QR: The Mature Man’s Guide to Surviving Change – Chris Scully

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“I didn’t do jealousy, but in the back of my mind, I knew I’d been gripped with it from the moment Perry announced his intention to date again.”

 

In a word: Read the thing.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) In the sunny playground of Palm Springs, growing up was something confirmed bachelor and bad-boy chef Joel avoided at all costs—until a close friend’s death made him reevaluate his priorities. Ever since, he’s been dedicated to helping his widowed friend Perry get back on his feet by teaching him to cook and providing a shoulder to cry on. But when Perry announces that he’s ready to start dating again and then begins receiving gifts from an anonymous secret Santa, Joel is forced to confront the feelings he’s suppressed for so long.

As Joel struggles with jealousy and guilt amid the holiday season, he must decide if he’s ready to grow up and reach for what he’s always wanted but never thought he could have.

 

[available for purchase at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble; also available as part of the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar set]

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My Roommate’s a Jock? Well, Crap! (Jock #1) – Wade Kelly

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“But this was Ellis. Ellis! The guy who kissed me. Ellis! The sexy soccer player who invaded my dreams every night.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing? I’m thinking that this book just wasn’t for me. There really wasn’t all that much I really liked about it. At most it was a ‘meh’ read for me. The two leads are Cole and Ellis; Cole grates on my nerves most of the time (which really sucks because the majority of the story is told in his first-person point of view), and Ellis doesn’t seem to have much personality beyond ‘walking sexuality crisis’. A lot of Cole and Ellis’ problems getting together could’ve been prevented by them just communicating like the adults they are supposed to be (they’re both a few years into college), but they don’t, naturally, because drama. There are also a few friends of Ellis’ that show up quite often, but I still can’t really decide what to feel about them. On the one hand, they’re nice guys, but on the other they also kinda rub me the wrong way (a part of that is due to the large-ish focus on religion I wasn’t expecting). Also the story just trucks along with misunderstandings and low-key drama until suddenly there’s some major hate that shows up near the end. That felt kinda weird and out of place. On the whole I’m thinking that the story just wasn’t the right fit for me; the humour fell flat, the narration got on my nerves, and I couldn’t really make myself feel much for the two leads.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) It’s easy to become cynical when life never goes your way.

Cole Reid has been a social recluse since he was fifteen, when he was outed by his high school baseball team. Since then, his obsessive-compulsive behavior and sarcastic nature have driven away most of the population, and everyone else hates him because he’s gay. As he sees it, he’s bound to repulse any prospective friends, let alone boyfriends, so why bother?

By the time Cole enters college, he’s become an anal-retentive loner—but it’s not a problem until his roommate graduates and the housing department assigns Ellis Montgomery to move in with Cole. Ellis is messy, gorgeous, straight, and worst of all, a “jock”!

During a school year filled with frat buddies, camping expeditions, and meddling parents, Cole and Ellis develop a friendship that turns Cole’s glass-half-empty outlook on its head. There must be more to Ellis than a fun-loving jock—and maybe Cole’s reawakening libido has rekindled his hope for more than camaraderie.

 

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

 

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Colors – Russell J. Sanders

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“We may be two screwed up messes, but at least we’ve got each other.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. So, here’s the thing with this one: it’s not actually a romance. There is definitely romance in it, but it’s not the main plot of the story. The dilemma of who Neil will end up with is pretty much an afterthought compared to, what I think is, the actual plot: Neil dealing with the sexual abuse he suffered as a child. Really, everything relating to the abuse are the better parts of the book. Mostly they’re definitely the better written parts. There’s so much emotion put into those parts, from horror to worry to guilt to anger to determination to triumph, that’s mostly missing from other parts of the book. And even when the scenes aren’t directly addressing the abuse, the lingering effects are still present in Neil’s day-to-day behaviour and they were pretty consistent. Honestly, I don’t feel like we got adequate closure with that storyline, but it really is the best part of the book for me. (Though I want to note that the book’s summary makes no mention of the abuse, but that is literally happening in the very first scene, so be careful with that.) The parts of the book I wasn’t especially crazy about revolved around relationship drama (with Neil’s girlfriend and the new boy at school that Neil suddenly has a crush on) and a lot about theatre productions that is probably only interesting to people who are actually into theatre and would understand all the references and in-jokes. Honestly though, I was mostly all set to not like this book because the first half had a lot of annoying dialogue and theatre nonsense, but the second half really blew me away.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) High school senior Neil Darrien is a budding musical theater star. He has it all-a beautiful girlfriend, a scholarship at a prestigious school, and plenty of chances to showcase his talent. But when Zane Jeffrey comes to town and immediately lands a spot in the school show choir, Neil is jealous. What Neil didn’t count on, though, is Zane’s charm and humor, and the two soon become friends.

Melissa, Neil’s girlfriend, notices Zane monopolizing Neil and draws Neil into her church. There Neil discovers a situation he knows he needs to fix, but if he does, a deep, dark secret that could cost him his future career might come out.

When his relationship with Melissa becomes rocky, Neil is drawn to Zane in a way that is more than friendship.

 

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

 

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Hell on Wheels (Bluewater Bay #3) – Z. A. Maxfield

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“You’re necessary because you make my heart lighter and my mind clearer and my work meaningful, as long as I get to come home to you at the end of the day.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. Another wonderful glimpse into the inhabitants and visitors of Bluewater Bay; and I loved it. This time our focus is on Nash and Spencer, a local mechanic and a visiting actor respectively. Nash is a mechanic running the family business while still living at home with his father and younger sister. Spencer is an English actor going through a divorce and still reeling from his husband’s betrayal. Neither of them are looking for love or anything long-term when they meet, but that’s what they end up finding. They’re both under the impression that they won’t be able to fully put their all into a relationship with each other and that they are better off as friends (with benefits), but after a while it becomes clear that neither of them will settle for just being casual. There are a lot of emotions in this story, which I loved; both men are going through their own set of life changes that will have them reevaluating their thought processes on things. Their path to happily ever after isn’t exactly smooth, or direct, but they do manage to get there in the end. And it’s glorious. Along with Nash and Spencer, there are also a few side characters to help expand their world. Nash’s father and siblings are all amazing and a lot of fun, and Spencer’s bodyguard and PA make for some entertaining moments. A really good installment to the series and I hope we get to see more of these guys in the future.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Nash is the reliable one in the Holly family, the guy everyone counts on to keep things going. His genius twin brother is off at university, so Nash runs the family’s auto repair business and cares for his partially-paralyzed little sister while his crackpot father invents. His life seems mapped out for the foreseeable future, however much that might chafe.

So when Wolf’s Landing actor Spencer Kepler-Constantine lands in his life, Nash is ready for a diversion. Spencer is in the middle of a very painful, very public divorce and isn’t ready for a relationship—not that Nash wants one. But they both need a friend, especially one with benefits.

As they grow closer, Nash starts to see his family in a whole new light. Do they really need him so badly? Or does he simply need to be needed? Then Spencer’s ex reappears with a grand romantic gesture, and Nash has to figure out what he wants—and how to get it—before Spencer’s gone for good.

 

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

 

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Gives Light (Gives Light #1) – Rose Christo

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“A future without Rafael felt unfathomable in a way that took me by surprise.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I really, really enjoyed this book. 16-year-old Skylar St. Clair is our main character and narrator and this story is all about him. But it’s also a bit more than that. This story is kind of an exploration of Skylar’s feelings about his family and his heritage and his past, and it’s beautiful and sad and uplifting all at once. Skylar’s father has suddenly disappeared, leaving Skylar all alone, and so he ends up being sent to his grandmother on the reservation where he was born but hasn’t seen since he was five. Skylar is half Shoshone Plains First Nations, but he looks completely white and he’s lived off-reservation since he was a child so he knows nothing about that part of himself. He’s terrified when he first arrives on the Nettlebush Reserve, but over the summer he makes friends and is accepted into a community he’s been estranged from for almost 11 years. This story does have romance in it, but it’s mostly about Skylar learning about his roots and his history and how to live in a community that he should’ve been a part of all along. Another thing that this story touches on is all the complicated feelings Skylar has about his mother’s murder, the murderer, and falling in love with the son the murderer left behind. There is nothing really fast-paced happening in the story, it’s a calm and smooth read, and it was totally enjoyable from start to finish. I can’t wait to see what happens in the sequels.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) “Skylar is my name, tragically.”

Sixteen-year-old Skylar is witty, empathetic, sensitive–and mute. Skylar hasn’t uttered a single word since his mother died eleven years ago, a senseless tragedy he’s grateful he doesn’t have to talk about.

When Skylar’s father mysteriously vanishes one summer afternoon, Skylar is placed in the temporary custody of his only remaining relative, an estranged grandmother living on an Indian reservation in the middle of arid Arizona.

Adapting to a brand new culture is the least of Skylar’s qualms. Because Skylar’s mother did not die a peaceful death. Skylar’s mother was murdered eleven years ago on the Nettlebush Reserve. And her murderer left behind a son.

And he is like nothing Skylar has ever known.

 

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

 

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Finding His Home (Men of Falcon Pointe #2) – Thianna Durston

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“It was sweet, and Bastien couldn’t tear his eyes away. Sure, he’d hoped gay men could be loving, but that was the first time he’d ever seen it.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I will admit, I didn’t like this one as much as I did the first book (this one was a bit slow in places), but I did really enjoy reading it. It’s similar to the first book in some ways, but it’s still a different story. Like Trent from Book 1, Sebastien Cather is trying to break away from Mormonism because he knows that he’ll never be able to be happy in that lifestyle. Also like Trent, Sebastien makes his way to 959 Brenton Street and finds a new home, a new family, and a new love. Sebastien is in a different part of his journey than Trent was, though. He’d come to terms with the fact that he’s gay back when he was 14, and by the time he makes it to Falcon Pointe he’s already decided that he’s going to leave the Mormon church. His dilemmas are less about his religion and more about his relationships. David, from Book 1, is back in a main role, so we get a bit more insight into him. Trent, Cory, and Alan are also back, and it was great to see them again. Also Trent’s father tries to make some more trouble and is put back in his place, which is always fun. This is a good sequel to a book I enjoyed, and I’m looking forward to the next one.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) A Men of Falcon Pointe Novel

Sebastien Cather moves to Falcon Pointe with a dream to live life his way. Offered a room at 959 Brenton Street, he discovers how liberating it can feel to live among accepting people, especially in a household where they practice loving physical discipline. And he quickly gains a boyfriend in Avery, a fellow student. Unfortunately Avery isn’t his first choice. His roommate David is fascinating and good-looking, and Bastien would do anything to have him—but he doesn’t think the attraction is returned.

Tensions rise as his roommates’ wedding is threatened and his present and past lives clash. Outed by the national media, Bastien knows he will never be able to return home again. Just as he’s sure he can’t handle any more stress, David shows his interest. Bastien slowly makes his way forward, trying to find firm footing in the minefield that is his life. But when his landlord makes an announcement about the future of the house, it may change all of his dreams.

 

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

 

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959 Brenton Street (Men of Falcon Pointe #1) – Thianna Durston

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“Trent felt like he had opened some mystical portal into a world that could not possibly exist, where men like himself were accepted.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I wasn’t completely sure going in if I was gonna like this one or not, but I was definitely curious. I actually did like this, quite a bit. I mean, it also confused me, but I did enjoy reading Trent’s journey and the development of his relationship with Cory and the others. There are a few things going on in this book. First there’s Trent out on his own for the first time, away from his family and his church and finally getting the chance to be himself. That ties in a bit with Trent’s struggle over whether he can be a good Mormon while also being gay, and how he’ll choose to deal with that. He also falls in love for the first time, and that’s both an adventure and a bit of an added stressor to an already stressful situation. Lastly, and what piqued my interest in this book in the first place, there’s Trent learning how to live in a household that practises domestic discipline. I’d never before read a book where non-sexual and non-romantic discipline was a major part of the characters’ interactions, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect going in. It’s definitely a weird arrangement to a complete outsider (even Trent has reservations at first), but it’s obvious that it’s all totally consensual and every participant is getting something positive out of it all. I liked Trent and Cory and the other roommates, who were all unique and interesting characters. The drama with Trent’s family and religion was heartbreaking, making Trent work for his happy ending and it was so satisfying when he got it.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Trent Farnsworth moves to Falcon Pointe to get as far away from his controlling family and religion as he can. While his conservative upbringing makes it hard for Trent to admit he’s gay, he accidentally outs himself in front of his four new roommates. None of the men living at 959 Brenton Street are what the world would consider normal, but all four accept him for who he is. He never expects to feel right at home in a loving discipline household. And when Trent falls for his much older landlord, Dr. Cory Venerin, he’s as surprised as anyone, but discovering Cory feels the same makes Trent realize he’s truly in the right place at the right time.

Until he tells his family he’s gay. His father uses any resource at his disposal to destroy him, including Trent’s love for Cory. As his father schemes to send Trent to a hospital whose sole purpose is to rip the gay out of him, Cory battles to save not only Trent—but also the possibility of a future together.

 

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

 

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