3.5 stars For the most part, Tara Lain writes romance after my own heart. There is something so alluring about her characters, these men that always
3.5 stars For the most part, Tara Lain writes romance after my own heart. There is something so alluring about her characters, these men that always exude incredible loneliness, but show bravery when it’s most needed. While I can do without Lain’s shifter romance (or anyone’s, really), her Long Pass Chronicles are a guilty pleasure of mine. Hot, lonely football players, closeted or not, are bound to steal my heart.
In this ongoing fight for equality, it is most useful to remind ourselves over and over again that not all cultures suffer from our prejudice. I love Lain for bringing forth Native American beliefs about two-spirited people and doing a darn good job of explaining them. How I would love to live in a culture where being gender fluid is not only accepted, but respected as well. With Raven Nez, a huge, macho football player from a different culture and with an entirely different set of beliefs, Lain delivered a character that entertains and educates, all at the same time.
While amazing in many ways, the book is not without its problems, mostly in the romance department. I loved Lain’s approach to cultural issues, but Dennis’s life and struggles seemed just a bit over the top. I don’t doubt that there are people like Dennis’s parents, but somehow, the entire set up didn’t seem at all believable to me. Consequently, I never quite believed his interest in Raven wasn’t some kind of reaction to the mess he was going through, an attachment to the first person who was genuinely kind to him. On the other hand, with so many secrets between them, Raven basically fell for someone he barely even knew, which made both their feelings seem a bit unfounded and rash to me.
Nevertheless, there are so many positives to point out, starting with Raven being so openly gay as well as the cultural insights we are offered. Overall, while it’s not my favorite in the series, Tackling the Tight End (and I refuse to discuss the ridiculous title) is a book worth reading for many reasons. I’d recommend giving the entire series a try.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review. ...more
This time of the year just wouldn’t be the same without the smell of Christmas cookies and several good, heart-warming holiday romances. I’ll admit t
This time of the year just wouldn’t be the same without the smell of Christmas cookies and several good, heart-warming holiday romances. I’ll admit that I’m a Christmas romance addict, having always preferred low-angst stories that allow me to bask in their happy ending. The hunt for really good ones usually starts around this time and stretches long into January.
Status Update was a must read for me mainly due to its author, Annabeth Albert, whose work I’ve enjoyed many times in the past. She’s one of those authors who always get it just right for me, since we seem to share the same opinions and tastes in our romances. When those first reviews started trickling in, one more enthusiastic than the next, I knew Status Update would be another huge success by this wonderful author.
Noah and Adrian are both wonderful, complete characters with so many intricacies that make them stand out. We meet them as complete opposites: one light-hearted and extroverted, and the other closed off and deeply closeted. As they get to know each other, though, more and more similarities come to light and it is slowly revealed that the two have far more common ground than we (or they) first thought.
Despite their similarities, the lives Noah and Adrian lead simply don’t go well together. It’s fine while they are in their little bubble (aka Noah’s RV), but they just can’t function in the real world. Above all, Noah’s worldview and life plans get in the way – his ultraconservative upbringing and work environment, as well as his deep shame and conviction that being gay is utterly wrong.
Adrian provided an excellent counterbalance with his openness and humor that always remained present, despite his own issues. He wasn’t without fault either- if he was to truly be with Noah, he had to learn from his past behavior and finally stand up for himself. Albert did an excellent job with these two characters, and while some side characters seemed a bit plastic and over the top, the focus was always on these two where it belonged.
If you’re looking for a holiday romance with an unusual amount of substance and realistic issues, but still wonderfully warm and romantic, look no further. Status Update is everything you need and more.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.
For those of you who haven’t been keeping track obsessively like me, Carina Press has been publishing some of the best LGBT romances for a while now.
For those of you who haven’t been keeping track obsessively like me, Carina Press has been publishing some of the best LGBT romances for a while now. They have amazing editors and seeing their name on the cover is a guarantee of my enjoyment. Letting Go series by J. Leigh Bailey is no different.
I’ve read Reckless Hope twice since I received the advanced copy three months ago, and as much as I enjoyed it the first time, I loved it even more the second time around. Knowing how it all ends allowed me to truly savor the emotions, to experience everything alongside Sebastian and Micah and to appreciate the smallest details that made the story richer and that much more beautiful.
Micah has been alone for far too long, abandoned and betrayed in some way by every adult in his life. Now, with a dead father, a disabled and depressed mother and a younger sister in need of an attitude adjustment, Micah has no one to count on but himself. It’s not only that he doesn’t trust easily, it’s that he doesn’t trust at all, and why would he? Life has thought Micah many lessons, and very few of them have been good. As much as he might want to at times, Micah doesn’t let go, he doesn’t relax, and he certainly doesn’t rely on other people. So when he meets Sebastian who is his exact opposite, a gorgeous, reckless rich boy who seemingly has no regard for others or even for his own life, Micah doesn’t understand why his heart keeps pulling him back.
Sebastian has many faces, but none of them are honest. He is a very good actor with a shattered heart and no one to see him for what he truly is. Micah intrigues him for so many reasons and for the first time, Sebastian truly sees himself with someone for more than a night. But Micah refuses to play along, making Sebastian pull all the stops.
The journey of these two boys and their respective families will make your throat constrict due to injustice each of them suffers constantly. They are both products of circumstances, tragedies and events other people caused. It was so very painful to see them struggle with things like trusting someone and having someone to rely on, but every happy moment was so much more rewarding because of all that pain. Both Sebastian and Micah are fantastic characters with very complicated backgrounds. The birth of their love is something you’ll have to discover for yourselves.
I loved the first book in this series, but Reckless Hope really stole my heart. I would recommend it even to those who rarely read M/M fiction.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review....more
No matter how many versions of the same story Mary Calmes writes, no matter how many times she gives different names to almost the same characters, n
No matter how many versions of the same story Mary Calmes writes, no matter how many times she gives different names to almost the same characters, no matter how often she re-uses the same plot, I will always buy her books the second they come out. Whatever the woman did to make us all addicted to her stories worked like a charm. I need her books like I need air to breathe and chocolate and coffee to be a functional human being.
Sleeping ‘til Sunrise is the fifth in Mary’s successful series of contemporary novellas set in Mangrove, Florida. Mangrove is a small community obviously brimming with gay people, all of them hardworking, honest, and head over heels in love. In Sleeping ‘til Sunrise, we finally get a better look at Essien Dodd, the new fire chief and his teenage daughter Ivy. Essien has been avoiding dating ever since he moved to Mangrove, despite enormous pressure from Ivy and his many meddling neighbors to finally get a life. Most men just aren’t worth the trouble, but Roark Hammond isn’t most men and Essien is well aware of it.
Roark has been consistently losing his power of speech ever since he first ran into Essien Dodd. As a well educated, rich pediatrician he should be polished and smooth, but all his upbringing and charm fly out the window whenever he’s around the gorgeous fire chief. But gorgeous or not, Essien is not meant for Roark, no matter how persistent he might be.
As always with Mary’s books, there is an insane amount of chemistry between the characters. You know from the very first minute that the two are simply meant for each other. There is no middle road, there is no other option. I love this about Calmes, this absolute certainty that someone was born for someone else. That is most likely the source of her amazing popularity, the crack cocaine that she sprinkles between the lines of her books. It is the very simple idea that there’s a perfect person for each of us, someone desperate to be near us as much as we are desperate to be near them. Same stories, same characters, same plots… none of it matters. I close these books with a silly smile, already planning when I might reread them. What could possibly be better than that?
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.
I’ve been a fan of Jenn Bennett ever since her first Arcadia Bell book (which seems like a million years ago), but I never expected her to try her hanI’ve been a fan of Jenn Bennett ever since her first Arcadia Bell book (which seems like a million years ago), but I never expected her to try her hand in young adult fiction. Foolish of me, I suppose. Why wouldn’t she, when she’s so good at everything else she puts her mind to writing? From the very first advanced reader’s copy that fell into a reviewer’s hand, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart (internationally titled Night Owls, which I prefer), has been getting nothing but rave reviews. And with good reason. Homework was done, a checklist was made, many YA books and reviews have been read and the result was a book designed to satisfy even the most demanding YA reader. At least that’s how it reads.
I’ve tried my best to nitpick and dissect in an attempt to pinpoint the exact thing that made me so uncomfortable, and I failed. Jenn’s writing is flawless and her characters are well rounded people with unique interest. The book offers diversity on more than one level and it even includes a positive, albeit unflinchingly honest representation of mental illness. So what the hell is wrong with me, you say? Likely the fact that my brain kept screaming too perfect too perfect too perfect!
While I loved several things about this book – in fact, my brain loved just about everything about it – my heart just refused to get with the program. It truly did feel as if Jenn had followed some well planned checklist. This is one of the rare few times when my rating won’t in any way reflect my true feelings. Objectively, this book is a dream and I would (and will) recommend it to teens wherever I turn. It includes the very things I stand for, it’s quirky and unobtrusively educational. While the perfection of this book clearly made me uncomfortable, I am more than capable of appreciating its worth. So read this, if you haven’t, and then come back to yell at me for being heartless. Or, you know, discuss. There’s nothing I’d enjoy more. ...more
3.5 stars The Fall by James Preller is one of those books that are difficult to read and even more difficult to rate, but nevertheless extremely impor
3.5 stars The Fall by James Preller is one of those books that are difficult to read and even more difficult to rate, but nevertheless extremely important. It addresses some crucial issues and subtly points out things we should all keep in mind. There are many books that deal with the subject of bullying, but usually it’s from the victim’s perspective or even the bully’s. Rarely does it come from a passive observer and reluctant participant, someone who does things they’re not proud of due to peer pressure and fear. In that, The Fall is very unique and successful in explaining how a series of small things can amount to something insurmountable.
The story isn’t told in the usual, linear narrative. It’s a diary of sorts, a collection of jumbled thoughts and poems written by a boy so deeply affected by a schoolmate’s suicide. His voice was done extremely well, the unapologetic, defiant parts mixed with desperation, regret and shame. Sam doesn’t hide his part in the girl’s suicide, but he reveals the full extent of it slowly, and through tragedy, he slowly builds himself into a much stronger individual.
The best part of Preller’s work is a very clear portrayal of the distance between adults and teens, especially in such situations, the ever-present ‘us and them mentality. Sam is forced to listen to so many adults in the aftermath of this tragedy, and he even knows that what they’re saying is important, but it’s just background noise from him because no matter how useful it might be, it’s coming from the wrong source.
Overall, The Fall misses some marks but gets some so very right. It may not be obviously, superficially emotional, but it’s a strong, important read that doesn’t fully reveal itself until the very end. ...more
Sloe Ride is the fourth book in Rhys Ford’s Sinners series, in which cops and rock stars collide to create compelling mysteries and sizzling romances
Sloe Ride is the fourth book in Rhys Ford’s Sinners series, in which cops and rock stars collide to create compelling mysteries and sizzling romances. It has been more than a year between books so some will have to refresh their memory a little bit, but the Morgan brothers (and assorted relatives) make it very easy to sink back into their world.
In the beginning of Sloe Ride, we see Rafe’s decline into addiction and self-destructiveness, and it’s not a pretty sight. It’s easy to dismiss him as just another spoiled rock star, which is exactly what he is. It’s difficult to sympathize with someone when seeing him at his worst, without really knowing how he got there or what caused him to become that way. Ford pushed the limits with Rafe, coming almost to the point of no redemption, but then she pulled him back beautifully by giving him direction and purpose and making him find his way.
Quinn, the odd one out among the Morgan brothers, has always been likeable, if a bit antisocial and odd. It was made quite obvious, though not addressed directly, that Quinn falls somewhere on the autism spectrum. He is brilliant, but he doesn’t pick up social cues easily and he struggles with things other people find easy, like crowds, or even flirting.
The mystery was done well, as usual. One can always trust Rhys to make it exciting and compelling. She knows how to write a real page turner, and if the romance itself isn’t enough to keep us interested (which it is), there are plenty of murders to keep us glued to our e-readers. Oddly, Rhys’s style bothered me somewhat in this book. It was a bit more choppy and disjointed and I had a hard time following the events, but even that wasn’t enough to seriously diminish my reading enjoyment.
Sloe Ride may be the weakest of the four books, but that’s not saying much when it comes to Rhys Ford. This is an author who knows how to create a mystery, how to lure us in with the promise of excitement and breathtaking romance. Weak or not, Rhys always delivers more than most authors have to offer, and picking up one of her books is a pretty safe bet. ...more
Reminiscent of the TV series Scandal in several aspects, Courtney Sheinmel’s YA debut novel Edgewater brings a lush atmosphere, romance, political in
Reminiscent of the TV series Scandal in several aspects, Courtney Sheinmel’s YA debut novel Edgewater brings a lush atmosphere, romance, political intrigue, and deeply buried secrets.
Lorrie’s life is all about keeping up appearances and living the life she feels entitled to, even though it’s fairly obvious that she doesn’t quite belong among the rich and carefree. On the surface, it seems quite shallow, but there’s more to Lorrie’s efforts than that. Abandoned by both her parents and left in the care of a flaky, possibly bipolar aunt, Lorrie sees boarding schools and riding camps as an escape from her shameful family and her embarrassing home. The family estate, Edgewater, was once an awe-inspiring house, but now it’s in ruins and completely out of control. Lorrie is deeply ashamed of her circumstances and her only goal for years has been to hide the downfall of her family however she can. When the funds finally dry up completely, Lorrie has to adjust her worldview, but just then, long ago buried secrets start coming to light. It seems that both her family and that of Charlie Copeland, political prince and Lorrie’s crush, have something awful to hide.
Edgewater may be Courtney Sheinmel’s debut YA novel, but she has plenty of other works behind her, and she already honed her writer’s voice into something gentle and distinctive, beautiful yet unobtrusive. Her style is fairly simplistic and clear, but it still manages to surprise and impress with a particularly clever turn of phrase or an unexpected epithet. Even more importantly, her sentences are saturated with emotions, Lorrie’s shame in particular screaming at us from every page.
If I were to offer any constructive criticism, it would be about secondary characters, which, on occasion, seemed a bit cartoonish and over the top. A lot more could have been accomplished by focusing more on Gigi and Susannah and less on the romance and Lorrie’s friendship with Lennox. I felt that those two characters in particular had more to give and I was disappointed that they weren’t used to their full potential.
Otherwise, though, Edgewater was a breath of fresh air that pushed me right back into reading YA after growing tired of it in late spring. It’s not your average contemporary YA and not just another mystery. It jumps skillfully back and forth between genres and enchants with depth of emotion and its rich atmosphere. ...more
Charlie Cochet sure knows how to write them. Whether it's paranormal, contemporary, or just a cute holiday novella, she is sure to deliver a charmingCharlie Cochet sure knows how to write them. Whether it's paranormal, contemporary, or just a cute holiday novella, she is sure to deliver a charming story with excellent character development, a wonderful sense of humor and a truly heartwarming happily ever after. It goes without saying that I’m a huge fan… honestly, what’s not to like?
Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts offers it all and more in just 70 pages. We meet Spencer, a true geek if there ever was one, who’s been lusting over his next door neighbor for about a year. Quinn is a gruff policeman married to his work, and while he’s aware that he has a young, male neighbor, he never noticed him beyond that. But when Quinn gets injured on the job and has to spend weeks in his apartment, all alone, Spencer sees an opportunity to finally attract the gorgeous cop’s attention. With brownies, of course. This bold move is very unlike Spencer who is somewhat insecure and considers Quinn to be far out of his league. But once Quinn sees him for who he really is, once he gets to know the smart, adorable guy underneath the geeky exterior, romance is pretty much inevitable.
If you’re looking for a cute, heartwarming afternoon read, it truly can’t get much better than this. It will give you a great taste of Charlie’s work, which might lead you to her THIRDS series, a true favorite of mine. ...more
When you've loved a series as much as I have and for as long as I've loved A Matter of Time, getting a novella that celebrates everything that was speWhen you've loved a series as much as I have and for as long as I've loved A Matter of Time, getting a novella that celebrates everything that was special about it is a treat like no other. We’ve followed Sam and Jory to hell and back, seen them make awful decisions and come together in their explosive way, witnessed them settling down and weathering one storm after another, laughed through Jory’s antics and loved them both unconditionally for many, many years. In Piece of Cake, the two can finally get married in their own state after years of domestic partnership, but Jory wouldn’t be Jory if murder and mayhem didn’t follow him closely.
Piece of Cake is basically a condensed version of everything we love about this series. Jory is running around clueless while Sam and Dane do their best to minimize the damage. We see their large, loving family get together to celebrate their love, but most importantly, we get another taste of that unconditional, fiery connection that makes this couple one of my favorite romance couples in the world. Jory might be ridiculous beyond words and Sam can be the epitome of alpha male, but the true magic happens only when they come together, when they make us sigh and wish for a love like theirs.
If you’re new to the series, fix that immediately. It’s a known fact that Mary Calmes sprinkles crack cocaine between the lines of her books. Prepare to get addicted. ...more