Single Malt by Leyla Rayne

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Single Malt: by Layla Reyne
Series: Agent Irish & Whiskey #1
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Pages: 194 • Format: eARC
Published By: Carina Press
Purchase Links:
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The heart’s a resilient beast

Eight months after the car crash that changed everything, FBI agent Aidan Talley is back at work. New department, new case and a new partner. Smart, athletic and handsome, Jameson Walker is twelve years his junior. Even if Aidan was ready to move on—and he’s not—Jamie is off-limits.

Jamie’s lusted after Aidan for three years, and the chance to work with San Francisco’s top agent directly is too good to pass up. Aidan is prickly—to put it mildly—but a growing cyber threat soon proves Jamie’s skills invaluable.

Jamie’s talents paint a target on his back, and Aidan is determined to protect him. But with hack after hack threatening a high-security biocontainment facility, time is running out to thwart a deadly terrorist attack. They’ll have to filter out distractions, on the case and in their partnership, to identify the real enemy, solve the case and save thousands of lives, including their own.

three-stars

 

11 days to finish this book.

Yep, I just needed that to be known.

This had major potential for me. I love feds-spooks-spies stories. I like age-gap stories. Two guys with different backgrounds get together to a case that’s interesting enough. I’m still not sure on how much of it can be real for actual FED’s, I mean driving a new benz, stating in the rich digs, and the amount of facetious was a bit much. I did like book characters and some of the side characters.

I like when the case is involved with the story line as well. What I don’t like is the case taking up most of the atmosphere. The case overpowered the potential relationship between these two. I mean, I wasn’t sold on them from the beginning. It seemed forced. I don’t think Aidan should have been pushed so much into Jameson because he is still grieving, and its not fair to the other person if you aren’t going to give them your all. On Jameson’s part, I didn’t really think it was an attraction. They never seemed to meet before being partners so I guess throwing them together created some semblance of him being attracted to Aidan. Can I just say the nickname thing was cute for the first few times, it just got on my nerves by the end of the book. Hopefully book two will tone it down. It was a ton of information about each guy separately, the case, and little things here and there that distracted the shit out of me. I don’t even know who is who’s brother/sister/cousin at this point. It was too much. Add the writing really not working for me, but I was able to push through. I will say I liked it enough to give book 2 a try.

Once I got over the various actions involved in the plot it was pretty good. It of course was connected to Aidan’s husband and brothers’ death. A little far fetch but this author is able to keep me interested the rest of the story. It ends on a cliffhanger, but the possibilities of book 2 are greater for me by the end of the book. I think this was an okay book for the author’s first published book.

About Layla Reyne

2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist, Layla Reyne, was raised in North Carolina but now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline fueled suspense and heart pounding romance. When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs.

24/7 by J.A. Rock

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

24-7_600x90024/7 by J.A. Rock
Series: The Subs Club, Book Four
Release Date: June 6, 2016
Pages: 324• Format: eARC
Published By: Riptide Publishing
Purchase Link:
Riptide

We started the Subs Club to make the kink community safer for subs. Except now the others are so busy chasing their happy endings, it’s like they’ve forgotten what Bill did to Hal and the fact that he got away with it. They used to think I was betraying Hal’s memory by hooking up with the owners of the club where he died. Now they don’t seem to care about any of it anymore.

Maybe I am sometimes angry with GK and Kel for giving Bill a second chance, but they’ve been mentoring me for a year now, and whatever else they’ve done, they make me feel incredibly safe. So I want to try something: I want to offer them my complete submission, 24/7. To serve the people who forgave Bill. That’s the way I want to hurt.

Except I’m starting to care about them in a way I never meant to—and I think they feel the same way. But after Hal, I don’t know if I want to be in love again. Because what I really need, more than anything, is to see Bill brought to justice. Even if I have to do it myself. Even if it means losing GK and Kel.

—Gould

DNF @52%

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to finish reading this. I’ve been grappling over with last few days on what to say. I decided against rating it, because it doesn’t seem fair. The writing itself was fine. I loved it, but the story and Gould not so much. Everything felt wrong to me. The relationship between Gould, Kel and Greg felt forced. I’m having a hard time explaining why and that’s frustrating in itself. A big part of the problem was reading the relationship from the middle. It wasn’t new it was already established and it didn’t seem sincere from Gould’s side to me. The entire time I was reading it he just seemed to be floating by looking for someone to grasp him and anchor him. That is what’s bothering me. Gould spent so much time in his head, I’m not certain who he really is. I know he’s grieving over Hal, but between those thoughts and the thoughts of Bill I don’t him. He seems so fade to black as a character. Easily forgotten. I’m going to be the one to say it, but I didn’t like the m/f/m dynamics. Not because of the female parts, it’s been they didn’t seem connected at all. It seemed forced alot. Another part of my issue was the tone of the story. This was the darkest book out of the story. Very depressing, and with the depression, and me not connecting with the story I just decided to bow out. It sucks because I’ve enjoyed it up to here. Learned a ton of new things and I do enjoy J.A Rock’s work but for me it wasn’t working at all.

About J.A. Rock

J.A. Rock is the author of queer romance and suspense novels, including BY HIS RULES, TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME, and, with Lisa Henry, THE GOOD BOY and WHEN ALL THE WORLD SLEEPS. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Alabama and a BA in theater from Case Western Reserve University. J.A. also writes queer fiction and essays under the name Jill Smith. Raised in Ohio and West Virginia, she now lives in Chicago with her dog, Professor Anne Studebaker.

Infected: Life After Death by Andrea Speed

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

2nd Edition

In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds. But when your heart is gone, it’s easy to fall into a black hole and never crawl out.

Roan has been lost and alone for more than a year, and his best friends think a new case might be just the motivation he needs. Roan forces himself back into the game and discovers a dead man who might not be all that dead, a street hustler that wants to hustle him, and a dominatrix who is well prepared to take Roan’s orders.

As Roan claws his way out of the darkness by diving back into his work, he finds himself in a race against time in the adrenaline-pumping realization that nothing helps a person want to live like helping someone else survive.

1st Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, May 2011.

four-stars

Which was why it couldn’t last, as things like that never did. You got a moment in the sun, but that was all–a moment. Good things never seemed to last beyond that.

Awe man, I am reeling with the ending of the book, dealing with the fact that Roan is in a semi relationship, dealing with the lost of Paris myself, and loving the addition of Fiona & Holden. Seriously, my emotions are in a pinball machine and I don’t know how to deal. I must say Andrea Speed did a wonderful job with the edition of this story. Roan’s still in mourning, and I think it’ll be a while Just reading it at times, and those spontaneous moments where he thinks of Paris how me in tears. I don’t really have the words on how I felt reading it at the time. I knew I was missing Paris, but loved seeing Roan get back to a semi version of his self. Seeing Roan lose himself in this book was more heartbreak for me. It was so many times, that if he could fly away he would have. That conversation he had with Dr. Rosenberg had me crying as well. Seeing all the people who cared about him and cared for him for the last year was really nice. Oh Matt, I like Matt alot, and this boy is just yearning for someone to love him. I hope he can get someone to love him right and for him to stay safe. For being a smart man, Roan just seemed dumb to this.

But again, life wasn’t fair, was it? Sometimes people got things they shouldn’t have, and sometimes people survived who shouldn’t have.

I have such mixed feelings on Dylan. I mean he’s dealing with his own grief and while he’s so patient I worry about if he is forgetting himself in the long run. I enjoyed learning about his past, and definitely would like to see more of him in the future. I have fallen in love with Kevin!!! I can’t wait until he gets his someone, but Kevin was a little judgy much in this one, it could be that thinking Holden & Cowboy together did something to him internally. I hate that he’s so far in the closet, but I don’t know who it would take to get him out. I will admit this case left me a little perturbed one of the alleged suspects I still don’t know how he factored in. I’m still unsure, it was so many aliases I’m not sure who the killer was and when did everything take place. I dealt with that because while it bothered me, it wasn’t enough to deter me from Roan and his journey.

Humanity was awful; humanity made you hurt. Humanity was a weakness that would kill everyone, one way or another.

About Andrea Speed

Andrea Speed was born looking for trouble in some hot month without an R in it. While succeeding in finding Trouble, she has also been found by its twin brother, Clean Up, and is now on the run, wanted for the murder of a mop and a really cute, innocent bucket that was only one day away from retirement. (I was framed, I tell you – framed!)
In her spare time, she arms lemurs in preparation for the upcoming war against the Mole Men. Viva la revolution!

Infected: Bloodlines by Andrea Speed

o-infected-bloodlinesInfected: Bloodlines by Andrea Speed
Series: Infected, Book Two
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Pages: 224 • Format: eBook
Published By: DSP Publications
Purchase Links:
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2nd Edition

In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds.

The newly married Roan is struggling to balance his work with his home life as he grows increasingly distracted by his husband Paris’s declining health. One case with strong emotions attached takes up most of his time: finding the murderer of a missing little rich girl.

It’s a family with secrets so toxic they’d rather no one investigate, and there’s no shortage of suspects. But despite the dangers and obstructions involved, Roan won’t stop… until he loses something infinitely precious as well.

1st Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, December 2010.

five-stars

Oh my goodness. I haven’t cried this hard in a while. I will be walking into work with puffy eyes and a heavy heart. I mean, I knew what was going to happen because certain tossers can’t put a spoiler tag on their review. But knowing and reading it in that moment was two completely different things. It was so heartbreaking. From the beginning to the end just reading about it left a dull ache in my chest. I mean Roan and Paris get married and instead of spending their time in married bliss, it’s a ticking time bomb on the end that they know it as. I cried early on in the beginning, because Paris was amazing this entire book. I loved the crime and even going into this was better then book one for me. I love seeing Roan grow as a person and a lion. I mean he’s steadily growing stronger and the love of his life is getting sicker.

I like the way the author was able to intertwined the plot and the actions of Roan & Paris. I find Roan’s actions amendable for even trying to work through all the things he’s dealing with. I felt his grief from the page 1. It’s like a slow ticking cancer killing you from page to page. Roan sets out to take the missing person case of a wealthy girl. I really liked the case and the drama surrounding this case. We got to see Kevin who I’m enamored with and some familiar faces among the way. I’m scared to know what the future of MK Investigations hold and the future of Roan. I want Roan to be able to live after this, but I understand and it’s a week later that I’m extending this review and my grief is still palpable. Here’s my favorite quote.

“I’m always going to be with you, you know. As long as you remember me, I will exist. Memory is a form of existence, life after death.”

About Andrea Speed

Andrea Speed was born looking for trouble in some hot month without an R in it. While succeeding in finding Trouble, she has also been found by its twin brother, Clean Up, and is now on the run, wanted for the murder of a mop and a really cute, innocent bucket that was only one day away from retirement. (I was framed, I tell you – framed!)
In her spare time, she arms lemurs in preparation for the upcoming war against the Mole Men. Viva la revolution!

The Mother by Yvvette Edwards

The Mother by Yvvette Edwardson 2016-05-10
Pages: 256
Amazon
The author of the critically acclaimed A Cupboard Full of Coats makes her hardcover debut with a provocative and timely novel about an emotionally devastated mother’s struggle to understand her teenage son’s death, and her search for meaning and hope in the wake of incomprehensible loss.

The unimaginable has happened to Marcia Williams. Her bright and beautiful sixteen-year-old son, Ryan, has been brutally murdered. Consumed by grief and rage, she must bridle her dark feelings and endure something no mother should ever have to experience: she must go to court for the trial of the killer—another teenage boy—accused of taking her son’s life.How could her son be dead? Ryan should have been safe—he wasn’t the kind of boy to find himself on the wrong end of a knife carried by a dangerous young man like Tyson Manley. But as the trial proceeds, Marcia finds her beliefs and assumptions challenged as she learns more about Ryan’s death and Tyson’s life, including his dysfunctional family. She also discovers troubling truths about her own. As the strain of Ryan’s death tests their marriage, Lloydie, her husband, pulls farther away, hiding behind a wall of secrets that masks his grief, while Marcia draws closer to her sister, who is becoming her prime confidant.One person seems to hold the answers—and the hope—Marcia needs: Tyson’s scared young girlfriend, Sweetie. But as this anguished mother has learned, nothing in life is certain. Not anymore.A beautiful, engrossing novel that illuminates some of the most important and troubling issues of our time, The Motheris a moving portrait of love, tragedy, and survival—and the aftershocks from a momentary act of cruel violence that transforms the lives of everyone it touches.
four-stars

The MotherThe Mother by Yvvette Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was very interesting. It followed Marcia Williams who is about to attend the trial of the 17 yr old boy who murdered her son Ryan.

Marcia came to court with an image in her head of everyone involved and she found herself constantly having to reevaluate those assumptions. From her husband Lloydie to Sweetie the young girl Ryan had been seeing, people weren’t acting like she expected or even wanted them to.

As a mother, I couldn’t imagine the pain and anguish Marcia and Llyodie were going through. There are so many aspects of a trial that I never considered for the eyes of the families both the victims and the accused. I must admit it was uncomfortable at times. This woman’s suffering was palpable. Definitely a thought provoking read. A powerful commentary on trying to make sense of a senseless tragedy and the effect on all those affected by the crime.

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Imperfect Harmony by Jay Northcote

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ImperfectHarmony_FINALImperfect Harmony by Jay Northcote
Release Date: April 15, 2016
Pages: 189 • Format: eARC
Published By: Jaybird Press
Purchase Links:
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Imperfect harmony can still be beautiful…

John Fletcher, a former musician, is stuck in limbo after losing his long-term partner two years ago. He’s shut himself off from everything that reminds him of what he’s lost. When his neighbour persuades him to join the local community choir, John rediscovers his love of music and finds a reason to start living again.

Rhys Callington, the talented and charismatic choir leader, captures John’s attention from the first moment they meet. He appears to be the polar opposite of John: young, vibrant, and full of life. But Rhys has darkness in his own past that is holding him back from following his dreams.

Despite the nineteen-year age gap, the two men grow close and a fragile relationship blossoms. Ghosts of the past and insecurities about the future threaten their newfound happiness. If they’re going to harmonise in life and love as they do in their music, they’ll need to start following the same score.

four-stars

I hadn’t even read the blurb before I requested the book. This is by far one of my favorite covers this year. The blue really does work well against the black and white cover. I really enjoyed reading this story. It was the friends to lovers trope with a main dish of grief for dinner. I think having both characters dealing with the same grief of losing a partner made them better for each other. I think they learned how to move on, start over, and come to terms that their is happiness after everything feels so dark and bleak. I liked the age-gap as well. It definitely showed the difference on how each guy comes to terms with being with one another. My biggest qualm is that it is never enough. Why???? I could have done with 50 more pages atleast. I liked the epilogue and just wanted to see them happy.

This was a complete slow burn. At the introductions John is grieving the death of a parent and his partner of 20 years. He’s basically living day to day with no form of happiness. He’s working at a job that is only for money. His passion is in music, it’s something he use to have with David. He still thinks about David, and can’t seem to move on. He really doesn’t want to. His neighbor Maggie insists on him meeting Rhys the choir instructor for their town’s accapella group. It’s very begrudgingly that John agrees, and he sees Rhys for the very first time and it’s like something awakens in him. Rhys is not who he thought would be instructing the 60 and over crowd. No he’s the lithe, plate, tattooed kid with an amazing blue mohawk and the warmest smile ever.

In this dingy church hall in their small market town, Rhys looked like a bird of paradise that had accidentally ended up in a cage full of sparrows.

I liked Rhys alot on first glance. He’s the opposite of what everyone was expecting. I wanted to know his backstory and it’s just as bad as John’s. Rhys came back home after losing his lover at the age of 21. He’s dealing with his grief by instructing pupils of the different variety and living life peacefully and out of the public’s eye. John is such a shy person and with a little pushing and nudging from Rhys they both become friends. It’s light, and easy for both. It is the music drawing them in, and comforting them little by little. It’s the instruments, and war wounds that they compare. I can see the love happening right before my eyes. I can see Rhys opening up and realizing this is what he wants. I can see John with his doubts, and him trying to understand what Rhys could wants in a 42 year old. I loved Rhys basically telling John that we only get one life so we should make it work. The age-gap was big in this and both characters looked at it differently. I get why it was such a big deal, but I’m all about age ain’t nothing but a number. It’s rare to find something special with one person, but to lose it and find it again is something magical.

I really enjoy Jay’s writing. I love the proper British so much. From their mannerisms,words,to basic descriptions. This is low angst, good communication and a really good story. I love reading from this author and this one didn’t disappoint me. I can’t wait to see what’s in store with the next book, but before then I suggest we all read this one. It’s a love story.

About Jay Northcote

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England, with his husband, two children, and two cats. He comes from a family of writers, but he always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed her by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, he decided to try and write a short story—just to see if she could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary gay romance about men who fall in love with other men, usually set in or near her home town of Bristol. He enjoys the challenge of bringing the men in his head to life through his words. Jay has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and he also publishes his own titles under the imprint Jaybird Press. Some of his books are now available as audiobooks.

Jay is a transgender man and was formerly known as she/her.

Unstable Stud by Ariel Tachna

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


UnstableStudLGUnstable
 Stud by Ariel Tachna
Series: Lexington Lovers, Dreamspun Desires
Release Date: April 15, 2016
Pages: 204• Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
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Horses were his passion, until he laid eyes on his boss.

Eighteen months ago, tragedy struck Bywater Farm when a riding accident killed Clay Hunter’s lover and traumatized his prize horse, King of Hearts. Clay and King lingered in limbo, surviving but not really living, until a breath of fresh air in the form of Luke Davis, a new groom in the stud barn, revives them both.

When a fall from King’s back sends Luke to the emergency room, Clay watches the shaky foundation of their budding relationship tumble down. Can Clay really love a jockey again, or will his fear of losing another man he loves keep them apart for good?

 

four-stars

This was so damn sweet.

Again, another fun and romantic read from the Dreamspun Desires series and another new to me author under my belt.

Unstable Stud, just the title makes me wonder exactly who we are referring to; King of Hearts, aka King – the horse, or Clay – the studly owner since both are a bit unstable after the death of Nick, Kings rider and Clay’s lover.

We meet Luke Davis as he is working at the Bywater Farm just doing his job, mucking out stalls and doing it with his utmost determination and loyalty because Luke needs this job and the money. You see, Luke is dealing with the recent passing of his mother and having to pay off her medical bills while he lives of the bare necessities and never quite having a social life.

Luke loves working at the farm and with the horses. King is a special horse as he was ridden by the late Nick and King is not keen to many people doing this around him but King was a champion and folks want his babies. Yup, there is a lot of breeding talk in the beginning of this book that honestly, had me kinda uncomfortable. It’s a personal issue for me so I won’t speak much on it but it’s there and parts are odd but, this book is about a horse bringing two men together so it’s relevant. Relevant but not my favorite thing.

Anyway, Luke and King get along well and when Clay sees the horse that used to love only he and his late lover Nick, take to Luke, he promotes Luke from a stable boy to Kings groom and this gives Clay and Luke a chance to be around one another more.

Luke has crushed on Clay the entire six months he has been there but Luke, he doesn’t think too highly of himself as men in the past have basically told him he’s nothing but a pretty face with nothing going on upstairs. It’s gonna take a good man with a lot of love, patience and determination to change Luke’s mind and it’s a good thing Clay is a good and patient man.

I like the approach to the romance, Clay and Luke take their time with the relationship through there is enough UST and tender moments to sustain the reader. I will admit the turnaround happened quickly and it took me a minute to buy that Clay was really into Luke for LUKE and not all the similarities or reminders he brought up of Nick.  But once I settled into the romance when it began, I was hooked.  I was hooked and it was worth it.

King was a character all his own in the story, his presence was always a joy to read as I am a huge animal lover and once fancied myself a Equine Veterinarian until contradictions arose within my conscious but I sill love watching and being around horses. I wish I’d had the privledge my older siblings did of learning to ride horses as the times we get with riding in the book, made me wistful and nostalgic. I cannot leave out the amazing Mrs. Twitchell as she was a great comfort to Luke as well as a positive influence on him in so many way.

Have I said how much I love this series? Speaking of series, this is listed as “Lexington Lovers” as well, I’m curious where the series will take us next.

Unstable Stud was a lovely slow burn romance that never rushes the gallop of love, but lets you trot your way through until you are comfortable. It’s a story about falling off the horse – literally – and getting back in your seat because it’s where you belong, with the man who will be there with a promise at the end.

About Ariel Tachna

When Ariel Tachna was twelve years old, she discovered two things: the French language and romance novels. Those two loves have defined her ever since. By the time she finished high school, she’d written four novels, none of which anyone would want to read now, featuring a young woman who was—you guessed it—bilingual. That girl was everything Ariel wanted to be at age twelve and wasn’t.

She now lives on the outskirts of Houston with her husband (who also speaks French), her kids (who understand French even when they’re too lazy to speak it back), and their two dogs (who steadfastly refuse to answer any French commands).

Black Dust by Lynn Charles

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Black Dust 900px COVER (web Tumblr)Black Dust by Lynn Charles 
Release Date: April 7, 2016
Pages: 312 • Format: eARC
Published By: Interlude Press
Purchase Links:
InterludeAmazon ARe • Indiebound • Smashwords • Barnes & Noble iBooks • Book Depository

No matter how busy he keeps himself, successful Broadway musician Tobias Spence can’t outrun the memory of a tragic car crash from his past that claimed a friend’s life and permanently injured his former boyfriend, Emmett.

Even after losing Tobias, Emmett Henderson made peace with that awful night, living in his Indiana hometown where he has become a revered choral director. When his students are asked to perform in New York City, he decides to chance reconnecting with his former love, if for no other reason than to get a proper goodbye.

When Emmett and Tobias finally meet 15 years after parting ways, it is clear to both of them that their feelings for each other have not changed. As they explore their renewed relationship, the two men face old hurts and the new challenges of a long-distance romance. Will Tobias lose his second chance at love to the ghosts he can’t seem to put to rest?

three-half-stars

I was on the fence about asking for this book. I went back and forth about 5 times because I decided. I’d never read anything by this author but the cover kept calling for me. I’m glad it did, because I liked it. Do you ever get ragey mad when reading a book? I do all the time. I get so angry at the characters that I want to DNF a book. This book made it to my hulk rage stage. I was so angry at Tobias, and honestly I don’t know if I like him. Black Dust could have been a 5 star read for me. It lacked the emotional response to be that was needed with this second chance love trope. It was really good writing, and I enjoyed the story. But a select few emotional feelings wasn’t good enough to give it 5 stars. Certain areas of the book I could see where people would get emotional and connect with these characters. I felt like the emotional parts weren’t executed well. It’s like the cues were off for reader to book. I didn’t connect emotionally and for an emotional reader like myself it’s needed. Another thing that took away from the story was the music as a main character. I love that it’s the focal point for Emmett and Tobias. It’s where their love started and ends. It was so such a big component and for a person that isn’t musically knowledgeable it took away from the story.

“Without a hurt, the heart is hollow.”

Onto what I loved. Emmett. Emmett, and more Emmett. The man is such a good person. Gah!!! Everything about him worked for me. Here’s where second chance love stories work. Emmett who has forgiven Toby for everything including the accident and walking away was able to try. It was Emmett saying the past is the past, and I’m looking forward to the future. Everything about him as a character was what I love about reading. He is content with his life now, and yes wants Toby in it. I loved that he didn’t give up, even after Toby walked out again. I liked that he was brutal and relentless towards Toby. I love that he owned his despair in his life. He owned up to not being okay after the accident, not living his hopes and dreams. I love that he handled it. It’s not cute, easy, rainbows or sunshine. It was hard work, and he had people in his life to help him through it, but mainly he had himself. Toby has been running away from his self so long. I felt bad for him, to not have any roots down due to his grief was overshadowing everything. I’m writing this and realizing it was an emotional read for me because I was angry most of the time. I was angry at Toby for hurting Emmett, and hurting himself as well. I was angry at Tobias for walking away like that. I was angry for not giving Emmett more of himself, and mostly I was angry at him for not being able to forgive himself. I had to realize, that I can’t dictate a person’s grief. I have to realize that just because I felt like he needed to come to terms with it doesn’t mean that he needs to it. Things happen in people’s life when it’s meant to me. I enjoyed this author’s style of writing. I look forward to more from her.

About Lynn Charles

Lynn Charles earned her degree in music education and for many years performed and directed choral music. When she’s not writing, she can be found strolling through local farmers markets near her home in Central Ohio in search of ingredients for new recipes. Her novel Chef’s Table was published in 2014 by Interlude Press.

The Little Things by Jay Northcote

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

TheLittleThings_Mar2016The Little Things by Jay Northcote
Release Date: November 22, 2013
Pages: 214 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
Dreamspinner AmazonARe B&N

There are lots of things that brighten Joel’s life. His three-year-old daughter, Evie, is one. His close relationship with her mother, his best friend from university, is another. Joel’s boyfriend, Dan, adds spice to his child-free nights, and Joel is pretty happy with how things are.

Then one cold and rainy night, everything changes. Joel’s life is turned upside down when he becomes a full-time dad to Evie, and his previously carefree relationship with Dan cracks under the strain.

Meeting Liam, who acts as if getting hurt isn’t a foregone conclusion, shakes Joel to the core. Their attraction is mutual, and Liam makes no secret of how serious he is about Joel. But Joel is wary. He tells himself he’s keeping Liam at a distance for Evie’s sake, when really he’s protecting his own heart. Taking a chance on this new relationship with Liam may seem a small step—a little thing—but is it one Joel can take after losing so much already?

five-stars

Yes, I am giving this five stars. For me to read a tough subject matter, the author needs to be able to pull me through it with enough trust that it will all be okay. This wasn’t an easy read, there are a few very tough moments where I had to stop reading because I was not only crying but I was simply too emotional to read another word, and yet I continued. For that alone, for an author to pull me back into a story with such intense emotions deserves the five stars and then some.

The Little Things is different than what you would expect from Northcote, though it’s one of her earliest novels. Absent is the adorable fluff or lack of angst as this book hits pretty hard and deep.

We meet Joel as he is picking up his three year old daughter, Evie. We know immediately that Joel is head over heels for his daughter and as they walk home, we begin to learn how Joel, a out gay man, has a daughter.

I loved getting the short back story of Joel and Claire. How they were best friends in college, how they experimented and how the ultimately would up being co-parents to Evie. They are both so young when we meet them and yet they have taken on the challenge of parenting with respect and maturity for their ages. I liked that Joel has a boyfriend, Dan, though I never quite warmed up to Dan maybe because he is younger than Joel at only 19 yrs. so I guess I expected Joel to have someone more on his level of maturity and not someone who picked up other men when out clubbing though it seems their relationship was not exactly exclusive.  I mean he did what he could and he was decent and seemed to like Joel enough and though I did get emotional at their last goodbye… I don’t know. I guess I never got invested in Dan because I was waiting for Liam.

He realized he just didn’t care anymore, not in the way he’d cared about the guys that Dan had fooled around with before. Something had shifted for Joel, and he suddenly saw with stark clarity that he and Dan had no future together.

We know from the blurb that something happens to take Joel from a co-parent to a full time dad and while I was spoiled by a review about this and when it would happen, I am thankful it didn’t lessen the blow because that scene, as hard as it was to read and as much as I cried, needs to be felt. I felt it and I wept for all involved and dreaded the next step Joel would have to take.

I’ll spoiler tag the incident, though some may not feel it’s needed, I do.

View Spoiler »

 

I love the way Liam first meets Joel. Though we didn’t get his name I was holding out hope HE would turn into Liam and I was so happy when it happened. Joel is at a huge turning point in his life, even bigger than when he found out Evie was coming along and he needs the type of man he can lean on, who he can count on and who he can just be Joel – a man and a father – with.

But I guess that’s what I’d really like—to find a person I can have something serious with, something that could last.

The romance between Liam and Joel was beautiful. I loved that they took their time but that everything felt so right, felt as if they’d known one another for much longer that they let their feelings lead the way. That isn’t to say that Joel ever lost sight of his daughter. Being the non-bio mom to a son, myself, I know what it’s like to begin a relationship with someone who has a child about the same age as Evie. It’s not easy because you want that attention from the person you’re with but you also have to get that their child comes first. With Liam, he was simply the most patient man ever and sure, it could have to do with his job but he amazed me time and time again with… well, The Little Things he would do for both Joel and Evie.

The Little Things really is a character driven romance about a man who was just getting the hang of his life to have it all change with a clip of a curb. It’s a romance about needing to find the person you can be yourself with but still feel that desire to rip their clothes off and mount them like a bull… or at least a tall, dark and curly haired pediatric nurse.

Let me just add… this new cover is leaps and bounds above the original. This cover would have had me reading the book long before now and yeah, I admit I kinda judged a book BY the cover but I’m okay with that. I think all things need to be read at the right time and this was the right time for me. The cover though, that is SO Joel with his young maturity mixed with his vulnerability that cries out READ ME and really, I hope those of you who haven’t, will soon.

 

About Jay Northcote

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England, with his husband, two children, and two cats. He comes from a family of writers, but he always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed her by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, he decided to try and write a short story—just to see if she could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary gay romance about men who fall in love with other men, usually set in or near her home town of Bristol. He enjoys the challenge of bringing the men in his head to life through his words. Jay has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and he also publishes his own titles under the imprint Jaybird Press. Some of his books are now available as audiobooks.

Jay is a transgender man and was formerly known as she/her.

Patchwork Paradise by Indra Vaughn

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

PatchworkParadise_600x900Patchwork Paradise by Indra Vaughn
Release Date: March 28, 2016
Pages: 275 • Format: eARC
Published By: Riptide Publishing
Purchase Links:
Riptide • Amazon • ARe

Oliver and Samuel’s relationship is fairy-tale perfect. They share a gorgeous house in Antwerp, go out with their friends every weekend, and count down the days to their dream wedding. But their happy ending is shattered one late night, and just like that, Ollie is left bereft and alone.

The months that follow are long and dark, but slowly Ollie emerges from his grief. He even braves the waters of online dating, though deep down he doesn’t believe he can find that connection again. He doesn’t think to look for love right in front of him: his bisexual friend Thomas, the gentle giant with a kind heart and sad eyes who’s wanted him all along.

When Thomas suddenly discovers he has a son who needs him, he’s ill prepared. Ollie opens up his house—Sam’s house—and lets them in. Ollie doesn’t know what scares him more: the responsibility of caring for a baby, or the way Thomas is steadily winning his heart. It will take all the courage he has to discover whether or not fairy tales can happen for real.

four-half-stars

I cannot believe I enjoyed this as much as I did when it had so much ANGST. I’m against anything angsty. I loathe it if it’s too much, and I always end up mad. What happened? I do not know, all I know is I started reading it at midnight and by 3 a.m. I was drunk on angst, tears, and happiness. I had a serious conniption. It was so heartbreaking, but so freaking good by the end of it. I was able to get over my grief of Samuel. My grief was really Ollie’s grief, it was so cloying and thick. I could never imagine going through what he did, but he was such a champion for me. He never gave up or gave him. I loved that he wasn’t sticking to anyone’s time table on when to move on, or when to stop grieving. It’s no realistic time table at that. I’m a sucker for a friends to lover story, and Indra Vaughn knocked this book out of the part. This was respectfully done and beautifully written.

I am so swoony over Thomas. I mean everything he did left me star eyed. I like that his friendship with Ollie was very important. I also enjoyed the fact that he didn’t pressure Ollie to be in a relationship so early. I like how Thomas was able to put aside his feelings for Ollie, and he traveled to give Ollie some space. Thomas traveling and finding someone special left me so confused, but as usual the author wrote at such a realistic pace that everything worked out. Thomas finding out he was a father was a realistic reaction to me. I mean, I would be terrified and questioning if I could do this. I love how quickly Oliver decided on his feelings and what he wanted. I liked that Thomas having a baby wasn’t a deterrent for him, and he realized this is everything he always wanted. But once everything clicked into place with this group of people. I would have love to see a bit more of the physical romance, I mean it’s little to no sex in the book. I’m okay with it because the emotional connection shined so brightly that I didn’t notice the lack of sex until the very end. All in all, this was such a good book, and I’m happy that I picked to read it. I am so looking forward to more from this author.

About Indra Vaughn

Indra Vaughn moved from Belgium to Michigan in 2008, leaving everything behind that wouldn’t fit in a single suitcase. She now lives in the suburbs of Detroit with a dog who thinks he’s a toddler and a toddler who resembles Bam Bam in more ways than one.

Indra’s professional background is in nursing and Chinese medicine, but she prefers to spend time making up stories about mysterious men and their unrequited love.

If you ever meet her, ask her about that teenage angst-infused poetry collection. That’ll break the ice for sure.