ARC Review: A Gathering Storm (Joanna Chambers)

It has been more than a year since I last read anything by Joanna Chambers … so when I saw this one being listed by Riptide at Netgalley, I requested it without any second thought.

Sir Edward “Ward” Fitzwilliam comes to Porthkennack to continue his work — to scientifically experiment and to prove how the plane of spirits can interact with the real world — after his reputation is shattered among fellow scientists in London. In order to do this, Ward needs subjects, and he hopes with his money people in Porthkennack will be willing to participate. Ward doesn’t count on how people distrust him since his work involves electricity.

Nicholas “Nick” Hearn is a land steward to the Roscarrock family. He is a half Romany Gypsy (from his mother’s side) and Ward thinks Nick is perfect for his experiment. At first Nick refuses. However, after a slight misunderstanding — Ward sees Nick with another man; Nick thinks Ward is going to blackmail him upon this knowledge — Nick agrees to become Ward’s subject for a limited time …

Oh how I adore this story. It reminded me again how much I miss Chambers’ writing, characters, and stories ♥. This is a classic opposites-attract, in my humble opinion.

Ward is a scientist but he also comes from privilege, so some things are easy for him (like purchaing the land for his experiments, or offering money to attract the locals). At the same time, he is also sheltered due to a grave illness so Ward is not the most sociable person. For me sometimes he is either too ‘nerdy with his passion towards science (though nothing wrong with that!) or unable to get social cues.

Nick, on the other hand, is a half Gypsy and a bastard. Some people never really let Nick forget about that. He has a complicated relationship with old Godfrey Roscarrock — his employer, landlord, and to an extent, his family after Nick’s father left and his mother died. Nick distrusts Ward on sight and he feels that he is roped into agreement due to blackmail.

But then Nick gets to know more about Ward and vice versa, and how I devoured the progress. I loved their sessions. I loved how they exchanged things about their lives. I loved them together, period.

I also loved reading about them individually, these two men with their different baggage. Ward is still dealing with grief and unable to let his twin brother go, even if he tries to hide it by working on his project. While Nick tries to find a place he calls home as he feels like he never truly belongs in Porthkennack. Even if he loves the land.

I did have slight problem with the pacing. Somewhere in between Ward and Nick building their tentative relationship, to knowing each other better, to acting up on their attractions, to realizing their true feelings for one another … I felt sometimes the pace was off. Especially during the part where they go to Truro to see the séance all the way to the ending. It felt rather rushed for that moment of love declaration.

Still, it ends in a lovely way that made my heart soared *smile*

I think fans of both Joanna Chambers and MM Historical Romance in general will not miss this one, for sure. Next time, Joanna, don’t stay away too long, please?

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: A Gathering Storm
Author: Joanna Chambers
Genre: MM Historical Romance
Word Count: 82,000 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: April 17, 2017

ARC Review: A Charmed Little Lie (Sharla Lovelace)

I discovered Sharla Lovelace last year, with her Heart of the Storm series. I love her writing style. Which is why, when I saw that she had a new series with Lyrical Press, I jumped for the chance to request the advanced copy.

Lanie Barrett needs a husband. Stat. Apparently her deceased Aunt Ruby makes it a clause in her will that in order for Lanie to inherit the house and the money, Lanie needs to prove that she is blissfully married and must stay with her husband for three months at the house. It’s all because Lanie spun a story about her nuptial to her aunt shortly before she passed away. Enters Nick McKane, a divorcé who needs work and money to send his daughter to college. So Nick agrees to be Lanie’s husband and Lanie promises to share the wealth. Only things get complicated when their fake marriage starts to feel real.

Well, for the most part, A Charmed Little Lie is a delightful read! The story is written solely from Lanie’s first person perspective and she is FUN to be around with. I loved her quips … the humor here fit to my liking. I had so much fun reading how Lanie tried to get out from the deep hole that she dug herself into.

Some of the situations might be a little rom-com cliché, like the way Lanie’s ex (and his wife!) tried to seduce Lanie and Nick away from each other, since they were in it for the money as well … but it resulted in hilarious moments, I couldn’t really complain.

It isn’t perfect though… I wish that Ms. Lovelace explores more about Nick and Lanie “connecting” before acknowledging that they fall in love with one another. Since this book is only from Lanie’s perspective, I felt that Nick was still a mysterious character. I didn’t know much about him apart from him being a divorced father who needed the money … most of what I knew about Nick I got from Lanie’s opinion (and perception) about him. I didn’t really knew what Nick thought of Lanie and when he fell in love with Lanie. It felt a bit one sided…

Having said that, I definitely can say that I was charmed (see what I did there *wink*) and I look forward to reading the next book about Carmen, Lanie’s friend.

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:
 A Charmed Little Lie
Author: Sharla Lovelace
Series: Charmed in Texas, #1
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 241 pages
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Google Playstore
Release Date: April 18, 2017

ARC Review: At Attention (Annabeth Albert)

Lt. Apollo Floros loses his husband four years ago, leaves him a single dad with their two twin daughters to take care of. Dylan is the younger brother of Apollo’s best friend, 10 years Apollo’s junior, who currently needs a place to stay while he works his summer job. Dylan had huge crush for Apollo when he was a teenager … and he definitely still has strong feeling for the older man.

Personally, I think second-chance romance about a widower (or widow, in M/F case) where the first love died can be quite tricky to enjoy. As a reader, I must be convinced that the second love doesn’t simply substitute the first love. But, I don’t want the first love to be a strong shadow that overwhelms the second romance. At the same time, I also don’t want the first love to be easily forgotten to make way for the second love.

Yeah, like I sad, tricky.

Well, I would like to say that, for me, Annabeth Albert’s At Attention delivered. Albert plays the emotion and tension between the two men quite well. I enjoyed Apollo’s hot and cold attitude — yeah, sure, it might be frustrating to read at times, but it was right up my alley and I gobbled it up.

Apollo has a reason for acting like so — the combination of losing his husband and Dylan being younger, and a brother of his best friend for that matter. I will probably not like it as much if Apollo just jump Dylan’s bones from the beginning!! I thought the pace of the relationship was just right. Plus it gives me that somber moment that of course made me cry, of course

Besides Dylan held his own!! He is good with Apollo’s kids, he is quite understanding … and at that final moment, Dylan knows that he cannot force Apollo to deal with his loss. I loved how Dylan told Apollo that he needed grief counselor, that clearly Apollo was not okay. I loved that Dylan stepped back to give Apollo his space. I was proud of Dylan for that because he shows Apollo that he wasn’t that kid with crush anymore. He has grown up and he deserved Apollo’s respect — and if Apollo wants him back, Apollo needs to work for it.

This is another winner from Albert for me. I cannot wait to read book #3 though because FRIENDS-TO-LOVERS! Yay!!

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:

33280694Title: At Attention
Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: Out Of Uniform, #2
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 73,000 words
Publisher: Carina Press
Purchased Links: Amazon US, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Google Books
Release Date: April 10, 2017

ARC Review: Home Fires (Kate Sherwood)

Home Fires is the final installment of Kate Sherwood’s tetralogy, Common Law – and it is filled with high octane action as the town of Mosely is preparing to defend themselves from the militia fanatics that are going to run down the town to get their friends out of jail. Of course, in the middle of it, is our hero under-sheriff Jericho Crewe who is determined to protect the town, alongside the rest of the Mosely sheriff department, some of citizens, as well as his on-again lover Wade Granger.

Boy, did I LOVE the action part of this book!! Seriously, the moment that Jericho, Kayla, and everyone realize that they are pretty much left alone to defend the town – I was on the edge of my seat!! It is the kind of action-moment that is worth for visual imagery – guns blazing, bullets flying, and of course we have one or two explosions courtesy of Wade.

And boy, Wade is such a badass!! With this series written from Jericho’s perspective, Wade retains a flair of mystery to me as a reader. Much like Jericho, sometimes I wonder if Wade is being genuine or doing his own manipulative way while bending rules here and there to get what he wants. However, there is no doubt in my mind that Wade really does care for Jericho. In this book, Wade has his moment of glory and I loved him for that.

There is a thing or two that I wish has a much ‘concrete’ closure. Now with Jericho is finally ready to be with Wade completely, how are things going with Nikki and the kids? I wish I get a better update on that. I also would like to get a firmer resolution on the corruption case which was introduced in book #1 since it was basically what started everything – in addition to Jericho’s dead father.

In overall this is a SOLID series – and I so loved that epilogue *smile*

 

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:


32790716Title:
 Home Fires
Author: Kate Sherwood
Series: Common Law, #4
Genre: MM Contemporary / Suspense
Word Count: 44,300 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: April 3, 2017

ARC Review: Danced Close (Annabeth Albert)

Kendall is a wedding planner and Todd works at a bakery where Kendall takes his business (PS: The bakery is owned by Vic, the MC of book #2). Todd is a recovering addict so he thinks Kendall is out of his league. While Kendall breaks up with his boyfriend who cannot take on Kendall’s femme-ness and wants him to tone it down; and Todd seems to be the similar type. But they can’t help to be attracted to one another.

When Kendall’s best friend must bows out from dancing class they are both signed up for, and Kendall discovers that Todd is very good at dancing, he asks Todd to be his partner… and maybe to have fun while they’re at it.

Danced Close is the 6th book from Annabeth Albert’s Portland Heat series … and it definitely of of my favorites *beams happily* I think I have a weakness for men dancing together, which is what happened here. I enjoyed their dancing lessons so much.

I LOVED how Kendall and Todd got into the relationship; it filled with just enough angst and tentativeness. Mostly because both Kendall and Todd formed a certain perception about the other. Kendall being a genderqueer who embraces his feminine side is not used to people like Todd willing to follow and give control to him. He thinks Todd is too perfect and maybe Todd only sees him as ‘flavor of the week’.

While Todd has a major case of insecurity, being a recovering addict and not exactly coming out of the dark side without a scar (this part is important, potential readers, probably best that you find out yourself). Todd tends to think that he’s not good enough both professionally (in his job) and personally (with Kendall). It doesn’t help that Kendall keeps saying that they’re just “friends”, like Kendall doesn’t want to have someone like Todd to be his boyfriend.

These young men definitely need to TALK and work things out, to clear out any misconception. Yes, of course there is a moment of “pushing the other one away” but it resolves WONDERFULLY. I smiled widely when it happened.

I definitely liked the part of Kendall’s genderqueer identity — this didn’t feel like “PSA for marginalization” which was one of my major unfavorable opinion of Knit Tight. I didn’t feel like I was being preached upon. Maybe because Todd was so sweet when he asked Kendall about things, so Kendall wasn’t being defensive when he explained.

Since Portland Heat seems to be the series where Annabeth Albert introduces various QUILTBAG identities, I hope that she will write asexual characters in the future. You know a wish from her asexual fan ^^

You’re what I didn’t know I was missing. What I need. Like dancing back in my life and pesto and salad and you

 

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:


9781601836953Title:
 Danced Close
Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: Portland Heat, #6
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Purchase Links: Amazon US, Barnes & Noble, iTunes
Release Date: March 14, 2017

ARC Review: Darkness (Kate Sherwood)

I think knowing that there is book #4 in the horizon sort of helped with my rating this time. I still loved reading about Jericho Crewe, and especially the inevitable sexual tension between him and Wade Granger — I compared Jericho with moth to a fire when it comes to Wade :p — but at times, there are things I wish to be more progressed. This is book #3 after all!!

Probably my biggest issue is with the state of Mosely as the town with problems. We get introduced with the police corruption in book #1. Then the biker wars in book #2. Plus there is a looming militia problem that sort of hanging in the background. With Darkness being the penultimate book, I wanted to see a built-up momentum… a preparation to the climax, that kind of thing.

Unfortunately, I felt like I didn’t really get it. Yes, we had a dead prostitute. Yes, we had a possible innocent man being framed for a murder he didn’t commit. But it didn’t really add anything to the whole federal agents raining down Mosely. Plus the resolution of this particular case was anti-climactic — to the point where I murmured to myself, “That’s it?

I understand that the case became an epiphany for Jericho; him starting to question his moral judgement, wondering whether being in law-enforcement is the right thing when he can condone crime for certain purpose. It’s a good character progress. But still, it slightly frustrated me because in the grand scheme of Mosely and its problem, it didn’t really go anywhere.

Despite that, Darkness is a good installment — what can I say, I admit that I am getting into this because of Jericho and the promise his relationship with Wade. On that front, I was satisfied! Jericho finally accepts that he can’t get away from Wade, despite his ex-best friend / ex-boyfriend being manipulative, skirting between that fine line of breaking the law. THAT part is always delicious to read :).

I can’t wait for the conclusion…

RATING: 4 out of 5
4stars

 

 

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:

darknessTitle: Darkness
Author: Kate Sherwood
Series: Common Law, #3
Genre: MM Contemporary / Suspense
Word Count: 49,400 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: March 6, 2017

ARC Review: Fair Chance (Josh Lanyon)

There has been 6+ years since the first book, Fair Game, and 2+ years since the second one Fair Play … and I must say that one may not want to read this as stand-alone, especially since the mystery is pretty much related to the case of book #1.

I admit I wasn’t quite impressed with book #2. I wasn’t convinced that it was a needed sequel. So I approached this one with a little trepidation.

Well, guess what, I loved this better than book #2.

One thing that made me happy was that the relationship drama between Elliott and Tucker was pretty minimal. Yes, Tucker will always be protective of Elliott. Yes, the fact that Elliott seems to get himself into trouble by inserting himself to FBI cases will always make Tucker not completely happy. Plus there’s the big question whether Elliott wants to go back to law enforcement field…

However, it is also clear that both men finally make a deal to work through it. They both promise to talk about it and not go into bed angry. In that sense, their relationship is better than the previous book. Thus, I was really happy on that front.

And the mystery was GOOD! I was glued in, especially after Tucker went missing (no it’s not a spoiler, it’s written on the blurb!). There’s always an added suspense to a crime/mystery when the one missing is the MC’s loved one, which what happens here. So, I was REALLY invested with everything!

I did miss Roland though. Elliott’s relationship with his father has always been a delight for me to read; and one of the highlights of the whole series. Roland doesn’t have a lot of scenes but he’s still quite an important figure here. I just wish he had more pages.

Now, there’s quite an important decision that Elliott makes in the professional capacity. Because of that, I can somehow see the potential of this series to have more books in the future. Which, as a fan of Lanyon’s mystery books, will be an awesome thing 🙂

PS: Elliott gets himself a dog!!

 

RATING: 4 out of 5
4stars

 

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:

 


lgcover-9781459293618Title:
 Fair Chance
Author: Josh Lanyon
Series: All’s Fair, #3
Genre: MM Romantic Suspense
Word Count: 71,000 words
Publisher: Carina Press
Purchase Links: Amazon US, Barnes & Noble
Release Date: March 13, 2017