Tag Archive | gay romance

Any Old Diamonds, K.J. Charles

Any Old Diamonds, K.J. Charles

Any Old Diamonds (Lilywhite Boys Book 1) by [Charles, KJ]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

I love KJ Charles writing style, very typically British gentle, self effacing humour, subtle and understated clues to plots, and a rich, realistic historical setting. I don’t want in-your-face novels, I want to explore characters, work out scenes, pick up insinuated clues to what’s going to happen, try to work things out myself.
I loved the connection to some past novels, though you don’t need to read those. I enjoyed seeing those characters some twenty years on.

I adored Alec, so felt for him. He wanted to do what was right by his siblings, avenge his sister’s death, but when its your father, however awful he is, its a tough thing to face. The Lillywhite Boys, are commissioned by Alec to work the sting, with Jerry, one half of the duo, working closely with Alec, as his friend so that he can be in the right place at the right time.
I loved the slow developing romance between Alec and Jerry, the wondering from Alec is this is just a pleasant interlude for Jerry or could he dare hope he means more to him.? Jerry is such an enigma its difficult to feel how he thinks, work out what he really wants from Alec, and I wasn’t certain either until I was blown away by that magical, unexpected declaration.
As always historical novels bring the dangers to M/M romances to the fore, and Oscar Wilde and his stint in prison gets a mention – as does the fact that he was prosecuted but the Wealthy Society Gentleman also involved wasn’t. That links to the main plot here, how Lord Alec’s father, the Duke of Ilvar, literally got away with murder, being both wealthy and having the position to take out any repercussions. Old Boys Network at its finest. Its fiction here, but things like that did – and to a degree still do – happen all too often 😦
I thought I’d followed the clues, worked plots and answers out, but as usual KJ has surprises, events don’t go as I’d planned and everything changes in an instant. Its cleverly done, the way I’d thought it would go would have left severe repercussions whereas of course the way it actually happens works well for everyone. Well, apart from the Duke and Duchess of course!!

Stars: Five, another cracking read,. Romance, mystery, history all in one cleverly written story.

Arc via author

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His Uptown Guy by Felice Stevens

His Uptown Guy by Felice Stevens

His Uptown Guy by [Stevens, Felice]

Genre: Romance, LGBTQIA

I’ve enjoyed a few of Felice’s reads now, and was eager to read this one. It was a well written story but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d expected though.

I liked both guys, very real characters with very genuine problems though each are vastly different. I felt their first meeting was plausible, sometimes that first meet feels cliched and false but here I could see things playing out exactly like that. Dash is the kind of true Gentleman who would step in to help anybody. He’s a very likable man, loves his family, even though he can see issues with it, works hard to put himself through school, and Jesse comes from a world he can only imagine.
Jesse might look to have everything, money, family, good health but…after losing his father in 9/11 he’s left with a crippling fear of outdoors, hasn’t been past his front door for five years. He has everything set up to support him – money can do that – but it can’t make him happy, and he’s now realising he doesn’t want to stay confined but finding it incredibly hard to break through the fear. His desire for Dash helps him but its not easy.
At least not easy until suddenly it is. Well, not quite but I found it hard to believe after such protracted stay inside his flat, not venturing past the front door, he could move forward quite so quickly. likewise Dash and his problems with Jesse and money, somehow it all seemed to be huge hurdles one moment and poof, gone for love the next. It was a little too slick for me. I like a bit more struggle and angst.
Its an easy to read story, well set out and believable if only there had been a bit more distance from insolvable issues to -poof- all sorted now….I know love conquers all but I want a bit of struggle along the way.

Stars: Three, a good read but not quite up to some of her others for me. Could be just what you want though, reading is incredibly subjective.

ARC via author

The Binding, Bridget Collins

The Binding, Bridget Collins

Genre: General fiction (Adult)

A really unusual story, its hard to class it but it feels like its set back in time but where the magic of Binding – removing peoples memories and putting them in a book– is real. Of course while alive those memories aren’t supposed to be sold, but they are the only kind of stories around, and there are always unscrupulous folk….

I did find it difficult re pacing at the start. I felt like I was fully engrossed in Emmet’s present and the issues he’d been through when I’m taken to his past, where he meets Lucian. And that was heartbreaking for all parties.

Its a read full of what if’s – what would I do in the same situation, and it shows that the old adage of be careful what you wish for is something to be carefully considered.
I loved the characters, the descriptions of everyday life, the horrors of those who abuse the system, from people covering up or forgetting their own bad behaviour, to those poor folk who had nothing left to sell, were so poor they parted with their memories, each leaving its own impact on them. Of course things like that weren’t supposed to happen, ostensibly people had to consent but there are ways around that and the more money and position orientated Binders were ready to take full advantage.
It did feel a little disconnected at times, as though I’d missed some essential parts, but that didn’t affect the overall story, and the gentle, unfolding romance was beautiful. If this magic was real, yes, I could see all the things in the novel happening all too easily. Its not a HEA story, there’s a conclusion of sorts, but its very much a possible HFN, and maybe the magic HEA, though in that time and clime I think its unlikely.
Would I reread this? Possibly, and I’d certainly read more from this author.

Stars: Four, a really unusual and entrancing story but the pacing was a little off for me, and I would have liked a bit more of an ending.

ARC via Netgalley and publishers

Hard Truths, Alex Whitehall

Hard Truths, Alex Whitehall

Hard Truths by [Whitehall, Alex]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

I thought I’d read books by this author before – but I haven’t – so lots of new to me reads to enjoy 😉 I loved this read, heartbreaking at times and sadly, so very,very real.

I loved Isaac and his sister, Sue. They’re very close, which is good as his parents are…well, my age but I feel a million miles from them.
They’re old fashioned, with sadly outdated views. Mum is desperate for grandchildren to spoil, even though, as Isaac muses, she never wanted to spoil him or Sue. Dad is one of those I’m-head-of-family, my word is Law types, the sort where clear lines are drawn, he’s The Man, brings in the dosh, and housework, childcare etc is Not His Province, women’s work.
Despite the weird parents Sue and Isaac love them, just hate the way every family occasion leads into nagging about marriage and children.
Desperate one Thanksgiving Sue brings home a date, a fake one, just to shut mum up. He’s big, burly, tattooed and ….coloured, and she knows her parents will hate him. She’s asked him to be polite but play up the stereotype, so he is guarded about his job, hinting at freelance, letting them think the worst, and true to form they are reasonably polite but Not Happy and make it clear.
Isaac is shocked though when Logan discreetly makes a pass at him…til he finds out the truth. I loved that family meal!

Soon Logan and Isaac are together but each family meal means Logan stays away, and Isaac gets more lectures on finding The One and grandchildren. I felt so sorry for him, for too many families this is life. It shouldn’t matter who we love, so long as we’re not harming others, parents should just want their kids happy, not set conditions on happiness and love.
Of course the inevitable happens and Logan wants to be with Isaac all the time, not tucked away from his parents like a dirty secret. Its not hard to see the way things would go, although it was stronger than I expected, and once more I kept thinking “this is how life is for so many kids” Awful isn’t it? I can’t conceive of being that sort of parent, though I can see faint echoes in how my parents would have reacted.
In between Isaac and his family issues there’s the deal of Logan and his friends and Isaac and his, both close knit groups who react differently to new people, to pressures and events. I get the feeling Logan is more confident, outgoing, able to accept others where Isaac is a bit like me, diffident, cautious, careful of feelings. There are times when he isn’t sure if his friends are pushing him aside, when in fact they’re probably just busy, and I can empathise with that think the worst outlook.
When the big Fallout hit its dual pronged for Isaac and I so felt for him, and Logan of course. The way that drama played out, really let emotions flow, let Isaac’s thoughts run riot was just perfect for me. I love to wallow in the sad parts, and then feel uplifted when all ends well.

Stars:Five, a very real feeling drama with the perfect HEA.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers.

#HardTruths #NetGalley

Imperial Stout, Layla Reyne

Imperial Stout, Layla Reyne

Imperial Stout (Trouble Brewing) by [Reyne, Layla]

Genre: LGBTQIA

I loved Layla’s AIW series, and this new one seems set to became another favourite of mine.
I do have trouble with all the acronyms, not just in this series but all US stories. Its hard enough keeping up with UK ones, but those from another country, not a chance. Thankfully though its fairly easy to mentally throw them all in a box marked “official legals” and then just try to remember the hierarchy and jurisdiction 😉
As before there are some great characters here, not just the leads but in the supporting cast, and it was good to see some of the characters from AIW here. These people feel real, have genuine emotions, and act like I would expect, passionate when adrenaline is flowing, angry about perceived injustice, jealous at times, though not in a controlling way. We get to see how they think, how they feel and that made me understand them better and let me connect with them as genuine folk.
The issues with Nic’s father looks set to run through the series, and bring even more trouble down on poor Nic, despite their 27 year estrangement. Cam has his own dark past that rears its head here and I think that will come up again. The plot is action packed but, thankfully for me, not overly burdened with technical terms and devices. I get lost when they go into that kind of detail, I’d rather know more about the characters and whats happening than the type of gun or car they’re using.
Its a shortish read, 62,000 words but full of action and great characters. This main plot wraps up – ish, feels complete at the end so far as the main story goes. Somehow though, there are often over-spills from sub-plots in series like this, and of course there are issues raised such as Nic’s dad and Cam’s background that are going to follow through in later books.

Stars: Five, great characters, terrific plots and a romance that fits the story, doesn’t dominate.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Shipped,  Karrie Roman

Shipped,  Karrie Roman

Shipped (Until You Book 1) by [Roman, Karrie]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

I love M/M and books involving fame, such great potential for jealousy plots, fan over action etc. I really wanted to love this but…I liked it, a lot but it fell flat of being one I love, a re-reader.
Ryan seems to have walked into fame from nothing, top star Lucas has a wife, a beard only, but that seems to have escaped notice and I wondered just how realistic either of those things could be. The romance angle was kind of cute really, some sensual sex scenes but lots of sweet and nice between that and it felt a little too cheesy for me. I like some drama!
We did get drama later by way of a dangerous stalker, and the pressure that brings, and a climatic attack towards the end. Somehow though even that didn’t feel enough for me. There was endless talking about feelings, mulling things over, cutesy times out with yet more nice, sweet people. Ryan was nice, Lucas was nice, his wife was nice, the two sisters that owned the boat were nice…you get the idea? Everyone is so darned Good, helpful, pleasant. I wanted a bit of nasty, some jealousy, some real world maliciousness and back-biting.
It felt a little too fairy-tale charming when real life has highs and lows, pleasant people and ones that are bitchy and unpleasant. That won’t matter for many readers but for me its essential that I can feel things are real, that I’m “there” with the characters as action happens and here I simply felt like an onlooker, distanced from the action.

Stars: three and a half, a decent story but let down for me by the lack of reality.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers.

The Chateau, An Erotic Thriller, Tiffany Reisz

The Chateau, An Erotic Thriller,  Tiffany Reisz

The Chateau: An Erotic Thriller (The Original Sinners) by [Reisz, Tiffany]

Genre:  Mystery and Thrillers, Romance

I love the Sinners series ( and the side stories), adore Kingsley so was expecting to love this. Sadly though I didn’t.

Its the same hot and sensual writing, King is a gorgeous young man here and we see echoes of the man he will grow into. There’s lots of memories of Soren here, him and King, that weird but very symbiotic relationship they have and I thought I’d love the way how some of the gaps in the stories were filled. I just didn’t connect with the book though, felt it was just stretching the series too far for me. As ever though I can see others love it and that’s how it goes. Not all books suit all readers.
I really enjoyed the way the sensual and erotic sex was blended so perfectly with the stories in the Sinners series, up to this one. Here it seemed as though the sex took the place of the story, that lovely balance that’s been so perfect for me was lost with Story taking a back-seat. That never works for me, I need a solid story to hang the sex on, or it just becomes meaningless.
I think its time for me to part with this series, stick to re-reading the first eight books and enjoying the shorter side stories as they come out.

.

Stars: Two, sadly a fail for me but of course others feel very differently. Subjective taste books…we’ll never all agree.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

 

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

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