Despite the sometimes brilliant prose by the end I was mostly underwhelmed. My expectations may have been too high because of all the glowing reviews.Despite the sometimes brilliant prose by the end I was mostly underwhelmed. My expectations may have been too high because of all the glowing reviews. The structure of the story may have also contributed.
The story swings back and forth in time and between points of view of two children, a blind French girl named Marie-Laure and a German orphan named Werner. The chapters are very short so by the time you're interested in what's happening in Marie'-Laure's storyline, we've switched back to young Werner's and vice versa. I think it contributed to a distancing from the characters even with their tragic stories. The author is very good at capturing the imagery of the times but emotionally something was lacking. It doesn't wreck you like say "The Diary of Anne Frank" does for instance.
There's still an engaging story here highlighting the (extra)ordinary lives of a couple of children of that time period- the light we normally don't see. There's also a little Indiana Jones type mystery dropped into this one involving a blue diamond, with a curse attached of course, and the Nazi soldier who pursues it. It's a very readable story and based on the reviews, many seem to love this one. I'll settle on liking this. ...more
I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would when I first picked this up. This had a couple of things that put me off atReviewed on Hearts On Fire
I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would when I first picked this up. This had a couple of things that put me off at first. The writing just appeared to be fussy and overworked even for a Regency era story. I also had trouble keeping track of some of the characters as sometimes they were called by their names and sometimes by their title. But the more I read the smoother the story seemed to get and I stopped noticing those issues and instead became absorbed in the story of Wesley (Wes) and Nathaniel (Nathan)
The story begins in 1907 where we first meet Dr. Wesley Douglas who is stunned to see a mysterious figure around town who looks very similar to his old friend Nathaniel Thredgold. But Wesley doubts his own eyes as Nathaniel supposedly died years ago and this man is severely disfigured. Wes wonders if it’s just wishful thinking on his part.
Who’s also doubtful is the Earl of Ravensworth, Lord Lionel who informs Wes that the stranger indeed has come to him claiming to be his long lost son Nathaniel. Lord Lionel has invited this man to come and state his claim in front of him and his other two sons. He asks Wes to be present as well since he and Nathan were childhood best friends. While Lord Lionel is more than half way to being convinced and moved by Nathan’s story, Nathan gets a different and frostier reception from both Wesley and the Earl’s youngest son, Frederick.
Wes ends up not being convinced that Nathan is who he claims to be. We learn through a series of flashbacks that Wes and Nathan shared more than a childhood friendship and in fact were lovers as well. It’s pretty clear that Wes was in love with Nathan at the time. Now ten years later Wesley is upset because the man claiming to be Nathaniel doesn’t appear to have any recollection of their prior relationship.
It’s not clear to Wes if this man is simply an imposter. He secretly fears that maybe Nathan was never as invested in their relationship and saw Wes as more of sexual outlook. Wesley also is insecure due to the differences in their financial and social status. The little mystery adds a nice edge to the story and it’s rather fun to see the mature town doctor Wesley devolve into sulky peevishness as he works through all this.
The story really picks up steam after that and we’re not kept in suspense overly long. There are other complications like Wesley’s engagement to a very nice woman named Beatrice and the work around each character has to go through to have the relationship they really want. I can’t vouch for the historical accuracy but by the end this turned out to be a delightful and fun story with a great deal of emotional resonance....more
I don't think this story is for everyone, especially people who're nitpicky about certain plot points (like how the police just brushed aside a missinI don't think this story is for everyone, especially people who're nitpicky about certain plot points (like how the police just brushed aside a missing child in a hotel just because the mother declared it was probably a prank) but I found myself having fun reading this.
All the action takes place in the aging Bellweather hotel where 15 years earlier a young bride hung herself after shooting her new husband. Now it's the late 90's and the hotel is hosting its annual stateside music festival where high school seniors and brother and sister twins Rabbit (Bert) and Alice are in attendance, (insert your own Alice in Wonderland references) each coming to terms with major issues in their lives . The anniversary of the deaths also hangs over the festivities especially after one of the attendees goes missing. It quickly becomes obvious that there are others in the hotel orchestrating their own agenda.
The storyline involving all the band geeks and aspiring singers really does bring to mind Glee with the sometimes annoying Alice coming across as the resident Rachel. Rabbit is a bassoonist who's a much more sympathetic character than Alice. There's others who've also decided to make the trek for the weekend including Minnie who was a child/witness to the murder suicide, the kid's chaperone Natalie who has demons of her own and a crazy Scottish conductor.
This story is a bit of a mix as the blurb says. There's the mystery portion that begins with the missing student and a bit about kids expectations vs reality and what it means to be a prodigy and of course there's a lot about music.
Was this a YA story, a coming of age novel, a mystery, a drama or a comedy? In the end the story never really commits to any of those and is instead an uneasy mix of all. This seeming flaw though is also part of its main charm. It's a bit theatrical and probably more dramatic than realistic but ultimately I found it a satisfying story....more
Mommy Wars. Those words will either be a warning or an encouragement for some of you. Either way, that thought is inescapable while reading this becauMommy Wars. Those words will either be a warning or an encouragement for some of you. Either way, that thought is inescapable while reading this because while there is some kind of mystery going on, the story focus is on a series of parents and their kindergarteners who're ether geniuses, misfits, bullies, sociopaths, wallflowers etc. depending on which parent is looking at them.
The story initially begins with an incident that happens on the school trivia night fundraiser. We're given a hint that perhaps a person is dead. The novel then flashes back to a period several weeks before the events, where we first meet three of the moms with children attending the school, Madeline, Jane and Celeste.
Madeline has a 5 year old as well as a teen from her first marriage and spends most of the novel navigating these relationships. Celeste is her beautiful friend seemingly living the perfect life with her rich husband and rambunctious twin boys. Jane is the new girl in town who's a much younger mom than the others. As we go on in the novel we also learn the truth behind their lives.
The story is engaging enough and I'm not surprised it's going to be a movie. There's something about the way it's written that had me casting each of the characters . It's also annoying and somewhat disappointing. The author uses this technique where she ends each chapter with a series of random characters from the school telling a piece of gossip to an offside character--the police inspector. Each of these gossipy characters are named but don't bother trying to memorize who's saying what as in the end it's really not that important.
The technique the author uses to maintain the suspense of the story is to not reveal the name of the victim(s) or give enough information so you're kept in the dark about what happened that night. It's the lazy man's way to do a mystery. But in retrospect after finishing the novel, it's really the only way this novel would have any suspense because the big reveal at the end, is exactly what you'd expect based on the story. Very predictable.
I was expecting more. This is on some of the lists (came in 2nd in Goodreads) of the top fiction stories of 2014 after all. Basically this turned out to be more of a domestic drama than a crime fiction story and probably not for everyone (men take a real hit in this story). It has something to say about relationships and children but really nothing I didn't know before. It's a chick lit version of a murder mystery. This was however, fairly witty and entertainingly written even if not one of my best books of the year. ...more
Did not finish not because it was a bad book. It's just an intense kind of depressing story so I kept putting off reading it. I may pick it up at anotDid not finish not because it was a bad book. It's just an intense kind of depressing story so I kept putting off reading it. I may pick it up at another time. ...more
I enjoyed this one from beginning to the over the top end. It's several stories rolled into one as Inspector Armand Gamache is called in to investigatI enjoyed this one from beginning to the over the top end. It's several stories rolled into one as Inspector Armand Gamache is called in to investigate a missing woman who turned out to be one of a famous set of quintuplets. This leads him to the small quiet town of Three Pines, with it's collection of eccentric and eclectic characters. This part of the story is reminiscent of a Murder She Wrote episode.In the meantime, Gamache is carrying out his own investigation while his department is being destroyed by a powerful enemy. Gamache is seeking the why and the who that are involved while trying to look out for his ex partner.
This is only the second book I've read from Louise Penny and I do enjoy her writing style and how each piece of the story is allowed to slowly unravel. I love the quiet, thoughtful character of Armand and his negotiations through the difficult times he's having. His former second in command , Jean-Guy Beauvoir hangs out on the periphery of the story but plays a pivotal role in the plot. I think in a way, he's the more problematic character as he does several things while he's in the grips of his addiction that I'm not sure would be that forgivable. That's why the ending, while satisfactory, did leave you feeling a little uneasy as it did seem a little too pat. Except for that, this would be a 5 star novel for me. It felt like a completion which makes it curious that the series will continue. This one however, was a fun one that I could not put down until I finished reading it. ...more
i just couldn't get into this one at this time. She was the first wife of Ernest Hemingway and wasn't all that interesting. He did marry about 5 timesi just couldn't get into this one at this time. She was the first wife of Ernest Hemingway and wasn't all that interesting. He did marry about 5 times and had several mistresses so it's hard to see how she was special in his life. ...more
2.75 StarsI think this book was trying for funny or maybe it’s some kind of parody of cowboy books. It certainly had enoughReviewed on Hearts on Fire
2.75 StarsI think this book was trying for funny or maybe it’s some kind of parody of cowboy books. It certainly had enough stereotypes in it to have me practically rolling my eyes out of its socket whether from the hunky, too good to be true looks of its main stars, the formulaic city boy and country boy traits, the attitude of the bridezilla and her predatory bridesmaids, the feuds or the exaggerated accents of all involved. It even had the obligatory barroom brawl in it all set off by a group of mainly unlikable characters. Maybe we should just blame it on Texas. Authors seem to really believe everything does have to be bigger in Texas including its stories.
The main story involves a city slicker named Dean who comes to stay at a Texas ranch because he’s getting married. The woman he’s getting married to–well is pretty much unimportant as he spends most of his time mooning after his future brother in law and black sheep of the family, Leo. Elaine’s father Buck hates Dean on sight and appears to hate his son for other reasons, so he forces them to room together in a run down cabin away from everyone. This provides lots of alone time for the two of them to discover they have the hots for each other.
Well correction, the main story is about cheating. Lots of cheating. Most of it premeditated. Here’s Dean deciding whether he should go for it with Leo or not.
“Technically Leo was only Elaine’s half brother. She rarely spoke his name. They hadn’t seen each other in years and probably never would again after Sunday. Looking at it that way, Leo might as well be a stranger to Elaine.
Sex with a stranger was better than sex with his fiancee’s brother, right?”
And that’s about as deep a thinking as Dean engages in throughout this story. He’s a bit of a nitwit and a coward. There’s absolutely no good reason why he’s engaged to the rather awful Elaine in the first place and there’s no reason he should continue to want to marry her still, especially after he finds this special chemistry with her brother. But then again, if we didn’t have the continued ridiculous engagement, we wouldn’t have the ridiculous bachelor party leading to the ridiculous botched wedding.
I wasn’t too engaged in the romance here involving amoral cheaters. I didn’t like most of the other characters so I ended up not caring what happened to them either. There was no resolution to the thin plot points involving Leo’s father who believed that leo caused a fire that he didn’t (guess who really did it). He also never learns about what really happened to Leo that long ago night. The abuser in the story gets a little Texas justice but is still free to do it to someone else by the end. There’s also no growth of any character. They started stupid and ended that way.
However, I can’t really criticize the writing too much. I just didn’t care for the story. If you find it funny, you’ll probably enjoy this for its silliness and almost slapstick humor. But it wasn’t ha ha funny for me until the very end. I found it just an OK story with a good punch line that almost makes you forget the bad parts. Though the fact this is so different than the author’s other book, “Falling in Love with Crazy” shows the author has some range and versatility so there’s that. ...more
The characters and their relationship with each other stands out in this murder mystery. Alan Baxter is an ex addict who’sReviewed on Hearts on Fire
The characters and their relationship with each other stands out in this murder mystery. Alan Baxter is an ex addict who’s recently lost his fortune to a crooked accountant and is barely making ends meet as a Detroit DJ. He’s got expenses he can’t cover and bad luck in the romance department.
His friend Gus, who’s a drag queen at the club where Alan works, offers him a moonlighting gig. Things start to go wrong when Alan discovers that the vehicle he’s repossessing belongs to his ex drug dealing boyfriend who he may still be attracted to and turns worse when he, and the police, find a body in the trunk.
Alan spends most of the rest of the book attracting all of the wrong kinds of attention from the wrong kinds of people and getting into one goofy scrape after another. Despite all the criminal activities, the book is lighthearted and humorous even if occasionally crude. We get some discussion on gross pimples and what’s inside Alan’s cat Baxter’s litter box. All that aside, the humor is warm and bittersweet with a touch of slapstick.
It’s clear Alan’s friends care for him. Besides his friend Gus, he also has a bouncy auburn haired friend named Sabrina. We’re also introduced to Alan’s sweet if rather ineffective father. There’s no overt romance in this story although Alan enjoys a mild flirtation with a hunky bartender in the club.
The mystery itself depends on a series of coincidences and bad luck. It’s fun. It’s aim seems to be doing for car repossession what Stephanie Plum did for bondswomen. This is not quite as hilarious even if they do share some similarities. They both have bad luck with cars anyways.
I enjoyed the characters and the light mystery and think there’s more stories to tell here including finding out if Alan can ever move beyond the flirting stage....more
This is a nice mystery with good pacing even if I felt the author was trying too hard at times and the private detective Jack Darvelle may have had onThis is a nice mystery with good pacing even if I felt the author was trying too hard at times and the private detective Jack Darvelle may have had one too many quirks. He's a smart detective that has loads of connections and we spend a lot of time with Darville going off track to let us know the reason for the connections.
I'm assuming this will probably lead to other stories featuring Darvelle and I don't see that technique holding up through several books. There's only so many new people that'll need that kind of introduction before it becomes tiresome.
But back to this particular book in which you just need to know this is a pretty straight forward mystery with a slight twist at the end that you'll probably see coming before it gets there. Darvelle tends to go off on tangents which might irritate some people. Other than that, he wears well and is enough of a good guy to root for. The book had a natural end but then decided to tack on an extra chapter that felt totally unnecessary. Up to that point though, it all holds together well.
This one is a nice but not all that compelling story that seemed to have some trouble finding the balance between a contempReviewed on Hearts on Fire
This one is a nice but not all that compelling story that seemed to have some trouble finding the balance between a contemporary story of family estrangement and the paranormal love story it was trying to tell.
Paul is completely estranged from his family . At the beginning his father has just died but Paul is not going anywhere near the funeral. His brother though, unexpectedly reaches out to him and hands him an envelope that his dad has been keeping from Paul for two years. In it contains the news that Paul’s uncle, the only family member who ever accepted him and who practically raised him, had died two years ago.
There’s a lot of disconnect with this because we’re told that Paul was extremely close with this uncle, yet he hadn’t spoken to him in over two years so was completely unaware he had died. We get a flimsy explanation for this but Paul is portrayed as devastated by this news.
Paul flies out to Malta to deal with the will left by his uncle. He’s left his uncle’s property which includes several paintings. He discovers amongst his uncle’s paintings a painting that seems to be in the style of the Italian artist Caravaggio. But Paul becomes more obsessed with the subject of the painting, a very handsome young man, than with whether this is an old masterpiece. When he runs into a man who looks identical to the pictures, he’s immediately sidetracked by his attraction to him. .
I think the story stumbles along in the beginning and picked up a bit of steam when we meet Angelo. The romance comes to the forefront and the story takes a paranormal turn as we eventually get an explanation about Angelo and his resemblance to the painting. Other than that, there’s not much going on as Paul quits his job and he’s not speaking to his relatives.
I found the mystery a bit thin here and I don’t think any of the characters ever really rose above cardboard cutouts for me. All of Paul’s family just seemed to blindly hate him just for being gay with no nuance whatsoever. We hear that father was the real villain in this but since he’s dead at the start of the story there’s nothing to go on there.
Then later in the story Paul’s brother returns and does some real evil that everyone seems to brush off instead of having him carted off to a jail cell. There’s another villain Nico but I found the explanation for why he was pursuing trouble with Angelo and Paul seriously lacking.
The other character that was too cardboard for me unfortunately, was the main love interest, Angelo. Angelo was just too perfect and even with the reason given for it, to me it just made the character and the story a bit boring. I’m not all that enamored with bad boys but I think I’d prefer reading about that than about falling in love with a perfect angel. I think though, if you like these sweet kinds of characters you could find something to enjoy here....more
Surprisingly, a story about a middle aged man dealing with cancer isn't all that hilarious. Crazy right. But the description in the blurb does call thSurprisingly, a story about a middle aged man dealing with cancer isn't all that hilarious. Crazy right. But the description in the blurb does call this a warm, funny novel. I think a lot of the humor must have been lost in translations somewhere as this is a very Irish novel and I don't think I got whatever jokes were there. By the way this is a lot of dialog writing and the main character says grand a whole lot. I think more narrative and reducing the dialog would have probably helped this story as a lot of times someone's conversations aren't all that interesting, especially when it's constantly peppered with filler words (like grand).
Nevertheless, this had a nice, gentle and drowsy quality that made it ideal for late night just about to go to bed reading. In the middle though, Jimmy our main character inexplicably starts an affair despite having a most loving, understanding supporting wife. Jimmy never feels any guilt over this and it never becomes an issue as he never reveals it to his wife so it served very little purpose to the story except to reduce what little charm it had. I get really bored with men doing the expected when going through their midlife crisis. Ho Hum.
But I got this book because of its music storyline with Jimmy being some kind of music promoter (of old acts) and when that was center stage, especially at the end when Jimmy and his buddies and his reunited brother become the old men at a rock music festival, the book was at its best. The problem is we had to slog through a whole lot of stuff to get to that point and there wasn't enough of it. It's all a bit meh and I'm kind of amazed I read the entire thing. ...more
Wade Boehme is back in familiar territory here as he revisits the theme of an older formerly married man falling foReviewed on Hearts on Fire
Wade Boehme is back in familiar territory here as he revisits the theme of an older formerly married man falling for his son’s best friend that he first explored in “Wide Awake.” This one has the addition of co author Piper Vaugn helping to smooth out the rough edges. For the most part it works here. The two authors blend well, so much so that I couldn’t really tell where one began and the other ended..
The story itself was a nice diversion. Aaron is a hunky contractor whose plans for the summer to remodel his parent’s lake house runs into a snag when his helper injures himself. As an alternative, Aaron asks his son Julian to work for him over the summer as a way to reconnect. Their relationship had been strained ever since Aaron divorced Julian’s mom. Aaron is secretly pleased when Julian asks to also bring along his roommate Malachi as Aaron has had a crush on him from when they first met.
Things really click for Aaron & Malachi. Aaron is impressed by Malachi’s carpentry skills and his maturity and Malachi finds himself very attracted to the older man. However, the summer also brings strain as Aaron starts having a difficult time juggling the secrets he’s keeping from Julian, namely the fact that he’s gay and dating his best friend.
But the closer Aaron & Malachi become the more bratty and annoying Julian behaves. He starts to neglect his job and disappear for long periods of time. Aaron is way too soft with Julian and pretty much lets him get away with all kinds of things for most of the story.
I never did quite get Julian’s issues. It’s obvious he’s jealous of Malachi but there’s other things going on as well as there’s some mention of a problem with a girl though the issue is never really explored. Aaron’s inability to confront Julian and also to come clean about his sexuality was also a bit annoying as he’s supposed to be the adult in this story.
He has a great relationship with his ex wife and no one anywhere seems to have a problem with his sexuality. I had to assume it all boiled down to fear of the unknown and not wanting to do anything to mess up his relationship with Julian which means he gave in to him at every turn.
Instead of seeing a reconciliation between father and son, what we end up with most of the time is Julian somewhat one dimensionally playing the dark cloud hanging over Aaron and Malachi’s romance. Julian’s running and frequent absences does allow Aaron and Malachi to find the time to become closer, especially sexually. While those scenes start off hot, it sometimes felt too long and detailed instead of focused on the raw emotions. There was good humor and chemistry between the two that helped to offset that.
The 16 year age difference between the two men while large, never felt excessive. That’s probably because a lot of times Malachi acted older and Aaron younger than his age. The two get together fairly quickly but we do have a lot of ‘we shouldn’t have’ guilt accompanying it. I liked that we got dualing points of views which is terrific for romance stories. There’s one wrinkle, (Julian) that temporarily tears them apart but it gets resolved nicely.
Julian was a problematic element especially as he does a totally unexplained attitude turnaround at the end. Despite that, while I wasn’t blown away, I did end up liking most of the story and would recommend it, especially for lovers of May/December romances....more
4.5 Stars In this delightful mystery the suspense is all tied to our main character who’s an agoraphobic apartment dwellerReviewed on Hearts on Fire
4.5 Stars In this delightful mystery the suspense is all tied to our main character who’s an agoraphobic apartment dweller who spends his time spying on his neighbors and ends up witnessing something that he wasn’t supposed to see. Think Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window with some modern twists. While our hero is not physically handicapped, he’s incapacitated nonetheless from fear as he finds himself petrified to leave his living quarters. The other twist is that though the story starts off with a break up with a woman, the person who ignites a spark in him is the male police officer who knocks on his door as he’s investigating a case of a missing neighbor in the apartment building.
Our nameless narrator finds himself slowly being seduced by the mystery and by the charming Sergeant Marzoli, all while trying to fight off his demons which start to have a life of their own after he receives some bad news from his past. The book becomes an engrossing read as we hang on to learn the mysteries of the past and the more prominent current one.
Initially, the main character is a little off putting and the writing not always accessible. It’s a first person narrative that can feel a little claustrophobic as we only get the point of view of the unnamed voyeur in the story. There’s also a continuous switch from present to past that takes some getting used to. But after a while I found the rhythm of the story and really started enjoying the journey.
I liked the narrator’s often biting and politically incorrect humor, especially in connection with the ridiculous nicknames he assigns each apartment dweller & how he deals with his new and surprising attraction to the very male detective who’s dropped into his life. He & Marzoli have a nice chemistry that builds as the story goes along. He also finds himself slowly letting go of the paralysis that had taken over his life.
Attempting to solve the mystery brings he & Marzoli more & more together. The fact that the two of them spark against each other is an added bonus. .
The main protagonist hides behind a lot of defenses and is more cynical than nice most of the time. He watches his neighbors with a mixture of disdain, and pity at first although his thinking about them evolves as the story progresses. While his issues become obvious fairly quickly, we also eventually learn that Marzoli is not all what he seems as well.
This is the kind of story that holds your interest and leaves you wanting more. There’s an erotically charged noir like quality to the story that I don’t often find in most M/M novels. I like that it’s a little different while still staying true to the romance. I’m partial to mysteries and particularly enjoyed the little psychological drama that played out in this one. This is one suspenseful read that I’m happy to recommend...more
There's something awkward about this story from its narration to its very charming protagonist, Liam Davis like it's written by someone where EnglishThere's something awkward about this story from its narration to its very charming protagonist, Liam Davis like it's written by someone where English isn't their first language. It also has a very old fashioned feel with Liam behaving like a very old school student journalist (he carries around a notebook constantly jotting down notes) whose great ambition is to become a newspaper journalist. Who on earth thinks newspaper editor is a viable profession these days? Was this written 10 to 20 years ago? The thing with this story however,is that as I continued reading it I started to get sucked into Liam's world and his odd little view of things.
Liam is a genuinely smart and kind social misfit who says exactly what he's thinking at times. Sometimes they're blunt unintentionally funny things and sometimes almost painful truths get blurted out. He kind of reminds me of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. Liam has spent so much time on his ambitions he hasn't had time to develop socially and in his mind he doesn't think he needs to but others do. When Liam is forced to cover the party circuit of his school for the papers, he's finds himself interacting with all kinds of different people including Quinn, a handsome young man who recently broke up with his boyfriend, and Hunter, a very feisty young man who's in a wheelchair due to an accident.
All these people start to challenge Liam's worldviews and assumptions, even ones he's made about his own sexuality. There's also a story Liam follows involving a masked crusader who swoops in a la Batman when someone on campus is being attacked.
This entire story however rests on Liam and boy does he deliver. He's one of the more odd, funny & charming protagonists you'll read about in an m/m book. Because of him this was just a fun book to read. ...more
A lot of this at first was just so joyless and grim that I had a hard time plowing through after the 25 % mark. Jack Carber is a con man who ends up iA lot of this at first was just so joyless and grim that I had a hard time plowing through after the 25 % mark. Jack Carber is a con man who ends up in prison after being betrayed by his lover. I had some hopes early on that maybe we wouldn't be subjected to the normal evils of prison life but nope, it's just what you've been led to believe, lots of rape and violence. There's no relief in sight for Jack, not only from inmates who seem to have it in for him & a closeted priest who expects Jack to fulfill his fantasy, but especially from his mute, violent natured roommate Adder.
The book is about Jack finding a way to navigate his way through his prison sentence and to find a way to get Adder to see him as a human being. Jack finds himself succeeding only too well as he starts developing feelings for him. I had a hard time seeing that as anything other than Stockholm syndrome. Still the eventual change in the relationship does serve to lighten up the story so I ended up being grateful it was there.
Books about falling for your rapist/tormenter especially when they're written in realistic, contemporary settings and aren't fantasy stories, aren't usually on the top of my must read booklist. What helps here is the writer doesn't overplay the scenes and keeps things almost matter of fact as Jack's just a very practical person. I did end up rooting for the happy ending for this ridiculous relationship even though I felt I was little bit conned into it.
I remember liking Pressure Head more but this sequel has its good points. Because of the setting and the eccentric characters this had the feel of anI remember liking Pressure Head more but this sequel has its good points. Because of the setting and the eccentric characters this had the feel of an English Cozy mystery which I like. We get the point of view from Tom and we're in his head a lot so it's a good thing he's an amusing guy.
At the start of this Tom is still seeing Phil although he doesn't have a full handle on their relationship and where it's heading. In the meantime Tom finds from his sister that an aunt he was very fond of has passed away and left him something that he must find. We're then reminded that Tom has a psychic gift of finding things people hide, though I was disappointed that Tom's psychic abilities aren't really used too much in this story.
Tom's BFF Gary and Gary's beau Darren make a return appearance in this one. We 're also introduced to some other characters like Tom's annoying sister Cherry (although she mellows out towards the end). The others are a group of odd ducks that are served up as potential suspects when the criminal mischief occurs. Watching Tom and Phil play amateur sleuths & seeing it through Tom's eyes was amusing although I did find the big reveal about the villain and their motive to be very anti climatic.
More successful was the progression of Tom & Phil's relationship. Seeing the wheels turn for Tom as he realizes his deeper feelings for Phil was quite satisfying.
Some things surprised me in this story like there were several fade to black scenes and what sex scenes we do get is very minimal. I also expected to get more of a feel for Phil but he's still not as developed a character as Tom. Maybe in the next book which I assume will happen due to a plot twist that occurs at the end of this one. ...more
3.5 Stars I’ve tried out a few other Kade Boehme books & enjoyed them mainly for the heartfelt characters he creates wiReviewed on Hearts on Fire
3.5 Stars I’ve tried out a few other Kade Boehme books & enjoyed them mainly for the heartfelt characters he creates with this story being no exception. It’s a case of opposites attract between the new deputy in town, Will Cooper and local Native American youth worker, Colin Sharpe. But before anything can even happen between the two, there’s lots of obstacles thrown their way including having to deal with the racist attitude of the community in general and Colin’s father in particular. While I ended up liking the romance between Will & Colin, I wasn’t as satisfied with how the other plots tied together in the story.
Maybe it’s because racism is such a huge topic that it’s hard to do it justice. It’s especially cumbersome when you’re trying to tie that together with a tidy little romantic storyline. The racism was also too one sided with several of the Native Americans really hating white people, especially those that worked in the sheriff’s department, with no real reason given for their hostility, while the whites in town were portrayed as mainly innocent victims. That hardly meshed with reality when you consider who actually had the power in this small town and it wasn’t the Native Americans. I’d love to have read the back story on this and get a better explanation than just Will happened to end up in a village filled with ornery and mean spirited people.
There was also a subplot involving some youths in town that I thought Will was too passive about as it would have had far reaching consequences to him and his reputation. With all that was going on for him I did find myself wondering how he found the time to moon over some guy, even if he was a hot guy. His priorities were a little off.
While technically all the loose ends eventually gets tied up, I was still left with a feeling a ball was dropped somewhere. We needed more resolution. This is not to say I didn’t like the romance between the two guys. I was especially happy that we didn’t get some slapped on at the end HEA even if this story did succumb to the dreaded let’s separate the two guys in order to get to that place. I liked other things as well like how Will wasn’t your typical macho, tough guy cop. Despite some missed opportunities, that tipped the scale to the positive side for me and I’d recommend to those interested in reading a slightly angsty romance story....more
This was all right. The main character is this new agey, meditating and philosophical kind of guy who's a bartender, hence the title. But it turns outThis was all right. The main character is this new agey, meditating and philosophical kind of guy who's a bartender, hence the title. But it turns out that he's not really all that Zen as he's hiding from a lot of unpleasantness in his life like the fact that his mother was murdered and his dad is in prison. The fragile peace he's feeling is shattered when an old man comes into his bar claiming to have been the one who killed his mother.
This is supposed to be a thriller but it didn't quite live up to that billing. It's kind of hard to marry a thriller with zen, tea and the making of different bar drinks. All that stuff just slows the pace down. I can see bartenders finding this stuff interesting though. I made a guess on where this story was heading early on and it twisted and turned in exactly the way I expected. It wasn't that thrilling but not an unpleasant read at all.
Amy Lane has more than earned her moniker as the queen of angst in m/m stories. She seemed to have never met two boys inReviewed for Hearts on Fire
Amy Lane has more than earned her moniker as the queen of angst in m/m stories. She seemed to have never met two boys in love who she couldn’t make endlessly & exhaustingly suffer through some deep, disturbing trauma, but here she shows remarkable restraint in this story about an arty, techie party boy who finally gets to meet and fall for the boy next door. Not only is this not her normal angst fest but this one was downright sunny. So much so I swear I could almost hear that ‘Happy’ song in the background as I was reading.
The story begins at a wedding for friends where we first meet Will Lafferty and Kenny Scalia. The guest of honor at the wedding asks Will and Kenny how did the pair of them end up together and through a series of flashbacks we’re told their love story. Flashbacks is not my favorite method of storytelling and this one had the added factor of too much over sharing so I would have preferred a more straight forward storyline.
How Will & Kenny meet up is after Kenny comes home to find his faithful boyfriend is not so faithful, he ends up throwing out his excessive amounts of personal things and sex toys in the street. Will Lafferty is also having a bad day and is not paying attention when he runs into a garbage can containing all of Kenny’s toys. He finds himself fascinated by the shiny objects and the shiny Will and a friendship is born.
It’s all very movie script sweet and amusing. Kenny is a really nice guy even if I think his naivité is overplayed and over done. The fact that he’s never wondered before about his sexuality is also not remotely realistic. But again, he’s adorably so sweet that you want to overlook that part.
The story unfolds as we watch Will and Kenny go from a nice friendship and working relationship to realizing that each of them has feelings for the other. There’s a slight misunderstanding about this that keeps them in the friend zone for longer than they should have been but this gives them time to build up the relationship and keeps the story at a nice pace.
There’s no instant love here to grumble about. In fact, this story throws away a lot of the more irritating m/m conventions. For instance, the two protagonists are not movie star handsome and perfect and the misunderstanding between the two don’t go on to the point of misery. Someone has been paying attention to m/m reader’s complaints.
The one flaw I do see is that sometimes Kenny came across as excessively pushy about what Will should do with his life. He kept insisting that Will shouldn’t or couldn’t be a teacher presumably because he was gay. I thought Kenny should have taken a more supportive role of being there in case things don’t work out instead of advising Will aggressively to quit his job.
In the real world this would raise a lot of red flags about the relationship. But in this story, Will just gives up his dreams as if he never heard of applying to teach in a less conservative area or moving. There are gay teachers around who still have their jobs so acting like it was impossible was a little irritating. This was enough to keep me from seeing this as a perfect story as Kenny as a partner should not be making Will’s career choices for him.
That takes this to more of a B level instead of an A level story. Still it’s quite good and almost feels like a love letter from Amy Lane to her fans who’ve been clamoring for a much lighter feel good love story and she delivers on this one....more
This gets off to a good start but neither the mystery nor the romance ever reach their full potential.
The story is divided into two parts and begins with Jason Wood traveling to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where he gets in a car accident. His rescuer turns out to be a childhood friend, Henry McCavanaugh. They rekindle their friendship and there’s sparks leading to the start of something more between the two. In the meantime, there’s a mystery involving Jason’s inheritance, a family farm that is burned to the ground with a dead body inside of it.
Against a moody, dark, frozen, wintery backdrop everything is set up for a great mystery romance. But the focus turns away from the mystery and mainly to what’s happening between Jason and Henry. As their re kindled friendship becomes something more, Jason is thrilled as well as nervous, as his fears of getting too close to anyone resurfaces. In the back of his mind he’s also aware he has to eventually return to his real life as a baker in another town.
It’s not surprising then when it all culminates with Jason abruptly running away from Henry without a word after a night of intimacy. But that this pattern of avoidance and miscommunication continues throughout the entire story was certainly disappointing.
Part one, and the best part of this book ends with Jason getting the big reveal about the fire at the family farm and with a big misunderstanding involving Jason, his ex and Henry.
Part two then begins and it soon becomes clear that there will be no quick resolution as Jason finds every excuse he can think of to actually never communicate with Henry ever again. Instead the book first focuses on Jason dealing with the information he’s learned about the farmhouse fire and the identity of the body. This leads him to travel revisiting childhood memories and to additional travels to try to clear his head.
This also involves Jason becoming superficially and sexually involved with a couple of other men. Since these relationships were basically meaningless it felt like it was a waste of space. Space perhaps that could have been taken up actually building up the other main character Henry. The only thing we truly learn about Henry is his feelings for Jason. Other than that, he doesn’t have any real identity in this book.
When Jason finally stops traveling and tries to settle down, he again finds multiple ways and reasons not to talk to Henry. Instead the misunderstandings between the two of them just start to pile up and to get really irritating. There’s got to be better ways to create tension in a story. Because there’s no contact between the two main characters there’s also no real romance as well. That’s certainly a big flaw if you’re trying to sell this as a romance novel.
We get a lot with Jason and his growth but truly I didn’t feel like this was about two adult men trying to have a relationship but about people doing their best to avoid one. The happy ending that occurs after months and months of not speaking just felt like a cheat. There’s definite potential with the writing here but there was too many deficiencies in the romantic storyline department....more
Just like one of those sweet and gooey chocolate candy this goes down nice and easy even while knowing this is nothing butReviewed on Hearts on Fire
Just like one of those sweet and gooey chocolate candy this goes down nice and easy even while knowing this is nothing but a whole lot of empty calories. Brian, a wolf shifter takes Luke as his mate in order to save his life. We are told though that the pair are on equal footing and both are considered alphas. But in Luke’s case, the use of the term alpha is just a word with no meaning as there’s nothing alpha about the constant cowering he does behind his mate’s back and his constant quaking in fear whenever any wolf so much as looks at him. Still Luke does eventually settle into a comfort zone where he finds some strength even if it sometimes feel as if he’s playing the little woman behind the strong man character in an old fashioned love story.
The plot is fairly simple. Luke accidentally strays into Brian’s territory. Brian is a wolf shifter and Luke is fully human. There’s a ridiculous rule about having to kill Luke or anyone who comes into the territory at the wrong time. To avoid that Brian takes Luke as his mate. In the space of a few sentences Brian and Luke find out they’re really compatible and fall in love. It happens so quickly that it could win a contest in the fastest m/m instant love book I’ve read. The pacing is much too fast with not enough details in the early parts of the story although it feels it finds its equilibrium after the two get together.
The rest of the story centers around the two of them getting in lockstep with Luke getting over his fear of wolves and Brian overcoming his loneliness to accept other wolves in his life. The wolves from the earlier part of the book though don’t play much of a part. Instead we get a repetitive story about Luke recruiting and adopting new pack members. It starts to feel like a continuous loop with Luke going way overboard in trying to extend the pack, Brian getting exasperated but eventually giving in to luke’s ideas with this pattern repeating itself again with the next recruit.
Everything is glossed over in this story as we’re told more than shown most of it. Although Brian and Luke are affectionate there’s no sex on the page. There’s a lot of cuteness involving cranky but adorable old wolves and sweet little ones though. Brian and Luke are very likable which is pretty much what carries this story. This doesn’t have a lot of depth but if you’re craving sweet and easy then this might hit the spot....more