New Author Alert: Midlife Crisis by Audra North

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.

Midlife Crisis: by Audra North
Release Date: August 28th, 2017
Pages: 205 • Format: eARC
Published By: Riptide Publishing
Purchase Links:
Riptide

Cam McGhee grew up like any other small-town Texas farm boy: he played football, went to church every Sunday, and married his high school sweetheart. But thirty-five years after he said “I do,” Cam finds himself nursing a beer in a gay bar, thinking about what might have been.

Dave Montoya is confident, self-assured, and cautiously single. But when he meets shy, uncertain, and clearly-still-not-out Cam in a coffee shop in Austin, his reservations about getting seriously involved again disappear. Cam is everything he’s looking for in a partner . . . almost, anyway.

No matter how much Dave wants him, and how good they are together, Cam can’t bring himself to fully embrace the life he was meant to live. After all, when his secret finally gets out, he faces the very real possibility of losing everything that kept him going for the first fifty years of his life, just like he’s feared for so long. But with a little faith—and a lot of love—his dream of living fully, truly, as himself might finally be within reach.

four-stars

Well, North certainly surprised me. I’ve never read anything by her before. After reading this, I saw she is a MF romance writer. I have skeptical feelings about them, but I don’t let it cloud too much of my judgment. More surprised at myself for finishing it. This was not only a slow burn, but the pacing was snail at best. I didn’t find myself bored so I guess its a win for me. Its very detailed, and everything is written in a way that molasses pours faster. I was really drawn to it because of the older mc’s. They are in their 50’s well off, and established wanting different things in their lives.  North’s writing was real, emotional, and such a sweet romance. It doesn’t focus on the physical side but more emotional. Cam was such a character that touched my spirit. I teared up at plenty of the hard facts that he had to face. Dave is such a sweetheart. Super understanding to the cause and patient.

Cam’s character made my feelings come out through this story. I don’t know what was happening at the time of my reading it, but he resonated so much to me. Maybe its because he’s a black man, and all his loyalties, duties, and reservations about his family is so common in the community, even more in the south. My family is from the south, so I could understand all his thoughts, dreams, fears, hurt when it came to being happy. Or lack thereof in his case. He sacrificed his happiness for the community, the way of life in Bitter, Texas. He was a drowning man, until his wife died. It was heartbreaking and I know it was emotional because it kept an egg shape size of despair in my throat. He tried to do right by what was expected of him, he tried to be the best father, and husband he could be. It only took 51 years of living to realize that he wanted something for himself. In walks Dave, in his biker workout clothes, and friends. With his smile, easy on the eyes, and friendly manner its no wonder Cam falls for him. Its not an easy romance. While Cam does come to terms about being gay, its another to act on it. Its something that he’s never thought of. Of course being happy with Dave, does nothing to dis spell all his responsibilities back home or with his children. No matter his orientation, his children are his. Cam shows so much vulnerability with his kids, Dave, and his knitting crew. Dave is trying to get back on the horse as well. Being single for a few years after being in a long term relationship, Dave has reservations about being with someone as closeted as Cam. Its something that he can’t help since he’s falling just as much as Cam.

I am still kinda shocked at how much I’ve enjoyed this. I look forward to North writing more gay romance if its going to be real like this. If you like older guys, interracial romance, hurt comfort, out for you, tears, and extremely slow burns then this book is for you. I quite like the pacing, and writing myself. I would recommend this read.

 

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About Audra North

Audra North is a contemporary romance author of more than twenty romances, including the Stanton Family series from Entangled Publishing, the Hard Driving series from St. Martin’s Press, and the Pushing the Boundaries series from Samhain Publishing. She is the owner and publisher of Pink Kayak Press, which focuses on the publication of diverse romance works. Winter Rain, a Pink Kayak Press anthology, won a gold medal in the 2015 Independent Publisher Awards.

Audra enjoys speaking to writing groups and at industry conferences. She is also an avid jogger and loves running marathons. She has three children and lives with her family outside of Boston.

Strays by Garrett Leigh

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.

Strays: by Garrett Leigh
Series: Urban Soul #2
Release Date: March 27th, 2017
Pages: 249 • Format: eARC
Published By: Riptide
Purchase Links:
Riptide

Work, sleep, work, repeat. Nero’s lonely life suits him just fine until his best friend, Cass, asks him to take on a new apprentice—a beautiful young man who’s never set foot in a professional kitchen. Despite his irritation and his lifelong ability to shut the world out, Nero is mesmerised by the vibrant stray, especially when he learns what drove him to seek sanctuary on Nero’s battered old couch.

Lenny Mitchell is living under a cloud of fear. Pursued by a stalker, he has nowhere left to run until Nero offers him a port in a storm—a job at the hottest restaurant in Shepherd’s Bush. Kitchen life proves heady and addictive, and it’s not long before he finds himself falling hard and fast for the man who has taken him in.

Fast-forward a month and a neither man can imagine life without the other, but one thing stands in their way: a lifetime of horrors Nero can’t bring himself to share with Lenny. Or can he? For the first time ever, happiness is there for the taking, and Nero must learn to embrace it before fate steps in and rips it away.

four-half-stars

 

 

Oh my goodness, this book was amazing!!!! I loved every single minute of it. Leigh packs a healthy punch of angst in her for those lovers, but it was non-angsty enough for me to enjoy it. I mean let’s be honest here who does flawed characters like Garrett Leigh? NOBODY! She is Reigning Queen and this book solidifies it. I thought I could pick it up to start reading to take my mind off things, but I ended up reading the entire book in one sitting. (NTS: go back and re-read Misfits)

Lenny & Nero were so good together. I can’t stop gushing about it. What is it about grumpy ass men? I’m so attached to them. At first grump glance, Nero was mine. He just wants to be in the shadows and maintain a kitchen, but he can’t. LOL. Well he can, but he realizes really late in life how amazing he is. He is the team of a-holes, but with his past its no wonder why. Realizing his sexuality and never acting on it is driving him part mad when in flounces Lenny. Pretty Lenny, who I adored and who adapted to this new situation. I really loved Lenny. He was going through a traumatic experience but was able to mold into something new for himself. The attraction to one another is pretty obvious. Its definitely a waiting game to see who is going to fold first. I didn’t care at this point. Feelings were being made, angst was being dropped, but when moves were made and action was had in this story. It was great seeing Cass, Tom & Jake from Misfits. Loved how they all fitted so well within this book.

Both guys have some sort of trauma that they are dealing with. Lenny’s is most recent, and Nero is in the past. How can he help Lenny, and still deal with his monsters in the dark? I like that Lenny kinda reinforced to Nero that the communicating is a 2 way street. If you want to know all of my flaws, and scares then give up yours. It was a lovely for me to have the emotions that I did have, but I think once again its why I like Leigh’s books. They are definitely realistic and very much you can know these characters off hand in one way or another.

Strays is a definite recommend for me. You can read it as a standalone, but why do that? If you are looking for great writing, and an equally amazing story then pick this book up. You will not be disappointed!

 

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About Garrett Leigh

Garrett Leigh is a British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Black Jazz Press. Her protagonists will always always be tortured, crippled, broken, and deeply flawed. Throw in a tale of enduring true love, some stubbly facial hair, and a bunch of tattoos, and you’ve got yourself a Garrett special.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible. That, and dreaming up new ways to torture her characters. Garrett believes in happy endings; she just likes to make her boys work for it.

Garrett also works as a freelance cover artist for various publishing houses and independent authors. For cover art info, please visit blackjazzdesign.com