ARC Review: Junkyard Heart (Garrett Leigh)

Simply another case where the story not exactly what I imagine it would be when I started. I knew Leigh’s brand of angst, so I was bit threw off because I thought Jas and Kim initial meeting was pretty cute. Then the whole story, despite Kim’s addiction problem, didn’t feel that ‘moody’ for me. Guess I couldn’t figure out where the story would go, I kept expecting something worse waiting at the end of the line and it didn’t.

I am being very vague, I know. But that was what I felt — detached. It was Garrett Leigh’s writing that kept me going.

I DID feel uncomfortable with Lena’s situation though. ** SPOILERS ** I know that Kim doesn’t cheat on Lena with Jas considering Lena she has been away, and when Kim is with Lena he has open relationship … but since Jas has his heart broken when he falls hard with a man who turns out to be married, this thing didn’t make me happy. And that scene when Lena is watching the two men having sex? WEIRD. I guess that part is just not my cup of tea.

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: Junkyard Heart
Author: Garrett Leigh
Series: Porthkennack Universe, #7
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 50,000 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: December 4, 2017

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ARC Review: A Special Delivery (Laura Bailo)

Colin receives a package that is meant for James. He decides to deliver the package himself since James’ house is only few streets over and he needs to walk his dog, Anubis, anyway. But then comes the storm and Colin ends up spending a night at James’ house while waiting for the situation to be safer for him to walk back home…

This story is basically telling about this first meeting (and an epilogue). And I thought Bailo was able to show the easy connection between Colin and James. I also loved the dog 🙂

At around 8k, A Special Delivery is a sweet holiday story.

RATING: 3.5 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:
A Special Delivery
Author: Laura Bailo
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance / Short
Word Count: ~8.100 words
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: November 20, 2017

ARC Review: All Of The Above (Quinn Anderson)

Brendon stumbles into a relationship quiz on a magazine given by his friend. He thinks the quiz’s answers are so perfect for him and Brendon becomes a little obsessed. Well, actually Brendon believes that the quiz maker is his soulmate. After doing a little “(online) research” and finds his name to be Matt; Brendon starts his quest for true love.

All of the Above is pretty predictable when we have an MC who does a little stalkerish action to set-up a fake meet-cute with a love interest who says that he hates being lied to. BUT, this also has a rom-com formula that feels familiar and it makes me smile on several occasions. I mean Brendon is a bit neurotic about it, and it was FUN to read. I thought Matt was being judge-y, though maybe he has a valid reason for it.

It was an entertaining read — if you can close your eyes of both the MCs’ flaws and don’t let it bother you much 🙂

 

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:
All Of The Above
Author: Quinn Anderson
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: ~41.100 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: November 20, 2017

ARC Review: Off the Ice (Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn)

I am going to say that it’s TWO for TWO for me, when it comes to Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn’s writing partnership, after Permanent Ink. Because I loved this one as well!

Off the Ice is the first book of the new trilogy, Hat Trick, featuring Tristan Holt, a defenseman for Atlanta Venom, and Sebastian Cruz, sociology professor at Georgia State. It has a number of tropes that may attract readers of this genre. Let’s see … student/teacher, age-gap, d/s kink … and well, hockey players!

The two men meet when Tristan enrolls for summer course during his season break and takes Sociology 3201 where Sebastian is the professor. Initially Sebastian — despite his PhD in sociology and his lecture about perceptions, mind you — ends up falling into stereotype trap as he thinks that Tristan is just a jock, who plagiarizes his fellow student’s paper. Boy, I LOVED that scene where Tristan reminds Sebastian about it, takes him down a peg *laugh*. They don’t start dating after the final grade is given though, to avoid breaking the rule.

The main conflict of the book is nothing new, especially if it involves non-straight athletes. Tristan being in the closet, afraid of the repercussion of being an out player, versus Sebastian’s out status and unwillingness to be a secret lover. Having said that, I didn’t think it was angst-heavy. We still have a lot of them being in the state of sexual bliss, outside of Tristan coaxing Sebastian to start paying attention of hockey. Addressing the issue is being kept until later in the book to act as the bridge to deliver the happy ending.

All in all, it’s a great start to introduce readers to the series. I already look forward to reading the upcoming books. I hope the next one is about Ryu, the Venom goalie.

 

RATING: 4 out of 5
4stars

 

The ARC is provided by the authors via A Novel Take PR for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

Title: Off the Ice
Author: Avon Gale, Piper Vaughn
Series: Hat Trick, #1
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 70,900 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: October 30, 2017

Release Day Blitz, Review, & Giveaway: In Over Our Heads (CJane Elliott)

Title:  In Over Our Heads

Series: Stories from the Shore

Author: CJane Elliott

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Release Date: October 16, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 67,000

Genre: Romance, Second Chances, Vacation

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Synopsis

Anthony Vallen is the life of any party. Full of energy and fun, Anthony adores romance and enjoys playing matchmaker for his friends while dancing the night away with a series of Mr. Right Nows. But he’s given up on his own happy ending. A bad breakup years ago made him a secret cynic about love… until he runs into Walter Elkins—the boy who broke his teenaged heart—on a scuba-diving vacation in Key West. Suddenly, Anthony’s reasons for shunning romance no longer hold much water. Being with Walter again forces Anthony to get serious—about himself, his worth, and his heart’s desires.

Brilliant and self-contained, scientist Walter Elkins prefers deep thoughts to other people. He’s a good boss and a model citizen, but Walter doesn’t let anyone get close. After a tragedy drove him out of his science career, Walter landed in Key West and became owner of a dive shop and a bar. Things are fine until Anthony Vallen—the only person who ever penetrated his defenses—shows up, and Walter’s calm, controlled life capsizes. He and Anthony have a second chance for love, but Walter must confront the old fears that threaten to torpedo their happiness.

Excerpt

The door burst open, and Sophia sailed in with my morning cappuccino. She was humming under her breath and had that telltale postsex glow about her. I tried not to hate her too much.

“What’re you doing in here with me, doll? Don’t you have a sexy dive instructor to entertain?”

“She had to leave early.” Sophia handed me the mug. “She’s taking her group out on the ocean dive too, and she had to go to Back Bay to get the boat ready.”

I took a restorative sip of cappuccino. “Ahh. Well, I hope you didn’t tire her out too much last night. Or vice versa.” I winked at her, even though I didn’t feel very winky.

“Guilty on both our parts, I’m afraid.” Sophia smirked, then perched on the side of my bed. “Can we talk more about what’s going on with you and Walter?”

“Going on?” I blinked and buried my nose in the cup. “I mean, I told you guys last night. What more do you need to know?”

“Whatever it’ll take to help you and him figure yourselves out, because second chances like this don’t come around often.”

“God, not you too. You and Jonny need to start a group for incurable romantics.”

She straightened, her dark eyes snapping with intensity. “Caro! You’re the one who talks about destiny. This is your destiny!”

I sighed. She was so over the top sometimes. Must be her Italian blood. “Maybe my destiny is to be reminded to never let a guy walk over me the way Walter did.”

“I…. Look, Marco has a good point, and I agree with him that Walter needs to apologize. It was awful of him to drop out of sight. You so don’t deserve to be treated that way.”

“Right.” I put down my cup, having lost my taste for the cappuccino.

“But you two were barely out of high school. So young! People change. It certainly doesn’t seem in character with how he is now.”

“Doesn’t it?”

“Well, I mean, Walter seems so conscientious and thoughtful. Yes, a little gruff, but not someone who would knowingly hurt you. But maybe… safety seems to be a huge concern to him. And maybe he couldn’t stand that you almost drowned, and he couldn’t face you after that? Did he ever explain it to you?”

“No. I begged him to tell me why, and all he would say is ‘I’m not good for you. I don’t want to hurt you anymore.’ I guess the safety thing is the most plausible explanation. Because other than that, it’s bizarre that he would walk away and throw away a great thing. We were….” I paused, hit by an unexpected wave of grief. “Damn it, Soph, we were really good together. Yes, we were young, but we complemented each other so well. Like, I brought him out of his shell, and he calmed me down. And he took me seriously. He listened to me in a way no one but Jonny ever had before.” My eyes betrayed me by welling up.

“Oh, Anthony. That’s lovely. I can tell he still does. Take you seriously, I mean. He hasn’t been able to stop staring at you the whole time we’ve been around him. It’s obvious he still cares.”

Sophia’s words threw little daggers at my silly heart. Jonathan had said essentially the same thing. If they both thought Walter still cared for me, maybe it was true. And God, if it was true, I was in deep waters. I knew I should stiffen my backbone and armor myself with outrage. But I couldn’t. Still hung up on Walter Elkins? Guilty as charged. Convicted. Lock me up and throw away the key, because I had no hope of rehabilitation. I put my face in my hands for a moment. What a hopeless sentimental fool!

Luckily for my humiliation factor, Marco came barging in with a brilliant grin. “All right, darlings! Today’s the day! Scuba diving or bust! Get ready for the adventure of your lives.” He stopped short and peered at me. “You okay?”

Pulling myself together, I returned his smile. “Fabulous, doll! Off to the reefs we go to swim with the fishies!”

In Over Our Heads is marked as the second story from Stories from the Shore series but can be read as stand-alone. I love second-chance romance trope, it’s probably my favorite trope, which is one of the reason why I put a request for ARC in this one.

Unfortunately it doesn’t work for me.

First of all, I have ENOUGH of characters who turn 30 years old and call themselves “old fart” or “too old”. I know that people have obsession about youth. But look, based on RWA Romance Reader Statistic, the U.S. romance book buyer is most likely to be aged between 30 and 54 years (with average age of 42 years old based on Nielsen). Can romance authors be more, I don’t know, relevant to the majority of readers by NOT making these 30 year old character look like they already have middle-age crisis?!? PUH-LEASE! Sorry, but it’s aggravating for me.

Second of all, I’m sorry, but the reason of Walter’s avoiding Anthony is a bit lame. Yeah, yeah, so he has tragedy when he’s 10 years old. But the whole “I’m doing this to protect you” stance is bullsh*t. He’s a scientist, shouldn’t he based everything on facts and data rather than being rather superstitious about it?

And for second-chance romance, I think the first 50% of the book is mainly about Anthony trying not to care about Walter and has a little flirty-flirty with 22-year-old Miles.

Maybe I’m not in my best mood reading this one, but I can’t really find anything I like about it. Oh maybe Miles… I like him okay. He’s young and fun. I’m more interested in him compared to Anthony and Walter. Plus he dares to call Walter an idiot, so high five to Miles.

RATING: 2.5 stars

Purchase

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Celebrate the release of In Over Our Heads with a special sale: All the Way to Shore is on sale for 99 cents at Amazon through October 24 with that price matched at the Dreamspinner Press store October 16-24.

Meet the Author

After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.

CJane is an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories. In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her husband and son support her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.

CJane is the author of the award-winning Serpentine Series, New Adult contemporary novels set at the University of Virginia. Serpentine Walls was a 2014 Rainbow Awards finalist, Aidan’s Journey was a 2015 EPIC Awards finalist, and Sex, Love, and Videogames won first place in the New Adult category in the 2016 Swirl Awards and first place in Contemporary Fiction in the 2017 EPIC eBook Awards.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | eMail | Dreamspinner | Amazon

 

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ARC Review: His Convenient Husband (Robin Covington)

Let’s get to the things I like first.

Robin Covington is a new-to-me author, and I assume this is her first foray into the M/M romance genre? On that matter, I like her writing just fine. I noticed a couple of missing words and weird sentences, but I figured since this was an advanced copy everything will be edited better on release date.

The characters are likeable enough — especially Victor, Evan (Isaiah’s son), and a couple of secondary characters. I have (not-so-good) things to say about Isaiah, and I’ll get to him later. Victor was such lovely man — my heart went out for him whenever Isaiah said the things that hurt Victor; because clearly Victor cared for both Isaiah and Evan. I also thought that Evan would be a wonderful man when he grows up.

And despite the premise of Victor denied asylum and a touch of current real issues with how Russia deals with homosexuality, the overall tone of this book is angst-lite. In fact I thought the ‘conflict’ that drove Isaiah and Victor apart could need more substance since whetever reasons that Isaiah had felt weak in my opinion.

Which I guess now I had to talk about Isaiah…

I definitely did NOT like the way he was treating Victor… his reason about not wanting to put Evan in the spotlight and everything that happened was Victor’s fault was pretty lame. Dude, you PROPOSED to him, and you’re the adult here, so maybe you SHOULD consider Victor’s reputation and attitude first before using your son as your defense speech.

Also, with Evan’s tendency to embrace his feminine side, wearing make-up and dress, being flamboyant and unapologetic, for Isaiah to NEVER for once think that his son would get bullied or taunted in school is either naive or stupid. No wonder Isaiah keeps saying that all goodness that comes with Evan is all his late husband’s doing *hmph.

That grand gesture in the end is nice, and I’m all for grand gesture, but in my opinion, Isaiah needs more groveling!

I also need to note ONE thing. I requested this ARC because initially, in the blurb, Victor was described as brash, loud, and gender fluid. I know that it can attract readers looking for gender-fluid representation, including myself. I read this expecting a gender-fluid ballet dancer. Unfortunately, just because Victor likes to wear make-up does not immediately make him one. It was a misleading description and I was rather disappointed at that. However, I also found the “gender fluid” description has been removed from the blurb (I checked Amazon while I was writing this review). So, I thought it was a good decision.

In overall, while I may have problems but it’s not so bad that it ruins my reading experience. And I am adding extra star-rating for Victor and Evan, of course.

PS: Self-musing, I wonder if it’s a “rule” for MF authors trying to dip their pens in M/M romance to include solo-shower-jerk-off. Because really, I’ve been reading this genre for almost a decade. I’m SO over that scene! *eye rolls*

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: His Convenient Husband
Author: Robin Covington
Series: Love and Sports, #1
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Length: 202 pages
Publisher: Entangled: Indulgence
Purchase at: Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo
Release Date: October 9, 2017

ARC Review: Tender with a Twist (Annabeth Albert)

Logan Rosner has been holding back a part of him that he knows is true, that he is a Dom despite his baby-face look and posture. But his only experience of coming to a leather scene in Portland ends up with disaster so he knows better to give it another try, especially in small town like Rainbow Cove. But he dreams to have Alpha men as his sub — men like Curtis Hunt, the reclusive chainsaw wood carver of Rainbow Cove.

Curtis Hunt lost the love of his life a couple of years before. Since then, he slightly withdrew from the world, except for his best friend and mother-in-law. He no longer stays in the house he lived before with his partner, he no longer ride his bike; Curtis wants everything to stay exactly the same. Except that Logan is making his heart beats a little faster, and when he sees what Logan is capable to do, he knows that Logan can be someone to satisfy his needs for pain and submission. Even if Logan doesn’t look like his type.

Tender with a Twist (such clever title, by the way) is definitely one of my most favorites from Annabeth Albert. I loved the theme(s) that this book has: from not judging a person by their look, reaching for your dream, finding the courage to show the world outside the person you know you are inside, as well as holding to new love after losing one…

I loved the progress of Logan and Curtis’ relationship. What starts as “lessons in D/s practice” — Logan’s clever idea, to make Curtis agrees to the sexual arrangement between them — turns into something more as they learn about each other’s dreams and fears. And as a reader who usually prefer less to no sex, I devoured each and every sex scenes in this book. They don’t feel gratuitous to me. They feel like progress.

Everything else also feel justified — including the fears that Curtis has regarding this newfound love he feels about Logan, especially when faced with other people’s judgments.

With Tender with a Twist, Annabeth Albert has proven once again why she is one of my must-read authors.

 

RATING: 4.25 out of 5
4stars

 

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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:
 Tender with a Twist
Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: Rainbow Cove, #2
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Length: 264 pages
Publisher: Self-Published
Purchase Links: Amazon US, Amazon Global
Release Date: October 2, 2017