Tag Archives: genre: contemporary

Digging Deep, by Jay Hogan

 

Blurb:

Drake Park has a complicated life. As a gay male midwife, he’s used to raising eyebrows. Add Crohn’s disease and things get interesting—or not, considering the sad state of his love life. Experience has taught Drake that most men are fair-weather sailors when it comes to handling his condition—gone for dust when things get rough. Staying healthy is a full-time job without adding in any heartbreak, so a little loneliness is a small price to pay. If he says it often enough he might even believe it. One thing for sure, the cop who arrested him isn’t about to change that.

Caleb Ashton does not have a complicated life. A senior detective with the Whangarei Police Department, he likes his job and is good at it. He works hard and plays hard, happy to enjoy as many men as he can while he’s still young enough—or at least he was. These days he feels adrift for the first time in his life, and the only thing sparking his interest—a certain prickly young midwife.

But can Drake find enough faith to risk opening his heart again? And does Caleb have what it takes to cope with the challenges Drake’s condition presents?

Buy Links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Dreamspinner Press

kobo

Published:

August 6, 2019
Dreamspinner Press

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Okay, so I think what attracted me to this story when I read the blurb was the Crohn’s disease. Weird? Maybe. But I see a lot of commercials on TV for all kinds of medications. I’ve heard that it’s a strange thing in kind of specific to America… not sure. Anyway, there is always some new drug commercial that is for people with Crohn’s disease and I wanted to know more about it. But with this book, I really wanted to see how it’s dealt with in the story. And wow! I don’t know if this story really goes into the depth of what it would be like for most people who have Crohn’s disease, but I think it gave me some insight.

The story deals pretty deep into the struggles that Drake goes through every day. Honestly, it’ horrible, and from what I gathered in the story, his is not quite as severe as others, butt still, terrible at times, embarrassing, and uncomfortable. I felt like I learned a lot, but in a way that brought comedy to a life that isn’t fun at all. Drake has a good life, good job he loves, and great friends and family. He’s still lonely though, but getting into a relationship with someone who not only understands him, but his disease as well… Well, it’s a hard combo for him to find. Then all of a sudden, in walks this asshat detective, Caleb, and his life gets turned upside down. It’s not only Drake who has his like turned around either, but Caleb as well. Caleb is a no dating kind of guy. He’s more interested in one night stands than hiss in relationships. He’s never actually even had a relationship at all so when he finds himself wanting to try with Drake, it hits him like a ton of bricks.

This is a slow burn romance that never feels like the burn is too long. It’s sweet and quirky, and the wooing that Caleb does to win over Drake is creative and so funny at times. Caleb is inventive and makes Drake’s Crohn’s disease something they can joke about in a way that is not hurtful or insulting. It’s quite adorable. The struggles they have to break down those solid walls they’ve both built up over the years, and let one another in, felt so real and authentic. It was hard to read at times, and sad, and so very good.

Aside from one very tragic and horrible moment, I really enjoyed this. So much more than I thought I would. If you can get through that trigger warning, I think it is worth the read.

Trigger warnings for a very unfortunate death of a child. It it pretty graphic and as a reader, you are right in the thick of it when Drake, as a midwife, is dealing with this very sad and tragic moment. It is a huge catalyst to movement of the story forward but is very hard to read. I would say that if you’re sensitive to this, you can skip a lot of this part of the story when it starts to happen, but don’t let it stop you from trying this book out.

Recommended.

~kristie

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Advance Reader's Copy, Dreamspinner Press

World Turned Upside Down, by Elyse Springer

 

Blurb:

After three winters in Antarctica, Simon Bancroft is an old hand on the ice. The harsh weather and extreme isolation aren’t for everyone, but he enjoys the tight-knit community at McMurdo Station… and lately he’s enjoyed watching the hot new researcher, Asher Delaney, who’s recently arrived to study the aurora. But Simon’s just a janitor. Asher doesn’t even know he exists.

When Simon’s friends propose a wager, he gets a chance to introduce himself to Asher at last. But Asher defies all of Simon’s assumptions, and suddenly he finds himself reevaluating everything he thought he knew about Asher, himself, and falling in love at the bottom of the world.

Buy Links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Dreamspinner Press

kobo

Published:

August 9, 2019
Dreamspinner Press

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This was a sweet, very cute, and interesting story. Despite the predictable moments, I found myself really invested in Simon and Asher. A good portion of the story is informative since I’ve never been to Antartica. I mean, not many people have, right? Knowing that this story is told by someone who’s actually been there and experienced what it is like, it made the story more authentic and interesting.

Asher and Simon were too cute. I found them simply adorable, and while it was clear where the story was headed, I enjoyed the ride the entire way. Simon is sweet and unsure of himself, while Asher is exactly the same, even though you really have no idea until he and Simon start to get to know each other. I loved that the stereotype of the big and burley dude who is a scientist was totally smashed when we meet Asher. He’s a big guy, wicked smart, and 100% sweet and kind, not at all what people might think he’s like. Asher and Simon were really great together. I loved the slow burn and the entire getting-to-know-you part of the story. I loved that it was not rushed, and it felt so real.

Extra points go to Springer for all the cool info I learned about being on the ice. I know it’s just a drop in the bucket, but it was really cool to read about.

Recommended.

~kristie

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Advance Reader's Copy, Dreamspinner Press

How to Be a Movie Star (How to Be #2), by TJ Klune

 

Blurb:

Josiah Erickson wants to be a movie star. The problem with that is so does half of Los Angeles. But he’s on his way, what with memorable roles as a TV show background cadaver and a guy in a commercial for herpes medication. All he needs is his big break. And that break may come in the form of a novelist who goes by the enigmatic name of Q-Bert.

Q-Bert, who is ready to make his directorial debut in a film Josy would be perfect for. Q-Bert, who Josy may or may not have a friend-crush on, and potentially something more. Being demisexual can be confusing.

From the City of Angels to the small mountain town of Abby, Oregon, Josy will give his all to make sure his dreams come true—even the ones he never thought possible.

Buy Links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

kobo

Publisher

Published:

February 12, 2019
Dreamspinner Press

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Look, I could try and write some eloquent review where I go on and on about how wonderful this book is. I could add in all the little things I loved, all the things I cried over and those other things I smiled huge. But all I want to do is jump on the rooftops and scream at the world that they need to read this book. This is one of those stories where, when you are reading, and then when you finish, you feel like this book could end wars. You feel like it could make literally EVERY PERSON IN THE UNIVERSE SMILE AND HUG THEIR NEIGHBOR. You feel like if you don’t buy this book and force everyone you know to read it, you’d not be a good person because you guys… this is how I feel right this moment.

How to Be a Movie Star is delightful in a similar way that Normal Person was, only it could be even sweeter. I don’t know because it’s been a while since I read that book. (I might have to go back and read it again soon because I don’t want to leave these guys.) See, it’s all Josy. He’s the absolute best person a person could be. He’s the nicest person. He’s open and honest, caring and kind. He’s got, as fans of this series would know, the best family he could ever ask for. Not his parents, nope, not them. But Casey and Gus, We Three Queens, Serge and Xander, Lottie, and even Starla, his agent… they’re the best friends and family in the world. And then he meets Q-Bert.

The wonderful Quincy is awkward, shy, suffers from anxiety and depression, and is the perfect match for Josy. They actually make each other better people. They make each other *want* to be better people. Their connection is incredibly cute, their friendship so inspiring, their crush for each other and feelings made me feel all warm and squishy. Their story is literally happiness. It’s all happiness!

While Josy and Quincy are in Abby filming this super weird movie that when we get glimpses of I honestly want to see a it happen for real, the feelings grow stronger and stronger. Their friendship solidifies and great things happen.

There is literally no angsts to speak of, and I think that’s mostly because of the way Josy is…he’s just so open and understanding. He might get sad from time to time, but he knows he has a great support system in his little family of friends, so he’s secure in a way that I wish more people could be. If anyone wanted a class on how to be a good person, they’d just need to try and be more like Josy.

Literally everything about this book made me happy. I laughed so much while reading it. I cried a little too, but I think a lot of those tears were because something amazing and beautiful was happening and, seriously, how can you NOT cry when something amazing and beautiful happens?

So here I am, shouting from the metaphorical rooftops, asking you all to read this book. It is happiness making. It is beautiful and so pure with love and friendship that my heart will be forever warm every time I think about it.

Highly recommended.

~kristie

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Advance Reader's Copy, Dreamspinner Press

Kairos, by Mary Calmes, Narrated by Michael Fell

 

Blurb:

Sometimes the best day of your life is the one you never saw coming.

Joe Cohen has devoted the past two years of his life to one thing: the care and feeding of Kade Bosa. His partner in their PI business, roommate, and best friend, Kade is everything to Joe, even if their relationship falls short of what Joe desires most. But he won’t push. Kade has suffered a rough road, and Joe’s pretty sure he’s the only thing holding Kade together.

Estranged from his own family, Joe knows the value of desperately holding on to someone dear, but he never expected his present and past to collide just as Kade’s is doing the same. Now they’ve stumbled across evidence that could change their lives: the impact of Kade’s tragic past, their job partnership, and any future Joe might allow himself to wish for….

Buy Links:

Audible

Dreamspinner Press

Published:

March 16, 2018
Dreamspinner Press

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kairos is a book that I liked when I read it, but I think I liked it more on the listen. There’s something about the pacing that Michael Fell has that kept me more interested in the story than I was before. His character voices for Joe and Kade were good, but it was more about the tone, the way he was able to tell this story with feeling, bringing the entire story into my ears and making it more visual than just reading did. His female voices were also very good, something I really appreciated.

The story itself it typical Mary Calmes. It’s fast paced, packed with a ton of characters (some important, others not so much), lots of UST, and it left me wanting more. Add in the excellent narration and I was even more greedy for a sequel than I was before. It’s a fun read, but for me, even more fun to listen to. All of the Mary Calmes fans out there who love audio books will love this. There is a brightness to the story that brought a smile to my face.

~kristie

Leave a comment

Filed under Dreamspinner Press, LGBT, MM Romance

Twisted and Tied (Marshals, #4) by Mary Calmes

 

Blurb:

Deputy US Marshal Miro Jones finally has everything he ever wanted. He’s head-over-heels in love and married to the man of his dreams, his partner Ian Doyle, he’s doing well at work, and all his friends are in good places as well. Things are all tied up nicely… until they’re not.

Change has never been easy for Miro, and when situations at work force the team he’s come to depend on to break apart, and worst of all, his and Ian’s individual strengths put them on two separate paths, he’s pretty certain everything just went up in smoke. But before he can even worry about the future, his past comes for a visit, shaking his world up even more. It’s hard to tell what road he should truly be on, but as he learns some paths are forged and others are discovered, it might be that where he’s going is the right course after all. If he can navigate all the twists and turns, he and Ian might just get their happily ever after. 

 

Buy Links:

Dreamspinner Press

Amazon

kobo

 

Published:

March 12, 2018
Dreamspinner Press

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Hold me tighter, ‘kay?”

So this is it. The end. Not the end of the Marshals, but the end of Miro’s story. The end of his tale… and what a tale it has been.

I met Miro, Ian, and Chickie Baby in September of 2015. I picked the Marshals series up a little bit late. I’d been a fan of Mary’s work for a while, but for some reason I’d just never had the opportunity to start this series. Once I read the first book, I was hooked forever. In the years since, I’ve read and reread all the books more times than I can count. I’ve listened to the audio books even more. The audio is my go-to for listening while working, cleaning the house, working out… pretty much anything. I love the voice Tristan James gives to the boys, but I just also love having them with me. I’m serious when I say that this is one of my all time favorite series. I’ve already read Twisted and Tied twice, and starting on release day, I’m going to read it again because now I need to read it with my friends who also have a healthy love for all things Marshals.

Twisted and Tied is a wonderful ending to Miro’s story. I know that we’ll see him again… him, Ian, and hopefully, Chickie Baby. But for them as main characters, this is it. I think Mary not only made me happy with this finish, but surprised the heck out of me. I went into this expecting one thing, and while I got that (sort of), I really ended up with something else altogether. I had expectations for a wedding and having this pick up right where Marshals 3 left off. That’s not what happens really, but I did get some wedding action. It was better than I’d hoped and I had tears running down my face forever because of it.  I had expectations for what the family of Miro, Ian, and Chickie Baby would end up looking like. what I got was even better. It feels better. I mean I really feel good about there they are both personally and professionally. I also had a super massive expectation for what happened to Dr. Craig Hartley. I can’t spoil you but let me just say, what happens shocked me big time. I was blown away because of my reaction to it. I’m happy with what goes down, I will say that. The feelings that were pulled out of me while reading this book, especially the Hartley stuff… I never thought I’d have those feelings. Not ever.

If I had one thing I questioned the need for, it’s the very end. Some things happen that felt like they came out of nowhere and I struggled to find the reasoning. And maybe not even the reasoning, but the placement. I don’t think I’m ruining anything by saying this book takes place over the span of like 3 or 4 days. It’s quick, as most of their stories are. They’re moments in the life of… but this is fast moving and high energy. And then the last two chapters happen and they sort of didn’t fit where they were. At least for me. Maybe they would have if there was an Epilogue. That would have been good because those last two chapters, while good and fun and important because this is their family, the family they’ve chosen, I’d wished maybe that it wasn’t just thrown in at the end… maybe spread out a bit.

BUT. With all of that, I can still say I’m so happy with this book. So very, very, very happy.

Twisted and Tied ends a story, but one, or two more will take over. We have Redeker and Callahan coming. We also have something going on with Eli.  Sigh… I do love Eli Kohn. I’m really looking forward to where Mary goes with is story, particularly because he’s become so close with Miro. Out of all the guys, Eli has been a real stand out character. So more Marshals are to come! They really can’t get here fast enough. Until that time, I’m going to keep rereading this one, as well as the others. I’ll keep relistening. I won’t be patient though. Never that.

Fans of the Marshals series, hurry and get this book so we can all talk about it. You’re really going to be delighted with the story, how it things play out. You’re going to smile a lot. You’re going to cry… sometimes in unexpected places. Your heart will be as full as mine is. So to Miro, Ian, and our favorite dog, Chickie Baby… all the love.

~kristie

Leave a comment

Filed under Advance Reader's Copy, Dreamspinner Press, LGBT, MM Romance

On the Edge of Scandal (Snow & Ice Games, Book 3), by Tamsen Parker

 

Blurb:

Bronwyn Perry is the star of the US women’s hockey team, and she and her boyfriend Brody Hill have been hockey royalty since they’ve been in high school. Brody unexpectedly fails to make the men’s team but still comes to Denver to support his girl at the Snow and Ice Games. Or so Bronwyn thinks.

Ash Levenson is the coach of the women’s SIG hockey team. His primary responsibility is to keep his team happy, healthy, and primed to win. Though he’s close in age to his players, he’s been doing this for a while and mostly, it’s easy to keep his eyes on the puck. He’s always been able to discard any crush he might have on any of the women he’s coached…until Bronwyn.

When Bronwyn and Brody’s romance comes to a very public and very ugly end, Ash has to get his star player’s head back in the game and ready to dominate on the rink. Which may mean spending a little time off the ice…

Buy Links:

AMAZON

kobo

Published:

February 6, 2018
St. Martin’s Press

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This started out really great. A story that builds on the the development of the characters is almost always going to win me over. The character build up for coach Ash Levenson is really solid. I felt like I had a good handle on who he was, where his feelings were coming from, and I really saw the affection he had for Bronwyn. The same could be said for Bronwyn, but not at the same level. With Bronwyn, I felt like I started to understand her, only to be infuriated by her decisions. 

Bronwyn is a really strong female character, excellent hockey player, with a great personality… when she’s not second guessing herself or hanging around her boyfriend. The times where she’s strong are counterbalanced by the times she’s really not, and when she looses confidence in herself she becomes this other person all together. And honestly, to me, she read as really immature and childish at times. The more I read, the more I started to dislike her. It was like I had this instant affection towards her, only to have it turn around rapidly.

And speaking of her boyfriend… for someone who comes off as strong willed, sure of herself in almost all things, and a fierce competitor, I could not figure out why she put up with so much shit from that dude. Yes, they’d been together for a really long time, since both were really young, but how she was able to be so independent and amazing in every other aspect of her life, and then let him walk all over her, belittle her, and treat her like shit was beyond me. This made it even harder for me to connect with her.

The times when I really disliked Bronwyn were when she’d talk about how Ash was not her type, not the greatest looking guy, yet something made her want to “board that train”. When Bronwyn and Ash do get intimate, it really felt like he was using him. And in reality, she was at first. She had no idea of his true feelings, and that’s not her fault, but the way she comes off in her POV really rubbed the wrong way. The way things start between these two didn’t sit well with me.

BUT! All of that was this back of my mind, simmering dislike for some things. For the rest of it, I found the story good. I liked the way Ash is so passionate about the way he coaches, how the women on the team play, that he is a positive coach for them, and his dedication to them. I wished there was more hockey in the book because those couple of times we get them on the ice were really fun. And while Bronwyn ends one long lasting relationship and dives head first into another the very next day without even realizing it, finding love after only a couple of weeks, I appreciated that Ash had this long budding crush on her. It helps the insta-insta love aspect of their story go down easier.

All in all I suppose this was not my favorite of the series, at least I don’t think, but it’s not my least favorite either.

~kristie

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Advance Reader's Copy, NetGalley

Zero Hour (Wired & Dangerous, Book 1), by Megan Erickson

 

Blurb:

The Fast and the Furious meets Mr. Robot in USA Today bestselling author Megan Erickson’s sexy new romantic suspense series.

Hacker extraordinaire Roarke Brennan lives each hour – each breath – to avenge his brother’s murder. His first move: put together a team of the best coders he knows. They’re all brilliant, specialized, and every one an epic pain in his ass. Only now Wren Lee wants in too, threatening to upset their delicate balance. The girl Roarke never allowed himself to want is all grown up with sexy confidence and a dark past … and she’s the wild card he can’t control.

Roarke might still think she’s a kid, but Wren’s been to hell and back. Nothing and nobody can stop her – especially the tatted-up, cocky-as-all-hell hacker. But when years of longing and chemistry collide, Wren and Roarke discover that revenge may be a dish best served blazing hot.

Buy Links:

AMAZON

kobo

Published:

January 30, 2018
Forever (Grand Central Publishing)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

When I got this, I knew I’d like it because it’s Megan Erickson. She’s just a great storyteller, you know? What I didn’t expect was just how much I’d love it. And I’m not surprised so much as really fucking pleased.

Zero Hour has this exciting thriller/mystery/revenge plot that kept me on the edge of my seat. It was difficult to put down as each chapter lead into the next, leaving me wondering what the heck was going to happen to my heroes, how they were going to get out of the mess they were in, and when we might get Jock’s book. Well, as it happens, I know that Jock’s book is next in this series, and I could not be more excited. As for the rest? Lets just say that yea, they get into it. Really into it. The problem is, it’s never just hacking that needs to happen. Sometimes, to do a a job, you need to actually talk to the bad guys in person, go undercover, plant a virus, and do other various highly illegal or suspicious things. So this team of hackers not only need to know their way around a computer, they need to be willing to go all out.

All out is what this team does best. Sort of… I mean, they’re not perfect. They really are hackers first, so all of those things that also need to happen don’t come easily and problems pop up. So one of the things I absolutely loved about this book is the fact that they make mistakes, they get out of situations by the skin of their teeth, and not everything runs smoothly.

Another thing I loved, loved, loved, is the balance between action/hacking/romance. Because in all honesty, at its heart, Zero Hour is a romance novel too. Erickson does a great job of keeping the romance in balance with everything else, giving readers a chance to take a breath, just not too long of one, before the next batch of action takes place. And these characters, Wren and Roarke, they are really well developed. Past history is clearly and succinctly explained, lending to the way the romance plays out. So when these two are having all the feels, and trying to deny them, it feels right. Having the history so well laid out made for a more believable connection. They’re also seriously hot together. Steaming. Add in the rest of the team, all of whom have interesting backgrounds I’m wanting to explore, and I’m a happy camper. Wren and Roarke also butt heads… a lot. But my dude seriously has a boundaries problem and when he oversteps them, he really oversteps them. Having Wren put him in his place was a thing of beauty.

Speaking of the team… Not only does Jock, new love of my life, get the next book, but also coming will be Erick, Wren’s brother. His story is one I’m also very excited for based on all the information we learn in Zero Hour. To say I have a bunch of theories about how his book will play out is an understatement. I’m also crossing my fingers that other team members Marisol and Dade get their own book(s). They’re both mysterious and compelling, so help me convince all who need to be convinced to make this happen, would you?

To close, I loved this book, in case you couldn’t tell. This was a lot of fun to read and I’m adding this to my reread rotation.

Cheers Megan! You knocked this one out of the park.

~kristie

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Advance Reader's Copy, Mystery-Thriller, NetGalley