ARC Review: Barrel Proof (Layla Reyne)

If I imagine Barrel Proof as a three-act drama, for me the story picked up starting from the second-act, when Aidan, Jamie, Mel, and the rest of the involved characters raise the stake when dealing with terrorist Pierre Renaud and his plan to create market chaos. I really liked the pace from that point on. It was quite thrilling and the actions were all worth it.

However, it turned out that I still carried grudges from the previous book, in which I was disappointed with Aidan. In the first act, Aidan finally discovers the secret that his lover slash partner Jamie and his boss slash sister-in-law has been keeping from him regarding the truth behind Aidan’s ex-husband’s death. I’m not going to end up ranting in this review so I’m going to make it short: I thought Aidan was acting immature, hypocritical, and GAH, such a drama king.

I really liked Jamie though — in fact, I thought he carried the case way more than Aidan. I loved Jamie for his ability, loyalty, and all around bravery. Personally, Jamie deserves more than that drama king Aidan. But well, I guess his heart speaks differently *shrugs*.

Overall, it is a nice series and I think can satisfy most MM readers.

 

RATING: 3 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:


Title:
 Barrel Proof
Author: Layla Reyne
Series: Agents Irish and Whiskey, #3
Genre: MM Romantic Suspense
Word Count: 62,000 words
Publisher: Carina Press
Purchase Links: Amazon US, Barnes & Noble
Release Date: August 7, 2017

ARC Review: Blood Gamble (Melissa F. Olson)

When Dashiell, the vampire cardinal of Los Angeles hears about vampires having blatant show-off stage show in Las Vegas, he “convinces” Scarlett Bernard to do a little spying. Then Scarlett learns that vampires seem to be missing after attending the show and there might be hunters in Las Vegas killing them…

Honestly, I wasn’t a lot happy with Scarlett in this book — which is a bit disappointing because the previous one, Midnight Curse, rocked my socks off. I felt that she was acting slightly brashier; although maybe it was because Scarlett was manipulated to go a city she hated.

The case itself was okay but it wasn’t gripping as the previous book (that involved Molly!). Since this was set in Las Vegas, it didn’t exactly involved any of the L.A. characters that I care about. Sure, I liked Wyatt, a Las Vegas vampire who asked Scarlett’s help, but the rest of the secondary characters didn’t stand out for me. OH, but Scarlett met Sashi here, the healing witch who is also Lex Luther’s friend from Boundary Magic series. I like it when characters are doing cross-over.

What let me down the most was the sudden development with Jameson, a null she once met in New York (I think it was back in Trail of Dead, second book of the first trilogy). While I don’t particularly read this series for the romance but I can’t help guessing Scarlett’s possible love interest. For a while I think it will be Jesse since he has been there since the beginning, plus he has his own POV in this series. But I’m fine if Scarlett ends up with someone else.

But Jameson?! He is a blip on my radar, so the romance comes out of nowhere! It also a bit distracting from the main case of missing (and possible murdered) vampires. On top of that, I could see how this was used by Olson to introduce a HUGE plot in the end that would influence the rest of the series greatly (or at least the next Scarlett book) and I am still a bit ambivalent about it. On one hand, if is NOT the type of drama I like, feels like a ‘cheap shot’. On the other hand, I can’t help to think HOW it will play out. I’m quite invested in finding out…

PS: I missed Jesse terribly in this book. And Shadow too.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5

 

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The book 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:
Title: Blood Gamble
Author: Melissa F. Olson
Series: Disrupted Magic, #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Length: 300 pages
Publisher: 47th North (Amazon Publishing)
Release Date: July 25, 2017

ARC Review: Fly Away with Me (Susan Fox)

Fly Away with Me is my first experience with Susan Fox — and unfortunately, while I enjoyed it, I wasn’t completely loving it. I guess my biggest issue was with the romance. I don’t know whether it is because the relationship starts as a holiday fling (I thought Aaron was a little bit too pushy) or because there is a bigger drama with both Eden’s family (her mother’s cancer) and Aaron’s family (his sister, a single mother, is being evicted) — but the romance is a little bit underwhelming.

Considering that Eden and Aaron are quite different in characteristics — Eden is more of a planner, more uptight and serious, with close relationship with her family versus Aaron who is all about fun, short term goals and has no plan for long term relationship — I was expecting these two butting heads with sparks flying everywhere. I didn’t feel like I got all of that, though. And I was slightly annoyed with what I thought of the “serious reserved city life BAD vs. fun relaxed small town life GOOD” premise that I seemed to conclude from this book.

Having said that, I was VERY much interested with the “mystery” — in this case, Eden’s quest to find her missing aunt and what might have been going on with the cult, the missing leader, and the mysterious girl that Eden’s aunt seemed to help all those decades ago. What happened to her? What other secrets that the rest of the cult member might have knowingly kept? I guess the mystery-fan in me is very much intrigued with all of those.

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:

Title:
 Fly Away with Me
Author: Susan Fox
Series: Blue Moon Harbor, #1
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Kensington Press
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Google Playstore
Release Date: July 25, 2017

ARC Review: Lucky Charmed (Sharla Lovelace)

Lucky Charmed is the second book in Lovelace’s Charmed in Texas series, following A Charmed Little Lie that was released in April.

This time, we have Carmen Frost who has been planning to leave Charmed to follow her wanderlust dream after finally divorcing her husband… only to find out that her first love, Sullivan “Sully” Hart — the one who left her behind and broke her heart fifteen years ago — has decided to return and settle down in Charmed instead.

Similar to the first book, Lucky Charmed is written using the heroine’s first person narrative. I do prefer alternate point-of-views in my romance. I mean, there were times that I would’ve LOVED to get inside Sully’s mind, to know what he thinks and feels about Carmen. However, I admit that I enjoyed the drama and the surprises at the same time as Carmen.

Without knowing anything about that night from Sully’s perspective, Carmen’s emotion when she discovers the secrets being kept from her feels more effective. Besides, despite the lack of Sully’s POV, I still thought the chemistry between the two of them was strong.

I loved that Carmen doesn’t easily give in to Sully’s explanation. I loved that she gets angry at him. I loved that she confronts Sully (and also her mother). I loved that Carmen still tries to follow her dream. Sometimes it needs to be done — experiencing what you think you want or need before making any decision in your life.

I really think Sharla Lovelace’s writing clicks with me. Now I can’t wait to read book #3. Because there’s a development regarding that future couple in this book that intrigues the hell out of me!

PS: There are a number of errors regarding the name of Sully’s brother. At first it is written as Aidan. But later it is also written as Aiden. I hope the release version is cleaned from this mistake.

RATING: 4 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:

Title:
 Lucky Charmed
Author: Sharla Lovelace
Series: Charmed in Texas, #2
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 217 pages
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes
Release Date: July 18, 2017

ARC Review: An Unexpected Truth (S A Meade)

It has been four years since I last read a story by S A Meade. I remember loving her writing which is why I jumped on a chance to request the advanced reader’s copy for this one.

An Unexpected Truth is definitely not at all like what it all seems in the beginning. At first, I thought it would be a gentle loving story about a racehorse trainer and the owner. I loved Brendan; his crush over Adam is cute. I loved the early progress of their relationship. It was sweet and slow-burning; these men definitely not at all ruled by their libido.

However, when Adam’s past secrets coming back to haunt them, this is when I started to feel a little bit miffed. While the twist that came with the secret was pretty smart — I definitely did not see that coming! — but I also felt it to be a little over the top. I guess I isn’t a huge fan of that particular kind of cloak and dagger drama; it sort of disturbed the flow of the story for me.

In addition, I wonder if Brendan forgive Adam’s disappearing act a little bit too quickly, no matter Adam’s reasons. Personally, I thought the last 1/4th part of the book felt rushed for me.

All in all, there are things I really liked and there are things I didn’t. I also enjoyed the aspect of the horse breeding and training in this book. Oh, and the supporting characters were marvelous. Note if you have read Meade’s debut novel, Stolen Summer, well, the couple made a cameo appearance in here as well!

One thing for sure though, S A Meade’s writing is still as beautiful as I remember *sigh*

 

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

 

BOOK INFO:

Title: An Unexpected Truth
Author: S A Meade
Genre: MM Contemporary / MM Thriller and Suspense
Length: 58,591 words
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Release Date: July 11th, 2017

ARC Review: Finding Home (Meg Harding)

I wanted to see who I was when no one else was around. Turns out I’m the same as I am with him. He didn’t change me. He lets me be me.

I think Meg Harding steadily becomes a favorite author of mine because Finding Home is another satisfying read. There is a charming tenderness to this story with a slow burn(!) relationship development that perfectly fits my taste.

Recently lost his job and separated from his cheating husband of nine years, Jaden Matthews comes to Serenity, Florida, after his passing grandmother leaves Jaden a part-time ownership of a gym with his three half-brothers, whom he never knows existed. Jaden hopes for a change of pace in Serenity, a short vacation to maybe clear his head and to get back on track, while sorting out the business. He doesn’t expect his half-brothers wanting to get to know him better. And he surely doesn’t expect Chase Michaels…

I fell in love with Jaden right from the very beginning — his quietness, his uncertainty, and his awkwardness when facing with three half-brothers and people who don’t seem to understand personal bubble … I was very much drawn into that.

I loved how Ms. Harding makes that personality of Jaden NOT as weaknesses, but more of like his quirks, a real part of Jaden that makes Chase loves nonetheless. Jaden doesn’t completely get a makeover by the end of the book. He’s still Jaden but he is ready to be selfish, embraces chances for himself rather than trying to please others and not to rock the boat.

I loved Chase for befriending Jaden, for taking Jaden the way that he is, and of course by slowly letting Jaden out of his shell. Plus Chase teaches yoga and he has soft heart for rescued animals. How can I not love this guy as well?!

Jaden and Chase’s relationship is sweet and fulfilling, and I was having a wonderful time being in their company. I actually wish for more chapters so I can feel secure with their HEA. Or maybe Ms. Harding can somehow return to this town — maybe with a certain bisexual brother *wink*

RATING: 4 out of 5

 

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

 

BOOK INFO:


Title:
 Finding Home
Author: Meg Harding
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Length: 232 pages
Publisher: Oceanside Press
Purchase Link: Amazon US, Amazon UK
Release Date: July 3, 2017

ARC Review: House of Cards (Garrett Leigh)

I admit that I have only read two books by Garrett Leigh and I tend to avoid her works because I am worry about the level of angst. Well, I am satisfied to say that in House of Cards , the fourth entry to the Porthkennack series, Garrett Leigh successfully balances the angst, the drama, and the hopefulness between the two main characters.

Yes, it started with Calum Hardy being down on his luck, losing his place of work and money, with practically no place to go and nothing owned thanks to his bastard cheating of a boyfriend. While Brix Lusmoore has secrets of his own, one that he has been carried along as personal baggage for the past four years.

However, it never gets to the point where I thought the angst was written ‘for the sake of angst alone, you know? It is somber, probably supported by the atmospheric location of Porthkennack, but at the same time it also feels earnest. This town simply becomes sanctuary where all these characters belong.

I loved the slow burn (and oh, how it SLOWLY burns with low level of steam as well! *heart feels content*) romance between Calum and Brix. Although they know each other from a decade ago, that they are friends, but it takes time for both to acknowledge their feelings and to act on it. I loved the contemplative conversations that Calum and Brix have as they slowly learn about one another that didn’t happen the years before.

I loved the connectedness between Calum, Brix, and the rest of the ‘strays’ that Brix collected as part of his tattoo shop crews. Each of them has their own story to tell, although Lee, who steadfastly becomes Calum’s best friend, is the only one with a solid background.

And gosh how I loved the good-for-cuddling hens and the cantankerous cats *laugh*

“There’s a home by the sea for any emmet who’s got the heart for it. My nan taught me that.”
“Did she? What do you think she’d say about my heart, eh?”
“That it was made for mine.”

All in all, for me, House of Cards is a wistful, quiet, and at its core — I think — a very romantic story.

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:

Title: House of Cards
Author: Garrett Leigh
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 66,000 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: July 17, 2017