One Small Thing (One Thing #1) – Piper Vaughn & M. J. O’Shea

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“I wanted him to have that part of me, the part no one else had ever touched and no one else ever would. The last of my firsts. And it belonged to him.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I will admit that things started getting a little slow for me at one point, and I thought that some of the main couple’s behaviours re: possible breakups were a bit worrying, but overall I did like this book and it’s worth a read. Rue initially approaches Erik looking for a nanny for his newborn daughter, and then they somehow tumble headfirst into a friendship and then a romance. The start is a bit rough, but things get better as the story goes on. Rue and Erik tell the story in two distinct voices, baby Alice is adorable (when she’s actually there), and the main cast is well rounded out with Rue’s best friend Dusty, who is just begging for a romance of his own. It’s a great story of first loves and found families and, when it wasn’t dragging, a great read. First person POV is something I can usually take or leave, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I greatly enjoyed it here in Erik’s voice. That man is such a romantic and I loved reading his narration when he was thinking about Rue. I’d recommend this for that alone.

 

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

 

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Power Play (Scoring Chances #3) – Avon Gale

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“Misha’s words were all stolen away, taken from him by Max Ashford’s pretty eyes and his easy smile – all the things he was giving to Misha that Misha did not deserve. All the things he wanted that he couldn’t have.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. Another winner, of course. I still love this series, and this was another wonderful addition to it. In a change of pace from the other books in the series, the romantic couple aren’t hockey players, but former hockey players who are now hockey coaches. Max and Misha are more or less strangers who are forever tied to each other because of one event that changed both of their lives forever. Misha accidentally caused Max an injury that ended his professional hockey career, and he’s never really gotten over it. Max, however, has moved on with his life and is now happy to have a chance to coach the game he loves. The two men had never expected to see each other again, so of course it’s no surprise (to us) that they do and that their eventual reactions to each other is basically ‘Oh no, he’s hot’. They’re hired to coach the Spartanburg Spitfires because the team’s manager thinks that the potential drama will be good for ticket sales. There ends up being no drama, instead there’s a romance and a journey of self-forgiveness and sometimes there’s hockey. There’s also plenty of Isaac Drake, which I especially enjoyed because I already read Empty Net, which is about him, and liked him in that.

 

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

 

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Save of the Game (Scoring Chances #2) – Avon Gale

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“You just… I don’t know, Ethan. Something about you makes me take chances that I don’t ever take.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I am falling in love with this series more and more with every book. This is the second book in the Scoring Chances series and takes place not long after the first book, Breakaway. Breakaway was about Lane Courtnall and Jared Shore falling in love and moving along in their hockey careers. In this book it’s Lane’s friend (and former goalie) Riley Hunter’s turn. Calm and quiet Riley and loud and boisterous Ethan Kennedy seem like an odd pairing, but they end up as roommates for the new hockey season and are quick to become friendly with each other. Then, even though neither of them have really shown any significant interest in men before, their friendship soon turns sexual, and then turns into romance. I was actually surprised at how quickly Riley and Ethan got together, though it wasn’t necessarily romantic at first, I suppose, so there was still a lot more development to be had. Like the other books in the series, this book focuses more on the main couple’s relationship development than it does about hockey (though hockey is still a very big and important part of the characters’ lives). I really enjoyed Riley and Ethan’s dynamic, and the writing was very funny and very emotional in turns. There were also appearances from characters we first met in the first book (like Lane, Jared, Zoe, and Ryan) and we got to see how they were doing and developing, which was awesome. And the new characters that were introduced were quickly endearing and entertaining (I love Ethan’s family). This was a quick, enjoyable read and I’m very excited to start the next book.

 

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

 

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Why Love Matters – Jay Northcote

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“The warm scent of Martin lingered in his nostrils, reminding him that he craved so much more than non-sexual touch from the man sitting next to him.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This one was a quick read, and the story and romance were really sweet. Alistair’s lonely childhood has turned him into an adult that fears/is repulsed by touch. It usually isn’t a huge issue in the grand scheme of things, but the success of a new business venture at his company relies on his ability to give and received physical contact (mostly hugs). His PA (and secret crush), Martin, offers his mother’s cuddle therapy as a solution for Alistair’s aversion. The set up is a bit forced and kinda nonsensical, but the emotions are real. Alistair and Martin are both sweet and awkward, and I wish we’d gotten to see more from Martin’s point of view. It’s not a long story, and it doesn’t really go very deep into the characters’ backgrounds or motivations (this could be, in part, because this story was originally fanfiction, where a lot of the finer details are left out because they were already covered in the source material), but it’s still a good read.

 

[available for free at Amazon.ca, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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Can’t Live Without You – Andrew Grey

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“As much as Justin could try to deny it, George had entered his soul when he was eighteen, and he’d never left.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I did like the story and the characters, but I never really got into it in a big way. I still recommend it because it’s very emotional and I really did enjoy those parts. Justin and George were young and in love when Justin got disowned by his parents and then suddenly left town. They remained separated for seven years, until Justin returns for his father’s funeral. Once they’re together again the two of them realize that they’ve really never stopped loving each other while they were apart, and they don’t want to be separated again. The problem there is that Justin is a popular actor out in LA, and George has a life he can’t just uproot back in their small Pennsylvanian hometown. If they can’t figure out a way to make things work for them it looks like they’re doomed to be forever apart. The really emotional parts, where Justin and George are sad and mopey about being apart, were the parts I liked the best. Their struggle felt really real to me and all I wanted was for them to find a way to be together. A lot of the dialogue is pretty annoying in how expository and unnatural it is, but other than that I thought it was good and it really pulled at my heart-strings at times.

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

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The Forgotten Man – Ryan Loveless

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“As he wrapped his arm around Will’s chest, that sense of connection came back, the one that made him feel like his emptiness was filled.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This one is a pretty interesting story about two men finding love during the Great Depression, while also dealing with a homophobic society. Joshua is an ex-army Captain; escalating money problems have seen him move back into his childhood-home-cum-boarding-house with his mother, brother, and various tenants. Will is a widowed, homeless, single father, playing his guitar on a street corner for small change to survive. It’s not love at first sight when they meet, but there is a connection of some sort between them by the time Joshua rescues a sick Will and brings him and his infant daughter home. Their romance is not destined to be in any way easy. They both live and love in a time where being gay is a crime and just generally unsafe. It’s clear that Joshua and Will are very much into each other, but they’re terrified (and rightfully so) about what could happen to them and their families if they decide to act on their feelings. It’s not exactly a downer, but the fact that Joshua and Will have to live with these secrets that might have their loved ones turn on them at a moment’s notice doesn’t exactly make for a fluff fest. The story isn’t as dark as it could’ve been but at the same time it doesn’t really sugar-coat anything.

 

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

 

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Blue Steel Chain (Trowchester Blues #3) – Alex Beecroft

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“After all, this was supposed to be about learning to be his own person, yes? And what if his own person was the kind of person who wanted to be with James?”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing. I read through this pretty quickly, but I’m not sure I liked it much. Aidan, one half of the main couple, starts out the story in an extremely abusive relationship, and the narrative doesn’t shy away from that one bit. On the one hand, it certainly doesn’t sugarcoat anything; on the other hand, it wasn’t exactly entertaining to read about Aidan being controlled and getting the shit kicked out of him by a man who’s supposed to love him. Also I don’t feel as if the hurt/comfort payoff was worth it in the end, especially since it seemed to get interrupted with everything else going on. There’s a lot going on in this story, and I’d rather it focused more on Aidan’s healing and his budding relationship with James. James, by the way, was going through his own tough time with his own ex-partner (though nothing like what was hinted at in the book’s summary), which would’ve been better if it’d had the room to be properly fleshed out instead of just popping up now and again. The first half of the book, even with how heavy and dark it was, was the part I liked best because it seemed like it was more focused on setting up Aidan’s terrible lot in life so that James could come in and rescue him and then their relationship could develop (the hurt and then the comfort). But then after the hurt was over, we got a lot of confusion and all the comfort was mixed up with James struggling with his sexual desire for Aidan while Aidan was discovering his asexuality in the background. And then the situation with James’ ex-partner kept butting in and ruining the flow. I’ll say that this is a compelling read, but I feel like the second half doesn’t really make up for all that went on in the first half.

 

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

 

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