Hell on Wheels (Bluewater Bay #3) – Z. A. Maxfield

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“You’re necessary because you make my heart lighter and my mind clearer and my work meaningful, as long as I get to come home to you at the end of the day.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. Another wonderful glimpse into the inhabitants and visitors of Bluewater Bay; and I loved it. This time our focus is on Nash and Spencer, a local mechanic and a visiting actor respectively. Nash is a mechanic running the family business while still living at home with his father and younger sister. Spencer is an English actor going through a divorce and still reeling from his husband’s betrayal. Neither of them are looking for love or anything long-term when they meet, but that’s what they end up finding. They’re both under the impression that they won’t be able to fully put their all into a relationship with each other and that they are better off as friends (with benefits), but after a while it becomes clear that neither of them will settle for just being casual. There are a lot of emotions in this story, which I loved; both men are going through their own set of life changes that will have them reevaluating their thought processes on things. Their path to happily ever after isn’t exactly smooth, or direct, but they do manage to get there in the end. And it’s glorious. Along with Nash and Spencer, there are also a few side characters to help expand their world. Nash’s father and siblings are all amazing and a lot of fun, and Spencer’s bodyguard and PA make for some entertaining moments. A really good installment to the series and I hope we get to see more of these guys in the future.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Nash is the reliable one in the Holly family, the guy everyone counts on to keep things going. His genius twin brother is off at university, so Nash runs the family’s auto repair business and cares for his partially-paralyzed little sister while his crackpot father invents. His life seems mapped out for the foreseeable future, however much that might chafe.

So when Wolf’s Landing actor Spencer Kepler-Constantine lands in his life, Nash is ready for a diversion. Spencer is in the middle of a very painful, very public divorce and isn’t ready for a relationship—not that Nash wants one. But they both need a friend, especially one with benefits.

As they grow closer, Nash starts to see his family in a whole new light. Do they really need him so badly? Or does he simply need to be needed? Then Spencer’s ex reappears with a grand romantic gesture, and Nash has to figure out what he wants—and how to get it—before Spencer’s gone for good.

 

[available for purchase at Riptide Publishing, Amazon.ca, Book Depository, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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Sweetwater – Lisa Henry

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“You and me – men like you and me – we don’t always fit with other people. So we make our own lives.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing. Looks like I’ve finally come across a Lisa Henry book that I’m not completely in love with. I know a lot of people gave this good reviews, but I thought it was a bit too bleak for me. The story kept me fully engaged and I basically couldn’t put it down, the writing is great (as usual), but after I finished reading I couldn’t really say that I liked it much. The story isn’t necessarily dark, but Elijah’s story from beginning to end is kind of a downer. His partial deafness gives the townspeople an excuse to look down on him and mistreat him, and his attraction to men is something he feels that he needs to keep secret (this story takes place in 1870 Wyoming, so he really does) and causes him to alienate himself from his adoptive father. He thinks some of those issues may be solved when he catches the eye of saloon owner Harlan Crane, but all that really brings him is a different set of problems. He also gets the attention of cattle rustler Grady Mullins, who gives him affection Elijah doesn’t really know what to do with. I think my biggest problem with this book is that I went into it looking for a story where Elijah gets in over his head with Crane and then Grady saves him and they ride off together into the sunset happily in love. That wasn’t what this story was ever going to be, so I ended up disappointed. Though if you are interested in a bit of a downer story about tortured souls, love, murder, revenge, and morally ambiguous characters in the old west, you’re probably gonna have a good time with this one.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Wyoming Territory, 1870.

Elijah Carter is afflicted. Most of the townsfolk of South Pass City treat him as a simpleton because he’s deaf, but that’s not his only problem. Something in Elijah runs contrary to nature and to God. Something that Elijah desperately tries to keep hidden.

Harlan Crane, owner of the Empire saloon, knows Elijah for what he is—and for all the ungodly things he wants. But Crane isn’t the only one. Grady Mullins desires Elijah too, but unlike Crane, he refuses to push the kid.

When violence shatters Elijah’s world, he is caught between two very different men and two devastating urges: revenge, and despair. In a boomtown teetering on the edge of a bust, Elijah must face what it means to be a man in control of his own destiny, and choose a course that might end his life . . . or truly begin it for the very first time.

 

[available for purchase at Riptide Publishing, Amazon.ca, Book Depository, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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Peter Darling – Austin Chant

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“’That’s right,’ Peter spat. ‘I’m here to fight. I’m a boy.’”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I really didn’t know what to expect going into this but boy was I ever not disappointed. This story was beautiful and heartbreaking with more adventure and drama than you can shake a stick at. It’s a retelling of Peter Pan that takes place 10 years after the original story. Peter Pan and Captain Hook are the main characters and, to my surprise, the romantic leads. Unlike the original story, this Peter Pan is not the immortal forever-child from a magical land, he’s the alter-ego of Wendy Darling who escaped to Neverland for a chance at being his true self. Family obligation eventually had him returning home, hoping for acceptance, but 10 years later he’s going back to the only place he ever felt he could truly be himself. He soon realizes that Neverland is a bit of a different place now that he’s a grown man. His boyhood games no longer hold the same appeal, or the same stakes, as they once did, and he soon learns that his actions have grave consequences. He also discovers new sides to his old nemesis, Captain Hook, who is maybe not completely the villain that Peter always made him out to be. This story is a very interesting take on an old classic, and was a very emotional ride from beginning to end. At first I wasn’t sure how Peter and Hook would go from warring to romance, but as I read it I definitely came to see it. The original story had some disturbing elements, but this book could get a bit dark at times, especially as Peter was learning that childish games could sometimes take on more serious meanings when the players are all adults. The ideas this book had about Neverland itself were also pretty interesting, and not something I’d ever considered before. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who’d enjoy an interesting and emotional twist on an old story.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.

But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.

 

[available for purchase from Less Than Three Press, Amazon.ca, Book Depository, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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Gives Light (Gives Light #1) – Rose Christo

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“A future without Rafael felt unfathomable in a way that took me by surprise.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I really, really enjoyed this book. 16-year-old Skylar St. Clair is our main character and narrator and this story is all about him. But it’s also a bit more than that. This story is kind of an exploration of Skylar’s feelings about his family and his heritage and his past, and it’s beautiful and sad and uplifting all at once. Skylar’s father has suddenly disappeared, leaving Skylar all alone, and so he ends up being sent to his grandmother on the reservation where he was born but hasn’t seen since he was five. Skylar is half Shoshone Plains First Nations, but he looks completely white and he’s lived off-reservation since he was a child so he knows nothing about that part of himself. He’s terrified when he first arrives on the Nettlebush Reserve, but over the summer he makes friends and is accepted into a community he’s been estranged from for almost 11 years. This story does have romance in it, but it’s mostly about Skylar learning about his roots and his history and how to live in a community that he should’ve been a part of all along. Another thing that this story touches on is all the complicated feelings Skylar has about his mother’s murder, the murderer, and falling in love with the son the murderer left behind. There is nothing really fast-paced happening in the story, it’s a calm and smooth read, and it was totally enjoyable from start to finish. I can’t wait to see what happens in the sequels.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) “Skylar is my name, tragically.”

Sixteen-year-old Skylar is witty, empathetic, sensitive–and mute. Skylar hasn’t uttered a single word since his mother died eleven years ago, a senseless tragedy he’s grateful he doesn’t have to talk about.

When Skylar’s father mysteriously vanishes one summer afternoon, Skylar is placed in the temporary custody of his only remaining relative, an estranged grandmother living on an Indian reservation in the middle of arid Arizona.

Adapting to a brand new culture is the least of Skylar’s qualms. Because Skylar’s mother did not die a peaceful death. Skylar’s mother was murdered eleven years ago on the Nettlebush Reserve. And her murderer left behind a son.

And he is like nothing Skylar has ever known.

 

[available for purchase at Amazon.ca, Book Depository, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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The Rules – Jamie Fessenden

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“Sexually, both men pushed all his buttons, much more than any of the guys he’d dated. So, yes, he wanted to have sex with them. But it was more than that.”

 

In a word: Read the thing! So much emotion in this book, I love it. This is the story of two men opening up their marriage to include a third man they’ve both fallen in love with, written totally in the third man’s point of view, and how they all come together to form a strong romantic three-way relationship. Hans is a college student who has been hired as a housekeeper for Thomas and Boris. It’s clear from the start that Hans has an attraction to both men, especially Boris who is constantly naked. There isn’t much time wasted in all three men deciding that they’re all very open to the idea of being together in some capacity, but even coming to that decision doesn’t make things easy. Thomas and Boris have been married and exclusive for around ten years, suddenly adding another person into their dynamic will take time. And that’s not even accounting for all the other issues. What I really liked about this book is that not everything fell into place right away with no problems. The story is as much about reworking and developing relationships as it is about three men getting it on. Hans, Thomas, and Boris are three different men who all have different needs; coming together in one functional relationship is going to take work. It’s something that they all have to want and it isn’t something they can jump into lightly. I really liked the emotions in this story, and the characters, and the humour, and the dark themes that appear throughout. At first I thought it was maybe a bit odd that Thomas and Boris all of a sudden decided to include someone else into their marriage, but it soon became clear that all these men shared a bond that deserved to be explored. I definitely recommend this one.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) WHEN HANS BAUER, a college student in New Hampshire, accepts a job as a housekeeper for an older gay couple, he soon learns the reason they’ve hired someone with no experience is that professional agencies won’t work there. Thomas is a successful businessman whose biggest goal in life appears to be giving his husband anything he wants. Boris is a writer who immigrated to this country from Russia, and suffers from depression and PTSD because of the things he endured in his native country.

He also refuses to wear clothes—ever.

While Hans is working alone in the house with Naked Boris all day, things start getting a little weird. Boris gets flirtatious and Hans backs away, not wanting to come between him and his husband. So Boris calls Thomas at work and asks permission.

At that moment, The Rules are born—rules about touching and kissing and pet names that the three men use to keep jealousies at bay, as they explore the possibilities in a new type of relationship….

WARNING: This story deals with themes of sexual assault and past abuse.

 

[available for purchase at Amazon.ca]

 

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Of Love – Sean Michael

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“It’s okay, I don’t think you tried to trap me into something by getting your friend pregnant.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I was expecting a bit more angst when I started this, but it really is mostly just pure fluff. Sunshine and rainbows everywhere, truly. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it’s apparently not really my thing. I did like this book, but a lot of it was a bit too sweet for my liking. It’s a good feel-good story, if you’re looking for a fluff read. The first half of the story is mostly our two leads, Kent and Dex, meeting and getting to know each other and having a lot of sex. The first half of the book is mostly sex, which I found frustrating because it felt like it was just padding while waiting for the plot proper to start. Don’t get me wrong, Dex and Kent together are sweet and funny, and it’s fun to read, but it did all feel like filler. Then when Dex found out about the babies, when there would’ve been a chance for some angst and conflict, the tone didn’t change. If no-angst fluff is your thing, you’re gonna love this book. I, personally, prefer my reading with a bit less fluff but I still did enjoy reading this. Kent and Dex are a good match, and they really do love each other. Kent’s family is also pretty great, and Dex’s interactions with them are cute. The babies are also cute. Pretty much everything about this is cute, even the sex scenes sometimes. Summed up in one word: cute.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Free-spirited computer programmer Kent McMann loves life, candy, his family, and his job designing apps. With his go-getter attitude, he succeeds at anything he tackles. So having a child with a surrogate mother is the perfect start to the family he’s always wanted, even though he still hasn’t found his longed-for Mr. Right.

Then, into Kent’s life comes triathlete Dex Lochland, who also happens to be a successful app designer, and the two of them hit it off. They soon begin a relationship full of fun, sex, laughter, and love. But when Kent learns his attempt at fatherhood with the surrogate has succeeded, Dex is shocked. Unknown to Kent until that moment, Dex has never wanted children.

Kent’s decision before he met Dex might cost him the man of his dreams.

 

[available for purchase at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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