ARC Review: An Unexpected Shot (Caitlin Ricci & A.J. Marcus)

HUGE apology to the authors but I thought this one was a mess.

** SPOILER-Y THOUGHTS, PROCEED WITH CAUTION **

In one scene we have Rick and Darius negotiating their relationship on the first date because apparently Rick has kinks and rules about what relationship should entail, and then suddenly men breaking into Rick’s house, bullets flying, blood spraying … and then it has something to do with a serial killer case that happened decades ago?
Sorry, I got whiplash, it wasn’t a good feel, and I just didn’t enjoy this at ALL.

 

RATING: 2 out of 5
2

 

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The ARC is provided through IndiGo Marketing & Design for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

Title: An Unexpected Shot
Author: Caitlin Ricci and A.J. Marcus
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 14,100 words
Publisher: NineStar Press
Purchase Link: Amazon US, Barnes and Noble
Release Date: April 3rd, 2017

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: Danced Close (Annabeth Albert)

Kendall is a wedding planner and Todd works at a bakery where Kendall takes his business (PS: The bakery is owned by Vic, the MC of book #2). Todd is a recovering addict so he thinks Kendall is out of his league. While Kendall breaks up with his boyfriend who cannot take on Kendall’s femme-ness and wants him to tone it down; and Todd seems to be the similar type. But they can’t help to be attracted to one another.

When Kendall’s best friend must bows out from dancing class they are both signed up for, and Kendall discovers that Todd is very good at dancing, he asks Todd to be his partner… and maybe to have fun while they’re at it.

Danced Close is the 6th book from Annabeth Albert’s Portland Heat series … and it definitely of of my favorites *beams happily* I think I have a weakness for men dancing together, which is what happened here. I enjoyed their dancing lessons so much.

I LOVED how Kendall and Todd got into the relationship; it filled with just enough angst and tentativeness. Mostly because both Kendall and Todd formed a certain perception about the other. Kendall being a genderqueer who embraces his feminine side is not used to people like Todd willing to follow and give control to him. He thinks Todd is too perfect and maybe Todd only sees him as ‘flavor of the week’.

While Todd has a major case of insecurity, being a recovering addict and not exactly coming out of the dark side without a scar (this part is important, potential readers, probably best that you find out yourself). Todd tends to think that he’s not good enough both professionally (in his job) and personally (with Kendall). It doesn’t help that Kendall keeps saying that they’re just “friends”, like Kendall doesn’t want to have someone like Todd to be his boyfriend.

These young men definitely need to TALK and work things out, to clear out any misconception. Yes, of course there is a moment of “pushing the other one away” but it resolves WONDERFULLY. I smiled widely when it happened.

I definitely liked the part of Kendall’s genderqueer identity — this didn’t feel like “PSA for marginalization” which was one of my major unfavorable opinion of Knit Tight. I didn’t feel like I was being preached upon. Maybe because Todd was so sweet when he asked Kendall about things, so Kendall wasn’t being defensive when he explained.

Since Portland Heat seems to be the series where Annabeth Albert introduces various QUILTBAG identities, I hope that she will write asexual characters in the future. You know a wish from her asexual fan ^^

You’re what I didn’t know I was missing. What I need. Like dancing back in my life and pesto and salad and you

 

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:


9781601836953Title:
 Danced Close
Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: Portland Heat, #6
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Purchase Links: Amazon US, Barnes & Noble, iTunes
Release Date: March 14, 2017

ARC Review: Leaning Into Love (Lane Hayes)

Leaning into Love is first released as part of It Was Always You Anthology; I never read that one, but I love friends-to-lovers theme and I generally enjoy Lane Hayes’ works … so I decided to request for the ARC.

Eric and Zane have been best friends for over a decade; even if in high school they were not really running in the same circles. On the wake of announcement of engagement of Eric’s ex-boyfriend, Eric is asked by Zane to go to the party together, and he starts to see Zane in a new light.

It is a sweet friends-to-lovers story for sure. The chemistry between Eric and Zane is palpable. I have no problem at all imagining that these two men are falling for one another.

However, I’m a bit miffed that some of scenes here were summarized … it became “telling than showing” kind of thing. Plus apparently there is a slight time jump because the start of Chapter 6 is this line “The year melted away in the usual flurry of holiday parties and family gatherings“. Urgh, I dislike that!! I want to be a witness of Eric and Zane’s dates and activities. NOT just the sex, mind you *pout*

Oh, and one other complaint would be how Eric reacted to his ex’s news … I thought it was really stupid.

The bonus chapter is cute though ^^

 

RATING: 3.5 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:

 

34093621Title: Leaning Into Love (2nd edition)
Author: Lane Hayes
Series: Leaning Into, #1
Genre: MM Contemporary Novella
Length: 24.000 words
Purchase Link:
Release Date:February 10th, 2017

ARC Review: Analog to Digital (Posy Roberts)

Ethan secretly wishes that he could marry Toby, his partner of few years. But from the beginning, Toby said that he would never marry even if he loved someone very much. When Toby buys a plane ticket for the two of them to go to Minnesota to attend Ethan’s sister’s renewal vow ceremony, Ethan is faced with an internal conflict of wanting to have that for himself and worrying that if he pushes too far, his relationship with Toby will end.

At the same time, Toby seems to be absent most of the time, going with Ethan’s family instead of spending their ‘vacation time’ with him … and this forces Ethan to evaluate that he might sometimes takes Toby’s presence for granted.

I always love stories about established couple because as much as the initial progress of becoming lovers or a couple is wonderful, I often wonder about the “happily ever after” part. I don’t believe that a relationship with one person will stay smooth for the rest of your life, right?

Posy Roberts’ Analog to Digital offers a glimpse of that – a phase when you realize that even after a couple of years that maybe, just maybe, you don’t really know your partner as much as you think. I loved how Ethan realized that maybe he should appreciate Toby more – sometimes Ethan was too busy with his job! There was moments of angst too when Ethan wondered if he can ever put a ring on Toby’s finger.

Don’t worry, this story ends in a spectacular sweet way that made me a little choked-up and teary eyed. Even if it was probably a bit too cheesy for some readers 🙂

RATING: 4 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:

 

analogTitle: Analog to Digital
Author: Posy Roberts
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 13,655 words
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: December 1, 2016

ARC Review: Hanukkah Gifts (Jacob Cheyenne)

With all due respect to the author, this just didn’t work for me. AT ALL.

First of all, I didn’t enjoy the whole ‘discussion’ (if we can call it that) regarding “bad Jew vs. good Orthodox Jew that happened between Jared and Shai. The thing is I have never been comfortable when a romance story talks too much about religion. It’s not my cup of tea since I know there will always be a difference in looking at things.

So here, it became too much. Jared will always see part of the Orthodox traditions of being ridiculous, like the whole marriage arrangement part and of course the lack of acceptance of homosexuality. It was that part that didn’t work because it became judgmental, of the right vs. wrong thing to do.

** SPOILER-ISH **

And the other thing … well, let’s just say that the quick timeline of Jared falling in love with Shai felt ridiculous. I can’t suspend my disbelief. So Day 5 after meeting Shai for the first time Jared is falling in love with him. Day 7 Shai is kicked out by his family. Then Day 8 they are going to Key West? Because what, Shai’s getting kicked out is not a big deal? That celebrating to Key West is more important and a sure sign for a forever happily ever after?

Uhm, sorry, but NO. Sure maybe fall in love in first sight does happen in real life. However, this reader prefer enough time for the relationship to bloom and progress.

RATING: 2 out of 5
2

 

11613309

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:
 Hanukkah Gifts
Author: Jacob Cheyenne
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 28,148 words
Publisher: JMS-Books
Purchase Link: Amazon US, All Romance Ebooks
Release Date: December 24, 2016

ARC Review: The Next Competitor (Keira Andrews)

This book is re-released in the midst of the popularity of the anime Yuri On Ice which has pretty much taken the online social media by storm — by the way, if you don’t know that anime, you probably haven’t read Heidi Cullinan’s passionate blog post about it (*haha*). I can already see fans of the show who also love M/M romance might take an interest on the story of Alex Grady, a twenty-year-old American figure skater on his way to his first Olympic.

I admit that it wasn’t easy for me to immediately warm up towards Alex. Alex is abrasive, sometimes dismissive and he doesn’t seem to have a filter from brain to mouth, which ends up with him hurting other people with his words more than once. But I could chalk it up at him being young and also feeling the pressure to win — after all of his family has done to support him.

Unfortunately, it also made me frustrated with Alex’s determination to win the Olympics without actually showing that he loves the skating itself. I don’t fit to athlete’s “I’m in it to win it” philosophy; which also means that I definitely suck in competitive environment. I guess I really want to see Alex loving the sport because he can’t see himself doing anything else, rather than because of a gold medal (and possibly an Olympic tattoo).

On the other hand, I think that IS what the story is all about. It’s about Alex’s journey to find that there are things other than a place at the podium. Oh, winning is important but it is not everything, you know? Alex learns about friendship, about love (with Matt), and finally able to skate because he loves being on ice. THAT is what I loved the most about this story.

As for the romance — eh, it was okay, I guess. Since Alex is the narrator, I didn’t get to know a lot about Matt’s personal thoughts except in conversations with Alex. I liked Matt just fine though. I thought he would be a good partner for Alex, to remind Alex whenever he is in over his head.

I didn’t enjoy the sex scenes though, which was the HUGE reason for my not being able to put this on my 4-stars category. This is definitely due to personal taste. I have come to realize that I find Keira Andrew’s sex scenes to be personally off-putting. In this case, it felt dirty and I didn’t like to read dirty/advanced sex scenes with young adult/new adult characters *shrugs*.

All in all, this is a good sports-romance with figure skaters. There are quite a number of technical terms used during Alex’s training and performance, but you can take it in stride. Or you can try to watch Yuri On Ice for better visual image of what Alex is doing *lol*

 

RATING: 3.5 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:


33009275Title: 
The Next Competitor (2nd edition)
Author: Keira Andrews
Genre: MM Contemporary/Sports Romance
Length: 222 pages
Purchase Link: Amazon US, Amazon Global
Release Date: December 4th, 2016