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: Single Malt (Layla Reyne)

Single Malt is the first book of — what I assume will be — Agents Irish & Whiskey romantic suspense series. I assume it will be a trilogy, since currently there are three titles being listed; all will be released this year. I feel like I need to include advisory that Single Malt ends in sort-of cliffhanger situation. Not exactly related to the main characters’ life and death context, but there is a newly-surfaced information that will definitely play a SIGNIFICANT role to the development of the main arc.

After losing his husband, Greg, as well as his professional partner of 15-years, Tom, FBI Agent Aidan “Irish” Talley is now off undercover job and being transferred to Cyber. He is partnered with Jameson “Whiskey” Walker, twelve-years his junior, former two-time NCAA champion who turns to be a whiz in computer and hacking. Aidan’s boss wants him to train Jamie to be field agent, but at the same time, to work together to solve the accident that took away Greg and Tom’s lives.

I thought Layla Reyne — a new-to-me author — was able to write a balanced romance and suspense/action in this book. The chemistry between Aidan and Jamie is apparent. At the same time, the big case that they are dealing with, a hack threatening a high-security bio-containment facility which leads to potential deadly dirty bomb attack, is engaging. I enjoyed both part equally, even if sometimes the technobabble — oops, sorry Jamie — I mean, technical jargon went over my head.

For me, both men were likeable. Although I might be more attracted to Jamie. I couldn’t help it. There was more than meets the eyes with him. Jamie might used to be famous as basketball star, but he clearly knows his way around computers, and man, I love brainiacs. When Jamie shows his set of skills with hacking codes? So sexy! *grin*

There might be times when I thought Reyne was more “telling” than “showing” though; especially dealing with Aidan’s situation: his guilt over feeling attracted to his younger partner, and the fact that it has only been 8 months since his husband died. I felt that there could be a lot of tension, and feels, and hurt/comfort moments that weren’t fully materialized. But maybe I will get more of that in the next two books. There are still a lot of room for the relationship between Irish and Whiskey to progress. For a beginning, it was enough.

Like I said in the beginning, there is a cliff-hanger situation. I felt like I should’ve seen the twist coming. It is kind of a familiar “thing” in mystery/suspense genre. But I didn’t, not at all. So that was a good kind or surprise.

Bottom line, I enjoyed this. Can’t wait for book #2 coming in May.

 

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:

singlemaltcoverTitle: Single Malt
Author: Layla Reyne
Series: Agents Irish and Whiskey, #1
Genre: MM Romantic Suspense
Word Count: 68,000 words
Publisher: Carina Press
Purchase Links: Amazon US, Barnes & Noble
Release Date: February 27, 2017

ARC Review: Connection Error (Annabeth Albert)

I LOVE Albert’s gaymers series so I jumped into the chance of requesting the ARC edition from Netgalley. After I finished, I found that I enjoyed it slightly less than the previous two books but still a very good read.

My biggest obstacle was probably because I couldn’t see where the romance was going, especially from Ryan’s point of view. It was easier to see what Josiah (the adorable younger man) wanted — he was into Ryan right from the very beginning. Despite the foot-to-mouth problem that Josiah was having when he first discovered that Ryan was a (view spoiler) but he was quickly redeemed himself. It was clear he didn’t see Ryan as different because of the extent of his injury. I truly loved him for that.

Ryan, on the other hand, was a little bit difficult for me to connect. I had to give KUDOS first for Annabeth Albert to have a not-physically-perfect character here. Plus the progress of Ryan of getting better, with the therapy and the surgery felt right. Nothing was easy for him. I could feel Ryan’s frustration, for someone who usually be in control, in command, to find himself dealing with compromise was definitely a challenge.

It was in terms of him approaching the relationship with Josiah that became a little bit of an issue. I wonder what Ryan wanted. Later on I could slightly understand that he was trying to make Josiah his project because in the way he could help Josiah made him feel like he could still do something. But was it simply because of his need for control or was his ego of wanting to feel needed? Was it some sort of hero complex? Again, it was more difficult for me to get Ryan which influenced my enjoying the story.

Oh, also, I felt that Josiah and Ryan spent more time apart rather than together because they lived in different part of the country. So often, they communicated via means of technology only, a lot of emails here back and forth … and I have never been patient with epistolary writing.

Due to Ryan’s health situation, there wasn’t a lot of steam here, but it also felt right. It would probably annoy me to no-end, if the story become highly charged with sex scenes when Ryan had to focus on getting himself to be better.

So I thought the characters and the plot to be well-written and strong. I liked that the ending didn’t feel like Happily Ever After, that the two men were still working on it but felt as SOLID.

I enjoyed this series SO MUCH. Probably more than Albert’s other series, Portland Heat.

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:

28807263Title:
 Connection Error
Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: gaymers, #3
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 66,000 words
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: September 05, 2016

ARC Review: In the Distance (Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin)

In the Distance is the third book in Nikka Michels & Eileen Griffin’s “In the Kitchen” series. After dealing with Ethan and Jamie’s relationship in the previous two books, this one brings forth Tyler Mitchell and Jamie’s best friend, Trevor Pratt.

I was excited when I saw the ARC being offered in Netgalley because I was very much fond of Tyler. Tyler first starts his story in book 2, a homeless young man who practically has been adopted like little brother by Ethan and Jamie then works his way around the kitchen, being taught by the two chefs. In this book, Tyler juggles the life as culinary student as well as the sous chef for Ethan and Jamie’s bistro.

I thought Tyler is a darling – he is determined to ‘pay forward’ the kindness that have been given to him by Ethan and Jamie. He volunteers at shelters and is also involved in shelter’s program at local schools. He comes a long way from that homeless teenager who is thrown out of his home because of his sexuality. It is always an admirable traits – someone who paves his (or her) way out of bad situation and makes the most of it.

Although, Tyler also suffers from trust issues – stems from being cast off by the people who supposed to love him unconditionally. This frustrated me somewhere along the way; because I thought Tyler is being too harsh to Trevor, when the other man made a mistake of telling Ethan and Jamie about Tyler’s ‘secret’. It is clear for me that Trevor only wants the best for Tyler, even if he might done it wrong. I admit that I wanted to reach inside the pages, took Tyler aside and told him to stop being too stubborn about it.

BUT, at the same time, I did enjoy reading how Trevor must work harder to get Tyler. Trevor is quite the opposite of Tyler – he comes from a privileged family, whose parents still love each other, being together for over three decades, and accept their son’s sexuality. Ethan mockingly calls Trevor “Trustfund” and I guess Trevor is used to get his way a little easier. Heck, even when Trevor spectacularly made a mess over his friendship with Jamie, when he contributed to Ethan and Jamie’s break-up, Jamie didn’t cut off friendship with him. So this is a new territory for Trevor, working hard to get Tyler to be friends with him, understanding Tyler’s issues about money, and so on.

There is a ten-year age gap between Trevor and Tyler but I was happy that it didn’t become a huge problem between the two of them. I mean, reading about one agonizing about age difference can be repetitively boring. Instead these two strike friendship before moving forward to the next step in their relationship. Yes, Trevor is careful because Tyler is younger than him, but he never rationalizing the age gap by pulling himself away from connecting with Tyler. We do get Ethan and Jamie being over-protective meddling brothers, but Tyler has a mind of his own, and refuses to just let both men control his choice.

Bottom line, the story has great slow-build progress of two men falling in love and maturing up together in the process. Definitely MY kind of story, which is why this is my favorite book in the series so far. I wonder if the authors plan to continue the series. Maybe with Nick, the young man from the LGBTQ-shelter who also starts working at Bistro 30? I would love to read about him…

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:

{EEB8C335-52AD-4057-8FE3-8DA4E98AB89B}Img100Title: In the Distance (In the Kitchen, #3)

Author: Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 104,230 words
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: June 15, 2015