...Bookfanatic

 

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

This one's not only worth reading...

A Boy Worth Knowing - Jennifer Cosgrove

But I'm pretty sure at some point I will be doing a re-read on this.

 

I honestly only have one big issue with this book and that's the title because there's not one boy worth knowing in this book there's 2. There's funny, smart, sweet, adorable, isolated Nate and then there's James. Handsome, loyal, not afraid to think for himself, James.

 

Now before I go any further let's talk about the title...truthfully the title is perfect, but you'll have to read the book to find out why...I'm not spoiling. Also I probably wouldn't have read this book so soon if it wasn't for my friend Todd's review over on GR. Seriously it's an awesome review, check it out...Todd's Review 

 

I think a lot of us remember what it's like to be a teenager and I'll be one of the first to admit. It's not easy and for me it often wasn't fun and I have no desire to repeat it. But imagine being a teenager able to do something that pretty much anyone else can't...like, I don't know maybe see and talk to dead people. Seriously, life would suck.

 

Nate's been on his own for a long time so when someone like James moves to town he doesn't expect him to want to friends much less anything else with the school pariah, but James likes what he sees in Nate and he's not afraid to follow his instincts.

 

There's so much about this story that's simply awesome. James and Nate together are wonderful. I loved them both and truly couldn't imaging how any mother wouldn't. 

 

'A Boy Worth Knowing' is a young adult story and as such the steam and sexy times are kept appropriate for that age level but this is not a story that lacks for depth of emotions by any means and while the central part of the plot may involve a paranormal element the high school setting and the people in it are very reflective of the real world that we all live in.

 

Every class has it's Penny, a queen bee who rules not because of their merits or how deserving they are but because of their ability to intimidate and manipulate. Ironically this is the part of the story that had merit above all else of me. The part of the story that in the end told us that people like words only have as much power as we give them.

 

'A Boy Worth Knowing' is a story worth reading and not just for young adults. My young adult days are so far behind me that Nate and James could have easily been my grandchildren and if they were I would have wanted them to read this story. It's an incredibly well written work of fiction that holds a very real message about believing in yourself and being true to who you are and trusting that your real friends are the ones who walk in while everyone else is walking out.

 

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An ARC of 'A Boy Worth Knowing' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

When your world is going up in flames who better to fall in love with than a fireman...

Cleansing Flame - Andrew  Grey

'Cleansing Flame' is the second book in Andrew Grey's series 'Rekindled Flame' and while I did enjoy the first book a tiny, tiny bit more it wasn't enough to really make a difference on my rating.  'Rekindled Flame' which is the title of the first book as well as the series was a really solid 4 star read for me while this one was a little bit of a weaker 4 stars but still quite enjoyable.

 

Dayne's life over the past couple of years hasn't been good it started with a car accident that left him seriously damaged and with a new best friend named 'Pain' and grieving the loss of Jeff the man he loved and thought he was spending forever with. Barely a year later he's burying his mother and now at the start of the book he's back in school trying to get himself turned around and essentially remaking his life only to arrive home and find his home going up in flames. Dayne's pretty much at his limit of how much crap he can handle having dumped on him and really 'can you blame him?' I know I couldn't. 

 

I really like Dayne...sure he has the occasional pity party but he keeps going, he doesn't just give up and wallow in it and I think a lot of people would. He's smart and determined. Truthfully he's not really asking for much he just wants to get on with his life and get out from under the damned black cloud that seems to want to follow  him everywhere and it's when he's at his lowest trying to fight back the tears and despair that are threatening to drown him that the world gives him a glimmer of light in the form of an incredibly kind hearted and attractive firefighter named Lawson...someone he'd met earlier that day at the local historical society.

 

Lawson's attractive, friendly and as kindhearted as they come and he doesn't hesitate to offer Dayne a place to stay when he realizes that this sweet attractive man whom he'd had the chance encounter with has no one to call on in his time of need.  It takes a bit of fast talking from Lawson with strong dose of help from their mutual friend Mason to persuade Dayne to at least accept Lawson's offer of a place to stay for a few days.

 

Now don't be thinking that these two men head off to Lawson's house and fall into be and live happily ever after...nope sorry just like real life it doesn't happen that fast for them. There are obstacles both within their control and not and then even when they do begin to work things out it's still not a smooth road but it's not an over the top WTF angst filled one either.  However, have no fear while it took a while for the sparks to ignite between these two once they did things were definitely hot. 

 

We get to see a bit of Richard and Mason, they're the MC's from book 1 and while they by no means over shadowed the story in this book, they were definitely a nice addition to the story. Having MCs and secondary characters from previous books show up in subsequent books is something that I love happening when I'm reading a series.

 

There's also a secondary part to this story that relates to Dayne and Lawson's first encounter at the local historical society that I really enjoyed I found this part of the story to be incredibly sweet touch adding an opportunity for Lawson and Dayne to get to know each other better and help their relationship grow. 

 

Like the first book in this series, 'Cleansing Flame' is a sweet, low angst, romance that makes for a relaxing and enjoyable read and I'm looking forward to seeing whose story is next in this series and how hot those flames will burn.

 

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

It seems the circus has come to town...

The Mystery of the Curiosities (Snow & Winter Book 2) - C.S. Poe

While I enjoyed 'The Mystery of Nevermore' book 1 in C. S. Poe's Snow & Winter series a tiny, tiny bit more than this one that does not mean that 'The Mystery of the Curiosities' was anything less than enjoyable. 

 

I think possibly part of my added enthusiasm for the first book was just the joy of discovering a new author who was writing a new series that I wanted to read...see all the shiny new that's going on here? I was dazzled...that's right I suffer from magpie syndrome. However, while this book isn't the shiny new of a first book in a new series by a new author it still holds it's own with a well written story about characters that I truly like solving a well done mystery. Ms. Poe had me guessing right up until the end when I knew who did it and why only to find out things were not as they seemed...well done, I love a mystery that keeps my brain guessing from start to finish.

 

While I did get a bit frustrated with Seb for his perpetual lies of omission and half-truths, I do have to admit were I in his shoes I'm not sure I would have done any better and I think that while I don't advocate his behavior I probably felt a little more lenient towards him once my initial frustration wore off and I was force to admit that while his decision making skills weren't always stellar neither were they malicious or intended to do harm...in fact, it was quite the opposite he wanted to resolve things in the hopes of keeping anyone else from being hurt...so his intentions were good...mmmmm...I think there's a road somewhere paved with good intentions...just sayin'

 

Apart from the mystery and just the story in general one of the things that I truly loved was the approach that the author took with Calvin's PTSD. It wasn't made light of with implications that little more than some good sex would fix it. While Calvin doesn't want to seek medical help neither is Seb willing to give up on getting him to reconsider this decision. There is real concern for Calvin on the part of his partner, Quinn and Seb's father and not just Seb, but as we all know you can't help someone until they want to be helped. So to me Seb was being realistic about things in that he wasn't forcing Calvin to do something he's not ready to do but neither was he willing to stick his head in the sand and just hope it'd go away.

 

I love Seb and Calvin the passion is there and it's wonderfully tempered with humor and sweet yet sometimes awkward moments of them sharing their feelings whether saying 'I love you' or when Calvin is trying to explain how much he needs Seb to be safe or Seb seeking Calvin's forgiveness for something that he new he shouldn't have done long before he ever did it. These two tug at my heartstrings and make me smile contentedly as I travel along with them to solve their latest mystery.

 

While 'The Mystery of Nevermore' gave us the shiny new 'The Mystery of the Curiosities' proved that this author's candle is still burning bright.

 

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

I think the world might have tilted on it's axis a bit...

Seven Summer Nights - Harper Fox

Oh, Ms Fox how I adore your writing. You bring stories to life for me as few other authors are able to. 

 

This one started on a bit of a challenging note for me. It was ok and I was enjoying it...possibly because "Buddy Read" with my awesome besties Josy and Christelle and initially I think perhaps this story was appealing more to them than me on a certain level. But as always I was still being drawn in by the wonderful word poetry of Ms Fox and that alone was enough to keep me reading but needless to say the more I was drawn into this web of words the more I wanted to read until I found myself happily devouring this story. 

 

'Seven Summer Nights' is not a simple story about a post-war romance between two men...oh no, it's not even close to that because for one thing a romance between two men at that time in history didn't have a snowballs chance in 'you know where' of being simple.

 

While the story between Rufus and Archibald (Thorne for the remainder of this review) is very much the main and central part of the story. It is surrounded by a explosion of colorful and often 'eccentric' characters set mainly in a small English countryside village. The struggles that are faced by both Rufus and Thorne on an individual level and as two men trying to find a place for their fragile relationship in a world that would see them jailed or worse for their feelings, for sharing words spoken in the still of night as gentle as a summers breeze meant only to offer comfort and ease...

"No more gods, no more war. I'm not a vicar, and you...you're not a soldier.

 Never again. There's just us, dear fellow---here we are."

 

'Seven Summer Nights' shows us a world that many of us never knew first hand, some like myself may have a bit of second-hand knowledge because of parents and grandparents.

 

Much of this book was ironically a reminder for me of why I'm not a huge fan of historical novels not because they're bad or uninteresting...in fact quite the contrary. I love history but unfortunately with history comes the reminders of the wrongs and injustices that have been committed and so often these transgressions are hidden behind such noble causes as God, King and country forcing men who would live in a world of tolerance and peace to fight those would control it through fear, bigotry and sheer brute force. This is what happened to Rufus and when he could fight no more his mind chose to forget. Ironically Thorne who is a man of god also fought but his terrors were not so dark and his memories were very different than that of Rufus.

"Yes. Oh, Archie, it seems terrible to talk about it.

To destroy your peace of mind with such a story."

 

"You won't. And even if you did, isn't that part of my job from now on--

  to share your wars and your peace?"

 

Two men fighting for the basic rights and freedoms of the same people who would deny them theirs. Just as they would deny the women who did their part their rights (it wasn't until 1928 that British women achieved full suffrage 3 years after the end of WWII and while this is an incredibly interesting topic...google is your friend). This is the setting of 'Seven Summer Nights' but we're not done yet because as well as the climate of the times Ms Fox has given us glimpses of Britain's cultural background through it's archaeology and it's folklore. We see the intertwining of England's religion with it's pre-christian days. There are subtle references to Anglo-Saxon paganism, England's witch hunts during the 1640s and things don't end there we are also reminded of the nightmare that passed for modern medicine specifically psychiatry during the early 1900's. 

 

You're probably thinking this sounds like a lot of gloom and doom right about now but it wasn't because woven in between these things was the strength of the human spirit and it's struggle for love in the form of Rufus and Thorne, the desire to govern ourselves and make our own decisions in the form Thorne's sister Caroline and Alice Winborn. There were characters of strength and courage in Maria who quietly took charge and gave people what they needed, Drusilla whose struggle to find her way back to herself, her child and her faith nearly cost her sanity and of course there were those who should have been hero's and failed.

 

'Seven Summer Nights' is neither a simple nor an easy story to read or explain...was it fantasy? No, not for me, there were no magical creatures...was there magic? I suppose of a fashion there was, but it was the magic of a world long gone. A world of faith so strong that it could alter the very fabric of ones reality...so yes there was magic. Then again isn't there always a little magic involved when it only takes words to transport us through time and space to a place we've never known to share an adventure with people we'll never meet? You're a wizard Ms Fox, a wizard I tell you.

 

"Oh, Archie. You and I both know--everyone who went to war knows--

the one thing none of us can be sure of is time..."

Definite cuteness factor here...

Adrian - Caitlin Ricci

I liked this one probably more so than the first one. Technically we've got an established couple here. Adrian and Corrin were matched up six months ago (before the start of the story) by the Faeted Agency and none other than Dyslander, himself did the matching and Dyslander never...never makes mistakes and yet, something has gone wrong and Adrian is going to make him fix it.

 

It seems Corrin has cheated on Adrian. Sadly Adrian knows he still loves Corrin but he also knows that when Corrin kissed that Dragon shifter...dragons!!!! I love dragons...wait, he kissed Corrin and Corrin's with Adrian...oh, bad, bad dragon. You need to go back to your cave until you can learn to behave...now, where were we? Oh, yes Corrin kissed the dragon and Adrian was standing right there...this did not end well. But I had faith in Dyslander, he'll fix things but his fix was totally not what Adrian had in mind but then again when faced with a naked and restrained Corrin, Adrian soon realizes that maybe this wasn't what he had in mind but he can be as open minded as the next dryad when it comes to matters of the heart.

 

So basically that's our premise and it was cute. I really enjoyed it. My biggest issue this story comes in at about 21 pages (the story started on page 7 and finished on page 28 of my e-reader) I really would have loved more from this pairing. In the supernatural world how often do we get stories about a Dryad and a Fire Mage? Cute and unusual make for fun and there really was more to the dragon than it seemed but you'll have to read the story to find out and the next one too...because Caldren is next and he's a Brownie and Dyslander seems to think that his Faeted mate is...a dragon...a dragon who maybe kissed someone he shouldn't have...is there any doubt that I am so there?

 

If you like stories that are cute, light, fluffy and just a bit of fun reading check out Caitlin Ricci's 'Faeted' Series the matches are interesting and there's dragons...really, you can't go wrong with dragons ;)

 

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

I have to say if you loved this book...

Talking in Code - Ariel Tachna

mine is probably not the review you'll want to read. I was really looking forward to this one I like Ariel Tachna and still do for that matter. It's just that this was not the book for me. It sounded good but once I got into it things just didn't work.

 

We have an established relationship here Richard Horn and Timothy Davenport have been together for nearly 20 years and 4 years ago they added a third to their relationship, Eric Newton. Initially it was Tim who wanted this young man but Eric quickly attracted Richards attention as well and neither Dav (as Tim is often called) nor Richard have looked back since. Unfortunately, Eric is a little less secure. Eric's not had an easy life and it's left him with a few issues add to that the fact that his exit from the military was less than amicable in spite of the fact that he's a top notch weapons expert and probably the best sniper that anyone's come across in a while and it's a recipe for PTSD and Eric's got it in spades. Unfortunately there are times when Peaches (yep, that's Eric's nickname) feels like more of a needy, whiny child than anything else.

 

This book opens up with a lot of things going on. When we first meet these characters Richard and Dav are in the middle of executing two missions one to be led by Dav, who nearly doesn't make it back from his mission alive. While at the same time a covert op is taking place to rescue Eric, who's been held hostage for the past 4 months by some pretty sadistic terrorist.

 

So here I was dropped into the middle of one pretty epic clusterf*ck. this all happened before the 20% mark (16% to be more accurate) and judging by the other reviews that I've seen out there I will freely admit I seem to be in the minority when I say 'I didn't really enjoy this.' It wasn't so much the fast pace as the fact that I just never felt a connection between any of these men. Initially Richard and Eric are left trying to muddle through things because Dav's always been the one to look after Eric when he comes back from a mission so Richard has no idea what he needs at this point and 4 months in a hostage situation with people who enjoyed torturing him, you can be pretty certain that Eric's going a little more screwed up than usual. Meantime Dav's no help because he's in the hospital in a medical induced coma recovering from multiple gunshot wounds.

 

Now I know it seems like I've given up the ghost here on this one but if you read the blurb I haven't really told you anything that isn't already out there. So while the first part of this story steamrollered right on over me the remainder floated past at a far more sedate pace and was taken up with Richard and Eric  basically getting to know each other and finding their way in a menage relationship that effectively has been reduced to a couple and while some of this was good,  I was a little hard pressed to buy into Eric's issues post-crisis being basically resolved by a bowl of stew, getting shaved by one his partners (Richard in this case) and some pretty good sex...yep, that was it a new twist on the 3 S's...Stew, Shave & Sex. Apparently it's a PTSD cure-all...no, I'm sorry. I couldn't suspend my belief enough to buy that if Eric was as tortured and abused as we are to understand that he was, this was all he needed to restore his balance...really?

 

What the hell are doctor's learning in medical school these days if they couldn't figure this one out sooner? I guess what bothers me is the idea that thousands of men and women are out there suffering from this condition and basically this story is saying 'suck it up buttercup, you just need a good shave, some stew and you're ass nailed to the mattress and you'll be fine.' I realize that these things are suppose to be symbolic of love and acceptance and home and safety, comfort and security all those good and positive things but realistically if that was all it took, don't you think we'd have fewer people suffering from PTSD than we do? Not every person who experiences this is without a loving support system and yet, many still suffer from it. Needless to say I was a little disappointed in how PTSD was dealt with in this story and that took a bit of the shine away from things for me. 

 

Overall I found that if anything these characters were flat. There was a lot of stuff going on and yet somehow for these guys it always came back to sex. Eric's been held hostage for 4 months and comes home to find that Dav who really is his anchor is has been seriously injured and is an induced coma and it seems like his most prevalent thought is getting Richard to have sex with him, Dav's barely out of his coma and he's talking about how it's going to be a while before sex is possible for him but he's handing out directions like it's the set of a porn movie. I don't have a problem with sex in my stories and I do believe that a healthy sex life is very often indicative of a healthy relationship but I also believe in balance and with these guys it just felt more like the sex life was the relationship and not just a part of it. Maybe if I'd felt like any of the other stuff going on in their lives had even the same amount of relevance as the sex and there was some pretty life altering stuff happening, I wouldn't have felt like these characters were quite so flat. I have to admit I knew this wasn't going to end well when I realized that I was actually relieved that some of the sex scenes were off-page and/or fade to black which is what I feel like I need to do now as well...fade to black...

 

I loved this author's Lang Downs series, Overdrive was the first book that I read by her and I still think it's awesome, I've been enjoying her series 'At Your Service' as well, but this one just didn't work for me...hopefully I'll enjoy whatever comes next.

 

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

Canada + dragons = fun times!

Never Lose Your Flames - Francis Gideon

I really enjoyed revisiting this story. 'Never Lose Your Flames' is just a really fun read for me and in a way even more so this time around because just after I read this book last summer hubby and I went on vacation and we drove through the Alberta Badlands and spent an afternoon driving around Drumheller and visiting the Hoodoos  which I have since learned that Blackfoot and Cree traditions hold that these are petrified giants who come to life at night to protect the land around them by hurling stones at intruders and this is way more intriguing than how they actual came to be so I'm sticking with this story. Anyways, back to my review. Needless to say revisiting this story and having seen many of the locations that were mentioned not just the natural geographical ones like The Alberta Badlands and the Hoodoos around Drumheller but places such as Drumheller, Saskatoon and Winnipeg just added to how much I really enjoyed revisiting 'Never Lose Your Flame' so my original review really is unchanged and if you want to have a peek at it, here's the link...

Never Lose Your Flame - original review 

 

Unfortunately while it wasn't a huge detraction from the book neither did this narrators add to my enjoyment of the story this time around. I found that the voices for many of the characters seemed to be so similar that had I not already read this book I would have found it a bit confusing at times to know who was speaking and at times the continuity of how a voice sounded wasn't as consistent as I would have liked. However, as a friend of mine who listened to the sample pointed out this could very possibly be a case of 'not the right book for this narrator' because in spite of these issues I wasn't annoyed or irritated by his voice, it simply wasn't working for me. 

 

This was my first venture with an audiobook narrated by Kevin Chandler and I'm certainly open to giving another book narrated by him a try. But for this time around I'd have to say that while the book still gets 4.5 stars from me the audio portion sits between 3 - 3.5 so I'm going to call it a day at 4 stars in total and we'll see what the future brings.

 

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

Would you do anything for love?

Guns n' Boys: Bloodbath - K.A. Merikan

If you're looking for something cute, fluffy, sweet, mushy and adorable...carry on because this is probably not for you. However, if you're interested in edgy, dark, intense and gut clenching...well, pull up a chair. I think you've just come home.

 

'Bloodbath' is to say the least an accurate title for what happens in this story. Dom and Seth are embroiled in a world that is harsh, cruel and dangerous on a daily basis. Any day that's good is a day that you survive. But Dom wants more than survival and Seth...Seth wants whatever keeps him at Dom's side. But being with Dom has a price and the real questions are 'is Seth willing to pay that price?' and 'does Dom really want him to?'

 

As always there are really two stories being told here. The first one is the obvious one. It's about Seth, Dom and their struggle to reclaim the life they had to give up. The second one while maybe not quite as obvious I think is still fairly apparent to anyone who follow's this series. It's about Seth and Dom's struggle to retain who they are as individuals and what they have together as  a couple. For me Seth is the light to Dom's dark. These men balance each other. Seth brings a light and promise to Dom and makes him remember that there are good things in this world and that he in spite of all he's had to do is still a good person worthy of being loved. Dom keeps the dark from Seth and protects him from a world that would easily consume him and from having to lose the light inside him that Dom so passionately loves. 

 

The events of 'Bloodbath' tested both of these men as we watched Seth lose himself in a world of violence that seemed to be consuming his soul little by little and left Dom conflicted between what he needed Seth to do and what he could live with Seth doing. 

 

Once again I was all in on this one from start to finish. Dom and Seth share a love that is incredibly intense and ultimately binds them to each other above all else and it was at the point where Dom found himself pushing Seth to become what he was never meant to be that Dom realized the how and why of his love for Seth that things became so clear for him and he pulls Seth back from what would possibly be a point of no return for Seth and their relationship.

 

I love the passion and intensity that the authors have given to these characters and each story allows us to see them grow as both individuals and as a couple. The challenges that they face are not the norm and I certainly wouldn't want all my books to be as intense as Dom and Seth's stories are I find myself enjoying this series more and more with each subsequent release and I'm already anticipating what comes next in Dom & Seth's story. 

 

As with the last couple of books that I've read in this series when I reached the end I found that there was a song rattling around in my brain that for me became the theme song for that particular story and this time the song was another rock classic...

I Would Do Anything For Love by Meatloaf  (take a minute and enjoy)

 

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

I'm not sure that this has ever happened before but...

September - Robert Winter

All my friends loved this book. So of course I was going to read it and love it right? Well it didn't start off that way...for the first third of this book I was having the world's biggest 'what the hell?' moment. I couldn't understand it? What book was I reading? What did I miss? and I wasn't alone...nope once again I was fortunate enough to have my buddy read besties with me. Josy was on board reading the same words as me and Christelle was there as our faithful stalker cheerleader because she's already read this book and loved it. Needless to say I was starting to think maybe our sweet Christelle had too much to drink? But then there were so many others who shared her sentiments? Why weren't Josy and I invited to the party? Who did we offend? 

 

So let's just get past what didn't work for the first third of the book as quickly as possible, ok?

 

Mostly it was the sex...sorry, but there are just some things that should not be part of sex on page...first off the words whopper and penis do not belong together because we all know...that since 1957...this has been...

description

and I'm sorry but lemons and branches also do not belong in the same sentence as testicles and penis...these are not good descriptives and truthfully my inner 12 year old was running amuck add to this comments equating David's penis to a leaky faucet...sorry, not flattering and then there was cum flying everywhere. My point being the sex scenes were for me laughable and I think I'm safe in saying that Josy agreed with me either that or she just likes to laugh and roll her eyes because this happened a few times.

 

There were also a couple of additional things that were a bit of a hurdle for me on a personal level one being the age gap...22 years!!! I'm good with 10 and I can stretch it to 15 if need be, but 22 years? (please note in the author's defense this age gap is in the blurb so as much as it boggled my brain the info is there for all to see). This was a big stumbling block for me folks, I was really close to tanking it when I read that one but still not fair to my buddy and I honestly hate to DNF plus truth be told in real life if you're with someone who's 22 years older than you and you're happy what the hell do I know...as long as it's between two informed and consenting adults it's not my place to judge so time to suck it up buttercup and I did (more on this later) my last hurdle and the one that made me want to hurl my e-reader...

 

Image result for gif i hear dead people

Yep, this...I haven't encountered this one very often but when I do it doesn't tend to go well and on one occasion it was such an epic fail I've never read another book by that particular author. So you can well imagine that I was a very, very confused person by the end of day one.

 

Ok, seriously by the time we were at the one third mark I didn't know what to do. This one was going to get 2 maybe 2.5 stars if I put a few drinks into me before writing my review and I didn't want to bail on Josy because...rude! So needless to say we got to this point with tongue in cheek and a bit of mockery to fortify ourselves and it was getting late in Josy's world so we agreed to give it some more time and try again the next day...well, what a difference a day makes...we'd barely started reading and I was thinking that someone switched my book in the middle of the night because this one was good and just seemed to be getting better.

 

I found myself becoming more invested in David and Brandon's relationship and in them as people. I was getting more than just the fact that they were having really 'hot sex' and the fact that David is really well endowed...trust me that point was made several times in the first part of the book...David's a lucky man or is it Brandon? Ok, they're both lucky, so moving on from there let's talk about the age difference because...Image result for images of elephants in the room

 

I've read books where age gaps are ignored altogether. It's made known that there is one and then everyone acts like it's not big deal or it's totally ignored even though you know there had to be one and sometimes it goes the other way and it becomes too much of a big deal and the focus it's given is ridiculous especially when you learn at some point that the 'age gap' is maybe 5 years? So to me age gaps and how they're dealt with aren't about a right or wrong way, it's just a matter of what works for the individual reading the story and in this case for me the age gap was not only dealt with effectively, it was done in a way that not only worked but made me see it as a positive and emotionally healthy relationship shared by two adult men. I could probably go on for a whole lot longer as to why this relationship worked for me and other age gap stories haven't but let's not and just accept that the author ultimately for me did an awesome job with the age gap.

 

Moving on to my other quirk...talking to your dead partner...this one can be a whole lot dicier considering that this wasn't listed as a paranormal story and hey... dead people talking...that's totally paranormal/supernatural in my world, except that as I read the story what I felt was that this wasn't a case of 'talking dead people' this was David trying to move on from losing the man he'd passionately loved for 15+ years and the voice he was hearing was simply his mind filling in the blanks for someone whose opinions mattered to him, someone whom he knew wanted him to move on and find love again but someone who was no longer there to tell him the things that he knew they would and as someone who's been married for 30 years I can well imagine that if I lost my husband tomorrow I'd be hearing his voice guiding me, offering me advice and support when I needed it just as he's done for the past 30 years and for me this was what was happening for David. 

 

While the first part of this book didn't start out well for me at all. I am so incredibly glad that I didn't give up because the last two thirds of this book were beyond worthwhile.  Brandon's confrontation with his 'friend' Ethan, so well done. I wanted to stand up and applaud Brandon for his actions. David's actions at the party over how his friends treated Brandon...shame on you, David. I was saddened by your actions or lack there of but still so well written and realistically presented.

 

Also in the blurb it mentions an 'unexpected tragedy' well can I just say this right here...blew my mind. On a personal level I know how this all felt. I shared every bit of Brandon's pain both physically and emotionally, holy hell this gutted me and I damned near had to stop reading...you nailed this Mr. Winter like you could not imagine you nailed it hard core and again I pushed through because really after I dried my eyes and pulled myself together a little I was damned if I was quitting now. I need to see this through, I needed to see things get better for both Brandon and David.

 

Ok, so what else did I like about this book...Kyle...yeah, yeah, I know he's the dead guy but trust me, he plays a really, really important role in David and Brandon's relationship and it's beautiful and so incredibly well done and for me Kyle became the icing on this cake.

 

Maybe this didn't start out so great, like I said 2 maybe 2.5 slightly mocking stars but with the support of my besties Josy and Christelle. I got to the good stuff and the good stuff took this from 'what the hell was I thinking?' to 'why the hell didn't I read this sooner?' and we're all set for Mr. Winter's next book 'Every Breath You Take', right ladies? We just need the book...hint, hint...

Well that was unexpected...

Darkness - Kate Sherwood

We've all been waiting for the sexy times to arrive and they did...I'm betting it was seriously hot...but, I can't say for sure because damned if I didn't get the bedroom door slammed in my face...figuratively speaking.

 

There was one scene in this book that was definitely the lovin' and sexy times I've been waiting for these men to share. Unfortunately it seems that Jericho and Wade prefer to have their privacy and while things started on page that was not where they finished. I admit I was the tiniest bit disappointed because for me the passion and sexual tension between these two is off the charts. Needless to say I had to let my imagination take over so let me just assure you a good time was had by all in my mind.

 

While I may have been a little disappointed by the whole fade to black issue the rest of this book did not disappoint me at all. The main story line for this book became fairly predictable early on but that really doesn't bother me because it's the bigger picture here that's got me hooked. It's the stories playing out in the background that are why I keep coming back so willingly. The local police corruption, Jericho's efforts to sort out what really happened to his father, his sense of responsibility to his new-found siblings and their mother, Nikki. Nikki's role in some of the criminal activities going on around town and just generally anything and everything involving Wade. 

 

Jericho's having a bit of a crisis of faith. He's a cop and he believes in the system, or at least he does until it seems like the system is failing and the innocent are looking guilty while the guilty are getting away with murder and who knows what else. While Wade's got his back at least he does as much as Jericho will allow. It would seem that Jericho's not sure of much anymore. Just like the city of old, Jericho's walls are crumbling and while he's not sure what or how, he's thinking things need to change. 

 

Without a doubt my absolute favorite part of this story has been the relationship dynamics between Jericho and Wade. I'm more than a little curious to see where things are heading between these two men and can't wait to dive in to the next book and hopefully get the answers to all my questions.

 

So far things are sitting happily at 4.5 stars with me and while I'd love some sexy times between these two that's just the voyeur in me and no real reflection on the amazing story that this author has been telling. I'm so looking forward to the next book because hell yeah, more Jericho and Wade! But sadly it's also the final installment in this series so it's a mixed blessing but I'll take it.

 

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

 

Still not feeling a lot of sunshine and happiness, so...

Secrets of You - Skylar M. Cates

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

 

Out of all the couples so far in this series though, I do have to admit River and Morgan are definitely my favorites.

 

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

 

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

 

Things heat up when River and Morgan find themselves alone in the house for 2 weeks and an evening of celebrating a little too much lowers Rivers resistance to Morgan and Morgan makes it known that he's more than willing to see where the road goes where he and River are concerned. Morgan wants to make River smile again and once he opens up River realizes that he just wants to love and be loved. 

 

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

 

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

 

While I sincerely hope that there is more to come from this author with this series because I have some awesome friends who really, really want her to write more. I don't think I'll be continuing. It's not that the stories are bad by any means it's just that for whatever reason they're just not my cuppa' but the rest of you carry on and enjoy because these guys are definitely smokin' hot!

 

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

Back & forth, back & forth, it's like watching a ping, pong game...back & forth...

Close to You - Skylar M. Cates

I did enjoy 'Close to You' more than 'Lovers, Losers & You' but I have to admit I didn't love it. Tomas and Marc didn't leave me feeling all gushy and happy. In all honesty there were times that if anything I was left feeling slightly annoyed and frustrated and this was mostly because of the shifts back and forth between past and present because of their connection and the fact that they've been best friends for a good portion of their lives I both understand and appreciate the value and importance of having the background between these two men since so much of what's between them in the present is directly related to and a result of their past. It's definitely necessary information.

 

Sadly, this is probably one of my least favorite ways for a story to be told. I've probably only ever read 2 maybe 3 books that were done this way that I ended up really, really liking and 'Close to You' has not added to that list. 

 

There were so many things in this story that should have nailed my hot buttons...second chances, friends to lovers, hurt/healing/comfort, recurring secondary characters which for me makes it feel like I'm spending time with old friends and there were other things but mostly I was looking forward to reading Tomas and Marc's story finding out what was holding these two back from being together. 

 

As much as the shifting back and forth of the timeline kept jerking me out of the story the other thing that frustrated me was the amount of time spent in their heads and I'm not talking about their memories. I'm talking about the self chastisement and the repetition of it that took things for me from being an honest and personal reflection of their lives and events that happened and shaped them into the men that they would become, to what felt like perpetual pity parties.

 

Don't get me wrong neither of these men had it easy. Especially Marc, his life was heartbreaking. No child should ever have to grow up the way he did. There's an expression that says "It takes a village to raise a child". Sadly for Marc there was no village there was only abuse and neglect. From his father to his teachers...especially Mrs. Lynn. She had a moment...a moment in which she could have chose to make a difference, but did she? No, in that moment she chose to be part of the problem. Not until Tomas did Marc have someone in his life who truly saw him...believed in him and knew that there was a good and kind person hiding behind his protective shell. 

 

Also just a bit of a side note on Tomas. While he did have hardships in his life. Losing his father at an early age and his mother definitely had mental health issues. I liked that he also had loving and supportive albeit strict grandparents but he definitely had a strong positive family influence in his life and that was good and helped to add a positive dimension to the overall story. 

 

For me it comes down to sometimes less is more and while I know that getting the background on these two men was so very integral to their story, I needed for it not to have taken up quite so much of the book as it did. I wanted more of them in the here and now finding their way back to each other, developing a relationship as they dealt with the past that both shaped them and tore them apart. 

 

'Close to You' was ok for me and I liked it well enough but I guess I just wasn't feeling the love...I wanted more of the here and now and less of the then and what was.

Another audio success...

Winter Ball - Amy Lane

Once again I'm reviewing an audio book that I've already read in e-book format and once again in regards to the story I'm sticking with my original rating and review. So here's the link...Winter Ball - original review

 

Now as for the audio portion of this review. It was Nick J. Russo on the mic, so no worries there. Mr. Russo did an awesome job of narrating and kept me engaged from start to finish. I have very quickly become a fan of this narrator.

 

Venturing into audiobooks this time around has definitely been a far more positive experience for me and it is very much due to this narrator right here. He consistently gives me voices that work and are identifiable so that I'm able to effortlessly enjoy the story without have to do a lot of mental gymnastics to keep track of who's saying what.  

 

Since starting my foray into audiobooks I have so far listened to 18 different narrators on a total of 27 audiobooks of which 6 have been narrated by Nick J. Russo and I have enjoyed every one of those books so much so that I have listened to them more than once.

 

At the end of it all this was a total win for me...a really sweet story by one of my favorite authors and narrated by someone who has quickly become one of my favorite narrators. I highly recommend this one. It's a sweet story that's well narrated and I just can't imagine not enjoying it and being left smiling.

 

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

It's time for the baby bird to leave the nest...

Lovers, Losers, and You - Skylar M. Cates

It's been just over 2 years since I read the first book in this series and I remember seriously loving it. I stayed up half the night to read it. I can't say I feel the same about this one. It was an okay read. 

 

This book is Andrew and Owen's story. Andrew is one of the guys who lives in the house with Cole (who moved out at the end of book #1), River, Tomas, Marc, Brendan, who was in the first book but has now been replaced by Sandy and if you want to know why read the book of course;)

 

Owen is Brendan's brother and he's come to Ocean Vista to escape his own problems as we as find out more about the brother he'll never know. To me this all had the potential to add up to a really good story. Sadly it didn't.

 

I enjoyed the part about Andrew entering the reality TV cooking show. But once that was over things began to seriously drag for me and it was due mostly to the parent factor.

 

I get that for very different reasons both Andrew and Owen have really strong family ties...I really, really got that way before the end of the book, I felt like this point had been well and truly pounded into my brain. In fact I did an count and there were in fact '69' references to just Owen's 'mama' in this book...this does not include anything to do with his biological mother, Andrew's mother or any other mother who may have wandered through and '68' references to his 'daddy'. I'm glad Owen had loving and supportive family truly I am but I honestly did not need them to be front and center in this story for me to get the point...and can I just say this is the first and hopefully the only time that I will ever complain about awesome parents. But it was just too much.

 

Sadly Andrew's family didn't feel like they were far behind when it came to page time and that was...depressing to say the least because his 'mama' seriously needs some counselling. Ok, I think I've belabored that point sufficiently...my point is simply that too much page time for the parents spoiled the story for me...well, that and I just didn't really feel the love between Owen and Andrew and even this was due largely because of the parent factor. 

 

I felt an occasional spark...maybe saw a little glimmer from time to time but just about the time it started to really gel for me...the parents got dragged back out. So, while I did enjoy the first part of the book and Owen and Andrew, a bit. I just didn't fully get into the story and while I don't really feel like I needed to read this one in order to get into the next one, I'm still glad that I took the time to read Andrew and Owen's story. It was nice just not awesome for me.

Excuse me while I do a little happy dance...

Hanging the Stars (Half Moon Bay Book 2) - Rhys Ford

I loved 'Fish Stick Fridays' and Rhys Ford is a favorite of mine so I think it goes without saying that I'd be reading this book...but, things got even better when I was able to request the audio book. I admit I was nervous because...kids...me and kids in audiobooks... mmmm...not doing well. I have yet to meet one that I like...wait, I meant to say I had yet to meet one that I liked because I can now say that I've met 2. Zig and Roman. We're talking an 8 year old girl and an 11 year old boy and both of these characters voices worked for me. I did not want to strangle either of them. Their voices were neither irritating or whiny nor were they irritatingly whiny!!! I was over the moon, over joyed! Seriously I want to listen to the audiobook all over again just for that experience. So I just need to say...

"Greg Tremblay....I tip my hat to you because I really despaired of this ever happening."

 

Now as for the story. 'Hanging the Stars' is the story of Lang's twin brother West. We met him in 'Fish Stick Fridays'. Initially when his character came on page I was pretty sure I wasn't going to like him but surprisingly he wasn't a total tool and I found him to be a brother who sincerely cared.

 

When West was younger he met a boy named 'Angel' they had a wonderful summer together and fell in love. Unfortunately life and Angel's con-artist father and West's overly controlling father tore them apart and now after years and miles of separation fate has brought them back together, but a lot has changed. West has his heart firmly locked down. Angel has his hands full with keeping his bakery going and taking care of his 11 year old brother Roman, who in spite of his challenges is far more enterprising than an 11 year old should be. Needless to say Roman and Zig are friends...heaven help the world because these two will be taking over soon.

 

While there was a lot more going on in this book than the first one and it did just fine. I liked that this story gave us more of Lang, Deacon and Zig. I really enjoyed how much West grew as he and Angel worked to sort out their lives together, I also liked seeing West sort out himself as he developed a relationship with Roman and came to realize how much he'd missed out on with his own brother and what he lost out on by letting his father control him.

 

In general I enjoyed 'Fish Stick Fridays' just a tiny bit more and if I'd read the e-book this probably would have sat somewhere between 4 - 4.5 stars for me but because I still love Zig, I'm saying "What the hell?", bumping it up to 5 stars and calling it a day.

 

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An Audiobook of 'Hanging the Stars' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Good time in Half Moon Bay...

Fish Stick Fridays (A Half Moon Bay Myster) - Rhys Ford

In the interest of a totally honest review I need to say that when it comes to Rhys Ford, I'm totally biased. I love her writing it speaks to me and I fall into her stories effortlessly. 'Fish Stick Fridays' was no exception. 

 

I thoroughly enjoyed all the characters in this story. Deke and Lang worked as individuals and as a couple. Seriously how could I not like a hot mechanic who rides a motorcycle and likes to read. Add to this a niece who he's raising because his sister has passed away and while he couldn't save her. He'll be damed if he's going to fail his niece. Throw in a boyfriend who owns a books store and stick a fork in me because I'm done like dinner.

 

I'd start telling you all the other things I liked about this  book but then I'd just be telling you the whole story because I loved it from start to finish. I became invested in Deacon and Lang's relationship before they even actually met. While I'm not a huge fan of insta-love or love at first sight if that's what you prefer to call it, I honestly couldn't wait for these two to meet.

 

Plus there's Zig. She was getting her education from the school of hard knocks before Deacon came along. So needless to say she's not your typical 8 year old. She's a bit sassy and definitely got a case of potty mouth and yet at the same time she's lost and frightened and smart enough to know that Deacon's the best thing to happen to her and she's not letting go of him. The relationship between these two is heart-melting. 

 

I could probably go on and on about this book but I'm not going to. I'm just going to stop here and wrap it up by saying "It's Rhys Ford, it's awesome and I can't wait for the next...oh, never mind, I've already got book 2 and listened to the audiobook...but that's my next review. So, I'll just say I loved it and I can't wait for book 3...please tell me there's a book 3...I need more!!!!"

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