Copper Creek: Sawyer's Ferry Book 3, Cate Ashwood

Copper Creek: A Sawyer's Ferry Novel by [Ashwood, Cate]

Ack!! I was absolutely not expecting this to be so funny, but it was! Frankie is adorable and sassy and always moving. His "generous gifts" to Barrett pretty much set the tone for their dynamic and even though it takes a little bit for Barrett to come to terms with his newly discovered facets of sexuality, once they're all in, they're all in...pun intended =].

There was so much tenderness and discovery here that showed that there's so much more to them beyond the bedroom proving that they're utterly perfect for one another despite all their differences. I love the opposites-attract trope and Copper Creek definitely did this one justice. For all their disparities there was a commonality in their affections that gave a solid foundation to all their romantic endeavors and a deeper undertone to their sexy times. I adored them together!

Sometimes you get a lot of angst from guys who hadn't been with other males up to the point they meet their person and while there was definitely some thought and a little bit of turmoil, there was no unnecessary dragging out of any angst. I do wish there were more background on Barrett. I wanted to learn so much more about him. I mean, I truly enjoyed him and all his muscly sweetness but a lot of things about him were kind of vague, like his family. In the end though, it's really difficult not to love him despite that so this isn't really a complaint.

And to avoid spoilers I won't go into too much detail about the end and I'll just say that the epilogue wasn't detailed enough and jumping forward in time missed a great opportunity to answer questions, build depth, and satisfy my need for more of Barrett and Frankie together. Such a great story!

*$3.99 on Amazon or FREE on KU!
 Copper Creek: Sawyer's Ferry Book 3, Cate Ashwood

Aiden Inspired, Blake Allwood

Aiden Inspired by [Allwood, Blake]

Strangely, I liked the story but not the actual writing.  Descriptions, dialogue, inner musings, all of them felt slightly wrong but I also couldn't help liking where most everything ended up going.  

Devin's personality really grates more often than not and for all the times when he promised himself he wouldn't be like the previous ranch owner he seems to never grasp the moments where he knows he's acting the same way.  Even knowing he's doing or saying something hurtful or super grouchy he refuses to alter his behavior.  He does eventually come around and tries to make amends, but I'm not sure it's enough for me.

Aiden is a little flighty but he's also very simple.  The life he knows he needs is the same one he wants yet when he's asked questions about possible change or thinks about making that happen it's as if he's in denial and that knowledge isn't what he knows at all.  It's confusing and disappointing to say the least.  It feels like the denial is just a way for the author to cause more potential conflict and make the life change acceptance more powerful at the end.  Doesn't work, by the way.  What I do love about him is the peace and the satisfaction we see all over him while he's working in the barn, the stalls, with the animals, and absorbing everything that's country and beautiful about where he's stranded.

Their separation before the reunion felt a bit forced, like that was the only way a "see what you had when it's gone" realization could happen.  When they finally did come back together I don't know if I'm totally sold on their reconciliation.  I would have liked more between the end and the epilogue so the sweetness and "full-circle" feelings could have a chance to settle and warm me to their permanence.  Overall though, this was a nice story that somehow won me over despite not being a writing style I typically enjoy.

*$3.99 on Amazon
 Aiden Inspired, Blake Allwood

Back to You: Against All Odds Book 1, Kim Breyon

Back To You (Against All Odds Book 1) by [Breyon, Kim]

The angst is high as is the concerning codependency issues both in Riley and Beckett's past as well as their present.  As they figure things out together, this very slow-burn romance gives them a lot of room to be open, honest, and happy, but that's not always how life works.  So many things unsaid between them about their past and present that it makes the story seem much longer than it really is.  Despite taking a long time to get to the point of everything, this was a good story that I felt invested in most of the way through.  I truly wanted to see them make it through to the other side.

Alternating POV's as well as including numerous flashbacks gives us a very complete story that felt appropriate.  Sometimes having a ton of flashbacks detracts from the story and what's going on with what we feel are the relevant moments of the timeline, but these are well done.  There's so much in their past that if we started there this would have had to be split into multiple books.  Or it was left out only to be brought up in small explanations or brief mentions and remembrances we'd be completely lost as to why they stayed apart, what they needed to grieve, and how they became who they were now.  I appreciated how the back-story was written.

But the codependency bothered me.  They even acknowledge it later in the story and while I agree that the choice for their future shouldn't have been taken out of their hands, it was only through the passing of time and growing up that they were in a better place to have the relationship we hoped they would.  Both Beckett and Riley have a lot of inner turmoil that should have been addressed separately.  Being one another's catalyst for that change would have been apropos and I didn't think there was enough of that.  Instead we see them fall apart and hold back and tiptoe around big issues.

This honestly wasn't the healthiest of relationships.  At times their interactions felt like high schoolers and not grown men.  Then when you added all the extra drama from family, jealousy, unclear relationship expectations, and unsatisfactory trauma coping, it becomes incredibly heavy.  There's honestly just too much near the end.  And I'll also mention that virtually no child talks the way Beckett's niece does.  Way too enlightened and her interpretation of complex concepts was too advanced for her age.

As we finally get to the end of the story I was pretty disappointed in the conclusion of the family heirloom case.  Connecting it to Beckett's affection for pirates felt forced.  Getting him to Reedsport I can understand, but dragging it out to pop up for a moment or two to remove him from Reedsport a time or few and then concluding the case with cheesiness just wasn't the way to go.

The setting was quaint and felt like home.  This was probably the best part of the story, creating a haven for them and a community where they both fit as the individuals they became as well as as a couple.  Even though the road to their happy ending was long and fraught with all kinds of drama and trauma, they did get there and I was glad they made it.

*$3.99 on Amazon or FREE on KU
 Back to You: Against All Odds Book 1, Kim Breyon

Make Me Give In: Omega Celibacy Club Book 1, Angel Knots

Make Me Give In (Omega Celibacy Club Book 1) by [Knots, Angel]

Fighting biology is never easy but I'm definitely on board if that's what will bring you the most personal satisfaction and happiness.  I liked the idea of fated mates and of omegas not letting their drive to submit, have babies, and focus only on child-rearing derail their career goals.  While I didn't think the story maintained its strength all the way through, it was a cute story that was full of sweetness and steam.

At the outset we're introduced to very different omegas who will each get their own stories and I'd be willing to read them to see how each of them balance their desires with their dreams.  I know dreams can change, that life circumstances show us that what we may have always wanted up to that point isn't what we want from that moment going forward, but it's how the change is accepted and made that makes for a compelling story.  I don't think this book met that challenge as well as it could have.

Hunter's control and determination to have Simon completely on board with any relationship changes was admirable.  I like that he didn't let biological drives and lust completely take over.  The way Simon used certain consequences as the relationship conflict was not my favorite.  Nor was their lack of clear communication in conjunction with making decisions on the other person's behalf.  I think there could have been something more solid to create the angst and not immature relationship issues.

As for the steamy scenes, I'll admit to skimming and even skipping quite a bit of it.  I've rarely said there's too much sex in a book but I think here there was.  It was also kind of cringe-worthy in the writing of those scenes.  If that were toned down or made more believable I'd have been a fan.  As it is though, it just became a significant portion of the story that I didn't give my full attention.  With a sweet ending that magically fit Hunter and Simon's new version of "perfection", this wasn't a bad read at all.

*$3.99 on Amazon or FREE on KU!
 Make Me Give In: Omega Celibacy Club Book 1, Angel Knots

Welcome to the Omega Celibacy Club. No sex until graduation. No unexpected pregnancies. No alphas needed.

SIMON
Even if it’s not politically correct to say so anymore, everyone still knows that alphas and omegas are ruled by their biology. Sure, it’s the twenty-first century now and most people have given up believing in archaic ideas like fated mates, but just take a look at college drop out rates and you’ll see that some things haven’t changed at all. Alphas still dominate, omegas still submit, and horny college kids in heat let their hormones dictate poor choices every day.

Not me and my roommates, though. Not if I have anything to say about it. Too many of our classmates here at Preston College have gotten knocked up and then dropped out. Given up their goals and dreams just because they’ve met an alpha with a big… ego. The point here is that there’s only one surefire way to avoid that trap, and that’s why I started the Omega Celibacy Club. No sex until graduation. No unexpected pregnancies. No alphas needed.

And no, I’m not just saying that because I’ve been hung up on one particular alpha for approximately ever. I’m totally over Hunter King. I mean, not that there was ever anything to get over. Our families have been friends forever and he dated my sister back when I was still just a kid, but even if me and my right hand may have pined for him once upon a time, I barely ever think of him anymore.

I mean never. I never think of him anymore.

Did I mention I’m over it?

HUNTER
Weddings are a great place to get laid, but when I show up for my ex’s big day, I’m hoping to get a lot more than that. I’ve never admitted it, but the reason I broke up with her all those years ago was because of her brother. One look at little Simon Lawson and I was a goner. Of course I didn’t say anything though, not back then. I didn’t touch him. Always kept my distance. I had to, because he was just a kid… but he’s all grown up now.

I’ve bided my time for years, but now I’m ready to see if the feeling is mutual. And if it is, I know exactly what I want. I want Simon. I want a family. And I want it forever. And even though I’ve never been the kind of alpha who imposes his will on omegas, when I finally realize just what it is that my omega needs, I know I’ll do anything at all to make that forever happen.
In fact, I’ll do everything.

Ghost Town: Haunted Souls Book 3, Pandora Pine

Ghost Town (Haunted Souls Book 3) by [Pine, Pandora]

Diving right in and giving it their all in every aspect has firmly cemented Jude and Cope as a favorite  West Side Magick couple for me.  It's astounding how much growth and mellowing we see in Jude in this book and how good of a partner Cope is for him.  Together they make a name for themselves and what they do as well as make me believe that this series will rival the Cold Case Crew despite getting their start there.

The mystery aspect of the story progressed really well though I will say that the surprise "I have the exact information you need" findings was a little contrived.  It didn't bother me too much though, because Jude and Cope took those directions and worked it into what they needed to discover without letting it detract from their focus.  What I really liked was that Jude was the instigator of balance between vacation and volunteering their abilities.  The way he weaved them both together gave us what we needed to see the job done as well as show us exactly what we wanted from the romantic aspect of their partnership.

It's very clear that Jude is finding his peace; he's finding it with Cope.  Their friendship has been growing steadily and creating a solid foundation and now they can finally give in to all the steam that's been building right along with that friendship.  Steam is equivalent to tenderness between them and I cannot express how thrilled I am that we're getting a great balance.

Even though the true villain was predictable it was discovered in a surprising way.  Following along and getting to know all the ghostly players for all their viciousness and vulnerabilities rounded out the story really well.  It was full of intrigue and drama and one of the more interesting mysteries from the group.  Adding in their new friends hints at some fun vacation moments for everyone and I'm really eager to see how they'll be included in the future.  This is working its way to becoming a really solid series and I like where we're headed.

*$3.99 on Amazon or FREE on KU!
 Ghost Town: Haunted Souls Book 3, Pandora Pine

Ghost Detective Jude Byrne has just landed in magical Key West, Florida for two weeks of fun in the sun. He’s looking forward to working on his tan instead of on haunted houses. Sitting at the hotel bar, he overhears a radio call-in show interviewing a terrified man about the harrowing experiences he had with a ghost at Casa Flores, a local bed and breakfast.

Psychic Copeland Forbes is equally thrilled to be on vacation. He’s still dealing with the effects of the Lewis case and a few weeks in the sun is just what the doctor ordered. Hearing the caller on the radio changes everything. He knows he needs to get involved with this case and places a call to PRIDE XM to offer his services to the scared young man. What starts out as a friendly phone call turns into a bet with Jude and Cope spending the night in this haunted hotel where things do, in fact, go bump in the night. 

The vacationing duo soon find out they have a mystery on their hands. Casa Flores was the home of a Cuban cigar baron and his second wife. The problem was that Santiago Flores’s first wife was still alive and well back in Havana. When she learned of her husband’s betrayal, she came to Key West for revenge. In the end, mysterious deaths visited all three members of the Flores family.

Can Jude and Cope get to the bottom of what really happened at Casa Flores or will they become the latest victims in this ghost town?