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: All Of The Above (Quinn Anderson)

Brendon stumbles into a relationship quiz on a magazine given by his friend. He thinks the quiz’s answers are so perfect for him and Brendon becomes a little obsessed. Well, actually Brendon believes that the quiz maker is his soulmate. After doing a little “(online) research” and finds his name to be Matt; Brendon starts his quest for true love.

All of the Above is pretty predictable when we have an MC who does a little stalkerish action to set-up a fake meet-cute with a love interest who says that he hates being lied to. BUT, this also has a rom-com formula that feels familiar and it makes me smile on several occasions. I mean Brendon is a bit neurotic about it, and it was FUN to read. I thought Matt was being judge-y, though maybe he has a valid reason for it.

It was an entertaining read — if you can close your eyes of both the MCs’ flaws and don’t let it bother you much 🙂

 

RATING: 3.5 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:
All Of The Above
Author: Quinn Anderson
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: ~41.100 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: November 20, 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: Sightlines (Santino Hassell)

More than any books released this month (October 2017), Sightlines sits on the top of the list. I’ve been dying to read the conclusion of Hassell’s X-Men-like series, especially because I love Chase and Elijah. So when I was offered the chance for advanced reader’s copy, I didn’t think twice to request it.

So, does it deliver to my satisfaction? FUCK YEAH.

Between the three brothers, Chase’s background is the one that draws me the most. Probably one of the most powerful multis with his telepathic and telekinetic power, Chase has been tortured since he was a child by psychic vampire who wants to understand how his DNA works under his own father’s order. His father who wants to breed multitalented psys in order to take over the world.

Elijah is Chase’s only light in the darkness. Even if Chase thinks that Elijah only thinks of him as substitute for his bother, Holden, he cannot stop his heart to fall for Elijah and wants to protect him at all cost.

Based on the blurb (… With Chase playing the role of a tyrant’s second-in-command, and Elijah acting like Chase’s mindless sex toy) I thought there would be more sex scenes in this book! And you know I actually pouted that it wasn’t really. Because I actually wouldn’t mind to read Chase and Elijah going down and dirty *grin*. So yes, I wished there were more of Chase and Elijah time together … because #ChaseElijahFTW!

But for the rest??

Sure, the bad things that happened (the torture, the brainwashing, the assault) are not easy to read (or to imagine); however, at the same time is quite a page-turner due to the danger and risks that follow our rag-tag band of freaks to dismantle the Farm and makes a permanent change in the Community leadership.

I admit, I think the climax needs more superpower clashing or guns blazing — something at the level of destruction of X-Men: The Last Stand though. Also the deaths of a number of main villains here are a little too easy. Guess I can be blood-thirsty woman *lol*

Sightlines is an exhilarating read — the best and my favorite of the series. And despite the slightly lacking of Chase/Elijah moments … the ending is sweet, hopeful, and manages to make my heart feels warm and fuzzy. An excellent ending, Mr. Hassell.

RATING: 4.25 out of 5
4stars

 

The ARC is provided by the author 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: Sightlines
Author: Santino Hassell
Series: Community, #3
Genre: MM Paranormal/Fantasy/Suspense
Word Count: 68,000 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: October 9, 2017

ARC Review: The Love Song of Sawyer Bell (Avon Gale)

Years before I stumbled into MM romance, I actually adored a number of F/F couple and friendship from TV shows & movies: Xena/Gabrielle, Rachel/Luce (Imagine Me & You is one of my favorite feel-good movies of all time) … I adore Jess and Jules in Bend It Like Beckham (they’re friends but I can imagine they are so much more *laugh*).

BUT I don’t read a lot of F/F romance because I am uncomfortable reading sex scenes description involving two women. I don’t like the words like cunt, pussy, or tits. Heck, I don’t like reading them in M/F too which is why I avoid M/F erotica at all cost. I like reading/seeing F/F kisses and touches but not when they go all the way ‘there’.

Having said that, I’ve started to read F/F romance last year. Not many, just one or two. Then I saw that Avon Gale, one of my favorite authors, is releasing one this month. It makes me curious enough that I requested the ARC for it. After I finished, I can safely say this:

The Love Song of Sawyer Bell is DELIGHTFUL and CHARMING; definitely one of my favorite reads of the year so far!!

In fact, I thought it has ALL the right recipes for a perfect summer movie … indie musicians doing performances on stages, ROAD TRIP(!!!), as well as friendship, sexual discovery, and FALLING IN LOVE. Not only that, people, The Love Song of Sawyer Bell also has a BISEXUAL HEROINE (hell yes!) and one of the band member is an ace.

I adored both Sawyer Bell and Victoria “Vix” Vincent right off the bat. In fact, I think I spent ALL of my time reading the book with smile on my face. These girls are SO ADORABLE together … I felt like my heart is full with joy, and I loved being able to be a spectator on their blooming relationship … from the first kiss, the sex, the jealousy, the (really short) break-up, to the happy ending.

Avon Gale writes these characters in a way that it feels REALISTIC (like this could easily be a portrayal of one of the indie groups out there) and RELATABLE like they also could easily be my friends, albeit “younger” friends, y’know? Never for once I felt this to be over-the-top dramatic. Sawyer’s hating her school or Vix’s concerns about the possibility of dating a band member are both very much grounded. Heck, even the discussion that Sawyer has with her parents regarding the school was so f*cking real to me.

Another thing that works for me is how Avon Gale makes the exploration of the sexual part of their relationship to be FUN. Vix always knows that she is a bisexual, she is open and unapologetic about it. Sawyer, on the other hand, has only acknowledged her attraction to girls: Vix is her first crush. Still, when they finally doing it, it was full of happy moments. One of my favorite scenes is when both Sawyer and Vix visit a sex shop then Sawyer is busy trying a strap-on dildo for her “lesbian lifestyle investment“. *LAUGH GLEEFULLY*

This book is not only about the friendship and the romance though, it is also about reaching for your dreams. Vix is living her dream right from the beginning, playing her music with her own band. Sawyer, on the other hand, might take a little detour before getting there. I could feel both the girls’ passion about their dream in every performance they do, in they way the collaborate together writing notes and lyrics… It was REALLY REALLY GOOD, and why I was dying to see this as a movie somehow.

Do what you love. Take risks. And when something doesn’t work, take a different one. But don’t stop taking them …. Sometimes it takes a while to find your own music, but believe me, it’s so worth it when you do. Otherwise, all you’re playing is notes.

In short, I pretty much LOVED everything about this book … maybe I thought the ending to be a little rushed, and I kind of wanting to read about a slightly grand gesture from Vix… and personally, I still cringed whenever I read those words I didn’t like. However, it’s not a deal breaker. In fact, I’ll be happy to recommend this to ANY of my friends or readers who want to take a dip on new-adult F/F romance. I think it can put a huge smile to your face. I know it did to me.

RATING: 4.25 out of 5
4stars

 

The ARC is provided by the author 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: The Love Song of Sawyer Bell
Author: Avon Gale
Series: Tour Dates, #1
Genre: FF New Adult Romance
Word Count: 62,000 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: September 25, 2017

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