ARC Reviews: Bad News Cowboy (Maisey Yates)

After reading Eli’s and Connor’s stories, I was pretty excited to read the story of the last Garrett sibling. The set-up is promising: Jack is the bad boy womanizer who never wanted to settle down. He is the best friend of Eli and Connor, and in that sense he knows Kate since she was practically a child. Meanwhile, Kate, being brought up by two brothers, is the tomboy. She is feisty, strong-headed, and definitely not the ‘feminine’ kind. I wonder how it would turn out — how Jack finally saw that Kate in a different light.

Unfortunately, I was having a bit of difficulty to fully invested in Jack and Kate as a couple. I think my biggest issue was Kate herself. I just thought that she was way too prickly in here. I kind of get the idea — she has never been attracted with guys before. Kate spent most of her life around men, with two protective brothers as well as Jack. She knows to talk like a man but not necessarily to deal with them as an opposite sex. It made her quite innocent in the ‘game’. Her new attraction towards Jack made Kate restless, but in that restlessness it made her lashed out on Jack, and THAT I found hard to connect with. I didn’t see their dialogs as witty amusing banters; instead, I found myself being annoyed few times with how Kate snapped on Jack.

It was quite unbalanced because at the same time, I did like Jack. Yes, he was the bad boy, the one who refused to settle down, the one who breaks heart of many women. But reading more about Jack’s inner thoughts, it was easy to see Jack differently. His own father dismissed him and his mother, and Jack has been clinging to his friendship with Eli and Connor as a replacement for the family he yearned the most. Heck, this guy was willing to get involved with the charity event to help abused wives! There was so much of Jack than what he was shown outside. And it made me really pissed off that NOBODY championed for him. That even Liss, who claimed that she loved Jack as a brother, saw him as bad news for Kate. This guy bare his heart and soul first, people!!

In overall, I still liked it, but not as much as I did the first two.

 

RATING: 3.5 out of 5
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The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

24224925Title: Bad News Cowboy (Copper Ridge, #3)
Author: Maisey Yates
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 328 pages
Publisher: HQN
Release Date: June 9, 2015

ARC Review: The Homecoming (J. Scott Coatsworth)

This short story is intriguing — if only it is longer so it could give it enough space for progress and development of both story and characters.

There are two main conflicts in “The Homecoming“. First, it’s Aldiss’s tale. Aldiss Harlson goes to Earth with his crew after his planet, Antana, is destroyed. I thought the short length didn’t give enough time for me to feel connected to Aldiss’s struggle in this new world. It also didn’t give enough time for me to care for his crew — yes, especially his crew. It would be nice to be able to form an attachment to them, so their — SPOILER — demise would be have more impact. The second part is Hari’s conflict with some of his pack members. I thought the pack’s politic when it comes to Hari and his dam versus current clan leader-family was probably more fleshed out than Aldiss’s. Without being fully explained, I could still grasp the ripples that happened within the pack, especially when the arrival of Aldiss and his crew in their woods.

The romance, unfortunately, suffered the most because it felt unfounded and rushed. There was not enough built-up that could ease readers into their relationship — which was a bit of a pity because I firmly believe that Aldiss and Hari would make a great couple.

The strength of this story came from the description. I though Coatsworth did a very good job in describing the scenery — the woods, the cold, even the wonderment from both Hari’s eyes when he first discovered ‘the two-legs’ or Aldiss when he heard the cries of the wolves. I could imagine it easily, and I even thought it would make a good TV movie, emphasizing in the visual. This was my first experience with the author, but I can see myself reading future stories from J. Scott Coatsworth.

RATING: 3 out of 5
3-stars

 

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:
cover67179-smallTitle: The Homecoming
Author: J. Scott Coatsworth
Genre: MM Sci-Fi / Shifter Romance
Word Count: 20,000
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Release Date: July 28, 2015

ARC Review: Breaking (Barbara Elsborg)

 

When I read Falling, the first book in Elsborg’s “Fall and Break” series, one secondary character stood out. Conrad Black was written as sort of a ‘villain’ but the complexity of his character made him very intriguing for me as a reader and I wanted so much to read HIS story. I was very excited when I read news that “Breaking” would indeed feature Conrad. When I saw the book being offered for review at Netgalley, I didn’t even think twice.

Unfortunately, this book disappointed me in so many level … but most prominently, the way Conrad was written. The Conrad in this book was very different than the Conrad I knew from book #1. I felt like he suffered from a characterization surgery. Gone was his complexity. Gone was the contradictory of dominant, rather manipulative, but kind (in his own way) man that I was intrigued upon. Instead, I felt that Conrad’s dominance was reduced somewhat because his love interest was another dominant man. An assassin named Archer Hart. And the relationship between these two dominant men, especially when sex was involved, became a fight to see who was the weaker between the two, who would be willing to submit to another.

When the story started, Conrad suffered from physical injury that forced him to take six-months leave from his job. He was hit by a car, he was temporarily paralyzed and he needed to undergo physiotherapy to restore his strength and movement. This already didn’t sit well with me because I saw it as a means to make Conrad physically weaker than Archer. WHY? Why couldn’t Conrad be in all of his glory, as a successful and ruthless barrister, who could butt-head with Archer anytime he wanted. If this was meant to make the story more emotional — it failed to deliver. It didn’t have the same emotional connection like in book #1.

There was a mystery in between the romance; as both Archer and Conrad found out that there were men planning to kill them. This didn’t really pick up until about last third of the book, and probably the reason why I forced myself to read it until the very end.

Bottom line, I found the characters bland and the sex scenes were way too much for my liking. Oh, there was plenty of sex in book #1 too, but somehow I felt all of those was quite important. In here though, it felt gratuitous. I only liked Archer’s dog, Deefor. The dog stole all the spotlight as he had more personality that these two men combined.

Most likely this would be my last of Elsborg because I could see that “Falling” was a one hit wonder for me. As always, my opinion is my own. If you love Elsborg’s previous works, I think you will enjoy it.

RATING: 2.5 out of 5
25stars

 

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:
25063508Title: Breaking (Fall and Break, #2)
Author: Barbara Elsborg
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 102,403
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: July 28, 2015

ARC Review: In the Distance (Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin)

In the Distance is the third book in Nikka Michels & Eileen Griffin’s “In the Kitchen” series. After dealing with Ethan and Jamie’s relationship in the previous two books, this one brings forth Tyler Mitchell and Jamie’s best friend, Trevor Pratt.

I was excited when I saw the ARC being offered in Netgalley because I was very much fond of Tyler. Tyler first starts his story in book 2, a homeless young man who practically has been adopted like little brother by Ethan and Jamie then works his way around the kitchen, being taught by the two chefs. In this book, Tyler juggles the life as culinary student as well as the sous chef for Ethan and Jamie’s bistro.

I thought Tyler is a darling – he is determined to ‘pay forward’ the kindness that have been given to him by Ethan and Jamie. He volunteers at shelters and is also involved in shelter’s program at local schools. He comes a long way from that homeless teenager who is thrown out of his home because of his sexuality. It is always an admirable traits – someone who paves his (or her) way out of bad situation and makes the most of it.

Although, Tyler also suffers from trust issues – stems from being cast off by the people who supposed to love him unconditionally. This frustrated me somewhere along the way; because I thought Tyler is being too harsh to Trevor, when the other man made a mistake of telling Ethan and Jamie about Tyler’s ‘secret’. It is clear for me that Trevor only wants the best for Tyler, even if he might done it wrong. I admit that I wanted to reach inside the pages, took Tyler aside and told him to stop being too stubborn about it.

BUT, at the same time, I did enjoy reading how Trevor must work harder to get Tyler. Trevor is quite the opposite of Tyler – he comes from a privileged family, whose parents still love each other, being together for over three decades, and accept their son’s sexuality. Ethan mockingly calls Trevor “Trustfund” and I guess Trevor is used to get his way a little easier. Heck, even when Trevor spectacularly made a mess over his friendship with Jamie, when he contributed to Ethan and Jamie’s break-up, Jamie didn’t cut off friendship with him. So this is a new territory for Trevor, working hard to get Tyler to be friends with him, understanding Tyler’s issues about money, and so on.

There is a ten-year age gap between Trevor and Tyler but I was happy that it didn’t become a huge problem between the two of them. I mean, reading about one agonizing about age difference can be repetitively boring. Instead these two strike friendship before moving forward to the next step in their relationship. Yes, Trevor is careful because Tyler is younger than him, but he never rationalizing the age gap by pulling himself away from connecting with Tyler. We do get Ethan and Jamie being over-protective meddling brothers, but Tyler has a mind of his own, and refuses to just let both men control his choice.

Bottom line, the story has great slow-build progress of two men falling in love and maturing up together in the process. Definitely MY kind of story, which is why this is my favorite book in the series so far. I wonder if the authors plan to continue the series. Maybe with Nick, the young man from the LGBTQ-shelter who also starts working at Bistro 30? I would love to read about him…

RATING: 4 out of 5
4stars

 

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

{EEB8C335-52AD-4057-8FE3-8DA4E98AB89B}Img100Title: In the Distance (In the Kitchen, #3)

Author: Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 104,230 words
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: June 15, 2015

ARC Review: Life, Some Assembly Required (Kaje Harper)

Life, Some Assembly Required offers Kaje Harper’s trademark — a well-grounded story about REAL people. It also has a setting in what I will call Kaje’s playground: family. I have admired (and respected) Kaje when she writes about family.

This story is a follow-up of 2012’s The Rebuilding Year. I admit that I didn’t remember much about that one, but it’s mostly my fault for having bad memory. I didn’t have any trouble in connecting with the characters right from the get go. Ryan and John were pretty much SOLID throughout. Never for once, I questioned their relationship. However, they have to deal with the ins and outs of being gay couple when it comes to their family and friends.

We have two teenagers (John’s kids) and their problems (including one who just in the brink of sexuality discovery). We have a father who doesn’t understand but trying to be open-minded, a brother who not exactly welcoming but also getting there, another brother who understands and is very supportive, a future sister-in-law with bigoted and old-fashioned parents, and a pregnant ex-wife who becomes the hardest obstacle yet.

I loved how John and Ryan worked out the issues, and I was proud that Ryan didn’t back down when it came to announcing that he was in a relationship with a man. Like I said, Ryan and John were solid, which helped my enjoyment level a LOT, considering the family drama. I loved John’s children — Torey most especially was a joy to read. I also loved the dynamic of Ryan’s father and brothers when it came to dealing with Ryan’s newly found happiness with a man.

Cynthia (the pregnant ex-wife) on the other hand, was a bit of a challenge. In my review for The Rebuilding Year , I wrote “the fact that John’s wife is a b*tch and her new husband is a jerk, seems to be making it easy to tip our favor to both MCs. No contest there. Here, Cynthia’s new husband was still an asshole and she was getting a divorce, all the while finding out that her baby was suffering from Down syndrome. All of this made Cynthia slightly more than just a two-dimensional villain. I commended Kaje for that.

Yes, there were times I thought that John was being too helpful and too kind — for the sake of his children — but nonetheless, I enjoyed reading that kind of complexity, when it wasn’t too easy to hate a character. I never really like it when our hatred towards a character being served in a silver-platter as a plot device. I guess even a villain should be not too easy too hate :). I still don’t like Cynthia — and I definitely wish that John would stand up to her more strongly, but I liked how Kaje added personal issues to her character.

Overall, it is a well written and down-to-earth family story, as I know Kaje will deliver. It flows nicely with fairly sexy times (and rather mushy stuffs) in between.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5
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The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

25157943Title: Life, Some Assembly Required (The Rebuilding Year, #2)

Author: Kaje Harper
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 106,792
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: June 9, 2015

ARC Review: Bare for You (Lexxie Couper)

I read the two stories prior to this one so I was pretty certain that I would experience the quick turnabout from lust to love. I have to say though, the instant-attraction/lust/love (whatevs) here was actually more entertaining. At least I was able to watch it unfold from the beginning — whereas in book #1, the flirting happened off page, and in book #2 the couple sort of had history before they met again.

One thing to note, I found this line (in the beginning when Jeremy and Ryan set eyes on each other for the first time) to be really funny and set up the tone of my enjoying the whole story: light and easy.

 

A tightening sensation bloomed in the very pit of his gut, radiating through his groin to his balls. Balls suddenly heavier and more…there than they had been a second ago.

 

(My mind imagining hanging balls!)

We had quite a lot of descriptions of both men’s c*cks getting hard/throbbed/twitched/rigid/engorged, numerous sexual thoughts, and few innuendos being hurled back and forth. But the actual horizontal tango between Ryan and Jeremy didn’t happen until almost 2/3rd of the book (it lasted for a chapter and a half!). Timeline wise, it happened within couple of days after they met for the first time. But maybe I could forgive them since Jeremy said that he hadn’t had sex with a man since he was nineteen, and until “Ryan came into his life” he never felt the need to risk it (*yes, I snickered a bit there*). I guess all those sexual needs to go out somewhere as turbulent as a geyser *lol*.

Then of course, we had the Hollywood-type of ending where Jeremy — after being so careful all these years — were willing to risk everything, his political career most especially, coming out for someone whom he only spent one night with and knew only less than a week. Must so magical, that Australian outback …

Look, it’s not exactly a life-changing or the greatest story I’ve read. But I needed something easy and this fit like a glove; I’m being all understanding and jovial about it ^^

RATING: 3 out of 5
3-stars

 

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:
25377528Title: Bare For You (Outback Skies, #3)
Author: Lexxie Couper
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 29,017
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: July 21, 2015