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

 

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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:
 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

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: Unnatural (Joanna Chambers)

Friends-to-lovers theme (and to that extend, second chances as well) is my weakness. I simply love it. It doesn’t matter that often the issue that stops the friends to be lovers is cliché (i.e. doesn’t want to change the friendship status) or that it becomes repetitive and frustrating, I will still choose to read them. Because then what matters to me is how the story makes me FEEL. Like, how many times I will feel my heart tied up in knots, even when I want to knock the character’s head for being unable to recognize that happiness is right before their very eyes. Yes, it all boils down to that.

Joanna Chambers’ Unnatural, a spin-off from her Enlightenment series fits that criteria to the “T” … and oh, how it makes me feel. What can I say, everytime I read about Iain’s regret, about how he wants to reconciliate with James, and then the thick tension of the two men when Iain finally sees James again after two years, it just done wonders to my heart. I devoured the story like it was a precious gem. I savored each moments … from their early childhood moments, growing up, first kiss, the big blow out at Kit Redford’s place (P.S. you can also read about that from Chambers’ free short story, Seasons Pass), until the reunion, and finally, FINALLY the happy ending.

Yes, it was a bit frustrating because Iain keeps going back and forth from rejecting James to coming back to him. However, reading the early scene that contributes to Iain’s guilty feeling as well as the baggage of upholding his family honor helped me to surpress my frustration. I knew that the ending would be worth it — the moment when Iain can finally let go, and embraces the promise of happiness that James can give him. And oh, it was GLORIOUS. I admit that my eyes became all watery.

The only thing that stops me from giving this 5-stars is the structure of the story, which is moving back and forth from past to present. On one hand, this structure helps build up momentum because I kept wondering how the past unraveled to understand more about what happens in the present time. On the other hand, it also made me a bit impatient since I wanted to read how Iain can fix everything.

This is MY kind of romance, MY kind of story. It is tender, sweet, frustrating, but romantic, oh, how it is so romantic. It might lack sexy times but that what draws me to it, honestly. Because it makes better emotional connection for me as a reader — knowing that the thread of love between Iain and James is more than just physical. It is something stronger, something more binding, something more … meaningful. Thank you so much for this story Ms. Chambers. It’s definitely one of my favorite of the year.

*draws little ♥ all over my Kindle*

RATING: 4.5 out of 5
4.5

 

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:

26344445Title: Unnatural
Author: Joanna Chambers
Genre: MM Historical Romance
Word Count: 70,076
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: November 24, 2015