ARC Review: Counterbalance (Aidan Wayne)

Two novellas (and one short story published under different name) in — and I can safely say that I think Aidan Wayne’s writing and story fit my reading preference to the T. Because I see how Wayne focuses on characters and connections when telling about the relationship, and not just sexual relationship for the sake of steam alone.

I found Counterbalance to be fulfilling my need of reading romance where the characters interact in more than just the bedroom. Where it started as friendship and not as lust. I loved how Bao befriended John, that he kept coming back to talk to John, to bring him lunch, to ask John to go out and had fun. This story was written solely from John’s perspective but I easily thought both characters to be written quite well.

I loved that John was confused with Bao’s attention, and he didn’t know how to do with it. I didn’t miss Bao’s perspective at all because I thought it was more of an interesting ride to take alongside John. I loved finding out Bao’s reason to approach John in the first place as well as his determination to keep looking for John. With John’s scars — which made people nicknamed him as Phantom — it was easy to think that was the reason why he stood out for Bao. I was so happy that Bao proved my initial judgment wrong; and that it was a sweet reason, one that I didn’t think before.

Yes, Bao might be a little too perfect … this optimistic, cheerful, positive character that is like a sunshine on rainy days. But hey, I thought we need this kind of characters in our fiction too. Bao made John happy and I approved of that.

Oh , and I LOVED Wayne’s character occupations!! In Loud and Clear, we have cab driver. In here, we get a head rigger for Cirque and an acrobat. I would love to read more of Bao doing his moves!!

The only complaint that I have this time was the flow of the story was a little disrupted approaching the end. ** SPOILERS ** When Bao was injured and then having to take a break to rest, I kind of felt that it broke the rhythm that seemed to be approaching climax when Bao and John had their first kiss **END SPOILERS** . It bothered me slightly.

Anyway, I can’t wait to read more stories coming from Aidan Wayne. Hopefully, next time will be more than just novella length.

RATING: 4 out of 5
4stars

 

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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:
cover93811-mediumTitle: Counterbalance
Author: Aidan Wayne
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance / Novella
Word Count: 21,500 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: September 12, 2016

ARC Review: The Cottage on Pumpkin and Vine (Kate Angell, Jennifer Dawson, Sharla Lovelace)

Halloween in July. Why not? I picked up this anthology from Netgalley because I loved the cover and I was trying these three new-to-me authors a try; like a sample if I want to pick up their full-length available novels. The three stories are intertwined in terms of location: Rose Cottage on Pumpkin and Vine, where legend says that people can find true love when they stay the night.

Charmed by You (Kate Angell): 3 stars

I was trying to figure out where the story was going, and it took me a while to warm up to Grace, the heroine. In fact, I wasn’t really sure about her even until the very end. She was a little bit too perfectionist, too pushy, too bossy for my taste. I am a more laid-back kind of girl, and people like that (not just women) make me exhausted *lol*. BUT, I admit that I saw Grace in a different light when she was with those kids. She was wonderful there, kind-hearted and generous. She wanted the best for the party and well, hats off for her. As for Cade, I wasn’t really convinced with his (slightly) sudden change of heart but they did establish a good connection during the decoration. The cat was awesome, by the way.

Mesmerized by You (Jennifer Dawson) 3.75 stars

While I might be a little unsure with the sense of magic that finally brought Jake and Chloe together, but I thought the story was sweet!! I always love friends-to-lovers trope and this one just made my heart happy and brought HUGE smile to my face when I finished it. Jake and Chloe are quite likeable as characters and it was clear that they belong with one another. When both finally realized that all this time, they might as well already be a couple (but without the sex *lol*) it was adorable.

Enchanted by You (Sharla Lovelace) 4.5 stars

My favorite of the bunch. My heart just exploded with all the feels. And I cried. On the wee hours of the morning when I read this novella. YES, DARN, I cried because it was just beautifully written, using my favorite romance trope ever: second chances. The bulk of this story happened within few days, when Sidney Jensen came to Moonbright to settle a case, and ended up finding out that her old first love, Sawyer Finn, was also there. Despite that, the tension between them was so palpable (AND DELICIOUS).

Twelve years ago, Sawyer broke Sidney’s heart. I think both were never the same, like something was missing. My GOSH I loved these two so much. The angst was done right. The confession and the reconnecting part were also well-written. And the happiness WELL-DESERVED. You know the part where you read romance, and you can feel that the couple is so perfect for one another because after the obstacles they face, you can imagine them living HEA off screen? Yes, that was Sidney and Sawyer for me.

Seriously, if this novella is released separately in the future, I will run and buy it immediately. Now I want to read what other stories Sharla Lovelace have written!

 

RATING: 4 out of 5
4stars

 

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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:


cover93173-medium

Title: The Cottage on Pumpkin and Vine
Author: Kate Angell, Jennifer Dawson, Sharla Lovelace
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Kensington
Release Date: August 30th, 2016

ARC Review: Sunset in Central Park (Sarah Morgan)

The moment I read how Frankie thought of wearing glasses would help her repel me (so to speak), I was both frustrated and annoyed with her. That scene just stood out because I knew that it would an uphill battle for Frankie to work on her issues. This was just the tip of the iceberg!!

While I knew that it was rooted deep from her father’s betrayal (of him cheating on Frankie’s mom, and then walked out of his family) as well as her mother’s way to deal with it (by breaking other relationships), I was having a hard time connecting to Frankie. She was prickly. She was insecure. And unfortunately, those were dragging the story down and I had a hard time enjoying it. Sure, Matt was probably able to make up for it —  he was this perfect gentleman who was able to ‘fix’ Frankie with twu wuv.

Maybe I was not in the good mood while I was reading this, but really, I wasn’t impressed. It is a bummer because I love friends-to-lovers stories. But I missed the sizzling chemistry and thick sexual tension that usually help me enjoying this theme because yes, friends-to-lovers stories can be boring or dragging or repetitive. Unfortunately, this one falls into that category.

I wasn’t really amused with the appearance of characters from Morgan’s other series as well. I mean, well, it was nice for me, because I read Puffin Island series. So it was catching up with familiar characters. But how about those who don’t read it. If I am one of them, I’m going to be annoyed.

In any case, this series doesn’t work for me. The previous novel (and novella) didn’t entertain me as well. So I will skip on the last book because Eva … yeah, her rose-colored-lenses and optimism about true love grated on my nerves. I am way too sarcastic for Eva.

RATING: 2.5 out of 5
25stars

 

11613309

 

 

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:
29491357Title: Sunset in Central Park
Author: Sarah Morgan
Series: From Manhattan With Love, #2
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: HQN
Release Date: Sept 1, 2016