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I’ve been reading some non netgalley stories, a couple i was asked to review by authors, some I borrowed on KU, and a couple I bought.

The Ex Factor,  Debbie Viggiano 

The Ex Factor by [Viggiano, Debbie]

Genre: general fiction

I’ve read several of Debbie’s books, and this is a departure from the usual but still with her excellent solid writing style.

Its a hard subject, one that strikes close to home for many readers. When a marriage breaks up some fathers drift off, happy to abandon their family, others though are like Sam, desperately want to be a father, to have as much access as possible but get thwarted at every step by the mother. Sadly apart from expensive court proceedings, and not everyone has the thousands that can cost, there’s nothing else they can do. Even then having a court order doesn’t help when the mother say the child is ill, asleep, at a friends, doesn’t want to come and refuses access. The father can go back to court as Sam does, but that takes time and the months away from his daughter take a toll on him, on his new family and of course on Ruby. The only happy one is the mother, Annie, such a vindictive character. It would be nice to think parents always wanted the best for their child/children but like Annie many only want control, revenge for what they see as slights. Annie was the one to leave, yet tells Ruby Sam was at fault, forced her into an affair. Of course her poison is all lies but kids naturally believe what parents tell them and Annie has Ruby for the majority of the time, been drip feeding her malicious words into her ears. Its cruel, and yet it goes on day after day for many families. My lovely brother is going through the same process, so far he’s been unable to see his daughter for almost two years, despite spending several thousands on court fees. The court agreed he’d done nothing wrong, was a good father, but the mother was so vindictive she has kept his daughter away and all he can do it seek more legal proceedings. Meanwhile his little girl probably is being told daddy didn’t want her…..
Its an incredibly sad, very realistic story of what pressures a family breakdown can put on the absent parent, spilling over into other family members. Thankfully the end shows there is a glimmer of light, and I’m hoping that same thing happens for my brother in time.

A KU purchase

Royal Love, (Last Royals Book 1),  Cristiane Serruya 

Royal Love (Last Royals Book 1) by [Serruya, Cristiane]

a KU purchase
This was a fun read, though it took me some time to warm to Angus, he was alpha male but on the OTT side, and there were times when I wanted Siobhan to just tell him where to go. She veers between wanting him and wanting independence and I did feel the whole getting together part was a bit rushed. I felt both acted out of characters and one thing that really annoyed me was the lack of condoms. That’s just not a good message to send out in this day and age!
There’s a little suspense, I’d kind of worked out what had happened and who was behind it, but it was still a good addition to the story and gave it a little extra edge.
I loved Angus mum and aunt, perfect snobbish b itchy characters – they really add to a story for me, make a contrast to all the sweet stuff.
Its not a story I’d re-read, a little too light and sweet for me, I need a bit more drama but its a fun read for when you want something easy to relax with.
Stars: Three, a little light but a fun story.

Rockstar Daddy, (Wilder Rock 1), Taryn Quin

Rockstar Daddy (Wilder Rock Book 1) by [Quinn, Taryn]

Genre: Romance,
a side spin from the Oblivion series. I usually loved Taryn’s stories, especially when she writes with Cari Quinn but this one was a little simple. Its got plenty of heat, lots of erotic encounters but for me they became the story, and there was little else to it – just a series of very hot sex scenes tied in with a tin backstory. For many people that’s perfect, for me it needs to be story first.

Another KU purchase

Lifeline,  Amelia Lawrence 

Lifeline by [Lawrence, Amelia]

Genre: Romance, M/M
A good read, very real with scenes that happen far too often. Alex was heartbroken after his romance with Jack went badly wrong, and feeling rejected he’s a prime candidate for manipulative bully Cole.

Like so many of these characters Cole starts off well and then the crack drift in, by which time Alex had lost his self confidence and was constantly striving to be someone who wouldn’t anger Cole. Its easy to say “why not just leave?” but much harder for anyone to do it. Bullied sap at self confidence, convince people no-one else will want them and of course the threats that Leaving will have drastic Consequences is enough to put most folk off, and Alex is just working and returning home, all the joy has been sucked out of life.
Jack – well, Jack was wonderful, regretted the past very much and wanted a second chance with Alex. The way the story played out was really well done. Its not one I’d re-read but was a very enjoyable story, a realistic portrayal of an unpleasant subject.

One I bought, was only 99p

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Hard Line, (The Woodbury Boys 2), Sidney Bell

Hard Line, (The Woodbury Boys 2), Sidney Bell

Hard Line (Woodbury Boys) by [Bell, Sidney]

Genre: LBGTQIA, Romance

I hadn’t read book one, and maybe I’d have got more from this if I had. I liked it, but it wasn’t a book I loved.

I struggled a bit with the romance, I could feel the change from antagonistic dislike to lust, and after all you can feel lust while still actively disliking someone. I didn’t feel any real romance though and I wanted that.
I did like Sullivan, he seemed a very genuine guy, with just that right amount of quirk to make him intriguing. I really felt for him when his kink desires lost him his best friends and it such a nasty way. I understood why he was so careful with Tobias when he realised he was a natural sub and Sullivan felt his Dom instincts stir. Just needed to feel real romance developing and TBH I didn’t. That’s me though, doesn’t bother everyone but I need to feel that connection.
The kink part was intriguing, linking Tobias emotional/mental issues with sexual desires, and its something that always amazes me. I can’t imagine enjoying sex linking to having someone determining everything, even down to orgasm timing, and the wanting to be hurt, partly for himself, partly to please Sullivan is something I can’t imagine ever feeling. What I find intriguing is the whys, why do people need this, is it ingrained or is it a product of upbringing? In Tobias case it did seem to be linked with his need to please everyone, which was putting intense pressure on him.
I didn’t feel he acted 24, and his parents certainly didn’t treat him as an adult of several years – I’d have been equally furious at their actions.
It’s a story I liked parts of, but the connection to book one, the Russians, the murders, the kidnapping, all kind of overtook those parts and left me floundering a bit.
Again, maybe I’d have understood more if I’d read book one but as it was I found myself putting this aside, picking up a couple of days later, then dropping it again for something else.

Stars: Three, I liked parts but felt overall it was a bit of a muddled book for me. .

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Tribute Act,  Joanna Chambers, Porthkennack 8.

Tribute Act,  Joanna Chambers, Porthkennack 8.

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

I loved A Gathering Storm, book two from Joanna in this series, and I enjoy that it’s written by so many different authors but set in the same fictional town. AGS was a historical novel, while this one is current day.

I loved Nathan, and its easy to see he’s one of the world’s people pleasers, someone who feels they need to fix every problem. I sympathise, I have the same issue….
He’s given up so much to help his mum and her husband and his half sister, left his well paid job in London, used his savings to keep the shop afloat. Derek his stepdad is a good man, but really bad at business, and they were in danger of losing everything.
It wasn’t helped when they discovered Rosie was so sick and now needs a liver transplant. They’ve all been tested but aren’t a match.

Imagine Nathan’s surprise then when his night before hook-up hottie walks in the house and he finds its Derek’s estranged son. He is a match and is staying for a while while he donates part of his liver.
Its a sticky few weeks, Derek and Mack don’t get on, he’s staying with Nathan while he recovers and it makes Nathan feel a bit stuck, wanting them to reconcile, feeling awful for the way Derek has been such a great dad to him, but essentially abandoned Mack at 15 after his mum died. I felt so angry at Derek, and so sad for Mack. How could anyone do that? I was cross too at Nathan’s mum, she must have realised what was happening and she should have had compassion for Mack, made Derek do something.
Anyway, there they are, an awkward grouping, thrown together. Mack and Nathan are still fiercely attracted, Nathan knows Mack’s off soon as he recovers, but somehow despite his not wanting to get into a temporary relationship they do, and of course Nathan falls in love….

I loved Nathan felt so sad for Mack, for all he’d been through and he still feels so lost, so unloved.
Can Nathan persuade him to stay though? Does Mack feel anything more for him than lust? What about the issues surrounding the cafe, the way Nathan has become the guy who does everything?
There’s a lot to ponder here, family issues, how we make mistakes that get larger as time passes, how hard it is to say sorry sometimes, to make it meaningful, and of course will Mack stay?

Stars: four, an enjoyable story, with issues that too many people face. I felt so sad for Mack, facing what too many gay kids faced.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and publishers

New Hand, L.A. Witt

New Hand, L.A. Witt

Genre: LBGTQIA, Romance

I’ve loved the Bluewater books I’ve read, love LA Witt’s writing style and expected to love this read. Sadly it was a decent read, but not a great one for me.

I really didn’t feel the “pull” between Garrett and Jesse, and I needed that. I didn’t even feel lust in particular, they felt to me more like just two very good friends.
Garrett’s friend Scott puts it well when they are talking about whether its too soon after Sean’s death to start a relationship. He says Garret hasn’t just been grieving since he died, but since they knew he was terminally ill some 18 moths before, and in a way that made sense. Like others looking on I found it hard to see how he could fall in love with Jesse so soon.
I’m still kind of fence sitting on that. Grief is different for everyone, we all cope differently and I just can’t imagine finding someone new so soon. That’s just personal though, and of course this is fiction… 😉

Jesse, I loved him. He’d had a tough time, scarily what happened to him is probably commoner than we think, in terms of STDs rather than full on HIV. Poor kid. It must be hard coming to terms with being sexually different to most of your peers without having that lumped on top. He copes really well, and I understood his anger at others actions. People are scared though of what they don’t understand, and I liked that Garret took the trouble to look things up, ask professionals and not just give poor Jesse the elbow over something out of his control.

Its a interesting story, with the factors of grief and grieving family, HIV and all the issues that brings wrapped up so neatly. Age difference too, though I never felt that age was a factor with them, but others perceive it.
Odd isn’t it, age gap of 15 years or more being seen as OK with man being older and woman younger, or as in this case when both are males, but make it a younger guy/older woman and there’s sly insinuations and calls of Cougar…I wonder how F/F relationships are judged if there’s an age gap?

Anyway, an educating read, gave me lots to think over, taught me stuff about HIV that I didn’t know. I’m older than Garret and can recall the first rounds of it back in the 70’s and 80’s, when people didn’t know much about it, and being positive was pretty much a death sentence.
I knew there had been forward movement, medical progress but not that it had advanced so much, great news to hear.

Stars: Three, an interesting read but not one of the best Bluewater or LA Witt novels for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Silenced Tale, Book 3 of the Accidental Turn Series, J.M. Frey

The Silenced Tale, Book 3 of the Accidental Turn Series, J.M. Frey

The Silenced Tale (The Accidental Turn Series Book 3) by [Frey, J.M.]

Genre: LGBTQIA , Sci Fi & Fantasy

I’ve loved this trilogy, fresh and unusual, it hinges round the characters in a series Elgar read wrote. By some quirk of fate he wrote magic so perfectly that it – and the actual characters, places and events, became real. As a Reader, Pip was pulled into the world and met Forsyth. Now they both live in the Overrealm, our world, with their daughter Alis.
They had issues with Hain and certain people in the last book, where events there were affecting the Overrealm, and now they fear that things weren’t as safe as they left them, that maybe, just maybe, someone else has come through to the Overrealm.

There’s another fantastic adventure, Syth being his spymaster self here in the real world, master of the PC and Internet. I love how he’s adapted to it, his careful turn of phrase, his planning, always looking ten steps ahead and of course his love for Pip and Alis.
Pip is wonderful, such an intelligent girl and I love how she breaks out the writing jargon, explaining to Syth ( and readers like me!) about tropes, genres, and how books are plotted. I read, I had no idea of the structure of a story but it makes sense, and makes my author admiration even greater! She’s having a bad time in this book, due to the events of the past that connect her to magic through the carvings.
To begin its just a series of odd events that could be explained away, but Syth being the cautious type he sets his programme up to look for anything that might be connected. I love when he says he thought Pip’s Poster “its not paranoia if they’re out to get you” was a warning not an irony. That sums him up in a way, written to protect, its in his very marrow to do just that.
Of course what he and Pip don’t know is that Elgar is having issues too, with what the police think is a stalker, but what Elgar fears is Hain stuff, and vengeance from there. He had no way of knowing what he wrote created a real world, and he feels so guilty for the casual way he wrote torture and death in his stories. There’s a top secret TV series based around his books being planned and the police agree its a good idea for him to go there for a couple of weeks. Syth’s programme tells him what Elgar didn’t though, so he’s beginning to piece together events and he now knows he, Pip and Elgar are facing real danger that the police can’t help with. How can they fight magic and fictional people that have become real. If they tried to tell them they’d be taken to the nearest Psych centre!

It all comes together in a nail biting, climatic finish, and I was gutted at some of the events and yet – it was the perfect way to end the trilogy.
I read the Magician trilogy when that was first out, back in Oct 2014, and thought it would make a great family film, Disney agreed some time later. I think this too would make a great film, has that magic (hah!) content that will appeal to kids and adults alike and is so very unusual.

Stars: Five, a perfect ending to a terrific, exciting and fresh trilogy.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Infamous, Jenny Holiday

Infamous, Jenny Holiday

Infamous by [Holiday, Jenny]

Genre:  Romance, LBGTQIA

I really enjoyed this read, I love romances which have the issue of fame to contend with.
It has to be hard, trying to meet someone when the media are out to catch every possible hint of scandal, and happy to make up what isn’t happening, to put a spin on an innocent photo.

Jesse got caught in just that when his band was starting out, and promised their new manager he’d take more care in future.
The band has risen to heights they only dreamed of since then and Jesse has done everything his manager asked, dated whoever he was told, made up and broken up on demand.
Its a shallow life though, he doesn’t think he’s unhappy, thinks he has what he dreamed of until he meets Hunter….

Hunter has just come out of a relationship where he had to play room-mate not partner to his lover. He finally realised that contrary to what was promised when they met, that’s all he’ll ever be. He’s heartbroken but determined not to live in someone’s shadow, not to hide who he is.

He and Jesse get closer through his work and Jesse’s charity meetings at the hospital, and a friendship develops. Hunter thinks Jesse is straight, but one night…well, leads to some changes. He tells Jesse though he’s not hiding who he is, not ever again.
Jesse is stuck, be with the man he’s come to love and lose his career, let his bandmates down or keep his career and lose Hunter.
Tough one and the way it played out was wonderful. No two page drama but chapters of it, lots of angst, lots of wondering”can they? Will they? How can…?” and I adore books that make me feel like that.

Stars: Five, great read, real situation, not a one plot story but one with some real substance to it.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Snowcroft Restoration, Men of Snowcroft 4, Christi Snow

 

 

Snowcroft Restoration, Men of Snowcroft 4, Christi Snow

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre:  Romance, LBGTQIA

I enjoyed the first book in this series, but having missed the next two and being over three years since book one, it was a bit like coming in cold and maybe it affected how I felt about this story.
I liked it, just didn’t love it, didn’t feel it was special.

I felt Law and Ian went from 0 to 100 without stopping, and that works in Lust but Love? I wasn’t feeling it.

I also had a hard time dealing with the unreality of the legal side, how Law was not FBI and yet still able to use his contacts, his aliases, hos cards, and how those were linked to his personal account so there was no financial restraints.

I felt the Nick/Ramirez story came too close to overshadowing the main one, found the change of ID from Bad Guy to Good Guy done Bad Things hard to take. Tell that to the guys he maimed, ordered killed… “oh, he’s really working for a greater good” Nope, doesn’t wash.

The story too got incredibly busy, with betrayals, double dealing, multiple good/bad guys, kidnapping, shootings, murders, bombs, it was at times somewhat chaotic, and rather than work to a final climatic end it felt kind of fuzzy, too much going on to appreciate just how each part worked.

Maybe if the gap between my first read and this had been shorter, not three and a half years, maybe if I’d read books two and three…I don’t know. It was a decent read but not one that excited me, and not one I’d reread.

In common with many LGBTQIA reads too there seems constant emphasis on the maleness, the rooms smell masculine, the décor is masculine, their clothes are masculine, the guys themselves smell masculine ( as opposed to what I’m not sure?), everyone is rugged and outdoorsy, or tall and well built, except for Nick and that poor dancer – Matt? – they seem to be totally the opposite, slight and effeminate, the husband and husband introductions get pulled up again and again. I get it, its a story about men, men with male partners, I don’t need reminding of it every few pages.

Stars: Three, an OK read but not a rereader.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

By the Currawong’s Call, Welton B. Marsland

By the Currawong’s Call, Welton B. Marsland

By The Currawong's Call by [Marsland, Welton B.]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

I loved this book. Amazingly moving, so very realistic.
When I read a romance I want something different, not just a cookie cutter A loves B story but something that creates emotion in me. this book delivers that.

I love an occasional dip into a historical novel and it really suits this genre, with the draconian laws against homosexuality. ( Sadly in many areas laws like this still exist, and even when areas are more enlightened its still a battle against some people ).
The setting was perfect, had that small town feel, the way religion and priests were so respected. the snippet when one of the ladies mentions here suspicions about Jonah’s sexuality to Matthew, and then apologises for talking about such matters to a man of the faith…..In little towns back then, as now, everyone knows everybody and rumours and gossip are what keeps life flowing.

Jonah and Matthew are both such great characters, Matthew so very innocent, shamed of how he feels towards men so he’s subjugated it for so long, ignored anything he feels, wrapped himself up in his work and God. He really is a staunch Believer, not someone I felt was paying lip service to religion, but God totally shaped his life. I loved his naivety, it was part of the person he was.
Jonah too has a calling, he’s been a policeman for a long time, worked his way up from the bottom and is so well respected by all the locals. He’s a part of the community, not just the man who upholds the law.

For a small community they’ve had a few issues, Jonah was shot a few years back, and in this book he deals with a serious fire, assaults, runaway horse and a murder….a real Hero. And yet he can’t be openly with the man he wants, they have to hide so carefully. If caught they face loss of both jobs, loss of standing in the community and not just that but a long spell of imprisonment. The way homosexuals were treated then they’d probably both get killed. Serious stuff.
It amazes me how people can forget all the good others do in their judgmental views. Even if they didn’t do anything particularly good, so long as they’re not harming any one so what if they want to be together?

Its a book that made me so sad, so angry, but which was so tender in the way the romance grew out of the blue. Jonah had spent time with lots of ladies but never really considered men sexually, though he knew a few from his police work and had a view that he’d turn a blind eye where he could. He had a good argument about the Bible and how we understand what’s written. It IS very conflicting, it Is subjective and interpretive.
Meeting Matthew and how he felt towards him came as a shock, and the relationship grew at a very natural for the time rate.
Sometimes that’s more tender, more romantic, more erotic even, that the more contemporary reads where it’s lust at first sight, and they’re hot and heavy before even getting to know each others names. A tiny touch, a careful glance can be so very sensual written properly, and this book is full of that.

Stars: five, Its a story to savour, a book to re-read later and had an epilogue I loved.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Michael’s Wings, An Original Sinners Collection, Tiffany Reisz

Michael’s Wings, An Original Sinners Collection, Tiffany Reisz

Michael's Wings (The Original Sinners) by [Reisz, Tiffany]

Genre: LGBTQIA,  Romance

Well, if you love the Original Sinners series you’ll want to read this. I don’t usually read shorts/novellas unless like this they are about characters I already know, so can understand and follow easily something that doesn’t need space to tell me who everyone is and all about them.
The new novella covers 30% of the total, the rest being previously published shorts. I’d read all them before, but love this world and characters even though I find the concept of loving multiple people difficult to understand. then I guess we love all our children so in a way why should multiple lovers be an issue? something to ponder I guess….

Of course Michael needs time to answer That Question – griffin knows this and yet its hard (!!) waiting, an anxious time for him. Nora help Michael sift through his fears, he loves Griffin, they all know that but he’s has such insecurity about himself, and such a difficult past he needs to deal with this, work through it and a beating or three from Nora concentrates his mind!

A fun read, usual TR sensuality and spice, a bit of sass, a lot of sex and sensuality and a side of submission helps Michael understand himself.

Stars: 5, great value if you haven’t read the rest of the stories, but still good to have them in one collection at a decent price.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Two for the Show, Megan Derr.

Two for the Show, Megan Derr.

Two for the Show (Lovesongs Book 4) by [Derr, Megan]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

This is book four in a series. Its billed as a stand alone so I requested although I hadn’t read the others.

I did follow the story just about OK but there were so many little snippets and incidences that I think if I’d read earlier books I would have enjoyed this one more.

Still, I hadn’t, came in cold so to speak and never really felt that I connected with either the characters or the story line. I liked both Nikko and Jake but didn’t really feel anything more between them that a spark of lust, it didn’t have that must-be-together feel that I love in romance reads.

Its an OK read for me, not great but not bad, just one that because I didn’t feel “into” the story it was a rush to just finish and pout it away.

I didn’t really understand the logic about creating a scandal, did see it would be a distraction but in the circumstances it would have created more eyes on Nikko and his world and I didn’t think that would have been a good idea given what he’s trying to do.

Like I said I think if I’d read earlier books, knew more about the overall story and characters I’d have got far more from this. As it is, its a short read, just 1903 kindle locations – I’d guess that’s about 125 pages or so, and there simply isn’t the space to let me get to know the people and understand the whole story well enough.

Stars: 2.5/3. Its an ok read coming in cold to the series, and if I’d read other books I think I would have rated this far higher.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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