Audiobook Review: Mack Daddy by Penelope Ward

Narrator: Andi Arndt, Sebastian York
(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)

Title: Mack Daddy by Penelope Ward
Release Date: February 11, 2017
Format: Audiobook (7hrs, 19 mins)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published By: Penelope Ward Books, Inc.
Purchase Links: Amazon US AudibleiBooksBarnes & NobleKobo

Single Dad. Second Chances.

They called him Mack Daddy. No, seriously, his name was Mack. Short for Mackenzie. Thus, the nickname. Perfect, right?

So was he: perfect. The perfect physical male specimen.

At the private school where I taught, Mack Morrison was the only man around in a sea of women.

Everyone wanted a piece of the hot, single father of the sweet little boy.

I became a woman I didn’t recognize, someone riddled with jealousy, because they didn’t know that—to me—he was much more.

They didn’t know about our past.

He’d chosen my school for his son on purpose, because Mack and I, we had unfinished business.

As my friend, Lorelai, so eloquently put it: “Unfinished business between two people who are clearly attracted to each other is like an eternal case of blue balls.” And I was suffering in pain from my case.

I was still intensely attracted to Mack. I tried to resist him, immersing myself further into a relationship with someone else just to protect my heart.

Not to mention, getting involved with a parent was strictly against school rules. But seeing Mack day in and day out was breaking me down.

And soon I might be breaking all the rules.

Author’s note – Told in alternating points of view, Mack Daddy is a full-length standalone novel

four-stars

I liked the relationship between Francesca and Mack. It was well developed and both characters were well developed. I thought the author was very smart and strategic to set up the flashbacks to lay the foundation of the attraction between Frankie and Mack otherwise I would have not understood the disrespect/disregard to their current partners. I’m not sure it excused it but I understood it. The exes Victor and Tori had my sympathy and I liked them both.

Tori:  Mack didn’t tell her about Frankie for 2 years. That is a really long time to be in a relationship with someone who was in love with someone else. Even if she knew he didn’t love her, you hold out hope that he could love you especially when he continues to visit you on the weekends and pretend to be in a relationship with you. Knowing there was someone else back in Boston would have given Tori a clearer picture of what she was up against.

Victor: I also feel bad for Victor because Frankie should have honored Thor two years by breaking it off with him officially instead of putting him in an awful position of having to be the bigger person. He still treated her with respect and concern when she found out about her dad. He offered to call her mom etc. Maybe Tori and Vic can date each other 🙂

I would have liked the author to spend more time on Jonah’s diagnosis. I had to read that on my own (how dare she make me work, LMAO). It was glossed over and it’s serious. That boy was in trouble and I’m not sure it should be taken such a backseat to the romance.

Why wasn’t George the best friend/roommate around? I would have loved to experience these two from his perspective. He was after all, the initial nexxus between these two. He was sorely missed.

Overall, it was angsty enough and the characters enjoyable yet really flawed. The writing made this story realistic and I was feeling this one! There was genuine love and passion between Frankie and Mack. It took them some maneuvering but there was something electric about them that just drew my emotions. I am pleased with the way it ended.

Ezi

About Penelope Ward

Penelope Ward is first and foremost a proud autism mom. She is also the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author of Stepbrother Dearest, Sins of Sevin, Cocky Bastard (co-written with Vi Keeland), Jake Undone, My Skylar, Jake Understood and Gemini. She is currently working on her 8th novel.

Audiobook Review: The Hero (Sons of Texas #1) by Donna Grant

Audiobook Review: The Hero (Sons of Texas #1) by Donna GrantSeries:
Narrator: Carly Robins
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)

Title: The Hero by Donna Grant
Series: Sons of Texas #1
Release Date: December 6, 2016
Format: Kindle edition Pages: 333
Audiobook Length: 7 hrs and 15 mins
Published By: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Purchase Links: Amazon US Barnes & Noble  Books-a-million iBooks Indiebound

THE HERO’S HOMECOMING

Owen Loughman is a highly-decorated Navy SEAL who has a thirst for action. But there’s one thing he hasn’t been able to forget – his high school sweetheart, Natalie. After over a decade away, Owen is returned home to the ranch in Texas for a dangerous new mission that puts him face-to-face with Natalie and an outside menace that threatens everything he holds dear. He’ll risk it all to keep Natalie safe – and win her heart. . . .

Natalie Dixon has had a lifetime of heartache since Owen was deployed. Fourteen years and one bad marriage later, she finds herself mixed up with the Loughman’s again. With her life on the line against an enemy she can’t fight alone, it’s Owen’s strong shoulders, smoldering eyes, and sensuous smile that she turns to. When danger closes in, she holds close to the only man she’s ever loved…

three-half-stars

In this interesting series opener, author Donna Grant introduces the Loughman family, a father and three sons, all dedicated military men whom have sworn to serve and protect the United States of America.

However, the patriarch Orrin has been kidnapped and the sons, Wyatt, Owen and Cullen have been tasked by the government to find and rescue him. The plot unfolds revealing a dastardly plan for world domination that boasts enemies with access into the highest levels of multiple governments.
This book had the Russians versus United States rivalry, a secret illuminati-ish group, Texans who own a horse ranch, an estranged family and a second chance at love.

This particular installment focused on the middle son, Owen, as he tries to discover who kidnapped his father as well as coming to terms with the damaged relationship with his first love Natalie Dixon. The pace of this story was pretty quick as the story evolved rapidly. The author kept us in the dark for most of the novel regarding the true identity of the bad guys. Instead, the reader was exposed to why the Loughman family was estranged and why Owen and Natalie broke up fourteen years go.

Honestly, the narrator didn’t add any value to my enjoyment. The story was narrated sufficiently and I felt comfortable with what was going on in the book. I liked the heroine as she had tried her best to move on with her life. She had inner strength and she was clearly intelligent. Owen was clearly a man who excelled at his job as a navy seal. He also appears to be an honorable man, though I was perplexed as to why three decent men treated their father so dreadfully for so long. I hope the author spends time addressing the sub plot because it did lower my esteem of the Loughman sons.
I enjoyed this story because this plot was interesting and I was curious to find out more about the weapon, the enemy and the family. BEWARE though because this book ends in a cliffhanger. I hope the author continues to develop the plot and characters with the same pace in Book 2.

Ezi

View all my reviews

About Donna Grant

Donna Grant is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the sizzling Dark King series featuring dragons, immortal Highlanders, and the Fae.

She was born and raised in Texas but loves to travel. Her adventures have taken her throughout the United States as well as to Jamaica, Mexico, and Scotland. Growing up on the Texas/Louisiana border, Donna’s Cajun side of the family taught her the “spicy” side of life while her Texas roots gave her two-steppin’ and bareback riding.

Despite deadlines and voracious reading, Donna still manages to keep up with her two children, three cats, and a dog.

A Family for Christmas 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.

afamilyforchristmasA Family for Christmas: by Jay Northcote
Release Date: November 16, 2016
Pages: 136 • Format: eARC
Published By: JayBird Press
Purchase Links:
Amazon

Zac never had a family of his own, but Rudy has enough to share.

Shy, inexperienced Rudy has a crush on Zac from the moment his new colleague walks through the door. On an office night out before Christmas, Rudy finds the courage to make a move, and they form a tentative bond. When he discovers Zac will be alone at Christmas, he invites Zac to come home with him.

Zac prefers to keep people at arm’s length. Yet when Rudy offers him a family Christmas it’s impossible to resist. With no parents of his own, Zac is pleasantly surprised to be welcomed by Rudy’s. The only drawback is that everyone assumes they’re a couple. Unwilling to disappoint Rudy’s mum and make Christmas awkward, they decide not to deny it.

It’s not a chore for Zac to pose as Rudy’s boyfriend, but the pretense makes him want things that scare him—things like a real relationship with Rudy. Zac’s suffered enough rejection in his life already and is afraid to risk his heart. If he can get over his past rejection and let Rudy inside his armour, he might get more for Christmas than he ever imagined.

four-stars

YAY, the perfect book to get me into the holiday mood!

This was a really solid Holiday read! Its really one of my favorite seasons to read. I love Holiday stories, and this had the perfect combination of sweet, heat, and yearning that I needed! Really enjoyed the characters in this book alot. Rudy & Zac were definitely opposites attract, but I think being able to communicate with each other is what won this book over for me. Rudy is this sweet, awkward, inexperienced guy who has the biggest crush ever on his co-worker Zac. Rudy is a hopeless romantic in his head, and he fantasizes about all the ways that Zac will treat him. I thought it was adorable of Rudy. He showed some vulnerability when all of his co-workers went out, and expressed his feelings to Zac.

Zac is jaded about relationships of any kind. I can see that, when he has no one who’s ever cared or loved him. He’s a loner by default and I think he liked being that way. Being lonely has forced him to not open up to anyone about his past or force him to want to fall for someone outside of the parameters that he has set. Thrown away as a a infant, and living in group homes and foster care has left him close-off from people. He prefers the solidarity life, but once he starts working at the same company as Rudy then he’s left with no chance but to interact with people.

Really loved Rudy’s family. I love how welcoming they were to Zac. The connection between two steadily progress as the book goes. I think Jay did a really good job with the authentic feelings that were in this book. Both guys were able to benefit from being together. Deciding to start things slowly and progress worked just fine with me. I’m so excited to get to the rest of my holiday reads, but this goes on the Holiday 2016 shelf. Recommendable for sure!

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.

Steadfast (True North #2) by Sarina Bowen

Series:
Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer, Seraphine Valentine
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
She’s the only one who ever loved him—and the only one he can never have.

Jude lost everything one spring day when he crashed his car into an apple tree on the side of the road. A man is dead, and there's no way he can ever right that wrong. He’d steer clear of Colebury, Vermont forever if he could. But an ex-con in recovery for his drug addiction can’t find a job just anywhere.

For Sophie Haines, coming face to face with the man who broke her heart is gut-wrenching. Suddenly, he’s everywhere she turns. It’s hard not to stare at how much he’s changed. The bad boy who used to love her didn’t have big biceps and sun-kissed hair. And he’d never turn up volunteer in the church kitchen.

She knows it’s foolish to yearn for the man who returned all the heartsick letters she wrote him in prison. But the looks he sends her now speak volumes.

No one wants to see Sophie and Jude back together, least of all Sophie's police chief father. But it's a small town. And forbidden love is a law unto itself.
four-stars
Steadfast Book Cover Steadfast
True North #2
Sarina Bowen
Contemporary Romance
Rennie Road Books
July 12, 2016
audibook; e-book
313

She’s the only one who ever loved him—and the only one he can never have.
Jude lost everything one spring day when he crashed his car into an apple tree on the side of the road. A man is dead, and there's no way he can ever right that wrong. He’d steer clear of Colebury, Vermont forever if he could. But an ex-con in recovery for his drug addiction can’t find a job just anywhere.

Sophie Haines is stunned by his reappearance. After a three year absence, the man who killed her brother and broke her heart is suddenly everywhere she turns. It’s hard not to stare at how much he’s changed. The bad boy who used to love her didn’t have big biceps and sun-kissed hair. And he’d never volunteer in the church kitchen.

No one wants to see Sophie and Jude back together, least of all Sophie's police chief father. But it's a small town. And forbidden love is a law unto itself.


I really enjoyed this sequel. This author definitely puts some thought and research into this book because I felt like I gain a new perspective into the struggles of a recovering addict. I really empathized with Oliver and how every day his thirst for a fix was rated. Wow, my heart went out to both Jude and Sophie.

Jude Nickel’s seasonal employment at the Shipley farm was over and he was forced to return home to Colebury, a town he had been avoiding since he was released from prison and his drug rehab program. There were a lot of painful issues from his father to the loss of the only woman he has ever loved. I was on pins and needles since the relapse rate for recovering opiate addicts released from jail can be as high as 80%. But Jude was determined and with some luck along with the Shipley Clan, Jude was able to establish some routine in his life.

I appreciate the way the author wrote the reunion between Jude and Sophie Haines. It wasn’t all flowers and candy, but it wasn’t as brutal as I had expected. Sophie was a good heroine. She was strong, loyal and persistent. I wonder how she turned out that way because it wasn’t due to her parents. Her fortitude was the perfect counterbalance to the seemingly broken Jude. In her flashbacks, Jude was cocky, brash and sassy. Present day Jude was a man who was doing his best to navigate his land mine of a life. It was apparent that Jude took his sobriety very seriously and it was wonderful to see Mae Shipley and the others keep an eye on him.

Jude and Sophie had that abiding love and it was healing for the both of them. Sophie’s family dynamics was the only befuddling subplot in this book. There was no true explanation for the behavior and it made their actions baffling. It kept this story from being a 5-star read.
I still enjoyed every other character and felt emotionally engaged to their love story. I can’t wait for Zach’s book.

About Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She lives in Vermont’s Green Mountains with her family, six chickens and too much ski gear and hockey equipment.

Bittersweet (True North #1) by Sarina Bowen

Series:
Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld, Tad Branson
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
Bittersweet
True North #1
Sarina Bowen
Contemporary Romance
Blackstone Audio, Inc.
October 4th 2016
audibook
9 hrs and 32 mins

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the orchard.

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

This is how I felt after listening to this audiobook. Just like dancing. It had all the ingredients you need for an awesome book: humor, food, drink, family, great chemistry and captivating writing.
Audrey Kidder was hoping to get her an opportunity to show her culinary skills but the restaurant owner won’t give her a turn in the kitchen. He finally agreed to let her have more opportunities if she could get some farmers to sign a deal selling their organic crops at a price favorable to the restaurant. Audrey drove from Boston to Vermont and the first farmer she ran into was her ex-hookup from college, Griffin Shipley.

Griff is now the inadvertent patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, his three siblings, and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the flame, who has shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.
The struggle to make sure that trade isn’t comprised by their attraction to each other ensues. For Griff, it is paramount that the farm is financially secure because so many people are dependent on the farm’s success. Audrey has finally found the career where she feels confident and fulfilled, so it is imperative that she finds a way to do well and demonstrate to everyone she isn’t a screw up.

The push and pull of love versus occupation is a clash as old as time. I certainly think of produce (bruised or not) in a different way because I never really gave the farmers a second thought when I go to the supermarket.Now I will look at fruits differently.
Griff and Audrey’s second chance came at a better time for the both of them. Life has forced them to mature and it showed this time around. What makes this story superb is the storytelling! Sarina Bowen isn’t wordy, it is just fluid, clear and gripping. This is not an audiobook that you will want to stop until you finish it. The characters are fleshed out well, the plot is developed and the almost everyone is likable. The supporting cast really added flavor to this story. I look forward to learning more about their individual struggles.
I think the author is on to something really special with this series and I am already listening to book 2: Steadfast.

About Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She lives in Vermont’s Green Mountains with her family, six chickens and too much ski gear and hockey equipment.

Bad Judgment by Sidney Bell

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.

Bad Judgment: by Sidney Bell
Release Date: September 19, 2016
Pages: 322 • Format:eARC
Published By:Carina Pres
Purchase Links:
Carina PressAmazon

Embry Ford was a quiet, ordinary guy—until tragedy ripped his life apart. Now he’s living under the radar, desperate to hide his identity and determined to learn the truth behind what happened. Even if that means working for—and bedding—a man he loathes.

As a bodyguard to a shadowy arms dealer, Brogan Smith knows distractions can kill as easily as a bullet. But when he sets his eyes on his client’s sexy assistant, he can’t get him out of his mind. Even more unnerving: the closer he gets to Embry, the more Brogan starts to suspect he might be protecting the wrong man.

Embry was sure nothing but vengeance would satisfy him—until Brogan offers him something far more tempting. Now Embry must choose: punish the people who nearly destroyed him or fight for a future with the man who has become his entire world.
four-stars


These were my initial thoughts up until 38%

I have so many thoughts swirling around in my head regarding this story. For a new author, and for her first book this was really well written. The ANGST!!! Jeez lady, tone it down a notch! I am not one for angst to this degree, but I do love mystery/thrillers. I’m not use to romantic suspense, and I might look into a few because I enjoyed this.

Brogan, Brogan, Brogan. He’s that one friend who is amazingly sweet, and super freaking dense when it comes to his own love life. He’s the guy that will literally move mountains for the guy he’s in love with. It was so many times, I just wanted him to say eff this and I’m out. Gosh, it shouldn’t be this hard to love someone. I am with Mario. I wanted Brogan to find some good dude who’s stable, and not cray cray, and nice. But the heart wants what the little head does. LOL. Brogan is definitely a good guy. I loved his charisma, and just his need to protect. I really enjoyed him as a character. But good Lord, the man is dumb. There ain’t enough Ghirardelli brownies in the world for me to be chasing around somebody as ornery as Embry. Brogan is maybe fated in life to be the smart ass in the relationship. He knows how to push buttons, and for sure knows how to get what he wants. I was super surprised when my emotions started getting the best of me while reading this.

Embry reminds me alot like Moriarty from the BBC version of Sherlock. I mean, you never know what you are going to get with him. He’s basically a grumpy bear. I won’t go into the plot, but it was good. Embry is that guy who is afraid to love, and be loved. He had a hard time grasping the little nuisances that Brogan tried to give him. Embry did grown on me, and I guess I had no choice because Brogan liked him.

I did find myself stalled out in the middle of the story. It took me a few days to pick it back up. It was a lot of filler information in my opinion. Once you get passed 50% the book picks up. From their we get to see the events that lead up to the story. We get Embry’s pov which I found delightful. This was a really good suspense book, and boy did these boys bring the heat with the story. I love that their love was super passionate and explosive. I do feel like I wanted more of the epilogue, because the book was so long I would have preferred to have just a little more of them together. I’m uncertain on their future. To me it ends at a HFN. I guess I’m okay with that. I am looking forward to the next book by this author, I was super intrigued by the beginning chapters of her unknown book. I do recommend this book.

About Sidney Bell

Sidney Bell lives in the drizzly Pacific Northwest with her amazingly supportive husband. She received her MFA degree in Creative Writing in 2010, considered aiming for the Great American Novel, and then promptly started writing fanfiction instead. Eventually more realistic grown-ups convinced her to try writing something more fiscally responsible, which is how we ended up here.

When she’s not writing, she’s playing violent video games, yelling at the television during hockey games, or supporting her local library by turning books in late.

Rented Heart by Garret 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.

Title:Rented Heart by Author: Garrett Leigh
Release Date:Sept 12, 2016
Pages: 228 • Format: eARC
Published By:Riptide
Purchase Links:
Riptide

Ex-surfer-turned-businessman Liam Mallaney moved back to Holkham, Norfolk, to mourn the loss of his husband. Grief and loneliness keep him a solitary figure, and he likes it that way. There’s no room in his broken heart for anything else.

Rentboy Zac Payne left London and most of his demons behind, but he still only knows one way to make a living. When he spots Liam in a club one night, it seems he’s found his mark. But Liam proves nicer—and their connection far deeper—than he’d bargained for.

Their arrangement quickly becomes too complicated for Zac, who has other things on his mind: namely his BFF and wayward flatmate, Jamie. Zac owes Jamie the world, and even as Jamie’s drug addiction destroys all they have, Zac won’t leave him behind.

Besides, Liam knows nothing of Zac’s home life, too caught up in his own head to think much beyond the crazy heat he and Zac share. But when trouble comes to Zac’s door, putting his life in danger, Liam must set his grief and anger aside to pick up the pieces of Zac’s shattered heart and his own.

four-stars

 

This was a really good solid story from Garrett Leigh. I enjoyed it alot, and I thought it was the right amount of angst, love, redemption and acceptance.

I requested this book off the author’s writing ability and this beautiful cover. I adore the story. Rented Heart is the story of two lonely guys who aren’t looking for love, but happen to fall in love. Liam is dealing with the death of his husband. He’s lonely and doing everything in his power to stay to himself. He’s grieving and decides to relieve himself of some stress and loneliness and meets Zac. Rentboy Zac who is just trying to survive another day and not think about the past of his old life in London.

Leigh’s writing is truly magical, and the one thing that I’ve noticed in this book that we don’t see in a lot of gay romance is Kindness. They were both nice to each other. It wasn’t the same ole be mean to the rent boy, or the rent boy doesn’t need saving. Liam didn’t try to save Zac not one iota. He wanted a friend, who happens to need help. I appreciated the generosity that Liam had, and I appreciate the way Zac was with them. It was almost timid like in manner, but them being nice was a breath of fresh air. I liked that Liam saw Zac, not as a whore but as a person.

“..there’s not much I wouldn’t pay for the privilege of spending a few hours with you.”

This quote damn near did me in. Liam might have been lonely, but he wasn’t bitter. He was focused now that he got a burst of freshness being around Zac. I don’t even think it was the sex. I think it was having someone around for him to be himself, and to be there for someone else. This story being told about rent boy redemption was uplifting and about self-worth. Liam kept reminding Zac that he wasn’t a whore. I think for Zac he was really worried if Liam’s feelings for him can be true or be because of him being lonely. This is why I’m super proud of the age-gap. I think Liam was mature enough to teach Zac certain things, and be a friend then try to change him. I am gushing over Liam that’s all. I damn near fell in love with him all over.

Zac also has his fair sure of issues. He is enabling his best friend. They’ve been in this lifestyle so long that boundaries get crossed and friendships get blurred. I wouldn’t change a thing between Zac and Jamie. They are who they are for a reason, and if all of this had to occur just for them to get an ounce of happiness then I’m game.

This is a must read for people. I liked it alot, and always seem to get a get read from this author. It was the right about of angst, and love for me. I even was able to not cry! I know, me who cried at everything she writes. I recommend this to everyone!

“Don’t rent your heart out for nothing when I reckon you’ve both been through enough to deserve a hell of a lot more.”

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

Bear Among the Books by T. J. Masters

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.

Bear Among the Books: by T.J. Masters
Release Date: September 2, 2016
Pages: 230 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspiner
Purchase Links:
DreamspinnerAReAmazon

Forty-eight-year-old Ben Thompson is a librarian, a passionate book lover, and a man who embodies the definition of a bear. He’s also lonely after the loss of his long-term partner. Young ex-gymnast Jason Barnes piques his interest, but Ben quickly realizes there’s more to Jason than his good looks. While Jason visits the library almost every day, he never checks out a book.

With gentle persistence, Ben befriends Jason and learns the nineteen-year-old’s tragic secrets. After years of abuse at his father’s hands, Jason was kicked out of his family home for being gay. And despite his apparent love of books, Jason never learned to read. Ben offers to teach him, and the two men bond over their lessons. Ben can’t deny his attraction to Jason, but he wonders if Jason is too young and too handsome to return his interest. With the help of the close-knit library team and Jason’s growing self-confidence, they move beyond the books and into the bedroom, where their own story is just beginning.

three-stars

Yeah Angie, that’s how I felt. Ummm. My first reaction is that I think the subject of the story had the greatest potential ever!!! Ideally this was a huge Age-Gap. Seriously, it was a 29 year age difference. Like holy f****. This was a big deal, and I didn’t know what to think of it. I’m trying to convey my issues with Ben personally. I mean, he’s Jason teacher, lover, and employer. It was to fast and too many boundaries being crossed. I’m all for love, and everything but the way the story was written, Jason seems to naive. He’s been through A LOT. I don’t know why no one mentioned him getting any therapy for his situation, and maybe gardening is his own therapeutic way. But the love seemed so one – sided because Jason is so out of depth on everything.

It’s like ALL of Ben’s reservations about Jason were coming true. I’m not saying that he couldn’t love Jason, but let’s be real the trauma that Jason has been through in his life, and his lack of education should have been front and center for me. I would have liked Jason decisions to not have been made on the cusp of him not wanting to be along. He is literally floundering his way around. He has no self-confidence, and no reassurance of his abilities. This was to easy, and I would have preferred the angst and some sort of emotion with this story. It was monotone and everybody was so damn cheery, and nice.

Call me a Grinch, but this would have been the perfect story for uncontrollable crying, and in my head I would have liked after all the ANGST that is possible for them to part ways. I would have liked Jason & Ben to come to terms that they’ve loved each other for this small amount of time. I would have liked for them to realize that they are better with one another, and Jason goes on to someone else. Ben has given him love, and the tools he needs to survive. I would have liked Ben to realize that Jason needs someone else. I just didn’t want them together in the end. This needed some tears, emotions, and mental instability on my part. Hell I might just need to write a story. I would have preferred to feel like this at the end.

Instead I’m left feeling nothing.

About T. J. Masters

T.J. Masters is a fifty-six-year-old author and life coach living in Hertfordshire just to the north of London, England. T.J. has shared thirty years of suburban life with his civil partner Ian, and they enjoy the love and support of T.J’s large Irish family who all live nearby. In 2009 T.J. took early retirement from a thirty-three-year school teaching career and decided to follow a new path. After qualifying as a life coach, T.J. found that he was coaching a couple of authors who were going through the process of giving birth to the book which “had always been inside them.” This rekindled T.J’s long-held desire to write and get published.

With a lifelong passion for books, learning, and the sharing of knowledge, T.J. woke up to the realization that he had stories to tell, books to write, and less than half a lifetime left to do it in. As for the kind of books he is writing… well, let’s just say that he decided to channel over thirty years of experience in the gay BDSM lifestyle into a genre where it would be most appreciated!

Alongside this passion for books and writing, T.J. also found an outlet for his inner geek and has become a great advocate for social media in various forms. Blogging has become a great outlet for T.J’s many interests including the writerly ones. The author has a website where he blogs regularly and he loves to interact with his readers and followers a

One Step Forward by Tia Fielding

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.

OneStepForwardFSOne Step Forward by Tia Fielding
Release Date: August 8, 2016
Pages:  236 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
DreamspinnerAmazonARe

Sam Becker, a horse whisperer, agrees to take one last job before retiring to his Texas ranch. It’s clear as soon as he meets the Taylor family in Kentucky that he’s in for a challenge. What he doesn’t expect is the way his own wounds reopen. He’s never really dealt with the suicide of his mentally ill wife, and he won’t be able to ignore that hurt forever.

Joshua Taylor and his horse, Calla, were a force to be reckoned with on the eventing circuit until an accident ended their careers. Most of the pain is on the inside, however, and Sam knows those injuries are the slowest to mend. Sam’s unique methods help Calla and, surprisingly, Josh, but he’s still lost without riding. Their feelings for each other come hard and fast, and Josh starts his first steps of recovery, but Sam needs to return to Texas eventually. Even if Josh is able to move past the accident, they’ll still have a long and difficult journey to make before they can be together.

two-stars

I’m reading this, and thinking whoa my goodness, here comes the cheesiness. A horse whisperer?? Really? Okay, I was able to set aside my side eye for that. I’m journeying through it, and then I literally wanted it to stop with the over the top stuff. I figured okay I’m reading it might as well suspend reality and climb into a place with bubbles and hearts. That’s what I felt like 95% of the book. I thought it dragged forever at times, and then the last 20% you want to skip feelings and thoughts. Why? I mean every other basic nuisance was mentioned.

Of course, 2 weeks later It’s I love you.

Thanks Harry. That’s exactly how I felt with the magical Sam, and his love for Josh. It was so much stuff happening in the story and then the ending was kaput. Basically thrown together. Josh being magically better because of Sam was total b.s. BUT, I was able to suspend reality and be okay with him wanting to get better. I don’t believe it. I don’t really understand Sam either. His character development was all over the place. He never felt like a real person. His actions at the end showed that very well. I don’t care how much heartache it’ll be he pulled a coward move, and I could never like him again. His reasons meant nothing to me. Being apart should had both characters evaluating if this was even real between them. It didn’t leave me satisfied at all. The holes at the end was to big to overlook, and I didn’t feel better once finishing it.

About Tia Fielding

Tia Fielding is a thirtysomething Scandinavian who is a lover of witty people, words, cats, sarcasm, autumn, and the tiny beautiful things in life. Tia struggles with stubborn muses and depression, but both are things she has learned to live with.
After losing the thread of her writing in her teens, Tia rediscovered the joy of writing stories through fanfiction, which later kick-started her publishing career. Tia is not ashamed of her past of borrowing other people’s characters, but has found creating her own much more satisfying.
Tia identifies as genderqueer, but isn’t strict about pronouns. Why? Because luckily, in her native language there aren’t gender-specific pronouns. Being a reclusive author living with her fur-babies is another fact of life for Tia, among the need to write that seems to be a part of her psyche by now.
In the fall of 2014, Tia took a huge leap for most authors and kicked her coffee habit. Do not fret, though, she switched to tea, so her life isn’t completely lacking caffeine.
In 2013 Tia’s one of Tia’s novels was recognized by the industry’s Rainbow Awards in the Best LGBT Erotic Romance (Bobby Michaels Award) category.

What Remains 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.

WhatRemains_600x900What Remains by Garrett Leigh
Release Date: July 4, 2016
Pages: 283 • Format: eARC
Published By: Riptide Publishing
Purchase Link:
Riptide

Web designer Jodi Peters is a solitary creature. Lunch twice a week with his ex-girlfriend-turned-BFF and the occasional messy venture to a dodgy gay bar is all the company he needs, right?

Then one night he stumbles across newly divorced firefighter Rupert O’Neil. Rupert is lost and lonely, but just about the sweetest bloke Jodi has ever known. Add in the heady current between them, and Jodi can’t help falling hard in love. He offers Rupert a home within the walls of his cosy Tottenham flat—a sanctuary to nurture their own brand of family—and for four blissful years, life is never sweeter.

Until a cruel twist of fate snatches it all away. A moment of distraction leaves Jodi fighting for a life he can’t remember and shatters Rupert’s heart. Jodi doesn’t know him—or want to. With little left of the man he adores, Rupert must cling to what remains of his shaky faith and pray that Jodi can learn to love him again.

three-half-stars

I was so expecting my reaction and emotions to be like this when I first read the blurb.

I had high hopes, I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t a bad story, but it seemed pedestrian. That might seem harsh, but I know others, and myself included puts Garrett Leigh’s work on a higher pedestal. She’s an amazing writer and story teller. The range of feelings and emotions that I feel when reading her stories always leave me stumped, happy, and wrung out. But I love it.

For me, amnesia is suck a finicky topic to talk about. I mean, I don’t want it to be like in the movies when they miraculously get their memories back, and because I lived first hand with someone who suffered an brain injury, I definitely get it. I love the initial meeting between Jodi & Rupert. I like the past and present dialogue that we are given. Leigh is able to show them from the beginning stance of their friendship. She showed us how these two guys needed each other. It was almost like the beginning was Jodi showing Rupert his sexuality.He was able to teach him with the respect of not knowing if Rupert was going to be invested in him. I like the push and pull that they both have with each other. Rupert was able to grown within himself. Jodi was charismatic, and self assured in himself. Falling in love with Rupert was unexpected, but welcomed.

Fast forward to the accident, and it’s total role reversal. Jodi is the one getting paid attention to. It’s not bad thing, let me say that. Rupert has grown so much into himself, and with that confidence of the love he has for Jodi it’s undeniable not to see the love that they have. Rupert had to put his partner before everything. It was a long process, that takes courage and love to do. That’s not my issue with the story itself. With all the right formula that was put into the story, I finished thinking what was wrong? It was lacking emotion. Not once did I feel a tear, anger, or the usual stuff I equate with Leigh’s writing. I hate to add onto it, but it was monotone. One noted, and not something I was responding. While both guys were good characters, and they have the connection together, I just never connected with them.

It wasn’t the Garrett Leigh I love, but it was okay.

 

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