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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Two Cowboys and a Baby – BA Tortuga

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“How had this happened? How had they gone from fishing buddies to lovers to fathers in the matter of two weeks?”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This was actually a lot funnier than I was expecting. Not so much in the story’s events, but in the narration. I laughed a lot reading this. It’s also written in Texan slang, so that took a bit of getting used to (though not so much because it was the same when I read Trial By Fire, another Dreamspun Desires book by the same author). The story picks up immediately when rodeo cowboy Hoss McMasters discovers that someone has left an infant on his front porch. Unable to find the baby’s mother, and not wanting to get the baby lost in the foster care system, it’s decided that Hoss will care for the baby until the authorities can figure out what to do in the long term. Hoss knows nothing about caring for human babies, more used to livestock, so it takes some help from family and friends to keep everything from going to shit. Hoss’ best friend Bradley is the one who helps out the most, so it’s no surprise when long-held secret feelings get revealed and the two of them fall hard for each other. It’s also no surprise that they both get really attached to the baby. So much so that it doesn’t matter whose baby it turns out to be, Hoss and Bradley want to raise her together as a family.

 

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

 

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Guardian – Sierra Riley

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“They sparked every time they touched. Alex wasn’t mistaken there. That wasn’t an illusion, it wasn’t a dream, and it wasn’t wishful thinking. Hell no. It was chemistry.”

 

In a word:  Read the thing. This is a cute, sweet, low-angst, low-drama romance between a family law attorney and an ex-soldier mechanic. This is mostly pure fluff, it’s great. Alex is a lawyer and Titus is a mechanic, theirs is a chance meeting. Alex is in need of a mechanic one day and Ty happens to be the closest. Alex is instantly into Ty when he first sees him (Ty pushes all of his buttons), but since Ty seems straight, Alex isn’t overly hopeful that anything will come of it. Alex doesn’t really expect to see Ty again, but he gets a pleasant surprise when Ty shows up at his office one day, needing his services. Alex still finds Ty beyond attractive, and Ty is shocked to realize that he’s also having feeling for his – very male – attorney. They can’t act on their feelings while they’re still technically working together, but that doesn’t stop the sexual tension from ramping up every time they’re alone together. The first half of the book is mostly Alex and Ty trying to keep their hands off each other while they try to win a custody battle, while the second half is them getting together and having a fairly drama-free relationship (it’s technically a GFY, but Ty doesn’t have much of a reaction to suddenly being attracted to a guy for the first time in his life). There is very minimal drama going on, and it mostly resolves itself. Most of this story is just schmoop and pretty low-stress to read.

 

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

 

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Boy Banned – RJ Scott

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“He liked this: being close, touching, breathing in unison with this beautiful man.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This one was a bit different, with the whole thing taking place during a singing competition, the fictional Sing UK (which I’m assuming is something like American Idol). Our two romantic leads, Corey and Angel, start off competing against each other but then end up competing with each other (along with three other men). The story doesn’t really go into too much detail about the show and how it all works, even the details of living a celebrity lifestyle are brushed over for the most part, and is more about the relationship between Corey and Angel and the other relationships they form along the way. The story had some light-ish angst, but it was pretty sweet for the most part. An extra bonus, along with the love story, was also seeing five strangers coming together as friends and watching those relationships develop. Also, one of the romantic leads is on the autism spectrum, and that’s not something we see enough of.

 

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

 

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For A Good Time, Call… (Bluewater Bay #17) – Anne Tenino & E. J. Russell

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“Yeah, and this is exactly why I never go out anymore. Everyone assumes that because I’m single, I must be panting to get laid.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I really enjoyed this one, and not only because of the friendship and romance between leads Nate Albano and Seth Larson, though I did like that part a lot. This book actually had a lot of appearances from some of the guys from other books. Nate is friends with Levi Pritchard, so we saw a lot of him and other people from his circle (Carter, Ginsberg, Derrick, Anna, and so on). Reading about these guys again was a lot of fun, and it was good to see the couples still happy together. That was one major part of what I found so enjoyable about this book. The other enjoyable part was, of course, Seth and Nate and their awkward courting. Nate is grey-asexual and has only had two previous relationships, and Seth has never had a committed relationship before, so they’re both a little unsure of what they’re doing and it takes a bit of trial and error before they can come together properly as a couple that can meet each others’ needs. As the two of them are getting to know each other (and mostly accidentally falling in love – so much romantic tension) they are also trying to solve a decades-old mystery surrounding the murder of Seth’s great-great-grandfather, though that doesn’t entirely resolve itself so I do hope we get a more concrete resolution to that in a future book. Also I can’t just not mention Nate’s adorable dog Tarkus, who I love forever and pretty much stole most of the scenes he was in.

 

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

 

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The Burnt Toast B&B (Bluewater Bay #5) – Heidi Belleau & Rachel Haimowitz

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“Ginsberg was still here, and not only that, Derrick had discovered he really did like having the kid around.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I laughed and cried reading this, that’s how emotional it was. Another wonderful installment in the Bluewater Bay series. The story follows Derrick and Ginsberg as they try to bring life back into Derrick’s parents’ failing B&B and accidentally fall in love with each other along the way. In between various rom-com shenanigans there is also a lot about gender issues that comes up, since Ginsberg is trans and Derrick struggles with toxic masculinity. A lot of the story is pretty funny, mostly at Derrick’s expense as he tries to deal with Ginsberg’s enthusiastic plans to help save the B&B while Derrick waffles about whether or not he actually wants to keep the thing open. Then there are the less funny parts where Derrick struggles to convince himself to stop falling in love with Ginsberg because their situation is temporary and everyone leaves eventually. This was actually one of the few times where I found the third-act breakup depressing rather than annoying (I legit cried, at work). I did get a bit annoyed at Derrick’s attitude a few times, but overall I really enjoyed his character. I also enjoyed Ginsberg and his seemingly-endless optimism. A real bonus was the return of Carter Samuels and Levi Pritchard, the main couple from Starstruck (book one), still together and happy.

 

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

 

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