another?"

 

'Momento Amare' is the first book that I've read by G. D. Cox. But I have to say given how much I enjoyed the interesting and unique journey that this author took us on I can't imagine that it will be the only one.

 

On a separate but connected note the author has generously added a short story entitled...'Memento Amare: All About the Memories' that at 22 pages is short but sweet and fun to read after the emotional ride you take reading the book...oh, it's also free!

 

This one's definitely recommended and best read with tissues and teddies on standby.

 

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A copy of 'Momento Amare' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

This one absolutely gutted me...

Unquiet (Resilient Love #3) - Melanie Backe-Hansen, Michael Stillman

I don't think I've ever read a book where a couple deserved a 'happily ever after' more. "Unquiet" is the third book in Melanie Hansen's 'Resilient Love' series and I've enjoyed each of these stories so very much but this one...damn, it seriously broke my heart. It's one of the few books where I can honestly say I think I spent at least as much time crying as not. Sometimes it was happy tears...othertimes not so much.

 

We first met Loren in 'Signs of Life' book #2 in this series. He's the former boyfriend of Kai, who was one of the MCs in that story and while he and Kai are very good friends who still care for each other a lot. What they share is a strong and secure friendship and they've each moved in. Kai's story was in 'Signs of Life' and at the end of it we were given the indication that Loren was going to go after the man who held his heart. 

 

Loren and Elliot have been friends all their lives and they've loved each other that long. Unfortunately love's course is never easy and when one of the people involved is a cop and the other deals with mental health issues...you see Elliot is bipolar...if you're not familiar with this condition...take a minute before reading this book and remember google is your friend. I was fortunate in that because I've worked in health care for over 15 years, during that time I had the experience of working with several clients who were bipolar and the one thing I know from that experience is that it takes an incredibly strong person to be the partner of someone who's bipolar and it takes an even stronger person to not just survive being bipolar but to thrive, to make a good and productive life for themselves and that's what Elliot wants but it's not easy. It's so far from easy there aren't even words.

 

There's no perfection between these men they both make mistakes such huge mistakes but it's never done with the intent to hurt the other person. Loren struggles to be the supportive partner that Elliot needs while still trying to pursue his career goals as a police officer. Elliot fights so hard to manage his condition and be what Lauren needs...they both stumble and have to find ways to pick themselves back up and put themselves and their relationship back together...it's heartbreaking, gut wrenching and seriously if you can read this book without shedding any tears, without feeling their pain...well, you're a tougher person than I.

 

I had times when I was frustrated with Loren and Elliot but honestly never was there a point at which I didn't want them to find a way to be together. Melanie Hansen has created two incredibly amazing men in this story...not perfect but strong, resilient men who were willing to do what it took...anything it took to be together because when you love someone whose bipolar..."You're either all in or all out."

 

All of this was made even more vivid for me with the addition of Michael Stellman's voice narrating this story. He gave such depth and emotion to these men and to the people in their lives allowing me to connect with the story on an emotional level that I'm not sure I would have felt had I just been reading the book. I'm not saying I wouldn't have still loved this book no I think it's more a case of Michael Stellman took a book that I would have loved regardless and simply made it that much better.

 

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

Well I didn't see that coming...

A Reason To Believe - Diana Copland, Jack LeFleur

So yesterday I decided I wanted to listen to an audio book just for me and not for any other reason than I wanted to listen to it and this was what I picked and really all I can say is..."Damn, sometimes I make the best choices."

 

I've had this one on my radar for ages and I have to admit I've put it off for a while now mostly because the murder victim in this one is a young child and I admit it, not a fan. I have child of my own and yes, he's now an adult in his 30s but he was young once. Just like the child in this story so mostly my heartstrings weren't up to being tugged on that hard but for whatever reason I decided I was going to bite the bullet on this one and I was honestly surprised with how much I liked this.

 

I think a big reason that this worked for me and didn't bother me the way I had thought it would was because the actual murder didn't occur on page and we are only fed details in small amounts throughout the book and none of it ever felt excessively graphic...truthfully the part that was the biggest sucker punch for me was the name of the child's mother...you see her name was Karen...yeah, that one made me gasp a little but the woman had to have a name right?

 

I've always been a fan of msytery/thriller stories and this one was awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed it but add in a solid romance and I was in story heaven. I really enjoyed the balance between mystery and romance in this story and loved how well it all worked.

 

Matthew Bennett is a detective and he doesn't believe in ghost until the spirit of the murdered little girl he's sent to investigate shows him where to find her body...well, needless to say Matt's not so sure that ghost don't exist and when is best friend drags him to meet renowned medium Kiernan Fitzpatrick, Matt's world is about to get turned inside out as the two men begin to discover their mutual attraction all while working together to find out who killed the child who's ghost is haunting their every step and why? 

 

While Diana Copland isn't a new to me author and I've enjoyed her other books that I've read this one really tops the list for me and once again I got to enjoy a new audio book narrator whose name is Jack LeFleur. I was more than a little impressed with this narrator. I loved his voices they were distinct, emotionally expressive and I cannot tell a lie I loved Kiernan's voice it was perfect with just enough accent to make me think Irish but not leaving me wondering what he saying...yep, Kiernan's voice totally worked for me and overall I was definitely impressed with this narrator and will be keeping an eye out for more audiobooks with his name attached.

This time around, it's not a gender thing...

Rank & File - L.A. Witt

or even really an age thing...nope, this time around it's all about the 'Rank & File'. 

 

'Rank & File' is the fourth book in L. A. Witt's 'Anchor Point' series and so far I've enjoyed them all. But this one's got a little bit of a twist to it...one that probably wouldn't occur to a lot of people. You see, Senior Chief Will Curtis is enlisted and he's got his eye on the prize making Master Chief after 30 years of enlistment and Lieutenant Brent Jameson is a navy brat who's graduated from Annapolis with a life in the military laid out for him. A life that he's never questioned but one that's slowly suffocating him. 

 

Will and Brent meet under less than auspicious circumstances and while both men feel a definite physical attraction. They also know it's neither the time nor the place to act on that attraction and then there's the whole issue of fraternization...because while DADT may have been repealed fraternization between officers and enlisted is still a career ender in the military.

 

Only it's a week later and neither man has been able to stop thinking about the other and a chance encounter at local bar only reaffirms that they liked what they'd seen and really one night to get it out of their systems isn't going to hurt anyone right? As long as no one finds out and it's only one night...right? Until it isn't because neither man is ready to walk away. 

 

This ones strong on the sex but given that this a relationship that starts based on mutual physical attraction, would you honestly expect anything different? I know I didn't but for me this was a case of the sex being a part of the story and not just a lot of gratuitous sex for the sake of sex. This was a relationship that didn't start with 'love at first sight'...but 'lust at first sight' and from there as these two men came together they got to know each other, find out about each other and take comfort in each other allowing other feelings to develop and grow until they were both blindsided with the knowledge that their hearts were involved and walking away would mean more than losing a 'friend with benefits' it would mean losing the man they'd come to love.

 

The choice between love and career isn't a new one to a lot of people...military or not, but it can be one of the hardest ones a person can make and I have to admit I held my breath for a while as I devoured this story wanting to know how these two men would ever find their happily ever after and in the end I wasn't disappointed. It took some time, personal growth on the part of both men and definitely hard decisions and change were involved but in the end for me it was the decision that I think made the most sense and probably the one that I'd been hoping for in my heart.  

 

I've enjoyed the stories in this series so far and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what comes next in this series...'Anchor Point' is definitely recommended if you like stories about broken alpha males in the military who have what it takes to deal with whatever life throws their way as they pull themselves up, put themselves back together and fight for the love they never thought they'd find.

 

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

Well that was fun!

Just Like Cats and Dogs - B.A. Tortuga, Joe Formichella

I've read more than a book or two by B.A. Tortuga but 'Just Like Cats and Dogs' is my first shifter book by this author and 'damn, what was I thinking?' I loved this book. It was fun and entertaining and there was a story here...a serious kept me interested story.

 

Sam's a feline shifter who grew up in a family of wolves...I know that right there tells you this is not your usual shifter story, right? If you're thinking poor Sam never stood a chance at fitting in you've pretty well nailed it, but in spite of that Sam's got family. His momma loves him, his brother Grey (who happens to be a wolf shifter and by the way Grey's blind) loves him, his sister Helena (and I apologize if I got this name wrong, I suck with names) anyways, Helena's got the heart and spirit of a wolf...she just can't shift and then there's Gus...Gus who is Sam's best friend's brother and the bane of Sam's existence or at least he was when they were younger  but things have changed. Sam's all grown up and somehow Gus just can't stop noticing.

 

I just loved, loved, loved these two their snark and banter was simply adorable and at times hilariously funny...

"Hey Puss."

"Yeah Pup." 

That's right this is how these two talked to each other...only better...way better!

 

I was totally taken with these two from the word go. I loved how Gus wanted to take care of Sam, once he accepted that Sam was his mate he was willing to do whatever it took to get his mate back and then to make a life where Sam could belong...where Sam was truly part of the pack. Didn't matter what you could shift into or who you were if you weren't willing to run with Sam you could move on and you truly have to read the story to understand just how important this is and why. 

 

One of my other favorite things about this story was the fact that whether they were in their animal or human form these shifters retained a lot of their characteristics. Sam likes tuna it doesn't matter whether he's a human or a cat...he likes his tuna. Gus likes his steak and he's got a sweet tooth, but not Sam. Sam doesn't do sweet can't really taste it but give him salty and he's all in. Sam likes to groom his mate...he's a cat right and we all know how fastidious cats are when it comes to grooming. There are all these little quirky things that are a part of their character and I just loved that they were a part of the person no matter what their form was. It worked and at times just added to the humor of the story. 

 

Every now and then more than anything else I enjoy a story that makes me laugh and I mean that in a good way. This one made me laugh in that 'oh my god this is so precious, I can't believe it' way and not in the 'why the hell am I reading this book?' way. I think of all the shifter books I've read this one is definitely one of my favorites and seriously what could be more fun than a litter of pups...I know a litter of pups with a cute kitten thrown in?  

 

Joe Formichella was the narrator for this story and while B.A. Tortuga isn't a new to me author this is a new to me narrator and for this story overall I really liked the narrator's voice. He used this laid back easy drawl that overall just really worked and while there were a few instances when I felt the narration getting a bit stilted, luckily it never lasted long enough to really distract me from the story and that slow easy drawl of his just really seemed suited to the characters in this book. For me it just worked really, really well and I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent with Sam and Gus and can't wait to see what's in store for this series...and yeah, I freely admit I'm probably going to hold out for the audio it was just a whole load of fun having this story read to me...what can I say we all need to indulge our inner child from time to time. 

 

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An audio book of  'Just Like Cats and Dogs' was graciously provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sometimes we just can't like everyone...

All In (Dreamspun Desires Book 38) - Ava Drake

'All In' is the third book in Ava Drake's 'Wild Card's' series and the 38th book in Dreamspinner's 'Dreamspun Desires' and I have to admit I wasn't exactly 'all in' on this one.

 

I liked the story line well enough. Zane Stryker is a fashion model who's career is on the downslide now that he's fast approaching 30 and with his return to New York he's hoping to score some runway jobs that will fund his retirement. What he's not hoping for is what happens and that's getting detained at customs with a suitcase devoid of his clothes and containing contraband of unknown origins and  a handsome but strange man demanding that he trust him if Zane wants to get out of the mess he's suddenly found himself in.

 

Sebastian Gigoni is retired British Special Forces and when he's asked to retrieve Zane and the contraband suitcase from the airport what he doesn't count on is the complications that are involved...things like trying to figure out where Zane's loyalties lie and what to do with the attraction that seems to be developing between the two men. 

 

At just over 6 hours of listening time this story moved right along and as I said I liked the story. I actually really liked Sebastian too. He was a bit of a mystery man and much to Zane's disappointment not the gullible fool that Zane needed him to be and for some reason that I couldn't fathom he seemed to be attracted to Zane and there you have it...the fly in my ointment...Zane. 

 

In a nutshell I did not like Zane. I found him to be shallow, self absorbed and just generally full of himself. I honestly had no clue what Sebastian saw in him and try as I might I never really felt the connection between these two men. So while the story worked for me and I enjoyed  it the relationship between these two pretty much tanked.

 

While 'All In' was my first book by this author when it comes to the narrator this is not our first dance at the rodeo...John Solo was the narrator for this one and from the audio side of things it was solid. I liked his voices for the characters, they were solid and I got the clarity and emotional expression that I enjoy in an audio book. But still even this just did not help me to like Zane. 

 

I admit it maybe I was just being a cranky pants when I listened to this one and another time I might like Zane, but in all honestly I doubt it. Zane's just not my cuppa' and I don't honestly see that changing any time soon.

 

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

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