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Falling for Matt by James Lee Hard

Falling for Matt: A Second Chance at LoveFalling for Matt: A Second Chance at Love by James Lee Hard
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I can’t tell how sick I am of men not even or slightly over 40 who are constantly whining about their supposedly old age. They are all prematurely grey and moaning nonstop. What’s wrong with those guys?

Next, I seem to be picking books lately with men who have lost their partner recently and have a hard time coping. While I get it in case of a partner who died (but even then I draw a line somewhere after years and years of mourning), I don’t get it when it was a simple break up. People break up all the time and find new parters sooner or later. I don’t really see why someone has to take a year long sabbatical because of his partner cheating and leaving him. This is all the more surprising as Robert is hoping for a tenured position; I would imagine a sabbatical for such a ridiculous reason is not considered a point in his favour.

When Robert got drunk I was about to stop reading because I hate nothing more than drunk people. Had I been Matt this would have put me off for good. Robert almost fell off the chair at one point – is there anything less appealing? Also, you might be as obsessive-compulsive about your own things as you want, but undressing a stranger that you more or less just met before putting him into bed (he passed out from drinking) because you have a problem with street clothes in bed is taking your obsession too far.

All these little things added up for me so that I couldn’t connect with the MCs or feel any interest in their story. I finished the book but it left the feeling that I could have done easily without.

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The Thirteenth Earl by Evelyn Pryce

The Thirteenth EarlThe Thirteenth Earl by Evelyn Pryce
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have never read a romance with a hero less defined than Jonathan. He acted one way, but was described in another. There were hints about his behaviour or his disposition that pointed into a certain direction, but he never actually showed the described state of mind.

Example: According to what was being said to or about him, he must have been almost starving himself. However, at one occasion he raided the breakfast buffet (not intended for him, so it might have been just a one time thing to annoy the others) like there was no tomorrow. Would someone who can’t eat properly because of inner turmoil be able to stuff his face like that?

Another one: It was given the impression he was a pale, skinny guy, never leaving the house and being practically a recluse. But in a love scene later on he was the embodiment of physical male beauty. Large, strong hands and muscles.

I just don’t expect from a socially awkward, shunned individual who thinks he is going mad and evades company whenever possible to act like the superior, sophisticated, witty, sometimes even cheeky, ever so in charge of a situation hero. The few occcasions when he didn’t have everything under control (like the scene with the raven) it felt as if this was just put in in order to establish that he indeed was troubled, and not because it was a real side of him. Somehow the underlying problem of the whole situation was only told, but what was shown was a completely different matter.

That being said, I absolutely adored what was being shown. The relationship between Jonathan and Cassandra was delightful. The way he talked to her was how you talk to a real partner and companion, not just some “petite” that needs rescuing (as so often in romance). They worked together to solve the mystery and his advances were refreshing and original. As a couple they were maybe a bit too forward, especially given the time setting, but I am no stickler for that sort of thing. Cassandra misunderstood a few things (when does that ever stop?), but at least those problems were removed rather quickly and the couple just continued carrying on as before.

I am not sure if the whole madness business was ever resolved properly. The father was a bit of a loose end as far as I was concerned. Was he mad now or not? I never got that. The final solution to the problem, to all problems in fact, was brought about by the women working together in spite of their previous differences which I also found was a nice change to the usual male saving the day.

If you judge the hero solely by his actions he is exemplary as to how a romance hero should be. Honest about his emotions when called for, witty, funny, original, he treats his partner as an equal (not that this is something that should even be neccessary to mention, but it is) – I loved him. Cassandra was an equally pleasing heroine. Not some damsel in distress that needs help getting away from the clutches of her fiancé, but quite self sufficient, down to earth and resolved to help Jonathan out.

I even found a redeeming quality (well, not quite, but I did appreciate it) in Miles who, when catching Jonathan and Cassandra, didn’t even pretend to give a damn about the ruination of his fiancée. As long as she has money what does he care whether she is sullied. He is honest and at least no hypocrite with a double standard. You have to give him that.

This was very enjoyable and entertaining. If you like a slight mystery, a little gothic feel and a solid romance between two likeable characters, go for it.

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Passing through by Jay Northcote

My new Kindle Unlimited makes me go through those books like there’s no tomorrow.

Passing ThroughPassing Through by Jay Northcote
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After The Law of Attraction this was my second book by Jay Northcote. I was still recovering from Broken, so an easy and light read was just what I needed.

This was another story that was quick reading. The story was nothing extraordinarily angsty or complicated. Two guys meet under somewhat stressful circumstances, connect immediately and one of them has to decide if he is ready to change his career driven lifestyle for something more fulfilling. Again, no misunderstandings, no stupid games, no ever so popular bloody demons from the past, just a story about two regular guys. There wasn’t even the lesbian best friend, what a relief! Edwin was a good addition whose story really touched me.

The descriptions of the landscape, ocean, atmosphere made this almost like the gay equivalent of a Rosamunde Pilcher novel (plus the sex, of course). So, if you like fluffiness without a lot to make you ponder this story for days, go for it.

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Where you least expect by Lydia Rowan

Where You Least Expect (Thornehill Springs, #1)Where You Least Expect by Lydia Rowan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This would have been a good story if the heroine hadn’t been such a doormat. A doormat that curses like a pro and continuously gets on her neighbour’s nerves with her teasing behaviour. While I can’t stand heroines who go about as if they were the best thing since sliced bread, I hate heroines even more who go around thinking they have no worth. She was annoying to watch. Isn’t there no middle ground?

Verna and Joe went from a like/hate relationship to a passionate affair filled with lust in a heartbeat. What changed both their mindes? No clue!

I kind of liked Verna’s first reaction to Joe’s abhorrent behaviour. Acting as if it hadn’t happened and going back to being just superficial “friends” (and, of course, she convinces herself that what happened was something ordinary because she didn’t deserve better) isn’t something I could have pulled off but it hit Joe harder than accusations would have done. But then what does she do just a little later? She forgives him his really unspeakable actions because he says he loves her! As if loving someone made up for anything. His half assed apology didn’t cut it at all! But for Verna it turns the day around to be the best day ever. Wow, she is easy to placate. I would have made that bastard grovel until the earth opened up before him, but she’s ok with a “sorry, I know I was an asshole and I shouldn’t have done it”.

Somebody pointed out before me that her list of demands as to what she expects of him in the future is laughable. What she asks of him (and he naturally and readily agrees to because it won’t require any effort) are the most basic, goes without saying, not even worth mentioning things a relationship is made of. The mere fact that she has to ask for them and that he answers “deal” as if this was actually something to make a deal about is proof that this relationship is based on something so wrong that I can’t even find words for it.

All in all, a quick read which left a sort of bad taste because of the unbalanced nature of the final outcome.

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Isolated by Shay Savage

Isolated (Evan Arden, #4)Isolated by Shay Savage
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a very short story, basically an intermezzo between two books and an addition to Bastian’s Storm. I already liked Shay Savages style and approach in the previous books, but now I’m enthusiastic.

Not only did she give us the tournament scene from Evan’s point of view – interesting and enlightening at the same time with a revelation that explains a few things -, but she also gave Evan’s story a really good twist. I am aware many readers don’t like that outcome but I find it extremely satisfying. Not because I disliked Lia, but for once we do see what’s happening AFTER the (not so) happily ever after. Problems do not go away just because of love. And they have consequences. This is not nice, not enjoyable, but realistic.

If this was regular romance a continuation wouldn’t be possible. Once the couple gets together the reader loses interest in them. Who wants to know about domestic problems, money worries and infidelity? Btw, I don’t see Evan as cheating on Lia at all. He did what he had to do, so please stop going on about him being unfaithful.
Here the story after the HEA stays just as intriguing, interesting and breathtaking as it was before. I liked that Evan kept his word and took care of Franks and at the same time used it to his own “family’s” advantage. Bastian is right, how devious is that guy?

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The law of attraction by Jay Northcote

The Law of AttractionThe Law of Attraction by Jay Northcote
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In the very beginning this felt very similar to Broken by Nikola Haken but turned out to be, oh, so different. The premise was exactly the same, quick, supposedly meaningless sex one night, new job, the sex partner turns out to be the new boss. But right there the similarities ended.

Even though Alex had his problems with not being out and not knowing how to come out without losing everything he has worked so hard for, it was not angsty and intense. This was my first book by Jay Northcote, but I have read another one since and it seems she is good at dealing with problems on a low stress level – quite refreshing. The characters always have issues to overcome but not in a way that have you continuously worrying.

I liked both protagonists and how easily and effortlessly the story flowed. The inevitable complications were understandable, there were no silly miscommunications or idiotic misunderstandings, This is a comfort read.

The cover: for once it absolutely worked. The guy is exactly how you could picture Alec. Good choice!

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Equals by Brigham Vaughn

Equals (Equals #1)Equals by Brigham Vaughn
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I usually like stories with an age difference, but was disappointed with this one. Russ was unreasonable, stubborn and plain idiotic. For a silly principle he even risked his life, unbelievable! If both he and Stephen had talked a little more none of the problems would have arisen (oh, well, that is a common problem in the romance genre).

Apart from strongly disliking one the protags I just wasn’t feeling it. I forgive a lot as long as I can see the emotional connection between MCs but here there was nothing, I am afraid. Therefore the whole romance turned out to bore me. I wasn’t in the least bit interested in those two guys. In fact, I was more interested in the slob roommate, and that really means something.

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The untamed earl by Valerie Bowman

The Untamed Earl (Playful Brides, #5)The Untamed Earl by Valerie Bowman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Short synopsis: Alex who is in love with Owen pretends to help him woo her shrewish sister in order to win him for herself.

I loved the first half which was funny, witty and totally enjoyable. The second half turned into a generic romance with the usual misunderstandings and overreactions. It felt like I had switched books which I found disappointing. If I could I would give 4 stars / 2 stars, so settled for 3 in the end.

The first half was mostly interaction between Alex and Owen during their “lessons” – him teaching her how to become an accomplished debutante, her teaching him about her sister’s supposed likes and dislikes – and between Alex or Owen and Lavinia. I very much enjoyed this part.

All of a sudden the atmosphere changed. Alex and a few friends plotted to get Owen to acknowledge his feelings for her and unfortunately the usual romance storyline began. When Owen – as a result of the plot – acts rather foolishly at one point Alex got mad and turned away from him. This goes back and forth a bit until eventually they make up. After that their love seems established but Lavinia, a right bitch, throws a spanner in the works, Alex believes the lie and again wants nothing to do with Owen. How about talking to him properly like they did in the beginning instead of jumping to idiotic conclusions?

All these situations in the second half of the book were so unnatural and out of character that I got seriously annoyed and even started skimming pages. There is a sex scene that came unexpected and that was unnecessary, therefore not very enjoyable. Believe me, for me to complain about a love scene it really has to be against the rhythm.

I enjoyed the writing and the initial story idea but the decline into the typical romance behaviour later on eventually ruined the book for me. Pity!

On a sidenote: According to the author this is a re-telling of The Taming of the Shrew, only the shrew being a rogue. I cannot see that at all. Why Owen would be considered a “shrew” is beyond me. The shrew is Lavinia – and she is in desperate need of taming indeed.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Bastian’s Storm by Shay Savage

Bastian's Storm (Surviving Raine, #2)Bastian’s Storm by Shay Savage
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Reading this is a necessity before continuing the Evan Arden series. I was not disappointed but have to say that my expectations were not met. I had thought that the book would focus more on the tournament and the two guys, but it took until 85% to get there. Everything before is just working up to that moment in a rather slow way.

Evan hates the situation as it is now and I can understand it. He’s not made for that lifestyle and has nothing to do but wallow in misery. Fine for a while but to me all events before the tournament were simply more of the same from Surviving Raine just without the island but with more people and distractions.

What I liked most was the interaction between Sebastian and Evan. I would have preferred to see more of that; the short encounters before the battle and then the tournament itself were not nearly enough for me. Those two as a team, invincible. Bastian, the somewhat more resourceful one, but with less self control and prone to losing it, Evan, calm and composed, great at recon. They should open up business together.

Now I am more than eager to read the next book about Evan. I have questions that need answers…

Shay Savage delivered a good sequel to Surviving Raine, but left her options open. For now everything is fine and dandy, but who knows for how long?

One word about the cover: Is that another one of those where the cover artist hasn’t read the book? Those two guys are nothing like how I picture either man (and seeing the images in GR reviews I am not alone).

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