1 November 2016

Hotline by Quinn Anderson

Hey everyone,

The book I’m reviewing today is Hotline by Quinn Anderson, a contemporary M/M romance whose heroes meet over a sex-line… Not exactly the cute meet everyone is looking for! Also before I get into the nitty-gritty of the book, I want to thank Riptide Publishing for sending me a copy of this book, via NetGalley, in return for an honest review.

The book:

Zack never intended to become a phone sex operator, but with half a college degree and a smart mouth, his options were limited. It helps that he has a knack for thinking on his feet and a willingness to roll with whatever his clients throw at him. Sure, he gets his fair share of creeps and unconventional requests, but it pays the bills, and he’s in no danger of breaking his one rule: never fall for a client.

Until a man named “John” starts calling, and Zack finds himself interested in more than a paycheck. It’s not just that John has money, or that his rumbling baritone drives Zack wild. He’s everything Zack isn’t: educated, poised, and in total control of his life.

A twist of fate brings them face-to-face, and now that they’ve seen each other—and spent an unforgettable night together—they can’t go back to the way things were. A sex worker and a trust fund brat . . . It’s like Romeo and Juliet, but with less stabbing and slightly fewer dick jokes. Hopefully they can pull off a more successful ending.

My thoughts:

Perhaps my expectations are too high but when I finished Hotline I was left feeling flat. I certainly didn’t hate reading it, and I would be interested in reading more by Quinn Anderson, but it also didn’t wow me. I really enjoyed reading the build-up Zack and John’s first meeting. The sexual chemistry, when they had phone-sex, was incredible. Yet once they met the relationship was a little boring? For me, I felt they never progress after that point; perhaps because the major conversations and emotional engagement happened before they meet.

When Zack spoke again, his words reverberated in his chest, more vibration than actual sound. "I can promise you, I'm worth every penny."

Also, Hotline is told solely from Zack’s perspective. We get a lot of background information about his family, his neighbours and friendship circle. I felt I knew Zack and understood his motivations in life. I never felt I understood John. To me, he came across as a very two-dimensional character. He was rich. Came from a wealthy family. Liked phone-sex and that was about it. We never delve deeper than that. Also considering he is described as charming, handsome, wealthy and proudly out I didn’t really understand why he was using a phone-sex line in the first place?

Zack opened and closed is mouth several times before he managed to rasp, "John?" His own voice sounded foreign to him, and his tongue was thick in his mouth.

I found the drama surrounding Zack’s family a little prolonged. I liked knowing about Zack’s life outside of work and his relationship with John but I personally thought it took much of focus away from the main relationship. I think this added to the lack of information about John’s life outside of Zack left Hotline feeling imbalanced to me.  Overall this is why I didn’t enjoy it as much as I could have. When I’m reading a romance I want to care about all the leads. I want to know what makes them tick, what motivates them in life because this is how I become invested in the relationship.

Zack's insides squirmed in a pleasantly unpleasant way. The feeling was starting to become familiar to him. Nervousness, happiness, terror: the staples of his relationship with John.

Overall I’ve given Hotline a generous three stars because I did enjoy the first 55%, but the second half was disappointing. I would be intrigued to see what Quinn Anderson does next and see how her style as a writer develops. Unfortunately, Hotline just wasn’t the book for me.

My rating:

Happy reading and see you next time!

17 October 2016

Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton and Nina Bocci

Hey everyone,

was seeing a lot of hype about this book all over Tumblr and when I saw the beautiful pictures of it on Instagram I couldn’t resist requesting it from Netgalley. I was lucky enough to be given a copy of Roman Crazy in return for an honest review by Simon & Schuster. I’ve read a few books by Alice Clayton before so I was intrigued to see how her collaboration with Nina Bocci would turn out.

The book:

Avery Bardot steps off the plane in Rome, looking for a fresh start. She’s left behind a soon-to-be ex-husband in Boston and plans to spend the summer with her best friend Daisy, licking her wounds—and perhaps a gelato or two. But when her American-expat friend throws her a welcome party on her first night, Avery’s thrown for a loop when she sees a man she never thought she’d see again: Italian architect Marcello Bianchi.

Marcello was the man—the one who got away. And now her past is colliding with her present, a present where she should be mourning the loss of her marriage and—hey, that fettuccine is delicious! And so is Marcello…

Slipping easily into the good life of summertime in Rome, Avery spends her days exploring a city that makes art historians swoon, and her nights swooning over her unexpected what was old is new again romance. It’s heady, it’s fevered, it’s wanton, and it’s crazy. But could this really be her new life? Or is it just a temporary reprieve before returning to the land of twin-set cardigans and crustless sandwiches?

My thoughts:

As soon as I started the first page Romance Crazy drew me in. I felt I was there with Avery as she watched her husband having sex with his secretary, I was cheering for her as she confronted her soon-to-be-ex-mother-in-law and I was proud of her when she got on the plane to Italy instead of taking the scumbag back. Alice Clayton and Nina Bocci have a gift for writing wonderfully human characters and this is what made me love this book. I was able to connect with Avery as a character because she felt human. She was a nuanced character, someone able to bravely stand up to her mother-in-law and yet emotionally falls apart afterwards when no one is around. She isn’t hundred-percent sure that going to Italy is the right thing to do, but with encouragement from Daisy and the realization that apart from her parent's nothing is keeping her Boston.

Choices were made, decisions were cemented, and paths were chosen. But no one said I had to stay running on that particular hamster wheel.

15 October 2016

The Governess was Wicked by Julia Kelly

Hey everyone,

Today I’m reviewing The Governess was Wicked by Julia Kelly, a historical romance about a Governess and a doctor. I was immediately intrigued by the occupations of the hero and heroine because it differs from the usual suspects of aristocrats, soldiers or ‘mistresses’. I wanted to see how Julia Kelly would incorporate ideas of class and social standing into the romance. Also before I start I need to thank Simon and Schuster and Netgalley for sending me an arc copy of this book in return for an honest review.

The book:
This delightfully charming and saucy Regency era romance is first in the Governess series in which three best friends are employed as governesses for different families, and all find themselves wanting something they can’t have.

Elizabeth Porter is quite happy with her position as the governess for two sneaky-yet-sweet girls when she notices that they have a penchant for falling ill and needing the doctor. As the visits from the dashing and handsome Doctor Edward Fellows become more frequent, Elizabeth quickly sees through the lovesick girls’ ruse. Yet even Elizabeth can’t help but notice Edward’s bewitching bedside manner even as she tries to convince herself that someone of her station would not make a suitable wife for a doctor. But one little kiss won’t hurt...

My thoughts:

When we meet Elizabeth Porter she is working as a governess for Juliana and Cassandra Norton, two girls who often fake illnesses to gain attention. Although Elizabeth isn’t always convinced of the girl's maladies she won’t take the risk incase they are seriously ill. This results in many late night visits from a Doctor Edwards Fellow, the family physician. Both Elizabeth and Edward occupied an unusual position in society. Elizabeth as a governess is slightly above the rank of a servant but is still considered replaceable and of little importance by her employers. Above all else Elizabeth has to be beyond reproach, she can’t risk any scandal being attached to her name.

He was the sort of man Elizabeth could imagine forgetting herself with. But a governess could never forget herself, no matter how much she wanted to.

26 September 2016

Just my Luck by Andrea Bramhall

Hey everyone,

I wanted to love Just my Luck by Andrea Bramhall. I went in hoping it would be a cute friends-to-lovers contemporary romance, which arguably it is. Yet something stopped me from loving this book. But before I get into the nitty gritty of the review, I would like to thank Ylva publishing and Netgalley for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

The book:

Genna Collins works a dead end job, loves her family, her girlfriend, and her friends. When she wins the biggest Euromillions jackpot on record everything changes…and not always for the best.

When Abi Kitson fell in love she always knew it would go unrequited. The woman of her dreams was so close yet seemingly untouchable for so many reasons. Reasons like – they are best friends, or the big age gap, or the ‘other’ woman, nevermind Abi’s own baggage. And even when those reasons crumble it seems luck just isn’t on her side.

It’s a learning curve for both of them. But what if money really can’t buy you everything you want? What if the answers aren’t hidden in a big, fat bank balance? What if happiness is right in front of them? They just have to reach out…

My thoughts:

Just my Luck had so much promise! The premise was incredibly interesting, a young woman winning the lottery and a friends-to-lovers romance, but right of the bat I struggled to connect with the story. Andrea Bramhall’s writing style is almost interactive with the audience. Genna and Abi would often talk to the audience, as if they were recounting the story to a friend, asking them questions and filling in the answers. Now this isn’t necessarily a bad writing style but I personally found it brought me out of the story. Rather than getting lost in Genna and Abi’s world I was being forced to participate in it. Also despite the story being set in Manchester, England and being British myself, I didn’t understand all the pop culture references that Andrea Bramhall used to describe people or events.

I want the earth to open up and swallow me. It doesn't happen. I want the alarm to go off and wake me up from this nightmare. It doesn't happen.

20 September 2016

Steady Stroke by A.M. Arthur

Hey everyone,

Today I’m reviewing Steady Stroke by A.M. Arthur, this is the second book I’ve read by this author and as I thoroughly enjoyed the first one I had high expectations. Steady Stroke is the second book in A.M. Arthur’s Off Beat series, but I read this without reading the first one and thought it worked perfectly as a stand-alone. Before I get properly into the review I should thank Swerve, via Netgalley, for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

The book:

After a tragic accident, Lincoln West’s dreams of making it big as a guitarist fell apart. Unable to play music, he’s battling a hopeless downward spiral, and takes his friend’s offer to stay at their beach house for the summer. While at an open mic night at local bar Off Beat, he locks eyes with a busboy who doesn’t make Linc feel so broken anymore.

Emmett Westmore lives for the anonymity of busing tables in his aunt’s quirky bar where no one pities him for the fire that killed everyone he loved. He blames himself for the fire, and he doesn’t want anyone to see him—except for Linc. Emmett’s walls drop when he’s around the gorgeous blue-eyed guitarist, but he has a secret that could destroy his budding relationship with Linc.

Both Linc and Emmett are looking for a way to live again…will they let their fears control them or take a chance on something real? 

My thoughts:

In Steady Stroke we are first introduced to Lincoln West, who is struggling to adjust to life after a car accident that left him unable to play music. He feels isolated from his former friends who are all still pursuing a career in music. Yet he is stuck in the same place as last year, but this time unable to play his beloved guitar. In the beginning of the book we are seeing the world from Linc’s perspective, his feelings of hopelessness, anger, and resentment. His struggle to move forward without constantly wishing for what he had.

A year ago, XYZ was on the verge of a breakthrough into an actual record deal. Lincoln was happy, healthy, and so proud of Dominic for beginning to work through some painful emotional baggage.

11 September 2016

Rented Heart by Garrett Leigh

Hey everyone,

Garret Leigh is an author who has always been on the periphery of my reading. I’ve been aware of their work for a while but have never taken the dip and read one for myself. Yet after reading the blurb for Rented Heart on Netgalley I knew I had to read this book! Luckily for me, Riptide Publishing, via NetGalley, were kind enough to send me a copy in return an honest review.

The book:

 Ex-surfer-turned-businessman Liam Mallaney moved back to Holkham, Norfolk, to mourn the loss of his husband. Grief and loneliness keep him a solitary figure, and he likes it that way. There’s no room in his broken heart for anything else.

Rentboy Zac Payne left London and most of his demons behind, but he still only knows one way to make a living. When he spots Liam in a club one night, it seems he’s found his mark. But Liam proves nicer—and their connection far deeper—than he’d bargained for. 

Their arrangement quickly becomes too complicated for Zac, who has other things on his mind: namely his BFF and wayward flatmate, Jamie. Zac owes Jamie the world, and even as Jamie’s drug addiction destroys all they have, Zac won’t leave him behind.

Besides, Liam knows nothing of Zac’s home life, too caught up in his own head to think much beyond the crazy heat he and Zac share. But when trouble comes to Zac’s door, putting his life in danger, Liam must set his grief and anger aside to pick up the pieces of Zac’s shattered heart and his own.

My thoughts:

Liam is a serious cutie-pie who needs to be protected at all costs. He is kind, respectful, generous and unpretentious despite being seriously rich. He never treats Zac with anything less than respect, and at times even stops Zac from disrespecting himself. As the relationship between Zac and Liam evolves, the issue of payment crops up, because Liam is happy to keep paying it because he knows Zac needs it more. Of course, Zac would prefer not to take the money as he doesn’t want to feel like a ‘hooker’. I loved that Liam didn’t hold the money over Zac, and never made Zac feel less for his job.

Because I don’t want to feel like a john any more than you want to feel like a hooker.

3 September 2016

Lone Star on a Cowboy Heart by Marie A Crosswell

Hey everyone,

Firstly I need to thank Netgalley and Less Than Three Press Publishing for sending me an ARC copy of this book for review. Secondly, I’m sorry I’ve been gone so long! Life got ahead of me and then a massive reading slump meant that blogging just went out the window. But I’m back now and will be returning to my regular schedule. When I saw Lone Star on a Cowboy Heart I was immediately drawn in by the beautiful cover, and when the blurb mentioned that one of the heroes was an asexual aromantic I had to read this book!

The book:

Sam, a sheriff's deputy in a small Arizona town, is off-duty when he finds himself in the middle of a hold-up at a local diner. He makes it out alive only because of Montgomery, who shoots the robber attempting to kill Sam—but in the fallout, the second robber gets away. 

In the aftermath of that ugly night, Sam is determined to know Montgomery better, while Montgomery is determined to find the man who escaped. He's also dead set on avoiding the deputy, having secrets of his own he doesn't want out. 

But loneliness is hard, and Montgomery can't resist the companionship Sam is offering—the companionship he's always wanted, but could never find. If they're going to explore it, however, first they'll have to stop the growing threat of the robber who got away...

My thoughts:

How do you review a romance book that doesn’t have a romance? Neither Sam nor Montgomery identify as gay or consider themselves to be sexually attracted to their own gender. From the beginning, it is clear that the relationship building between them isn’t a romantic one. In fact, the whole tone of Lone Star on a Cowboy Heart could put some readers off, as it isn’t one brimming with emotion. Montgomery, in particular, is a difficult character to read, even when you are in his head, and I struggled to connect with the writing style of this book. I kept being thrown out of the story due to a turn of phrase Marie Crosswell had used. Yet I kept reading because I was invested in these characters.

“They fall silent again for a long few minute, drinking their coffee, never looking at each other at the same time. The house is quiet, not even the sound of the wind against the wood or the windowpanes.”

14 June 2016

Damned If You Do by Marie Sexton

Hey everyone,

Today I’m reviewing Damned If You Do by Marie Sexton. I couldn’t resist requesting a book from Netgalley about a Demon and the person's soul he was trying to steal. With Damned If You Do being less than 130 pages long I was intrigued to see how Marie Sexton would introduce the concept and make me believe in the romance in such a short length of time.

The book:
The path to temptation is paved with a hellish amount of paperwork.

Soul acquisition is a drag, but if Abaddon doesn’t catch up on his quota, he could be demoted to scooping poop for the Hounds of Hell. With a deadline hanging over him, he heads for the Bible Belt, looking for the perfect combination of sweetness and challenge.

Seth is a blind musician, part of a traveling tent revival. He’s cute, mystically talented, and quotes the Bible at every turn. His soul is pure enough to fill Abaddon’s quota for months to come, and Abaddon is determined to claim it.

The problem? There’s the revival foreman who watches Abaddon’s every move. Then there’s the mystery of Seth’s many unusual talents. Lastly, there’s Abaddon himself. He’s beginning to like Seth a bit too much. Maybe Seth deserves something better than damnation.

But Hell’s agenda isn’t negotiable, and time is running out. If Abaddon doesn’t play his cards right, he could condemn both of them to the worst fate of all—an eternity apart.

My thoughts:

Damned If You Do is a book that had so much potential but just fell a little short in my opinion. I loved the concept of the demon trying to steal the purest soul and instead falling in love with the person that soul belongs to. I even found the interpretation of hell being the first office-job imaginable quite enjoyable. My problem came with the delivery. The world-building in Damned If You Do felt a little rushed, almost as if Marie Sexton only wanted to give the reader the bare minimum. As the reader follows Abaddon we are exposed to both hell and the human world but neither for enough time.

I was actually abandoned at the revival as an infant. One of the women heard a baby crying in the night. She went looking and found me under the piano bench.

1 June 2016

Kiss an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Hey everyone,

I’ve been in a major book slump for the past few months, but I’m finally clawing my way back into the light. One of the ways I did that was by returning to old favourites. Books I can rely on to make me laugh, cry and most importantly keep me reading. One such book for me is Kiss an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

The book:
How did pretty socialite Daisy Devereaux find herself in this fix? She can either go to jail or marry the mystery man her father has chosen for her.

Alex Markov, however, has no intention of playing the loving bridegroom to a spoiled little heiress. As humourless as he is deadly handsome, he drags the irrepressible Daisy away from her uptown life and sets out to bring her down a peg or two.

Except it won't be as easy as he thinks. This man without a soul has met a woman who's nothing but heart. Will vows spoken in haste shatter or offer the promise of love everlasting?
My thoughts:

There are so many reasons I adore Kiss an Angel but the circus setting is what makes it such a unique and memorable romance. The circus felt like a character. It was confusing, complex, and controversial. Yet it was also warm, interesting and home. Having only been to one circus in my life, and that happened after I read Kiss an Angel for the first time, the circus is not a world I know much about. I can’t tell you if Susan Elizabeth Phillips representation of the circus is accurate but I can you it made me want to keep reading. I loved the unique setting it gave Daisy and Alex’s romance and honestly I’m not sure their relationship could have flourished the way it did in any other environment.

What are you gonna do, angel face? Stab me with your eyebrow pencil?

29 May 2016

Leveling the Field by Megan Erickson

Hey everyone,

Today I’m reviewing Leveling the Field by Megan Erickson, the fourth book in her Gamers series. Levelling the Field finally gives us Ethan’s story, a figure who has intrigued fans since he was first introduced. Now I will admit I’ve only read Tied to Trouble from the Gamers series, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, so when I saw Leveling the Field on Netgalley I couldn’t resist requesting it!

The book:

Reclusive magazine exec Ethan Talley is furious when his business partner hires a photographer—a gorgeous photographer who insists on speaking her mind, damn it—to take pictures for an upcoming article. No matter how badly he wants the woman…under him, over him, against the nearest wall…he has reasons for not wanting to be on camera anymore, and his scars are only one of them.

It takes approximately two seconds for Lissa Kingsman to recognize Ethan as the popular YouTube gamer who fell off the planet years ago. But this Ethan is different than the charming man she used to watch, and the crush she had on him then is nothing compared to the way she’s lusting after the brooding man he is today. If sex is all he can give her, fine. Why not use that bearskin rug in her studio for something other than a prop? But she’s determined to put a chink in his armor, no matter how much he resists.

My thoughts:

I was mainly drawn to Leveling the Field for two reasons. One Megan Erickson. Two Ethan Talley. I love damaged or scarred heroes, be it emotional or physical scarring. I’m not sure my love of them is particularly healthy, but I can’t stop reading about them. Heroes who are scarred always seem to have more emotionally driven romances and that is what I can’t get enough of! Ethan Talley is no different. His past has left him emotionally, mentally and physically scared. He has alienated himself from friends, family, work and life, becoming a shell of his former self. I thought Megan Erickson did a great job of developing Ethan’s character and showing the affect it had on those around him. I understood why Ethan was acting the way he was; why he acted so defensive and irrationally angry at times. Yet I could also see the pain it was causing to those around him.

Something about his pained expression, his all black suit made her want to see what he’d be like warmed up. Hell, even with a smile.

30 April 2016

The Heiress by Lynsay Sands

Hey everyone,

When I first got into romance books Lynsay Sands was one of my favourite authors. I adored her books for their light-hearted, fast-paced plot-lines. Still to this day if I see a Lynsay Sands novel my first instinct is to buy it, and when I saw The Heiress in Waterstones it was no different.

The book:

Suzette is not like other heiresses; she wants a poor husband, a gentleman who will be so grateful for her dowry that he will allow her access to it so that she can pay off her father's gambling debts. When this alluring beauty encounters Daniel Woodrow—handsome, titled, single . . . and even more impoverished than she could have hoped for—it seems Suzette's wildest dreams have come true.

But Daniel has not been truthful. Tired of being accosted by an endless stream of vapid coquettes and their fortune-hunting mothers, Daniel has decided to plead poverty to stop them in their tracks. Yet here is a most refreshing and delectable lady, who claims to be thrilled by his penury. Now all Daniel has to do to find true happiness is to keep a little white lie alive . . . while avoiding a villain who's determined to prevent this union by any means necessary.

My thoughts:

The Heiress is the second book in Lynsay Sand’s Madison Sisters series and honestly I think it suffered from middle-child syndrome. It wasn’t a bad book and I certainly didn’t hate reading it, but I also wasn’t grabbed by it. Nothing in particular stood out and made me want to keep reading about Suzette and Daniel. Everything just fell a little flat.

Suzette was different, her responses were honest, her need real not feigned to jolly the exercises along, and that passion in her had called out to his own.

10 April 2016

Melting Point by Kate Meader

Hey everyone,

As soon as Kate Meader introduced Gage and Brady in Flirting with Fire I was really hoping that would get their own book. The amount of chemistry they had in the first book made me so excited to start reading Melting Point!

The book:

Firefighter Gage Simpson has it all: the job of his dreams, the family of his heart, and no shortage of hot guys lining up to share his bed. “Fun and easy” is his motto—and it’s kept him sunny through a painful upbringing and steered him away from trouble. But when trouble comes knocking in the form of a sexy, scarred, tattooed chef with a harrowing past and zero communication skills, Gage can’t help but be drawn to the flame.

Brady Smith isn’t fun. And easy isn’t in his vocabulary. When cocky Gage swaggers into his restaurant kitchen, the former Marine-turned-five-star-chef is blindsided by the firefighter’s beauty. Then confused that this golden guy with the sparkling blue eyes and the body of a god might be interested in him. As desire flares and temperatures rise, Gage and Brady will have to figure out if the heat between them is just a temporary flash—or the beginning of something real.

My thoughts:

I have to admit I love damaged heroes. I love them for there complexity and the fact they can only expose their vulnerabilities to that one person. The one person they can trust never to hurt them again. Kate Meader did a fantastic job of making Brady one of those heroes. He’s a good guy whose been put through the wringer by life and has emotionally closed down.

I wanted smoke because it’s what remains. After the fire, after everything is destroyed, you’re left with smoke and ash. You’ve gotta make somethin’ out of it.

6 April 2016

Destiny’s Surrender by Beverly Jenkins

Hey everyone,

I’m a little ashamed to admit that I’ve never read a Beverly Jenkins novel. Especially considering she is one of the iconic authors in the romance genre. I can’t say for certain why I picked Destiny’s Surrender out of her entire back-list, but I just thought it sounded good from the blurb.

The book:
The child he didn't know he had . . . 

Andrew Yates has come to a decision: it's time to stop sowing those oats and start a family. But searching for a bride isn't as simple as he'd hoped, and many of the respectable women of his acquaintance feel . . . lacking. Then beautiful, feisty Wilhelmina "Billie" Wells arrives at the family ranch with a toddler in her arms, claiming Drew is the father!

The woman he didn't know he loved . . . 

Billie had no choice but to show up at Destiny in search of Drew. For the sake of their child, she's willing to leave him with his father so the boy can have a better life, but then, before she can blink, she's saying "I do" in front of a preacher in a marriage of convenience. All Billie and Drew have in common is the heat that brought them together, but can their sizzling passion lead to an everlasting love?
My thoughts:

Given everything I heard about Beverly Jenkins and her books I had very high expectations for Destiny’s Surrender. I was excited to read a historical romance book with a black heroine and a hero with Spanish ancestry. I was intrigued to see how Beverly Jenkins would merge the romance plot with the attitudes towards race in America at the time.

Her name was Wilhelmina. Most called her Billie but this remarkable man had given her a unique name all his own: Mina.

30 March 2016

Tied to Trouble by Megan Erickson

Hey everyone,

Today I’m reviewing Tied to Trouble by Megan Erickson. Although Tied to Trouble is part of the Gamers series, this is the only one focusing on an LGBT+ relationship. Can I just say how happy I am that more authors are starting to create series that include books about LGBT+ couples alongside books about straight couples. Maybe its just me but I see that as a step forward. Anyway enough serious stuff and on with the review!

The book:
Between love and hate, there's a whole lot of trouble…

Chad Lake only showed up at his sister's party for the free food, but when he spots an uptight nerd at the edge of the crowd, he can't resist trying to ruffle the guy's perfect bow tie and impeccable hair. The hottie's ready for him, though, and in the end, it's Chad who's left wide-eyed, his ears still ringing with the filthy things Bow Tie whispered in his ear. No one gets the upper hand on Chad. Ever.

Owen Hawkins has heard all about the cocky Adonis from Chad's sister—the same sister who holds Owen's career advancement in her hands. He has every intention of steering clear of the other man…until Chad's sexy taunts push him too far. There's something intriguing about Chad, and even though Owen knows that getting tangled up with the infuriating man is trouble, he can't seem to stay away…
My thoughts:

You’ve got to love a book about gamers and the wider gaming culture. At least I do. In Tied to Trouble our hero Owen works for Gamers Magazine, which as the name would suggest is a magazine that reports on all things related to gaming. In many ways he’s a typical nerdy character. He’s shy, awkward in social situations and yet has a wealth of knowledge and experience about his passion. Owen is also surprisingly good at talking dirty and I’ll be honest it was this that convinced me to read this book. Plus just because someone is shy in public doesn’t mean they're shy in the bedroom and Owen definitely proved this!

I’d take my time, peeling all these clothes off you. I wouldn’t touch you, though. No, I’d make it so you were naked in front of me, begging, begging for just a brush of my hand on your skin. And then I’d stroke you, nice and slow.

25 March 2016

The Gay-For-You debate

Hey everyone,

I don’t normally got involved in the wider debates that happen within the romance community. Partly because I hate conflict, but also because someone has usually said what I feel already, but in a way more articulate why than I myself could manage. However, the recent debate about the GFY (Gay-For-You) trope and its role within the M/M romance book world is close to my heart.

I love M/M romances, or any romance with an LGBT+ plus main character. I love that the rise in popularity with M/M romances has led to more diverse LGBT+ romance books across the sub-genres. Yet the rise in popularity has led many people to question the role of M/M romances in a primarily female-led genre. That isn’t to diminish the present of the wonderful male readers, publishers, writers and reviewers in our community, but it is a fact that the romance community is largely female. I myself am all for more men in the romance community as discussed in this post. But questions are rightly being asked. Questions like ‘'do M/M romance books written by straight women for straight women actually damage the LGBT+ community?’.

22 March 2016

The Secret Pearl by Mary Balogh

Hey everyone,

Mary Balogh’s Slightly series was one of the first romance series I was read and I still regularly return to her books ten years later. The Secret Pearl is one of Mary Balogh’s classic romances and I couldn’t wait to start reading it!

The book:

The Secret Pearl is a tale of temptation and seduction, of guarded hearts and raw emotion…and of a love so powerful it will take your breath away….

He first spies her in the shadows outside a London theatre, a ravishing creature forced to barter her body to survive. 

To the woman known simply as Fleur, the well-dressed gentleman with the mesmerizing eyes is an unlikely savior. And when she takes the stranger to her bed, she never expects to see him again. But then Fleur accepts a position as governess to a young girl…and is stunned to discover that her midnight lover is a powerful nobleman. As two wary hearts ignite–and the threat of scandal hovers over them–one question remains: will she be mistress or wife? 

My thoughts:

The Secret Pearl is a wonderful historical romance book from the 1990s. Like most romance books from this period the pacing and tone of The Secret Pearl is long and drawn out. With the plot being carried by the secrets and the emotions of the hero and heroine. Yet I loved The Secret Pearl because of this. It gave me time to became immersed in the characters emotions and world. This was particularly important because of how the hero and heroine first meet. When Fleur arrives in London her circumstances force her into prostitution, which is how she meets Adam Kent. Mary Balogh doesn’t shy away from the transactional nature of Fleur and Adam’s first meeting. Nor does she undermine the psychological affect this experience has on Fleur. That for me is what made The Secret Pearl so great.

I don't think I could have been more terrified of the devil than I was of you," she said, "when it was happening and in my thoughts and nightmares afterward. And when you came home to Willoughby and I realized that the Duke of Ridgeway was you, I thought I would die from the horror of it.

15 March 2016

The Actor and the Earl by Rebecca Cohen

Hey everyone,

I’d been eyeing up The Actor and The Earl by Rebecca Cohen on Amazon and Goodreads for quite a while and finally brought it last weekend. I was intrigued by an M/M novel where the two heroes are married in Elizabethan times.

The book:
Elizabethan actor Sebastian Hewel takes his bow at the proscenium only to embark on the role of a lifetime. When his twin sister, Bronwyn, reneges on the arrangement to marry Anthony Redbourn, Earl of Crofton, Sebastian reluctantly takes her place. At nineteen, Sebastian knows his days as a leading lady are numbered, but with this last performance, he hopes to restore his family’s name and pay off his late father’s debts. Never mind the danger of losing his head should he be discovered.

He didn’t expect Anthony to be so charming and alluring—not to mention shrewd. While he applauds Sebastian’s plan, Anthony offers a mutually beneficial arrangement instead. Sebastian will need every drop of talent he has to survive with both his head and his heart intact, because this is the best part he’s ever had.

My thoughts:

Before beginning this review I would like to repeat what Dreamspinner have already about the Timeless Dreams range: 'these stories celebrate M/M love in a manner that may address, minimize, or ignore historical stigma'. Because of this I will not be judging The Actor and the Earl on its historical accuracy. This M/M romance tells the story of Sebastian and Anthony, who meet when Sebastian’s twin sister elopes with someone else while engaged to Anthony.

Your errant twin sister has reneged on an agreement she made with my father and has run off to Kent with Jeremiah, the blacksmith’s son.

12 March 2016

Born of Fury by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Hey everyone,

I’ve really been enjoying science-fiction recently, be it the form of TV shows, films or books. If it has aliens, space or time-travel (cause I count that as science-fiction) I reading/watching it. Being a long-time lover of romance books I immediately turn to Sherrilyn Kenyon’s League series as its one of my favourite science-fiction romance series. Also Born of Fury has been languishing on my bookshelves for far too long! Haven’t all my books though?

The book:
The war is on...

Counted among the fiercest Andarion warriors ever born, Hauk is one of the five founding members of the Sentella- an organization that has declared war on the League that rules the Ichidian universe with an iron fist and terrifies it with an army of well-trained assassins. Hauk's enemies are legion, but he fears nothing and no one. He will do whatever it takes to survive and protect his Sentella brethren.

Sumi Antaxas is one of the best assassins the League has ever trained. In her world, failure is not an option and she has never met a target she couldn't execute. So when she's assigned Hauk, she believes it'll be a quick and easy mission.

But nothing is ever as simple as it seems, and Hauk is far better trained and skilled than his dossier shows. More than that, as she pursues him, she stumbles upon the key that will bring down not only Hauk, but the entire Sentella organization.

In the race to report her information, she is overtaken by enemies out to end her as effectively as she intends to end Hauk. Now her only key to survival is the one man she's been sent to kill. And Hauk doesn't trust her at all.

The only question is, will he help her to live... or send her to her grave.

My thoughts:

Born of Fury completely absorbed me while I was reading it. I had to know whether Dancer and Sumi would get the happily ever after they both deserved. Dancer is a member of the Sentalla, and has appeared in most (all?) of the previous League books. In contrast Sumi is a league assassin whose been sent on a mission by Dancer’s brother to bring back evidence that Dancer is a member of the Sentella. On paper this is a couple who should hate each others guts and to start with they do. But pretty quickly Sherrilyn Kenyon works her magic and shows us that Sumi and Dancer are more similar than appearances would first suggest.

The three of them are the only thing keeping you alive right now. Release them and we'll let you live. It's your choice on how you leave this place. On your feet or feet first. You have thirty seconds to decide.

9 March 2016

Chocolate Cake for Breakfast by Danielle Hawkins

Hey everyone,

When I saw the cover of this book in Waterstones I knew I was going to buy it. That title and those tights won my heart over pretty quickly. I wasn’t sure going in if this was a contemporary romance or a chick-lit but I decided it didn’t matter as I wanted to read a story about a small-town vet and a rugby player! Also this shamefully the first romance book I’ve read set in New Zealand (and I have relatives over there!).

The book:
Helen McNeil is a vet in the small rural town of Broadview. While taking evasive action from a dull girl at a party one night she falls over - and fails to recognise - national sporting hero, Mark Tipene. For some mysterious reason Helen never really grasps, Mark finds this charming and appears the next day at the front counter of the vet clinic to ask her out.

A whirlwind romance follows and everything is going swimmingly until one little hiccup changes everything...

Chocolate Cake for Breakfast is the funny and heart-warming story of the pros and cons of dating a man whose shirtless picture adorns a wall in every second lunchroom in the country, of calving cows and crazy cat ladies, and of doing your best when life takes an unexpected turn.

My thoughts:

While reading Chocolate Cake for Breakfast I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of detail Danielle Hawkins included about being a large-animal vet. Now I know nothing about veterinary science so Danielle Hawkins could have been making everything up, but I really liked that Helen’s job was an important part of the story. Hawkins didn’t shy away from including some of the grittier realities of being a vet in a largely rural country. In fact one of Helen and Mark’s dates was to pull a rotting calf out of its mother womb... Not the most pleasant moment in the book but Danielle Hawkins still managed to inject an element of humour.

“Pressing a man who doesn’t even have a pair of gumboots into service as a rotten-calf midwife, I thought, has to be some kind of record dating low.”

3 March 2016

Magpie by Kim Dare

Hey everyone,

Kim Dare cemented herself as one of my auto-buy authors when she wrote Axel’s Pup last year. So when I was stuck with what to read I decided to browse her back catalogue of work and came across Magpie. This is the second book in her Avian Shifters series and shouldn’t be read without first reading Duck! Luckily I read that a few reads ago so I dived right on in.

The book:

Everet has found his perfect place in the nest. As a raven, he’s ideally suited to his new role in the nest’s security flock. Some of the jobs it entails have been far more enjoyable than others, but when he’s called to retrieve a magpie, whose got himself into trouble in a local human club, it becomes a truly life changing experience.

Magpie shifters have always been looked down on by other avians. Just as attracted to shiny things in their human bodies as they are in their avian forms, everyone knows they’ll do anything for money—and they’re not above stealing what they can’t get by more honest means.

Kane knows what being a magpie means, and he’s got the bruises to show for it. When Everet rescues him from his latest scrape, Kane knows better than to believe the raven will actually take an interest in him and his welfare, but it’s just possible that Everet is different to any other man Kane has ever met.

My thoughts:

In the world Dare has created bird shifters have an extremely strict hierarchy and a lot of prejudices about how certain species of birds should behave. These concepts were explored in Duck! and continue in Magpie, with our new heroes Kane, the magpie shifter, and Everet, the raven shifter. In the bird-shifting world Magpies are looked down upon and assumed to be gold-digging drug addicts. Amazingly, given what was expected of him in life, Kane has become just that. Since running away from his family he has survived by whatever means necessary.

“You’re a cop?” Kane didn’t even try to hide his horror. Everet could obviously be crossed off his list of possible sugar-daddies. Cops weren’t just trouble; they were usually broke, too.

1 March 2016

The Immortal Hunter by Lynsay Sands

Hey everyone,

I’m back with the vampire books! When I saw The Immortal Hunter for sale on Amazon a few weeks ago I couldn’t resist picking it up. Lynsay Sands was one of the first paranormal romance authors I read and I always enjoyed her Argeneau series before. So I thought why not treat myself?

The book:
Even vampires need a vacation. But Decker Argeneau's ends abruptly when he's asked to help hunt the group of rogue vampires targeting mortals - one that might include a defector in his own family. Before he can worry about that, though, he's got to rescue the latest victim. It's all part of the job, including taking a bullet for a beautiful doctor.
Dr Danielle McGill doesn't know if she can trust the man who just saved her life. There are too many questions, such as what is the secret organization he says he's part of, and why do his wounds hardly bleed? However, with her sister in the hands of some dangerous men, she doesn't have much choice but to trust him.
Except now Decker's talking about life mates and awakening a passion that's taking Dani beyond anything she's ever known. Being undead may not be half-bad...especially if it means spending forever with a man who would love her with his mind, body, and immortal soul.

My thoughts:

I’m going to start with a little FYI. Due to reading this series completely out of order and having long gaps between each book, my memory of the extended Argeneau clan is hazy. A lot of the secondary characters are people I probably should have recognised, but I didn’t. Although this didn’t detract from the central romance between Decker and Dani, I do think it detracted from my enjoyment of the story as a whole. I felt like I was expected to already know and love all the extended characters and because of this they weren’t fully developed within this story.

Why is it you men always say trust me before spitting out something completely unpalatable?" she asked, irritation flickering through her.