ARC Review: A Gathering Storm (Joanna Chambers)

It has been more than a year since I last read anything by Joanna Chambers … so when I saw this one being listed by Riptide at Netgalley, I requested it without any second thought.

Sir Edward “Ward” Fitzwilliam comes to Porthkennack to continue his work — to scientifically experiment and to prove how the plane of spirits can interact with the real world — after his reputation is shattered among fellow scientists in London. In order to do this, Ward needs subjects, and he hopes with his money people in Porthkennack will be willing to participate. Ward doesn’t count on how people distrust him since his work involves electricity.

Nicholas “Nick” Hearn is a land steward to the Roscarrock family. He is a half Romany Gypsy (from his mother’s side) and Ward thinks Nick is perfect for his experiment. At first Nick refuses. However, after a slight misunderstanding — Ward sees Nick with another man; Nick thinks Ward is going to blackmail him upon this knowledge — Nick agrees to become Ward’s subject for a limited time …

Oh how I adore this story. It reminded me again how much I miss Chambers’ writing, characters, and stories ♥. This is a classic opposites-attract, in my humble opinion.

Ward is a scientist but he also comes from privilege, so some things are easy for him (like purchaing the land for his experiments, or offering money to attract the locals). At the same time, he is also sheltered due to a grave illness so Ward is not the most sociable person. For me sometimes he is either too ‘nerdy with his passion towards science (though nothing wrong with that!) or unable to get social cues.

Nick, on the other hand, is a half Gypsy and a bastard. Some people never really let Nick forget about that. He has a complicated relationship with old Godfrey Roscarrock — his employer, landlord, and to an extent, his family after Nick’s father left and his mother died. Nick distrusts Ward on sight and he feels that he is roped into agreement due to blackmail.

But then Nick gets to know more about Ward and vice versa, and how I devoured the progress. I loved their sessions. I loved how they exchanged things about their lives. I loved them together, period.

I also loved reading about them individually, these two men with their different baggage. Ward is still dealing with grief and unable to let his twin brother go, even if he tries to hide it by working on his project. While Nick tries to find a place he calls home as he feels like he never truly belongs in Porthkennack. Even if he loves the land.

I did have slight problem with the pacing. Somewhere in between Ward and Nick building their tentative relationship, to knowing each other better, to acting up on their attractions, to realizing their true feelings for one another … I felt sometimes the pace was off. Especially during the part where they go to Truro to see the séance all the way to the ending. It felt rather rushed for that moment of love declaration.

Still, it ends in a lovely way that made my heart soared *smile*

I think fans of both Joanna Chambers and MM Historical Romance in general will not miss this one, for sure. Next time, Joanna, don’t stay away too long, please?

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: A Gathering Storm
Author: Joanna Chambers
Genre: MM Historical Romance
Word Count: 82,000 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: April 17, 2017

ARC Reviews: Slow Burn Cowboy (Maisey Yates)

 

Slow Burn Cowboy is the latest book in Maisey Yates’ Copper Ridge universe; it is the first of The Donnellys — four half brothers: Cain, Finn, Liam, and Alex, who get together again after their grandfather died and left the ranch to them. Even though Finn is the only one staying and taking care of the ranch while the rest of the brothers build their lives somewhere else.

Lane is Finn’s best friend for the past decade. He has been pressing his feeling for Lane because he doesn’t want to ruin their friendship. But with his brothers coming to stay indefinitely, Finn feels like his life is changing and he cannot control it. Then suddenly his feeling for Lane is getting stronger more than ever…

I do love friends-to-lovers theme … BUT there is a downside to it, unfortunately. The arguments can be really repetitive and frustrating. And that was what I felt here. I liked the beginning just fine. I could get why Finn is upset when his half brothers are all coming down to the ranch, taking what they consider as legally theirs when they never help Finn with the ranch all these years. I’m probably going to be quite bitter too.

I also liked that Finn was the one making the first move. Usually when the heroine is the hero’s friend’s younger sister, he will be the one dragging his feet. Not here though.

It is Lane that I was having trouble to connect. Yes, Lane had a past, but I failed to see why it made her reacted the way she did. I couldn’t understand her arguments when she pushed Finn away after he made the first move. I just didn’t get it. I thought Lane’s past wasn’t 100% her fault (**SPOILER** Lane got pregnant when she was sixteen and then gave the baby for adoption)

Lane has been Finn’s friend for so long, she knows him well, does she really think that Finn will blame her? Does she think that Finn is not good enough for a steady relationship? I guess, I thought Lane was being a bit unreasonable. When Finn challenges Lane, that she seems to only needs Finn to do things like changing the light-bulbs, or getting rid of a mouse, simply because he’s a man, I could totally see Finn’s point.

Simply put, Lane frustrated me because her reasons are not convincing enough for the hot and cold attitude she put on Finn. And THAT made the book less enjoyable for me.

We did have a a turn-around with Lane suddenly being the one wanting more and Finn that says he can’t — and for me this also didn’t feel convincing with how both characters act with each other prior to that particular moment.

The epilogue is sweet though 🙂

While this isn’t my favorite of the series, I’m still quite intrigued with the next story. It will be about the oldest brother Cain, a single father with a teenage daughter and Alison, Lane’s good friend who is previously in an abusive relationship. I think that has potential, right?

 

RATING: 3 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: Slow Burn Cowboy
Author: Maisey Yates
Series: Copper Ridge: The Donnellys, #1
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: HQN
Purchase Links: Amazon Kindle US, Barnes & Noble Nook, iBooks
Release Date: April 18, 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: Home Fires (Kate Sherwood)

Home Fires is the final installment of Kate Sherwood’s tetralogy, Common Law – and it is filled with high octane action as the town of Mosely is preparing to defend themselves from the militia fanatics that are going to run down the town to get their friends out of jail. Of course, in the middle of it, is our hero under-sheriff Jericho Crewe who is determined to protect the town, alongside the rest of the Mosely sheriff department, some of citizens, as well as his on-again lover Wade Granger.

Boy, did I LOVE the action part of this book!! Seriously, the moment that Jericho, Kayla, and everyone realize that they are pretty much left alone to defend the town – I was on the edge of my seat!! It is the kind of action-moment that is worth for visual imagery – guns blazing, bullets flying, and of course we have one or two explosions courtesy of Wade.

And boy, Wade is such a badass!! With this series written from Jericho’s perspective, Wade retains a flair of mystery to me as a reader. Much like Jericho, sometimes I wonder if Wade is being genuine or doing his own manipulative way while bending rules here and there to get what he wants. However, there is no doubt in my mind that Wade really does care for Jericho. In this book, Wade has his moment of glory and I loved him for that.

There is a thing or two that I wish has a much ‘concrete’ closure. Now with Jericho is finally ready to be with Wade completely, how are things going with Nikki and the kids? I wish I get a better update on that. I also would like to get a firmer resolution on the corruption case which was introduced in book #1 since it was basically what started everything – in addition to Jericho’s dead father.

In overall this is a SOLID series – and I so loved that epilogue *smile*

 

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:


32790716Title:
 Home Fires
Author: Kate Sherwood
Series: Common Law, #4
Genre: MM Contemporary / Suspense
Word Count: 44,300 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: April 3, 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: Darkness (Kate Sherwood)

I think knowing that there is book #4 in the horizon sort of helped with my rating this time. I still loved reading about Jericho Crewe, and especially the inevitable sexual tension between him and Wade Granger — I compared Jericho with moth to a fire when it comes to Wade :p — but at times, there are things I wish to be more progressed. This is book #3 after all!!

Probably my biggest issue is with the state of Mosely as the town with problems. We get introduced with the police corruption in book #1. Then the biker wars in book #2. Plus there is a looming militia problem that sort of hanging in the background. With Darkness being the penultimate book, I wanted to see a built-up momentum… a preparation to the climax, that kind of thing.

Unfortunately, I felt like I didn’t really get it. Yes, we had a dead prostitute. Yes, we had a possible innocent man being framed for a murder he didn’t commit. But it didn’t really add anything to the whole federal agents raining down Mosely. Plus the resolution of this particular case was anti-climactic — to the point where I murmured to myself, “That’s it?

I understand that the case became an epiphany for Jericho; him starting to question his moral judgement, wondering whether being in law-enforcement is the right thing when he can condone crime for certain purpose. It’s a good character progress. But still, it slightly frustrated me because in the grand scheme of Mosely and its problem, it didn’t really go anywhere.

Despite that, Darkness is a good installment — what can I say, I admit that I am getting into this because of Jericho and the promise his relationship with Wade. On that front, I was satisfied! Jericho finally accepts that he can’t get away from Wade, despite his ex-best friend / ex-boyfriend being manipulative, skirting between that fine line of breaking the law. THAT part is always delicious to read :).

I can’t wait for the conclusion…

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:

darknessTitle: Darkness
Author: Kate Sherwood
Series: Common Law, #3
Genre: MM Contemporary / Suspense
Word Count: 49,400 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: March 6, 2017

ARC Review: One Wild Night (Melissa Cutler)

Skye Martinez is determined to shed her rebellious streak, since few years back it brought her nothing but heartbreak. Skye wants to settle down with a dependable, kind-heart Catholic man, to build a family of her own. Just like what her mother has always wanted from her. Meanwhile Gentry Wells is the bad boy of country music, with songs like “Beer O Clock” and “Well Hung”, well, Gentry definitely is NOT one to put down roots. So what happens when the two meet and have one wild weekend night together?

One Wild Night is the third book in Cutler’s One and Only Texas series; but can still be read as stand-alone. I am not completely in love with the book, though. While Gentry and Skye are pretty hot together — boy that one wild night is WILD! — I didn’t feel the right emotional connection for me to root for them.

I guess I wasn’t really amused with the drama presented … especially after the dramatic turn around 2/3rd of the book.

Individually, both Skye and Gentry are pretty okay as characters. There are traits from them that I admire.

Gentry’s career is pretty much built by other people — including songs that are written by others. He might have that bad boy image but Gentry clearly wants to shake it all off. He wants to write his own songs, staying true to himself. The part where he holds audition for his new band, and Skye’s grandmother ends up auditioning as keyboardist is a HOOT (“Dude, you can’t have a full-on geriatric band. It’s not right for the image.”). And one cannot say that he’s not dedicated to Skye…

As for Skye, she might think that she needs to let go of her wild side. But I definitely think that it is what makes Skye who she is. She just needs to see past the heartbreak, to realize that she is not being punished for her rebellion.

Verdict: I didn’t dislike it but I wasn’t overjoyed with it either. It was just an okay read for me. And seeing I felt the same way for book #2 and the novella, maybe I have to pause reading this series for now.

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:

31450462Title: One Wild Night
Author: Melissa Cutler
Series: One and Only Texas, #3
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 336 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Purchase Link: Amazon US, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
Release Date: March 7, 2017