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

 

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:


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: Diving Into Trouble (Shona Husk)

What I loved about it is the occupation of the hero and heroine. He is a cook and she is a Navy Marine Technician (!) and I thought that was really cool. Plus, this was set in Australia. In overall, this was just an okay romance for me. They had one night stand and realized they worked together. I probably would’ve loved it more if the sex didn’t happen more than once even before the book reached halfway through. What can I say, I prefer my romance with low-level of steam. I guess I should’ve figured it out from the cover. But I like taking my chances, you know?

RATING: 3 out of 5
3-stars

 

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:


Title:
 Diving Into Trouble
Author: Shona Husk
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 247 pages
Publisher: Escape Publishing
Purchase Link: Amazon, Kobo
Release Date: July 12th, 2017

ARC Review: A Way With Words (Lane Hayes)

Well the gist of this story is basically Tony trying to gather up some courage to finally tell his meddling family that he is gay. That’s it.

The trigger for this is because Tony meets a sexy guitar player, Remy, who turns his feeling upside down. The attraction is believable, Tony is cute when he is around Remy, though I’m not sure I can describe that Tony has a way with words during the early courtship *laugh*. The family members are chartering into irritating territory with the whole talks about “settling down with the right girl” but since this is a novella I could push down my annoyance level a little bit.

I highly appreciated the fact that Remy didn’t push Tony to come out to this family. It’s easy for us to tell people to be yourself and be brave, and just come out. However, for me, it’s a personal thing, and nobody should be pushed by others if they’re not ready to do so. So that’s a kudos for Remy.

The epilogue makes me smile. All in all, a nice easy read.

RATING: 3 out of 5

 

11613309

 

 

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

 

BOOK INFO:

 

Title: A Way With Words
Author: Lane Hayes
Genre: MM Contemporary Novella
Genre: Self-Publishing
Length: 24.000 words
Purchase Link: Amazon
Release Date: June 22th, 2017

ARC Review: Serenity Harbor (RaeAnne Thayne)

Serenity Harbor , the 6th book from Haven Point features schoolteacher Katrina Bailey (the youngest Bailey sibling, sister of Wyn and Marshall from book #4 and #5) and computer-tech millionaire Bowie Callahan. In between the two there is also a sweet six-years-old autistic boy, Milo, who is Bowie’s half younger brother. Bo doesn’t know that Milo existed but when he gets guardianship Bo is determined not to take care of him

Milo is pretty much the catalyst for Katrina and Bo’s relationship. Kat’s first encounter with Bo and Milo is when Milo is having a meltdown in supermarket with Bo not knowing what to do. Since Kat is a primary schoolteacher, she makes connection with Milo. Bo asks Kat to help becoming Milo’s temporary nanny, until Milo’s future autism specialist arrives and before Kat leaves back to Colombia.

~~~

Hmmmm… I’ve loved the previous stories from this series but I think I hit a snag this time around. Now, I LOVED Milo … my heart went out for this boy. It annoyed me at first that Bo seemed to focus more on his works rather than his special-needs brother. Bo gets better in dealing with Milo of course but still… he could’ve get to that point sooner.

I think my problem is because I didn’t feel the chemistry between Kat and Bo. In fact, I thought Kat had better connection with Milo. ALL of Kat and Milo’s interaction warmed my heart dearly. From the moment she crouched down on Milo’s level to talk to him out of his meltdown, to making him breakfast, to teaching him to verbally communicate. It was beautiful and touching for me.

On top of that, the whole ** SPOILER \ Katrina’s plan to adopt another special-needs girl from Colombia / END SPOILER** felt a little outside of my realm of romance. It’s a little bit too out there. Plus I couldn’t help thinking that using too many special-needs children to make me care for Kat and Bo as a couple to be a little “manipulative”.

So yes, I didn’t love this as romance as a whole. BUT everything with Kat and Milo lifted up the book for me. I’m still interested with the next book of course! It will feature the charming Jamie Caine and the librarian Julia Winston. That sounds promising 🙂

RATING: 3 out of 5

 

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:

Title: Serenity Harbor
Author: RaeAnne Thayne
Series: Haven Point, #6
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: HQN Books
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Books
Release Date: June 27th, 2017

ARC Review: A Ballad of Confetti, Cake and Catastrophes (Helen Juliet)

Nicholas Herald has one task, to sign up a musician for his big sister’s wedding. Of course he forgets all about it and have to scramble with new plan. By chance, he meets a busker playing on city street, so he asks the guy Fynn to perform at the wedding.

Helen Juliet’s A Ballad of Confetti, Cake and Catastrophes is a pretty cute tale about exploring (and finding out) one’s sexuality. I am not sure if I can count it as coming of age, since Nicholas is twenty years old, but it feels like so because of the way Nicholas dealing with his attraction with Fynn. It also feels quite contemporary with the number of reference to popular culture.

Unfortunately, for me at least, this story also quite focused on the wedding preparation. There are a LOT of family members coming in and out of the pages like flurry hurricane. It feels quite crowded and at more than 100k it also became tad too long. I admit that I lost my attention because I wasn’t particularly in the mood to read about too many characters outside of the ‘main’ couple. I wasn’t interested enough to keep track of who’s who — apart from Nicholas and Fynn — which rather affected my reading enjoyment.

Still it is a nice read and well, your mileage may vary 🙂

RATING: 3 out of 5
3-stars

 

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:


Title:
 A Ballad of Confetti, Cake, and Catastrophes
Author: Helen Juliet
Genre: MM New Adult / Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 100,000 words approx
Publisher: Self-Published
Purchase Link: Amazon US, Amazon UK
Release Date: May 24th, 2017

ARC Review: Action (Quinn Anderson)

Action is the second Quinn Anderson’s book I read after her debut last year, Hotline. Unfortunately I have likes and dislikes about this book, and it ends up only within my so-so category…

First off, with having only one perspective, I didn’t feel like I have enough balance. Yes, I loved Pete Grifflow — I loved his babble, I loved his friends, I loved his mom, and honestly Pete’s insecurity issues were a bit endearing (except near the end). BUT I couldn’t say the same about his love interest, Evan Darko. He came off as a bit two dimensional and I always got quickly bored with gorgeous and perfect specimen anyway, which was how Evan was described (at least from Pete’s perspective).

Second, this book is LONG. While I didn’t exactly put it down because I was quite engaged with Pete, but at times I thought that the editor (or Anderson herself) could cut several scenes to make it a bit more effective. And may I say that I really didn’t find Pete’s smoking habit as attractive? Sorry, but I’m not a fan of smoker characters. So having THAT habit written on page annoyed me. Probably would be the scenes I expect to be deleted.

Third, while Pete did experience growth throughout the book, where he gained confidence while being with Evan, but I was not completely happy when even near the end Pete was still a bit in denial about his relationship. Like he wasn’t certain about what Evan saw in him, and he couldn’t even say that Evan was his boyfriend.

ALSO, I wasn’t completely happy with Pete’s decision about whether or not he should be honest about his job as a porn start to his mother.

Having said that, I liked how Anderson sort of “humanized” porn stars. I mean, they like doing what they do. They came to the industry with various reasons and there aren’t any angst, guilt, or humiliation coming from these characters. I also appreciated Anderson’s reaching out to diversity by having a Muslim female character — a friend of Pete — who also kicks ass in my opinion. Sana’s reply to one obnoxious customer at the coffee shop where Pete works his day job is one of my favorite scenes in this book.

In conclusion, I am still going to check out Anderson’s next books. But I hope she steps up her game and gives me a more stellar read than the two books in this Murmur Inc. series.

RATING: 3 out of 5
3-stars

 

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:

Title: Action
Author: Quinn Anderson
Series: Murmur Inc. #2
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 97,000 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: June 5, 2017

ARC Review: Enemies Like You (Annika Martin & Joanna Chambers)

For those of you who have read the FREE novella, Enemies with Benefits, the story will start at Chapter 9. For those who haven’t, well, Chapter 1-8 of this book is basically the novella

Enemies Like You the first installment of Enemies with Benefits series as well as the debut of collaboration between Joanna Chambers and Annika Martin ends up being on the lower end of “just okay” spectrum for me.

My biggest problem to enjoy this enemies-to-lovers romance is because I only cared about one half of the equation, while dismissive towards the other. You can imagine myself being bored with one narration (and skimming a lot!) and wishing that I could read this book solely from one character’s perspective.

Let me explain…

Enemies Like You is written using two narratives. One is Will, the CIA freelance assassin who is dead set to kill Sergei Polzin, the man responsible in killing Will’s bands of brothers. The other is Kit, the British bodyguard extraordinaire who also poses as Polzin’s girlfriend when needed.

I am not familiar with Annika Martin’s writing or how this duo works, but based on her background, being an American, I assume Ms. Martin tackles Will’s chapters and Ms. Chambers writes Kit’s.

I didn’t have a problem with Kit’s chapters. In fact, I LOVED them… I loved Kit. I thought Kit had layers that kept me very much engaged throughout: a bodyguard who cross-dressed on occasions, with an artist soul. Kit didn’t protect Polzin simply because it was his job. Oh no, Kit had reasons to do it and readers would learn about this as the story went on.

It was Will’s chapters that made me struggle so much. I thought Will was very flat and two dimensional as a character. While I could try to suspend my disbelief, the fact that he ended up thinking with his d*ck during mission made me want to get my money back if I am CIA. I disliked how Will’s chapters were basically only providing the physical interaction (sex and more sex: blowjob, masturbation, and so on) of the story.

It was very disappointing for me because I thought Will had a great background for this story. After his army brothers died Will basically had suicidal mission. He became an effective assassin (although I question his reputation during this mission) because he just stop caring. I wish THAT is being more explored. Instead I felt completely detached from Will and wish I could just read more of Kit’s chapters.

In fact, Will seemed to have more nuanced, to be more ‘human’ when he was written from Kit’s point of view…

That is my reason for my rating. I am not sure if I want to read the next books. I love Joanna Chambers; she’s one of MM historical authors who is responsible for my liking that genre (I avoid historical romance before, at all cost). So I want to follow this series for her. But I’m worried that Ms. Martin’s writing might not be my cup of tea (based also from her backlist titles that seem to be more sexy than romantic).

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…

RATING: 3 out of 5

 

11613309

 

 

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:
 Enemies Like You
Author: Annika Martin & Joann Chambers
Series: Enemies With Benefits, #1
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Length: 251 pages (Amazon)
Publisher: Self-Published
Purchased Links: Amazon US, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo
Release Date: May 15th, 2017