Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Hunter, H.J. Perry

Hunter: Elsewhere Gay Fantasy Romance by [Perry, H J]

I'm not exactly sure how I feel about this book.  There are elements that are interesting and I liked the idea of fated lovers finding their way back to one another time and time again, but there were a few too many issues for me to just enjoy the story.

Pip really had it hard.  An awkward gay boy in a small town with a desire for more.  We know what that more is, but he doesn't and his searching makes him look beyond the borders of the town.  On graduation night he's excited for the opportunity to leave and knows he'll have a lot of work ahead of him to afford college, but despite the pressure that puts on him, he's grateful to be on to the next step of his journey.  Except there are those in his class that will do anything they can to keep him from achieving that dream.  Bullies are no joke and these are some serious bullies.  Tying him to a tree in the middle of some creepy-as woods is disturbing on so many levels.  What could have ended in tragedy actually began his true journey.

Hunter, or really, The Hunter, is only given this name.  He finds the trussed-up Pip and frees him, in so doing they spark the bond they have and Pip gets a small glimpse of the "more" he was searching for.  It takes quite a while for things to work out and that "more" isn't what he thought it would be, but all's well that ends well, right?

In general, I'd say yes.  But there are some issues I have with the story.  The Hunter never gets a name even after they sort things out between them.  He's a complete mystery from start to finish and all we get is that he's passionate, loyal, and will always be Pip's in every way no matter how many years, decades, or centuries separate them.  Nice sentiment, but Pip doesn't remember his past life so his draw is real but the foundation for everything from here on out is super questionable.

There are also a lot of unanswered questions that move things into the series in general but it's more that there are issues left hanging rather than laid out in a way that makes me want to read the series to get the answers.

Overall the story was fine, but I'm not really sold on the series or invested in any of the characters or the town to continue reading beyond Hunter.  So while my rating here is a 2.5, I'll be rounding down on review sites because I didn't really enjoy the story enough to give it the "I liked it alright" 3 star rating.

*Find out if you agree or disagree with my review
Only $3.00 or FREE on KU
 Hunter, H.J. Perry

Monday, December 4, 2017

Omega's Gift: Hood Ridge Omegas, Reegan Lynch

Omega's Gift (Hood Ridge Omegas Book 4) by [Lynch, Reegan]

Coming to a conclusion we see the fates of two alphas who have fallen deeply for enemy omegas and two omegas who have discovered truth, support, and love in the arms and the pack of two fiercely protective and strong alphas.  There is also a war knocking on their doors.  Struggling under the weight of it all is the quiet Cecil and the pack alpha Mal.  

Ira had his struggles in the beginning and made his choice to be with Mal, choosing love over blood, so he's had a bit of time to come to terms with all the changes.  Cecil, however, is a bit newer and was also under the influence of his twin.  The burden Cecil carries is quite heavy.  He's finding something special with Luke, someone to share the yoke with if he would just find the courage to confess everything.  The truth is outed for him, though, when Cyril doggedly pursues Jed and Ezekiel's plans that ultimately end in his death.  And now Cecil might have to pay the price of their sins and secrecy.

Mal has the fate of his entire pack on his shoulders with the upcoming war as well as the lives of his mate and their unborn child to consider when he has the news dropped on his doorstep of wolfsbane in the water supply.  Rage overcomes him and he almost makes a choice that would cost him his best friend, pack alpha's second, and a friend and ally.  With the help of his mate he's able to breathe and consider not just the consequences of the betrayal but also the consequences of a more humane and merciful action.

This is certainly quite intense...but not exactly in the way we're expecting.  At the end of Omega's Heart there's a hell of a cliffhanger centering on Cyril and Cecil.  I was thinking we'd jump right in with that and while we did, it didn't play out how I thought it would.  We see Cecil's pain, fear, devastation, and his honesty.  While dealing with the death of Cyril he's confessing to his part in Ezekiel's plotting and fully expects a quick judgment and a painful death for endangering the entire pack.  Luke's interference makes it not so quick, but it's Ira's interference that I was impressed with.  He was obviously in danger and especially vulnerable to the particular attack the twins were supposed to carry out and yet he saw clearly what was going on, who was going to regret which actions, and that he was the only one who would be able to diffuse the situation for the moment.  His wisdom and observation allowed everyone to take a breath so cooler heads could prevail.

All of that strength seems to fail him just when he'll need it most.  When war finds them and Mal, Luke, and every other able bodied shifter in the Three Rivers pack go to fight for their families and lives Ira finds himself in a situation he wasn't exactly prepared for.  Labor.  Even with the ideal midwife and the support of Cecil he straight up loses his shit.  With no other choice Cecil leaves the safety of the bunker to retrieve Mal.  If he fails the chances are very high that both Ira and his child won't survive the birth.  So with that heavy responsibility he heads to the front lines.  On the way to Mal he finds Luke and his instincts to protect his mate, his love, combine with what he knows of Hood Ridge's fighting practice to get the jump on the enemy.  He finds an immense strength within him as he protects what's his.

As things find their both tragic and triumphant conclusion it's with the sorrow of loss and the joy of a new future that they move forward.  Cecil and Luke, Ira and Mal.  Love and a wedding keep happiness as the focus for how the packs will combine and move forward.

I liked the intensity and the conclusion which was hopeful, happy, and humorous as both couples indulge in their passions.  The big war was kind of touched on in moments but there wasn't one big battle scene for us to read, the focus instead was on the struggle for Ira.  Whether that focus was good because it was the more important part of the fight or because it was easier to write that than a full-out war, I'm not sure.  What I do know about it is that I like how it gave Cecil the opportunity to do what he had never done before and succeed.  It allowed him to rise above what he was always content with before and to employ all the strength and intelligence that was inside him his whole life but never got the chance to use.

Everything came together for a sweet conclusion that spoke of peace, unity, and happiness.    I'm a little sad that it's over because I want to see more of Mal with Ira and Luke with Cecil, especially with their growing families.  The story was good by itself and was a fitting conclusion for the series.

*Get caught up in the hope and love of the series' conclusion
Only $2.98 or Free on KU!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Lodging the Alpha's Omega, Emma Knox

Lodging the Alpha's Omega: M/M Shifter Mpreg Romance (Alpha Omega Lodge Book 1) by [Knox, Emma]

This was book had an interesting premise.  An omega doing his best to avoid any situation with a selfish, arrogant, lust-crazed alpha because of his past.  An alpha running his business and is successful, kind, strict, focused, and tiring of the game and would like to find his fated mate.  Unexpectedly meeting because of a booking error sets them on the course of discovering, bonding, and setting in motion a possible war between packs.

When everything plays out, though, it's not as interesting as I was hoping.  The book was fine and there were some highlights like an independent, confident, strong omega.  Steven was an individual and though hurt in his past, he's willing to look at the facts and sees that Drake promises nothing he's unwilling to follow through with.  He's also intelligent and resourceful and passionate.  He uses his brain to find a solution to the mess Drake's excitement and avoidance caused.

Drake himself was another highlight because he's strong yet doesn't dominate others.  He's level-headed and takes his duty as a partner and alpha seriously when it comes to Steven.  It certainly doesn't hurt that he's a hottie with a soft heart.

The plot itself had too many things to feel fluid and consistent.  There was the romance plot, which was fine and to enhance it there should have only been one other issue surrounding them.  Instead we have the chaos of heat season, inter-pack relations due to the bonding as well as not bonding with others, work drama for Steven, a kidnapping, pregnancy and health issues...there was just too much to stay focused on what really mattered.  Then there was the random archaic language structure used when Drake diffuses a situation in the lobby.  That wouldn't normally be a big deal, it was just pretty jarring because the way everyone spoke throughout the entire rest of the book didn't match.  It was like the author was trying too hard to stress the importance of Drake, his power, the situation's resolution, and the respect of the omega's response.  So adding all of it together and I wasn't able to sink into the story and just enjoy because there were too many things that broke the flow of the story's coherence and enjoyability.

Overall this was a pretty good book with a satisfying conclusion of peace, hope, reconciliation, and unity.  There was love between the MC's and intelligence and passion between them.  With a good pairing and an interesting plot idea this book's rating will be rounded up on other review sites. I've rated this 2.5 stars here but am choosing to round up on review sites because while the book had annoying moments and a lack of focus, it wasn't a bad story and it did deliver on an HEA centered on the couple and unification.

*$3.00 on Amazon, Free on KU!
 Lodging the Alpha's Omega, Emma Knox

Encore, Candice Blake

Encore (An M/M Romance) by [BLAKE, CANDICE]

One broken and left behind, one broken and pretending to move on, two men who need each other more than their next breath.

Pacey is moving through life trying to fill the hole Adam made when he left six long years ago.  He thinks he's done it when he finds a drunk and unconscious Adam in a dark, dirty alley.  Saving him isn't something new to Pacey but he didn't think he'd ever be in a position to do it again.

Adam is drowning himself in drinking, drugs, and music.  What he can't seem to get enough of is doing nothing to fill his soul with what it craves, or rather who, but there's no way he'll ever admit to leaving the best part of his life behind when his career has the wings and momentum it currently has.  Once again, though, he'll need Pacey to get back on his feet whether he wants to accept it or not.

A chance encounter brings their lives together again and they find that they had no clue how much they missed their friendship.  Pacey had a better idea of that because when you're the one being left it's harder to forget.  Adam has the luxury of forgetting because he's surrounded himself with substances and adoration of millions to cover all the uncomfortable feelings of least until the crowds stop cheering, the guitar and microphone are packed up, and the high wears off.  Which is exactly what put him in Pacey's path.

As they reconnect and get to know one another now that they've got a bit more life experience under them they're drawn to one another in ways neither of them expected.  Childhood love deepens, broadens, and grows for Pacey and is now in an even worse place if Adam should leave like he's promising to do.  Adam is scared of what he feels for Pacey because it's not part of his career or personal plan at all.  When he draws Pacey in only to make the same mistake as before he has to decide if his original plan is really worth not having Pacey.  Will he let more time pass or will he be brave and give their love the Encore it really deserves?

They have a hell of a time navigating their confusing feelings, paparazzi, families, careers, and finding forgiveness.  Overall this story was good and they made a good couple when Adam got his head out of his...well, you know.  What they find when they make the right choices is passion, music straight from their souls, and a beautiful collaboration.

*Let Adam and Pacey show you a reunion worth singing about
Only $1.00!

An M/M Christmas, episode 3

The Cupids Do Christmas (Public Limited Cupids Book 2) by [Curtis, Riza] But to Love More: A Holiday to Remember by [Cassidy, Foster Bridget]  You've Been Knotty: Gay paranormal mpreg holiday romance by [Larkin, Kellan]

The Cupids Do Christmas (Public Limited Cupids Book 2) by [Curtis, Riza]This was a really cute story.  It's the first I've read by this author and, obviously, from this series and I was impressed by how many interesting things there were in this short story.  Shifters, Christmas and other holiday lore, magic, red threads of fate, a little steam, a big dose of cute attraction, and a ton of heartfelt goodness.  There wasn't really any groundwork or background given, we're kind of expected to accept all the parts that make up their world and that's actually okay in this instance.  It's a little confusing in the beginning but once you put it aside it's easier to enjoy the story for what it is.  I like the MC's even though we don't get to know them very well, a little more from Piotr than Danny, but from what we can see they make a good match.  It's more than an HFN but less than an HEA but I'm okay with that in the end.  There's a lot of holiday crossover and cuteness that make up for the lack of depth because this ends up just being a cute story with a sweet HFN/HEA.  3 stars.
 The Cupids Do Christmas: Public Limited Cupids Book 2, Riza Curtis

But to Love More: A Holiday to Remember by [Cassidy, Foster Bridget]Simple, sweet, and like sinking into a warm bath kind of comfortable.  Carlos and Mel are friends from childhood.  Mel always thought that Carlos was like a brother and close friend at the same time that Carlos was holding a torch for Mel.  Neither was aware of the adoration turning into attraction until Mel left to live his life thousands of miles away.  When Christmas brings Mel home Carlos decides it's time to make his move.  Despite the initial confusion and wariness Mel opens himself to the possibility of more with Carlos.  What he finds is something that he wasn't expecting but can't for the life of him think of how things could have ended up any other way.  Even when Aldo, Carlos' brother and Mel's best friend, tries his best to get between them Mel is determined to keep moving toward the future he sees for them.  Aldo won't give up, though, not until a family confrontation at Midnight Mass ends with Nana giving her seal of approval and sharp scolding to everyone who dares to interfere where they're overstepping.  The whole story was short and sweet with a built-in shared background for both MC's that gave depth that would otherwise be lost with the length of the story.  A nice, gentle conclusion that implied an HEA fitting with the warmth of the season.  3 stars.
 But to Love More, Foster Bridget Cassidy

You've Been Knotty: Gay paranormal mpreg holiday romance by [Larkin, Kellan]This had a good idea, the reality, however, wasn't as touching as I was hoping for.  Eben is a crotchety dragon shifter that hides everything about himself and his desires because of what he is and the idea that he could never deserve the light and youth of the wolf shifter that captured his shriveled heart.  Jake is in a bind.  Pregnant by the reluctant Eben, driven from his pack for falling pregnant by a non-wolf, and his life is in danger from the only family he's ever known.  Both men are in a situation neither predicted nor wanted...well, not that Eben would admit otherwise even if he did.

There's a lot of tension and unsaid sentiments that just keep not getting said through most of the story.  Jake's immaturity never settled and he never says out loud that he has come to terms with the truth of Eben's cautions concerning the wolf pack.  And his reaction to Eben's true nature is pretty maddening.  Not his initial shock and panic, no, it's when Eben admits that it was part of his reasoning for running Jake off and then Jake acts like it wouldn't have mattered and thus shames Eben a bit for it.  Ugh...I'm not a fan.  Eben grew on my quite a bit because he was willing to change and become more demonstrative for the benefit of others.  Jake stayed the same and I never really warmed to him.  Overall, it had promise but didn't really live up to it.  The story was nice and the dragon bit, the "nephew" part, and the confrontation in the pack office were the highlights.  The romance, Jake, and all the silent, brooding angsting were the low points.  2.5 stars.
 You've Been Knotty, Kellan Larkin

Archangel's Assassin, Barbara Elsborg

Archangel's Assassin by [Elsborg, Barbara]

Um, shocked, I am, utterly shocked that I enjoyed this story as much as I did.  It honestly felt like I was reading two different stories with all the same people.  In the beginning it was dark, gritty, vicious, violent, and mysterious.  Once we find out who Tao is, though, things become light, confusing, melodramatic, sappy, hopeful, and uplifting.  Despite the story having Dissociative Identity Disorder I found myself drawn into their world through Tao's magnetic charm and West's dickish surliness.  Like I said, shocked.

Tao is bright and positive and completely at the mercy of the streets.  Waking up with no memory and no sense of who you are, why you're under a tree in Hyde Park, and whether or not you're worth being found or even if there's anyone to look for you isn't easy, after all.  Clever signs and non-begging begging to scrape enough cash for food and a meager contribution to a communal living situation dominate Tao's current existence.  Until one day when he steals a wallet to return it to the original owner.

That owner is the darkly handsome West.  West isn't all that he appears and has a rather interesting job as an Archangel's Assassin.  His job is to be the hitman for an angel, to carry out justice in the supernatural world.  Well, that's his main job.  His other job is on the down low because it could get his immortal soul thrust right into hell, no passing go, no collecting $200.  And that would be quite inconvenient because that's the exact fate he's trying to save his brother from.  So why is he so drawn to the man who retrieved his wallet?  He certainly didn't need help getting it back in the first place, but by deciding to let things play out as they did he finds himself inconveniently invested in the homeless hottie.

West rescues Tao from his living situation with intentions for a quick screw before tossing him back out...or so he likes to tell himself.  Tao is a bit overwhelmed by everything that is West and doesn't want to deny himself anymore by holding back.  So with all the awkwardly cute intensity he possesses he throws himself at West.  At first it's horrible.  But unaware that he sees West, the true West under the facade given to him and the blustery badass he puts on himself, he decides to stick it out.  With nothing more than the desire to give West something to smile about he sticks around and goes about making himself useful and indispensable.

So there's the big mystery of who and what Tao is, what West does and why, the machinations of some unseen being or force messing with West and the archangels, and how everything is connected.  As the story moves forward and goes about answering those questions we see the dark and gritty world West lives in.  Tao is shocked but determined to stay with West because if anyone needed lightness and respite, it's West.  Add in crazy amounts of sexy times and you've got a dark and wickedly erotic story.  Also a bit disturbing.  I mean, "Oh, is that a gargoyle finger in your leg?  Here, let me cut that out before we get back to the sexy times," and then let's use that finger to stab a demon.

And then we get the answers.  Convoluted, super tangled, unnecessarily tragic.  Once everything comes to light Tao becomes quite confident, decisive, and moves quickly to get things resolved.  West becomes fearful, protective, quietly sappy.  When Raphael  gets all the confessions and reveals he's both thrilled and exceedingly fearful.  I teared up majorly when West had to carry out the unthinkable.  Both moving and heartbreaking.  The resolution was equally sweet and hopeful.  With the very end being in Raphael's POV we get to see something close to a real conclusion that's filled with feels, connection, forgiveness, and hope.  Such a complete opposite of what the story began with and yet shockingly awesome.

*Ride the insane roller coaster that is West and Tao's journey
only $4.97
 Archangel's Assassin, Barbara Elsborg

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Chase the Ace, Casey Ashwood

Chase the Ace by [Ashwood, Casey]

Two men, one sweet pup, and a connection based on something far deeper than passion.  Morgan and Chase find that they are drawn to one another in ways that neither expected but can't seem to mind too much.  When Chase finds a skinny pit bull in need of a rescue and a good meal he does his best to lure her in and is doing a fairly good job at it but finds invaluable help from a kind stranger.  The stranger, Morgan, hasn't met a dog he hasn't liked and vice versa.  He helps Chase and finds himself wondering more about the stunning man.  They find mutual attraction but they discover soon after that the attraction is no simple thing, there's something complicated, new, deeper, and far more valuable and lasting than anything either of them has experienced before.

Chase is sweet, vulnerable, and has the biggest heart.  He's loyal and caring.  There's something so pure about him that I find myself thinking of him as a young man that I need to shelter.  He's a man, though, and he has enough backbone to speak up and own who and what he is.  Being hurt in the past hasn't made this easier, but it does put things into perspective for him.  He holds out hope for more, for meaning, for intimacy without the pressures of sex.  Finding Morgan is scary but Chase is willing to take the risk when Morgan seems so different from anyone he's ever met and come out to.

Morgan is far more accepting of Chase's designation than I was expecting.  I was also thinking there was going to be a lot more drama about it and that the big confrontation or mistake was going to be regarding this but I was very happy to be wrong.  He's a simple man with a newer realization that he's tired of the game and is open to something that holds greater depth and substance.  He thinks what he's building with Chase could be the thing he's finally ready for.

Together they work toward a future and for the most part everything between them is sweet, innocent, but absolutely heartfelt and significant.  The foundation they're building is based on trust, admiration, respect, affection, and an innocent intimacy that I find lacking in other books that are filled with sexual situations.  Not that it's not an important aspect of many relationships, I'm just saying that it's interesting and nice to read a story that creates a relationship without sex being the end-all-be-all of a relationship.  When the sexual aspect of their relationship is address it's done with honesty, maturity, and it feels organic and more like the icing on the cake.

Reading stories with an asexual MC is relatively new for me.  I don't know much about the designation and I'm glad that there's an element of education within the pages of each story.  This one, in particular, was really good for me because the focus was on the level of intimacy that was comfortable, the intent and honesty, the coming together of two people that wasn't centered on sexual attraction and release.  There is more than an abundance of romance stories out there that are heavy on the sex and very light on the innate connection between two people.  They start in bed or by objectifying the other person and then grow a relationship from there but when sex is removed from the equation I don't think many of the relationships actually work.  But that's definitely a rant for another day...

Overall this story was touching and sweet.  It was still passionate, just in a different way and I enjoyed that it was written the way it was.  The MC's were worth getting to know, the writing was fluid, and the forging of a future grounded in all the stuff that makes relationships last was impressive.

 Chase the Ace, Casey Ashwood