ARC Review: Her Hometown Girl (Lorelie Brown)

Her Hometown Girl is the third book in Lorelie Brown’s Belladona Ink series. Each book is stand-alone and can be read in no following order. This is the first novel length, though, also features dual narratives for the first time.

Tansy and Cai couldn’t be more different. Twenty-five year old Tansy is a girl from Idaho; she is sweet-natured and tends to be more shy. Thirty-nine year old Cai is a tattoo artist, definitely bolder than Tansy (even if it plays around the butch stereotype in tattoo artists, along with her posture and owning a bike). Tansy runs away from her wedding when she catches her future-bride getting shagged by the caterer’s assistant. She decides to get herself a tattoo and Cai is the one handling her.

One thing for sure, Brown’s writing is beautiful *sigh* And I loved her imperfect characters. Tansy has been in an emotionally abusive relationship with her ex — but I totally loved her for attempting to be braver, to stand up for herself. The part where she challenged Cai when Cai told her that she didn’t look for forever made me want to clap my hands in pride. Personally, I thought Tansy has more intriguing layers. Cai also has a sad backstory but compared to Tansy, I thought Cai is more straight-forward as a character.

I adored their relationship — aside from the one in the spoiler tag below. There were a number of tender moments between the two. Cai totally gets Tansy and doesn’t feel bothered when Tansy gets insecure. She adores Tansy, thinks she is beautiful. I thought Cai was good for Tansy.

“You are brave. It’s why I love you. You’re still soft, that’s what makes all the parts of you. That’s why you’re so amazing.”

I did feel slightly unsure about one thing, namely ** SPOILERS ** the D/s element in this. Yes, it was very interesting to read about D/s that involved two women (of course I read more MF and MM, so my D/s experience always involved men) … but it also felt like coming out of nowhere.

I would be fine if this was simply a hurt/comfort romance. Adding D/s element felt a little bit awkward; especially when Tansy started to call Cai “Daddy”, in opposite of Cai’s endearment to her as “little one”. ALTHOUGH, it contributes to those layers of Tansy that I mentioned above. Because clearly she enjoys it. Tansy can get flirty and rather demanding in her submissive role ** END SPOILERS **

Full confession: I still skipped a lot of the sex scenes. I just can’t read two women doing it physically. I get squeamish with too many girly bits involved. I mean no offense. I skip alot of sex scenes in M/M or M/F too. Please consider my asexuality and more likely sex repulsive in real life, okay?

In overall, it’s another great addition to the series.

By the way, Tansy’s grandmother is so. freaking. cool!! One of the highlights in this book for me was when Nanna told Tansy that she was ** SPOILERS ** bisexual, and would’ve married her first girlfriend if she had the opportunity! ** END SPOILERS **

 

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: Her Hometown Girl
Author: Lorelie Brown
Series: Belladonna Ink, #3
Genre: FF Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 65,000 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: September 4, 2017

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ARC Review: Sugar Pine Trail (RaeAnne Thayne)

Sugar Pine Trail is Jamie Caine’s and Julia Winston’s story. Julia is the Haven Point’s librarian. Jamie is the lead pilot for Caine Tech company jet fleet, second-youngest Caine brother and number five in line. Jamie needs short-term place to stay for six weeks while his condo is being finalized. Julia, who now owns her family house after her parents passed away, ends up agreeing to rent the upstairs apartment to Jamie. Julia has been having crush on Jamie for a long time. When Jamie arrives in all of his gorgeous glory, Julia starts to think that the arrangement is a bad idea. However, before that issue is solved, Julia finds herself also being a temporary care person for two young brothers on this holiday season …

Haven Point … I’ve been with this series since the very beginning three years ago and I always LOVE return to this small town. I read the last book back in May, and I am happy to have another one not that far along.

I loved both Julia and Jamie … I loved Julia’s kind heart. She might be acting all awkward around Jamie but once Clint and Davy come into the picture, Julia is like mama bear. She might not have experience with kids, but she’s willing to give it everything. I loved her background, and the fact that she tried to improve her life this holiday season. I loved that she finally found her confidence, despite initial thoughts that she was too ordinary, too plain, for Jamie Caine.

As for Jaime, well hell, he’s a fine, FINE man :). I might not know much about him before since I didn’t read Thayne’s Hope’s Crossings series but I loved the man that I read here. I loved his interacting with the kids (and cats!). I enjoyed the part where Jamie finally realized that he fell in love with Julia — even if he didn’t think that Julia was his type at first. And of course he had to give Julia the perfect Christmas gift *swoon*

Sure, this book enforces the “introvert librarian who lives with cats stereotype“. Plus some things might be a little manipulative to evoke emotion, like the appearance of young Clinton and Davy. I mean if Clinton and Davy are not there, will the romance between Jamie and Julia be developed? I don’t know. But I don’t bloody care. Because in the end, I was touched in my heart, had tears in my eyes, and formed a huge smile on my face. That’s all that matters.

PS: The rest of the Caine siblings are characters from Thayne’s Hope’s Crossings — except Jamie and his older brother, Aidan, who starts Haven Point series with the book Snow Angel Cove. The siblings and their significant partners made appearance in this book, alongside the Caine patriarch and I loved being with them.

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: Sugar Pine Trail
Author: RaeAnne Thayne
Series: Haven Point, #7
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: HQN Books
Purchase at: Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, Kobo
Release Date: September 26, 2017

ARC Review: The Glamour Thieves (Don Allmon)

I was immediately intrigued with the blurb when I saw this being listed at Netgalley. First, ORC! Yep, orc and elf. While I read a number of urban fantasy books with elves, I don’t think I’ve read many with orcs as main character and protagonists. Second, the allusion that JT and Austin had history previously. Second-chance romance will always be a favorite trope of mine. I wanted to know why it didn’t work between them before and how would JT and Austin found a way back to each other again.

Unfortunately, I had trouble when I tried to figure out the universe of this novel. One important thing when it comes to urban fantasy books for me is the ability for the author to introduce the world so I can easily understand what is happening. In here, I felt that the particular aspect didn’t flow as smoothly as I wanted.

There were references to previous events or other characters that were not known to me as a reader. I also didn’t understand how Austin’s glamour really works — did it also influence feeling?? So I was quite confused with many things: the players, the events, the technologies, the magical power!! It wasn’t really fun reading experience.

HOWEVER, I was excited with a number of things. There were times the emotional conflict between JT and Austin felt strong, I wanted them to work things out. Although their background didn’t feel flesh out enough, I was quite invested with JT and Austin’s relationship. I was a bit disappointed that the ending felt more like HFN, though.

Conclusion:
Some things excited me. Some things confused me. All in all, I felt rather indifferent. But it wasn’t bad enough for me to say that I disliked it. Thus the rounded-up ‘just okay‘ rating of mine. Not sure if it’s enough for me to check out the sequel … I just have to wait and see.

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: The Glamour Thieves
Author: Don Allmon
Series: Blue Unicorn #1
Genre: MM Fantasy / Sci-Fi
Word Count: 46,800 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: August 28, 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

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: 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