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An Unseen Attraction, KJ Charles. Dating Ryan Alback, J.E. Birk

An Unseen Attraction,  KJ Charles

An Unseen Attraction (Sins of the Cities) by [Charles, KJ]

Genre:  romance,LGBTQIA.

I love KJ Charles writing style, very apt for the era she brings to her stories. It feels very much as if one is there in the time period, from the descriptions of characters, what they wear, their occupations, what they do and how they meet, the actual buildings, the London smog.
Even the actual wording used is full of things I have to look up, occupations now unknown or rare but common then, words I’ve never heard of but which seem so apt to the time and are so enriching to the story. (Gamahuching from one of the first novels of hers I read – what a fabulous word).
I hate the trend for dumbed down books, where words all seem to be three syllables or less!

We think of UK history as being mainly white people, and yet when people were so often seen as property they were brought back from other countries as such, and its not uncommon to see people of every race and colour in the cities in UK. KJ often weaves them into her stories.
I loved Clem, half Indian, with a very real backstory, one that happened so very often. He’s an amazing man, and I could see just how his slow and careful nature led to bullying as a child. He needed time to assess, to think, to speak and society both them and now doesn’t like that. People ( me) get bullied of they don’t grasp instantly what’s to be said or done. I don’t have so much difficulty now, but as a child I was very silent, always worried about saying the wrong thing, needed to mull over conversations, think carefully before answering or I’d get flustered just as Clem does. I feel for him.
I sympathised with  Rowley too ( sounds like slowly – I loved that quip!) When he’s talking about his glasses, he describes how someone discovered he needed them, and says how it never occurred to him that he wasn’t seeing what others could. I was ten when a teacher noticed I was very short sighted, until then everyone just thought I wasn’t very bright, was clumsy and slow…so I understood perfectly how Rowley felt without his specs. Mine are a lifeline to the real world. Rowley has had a difficult upbringing too, not uncommon for them time but wich of course affects his personality. He’s so understnading opf Clem, so in tune with what he needs, they make a breat pair. You just want them to be happy, to be left alone.
There’s as usual lots of sex, but not the eternal but dull stuff so often found, where it feels like pages and pages of the same thing.
Clem and Rowely have a varied and intersting way of love making, and again that fits, when sex was something not mentioned in polite society, sex between same sex people forbidden. Even something simple like a quick touch on the hand, a passing clasp of the shoulder could mean so much.
Sometimes I think we miss just how sensual a touch or glance can be, how it can have so much meaning between two people. When things have to be worked at, when they had to find ways round society’s constraints then a simple look could carry a world of meaning.

Once more we’ve some wonderful characters, a careful, slow burn romance, one that simmers, builds very gently, with each wondering about the other. Given the penalties for homosexuality at the time they had to be extraordinarily careful.
I loved the taxidermy descriptions, though they were really interesting I did have to skip the more queasy parts….wimp I know!
You won’t find edge of seat drama here, no histrionics, or death defying stunts, but plots that develop cleverly, lead us around wondering who and why. Though I’d an inkling this time of the Who, I’d no idea of Why, and its a real quest for answers, very much time period apropos.
With a terrific cast and setting, a mystery that weaves all parts of the story together and introduces characters that hopefully we’ll meet in later books, and its another winner. I look forward to more from this group.

Stars: Five, a fabulous start to the trilogy.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers


Dating Ryan Alback,  J.E. Birk

Dating Ryan Alback by [Birk, J.E.]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

A new-to-me author so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It sounded fun, and was, but I found it a little too sweet, cutesy.
A good read, just not a great one for me. That’s fine though, others love sweet’n’light, cute’n’fluffy.

I liked both characters, there wasn’t anything to dislike. The setting, how they met, was a little stretching credulity to think either would do that when they both value their privacy, but the reasons given helped.
I could see why they’d connect, but though I felt a good friendship between them I didn’t feel the love, sexual tension, must-be-together feeling I need in romances.

When it went wrong, well I could see why Ryan reacted that way, but he was a bit OTT knowing only too well how the media screw things up, print anything regardless of the truth just to make money. I didn’t feel his past excused his antagonistic reaction. He’d been let down badly by a lover – it happens, and it was wrong to still be reactive, rather than proactive and his agent and friends were advising. Then to behave so callously to Jason. #justnoton

Then Jason, he’d also got a difficult past, but I felt he was far too forgiving when Ryan eventually came calling. It just didn’t feel right, I felt he should have held back more, make Ryan realise just how badly his actions hurt.

Family and friends on both sides added to the “cute” feel, they were all supportive, loving, protective, and that part felt detached from real life where sadly so much prejudice goes on, so many people are vicious gossips, always put to knock people down.

It was a sweet story, cute characters, a HEA but too sweet, too nice for me to rate higher than a three, I needed more connection between them and more angst.
Its exactly what some readers want though, look at any book and you’ll see some love it and others hate it for exactly the same reasons. this isn’t one for me to keep but may be just what you’re looking for.

Stars: Three, a happy read, but too nice for me to keep, just a one off read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Claiming Mister Kemp, Emily Larkin, Guarding Mr. Fine, HelenKay Dimon

Claiming Mister Kemp, Baleful Godmother 4,  Emily Larkin

Claiming Mister Kemp (Baleful Godmother Historical Romance Series ~ Book 4) by [Larkin, Emily]

Genre:  romance, LGBTQIA

Well, I’ve not read any of Emily’s stories, and this is the fourth in a series….but it reads as though each are stand alone though connected, and the description appealed to me 😉
Historical M/M – for me the Queen, the 5* Gold Standard of this genre is K J Charles, I love her works. This stands up pretty well against that for me, and I really enjoyed the story. There are earlier books, which I’d like to read, and in fact book one is free so that’s on my kindle 😉

I loved Tom, so clear about his love for Lucas even at a time when it mean death if it was discovered. Awful isn’t it how we treated anyone in love in a non conventional way back then – and in many places still do 😡  Tom has served his country loyally, risked his life for small reward and yet if he’s caught with a man he faced being hung.
Lucas, he’s so scared to admit his feelings. Its clear to those close to him but he won’t even admit it to himself, and talking to Tom when he forces the issue he’s sticking to the conventional “unnatural” etc. As for anal sex – I have to look up the term they used, was new to me and I’ve forgotten it – there’s no way he’ll consider that. Back door Usher – that’s was it, perfect for the age in which the book is set.
That’s one of the things that makes historical books so real, when the characters speak as they would back then, use terms familiar to that age. When Tom is talking about paint colours I had to look some up, hazarded a guess as an artist myself but they were colours I’ve never heard of, superseded by more modern ones.
I love when an author takes the trouble to do relatively small things like that which have a big impact on how I feel about a novel. Its research many fail to give credit to and just don’t do but can make a massive difference to how real novels feel. Its something that KJ Charles does all the while, and what makes her books feel so special to me.

There were times I wanted to shake Lucas, thought him a coward he was bringing such distress to Tom in his refusal to act on what they both felt. Then I had to remind myself just what they were risking, and it puts his fears into context better.
Even today in the UK many people find it difficult to acknowledge their sexuality, and there are no criminal charges now, just bigots to face,but that’s still tough, especially when they’re sometimes within the family we love.

Holding up this would be/won’t be romance is a great cast of characters, snippets of real history, and events, and plots that fit the story perfectly. Its a fun read, one I thoroughly enjoyed..

Stars: Four and a half, just short of the magic five, maybe if I’d read all the former stories it would have hit that? Who knows?

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers


Guarding Mr. Fine,  HelenKay Dimon

Guarding Mr. Fine (Tough Love) by [Dimon, HelenKay]

Genre:   Romance, LGBTQIA

I didn’t realise I’d read one of Helen’s books back in 2014…not surprising as she’s a prolific author.

This sounded a fun read so I waded in, and got hooked into Seth and Rick’s romance.
I love that they’ve-hooked-up-but-now-its-awkward scenario. Rick and Seth had a quick, steamy interlude in a club back room and that’s it. Or so they think, so imagine the shock when next day Seth finds out Rick is the person he’s bodyguard for.
Rick knows who Seth is via the paperwork, and has his own issues about that, but has no idea what he looks like until he walked in the door!

Well, that visceral attraction that had them hot and sensual in the back room is still there.
Rick’s had relationships before but Seth? Not really. He’s just broken up with the closest he came to one with his ex, Elizabeth. She felt he wasn’t there enough, and when he was, he wasn’t “there” with her anyway.
They can’t keep hands – and other body parts – to themselves though, and what was a one off becomes more and more, until Seth can’t bear the thought of anything happening to Rick.

There’s a lot of danger surrounding this post though, Rick isn’t really the new Consul, but an agent looking into the supposed suicide of the old one.
He and Seth uncover a dangerous plot that could get them killed, and they come very close to it more than once. The suspense part and action of the story worked well for me. I don’t want it too in-depth that I get lost but do need it to feel real.

There’s lots of action here, lots of on-going drama, and some cracking snarky lines that made me smile.
I liked Seth and Rick, they worked well together as colleagues and as lovers. Could they continue after this post was done though? Would Seth even want to or would he do his usual fast exit?
As well as the romance there was a decent storyline – and I’m all about that, a proper balance of sex v story, and here it worked well.
The characters were well thought out, very real feeling though I’d got an inkling of who was the bad guy early on. Makes a change for me to get it right 😉
I loved Nathan too, love the banter he and Seth had, being comrades from other dangerous jobs had led them into a special trust, only found when you rely on the other when you’re risking your lives.

I did enjoy the “why do straight guys always think we’ll hit on them” talk – I was having that chat just recently with son number two. Its something that always puzzles me, straight guys don’t fancy every woman that crosses their path so why do so many of them assume a gay guy will fancy them?

Stars: Four, a fun read, with a good balance of sex and story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Embers, Common Law 2, Kate Sherwood

Embers, Common Law 2, Kate Sherwood

Embers (Common Law Book 2) by [Sherwood, Kate]

Genre:  romance, LGBTQIA

This is my fourth Kate Sherwood read, two were five stars, one was three – that’s how it goes for me, liking an authors writing style doesn’t mean I’ll love all their novels 😉 Still, Long Shadows, Common Law 1, was a five and I was keen to see where Wade and Jericho (Jay) would go next.

This is one of those excellent slow burn romances that I love, where we can feel just how attracted each person is, feel the sizzle, the heat, the tension whenever they are together. Right now though they’re not together, not even close to that, still feeling their way round each other, but though everything seems stacked against them I just can’t help but feel them being together is something that’s almost predestined, fated, just has to happen at some point. But when, where and how still isn’t clear!
Wade and Jay had a relationship 15 years ago and then Jay left…didn’t stay in touch, didn’t contact anyone, and now he’s back. He and Wade are on opposing sides of the Law though, with Jay being undersheriff, his also close friend Kayla is sheriff, and Wade has a rep as a criminal.
Although he’s never been caught doing anything wrong, whenever there’s trouble somehow he seems to have a connection. This book shows that once more, with people believing Wade’s hand is in the mix of murders/drug smuggling and biker wars.

Its not as clear cut as Wade not being caught though, everything that makes the locals ( and the out of town Feds) think he’s guilty is circumstantial, and how much is jealousy from the locals and frustration from the feds?
Wade doesn’t not cooperate, on the surface he’s friendly, calm and helpful, but we all know that what he isn’t saying is far more important than what he is telling them.
Jay struggles to concentrate when he’s with him, the Wade of now is wrapped up with his memories of past Wade and both have the tendency to make him forget everything, and that doesn’t bode well for a man of the Law.

All the old team are back, Jay, Wade, Kayla, Nikki – Jay’s fathers wife and her two kids, the feds who still seem to distrust Jay and shut him out as much as they can, and there’s a few new people, with the bikers being a main thread of this story.
It starts with the burning of Wade’s bar, and a text from him to Jay that no-one is there.
Jay was terrified Wade was inside, panicking over all the things he wanted to say and hadn’t, and then Wade texts him back this brief, ambiguous reply in response to Jay’s question over where he was. Does that mean he knew the bar was burning as he was involved? Jay hadn’t told him, and once more he’s left with the dilemma, does he show Kayla the text as he should as her deputy, knowing he’ll drop Wade into trouble if he does, or should he keep quiet?
Its typical Wade, laconic information, words that can have more than one inference, and poor Jay, I so felt for him. The more he gets caught up with the town the more he feels for Wade.

I love these guys, the friction between them, Jay trying to do what’s right morally, but struggling when it comes to Wade, Wade and his manipulations. I feel Wade knows Jay better than he knows himself, I think he’s a good guy, they both are but Wade hides it.
I haven’t worked out whether he’s just running his town the way he thinks benefits it, skirting the law deliberately or whether he’s maybe part of something bigger on the legal side. Who knows? Maybe I’m totally off tangent thinking that, but Wade is so closed, so careful and so manipulative that everything he says and does can be taken in many different ways. Is he using Jay for his own purposes, giving him info he knows Jay will feel he has to pass on to Kayla and the feds, or is he just trying to keep Jay safe?
Kayla, she asked Jay to stay, to take a huge pay cut from his city posting and help her keep the town safe, but she doesn’t seem to fully trust him when it comes to Wade and TBH its easy to see why. Sometimes Jay doesn’t trust himself. So far its all worked out well, but is that because Wade was directing it that way or purely coincidence?
What about the feds, first they don’t trust Jay but do trust Kayla, now it seems to have turned around, so what’s really going on there?
What about the murders, how can Jay keep his town safe when the feds aren’t giving him info over such serious things as that?

Its a book that’s perfect for me, sizzling romance, great characters, small mysteries to puzzle out and lots of false trails. By the end we can see what has happened but we still don’t really know why, whether it worked that way by default or by clever planning. Jay’s getting to know the way Wade works, but still struggles with the morality of having such strong feelings for someone who may well be a murderer, drug smaller, involved in some serious crimes. Poor Jay. He wants to think the best of Wade but he’s hampered by that tricky stuff, evidence that seems to point Wade as guilty but doesn’t quite fit, can be seen in different ways.
Wade I just love, such a clever, sexy man and for me he’s not a murderer but has perahps found ways to skirt round the constraints of legalities to get the results that are best for the town and its inhabitants.
There’s some real steam coming off the pages in this book, although its mostly touches, glances and words, very little real action, but that makes it so much hotter, so that when they do kiss, one touch and bam….its explosive.

A fabulous story once more, carefully paced, flowing easily and taking the reader along a will they wont they/is he guilty or isn’t he/how can they ever actually make it as a couple journey?
Eternal optimist that I am I know Kate will work it out for them eventually but how, when and why…well, thankfully there’s more books to enjoy to read about that!

Stars: Five, perfect second book, advancing the story and opening up the plots for lots more.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Flowers On The Wall, Mary J. Williams. Working It, Christine d’Abo

Flowers On The Wall
Hart Of Rock And Roll – Book 1,  Mary J. Williams

Flowers On The Wall (Hart Of Rock And Roll Book 1) by [Williams, Mary J.]

Genre:  romance,

Hmnn…this has all five star reviews currently – and though I enjoyed it, a lot, its not a  five star for me. Maybe I’m just hypercritical? I hate when I’m out of step with others but – it happens.

So, Ryder and Quinn, both great characters, self confident, strong willed and when they meet there’s a real pull between them.

I like self confident female leads, but at times I felt Quinn was a little too assertive, a bit too confident. In males that comes over as cocky but appealing – so it ought to be the same with her, and yet I found she was almost brash and irritating at times.

Ryder, he’s been through a lot and come out on top, but not without some mental demons. That’s understandable and what makes him the man he is.
He sees Quinn – loved that first meeting BTW – and is attracted, and she feels the same but isn’t going to just jump because he says so. There’s a real sexual attraction here which grew stronger, but somehow I wasn’t convinced that it was more, that it was love rather than lust.

I would have liked to see more of the other band members, they stayed pretty much in the background except for Zoe.
I thought the suggestion of more from the manager would have developed, would have been an interesting storyline, but it seemed to be put in and then left. That could have made for some intriguing subplots, but as it never developed it made me wonder why it was started?

Its a good read, felt very real at times, with characters I liked. I really needed someone/something unpleasant though, some drama that was very down, to take from all the good/sweet/happy parts in this read.
For me a bit of unpleasantness, jealousy, a tinge of malice in action, makes the happy parts so much brighter. Without that contrast they just feel Good but not Great, and that’s kind of how I feel here. It was a good novel, but lacked the contrast, the dark side, the emotional context for me that would have made it a great one.
Others love it as it is though, so its not all of us who enjoy more in stories, need the dramas, the angst, the sorrow, ones like this are perfect for many readers, you’ll have to assess which side you fall 😉

Stars: Four, a good read but I wanted more drama for a five.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers


Working It,  Christine d’Abo

Working It (Ringside Romance Book 1) by [d'Abo, Christine]

Genre:   Romance, LGBTQIA

My first Christine d’Abo read – and I’m going to take a look at more of her books as I now know I enjoy her writing style.

I really liked the sound of this, a fairly straightforward romance, no suspense dramas, no deep dark relatives, no hidden motives, just two people that fall in love, but where each have their own issues.
I enjoy all those other types of read but sometimes you just want an easy read, uncomplicated where its the two leads that are the main focus and thats what I was in the mood for when I picked out this one to read yesterday.

I loved Nolan, understood so well his issues, its hard picking up life after an accident like his which left him with life changing injuries. We can heal the body, though that takes time and Nolan is still healing even two years later, but the mind – well, that’s harder.
Nolan has learned coping strategies but its tough, and he still struggles sometimes.
I have to mention one thing though that irritated me. Nolan is musing “Phantom pain was no myth. the moment he started to thing about…” Well, that true BUT – Nolan Does Not Have phantom pain. That’s the pain amputees get, where the missing limb still feels pain, and as someone with no left leg, but who often gets severe pain from it 21 years later I can say wholeheartedly Nolan is right, it isn’t a myth but he’s not an amputee, he has severe pain, probably serve nerve pain from damage there, but he does not have phantom pain.
Right, got that off my chest * blush *. sorry, but some things just yank my chain and that’s one.
I really understood Nolan’s difficulties trying to get his life back on track, trying to be independent, having faced them myself after my amputation and that part was so well written that I found myself nodding with his thoughts and experiences.
When he worried about Zack seeing his scars – such a familiar feeling, when he didn’t want pity or sympathy – been there done that, and he felt so real for me. I just wanted everything to go perfectly for him.

Then there’s Zack, a real pain in the ar se boss. Yet as we get to know him we can see much of that comes from him wanting things done properly, without having to chase up assistants who should be able to deal with his requests.
Some people are good at that, some are not and Zack just wants to delegate and get on with his own work, he’s got a lot of it to do. Underneath all that tough guy, bluff and bluster is a geniune caring man.

The gym, what a great idea and goodreads had this book sub-titled (Ringside Romance #1)  so I hope we get to see more of the characters involved, and maybe catch up with Zack and Nolan.
Kids need places like this and its great when those who’ve benefitted in the past come forward to make it available to kids now who need it, as Zack and his friends do.
Those teen years are make or break time for many, get a record then and it stays with you for life, shaping what jobs you get, what direction your life can take, so its important to do everything possible to make them good years for those who are struggling. And lets face it, many teens do struggle, and if they’re Different in some way, race, religion, sexuality, disability etc then they feel all the more marginalised.
Provides a great background to this series of novels though 😉

Its a fun romance, fairly low on drama, and when things do go wrong its soon over. I liked the proportion of sex v story, so often the sex dominates and for me I want it to be more balanced.  I loved the setting, the characters and the gym but the story itself was a bit drama light for me, I do need a bit more angst for a 5 star re-reader, but its still a good four star read for me.

Stars: Four, a realistic read and one I enjoyed. I shall look for more from Christine.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Whiteout, Elyse Springer

Whiteout,  Elyse Springer

Genre:   LGBTQIA

I really enjoyed this novel. I was a little worried that it would be one of those where everything takes place over just a few days – sometimes those work for me but more often they don’t. It wasn’t though, the initial scenes, the amnesia, Noah waking with no memory and his flashbacks, are all in the cabin, but then it moves on and in fact covers several months.

What I loved: I could really feel Jason’s love for Noah, his worry about the injury, his concern for him, and add in his grieving for his former partner who’d died he was a man I loved.
And yet – the flashbacks Noah was having pointed to a very different guy, so which was right, which one was the real Jason? It was cleverly done, I really wasn’t sure.

Then there’s the revelations and boy what a shock they were. Gobsmacked – a total hit to the heart.
What I loved was that this happened just after halfway through the story, so we’ve loads of time to really explore the heartbreak side, to flesh out those flashbacks, to understand how both Noah and Jason are feeling, gutted, heartbroken and the story was so momentous the betrayal so great, so cleverly planned that I couldn’t see a way forward for them.
I love it when a book does that, really gets in deep on the heartbreak side, really digs in to how people are feeling, to what it means to them, to how they can either move on or try to pick up and see if there’s a path back to the love they had. Noah’s idea of how to do that was so so perfect, very subtle yet on point.
I hate when we get a big reveal, a terrible heart-breaking story and then two pages later its kiss and make-up. Done as it is here,fully explored, time to let emotions sink in,it’s just perfect for me.

I loved the characters, Jason and Noah, and the side ones, Sara, Abby, Tony….they all were strong cast and fitted perfectly.
The Rent connection – I’ve never read the book/seen the musical but followed along fine, I would like to read the book if I knew what it was called 😉
There are some steamy sex scenes but they don’t dominate the story, I so hate that, when its more sex than story, when the plots get lost behind the sex, but it fit perfectly and feel right here.

Stars: Five, a clever book, one I really enjoyed, that let me wallow in the sad parts 😉

Arc supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

Afraid to Fly, (Anchor Point 2), L.A. Witt

Afraid to Fly, (Anchor Point 2), L.A. Witt 

Afraid to Fly (Anchor Point Book 2) by [Witt, L.A.]

Genre:  romance, LGBTQIA

I loved, just loved, Just Drive, book 1 in this series, and was hoping for more of the same.
I love LA Witt’s writing, and was ready for another hot and sensual, tender but real romance. Sadly though I just didn’t feel it here….
I did love the sneak peeks of Sean and Paul from book one though, that they were getting ready to marry. terrific to know that they lasted, that they were getting their HEA.

So why wasn’t this one another winner for me? Well, as a chronic pain sufferer I know how debilitating and depressing pain can be, and the need to mask the effects if you don’t want to be a down on everyone and every outing. Clint though, his pain was so intense I really didn’t see how he could keep it so hidden. I could see why he wanted to, he’s a career Serviceman, and a bit longer and he can retire gracefully, on a much better pension, and sadly that extra money is needed when you have health issues.
I just felt his pain was overshadowing his whole life though, it was literally running it, where he had to plan what he could do to hide how much he was hurting. I know only too well that sort of pain isn’t going to go away, isn’t going to get better, and it just seemed a bit too depressing knowing his life didn’t have an upside.

Even when he met and got together with Travis they seemed to just have a HFN, and I wondered – all the fears he has for their future, would he be proved right?
There wasn’t any way I could see that things would change, and I felt a bit left in limbo as far as the future for them and his fears went.

Travis too, his issue with the kids and his ex, I needed to know if he would get to see them, how they would take his news etc. There was a tiny little bit of light at the end but its very ambiguous.
I so felt for his problems, and wondered – does that really happen? Where something so traumatic happens that it affects people that badly, gives them PTSD and yet they can’t even discuss it with a Service sanctioned counsellor?
Way to leave your staff in limbo.
Pretty disgusting and yet as with so many jobs the Services depend on fitness both mentally and physically and both these guys had so much to hide to keep their jobs, after they’d sacrificed so much for their country. Made me think for a bit about real life, how these kind of situations work.
As a drone pilot I could see how people like Travis would get sneered at if they had issues with what happened, safe behind the lines, and yet the effects of what they do are the same as those pilots who drop bombs from a plane and then are miles away when the blast hits.
Tough one, and I guess Forces life isn’t built for sympathy and understanding, more Take-it-like-a-Man stuff – even for the women 😦 US and UK seem to have the same attitude here.

I think its that eternal down-ness of their problems, the way nothing seemed to be resolvable that made this book an Ok-but-once-only read for me, it was too grim, bleak and unremitting.
I need some light at the end of the tunnel and TBH I just couldn’t see it.

Sadly  I could believe that Travis would get tired of Clint’s issues, love – even the strongest – doesn’t stop people getting frustrated, however much they understand the causes. Pain like that doesn’t get better, only worse, unless there’s some kind of new medical treatment out, and nothing like that was suggested for Clint.
Likewise Travis’ mental stress, without being able to discuss the cause with a trained counsellor how could he get past it, stop the nightmares, avoid the triggers, and would Clint in time decide the lack of sleep was exacerbating his pain, that they just couldn’t be together?
See, that’s a real issue for me, I just can’t see how they can get the happy future I want them to have, without some interventions…just understanding and sympathising with your partner isn’t enough to stop the problems, and keep both happy.

A few hints on what could happen in the future to benefit, surgery perhaps for Clint, some psychotherapy and counselling for Travis, a way to move forward with a slightly easier life, and this could have been a story I loved as much as the first, but as it is though its the usual perfectly written story with believable characters and situations, its just too bleak, dark, grim for me. Real life has that, I want somethng positive when I’m reading, some hope for a HEA for characters.

Stars: two, a real shock for me, a two star LA Witt story, but this one just didn’t work for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Wanted, A Gentleman, KJ Charles

Wanted, A Gentleman,  KJ Charles

Genre:  LGBTQIA, Romance

I never take much notice of covers but this one – that’s just how Martin is in my mind!

I love KJ Charles writing, love the way she portrays the past with such vivid reality. Her books always make me think too about the issues raised.
This is a romance and yet there are serious points in it, slavery and the (im)morality of it, how homosexuality was a crime, debtors prison and the way that impacted on people’s lives, plus of course the whole marrying a title/marrying for prestige and money conundrum.
The words too, she’s one of the writers that really uses English to its fullest extent, throws in words I don’t know – I can guess them from the context of course, so its not off-putting – but its fun to look them up, see where and how they originated and ponder on why they fell from use. Gamahuching – that one I’d read before in one of her books but is a wonderful word!

So we’re back in time to when a free person of colour was still a novelty.
I loved Martin, loved the way he was so angry about his past, and yet he understood compared to others he’d been lucky.
When he’s conversing with Theo about it though and Theo is trying to convince him he has the right to feel angry, doesn’t need to feel obligated at being set free after being ripped from his family at 4 years old and given as a gift I felt so sorry for him. So sad that this was real for many people back then ( and for far too many now too!)
Its awful to think of kids being treated like that, and yet back then it was commonplace, and even ostensibly “free” people were treated as disposable in the same way.
I really enjoyed the way they talked about it, the way it gave me insights into what kind of people they were, the way it set the whole story solidly into that era where Money and Class ruled.

Theo is one of those “free” people who are anything but. He’s scrabbling to make a living, haunted by past decisions, and really living hand to mouth.
I was so taken by the attraction between these two very different characters, and the way they came from disliking each other, full of cynicism and preconceived ideas about the other, to lovers.
Of course it being a heinous crime back then they had to be so very discreet to avoid being caught, imprison and lose what little freedom  they had.

Its a great fun read, I loved they way the romance novels played such a great part, the way everything finally worked out. I was racking my brains for a solution but couldn’t see one, and that’s why I’ll always be a reader not a writer 🙂

When things go wrong, poor, poor Theo, I so felt for him. I understood how Martin felt too and wondered what I’d do if I was either one of them. Its a sad tale and one that was all too common back then. The ending KJ gave us though was just perfect.

Stars: Five, I really enjoyed this but as a one off read. Its not got the appeal for me of the Magpie stories which are ones I enjoy re reading, but its still a well deserved 5* read for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Long Shadows, Common Law 1, Kate Sherwood

Long Shadows, Common Law 1,  Kate Sherwood

Long Shadows (Common Law Book 1) by [Sherwood, Kate]

Genre:   Romance, LGBTQIA

When I requested this I could see it was first in a series, but of course there’s a gap between that and getting approval, and then getting the book onto my kindle.
Once there the title just comes up as Long Shadows. Having enjoyed a couple of Kate’s past novels which were stand alone I assumed this was also, so was disappointed at the lack of a HEA, lack of any real romance here.
Then….I came to write my review and saw its book one in a series, and that puts a whole different slant on it – I understand now the slow burn of the romance, why Jericho and Wade barely touched, though it was clear both wanted more, much more.
I understand why the ending was a kind of possibilities in the future style. It all makes sense now and I feel totally different.
I was happy with the story, happy at the suspense/mystery angle but had felt let down by the missing romance, but now of course the context is much better, everything slots into place and I’m keen to read book two and onwards.
Funny isn’t it how perception and expectation can change how we view a story?Its the same words I’ve just read, but instead of feeling kind of 3.5 to 4 about it now its a 5 for me.

So we meet Jericho and Wade, one each side of the Law.
Close as kids, closer as teens til Jericho left at 17, and hasn’t been back since. Neither had a great home life and it feels like they were each others support and when they parted it wasn’t on good terms. That’s kind of implied, we don’t really know yet why Wade didn’t leave, why they didn’t keep in touch having been so close.

Jericho has gone on to work in LA as a cop, Wade has stayed behind running several businesses that skirt the law, making a success of them but its clear everyone assumes – and he lets them – that its mainly down to shady dealing and dodgy work.
I really liked both of these guys, loved the way we could feel the pull between them, the underlying sexual tension.
Making up the third main character is Kayla, now the Sheriff after her dad’s retirement, and a former good friend to the lads, lover of Jericho.
The three were always together, Jericho thought that was because they all got along, he’s shocked to discover Kayla and Wade only put up with each other because of the way they feel about Jericho.

There’s a tale unfolding here that not only covers the mystery of Jericho’s dad and his newly discovered half siblings, but which brings the trio back together, reluctantly working and sharing information to find the missing kids.
Its all part of a wider story that will be revealed in further books, and I want to read those and see if Wade and Jericho reconnect – or perhaps Jericho and Kayla will reconnect – or maybe all of them…who knows?
Its certainly left open, though I don’t feel the same connection between Jericho and Kayla as I do with him and Wade.

Stars: Five, a book I really enjoyed, especially now I know its part of a series and there’s more to come from the story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

A few more favourite reads

The Lie  Karina Halle

The Lie by [Halle, Karina]

bought this on early price promotion a while back, I always look out for things like that from authors who’s work I love.

I love Karina’s style and this book was the usual gripping, rivetting surprise. She’s got the knack of making things that seem totally unlikely to feel real, to bring characters to life and once again I found I was really wanting things to work out well for Briggs and Natasha.
I love the way Karina’s characters feel so real that I empathise with them, get sad and happy when they do, they really feel like friends of mine. I first found her via the fabulous Experiment in Terror series – a great read and one I’ve gone through more that once! Now I’ve come to live her contemporary works too and they are as varied as the suspense Artist trilogy, or these contemporary romance reads. A real mutli tasking author able to write across genres and still keep readers hooked.
A great story to join The Pact, the Offer and The Play. ( read and loved all those too )

 Fix You Carrie Elks (this book led me on to others of hers)
This is currently on KU, a great way to try new to you authors. that’s a fabulous way of reading for people like me who devour books.
The Spiral Down by [Martinez, Aly]
Please Don’t Stop The Music (Choc Lit):Jane Lovering
Please Don't Stop The Music (Choc Lit) (Yorkshire Romances Book 1) by [Lovering, Jane]

Shifting Shadows: Stories From the World of Mercy Thompson.. Patricia Briggs  – Link to Amazon uk Patricia Briggs page
Fire Touched: Mercy Thompson Book 9 Patricia Briggs
Fire Touched: Mercy Thompson Book 9 by [Briggs, Patricia]
I’ve the whole series of this, have reread several times and its always great to get back with Adam, Mercy and the gang. a sereis I’m happy to pay full price for 😉

The Duality Paradigm (Blood & Bone Trilogy Book 1)
got this back in April when it was free, haven’t read the two next ones though.
Rock You (Fallen Star Book 1) Candy J Starr currently free and I enjoyed this but haven’t bothered with the three follow ups, which don’t have great reviews, are short and just seem to have dragged the story out for no reason.
Fun light romance, still free 🙂
Marrying Mister Perfect (Reality Romance Book 1) by [Shane, Lizzie]
Blood Gift/Gate, the Wolf within Series Amy Lee Burgess Link to author page
 another two series that I’ll happily re read my way through

Queer Trade KJ Charles
A Queer Trade by [Charles, KJ]
I’ve had lots of this authors stories via Netgalley but this one I bought. Again she’s an author who’s books I love to reread. All M/M reads, set back in time, some paranormal some not. My favorites are still her Magpie Lord novels.
Jaz Parks series Jennifer Rardin
I read this series in my pre kindle days, love it and now have them on kindle. sadly Jennifer died after finishing this series, so there are no more books from her.

No Small Parts, Ally Blue

No Small Parts,  Ally Blue

Genre:  LGBTQIA, Romance

I love the Bluewater Bay series, we’re on to book 16 now, and unlike some other long running series it still feels fresh and original.
I think maybe that’s because so many different authors are involved, each bringing their own style and yet still retaining core standards for the characters. So for example Anna in this book is just the same kind of person we know from meeting her in earlier books, she still acts and feels like the Anna we’ve come to know.

This time we’ve Nat, a BB inhabitant who’s got work as an extra. He’s got some talent and soon catches director Anna’s eye for that – he also catches Raphael’s eye too – he’s assistant to Solari, one of the main cast, and Nat is attracted to Solari not knowing that she’s already in a relationship. Confused??
Solari sees something in Nat though, and they become good friends, and that brings him into Raphael’s orbit where he realises that he returns Raphael’s interest.

Poor Nat though has problems. He lives with and looks after his dad, who’s addicted to his pain meds, keeps taking too many. That’s causing him issues, and means he gets confused and is in danger when alone.
Nat’s sister isn’t interested in helping, nor is his uncle. His dad wasn’t a very nice man to either of them, and they leave poor Nat to cope.
Its tough on him though, and he feels very alone when we first meet him. Added to that his dad knows he’s Bi, doesn’t like it when he’s involved with a man, and  can’t see why he can’t just choose a woman to have a relationship with. Weird isn’t it how people think attraction and love can be choices….
Nat loves his acting break, and when his talent is recognised he’s so happy. The extra money will come in useful too, he’s supporting his dad and has been working additional jobs to pay for meds and sitters etc.
Once he gets involved with Raphael he feels so much better, someone to love, to talk to, to be with, and they’re both excited about his possible opening career wise. He’s such a sweet man, so loving, so hard working and determined to support his dad even though he isn’t helping himself. Nat keeps thinking of the man he was when he was a kid and his mum was still alive, and hoping he’ll return. His dad’s problems aren’t going to get better though and mean he’s tied to the Bay, and he knows that Raphael will return to Hollywood at some point 😦

Raphael’s a lovely man too, very devoted to his career but in an honest way. He wants to get into directing but he’s not afraid of the hard work it’ll take.
When he meets Nat and they get closer both of them don’t think too far ahead, but its wonderful watching them fall for each other, seeing them grow closer, have the support of each other.

Just when everything is going well it all goes wrong, and I so felt for Nat, he’s so full of guilt and I hated the way he just couldn’t see into a positive future, the way he was so gutted at what had happened that he wouldn’t let himself be happy, wouldn’t move forward. Raphael was trying so hard to help him, but ultimately only he could make the decision about what to do.

Stars: Four, a lovely story, back in the Bay with some old characters and new ones.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

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