A Fine Bromance – Christopher Hawthorne Moss

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“Robby found the time he spent with Andy was the most comfortable and rewarding of his life.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing? I really wanted to like this one. The premise was an interesting one and I’m still having a hard time finding books with asexual leads. But I just didn’t like it. Robby and Andy are good characters, in theory, and I really wanted to read their story. But I just couldn’t with the writing. The writing annoyed me and the romance was basically nonexistent. Also a lot of characters acted horribly with barely any consequences. What originally drew me to the story was the idea of Robby learning that he is asexual and falling in love with his new friend (who happens to be trans) while they solve a mystery. What I ended up with was a story that was almost nothing like that, and was also badly written with a very obvious mystery and an inconsistent romance and tone. I recommend this one on the premise alone, the execution leaves a lot to be desired, and it’s not really a book I’d read again. To be fair, I’m not the target audience (this book is YA), but I don’t think that excuses much here. Teens deserve better.

 

[available for purchase from Harmony Ink Press, Amazon.ca, Book Depository, 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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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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Empty Net (Scoring Chances #4) – Avon Gale

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I like you. Laurent didn’t say it, but he didn’t need to. It was probably written all over his face.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I didn’t really know much about this book going in. All I knew was that it was about hockey players and that one of the leads was asexual. I really liked this book. Like, a lot. I’m not really a big hockey fan, but I didn’t really need to be since the story was more about the characters and less about the game, so that worked for me. This is book four in the Scoring Chances series so a lot of the characters that I read about for the first time were actually already introduced in previous books. This didn’t turn out to be too much of a problem because the book gave me enough information about past major events so that I wasn’t too out of the loop, but I feel like I did miss a lot of character development in some places (this isn’t the book’s fault). Regardless, it didn’t take me long to get attached to the characters. There’s our two leads, of course, Isaac and Laurent, but there’s also their friends and coaches and a wacky landlady I enjoyed reading about as well. Although this story is definitely a romance, it’s also kind of Laurent’s journey to find himself and become the man he was truly meant to be outside of his father’s shadow. Also sometimes hockey happens. This book is both heartbreaking and heartwarming in parts, and also surprisingly funny. I don’t know if this series is still ongoing, but if it is I hope we get to see more of Isaac and Laurent (and their teammates) in the future.

 

[available for purchase at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Book Depository, Chapters, All Romance E-books, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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Ace of Hearts – Feral Sephrian

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“He liked cock fine, at least from an artistic standpoint.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This is my first time reading a published M/M short story. It’s a bit different than reading a fanfiction oneshot (which I’m more used to) in the way that the characters are introduced, but it was alright. I liked this one, it was cute. It was a story about Blake and Felix and how they met and got together. Blake is back in town for his cousin’s wedding and 10-year high school reunion. His plans consist mostly of spending quality time with his cousin at the wedding (where he’s the best man), and then suffering through the reunion. He wasn’t expecting Felix. Because of the short length, the characters and their backgrounds aren’t all that fleshed out, and I felt that I’d rather see a better resolution to the reunion plot line, also more scenes at the porn studio Blake works at. Overall though, it was a cute story with some light angst and some funny moments and a sweet romance beginning.

[available for purchase at JMS Books, Amazon.ca, and Chapters]

 

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Running With the Pack – A. M. Burns & Caitlin Ricci

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“It didn’t feel strange for the three of them to be like that together. It seemed normal.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This is a sweet one. Also it’s the first YA book I’ve ever read that featured a poly relationship, and an asexual character. I don’t really know much about poly relationships or how they work, but the one in this book seems accurate enough. This is a story about Finn, Ivan, and Adrian, three high school seniors who discover that it’s okay to be in love with more than one person at a time (so long as everyone is onboard). The three boys are adorable and so open in their affection and love for each other, which you don’t really see much of in YA books (I find). Even before they decide to start dating each other they are really close (especially Ivan and Adrian, who’ve known each other longer). Their relationship is really easy to get invested in; which is a good thing because it’s really the main focus of the story. Also the book kinda gives off the impression that there is a supernatural element of some sort going on. There is none of that. The story features wolves heavily but they are just normal wolves, no shifters. This is a simple story of teenagers falling in love, with a little twist. There’s some drama, some laughs, some fluff, and even some danger. It’s a nice story and a quick read. I really wish that it was a bit longer because I really would have loved to read more about Finn, Ivan, and Adrian and how they and their relationships grow and develop.

 

[available for purchase at Dreamspinner Press, Harmony Ink Press, Book Depository, Amazon.ca, and Chapters]

 

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All the Wrong Places (Bluewater Bay #14) – Ann Gallagher

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“I don’t know. I have no idea what’s going on. Or why everything feels different when we’re together.”

 

In a word: Read the thing! I was so excited to read this when I first heard of it and OMG it did not disappoint! I so recommend this! The main couple is adorable and it’s so easy to root for them and their relationship. There’s a child character and he’s pretty fun without coming off as too precious or annoying. This isn’t a sexy book, the main couple are both asexual so their relationship doesn’t focus on the sexual aspect, but reading about the two of them getting together and deciding that they might just be more than friends was a joy to read. It was adorable, seriously. There’s some angst in there as well, but it’s done well and the author doesn’t go overboard with it and it all gets resolved without being dragged out. I seriously could not put this book down while I was reading it, it was that good. Read it.

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

(I know in my first post I said that I would be talking about book I’ve already read at first, but I was too excited for this one when I heard about it so I decided to break that rule. The next post will be about a book I’ve already read.)

 

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