Tag Archive | m/m

All Wheel Drive, Z.A. Maxfield

All Wheel Drive, Z.A. Maxfield

All Wheel Drive (Bluewater Bay Book 18) by [Maxfield, Z.A.]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

I love the Bluewater sereis, and devoured ZA Mazfield’s Cowboy sereis so I was sure I’d love this. But somehow for me it just doesn’t work.

Healey doesn’t seem to know what he wants, given what he’s been through that’s understandable, but I wasn’t convinced he’d be ready to jump into something with Diego so soon after the ultra traumatic breakup with Ford, someone he’d been with for (I think) two years, maybe more.
Diego is ultra prickly, being in a wheelchair myself I know how easy it is for people to be offensive even when they don’t mean it, but he seems to take offence at the slightest hint, maybe there’s another narrative.

I didn’t feel anything between him and Ford, no chemistry, no attraction or even just plain old lust, but to be fair I only got to 50% before giving up and just skimming to end to see what actually happened between Healey and Ford, and what the accident was.
I found all the things we couldn’t know so frustrating, Healey and Ford and The accident, the Gag order – wouldn’t his family insist he gets his own solicitors? He’s supposed to be ultra brilliant, wouldn’t he have seen the need for independent representation. even Ford tells him he needs it!
Diego, his past, his mum, whether she was famous, and why, and who wanted this exhibit, and why was he in a wheelchair, its kind of central to know what his history is to know why he’s so prickly. Is it from an accident, an illness, from birth? all those things affect differently how people cope with life on wheels.

Just too many unanswered questions, combined with lack of chemistry and me feeling I just didn’t Know the characters, didn’t feel they were real.

Stars: two, still love Bluewater and Z A Maxfield’s stories but this one just didn’t work for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Escaping Indigo, Eli Lang

Escaping Indigo, Eli Lang

Escaping Indigo by [Lang, Eli]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

There’s bits I love about this story, the band and music parts, really made me feel I was on tour with the band but…the romance. It was subtle, so subtle it almost disappeared, and for me it didn’t really work.

I liked the guys, but poor Micah, he’s had such a sad past, lost his best friend and still feels as if perhaps he could have done more, seen something, made Eric get help. I think we’re all like that, feel a kind of survivors guilt sometimes and its played on Micah to the point he was really depressed.
Then Eric’s brother gets him the job as a roadie for Escaping Indigo, a band Micah has always admired.

Its a kind of dream world, interacting daily with the band he’s so long admired, looked up to, aspired to be like. Bellamy though is very quiet, and you can feel Micah always worrying he’s in the way, going to cause offence, be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Poor guy doesn’t know what he should do, and then Bellamy starts talking. It’s a dream come true for Micah, and as they chat he begins to know Bellamy the man, not just Bellamy lead singer of the band.
Its odd though, Bellamy himslef and others kind of warn him off, tell him to be carefully, with Bellamy saying he’s no good for him, could hurt him etc one moment, and then worrying Micah is going to be like his ex, the last roadie and leave him.
He’s pushing away at the same time as he’s pulling Micah in and the poor boy is confused.
I so felt for him, he just wants to help, to be a friend and more, part of a couple and its what they do, help each other. Bellamy gets all hurt and offended though at Micah’s suggestions and he’s back to treading on eggshells trying to keep their relationship going without tipping Bellamy over.

At times I wanted to smack Bellamy. Yes he’s got issues, but he needs to decide what he wants to do, not blame everyone for wanting to help. It seems in the past everyone had just accepted he had moments, periods when he was…quiet, different, struggling and they all just worked round it.

Its a sweet romance, and I really wanted things to work out but by the end I still wasn’t sure whether what they were doing would be enough.
Its a very gentle romance, not a torrid sex-every-other-page read and that’s fine by me, I want tenderness, sensuality not just sex and more sex.
Somehow though this book, while being a good read, made me feel part of the scene, didn’t quite cut it for a romance read.

Stars: Three, a gentle read, great band side but for me a slightly unsatisfying ending.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
 

Pounding Skin, L.A. Witt. The Red, An Erotic Fantasy, Tiffany Reisz

The Red, An Erotic Fantasy, Tiffany Reisz

The Red: An Erotic Fantasy by [Reisz, Tiffany]

Genre:  Romance,Erotica

I love Tiffany Reisz’ stories, so well written, so full of interesting twists and turns and I have read and reread all the Original Sinners novels. So was really excited to get this, a novel “written” by Nora Sutherlin. I think its the book she’s writing in the very first of the series…I could be wrong on that.
Sadly, it Just Wasn’t One for Me, surprised me, shocked me that I really didn’t like it, I just didn’t expect that. I was looking forward to a typical sensual on the edge Tiffany read and what I got was something that made me seriuosly uncomfortable reading,  it’s fantasy possibly, but its presented as real, Mona thinks its real, we don’t really know when it happens what’s real, whether she’s dreaming, drugged, or having a genuine experience.

There were parts I enjoyed, the art links to the sex scenes, they were cleverly done and interesting, fitted the art gallery link, I loved the way the story winds round full circle and ties up so neatly.
Set against that though I found some of the sex scenes too disturbing – even gave me bad dreams…I’m very prone to them so avoid anything likely to set those off, my mind takes an idea and runs with it. This story though takes a direction I didn’t expect, not the spicy, sensual and edgy OS scenes I’m used to but ones with a supernatural edge that I feel uncomfortable with.

So, my BDSM knowledge comes purely from books, especially Original Sinners ones, so SSC and RACK are terms I agree with.
However the sex here takes a twist so that really Mona isn’t consenting, isn’t aware of risks she’s taking and the big bugbear – she has no safe-word. She signs a blank cheque for anything Malcolm wants to do to here almost. Is that consent? Is that Safe and Sane? Risk Aware? I don’t think so, and I’m uncomfortable with scenes where she isn’t consenting, even if she does enjoy what happens.
If someone orgasms does that make it not rape for example? That defence wouldn’t and shouldn’t work in real life or books IMO.
Throw in the Satyrs and the Minotaur and it was a step too far for me, a little too animalistic. I love fantsy and paranormal so I’m used to werewolves having sex, but they don’t do it in their werewolf or part werewolf form – well, not in the books I like.
There’s a thin line between art and porn whether its sculptures, paintings or writings and this for me is reaching the wrong end of the scale. I can see others love it, and that’s great but for me its a step too far.
I enjoyed the story, thought it had a clever twist – a few clever twists, but I didn’t like the execution of some of the sex scenes.
I’ve loved all the OS ones, but this book just isn’t right for me.

Stars: Two, a clever and intriguing story but the turn the sex scenes took was not right for me. Others love it, only you know what’s right for you.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Pounding Skin, L.A. Witt

Pounding Skin (Skin Deep Inc.) by [Witt, L.A.]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

I love LA Witt’s books usually, but the first in this series just didn’t do it for me. I didn’t know if that was a one off, or if maybe its just this series.
Well, having read book two I think maybe its time for me to have a break from LA’s novels.

I did enjoy this, but found I was putting it aside and picking up later, something that I don’t do with a book I really like.
I didn’t dislike the story, there were parts I liked a lot, but I also found there were swathes I just felt were either predictable, or felt too much like a previous story-line brought into this novel.
I need to be surprised, to wonder what can, will happen and how but somehow here I felt I knew that before I read it.

If you’re new to LA’s books you’ll probably love this, she’s a great writing style and its a classic LA story, great characters, some angst and lots of hot steamy sex tied in to a real feeling setting with issues that people really do face.
Of course all authors have fans who love everything they write, but I think I just need a break. I still love LA’s writing style, love the way she can conjure up such realistic people but feel maybe I need to step away for a while. If I can resist the lure of the next book 😉

Stars: Three, a typical LA Witt well written, steamy read, but I just felt it was all too familiar, nothing new to hold my interest..

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Spun!, A Shamwell Tales novel, JL Merrow. Fast Forward, An Alt Er Love Novella, Xio Axelrod

Spun!, A Shamwell Tales novel, JL Merrow

Spun! (Shamwell Tales Book 4) by [Merrow, JL]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

I love this series, its got gentle romance, with everyday characters, you know, the ones that could live in your road, be at your workplace, and to top it off some Fabulous humour.

I said in my review of the last novel how much I loved David ( and Gregory of course), and was hoping to see a bit more of Barry and the Spartans and I got my wish. Only cameo parts from the Spartans, but Barry is quite prominent. His Lady, she must be a special person, very patient!

So David takes top place here along with Rory, who was married to Evie and has two young kids, divorced when she left him for Lewis, and was then with Jenni, Patrick’s mum. Patrick from the last book who’se now with David’s old colleague/new boss Mark..Confused yet? It’ll all make sense I promise. Fen’s here too in a smaller role than before but its good to see her and how things working out for her.

I adore David, in one way he’s a stereotype Gay and he kind of plays up to that image with his careful airs, his appearance, his eloquent use of language and manners, and of course Gregory. Yet he’s also a very unique individual, isn’t some Gay Queen type – David would never be a Queen, somehow I think he’d see himself as an Empress or something. Same VIP but fulfill the role differently.

Under that casual, almost shallow debonair front is actually a deep thinking, very genuine and caring man. I think he’s sadly misjudged, and part of that is the way he presents himself, but we learn more about his history here and perhaps get an idea of why he does that. Whatev’s as Fen would say.. I love him, he deserves to be happy.

 

Rory, Barry’s best mate, is a postie, loves his job, loves his life, except he wishes he could see his kids more. They adore him, and are two great children, very different but lovely individuals. They soon take to David – well, who wouldn’t? When David moves in as a lodger it sets the village gossip line alight, and there’s lots of questions of what exactly their status is.

Rory has always though of himself as straight and yet…the closer he gets to David the more his feelings turn from friendly to something more. They’re total opposites, have a love of films and books in common but otherwise Rory is often baffled by David’s comments, unsure of exactly what he’s saying.

He’s been told before by his exes that he needs things to be spelled out for him, that so much just goes over his head, and its so clear to see, but he’s such a great guy, very honest, genuine, easily pleased. A happy man usually.

I loved them both, loved that they got together but wasn’t really convinced of how it happened. It didn’t really feel right, didn’t feel like a natural progression as the other Shamwell stories did.

Still, its more than just a romance, once more there’s some fabulous humour that had me sniggering again and I loved it.

The reason its down from five stars to four is just that for me the romance felt a little forced.

Stars: four, a great read, very subtle humour that had me smiling but I felt the romance needed a little more time, a bit more work.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

 

Fast Forward, An Alt Er Love Novella, Xio Axelrod

Fast Forward: An Alt Er Love Novella by [Axelrod, Xio]

Genre: LGBTQIA

This is a short read at just 123 pages, and I usually avoid anything novella style. They rarely hold enough emotion for me, but it sounded very promising from the synopsis so I went for it 😉 and loved it.

Ian is 26 now and yet still feels like a teen. I often wonder about child prodigies like him, we hot house them, push them into academic positions they aren’t mentally or emotionally ready for, and on top of all that poor Ian had a pretty crappy family background.
No wonder he’s kind of naive, a little insecure, feels so alone, apart from the crowd. He is. And that’s so sad. How can anyone manage to breach that gap we created in the interests of “education”
Gah, education comes from more than just books, and bright kids will always find their way, they don’t need to be pushed in with those far older than them….and that’s my soapbox rant for the day!!

Ian’s so lovely, a loner, but has a couple of good friends who seem to look out for him, such as Siv, giver of the party where he meets Jessen again.
Arrghh, I could feel just how that hurt him, disturbed him on a visceral level, how angry and upset he was.
Right then we didn’t know much more than they’d had a relationship and Jessen left. Suddenly. Without explanation. Just was there one moment, gone the next.

Poor Ian, already fragile, this just about fractured him and he’s struggled to trust anyone since. What should he do now? Why is Jessen here? Does he even remember him or was he just a rock-stars hiccup, a quick hookup for that town and now he’s off to the next. Were all the words and plans were just promises to draw him in?

I loved Ian so much I was angry at Jessen and couldn’t bring myself to like him for at least the first half of the book, but his honesty, his openness and transparency about his mistakes, and what he wants now drew me in. He was so gentle with Ian, so careful not to hurt him, knowing this was a one shot chance that I couldn’t help loving him too.

Its rare for me to feel so emotionally drawn into a short novel but this one did it, had me hooked, feeling Ian and Jessen were so real, and wanting things to work out for them, for true happiness for both.
There’s not a HEA, there’s not really time, but the way it ends I was pretty sure they would get there and it worked for me.

Stars: five, a novella that managed the almost impossible for me, a great story and characters and some very real emotion.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Cartographer,  Tamsen Parker, (The Compass series Book 6), Heartbreaker, Hollywood Hearts: Book 2, Belinda Williams

The Cartographer,  Tamsen Parker, (The Compass series Book 6),

The Cartographer (The Compass series Book 6) by [Parker, Tamsen]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance, erotica

I’ve loved this series, some books more than others. I wasn’t hooked with the first book, not totally, and looking back I can see that I just didn’t understand the story, didn’t understand or empathise with India. Now we’re at the end and I know so much more of the characters I could go back and my review would be very different.

This is Rey’s story ( Rey or Reyes you’ll be thinking – well, both are correct but for me Reyes is Reyes Farrow, Charley Davidson’s Big Bad…so this is Rey!) He’s intrigued me right from the start, the man behind the scenes, moving all the pieces around, sorting problems, finding partners, matching people perfectly. He’s such a true gentleman, so well mannered, (Cheetos with chopsticks) moral, kind, and he hates to see people abused.
He’s made it his life’s work to go where he’s needed, to make peoples lives better on an individual level. He’s firm but fair, always consistent, always thinking of the other persons welfare. (Baby’s First Safeword…that made me laugh and summed up Rey to a T).
He’s the star of the series for me, the person who’s most intrigued me right from the start, and the one who’s story I Really wanted. And what a cracker it was, definitely my favourite book.

This book is complete in itself, and for m/m readers they might be tempted to just jump in and read this without the others.
You can do that, you will follow the story, but you won’t get that satisfaction of really seeing how Rey deserved his own person to love, how the reserved, quiet, confident person was hiding a secret, and won’t get the feeling of sheer joy, utter bliss when he realises he too can have what he’s done so long for others.
Tamsen’s writing is so fluid, her stories so complex and full of details that create a feeling of reality, that it would be a shame to miss the early ones. She writes erotica, but its not wall-to-wall sexfest, but erotica of the more sensual type, where its not just d icks in a rse or p ussy, (gah, I hate that word, so twee, but there really isn’t a decent substitute), but a drawn out process, taking the reader on a seductive journey, a careful build-up to the climax…..
So if that’s the kind of read you like, compared to the spoon fed, in-your-face sex novels you’ll love these.

So, Rey meets Allie, tending a bar disastrously, covering for his sister that night.
Allie is so genuine, so kind hearted. He adores his sister and her two kids, and left the military where he was really happy, so he could help her when his best friend, her husband, was killed in action. Its just them, no other family and life is always a balancing act.
Allie puts them first in everything, but he’s got pride and won’t accept Rey’s help. That frustrates Rey, he’s got the money, why won’t they let him help, they really need it, but he also understands pride – he’s got enough of that himself.

As well as Rey and Allie, we meet Matthew, who’s been in previous books but I’ve never been quite sure of the role he plays in Rey’s life, Kendra, Allie’s sister, her two kids and also Rey’s mother. She’s a fabulous woman, I’d love to be her as I age.
We get updates too on characters from the previous books, which was fun to read.

The story is wonderful, how Rey falls for Allie and vice versa, two totally opposite people on the face of it, but who are instantly attracted. Allie’s very proud, Military man but comapred to Rey, a real innocent, and he doesn’t realise he’s a Sub. Rey is  a master at this and can see it from the tiny gestures he makes though. We get a true insight into just how patient, how strong and safe Rey makes people feel, how he doesn’t dominate by force but by trust, and he thinks and teaches that this is the only way. He’s truly is an inspiring man.

Of course he trains people and finds them life partners, he doesn’t keep anyone, and that’s the plan with Allie. A little arrogant of him that he doesn’t actually tell Allie this I thought, although he does say he doesn’t do permanent relationships.
Plans have a way of going awry though, and its clear to everyone except Rey that he’s in love with Allie, that Allie loves him. Rey doesn’t allow himself that though, and the reasons why are heartbreaking. I so felt for him, felt for Allie too, he was blindsided by events.
I do love this fall apart sad bit in a romance and maybe my only crit of this book was that though I could feel the sadness on both sides, it didn’t really seem to come over strongly enough. I needed to feel Rey was really down, desperate, heartbroken and he was, but he was also carrying on his life, though finding it hard. Somehow I just like characters to really hit the bottom and Rey only felt halfway down to me.
Its a tiny issue though compared the enjoyment I got from reading this fantastic story, and I know I want to go back and go through all the books again. I’m sure I’ll get so much more, understanding the characters better, seeing the little clues I missed first time round.

Stars: Five, a fabulous finish to the series, wraps things up, and brings us full circle, but I’m so sad at losing these characters. Still, there’s always re-reading!

ARC supplied for review purposes by author

Heartbreaker, Hollywood Hearts: Book 2, Belinda Williams

 

Heartbreaker (Hollywood Hearts Book 2) by [Williams, Belinda]

Genre:  Romance, Women’s Fiction

I loved the first in this series, Heartthrob, and was keen to read more.

We met Lena in book one, and this time she’s centre stage and Ally is a secondary character.

I really enjoyed this, a little romance, a little mystery but it didn’t grab me in the same way Heartthrob did. I think the way Ally was so badly treated by the Hollywood B itch crews was what made that one so special, and of course Ally and Jacob.

I like Lena and Marc but they didn’t have the same chemistry for me as Ally and Jacob, more of a subtle slow burn romance there.

Its a fun spin through the issues fame brings, whats acceptable and how much of a private life can a star have? Its weird the way people see the screen/stage personas as the real ones and fancy themselves in love with them – or conversely love to hate them. I’ve never really understood how supposedly normal people do that, get caught up in fantasy lives and imagine them real but it happens.  A lot.

Lena’s had stalkers before and Marc has been part of the team who deal with them. She also has her own long time security team, but she can’t live life glued to someone’s side, can’t spend her days looking over her shoulder worrying if someone is out to get her.

Yet however tight her precautions there are ways round them, and once more she’s caught up in danger.

I do like Lena, very famous and yet straightforward, down to earth and part of that I think is her good freinds, who don’t fawn at her feet but remind her she’s just a person. She’s not really the type to take advantage of fame anyway, she’s a really good lady, not a pretentious jerk like some become.

I felt for her when she’s trying her best to keep her life normal, as normal as a film stars life can be anyway.

Marc, he seemed so grumpy, almost rude with his genuine dislike against all things Hollywood, and yet his background is steeped in it.

Maybe its the fact he didn’t follow the family footsteps, maybe its the things he saw and did while serving as his country. War brings out things we should never see and the effects are very long lasting on people’s psyche.

He’s determined to protect Lena though, even while clearly disliking her world, and then the film bosses decide he needs to be very close to her, so he becomes her boyfriend for the public.

Of course his security issues mean he needs to use a false persona, but the press start to wonder – who is Lena’s mystery man. And her stalker ups the pressure on her and the dangers.

Its a fun read, I had a little idea who the stalker might be but not til maybe three quarters through the book.

Lena and Marc didn’t have the magic sensuality that made me so love the first book, but there was a real sexual tension at times between them which was perfect.

I love Lena, not so sure about Marc. By the end I liked him, but it took a while for me to get past his Hollywood Hatred. I kept thinking – why take jobs there when clearly you feel its all superficial?

I never really came to understand why he felt this way, and maybe that’s behind some of my prejudice towards him.

Stars: four, a perfect escape with a little drama mixed in to spice up the romance.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Strong Enough, Melanie Harlow.

Strong Enough, Melanie Harlow.

Strong Enough by [Harlow, Melanie, Romanov, David]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

I’ve enjoyed some of Melanie’s past novels and was delighted to get this for review – I do so like a good M?M romance, somehow there’s so often the tenderness, the real romance side that’s often lacking in hetero novels. And this book had bags of that, along with some very sensual heat.

I loved Maxim, he’s just such a true gentleman, loves his mum and little sister, opens doors for ladies, always polite, that sort of guy.
He wants more than the life waiting for him in Russia, with its anti-gay stance, and has taken a 6 month visa to the US to follow his script-writing dreams. Sadly though, like so many he’s unprepared for the vicious, cruel world waiting to take advantage of an innocent.
The guy who’s meeting him and showing him to his new home doesn’t show up, then having a drink in a bar wondering what to do next his luggage gets nicked, and he’s homeless, jobless, cashless all in one fell swoop.
Luckily Derek’s sister has a penchant for strays, for helping people and animals and when she hears whats happened she invited Max to stay with Derek, then rings Derek and tells him 😉

Derek’s kind of  a neat freak, a place for everything and everything in its place. His friends take the mickey but its how he is, along with his long held dream of wife and family. Times passing though, he’s approaching forty and hasn’t got there yet despite trying hard.
Of course when we see him with Max its clear why, he’s really not that into women, maybe he’s bi, but its clear he wants Max. He’s had an upbringing though that’s taught him Gay Is Bad.

What a disservice parents do when they inflict their bias and views on their kids, and how hard it is to come out and go against parental dictates.
Its not good parenting doing that, but sadly for so many people its what they get. I get the feeling its not so much homophobia, as not really understanding it and fear that drives his parents.
Never the less Derek is not going to act on his attraction, it makes him angry with himself and Max, just knowing its there. And then it all gets too much and he snatches Max into one searingly sensual, erotic, life changing kiss that shocks them both.

Gah, Derek made me so angry with his hot/cold, not-my-fault attitude, and poor Max was totally confused.
I did understand and sympathise with Derek though, he’s repressed these feelings for so long, won’t even acknowledge them to himself, so he’s had his world turned upside down when he cant do that with Max.
Max isn’t going to be anyones dirty little secret though, had to hide himself in Russia, isn’t doing that again…

So can they make it through, can they find a HEA or is their romance doomed?
Its heartbreaking at times wanting them to be together and yet seeing Derek’s barriers fall down tight again.
I really enjoyed their story, the emotions, the sweetness, and of course the angst.

Stars: five, a really emotional read, with a sweet and yet steamy romance.

ARC supplied for review purposes by author

New Moon, Lisa Kessler. Chief’s Mess, L.A. Witt

New Moon, Lisa Kessler

New Moon (Moon Series Book 8) by [Kessler, Lisa]

Genre:  Romance, sci-fi and fantasy

We’ve reaches the end and I’m always feeling conflicted when that happens. In part because I love a good series and its hard to say goodbye, but set against that is the feeling of satisfaction when the little clues throughout the series are finally wrapped up, when we know who was behind things and why, how it all worked out.
With a good series we’re left feeling hope for the future, that these people we’ve got to know so well are facing a time when they can finally relax, live a normal life, enjoy their friends and family. Still, I love rereading series so from me its not really Goodbye but See you later 😉

The back to back reads through a whole series work best for me too, when each book is still fresh in my mind, so its easier to follow the story, recall which character fits in where. Sometimes after months and lots of other reads its hard to recall exactly who belongs with whom, and how they fit in the overall story.

I remember Sebastian from the first book, and he’s changed. Or has he? Maybe its just my perception of him, as looking back the seeds of his discontent were clear even back then, but i just didn’t see it.
Its a great author who can turn around a character so the callous, murdering, immoral man we met becomes someone we love, who we want to have that HEA…but Lisa does it for Sebastian.
I found he was a terrific man, that he had been trying to put things right as much as he could for a long time, and with a father like his no wonder he grew up to be the man he was. Thank god for his mother’s influence, its whats kept that core of humanity in him.
Sebastian and Isabelle don’t have the best start, with her trying to kill him….well, until her wolf tells her she Just Can’t Kill Him! That’s a bit of an eye opener and changes everything. Isabelle is shocked.

Its another fabulous adventure, when plans get made, and changed and remade all the time. Nero has really hit bottom in its actions here, kidnapping a child for Antonio Severino’s cruel crusade, but it proves the catalyst for some unheard of co-operation.
Things quickly change in the story as the plots unfold, and this final book brings in many of the characters we’ve met in the preceding books. It opens up the Packs even more than they have been. It was a struggle getting Lana accepted into the pack, as she was a jaguar shifter back in the early books but since then they’ve become more accepting, less Wolf only insular and that’s given them an edge they needed for this final battle.
They’re not just a wolf pack now but have Jaguars, Psychics and humans among them and that’s given them strength, and maybe what Fate intended, that supernaturals work together, find power in collectivety.

I’ve enjoyed the series as a whole, and love this last book. Looking back to some of the books that weren’t quite top whack I can see the gaps that bothered me back then filled in now and I understand why things played out certain ways.
Despite not all the books being five star reads for me, the series as a whole deserves a solid five stars, it all adds up now.

Stars: five,a great read to finish a fantastic series

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Chief’s Mess, L.A. Witt

Chief's Mess (Anchor Point) by [Witt, L.A.]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

I loved the first book in this series, but the second did nothing for me.
Still,  LA Witt is one of my favourite m/m authors so I thought I’d try book three.

It wasn’t a great read for me, I just didn’t feel I Knew the characters, just a surface opinion of them, and I really want to feel book characters can be people I know. I need them to feel real for me to get invested in what happens to them.
Here I just didn’t, they were just two anonymous guying hooking up for hot sex.

They were very alike in many way, and TBH I kept getting confused, right up to the end, about which was which.
Not a good thing, and when characters are well fleshed and distinct not something that happens. I think maybe there could have been – for me, not for everyone of course, a little less sex in the first half and a bit more character and plot building.

I mention the plot, and that really is pretty simple, Noah ( and see? I almost wrote Anthony there – had to check it) is a functioning alcoholic, and like many others doesn’t recognise he has a problem.
Of course for Anthony that’s a bigger trigger than it maybe would be for others, his ex brother-in-law was an alcoholic, and that caused great distress for his sister and their kids.
I liked the build up, though it was pretty muted and did make Noah come over as judgmental rather than sympathetic, but the way things played out felt very simplistic, and its rarely as easy as that.
I guess there wasn’t space to go into any depth, but in reality it would have been far, far harder.

Stars: three, it was just an OK read for me, and maybe I need to look carefully before accepting any more Anchor Point novels.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Back to You, Chris Scully

Back to You, Chris Scully

Back to You by [Scully, Chris]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

I loved this story. a beautiful slowly unfolding romance, a tantalising mystery, and a look at just how much childhood influences our lives.

Alex seemed pretty selfish when we first met him and I didn’t really like him. It seemed pretty straightforward, alcoholic father loses job, or could have been jobless father becomes alcoholic….depends on your view, and then parents separate and mum moves away with kids and remarries.
Alex loves his mum and stepfather but carries a real resentment that his own father didn’t make more effort to see him and sister Janet, didn’t even phone them.
Janet’s older so her view of the past is not the same, she recalls more of their parents being happy. She leaves home and ends up back in the same town as their dad, and now Alex is back as their father is dying he can see that she’s got issues too, another alcoholic, though a functioning one who covers it well.

We only see things from Alex POV which is a shame, as I’d have loved in insight into Ben’s mind.
He’s stayed in the same town, made a life for himself quietly, and clearly the event that had impact on him back then is still affecting him. His sister Misty, Janet’s best friend, went missing while Alex and his family were still living there. In fact he and Ben were the last people to see her.
Her mum, Angela, was like many parents, wrapped up in day to day stuff, the slog and grind of working, running a home, looking after teens, didn’t really make time for the kids, let them roam freely without much checking. Now she’s thrown the last 20 years into finding out what happened to Misty, as if she blames herself for not being there so much of the while.
She’s turned Misty into some kind of a saint, and rewritten the past to give them a close, devoted almost, relationship when it simply wasn’t that way, and Misty was a pretty mean, malicious individual.
She’s really no time for Ben, kind of dismisses him as doing OK, and just doesn’t appreciate that she still has one child, albeit grown now, living near her.
Ben looks after her, helping out when she’s in trouble yet again in her search for answers. She’s very single  minded.

Somehow Alex gets caught up in her search, partly because he feels there’s a good story in it, partly because he wants something, anything, to give him an excuse to spend as little time as he can with his dying dad…

This book is a really close look at families, childhood, mistakes, the things that happen, that we can’t evade but which have so much impact on us as adults.
Its clear that Alex thinks he’s left the past behind but inside he’s still seeking his dad’s approval, but knowing its never coming, so everything he does is tinged with that sense of failure in his view of dad’s eyes even before he starts it. My view of him changed as the story unfolded and I grew to really like him.

I love Ben, so quiet, so internal, and so helpful in an unobtrusive way to others in the town. He sees people for what they are, what they need, what he can do to help, not what problems they have.
He’s always loved Alex, that’s clear, even though they were only 13 when he left, and I get the feeling his life without Alex, with his mum there but in a way absent from his life in her search, means he’s kind of lonely. Its a small town, everyone knows everything, or thinks they do – or so it seems, and towns like that aren’t likely to have too many openly gay people.
Still, he’s made himself a quietly successful life as an artist, and in his unique way gives so much back to helping others.
I just couldn’t help wanting things to work out, was really worried he’d get his heart broken again. I could understand why he wasn’t overjoyed to see Alex again.

Alex changes a lot over the course of the story. Forced to look at himself he finally learns he doesn’t like what he sees, what he’s been doing, kidding himself he’s happy, but knowing and ignoring that his childhood issues were still driving him.
Was his attempt to find Misty altruistic, an attempt at atonement or a cynical plot for the next big news story?
For me it starts as one and ends as the other, he and I learned a lot about him over the course of the book.

Its not an overly sexual read, the parts where they do come together are very erotic and sensual but not frequent, and it takes a long while before they even touch each other, let alone do more. That was perfect for this story though, there was so much to tell, so much to learn that too much sex, them getting together quickly despite their pasts would have felt wrong. This way the balance felt perfect for me.
I used to read a lot of thrillers/suspense, but found their focus on thriller action first and romance second didn’t really work for me, I need the romance to be quite a strong, solid part of the story even if kept in the background.
This book, putting the suspense angle into a mystery, a story to be worked out that involves so many characters we’ve already met works better for me than an out and out thriller type read, bringing in lost of external characters.

Stars: five, a great read, perfect blend of romance ans suspense for me, and one I simply devoured in one sitting.
Riptide novels tend to be like that for me, stories that engross me, seduce me into another world, and let me escape from this one for a few hours. I was there with Ben, Alex, Janet and Angela, wondering just what was coming out next.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Lip Action by Virna DePaul, Played! A Shamwell Tales novel, JL Merrow


Played!, A Shamwell Tales novel, JL Merrow
Played! (Shamwell Tales Book 2) by [Merrow, JL]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

I’ve read and loved Shamwell 1, 3 and 4, so was pleased to fill the gap.
This was another great read, very village life feel, subtle humour as always in JL’s books, and a decent story.

Its a story more than sex book here, the bulk of the novel is Tristan’s thwarted attempts to woo Con. They are so funny when Tristan declaims some quote from a play and Con’s like …err..OK then. Sometimes he’s lost and others he’s on script, can quote back, having spent so much time building sets for the Sham Drams.

Tristan is a product of his background, posh school, moneyed parents and it shows at first in his entitled arrogance. Slowly though the village wears off some of that brittle shine, and his real nature comes through, we see he’s actually quite a caring guy.
Him and Con though, seem to be talking two different conversations at first, especially before Con’s dyslexia and reading issues come out. Con’s ready to assume Tristan’s taking the mick, when really he’s just being his slightly OTT self.

Its a gentle romance, builds slowly but with the usual pressures. Tristan is there for the summer only, Con doesn’t do short term romance, he’s been burned before and isn’t going there.
Then the spectre of New York hangs over Tristan’s head like the Sword of Damocles. He’s going to work there in finance in the family firm, use that expensive education his father’s always complaining about, but his heart dreads it, he loves performing even if it is ting stages in little towns, staying in some pretty dire B&Bs. He loves the actors life, its part of him and he hates giving it up.

I loved meeting the other guys too, the little stories that come out that aren’t attached to the romance and make for a well rounded story.
I really didn’t think I’d like Tristan when we first met him, but as more of his nature came out I found myself sympathetic to his position and wanting things to work between him and Con. Loved the stage setting, even though I’m not a great Shakespeare fan ( all that analyzing of the plays at school took the fun out of his work for me..).

One comment, I liked the old cover so much better, this new one just isn’t the Tristan I have in my head.

Stars: five, a great addition to Shamwell stories

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Lip Action, Virna DePaul

Lip Action (Kiss Talent Agency Book 1) by [DePaul, Virna]

Genre:  Romance,

I’ve mixed feelings about this. parts I liked and other bits not so much.
I loved Marissa but what an awful family she had, especially her mum. What parent wants her daughter to marry a cheating jerk.
Her dad kept quiet, but that’s a cop out IMO, he should have spoken out.

When her mum is pressing her to take back the jerk, the cheater just because she’s 28 and not married….I could scream at her, and of course Marissa won’t but comes up with a fake boyfriend to hold her off for a bit. Coincidentally the guy she’s looking at right then needs a fake girlfriend…

Simon wants the lead in a film that could make him an A list actor, but his past rep lets him down. In a moment of insanity he tells the producers he has a girlfriend….So when he hears Marissa he knows exactly what to do.
OK its a bit of a stretch believing they could meet just like that – but truth is strange sometimes so I’ll go with it.
They then go back and forth, will she won’t she, with pressures on both from his agent and her mum til she finally decides yes. She’s such a nice girl she just can’t let Simon down. even though she hates deception and lies.
Its kind of predictable after that, fun to read but nothing greatly original.
The down side, the drama, the sad bit happens just as you’d expect, and though I love that side I hadn’t really got connected enough to this story and characters to really feel any great emotions.

Its a fun story, easy and lighthearted, some steamy sensuality, and a kind of easy beach read.

Stars:3, its a fun read but not characters or a story I really got involved with.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

On Point, (Out of Uniform), Annabeth Albert. Broke Deep, A Porthkennack novel, Charlie Cochrane

On Point, Annabeth Albert

On Point (Out of Uniform) by [Albert, Annabeth]

Genre:  LGBTQIA

I didn’t realise this was a series, with two previous books, nor that it was a spin off from another series which I haven’t read. So many books, so little time and Annabeth is an author whose books I’ve only just begun to touch. Each of these are stand alone reads though, so I was abe to follow easily, though I’d have known more about all the characters if I’d read earlier books.

You know when you’re reading how some authors manage to describe a character and you can mentally “see” them? Well, here I had very clear pictures of Mad and Ben, not from physical descriptions so much as Annabeth’s way of describing what type of person they are. I need that, need to feel I know – and like – characters to get really engrossed in their stories.

Friends to lovers, always a fun read, and of course as always the potential for losing your best friend gets wrapped up in that. Who looks at logics though when the heart is involved?
Mad’s been in love with Ben for a long time now, but kept his feeling locked so tight inside Ben has no idea about them. Now serious injury to them both, re-enlistment time and relationship gaps coincide, and somehow they end up in a possibly-only-for-now relationship.
No end date put on, but one they agree to keep low key around others, and which if things don’t work out won’t spoil their friendship. Hah! As if!

Mad can’t quite believe whats happened, Ben is kind of shocked at how his feelings for Mad have become more than just good mates.
And while they’re both recuperating and hot, steamy sex is out there’s plenty more they can and do try.

Things look to be going well, Ben is determined to make Mad enjoy the dates he arranges, and he’s finding the change form his usual hook-ups only stance novel.
Still, even though on the surface he’s going all in he still denies Love is real, he’s been burned by that in his personal life when his last long term lover left him, and of course by seeing how devastated his dad was and how let down he felt when his mum left him at a young age.
He’s all about enjoy the moment, look forward to things but Love? He’s a real cynic about its existence.

Mad though takes the opposite view, even though his past hasn’t delivered he’s still got his parents happy marriage as a role model and he wants that for himself.
Tough though making a romance work when one wants a solid HEA and the other is convinced that HFN is as good as it gets.
Throw in a secret that affects them both and …can their romance survive? Are Mad’s dreams possible or destined to stay just a fantasy?

Stars: four, a really fun read, great characters and some very real situations between them.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Broke Deep, A Porthkennack novel, Charlie Cochrane
Broke Deep (Porthkennack Book 3) by [Cochrane, Charlie]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

I loved the first two Porthkennack novels, they’re a group of stories by different authors about the small town of Porthkennack. Similar to Riptides Bluewater series which I love.
This series isn’t fixed on a time though so the books can be contemporary as this one is or historical. Great idea right?
Sadly though this one was just an OK read for me. Its a shame as I’ve loved some of Charlie’s other novels and went in to this with great expectations 😉 Maybe that’s the problem, the book just didn’t live up to my perhaps too high hopes.

I found Morgan to be a bit of a selfish jerk when it came to Dominic. He was good to his mother, and that’s tough, seeing a parent with dementia, but when it came to Dominic he was too ready to snap, to blame him, to push him aside. And Dominic’s such a sweet guy, very eager to please, very mild mannered and inoffensive.
To be fair they don’t start off well, Morgan getting a call from him on the day he receives his Dear John letter from his ex, who gave Dom Morgan’s number. Seems Dom knew he was an ex before Morgan…

Its such a slow burn romance that it feels to me that it never really starts. I can’t feel that sizzle, the magic connection between them, just a getting together almost out of convenience. There are moments when there’s something, when Morgan muses over Dom’s smile, when Dom feels Morgan’s eyes on him, but they’re fleeting.
The historical part was interesting, the way over the years tales get told, retold, embellished and the truth can become a thin thread in the story.

The dementia angle is very sad and felt very real, with his mum’s actions being so genuine, and his fears that he could have spotted it sooner very accurate. We do worry about things like that, wonder if we could have done more for a loved one.
Dementia is something that happens to too many people, and Morgan’s fears about it being inherited, about his nightmares, about what is or could happen to him are very real.
I expected more of an ending though, I just felt it kind of fizzled out, I was expecting another chapter, at least some kind of resolution about the dementia fears but suddenly it was then end and I wasn’t ready for it.

Stars: Three, an interesting story but fell a bit short for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
 

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