Quick Reads and Quick Reviews 21

Carry and Drag (Open Wounds Book 1) by [Frost, Michelle] His Accidental Boyfriend: M/M Gay Romance (Blackfish Island Book 1) by [Moss, Tragen, Harper, Brill] Beholden by [Bethke, Kris T.]

Carry and Drag (Open Wounds Book 1) by [Frost, Michelle]This was not what I was expecting.  What I was expecting far underestimated who these two characters were.  I truly loved Dagen and everything about him.  His determination, intelligence, heart...so much heart, physical description, care of Ollie, his understanding, his genuine openness.  There was so much to love about this gentle giant.  Ollie grew on me.  He was understandably damaged and had a past full of hurt and abandonment that his process and growth took time.  I absolutely approved that their attraction began at a slow simmer and then grew warmer and warmer as they got to know one another.  While I would have liked a bit more steam on the page, I wasn't disappointed with what was there.  The additions of Dagen's routine and goals was appropriate in length and detail.  It gave us insight into just how difficult Dagen's goals would be to achieve and how triumphant to feel when some were achieved.  And the drama at the end was big and completely unexpected.  I was surprised and also not upset at the events.  It suited the crazy that Ollie was trying to escape and also gave us a clearer picture of what to expect with Nico's story.  I genuinely enjoyed all the side characters and am eager to read each of their stories.  4 stars.
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 Carry and Drag: Open Wounds Book 1, Michelle Frost

His Accidental Boyfriend: M/M Gay Romance (Blackfish Island Book 1) by [Moss, Tragen, Harper, Brill]I've read this premise of fake boyfriends that become more quite a few times.  And while I always have my doubts in the beginning that the drama won't outshine the budding romance, there have been quite a few pleasant surprises lately.  His Accidental Boyfriend is definitely one of them.  I loved the alternating POV because we get insight into not just these individuals but also a better understanding of their background without a lot of exposition, as well as their more immediate reactions to everything that happens in the story.  Stanley is a lot of fun.  He's a happy person with more than a little dazzle to go with his unconventional appearance in addition to a whole lot of mother hen instincts thrown in underneath it all.  He also has a way of getting himself into troubled relationships.  His newest attempt is not an exception though the circumstances are quite different.  And his new "boyfriend", Garrett Tanaka, is none the wiser for longer than anticipated.

What I really loved about this whole thing was that the reveal didn't happen in an overly dramatic way.  When it came out it wasn't without drama, but it didn't create so much tension and feelings of betrayal that that was the focus of the rest of the story.  Instead, the focus was on the two men and their growing feelings and learning to navigate between them and their unfortunate relationship hangups.  It's also pretty formula to have the one who created the fake situation to be the one who needs redemption in the end, but here that wasn't the case.  It was flipped and it was done well.  Everything about the conflict and resolution was so very right for the individuals and for the story.  The big resolution was slightly confusing but not so much that it detracted too much from the reason it was happening.  And the ending was so tender, so sweet, that I felt a smile on my face in real life.  (A big deal if you don't know me...)  This was such a good story.  Funny, a quirky cast, a little angst to give you a lump in your throat, satisfying steam, and enough tenderness to round it all out.  4.5 stars.
 His Accidental Boyfriend: Blackfish Island Book 1, Tragen Moss

Beholden by [Bethke, Kris T.]There were a lot of pieces to this story that were barely held together by the romance, mainly because the romance felt like a bit of an afterthought.  Like it was added to keep our interest since the other events felt like blips on a timeline rather than a fully cohesive and well-rounded story.  That being said, there were individual parts that really grabbed my attention.  The idea behind being "beholden" and Julian's reasoning behind his choice, his talents and how he used them, the sinister plot running throughout the story, the family drama, the antagonists and where other stories might go to further solve that, the side characters...  There was so much to work with but there was something missing to integrate all the pieces to make the story really sing.  Taken individually this story had great promise.  Taken together, however, and the story fell short.  The part that truly fell short was the romance.  There wasn't much romance at all.  No building of a relationship, no reasoning behind Wes' choice besides an initial attraction and a convenience of sharing power, no relationship history to explain either man's actions together or going forward...  I was at a loss here to know what to feel about them.  And the fact that we only get Julian's POV meant that most of those questions remained unanswered all the way through the end of the story.  If there is more and this becomes a series I'll probably read it, if only to satisfy my curiosity about the men and the darker forces at work behind them.  3 stars.
 Beholden, Kris T. Bethke

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