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 ūüôā

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: 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

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ARC Review: Accepting the Fall (Meg Harding)

I first read Meg Harding’s story a couple of years ago — and I think I have read almost all of them. Personally, I think this is her best work so far. It feels down-to-earth with everyday people and real relationship problems. Not to mention this is a slow burn second chance romance that involves a single father and a kindergarten teacher. Needless to say I am a SUCKER for the tension in this book which I think is written very, very well.

Seventeen years ago when their family were both stationed in Germany, Zander and Cole became a couple. However, Zander determined to never let anybody close, because they all leave in the end, so he broke things up with Cole. I LOVE the emotional conflicts that happened at present time between the two men. It is clear that the feeling is still there; still strong even if they haven’t seen each other for almost two decades.

I appreciate that Cole doesn’t immediately give in to his feeling once he acknowledged it and accepts that Zander wants to give their relationship a second chance. Cole was hurt all those years ago and he won’t let Zander get away easy. That is where the slow-burn comes from. It takes time for both of them to be together. Not to mention that when this story starts, Cole has a steady boyfriend.

In fact, that is probably the major reason for me not being able to rate this book higher. As much as I love complicated love stories, anything that involves third person is not easy for me to read. I hate seeing the other person getting hurt, especially if it’s not their fault.

In between Zander and Cole reconnecting there is of course Zander dealing with his daughter. I like kids in my romance, but Savanah isn’t an easy child in the beginning. It does give a perfect excuse for Zander and Cole to keep line of communication open but at times I admit that Savanah tries my patience as well *smile*.

There is another angst included near the end in relation to Cole’s ¬†mother. I’m not sure if it’s needed at all, to be honest. However, I’m not too annoyed by it.

The epilogue, by the way, is perfection *sigh*

RATING: 4.25 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:
 Accepting the Fall
Author: Meg Harding
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Length: 286 pages
Publisher: Oceanside Press
Purchase Link: Amazon US, Amazon UK
Release Date: June 8, 2017

ARC Review: Until September (Chris Scully)

I love Chris Scully’s stories … they never let me down before. Hers stories are¬†always plot and character driven, which makes it easy for me to feel invested even when the characters may not necessarily likable when you first meet them.

Take Archer Noble, for example, who starts as someone dead set against monogamy, marriage, or any kind of commitment. “The notion that marriage and, by extension, monogamy is the ideal is laughable. Monogamy doesn‚Äôt even work for straight people,” he states during a talk show. He is famous for being infamous.

Then we also have Ryan Eriksson; in a sense he might be the ‘better’ character than Archer. He dreams of white picket fences, husband and kids, and all its glory. Although it doesn’t mean that I easily connect with Ryan’s ideal. He’s only 25 years old — and in my family (and upbringing) that is still a bit too young to settle down, so let me be honest, I will scoff on him too in real life.

But then Archer’s younger sister Marguerite died in an accident, leaving Archer to take care of her two young kids (Dillon and Emma). Ryan, who is also Marguerite’s best friend as well as Dillon’s teacher, has been appointed as temporary guardian. So these two complete opposites are ‘forced’ to cohabit because Ryan wants to ensure that the transition to be as smooth as possible (plus he also loves the kids very much). At least until September (when the new school semester starts). This situation, starting from animosity that turns wary partnership and then later on a relationship, just mesmerized me from the beginning.

I also loved how present the kids are. I know that this might be a deal-breaker for some readers who dislike kids in their romance, but I thought they were significant to the progress of our heroes. Yes the romance was slow burn but that made this story felt real and down-to-earth.

Of course when it comes down to it maybe Archer ends up ‘succumbing’ to the heteronormative values that he is dead sets against in the first place — and maybe this doesn’t do well for those who are on his side. But for me, that’s not the point. The point is that what people want might change over time. I used to want to be a doctor. I used to avoid working at an high rise building (I had this idea in my head that people working there were corporate drones *sheepish smile*). I used to dislike the color purple (I know!)

In this case, Archer and Ryan were not exactly the same men that I met when I first started the book. In their time of taking care of the kids and living together, both men were learning from one another. Archer found that his love for Ryan and the kids made him want to settle down. While Ryan realized that being happy didn’t necessarily come from house with white-picket fences, marrying the ideal type of husband and having kids coming from his own DNA.

And that, my friend, was that made the book a winner in my eyes ūüôā

 

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:

27011392Title: Until September
Author: Chris Scully
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 75,300 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: February 8, 2016

ARC Review: Life, Some Assembly Required (Kaje Harper)

Life, Some Assembly Required offers Kaje Harper’s trademark — a well-grounded story about REAL people. It also has a setting in what I will call Kaje’s playground: family. I have admired (and respected) Kaje when she writes about family.

This story is a follow-up of 2012’s The Rebuilding Year. I admit that I didn’t remember much about that one, but it’s mostly my fault for having bad memory. I didn’t have any trouble in connecting with the characters right from the get go. Ryan and John were pretty much SOLID throughout. Never for once, I questioned their relationship. However, they have to deal with the ins and outs of being gay couple when it comes to their family and friends.

We have two teenagers (John’s kids) and their problems (including one who just in the brink of sexuality discovery). We have a father who doesn’t understand but trying to be open-minded, a brother who not exactly welcoming but also getting there, another brother who understands and is very supportive, a future sister-in-law with bigoted and old-fashioned parents, and a pregnant ex-wife who becomes the hardest obstacle yet.

I loved how John and Ryan worked out the issues, and I was proud that Ryan didn’t back down when it came to announcing that he was in a relationship with a man. Like I said, Ryan and John were solid, which helped my enjoyment level a LOT, considering the family drama. I loved John’s children — Torey most especially was a joy to read. I also loved the dynamic of Ryan’s father and brothers when it came to dealing with Ryan’s newly found happiness with a man.

Cynthia (the pregnant ex-wife) on the other hand, was a bit of a challenge. In my review for The Rebuilding Year , I wrote “the fact that John’s wife is a b*tch and her new husband is a jerk, seems to be making it easy to tip our favor to both MCs. No contest there. Here, Cynthia’s new husband was still an asshole and she was getting a divorce, all the while finding out that her baby was suffering from Down syndrome. All of this made Cynthia slightly more than just a two-dimensional villain. I commended Kaje for that.

Yes, there were times I thought that John was being too helpful and too kind — for the sake of his children — but nonetheless, I enjoyed reading that kind of complexity, when it wasn’t too easy to hate a character. I never really like it when our hatred towards a character being served in a silver-platter as a plot device. I guess even a villain should be not too easy too hate :). I still don’t like Cynthia — and I definitely wish that John would stand up to her more strongly, but I liked how Kaje added personal issues to her character.

Overall, it is a well written and down-to-earth family story, as I know Kaje will deliver. It flows nicely with fairly sexy times (and rather mushy stuffs) in between.

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:

25157943Title: Life, Some Assembly Required (The Rebuilding Year, #2)

Author: Kaje Harper
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 106,792
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: June 9, 2015