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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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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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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What Father Christmas Left – Felicitas Ivey

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“’You don’t have to make up your mind right now,’ I told her. ‘Just… I just wanted to give you options. Although you have parents, they don’t seem to have you.’”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This is a fairly short Christmas fluff story about a reunion between a pair of siblings. It’s a story that’s both sweet and sad in parts, along with some parts that will make you angry. Although two of the three main characters are romantically involved, this is not a romance story. It’s strictly a story about two siblings, Jacob and Pru, reuniting after about 10 years and beginning to build an actual relationship with each other. It’s a simple story, though it isn’t really long enough to have everything fleshed out as much as I’d like, and the ending seems to just happen abruptly, it’s still a good read.

 

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

 

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Summer Son – Anna Martin

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“I wondered why it was that when you were specifically not looking for anyone, not wanting someone in your life, they walked right up and let themselves in.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. Do you like slice of life? Do you like slice of life with babies? If so, this is definitely a book you should check out. The main point of the story is about Ellis and Zane overcoming obstacles on their road to becoming a family. This family includes Ellis’ infant son Harrison, who doesn’t actually do much (he’s a baby) but is in pretty much 95% of the scenes. Harrison is Ellis’ number one priority, and Ellis is a good father, so we see a lot of Harrison and a lot of the work that goes into taking care of him. Seriously, if you don’t like babies, or don’t find them entertaining in the slightest, you won’t like this. Although Ellis and Zane’s relationship is pretty sweet (if a bit fast for my tastes). Aside from Harrison and romance, Summer Son also has a bit of a dramatic plotline concerning Zane’s past and Ellis’ ex-husband. Ellis and Zane also have a pretty interesting cast of friends, though they never really get enough screen time for me to enjoy their presence. Mostly they just confused me. At the end of the day though, this is a story about two men sweetly romancing each other and coming together as a family (even if I do think that it went a bit too far too fast at times).

 

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

 

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Did Somebody Order a Pizza? – L. A. Witt

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“It had been over in a matter of minutes – one conversation to end them all, as it were – but we’d had years of history before he’d decided it was over. The fact was, we were in love.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This one gave me feels. Paul and Cory were high school sweethearts and planning on being together for the long haul; until Cory chose his fraternity over Paul when they were freshmen. The story starts about a year and a half after that, with Paul and Cory suddenly meeting again for the first time since they parted ways. It’s told from Paul’s first-person point of view so we really get to know just how much he was hurt by Cory’s actions and what it means to him to see him again. Paul really isn’t as over Cory as he’d like to be and now he struggles with the choice of whether to give Cory another chance or to just let him go. I felt so bad for Paul while I was reading this, especially when Cory first appears because he’s a bit of an asshole when he shows up. And that’s even before we really find out what the boys were to each other and what really happened that caused Paul and Cory to separate. I didn’t feel like things were completely resolved by the end (I never really warmed up to Cory), but it’s definitely a hopeful ending.

 

[available for purchase at Amazon.ca, also available in a bundle]

 

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Patchwork Paradise – Indra Vaughn

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“My stomach felt tight with confusion. I couldn’t seem to find any peace, torn one minute between missing Thomas and feeling guilty about it the next.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing. So I didn’t like this book as much as I was expecting to, but it was still an okay read. The majority of the first half of the story deals with our narrator and lead, Ollie, dealing with the death of Sam, his fiancé, who he’s been together with since they were 16. That part punched me right in the feels. Ollie’s grief is heartbreaking; he’s mourning the loss of his best friend and first and only love. I quite liked this part. We don’t actually get to know Sam firsthand before his death, but we learn about him through Ollie and we know that the two men were so happy together and it’s awful that Ollie is now forced to be without him. Things started to get a little ‘meh’ for me around the time Ollie’s friends convinced him to start dating again. Then there was a lot of drama with Ollie’s friends about cheating and pining and commitment issues that I didn’t really care about. The part about Thomas, Ollie’s friend who is in love with him (and who Ollie starts falling for in return), discovering that he has a child that needs looking after happened very late in the book and him moving in with Ollie and the two of them finally getting together felt a bit rushed to me, especially with everything else going on at the same time. The pacing was a bit of an issue for me; very little was happening, then a lot of different things were happening and a lot of it was happening off-screen with very little explanation. The baby sub-plot is played up a lot in the summary and the book’s design, but it doesn’t even come up until more than half-way through. All in all, I enjoyed a lot of the story, but most of it wasn’t really my thing.

 

[available for purchase at Riptide Publishing, Amazon.ca, Book Depository, Chapters, All Romance E-Books, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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