Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Back to You by Chris Scully

Back to You by Chris Scully 

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryJournalist Alex Buchanan has come home to the remote British Columbia town he grew up in, but only because his estranged father is dying. For Alex, the homecoming holds a mix of memories, mostly bad. The only bright spot is reconnecting with Benji Morning, the childhood friend he never truly forgot. As boys, the strength of their bond had frightened Alex. But now that he’s confident in his bisexuality, he’s drawn back to quiet, soft-spoken Ben.

Ben isn’t the same boy Alex left behind, though. His life has been overshadowed by the disappearance of his sister two decades earlier, and now a new break in the case threatens to undo the peace he’s worked so hard to attain.

As Alex struggles to repair the relationship with his father before it’s too late, he finds himself caught up in a twenty-year-old mystery, a story he never expected, and a shocking truth that could affect his and Ben’s future together.

ReviewI really love m/m romance, but I also like when there is an added genre on top of it because then you not only get the romance, you get a fully fledged story apart from the two main characters. In Back to You, Alex comes home after receiving a phone call from his sister telling him their father is dying. Alex isn't on good terms with his dad, but he goes thinking he could write an article about it. Of course, once he's home again, he has to reach out to his childhood friend, Ben, who kissed him right before Alex' family moved at the age of 13. He hasn't seen or spoken to Ben since, but he's always held a flame for him.

I love friends to lover romances, and it was really nice to see Ben and Alex getting to know each other again after all the years in between. I also appreciated that while Ben is gay, Alex is actually bisexual, and nobody shames him for that and says he can't be. Bisexuality is valid too and I love when authors have characters that are bi.

As for the other aspect of this book, there is a 20-year mystery of what happened to Ben's older sister, who disappeared one day. Alex decides to help investigate, unsure if he really wants to know the answers. It was a really good mystery -I was fairly surprised by the outcome, but it's a good one! It definitely ends on a hopeful note for most people involved. 

All in all, this was a good one!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Chief's Mess by L.A. Witt

Chief's Mess by L.A. Witt 

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add on Goodreads): Anthony Talbot is in Anchor Point to visit family, but after two days of strife, he needs a break. A local gay bar is calling his name.
When Chief Noah Jackson sees that red head stroll into the club, he immediately wants him. They’re perfectly matched, and before long, they’re burning up the sheets. Noah can’t get enough. Anthony can’t stay in Oregon for long, but as soon as he leaves, he’s counting down the days until he can fly back for more. And between his increasingly frequent visits, there’s always phone sex, sexting, webcams . . . anything they can get.

But Noah’s got a carefully crafted façade, and Anthony can’t help noticing the slowly forming cracks. The scent of alcohol in the middle of the day. The extra drinks at dinner. The hint of red in his eyes. Anthony knows what it means. He doesn’t want to believe it, but he’s seen this before, and there’s no denying it. If Noah doesn’t get his downward spiral under control, he’s going to lose both his career and the first man he’s ever really loved.

Review: Chief's Mess is the third book in the Anchor Point series, which features a bunch of Navy men falling in love. I'd suggest reading the books in order, or at least the second one before you start Chief's Mess since the couple in the 2nd book appears a few times in this one. At any rate, I really love Witt and her novels so I'd suggest reading all these books just because of that!

Anyway, back to Chief's Mess. I will say that this is probably my least favorite of the three books out so far, but that doesn't mean I didn't like it. I think my main - and really only - issue is that there is so much of their physical relationship throughout the book and sometimes I wanted a bit more. Now, I think the book is written well and you definitely get to know the two guys - Anthony and Noah - but every now and then I just wanted a bit more of the everyday, emotional side of their relationship. Besides that, this was a good one.

Anthony meets Noah in a bar while in Anchor Point with his sister. It's supposed to be a one night stand - and that turns into a week-long thing while Anthony is still in town. However, once Anthony leaves, they both realize they want more and that begins their long-distance relationship. Because they are able to see each other fairly regularly, it works. They get closer and it soon becomes more than the sex for both of them. They are genuinely falling for each other. However, Anthony is starting to notice that Noah drinks...a lot. He's not sure if it's really a problem or if he's projecting his sister's ex onto Noah.

All in all, I love the Anchor Point series. While I might have wished for a little less physical and a little more emotional, I feel like you still get enough of the emotional to make you fall for these guys. I definitely rooted them on! I can't wait for the fourth novel!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Pride Month: Book Deals + LGBT Book Giveaway

Riptide Publishing has been having some great sales in honor of Pride Month. Each week there are 50% off books on a different letter of LGBT. First it was books with lesbian characters and then books with gay characters. Until June 19, you can get half off on books with bisexual characters. Just visit Riptide here.

I've been eyeing all the books throughout the month but I bought my first one yesterday, so I know it features a bisexual character. The one I chose was Risky Behavior by L.A. Witt and Cari Z. I've read books by Witt before and love them, so I'm excited about this one! Of course the summary sounds great -and there is a sequel due out soon I believe!

I also wanted to let you know that I'm hosting a giveaway on Twitter for Pride Month-

Visit my Twitter page (the giveaway is pinned to the top). If you follow and RT the original tweet you can enter to win ANY #LGBT book up to $15. Open to anyone who can receive books from The Book Depository.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer

Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryJeremy Reeve is one of the best divers in the world, and he’s worked hard to get where he is. He intends to keep pushing himself with one very clear goal in mind: winning gold at the summer Olympics in two years. That medal might be the only way to earn his father’s respect as an athlete.

Brandon Evans is everything Jeremy isn’t: carefree, outgoing, and openly gay. With his bright-blue eyes and dramatic tattoos, he’s a temptation that Jeremy refuses to acknowledge. But Jeremy can’t ignore how talented Brandon is—or that Brandon has no interest in using his diving skills to compete.

They’re opposites who are forced to work together as teammates, but Jeremy’s fear of his own sexuality and Brandon’s disinterest in anything “not fun” may end their partnership before it begins. Until a single moment changes everything, and they help each other discover that “team” can also mean family and love.

Review: I will admit that some people who read this might get really annoyed and frustrated with Jeremy. However, I think his attitude about certain things is reasonable. He doesn't have a great family life - his dad and brothers always make fun of his diving. He's a great diver though, and he's desperate to finally get that Olympic gold medal in hopes of making his family proud. Everything seems to be going smoothly, until his coach takes on a new diver named Brandon. Brandon's good, but he's not as disciplined. He's only been diving for two years.

Jeremy is prickly in the beginning but he soon accepts Brandon as a friend, and more. While Jeremy is definitely gay, he's terrified of people knowing. This makes Brandon have to hide their relationship, which he doesn't like, but he does it to stay with Jeremy. Obviously there is drama and issues surrounding this situation, as well as Jeremy's often single-minded focus on diving. This leads to hurt feelings between all involved. I don't want to say much because it would spoil the book, but I found the diving aspect of the story was really fascinating and I liked Brandon and Jeremy together when things were working well. I did feel bad for both of them, oftentimes more for Brandon who is trying so hard to be what Jeremy wants, but I understood the issues that Jeremy was facing and I was rooting for him to address those.

This is a relatively long read, but it went by pretty quick!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner 

Review by Lauren

source: copy from BloggingForBooks; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryOne day Carver Briggs had it all—three best friends, a supportive family, and a reputation as a talented writer at his high school, Nashville Academy for the Arts.

The next day he lost it all when he sent a simple text to his friend Mars, right before Mars, Eli, and Blake were killed in a car crash.

Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident, and he’s not the only one. Eli’s twin sister is trying to freeze him out of school with her death-ray stare. And Mars’s father, a powerful judge, is pressuring the district attorney to open a criminal investigation into Carver’s actions.

Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a Goodbye Day with her to share their memories and say a proper goodbye to his friend.

Soon the other families are asking for a Goodbye Day with Carver, but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these Goodbye Days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown or—even worse—prison?

Review: This book has a very intriguing question at the heart of it: if someone gets in a car accident due to texting, who's to blame? The person who texted - knowing they were driving - or the driver who tried to text back, while driving? Well, the main character in Goodbye Days, Carver, is the first half of that question. He texted one of his three best friends - knowing they were driving - and they got into a car accident, killing all three of the young men. Now Carver is afraid that charges will be pressed against him and he'll end up in jail. He's got a great lawyer, and he's finally seeing a psychiatrist, but the guilt eats away at Carver day after day.

While this sounds like a heartbreaking book - and it can be - it's also full of humor and hope. There are flashbacks to Carver meeting his three friends, as well as ordinary moments of them just having fun. The relationship between all three boys felt very realistic and I loved getting a glimpse of the life they all had BEFORE. 

I have yet to read The Serpent King by this author, but it's one I do want to get to soon. I highly recommend reading Goodbye Days whether you read the author's debut or not. They aren't connected, so no need to worry about that. I found this book to be upsetting and wonderful, often all at the same time. I wanted to yell at some of the adults in Carver's life for not understanding that he is a child too. I thought the idea of doing a Goodbye Day with the various parents/adults of the boys lost - Blake, Eli, Mars-  was a really brilliant idea. 

Some were much harder for Carver than others, but he starts with saying goodbye to Blake with Blake's grandma, who loves Carver and would never blame him. This goodbye day is obviously my favorite. I think all of them helped Carver heal a little bit though, even if it opened up some of the wounds at the same time. 

Very good; I recommend! I'm sharing this review here because one of my Carver's friends is gay, and there are a couple really wonderful moments in the book! 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Straight Expectations: The Story of a Family in Transition by Peggy Cryden

Straight Expectations: The Story of a Family in Transition by Peggy Cryden

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryEver since they were young, Peggy Cryden noticed her children's gender expression did not correspond with society's expectations of their biological gender. In this moving and honest memoir, Peggy details the experiences and challenges of raising both a gay son and a gay, transgender son and shares her family's journey of adversity and growth, which has helped inform her work as a psychotherapist.

Review: I'm glad to have been given the chance to read this book. It was a very well done memoir. The writing style was easy to read and follow. It's almost conversational. In the beginning, it does focus a lot on Cryden's own life growing up, and while this was interesting, I still found myself more eager to hear about her sons. After all, that was the aspect of the book that made me most interested in reading Straight Expectations!

It was heartbreaking to hear about all that her two sons had to endure growing up, but it was also great to see how they grew and become wonderful young men. The book focuses on a transgender son, a gay son, a son with OCD and a eating disorder, and more. The author doesn't shy away from these topics. She's open and honest. This is a good book to read whether you know a lot about LGBT+ youth already or not. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

It Could Happen by Mia Kerick

It Could Happen by Mia Kerick

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Dreamspinner press; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryThree misfits, mismatched in every way—Henry Perkins, Brody Decker, and Danny Denisco—have been friends throughout high school. Now in their senior year, the boys realize their relationship is changing, that they’re falling in love. But they face opposition at every turn—from outside and from within themselves. Moving to the next level will take all the courage, understanding, and commitment they can muster. But it could happen.

Henry is a star athlete and the son of religious parents who have little concern for the future he wants. Brody is a quirky dreamer and adrenaline junkie, and Danny is an emo artist and the target of bullies. Despite their differences they’ve always had each other’s backs, and with each of them facing a new and unique set of challenges, that support is more important than ever. Is it worth risking the friendship they all depend on for the physical and romantic relationship they all desire?

Review: When reviewing this on Goodreads, I couldn't really rate this book because it was more of a 3.5 than a 3 or a 4. It's a good read. I liked the relationship between the three guys and how they became each other's family. I thought the adults in the book spoke in a weird, sort of stilted manner though. It didn't feel entirely realistic. All in all, it was a good story though. It was interesting to see how the three guys made their relationship work while still in high school. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

On Point by Annabeth Albert

On Point by Annabeth Albert

Review by Lauren 

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryPushing thirty, with his reenlistment looming, decorated navy sniper Maddox Horvat is taking a long look at what he really wants in life. And what he wants is Ben Tovey. It isn’t smart, falling for his best friend and fellow SEAL, but ten years with Ben has forged a bond so intimate Maddox can’t ignore it. He needs Ben by his side forever—heart and soul.

Ben admits he likes what he’s seen—his friend’s full lower lip and the perfect muscles of his ass have proved distracting more than once. But Ben's still reeling from a relationship gone to hell, and he's not about to screw up his friendship with Maddox, too.

Until their next mission throws Ben and Maddox closer together than ever before, with only each other to depend on.

Now, in the lonely, desperate hours awaiting rescue, the real challenge—confronting themselves, their future and their desires—begins. Man to man, friend to friend, lover to lover.

Review: Based on the summary, I thought this book might take place mostly on the mission while the two wait for rescue, but that's really just the beginning of the story. I really loved On Point. I'm a big fan of friends to lovers romances, and I think this one was done really well. On Point is the third in the Out of Uniform series - and this is a favorite series of mine! I can't wait for the fourth book. You can read these books out of order, but I suggest reading them in order since you'll see the characters in all the books. For example, I already knew a bit about Ben and Maddox before reading On Point and it just made me even more excited to check out their story.

One thing that I really loved about On Point is that while the two guys are already best friends, that doesn't mean that becoming more than that is easy. They still have their doubts and worries, and these are things they have to work through - together. Definitely recommended! 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Summer Stock by Vanessa North

Summer Stock by Vanessa North

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryTabloid scandals have driven TV star Ryan Hertzog to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where he’s hiding out doing summer stock at his cousin’s seaside theater. When a hookup with local handyman Trey Donovan results in Ryan being photographed butt naked, he vows to keep his pants on and his hands off Trey. How was he supposed to know Trey would turn out to be the summer stock set builder?

Trey isn’t looking for a relationship; he’s still recovering from the emotional fallout of an abusive marriage. But Ryan’s laughter draws him in again and again, and he’s not about to say no to fooling around.

As the summer heats up, the paparazzi catch Ryan in increasingly compromising situations. Ryan might be too much drama for a summer fling—and Trey might be just an intermission from Ryan’s Hollywood life. But if they take their cues from Shakespeare, all’s well that ends well.

Review: I think it's safe to say that I love Vanessa North. The first book I read by her, Blueberry Boys, was fantastic and I loved Summer Stock just as much. It's really easy to love both Ryan and Trey. While Ryan is back in his hometown working on Shakespeare plays because of his bad boy antics in Hollywood, he's not a bad guy. He doesn't take himself seriously and he's more than happy to play the secondary character instead of the lead. 

However, when his best friend ends up in rehab, he knows that he needs to
 stay out of the press and get his life back on track before taking on Hollywood again. 

As for Trey, he works on the sets every summer for Shakespeare by the Sea. He used to be married, but that relationship was abuse and his ex is now in jail. Despite this, he's open to the possibility of seeing Ryan after they have what was seemingly a one-night stand. 

However, he still has issues in his past that he has to deal with and he seems to unintentionally sabotage their relationship because he doesn't feel good enough. It was sad to see, though perfectly understandable at the same time. 

I loved seeing Ryan and Trey open up to each other and realize that they can be a good match. It's not easy and it doesn't take just the summer, but it's great when it finally all comes together! Highly recommended! 

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Penalty for Holding by Georgette Gouveia

The Penalty for Holding by Georgette Gouveia

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryWhen the quarterback of the hapless New York Templars is injured, backup QB Quinn Novak takes the team to the playoffs. There he attracts the attention of two other quarterbacks who’ve been rivals since high school – Mal Ryan of the Philadelphia Quakers and Tam Tarquin of the San Francisco Miners. Quinn begins a volatile relationship with the narcissistic Mal and a loving one with the open-hearted Tam, keeping each secret from the other.

What he doesn’t know is that the two have a complex sexual history of their own. Quinn will have to overcome a thorny present as well as a troubled past if he hopes to have a promising future.

Review: I gave this one two stars, but sometimes I think that's too nice. The Penalty for Holding is a difficult book to review. It's definitely a book that went in a direction I was not expecting. I will say that I didn't like the way it was written though - and the pace of the book was a bit too jumpy. There were moments in the book that seem to come out of the blue, without any specific explanation. I wasn't a fan of the ending either, because I just felt like it gave a bad representation of being gay. I can't really explain without spoiling the book, so I'll leave it at that.

There is also a case of domestic violence between two gay men that could have been great, but it was very lackluster. The topic wasn't focused on enough or fully addressed in the book, though there's a sense it will be in the future. It's a tricky topic, and it just didn't work for this book.

Obviously I finished the book, so it wasn't completely awful. There were moments that I enjoyed. I just felt like nothing really worked out in the way that I hoped/wanted. Definitely not something I can recommend, I'm afraid.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Loose Cannon by Sidney Bell

Loose Cannon by Sidney Bell

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryReleased after five years in the system for assault, streetwise Edgar-Allen Church is ready to leave the past behind and finally look to his future. In need of a place to crash, he's leaning on Miller Quinn. A patient, solidly masculine pillar of strength and support, Miller has always been there for him—except in the one way Church has wanted the most.

With his staunchly conservative upbringing, Miller has been playing it straight his whole life. Now with Church so close again, it's getting harder to keep his denial intact. As they fumble their way back to friendship after so many years apart, Miller struggles to find the courage to accept who he really is. What he has with Church could be more than desire—it could be love. But it could also mean trouble.

Church's criminal connections are closing in on the both of them, and more than their hearts are at risk. This time, their very lives are on the line.

Review: Loose Cannon was a good read, though it did feel a tad too long. Granted, I think that was due to the fact that it's setting up for the sequel. I'm not sure who the sequel will focus on exactly, but my guess is Ghost, who Church knows from a rehabilitation place called Woodbury (the title of the series). 

Besides this, I was very much interested in Church and his friendship with Miller. Of course, it leads to more, but it's not easy to for either of them. Church doesn't feel good enough, and Miller has a lot of ingrained homophobia from his late father - even though he knows there is nothing wrong with being gay and has no qualms about Church being so.

There is a mafia-esque aspect to the story that while still realistic in a sense, brings this story into a different genre than just realistic contemporary. At least in my opinion. All in all though, I liked this one!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Guest Movie Review: Personal Shopper

photo source - do not own
Hey everyone! I have Catherine Hume back again with another guest post. This time she's reviewing the movie Personal Shopper, which stars Kristen Stewart. Give her a big welcome and comment below! To learn more about the film, go here.

My!  Hasn't Kristen Stewart grown?!

I've just seen the art house film Personal Shopper starring Kristen Stewart, and I can say her abilities as an actor have clearly flourished.  Admittedly I may be behind the curve because I've only seen Kristen Stewart in the Twilight films (my best friend fancied Stewart), and I know I wasn't the only one who found Stewart's acting in the Twilight films wooden - so wooden that Bella Swan may as well  have been played by a peg on a stick.  Watching Stewart's performance in Personal Shopper was a welcome surprise.  In this film, Stewart's acting was realistic, nuanced and human.

Personal Shopper is "another Black Swan" as my beautiful husband called it.  There were several storylines in this film.  The most the viewer can follow easily are that Kristen Stewart plays Maureen, an American in Paris, a personal shopper, whose twin brother Lewis died of a condition she also has.  Then we find that Maureen and Lewis were both mediums and Maureen is trying to exorcise the house he lived in.  Then it all gets a bit complicated - another Black Swan.  What is real and what is perhaps not becomes confused and like Black Swan and that other famous gay/bisexual film The Talented Mr Ripley, at the end of the film the viewer is left with more questions than answers.  Perhaps this is what defines a film as a good art house film?

As LGBT people, we know that when we are not constantly looking over our shoulders for lesbo/homo/bi/transphobia our minds are freed to excel.  Maybe this is what happened with Kristen Stewart?  She is no longer the wooden, blank actor who played Bella Swan so miserably but an actor in the truest of senses. 

In Personal Shopper Maureen's sexual orientation is not discussed.  However, throughout the film, all I could think when I looked at Stewart's various outfits was, "You're looking very Shane today!"  (L Word fans, welcome.)  That little pony tail Stewart wears that is similar to the one Shane rocked at the end of Series 4.  That slouch beanie that is welded to Shane's head for half of Series 6.  The vest tops under T-shirst and NO BRAS.  Shane.

With this being an art house film, it's possible it's slipped under your radar.  My advice:  seek it out!  For me, this film was a nice surprise, and as a bi woman I thought it was great to see Kristen Stewart doing so well in such a rich and complex film.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Rainbow Roundup: Noteworthy, Finding Nevo, and More!

I'm back with another Rainbow Roundup. Check out all the LGBT+ posts and book reviews below. Anything look interesting? I'm so glad you all are enjoying these!

Books for a Delicate Eternity reviewed/discusses Noteworthy by Riley Redgate (YA, bisexual MC, etc.)

Crushingcinders reviewed Noteworthy by Riley Redgate as well

Books for a Delicate Eternity also reviewed Finding Nevo by Nevo Zisin (LGBT+ memoir)

Readers in Wonderland talks about 5 LGBT+ Books They Need to Read

It Starts at Midnight has a guest post from author Julie Ember about The Seafarer's Kiss (F/F romance)

Pink Polka Dot Books interviewed Cale Dietrich, author of The Love Interest (YA, M/M)

Night Owl Book Cafe reviewed The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (MC's sister is a lesbian)

Happily Ever Chapter reviewed My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen by David Clawson (YA, M/M)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Etsy Pride: Hair Ties and Cat Shirts!

I thought it was about time that I did another Etsy Pride! Hope you enjoy!

Do you use these fun hair ties? Now you can get a Pride Hair Tie set for around $3. It's being sold by BuiltByBesties.

Have pride? Love cats? Check out this Purride t-shirt starting at $24.99 and made by OhMyPawd.

I never want to overload you with items at one time, so we'll leave it at two! What do you think of these items? Would you buy for yourself, or someone you know?

Monday, May 15, 2017

Back Piece by L.A. Witt

Back Piece by L.A. Witt

Review by Lauren
source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: Colin Spencer is a tattoo artist with a past he’d prefer to keep a secret. Actually, he has a few secrets that he’d rather people didn’t know about, which is why Colin doesn’t do commitment. But when a shy sailor approaches him at the gym, Colin finds this guy pushing all his buttons.
Growing up in a conservative family, then escaping with the Navy, Daniel Moore is an unsure virgin who feels like he can’t share his true self with anyone. Seeing Colin—and his tattoos—at the gym are the sign Daniel needs to finally get those tattoos he’s always wanted, and maybe try his hand at flirting.
As Colin and Daniel spend more time together, their awkward hesitations turn into a deep passion neither expected. But with both men harboring secrets, will their relationship be able to survive their insecurities and become something beautiful?
Review: I've read other books by Witt in the past, and they are definitely an author I love. Back Piece was just another book full of great characters and if you like men in uniform, Daniel is in the Navy! 
In simple terms, this book is about Colin Spencer who is a tattoo artist with a lot of difficulties in his past that will always affect him. As for Daniel, he joined the Navy to get away from his family - who he loves, but they don't know he's gay. Because of his upbringing, Colin has never really been with a guy, so when he meets Colin, he's definitely nervous to know that Colin has a lot more experience than he does.
What I loved about these two guys is that neither of them made each other feel bad about their past or shortcomings. Colin was patient with Daniel when it came to the physical nature of their relationship and he didn't want Daniel to come out to his parents until he was truly ready. At the same time, Daniel listens to Colin's confessions and revelations about his past without judging him or making him feel bad. They definitely work together well.
Back Piece is an enjoyable read. I felt like you really got to know Colin and Daniel -and the secondary characters in their lives - and it was a nice balance between the overall story line and the romance between the two.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Cask Strength by Layla Reyne

Cask Strength by Layla Reyne

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Professionally, the FBI team of Aidan "Irish" Talley and Jameson "Whiskey" Walker is as good as it gets, closing cases faster than any team at the Bureau. Personally, it’s a different story. Aidan’s feelings for Jamie scare the hell out of him: he won’t risk losing another love no matter how heart-tripping the intimacy between them. And loss is a grim reality with the terrorist Renaud still on their trail, leaving a pile of bodies in his wake.

Going undercover on a new case gets them out of town and off the killer's radar. They're assigned to investigate an identity theft ring involving a college basketball team in Jamie's home state, where Jamie's past makes him perfect for the role of coach. But returning to the court brings more than old memories.

As secrets and shocking betrayals abound, none may be more dangerous than the one Jamie’s been keeping: a secret about the death of Aidan’s husband that could blow his partner's world apart and destroy forever the fragile bonds of trust and love building between them.

Review: This is actually the second book in the Agents Irish and Whiskey series. I feel like I've been saying this a lot, but I requested it not realizing there was a book before this one - with the same  characters. While it's something I'd like to read at some point, I didn't feel lost starting with the second book. There is an overarching mystery that the author does a good job filling you in on, and then there is a more prominent mystery that is unique to this particular book. As for Irish and Whiskey, this is the book where the two finally start to admit to more than physical attraction for each other. Well, Whiskey has long fallen for Irish, but after losing his husband, Irish isn't so sure he can handle getting too close to anyone else.

I thought the partnership between these two men was great. Yes, they had the romance element, but in general, they fit well together. They always had each other's back and genuinely cared about the other's safety and well being. The mysteries in the book were well done and I never really knew what was happening throughout. It kept me in suspense and happy to read. The overarching mystery has new layers added to it in this book, which will be focused on in the third book. As for the mystery for this particular book, everything is revealed and wrapped up, so all in all, there isn't much of a cliffhanger. Granted, I still can't wait for the next book!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Faking It by Christine d'Abo

Faking It by Christine d'Abo 

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley/publisher; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryMax Tremblay should be happy. His night club, Frantic, is one of the most popular gay clubs in Toronto, and his childhood refuge, Ringside Gym, is well on the way to reopening. But when he finds yet another drunk in the alley beside the bar, Max isn’t sure this is the life he truly wants.

Grady Barnes has it all. He’s rich, famous, and wants for nothing. Well, nothing but a good relationship with his father. When he discovers that his father is going to force him into an arranged marriage, Grady has had enough. He tracks down Max, the man who got him to safety after a night of overindulgence, and makes him a proposal: pretend to be his fiancé for two weeks and he’ll invest in Ringside Gym.

When the pair travel to Vancouver to attend a family wedding, the flames of their mutual attraction ignite, and they discover that the only difference between pretend and reality is how well they can fake it.

Review: Faking It is the second book in the Ringside Romance series and I loved it just as much as the first. You could read these out of order, but I suggest reading them all because they are great, plus the first couple appears a bit in Faking It so it's nice to know who they are and how they got together.

With Faking It, we got the whole "fake fiance" trope. I tend to see this more in things like Hallmark films than in books. We all know that the book will end with the two characters actually getting together, but isn't that true of almost all romance books? Basically, the trope didn't bother me. It wasn't like Max and Grady had it easy.

I loved getting to know Max more - he's in the first book a bit - and meeting Grady for the first time. Both of them have very different backgrounds and stations in life, but they understand each other too. Max wants someone to take care of him sometimes, and Grady wants to be the one who is trusted to take care of someone. They both have "problems" so to speak with their fathers, though Grady's is more long-running and contentious.

I thought it was great how the author showed the two characters getting to really know each other while faking their engagement. The book showed that while it may have been quick, it's possible to love someone in a short span of time.

I can't wait for the third Ringside Romance book! Definitely check these out so you're all caught up for the next release! 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Twitter Follower Giveaway!

Hey everyone!

I wanted to let you know that I finally reached 3k followers on Twitter and that means it's Giveaway time!

The prize is $25 USD paid to you through PayPal. If you have PayPal, you can enter, but if your currency is not USD, please note it might not equal the same amount.

You have until May 31 to enter and all you have to do is follow me on Twitter and RT the giveaway post (it's pinned to the top). Find me here.

Sorry for the lack of posts last week! I try and get in about three every week, if I can. I'm reading a lot of LGBT+ books at the moment though so be ready for more posts to come up!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Relationship Status by K.A. Mitchell

Relationship Status by K.A. Mitchell

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Ethan knows firsthand that long distance is hard on love. If Wyatt is spending his summer at an internship in Pittsburgh, that's where Ethan will be. Even if it means inventing his own career goal just to find a reason to stay with his boyfriend. He didn't expect they'd be living in a hot, crappy apartment, with work schedules that keep them apart more than together. 

Wyatt's past has taught him to keep his head down and focus on living through the day. Loving Ethan has him looking to the future for the first time; he's just not in as big of a rush to get there. It's hard to trust in happiness when life has been busy kicking you in the nuts. 
Together they're getting the hang of real life, when a new responsibility for Wyatt throws everything off balance. Ethan's doing everything he can to prove he's in this forever, while Wyatt is torn between a future with Ethan and a debt to the past. Too bad they didn't cover this in college.

Review: This is the third and final book in the Ethan and Wyatt series. What I love about this series is that each book follows the same couple; normally with m/m authors, the books in a series are just companion novels. Each book has a different couple. Relationship Status has developed couple Ethan and Wyatt living together for the first time while they both do summer internships. 

Wyatt got his first, and not wanting to be left behind, Ethan found something too. Again, since we've been following the same couple, this book isn't about them falling in love. They're already there and this is the continuation of their story, which I love. It shows the highs and lows of being with someone, learning to deal with their problems and successes. 

Relationship Status isn't terribly long - more like a novella than anything - so I finished it one evening. I thought the physical affection was balanced well with the narrative, so it's not just a book full of sex. There is a story line, with ups and downs, and that's always appreciated! While not my favorite series ever, I do think these are good books and I'd recommend them to anyone interested!