Monster in his eyes by J.M. Darhower

Monster in His Eyes (Monster in His Eyes, #1)Monster in His Eyes by J.M. Darhower
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What on Earth does Naz find in Karissa? She is as stupid as they come and her abilities to hold up a conversation about anything worth talking about equal zero. She is 18, for Christ’s sake and the guy is 36 and has seen it all. At one point he even says to her he doesn’t want girls, he wants to be with a woman. So what is he doing with Karissa?

The sex, seemingly shit hot, is described in such a lacklustre way it borders on boring. Apart from the fact there is nothing sensual about it – even though I recognize a certain potential, but it is never fully carried out – the kinks are quite a bit over the top considering the girl is so young. If I was asphyxiated without expecting or desiring it I’d be severely distressed (to put it mildly). There is no foreplay to speak of, unless you count him getting on top of her (or vice versa) as sufficient stimulation. The guy just enters her and starts pounding – and this is described as being with a real man, instead of a boy, wow! Not to mention the fact that they use no condoms from the word go and the contraceptive device they use (before she tells him she is on the pill) is coitus interruptus.

If a girl gets her sexual education from this book she is doomed.

Super unrealistic plot (I don’t mind), the heroine is TSTL (I hate), the hero just my type (just add some sexual enlightenment, even though I admit he is perfect for the heroine). I am divided. I found it strangely unputdownable, still shook my head about myself.

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I’m an Old Communist Biddy! by Dan Lungu

Die Rote BabuschkaDie Rote Babuschka by Dan Lungu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first visit of the Romanian literary world and it was extremely enjoyable. I read this book for Ally’s Romanian Writers Challenge. There are not many Romanian books out in German or English and some of them sounded truly depressing and way too extraordinary for my taste. So I debated a long time about what to read. In the end I settled with Dan Lungu as he seems rather down to earth AND funny. I was not disappointed.

I read this book in German, but it seems it will be out in English next year. The German title is “Die rote Babuschka” (The red biddy), so very close to the English and, it seems, also to the original title.

The story is told solely from the point of view of Emilia who, being told by her daughter NOT to vote for the communists in the upcoming elections, reminisces about the old and better times (as she sees it) when Ceausescu was still in power. The timeline was rather jumbled, something I don’t like very much, as Emilia went back and forth, jumping around in her memories from childhood back to the present and everything in between. Once I got the hang of it, it was ok to read her story that way, but I very much prefer chronological order. But, of course, memories don’t work like that.

Emilia’s point of view was perfectly understandable, even if it was misguided. The truth is, in the way one of her co-workers put it in the end, at the time they were laughing in self-defence. If you don’t laugh, all that’s left to do is crying. Did Emilia not realize that or did she just embellish her memories so she could live with them better?

Throughout the book were little stories that people told at the time about Ceausescu and his wife that were just another way of dealing with the situation of living in a dictatorship. Then there were episodes about the real life which were downright surreal. When Ceausescu is scheduled to visit, the whole workforce is slaving away in order to make everything look shiny and perfect (i.e. completely fake). The trees are painted green, mediocre corn plants are ripped out and replaced with corn from a model farm, black cows are removed because they give off the wrong vibes. It’s all very bizarre. Potemkin villages all over! It’s hard to grasp that people had to live that way if you don’t know it from own experience.

The book’s ending is an unresolved situation with Emilia being more confused than before. Just as well, isn’t that the state of all of us?

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I will definitely try to get a hold of more books in German by Dan Lungu. 

Romanian Writers Challenge


No more wasted time by Beverly Preston

No More Wasted Time (The Mathews Family, #1)No More Wasted Time by Beverly Preston
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

No angst, no drama, no conflict, if that’s your kind of thing, you’ll be happy. The only minor problem arose because the woman is a complete idiot who doesn’t trust her instincts but automatically assumes the worst without letting the poor guy even finish one sentence to explain (even though he did NOTHING wrong). A pet peeve of mine, so I was not impressed.

Also you have to overlook the following: that the woman is in her mid forties, had three kids, but looks like and has the body of a sex goddess. That the hotel staff of a top class resort is the most unprofessional that I have every heard of. That the guy has never even snorkeled before and then dives down 12 feet to see some manta rays. Sure.

Now to a couple more details that most people won’t care about…

The girls discussed Greece with Tom. He told them about a great little café they should try , an art gallery to stop at, and several other places they might like to see.

Wait a minute! Someone goes on a cruise around the Greek islands (I assume that is where they were going, there was not one specific location mentioned throughout the whole book, except the Aegean Sea, Tuscany and Bora Bora) and gets a recommendation for this café and that art gallery? Of course, just go to Greece through the entrance gate, follow the main road and turn left once. There you will see the café to check out. Greece is not some one horse town, it’s a friggin’ country!

“So, where are you flying today for your film?”
“Right outside of Germany. It’s a war movie, not the typical type of film I do.”

And where exactly would that be? Poland, Austria, Belgium? To name just a few of the places that are “just outside of Germany”. WTF? Can you be a little more specific? Not that it matters one way or the other where the bloody movie is being made, but to call any country “just outside of Germany” just shows a lack of respect (and/or lack of research, even though to have to do any kind of research in order to get European geography rudimentally right is already sad in itself).

Those guys hopped around Europe as if it was the second best place on Earth (the best would be Bora Bora) and couldn’t even be bothered with naming one specific location. At one point they are at a restaurant “in Greece” filled with “old-world” ambiance. Described as follows: “crisp white table clothes [sic] with blue napkins dressed the tables and pictures of Greece hung on white textured walls”. Totally old-world ambiance, right?

Sorry that I am harping on about these details but that sort of stuff sets me off, and not in a good way.

I’m not saying this was a bad read. It was entertaining in a very unproblematic, angst-free way. If there was more attention to the little things I’d have liked it more, though.

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Connection Error by Annabeth Albert

Connection Error (#gaymers, #3)Connection Error by Annabeth Albert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Connection Error is the third book in the #gaymers series, but the first book that I have read (in the series and by this author). It can easily read as a stand alone as the previous books’ characters appear in it but play only a very minor part.

Josiah and Ryan were likeable characters who both had issues that were dealt with in a very realistic way. There was no head over heels in love, no unnecessary drama and none of the usual contrived miscommunication. There were feelings developing slowly, misgivings that were perfectly understandable and a lot of time apart. The few sex scenes were not too explicit or drawn out (surprising for me, but maybe that is Annabeth Albert’s style) but sensual nonetheless. A lot of online meetings were only mentioned and not described in detail, but it didn’t take away from the story. The slow burning plot was a very good touch and made the scenes when the guys got together and emotional even more rewarding.

Even though the issues standing in the way of a relationship were quite serious I didn’t think this was too angsty – on the contrary. The hurt and angst was wrapped in such a way that you didn’t feel like you had been through the emotional wringer after finishing. A good thing in my book. A very enjoyable read.

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

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Aced by Ella Frank & Brooke Blaine

AcedAced by Ella Frank
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Had I know beforehand that this story had a cliffhanger I probably would not have bothered, but as it was, I didn’t mind. It is obvious what is going to come, so I am quite curious to see how everything is going to play out.

There were quite a few things I didn’t like about the story and the characters, but as a whole it was an enjoyable read with good MCs and, for once, no misunderstandings or miscommunication. Instead we had insta-attraction without any misgivings whatsoever.

The things that bothered me:

The insta-love was based solely on looks and sex appeal (as so often) and stayed that way seemingly all through to the end. Those guys didn’t have many conversations other than about sex, their fantasies and whenever they talked about anything else (which was rare enough) they couldn’t help but throw in sex related puns. Do it once, if you must, but after that it gets boring.

Ace drives a Lamborghini. How stereotypical and unimaginative! I would think that being a movie star followed by paparazzi 24/7 would make you choose a slightly less conspicuous car, but what do I know? The scenes in the desert (both, the driving and the sex) just added to that stereotype.

There might be people out there who think the sex life of some action movie star is the most important thing ever, but I am sure after a little while the immediate interest in Ace’s romantic life will wane. The guy came out a year ago, and as much as I understood his dilemma, he should have just gone and said, there, that’s him. Publish your crap and be done with it! For most people the world does not revolve around Ace Locke, so why all the secrecy?

The whole scene in Las Vegas was a bit naive, wasn’t it? That establishment sounded just like a high end lifestyle club, I don’t know what the fuss was all about. The fact that our guys witnessed “depraved” activities (their words) added a sort of narrow minded, prudish undertone to the story which came entirely unexpected, especially seeing the background Dylan came from. I didn’t take him for such a petty bourgois.

All that being said, I liked the story. There were none of my pet peeves and the MCs had a solid emotional bond (whatever it is based on), so I will definitely read the sequel.

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Make me trust by T.A. McKay

Make Me Trust (Hard To Love #2)Make Me Trust by T.A. McKay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If everybody who once was cheated on, left behind or treated unfairly would close off to others like a lot of the guys I have read about lately, there would be no more happy people around. I got a little bit impatient and exasperated with those two guys. They were hot as hell and there was NOTHING wrong with them, so why, oh why, did they continuously drone on about how so not enough and/or so unloveable and undeserving they are. You both get a grip!

The usual misunderstanding had to be thrown in, of course, and that pissed me off even more. That Trey would have a thing going with Quincy was such an absurd idea, how Roman could believ that I don’t know. The same with Trey freaking out at the sight of Grey in a towel. Talk about impulsive overreacting. Oh, well!

That being said, I liked the story nonetheless. Trey and Roman were great together and good for each other and it showed on every page. The book needs editing though, there were plenty of missing or wrong words which took away the enjoyment quite a bit.

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Beautifully damaged by L.A. Fiore

Beautifully Damaged (Beautifully Damaged, #1)Beautifully Damaged by L.A. Fiore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was continuously shaking my head about myself while reading because I just soaked this one up and loved it.

The heroine, well, I would have walked out on that guy much sooner (but would have come back as well, I am very forgiving), but she rationalized everything so nicely.. The hero, perfect, rich and without a flaw (apart from the self loathing, stalkerish behaviour and anger issues, but these are just “minor” problems that we see in every other romance). It seems that L.A. Fiore’s hero often do the most stupid things that hurt the heroine no end in order to “protect” her. What can I say, I forgave him. You know how it is, it hurt him just as much, if not more.

I forgive almost everything as long as I can see a connection between the couple and so I was ok with the most idiotic things. For example, if anybody in real life got that tattoo after that time, I would seriously question that person’s common sense, but here, no problem.

I was more annoyed at the obvious plot holes where the mystery was concerned. Apart from the police officer who knew everything and eventually became an accomplice to the killer, the timeline that didn’t add up somehow, the mother who assumed that if she was unresponsive her children would leave the house and then showed initiative even though she was drugged up – there were tons of things that were explained and resolved in a way that made NO sense whatsoever. Still, I couldn’t help liking it. A lot.

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Cronin’s Key by N.R. Walker

Cronin's Key (Cronin's Key, #1)Cronin’s Key by N.R. Walker
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

N. R. Walker should stick with contemporary storylines that don’t involve any world building. The vampire lore that was created here was nonsensical and complete bollocks. The logical argument of “cats like vampires -> cats protect vampires -> that’s why lions are on every bloody banner in the world -> there you have it, proofs of vampires are everywhere, you just have to look” is so ridiculous, it’s not funny anymore. The whole backstory was told in a few info dump scenes where Alec asked irrelevant questions that wouldn’t occur to anyone faced with that sort of stuff. I am not saying that the world couldn’t have been interesting, but the vampire angle was overdone and just impossible to believe.

I don’t mind insta-love or fated lovers one bit, but I’m not thrilled about the no-choice-at-all situation. Alec didn’t like it at the beginning, but was ok with it in the end, because all of a sudden he had convinced himself that he would have chosen Cronin anyway. How does he know this?

Anyway, apart from that “I can’t help loving you” situation which already diminished the relationship in my eyes the love scenes were boring to boot. I have read Blind Faith which had some scenes that were very nicely done. This led me to expect something along the same lines (especially since those two guys here had NO issues at all with each other) but I was disappointed. The connection between Alex and Cronin just wasn’t there. The love scenes were bland and uninspired. I have read random hookups in men’s restrooms that were more sensual. I can’t begin to describe how mechanical, emotionless and impersonal those scenes were. Plus, purring – unless you are a cat – is not on my top ten list of pleasure sounds. Cronin is supposed to be a vampire who kills for food, for crying out loud, he doesn’t purr!

A disappointing read. I will give the other books in this series a wide berth.

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Strong side by Alison Hendricks

Strong Side (Eastshore Tigers, #1)Strong Side by Alison Hendricks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m not much into books with a sports theme, but the blurb sounded good enough, so I gave it a try. OK, American football. I know nothing about it and am not interested either, so I was grateful that there wasn’t an enormous amount of shop talk.

This was low angst – amazing, considering that it seems gay and football don’t go well together. On the one hand it was quite relaxing to read a book where the focus was on the two MCs and no outside interference, on the other hand it struck me as a little odd, that all the problematic areas were solved in such an easy way. Gay football players – all good including rainbows. Homophobe team mates – hardly any, or at least they kept quiet. Ambitious father – turns around quickly. Jason had a lot of problems with the way his life was going, but those were solved in a flash. Derek and his painful past – eventually talked about and gotten over with.

I liked the connection between Derek and Jason and that for the most part there was not much of miscommunication and misunderstandings (my bug bears). So, all in all, an easy and comfortable read. The book needs some editing, though.

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Just a bit ruthless by Alessandra Hazard

Just a Bit Ruthless (Straight Guys #6)Just a Bit Ruthless by Alessandra Hazard
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I didn’t read the previous book (the two MCs didn’t interest me), but even without knowing Luke beforehand it was clear from the start that he was a fool (and no, I didn’t see any business sense either). Going to the meeting pretending his father sent him was such an idiotic move, it didn’t endear him to me at all. Add the fact that he constantly pouted and used quivering lips to get what he wanted, but at the same time insisted that his young looks did not reflect his true self and you have a guy that was so not my cup of tea.

Over the course of the book I lost my initial respect for Roman as well. He fell for Luke and all his hard ass principles went overboard in a flash. The heartless tycoon exits, the besotted admirer enters. Not fun! At least he was reasonable enough to recognize and acknowledge his own feelings while Luke ran to the therapist demanding to be cured of his Stockholm syndrome! Embarrassing!

As if this wasn’t enough, along comes the daddy thing, something I don’t like at all. All of a sudden Luke needs a daddy and Roman wants to be one – give me a break! The blurb sounded so promising, but then didn’t keep any of it.

The next book’s couple we already got a glimpse of; another one I will skip, I am sure. For me the series has been going downhill from book 3, I am afraid.

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Just a bit wrong by Alessandra Hazard

Just a Bit Wrong (Straight Guys #4)Just a Bit Wrong by Alessandra Hazard
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I didn’t like Tristan in the previous book but he grew on me a little. Zach I didn’t care for at all; why Tristan fell for that unprofessional brute I don’t know. Tristan was surrounded by people who didn’t care about him at all, I felt sorry for him. Admittedly he was a snarky bastard who lashed out, but there are tons of romance heroes (mostly in m/f) like that, so he was nothing out of the ordinary.

Zach disliked him (I wouldn’t call it hate, in my opinion they just rubbed each other the wrong way), his brother thought he was a useless prick and, to top it all off, his assistant calls him a piece of shit and didn’t mind telling that to everyone who was willing to listen to her diatribes. I really hated that bitch. She had a good job which obviously paid handsomely and had nothing better to do than going on about how she needed the money and couldn’t quit (sure, there are NO other jobs out there), interfered nonstop and talked really badly about her employer. A true paragon of loyalty!

Favourite character: Donna. I totally admired her for her calm and composed attitude towards everything.

All in all I wasn’t too thrilled with this book. The very minor BDSM scenes were ok even for people who are not into that, but I didn’t really see how they contributed much to the story. Basically two people fought against their attraction and feelings all through the way to the end, yet still gave in every time and that’s just not my thing.

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Trinity Blue by Eve Silver

Trinity BlueTrinity Blue by Eve Silver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As far as plot and atmosphere go, this 35 page novella leaves some novels that I have read behind. There should be more stories about Daemon and his kind (if there are more like him). Totally intriguing!

Jen and Daemon are great characters that deserve more exploration. I understand there are more books set in the same world as this novella but it seems Daemon is a one time character. Pity really! I loved him, what a handyman (among other things) to have around. For such a short story, it packs a punch.

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Just a bit unhealthy by Alessandra Hazard

Just a Bit Unhealthy (Straight Guys #3)Just a Bit Unhealthy by Alessandra Hazard
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Unhealthy doesn’t even begin to explain it, that’s probably why I didn’t like this one as much as the previous ones. Jared’s love of Gabriel was one thing, but Gabriel’s “love” was just insane. I don’t mind fucked up characters, but this sort of co-dependency doesn’t do it for me. Throw in a girlfriend who I felt sorry for on the one side, but found too stupid for words (who listens to friends who give advice like that?) and the mix is just not my cup of tea.

I can put up with all sorts of lack of realism, but the fact that Gabriel and Jared behaved the way they did and everybody around them still accepted them to be mere friends is not believable at all (I’d rather believe a college professor gives out good grades as payment for blow jobs). I am pretty sure if a football player was seen cuddling with the team’s doctor nonstop, there would be a lot of awkward situations in interviews and headlines in newspapers. In the next book Tristan ponders about Gabriel not caring about what others thought of his relationship with Jared, but as it happens it seems the public thought nothing of it. Well, they should have, considering the environment of the story. Unfortunately the football world is highly homophobic.

Anyway, so far this was the least enjoyable of the books in the series for me.

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Just a bit obsessed by Alessandra Hazard

Just a Bit Obsessed (Straight Guys, #2)Just a Bit Obsessed by Alessandra Hazard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really like the kind of overlap of the books in this series. This one starts with a scene that we know about as we read about the result of it already in Just a bit twisted, when Christian tells Shawn about the threesome he has been invited to.

Both male characters Christian and Alexander were great guys who I really felt with. Alexander was my favourite kind of hero, cool, calm and composed, yet sizzling and burning underneath. And – he was capable of quite a lot of self reflection which I find admirable!

Mila, the initiator of this whole story, I could take or leave. I was completely indifferent to her and to be honest, once those two guys met she was out of the picture. Somebody complained about her being in the relevant story until what, 85%?, but in reality she wasn’t. Those meetings were no threesomes, they were twosomes with a redundant third wheel. She might as well have read a book while the guys got off. If you, like me, dislike women in M/M books, don’t worry about Mila, she is completely negligible. Talk about being careful what you wish for.

Absolutely recommendable, especially if you like OFY stories.

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Irrevocable by Shay Savage

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

I am impressed. This was the best book of the series as far as I am concerned.

How any reader can be pissed off at the fact that Evan now has found the perfect woman and has moved on I don’t know. And no, I wasn’t reading this for the mobster angle, even though I found it highly interesting, but actually for the romance part. It seems that people who complain about the so called betrayal of the readership don’t actually care about the characters, they just don’t want to get out of their comfort zone and rethink an already established HEA (or rather HFN), however fragile it is.

It was clear from the start that Lia was not the right person for Evan and I am only glad that she was removed and replaced by someone better. To what purpose was Evan supposed to go after her? It was clear he was not going to change his lifestyle and she wouldn’t put up with that, so is he supposed to go behind her back all the time? Then everybody would have complained about him being a liar and a cheater. He was right when he said she was better off without him. But not because he didn’t deserve her, but because she didn’t accept him as he was but wanted to make him a better man (whatever that is).

Alina is the best heroine ever. Absolutely perfect in every way! Her reaction when Evan told her about what happened after the funeral ist just so right. I have NEVER read another romance where the heroine would have reacted that way even though it was the only right answer in that situation. The “regular” heroine would have cried, left, pouted, been deeply hurt and only after humiliating groveling would have taken him back. Alina was sensible, yet she took no shit and made it clear that these were extenuating circumstances.

I don’t like pets or kids in romance, but Shay Savage even made me like the dog (I didn’t mind the one in Bastian’s Storm either) which is saying something. I had to laugh about Evan’s reaction to Maisie in the house – this must have been the only funny scene in the whole Evan Arden series. Evan doesn’t do humour.

Anyway, I loved this book. Don’t let negative reviews keep you from reading it, unless you are the Annie Wilkes type.

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Just a bit twisted by Alessandra Hazard

Just a Bit Twisted (Straight Guys, #1)Just a Bit Twisted by Alessandra Hazard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fun read. The whole story was unrealistic from start to finish, but so what?!

Shawn was a good character, but I loved Rutledge. His unprofessional behaviour was absolutely out of character, but I am a firm believer in suspending disbelief, so I didn’t mind at all. He was an asshole throughout the story and never changed, which was great. His remarks and Shawn’s reaction made for some really good scenes.

So far I always skipped GFY stories, but they seem to have a certain flair. If you don’t mind the lack of realism in a story, you should give this one a go.

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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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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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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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How to tame beasts and other wild things by A. Wilding Wells

How To Tame Beasts And Other Wild ThingsHow To Tame Beasts And Other Wild Things by A. Wilding Wells
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The title of this made me curious and the cover wasn’t too shabby either, so I went for it.

H and h were both good and likeable characters, even though I could have done with a little less focus on his being British. So what if he’s a Brit?! Both stood their ground but didn’t play silly games once it was obvious they were attracted to each other. The conflict around the middle when they have an argument about the boy breaking his wrist was totally believable to me (a novelty, as most conflicts in romance are silly, far-fetched or only exist in the head of one of the characters).

However, there were a few things that were just too much or didn’t make sense.

  • Why send Matilda to find a wife for her brother in law. If the grandfather was so concerned about his grandchildren why not just have an agency screen various nannies and provide a few candidates to choose from? To force the son-in-law to remarry, otherwise he’ll lose the farm, is just a bit too much tyranny.
  • Why did Everit object to Matilda being that wife. He presumably didn’t care for her so what does it matter to him whom she marries. For Balthazar he would have accepted anybody anyway, as it seems. And if he did care for her, wouldn’t he want her to find happiness with the love of her life?
  • The bee stings were just too much. Give me a bloody break!
  • The mother turning up and being welcomed like the prodigal son. You would think that the son has SOME issues to overcome before he can accept her as his mother.
  • The dead fiancé suddenly being alive before he finally dies for good. The nurse lied about Cort being dead. Why? You would assume because she was told to by Cort’s parents who never liked Matilda. So why, oh, why would they call her after all this time to let her know he has awoken from his coma and has been asking for her? They were rid of her and now they ask her to come back? They could have told Cort that she left him and good riddance. That final conflict was contrived to the extreme, made no sense whatsoever and felt as if it was thrown in as a final test to the relationship because everything had been going a bit too smooth until then.
  • The end was a just too perfect. I’m not going into any details, but the fact that really everything and everybody turned out just great was a bit too much of a good thing.

Nevertheless, this was an entertaining read. If you like sweet and crazy stories with a bit of humour and a downright fairytale ending this will be for you.

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

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Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan

Archer's VoiceArcher’s Voice by Mia Sheridan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t read too many NA romance, so I have no idea if this fit NA standards. To be honest I would not have classified this as NA at all, it seemed like a “regular” adult book to me. The explicit scenes were done nicely and I liked the overall story.

What I found remarkable was that Archer recognized that he had to leave Bree. In the romance genre personal/emotional/mental issues usually are “overcome” by too simple a solution. Once love is declared and the relationship is established those problems seemingly go away. Well, in real life they don’t, but they return later and bite you in the ass. Archer’s leaving was a refreshing realistic way to handle his problems that I usually miss in romance.

A person owning a town is a very unusual concept for me, but once that is established the rule that the firstborn is the heir to the town makes sense. However, that ANY firstborn can inherit is somewhat unusual. Primogeniture includes legitimate children, not children born out of wedlock. That Archer all of a sudden was the owner of the town came as a surprise which made no sense to me. And frankly, I felt no necessity to validate Archer as a businessman, responsible landlord etc. He was already an accomplished person in his own right.

A good read as I found the conncetion between h and H extraordinary. For me this is always a win.

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