...Bookfanatic

 

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

Jin Rayne meets...Fozzie Bear!!! 

Change of Heart - Mary Calmes

'Change of Heart' is the first book in the Mary Calmes series of the same title. I actually read this series around 4 or 5 years ago when it was released in e-book and I liked it. I have to admit it's not my favorite probably not even my second favorite but still I enjoyed it, enough that when I saw that the books were available on audio I didn't really hesitate to buy myself the audio books. 

 

I'm on a bit of a time constraint here because were in the middle of a move so this at best a sorta', kinda', almost review...

 

'Change of Heart' is set in the world of shapeshifters...no, not the same ones as Ms. Calmes L'Ange series. These guys are altogether different. Gin Rayne and Logan Church are the MCs for most of this series...think Sam and Jory only they can shift into panthers...I love panthers...yes, this was what got me to read the books in the first place...if there be no dragons...just throw in a panther and chances are you'll catch my attention. 

 

Now for more about this story...read the blurbs because...time constraint. I'm going to just quickly chat about the audio portion of this story now. Sean Crisden is the narrator for this one and a couple of the later stories as well but in this particular audio book I have to say while some of it was ok...there was one teensy, weensy little niggle that I had with this one and it came in the form of Jin's best friend, Crane. All I'm going to say is..."I had a very definite idea about how Crane was suppose to sound and I'm sorry but Crane sounding like Fozzie Bear...wasn't it. Crane's voice just really, really didn't work for me and I have to admit I am extremely grateful for the fact that Crane didn't see any action of the smexy variety in this one because that just would not have been cool...not at all.

 

I like Sean Crisden but as one of my friends commented 'he can sometimes be hit and miss for them' and I think I have to admit I agree with this statement as I've listened to a couple of stories narrated by him that I've really enjoyed and then there's been some that...well...just not so much.

 

At the end of it all I've decided to just leave this one at 3 stars and carry on. 

Sometimes the heart sees what the eyes don't...

Heart Unseen - Andrew  Grey

Trevor's an attractive and successful businessman. He's use to getting whatever man he wants. If his bed's empty it's because he wants it that way. He's a player. He does one night stands, hook-ups but not relationships and that's been fine up until now...up until he looks up and across the dance floor of the club where he's out with some friends and sees James. He's drawn to James and thinks he's the most beautiful man he's ever laid eyes on. 

 

Trevor crosses the dance floor to introduce himself and finds himself stumped when he's not met with the usual response to his attentions. Eventually he goes back to his friends feeling more than a little confused only to discover that James wasn't taken with his looks because he couldn't see him...James is blind has been since he was very young. In light of this new information Trevor decides to try again with James. 

 

I really enjoyed this story. I loved how independent James was and his family. I often find that families can be too perfect or to flawed and for me James's family had more balance. His mom drove me a little crazy at times and yet it was clear that she loved her son and really did want the best for him, his sister was awesome and I really enjoyed their relationship. They were close and that was cool...it happens. I loved that she was teaching her son that being blind was just another part of who James was...it didn't make him less or more just different and different, is ok.

 

James sees the beauty in Trevor...not the physical beauty but his heart. The part of Trevor that is drawn to James and respects him for who he is and wants to spend time with him doing things that are fun and will make James happy.

 

My only niggle was the dinner with Trevor's family and his dad's neighbor and his new boyfriend...who turned out to be James's douche of an ex...my kingdom for some ice water to pour down that douche's pants. The guy was a jerk and I really would have loved to see a bit of misery come his way...jerk, I tell you the guy was a total unrepentant jerk...sorry...not sorry, it's my inner biotch sneaking out to play.

 

Admittedly there were some moments that were...shall we say a bit much...ok, cheesy but for me it wasn't enough to really spoil the overall story and I have to admit this was definitely due in part to the fact that I listened to the audio book and it was narrated by Greg Tremblay who as always did an amazing job with the voices for both Trevor and James and the secondary characters we meet along the way. I've very quickly learned that if Greg Tremblay's name is attached to an audiobook I only need to wonder how much I'll enjoy the story not if.

 

*******************

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

If I liked reading this one...

Cleansing Flame - Andrew  Grey

If I liked reading this one...

 

the audio book totally made me love this one.

 

I liked this book a lot back in March when I read it so I think it goes without saying that when a chance to listen to the audio book presented itself I was all over that and if anything I'm liking it a whole lot more, so there's no read change where my original review of 'Cleansing Flame' is concerned. So I'm just going to add a link to my original review because there's really no point to fixing what isn't broken...

Original Review: Cleansing Flame

 

Michael Pauley is the narrator for this book and while he definitely ticked off all the points on my 'basic audio checklist' I'm at a bit of a loss as to the exact reasons why but his narration for 'Cleansing Flame' not only ticked that list but hit a few bells and whistles along the way as well because while the e-book easily got 4 stars from me the audio book bumped things up to 5 stars. Even though I've already read the book for me the audio experience was like discovering this story for the first time all over again.

 

'Cleansing Flame' is a sweet low angst story of second chances, starting over, finding love but most of all it was about perspectives. Whether the glass is half empty or half full. 'Cleansing Flame' is a lovely reminder that it the glass is only half empty it's because the other half is full.

 

********************

 

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

I'm betwixt and between on this one...

Artistic Pursuits - Andrew  Grey

'Artistic Pursuits' is book #3 in Andrew Grey's 'Art' series and I have to admit I'm not sure how I'm feeling about this one. There was a lot that I liked about this story but there were also a few niggles. So at the end of my ponderings this one for me was a little better than good but didn't make it into 'I really love it' territory. 

 

I really liked the overall plot on this one. Mystery/thriller type stories are and always will be catnip for me. Add in that the focus of this story is stolen artworks...specifically Tiffany windows and it was definitely a win for me. 

 

While you could read this one as a stand alone there is a bit of a cross over with Brian and Nicholai the MCs from book 2 having a role to play in this story, so I would probably recommend reading or listening, as I did, to the first two stories...not necessary but encouraged. 

 

Frank Jennings is an FBI agent and one of the MCs in this story and Leslie Carlton works for Interpol. These men meet when the cases they are working on appear to be connected. When Leslie shows up in the states Frank doesn't hesitate to offer him a place to stay. Needless to say working their mutual cases together as well as spending a bit of time in close proximity only fuels the initial attraction that both men felt. After spending one passionate night together Leslie is recalled to London. 

 

When Leslie is finally able to return to the states, while both men are still interested picking up where they left off isn't an easy or instantaneous event, it involves some awkward moments as both men are forced to admit how they feel and accept their share of the blame for why there was no communication during Leslie's time back in London.

 

My niggles were in regards to Frank's behavior and how drastically his behavior would change at times and some of the conversations between him and Leslie just for want of a better explanation didn't feel right to me...so very, very subjective and I'm sure that while some people might have the same impression, I'm sure others don't. So this isn't a good or bad thing just an 'it didn't work for me thing'. 

 

As well as the overall plot line I very much enjoyed the character of Carl. Carl was a secondary character who worked with Frank and showed himself to a good friend to Carl and Leslie but he was also very likable and interesting in his own right and a character that I'd be interested in seeing the author give us more of.

 

John Solo was once again the narrator for this audio book and in general he once again did a solid job with this story giving us distinct voices that conveyed the characters emotions and individuality. But again I had a little bit of a niggle with Leslie's voice, for me it just didn't seem British but I freely admit this was definitely a totally personal and subjective opinion. I actually played a clip of Leslie speaking for my personal guinea pig (more affectionately known as 'the hubby') his family was from England...parents came over to Canada just before he was born, he still has family there. So, I thought he would be a fairly knowledgeable and objective person to experiment with and when I played him the clip and asked him what country he thought the speaker would be from his reply with very little consideration was 'England' so there you have it. Maybe, Leslie's voice wasn't working for me but that doesn't mean it wasn't a solid reflection of the man's country of origin. Again, not a good or bad thing just an 'it didn't quite work for me thing'. 

 

In summary, more things worked for me than didn't and I did enjoy this one more than the first book maybe a little bit less than the second and truthfully I don't feel even a little bit deterred from wanting to carry one with this series. Book 4 is called 'Legal Tender' and sounds like it's going to be interesting so I'm definitely game for it and with any luck there'll be a book 5 with an MC named Carl...just puttin' that out there for the universe.

 

********************

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

What would you do for the people you loved...

Olivier - T.J. Nichols

'Olivier' is book #7 in the series 'Order of the Black Knights' and it's by T. J. Nichols. I'm really enjoying this series so far and while I haven't had the chance to read all of the books I've liked the ones that I have read and have hopes of going back to read the one's that I've had to miss. 

 

'The Order of the Black Knights is very much a series that allows for the books to be read as standalones. There is one character that is a constant in each book and while he is the thread that ties the stories together each story gives a more than sufficient explanation of his connection. 

 

Olivier works for organized crime. Essentially he's a hitman who refers to himself as a problem solver. But for as simple as this might look...appearances can be deceiving. Becoming a hitman was never his goal or ambition for him it was more about circumstances and circumstances are that he has a sister and a niece whom he loves dearly and will protect at any cost and if that cost is doing what he's told to without asking questions...he'll do it.

 

He's never questioned this or really thought about it. Guilt and fear are foreign concepts for him until the day he meets the twin brother of his latest victim. Suddenly he's having dreams about the past...about lives long gone, where history seems to repeat itself over and over again and he's finding that he seems to care about more than the well being of just his sister and niece, but still putting them at risk isn't an option.

 

Cody walked away from his family fifteen years ago when his father rejected them and he's never looked back. All it takes to disrupt his well ordered life is an e-mail from his twin brother's wife telling him that his brothers dead. The coroner says 'overdose' but his sister-in-law says murder. Cody wants answers and without really giving things a second thought Cody heads back to New York a place he swore never to go back to.

 

While 'Olivier' didn't work as well for me as 'Gideon' or 'Jaeger' there was still a lot about this story that I really liked.  While the attraction between Olivier and Cody was strong. Initially it felt more like a physical thing and the subsequent emotional connection came as they spent time together and the story progressed.

 

I also liked the conflict that was essentially always there as a result of Cody and Olivier's objectives being at odds with each other.

 

While I liked the ending it also felt a little too abrupt for me and while 'Gideon' and 'Jaeger' felt like they ended with an HEA this one felt like we were being left with an HFN, with strong potential but still not the HEA that these two men really deserved.

 

'The Order of the Black Knight' is not a romance series...these stories have a strong mystical element to them and they are definitely second chance stories about finding and giving forgiveness, seeking redemption and ultimately finding love.

 

********************

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

Things are looking up!

Artistic Appeal - Andrew  Grey

I really had to think long and hard on whether I was going to give this one a chance. Mostly because book 1 in this series was barely ok for me and I'm a bit of an Andrew Grey fan so, truthfully this made me a bit sad, I'm also a firm believer in second chances so ultimately I figured I should put my money where my mouth is so to speak and that's how I came to be here writing a review for the audio book 'Artistic Appeal' book #2 in Andrew Grey's 'Art' series.

 

While the MCs in 'Artistic Appeal' are a different pairing a lot of the events from 'Legal Artistry' the first book in this series carry forward to this story resulting in the fact that while I may not have enjoyed the first book as much as this one, I am glad that I took the time to listen to 'Artistic Appeal' because it definitely was to my benefit when I got to this story.

 

Brian Watson is good friend of Dieter and Gerald the MCs from 'Artistic Appeal' as well as Gerald's colleague and the lawyer who takes over Dieter's case that started in 'Artistic Appeal' and resolves with this story. 

 

When Gerald and Dieter invite Brian to a dinner party with the hopes of playing matchmaker with one of Dieter's friends things don't work out quite the way they're anticipating.  It's Nicolai who captures Brian's attention. Nicolai is an art restorer who has been taking care of the artworks that have recently been returned to Dieter and he's fast becoming a dear friend to Dieter as well. 

 

I really liked the character of Nicolai. He's deaf but he's portrayed as an independent, capable and very functional person. Like anyone who has a sensory impairment he's learned to adjust and compensate for his hearing loss. 

 

Brian's recently divorced and has custody of his daughter, Zoe. Being single and gay is new for him and he's doing his best to keep his life balanced between work, parenting and just being a newly out gay man. 

 

Both Brian and Nicolai had their share of added drama. Brian with his ex-wife, who to say the least is a real piece of work and his mother who, thankfully got her act together. For Nicolai it was his ex-boyfriend/turned stalker who randomly decides he wants Nicolai back after a year of separation. 

 

Once again John Solo was the narrator for this story and overall I enjoyed his narration. He has a pleasant voice and adds variety and expression to the voices of the different characters ensuring that everyone doesn't sound the same...a definite plus in this listener's opinion.  Admittedly my niggle was Zoe's voice and maybe I'm just too damned fussy, I'll own that. When it comes to children's voices I admit it, I'm a tough sell. 

 

'Artistic Appeal' is an easy and sweet romance with a bit extra for added interest. I definitely enjoyed this more than the first book and plan on checking out what's going to happen next in this series. 

 

********************

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

Ok, I admit it...I'mma paisley kinda' girl myself...

Plaid versus Paisley - K.C. Burns

"Plaid Versus Paisley' is the second book in K.C. Burn's series 'Fabric Hearts' and while book #1 'Tartan Hearts' and I didn't do overly well 'Plaid Versus Paisley' turned out to be a far more enjoyable experience for me.

 

Two years ago Will Dawson lost his job forcing him to relocate from Conneticut to Florida where he landed a job working at Idyll Fling...yes, this is the same gay porn studio that gave us Raven (one of the MCs from 'Tartan Candy' and coincidentally Will's best friend) Will's happy working in the tech department of Idyll Fling. Unfortunately because of the circumstances surrounding why he left his last job Will's got a few issues when it comes to delegating job duties and it's starting to show things are piling up in his department and he's starting to show signs of stress and burnout so while it's not surprising that his boss would bring on some help for Will since the business is growing. The last thing Will expects is for said help to come in the form of Dallas Green...the man who as far as Will's concerned cost him both his job and his boyfriend. 

 

Will's not sure what's up but he keeps quiet about knowing Dallas and exactly what their relationship was from his perspective, but he's not the only one keeping quiet about things. Dallas isn't telling his brother that he's got a history with Will but he's also not telling Will that his brother is the owner of Idyll Fling. 

 

'Plaid Versus Paisley' was from start to finish a story about miscommunication. There was so much that Will and Dallas didn't know about each other from back in Connecticut. It really was a case of only having half the story and for both of them that half story didn't look good to the other person. One of the things that neither man realizes was how much they were attracted to each other. 

 

Admittedly I'm not a fan of miscommunication when it's thrown in as something extra and it seems to just muddy the waters, sometimes over whelming the real story but in the case of this story it was the main issue between Will and Dallas so it worked.

 

The part that I was a bit disappointed with was the resolution it seemed to happen just a bit too easily for me.  Things went from I don't believe/trust to I understand/it's all ok just a little too quickly and this to my way of thinking is a more of a personal preference issue than anything else. 

 

I did like the interaction between these two and Dallas's efforts to fix things between them were both cute and entertaining. I loved the 'world's best boss' mug and other little things that he tried to show Will that he wanted them to be able to work together. In general I liked that the things he did were little thoughtful gestures and not over the top grand actions that seemed more like something meant to impress than something meant to convey real emotion.

 

David Ross was once again the narrator for this audio book I really enjoyed his performance the voices were good, consistent and expressive leaving me with nothing to do but enjoy the story. 

 

So far there's one more story to go in this series and I admit I'm looking forward to it because it's Jamie's story and while we first met him in 'Tartan Candy', he's Caleb's cousin and best friend. We got to see more of him in this story as well and he's turning out to be one of my favorites. I'm not sure if I want to jump in and read the book (because yes, I do have it so this is an option) or do I want to wait for the audio version. Either way, I'm definitely looking forward to more from the men of the 'Fabric Hearts' series.

 

********************

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

This one's not 'Hell on Wheels' but...

All Wheel Drive - Z.A. Maxfield

it did take a toll on my heart...

 

'All Wheel Drive' is book number 18 in the 'Bluewater Bay' series and like the third book, 'Hell on Wheels' it's written by Z. A. Maxfield, an author that I'm kind of  partial to. So of course I was all grabby hands for this one because 'Hell on Wheels' is one of my favorite books in this series so far. 

 

If this is a series that you're reading than you'll remember that 'Hell on Wheels' was about Nash Holly and in this book, we get a closer look at Healey Holly, Nash's twin brother and seriously can we talk about that name? Healey, really? I have to admit it just wasn't working for me, but, aside from the name, I really liked Healey. While Nash and Healey may look alike on the outside it's inside where the differences really begin, although both of these men are good and decent people who love their family and are loyal to the extreme with those they care about. Healey is crazy smart and has spent most of his adult life in the world of academia unlike his brother Nash.

 

The last thing that Healey expects when he knocks on the door of his childhood home broken, battered and bruised on the outside and just wanting to rent the apartment over the garage so that he can let his shattered heart and body heal is to be greeted by a man in a wheelchair who recognizes the look of helpless anxiety that he sees in Healey's eyes after all Diego's seen that same look often enough in the mirror in the days following the accident that put him in a wheelchair and again after losing his mother it's become a familiar sight as he tries to piece his own life back together.

 

For me 'All Wheel Drive' was as much a book about learning to live with a new reality and forgiving yourself as it was about finding someone to love. Both Healey and Diego have issues…lots and lots of issues.

 

Healey’s come back to his childhood home in Bluewater Bay more as an emotional reflex reaction to his recent experiences than any kind of practical or even logical decision. He’s hurting physically and emotionally following a car accident and the end of his long-time relationship with ‘Ford’ the man he loved and the man who nearly cost Healey his life.

 

‘All Wheel Drive’ was for want of a better word at times a bit convoluted. Especially the part that dealt with Healey and the circumstances surrounding his relationship with Ford and why he returned to Bluewater Bay and while I’m not often a fan of stories that twist and turn the way Healey’s does, in this instance I don’t honestly think that there was a direct path to take with his story. His relationship with Ford was complicated to say the least because of Ford’s circumstances and his family.  The dynamics between Healey and Ford were…well let’s just say ‘it was complicated’ and truthfully from the information we were given it never really seemed that they were meant to be, but we don’t always get to pick who we love and when that love ends sometimes it takes a while for the heart to understand what the head already knows and this seemed to be part of what Healey had to deal with in letting go of his relationship with Ford.

 

As well Healey and Diego definitely had issues when it came to communication but given how emotionally fragile both men were…especially Healey. I’m not sure I would have believed anything different. I certainly would have found it a bit of a fairy tale if the author had given us an ‘insta-love, all-my-problems-are-solved-now-that-you’re-in-my-life’ kind of story. Healey didn’t even trust himself anymore much less trust someone else and Diego because of his accident believed that there were things in his life that were lost to him forever…especially the physical aspects of an intimate relationship and both men were trying to protect themselves from further heartache…so communication at best between these two was guarded and putting everything out there when neither of them had fully pieced themselves back together was a scary concept and often times done in a very roundabout fashion.

 

‘All Wheel Drive’ is by no means a typical romance story, it was complicated and as I said at the beginning it was often ‘convoluted’, but for me it was also the epitome of second chance stories and finding love when and where you least expect it. There was definitely some sexy times between these two, that on more than one occasion turned out to be funny and messy and so very fragile as both men tried to guard their heart and still be what the other man needed.

 

Just like real life ‘All Wheel Drive’ was complicated, messy, frustrating, funny, awkward, sexy, full of love and kindness and in the end worth the effort.

 

*******************

An ARC of 'All Wheel Drive' was graciously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I want candy, I want candy...eye-candy that is...

Tartan Candy - K.C. Burn

After being seriously hurt in an accident Raven's career in the adult film industry comes to an unexpected and abrupt end.  Struggling with his battered self-esteem, no job and no interest in sex. Raven accepts an offer to attend a high school reunion with an acquaintance of his former employer as their escort, companion, date whatever title you want to give it but Raven's very clear that there are no sexual favors involved. Sadly his client turns out to be a jerk, cutting the evening short Raven returns to his room only to discover that the air-conditioner in his room has broken down. This turns out to be the highlight of his day when Caleb the HVAC person contracted to service the hotel's system shows up at his door.

 

Raven's libido definitely sits up and takes notice at the sight of the sexy service man and Caleb isn't immune to the dark haired beauty who opens the door when he makes his service call. Problem is awakened libido or not Raven's got issues to get past before he's ready for a relationship that involves getting physical and Caleb needs to find his way out of the closet he's locked himself in.

 

However, whatever the issues may be on both sides them men are definitely attracted and spending time with each other and getting to know each other is not something that either of them truly has an aversion to.

 

Raven's life has been kind of sucky. He got dealt a bad hand when it came to parents. Mom was less than interested in being a decent mother and dad was less than present. So when he came out to his mom at the age of 18 it also meant coming home to his belongings on the front porch and changed locks on the front door. Raven picked up his things and did what he had to in order to make his way in the world. He's not ashamed of his time as a porn star but that doesn't mean he's taking out any billboards for it either. He wants to tell Caleb but not until they've had a bit of time together to cement their relationship.

 

Caleb just needs to man-up and find his way out of the closet. He's convinced himself that he can never be gay because his momma wants grandchildren and it's his duty to provided them and the family would never accept him being gay never mind that they accept his cousin Jamie who is unrepentantly gay and still part of the family and loved.

 

Mostly I really liked this story. I liked Raven and thought he was pretty damned courageous person. I loved how kind and caring Caleb was towards him and how he treated Raven. Taking him on dates and not pushing him for more than he was willing to give. I loved that Caleb enjoyed being able to just curl up with Raven and kiss and cuddle. It was so sweet and romantic and then it fell apart for somewhere around 85 - 90% (sorry, I listened to the audio here to this is a guesstimate).

 

Anyways, this is towards the end and the point at which Caleb finally finds out about Raven's career in adult films. Caleb's reaction blew me out of the water. I went from "I adore you, Caleb" to "Caleb you are a freakin' bag of dicks".  

Not only was he a dick about things with Raven, he even managed to insult his best friend and cousin Jamie and to make matters worse the part where he supposedly 'fixes things' just didn't work for me. It was too easy. Even if Raven didn't make him grovel, he damned well should have and to add insult to injury his line of BS about how once he found out he didn't think he'd be enough for Raven? Seriously...no, just no. There was no coming back from that for me. Up until this happened this story would have probably gotten 3.5 or possibly even 4 stars from me but within the space of a few pages I lost all my feels for this character and I'm still not sure that he deserves Raven's forgiveness.

(show spoiler)

David Ross was the narrator for this audiobook and ironically I've only listened to one other audio book by this narrator and I have to confess it did not go well for me, so this is where the irony comes in because I enjoyed Mr. Ross's narration of this story. His voices were good and they worked for me. They suited the characters and while they maybe weren't totally consistent with what I imagined they still felt appropriate for the characters, so like I said they worked and they were expressive giving depth and feeling to his narration.

 

I have to admit I was looking forward to this story and up until around 85% I was really enjoying it, unfortunately the last part of the story took away from things in a big way.  So I'm going to move on to 'Plaid Versus Paisley' and cross my fingers and hope that things end up a whole lot better.

 

 

A horse trainer and a retired surgeon...how could things possibly go wrong?

An Unexpected Truth - S.A. Meade

‘An Unexpected Truth’ is my first book by this author…definitely not my last. I was pretty much enchanted from the word go when I realized that the story was set in England. I have a definite fondness for England…maybe, my in-laws are from there and maybe my mother’s family is from there and maybe it’s just a beautiful country but whatever, I love it so reading a book with England as the setting was definitely no hardship add in that it’s set in the countryside and there are horses and things are just getting better and better.

 

Brendan Matthews trains racehorses for a living and he’s happy with his quiet life but he’s also not a foolish man so when opportunity brings 6 yearlings that display more than a little potential to him and they happen to be owned by a man who’s ‘not to shabby either’. Who is Brendan to not open the door when opportunity knocks.

 

Adam Ahmadi is a wealthy orthopedic surgeon who’s looking for something to do with his time and money after an accident damages his hand forcing him to retire early. He was thinking horses but one look at Brendan and Adam’s interest go beyond having Brendan train his horses.

 

I really enjoyed this story from start to finish. The first part of the story focused on Brendan and Adam’s relationship and it was wonderful. These two men getting to know each other was sweet and a slow burn. They spent time together taking care of the horses, cooking for one another, taking walks, getting to know one another. There was no insta-love here and while there’s a bit of an age gap it’s not a big deal…so much not a big deal that I really can’t remember exactly how big of an age gap it was…so definitely not an issue for me.

 

The relationship between Brendan and Adam unfolded beautifully and was definitely one of my favorite parts. Also, there was a bit of drama and suspense unfolding in the background and while this part of the story was more prominent in the latter part of the book and for a while it was the dominant part of the story it was necessary in order for things to play out to a conclusion that brought us back to Brendan and Adam’s relationship and the HEA that these men so deserved.

 

As Brendan and Adam’s relationship deepens Adam’s past rears it’s ugly head forcing them apart and leaving Brendan more than a little mystified about what Adam’s feelings are and whether or not the future he wants with Adam can be a reality or not.

The ending of this one worked for me. There was just enough going on to hold my interest but not enough to make it overwhelming or confusing since most of what happened around Adam’s past wasn’t really revealed or dealt with until the last half of the book.

 

For me ‘An Unexpected Truth’ was a story that I was easily able to slip into reading and enjoy. The writing style was so enjoyable and easy to follow, the characters worked well together and I found myself enjoying all aspects of the story…the romance, the suspense, the little bit of a plot twist that I didn’t quite see coming. It all came together to create an unique and enjoyable reading experience that I look forward to experiencing again.

 

********************

 

A copy of ‘An Unexpected Truth’ was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Well this one caught my attention...hook, line & sinker...

Setting the Hook - Andrew  Grey

'Setting the Hook' is the first book in Andrew Grey's latest series 'Love's Charter' and I do have to admit it's been a while since I've enjoyed one of this author's books as much as this one.

 

William Westmoreland has a high pressure life in Rhode Island. Helping his father run the family business and trying to live up to the expectations of his parents. Who I have to admit in spit of everything else were at least accepting of William's sexuality.  William's only bit of self indulgence is his twice a year trips to Florida to charter on Mike Jansen's fishing boat where he can relax, catch some fish and enjoy the scenery...all of the scenery.  But he's never done more than look.

 

Mike runs his charter fishing service so he can provide for his mother and daughter and he keeps everything else firmly locked in the closet to ensure that they stay safe. Following his heart isn't an option in Mike's eyes. 

 

Neither of these men are looking for a relationship. For different reasons each man's life is ruled by fear making love a complication that they just don't have room for. William doesn't have time and lives in fear of letting his father down...Mike lives in fear of what he could lose if he follows his heart. 

 

When Mother Nature steps in and forces these two men together they begin to realize that they can no more fight their feelings than they can the storm raging outside and keeping William in Florida.

 

The relationship between these two wasn't a direct line to happily ever after for either of them. There was the real world to deal with, choices and decisions to be made and none of it was easy for them. William returned to Rhode Island to the life that he felt he couldn't escape and this was when he realized that it was a life he couldn't and didn't want to continue to live. At the same time Mike began to realize that while he loved his mother and daughter and wouldn't change anything that had happened in the past he needed to find a way to redefine his future and still provide for them and keep them safe.

 

These men and their story worked for me. Things weren't easily resolved for them and at times the floundered but I loved that they were both willing to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and keep trying, keep working to find a way to be together and create a life together. 

 

As well as letting their fears rule their lives, both William and Mike treasure their family in their own way. Mike's mom is loving, strong and supportive and does her best to help him raise his daughter. At the same time she sees so much more of her son and who he is than he realizes and truly wants the best for them. 

 

William's parents were a bit more complicated and at the beginning I can honestly say I was not a fan and while I never fully warmed up to them as the story progressed I came to appreciate the potential that was beginning to grow as his parents began to change and see that the life there son was leading was neither the life he wanted or needed. Throughout the story there was conflict between William and his parents as he struggled to change his life so he could be with Mike. I liked that we got to see things between William and his parents start to improve. It was nice to read a story where a child and his parents were able to work through their conflicts come out on the other side with a stronger relationship rather than being alienated from each other.

 

Greg Tremblay was the narrator for this story and as always he did not disappoint. The voices worked for me, they were expressive and conveyed emotion giving depth and life to the story.  Mr. Tremblay is definitely one of my favorite narrators, his audio books without fail 

 

'Setting the Hook' has given a solid start to this series and I'm definitely looking forward to continuing with 'Love's Charter' and seeing whose story will come next.

 

********************

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

Well this one was aptly named because it seems "You Never Know"...

You Never Know - Mary Calmes

I freely admit with me when it comes to Mary Calmes they all start as 5 star reads and often stay that way or they may slide down to 4.5 or 4 stars. It's not very often that things slide below that. 

 

I was pretty conflicted on this one. I liked the overall concept of the story but for me the devil was in some of the details.

 

Now for the best part of the story...Hagen. I loved Hagen...as did everyone else. But Hagen is that person that you just can't help but love. He's good and kind, gentle, loyal and way, way more forgiving than most people but at the same time he really wasn't a pushover. He stood up for himself when he truly needed to and did it without using threats, intimidation or humiliation. 

 

The first problem I had was Ash. I did not like this man. He was not nice. He was self-centered, self-absorbed and just totally selfish. He wanted Hagen on his terms with no consideration to what Hagen really wanted or for the life that Hagen had made for himself. He got himself caught in more than one lie. He was manipulative and try as I might I could not see him as someone who was nice, so the fact that he was such a strong presence in the story truthfully irritated me. I honestly just wanted Hagen to tell him to go away. 

 

I definitely liked Mitch more than Ash. While I got why things happened the way they did between Mitch and Hagen. There were glimpses of Mitch being sorry and regretting what happened but I just felt like there needed to be more than a glimpse of regret from Mitch. I think he missed Hagen, but it felt more like Mitch did what he did because he had to and he thought Hagen should understand and be willing to move forward from there and I have to admit if I was Hagen it would have been a big 'Oh hell no!' no matter how much I loved or wanted to be with the other person.

 

I honestly can't say what would have made this part better for me. I believe in second chances and that's one of the things that really appealed to me about this story so of course, I was cheering for Hagen and Mitch from the start and I loved the ending of the story it was awesome, but the middle where Mitch's "I'm sorry" just didn't feel as epic as his "mistake" was where I needed more, I needed the "I'm sorry" to be at least as grand as his "mistake" and it just didn't happen.

 

I enjoyed this one but for me it definitely wasn't another 'Frog' or 'Acrobat' or my personal favorite 'Mine'. But then if they were all 5 stars how would anything ever be special for us and at the end of the day, I'm still waiting for my next Mary Calmes story because even the good ones leave me happy.

 

********************

An ARC of 'You Never Know' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Of course since I read the second book first I feel compelled...

Making it Personal - K.C. Wells, Cornell Collins

to read the first book second...

 

'Making It Personal' is the first book in K. C. Wells 'Personal' series and it's about Blake Davis the CEO of Trinity Publishing and he's proud of what he's accomplished over the past  6 years turning Trinity Publishing into a successful up and coming publisher.  He's done all this while firmly ensconced in his closet. Stepping out only long enough to utilize the services of a very discreet escort company to fulfill his needs before slipping back into his closet and returning to Narnia.

 

Will Parkinson's life has been less than easy but he's a fighter and he's survived it all to get back on his feet and if that's had to include working as a highly paid escort with benefits well than it is what it is and how bad can it be if you get to spend the night with a really hot and sexy guy the night before going to an interview for your dream job with the head of an up and coming publisher as personal assistant to the CEO...oops...this could be the proverbial awkward moment.

 

I liked this book a tiny bit better than 'Personal Changes'.  I really liked both Blake and Will. While Blake maybe needed to loosen his tie a little, Will was definitely the man to do it. I really liked that Blake accepted that Will did what he did to survive but he never felt the need to pass judgement or make will ashamed of himself. If anything as their relationship progressed it felt more like Blake truly respected him for having the strength of character to do what he had to, to survive get ahead in the world but still maintaining his integrity and dignity.

 

'Making It Personal' is the story of a CAO and his PA who really know how to put the 'personal' into things. Woven in between the relationship developing between these two are the threads of their personal lives and those of their friends...creating a fun and interesting background for their story to play out against.

This one's a little out of order but it still works...

Personal Changes - K.C. Wells

'Personal Changes' is actually book #2 in K. C. Wells series 'Personal' but apparently I'm not very observant these days because I listened to the audio book for this one first. Cornell Coliins is the narrator for this one as well as for books 1 & 3 and he's a new to me narrator. 

 

The MCs for this story are Rick Wentworth and Angelo Tarallo. We were introduced to Rick in 'Making It Personal' or at least those of us who read or listened to this series in order were. Not being in that group I can officially say 'There's no problem reading this series as standalone stories'. While there is some cross-over with the characters in the stories. As I said Rick was in the first book and Blake and Will the MCs from that story appear in subsequent  stories as do other secondary characters I had no difficulty following who was who and what they did, etc. Blake is Rick's boss and Will who is now his partner was his PA but well get to that in my review for 'Making It Personal'. 

 

The other thing that we found out in the first book was that Rick had a longstanding crush on Blake, whom he'd believed to be straight and this is part of what leads to Rick's realization that he needs to make some 'personal changes' in his life. Rick's tired of the club scene and one night stand, bathroom hook-ups. He wants what Blake and Will have a real relationship, commitment, someone who looks at him as if he's the center of the universe. in plain English he wants what most of us want...a partner who's as committed to us as we are to them. So he makes the decision to change his lifestyle no more f*cking on the first date with essentially nameless people. He's going to take the time to get to know someone see if maybe they could have more than just one night. It's this decision that brings both Angelo an Julian into his life.

 

Rick first encounters Julian at a local club and as the evening goes on he begins to wonder if he hasn't met Mr. Perfect. Julian seems to be everything he's looking for and he just seems to do everything right and here is where I need to add that ironically, for me, Julian's voice was the one voice that just didn't work and maybe this is superficial on my part but Julian's voice made me skin crawl it was whiny at times and held an undertone that just make me think 'what are you up to?' from the word go I did not trust that voice and as the story progressed...surprise! I was right, Julian was a sleezeball not to be trusted.

 

Equally as ironic is the fact that while Rick is being charmed by Julian, he's also being watched by someone who decides from the minute he lays eyes on Rick that he wants to get to know him. Everything that he sees tells him that this could be the man for him. But it's not until Angelo and a friend rescues Rick from the less than welcome advances of the less than Mr. Perfect, Julian that we truly meet him and begin to get a sense of who he is. (This is all in the blurb so have no fear there were no spoilers here).

 

Now for as much as I didn't like Julian's voice I did like Angelo's. I actually found Angelo's voice to be soothing and comforting and as the story progressed I really came to like Angelo. I liked Rick as well, but I do have to admit in this story Angelo was my favorite. 

 

Angelo comes from a traditional Sicilian family and unfortunately this is a bit of an obstacle for these two men and also created a bit of a problem for me with some of the ending. Overall the story worked for me. While it was good and enjoyable I wasn't totally enthralled with it. 

 

I liked Cornell Collins narrations with the exception of Julian's voice the other character voices worked for me and I was comfortable with them. They were definitely expressive and conveyed emotion well. 

 

'Personal Changes' was an enjoyable story about how what we think we want isn't always what we get but if we're lucky fate will make sure that we end up with who we really need.

It's hockey night in Canada!!!!

Changing Lines (Harrisburg Railers Hockey Book 1) - RJ Scott, V.L. Locey

‘Changing Lines’ is the first book in a new series by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey. While I’m a long time fan of R.J. Scott this is my first time reading anything by Ms. Scott’s co-author V.L. Locey and from the looks of things I’m about to become a fan of this author as well…I’m definitely a fan of this series already.

 

It’s hockey and I am after all Canadian and a Bruins fan, I’ll explain this shortly. Tennant ‘Ten’ Rowe is one of the 3 brothers who are making a name for themselves on the ice. There’s Ryan his oldest brother captain of the amazing Boston Bruins. Unfortunately, while he loves his little brother Ten, Ryan tends to be a bit obnoxious at times but hey, that’s what big brothers are for…I should know I have four of them. Then there’s Jamie (James to their mom) he’s the peace keeper the negotiator of the family and Ten well he’s the baby and needless to say he’s tired of living in everyone’s shadow. He’s got talent of his own and then some but between his two older brothers and playing in the shadow of Tate Collins his teammate and the shining star of Texas hockey Ten’s thinking that getting traded to the Railers might not be such a bad thing and maybe it’ll be his chance to shine.

 

Jared ‘Mads’ Madsen is the defensive coach for the Railers. Having his NHL career cut short wasn’t his plan but at least coaching allows him to continue with the game he loves and spend time with his son, Ryker.  Jared’s not a stranger to the Rowe brothers but what he suddenly realizes is that Ten’s may be 9 years his junior but he’s not a little kid anymore and keeping his hands off may not be something Mads really wants to do.

 

I’m not sure where to start here so let’s start with the obvious I enjoyed the hell outta’ this story…I loved it. For me it was well balanced between the romance and the hockey. I liked the amount of hockey that was there in terms of the detail…like I said “I am Canadian”. I loved Mads and how he refused to rush things between him and Ten. He wanted to take it slow for him and Ten to really get to know one other. I loved that it wasn’t just a case of ‘Hi, how you been? and then falling into bed. That took time and drove Ten crazy as he discovered that Mads may have wanted him but he wasn’t going to lose control or think with his little head…nope Mads was a man with the maturity to know that ‘good things come to he, who waits’ or has strawberries… I will never view strawberries quite the same again.

 

These two men are sweet, funny, sexy and just really good together both in and out of the bedroom. Their communication is strong and then there’s all the other fun stuff. Things like Mads son Ryker. He was a typical 17 year old wanting to rush his life but a the still time silently crying out for help and guidance from his parents. His grandfather not so much…the guy was an idiot…but you’ll have to read the story for the scoop on him.

 

I would also seriously like to spend a holiday at the Rowe house this family is awesome…don’t get me wrong, they’re not perfect. They fight, they argue and then they talk and make up or go to the treehouse…again you’ll need to read the story to find out about this but the treehouse is awesome.

 

‘Changing Lines’ is by no means a comedy but it is a good start to what I think is going to be an enjoyable hockey themed series. There were hot men both on and off the ice, humorous moments…also on and off the ice, there’s Pokemon and Pokemon tattoos, there’s Sven, one of the best Russian goalies EVER!…I love Sven and a coming out that is epic from start to finish.

 

If book 2 is anything like this one…well all I can say is…‘Hockey Night in Canada’ just got a whole lot more interesting.

 

*********************

 

A copy of ‘Changing Lines’ was graciously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.

Ok so Garrett Leigh is officially on my 'must have' list...

House of Cards (Porthkennack) (Volume 4) - Garrett Leigh

I wasn't going to tackle this series not for any reason in particular just because I have so many books...specifically series on the go right now that I thought I'd try and behave because seriously the books in this series have gotten some really good reviews but I was trying to behave myself and then I saw "House of Cards' by Leigh Garrett...what can I say, willpower...I has none. 

 

Add to this the fact that Calum's last name is 'Hardy' and seriously how could I ignore a book with such an awesome name in it? Well obviously I couldn't.

 

'House of Cards' was one of those books that grabbed me from the start, as seems to be the case with me and Garrett Leigh stories.  First off for me this was not a romance story...it was more...so, so much more. This was friendship, love, second chances, starting over all wrapped up in a beautiful gift of words. 

 

When Calum Hardy's life takes a very rapid nose dive he gets on a train and heads out of London neither knowing nor caring where he's going. When Brix Lusmoore spots a familiar form at Truro station it doesn't really enter his mind not to stop. It's been years since he's seen Calum but he'd know him anywhere. Calum's hit rock bottom both in his life and in the bottle he's been consoling himself with on his train ride to who-know's-where so he's pretty sure he's imagining seeing the friend who disappeared from his life years earlier the friend he's missed every day since.

 

Brix loads Calum into his van and takes him home but for Brix and Calum this is only the beginning. Both men have a lot to sort out and work through before they can find their way home to each other.

 

I loved, loved, loved everything about this book...well, everything except Rob and Jordan they can go die in a fire both of them. They are the dickiest of dicks...yep, I hated them both.

 

Ok enough of that on to better things like Calum. He's so broken seriously, I didn't think a vat of crazy glue was going to put him back together but still there was also such a sweet and decent man there. Thank heavens Brix is better than crazy glue, but sadly he's got his own problems and issues and yet, he's got a strength of character that's amazing. He's a fixer, a nurturer. He takes Calum back into his life and he gives him the a home and the strength to he needs to start rebuilding his life and in doing this he finds the strength to begin fixing his own fragmented life.

 

As well as Calum and Brix there's a wonderful collection of characters in Porthkanneck who definitely keep life interesting, so needless to say I was more than a little happy to learn that book #6 in the Porthkannek series will be Kim's story. We met him here in 'House of Cards' and I have to admit the blurb for his book promises to be every bit as good as this one.

 

'House of Cards' is a story that will make you both smile and cry.  It will leave you wishing that you could visit this quirky, fictional place where people can nurse their wounds and make themselves whole again and at the end of it all it'll leave you feeling like you went to Porthkanneck without leaving your favorite reading chair.

 

********************

 A copy of 'House of Cards' was graciously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Currently reading

Legal Tender by Andrew Grey
Willow Man by John Inman
Naamah's Curse ( Moirin Trilogy, #2) by Jacqueline Carey
Progress: 30%
A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin
Progress: 49%
Side Jobs: Stories from the Dresden Files by
Progress: 16%