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: Wheels Up (Annabeth Albert)

I never thought I would’ve used this one word to explain an Annabeth Albert’s book. But I found Wheels Up , the fourth book in her Out of Uniform to be BORING.

The basic is this … Dustin and Wes first meet online, they don’t really share a lot of personal information when they decide to have face-to-face encounter. But after that one night, Wes finds out after being transferred that Dustin is his new XO. Which means they cannot pursue further relationship since fraternization among officers and enlisted officers ends up with serious ramifications. Of course it’s easier said that done…

I think THAT is my problem. I know that the author is trying to portray this type of relationship as realistically as possible, unfortunately as a story, personally I think Wheels Up is nothing but rinse and repeat. The conflict is stretched pretty thin to fill in the pages. As in … Dustin and Wes try to stay away from one another but they can’t, then comes the guilt, then they try to stay away (again), but they can’t … and so on.

I also found it hard to connect with these two men because I didn’t feel like I knew or understood them in the end. Wes having a very sick sister but I didn’t feel like his emotional turmoil was explored enough — especially since his sister was sort of kept off page for the most part. Then there was Dustin … he has been hiding his bisexuality ALL of his life… considering that his younger BROTHER is gay, his best friend too, and his brother actually MARRIED to his best friend, I struggled to understand why Dustin never said anything. Yeah, sure, maybe not immediately to his parents… but to Dylan, or Apollo?

I figure the sex scenes are probably good for most readers. But I’m always one who enjoy sex MORE when I’m invested enough with the characters. Since I didn’t, well I ended up SKIPPING most of them (yes, I got bored).

I’m rounding this slightly to my “just okay” category because there were still moments that hit me the right way, like when Dustin consoles Wes when Wes receives news about his sister. And of course I like reading about Apollo and Dylan again, even if it’s just a short update.

I LOVED the last three Albert’s books that I read. I hit bump with this one but hopefully her next book will be better for me.

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: Wheels Up
Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: Out Of Uniform, #4
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Purchase Links: Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble
Release Date: November 6, 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

ARC Review: Kill Game (Cordelia Kingsbridge)

Kill Game is a book whose plot (serial killer!), characters (a homicide detective — who can do Krav Maga by the way — and a bail enforcement agent), chemistry (sizzles), action (fast-paced!), and romantic development (strong and steady; the sex near the end is pretty hot too) is RIGHT up my alley! It definitely is one of my favorite reads of the year…

This is only my second book of Cordelia Kingsbridge and I seriously wonder why I haven’t read more of hers. Maybe because I’m not really into reading free online fiction *lol*. Anyway, I requested this ARC because of the first two words of the blurb: homicide detective. Other readers have their love towards firemen, or hockey players, or military officers …

Me? Homicide detective is one of my weaknesses. I didn’t even read the whole blurb completely; I saw that and I was intrigued.

What a ride this one turned out for me!! I couldn’t put this down. Kill Game is a thrilling page-turner and everything I enjoy from mystery/romance…

First, a vigilante SERIAL KILLER. Yes, The Seven of Spades only kills people who commit crime and walk away from jail time. I enjoy reading about serial killer whose victims are not exactly innocent. The moral question on whether the victims “get what they deserve” makes the story EXCITING.

Then we have the relationship dynamic between Levi (the detective) and Dominic (thebail enforcement agent). Levi thinks that Dominic is NOT his type at all. Dominic is too big, too muscular… As for Dominic, Levi is a bit too prickly. But boy, they have delicious chemistry. They work REALLY well together too; even if Dominic is not part of the Las Vegas Police Department. I think it’s because they respect each other and they are good at what they do. I also loved them individually; I especially enjoyed the added layers that Kingsbridge gave this character… like Levi having a rich boyfriend, and Dominic as a recovering gambling addict.

The love story is slow burn for me. Until at least half of this book, Levi is in a relationship with someone else. No, Levi is not cheating on his boyfriend, they already have issues. I thought Kingsbridge offered a convincing problematic relationship when the two men involved had different ending goals.

The only thing that stops Kill Game from being a perfect read for me is, well, the ending. When I read it, I wasn’t aware that it was the first novel of a series arc that spans five books. Which means when I started, I had expectations. I wasn’t prepared with the possibility that the big question wasn’t completely answered at the end… so I was a bit bummed by it.

The final line of this book was excellent though … I know I’m going to have fun building up hypothesis about the real identity of Seven of Spades. I already have my guess at the moment, but with more books, I will have more data so to speak. Now I’m eagerly waiting for the second book and counting the days until it arrives.

RATING: 4.5 out of 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:

Title: Kill Game
Author: Cordelia Kingsbridge
Series: Seven of Spades, #1
Genre: MM Contemporary / Mystery Romance
Word Count: 78,500 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: October 23, 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

ARC Review: An Unsuitable Heir (K.J. Charles)

Mark Braglewicz’s inquiry to look for the missing heir of previously deceased Lord Moreton brings him to Pen and Greta Starling from the Flying Starling trapeze act. Mark is fascinated with Pen — the artist with muscular shoulder and long hair is different compared to other men or women that Mark is involved before. But Mark has a job to do, there is a killer on the loose and dead set on killing people from discovering the Earl of Moreton; even if he has to break Pen’s heart to do it.

Pen Starling doesn’t want to be an earl … he doesn’t want to live as fake and behave as a man just like society dictates it. That is not who Pen is. Being a trapeze artist and lives in the world of performance gives Pen the freedom to be who he is as he chooses to be. But Mark tells him that people are being murdered and he is trapped with decision he doesn’t want to take. Of course, falling for the inquiry agent also brings complication…

We finally get to the final book of K.J. Charles “Sins of the Cities” series. First thing that I need to address: I would like to raise my (imaginary) hat to K.J. Charles for bringing me a genderfluid character in Pen, and his pansexual lover in Mark. I LOVED how Charles wrote these characters; it never felt forced. I loved reading about Pen’s perspectives about his sexual fluidity.

I don’t see why there’s only two choices, as if unless I behave like a man then I must want to be a woman. I’d hate to put on a satin dress every night and have everyone call me she almost as much as you would. Except some nights, now and again, it would be lovely. If I chose.

And Mark adored the hell out of Pen, which was so sweet!!

Aside from the romance, I also enjoyed the answer to all the violence that started with An Unseen Attraction. It was a satisfying conclusion to the mystery — as well as providing the perfect solution to Pen’s status as Earl and his relationship with Mark. The pace of this book seemed to be smoother than the rest. The suspense was added when the killer seemed to follow Pen and Greta as they were hiding at Crowmarsh while the matter of their title is being investigated, and made attempt to kill Pen.

Combined with my liking both Pen and Mark both as individuals and as a couple, all in all An Unsuitable Heir is my favorite book of the trilogy

RATING: 4 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: An Unsuitable Heir
Author: K.J. Charles
Series: Sins of the Cities, #3
Genre: MM Historical Romance
Length: 246 pages
Publisher: Loveswept
Purchase at: Amazon US, Barnes & Noble US, iTunes, Kobo
Release Date: October 3, 2017

ARC Review: Suspicious Behavior (L.A. Witt & Cari Z)

Suspicious Behavior is the follow-up for Risky Behavior, which was released in May 2017. If the first book plays rather heavily on the procedural/mystery while at the same time developing the romance between Andreas and Darren, this book is more about the consequences of Andreas and Darren shaking up the department (and the city) while navigating their status as something more than professional partners.

Andreas and Darren are basically pariahs at their precinct now. No one wants to work with them because they are considered traitors. Cops don’t rat out other cops. Both men resort to take a case from other precinct; cases that might link to a serial killer that has never been caught.

Urgh, I wanted to smack down the other detectives who make it difficult for Andreas and Darren to do their job. Fuc*king a$$holes! I really don’t get the whole “blue bloods” loyalty thing. Those cops exposed are dirty, damn it! Or maybe I’m never really do well with authority who abuses their power :p.

As for Andreas and Darren, I loved that they were solid, despite the problems from work or Darren’s family (as in his brother’s declining health). I think this time the spotlight falls on Darren. He is dealing with the possibility of carrying the same early-onset Alzheimer’s gene as his brother. Darren worries about that, and he worries that he cannot do his job well.

Previously Andreas is the difficult one, the jackass who doesn’t play nice with his partners. In here though, Andreas accepts his relationship with Darren. He … mellows a bit, I think. Repeatedly Andreas says that he wants to help Darren deal with both physical stress and emotional stress. He also comes forward about his health and relationship status with his daughter.

I definitely enjoyed the change!

The mystery is not as heavy as the first book; we find out who the bad guy is about halfway. I don’t mind though, I enjoyed the change towards more personal plot. Plus reading about Andreas’ interaction with his youngest daughter was ADORABLE!

So another satisfying read for me — too bad I have to wait until next year to read book #3 (damn it!). I mean the BLURB!! It promises intense action!!

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:

Title: Permanent Ink
Author: L.A. Witt & Cari Z
Series: Bad Behavior #2
Genre: MM Contemporary / Mystery Romance
Word Count: 74,700 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: August 21, 2017