Review: Him by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

25686927 Summary: They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend…and a big one to learn about himself.

Review: When I found out that two of my more recent favorite authors were going to be co-authoring a book together I may have squee-ed out loud. A lot. Sarina Bowen writes The Ivy Years series which I love and Elle Kennedy writes the Off Campus series which I also love and many other books as well. Then I realized it was going to be m/m – which is one of my newest genres that I’ve been reading more and more. So to say I was excited was an understatement and I’m so happy that I wasn’t disappointed at all!

I don’t really get how co-authoring works because it sounds hard to me but these two pulled it off really well. I didn’t get overwhelmed by either of their voices at all – not that that would have been a bad thing since I like both of their writing styles, but instead I found that this read as one cohesive voice. I found that there was a fluidity to the book so much so that I would never have suspected there were two authors if I hadn’t known. Recently the authors shared that they didn’t even switch POV’s or write one particular person which blows my mind. Even funnier to me is that they can’t particularly point out which parts of the book which one of them wrote – and I can definitely tell!

I can’t pick out which hero I loved more – Wes or Jamie. Wes knew exactly who he was. He was sure of his sexuality, knew he was gay and didn’t want to have to hide that from almost anyone. Wes has been in love with Jamie since he was 13 years old, but Jamie is straight. Watching Wes struggle with his feelings was heart breaking. He had felt so incredibly guilty over the years because he felt that he almost forced Jamie into a hookup with him and that loss of their friendship had kind of broken Wes. He had a balance of such confidence and vulnerability that it tugged at my heart strings!

Jamie was just as wonderful – he was so incredibly hurt that Wes has cut off their friendship after their drunken hookup and he could never figure out why. I loved that about him, he never assumed it was because of the hookup, he just missed his best friend. He’s so self assured in a different way that when Wes tells him he’s gay Jamie doesn’t even blink, just accepts it. And when Jamie starts to question his own sexuality he becomes more vulnerable and realizes he is definitely attracted to Wes.

Why hadn’t anyone ever told me the prostate was some kind of magical pleasure zone? Are there unicorns and orgasm fairies dancing around in there?

Jamie and Wes kind of evolve together over the book with their relationship becoming deeper. I love romance books because I love watching two people falling in love and these two falling in love slowly was both hilarious and romantic.

His laughter sends my heart soaring. Which is the most confusing thing of all, because it adds an element to the sex I didn’t expect. I’m comfortable with him. I have fun with him. I’m not trying to impress anyone. It’s…easy. Like splashing in the lake. But with orgasms.

Oh and honorable mention goes to Jamie’s amazing family! They were a hidden gem in this book, they cracked me up and I loved them so much. Everyone deserves a family like that!

Everything about this book is what I’ve come to love about m/m books in general – the incredible sweetness of this relationship combined with how hot it was completely worked for me. If you haven’t read any m/m before but love either of these authors and are hesitating because of the genre, it’s a great entry point for anyone.

ARC provided by the authors in return for an honest review.

5 Stars.

Melinda

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Cover Reveal – Him by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

We don’t do a lot of cover reveals here because in general I don’t care about cover reveals. But in this case I totally care because I’m really excited about this book! Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy is a book that’s coming out on July 28th and I am not patiently waiting at all. I’m a big fan of both of their books so I can’t wait to read it.  So here’s the wonderful cover! I can’t wait for actual release day!!

Profile portrait of businessman working on laptop  in black suit at studio

 

HIM1

 

 

Review: For Real by Alexis Hall

25500803 Synopsis: Laurence Dalziel is worn down and washed up, and for him, the BDSM scene is all played out. Six years on from his last relationship, he’s pushing forty and tired of going through the motions of submission.

Then he meets Toby Finch. Nineteen years old. Fearless, fierce, and vulnerable. Everything Laurie can’t remember being.

Toby doesn’t know who he wants to be or what he wants to do. But he knows, with all the certainty of youth, that he wants Laurie. He wants him on his knees. He wants to make him hurt, he wants to make him beg, he wants to make him fall in love.

The problem is, while Laurie will surrender his body, he won’t surrender his heart. Because Toby is too young, too intense, too easy to hurt. And what they have—no matter how right it feels—can’t last. It can’t mean anything.

It can’t be real.

Don’t judge a book by its cover. For real. Heh (see what I did there?). I just don’t love this cover which is disappointing because I love everything else about this book.

The first aspect I liked about this book was the subverting of conventions in different ways. That’s always something I appreciate in any book and the conventions are turned upside down almost right away when Laurie and Toby meet. Toby is this skinny 19 year old who comes into a BDSM club, obviously out of place and unsure of himself, and Laurie finds himself drawn to him for reasons he can’t figure out. Laurie is almost 20 years older than Toby and initially resists even the phsyical attraction to Toby. I’ve read books that turn the physical conventions on their heads – with a scrawny guy being the more dominant one in a relationship but this book explored this aspect fully. It’s told in a dual POV, which I’ve mentioned doesn’t always work for me, and in this case not only does it work it also helps explore these physical aspects in much greater detail. We get to be in both of their heads and explore what Toby is thinking through each of their interactions. Even more interesting to me was to hear what Laurie was thinking, both during and after. Alexis Hall did a wonderful job of capturing his complex emotions while submitting to someone so much younger and smaller than him.

I know I’ve only been with him twice. That I hardly know the guy. But I also don’t know how you fall in love, except by wanting to. So maybe that’ll do. For now, anyway.

What I found really well done was the two completely different voices. They each have their own, unique ones and the reader would never mistake one for the other. While they’re both trying to work through the complexities that come with the relationship Toby brings his vulnerability of age and not knowing what he wants to do with his life. It’s interesting to see the power dynamics shift in the relationship constantly back and forth as Toby deals with those issues. Laurie has an almost ennui feeling towards the scene and is grieving a previous relationship. There were no overt bids for power in this relationship – which I liked – but the balance between Laurie and Toby shifted all the time and that felt very realistic to me.

Okay, you know what I think is ina-fucking-propriate? People who don’t love each other. People who hurt each other. People who stay together out of fear or habit or apathy. We’re in love, how is that wrong?

The writing is beautifully done and I really loved both characters. Not only was their relationship realistic but just the general aspects of life that happens during the course of the book and the “life lessons” from those moved me as well.

As you can tell, I loved this book. If you like m/m I would highly recommend this book!

5 Stars

~Melinda

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Book Review: Rock Her by Rachel Cross

17902151 Kate Gibson has spent her life taking care of other people. First her mother while she was sick and dying, then her younger sister while Kate herself went through college. Kate’s now a small town nurse living a pretty quiet life. Until she saves a surfer who has a seizure out on the water and the man who assists her is pretty much a rock god. From then on she’s thrust both into the spotlight and into being by Alec’s (the rock star) side.

I really liked the heroine for the most part. She’s a nurse, is selfless with most of her actions and in general it’s hard to not like her. But the relationship between her and her little sister drove me a little crazy. Basically her sister seemed to take complete advantage of Kate. They had been living on their mother’s life insurance policy previously but it’s pretty much run dry and Kate’s younger sister doesn’t seem to mind asking for money all of the time. What drove me even more crazy is Kate’s reaction to those requests. Actually, the whole secondary plot with Kate’s family is what cause me to not like this book as much as I could have.

The hero – Alec- is a whole different matter. I liked him mostly too, just not as much as Kate. he’s fought his demons in the past and been clean and sober now for over 10 years. Alec’s actually an entertainment lawyer since he left the Rock scene a while ago.

This is a well written book and the pacing was done well too. Everything moved along nicely and kept my attention from beginning to end easily. The characters were decent and the romance was hot but the secondary everything brought everything just down a little for me.

3 Stars

~Melinda

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Book Review: Beauty and the Bookworm by Nick Pageant

bookOk, so I’m going to keep using the World Cup as an excuse and you all are going to just have to deal with it. I wasn’t a huge soccer fan before this, but there’s something about being in Brazil while it’s going on that changes a person. Anyways, I needed a nice short read that I could finish between matches; and I obviously found one or you wouldn’t be reading this review about it.

Mason Leery is a cardigan-loving, geeky librarian who lives his life through his m/m romance novels. I will admit it was really hard to relate to a bookworm, wink*. The polar opposite of Mason, Shane Beaumont, is a physical trainer and masseuse. Shane is also beautiful, hint the title. Our two MC’s meet one fateful day at the park where Mason is reading and Shane is jogging. Shane trips over Mason’s feet and ends up getting his shorts caught in a tree, exposing his green jock strap. When Shane bends over to pull up his shorts, Mason gets flashed, and it’s love at first sight, wink*.

Thus begins the wonderful romance/relationship of our two MC’s and you immediately fall in love with them. I especially liked Shane’s attempts to impress Mason and fulfill his sexual fantasies. I mean, he has to compete with a ton of romance novels. Don’t worry though, there is conflict involved, this story isn’t completely unbelievably happy. I won’t give it away which secondary character is responsible for it though!

Your list of suspects who could possibly jeopardize our happy couple are:

1)      Mason’s crazy lesbian, biker grandma that he lives with. She’s definitely over-the-top! And let’s be honest, if your granny’s in a biker gang, there’s bound to be trouble.

2)      Shane’s twin brother Shawn. Who’s the good twin and who’s the evil twin? Bum bum bummmm.

3)      Mason’s BFF Twyla. She’s sassy and clingy and oh-so pregnant. Yay hormones!

4)      Mona Lisa. Not the painting, but an eco-crazy lady!

All in all, it’s a fun quick read. It’s full of laughs and super fun characters, although Twyla does get super annoying. You will totally fall in love with Mason and Shane. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get myself mentally prepared for the knock-out rounds that start this weekend!

This story has dicks, lots and lots of dicks. Oh, so now you’re interested? I should have put dick in the first line.

5/5 stars

~Eddie

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*Wasn’t available on B&N

Book Review: Stranger on the Shore by Josh Lanyon

10155216_10101700702994575_5550919188911807228_nFor some odd reason, this book kept making me think of Murder, She Wrote. I just kept expecting Angela Lansbury to pop in and be all like: By Joe, I think I got it! I was really caffeinated when I read this book. It was the butler!! Not really.

So, Jarrett Arlington is the head of the Long Island Arlington Empire (super wealthy people). He invites an investigative journalist named Griffin Neptune Hadley (his parents might have been stoners) to the Winden House estate to investigate the disappearance of Brian Arlington that happened 20 years ago. The kidnapping happened during the family’s Midsummer Nights themed party, and even though they paid a ransom, Brian was never returned. So what happened to Brian? Is he still alive? Bum bum bummm.

Despite having permission from Jarrett, Griff is met with some resistance from the rest of the family (a very eccentric family, I mean seriously eccentric. There’s all kinds of quirky characters in this special batch of crazy). There is a lot of resistance from the family friend and lawyer, Pierce Mather. Pierce immediately has it out for Griff, and doesn’t want him to write the book about the family. Despite this warm welcome, Pierce makes Griff swoon…weak at the knees…twitterpated. Dang Pierce and his good looks and confidence.  So, as Griff dives deeper into the mystery that is Brian, he becomes even more drawn to Pierce. I mean of course he does, we are in a m/m romance. But with the mutual attraction between the two of them, there is still distrust. We are in a mystery novel as well. I mean, come on people…

Enter suddenly, Leiland Alvin, a man claiming to be Brian. This has been one crazy week for Griff! Now Pierce and Griff must put aside their differences and join forces to prove that Leiland is a fraud! Will they be able to work together? Can their love survive the suspicious accidents and creepy phone calls? Where’s Brian?! Jessica Fletcher probably knows.

In all honesty, you don’t have to be Jessica Fletcher to figure it all out. The answers are handed to you fairly early, if you pick up on them. But this doesn’t detract from the book. I found it a fun and light read. A nice mix of mystery and romance, with just a few weird parts (thanks for the sex, let me collect some DNA). Although Lanyon is pretty formulaic in his writing, I am a fan, and I’m excited to read some more of his work.

A doll house or maybe a piece of wedding cake.

4/5 stars

~Eddie

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Book Review: Only Love by Garrett Leigh

10155216_10101700702994575_5550919188911807228_nOkay, so I think I was just in a bad mood or dealing with long weeks, but I wasn’t 100% in love with this book like so many other. I kept comparing it to a Nicholas Sparks story and was expecting one of the main characters to drop dead at any minute. Plus, the main characters had so many issues, like seriously, issues…both mentally and physically.

First there is Jed. So Jed has a chronic stomach condition, he can’t really keep food down. Because of his illness, his time is the army is cut short. During his time in Iraq however, he lost several comrades, including his best friend who died in his arms, and suffered a leg injury. Oh, and he has PTSD. Of course he does. He probably also suffers from dandruff and restless leg syndrome.

Jed returns home, a place he hasn’t been back to for fourteen years. He stays with his estranged brother, Nick, and his family, which consists of his wife, Kim, and two girls. But guess what, Nick has issues too…alcoholism. Awesome. Well, Jed ends up moving out to a cabin to stay with Kim’s brother, Max.

Awe, Max. Max is great, sweet, caring, and an all-around great guy. But you guessed it, Max has epilepsy. Of course he does. But the real reason we love Max, is because of his service dog, Flo. Flo was by far my favorite character in the book. The dog was intuitive, smart, caring, sweet…I could have done with a whole book about Flo. Or if the book was told by Flo’s point of view.

Now that Max and Jed are independent, together?, their relationship slowly…slowly…grows. And it grows in a very predictable way. I’m Jed, I’m a tough guy who protects people and don’t want anyone taking care of me. I’m Max, I like to take care of people but don’t need protecting. Let’s fall in love with each other! Okay! Pretty soon, they realize their need for each other and the little things they do for each other builds, then we have our happy little gay love story.

Like I said earlier, I think I was just in a bad mood. So many people liked this book, but I just didn’t buy into it. I just kept wondering how all these dysfunctional people ended up in the same place. Poor Flo, was like the only normal…person? Maybe I shouldn’t have read so many good romance novels right away, now I have super high standards. Anyways, it’s a good book if you like Sparks but don’t want all the death. I am giving it 3 stars, because my foul mood prevented me from being bias, especially towards damaged war heroes looking for love amoungst the seizures. I’m not a nice person.

He said exactly what he thought or nothing at all.

3/5 stars

~Eddie

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