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: Blood Gamble (Melissa F. Olson)

When Dashiell, the vampire cardinal of Los Angeles hears about vampires having blatant show-off stage show in Las Vegas, he “convinces” Scarlett Bernard to do a little spying. Then Scarlett learns that vampires seem to be missing after attending the show and there might be hunters in Las Vegas killing them…

Honestly, I wasn’t a lot happy with Scarlett in this book — which is a bit disappointing because the previous one, Midnight Curse, rocked my socks off. I felt that she was acting slightly brashier; although maybe it was because Scarlett was manipulated to go a city she hated.

The case itself was okay but it wasn’t gripping as the previous book (that involved Molly!). Since this was set in Las Vegas, it didn’t exactly involved any of the L.A. characters that I care about. Sure, I liked Wyatt, a Las Vegas vampire who asked Scarlett’s help, but the rest of the secondary characters didn’t stand out for me. OH, but Scarlett met Sashi here, the healing witch who is also Lex Luther’s friend from Boundary Magic series. I like it when characters are doing cross-over.

What let me down the most was the sudden development with Jameson, a null she once met in New York (I think it was back in Trail of Dead, second book of the first trilogy). While I don’t particularly read this series for the romance but I can’t help guessing Scarlett’s possible love interest. For a while I think it will be Jesse since he has been there since the beginning, plus he has his own POV in this series. But I’m fine if Scarlett ends up with someone else.

But Jameson?! He is a blip on my radar, so the romance comes out of nowhere! It also a bit distracting from the main case of missing (and possible murdered) vampires. On top of that, I could see how this was used by Olson to introduce a HUGE plot in the end that would influence the rest of the series greatly (or at least the next Scarlett book) and I am still a bit ambivalent about it. On one hand, if is NOT the type of drama I like, feels like a ‘cheap shot’. On the other hand, I can’t help to think HOW it will play out. I’m quite invested in finding out…

PS: I missed Jesse terribly in this book. And Shadow too.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5

 

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The book 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: Blood Gamble
Author: Melissa F. Olson
Series: Disrupted Magic, #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Length: 300 pages
Publisher: 47th North (Amazon Publishing)
Release Date: July 25, 2017

ARC Review: Lucky Charmed (Sharla Lovelace)

Lucky Charmed is the second book in Lovelace’s Charmed in Texas series, following A Charmed Little Lie that was released in April.

This time, we have Carmen Frost who has been planning to leave Charmed to follow her wanderlust dream after finally divorcing her husband… only to find out that her first love, Sullivan “Sully” Hart — the one who left her behind and broke her heart fifteen years ago — has decided to return and settle down in Charmed instead.

Similar to the first book, Lucky Charmed is written using the heroine’s first person narrative. I do prefer alternate point-of-views in my romance. I mean, there were times that I would’ve LOVED to get inside Sully’s mind, to know what he thinks and feels about Carmen. However, I admit that I enjoyed the drama and the surprises at the same time as Carmen.

Without knowing anything about that night from Sully’s perspective, Carmen’s emotion when she discovers the secrets being kept from her feels more effective. Besides, despite the lack of Sully’s POV, I still thought the chemistry between the two of them was strong.

I loved that Carmen doesn’t easily give in to Sully’s explanation. I loved that she gets angry at him. I loved that she confronts Sully (and also her mother). I loved that Carmen still tries to follow her dream. Sometimes it needs to be done — experiencing what you think you want or need before making any decision in your life.

I really think Sharla Lovelace’s writing clicks with me. Now I can’t wait to read book #3. Because there’s a development regarding that future couple in this book that intrigues the hell out of me!

PS: There are a number of errors regarding the name of Sully’s brother. At first it is written as Aidan. But later it is also written as Aiden. I hope the release version is cleaned from this mistake.

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:
 Lucky Charmed
Author: Sharla Lovelace
Series: Charmed in Texas, #2
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 217 pages
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes
Release Date: July 18, 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: Diving Into Trouble (Shona Husk)

What I loved about it is the occupation of the hero and heroine. He is a cook and she is a Navy Marine Technician (!) and I thought that was really cool. Plus, this was set in Australia. In overall, this was just an okay romance for me. They had one night stand and realized they worked together. I probably would’ve loved it more if the sex didn’t happen more than once even before the book reached halfway through. What can I say, I prefer my romance with low-level of steam. I guess I should’ve figured it out from the cover. But I like taking my chances, you know?

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:
 Diving Into Trouble
Author: Shona Husk
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 247 pages
Publisher: Escape Publishing
Purchase Link: Amazon, Kobo
Release Date: July 12th, 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
35

 

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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: Serenity Harbor (RaeAnne Thayne)

Serenity Harbor , the 6th book from Haven Point features schoolteacher Katrina Bailey (the youngest Bailey sibling, sister of Wyn and Marshall from book #4 and #5) and computer-tech millionaire Bowie Callahan. In between the two there is also a sweet six-years-old autistic boy, Milo, who is Bowie’s half younger brother. Bo doesn’t know that Milo existed but when he gets guardianship Bo is determined not to take care of him

Milo is pretty much the catalyst for Katrina and Bo’s relationship. Kat’s first encounter with Bo and Milo is when Milo is having a meltdown in supermarket with Bo not knowing what to do. Since Kat is a primary schoolteacher, she makes connection with Milo. Bo asks Kat to help becoming Milo’s temporary nanny, until Milo’s future autism specialist arrives and before Kat leaves back to Colombia.

~~~

Hmmmm… I’ve loved the previous stories from this series but I think I hit a snag this time around. Now, I LOVED Milo … my heart went out for this boy. It annoyed me at first that Bo seemed to focus more on his works rather than his special-needs brother. Bo gets better in dealing with Milo of course but still… he could’ve get to that point sooner.

I think my problem is because I didn’t feel the chemistry between Kat and Bo. In fact, I thought Kat had better connection with Milo. ALL of Kat and Milo’s interaction warmed my heart dearly. From the moment she crouched down on Milo’s level to talk to him out of his meltdown, to making him breakfast, to teaching him to verbally communicate. It was beautiful and touching for me.

On top of that, the whole ** SPOILER \ Katrina’s plan to adopt another special-needs girl from Colombia / END SPOILER** felt a little outside of my realm of romance. It’s a little bit too out there. Plus I couldn’t help thinking that using too many special-needs children to make me care for Kat and Bo as a couple to be a little “manipulative”.

So yes, I didn’t love this as romance as a whole. BUT everything with Kat and Milo lifted up the book for me. I’m still interested with the next book of course! It will feature the charming Jamie Caine and the librarian Julia Winston. That sounds promising 🙂

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: Serenity Harbor
Author: RaeAnne Thayne
Series: Haven Point, #6
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: HQN Books
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Books
Release Date: June 27th, 2017