Friday, January 12, 2018

The Perfect Cup, Dominic Clark

The Perfect Cup: A Gay Romantic Comedy by [Clark, Dominic]

Friends since childhood, Brad and Zack have weathered good, bad, success, and failure.  Their closeness has remained despite distance and professions.  So when Brad needs help Zack is quick to provide.  Zack's regulars offer a solution to Brad's employment and health care situation but neither of the men take it seriously.  The idea lingers, though, because it's also a fantasy for Zack so he takes it from a joking possibility to a reality.  Brad doesn't hesitate to accept.  What they find in all of this craziness is something lasting, something forever.

I enjoyed the story and thought it was fun and humorous with a large, bumbling, endearingly sweet Brad as the balance to Zack's creativity, energy, and quirkiness.  They make a great pair and watching them go from friends to married friends to a romance was delightful.

I'm all for a big man who is more teddy bear than alpha dog and Brad fits that bill.  I do find that he's a bit too simple, though.  There's not a lot of complexity to him and he comes off as a bit slow, not just in realizing his desire for his friend, but mentally.  Like he's a big kid and not necessarily in the sweet, fun way.  Despite that, his tenderness grows on you and his earnestness is engaging.  I genuinely like him.

Zack is quirky to say the least.  He's a bit of a scatter-brain emotionally and Brad's calm, stable presence is the perfect complement.  His zeal to win the competition makes him a bit manic and gets them into a situation that's a bit awkward and pretty funny.  I mean, a gourd?  Definitely brought out the smiles until they had a run-in with the lake.

Speaking of the competition, Luigi read as fake from the start so I was a bit surprised that when things were revealed it was done in the way it was.  Not that it was bad, it was just a little much when combined with Luigi's outburst.  I felt that competition scene was a bit over the top, like it was trying to compensate for the slow progress of the romantic relationship through most of the book.  If it were toned down and made more realistic rather than outrageous I would have enjoyed it more.  It threw off the slow, sweet story and drew the focus away instead of enhancing it.

Also, in regards to the purpose of their marriage, there were other ways Brad could have shown their world they were indeed a real and valid couple, but there are also a ton of reasons that could have just been eliminated.  The fear of being caught was more a small nagging worry in the beginning and by this point Brad and Zack were already completely clear about their feelings and intentions.  The marriage had nothing to do with the competition and Luigi was just trying to kick up the dust around his already incredibly embarrassing performance.  The situation could still have been dramatic without this kind of a scene.

Overall, however, this was a sweet book with a romance that was more sedate than exciting.  There's a bit of confusion about past relationships and experience and the sensual scenes were more wordy and flowery than I expected them to be, but things worked out alright between them.  Their story was tender and warm all throughout.

*99¢ on Amazon!
 The Perfect Cup, Dominic Clark

Forever with You, Londra Laine

Forever With You by [Laine, Londra]

One man's life is filled with wealth but not love, the other has all the family love in the world without wealth.  Neither man has the romantic life of their dreams and are sure it doesn't exist for them.  But one birthday kiss has them questioning everything they thought was meant for them.

Kelly is a young, single man with the custody of his younger brother.  He's lived a hard life and is determined to do the best for his brother which means working an admin assistant's job in the day and moonlighting as a go-go dancer on the weekend.  He's intensely attracted to boss, it's just too bad his boss hates him.  Treating him like garbage and embarrassing him in front of his colleagues is par for the course and he's getting fed up.

Andrew is a mess.  Well, not that you could tell.  His turmoil is on the inside.  He appears to be a handsome, successful, wealthy man who could do his job in his sleep and have any woman he wants.  Inside, though, he's a closeted gay man with a huge crush on his sexy assistant.  Kelly has him tied up in knots.  When his desire gets the better of him and he kisses Kelly their passion ignites and a kiss quickly turns into more.  Until Kelly freezes and throws a bucket of ice on all their heat.

 Forever with You, Londra Laine

Confused and frustrated Andrew gets together with a couple friends to go to a bar.  Trying to get Kelly off his mind is harder than expected, especially when the man himself is dancing like a sex god on the stage.  Their second confrontation is just as frustrating but for different reasons.  Andrew can't help but put his foot in his mouth time and time again leaving Kelly angry and hurt and more turned on than he can stand.

Kelly has a past trauma to overcome and Andrew needs all the patience he can find to keep Kelly in his life.  They soon begin falling for one another and with a precocious and precious Jaylen in the mix, the desire to keep Kelly's little family for his own has Andrew reconsidering everything he ever thought he could have or want for his life.

I really liked this story.  There was passion, patience, love and angst.  Andrew's earnest desires for a life with Kelly were more than a little endearing.  Kelly's struggles were heartbreaking but seeing him do his best and want to try again and again after finally giving in to his desire to be with Andrew was heartwarming.  They each have something the other person desperately needed and I felt like they were a great match for one another.  Despite the secrets that, when revealed, preyed on Kelly's insecurities and fears and Andrew's constant evasion, it was clear that they were still mean to be together.  The whole story was full of so many of the best things that make a family a family.

*4.11 on Amazon!
 Forever with You, Londra Laine

 Forever with You, Londra Laine

Convincing the Alpha's Omega: The Alpha Omega Lodge Book 2, Emma Knox

Convincing The Alpha's Omega: M/M Shifter Mpreg Romance (Alpha Omega Lodge Book 2) by [Knox, Emma]

Ethan has to come to terms with his past and Trevor needs to let him.  Both men find themselves incredibly drawn to one another.  With their own strong wills, pack turmoil, and the threat of outside packs, they may not get a chance to find out what a future between them might be like.

Ethan is outspoken, independent, and strong willed.  As an omega, those aren't always desired traits.  Trevor is confused by his yearning for him beyond the physically appealing aspects of this fiery omega and yet he's unwilling to pass him by.  There's something more between them and Trevor isn't giving up on his mate.

Trevor is a big, bad, hottie alpha and is messing with Ethan's equilibrium.  His life is structured the way he wants it and he enjoys his simple life.  He doesn't want to be the mate of an alpha but that determination isn't doing a thing to bank the fires of his libido.  His whole body wakes up around Trevor and he's not a fan.

Thrown together on an important errand for Steven and Drake, they spend two days on the road bickering, discovering, and finally, giving in to their mutual desires.  Consequences they didn't expect might keep them together if they can just make it home safely.  Trevor's pack isn't all on board with his choice of mate, though.  Someone he thought he could trust could be a bigger danger than rogues and outside packs kidnapping alpha mates.

I like where this story is going, honestly.  The idea of unifying packs without mating the big alphas with their highest omegas is nice because it opens the possibility for fated mates to come from surprising directions.  Between Trevor and Ethan we have this very thing.  Ethan is unwilling to meld his past with his future and causes all kinds of drama and frustration for Trevor.  Despite Ethan's unwillingness Trevor is committed and tries again and again to gain Ethan's trust and affection.  Their dynamic is equally frustrating and cute.  Passion isn't a problem for them, it's the reconciliation of minds and hearts that could keep them apart.

What dropped the rating down was the confusion and awkwardness.  Confusion with the timeline is huge.  With names mentioned that don't make sense in context with the first book, parties that do, and family relationships that aren't mentioned I'm not sure where to place this book.  How long after the first does it take place?  What happened to certain characters?  Steven's pregnancy and job throw confusion in there too.  And then there's the sexy times in the woods...its timing is awkward and the urgency for medical attention versus sexual urgency are a little wonky.  I do like the sexual dynamics, but the TPO (time, place, occasion) is awkward enough to make me question the scene rather than embrace their new relationship dynamic.  For those reasons this earns a 2.5 stars, though it will be rounded up for review sites.

*$2.99 on Amazon or FREE on KU!
 Convincing the Alpha's Omega: The Alpha Omega Lodge Book 2, Emma Knox

*Get to know Steven and Drake of the Gryther pack
Lodging the Alpha's Omega: M/M Shifter Mpreg Romance (Alpha Omega Lodge Book 1) by [Knox, Emma]
 Lodging the Alpha's Omega: The Alpha Omega Lodge Book 1, Emma Knox
Steven wants to stay out of the way of all Alphas. To him they’re nothing but trouble and see Omegas as nothing but pieces of meat. 

So as a computer engineer, he keeps his mind focused on his job and immediate family. 
Until everything goes haywire, and he’s mixed in a battle of surrounding pheromones and testosterones, a botched booking, and an Alpha claiming to be his mate? He’s already had a bad experience with one Alpha, and he’s not going to make the same mistake twice.
But Drake Gryther isn’t going to let Steven go easily… or at all. 
Will Steven be the means to bring peace between the Relusons and Grythers?

Or will he do the same thing his family name is know for, and cause a massive pack war?

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Deep: Deep Duet Book 1, M. Malone

Deep (The Deep Duet Book 1) by [Malone, M., Malone, Nana]

Coming back from the dead means the ghosts from your past are resurrected too.  With Rafe, that's a lot of ghosts.  A pair of dark eyes haunt his past and according to the organizations he "retired" from they can't be relegated to the past anymore.

Rafe is finally setting up a life.  Granted, he doesn't feel like it's his own yet, but he's working on it.  Feeling like he's on the periphery of his own family despite their attempts at inclusion is beginning to wear on him.  He'd like something that's his, something more, something deeper, but there's no way he deserves anything like that with the life he's lived, the things he's done.

I really like the redemption aspect of this story.  I'm a sucker for a guy who needs love and acceptance of every dark part of him to find healing and forgiveness.  Rafe is a good man, a man of justice.  Also knowing he's an agent of death does little to persuade him of his own goodness.

Diana needs to be saved.  Again.  She'll be saved by the same man more than once before their story is over.  What she believes about Rafe is different from the reality in front of her and she's having a difficult time reconciling the two.  Bent on revenge for the death of her father at Rafe's hands she's hatched a plan to get close to him and dispense that vengeance herself.  Falling for him in the process wasn't part of that plan.  What she doesn't know is that there's a lot behind the scenes working against not only her plan but their future.

With everyone holding back vital information we're swung from passion to secrets and back again.  The real truth isn't always the truth you start out believing.  For Diana she's getting a serious case of WTF when she starts learning that the father she's seeking vengeance for isn't the man she thought she knew.

I love Rafe.  I have since the beginning and suspected that his death wasn't really his end.  He's loyal, determined, wicked smart, dark, mysterious, and so in need of love.  Diana...well, I'm still reserving judgment.  She's secretive and vengeful because of something she acknowledges she doesn't know all the facts about.  I don't enjoy that she chooses a vendetta over logic and something she's beginning to see as a larger picture, a different truth.  The story ends on a cliffhanger, as usual, and this one is no less intense than any other in the Blake Security stories.  I was anticipating something more on the dangerous side of dramatic rather than mysterious.  Anxiously awaiting Deeper...

*$3.21 on Amazon!
 Deep: Deep Duet Book 1, M. Malone

*Pre-order Deeper to see how Rafe and Diana survive 
the convergence of their pasts...
Deeper (The Deep Duet Book 2) by [Malone, M., Malone, Nana]
 Deeper: Deep Duet Book 2
I fell in love with the boogey man.

For ten years I have plotted and planned my revenge against the man who was all shadow and death. He took the most important thing in my life away from me and I meant to return the favor.

Except, I was wrong...

Now, because of my mistakes, there are men intent on hurting him. But I will not run from this. I need to protect him just like he would protect me.

Even if that means doing the one thing he doesn’t want.

Primal Claim: The Sigma Menace Book 2, Marie Johnston

Primal Claim (The Sigma Menace Book 2) by [Johnston, Marie]

Madame G isn't giving up after her efforts with Jace and Cassie's forced mating failed.  No, she has bigger and more dangerous plans that require Mercury's genetics and a willing host.  Well, in Dani's case, not so willing.  It matters very little, though, because there's something much more sinister with this plot than anyone realizes.

Mercury is more than he appears and even his closest comrades don't fully understand him.  They trust him, are committed to protecting him and having his back, they even mostly like him, but truly knowing him is beyond reach.  There's something that's calling to him, needs him, and for days he's been searching.  Until one day a smaller woman covered in blood and weapons is being attacked on the road by Sigma recruits and underneath all that, this woman smells like him.  He's never seen her before but he's certain she's carrying his child.

Dani is a recruit who has done nothing but live for vengeance for years.  Until she's in so deep that she can't see a way to escape.  Worse, her newest mission is one she never dreamed she'd be tasked with.  Madame G has chosen her to bear the child of a Guardian shifter.  Once it's clear she's been successfully breeded she knows she must find a way out.  With the life inside her strengthening her and giving her the determination she needs to escape at the first chance she takes it.  Pursued by agents, recruits, and a raging storm from Madame G herself, she races to the probable safety of her baby's father.

Between secrets, retrieval attempts, and a passion neither of them have ever known before, this is a roller-coaster of a story.  Dani learns about Mercury, all of his depths and subtleties, and finds herself falling for him.  What began as an urgent need for protection for her child becomes so much more, deeper, and necessary.  Mercury is incredibly drawn to Dani.  Not knowing if he can trust her keeps him from taking those last steps to claiming her but he's beginning to understand that those efforts are futile.  It's only a matter of time before he gives in to their passion and magnetism.  He wants her.  He wants her forever.

I liked what little we learned about Mercury peripherally in Fever Claim and now I can fully say I love him.  He's strong, faithful, loyal, complicated, devoted, honest, and even under-the-radar mischievous and amusing.  It's a surprise what we learn of him and it drives deep.  Dani is a great match for him with strength, resolve, commitment, and intensity.  They make a superb partnership and the talents they have together are a revelation for the Guardians as a whole.  Their group is growing and the drama is getting bigger, more intense, and I'm so very eager to continue with True Claim for Bennett's story.

*$4.34 on Amazon or FREE on KU!
 Primal Claim: The Sigma Menace Book 2, Marie Johnston

*Find out why Bennett feels he's
about to break in True Claim
True Claim (The Sigma Menace Book 3) by [Johnston, Marie]
 True Claim: The Sigma Menace Book 3, Marie Johnston
She's his worst nightmare...a human mate.

  Over a century ago, Bennett Young found his mate, a human woman he trusted and was brutally betrayed by. With his one chance at happiness gone, Bennett throws himself into his work. He dreads the inevitable day he turns feral and his partners will be forced to put him down, then a routine mission brings him face-to-face with his worst nightmare. A human mate. Discovering the lovely, but evasive woman is being hunted, Bennett can't bring himself to abandon her, at least not until she's safe.

  Spencer King has a boy's name and lives in the boondocks for a reason. The tall, sexy shifter who showed up on her doorstep was unwelcome...and pushy. The mating instinct she feels for him threatens everyone she's worked to keep safe. Realizing the frustrating, brooding Guardian doesn't intend to leave her alone, Spencer has to figure out if she can trust him, and to decide - stay and fight, or run for her life?

Thin Ice: Sleeper Seals Book 7, Maryann Jordan

Thin Ice: (Sleeper SEALs Book 7) by [Jordan, Maryann, Sisters, Suspense]

Logan and Viv are an unlikely pair that are thrown together to find out just how serious the terrorist threat is in a rural Alaskan village.  Viv has roots nearby as well as the professional know-how to get answers, Logan has the practical experience dealing with sensitive terrorist situations.  What neither of them were prepared for were each other.

Logan is a recluse by choice dealing with tourists and townspeople in Montana only when he wants to.  He likes the open country, the isolation, and the seclusion his property and civilian profession allows.  When he gets this mission he's more inclined to refuse than accept but his sense of justice, duty, and pride make him go all in.  Thinking he's working with a nerdy scientist guy that he can keep out of his way he's shocked and upset to find the alluring woman in his rental house.

Viv is surprised by Logan but aside from his hot visage, his attitude is more negatively shocking than anything else.  Given just as much information as he was given about their partnership she's clueless as to how they can actually work together.  He's obviously unaware of just how important her role is and she refuses to back down and let him run roughshod over her just because she's not military or a man.

Together they bumble through their personal feelings and desires and stumble through their "accidental" meetings with their neighbors.  When things get dicey, though, they pull together to get the samples they need and determine the threat level.  Their cooperation and passion are short-lived, though, when Logan takes it upon himself to protect her by sending her away.  Viv is hurt and confused.  Their lack of honest and transparent communication leads to an even worse situation than they expected when coincidental travel plans cross.

I have a hard time with secrets in general and though the secrets here are kept well-meaningly it's not a surprise that they're used to not just advance the plot but to create an even more dramatic reckoning.  The story itself was pretty good throughout with a naive yet eager and intelligent woman drawing out the yearning in Logan for a partner of the forever kind.  There was way too little groveling from Logan, though.  Aside from that I felt they could be a solid pair if there were a bit more in the way of laying feelings bare and building a friendship in addition to a solid foundation of passion.  The ending was really sweet and showed a lot of growth on Logan's part.  They were well on their way to becoming the best kind of partnership.

$4.02 on Amazon!
Thin Ice: Sleeper Seals Book 7, Maryann Jordan

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Silent Knight: Deep Six Security Book 7, Becky McGraw

Silent Knight: Deep Six Security Series Book 7 by [McGraw, Becky]

I love a strong woman who doesn't need a man or to be rescued by one.  Lou Ellen is that woman.  She cares for the men of Deep Six Security as if they were her own and provides love, support, and camaraderie for all their women and families.  She's the heart and soul of the office.  She also has a spine made of steel.  To be worthy of being her partner, the guy has a lot that he needs to bring to the table.

Lou Ellen is a kind and giving woman and we see her here giving of her time and good nature first at a church and then to the veterans in the community.  Her annual ritual brings her face to scruff with a man that is much more than he appears to be.  Griff is lost.  Not in the physical sense, but in the direction of his life beyond protecting someone who needs him.  He finds purpose but has no faith in himself beyond doing his best for the teenage girl who needs a protector.  And then he watches the elegant Lou Ellen being assaulted and steps in.  By giving in to the urge to protect he puts himself on the path to being found.

They both have pasts that led them to this point and while Griff is doing everything in his power to run away, Lou Ellen is doing everything in her power to give him a safe place to stay.

We get to watch their struggle for desire and dominance throughout this story and find healing, companionship, fierce protectiveness, passion, and making a home.  I liked that Lou Ellen didn't make it easy for Griff, that she made him work for her forgiveness.  That she was willing to be a mother to the teens without the man that introduced them even though her heart yearned for him.  Her dedication and devotion to opening and sharing her heart was truly touching.  Griff's groveling was pretty good and I liked that he met the challenges and rose to her high expectations.  They became the partnership both of them deserved.

*$4.08 on Amazon!
 Silent Knight: Deep Six Security Book 7, Becky McGraw