A Wounded Promise (Sam’s Café Romances #2) – Ashavan Doyon

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Will Russ be mad at me? Which wasn’t nearly as bad as the other thought. Am I allowed to be mad at Russ?

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing? I had a few problems with this one, and I’m not sure which problems are down to bad writing and which are due to the fact that I didn’t read the book that came before this one. Russ and Justin got together in the previous book (The King’s Mate) and this book continues their story. While I was reading this book it felt a lot like the author was banking on me already having read the first book. It kinda felt like being dumped into a story already in progress, with minimal character introductions and people making references to events in ways that make it seem like I should already know about them. Sam and Russ in particular are always talking about past events and the text doesn’t explain anything about them, but I don’t know if that’s bad writing and we will be learning about those events eventually, or if it was already explained in the first book and I’m missing out because I didn’t read it. Although I also had problems with the writing in other ways, mostly with the dialogue and the (many) sex scenes. Also I never felt that I connected with any of the characters, I felt for them and their problems, but I didn’t really care about them. Speaking of problems, this story is also really bleak. The main focus of it is about Russ and Justin confiding in each other about issues they have about their past and how they are trying to work through them and learning to work through them together. It’s mostly a downer and pretty heavy. Also I don’t think I was ever really sold on Russ and Justin as a couple; I never really got invested in them.

 

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

 

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Breakaway (Scoring Chances #1) – Avon Gale

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“Jared was going to take him to bed. It was a terrible idea, and he didn’t care.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I loved this book. I started the Scoring Chances series with the fourth (and latest, at the time) book, which I also loved, and was very excited to start the series at the beginning. I wasn’t disappointed. The characters in this book had little to no connection with the characters in Empty Net, but I loved them anyway. Lane and Jared are two minor league pro hockey players in two completely different places in their careers. Lane is a rookie, just beginning his pro career, while Jared is a hockey veteran at 31 years old and pretty close to retirement. They both play on rival teams, so it makes sense that their relationship would start with a fight on the ice. It all works out though because, as weird as the two of them really are, they’re really good together. Lane is awkward as all hell and somewhat insecure, and Jared had long ago sworn off relationships after getting badly burned in the past, but being with each other gives them both the love and support they need to better themselves and reach for what they really want in life and love. And also they play hockey. Aside from Lane and Jared, who are more than enough to carry the story on their own, there is a cast of side characters to add even more fun to the story. These characters include, but aren’t limited to, Lane’s first ever best friend Zoe (who is awesome), and one of the protagonists for the next book, Riley Hunter.

 

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

 

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Dear Santa, Dear Dad – T. J. Masters

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“I know my last request is the hardest one of all, and I am sorry for asking, but I wish I had a dad who loved me.”

 

In a word: Don’t read the thing. This one wasn’t really all that good. For a story that had the potential to be very emotional, it was pretty damn bland. The main character, and the narrator, is Steven, who is taking a surprise Christmas trip to the north of England to see the gay son he pretty much cut out of his life years before. This could’ve been so much better than it was. There’s just no emotion in the whole thing. Steven’s son Andy is initially angry when Steven first shows up, but that doesn’t last very long. And the reconciliation between the two of them had them in tears at different points, but it was written very matter of fact. Also a lot of the time it felt like I was reading a condensed version of a longer story. We don’t actually get to know much of Andy, or his partner Peter, and what we do find out is filtered through Steven’s distanced narration and then made uninteresting. If you turn your brain off it’s a nice little redemption story, but it really feels like there’s something missing. Like I said, I don’t think it’s emotional enough for the subject matter, and what emotions were there didn’t really ring true. Also I felt like Andy forgave his father too quickly considering Steven’s behaviour. It’s an interesting premise for a story, but the execution is faulty and I can’t really recommend it.

 

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

 

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Starstruck (Bluewater Bay #1) – L. A. Witt

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“They just barely knew each other, and Levi couldn’t justify gambling a career opportunity like this for the minuscule chance that Carter was even attracted to him, never mind interested in dating.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This one is a slow burn and doesn’t have much of a plot beyond the romance, so if you aren’t into that you probably won’t be into this. For me personally, I can get into it if I can get attached to the characters. Levi and Carter and their situation were very easy to get invested in. They’re both celebrities and knew of, and were attracted to, each other before they met. The two of them are very much interested in being together, but they are forced to put the brakes on that because of the situation they’re in. That doesn’t, however, stop them from becoming very good friends. One thing I really enjoyed reading about was how Levi and Carter became friends and how they fell in love with each other as people. But even though the two of them are determined to stay friends, they both know that they’re standing right at the edge of something vast, and it could take only one small move to tip them over. Like I said, this book isn’t really big on plot, it’s mostly character driven, but it has good characters and a lot of emotion (also UST like whoa). And cats, it also has cats.

 

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

 

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The Boy Who Belonged (The Boy #2) – Lisa Henry & J. A. Rock

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“He had Derek, and Derek loved him, and Lane believed that.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This book picks up a few months after where The Good Boy left off, continuing Lane and Derek’s relationship and adding in even more drama with Lane’s family situation. Lane seems to be in a much better place now, but that’s not saying too much since he was in such an awful place for most of the last book. Lane has quite a few issues, and those issues aren’t going to go away just because Lane now has someone to love who loves him back. Lane is still on the road to recovery and, even with his mother interfering and throwing in roadblocks, he’s slowly getting to a place where he can feel comfortable with who he is as a person, and that it’s okay to just be Lane. Derek can’t do this for him, but he is a great help. A lot of this book deals with heavy subject matter, as Lane and Derek’s relationship definitely isn’t an easy one. Luckily, all the heavy angst is broken up by humorous scenes featuring a colourful cast of side characters to lighten things a bit. A colourful cast which includes everyone’s (but Derek) favourite foul-mouth macaw Mr. Zimmerman.

 

[available for purchase at Loose Id, Amazon.ca, and Book Depository]

 

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The Good Boy (The Boy #1) – Lisa Henry & J.A. Rock

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“Yeah. I plan to wake up one day to find out my mother has been arrested, my father has left the country, their bank accounts are frozen, and the feds are kicking me out of my house.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. Though a lot of it is pretty dark, so watch out with that. After I read Adulting 101 I decided that I was probably gonna end up reading all of Lisa Henry’s books, The Good Boy ended up being the one I decided on getting next. The Good Boy (co-written with J. A. Rock) is completely different from Adulting 101, like, total opposite. Here be angst. Lane is the first character we’re introduced to and he is just pitiful. He’s just lost just about everything and is about to lose his final lifeline. Not even the introduction of Derek, the second main character and love interest, makes anything better. In fact, Derek hates Lane at first. Aside from some humorous bits in Derek’s sections, the beginning of the story is pretty bleak. Even when it starts to get a bit lighter, there’s still a sinister undercurrent under everything. Lane’s been deeply affected by what he’s gone through, and that doesn’t go away overnight, even with love and affection. A lot of this story is pretty heavy, with a lot of angst and hurt/comfort, so if that’s your thing (it certainly is mine), than you’ll enjoy this one. I loved Lane and Derek’s relationship (both the romantic/sexual/BDSM aspect and the hurt/comfort aspect), I loved that there was no ‘third act breakup’, the side characters were entertaining and frustrating in turn and only added to the story (Mr. Zimmerman is my favourite), and I was totally engrossed in the events unfolding. I have pretty much no complaints about this book and if dark stories with happy endings are your thing I would definitely have to recommend this one. (Also there is a sequel that continues Lane and Derek’s story and I have a mighty need.)

 

[available for purchase at Loose Id, Amazon.ca, and Book Depository]

 

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Touch Me: An Erotic Romance – Chris Scully

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“You’re aware that this is an erotic massage, right?”

 

In a word: Read the thing. Immediately after finishing Until September I went looking for some of the author’s other works; I found a few that looked promising but I chose this one because it wasn’t very long and it was a standalone. I’m not as big a fan of this one as I am Until September, but I still really like it. It’s pretty much porn but it’s also very emotional. At first it seems like it’s just a story about a massage therapist who sometimes provides ‘happy endings’ after hours, but as you read on you realize that there is more going on in the background. And the ‘more’ that’s going on is both devastating and beautiful in turns. If you’re looking for a lighthearted read this ain’t it. But if you want emotion with your porn, Touch Me has it in fucking spades.

 

[available for purchase at Amazon.ca and All Romance E-Books]

 

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