...Bookfanatic

 

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

This may be Burt and Ernie but it's not the children's version...

Hiding the Moon - Amy Lane

 

If you haven't read 'Racing for the Sun' or the first 3 books in Ms Lane's 'Fish Out of Water' series...specifically 'A Few Good Fish' I strongly recommend reading them because for me while there's a lot of overlap between those two books and this one. 'Hiding the Moon' does more than retell events from 'Racing the Sun' or 'Fish Out of Water' it's the link that solidifies the connection between these books.

 

We first met Lee Burton (Burt) in 'Racing for the Sun' when he came to the aid of Sonny and Ace finding not only men in need of his help but friends who would offer him a safe place to go when he needed it for himself or for a rather unusual young man with a talent for knowing things that he shouldn't and for being a diversion that Lee finds he can't live without.

 

It's not until 'A Few Good Fish' that we meet Ernie. When Burt is given the task of 'taking out' Ernie. He sees someone who is not a threat to national security or a terrorist of any kind but a young man who makes him want and distracts him but Burt tries to convince himself that he needs to walk away from Ernie but the heart wants what the heart wants and for Burt his heart wants Ernie.

 

While much of 'Hiding the Moon' takes place during the the same time frame as events from 'A Few Good Fish'. It's not Jackson and Ellery's lives or perspective that we're following and it's not until later in the story that Jackson and Ellery become a more direct part of events but even then for me Ernie and Burt were still the main focus of what was happening.

 

I have to admit I'm not a huge fan of stories that are retold from a different perspective quite honestly I find them to be boring and repetitive more often than not. That was not the case for me with this story and I think that one of the main reasons for this is that 'Hiding the Moon' isn't about retracing the actions of  Jackson and Ellery but finding out what others were doing at that time...specifically Burt and Ernie with a bit of Sonny and Ace thrown in since they also play a role in both of the books that I've mentioned.

 

I liked Burt in 'Racing for the Sun' and was pleasantly surprised to see him resurface in 'A Few Good Fish' but here in 'Hiding the Moon' seeing Burt and Ernie's relationship as it evolves has been absolutely delightful. I loved having a closer look at how these two met and their lives came to be tangled together.

 

Ernie may seem like someone who's partying their way through life with drugs and too much sex but he's so much more. Ernie's what some people would call gifted and when his gift gets noticed by the wrong people...his life is no longer his own. And it's only through a streak of luck that Burt is the one who is given the assignment to terminate Ernie. 

 

While I enjoyed the additional perspective into the events from 'A Few Good Fish' for me the best part was seeing Burt and Ernie's relationship grow from their first meeting and their interactions. On one hand we have Lee Burton by the book, black ops, military man, solid, dependable, a good man who's job is something bigger and then we have Ernie gifted with psychic abilities, so much more self sufficient than he seems, strong in ways that are less obvious than Burt's strength but someone who's lonely and wants nothing more than to have a family to call his own.

 

From start to finish this book was a total pleasure to read and I loved Burt and Ernie as individuals and as a couple they were delightful. My one niggle here is that I want more Burt and Ernie (yes, I do love that it's Burt and Ernie). I'd love a story that gave us more about their life maybe picking up where this story leaves off...it's just a wish I have.

 

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

Sometimes it's a fine line between love and obsession...

No Tears for Darcy - Vicki Reese, Brock Hatton

It's a fine line between love and obsession...

 

Cameron's trying to get over the loss of his loved ones but it's hard when the people you care about keep dying...first it was his parents, then his boyfriend and now his friends seem to be falling victim to this mysterious curse that's following him.

 

Pete Minchelli is recovering from an injury sustained during his job so he's come to visit his family and friends as he heals and begins to consider his growing discontent with the direction his life has been going in. When Pete's friend,Will Carson, from his academy days ask for help with a case that brings Cameron into his life. Ultimately Pete's confusion over things is only compounded.

 

Pete and Cameron are drawn to each other from the moment they meet and as the story progresses their attraction grows increasing Pete's resolve to keep Cameron safe and find a way for them to remain in each other's lives. Along with his growing attraction Cameron is trying to deal with his past and the wreckage of a relationship that

he's quickly beginning to realize is was even more less than ideal than he had ever thought it could be...as an ever increasing number of lies and deceptions are revealed. As the number of lies and deceptions his relationship was based on increases, so do the number of bodies. It begins to seem like there's one secret that someone's willing to do anything to hide...leaving everyone wondering if anyone is safe from Cameron's stalker...even Cameron himself.

 

There was a lot about this story that I really enjoyed but unfortunately for me there was one thing that really detracted from it and that was the fact that I figured out who the stalker was far to early. While this doesn't always bother me in this case the story was too dependent on the mystery aspect of things and I really needed for the story to have kept me guessing longer than it did. 

 

I liked both of the MCs and as a couple, for me, they worked. Next add in some interesting secondary characters and this should have worked better than it did. However, even though I was able to figure out the mystery part of it earlier than I would have liked and for me that did take away from my over all enjoyment of things I also think the fact that I still gave this 3.5 stars speaks to the fact that there is still a good and enjoyable story here.

 

Now at this point your probably thinking 'who the hell is Darcy?' or maybe even 'Is there a Darcy?' well I will tell you there is a 'Darcy' in this story but what I'm not going to tell you is who they are or what role they play. So if you're curious about Darcy you'll need to either read the story or listen to the audio narrated by Brock Hatton.

 

As well as my first time with this author 'No Tears for Darcy' was also my first audio experience with Brock Hatton and it appears to be this narrator's first audio narration. I have to say I was suitably impressed and look forward to seeing what future efforts will produce. I think my only real concern with this book from an audio perspective was that at times, mostly at the beginning of a chapter, it felt like the narrator was reading a little fast almost like his voice was in a race with a stop watch. This was not a really big variance and honestly some people may not even notice it, nor was it consistent which is probably why I did notice it because as the narrator progressed in the reading his voice seemed to level out into a slower more natural rhythm that combined with the individual voices and their expressiveness that I quite enjoyed. While I was definitely impressed with this first time effort, I'm also looking forward to following this narrator and seeing how he progresses and what future narrations his talents will enhance.

 

The ending for this story is more of an HFN (Happy For Now) with strong potential for an HEA (Happily Ever After) and while I would have preferred a more solid HEA I can see it happening based on where this story leaves us but I can't say I wouldn't be interested in reading a little more about Cameron and Pete and finding out just what else might happen on their way to happily ever after.

 

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An audio book for "No Tears For Darcy" was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Well it's been a while since I've read a M/F romance...

Tequila Sunrise - Layla Reyne, Tristan James Mabry

and this one was good. At just under 4 hours this one was short and action packed.  Both Danny and Melissa (Mel) have appeared in earlier books in the Agents Irish and Whiskey series and it was really enjoyable to see the author give them their own story.

 

We've seen hints of their attraction but here we get the full story through Danny and Melissa's memories as they work with their family and friends to save lives and keep the latest ship in Talley Enterprises from being hijacked.

 

I enjoyed both of these characters in the previous books Danny for me was simply a delightful playboy who definitely had depth and character that was only eluded to but in this story shows full force. While Melissa is a confident, kick-ass woman who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to go after it.

 

For fan of Agents Irish & Whiskey this is a fun littler interlude and once again Tristan James has given us a solid narration adds depth and life to this wonderful, action packed, romantic adventure.

 

Definitely recommended for anyone but especially fans of Agents Irish & Whiskey.

Does anyone know who did Miki's tattoo?

Sin and Tonic (Sinners #6) - Rhys Ford, Tristan James Mabry

If you've read this series and specifically this book than you know what tattoo, I'm talking about. But if you haven't I'll just share with you that Miki St. John has a tattoo and it's not pretty...actually it's a reminder of the life that he lived as a child. A life that no child should ever have and through out this series we learn about that life and the lives of those who have come to be Miki's family but it's here in the final book of Rhys Ford's 'Sinner' series that we get the answers to so many questions. Questions that have led me from story to story looking for the answers only to have one question replaced by another whenever an answer has been found.

 

I've loved this series heart and soul from start to finish so much so that I've read it all...more than once and when that wasn't enough I turned to the audio books for more and that my friends is what has me clicking away on my keyboard right now...I mean really how could I resist the chance to follow this last part of the journey one more time...with Tristan James once again bringing the men and women of 'Sinners' to life...the answer is 'I couldn't'. Mr. James has been the narrator for these stories from the beginning and along with the fact that he is absolutely one of my favorite narrators having the same narrator for every one of these stories has been so incredibly delightful. I couldn't imagine a better audio experience than this.

 

I'm going to borrow from my original review of this book at this point just to highlight how much I enjoyed this series and how absolutely delightful it is to  listen to the voices that Tristan James has given to the characters in these stories and have that automatic recognition of who you're listening to because it's been the same narrator from the very beginning...

So imagine if you will hearing these quotes being not only spoken by the characters but in a voice that you effortlessly recognize because you've heard that voice in each of the previous stories and it's always been the same voice...

From Brigid as she speaks to Miki about Dude the dog...
"I'm sure the dog cares, just in his own way," she said with a laugh.

to Edie, their manager...
"Now do you understand why you need me?" She'd said to the shocked band members. "You just lost an argument with the person who is willing to go to the mat for you. Imagine how far you'll get when you go head-to-head with somebody who wants to bleed you dry?..."

to Donal...
"Then maybe what ye need to hear from me is that no matter who comes into your life, I will not let them hurt ye, and I will always be there when ye call out for your da."

and everyone in between...but ultimately there is Kane...
"...You mean more to me than my badge and the dead. I love you. And if I have to, I would give up everything I've become--everything I've accomplished--just to hold you if you need me."

if reading these words left me reaching for the tissues than have no doubts that I was sitting once again with tissues at hand as listened to them in the voices that I've come to think of as Brigid, Donal, Miki and Kane's.

 

And as I also said in my review for the eBook...

It's been a hella' good ride with this series and I really can't think of anything more to say other than if you haven't read it check it out because you really don't want to read this one without having read the previous books and if you've read those books then I can't imagine that you won't love this final installment in the 'Sinners' series.

Thank you, Ms. Ford for writing what has become one of my absolute favorite series...EVER!!!

and thank you Tristan James for doing it all justice!

 

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

Hot, sexy slightly broken men with tats created by one of my favs...

Savior (415 Ink #2) - Rhys Ford

all this means I'ma happy, happy girl.

 

'Savior' is the second book in 415 Ink by Rhys Ford.  I'll be totally up front here I'm fan of this author...she's at the top of my 'must buy' list and for whatever reason her writing just speaks to my heart and it works for me pretty much without fail. Off the top of my head I can honestly say there's not a  book of hers that I wouldn't  happily enjoy over and over again either in book or audio format.  These stories are totally one of my happy places.

 

I loved 'Rebel' which gave us Gus and Rey's story. For that matter one of the things that I've come to look for in pretty well any book I read is the character's background...it's like watching a puzzle come together. Finding out how that character went from the child they were to the adult they become...what shaped them gave them their strengths, their weaknesses, their passions all the things that make them who they are and it's stories like these where that background for me is such an integral part of everything. 

 

415 Ink is a series about 5 men all of them failed by the system in one way or another and yet they manage not to fail each other coming together as a family and this time around we get a look at Mason's past. It's not a past that I would wish on anyone and it's left Mason struggling with his sense of self worth. Mason doesn't do relationships because he's pretty sure he's not good relationship material. But try as he might he can't seem to keep himself from being drawn to Rob one of the tattoo artist that work at 415 Ink the family business and the fact that Rob's equally drawn to him doesn't help his determination...sometimes resistance really is futile.

 

Mason for me was honestly the brother that held the least interest...or at least that's what I thought...but apparently still waters do run deep. The more I read the more interested in Mason I became and the more I realized that he was so much more than the character we'd been given in 'Rebel'. Add in the fact that while we met Rob in 'Rebel' we really weren't given any information about him in that story and I got a book that I enjoyed a lot more than I had anticipated. 

 

Compared to Mason, Rob's had a life of leisure. While Rob never wanted for material needs like so many kids now a days what he lacked was the time and attention of his parents but abuse was never an issue. Rob walked away from the life his father had planned for him to find his own way in the world and while this left things strained between him and his father. It was never a hopeless situation just one that would need time and compromise on both parts to fix.

 

While I enjoyed the relationship that developed between Mason and Rob. I loved seeing Mason come to terms with and get closure on the part of his life that haunted him and kept him from truly opening up to both his brothers and the man he would come to love.

 

'Savior' took Mason from being 'just one of the brothers' to not just a brother but an individual and solidified his place in this self-made family for me making him someone that I look forward to getting more of in future stories but for now I'm holding out for what we were teased with at the end of 'Savior' and that's Ivo's story...I can't imagine it's going to be anything less than out there, in our faces and totally flamboyant just like the man  himself and maybe, in the meantime I'll get to go to another happy place and hear get my hands on the audio book for 'Savior' when it's available...please, let there be an audio book.

 

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

 

 

I'm pretty sure that this one gave me whiplash...

Out of Bounds - Nicki Bennett, Ariel Tachna

First off, I'd like to say if you loved this book good on you and feel free to ignore me and carry one because I truly don't think that this is about anyone being right or wrong it's just a case of it worked for you and not for me and we all know that  happens. I'm pretty sure if I compared books with all of my friends I'd find at least one book that I loved and they didn't and vice versa...it's part of the beauty of free choice we all get to decide what's good for us and what's not.

 

Now, I'm going to try and be brief and to the point here...I'm good with a nice slow burn and a nice solid relationship build that gives me more than just some down and dirty, hot, steamy sex that's suppose to make me believe that two people who have barely done more than say hello are suddenly soulmates.  But when I get approximately 182 pages of 'oh no we can't have a relationship because...' and suddenly with only 12 pages left in the book it takes less than 5 pages for things to do a 180 and 'oh no we can't' becomes 'I love you, I can't believe I almost lost you, I want to spend forever with you' and to top if all off there still hasn't been any sex...sorry, but no, just no, forget slow burn I'm not even sure there was ever even a fire and then things go from zero to 100 so fast that race car drivers everywhere are green with envy!

 

Prior to all of this there was in fact one kiss between the MCs, albeit a supposedly hot and steamy kiss that left one of the MCs feeling more than a little confused and frustrated and the other MC needing to 'get out of dodge' and sober up! and that's it seriously for the first 182 pages there was that kiss. Sorry but some personal hand action in the shower doesn't count as romance.

 

Anyways, you win some, you lose some and for me this one just wasn't the winner that I'd hoped for.  There were some other issues with this one for me but I have to admit this was the biggie...the iceberg that sank the ship...yes, there's a cruise that happens in this and it's towards the end of the story and was definitely the beginning of the end and with that I think I've reached the end of my little babble about this one as well. 

 

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A copy of 'Out of Bounds' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Well this one was a little more complex but every bit as good as the first one...

Sentinel - Karrie Roman

Ethan Stone and Ben Cronin are two of the body guards that we met in 'Shipped' the first book in this series and we met this pair when the security company that they worked for assigned them to protect Lucas and Ryan.

 

'Sentinel' for all intents and purposes picks up where 'Shipped' left off with the focus shifting from but not totally leaving Lucas and Ryan. Even though the imminent danger of a stalker to Ethan and Ryan has been resolve they're still in the limelight and while Ethan has resigned his position with the security company...for personal reasons, Lucas and Ryan have taken him on as their personal security guard. Meanwhile Ben's recovering from injuries received in 'Shipping' and this does not bode well for  his next meeting with Ethan...a meeting that's coming sooner than either of them are expecting or ready for.

 

It's a desperate call from Ethan's estranged sister that brings everyone back together. Frantic to get her daughter's back Maggie calls the one person she'd always looked up to and relied on until their parents drove him out of their life and her's...her big brother, Ethan. It's without hesitation that Ethan goes to his sister's side only to be confronted by so many truths that he'd never known but more important than anything else is the fact that he has twin nieces...barely 2 years old and desperately in need of their Uncle Ethan to bring them home where they'll be loved and protected. With so much going on the last thing Ethan expects is to be confronted with Ben Cronin the man he'd walked away from and left lying in a hospital bed and even less than seeing him, Ethan has no expectation of that same man stepping up determined to help him and to Ethan's surprise proving to be a far more valuable ally than he could have hoped for as Ben reveals his past to Ethan confirming what Ethan had long suspected...Ben's got a past that not only makes him a valuable ally but a very dangerous enemy to those who would try and keep Ethan from bringing his nieces home where they belong.

 

I really liked Ethan and Ben in the first book and while we didn't see a lot of them there was enough interaction to hint at the possibility that there could be so much more between them than a working relationship if they'd just give it a chance. But when the chance arises Ethan  walked away leaving Ben both hurt and confused.

 

When Ethan arrives in Casper, Wyoming the last person he expects to see is Cameron...Ben's twin brother so needless to say when the man is face to face with Ben...he's pretty much left speechless. While Ben may be the smaller of the two there's not a timid or reserved bone in his body and he's not afraid to let Ethan know where things stand, but he's also not one to hold a grudge.

 

For as much as I liked Lucas and Ryan, I would have to say that Ethan and Ben are my favorites. Overall I enjoyed the story more but I just generally liked the interaction between this pair more and while there were a couple of things at the end that might have made me roll my eyes...it was just a tiny bit...really, just an isty, bitsy eye roll and certainly not something that was enough to detract from the story and there might have been a tug or two on my heartstrings now that I think about it. It was sweet...not sugary sweet more like the kind of sweet that makes you sigh a little as you're reading.

 

Just like the first book there was a solid plot here for both the romance and the mystery/thriller part of the story that very nicely straddled the line and while providing an interesting and engaging story stayed out of the realm of too much...as in to complex, too busy, to convoluted...simply too much to enjoy. I got to read this one and enjoy the story while staying engaged without being overwhelmed by everything that was going on.

 

Although the ending of this story felt complete and I could stop here if I wanted to, I'm ready and waiting for the next part of this journey to see who's next and what we can expect from them. Honestly, I'm hoping for a story about Ben's twin brother Cameron... the end of this story left him with a rather interesting predicament that I'd love to be fly on the wall for as it unfolds.

 

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

WOW!!! Am I ever glad that I read this one...

Shipped - Karrie Roman

And for more than one reason. I was presented with the opportunity to read 'Sentinel' the second book in this series and when I was checking things out because...hey what can I say...this is a new to me author and I wanted to be sure or at least as sure as I could that this was a book that I would hopefully at least like. Anyways, somewhere along the line in my poking around I came to the conclusion that I needed to read the first book and fairly quickly I came to the conclusion that I needed to read 'Shipped' which is the first book before jumping into 'Sentinel' and for a number of reasons I was right. I honestly can't say I'd recommend reading book 2 if you haven't read this book first.

 

I definitely enjoyed 'Shipped' and when you get into 'Sentinel' you quickly realize that by reading this book as well you are far more familiar with all of the players and their background info than if  you'd skipped it...which for me makes the story much more enjoyable.

 

Lucas Evers is an established actor who's already earned a certain level of success for himself while Ryan Lowe is new to the acting scene and anxious to make a name for himself both men really are very likable and there's chemistry from the word go with them but it's not a simple case of boy meets boy, boy falls in love with boy and they all live happily ever after...no, Lucas has a wife but sometimes things are exactly as they seem, there's also the matter of Lucas's family...and don't they just put the fun back in dys-fun-ctional.  Plus there's the whole issue of Ryan isn't even sure whether Lucas is straight? gay? or at last bi?

 

While Ryan's live may seem a little simpler with being estranged from his father, who is also his only family an no love interest in sight...you would thing things would go a little smoother for him...but no, even Ryan has his trials and tribulations and his own personal stalker and as Ryan and Lucas's popularity increase...one of them becomes a target while the other is helpless in the grip of fear and panic.

 

When Ryan gets cast as Lucas's love interest  both men are determined to keep the romance on screen and confine their relationship to something strictly platonic but when their fans and their hearts have other plans what they want and what they get become two different things and fans are more than willing to switch from shipping the couple as  'SamDom'  to 'Lovers', yeah it was a little cheesie that their last names could be shipped to 'lovers' but hey, I've read way worse so it's all good in my world.

 

For the most part not only did I really like Ryan and Lucas but there were a lot of secondary characters that I liked as well. I loved 'Anna, Lucas's 'wife' and for more about that...you know the drill...read the story. I think you'll end up liking her a lot as well. She's pretty awesome and while there wasn't a lot of attention place on it...it was clear that Anna was a 'plus size' woman!!!! There aren't enough characters in fiction who are plus size and portrayed as being comfortable with themselves and we need them in real life and in fiction...it's not ok to shame people because of their religion, gender, sexual orientation or so many other things but fat-shaming...people that's not ok either and it's when I come across something like this that I feel good because I think..."Hey, maybe...just maybe the world is catching on...truly catching on. We're all different and that's what makes us all special and unique. I'd rather be healthy, happy and 40 pounds overweight than someone who's insecure and ruining their body with bizarre yo, yo diets  in an effort to become the media image of perfection." 

 

So stepping off of my pulpit let's get  back to this story and the fact that there as well as the main characters there are some secondary characters that I really liked and this is the part that ties into the next book because...you guessed it a couple of those characters are the MCs in the next book. Not to mention that several of the characters in this book will reappear at one time or another so as well as being a genuinely enjoyable story there's background for the 'Sentinel' in this one that helps to make the next one equally as enjoyable.

 

"Shipped" offered a solid and enjoyable start to a new series by a new to me author and I'm looking forward to seeing where the next installment in this series takes me.

If you’ve a fan of and have read ‘The Harrisburg Railers’ series...

Ryker - F. Scott Fitzgerald, V.L. Locey

than you know who Ryker is and at the very least can probably skip the rest of this paragraph. If you’re not you can probably still read this book and not feel lost but honestly, I think you’ll enjoy it even more if you’ve read the series or at least the first book which has Ryker’s father, Jared Madsen as one of the MC’s along with Jared’s partner Tennant Rowe. We’ve gotten glimpses of Ryker here and there throughout the series but nowhere more than ‘Changing Lines’, book 1 of the Harrisburg Railers and now here in his own book.

 

Not only is Ryker the son of a well-known hockey player turned coach who’s living openly with his partner and hockey’s golden boy Tennant Rowe, the youngest of hockey’s Rowe brothers. He’s also the grandson of a well-known old timer and all he’s ever wanted is to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and make them proud, so relationships are not something that factor into his life there’s no time not when you want to be one of the best.

 

Jacob Benson’s had a very different life growing up in a small rural farming community where he’s struggled alongside of his family to keep their dairy farm going. For Jacob hockey has become a means to an end…college hockey means scholarships and a chance at an agricultural science degree…a chance to learn things that could help him save his family’s farm. It’s not that he doesn’t like or want to play hockey…it’s just that for Jacob, hockey’s not the end game, but a means to an end and between his studies, hockey and working 2 jobs to pay for the things that his scholarship doesn’t. Jacob has even less time than Ryker for a relationship but try as they might neither one of these young men can bring themselves to truly walk away and really it’s just a summer fling right?

 

I loved Jacob and Ryker together, sure there were moment of immaturity and at times I found Jacob to be a bit judgey but he’s young…they’re both young and I don’t know about anyone else but some of my finer moments happened at this age, when I was young and silly enough to think I knew everything unlike now when I’m happy to realize that with any luck I know something…any little thing!!!

 

There are events from Goal Line book #6 of the Harrisburg Railers that get revisited in this story but it’s relevant and if you haven’t read that series it’s very helpful background information to have.

 

When Jacob and Ryker first meet there’s a bit of animosity between them, but as they get to know each other both men realize that if they’re ever going to get to know each other they’ll need to set aside their preconceived notions.

 

Ryker may be dedicated to being the best hockey player he can, but it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t understand that sometimes a person just needs to relax and unwind a bit something that Jacob doesn’t see as a priority or seem to have the time for. While Jacob helps Ryker look at things from a different and more personal perspective and not just as abstract concepts.

 

Ultimately when all is said and done together Jacob and Ryker help each other to grow and mature as they discover that even though they both have full and busy lives when it comes to love there’s always room for more.

I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next in this series we’ve been introduced to some of the Owatonna Eagles and I definitely want more about Ben and Scott and I won’t deny it I’m also on the lookout for more about the Harrisburg Railers should the occasion arise.

 

After all I am Canadian and R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey have become two of my favorite ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ announcers.

 

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

This one’s a pretend boyfriend story with a twist…

Darcy - R.J. Scott, Meredith Russell

Darcy Bridges works as a boyfriend for hire and no in this case it’s not code talk for sex-trade worker. His life plan had been the military but as is often the case life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans so when an injury ends that plan he goes to work with his childhood friend, Rowan at Bryant & Waites, Boyfriends for hire.

 

When Adrian’s sister, Abby needs a date to attend a family wedding with her. She turns to Rowan & Waites for assistance. While Darcy and Abby become fast friends…thankfully there’s Abby’s only interest in Darcy is platonic and business…as in he’s her pretend boyfriend and maybe Abby’s a total workaholic and just doesn’t have time for relationships. Adrian thinks his sister’s idea of hiring someone to pose as her boyfriend is bad but even worse is the fact that Darcy pushes all of Adrian’s boyfriend buttons.

 

‘Darcy’ turned out to be a sweet, pretend boyfriend story with the twist that Darcy was pretending to be Abby’s boyfriend and not her brother, Adrian’s, no spoiler here it’s in the blurb. I liked that there was no emotional conflict between Abby and Adrian where Darcy was concerned.  for Abby, her relationship with Darcy was a business transaction, however, Darcy and Abby did become friends and all things considered that was nice.

There was some side drama that added to this one in regards to Abby and their cousin Charlotte and while it had the potential to be way more over the top than it was and even seemed a bit pointless in the beginning by the end of the story the how’s and why’s of this belonging to the whole pretend boyfriend situation made sense and I ended up liking this part of things because it did have a place in the overall story and wasn’t just an extra bit of drama.

 

The wedding in question is a ‘society event’ and takes place over the course of a week at a posh hotel bringing Darcy and Adrian into close contact on a daily basis and testing Darcy’s resolve to not pursue Adrian until ‘after the contract term is up’ on more than one occasion. Overall, I liked Darcy and Adrian were a good match and I liked them together and enjoyed seeing them get to know each other as both men also tired to ignore their attraction to each other on a more physical level.

 

This was a sweet, fun, low angst, slightly different pretend boyfriend story that I found to be fairly enjoyable with the biggest exception being the fact that I just didn’t understand Adrian’s whole feelings of being disloyal to his sister because of his interest in Darcy given that he knew Darcy was gay and his sister wasn’t interested in Darcy in ‘that way’. I got that he didn’t feel like he could pursue a relationship with Darcy while he was pretending to be Abby’s boyfriend but to me that felt more like it should be a ‘wait’ situation not a big ‘guilt’ situation…but maybe that’s just me…whatever, it was a niggle and definitely didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the story because in the end it all came together and I had a really pleasant reading experience that made me smile.

 

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

So here's the thing...

BFF - K.C. Wells, Michael Mola

I'm really, really torn on this one. I had moments where I really into the story and enjoying myself and then I had moments that bordered on total ambivalence and my brain started to blank out and go 'yeah, yeah whatever'. 

 

For me this story was very reminiscent of Anna Martin's 'Five Times My Best Friend Kissed Me' or or Laura Lascaro's 'When Everything Is Blue'. While each story is told in the author's unique style the overall concept is similar life long friends to lovers and in each case the story is all at least partially told through flashbacks.

 

I'm sure there are a number of other that could fall into this group as well but ironically I listened to all 3 of these books on audio, 2 of them actually had the same narrator...this one and 'When Everything Is Blue' were both narrated by Michael Mola who did an excellent job of with the narrating as did Jesse Cota who narrated 'Five Times My Best Friend Kissed Me'. So I guess that's some of the reasons that the other two books came to mind while I was listening to the audio book of 'BFF'. 

 

I think one of my biggest problems with this one was the fact that we've got two boys/men, Matt and David who meet as young children and become life long friends...so far I'm on board with this it's cute and I'm liking it. For the most part they grow up together and as the years pass their bond of friendship strengthens and again still on board here and things are making sense...I get lost with the whole fact that we have two young men who have grown up together. Spent a huge amount of time together but both claim to be 'straight' and neither seems to realize that the reason the never seem to have a steady girlfriend or want to go with girls is because they just don't really want to be with anyone other than their 'best friend'. 

 

From an objective point the story was well laid out and there were a lot of really sweet moments...maybe, some of them were too sweet. I liked that both of these boys/men seem to have pretty awesome parents...this was nice and I enjoyed the lack of douchie parents...but maybe these parents were just a little too over the top sweet. For example there was this whole incident involving champagne when Matt and David finally admitted their feelings for each other that was just a little bit more sweet than I could swallow and while were a few other moments like this the champagne was the one that really stood out in my mind.

 

I had honestly expected that I'd like this one a lot more than I did, but that's not to say that I didn't like the story, it's more a case of I liked the story, I just didn't LOVE the story and honestly we can't love them all can we?

 

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

Well this one needed to come with a warning...

What Binds Us - Larry  Benjamin, Richard Magnus

maybe something along the lines of...

'Warning...before reading this book the reader should ensure that they have tissues, a warm and snuggly teddy bear (because teddy bears fix things...all the things) and copious amounts of alcohol may also be beneficial.' 

 

I've had this one on my radar for quite a while now. But to be honest between the blurb and what I've seen and read in other reviews...well, I was nervous...I've read 'A Little Life', 'Let's Hear It for the Boy' and a few others that basically left me feeling more than a little brokenhearted...so I had to ask myself am I read to do this again, to let read a book that's not all goodness and light or filled with action and adventure. When I saw the book on audible.com...I thought...'Audio, I can do this on audio' and I clicked the button and added the book to my library...and there it sat for weeks...and more weeks...because every time I looked at it...I said 'nope, not yet. can't do it.' and this went on and on until I finally pulled on my big girl panties and clicked the play button and then I sat and I listened...I laughed and I cried...oh did I cry...tissues were sacrificed in an effort not short out my laptop with the tears...my poor little furbaby was frantic with worry and paced the floor because his people don't cry and if they do there's something wrong. 

 

'What Binds Us' is by no means a simple romance novel...It's the story of Thomas-Edward, Donovan (Dondi) Whyte and his brother Matthew. It starts with Thomas and Dondi when they first meet in college as roommates. Things progress between them to friendship and then something more and this is where things also start to get complicated.

 

Dondi's a bit of a bigger than life person, who also happens to be a bit self absorbed. But ultimately he's one of those people who others are just drawn too and he's a creature of excesses.

 

As Dondi and Thomas-Edward's relationship progresses and grows it also changes and they move back into the realm of being friends...enter Dondi's brother, Matthew.

 

Like his brother, Matthew and Thomas-Edward start out as friends as well. As things progress the lives of these three men become inextricably tangled. 

 

As Dondi and Thomas-Edward go from friends to lovers and back to friends while Thomas-Edward and Matthew explore their own friendship that ultimately sees them become lovers and partners and Dondi remains a permanent fixture in their lives as Thomas-Edward's best friend and Matthew's brother. 

 

What follows is a story of not just Matthew and Thomas-Edward but a story of love, friendship and partings...of having someone in your life and loosing them, of heartbreak and courage, of being a friend even when the other person pushes you away...a story of love and not just being in love, it's about growing up gay when having Aids was a death sentence and friends and lovers came into lives and left to soon.

 

There's not a lot of steam and sexy times in this one but this is about the relationships... the connections, how people grow and change, fit into each others lives sometimes forever and sometimes just for a while.

 

'What Binds Us' is about love and what it brings into our lives and how that shapes us and our relationships. It's love between friends, family and lovers. It's sweet and gently and beautiful and sometimes it's ugly and cruel but always it's a driving force in our lives.

 

Richard Magnus narrated this story and I loved his narration from start to finish especially for Dondi...his interpretation of how Dondi would sound was so perfectly in sync with what I imagined. This was actually my first time listening to a book narrated by this narrator and I'm looking forward to hearing more as well as re-listening to this story...as soon as I restock my supply of tissues. 

 

The ending of this one was good, really good it was happiness tinged with heartache...it was real. it was about the people we love and how they come and go from our lives but remain forever in our hearts.

Let's take a walk down memory lane...

My Fair Captain - J.L. Langley

I have such a soft spot in my heart for this book. The first time I read this story was back in 2010...how do I know this well I remember the house we were living in when I read this and we moved there in October of 2009 and this was one of the first m/m e-books that I ever bought and I got it after Christmas so early 2010.  I know all this really has nothing to do with the story except that as I said I have a real soft spot in my heart for this book and this author. 

 

Truthfully I could probably go through and make a laundry list of all the things that I shouldn't like about it...it's SciFi...so not my thing, it centers around a very patriarchal society...yep, there go women's rights, kids are genetically enhanced to prefer men in the royal families...can someone explain to me how that's even a thing? and then there's the names and I realize that several people have sited this as an annoyance in their reviews but as someone who came from a family of 7 kids let me just say off the top of my head I had no fewer than 3 names that I was called on any given day and that doesn't include those times when the parents ran down the list and threw in the cat and the dog's names for good measure, so it's really a matter of what you're use to for me the names really weren't an issue.  I'm sure there's more but my point is sometimes what shouldn't work does and for me this one worked.

 

Possibly because...it's SciFi set in an alternate reality so I get to leave my moral values at home. I mean this doesn't even take place on earth so why would I expect that the current values and morals of present day earth have anything to do with this world...they don't, part of what the author is doing here is creating an alternate reality so of course a lot of it not only doesn't line up with societal norms of our world but really why should it?

 

Along with the things that shouldn't have worked there are some things that made perfect counterpoints to them. Like the fact that it's the men who raise the children, oh sure they had nursemaids and nannies but that's not unusual for people with money and even better it's the virtue of the young men that needs to be protected in other words...'There will be no catting around here. These young men are to be pure and chaste upon their wedding nights'...come on is anyone but me laughing their ass off right now? I think it's high time that young men had to worry about their reputations...ok, I'll stop.

 

I found 'My Fair Captain' to be a delightful and entertaining wander into the world of SciFi that took me into an alternate world and made me consider how different things could be while telling me a story that had action, adventure and a bit of mystery and intrigue to keep me guessing about some things...things that don't totally wrap themselves up in this first book but the ending of this one is such that if you choose to leave it there you can. Personally, I'm game for the next book if it comes out on audio...I might have read the original series...2 or maybe it was 3 times...really who's counting?

 

Now as for the narration on this one...Joseph Morton is the narrator and while he's definitely not new to the world of audio books he is new to me. I can't say that he did a bad job because honestly he didn't but for whatever reason I just wasn't able to connect with his narration. I think it part it was because some of the voices weren't distinct enough while I had absolutely no problem understanding what was being read the voices just didn't enhance how I imagined the characters to be hence no connection be voice and character for me. I'm definitely not saying that this is a narrator I won't listen to again as it's very possible that with another story and different characters this would be a different audio experience for me. But for my first time listening to this narrator it just didn't work...maybe next time.

 

This one ended up being 4.5 stars for the story and maybe 3 for the narration, but I'm going to call it a day at 3.5 stars and hope that things go better with the next one.

 

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An audiobook of 'My Fair Captain' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Ok ladies and gents I'm gonna pimp the hell outta' this audio book...

Crocus - Amy Lane, Nick J. Russo

So that we're perfectly clear I love this freakin' book...I love this series and no it's not because I got the book or the audio for review...nope, nope, nope...it's because this is one hella' good story.

 

'Bonfires' was the first book in the series and we got to meet Deputy Sheriff Aaron George and high school principal Larx and there kids and there are a few of those Larx has 2 daughters and Aaron has 2 daughters and a son but like all good homes both men have room in their heart for more. 

 

I love this series it's about two men...mature men who have both had to deal with life's challenges before finding what many of us hope for...that person who completes us and whom we want to go through life with...good or bad. 

 

Now in 'Crocus' we get to see their relationship weather yet more of life's challenges. We get to see these men grow and their bond strengthens as they yet again show the strength of their bond as together they work to save a young man and his much loved and damaged brother, to help Larx's daughter deal with her own crisis while somewhere out in the cold, snowy winter night is yet another child who desperately needs to be rescued...It's going to take Aaron, Larx, the children that they've gathered in their home and their hearts along with an interesting collection of friends to juggle everything being thrown their way and make sure that nothing important gets dropped and still have time for them.

 

There is just so much that I love about this series...obviously I love Aaron and Larx, their amazing collection of kids...seriously they're damned near as amazing as my own...ok, I'm biased but still they're all amazing. Then there's Yoshi!!!! No not the cute green dino from the Mario game...I'm talking about Larx's VP and best friend. Aaron's boss is also pretty damned awesome. Don't get me wrong this isn't a story about perfect people it's a story about people who are trying to be the best person they can be and give back to their community...something that we all need to strive for if we're going to make the world a nicer and better place to live and best of all there's a lot of humor in these stories because sometimes you've either gotta' laugh or you're going to cry so you may as well laugh about it, put on your big boy or girl pants and get on with life, which is what Larx and Aaron do. Making them a very relatable couple.

 

The icing on the cake for me with this is that it's all wrapped up once again with the narrations of Nick J. Russo. I'm not sure why but lately I've been trying to check out some new narrators so I've kind of been missing Mr. Russo and this was the perfect opportunity for me to get a Nick fix and of course I couldn't pass up the opportunity to revisit 'Bonfires' before emerging myself in 'Crocus'. I've said it before and for me it's worth repeating 'I love having the same narrator for a series especially when the characters are the same from story to story. I'm not sure who's up for the next book but when it comes to the audio book if I see Nick J. Russo listed as the narrator it won't break my heart not even a little bit but then if the next book give us more Aaron and Larx that's not going to make me sad either...I just know for sure that whatever book three is I'll read it, I'll listen to it and I'll enjoy it.

 

Seriously if you need a happy place in your life...than you need these men and their family in your life...they are epic and awesome.

 

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

This one's got a hot guy and equally hot twins but...

Unwritten Law - Eden Finley

It's also got a definite twist to it, but before we talk about the actual story I just want to be clear there may be twins in this story but what there isn't is twincest.

 

Anders and Law are twins so of course they're close but are they maybe too close if Law is the one breaking up with Ander's boyfriends...they've got their reasons for why this happens and while Law would prefer not to do this but there are reasons and until the day that Anders calls Law to come to a restaurant ASAP and break his blind date it hasn't caused any real problems...but, Reeds not like the other dates and while he's not Anders' type it turns out he's very much Law's type.

 

This one captured my attention from the very start it was good and I enjoyed the concept and the more I read the more I liked what I was reading. "Unwritten Law' is twin story with a bit of a different twist and the story really didn't go as I had expected it would which was definitely a pleasant surprise. While Reed and Law are definitely the MCs in this story Anders plays a very strong supporting role and I came to really like all three of these men but 'Unwritten Law' courtesy of Anders really does belong to Reed and Law and it's their story that we are being given in this first book of Eden Finley's 'Steele Brothers' series. 

 

Reed's new in town and he's been set up on a blind date with his neighbors accountant or so he thinks because what he actually gets is a fellow teacher who happens to be the accountant's twin. While the two hit it off on an intellectual level it's the immediate physical attraction that leads Law astray resulting in what's suppose to be a one time hook-up.For Law it's a chance to explore his long repressed interest in men and for Reed it's a chance to end his dry spell following a bad break-up but ultimately he views it as a chance to make a friend since being new in town he's sorely lacking in the friend department.

 

I found the interactions between Reed and Law good there were serious moments, humorous touches all laced with those moments of awkwardness that comes with the beginnings of a new relationship but there were also secrets...secrets that when kept become bigger and seem to be all consuming...creating a chasm that ultimately Law is sure can never be bridged.

 

 One of the best things about this story for me was the ending...it wasn't so much an HEA as it was an HFN solidly working it's way towards an HEA. Which all things considered for this story is a far more believable ending than a simple HEA would have been. Now all I need to make me really over the moon happy is a story giving Anders some happy because that boy needs some happy and maybe Reed's friend Brody will play a part in it or maybe his happy is waiting somewhere else for him? I know I'm looking forward to finding out especially if their stories as excellent as this one was.

 

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

Sometimes it’s what we find when we’re not looking that brings true change and love into our lives.

Butterfly Hunter - Julie Bozza

 Dave wasn’t looking for Nicholas…much less love. Everyone knows he’s a one-woman man and when Denny decides that he’s not the right man for her, Dave resigns himself to being her friend and living a life alone running his tour guide business. 

 

Dave’s not gay so the last thing he expects is to develop feelings for the son of a British Earl who’s hired him to help find an elusive blue butterfly located somewhere in the Australian Outback and it’s as the two men go on this journey together in search of Nicholas’s elusive butterfly that Dave begins to develop feelings for the unusual Brit feelings that inevitably go beyond friendship and ultimately beyond a vacation fling for both men.

 

I loved how fluidly both parts of this story melted together. The romance and the journey to find the butterflies. Two different parts of the same story that worked together beautifully, each side working to enhance the other part.

 

I also loved the setting for this story…Australia. It’s one of those places that while I’ll probably never get to go there, it’s always captivated me so reading stories set in Australia is my way of visiting a place that I’d love to visit but may never get a chance to.

 

It’s been a long time…maybe ever, since I’ve found a story that felt as genuine and organic in its progression as this one. I never found myself questioning that Dave, who was for all intents and purposes straight was feeling an attraction for another man or anyone for that matter given that until Nicholas he’d only ever loved one other person.

 

‘The Butterfly Hunter’ is a story that while as beautiful and timid as the insect that it’s named for is also the kind of story that eases into your mind and soul with such a gentle touch and captures the readers attention and left me wanting more, which I will get, hopefully soon…or at least as soon as time allows.

 

I’m pretty eclectic when it comes to my book choices and while I love a good murder mystery or what I lovingly call a ‘blow sh*t-up’ book, fantasy, urban fantasy, romance, paranormal, I’ll even do shifter books, seriously you’ll find a little of just about everything on my bookshelves including books like this…books that are soft and gentle, books that sooth my soul and bring out the romantic in me…they may even garner a few tears from me and while this one didn’t quite get the tears flowing there was definitely a point at which I felt my heart being tugged on as I held my breath and waited for what would happen next. ‘The Butterfly Hunter’ isn’t a fast moving action packed adventure or a hard-hitting mystery, it’s not even a gut wrenching romance…nope this one’s a sweet, gentle story not about finding what your looking for but about realizing what you need and letting it into your life.

 

For anyone who’s looking to read a book that’s sweet, romantic, has zero to no angst, gives you a peek at someplace you’ve never been all while telling a story that will warm your heart and leave you smiling.

 

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A copy of ‘The Butterfly Hunter’ was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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