Monday, October 16, 2017

One Call Away, Felice Stevens

One Call Away by [Stevens, Felice]

Coming out, forgiving, accepting, confessions, upheavals, honesty, reconciliations, gaining self-confidence, community, heart. All of that and more. I loved it.

Noah struggles with his past and is the king of "Do as I say, not as I do." Thankfully he finds Oren who struggles with his present. Together they heal themselves and one another. Their struggles and coming together create a bond and a friendship that carries over into their romantic relationship. That kind of foundation is solid and believable.

Oren was my favorite. He struggled so hard with all the changes that came with admitting who he really is but the entire time he never once avoided what needed to be done. My favorite was that he didn't project his insecurities onto Noah or make Noah feel guilty for being who he is. Oren's heart was both strong and so sweet.

Noah was great too. His own frustrations with his past colored the start of things with Oren, which was understandable, but because of Oren's direct and honest attentions, he figures things out.

The plot was slow to start, but once it picked up I found that I wasn't too tolerant of my various distractions. Thankfully SpongeBob has a magic ability to distract my 4 year old during her sister's nap and I could just sit and read since I didn't want to put the book down. It wasn't riveting, but it was definitely engaging and I became invested in these men and their situations.

Overall, this was a great read, one I would absolutely recommend to someone who wanted to read about men who love and struggle just like the rest of us. They struggle with identity, forgiveness, jobs, family.

 One Call Away, Felice Stevens

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Haunted, Casey Ashwood

Haunted

This was more of a tender story than a scary one.  Given the title you'd think it was meant to be more on the scary side but through the course of the story it becomes apparent that the haunting actually becomes a vehicle for something much larger, more important, and heartfelt.

Colby is totally awkward and more shy than most but is really trying to get out of his shell and experience life and people.  Well, he's planning to.  When a house is suddenly inherited from a recently deceased relative he's surprised to say the least.   It gives him an unexpected chance to make some necessary changes in his life.  The house comes with a bit of something...extra, though.  When he discusses the creepy noises and presence in his house with his friend he's encouraged to find a ghost hunter to investigate.

Declan is the hunter Colby gets to come check things out and there's more than a little interest on both their parts.  The ghost is what initially draws him to Colby but that interest quickly turns into something more, something based on reality and not the possibility of a haunting.  With his own painful past drawing him into this life and Colby as a possible future, he finds healing for his soul and his heart.

By solving the mystery behind Colby's haunting they are able to bring peace and resolution to the ghost, an old man, and to both Colby and Declan.  The ghost provides a way for each of these people (and even an aloof uncle) to make amends, find freedom from pain, answers to questions, and a way to accept themselves for who they are and who they love.  So it's not just a ghost story, the ghost was merely a tool for something else to get a message out.

This was an uplifting story with some creepy shadows that were well written.   I could feel Colby's nervousness and liked his shyness.  Declan was alright, but I felt closer to Colby.  Overall, the book was a quick read and enjoyable.


*Links to be updated as soon as the book goes live on Amazon.

New To The Game, Juno Chase

New To The Game (D.C. Knights Book 1) by [Chase, Juno]

The beginning was fun and I was really getting to know Chloe and like her.  She had a good head on her shoulders, knew the general direction she wanted to go and was set on making herself useful, valuable, and getting all the knowledge and experience this internship would allow her to.  As the story progressed I felt like she was losing sight of what she was all about.  She was easily distracted and I didn't enjoy her trying to get Harrison to make a decision for her.  She had a lot of contacts at her disposal and when she was put in a place where she needed to decide her path she could have thought things through a bit more instead of becoming more emotional than rational.  For her character I think she started strong and ended in a place that was more immature.   If the book were longer I think she could have been written better so that she didn't end up on a decline in strength.

Harrison was alright, we don't really know much about him as a person and I felt like we were shafted because he could have been a strong match for her.  He was intriguing, dark, sexy, and intelligent, but as the story moved forward I felt like he wasn't helping Chloe achieve her potential.  As a partner he could have been more encouraging, more solid.  Instead, his back and forth and his teasing helped turn her into a hormonal teenager rather than a woman of purpose and strength.  Her pluck and sexiness drew him in but they didn't really progress beyond that as individuals or a partnership.

Each of the characters could have been much more.  The book started strong and then ended in a way that you have to read the rest of the series to know the women and the outcome of the BINGO game but to also hope for more from each pairing, even in the periphery.   It was a pretty good book overall and a good start to the series.   I'd read more, but I'm hoping the author ups her game for the rest because if each woman stagnates or declines, I'll be disappointed.  Here's to hoping there's more and better from here on out...

New to the Game, Juno Chase

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Interesting Blurbs, Lackluster Realities

Twisted Love: A Bad Boy Romance by [Knight, Lily]  Scottish Swag, Cristina Grenier Uncaged Hearts by [Easton, Sloane]


Twisted Love: A Bad Boy Romance by [Knight, Lily]There was a lot of potential for this story and the blurb was interesting. The reality, however, was quite disappointing. Characters were shallow and inconsistent, the writing was incredibly juvenile, and the wording is often cringe-worthy with it's cheese. The story itself isn't bad, it's just written in a way that I couldn't wait to finish, and not in a good way. With no actual build up for their relationship I didn't believe that they were actually falling for one another in any meaningful way. Lusty glances and most of their time apart does not a foundation build. The one steamy scene was fine, but by the time it actually happened I was bored with them as a couple so I just didn't care and skimmed it. The drama with the CM group was resolved mostly off screen (unsatisfying for the reader who spent a ton of pages reading about Tyrese and his interference), drama with the ex who wanted more was very high school, and the IRS stuff was a big deal but so little time was spent on it to then have a deus ex machina situation via the slimy Danny Smith...all in all, an underwhelming story.  2 stars.
 Twisted Love, Lily Knight

 Scottish Swag, Cristina GrenierThe best part of the book is that there was a lot of getting to know one another before letting passion take them to bed.  All that information, though, was only between them and kind of paraphrased for the reader so what we know they know isn't what we know, if that makes sense.  I also liked that Willa Mae was feisty and stood up for herself, even if it meant forgoing the chemistry between them everyone could see was incendiary.  I wasn't as pleased with Niall's insistence that they give in because even though he would say that wasn't all that he wanted all we could see and read in his thoughts was that this was the most important thing.

The feelings that ran deeper took a while to surface and after they did there was no real meeting of the minds or hearts.  It felt like there was a juvenile "I'll be nice to you if you're nice to me" feeling all throughout their building and in the culmination of their relationship.  What seemed like fun banter before giving in then became something that was more stepping on toes when an ocean was between them.  I mean, Willa Mae has every right to wonder if he's going to put business over family if they might want to build one of their own.  Why should she be made to feel guilty for turning the mood of the phone call when he was the one to bite her head off for something that's valid?  And for him to say multiple times that he'll never make apology for how he chooses to live extends to not apologizing for hurting her feelings or making her feel like she has to walk on eggshells to avoid his temper.  Yeah, I'm not really believing in the true happiness and partnership of their relationship.

So to be honest here, I've read a couple of not-so-awesome books before this one and my opinion could have gone one of two ways:

  1. This would seem awesome in comparison
  2. I would have a low opinion anyway because I'm getting burned out by interesting blurbs and lackluster realities.
You can see that this fell into category 2.  Since I don't necessarily think that's fair, I rounded up on Amazon and Goodreads instead of down because I think this book, objectively, rates a 2.5 stars.
 Scottish Swag, Cristina Grenier

Uncaged Hearts by [Easton, Sloane]I was really excited for this book.  The premise sounded great and with a blasphemous parrot?  Yeah, we're looking at win central, you know?  Reality, however, wasn't as awesome.  The writing style was pretty aloof, separated, not moving.  In the last third of the book things got better, not only did things pick up the pace in every aspect of the relationship, but I could feel a bit more of what the characters were feeling.  Declan was the best out of the story for me.  His tender heart, obvious adoration and love for his daughter Katie, his confidence, and the way he accepted and liked himself all made for a complete person.  Someone I would like to know and could root for in his aspirations.  Katie was sweet and watching her come out of her shell was really great.  The parrot was a bit of a let-down.  He wasn't as funny or engaging with me as a reader at all, we just get to hear peripherally of his shenanigans and they're so vague I hardly care to know anymore.  Near the end he just sounded like a bitter harpy rather than an irreverent yet funny bird.  Ivan was a bit boring all the way through, unfortunately.  Overall, this story had a ton of potential but didn't really live up to all that I hoped.  2.5 stars.

 Uncaged Hearts, Sloane Easton

Ghost Fire, G.G. Andrew

Dallas Fire & Rescue: Ghost Fire (Kindle Worlds Novella) by [Andrew, G.G.]

Laney and Lucas are hot together but a ghost and a fire stand in the way of them finding out if they've got anything more lasting than sparks.

Lucas struggles with his past in a notable fire in the community where he is now a firefighter.  There's not a day that goes by that he doesn't remember the thing that almost got him but did take his savior into the darkness that shouldn't have been real.  And now a seriously hot woman won't take no for an answer when she asks him to relive his greatest fear and worst nightmare.  But there's something irresistible about her and she brings out all his protective instincts.

Laney's struck by Lucas' magnetism more than she is by his potential to make a great story.  She needs the story to get out from under the money and the lies of her past and a little thing like the word "no" isn't going to stand in her way.  Lucas draws her in and she's determined to get to the bottom of his fear because she's sure there's nothing real about the ghost he's so afraid of.

Setting up a sleepover in the old hotel for the 20th anniversary of the Cattleman's Inn fire, Laney hopes to bring together the survivors and get a more in-depth story from the people who lived through it all in the place where it all happened.  What she didn't plan for was that the stories might just be true.  There was a twist that I really wasn't expecting and that made things more exciting.  Not everything and everyone are as they appear.

Laney is great at thinking on her feet and I really enjoy her pluck as well as her creativity.  Lucas is a little bit of a martyr and because he's so stuck in his past he hasn't learned or allowed himself to move forward.  Until Laney busts through his carefully constructed walls and shatters everything he's willing to die for by being something to live for.  I like where they leave things even though I want to read so much more about where they go from here.  The dialogue is creative and honest for two people who struggle with pasts as well as their identity.  They've got a real chance to heal and move forward individually but also together because we get a glimpse into their ability to bring out one another's strengths and vulnerabilities.  Their HFN could very easily become an HEA.  Definitely worth reading more from the world written around them.

 Ghost Fire, G.G. Andrew

The Party Crasher, Erin Bevan

The Party Crasher: Novella by [Bevan, Erin]

This was such a cute story!  With two people who need a boost for their own future and with one giant bunny/cake collision, they find that their future and their present have just met their match.   They both have the mayor in common but secrets and jobs go hand in hand, right?   Well they do for this couple.

Kit is doing her best to make order and a success out of her life by working for the city.  Her youth was a bit of a mess because she lived her life fast and crazy.  A disapproving father and a wake-up call both serve to help her see that she needs to get on with her life in an adult way.   Her job with the city as an event planner is a sure way to make success and approval her own but only if things don't stop going wrong with the annual Easter picnic in the park!   One problem after another pile up until she herself piles right into the mayor's son.   The fallout isn't pretty and when the handsome victim extends a hand to her she takes it, and runs.  Well, they don't get very far because her sense of self-preservation kicks in and she decides that she should go back to her own vehicle instead of the cute stranger.  Until she sees the mess she was running from.  Responsibility and pride can catch up to her later, she needs a drink.   And who should she find in the bar down the road but her knight in cake-covered armor...

Brant is trying to stay out from his father's political shadow and as far from his step-mother as possible. In town to open his new bar he finds that he's short an event planner.   Little does he know that one just fell into his lap, literally.  And when he finds her at the competing bar attempting to dull the ache of the mess at the park, he's determined not to let her get away a second time.   Seeing her distress, he offers her a job.  After introducing himself under a false name.  Yeah, because that's not going to come back to bite him...

Together they find camaraderie and friendship and even love to go with their instant attraction.  With such a short courtship there's not a lot of time to build trust and confidence in their relationship and those two things are put to a serious test on opening night for Betsy's.  As they figure out truth from misunderstandings and jealousies we get to see that they're truly good for one another and they're on their way to a truly happy HEA.  Their life together sure won't lack for amusement or excitement, that's for sure!  This was a really cute story that made me wish for more.  The ending was good but I can't help wanting to see more from this couple, I enjoyed them quite a lot.

 The Party Crasher, Erin Bevan

Someone to Watch Over Me, Iris Morland

Someone to Watch Over Me (The Thorntons Book 5) by [Morland, Iris]

Out of all the Thorntons' stories I think I wanted to read Seth's the most. Someone broken finding a purpose and a companion fills me with hope and happiness. When he came across Rose, someone just as broken as him, it was like someone ignited a spark, something deep inside that couldn't be extinguished. Through all their confusing stops and starts that spark remained and when they finally let down their walls enough, they fed it and it grew to become not just a fiery passion, but a blaze of love.

A bit too flowery of a description? Yeah, I thought so too. But imagery aside, that's kind of what it was. More than a passing interest remained within Seth despite not seeing her often and with all of his protective instincts, as well as his libido, being turned on he couldn't help but want to stick close to her. Once she finally let him in, though, his demons well and truly caught up with him and he made the mistake of trying to turn her away.

Even though she could mentally understand what Seth was doing and why, it didn't make it any easier, especially when her past caught up with her and was set to trap her. I liked Rose's fierce nature but she was impulsive and lacked the foresight enough to actually protect those around her. She didn't actually grow up through all the years on the run, but she grew wary enough to arm herself with skills and knowledge. That I respected and admired. It's when it's a choice between her or someone else that she doesn't see how there could be any other option that makes her revert back to the naive 20 year old that Johnny trapped in the first place. When worse came to worst for her though, she used her brain and was determined to survive and I grew to truly love her character.

Rose and Seth together were a good match and I was really happy to read that they both sought outside help once all the drama died down. Throughout the story they were tossed from passion to nothing and back again, then from crises to crises. There weren't a lot of moments where they shared all the little things that are important in getting to know someone. Without that I wasn't sure that I would believe their lasting love by the end of the book but with all the craziness out of the way they could finally catch up on all that made them who they were. The big stuff was revealed like strength, tenacity, passion, intensity, values, but the little things that made them unique and specifically them wasn't learned until later.  They were allowed to grow as individuals and to grow closer together as well. Finding healing in one another and encouragement to seek outside help to make that healing more permanent.

Overall, this was a tender story with more than enough drama in their individual lives to last a lifetime. They were well on their way to their own HEA and I'm excited to see how they progress through Jubilee and Heath's own frustrating journey.

 Someone to Watch Over Me, Iris Morland

*Add the rest of The Thorntons to your library
The Nearness of You (The Thorntons Book 1) by [Morland, Iris] The Very Thought of You (The Thorntons Book 2) by [Morland, Iris] If I Can't Have You (The Thorntons Book 3) by [Morland, Iris] Dream a Little Dream of Me (The Thorntons Book 4) by [Morland, Iris] Someone to Watch Over Me (The Thorntons Book 5) by [Morland, Iris] Till There Was You (The Thorntons Book 6) by [Morland, Iris]