ARC Review: An Unexpected Truth (S A Meade)

It has been four years since I last read a story by S A Meade. I remember loving her writing which is why I jumped on a chance to request the advanced reader’s copy for this one.

An Unexpected Truth is definitely not at all like what it all seems in the beginning. At first, I thought it would be a gentle loving story about a racehorse trainer and the owner. I loved Brendan; his crush over Adam is cute. I loved the early progress of their relationship. It was sweet and slow-burning; these men definitely not at all ruled by their libido.

However, when Adam’s past secrets coming back to haunt them, this is when I started to feel a little bit miffed. While the twist that came with the secret was pretty smart — I definitely did not see that coming! — but I also felt it to be a little over the top. I guess I isn’t a huge fan of that particular kind of cloak and dagger drama; it sort of disturbed the flow of the story for me.

In addition, I wonder if Brendan forgive Adam’s disappearing act a little bit too quickly, no matter Adam’s reasons. Personally, I thought the last 1/4th part of the book felt rushed for me.

All in all, there are things I really liked and there are things I didn’t. I also enjoyed the aspect of the horse breeding and training in this book. Oh, and the supporting characters were marvelous. Note if you have read Meade’s debut novel, Stolen Summer, well, the couple made a cameo appearance in here as well!

One thing for sure though, S A Meade’s writing is still as beautiful as I remember *sigh*

 

RATING: 3.5 out of 5
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The ARC is provided by the publisher for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

Title: An Unexpected Truth
Author: S A Meade
Genre: MM Contemporary / MM Thriller and Suspense
Length: 58,591 words
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Release Date: July 11th, 2017

ARC Review: The Other Five Percent (Quinn Anderson)

Okay, let me get the positive things about The Other Five Percent first. I LOVE Quinn Anderson’s writing. I really do. That is probably why, even if I haven’t been completely satisfied with her previous books (and this one) I still want to read the future releases. Her writing just clicks with me and I love her humor. Logan’s narrations — especially in the first two chapters — makes me chuckling in delight.

He looked down and wiggled his toes, watching the calfskin bulge. They’d cost almost as much as his suit, but his boss was always telling him, “The shoes make the man.”

I guess that makes me a baby cow.

I also like Logan’s co-worker and his two sisters. They are fun to read

Logan started to protest, but she’d already ducked into her cubicle. To his chagrin, she shouted over the wall, “No buts, mister! If I see you back in this office before one thirty, I’ll …” There was a pause. “Um.”

A male voice sounded from the other cubicle. “Steal all of his pens?”

“Thank you, Anderson,” Jennifer called back.

Unfortunately, I really am not sure about Logan. So Logan runs into his *best friend* Ellis after four years, whom Logan is very close with in college, the one Logas has “sexual experimentation with a man” with, and the one behind Logan’s joke of “I’m ninety-five percent straight” (because the other five percent is basically Ellis) … and Logan claims he cannot REMEMBER how he ends their friendship?

Come on!!! Not with the level of closeness that they shared in college. No way!! not when Logan claims that he “worshipped” Ellis back in college and even his sisters said that Ellis was all that Logan talked about back then.

I also don’t understand Logan’s denial about his sexuality — he is never bullied for liking boys, his sisters are cool, and Logan himself think that his parents can accept it if he’s not straight, so where does his root of denial comes from? I think the whole straight and bisexuality theme here isn’t being fully explored. Logan’s acceptance of his bisexuality is too abrupt. Being an asexual myself, I understand that sexuality can be a spectrum, but since Logan keeps denying that there is possibility that he likes men (or in this case, only Ellis), everything after the revelation is way too fast.

The epilogue is cute … but I want a bridge to get to that point, to make a believer out of me. Sadly I don’t get it…

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:
Title:
The Other Five Percent
Author: Quinn Anderson
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: ~40.000 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: July 10th, 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

 

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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: Back to You (Chris Scully)

A journalist who comes home to his sleepy hometown after two decades. A second-chance romance with the first boy he ever kissed. And an answer to the mystery of a missing teenage girl that might either make or break the possible future between the two of them

This book is (nearly) perfect for me in every way. It is MY kind of read.

From the moment it opens with Alex driving his car towards his hometown of Alton Pop. 3,200 I was bewitched with Chris Scully’s atmospheric prose. Alex returns home to visit his estranged dying father, after a call from his older sister. But Alex knows, he also going back to Benji Morning, his former best friend. Once Ben was part of Alex’s childhood life, they did everything together. And Ben was also Alex’s first kiss with a boy. Unfortunately, after Alex’s mother packed up their bags and left their father, Alex ceased to continue communication with Ben…

In hindsight, I suppose I could have Googled him, or found him on Facebook like any other long-lost friend, but I was already in motion, driving the extra hour east purely by instinct, as if Benji were my true north and I the needle on a compass.

However as he arrives in Alton, Alex is involved with a mystery involving Ben’s older sister. Twenty years ago, Misty Morning, disappeared without a trace; her case was considered a runaway. But a little over a week before Alex’s arrival, Misty’s car was found near a lake, and Ben’s mother insisted for the police to re-open the case.

The memory of Misty’s white Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme seeped into my brain, coalescing like a slow-developing Polaroid. Calling it a shit-bucket would have been generous.

Back to You is written solely from Alex’s perspective. While Ben’s POV is missing but I wasn’t completely bothered by it. For me, this is basically Alex’s journey. He is the one returning home. He is the one that needs to make peace with his father and his decision to ‘cut-off’ any communication with Ben. In a way that matters Ben’s is the solid one — like Alex said, his true north.

I was as engaged with the answer to the mystery as much as I did with the romance. Scully cleverly throws some red herrings before she reveals what really happened to Misty all those years ago. She skillfully navigates the dysfunctional family dynamic in both Alex and Ben’s family the serves a role to the mystery that both heartbreaking and thought-provoking.

At the same time Scully steadily develops the relationship between Alex and Ben, which is appropriate considering when they left things, the two men were only in a brink of their teenage years. Alex and Ben need to work through the years that they have been separated, to untangle what they are meant to each other then and now.

To me, this is a compelling story. It fulfills my (reading) heart’s desire for a strong plot and characterizations — and not simply leaning on sexual content. I did wish the epilogue to be more of a firm happily ever after decorated with sunshine and rainbows.

I have been a fan of Chris Scully since the very beginning — this is definitely her best yet and my favorite so far.

RATING: 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:

Title: Back to You
Author: Chris Scully
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance / Mystery
Word Count: 70,500 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: June 12, 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

 

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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: 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: On Point (Annabeth Albert)

Maddox and Ben have been best friends ever since they were still in SEAL training. While they always have each other’s back, personality wise especially when dealing with love and relationship cannot be more different.

Maddox is a great sniper, but his passion is not the military. He loves baking, he wants to open a bakery, he strives in church activities. Basically, Maddox wants a life outside of the military, and he longs for a committed relationship, preferably with Ben, whom Maddox has been nurturing crush over for years.

Ben, on the other hand, avoid love and long-term relationship. It probably stems from the fact that Ben thinks people change their mind and leave — like his mother, like his ex-husband. So Ben embraces one night stands, sex with a lot of people, wild nights … anything but commitment. His only commitment is the military; and Ben thinks Maddox will always be with him in this case.

Until one mission gone awry, they almost die, and Maddox starts thinking of leaving…

—-

I have been wanting to read about best-friends Maddox and Ben so much, especially after getting a glimpse of Maddox’s feeling towards Ben in the previous book, At Attention. What can I say … friends-to-lovers, people! I don’t think I will EVER get tired of this particular trope. It has been one of my favorites since I read romance two decades ago.

It just evoked ALL THE FEELINGS inside me!

I loved all the tension that happened between the two men, how they approached the change from friends to lovers, how Ben trying to keep Maddox from leaving, how Maddox contemplating between wanting to live but at the same time not hurt Ben in process, I loved reading both Maddox and Ben’s perspectives.

I cannot really say much because that will spoil the whole story. Let’s just say that there was progress happening, characters growth, that wasn’t just because of or due to sexy times. THAT I always appreciate so much in romance. I guess it also helped that while Ben leaned a lot to physical sex, Maddox didn’t :). Plus that epilogue was GOLD.

The only reason why I couldn’t rate it a bit higher was because the beginning was a little muddled with flashbacks and military action. But in overall, On Point is probably definitely my favorite of the series so far.

RATING: 4.25 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:
 On Point
Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: Out Of Uniform, #3
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 73,000 words
Publisher: Carina Press
Purchase Links: Amazon US, Barnes & Noble, iTunes
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

 

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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