ARC Review: The Empty Hourglass (Cornelia Grey)

I have been a fan of Cornelia Grey’s works for few years now, ever since I read her short story for the first time back in 2011. Over the years, I have loved all of her books and was overjoyed when she finally released her first novel back in 2014. This would be her second, clocks in around 69k, another entry in her Deal with a Devil series). It can be read as a stand-alone, though, because the only similarity coming from these series is the devil, Farfarello.

In The Empty Hourglass , Thomas is a toymaker who lost his hand after an accident destroyed his laboratory. He comes to the city of Montrale, where the reclusive Jethro Hastings lives. Jethro is said to be the best prosthetic inventor and Thomas wants to ask Jethro to make one for his hand….

Unfortunately, this will be my first experience where I completely underwhelmed with the story. In fact, I have to be honest and say that this is my least favorite of Grey’s. I think my biggest problem with it was the fact that the story was written from Thomas’ perspective, and for once, he wasn’t the one making the deal with the devil. I didn’t feel the urgency — that intense situation of one facing the end of his days, of losing his soul to the devil. In that sense, I felt like nothing ‘big’ happened in the book and I kept waiting and waiting … and waiting.

I also found Jethro to be rather defeatist as a character, and maybe I would’ve liked him better if he was given his own POV in the book so he could ‘fight’ for his case, so to speak . For example, the background of him making deal with Farfarello, the part with Stefan, that was rather wasted because it was only mentioned during the time of needs, not before.

I guess I couldn’t agree more with Farfarello when he said this:

“You are screwing everything up! I swear, in centuries I have never had so much trouble. Time is running out! Why won’t you two just do what you’re supposed to?”

It was not a very good sign where I found secondary character, like Mina the ghost, and Dragana the blind inventor, to be more intriguing rather than Jethro as (supposedly) love interest of Thomas. Heck, I wouldn’t exactly call him love interest too because if you’re looking for romance, it was pretty lackluster.

So yes, this was a meh read for me and I couldn’t fully recommend it if you’re a newbie of Cornelia Grey’s works. She has other things that are way better. One that I always happily recommend will be (currently out of print) Benjamin Pepperwhistle and the Fantabulous Circus of Wonders

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:

28807548Title: The Empty Hourglass
Author: Cornelia Grey
Genre: Steampunk Fantasy
Word Count: 69,100
Publisher: Anglerfish Press (a Riptide Publishing Imprint)
Release Date: April 11, 2016

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ARC Review: A Gentleman’s Position (K.J. Charles)

A Gentleman’s Position is the last book of K.J. Charles’ outstanding Society of Gentlemen trilogy; this time bringing the happy ending to Lord Richard Vane who is in a sense the patron of the Ricardians and his loyal valet, redhaired David Cyprian. For the past 4.5 years, David has been harboring sexual attraction towards Lord Richard, without completely knowing that the feelings are mutual. The intimate setting of a valet and his master just adds the delicious tension between the two men.

While in the first two books the historical context of Cato Street Conspiracy plays a significant role in pushing the other couple together, A Gentleman’s Position has rather different situation. The book primarily sets after the event that puts Silas Mason into Richard’s household; thus there aren’t really any urgent matters that Richard or David as his right arm have to deal with, at least until halfway of the story. Because of that, readers are initially treated with the passionate push and pull between Richard and David — especially after our foxy is bravely admit his feelings first. In which that nitwit Richard rejected due to his firm stance over relationship across social classes, between the privileged and less privileged.

I swear, I spent a number of times fuming over Richard and the giant stick up his ass!! This is probably why I will never be a good candidate for the upper classes. I am not good in following those unwritten rules about being a good gentleman (or in my case, lady). Of course, Richard’s situation is added to the fact of forbidden punishable relationship of that era regarding sodomites, but still, his views and values regarding the working class are too rigid and too narrow-minded. I was very proud of David, though, for reminding Richard that not being a gentleman doesn’t mean that he isn’t worthy. You GO, David!

As always, Charles’ writing is excellent. The second half of the book felt like a suspense thriller, with our gentlemen with David’s help trying to find a way to save few of their members from threats of blackmail and accusation of sedition. It was highly engaging and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It’s a wonderful and satisfying ending to the trilogy. Although I won’t mind if Charles offers updates about these characters in the future; short Christmas codas maybe? *laugh*

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:

25893424Title: A Gentleman’s Position
Author: K. J. Charles
Genre: MM Historical Romance
Length: 246 pages
Publisher: Loveswept
Release Date: April 5, 2016

ARC Review: Knit Tight (Annabeth Albert)

Knit Tight is the fourth installment in Annabeth Albert’s Portland Heat” series. If you haven’t read the previous books, no worries, each title can be read separately.

Sometimes, it is difficult to completely love a story when it feels unbalanced — e.g. you love one character but dislike the love interest. As in the case with this one. It was easy for me to love Brady the barista whom at relatively young age must takes care of his younger siblings. I found him to be such a nice guy, reliable, and mature.

On the other hand, I couldn’t warm up to Evren. It wasn’t even about his kink (he didn’t like anal or skin on skin sex, too messy) because as an asexual I can relate to not prioritizing sex above all else, penetration or otherwise, but it was more about him keeping Brady on arm’s length. The relationship between the two of them felt one sided.

See, to me, it seemed that Brady is the one yearning enough to get any scraps from Evren. He has to deal with Evren’s ‘rules’ of “no drama, no false problems, no anal” but Evren doesn’t really do anything in return. Sure, yeah, he helps Brady once in a while in terms of taking care the young’uns, but when it comes to the personal part, he doesn’t want to share his problem and just pushes Brady away. At parts where I should feel sympathetic, all I felt was annoyance. Yes, Evren was just too cold and distant for me to root for him.

So the whole progress between Evren’s not trusting Brady in the beginning (Brady is bisexual, Evren is … not happy) to friendship to lovers … and then THAT ending just felt off. Also there were times when I felt like I was being told rather than shown about how Evren and Brady finally connected.

Other things that I wasn’t too fond of was the part about Brady’s bisexuality. This is probably the third book in matter of weeks where I encounter bisexual guys. Two of those books dealing with the gay guy not trusting the bi-guy that they can fully ‘commit’ to one gender. I admit, this might be the huge issue that any bisexuals must face. But the way that it’s written here in the beginning, somehow I feel like I’m being preached upon. When Brady mused “God. Why did I constantly feel like a PSA for bisexual marginalization?“, I wanted to say, yeah, this did sound like a PSA.

I guess I just don’t want keep being reminded blatantly when I read my fiction. I don’t mind books with social issues but I prefer them to be given to me in more subtle and natural kind of way, rather than the character listing out wrong perceptions about one sexuality. I like that I can think about it rather than just nodding in agreement. I guess I assume that M/M readers in general is more open towards the other letters in the LGBTQIA spectrum anyway, disregard whether they want to read each letter’s romance or not.

I’m not disliking this but I’m not mind-blown with it either. So far, book #3 (Delivered Fast) is still my favorite.

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:

25937705Title: Knit Tight
Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: Portland Heat, #4
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Release Date: April 12, 2016

ARC Review: Take Me, Cowboy (Maisey Yates)

I didn’t realize when I requested the ARC from Netgalley that this was part of the HQ Desire line which made it a category romance rather than full length one from HQN. So I wonder if that was part of my problem with it; that I felt the theme to be rather outdated and the characters didn’t fully come alive as the previous Copper Ridge trilogy I read from HQN.

I liked the friends-to-lovers theme, and I definitely amped up with the fact that Anna was a female mechanic. BUT, I totally felt disappointed with “Anna must act like a woman” angle. Nowadays, reading about how a woman needs to be “a woman” with how she looks, how she dresses, or how she flirts in order to attract a man is no longer giving me satisfaction. I’m over that. So the whole plot just rubbed me the wrong way.

At least in the end Anna showed Chase that she wanted more and refused to back down. I loved her for that — and the porcupine pajama ^^

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:

9780373734504.inddTitle: Take Me, Cowboy
Author: Maisey Yates
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 192 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Desire
Release Date: April 1, 2016

ARC Review: Out of Frame (Megan Erickson)

Quinn Mathers, a shy red-haired young man, is going with his best friend on a spring break Caribbean Cruise — in which the cast of reality show “Trip League”, including Quinn’s crush, the (supposedly) straight J.R. Butler also attends. Nobody know that J.R. is actually bisexual, and that he has to hide his attraction to men a secret because of the effing contract he signed before the show. But when they meet, attraction flies, and J.R. has to make a decision whether he should follow his heart or stay in the closet in order to assure his place in the show-business industry.

Out of Frame is the latest installment of Erickson’s In Focus series. This time, Erickson switches the open road with the high seas. I always enjoyed Erickson’s writing and this one is no exception. I loved both Quinn and J.R. — oops, sorry, Jay Ryan. The chemistry was definitely there, and I loved how they connect on the ship. I loved Quinn’s initial shyness while also trying to finally be independent from his parents and to live in the moment. I loved Jay’s loyalty and love towards his family.

For a story with someone in the closet, I didn’t feel like this is doused with angst though. The time frame is pretty short because the cruise only happened about a week — and we found out Jay’s family actually very supportive of his bisexuality, and later on his cast mates too. So it didn’t feel that heavy — well, to me anyway. Because of that, I loved it but I wasn’t as emotionally engaged like the first two books. It didn’t make me cry like I did with Justin’s admission of his feeling towards Landry in Trust the Focus or Riley’s personal fight with his mental health issues in Focus on Me.

Having said that, it is still a fun book to read. I definitely loved how the cruise changed the both of them for the better. Quinn is finally able to seize the day and decide that he wants to embrace the possibility in life, without worrying to much about the consequences. While Jay … ah, well, you know what Jay will do, right? The epilogue made me smile in satisfaction. Oh, and another plus point for this book (aside from Jay being a bisexual character) is the interracial relationship. Yep, love me some of those.

I can’t wait to read book #4, which features another cast member of “Trip League”, the darling Levi. So happy that it will be released this year, in September.

 

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:

27731948Title:Out Of Frame (In Focus #3)
Author: Megan Erickson
Genre: MM New Adult Contemporary Romance
Word Count: TBA
Publisher: Intermix (Penguin)
Release Date: March 15, 2016