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Jake Hansen has been crushing on Gabe Byrne for half his life, but since Gabe is a straight, self-proclaimed commitment-phobe who moved away years ago to join the Marines, that crush is strictly a fantasy-best-enjoyed-in-private. And even when Gabe starts to flirt with him like crazy, Jake still knows better than to think it means anything.

Because falling in love with your straight bestie? Not just a cliche, but a guaranteed recipe for disaster.


Growing up, Gabe never saw "Little Jakey" as anything more than the kid who always liked to tag along after him and his brothers, but somehow, being friends with Jake has become the best part of his day. And after a seven-month deployment? Seeing Jake is the one thing he's looking forward to the most.

He just didn't expect that hanging out in person again would be so confusing... or keep blurring the lines about just how straight he is... or keep making him want things that he never thought he would.

Things that seem a lot like forever.

Ready For Love is a gay romance novel of approximately 79,000 words that contains a hot Marine who spends a good portion of the book in denial, a perky flight attendant who keeps saying yes, zoo animals in compromising positions, a variety of home decor issues, and a sweet and very public happily-ever-after ending worthy of true romantics. Every Stella Starling romance can be read as a standalone and takes place in the same interconnected, contemporary world. Ready For Love is the first book in the Semper Fi series, which is a spin off from At Last, The Beloved Series.

300 pages, Kindle Edition

First published May 18, 2017

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Stella Starling

26 books454 followers

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5 stars
683 (37%)
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707 (38%)
3 stars
344 (18%)
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69 (3%)
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26 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 260 reviews
May 17, 2017

If you prefer gritty stories with angst and true life drama, this book is not for you. If, on the other hand, you read fiction to escape and crave the occasional book equivalent of a giant chocolate chip cookie—sweet, delicious & guilt free—you will devour Ready For Love.

I read and enjoyed Stella Starling's Beloved series but would have preferred the fluff without the mystery/stalker plotline. I got my wish with Ready For Love.

This book is all about the relationship: sexual tension galore, opposites attract, one toppy Marine, one cute as hell flight attendant, and a HEA for miles!

Gabe and Jake made an appearance in Be Loved (Brandon and Shane's story), and I just knew the definitely-NOT-gay Marine would fall for charming Little Jakey (who's not so little anymore).

When the book begins, the MCs are already close friends. Gabe was deployed for months; he and Jake texted and/or Skyped every day.

But one night of dancing creates sparks Gabe isn't ready for. He doesn't want to mess up the friendship, but he can't stop thinking about Jake's butt. What's a man to do?

I liked that Gabe didn't get all broody about his bisexuality; initially, he's vaguely embarrassed of being seen holding hands with a man, but he more than makes that up to Jake with a very public, um, homecoming.

There is a strong sense of family in this story. Jake is really close to his mom, who's in remission following a battle with breast cancer, and Gabe's family is super tightknit.

When Jake's usually energetic mom starts coming home from work early to take naps, Jake worries the fatigue may be a bad sign and pushes her to see an oncologist. But he doesn't want to bother Gabe with his concerns; after all, Gabe likes the fun, carefree Jake. Gabe, however, is more than ready to step up and be the boyfriend Jake deserves.

This is such a romantic story, but it's also ridiculously sexy. Two words: WALL. SEX. Bam! *mic drop*

Ready For Love is pure feel-good GOLD! I couldn't stop smiling. Gah! *hugs Kindle*

Book 2 can't come soon enough (I would love Zach and Blair's story; they'd be even better together)!
Profile Image for ~Mindy Lynn~.
1,396 reviews580 followers
October 23, 2017
I loved this one.

This was just the uncomplicated sweetness I needed and it hit all the right spots. This is absolutely my favorite read by this author so far and I can't wait to read the rest of the books in this series.

A flight attendant and a Marine. Who knew such an odd pairing would make for such a hot read. Friends to lovers is one my favorite tropes and I got a big dose of it in this one. They are quite adorable in their back and forth chatter and the little flirting they do. Once they came together on page I just knew this was going to be a delicious book that I would eat right up. And I did in one setting.

Gabe was such a doll. He was such a happy character. No broody marine here. Nope. He was funny and carefree and he absolutely adored Jake or Little Jakey as Gabe like to refer to him. He also nicknamed him Petal which I thought was adorable. I liked that when he realizes his feelings he didn't shy away from them. No, quite the opposite. He actually made it a mission to track Jake down and claim him.

Jake has crushed on Gabe since they were kids and has dreamed of Gabe being his. So when offered the friends with benefits option he jumps on it. He can't believe he's finally getting what he wanted even if it's not completely the relationship with Gabe he had in mind.

During the time of Gabe and Jake trying to find their feet in their new found relationship, Jake is going through a lot with his mom. I loved their relationship and how close they were to each other. It broke my heart seeing them both struggling with what was going on with his mom. I was so relieved when Jake finally gave in and let Gabe know everything.

They were so good together and the chemistry was off the charts with these guys. I loved how Gabe treated Jake and how possessive and protective he was. They were complete opposites and that just made them work even more.

If your looking for a sweet carefree book that will make you smile and laugh throughout, this book is for you.

Happy reading dolls! xx
Profile Image for Wendys Wycked Words.
1,549 reviews3,802 followers
May 22, 2017
5-Star.png (900×240):

I absolutely adored this book. I actually smiled from beginning to end. I haven't read the other series by this author, but after reading this one, I will definitely be checking it out.  This book just made me all kinds of happy and for that alone it deserves 5 stars :)

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Gabe and Jake have known each other since they were young. Nowthat they both grown up, they are still good friends. Jake is an out and proud flight-attendent. Gabe is a straight marine, with commitment issues, who has been deployed for the last 7 months. The two of them have been keeping in contact through text messages.

After returning home from deployment, he surpises his "Jakey", by picking him up at the airport. Now these two have apparently always been flirting back and forth for shits and giggles, but for Jake....his flirtations come pretty close to the truth. He has been harboring a major crush on his straight friend for a long long time. Gabe is pretty much clueless.

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That is until one night on the town, changes everything for Gabe. He is starting to get aware that his feelings for Jake have changed....into something much more than friendship. He realizes, that he is lusting after his best friend.

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Now what to do. Well, that's quite simple.... Why not turn the friendship into a friendship with benefits. Jake has some doubt, because he knows that Gabe is not offering him a real relationship. He knows exactly how Gabe feels about those....but how can he say no, when what Gabe is offering him, is one of his "dirty dreams" come true. He will just have to try and protect his heart.

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These two couldn't have been more opposite, which made their interactions/banter pretty funny. This story is sweet, romantic, funny and sexy as hell. What more does one need....

This review has been posted on Dirty Books Obsession


Profile Image for Tanu Gill.
574 reviews246 followers
May 27, 2017
3.5 stars

The book is a cute, low-angst, sweet-as-sin romance story, with loveable MCs, who are just so adorkable, and a nice enough storyline.

The book started and ended on a great note, no doubt. But it's the middle that has made me give it the rating that I have. The middle dragged for me a bit. And I say this because even though I had a very hectic schedule, I've been known to keep my sleep time at bay just to get further into a good story that I have sunk my teeth and claws into, but this one didn't make me fight my body's needs to get to know the characters just that much more. Rather, I found myself easily succumbing to the need to rest and leave the book for the next day. And this is one of the factors which tell me how much I enjoyed a book.

So even though Gabe and Jake(y) were cute individuals and adorable as a couple, even though I liked the story well enough in general, I didn't find anything to grab my attention tenaciously and not let go.

But the ending surprise did remind me of the dragon shifters series, by the author's another pen name, that I had read the first part of and enjoyed a lot, so now I'll switch to that series rather than go to know more about this Byrne family.
Profile Image for Martin.
738 reviews392 followers
August 7, 2020
I really recommend reading the afterword to this story. It's super sweet and EXACTLY my kind of thing. Also, it explains quite a lot I didn't know. Stella Starling is a pen name for a collaboration of authors, who have released books before, but this specific book was only written by one of them and therefore this one - quote -  "has a bit more of a sappy flavor than the other books".

I found that hilarious, because OMG yes, this story is sweet. No doubt about it. And while I am rather a fan of darker romances, I totally lost myself in this story and these characters.

Jake Hansen is a flirty and slightly flamboyant flight attendant who has a pretty close relationship with his mom. His best friend and secret childhood crush is Gabriel Byrne, a Marine who spent 7 months in a war zone and just got back to San Diego. The two have been chatting almost daily and while Jake never told Gabe that he would love to literally climb him like a tree, Gabe is a straight commitment-phobe  who never wants to settle down.

And while I admit the whole thing has a bit of a fairy tale quality, when Gabe and Jake meet again as friends, sparks fly and Gabe has this crazy idea (yeah, it's THAT trope again, eyeroll) that since Jake is a horny gay guy and Gabe has had weird feelings while dancing closely with Jake in a gay night club (don't ask), they should take the friends relationship to a friends with benefit one and have lots of sex while never settling down.

Shockingly, and totally unexpected (right?), love gets in the way of their perfect agreement.

I never seem to get enough of the straight guy experimenting with a gay guy trope. While I do find it painful to see a straight guy using his gay best friend for sex (and the gay guy being too afraid to talk about feelings with his long time crush), for some reason these characters made it work.

I was a bit surprised and impressed that Gabe didn't need a life-changing event to realize that yes, he too had feelings for Jake. He gradually evolved into it and accepted it like the soldier he is.
I liked that about him.

Yes, it was super romantic.
Yes, it was incredibly sweet.
Yes, the sex was (while hot) totally overdone and at times their orgasms were more like brain-frying strokes than anything we usually see.

Still, I totally adored this story. It had lighthearted flirtiness, heavy themes (Jake's mom's story) and quite a bit of depth that I didn't expect from this book.

All in all, I can totally recommend this as a summer romance without too much angst and without the usual painful misunderstandings.

Don't we all want a Gabe for ourselves??

5 stars!
Profile Image for *J* Too Many Books Too Little Time.
1,921 reviews3,431 followers
May 22, 2017

How sweet was that?

Like everyone else, I pretty much had a smile on my face for the whole book.

I was going to round it up a bit, but honestly I didn't care for the names "Jakey" and "Petal".

Still a really sweet, feel-good, low angst read....with some good steam and likable characters all around.

That epilogue though! SWOON!
Profile Image for Mirjana **DTR - Down to Read**.
1,371 reviews649 followers
June 6, 2019

I'm gonna be honest here. This book felt like a saccharine filled cliche of MM romance. What cishet women who are so totally "allies" think of when they shout their "love is love" motto. No second thought to what they're representing by these characters...or the bi-erasure.

To be completely blunt...this book felt like a total stereotype written by women for women and cashing in on the MM genre.

Jake felt like a total one-dimensional gay cliche.

And Gabe....well Gabe used every opportunity to say that he's definitely not GAY. Nope. But he has no problem with it...hell his brother is gay and the family is gearing up for the big, gay wedding. And he's watched gay porn. And he's found men attractive.

While I appreciate that he wasn't some broody, homophobic Marine...every one of these sentences that fell out of his mouth made me cringe...

"You're going to look so gay."

He looked sort of...sexy. In, you know, a gay way.

If Jake was going to get his gay on, he could definitely do better.

What had Jake given him? Some kind of gay Viagra?

Was that a gay thing?

...he'd sorta avoided all the gayest parts of gay sex, because, well, he wasn't gay.

And many more...

And now of course lets discuss the bi-erasure.

Zach (Gabe's friend) who is bisexual, easily talks about loving women and men and throughout the course of the book actually talks about an ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend, goes on a date with a woman, and goes on a date with a man....but is the word bisexual mentioned in this book? Yes....ONCE. And here's the quote from Gabe.

"No, I don't want to talk about it. I'm good with the gay. Or maybe, uh, the bi, like you always say. I mean, Jesus, Zach, it's not like I don't still think girls are hot. I just don't...you know. I don't actually want to fuck any of them right now."

At one point Gabe asks Zach if he's given up on "his gay" when he says he's met a woman. HE'S NOT GAY...HE'S BISEXUAL!! Not to mention SO IS GABE!!

I think it's pretty clear that I won't be reading any Stella Starling books in the future, or anything from either of the authors who make up the Stella Starling pen name (Aubrey Cullens & someone who looks to have the first name Peyton - this information is based on the acknowledgements in the book).
Profile Image for Shile (Hazard's Version) semi-hiatus.
1,069 reviews750 followers
June 25, 2017
I loved, Loooooved this book. I was smiling from the beginning to end.


This was a sweet, cute story between a flight attendant Jake and a not so straight marine Gabe.
Jake (petal) and Gabe were so good together, the chemistry was off the charts. When Gabe found out he liked Jake more than a friend, he did not hesitate or deny it he just went for it.. and i loved that.

“You’re my favorite person in the world, you know? And I wasn’t sure how to fix it until I
saw you today, but then I realized—”
Jake’s heart quit somersaulting and went back to pounding again. He was Gabe’s favorite
person? In the world?


and the epilogue was so sugary ,rainbows and candy

The Kiss.. Awww Swoon


If you are looking for a Cute, very little angst story then this is for you.
Profile Image for M.I.A.
406 reviews77 followers
July 25, 2020
Gabe is kind of dense. I wavered between finding him endearing to being cross with him.
Everything just took a while to process and he had a tendency to be contrary for no reason. But then he does this magical thing where he bulldozes through the resistance and without any qualms he accepts his mission and progresses straight into action. Yeah it takes him awhile to progress from I'm straight to I'm not gay but let's be friends-with-benefits to all the gooey and lovey stuff that makes it all worth it.
Despite all his resistance to this new found sexuality & uncharted emotional territory he's actually quite sweet and charming with Jake. From the very beginning there is this playful flirtatious platonic relationship that is just rampant with UST and the progression to something more is incredibly sweet and doesn't lack romantic moments. Even with his commitment phobia he's very demonstrative with Jake and it's quite apparent that he cherishes him.

"Gabe wasn’t quite sure when it had happened, but somehow, the moments he spent with Jake—virtual or otherwise—had become what Gabe looked forward to most every day. Jake had become the one who Gabe saved up his stories to share with, the one he thought of telling first whenever something funny happened, the one who made the shitty moments seem less so."

I really liked Jake and yeah he was a cliche, in love with his straight best friend. But there was something fresh about the way he goes about it. Not necessarily hiding his attraction, or his jealousy. Playful, flirtatious even with that pang of want in his chest. No drama, or ultimatums but not necessarily hiding dissatisfaction either. His character was cautious, genuine and patient but not a doormat. Perfectly adult and balanced.

I really only have one complaint and that's the nickname Gabe bestows on Jake: 'petal'. It was seriously difficult to ignore it and on more than one occasion it kind of ruined the very hot sex scenes. Which just sucked, I started substituting it in my mind... but still hard to ignore and it took away from the story. Kind of crazy that one word took some of the shine away, but it did, hence me removing a star.

Other than that one niggle 'Ready for Love' is quite lovely. Highly recommend to anyone in the mood for friend-to-lover, low angst, feel good read with the most *gush worthy* HEA!
Profile Image for Denise H..
2,895 reviews201 followers
August 2, 2020
*** I loved everything about this book. *** The guys are awesome, the story is fabulous and there's lots of hot sexiness.
Marine Gunnery Sergeant, Gabe, 29, is stationed near San Diego.

Jake, 25, is an Airline Steward, who has dealt with his Mom's cancer while Gabe was overseas.

Now, Jake is picking up Gabe from his flight. Gabe's come home and he and best friend Jake , can hang out and catch up. Gabe's feelings for Jake are changing and he becomes possessive and jealous. He's trying to figure out his emotions. Jake is Gabe's favorite person in the world, and he finally realizes it's time to step up or step away.

He step's up. They are sizzling and have super hot sexiness, with Gabe's first times with M/M sex.

Great scenes, deep emotion and life changing feelings. You'll like the plot flow, the inner thoughts, and the progress Gabe makes. Gabe's family is amazing, and a wedding is coming up. Jake has his Mom, who's health is slipping. We see Jake step up to help after her new diagnosis, and when he finally lowers his wall and he tells Gabe what's going on - Gabe is there. He's declared his feelings and devotion.

Your heart will ache, and then burst with happiness.
Highly recommended. This GFY, gay for you, tale shows us it's Jake and only Jake for Gabe.
Profile Image for Jennifer☠Pher☠.
2,692 reviews222 followers
May 21, 2017
Pretty much exactly what I expected and exactly what I wanted from this book.

Just from the initial meet up of Gabe and Jake in Be Loved I knew I had to have their story.

And what a perfect story it was.

It's getting five stars just because.

Now I am off to look up books from all the aliases. I loved the note at the end. Thank you!
Profile Image for Christelle.
808 reviews
June 3, 2017
No, nope : didn’t work for me at all. The blurb sounded good and there were good reviews…but for me, it was just too sugary, eye-rolling and with MCs that felt more like teenagers than adults.
And the nail in the coffin : public declaration of love and wedding proposal: that’s a huge deal-breaker for me !
Profile Image for Susan.
2,174 reviews380 followers
May 20, 2017
----Spoilers ahead---

The only reason I'm giving this 3 stars is because I really loved the last 25%. The rest frustrated me to no end.

This book had several of my major pet peeves. :(
- A commitment-phobe
- A GFY theme with an oblivious MC
- No communication/honesty between the MCs

It started out pretty good with Jake and Gabe being very close friends. I liked how Gabe treated Jake like a loved without him even knowing this. But.... I can only take so much obliviousness.

When Gabe had his big AHA moment at the beginning, I was rubbing my hands in glee and thought he was all on board the gay love train when he said this:

“Neither one of us wants to deal with a relationship, but we both need to get laid, right? And all this dodging me you’ve done the last couple of weeks? It’s sucked. I’ve missed you. I don’t know why I didn’t figure it out before, but we should totally become friends with benefits, you know?”

Seriously Gabe?? You've been jealous of every guy who looked at Jake and then you say, let's just have sex?

And the way Gabe was constantly stating that Jake was not looking for a relationship with anyone was based on nothing. Jake never said anything of that sorts, Gabe just assumed. And the way Gabe himself constantly said how he loathed relationships... oh please dude.... just shut up already.

I was also really fed up with Jake, who was so in love with Gabe but decided that hey, Gabe wants to have sex, sure, let's do it!

Of course this all drags out until 75%, where I was just screaming at them to open up to each other and to stop having sex, but start having an actual conversation at that point!


I really did like the last 25% though. That part was great and everything I was hoping for with this book.

As you can see everyone else liked it, so please ignore my review.
Profile Image for Elsbeth.
1,171 reviews41 followers
May 20, 2017
I can be short about this.


I luuvved this. I loved Jake, Jakey. I loved Gabe calling him Petal all the time. Well okay, it took Gabe some time to get his head out of his ass. But I was in love with this couple.

Did I mention I loved the Petal part? It sure makes me wanna read all of this author's stuff. So, All I want, here I come....

Recommended if you're looking for something fluffy for a Saturday - reading!!!
Profile Image for ⚣Michaelle⚣.
3,672 reviews202 followers
October 26, 2017
4.0 Stars

I picked this book originally because, well, that cover. Hot. Also, with the dog tags and series title I knew I was getting a Marine. Yum. And, well, once again I've managed to stumble onto something I ended up really liking!

Sure, some of it is hella cheesy and OTT...not to mention that ridiculously romantic epilogue. You know what? I don't care. I had fun reading this. I also loved that there really was little angst once Gabe realized he wanted to be more than just friends with Jake. I thought the characters were interesting: OMG Jake's sometimes snarky bitch attitude made me LOL and Gabe's "I have to do/fix things" mentality made me smile. (It's a characteristic of every Marine I know.)

There are a handful of characters from other series in this story and it's probably one of the only times that this has happened where I didn't feel like I missed out on something...because their stories didn't really impact this one. They were cameos that, combined with a way too entertaining afterwards, have piqued my interest into maybe checking out their books. I definitely want to see how two of the Marines from this one make out. (Prolly not together, though.)

Also, I kind of liked that huge life changes were NOT just automatically decided and then worked out perfectly for these guys. Gabe is a Marine that stays a Marine and sometimes that means lengthy deployments & long stretches of training activities. And Jake is a flight attendant. He's not home all the time either. Yes, he can finagle his schedule a little to make more time for them to be together...but almost a year later and they're still juggling that obstacle. Living together can bridge that gap more, but we get a realistic HEA. And I love that.

So, I'm really happy I shelved this book and it got picked as a GangBang read; I think this is the first book I've read by this author but it will by no means be the last!
Profile Image for Dani.
124 reviews38 followers
September 23, 2017
If you want something sappy, cute, sweet and uncomplicated you should read this one ASAP!

Friends to lovers story with low angst, some steam and the corniest nicknames ever! I can’t complain much about it because couples tend to be weird with nicknames thing and though “Petal” made me cringe, I couldn’t stop loving Gabe because he’s such a sweetheart. The sappiness really suited the story. And Jake was so funny; I totally get his weakness of not being able to say “No” to his sweetheart.

I don’t know what else to say because that epilog left me speechless. I’m a helpless romantic, I know, besides I’m a total fan of PDA.

A completely HEA, I want nothing more than pure happiness for Gabe and Jake.

I haven’t read the other series from this author, but after this one, I’ll be checking them out.

PD: I really hope Blair gets a story because I absolutely love him!

He pulled up his message thread with Blair.
Gabe just sent me a heart. WTF?
Blair answered right away:
Please tell me it didn’t arrive in a box, warm and still beating. Because I don’t care how hot he is, sorry. That’s a total deal breaker.

4 stars
Profile Image for Bitchie.
1,464 reviews77 followers
May 24, 2017
This was great! It was a late in life bisexual realization, although from what we saw, I don't know what took so long. I loved that the inner conflict wasn't wanting a man, or even wanting a friend, but falling in love, and even that wasn't a big hurdle for Gabe. This was really just a very low angst, friends to lovers story, a perfect feel good pick me up.
Profile Image for Cadiva.
3,226 reviews290 followers
August 5, 2017
Sweet as spun sugar and a real pick me up tonic

This book is just candy kisses, spun sugar sweet and you know what, sometimes that's all I want to read.

This spin off from the BeLoved a series is a delight as Brandon's older brother Gabe gets his flirt on with Jake, the cute flight attendant from the first two books.

Gabe was clueless, his total lack of awareness that what he felt for Jake was more than just long term friendship had me smiling throughout this book.

Gabe was also hot as Hell and let's just drop in wall sex here shall we?! That scene was jaw dropping and, for a first attempt at getting his gay on, just all ends up wow. I loved how Gabe just went for it without much angsty - except for the odd freak at demonstrating his relationship status - not his being with a man one.

There was a bit of non communication but not much and thankfully no misunderstandings. The tensions came from outside the romance element of the narrative.

And the epilogue, everything I want to read in a rom/com style setting, a huge public declaration of love in front of the world. Not something I'd be happy with in RL, but in my fiction, all the Hell yes's!
Profile Image for Len Evans Jr.
1,442 reviews200 followers
May 25, 2017
OK... first off I love the Beloved series as wellas the Standalone "All I Want". Stella Starling, whether writing as the two author combo or with just Aubrey writing as in this book arebeyond awesome. This latest book is a complete joy to read, though be warned the last 25% of the book may well have you in tears throughout it you are anything like myself. Gabe and Jake are beyond perfect as a couple even if it does take Gabe a bit longer to figure that out than for Jake. The characters in this book; some we know from the Beloved series some new are awesome, believable and down right lovable. Both Gabe and Jake are funny and managed to make me laugh at numerous points throughout the book. Lastly once you finish the book make sure you do NOT skip over the authors "Thank You" section because included after the Thanks are a bunch of "Ready For Love" Fun Facts, these are well worth the read, fun and interesting combined. This is a MUST MUST MUST read, it is a thing of pure joy and will not fail to put many smiles on your face een if sometimes you are smiling through your tears!
96 reviews24 followers
January 15, 2022
Loved this 3 years ago. Still love it now. Sweet, but not too sweet, adorable GFY romance. The audible is even better!
155 reviews29 followers
August 28, 2017
I don't really know what to say, here.

This was not a bad book. And I hate to do this, but this review is heavily colored by what came before. This book is connected to All I Want and the series surrounding bLoved.

I binge-read all of the Stella Starling books this weekend, and here's my problem. Ever read yaoi? No? That's probably fine. There are some good ones, but man most of it is so so so so bad. My biggest problem with it... well no. My biggest problem with yaoi is that so many of them are drawn looking like prepubescent boys (not all of them, there are some good ones who draw men who look like men who aren't in high school, but it's not the majority), which creeps me right the fuck out.

But my second biggest problem is the stereotypes.

Take 1 effeminate, small man. This man enjoys homemaking, cooking, is maybe artistic...


1 masc. man. He is larger. He is jealous, very protective, often emotionally unavailable

When they are together, masc man takes care of femme man and femme man teaches masc man how to love. Femme man always bottoms.

It's not a bad story

The problem enters in when it's the only story.

And that's my problem with these books. They're all like that. Exactly. Like. That.
Tiny effeminate men who like to decorate their man's home and fix his fashion sense and bring light and love to their cold, drab, lonely, colorless lives, and their big strong or super rich protectors.

And like I said, it's not a bad book. None of them are. They're interesting. Interesting things happen. The sex is hot (honestly, all a little same-y, I just happen to like that particular brand of same-y)

But it bothers me. It bothered me in yaoi. It bothers me here. There are a lot of reasons why it bothers me, and I'm not going to go into that, because I could fill a book about it, but the bottom line is that the story is 4 stars. But I just can't. If literally any of the books had broken the mold... but nope. All of them. I'm not even going to bother to review the other ones, because the same holds for all of them (except the 2nd book in this series, which is a solid DNF for other reasons, UGHHHHH)
Profile Image for BevS.
2,689 reviews2 followers
October 1, 2018
A really sweet friends with bennies story turns into true love at last, ahhh!! Gabe finally gets his lightbulb moment and discovers that his best friend Jake is all he needs to make him happy. Not many of these falling for your straight best friend stories seem to come true in RL, but glad to see [for Jake] that Gabe is following the Byrne tradition, and in it for the long haul. 4.25 stars from me.
Profile Image for Papie.
605 reviews111 followers
August 2, 2020
Like the other Stella Starling book I read (The Boyfriend Game), this was sweet, sexy and all around delicious.

I was a bit annoyed by how oblivious Gabe was in the beginning “oh things are awkward after I danced with Jake, so let me date a girl to fix it.” What? and then when he realizes they both want each other, “let’s be friends with benefits”. Oh.My.God. I wanted to yell at him for the first half of the book.

But he was sweet and awesome, and Jake was the cutest. I loved these two together, and I loved their friends and families. I definitely want to read more from all these guys.
Profile Image for AussieMum.
1,303 reviews41 followers
August 4, 2020
Way too much internal dialogue for my liking but these two were meant to be. Yes, Gabe was thick as two bricks for most of this but his naivety/denial about his feelings for Jake was always firmly in the sweet zone. Fluffy, romantic and appropriately frustrating. Just not something I’ll reread.
Profile Image for Teal.
580 reviews177 followers
July 23, 2018
*** 3.5 stars ***

From reading the sample, I expected this to be lightweight and silly -- the good, fun kind of silly. And it was, but the fun outweighs the silly in this friends-to-lovers bi-for-you story.

There were a number of too-familiar tropes/plot devices/what-have-you that I normally find tedious, primarily to do with miscommunication and health scares. Somehow the author managed to tweak those tropes just enough to subvert my expectations and keep me off-kilter, and that kept the story fresh for me.

I had some good laughs, and even some happy tears -- and wow, did the latter ever surprise me, because I'm not a romantic person. But this book's romantic moments were delightful, and yep, made me cry. Good job, Stella Starling. :)
121 reviews8 followers
June 5, 2017
3.75 stars.

This book started off amazing. I really liked the MCs, still do, but Gabe's denial and his sudden acceptance out of nowhere seemed unreal? Idk, the plot was good and the HEA was nice. Overall, I liked it.

PS. The appearance from Ty Byrne of the Dragon shifter series ("Blaze" by Wolf Spectre and Angel Knots) threw me off the loop. Like seriously, I didn't even realise it was the same Ty and Ivan coz of the different pen names and everything until I read the Author's note in the end. Lol. Funny twist. :)
Profile Image for Jay.
240 reviews43 followers
June 13, 2017
4.5 stars -- If you love a romance that is both sweet and smoldering between simple but lovable characters in an uncomplicated plot that really allows for the romantic arc of the characters to be the star, give this one a try. It was just the sort of sexy, friends-with-benefits turned lovers, sometimes over-the-top, only-happy-tears mush-fest that I needed right now.

Note: I was a lot concerned that this was going to turn out to be a gay-for-you (GFY) story, a category of M/M that I am a little ashamed to admit having loved when I first started reading M/M romances, before realizing how that style of story is just a different form of queerphobia, namely bi-phobia in it's necessary bi-erasure. I even found myself worrying that the big dramatic conflict of the story was going to turn out to be related to this because of how long one of the main characters remained in denial. If that had been the case, I would have trashed this book out of revulsion. Fear not, fellow readers. Not only is this not GFY and not the big conflict of the story, the way the author dealt with this character's ultimate acceptance of his sexuality was simple and perfect for the character.

Full review to come when I have time to write it!

While most of the books I read are complimentary review copies, I purchased my copy of Ready for Love, and this is my honest review.

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759 reviews
September 12, 2018
Second book by Stella Starling that I've read. While I really liked The Boyfriend Game, I didn't like this one as much. This could be a "It's me, not you!" situation, but I hate stories that feature guys that have sexual relationships with men but don't consider themselves gay. It feels demeaning, and hurtful and objectifying to me as a reader, so whenever I encounter that in stories, it becomes a huge turn-off for me, especially is that sort of delusional thinking occurs over an extended period of time like it did here.

So if that's not a turn-off for you, I have a feeling you'll like this story more than me. On the whole, I'm still happy I found Stella Starling based on your goodread reviews! I'll definitely be checking out more of her books. This time around, though, I'll be careful to avoid any stories that fall into this trope.
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