ARC Review: Need You For Mine (Marina Adair)

Harper is used to be put on the friend-zone by men except Adam, because Harper doesn’t really want to be friend with the bad boy fire-fighter. But then to secure Adam’s promotion and to save Harper’s grandmother’s lingerie store, they end up in fake relationship (it is started with Adam kissing Harper then come visit the store when Harper is meeting an important lingerie brand representative and thought Adam is Harper’s boyfriend) …

It is a nice read, Harper feels like an everday girl (she likes cookies!!), and it’s always read about a bad-boy who tries to reform his reputation. The grand gesture in the end was very good (you go, Adam!). Having said that, I wonder if I would feel more connected to these people if I read the first two books in the series… because I haven’t and I’m not as invested with Adam and Harper as I would’ve liked to.

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:

25808500Title: Need You For Mine
Author: Marina Adair
Series: Heroes of St. Helena, #3
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release Date: March 29, 2016

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ARC Review: Tempest (Cari Z)

These days, when it comes to authors whose works I recognize (and usually enjoy), I’m trying a new approach by going blind without even reading the blurb to influence me. I want to know whether I could savor the story better. This is one of the examples. I know of Cari Z’s previous works and when I saw her title being released by Samhain (I believe this is her first title with said publisher), I just clicked the ARC request without even knowing what the story was going to be.

… and I was pleasantly surprised with what I read.

Tempest is a well-told fantasy with a touch of ‘coming-of-age’, at least for me. Because even though Colm, the main narrator of this story, was in his 20 years of age, the story has that personal journey into adulthood feel to it.

In the beginning, Colm starts as an odd one out, a fisherman in a town full of farmers, who feels more at ease with the rhythm of the water. After his father passed away, Colm is told by his stepmother to go to the city because otherwise he will not be happy at his old hometown, especially since he will be expected to marry. And in his journey into the city of Caithmor and settle down there, Colm discovers friendship, a new family, his true heritage, and also love.

I always adore this kind of fairy tale and I thought Tempest did a good job keeping the pace throughout. I was pretty immersed with Cole’s day-to-day life. I found myself guessing about Colm’s heritage and what would happen when people found out. Although I have to admit that sometimes the secondary characters stole the show from Colm and his younger lover, Nichol. But maybe it was also because Colm and Nichol are still trying to find their place in the world, compared to the more experienced secondary characters.

All in all, I loved it. I actually sacrificed my sleeping time very early in the morning to finish reading it. I realize that this might not be everyone’s cup of tea because it is definitely not heavy on the romantic or steamy elements; but if you enjoy a fantasy with characters journey then you might give this one a try.

 

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:

27304319Title: Tempest
Author: Cari Z
Genre: MM Fantasy
Word Count: 107,326 words
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: April 5, 2016

ARC Review: Rag and Bone (KJ Charles)

Graphomancer Crispin Tredarloe and waste-man Ned Hall first appeared in a short story A Queer Trade (sold separately for $0.99 now). I am not sure whether reading that first is necessary but maybe it will give readers insights of how Crispin and Ned met for the first time. It might also makes readers understand why Ned really doesn’t like magic.

Unfortunately, because I’ve also read that one, I was a bit annoyed with how the story dragged for the first half. Crispin and Ned argued about Crispin wanting to learn magic and Ned not trusting magic. Crispin had problem with his magic because he used to do it one way, which was the wrong way, and he struggled to do it right this time. For Crispin, magic was who he was and what he could do and it was frustrating for him, not being able to do it as he was told. While for Ned, magic was dangerous, he saw evidences of it, and he didn’t trust magicians. Even if he knew that Crispin could do good with his magic.

So yes, the arguments (and sometimes Crispin’s whining) were tiresome for me..

At least after half way, the story picked up quite nicely when Ned’s life was in danger. However, I also thought the villain in this case was a little bit predictable. It was like he was using a huge neon sign pointing at himself with the words, “I’m up to no good!“, which took out the fun of trying to figure out who was responsible for the death of few rag ‘n’ boners, including Ned’s own neighbor.

For me, this one didn’t have the same magic as the other stories in the Magpie Lord universe, even compared to Crispin and Ned’s own short story. Nonetheless, I look forward to more adventures of Crispin and Ned. The offer from Stephen Day at the end of this book definitely opened possibilities for these two men.

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:

27210949Title: Rag and Bone
Author: KJ Charles
Genre: MM Historical / Paranormal Romance
Word Count: 51,090
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: March 01, 2016

ARC Review: Tournament of Losers (Megan Derr)

I admit I liked the Megan Derr’s stories I read for the past couple of years but I didn’t love them. Not like I loved some of her earlier works such as Dance with the Devil, Dance in the Dark, Midnight, or The Bastard Prince. This one though, I definitely loved.

The world-built was well developed. Duly noted it wasn’t too complex but it didn’t matter. Because the idea was good: every 75 years, at least one immediate member of the royal and noble families must marry a commoner and to prove their suitability, the ‘commoner candidates’ will compete physically and mentally in a tournament of challenges called “Tournament of Losers“. I loved reading about the challenges, even if the names were silly sometimes *lol*. But it was so much fun it kept me glued to the pages to know what challenges would be next for our hero, Rathatayen Jakobson.

Oh and how I loved Rath. While Rath kept saying that he was just a dock worker, a whore, basically a nobody, he was clearly more than meets the eye. Rath was noble, loyal, and brave. I loved him from the very start, when he was forced to produce money to pay his father’s debt. I sympathized with his situation and it was easy for me to root for him for the winning prize. Oh, and I also loved the fact that Rath seemed ‘older’ than most of Megan Derr’s characters in this kind of situation — usually they’re in their 20’s, but Rath was 33 years old.

There was a lovely romance too between Rath and Tress, a younger High City noble who sometimes “slumming it in” at the Low City. At first Rath was dismissive of Tress; it was just for a good time in bed after all, because High City nobleman not really consort with Low City commoner. But Rath’s grew caring for Tress when Tress showed him that he didn’t look down on Rath. Tress took care of Rath when he needed it and the High City was really sweet. Their relationship was build wonderfully and my heart was content with how their love affair resolved.

I wish some of the challenges were written longer, for example the part where Rath needed to go to three villages. We only had the story in one village and not the other two. I also thought that the reason behind the threat for Rath’s life was a little unclear. But when it comes down to everything, I enjoyed this book a great deal and it made me really happy.

 

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:

27388497Title: Tournament of Losers
Author: Megan Derr
Genre: MM Fantasy
Word Count: 67,000 words
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Release Date: February 10, 2016

ARC Review: Convincing the Secretary (Ava March)

At first, I was a bit confused because what I could remember (a little bit) about Edward in the previous book didn’t match Edward that I met in this one. Somehow I thought Edward was a little more forward — in the end of my review for Convincing Leopold, I wrote “I definitely look forward to the upcoming release in this series that features Fenton, Arthur’s rake of a secretary.” — so clearly I didn’t see Edward as meek or shy. Even if my memory was clouded with how jealous Leopold saw Edward.

Then I decided to throw all of my initial perceptions (and expectation) to the wind… and it became much better. Yes, the relationship happened pretty fast, and there was that trope of misunderstanding which drove our men shortly apart… BUT, I wasn’t too annoyed. I was even able to enjoy the numerous sex scenes with the D/s tone because hey, when I was in the mood for it, D/s could be my kink (as long as both parties enjoy it and there isn’t too much pain/humiliation to it).

So yeah, it is likable, the kind of steamy stories coming from Ava March.

 

RATING: 3.5 out of 5
35

 

The ARC is generously provided by author for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

27402675Title:
Convincing the Secretary
Author: Ava March
Series: London Legal, #3
Genre: MM Historical Romance
Word Count: 34,539
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: March 8, 2016

ARC Review: Until September (Chris Scully)

I love Chris Scully’s stories … they never let me down before. Hers stories are always plot and character driven, which makes it easy for me to feel invested even when the characters may not necessarily likable when you first meet them.

Take Archer Noble, for example, who starts as someone dead set against monogamy, marriage, or any kind of commitment. “The notion that marriage and, by extension, monogamy is the ideal is laughable. Monogamy doesn’t even work for straight people,” he states during a talk show. He is famous for being infamous.

Then we also have Ryan Eriksson; in a sense he might be the ‘better’ character than Archer. He dreams of white picket fences, husband and kids, and all its glory. Although it doesn’t mean that I easily connect with Ryan’s ideal. He’s only 25 years old — and in my family (and upbringing) that is still a bit too young to settle down, so let me be honest, I will scoff on him too in real life.

But then Archer’s younger sister Marguerite died in an accident, leaving Archer to take care of her two young kids (Dillon and Emma). Ryan, who is also Marguerite’s best friend as well as Dillon’s teacher, has been appointed as temporary guardian. So these two complete opposites are ‘forced’ to cohabit because Ryan wants to ensure that the transition to be as smooth as possible (plus he also loves the kids very much). At least until September (when the new school semester starts). This situation, starting from animosity that turns wary partnership and then later on a relationship, just mesmerized me from the beginning.

I also loved how present the kids are. I know that this might be a deal-breaker for some readers who dislike kids in their romance, but I thought they were significant to the progress of our heroes. Yes the romance was slow burn but that made this story felt real and down-to-earth.

Of course when it comes down to it maybe Archer ends up ‘succumbing’ to the heteronormative values that he is dead sets against in the first place — and maybe this doesn’t do well for those who are on his side. But for me, that’s not the point. The point is that what people want might change over time. I used to want to be a doctor. I used to avoid working at an high rise building (I had this idea in my head that people working there were corporate drones *sheepish smile*). I used to dislike the color purple (I know!)

In this case, Archer and Ryan were not exactly the same men that I met when I first started the book. In their time of taking care of the kids and living together, both men were learning from one another. Archer found that his love for Ryan and the kids made him want to settle down. While Ryan realized that being happy didn’t necessarily come from house with white-picket fences, marrying the ideal type of husband and having kids coming from his own DNA.

And that, my friend, was that made the book a winner in my eyes 🙂

 

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:

27011392Title: Until September
Author: Chris Scully
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 75,300 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: February 8, 2016