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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There’s Something About Ari (Bluewater Bay #2) – L. B. Gregg

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“You dropped off the planet for five years, and now you come back like hey, no big deal, and we’re supposed to picked up where we left off? It’s not that easy.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I really liked this one a lot and I really wish there was more of it. This is the second installment in the Bluewater Bay series, and it has nothing at all to do with the plot of the first book (though Levi Pritchard does make a brief appearance here). Buck and Ari are the main focus of this book and story is all about their second chance at romance with each other. The two of them were best friends as children but grew apart in high school when Buck fell in love with Ari and didn’t know how to handle it. Then, on what ended up being one of the worst days in Buck’s life, Ari left town and Buck, only to suddenly move into the house next door after five years of no contact. The whole book is told through Buck’s first person point of view, so we get a lot of insight into how much he was hurt by what happened to him as a teenager. I really wish we could’ve gotten Ari’s point of view and his feelings from the source because, with only one side of the story, Ari comes off a lot like an asshole in most of his interactions with Buck in the present. All that aside, I really felt for Buck and Ari and was really happy that they could get their second chance, even if they were both being jerks for a lot of the reconciliation process. I really do wish the book was longer. It’s less than 100 pages long, and I feel that it ended kinda abruptly. I’d really like to have seen maybe an epilogue of the two of them together as a happy couple (though maybe they’ll show up again later in the series?). I also wouldn’t say no to more scenes of Buck interacting with his brother Charlie, because those two are pretty fun to read about.

 

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