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

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ARC Review: Permanent Ink (Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn)

I am a fan of both Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn so I was really excited to read this collaboration from both of them. BOY this one was good! I LOVED it.

First thing first… maybe I was in the right mood for this book because I enjoyed the daddy kink! It was a kink that I usually avoid, but somehow in here it worked well. Probably because both men owned it! Or probably, like my friend said, “It’s your hormones talking” *laugh*. In fact I vehemently wished that there were more spanking, paddling, and gagging the boy involved… and I was rather bummed that it didn’t happen *pout*.

I know, SHOCKING, coming from me

What I loved the most about Permanent Ink was the complex characters. We have Poe, a 23-year-old brat who loves his graffiti art and probably gives his dad, Landon, a lot grey hairs with his attitude. Then we have Jericho, a 40-year-old tattoo artist and owner of a tattoo shop who also a good friend of Landon. When Poe is arrested once again for vandalism, Jericho offers a job via Landon to help Poe to pay his dad for the lawyer’s fee. It t is a way for Jericho to “pay it forward” because a long time ago, someone gave Jericho a second chance to get his life in line.

I loved that the slow burn — Poe IS the son of Jericho’s best friend, so it’s complicated — but boy the chemistry and tension sparkled between these two. It wasn’t just the romance though, there was personal development too, which for me was VERY important. Poe matured up as the story went along. He realized the importance of tattoo and different kind of art. He became respectful towards Jericho. In short, he GREW up. While Jericho learned a different way to appreciate art and life (“You remind me that life is like art. It isn’t static“); I guess being with Poe made Jericho wanted more of what he was content with.

Another thing that I loved was the description and appreciation of TATTOO ART. I don’t have tattoos but I could feel how this was important for both authors. It became an extra character, I think, in this book

The only thing that I wish to be more present is the relationship outside the tattoo shop. I want to see how Jericho and Landon connect outside of the art. Because I believe that is also important for a long-lasting relationship, right? Oh and also, what’s up with dangling the readers with paddle gift and NOT write in on page, authors?!

As a reader, for me, one of the signs of great writing collaboration is when the two authors can mesh their style seamlessly that I can forget that actually two minds are involved in creating the book. In that point, I thought Permanent Ink delivered. I didn’t know which author wrote which character and I didn’t really care. This book has deliciously sexy romance with two characters I genuinely care about. I cannot wait for the next book in this series — or for more collaboration between Gale and Vaughn!

 

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: Avon Gale, Piper Vaughn
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 67,800 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: August 7, 2017

ARC Review: Barrel Proof (Layla Reyne)

If I imagine Barrel Proof as a three-act drama, for me the story picked up starting from the second-act, when Aidan, Jamie, Mel, and the rest of the involved characters raise the stake when dealing with terrorist Pierre Renaud and his plan to create market chaos. I really liked the pace from that point on. It was quite thrilling and the actions were all worth it.

However, it turned out that I still carried grudges from the previous book, in which I was disappointed with Aidan. In the first act, Aidan finally discovers the secret that his lover slash partner Jamie and his boss slash sister-in-law has been keeping from him regarding the truth behind Aidan’s ex-husband’s death. I’m not going to end up ranting in this review so I’m going to make it short: I thought Aidan was acting immature, hypocritical, and GAH, such a drama king.

I really liked Jamie though — in fact, I thought he carried the case way more than Aidan. I loved Jamie for his ability, loyalty, and all around bravery. Personally, Jamie deserves more than that drama king Aidan. But well, I guess his heart speaks differently *shrugs*.

Overall, it is a nice series and I think can satisfy most MM readers.

 

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:
 Barrel Proof
Author: Layla Reyne
Series: Agents Irish and Whiskey, #3
Genre: MM Romantic Suspense
Word Count: 62,000 words
Publisher: Carina Press
Purchase Links: Amazon US, Barnes & Noble
Release Date: August 7, 2017

ARC Review: Finding Home (Meg Harding)

I wanted to see who I was when no one else was around. Turns out I’m the same as I am with him. He didn’t change me. He lets me be me.

I think Meg Harding steadily becomes a favorite author of mine because Finding Home is another satisfying read. There is a charming tenderness to this story with a slow burn(!) relationship development that perfectly fits my taste.

Recently lost his job and separated from his cheating husband of nine years, Jaden Matthews comes to Serenity, Florida, after his passing grandmother leaves Jaden a part-time ownership of a gym with his three half-brothers, whom he never knows existed. Jaden hopes for a change of pace in Serenity, a short vacation to maybe clear his head and to get back on track, while sorting out the business. He doesn’t expect his half-brothers wanting to get to know him better. And he surely doesn’t expect Chase Michaels…

I fell in love with Jaden right from the very beginning — his quietness, his uncertainty, and his awkwardness when facing with three half-brothers and people who don’t seem to understand personal bubble … I was very much drawn into that.

I loved how Ms. Harding makes that personality of Jaden NOT as weaknesses, but more of like his quirks, a real part of Jaden that makes Chase loves nonetheless. Jaden doesn’t completely get a makeover by the end of the book. He’s still Jaden but he is ready to be selfish, embraces chances for himself rather than trying to please others and not to rock the boat.

I loved Chase for befriending Jaden, for taking Jaden the way that he is, and of course by slowly letting Jaden out of his shell. Plus Chase teaches yoga and he has soft heart for rescued animals. How can I not love this guy as well?!

Jaden and Chase’s relationship is sweet and fulfilling, and I was having a wonderful time being in their company. I actually wish for more chapters so I can feel secure with their HEA. Or maybe Ms. Harding can somehow return to this town — maybe with a certain bisexual brother *wink*

RATING: 4 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:
 Finding Home
Author: Meg Harding
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Length: 232 pages
Publisher: Oceanside Press
Purchase Link: Amazon US, Amazon UK
Release Date: July 3, 2017

ARC Review: House of Cards (Garrett Leigh)

I admit that I have only read two books by Garrett Leigh and I tend to avoid her works because I am worry about the level of angst. Well, I am satisfied to say that in House of Cards , the fourth entry to the Porthkennack series, Garrett Leigh successfully balances the angst, the drama, and the hopefulness between the two main characters.

Yes, it started with Calum Hardy being down on his luck, losing his place of work and money, with practically no place to go and nothing owned thanks to his bastard cheating of a boyfriend. While Brix Lusmoore has secrets of his own, one that he has been carried along as personal baggage for the past four years.

However, it never gets to the point where I thought the angst was written ‘for the sake of angst alone, you know? It is somber, probably supported by the atmospheric location of Porthkennack, but at the same time it also feels earnest. This town simply becomes sanctuary where all these characters belong.

I loved the slow burn (and oh, how it SLOWLY burns with low level of steam as well! *heart feels content*) romance between Calum and Brix. Although they know each other from a decade ago, that they are friends, but it takes time for both to acknowledge their feelings and to act on it. I loved the contemplative conversations that Calum and Brix have as they slowly learn about one another that didn’t happen the years before.

I loved the connectedness between Calum, Brix, and the rest of the ‘strays’ that Brix collected as part of his tattoo shop crews. Each of them has their own story to tell, although Lee, who steadfastly becomes Calum’s best friend, is the only one with a solid background.

And gosh how I loved the good-for-cuddling hens and the cantankerous cats *laugh*

“There’s a home by the sea for any emmet who’s got the heart for it. My nan taught me that.”
“Did she? What do you think she’d say about my heart, eh?”
“That it was made for mine.”

All in all, for me, House of Cards is a wistful, quiet, and at its core — I think — a very romantic story.

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:

Title: House of Cards
Author: Garrett Leigh
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 66,000 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: July 17, 2017

ARC Review: Arrows Through Archer (Nash Summers)

One morning I woke, but the two halves of my heart did not.

 

I admit, Nash Summers’ writing is as beautiful as ever. And I’ve always been drawn to all those lonely people in my romance. Add with quiet setting, all the way in Canada that provides a chance for two souls who are connected by heartaches to connect without a lot of intrusions… this book just screams my name. Unfortunately, I’m not completely in love with it in the end.

I loved Archer … my heart went out to him. While I might not completely understand his state of mind, but I thought Summers was able to describe the raw emotion of grief. I wanted so badly for Archer to be able to pick himself up and be happy again. It might took Archer a while, even skirting into a destructive path after Mallory pushed him away the first time

However, I thought Archer was a survivor at the end of the book, with little help from few people that become important to him. I loved that Archer wanted to be the best person he could be, for Mallory, for his family, but first and foremost for himself.

I wasn’t completely happy with Mallory though. Sure, he was able to gently coax Archer out of his shell during the recovery period, and I liked him then … but darn, what he did afterwards made me quite angry. No matter his reasons considering Mallory was the adult one here (he seemed to bring up the age difference a lot), what he did to Archer was an a**hole move.

I was waiting for Mallory to do more grovelling. I wasn’t happy that Mallory only realized his mistake because ** SPOILERS ** Archer happened to visit Banff again for his work ** SPOILERS **. If Archer never came, would Mallory EVER try to fix everything? *hmph*.

Oh, and this is a matter of taste for sure, but I wasn’t a huge fan with the whole ordinary people finding goodness and feel of control with guns. I am just not a fan of guns in my romance, except if necessary for law enforcement officers … or gun kink)

In conclusion, Arrows Through Archer is a lovely read, even if not completely satisfying for me.

By the way, I was so thankful for Danny as a character, for his determination to keep Archer afloat and his acceptance for the relationship. In fact, Danny was probably one of my favorite secondary characters, ever!

Possible triggers/tags: grief, loss, age difference, family, mentions of suicide, recovery, hurt/comfort, homophobia

RATING: 4 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:
 Arrows Through Archer
Author: Nash Summers
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Length: 264 pages
Publisher: Self-Published
Purchase Link: Amazon US, Amazon UK
Release Date: June 12, 2017

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