Tag Archives: genre: romance

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

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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

 

 

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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

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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

 

 

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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

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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

 

 

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Going Off Grid, by SJD Peterson

 

Blurb:

Clay and Elliott are working toward a dream—working sixty-hour weeks for one of the oil companies that recently sprung up in North Dakota. The pay is good, but is it a fair trade for never seeing each other? The point becomes moot when the company folds, like so many others, and the couple is left with a difficult choice.

Should they find comparable work somewhere else, or is it time to throw caution to the wind and go after their goal—years earlier than they intended?

What they’ve always wanted is to be together and have time to enjoy it, so they follow their hearts. They’re going off the grid and fixing up an old cabin so they can be self-sufficient. But when they go from all the conveniences of the modern world to outhouses, solar power, a shoestring budget, and more mosquitos than they ever thought possible, will they find there’s such a thing as too much time together?

Buy Links:

Dreamspinner Press

Amazon

kobo

Published:

March 23, 2018
Dreamspinner Press

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Going off Grid, part of the States of Love series from Dreamspinner Press is a cute story. Cute. It’s a pretty light read, quick, short, and sadly, empty of any real conflict or tension that I’d hoped for. It started off really good, but after a while I had a hard time giving it my attention. I think this was just too sweet of a story, or maybe not even sweet, but more like too eye rolling.

Clay and Elliot, together for years, have been working towards a goal… working their asses off, making all the money, retire early. But when the timeline moves up and they’re forced to make a decision, the transition is harder than they even imagined. Literally going off grid and living out in the middle of nowhere, fixing up a cabin that’s seen better days, tests their relationship… but not that much. They’ve been together too long. They’ve known each other too long. So when the main tension comes towards the end of the book, I had a hard time thinking anything would go wrong. Plus, I knew there was going to be a happy ending so that close to the end of the book, the tension felt manufactured.

I’m normally all for this type of short story, I just could not get into this one. It was okay, just not my speed.

~kristie

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

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

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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

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Guardian’s Bond (Ancient Ink #1), by Rhenna Morgan

Blurb:

For decades, he’s been alone.
Now, she’s here. His fated mate.
His to win. To protect.
To provide for and pleasure.

Priest Rahandras has lived with the darkness trapped inside himself for years. Betrayed by his own brother and forced to watch his clan’s brutal annihilation, the only thing Priest wants more than to escape the curse that haunts him—as both man and beast—is to rebuild.

Until the mate he’s longed for walks into his life with an elder from his past. She’s everything he’s wished for, and the key to the clan’s very survival.

Kateri Falsen is a woman of logic and facts. While Priest’s cat can sense her arousal, telling her they’re fated won’t be enough. He’ll have to show her his love: with his words, with his actions, and with his body.

Protecting Kateri from the evil trapped inside him is paramount. But when lost clan members are systematically murdered, he’ll have to choose between exposing his mate to his black magic, or risking her as the next victim.

Buy Links:

AMAZON

kobo

Published:

March 12, 2018
Carina Press

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Guardian’s Bond was a pretty fun read for me. While it starts off a little bit too slow for my tastes, Morgan quickly picks up the pace by the second act. The set up for this new series comes in bits and pieces which made me frustrated with questions, but many are answered by the time this book finishes… thankfully. While this is a tale filled with magic, shifters, and people from clans that are all new and different than those in any other of Morgan’s books, that cool uniqueness she tends to spin is totally there.

For the most part, I enjoyed getting to know Priest and Kateri as well as the others that set up this group of people trying to save their clan, despite the slow roll. The world building for a series like this is important. I just wish it was a little bit more informative and had a faster pace. Still, I think once things kicked off and it was full steam ahead, the magic and shifting capabilities of the clan is entertaining. I’m anxious to see where the series leads and just how Priest is going to save them all. It’s going to take a lot more than just himself, so the journey the characters have to take in the next books will be important, and hopefully, fun.

For the romance of it all, the whole true mate thing really does come into play. If you’re not a fan of that concept, this might not be for you. But, as I’m finding myself read more and more shifters, this seems to be a common theme so I just go with it. And in this case, while Priest if really over protective and very Alpha Male, he’s not so overbearing that I hated him for it. He’s quite perceptive and learns Kateri’s needs quickly, understands her wants and has a great respect for her. Kateri is highly intelligent, very independent, and takes no shit. She is also really living her life with blinders on and when they come off, she’s even more fun to read. And their passion together was not only interesting but pretty hot.

With really good characters to meet and learn about, the set up for this series is good. Looking forward to what happens next.

~kristie

 

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Filed under Advance Reader's Copy, Carina Press, NetGalley, Paranormal

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

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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

 

 

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