Review: The Little Things by Jay Northcote

There are lots of things that brighten Joel’s life. His three-year-old daughter, Evie, is one. His close relationship with her mother, his best friend from university, is another. Joel’s boyfriend, Dan, adds spice to his child-free nights, and Joel is pretty happy with how things are.

Then one cold and rainy night, everything changes. Joel's life is turned upside down when he becomes a full-time dad to Evie, and his previously carefree relationship with Dan cracks under the strain.

Meeting Liam, who acts as if getting hurt isn’t a foregone conclusion, shakes Joel to the core. Their attraction is mutual, and Liam makes no secret of how serious he is about Joel. But Joel is wary. He tells himself he’s keeping Liam at a distance for Evie’s sake, when really he’s protecting his own heart. Taking a chance on this new relationship with Liam may seem a small step—a little thing—but is it one Joel can take after losing so much already?



Joel is a young father, in a casual relationship with Dan, and spends half his week with his three-year-old daughter, Evie, and every other weekend is split with Evie’s mother, and his best-friend, Claire.

A tragic car accident that ends Claire’s life, changes everything, and suddenly Joel is trying to battle his grief, while helping his daughter adjust to life without her mother. As a result his relationship with Dan starts to drift.

We get a glimpse of the relationship with Joel and Claire before she is killed, to support the best-friend claim. This works to ensure that the grief matches the loss. I appreciated that these two had a good relationship while they parented their daughter, and more so, that the author didn’t demonise the woman, which happens a lot in M/M romance.

The story dragged a bit for me, in the day to day happenings of Joel and Evie’s life. Some of it was necessary and some was overkill. It was believable to a degree. I just wished there wasn’t so much of it.

The slow drain on Joel’s relationship with Dan was easy enough to believe. Dan is nineteen, and in party phase, not in that headspace to support a grieving man and his daughter. What did surprise me was how long it took to end. I was expecting something quicker, but they didn’t actually break up until about halfway through the story.

Enter Liam. We meet Liam at the hospital when Joel is first told about Claire’s accident and death. He is a nurse at the hospital, and re-appears after Evie gets sick and Joel takes her in to be checked out.

Liam is older, and is past game playing. He fits perfectly into Joel’s routine, not asking for a lot, but slotting in somewhat seamlessly. Evie loves him, and Joel feels an intensity toward him that scares him. This makes him blunder a bit and cause some problems.

There was a fair bit of angst. Some was easily put down to grief and struggle, and some seemed fabricated to drive the story. It was unnecessary and a bit annoying. I liked the way Joel’s sister was a big part of the story. Miranda was a pillar of strength and support for Joel, and her character was well developed.

The characters were all well developed and the writing was well done. The editing was tight, and the plot was consistent.

I thought overall this story was sweet and even with the few mishaps with over dramatising things, and slight drag of day to day stuff, it had a nice flow to it. I didn’t get overly excited about it, but it was an enjoyable read.




Check out on Goodreads or Booklikes!

Review: Will & Patrick's Happy Ending (Wake Up Married #6) by Leta Blake and Alice Griffiths

Follow Will & Patrick in this final installment of the romantic-comedy serial, Wake Up Married, by best-selling author Leta Blake and newcomer Alice Griffiths!

Sure, Will and Patrick are in love now, but they weren’t when they got married in Vegas. For Patrick, that’s no problem, but Will can’t shake his doubts that a relationship started through coercion can ever become the real deal.

Since the Molinaro crime family has reversed their position on divorce, Will and Patrick have a chance to rectify their drunken mistake. But is divorce the solution? Find out in this final instalment of the much-beloved Wake up Married serial.


Episode 6 of 6 in the Wake Up Married serial. 


  
It doesn't get much better than this, my Unicorn friends.

At the end of Will & Patrick Meet the Mob we were left with a bit of a cliffhanger. Will and Patrick were finally able to get what they had wanted all along... a divorce. Something they say they want, but nobody actually wants. But regardless of what they know in their heart, neither has said their feelings out loud. Will decides that a divorce might be the best thing for them. 

Of course, I was screaming curses at my kindle. What was Will thinking?! Was he thinking at all? But the further he went into his reasoning the more it all made sense. It made perfect sense because of who Will is and his experiences. That's not to say his reasoning wasn't totally wrong and crazy, but for Will, there were some things he needed to process before making a leap.

As you can tell from the title, these guys do get their happily ever after and it was every bit as amazing as I knew it would be. Puddin' Pop and HottieMcBrainSurgeon wouldn't stand for less.

As always, there was snark, there was humor and there was hotness. There were also lots of tears. Lots and lots. My goodness, this one hit my right in the gut. I was actually a little blindsided. Sad things are not supposed to happen in my romantic comedies! But that's life and it sucks sometimes.

That's my favorite thing about this series. Alice Griffiths and Leta Blake make me feel such a mix of emotions in just over 100+ pages. Books like this are the whole reason I read romance. They perfectly balance what can make real life so uncomfortably real, with a touch of fantasy we look for in romance novels. 

Is it too much to hope for more? I'm not ready to say goodbye just yet. Will & Patrick are already on my re-read list. I'm pretty sure I'll be revisiting them very soon.


A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more info on Goodreads.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Will & Patrick’s Happy Ending by Leta Blake & Alice Griffiths


Will & Patrick's Happy Ending

Author: Leta Blake & Alice Griffiths
Title: Will & Patrick’s Happy Ending
Series Title and Number: Wake Up Married, Episode 6
Publisher: Leta Blake Books
Release Date: 4/15/16
Genre: Romantic Comedy, M/M Romance
Tags: gay, woke up married, rom-com, happy ending
Heat Level: 5
Pairing: M/M
Length: 127 pages

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Synopsis

Follow Will & Patrick in this final installment of the romantic-comedy serial, Wake Up Married, by best-selling author Leta Blake and newcomer Alice Griffiths!

Sure, Will and Patrick are in love now, but they weren’t when they got married in Vegas. For Patrick, that’s no problem, but Will can’t shake his doubts that a relationship started through coercion can ever become the real deal.

Since the Molinaro crime family has reversed their position on divorce, Will and Patrick have a chance to rectify their drunken mistake. But is divorce the solution? Find out in this final instalment of the much-beloved Wake up Married serial.

Episode 6 of 6 in the Wake Up Married serial.

Excerpt

Will leans back heavily in his desk chair and sweat pricks the back of his neck. A tight band squeezes his chest, but he manages to ask, “What do you mean we can get divorced? Did Frankie and his new bride call it quits?”

Eleanora’s throaty chuckle comes through the phone. “No, darling. They’re still madly in love for now. It’s Romeo Molinaro we have to thank for this piece of good fortune.”

Will frowns, mind scrambling through dozens of half-forgotten or never-known relatives.

“Zeno’s favorite nephew,” Eleanora prompts.

“Oh. Right.”

Zeno is the current boss of the Molinaro family, his father’s uncle, and a terrifying man.

“Unfortunate marriages are going around like the flu in this family. It seems Romeo got hitched to a fetching ragazza. Charming, beautiful, young—the usual. But, as it turns out, also a spy from the Korotayev crime family in New York.” Nonna clucks over the line. “Oh, men. Following the dictates of their little heads always leads to their downfall.”

Bright sunshine screams through the window of the room, ricocheting around and giving Will an instant headache. “If she’s a spy, why arrange a divorce? Why doesn’t Zeno just—” Will drags his finger over his throat even though Nonna can’t see him. “Off her?”

“How like your father!” Eleanora puffs her disapproval. “No, no, darling. That’s no solution. Besides, Romeo begged his father not to kill her. Apparently he’s still smitten. But don’t worry. There will be some other kind of recompense paid, I’m sure. William, the less we know about it all, the better.”

Will exhales slowly. He stands up, turns to the windows behind his desk, and adjusts the blinds, dimming the light. “Romeo’s still in love with her? But he’s going to divorce her anyway?”

“Presumably. Regardless, Zeno’s quote-unquote discovered a loophole in the Trust that smashes through the edict regarding love matches and divorces.”

“Dad knew about this the whole time he was in town, didn’t he? He was just messing with us.”

“We’ll never know for sure, darling. All I know is he told me about Romeo’s situation and Zeno’s solution this morning before his flight out. Regardless, the issue is resolved. You and your doctor are free to handle your marriage as you see fit and Good Works is safe.”

Will stomach knots hard, and he stares at the lines of light the closed blinds leave on his desk. “We could file for divorce immediately? Today?”

“You could. That is, if it’s still what you want to do.”

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Meet the Authors

Leta Blake

imageAuthor of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake's educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.

You can find out more about her by following her online.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Alice Griffiths

A long-time reader of romance novels, Alice Griffiths finally took the plunge into writing, teaming up with best-selling author Leta Blake for the 'Woke up Married' serialized comedy. A lover of tropes, Alice enjoys mining old ideas and putting a fresh, funny spin on them. Formerly working in the newspaper industry, Alice is now an art curator. She lives in Sydney, Australia.

You can find out more about her by following her online.

Twitter | Facebook

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Two lucky winners will win one eBook copy of any Will & Patrick episode.

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Review: Whistle Blower by Dev Bentham

Money can’t buy happiness. Jacob Nussbaum knows this better than anyone. He's a corporate lawyer deep inside a huge New York firm, where he works overtime, sacrifices any chance at a personal life, and has been selling his soul for years. With a secretary as his only friend, he trudges on, until his whole world is blown apart by a manila envelope of photos—evidence that one of the firm’s partners is the dirtiest lawyer in one hell of a filthy business.

In search of the truth, Jacob travels to a small northern Wisconsin fishing resort. There he meets Ben Anderson, a brutally lonely man, who knocks him off his feet. Ben prompts Jacob to reevaluate his life. He’s a dozen years older than Jacob, still recovering from the death of his long time love, and doesn’t want to leave anyone a widower. But a jaded New Yorker on a soul-searching mission might be just the man to convince the grieving Ben that it's never too late to begin again.



There's something corrupt happening in Jacob's law office and he unwillingly has the beginning thread to unravel it. Before he can blow the whistle and expose the corruption, he's going to have to get his facts straight, and that means going to a remote fishing resort to track down an old colleague.

An old colleague that's notorious for cancelling.

Stuck in the middle of nowhere for the weekend, Jacob has never been more out of his element.

That awkwardness starts to ease when he meets Ben, the resort owner, who wears his loneliness and grief like a second skin. He's still reeling from the loss of his partner of 25 years who died two years before. When he meets Jacob, there's no denying they're both attracted to each other, but neither is looking for a relationship.

Surely, they can keep it casual, right?

Maybe not. Because there's a connection there that neither can deny, and a friendship develops that neither was expecting. And it remains just as strong, regardless of time passing or the distance between them.

Soon enough, Jacob has to hide the fact that he wants more. He's breaking all the rules when it comes to remaining unattached, but he doesn't know how to stop the feelings that keep growing for Ben. Ben is struggling as well, and trying to stick to his guns. After all, he's too old for Jacob, and he'll be dammed if he puts Jacob through what he went through. He's not going to let Jacob watch him eventually die.

There's this whole corruption plot to the story line that to be honest, didn't hold my attention. Mainly, because I'm a sucker for finding new love after the death of an old one. You know, that moment of hope, where they realize they can love again? Yeah, I'm all over that. Coupled with Jacob's realization that life is more than the hours you put in at work, and it's like I'm wearing blinders.

Everything else falls to the wayside - corrupt lawyers, a mystery to solve, and information to seek out - none of it could hold a candle to these two men. Ben and Jacob have a beautiful connection and fantastic chemistry. I seriously wanted more of these men.

But they're not without their baggage. Make sure you have tissues, because Ben will do some serious tugging on your heartstrings. He's in the final stages of grieving, and I'd be impressed if you can get through it without your eyes misting because of it. There's also the age gap that Ben just can't see past, even when it's a non issue for Jacob.

And Jacob is not immune either. He's struggling to make some changes in his life, and he's increasingly disillusioned with his career choice.

All in all, things got wrapped up rather neatly and quickly (too neatly, in fact) but this is still a lovely read. I would have loved an Epilogue, but I'm sure I'll have no problem imagining these two together in their future, with their HEA.

There's a slow burning romance at the heart of this story, and along with the author's fantastic writing, you'll find it an easy read.

Sometimes, when the dust clears, the path is a simple one.
I love you. It's as simple as that.


An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more on Goodreads & Dreamspinner Press!

Review: Will & Patrick Meet the Mob (Wake Up Married #5) by Leta Blake and Alice Griffiths

Follow Will & Patrick in this fifth installment of the romantic-comedy serial, Wake Up Married, by best-selling author Leta Blake and newcomer Alice Griffiths!

Patrick has finally accepted that he's in love with Will, but his newfound determination to do something about that runs up against his father-in-law's mobster plans. Though just what those plans are have as yet to be determined. As far as Will and Patrick can tell, they consist of blowing through town, wreaking small havoc, and turning the Patterson family's lives on end.

Will must face the truth about his family before he can fully come to terms with his feelings for Patrick. And Patrick has to decide if this whackadoodle world is something he truly wants to be part of forever.

Episode 5 of 6 in the Wake Up Married serial.


 

The best of the best of the best. No joke. I can't get enough of Will & Patrick.

This installment starts with a little suspense. Will's dad is in town and being a mob boss he makes things... interesting. His methods may not be the most conventional, but he does love his son and has his best interests at heart. But with good ol' Dad in town, Will literally has everyone in his life all in his business trying to tell him how to live. I don't understand them! It's obvious they love Will, but they are intense. I get his mother's worry. Will doesn't have the greatest track record with decision making, but what's so bad about Patrick? As Patrick would say, he's a genius doctor! The total package.

Not only is he a hot, genius doctor.

But he loves Will. Really, really loves him. 

Will can't seem to see what's right in front of his face (still). Regardless of the words still unspoken, things between them continue to grow more intense. They add a couple kinks to their sex repertoire and it was de-lightful.  Goodness, just when I thought they couldn't get any better or hotter together. Will was finally able to let go of the shame he felt in the bedroom and be himself with Patrick. Patrick gave him a safe place to let go and let his needs be known. 

Family drama, hilariousness, snark, hot as hell sex, feels. So many feels. Leta Blake and Alice Griffiths create the perfect balance between comedy and drama. I can't believe there's only one more book left. I don't think I'll be ready to say goodbye. 

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more info on Goodreads.

Review: Bearly There (City Shifters #1) by Bailey Bradford

One surly bear and one bunny boy…what could possibly go wrong?

Jagger Osterman is having a bad day. In fact, he’s not the slightest bit impressed with 2015 at all. His job is on the line, and it’s not like he loves being a marketing wunderkind, but he has to do something to pay the bills. If he had his way, he’d just vanish into the mountains and live out his life as the black bear he yearns to shift into. Unfortunately, Jagger doesn’t have the time to let his beast run. He has responsibilities that he can’t walk away from. 

Kevin Kelly could tell Jagger a thing or two about bad days, bad years, and just out and out bad luck. He made the mistake of smarting off to a curandera years ago and hasn’t been able to shake the curse she put on him yet. There’s not an area of his life that hasn’t been screwed up in one way or another. As a pronghorn shifter, he’d be okay on his own in the wild. Sure, there’d be predators, but Kevin had come to realize the worst predators were the human kind.

 But he can’t shift. He’s been solidly bound to human form since being cursed.

Two men, both trapped in their own ways. They’re about to find out that freedom comes in many forms.


I’m a total sucker for Bailey Bradford’s shifter books. There are always memorable characters and they are generally hot AF. Bearly There fits that perfectly, but in addition to the characters and the hot, it was also adorably charming. This is more of a lighthearted shifter tale and perfect for when you need some low angst, chuckles and delicious dirty.

Jagger is overworked at a shitty job and while he works in the city, not a ton of time is spent in that setting which was fine with me, because I do love a country boy. I thought of this one as more of a suburban shifter tale. Jagger’s sister, Syn, is suffering from some serious issues after a traumatic experience and he supports her as well as himself. His sister is a total kick and I loved their banter. I loved the banter she ended up having with Kevin even more though.

While Jagger is having a rough time, Kevin is having a shit-tastic time. He had a curse placed on him when he was a cocky young punk and is barely getting by as one disaster after another comes his way and tries to knock him down. The two get thrown together in a meet cute that is, of course, disastrous. And adorable. Kevin goes through jobs pretty quick-like and manages to get another one that puts him in contact with Jagger again as well as his family. They had some undeniable heat when they met the first time, but there were way too many witnesses and humiliating moments to make anything of the time.

This second time around they have some time and some privacy to get to know one another, not that Jagger’s sister doesn’t nose her way in to add some color commentary though and it was hilarious. Like I said, her banter with Kevin was so good. As she eavesdrops on the two of them flirting, so very awkwardly, she says,

“Wow, this is like the mating dance of the socially inept . . . 
I should film it for a documentary.” 

Kevin has absolutely no filter and the times when his brain gets loose are my favorite parts. It really makes he and Jagger work. Jagger isn’t uptight, but he is old fashioned and a little shy for an apex predator, which made him completely my kind of shifter. He’s all quiet and strong and then when he finds what (or who) he wants, he goes and gets his man.

Because Kevin is a bit of a mess anyway, Jagger has a little trouble believing the curse, but he believes Kevin believes it and as the two of them get closer, Jagger will do anything to help Kevin out. Kevin is a typical dude in that he wants to handle it all himself and he gets a little stubborn, but Jagger is determined and he starts researching ways to break the curse so the two of them can have their HEA. Throughout it all, their connection becomes more obvious and I ate up their little moments with the touches and the looks. The “Only you” moment at 73% killed me to death with the feels. I loved it.

Not to mention the sex being fuck hot. Bailey Bradford can write some hot. No doubt. Especially when the dirty talk is coming from the soft spoken alpha hunk of man that is Jagger. Just, damn. Kevin melted into a puddle of goo and I was right there with him.

Jagger strode to the shower and cupped Kevin's chin. "I'm going to wash every inch of your body, then I'm going to lick you and rim you until you come. Then I'll fuck you, once you're ready for round two."
"Round three," Kevin whispered.

I can’t begin to tell you how much I loved these two together and was not ready to let them go. That would be my only complaint, the ending was a little rushed and I wanted more. I was all, “WHAT, you can’t be over, I’m not done! Get back here and let me love yoooouuuu.” But, it was over and it was all kinds of happy albeit cut too short. I hope the two of them get some more page time in the next in the series, these two have a lot more story in them and I want to read every word of it.

Check out Bearly There over on Goodreads.


**a copy of this story was provided for an honest review**

Review: Fjord Blue by Nina Rossing

Seventeen-year-old Benjamin is shipped off to work on his grandparents’ remote farm in the fjords of Western Norway for the summer. It’s not like he didn’t deserve it. After all, he crashed his dad’s vintage Bonneville in a car-chase duel on a Miami freeway. Ben is mad at the world and not ready to reveal the reason for his bad behavior the past year, when he partied and got into fights to forget his attraction to his best friend’s hot cousin Dino.

Norway is cold and rainy, the farm is desolate and resists modernization, and the grandparents are quiet and religious. On to the scene waltzes Even, the eighteen-year-old farmhand, who counters Ben’s restlessness and complaints with friendship, fresh perspectives, and problems of his own.

With the mounting expectations of Ben taking over the farm one day, getting closer to Even becomes Ben’s only reason to stay put. As the friendship deepens, the two boys learn that secrets can turn into both beautiful and ugly truths, and that support can be found in unexpected places.


And the meaning of life is…

What? Did you actually think I’d tell you? Ha!

I’ll tell you a secret instead. When I requested this book I immediately regretted it. I was not able to force myself to start it, above all when shinning beautiful novels kept drawing my attention here and there.

I feel bad. Now.

Because it ended.


And it shouldn’t have. It should have gone on and on and on. But it didn’t.

When I was at 20% of the book I thought there was still a 80% to be read. When I was at 80% I saw the same filled glass upside down. And then I got to 95% and I had to hold my horses and repeat myself again and again that I still had a 5%. But then I got to 98% and… it ended. Just like that, I almost didn’t feel it. It was not painful.

But it was traumatic.

Now I feel like screaming, crying, and kicking like a baby.

I’m not ashamed.

Life is too short to wait for things to happen to you. I decided to make them happen to me.


Benjamin is a 17-year-old and is mad at the world. He can’t control it and he wouldn’t hold it, and much less acknowledge it. So he sets all his anger and frustration free in recklessness like a rebel with a cause. He fools around with stupid girls, gets into brawls with stupid guys, breaks the speed limits in stupid car races. Such actions have their consequences. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise when the straw that breaks the camel's back becomes the perfect trigger for his parents to buy a plane ticket directly to Norway, and a return ticket in a 10-weeks-time. It means a summer to help his grandparents on the farm, accompanied by an adamant prohibition not to get into problems: no alcohol, no parties, and of course, no cars.


Benjamin doesn’t want Norway, rural anything pales in comparison to the cheerful life in Miami. This is a punishment he can’t help but be impatient to get over with. Heidi’s bucolic lifestyle has never drawn him. Being far from the maddening crowd is indeed not cool. He sees no attractiveness in scything or in rolling in the hay.

At least not alone.

Because, Even.

I did what any sane and lust-struck teen would do when stuck in a depressing situation that went nowhere, hour upon hour: I acted. On impulse.

I ran up to Even from behind, tackled him, and flattened him to the ground on his back, before I crushed his startled yelp with my mouth.


Benjamin is blunt, rash and unworried in his arrogant and showoff attitude. But Even is confident and solid and trustworthy and upstanding. Everything Ben is not. Also, Even is too handsome for his own good and Ben foresees a hellish existence keeping his hands to himself. Above all when they sleep in the same room, sharing part of the bed and apart from the adults in a cottage all to themselves.

“I don't want you to leave,” he said, the words rushing out of his mouth. “I don't want you to fucking leave. I don't want you to pick up handsome dudes in Miami, or stupid girls, and do stuff with them that you should be doing with me. I didn't think I would be sunk like this. You're not what I bargained for.”


Ben’s grandparents and Even don’t take any shit from Benjamin, simply because they are unaffected. I loved how rural Noway was depicted. The farm, the small cities, the rain, the teenagers, the tourists, the sky, the fjords, the everything. When the big secret is out, the reaction from both families are revealing at least, bringing more mysteries out into the light. The grandparents are indeed an interesting couple, and there is more than meets the eye. Even’s friends are totally worth the time they appear on scene. And when the shit hits the fan with Even parents, I could do no other thing than be on Ben’s side of the situation. Let’s say some people simply don’t deserve to share a meal on the table.

Subtly, Benjamin begins to see Norway in a way he would never have expected. Little by little, he discovers he has everything he could ever want.

“Fast cars-check. Partying-check. Friends-check. A special someone-check. What else do you need?”


It all felt real and believable, and, more important, Benjamin’s growth and evolution is also undeniable. The arrogant spoiled brat who flies from Miami is not the same person once he comes back. Not only because he found love, but also his own feet and, therefore, is beginning to learn how to stand on the ground he’s on.

And the scene came when I was totally sold. Yes, I know, I shouldn’t have, because it’s nearly close to bribery. #MomentoEmpanadas.


“Is this a Cuban dish?” he asked.

“Not really. Spanish, I think. Empanadas are common for lunch among Cubans.”

“What about tacos?”

“Mexican. They serve tacos at school all the time.”

“Have you ever been to Cuba?”

“What’s this? The inquisition?”

I’m so easy.

I actually rolled my eyes at the inquisition hint. What was the last fuckery I heard? Oh yes, when that journalist told Donald Trump: “This is not Spain, the Church doesn’t hold control over the Estate”. Or that other one? “Spain wants to abolish the 3-hour siesta”.

No comments.

And then:

“I’m your father. You follow my orders. Capisce?”

“That’s Italian.”

“Basically the same as Spanish.”

I laughed at this. In a good way, of course. It was not the only time I broadly smiled at all. You expect a slow burn book from this, and it is. You expect sweet and optimistic and innocent romance, and it is, in a way. But teenagers are much more clever than adults, so when Even and Ben finally make the step, they make it for real. A big step forward and not looking back. It’s a funny book but it’s not a hilarious one, because heavy situations go by and that implies heavy conflicts sometimes, but also great resolutions where at first only problems seemed to exist. And there is always the pending doom of an end. In general, I can conclude it was easy and fun to read, with all its depth and a little drama, which always fit right.

Also, I really liked how Ben’s background in Miami is portrayed. The Spanish was ok. It wasn’t perfect. The mistakes I found were in names mostly. Ben’s family is Cuban. Did you know what Cuba is the country with the highest percentage of people who speaks native Spanish? 100%. It’s only logical, right? So you should expect “flawless” Spanish, in a way. At least in names. He mentions a relative called “Consuela”, and another one called “Manuelo”, another called “Oscar” and two girls called “Lucia”. Well, the correct names are Consuelo (female), Manuel (male), Óscar (male) and Lucía (female). I forgive the lack of accents because in USA the accents tend to disappear. I guess you can write anything you fancy on the birth registration, too. There was a moment that left my scratching my head in confusion: when I read “qué bolá?” with no initial “¿” but with accents. Then I realized it was a chat conversation and God knows nobody writes correctly in those. In my case, I don’t waste my time in writing “¿” and capital letters and I very rarely use accents. For the sake of fluidity, of course. So it was spot-on after all. To sum it up, in general, the Spanish was very good. At least, not worse than I’m used to, which is always a win.

The writing style is stunning. It sounds like music on my ears and every sentence encouraged you to read the following one. Even coming from a “tough guy” like Benjamin, it was suitable and poetic. It made me want a repeat.

Tough guys can feel too, you see.


This young adult/coming-of-age novel made me swoon and it made me truly happy for a while. And I started this regretting my decision, you see.


A Review copy was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more on Goodreads.

Review: The Rancher's Son (Montana #2) by R.J. Scott

A man without memories, and the cop who never gave up hope.

When he wakes up in the hospital, the victim of a brutal beating, John Doe has no memories of who he is or who hurt him. The cops can find nothing to identify him and he can't remember anything to help... except the name Ethan and one recurring place from his dreams. Two words, and they're not much, but it's a start: Crooked Tree.

Detective Ethan Allens has never stopped searching for the two boys who vanished. When a report lands on Ethan's desk that may give new leads, he jumps at the chance to follow them up. The man he finds isn't his brother, but it's someone who could maybe help him discover what happened twelve years ago.

What neither man can know is that facing the very real demons of the past could destroy any kind of future they may have together.


I went into this book not really knowing what to expect. I gave the first book in the series, Crooked Tree Ranch, 3 stars but I had trouble recalling what went on in the book. Though I didn’t have to worry, because ‘The Rancher’s Son’ works fine as a standalone, and RJ Scott did an excellent job with both the romance and the mystery plot.

For twelve years, Ethan Allens has searched for his brother, Justin, and for the boy who was his first love, Adam. Now a detective, he always keeps an eye out for any information about the two vanished boys. So when he’s tipped off about a John Doe, Ethan rushes to Chicago to meet him. Waking up in a hospital after a brutal beating, Adam Strachan doesn’t recall his name or who attacked him. The only things he remembers is a name, Ethan, and a place, Crooked Tree. Coming face-to-face after a decade, Ethan and Adam are forced to confront the past, while skirting around a romance that was never realized.

It was at times heartbreaking reading about Adam and Ethan’s interactions from Ethan’s POV. He’s spent twelve years searching for this boy, this man, who can’t recall more than his name. Amnesia isn’t something I’ve read much of, and it’s not something that particularly appeals to me. But having read a bit of Ethan’s story in the preceding book, I was willing to give it a try. I don’t know how realistic Adam’s amnesia was, but I do think that this author handled Ethan and Adam’s gradual reunion very well. Though Adam can’t recall details, he does subconsciously, through his dreams and feelings of deja vu, know that Ethan means something to him.

That made their feelings for each other more believable, as opposed to if Adam had absolutely no recollection of his past life.

‘The Rancher’s Son’ is a slow-burn romance. Like very slow. And I loved that, because I would have been writing a snarky review if Ethan and Adam had jumped straight into bed. Aside from the amnesia, these two haven’t met for over a decade, and have since gone from being boys to men. They’re complete strangers. So while there’s an intense attraction, the two instead spend their time together talking and getting to know each other. I highly enjoyed seeing them rediscovering their love. It was sweet and slow, with just a touch of angst, and put a smile on my face.

And when they eventually get to the ‘jumping into bed’ part, it is hot.

The mystery of Adam and Justin’s disappearance is just as prominent in the book as the romance, and at the end I had more questions than I did answers. The few answers that I did get were exactly what I’d expect from RJ Scott - mind-boggling and skirting OTT. If you’ve read her Texas series, you’ll have a sense of how RJ Scott likes her action. I’m a fan of it, so I took every twist and turn as it came.

‘The Rancher’s Son’ was a very good read, with a sweet romance and an engaging mystery. I’m not usually a fan of a reunited lovers theme, but with Ethan and Adam it worked well. I’m eagerly waiting for the next book, which will hopefully answer all of my questions!

Check out on Goodreads!

Tag Team Review: To Terminator With Love by Wes Kennedy

Dexter Wu’s life is hectic, but he's managing—mostly. He’s on the verge of finishing grad school, and that means putting the final touches on his number one project: HAL, a social robot and children's storytelling companion. But his best friend is leaving the country for good, his birthday’s coming up, he’s swamped with studying for finals, and he hasn’t slept in days.

He's also going to destroy the world.

At least, his robot is, according to the possibly untrustworthy Agency, an organization whose mission is to protect the world at all costs. After his birthday party turns into a fight for his life, Dexter's simple life of fast food and Netflix binges is replaced by a glitchy oracle, the world's douchiest secret agents, and an ever-increasing chain of conspiracies.

With the help of Andre, a mysterious and disenchanted young agent turned rogue, Dexter sets out to plead his case to the Director in an effort to get his life back to what counts as normal—but he should know by now nothing is ever so easy.



We agreed on the rating and, coincidentally, used the same quote! #UnicornBrainShare

Fantasy Living

If Austin Powers was a geeky science nerd in university, this would be his story.

I’m casting this because... I feel like it?

Dexter is a crazy stupid genius who’s building a child’s reading companion robot for his post-grad thesis, but hasn’t figured out how to make it talk…


He named the robot HAL - You know - the crazy supercomputer from Space Odyssey?! But cuter.. And not crazy, maybe.


He is attacked and almost killed in his lab by some super-spies as they are trying to steal his creation, but is saved by this guy...Andre…


And finds out HAL is going to destroy the world in the future…

"I’m pretty sure you just tried to sell me a bad Terminator meets Minority Report fanfic here"

But Andre assures Dexter that no one was supposed to kill him, that there must be some mistake, and they need to get to headquarters to sort it all out with the Director.

This story was a lot of fun. I thought Dexter was adorable and funny. Andre was a great balance of serious and sarcastic to balance Dexter’s personality. While on the run they have some surprisingly hilarious dialogue (well not really surprising, but...okay, it was surprising)

"But you’re not exactly being inconspicuous walking the street twitching like a crackhead and stroking a robot like it’s your precious."

"How could HAL even be dangerous? Dangerous enough to warrant all of this, even."

"You named it after an infamous AI that went haywire and tried to kill people," Andre whispered back accusingly.

Dexter threw his hands up in exasperation. "It was supposed to be ironic!"

"I don’t think you understand the meaning of the word."

"No one does!"

They hide at Andre’s grandma’s house, where they get to know each other more… within the limits Dexter sets.

"But, I’m a really awesome kisser - at least that is what my girlfriend in 7th grade told me one time - and if you’re into dudes who can build sweet pillow forts, boy, do I have a treat for you -"


The writing for this story was pretty solid. Only a few mistakes that jumped out at me. Generally, well written, and plenty of excitement to keep the plot moving.

I had to suspend disbelief for pretty much the entire story, because this read like a spy kid movie only for college kids… but you know, it was funny, and witty, and had plenty of movie references to help it along.

There was some stuff that made no sense, but I chalked it up to Austin Powers again, because that movie didn't make much sense and it was a blockbuster hit; not everything has to make sense all of the time.

The world building, while bizarre, was pretty tight. So was the plot. Consistent and crazy. There were some twists and turns, and sometimes I was just left feeling dizzy. But I have absolutely no regrets about picking up this book. None!

I’d recommend this for young adult readers in the 14-17 age range as well as lovers of blanket forts (points at self), and books that reference popular sci-fi thrillers frequently.



Cupcake

What a fun romp!

To Terminator With Love is not meant to be taken seriously. It’s a silly, fun farce with a lovable main character.

Dexter Wu is an electrical engineer at MIT, junk food aficionado and brainiac. He’s witty and sarcastic and completely enamored with his robot, HAL.

If you’re a movie buff, this will be a winner for you.

HAL, according to a clandestine organization known simply as the Agency, will take after his namesake and destroy the world!


To save the world from Armageddon agents are dispatched to robonap HAL. The one thing standing in their way is Dexter Wu who is not letting the precious go without a fight, or at least a couple of pithy epigrams. Thankfully, Agent Andre Jackson decides to go rogue and save the nerd.

*cue caper theme music*

You will need to suspend disbelief a bit for this one. There was a point in the middle somewhere where I seriously toyed with the notion that this was an elaborate hoax orchestrated by some benevolent guardian with the sole objective of bringing the reclusive and socially awkward Dexter and Andre together. It was so outlandish that I just could not fathom any organization operating thusly.

Not only was I incorrect it got even more OTT! There are tons of hijinks and pop culture references in this tribute to sci-fi movies of yore.

Dexter and Andre have a palpable chemistry that’s adorable. During their kooky adventure solid beginnings of a relationship start to form.

Kennedy shines with the banter between Dexter and Andre.

”You named it after an infamous AI that went haywire and tried to kill people,” Andre whispered back accusingly.

Dexter threw his hands up in exasperation. “It was supposed to be ironic!”

“I don’t think you understand the meaning of the word.”

“No one does!”

Oh ho ho ho!


Oh wait, no. You’re right. No one does.

I also liked that both Dexter and Andre are nerdy dudes who have sweaty palms, love a pillow fort, have a totally rational fear of clowns and appreciate a good steak finger.

Overall, a nice entre into the world of published fiction by another fanfic writer crossing over. I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

Recommend to sci-fi movie fans who enjoy a far-fetched adventure with a character that can drop a Twin Peaks reference with a (mostly) straight face.




Review copies were provided by the author & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more on Goodreads.

Blog Tour + GIVEAWAY: Circle of Change by Laney Cairo


We're so excited about the re-release of Laney Cairo's Circle of Change! It's been on Mt. TBR for awhile now and it's about time to get to it. Don't miss the change to enter to win a $10 gift card to Torque Press!

Cover & Blurb: 


Life is hard for Kim, struggling with homophobia at school in his senior year, and with loneliness as he journeys to adulthood. Dash, a young gay college student, is on a journey too, looking for a spiritual teacher. Their paths cross when Dash joins the coven Kim’s mother, Helen, belongs to, and the attraction between them is immediate and mutual. But Kim is not the person Dash thinks he is, and the truth is more than Dash can deal with. Can Dash apply the lessons he’s learning in the circle to the rest of his life, and accept Kim?









Excerpt:

Kim stood in front of the full-length mirror in his bedroom and looked hard at himself. The whole preppy look worked well on his body. He was too slight and short to do athletic or plaid, too dainty-boned to do leather. Tidy collars and V- necked sweaters were the right look.

He undid the buttons of his shirt and took it off, and frowned. The white T-shirt underneath the shirt hid most things. He unzipped his chinos and let them fall to his bare feet, leaving him standing in Calvin Klein stretch boxers and T-shirt. Still acceptable. Off came the T-shirt, revealing nipples too close together and too large. Boxers... Kim pulled Boris, made of chamois and foam, out of his boxers, and rolled them down.

It hurt to look at himself like this, so broken and incomplete: smooth triangle of pubic hair, hipbones jutting out, tiny breasts. Despair welled up, and longing, and Kim wrapped his bathrobe around himself and sat on the bed to cry. If he could stay dressed forever, it might just be possible to get through this, but showers were unbearable. He would have to be a very grubby gay boy. And a celibate one.

Purchase Links:
Torque Press: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=205&products_id=1967

About the Author:
Laney lives in a queer commune with three of her favourite people and two of her favourite dogs. When not writing, she teaches university students about apostrophes, scientific methodology and visual culture. In her spare time she photographs fjords and works on being kinder. Laney is the author of several books, including Bad Case of Loving You.
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Review: Silent Woods by Ofelia Gränd

Do you believe in myths and ancient creatures?

Daniel has never felt the need to leave the city behind, so when his husband suggests a camping trip for their holiday he agrees with reluctance. Even before they step out of the car, Daniel has the feeling of something being wrong. Something about the forest is turning his stomach into knots.

He wants nothing more than returning to the safety of their home, and when their five-year-old son goes missing his fears turn into full-blown panic. What awaits them in the depths of the forest is far more sinister than anything Daniel ever could have imagined. Will they be able to find their son before it's too late?


As if children weren't scary enough!

I kid..

Kinda.

I mean, sometimes kids are creepy, amiright?

#don'tjudgeme.

Here we have Ofelia Gränd doing what she does best, as she weaves a contemporary tale mixed with local folklore to create a story bound to leave you absorbed and chilled.

Anders is a man's man; he loves the outdoors and is pretty much one with nature. He wants to give that same feeling and opportunity to his children, but his husband, Daniel is the polar opposite. If he's not sleeping in a hotel room or resort, surrounded by technology and his iPhone, then it's more like torture than a vacation.

So...the next two days spent hiking and camping in the woods, with two small children in tow, should be awesome!

Eh, not so much.

You see, there's more to these woods than anyone knows.

Sometimes, they go silent.

Sometimes, there's more to an almost forgotten folk tale than anyone could imagine.

Sometimes, you should listen to that nagging feeling that something bad is going to happen.

Ofelia Gränd does MM horror really well, and even though this is one of her older stories, it's still just as creepy and atmospheric as her more recent "adventures". And sexy! Because no camping adventure is complete without a little down and dirty, right?

Suspense and folklore intertwine to create a fantastic and fast little read.

Beware the silent woods!



A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more on Goodreads.