Stalker of Shadows marks the start of the third season of Jordan L. Hawk’s fabulous SPECTR series. The end of the secA Joyfully Jay review.
Stalker of Shadows marks the start of the third season of Jordan L. Hawk’s fabulous SPECTR series. The end of the second season brought us an enormous battle with Yuri and Dru that almost destroyed Charleston. That chapter closed out John, Caleb, and Gray’s life in Charleston and left them heading off to new adventures, so I have been really eager to see how Hawk redefines the series in a new location and where they would take our beloved men from here. This book really sets up both their new lives, as well as the new season, so it definitely serves as a foundation story, rather than the super high intensity of the end of last season. But there is still an exciting case, a suspenseful ending, and a lot of groundwork laid for where things go from here.
I liked that this case brings us more in contact with John’s family, as the focus of last season delved a little more into Caleb and Gray. So this is a nice chance to explore John’s backstory more as he reunites with his family for the first time since he was a teen. John also meets a cousin he barely remembers and I think the family dynamic is going to go interesting places as the season continues. I enjoyed the way the case with the rougarou attacks ties together with John’s family and things come together in really interesting ways, particularly at the end. We do get resolution to the immediate case, but given that this is a serial style story, there are lots of open threads as this book ends that will continue in future stories. I am really intrigued by where things are left at the end of this book and there are so many things I am eager to see explored.
The Cost of Desire is the second book in Kate Hawthorne’s really enjoyable Secrets in Edgewood series. While Jordan andA Joyfully Jay review.
The Cost of Desire is the second book in Kate Hawthorne’s really enjoyable Secrets in Edgewood series. While Jordan and Danny are from the same hometown as the characters in A Taste of Sin, the stories are completely independent of one another, so you can read this one as a stand alone.
This story has an interesting beginning in that the first five chapters were originally part of a free short story. So there is sort of a mini story arc to these chapters that take us from the guys first hooking up until about a week later when we see they are still seeing each other. There isn’t a firm ending here, but I can see how the short story could have wrapped things up for them. I definitely liked these guys together and I think Hawthorne did a really nice job developing this beginning for them into a full story. It isn’t totally seamless, but the initial chapters do transition really nicely into the larger story. It does mean, however, that these guys get together really fast and things are pretty much immediately intense as they originally only had a few chapters for their story. So we see them hang out for one night before they are falling into bed (or over desk) together and then after that week, the story jumps ahead to the fall when Danny is leaving for school. So I do feel like I would have liked to see more of their relationship building as we jump over a lot of that early time together. That said, I do think the story flows nicely and once we move past this early section it’s even smoother.
Why We Fight is the final installment in T.J. Klune’s wonderful At First Sight series. This is a series that is bothA Joyfully Jay review.
Why We Fight is the final installment in T.J. Klune’s wonderful At First Sight series. This is a series that is both side-splitting funny, but also incredibly sweet and poignant, and that definitely carries over to this book as well. These people are all absurd and the most insane things happen to them. They have no boundaries with one another and nothing is done at a 10 when it can be taken up to 11. So expect hijinks to ensue and a lot of general craziness from all these books. At times, I do find things a little over the top, so you sometimes just have to close your eyes and go with it. But what I think really makes this book (and this series) work is the incredible love and tenderness that these characters feel for one another. Even as much as they are pushy and crazy and a lot to handle, they are always 100% there for one another. Things can go from silly to serious in a moment when someone needs that extra support or to know that the others care. I really love the found family element to this series so much. We see it particularly strongly here as Corey has no family of his own, but he has been essentially adopted into this loving and extended group of family and friends. We can see how much they all mean to one another and the book has some incredibly sweet moments in the midst of the silliness.
Gideon is the third book in Lily Morton’s incredible Finding Home series and I just adored everything about it. Just aboA Joyfully Jay review.
Gideon is the third book in Lily Morton’s incredible Finding Home series and I just adored everything about it. Just about every time I read a book by Morton I feel like it’s my new favorite. Each time I think I couldn’t possibly love the new book as much as the last, but I constantly find myself charmed and delighted by her wonderful mix of swoony romance, great character development, and entertaining humor.
We met Gideon in the last book, Milo, and to be honest, he isn’t really a likable guy. Gideon is selfish and self absorbed, and though it is clear by the end that he truly loves his brother, we definitely see the darker side of Gideon in that story. What Morton does so well here is not just give Gideon a redemption tale, but really help us understand what has brought Gideon to this point and the demons that he faces. Even better, this book lets us see the real man behind the facade, to get to know the true Gideon as he falls for Eli and trusts him enough to expose his true self. I couldn’t help but feel for Gideon, a man who was essentially neglected by his family and left to always feel unwanted. When his agent made Gideon feel special and showed him attention for the first time in his life, it was all too easy to follow Frankie’s lead, even when it makes him miserable. Gideon is tired of living a lie, but Frankie has convinced him he has no choice, and it is clearly tearing Gideon apart. Watching him with Eli, we see Gideon slowly come to realize that he can have more, that people can love him for who he is, and even if they can’t, that he deserves better than his current life. I found it wonderfully moving to watch Gideon come into his own throughout this book and realize he deserves love, and to find it with Eli.
Prisoner of Shadows is the second book in the Lords of the Underworld series and I am finding these books a lot of fun.A Joyfully Jay review.
Prisoner of Shadows is the second book in the Lords of the Underworld series and I am finding these books a lot of fun. I love the way the authors play with mythology and give a twist on the world of gods and goddesses, often with an irreverent spin. This story is set in the same world as the first, but the plots do not overlap, nor do most of the characters. Some of the gods and goddesses that are side characters show up in both books, and we get a super quick cameo from one of the supporting folks from book one, but otherwise this story stands alone completely. While mythology plays a big role in both books, this story has its focus on the vampire world, rather than the magical one of Prince of Death.
What I really love here is the new take on mythology and the way the authors take kernels of the stories and turn them around. There is more to all of them than meets the eye, and the legends are jumping off points for building their stories and their characters. I really enjoyed seeing Prometheus suddenly facing a world totally different than the one he left 5000 years ago. There is something so sweet and naive about him when the book first starts, as he really needs Julian to guide him along this strange world. I loved the idea of this super powerful being who is so out of his element and watching how Julian takes care of him. But as the story progresses, we see Prometheus really come into his own, finding the strength and courage to fight back against those threatening him and the ones he has come to love. It is a great journey for him to finding his inner strength and getting control back over his life.
Oh, this story was such a delight! I was completely captivated and could barely put it down. Proper English develops a wA Joyfully Jay review.
Oh, this story was such a delight! I was completely captivated and could barely put it down. Proper English develops a wonderful relationship between Pat and Fen, and then adds to it the drama of a remote country house party filled with interesting (and abhorrent) characters, along with a murder mystery twist. K.J. Charles just excels at wonderful character development and excellent historical elements and both are showcased perfectly in this story.
Pat is our POV character and she is as fascinating as she is impressive. Pat grew up in a home with four brothers and a father who treated her like one of the boys. She is insanely competent and has been managing the family home for years. Basically, Pat is one of those women who just knows how to get stuff done and she doesn’t let other people’s opinion’s gets in the way. However, with her oldest brother now marrying, Pat is at loose ends as she needs to find a new place to live and a new direction for her life (while Pat could technically stay in the family home, she knows she is way too much of a manager to avoid conflict with her new sister-in-law). This house party is supposed to be a chance for Pat to relax and regroup, but suddenly there is an influx of people with whom she is expected to socialize. Of course, when Pat meets the lovely Fen, this prospect isn’t quite so daunting.
Wilde Love is the sixth novel in Lucy Lennox’s Forever Wilde series and easily my favorite of the group. Doc and GrandpaA Joyfully Jay review.
Wilde Love is the sixth novel in Lucy Lennox’s Forever Wilde series and easily my favorite of the group. Doc and Grandpa have been a fixture throughout this series as the loving patriarchs of the Wilde clan. So I was eager to get their story, particularly as it follows the men from first meeting back in the Army during the Vietnam War, all the way up through present day. However, I wasn’t prepared for how emotional and truly lovely this story would be. Watching these men fight for their happy ending through war, marriage, bigotry, and raising children and grandchildren is incredibly rewarding. I particularly loved the later portion of the book that focused on these men in their older years. We so seldom get romantic heroes in their 40s or 50s, let alone men who are in their 70s and 80s, and seeing them still so madly in love just made my heart warm.
The story can kind of unofficially be broken into three parts: the men in Vietnam, their years together as friends in Texas, and then their time as a couple. I find the Vietnam War era to be such a fascinating time in our history and so I am always looking for the rare romance set in that period. It is clear that Lennox did her research about the war and military during that time and this portion of the book had a great sense of tension and excitement as Doc and Major work alongside one another to rescue injured soldiers on the front lines. I enjoyed seeing these men build a friendship and an intense bond and Lennox made it easy to see why the two of them couldn’t bear to be apart when their time in the Army was over.
I have become a huge Alice Winters fan so I was excited to check out this story. Like the other books of hers I haveA Joyfully Jay review.
I have become a huge Alice Winters fan so I was excited to check out this story. Like the other books of hers I have read, it has the trademark mix of humor and suspense. There is a really nice balance here that keeps the story right on that knife edge of intensity. On one hand, there is a lot of snark and banter among the friends and family as they interact throughout the story. And at the same time, we get an ever darker look into the stalker’s mind through letters the person is writing to Cassius that give us glimpses into their motivation and psychosis. There are some definite dark and scary moments, especially as the letters get creepier, but it balances out nicely with the humor and keeps the story from being too intense.
I am trying not to say too much here because I really don’t want to spoil the mystery of who is behind the stalking. Pretty much everything I can think to say about the plot in general risks giving something away, and I really don’t want to ruin the story. So I’ll say that Cassius does have a love interest and I really like how it develops. I think at times it felt like a lot was going on with this subplot, particularly toward the end as this character has his own resolution, but I did really like these guys together. I also think the stalker plot plays out well and in some really unexpected ways. I’ll admit that I did have a guess early on (and to my shock I was right), but I really think Winters gives this story some great twists and turns and the suspense end of the plot comes together really well.
A Dance Too Far is my first book by H.L. Day and I definitely enjoyed the story. The highlight for me is the great chA Joyfully Jay review.
A Dance Too Far is my first book by H.L. Day and I definitely enjoyed the story. The highlight for me is the great character development and watching Max and Valentin grow over the course of the story. Both men are reserved with their emotions, for valid reasons, and neither do more than one-night-stands. I loved the bit of comeuppance Max gets when we first see him leaving last night’s lover wanting more, and then he finds himself in the same situation with Valentin. Day does a nice job making sure that Max never comes across like a jerk for his behavior with the other men, so it allows us to enjoy that bit of turnabout, while still feeling for him when he realizes how much he actually cares about Valentin. Both of these men are so controlled and reserved and slowly, as the story progresses, they open up to each other more and more until they really can share the love they have for one another openly.
I’d describe this one as light suspense as Valentin is trapped under the control of Dmitry, his benefactor of sorts, a man whose connections to the Russian mob mean he is not to be trifled with. As soon as Dmitry realizes that Valentin might actually have feelings for Max, both men are in danger. This isn’t necessarily a high intensity story, but Day brings out some nice urgency and a sense of desperation as the men try to figure out how they can keep one another safe and how they can possibly break free of Dmitry.
Wounded Soul takes an interesting approach to the vampire genre and I think author Annabelle Jacobs does a nice job wA Joyfully Jay review.
Wounded Soul takes an interesting approach to the vampire genre and I think author Annabelle Jacobs does a nice job with the world building here. It doesn’t break entirely new ground, but there are some nice elements here that give the story a fresh quality. The vampires here are unknown to most humans and have an agreement with the Vampire Liaison and Crimes Division that keeps them safe from hunters in exchange for agreeing not to feed on humans. This sets up some nice conflict with those within the coven who feel life is better with these protections and those that chafe under the relatively new rules. I also enjoyed the use of the ensemble cast, including Ian and Jesse’s best friends and Jesse’s coven leader, and I think having them being an active part of solving the crisis the men faced rounded out the story nicely.
Anticipating Disaster is the first book in Silvia Violet’s new Anticipation series and it’s off to a great start. ThiA Joyfully Jay review.
Anticipating Disaster is the first book in Silvia Violet’s new Anticipation series and it’s off to a great start. This story has so many of my catnip tropes — first time with a man, lingerie kink, geeky hero, and opposite attract — and I just loved it. The story is fun and romantic and super sexy. There are some nice small town moments when David takes Oliver to visit Anticipation, as well as some nice vacation fling elements as the guys explore the ski resort as well. Violet gives a nice balance to showcase how these guys are quite different, but also make it clear how compatible they are and make their relationship feel believable.
Things happen pretty fast here for David and Oliver and within a few days they are having pretty strong feelings. It is a bit of instalove, but it worked for me here as I could really see how these guys were falling for each other. They each are just so sweet and caring and look out for each other in nice ways. David is basically a dream man, perfect in nearly every way, but somehow he doesn’t come across as too over-the-top or unrealistic. I liked the way these very different men balance each other out and fit together.
Running Blind is the second book in S.E. Jakes’ Havoc series, following Running Wild. It has been almost five years sA Joyfully Jay review.
Running Blind is the second book in S.E. Jakes’ Havoc series, following Running Wild. It has been almost five years since I read that first book and I had no problem jumping in here, so I think this one stands alone just fine. While the MCs from the first book have a couple of cameos, and I am guessing other side characters overlap, I came into this one pretty cold and it worked fine.
I think the set up worked well here with both Sweet and Bram having to figure out how to trust one another. It is clear that while each are doubting the other, they have a strong attraction that neither can deny. We get a good sense of both men and they are nicely matched. Even though Bram is the more vulnerable most of the time, he has a clear strength (both physical and emotional), that make him a good fit for Sweet. As much as Sweet has the power, I never felt like Bram couldn’t hold his own. I also enjoyed the insights into the Havoc MC, particularly seeing it contrasted with the other local clubs. There is some nice suspense and excitement toward the end of the story and it comes together well (leading nicely into the next book).
I am going to be honest here and say that this book was very nearly a DNF for me. I had problems right from the start wiA Joyfully Jay review.
I am going to be honest here and say that this book was very nearly a DNF for me. I had problems right from the start with the writing style that made it very difficult to get into the story and the early portions were a real struggle. I pushed through to the 25% mark (our minimum threshold for a DNF) and by then things had smoothed out a little (or maybe I got used to it) and I was far enough into the story that I decided to continue on. But I had some definite issues here that affected my enjoyment.
So first off, the positive. I think the Louise Czarnobai has done some nice world building here with her take on mages and shifters integrating into the human world. The mages were particularly interesting and I enjoyed seeing the different types and how they worked. The set up to the story is clever in the way that she depicts both Louis and Lucas in their own lives and then brings them together as part of the team. And I liked the ensemble cast and the way they were integrated into the story. But other than that, I had a lot of struggles here.
His First Time is a collection of three erotic short stories by Tal Bauer, all featuring men having their first sexuaA Joyfully Jay review.
His First Time is a collection of three erotic short stories by Tal Bauer, all featuring men having their first sexual experience with another man. The stories are fairly short and very steamy, as befitting an “erotic bundle,” and while they all have happy endings, don’t expect much relationship building, but rather a heated moment in time.
I did find the stories a little repetitive as all three feature two strangers meeting and having an immediate sexual encounter (two of which include going back to a hotel room). While the collection does focus on first times with a man, there is such a huge range of plot lines within this theme that having all three focus on meeting a stranger and running off to get fucked felt a little narrow in scope to me. But that said, this collection does what it advertises and provides some steamy, super sexy first time with a man experiences.
So let me start off here by clarifying that this story is not a romance, but a historical thriller. I chose this one bA Joyfully Jay review.
So let me start off here by clarifying that this story is not a romance, but a historical thriller. I chose this one because the blurb mentions that the book “brings together a straight white FBI agent and gay black CIA officer as they team up to uncover a gruesome plot” and the book was pitched to me by the author as one where the “gay factor is key to solving the case.” So while this isn’t our normal fare, I thought it might be interesting to explore a fiction story that featured a prominent gay character, especially one that is a historical set in Poland soon after the fall of Communism. However, I will say that both the blurb and the pitch kind of overstate things as these guys don’t really “team up” as Jay is very much the main character and lead investigator here and Kurt, our CIA agent, is one of many side characters. He does, in fact, play a key role in breaking the case (as do others), but the so-called “gay factor” boils down to him seducing a male suspect for evidence (something that doesn’t actually require one to be gay, fwiw). I guess I was expecting him being gay to play a more significant role in the story, as well as to get more of an exploration of his character, particularly as a gay (and black) man living in post-Communist Poland. Now, none of this is necessarily a negative reflection on the book (aside from perhaps the blurb overstating Kurt’s importance to the story) and I didn’t factor that into my rating, but be aware this doesn’t really offer much of an LGBTQ focus from the story if that is what you are after.
Oh, this story was such a thrill ride, I was captivated throughout the book! Tanya Chris writes in many genres, but hA Joyfully Jay review.
Oh, this story was such a thrill ride, I was captivated throughout the book! Tanya Chris writes in many genres, but her suspense stories are some of my favorites. The early part of this story, in particular, was so intense and exciting as Jay slowly starts to realize his life is not what it seems. Chris builds the suspense so well as we know Jay has amnesia, and we know that he is connected to Deron, but Jay is unaware of both of these things. We also have no idea how he lost his memory or why Deron is keeping his distance. But Jay seeing Deron is like pulling on a thread and watching things unravel as that is the catalyst to the whole mystery breaking apart.
The author also paces the story so nicely. The early part of the book focuses on Jay slowly realizing his life is not all as it seems and coming to the growing awareness that something is going on, but he is not sure what. It is thrilling and exciting and I could not put the book down. Then the pace slows a little as we get to the revelations, as Jay (along with the reader) learns just how he lost his memory and why that is significant not just to him, but to a major law enforcement investigation that has huge political consequences. Then we are thrust back into the suspense and excitement as it all comes to a climax and Jay’s life is in danger and he doesn’t know where to turn.
Worth the Fight is the third book in Kate Hawthorne’s Giving Consent series. The books all revolve around a group of friA Joyfully Jay review.
Worth the Fight is the third book in Kate Hawthorne’s Giving Consent series. The books all revolve around a group of friends and the BDSM club, Rapture. The style of the series is interesting in that the books overlap each other somewhat in timeline. So we were introduced to these guys in earlier books, and the initial part of their relationship with Keith before he disappears happens in another story. That said, this book actually stands alone pretty well, as the backstory is explained and the guys are pretty self contained in this book. But if you want the full story of both the relationship, as well as to get to know the other characters who appear here, you may want to start at the beginning of the series.
This story explores some really interesting relationship dynamics and I think Hawthorne handles it quite well. We have an established couple who are incredibly happy and satisfied together, but who are now contemplating adding a third. Justin and Micah have to figure out how to make it work without upsetting the balance of their own partnership, particularly as early on Micah is definitely more emotionally connected to Keith than Justin seems to be. Overlaying that is the Dom/sub dynamic and figuring out how the three of them fit in that regard. And of course, they are dealing with the complications from Keith’s past and the way that continues to affect them all. Hawthorne does a nice job showing how adding Keith into the relationship is not taking anything away from Justin and Micah, nor it is due to them lacking anything, but rather how it adds to their connection. At times it was a little hard to see them all on equal footing as Justin and Keith don’t seem as connected as Micah and Keith, but I like how Hawthorne really explores that and pulls it all together nicely.
Murder House is the tenth book in Jordan Castillo Price’s fabulous PsyCops series. I just love this series to piecesA Joyfully Jay review.
Murder House is the tenth book in Jordan Castillo Price’s fabulous PsyCops series. I just love this series to pieces and Jacob and Vic are one of my all time favorite couples. This story not only follows an established couple, but there are overarching series threads that continue throughout the books, so this one is best read in order. However, if you haven’t tried this series, I highly encourage you to check them out because Castillo Price has created an amazing couple and fabulous world with these books.
This story picks up on a plot element from the previous book in that Victor has learned that much of his background is in his permanent record, something he is dying to see since he has lost many memories of the past. So now he is determined to figure out how to get access, and the best way he can do that without risking Jacob is to become an undercover agent. From there we jump into Victor’s first case, and it will come as no surprise that Vic is at once totally out of his depth, as well as completely on top of things. I really enjoyed seeing Vic navigate undercover work, from the folks at FPMP who set him up with his “stay-at-home douchebag” persona, to his continued attempts to get Hale talk to him, to navigating having a fake husband with whom he must put on a show for the neighbors. The little touches here are a lot of fun and I liked delving into a different type of investigation than we normally see from Vic and Jacob.
Sinners is a story that keeps unwinding in new and unexpected directions the more you read. Things are never quite allA Joyfully Jay review.
Sinners is a story that keeps unwinding in new and unexpected directions the more you read. Things are never quite all they seem and as the story unfolds, there were some really nice twists and turns. I was impressed by the way Jakes crafted this one and it kept me guessing through the whole book. I also think she has created some interesting characters here in Tar, Travis, and Loch. These men each have complex (and I mean COMPLEX) pasts and they are well developed and nicely twisty. Again, there is a lot I didn’t see coming until it is revealed.
Where I struggled here is that I found the storyline so complex that much of the time I had no idea what was going on. I think that with a book that unveils new twists and turns throughout, there is a line between giving away too much information up front and revealing so little that it is hard to follow, and unfortunately, the story fell on the latter end for me. I would say the first third of the book had me so confused I was barely hanging on, and by the 50% mark I still don’t think I could have clearly explained the plot. It isn’t so much that the plot is complicated (though it is). It is also that there is so much happening and information is parsed out in such tiny increments that I never felt like I fully understood a lot of it.
Outside Looking In is part of the Browerton University series, but I’d say this was a tangential connection at best. IA Joyfully Jay review.
Outside Looking In is part of the Browerton University series, but I’d say this was a tangential connection at best. I’ve never read the other books in the series and I had no problem following the story here. The writing is decent and the book has a fairly strong pace that gave it a natural flow, which I appreciated. There’s also a fairly strong secondary cast. Mark, Liam’s elder brother, feels fully formed and I enjoyed the interplay between him, Liam, and Nate. In a lot of books it feels as though the “B” cast ends up flat and lifeless when in comparison to the main characters, but that doesn’t happen here and it was a nice surprise. There are a couple stock characters and they read as rather melodramatic, but they aren’t given a ton a page time either.
The plot to Outside Looking In is rather bonkers. I mean, it’s not completely implausible, but it’s not exactly believable. I can’t talk much about the specifics because doing so will give away some of the details, but I felt on the whole the story depends too much on coincidence. Too many of Nate’s actions feel forced or wedged into place to make the plot work and, as a result, it ends up as overwrought and, at times, absurd.
Alice Winters has become a go-to author for me and The Sinner and the Liar illustrates why. She has given us one of hA Joyfully Jay review.
Alice Winters has become a go-to author for me and The Sinner and the Liar illustrates why. She has given us one of her trademark couples, pairing the stoic, grumpy Sin with the more lively, bratty Eastyn and setting them up with a complex and engaging challenge they must overcome. I’ll be honest, I have a total soft spot for a bratty MC and Winters once again gives us a great one with Eastyn. He just loves to push all Sin’s buttons, and while Sin can’t figure out quite why he indulges Eastyn, there is something so fun about watching this gruff, grumpy man who is built like a tank and has everyone else running in fear, allow this small, young guy to boss him around. This book has a darker edge for sure, and this playfulness and the at times downright absurdity of their interactions gives such a nice balance to the story. I loved seeing Sin’s softer side come out when he deals with Eastyn and while part of him can’t quite understand why he can’t let Eastyn go, it is clear he would do anything for the man.
Omega Released is a sweet and sexy story that I found a lot of fun. There is a nice fish-out-of-water vibe here, bothA Joyfully Jay review.
Omega Released is a sweet and sexy story that I found a lot of fun. There is a nice fish-out-of-water vibe here, both in the fact that Benjy is somewhat of a country mouse in the big city, but also that he is used to totally different cultural norms. I enjoyed watching him just bloom as he realizes how big a world has now opened up to him, and that he can have things he wants, rather than focus solely on his father’s expectations. Tanya Chris has built a world that is a bit of a twist on the typical omegaverse, with a nice spin on omega rights and equality, which I enjoyed.
This story is very sex heavy, but there is also a playfulness here. JT is just so full of life and his energy and enthusiasm help Benjy to open up even more. These guys are really sweet together in the way they take care of each other. The dual omega dynamic is an interesting one and I found them a fun couple. The story is told solely from Benjy’s POV and I do feel like I missed getting into JT’s head. As Benjy starts to have feelings for JT, it was unclear to me what JT was feeling in return. There are enough hints that JT is stalling somewhat in finding Benjy an alpha mate, but it is hard to know what he is feeling about Benjy and their relationship until pretty far into the book.
I have long been a fan of Eden Winter’s Diversion series, and I have been really enjoying the chance to revisit the boA Joyfully Jay review.
I have long been a fan of Eden Winter’s Diversion series, and I have been really enjoying the chance to revisit the books now that they have started coming out in audio. I first read Collusion way back in 2013, but this is one of the stories that has always stuck with me, even amidst so many wonderful books in this series. The story it tells about a prescription drug shortage and the life-and-death effects this has on patients in dire need of medication is just really intense and emotional. That the story is based on a real life, similar drug shortage the U.S. faced makes it all the more poignant. There is just such great emotion in this story as Bo deals with working at a children’s cancer hospital and desperately trying to locate legal and safe drugs for the patients, and we also get to see a tender side to Lucky as well. On top of that, this story moves the relationship between Bo and Lucky forward so nicely, with Lucky finally accepting his feelings for Bo.
Lust and Other Drugs is the first book in T.J. Nichols’ new Mytho series and it’s off to a great start. The world buiA Joyfully Jay review.
Lust and Other Drugs is the first book in T.J. Nichols’ new Mytho series and it’s off to a great start. The world building here is just fabulous and so creative. The idea of all these mythological beings suddenly crossing into the human world leaves open so many interesting angles. Nichols showcases the conflict as both sides struggle to adapt to their new reality, and it is clear that even ten years later, neither side has fully come to terms with the situation. But while the mythos are mostly making do as best they can, many humans are still hostile to the mythos, making their assimilation into the human world almost impossible. I liked the way Nichols plays with the idea of standing out and being different, as of course they are so many real world parallels. Here we see that mythos who can “pass” for human have a much easier time being accepted, while groups who have a less human appearance have a much harder time. There is also little acceptance for the different mytho cultural norms, such as various religious observances or methods of conflict resolution. As with the real world, differences are often feared and shunned. We see how that plays out with Jordan, who likes to occasionally dress in a more traditionally feminine style, with makeup and lace undergarments. He hides that side of himself from almost everyone, knowing being different and standing out will cause trouble for him, especially as a member of the police force. So the story delves into some interesting big picture issues here and Nichols does a nice job incorporating these ideas into the story.
Thrown to the Wolves is the third book in Charlie Adhara’s Big Bad Wolf series and I just loved it. I am such a fan ofA Joyfully Jay review.
Thrown to the Wolves is the third book in Charlie Adhara’s Big Bad Wolf series and I just loved it. I am such a fan of this series, as it combines great world building, exciting mystery and suspense, and a fabulous couple in Park and Cooper. What I particularly love is the way Adhara has built upon each book to really explore both the relationship and more about each of these men individually. In The Wolf at the Door, we are in Cooper’s POV as he starts to really learn more about the world of wolves, far beyond what he was taught at his job at the BSI. We also get the start of the relationship as these men begin to fall for one another. Then, in The Wolf at Bay, we move to Cooper’s hometown and delve much deeper into his character and backstory. Now, in this third book, the men break down those final walls as Park opens up to Cooper more about his past and his life as a wolf. We have gotten little seeds planted along the way to lead us so nicely to this point, and I love how it is all explored here. Park is so controlled, so seemingly perfect, but he is also been afraid to let Cooper really see him. So I loved how here we get that last layer peeled back and these men open up fully to one another.
Arctic Sun is the first book in Annabeth Albert’s new Frozen Hearts series and this book is most definitely a love leA Joyfully Jay review.
Arctic Sun is the first book in Annabeth Albert’s new Frozen Hearts series and this book is most definitely a love letter to the beauty of Alaska. The setting plays such a prominent role in the story, particularly during the tour portion of the book. Albert paint such lovely pictures as she describes the vast wilderness and beautiful, off-the-beaten path locations, I could see it all so clearly in my mind. I particularly liked how we get to see more remote spots that may not be on the typical tourist destination list. This was my favorite part of the book and I just loved how Albert brought it all to life.
The story is very character driven and both Griffin and River are layered and well developed. They are men who seem quite different on the surface, but who both are haunted by demons and memories from their past. What differs is how they cope, and River keeps himself constantly moving from one adventure to the next, while Griffin has hunkered down to a quiet life he doesn’t like to leave. As the men make it through both smooth and difficult times together, we can really see how their personalities and their struggles have shaped them and their dynamic with each other. These guys do have a lot to unpack, however, and despite the quite long story, I think there is a lot that doesn’t fully get addressed.
Sara Dobie Bauer does a nice job here of pulling together a tight story in a short format. Sometimes a short story caA Joyfully Jay review.
Sara Dobie Bauer does a nice job here of pulling together a tight story in a short format. Sometimes a short story can feel incomplete, but A Lord to Love feels well rounded and brings a lot together in a small number of pages. Bauer’s writing is fluid and easy and I think she really excels in this shorter format. We get a nice sense of both characters, as well as their backstories, and I think the writing and the style is overall well done.
Where I struggled here is not with the writing, but in two key areas of the story itself that really affected my enjoyment. First, we learn that John and Harrison’s father were feuding over land that was thought to belong to the Prices, but is actually John’s. As it turns out, the Price family burial plot is on that disputed land and the two men couldn’t come to agreement for the Prices to buy the land back. As a result, the Prices have no access to the cemetery, including to Harrison’s mother’s grave, nor do they have a place to bury his newly deceased father. We are told that Price wouldn’t accept John’s sales offer for the land, but get no details on the negotiation. So there is no way as a reader to really know who is at fault here and which one is being unreasonable.
A Taste of Sin is a really engaging story that explores some intense issues, but also has a lovely sweetness that lefA Joyfully Jay review.
A Taste of Sin is a really engaging story that explores some intense issues, but also has a lovely sweetness that left me with lots of happy feels when I was done. Building a romance that deals with religion is a tricky thing, and I think Hawthorne does a great job here handling some complicated issues delicately and in thoughtful ways. Both Dominic and Reed are religious men, but while Dominic is part of a church that (for the most part) accepts his sexuality, Reed interprets his religion as one that condemns him for being gay. The book steers clear of getting into too much theology, and focuses more on Reed’s personal struggle as he attempts to reconcile his view of Catholicism with his own growing awareness of being gay.
When these guys first reconnect, Reed is caught in this endless back and forth of desperately wanting Dominic, while at the same time feeling overwhelming guilt and terror about his attraction. For his part, Dominic wants Reed just as desperately, but he is hurt by Reed seeming to want him and then running scared. Dominic knows he needs to protect his heart, but Reed keeps coming back, again and again.
Upside Down is a charming, funny story with a lot of heart. N.R. Walker does a wonderful job both building the relatioA Joyfully Jay review.
Upside Down is a charming, funny story with a lot of heart. N.R. Walker does a wonderful job both building the relationship between Jordan and Hennessy, as well as exploring Jordan’s growing understanding of his own asexuality.
From a relationship end, these guys are so great together. There is a meet cute element here as Jordan has been crushing on the man he calls “Headphones Guy” on the bus, a man who is so engrossed in whatever he is listening to he never notices Jordan, but who Jordan hasn’t been able to stop thinking about. But Jordan is way too nervous to even consider talking to him until suddenly they end up at the same support group meeting. I loved watching their delight as they realize all the things they have in common. These men see each other in a way that few others do and it is so rewarding to see how much it means to them both to have someone understand them and connect with them.
Those of you who read my reviews regularly know that one thing I absolutely love is creativity in world building. I getA Joyfully Jay review.
Those of you who read my reviews regularly know that one thing I absolutely love is creativity in world building. I get so excited when an author can provide a unique spin on a common theme, and Denning does a wonderful job of that here. While this book has many of the usual omegaverse elements, the big change is that the roles of alpha and omega are different than other stories I’ve read. While the alphas are still the providers and omegas the child rearers, the omegas are considered the most desirable and most powerful. In most omegaverse books, the alphas are dominant, choosing their mates and often controlling the lives of their omega partners. In this case, the omega has all the power; as the ones who control the breeding, they choose their partners and alphas must work hard to be seen as a desirable mate. It is such a nice twist and it adds a new dynamic to the story that is really creative and enhanced the world building for me.
The story also plays nicely with the “gender” roles, as Chase loves children, wants a family, and would be happiest staying home and raising the kids. Yet his role as alpha is to find a well-paying job to support his family. Max, on the other hand, loves working and is quite successful. He is avoiding marriage because the last thing he wants is to have to leave his job and raise a family, something that is expected of all omegas. So there is a nice element here of two men who are restricted by society’s exceptions, but who each want something more for themselves.