Omega Required – Dessa Lux

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“I’d like to meet someone, get to know them, get to know their life, their family. Fall in love. That kind of thing.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. Much healing and hurt/comfort here. Totally my jam. Beau is an alpha werewolf who needs a spouse in order to start his residency in a hospital that treats humans. Roland is an omega werewolf with a traumatic past who is slowly dying. A marriage of convenience turns out to be a solution to both those problems. This whole book is a very slow story about Beau and Roland accidentally falling in love with each other while also learning to let people into their worlds. They’ve both been traumatized – in different ways – so it’s difficult for them to get close to people, but they eventually manage it. Their union is meant to be temporary, but they eventually come to find that they’re both actually very fond of each other, and they become someone the other can rely on for safety and comfort and support. That eventually transforms to love, and it’s great to watch it happen in real time. Next to the romance (and ALL the hurt/comfort), the really great thing about this story is the worldbuilding and the focus on fleshing out werewolf culture. Beau and Roland being werewolves actually means something in this universe, it’s something very ingrained in the story and in who they are as people. It affects all aspects of their lives, especially when there are humans around. I don’t think it’s something I’ve really seen before (outside of fanfiction, I guess) so it was a really nice surprise and took everything to a whole other level. This story is kind of a slow burn, and mostly character-driven (not a lot of plot here), but it really is very good. There are a few things that I feel didn’t really get properly tied up by the end, but on the whole I really enjoyed the read and I hope that the author eventually comes back to these characters and this universe.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) An alpha werewolf chasing his dream meets an omega fighting for his life in a strictly temporary marriage of convenience…

Alpha werewolf Beau Jeffries has been going it alone ever since he was cast out of his pack as a teenager for trying to help a human and endangering the pack’s secrets during the tumultuous years when the wider world was learning the truth about werewolves. He hasn’t lost his drive to help others, and he’s about to begin a prestigious medical residency–only to learn that, as the first werewolf the program has knowingly accepted, he’ll have to follow special rules, including the one that requires him to be married when he begins his residency.

Omega werewolf Roland Lea is just trying to survive. After escaping the last and worst in a string of abusive relationships that left him scarred and unable to conceive, he’s found safety in a refuge for homeless omegas. But despite the help he’s getting at the refuge, he just keeps getting sicker instead of better, further and further from being able to make it on his own. When he’s offered the opportunity to sign up with a mate-matching agency, he figures he has nothing to lose. No alpha is ever going to want an omega like him.

When Beau sees Roland’s profile, he knows at once what’s making the omega sick, and he’s determined to help. If he can persuade Roland to marry him, he can save Roland’s life while Roland helps him get through his residency. But will their hasty partnership be enough to bring them both through what’s ahead–and can temporary necessity lead to a forever love?

 

[available for purchase at Amazon.ca]

 

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Omega’s Bond (Mated to the Alpha #4) – Wolf Specter & Rosa Swann

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“This connection between us two, this bond, it gets stronger and stronger.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. The only reason I didn’t put this as a ‘maybe’ is because this isn’t really a part people can skip if they want to continue reading the series. Although maybe it is, who knows, though I do think some significant background information comes out here. This is, in my opinion, the worst part of the Mated to the Alpha serial so far. For a number of reasons, though most of it can be put down to inconsistencies. I will say that there were also some things that redeemed this part somewhat. Ethan and Max have known each other for about a week now, meaning this takes place a few days after Part 3. This part already starts off on a sour note with Ethan pissy at Max for a poorly though-out doctor’s visit. It goes a bit downhill from there for a bit. Alexia is back, unfourtunately. I liked her when she was first introduced in Part 1, but she’s since fallen out of favour with me. She was especially aggravating in this part. I dread her next appearance. There was also a bit of a mess in the interactions between Max and Ethan. Mostly as the result of some misunderstanding it seems that Ethan is really not as okay with his new life as Max thought he was. I have to admit that it came as a surprise to me too because Ethan’s chapters (which are first-person POV, as are Max’s) never really made that clear. It is clear that Max has maybe been trying to control too many things, but to his credit he does rein that in a lot. I think the worst he’s done so far to control Ethan is to keep him in his house, which I saw as less about trying to control Ethan and more as trying to keep him away from the media vultures. But, whatever, they do eventually sort all that out and Max vows to do better (and from what we’ve seen of Max so far we know he’ll definitely try). There is even an ‘I love you’ from Max, which I think is moving way too fast (so much for natural progression). Though that does come up from a weird scene where Ethan seems to have some sort of psychological break or PTSD flashback or something. Apparently there’s been a reason we haven’t seen his mother so far in the series, though none of what we learn here has ever been alluded to before. We’ll see what comes of that. Another thing that got more focus in this part is the mating ceremony, which I am not really looking forward to. Hopefully Part 5 is better.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Ethan and Max are settling into a pattern. It’s been a week since they met for the first time, and things seem to be going well… but are they really?

When Alexia comes over to discuss the mating ceremony she throws their whole dynamic off and uncovers that maybe the two men are not as settled as they think.
When Ethan gets a call from his mother, old wounds are reopened and the two men need to learn to trust each other quickly before everything goes wrong.

Then Max speaks the three words that Ethan fears the most…

Omega’s Bond is the fourth story in the Mated to the Alpha series. This series contains an innocent human, a sexy alpha, naughty scenes and Mpreg (male pregnancy).

 

[available for purchase at Amazon.ca and Barnes & Noble; also available as part of the full Mated to the Alpha collection x x x x]

 

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Daddy, Daddy and Me – Sean Michael

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“Like the gay version of Mary Poppins?”

 

In a word: Read the thing. First of all, most of this is stupidly adorable. There are a few other things going on, but the main drive of the story is Jeff and Donny falling in love while caring for Jeff’s two adorable children. The grand majority of the scenes are either Jeff and Donny being cute with the children, or Jeff and Donny being stupidly cute together (while also having sex, there is quite a bit of sex). There are a few dark parts to the story, like the fact that Jeff and his older son are still trying to get over the loss of the children’s mother, who died in a house fire a few weeks before the story starts; and Jeff being hounded by his asshole ex who turns out to be a psycho. But the overall tone of the story is light and fluffy. Jeff, who was technically only meant to be a sperm donor and function in the children’s lives as their godfather, is in way over his head with these two babies he suddenly has care of. His lifestyle as a single dad who works long hours means that he needs to bring someone in to help with childcare, that’s where Donny comes in. Donny is a gay nanny who has been turned down for every childcare job he’s applied for so far, which sucked at first but really ends up turning out for the better. Jeff and Donny don’t waste much time in falling head over heels in love with each other, and they quickly move from ‘employer and employee’ to ‘family’. A lot of this is slice of life stuff with Jeff and Donny taking care of the kids and falling for each other. Actually one problem I did have was that I felt that Jeff and Donny got together too soon and then I got anxious every time they had cute romantic scenes together because it felt like it wouldn’t last. The story didn’t seem to be going anywhere so I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Some conflict and drama did pop up later in the story, which did save things. I really did like Jeff and Donny’s relationship, and their relationships with the children. Most of the story is complete fluff, which isn’t really everyone’s thing, but it’s pretty inoffensive and fun. Some of the darker aspects of the story were a bit unexpected and more serious than I was expecting, but they do make for a nice break from all the rainbows and sunshine. Definitely recommend if you enjoy cute stories about easy romances and cute children.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) When Jeff agreed to be the sperm donor to his best friend Beth, he never expected a tragedy to leave his newborn and three-year-old motherless. Beth’s loss has totally thrown his life into chaos: his lover has left him, his house isn’t anywhere near childproof, and his boss feels the restaurant has been patient enough with Jeff’s time off.

Donny has always known he wanted to work with kids, and he just finished his degree in early childhood education. He didn’t count on the prejudice he’d face as not only a male nanny, but a gay one at that. Job-hunting has been frustrating to say the least, so when he knocks on Jeff’s door and is greeted by the sounds of things breaking and a pair of screaming children, he thinks maybe he can begin this particular interview with a trial by fire.

Becoming the nanny to Jeff’s children might be a dream come true for Danny and exactly what Jeff needs, but are either of them ready to really be a family?

 

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

 

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The Teddy Bear Club (The Teddy Bear Club #1) – Sean Michael

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“Dev laughed again, and Aiden decided he really liked the sound of it, bright and full of life.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing. This book probably won’t be for everyone. It’s very sweet and fluffy and very kid-centric. I was drawn to the story because of the summary, but the summary turned out to be a bit inaccurate. Most of the story is complete fluff and the minutia of daily baby care while Aiden and Dev’s romance kinda just falls into place. There is some drama with Dev’s mother, but that ultimately never comes to anything and more or less seemed like a waste of time. Though it was an entertaining break from all the child care fluff (seriously, if you don’t like reading about children in your romances you won’t like this book, like, at all). Really, everything of substance in this story doesn’t come to much since most of the focus remains on Aiden and Dev coming together and merging their families (probably a bit quick, but whatever, Dreamspun). Aiden and Dev getting together happened very easily, like there was pretty much no angst surrounding that. It was welcome, unnecessary relationship drama just for the sake of it can get pretty annoying, but also there wasn’t really anything in there to fill that gap. Aiden and Dev took care of their children together with very little fuss, they were always fairly upbeat and positive, and everything was just really overly cute. They had no obstacles, and when the closest things to obstacles did show up it ultimately came to nothing. It was a nice change to read a romance where the couple didn’t have to fight for every little aspect of their happiness, but it was also pretty boring to read a romance where every interaction was written out as a series of steps. There were whole sections of the story where one scene went on for pages because it was full of step-by-step actions and bland dialogue. Sometimes Aiden’s oldest daughter had some cute interactions, and Aiden and Dev’s friends could be pretty funny, but everything was mostly bland (even the sex scenes got a bit long). The thing with Dev’s mother was really a non-issue and a bit of a let-down considering how she was built up. Though I will say that it was a nice change to read a story like this (with an evil grandparent demanding custody of a child they don’t actually have rights to) where the current parent/guardian doesn’t just roll over and accept a ton of abuse in the name of keeping the peace (this seems to be a thing with Harlequin romances, of which the Dreamspun Desires books resemble). Also the fact that we never get much closure with Dev’s sister and her situation was a bit disappointing. Anyway, the biggest problem this book has is that it’s kinda boring and over-padded with minutia. Definitely avoid this if you aren’t a fan of children in romances.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Two lonely men. One perfect family.

Aiden Lake adopted his institutionalized sister’s two daughters, and he’s a good dad. He works nights on websites and gets in his adult time twice a week at the Roasty Bean, where he meets with other single gay parents.

Devon Smithson wants to be a good dad now that his sixteen-year-old sister asked him to babysit her newborn… three months ago. But he’s overwhelmed with the colicky baby. An invitation to the daddy-and-kid gatherings at the café is a godsend. The pot is sweetened when his friendship with Aiden develops into more—maybe even something that can last.

But the mother who kicked Dev out for being gay wants to get her claws into the baby, and she doesn’t care if she tears Dev, Aiden, and everything they’re building apart in the process.

 

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

 

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A Heart for Robbie – J.P. Barnaby

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“Daddy loves you so much, and I’m going to make it all better. I promise.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This was a heavy read. Holy shit. I knew going in that this book involved a very sick child and a lot of serious medical situations, but I had no idea that Robbie was only a newborn. Like, sick children in general is depressing, but just the image of a teeny tiny newborn having to go through all the pain Robbie has to go through is especially hard to read about. This book really has two distinct aspects to it: the first, and major, one is baby Robbie’s fight for survival and how his single father Julian deals with it all; the second is Julian’s romantic relationship with insurance coordinator Simon. Although Julian and Simon’s relationship is important in the grand scheme of things, and also involves Simon’s journey in coming out of the closet for the first time ever, Robbie’s care and illness definitely comes across as the more involved part of the story. The stakes certainly seem higher for it, anyway. The romantic aspect of the story starts out very slowly. The story starts with Robbie’s traumatic birth and the focus mostly stays on Robbie and Julian for a while. There are some chapters from Simon’s point of view but they mostly focus on his strained relationship with his mother and his fears over coming out, because Julian and Simon don’t really cross paths at first. Once Julian and Simon really start connecting, though, their relationship becomes more prominent in the story and the two plotlines start meshing together. This book can be a bit of a heavy read, but pretty much all of that comes from Robbie’s medical issues and how Julian and his family deal with them. Simon has some drama on his end with his fear of coming out and the homophobia he deals with, and the threat to his job if it comes out that he’s dating a patient’s father, but the relationship itself actually is surprisingly without much conflict (there isn’t even a third-act breakup). This read was very emotional and suspenseful, but I really enjoyed it. Maybe don’t read it if you need a pick-me-up, but it’s still good. Julian and Simon are great, Robbie is sweet, and the ending didn’t ruin anything for me.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Waiting for someone else’s child to die so yours can live is the worst kind of Hell

Celebrated Young Adult author Julian Holmes pits the heroic characters in his Black Heart series against all different kinds of monsters. But when a critical heart defect threatens his son’s life, he finds he has no champion. No amount of books, classes, or practice can prepare Julian for the fight to save his beautiful son’s life.

Suddenly there are hospitals, transplant lists, and the nightmare of insurance red tape to navigate. In the midst of his trouble, Julian meets Simon Phelps, the insurance coordinator for Robbie’s case. Simon lives so deep in the closet he might never find his way out, but he dreams of exactly what Julian has. Then one night, drunken need and desperation brings them together, and a new fight begins.

 

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

 

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The Boy Next Door – Kate McMurray

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“Jase looked at Lowell then, straight in the eye, and Lowell felt something crackle between them. That surprised him.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing. I really wanted to like this one. I did like the premise of two childhood friends reconnecting as adults and falling in love, but I feel like this particular story had a bit too much conflict for my liking. A lot of conflict that didn’t have much in the way of resolutions, which didn’t help any. I’m always a fan of some angst with a happy ending, and I did like that aspect of the story, but I did find myself getting annoyed at the two leads. Well, I shouldn’t say both leads, I was more annoyed with Jase than I ever was with Lowell. My main problem with Lowell was that I thought that he tortured himself too much over Jase. Jase is a very scared man. The community he lives in seems to be fairly homophobic, and his ex-wife is both homophobic and bitter so she’s an extra stressor for him. All Jase seems to want to do is to do his job, raise his daughter, and make as few waves as possible. He’s only really starting to come to terms with the fact that he’s gay, but he’s spent so long hiding it because of fear and self-loathing that he’s having a hard time with it. Pretty much all the relationship conflict between him and Lowell comes from this, and it gets really annoying when Jase runs hot and cold with Lowell and Lowell seems to just take it. Outside of all that drama there were also a few subplots going on, and none of them really got any concrete resolutions. That was a real disappointment because time was devoted to those but they ultimately didn’t go very far. I don’t know if there’s a sequel that continues the story, but if there isn’t the ending to this book is just a bit disappointing. Really, I spent a lot of the story annoyed with Jase and feeling bad for Lowell, which didn’t really make for an enjoyable read. It was fine to start with, with the angst and whatnot, but I think it all just dragged out for too long and I was tired of it all by the end.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Life is full of surprises and, with luck, second chances.

After his father’s death, Lowell leaves the big city to help his sick mother in the conservative small town where he grew up. He’s shocked to find himself living next to none other than his childhood friend Jase. Lowell always had a crush on Jase, and the man has only gotten more attractive with age. Unfortunately Jase is straight, now divorced, and raising his six-year-old daughter. It’s nice to reconnect, but Lowell doesn’t see a chance for anything beyond friendship.

Until a night out together changes everything.

Jase can’t fight his growing feelings for Lowell, and he doesn’t want to give up the happy future they could have. But his ex-wife issues an ultimatum: he must keep his homosexuality secret or she’ll revoke his custody of their daughter, Layla. Now Jase faces an impossible choice: Lowell and the love he’s always wanted, or his daughter.

 

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

 

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Three’s a Crowd – Van Cole

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“No doubt about it, I was the luckiest man in the world; there was nothing else I needed to be happy. Nothing at all.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing. It’s not so much that I didn’t enjoy this book, but more that it was pretty underwhelming when compared to the first book. Three’s A Crowd is a sequel to A Second Chance, though it can also be read as a standalone since the basic premise of the first book is often explained. This book was okay. It takes place two years after the events of A Second Chance; Dane and James are very happy together and Sam is no longer any concern of Dane’s. In fact, Dane is waiting for the right moment to propose to James. So, of course, this would be the moment when someone from James’ past shows up to shake things up. It’s not really as big a thing as the book’s summary makes it out to be, but it definitely becomes a thing in Dane and James’ lives. James’ Sam, as Dane refers to him, is named Adam. He and James were a thing in high school and then parted ways before going off to college; though their separation, while hard on James, wasn’t anywhere near as traumatic as Dane’s situation with Sam. James is very much shaken up by Adam’s reappearance (excessively so, I thought), so I really didn’t expect the threesome arrangement to play out like it did. At one point I thought I was mistaken about this book being M/M/M because it really didn’t look like that’s where things were headed (also I was a bit put off by Adam). But then the story took another turn and a threesome arrangement was back on the table. This book is written the same way as the first one, so that contributed to some of the issues I had. This one really feels like the bare bones of a story, more so than the other one because there’s less angst and emotional suffering in this one. It’s not a bad story, and I did enjoy reading it, but I wasn’t totally crazy about it. I probably wouldn’t’ve bothered reading it if it hadn’t come free in a bundle with A Second Chance. My overall impression of this story is ‘meh’, especially when compared to the prequel.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Dane And James Are Back… But Another Old Flame Heats Things Up

It has been two years since Dane Walters’ high school reunion – two years since he finally saw the boy that broke his heart for what he was, and saw the perfection in the man that stood right beside him.

James Doherty is still by his side now, and life is absolutely perfect. Gone are the days of mooning over a man that he couldn’t have; now, Dane commutes home from his big-city marketing job to the perfect partner and dreams about having the courage to put a ring on James’s finger. He knows that nothing could disrupt their happiness.

But Dane isn’t the only one who’s ever been haunted by the ghost of high school love. All this time, James has been holding in a secret – holding back his memories of the one that got away. As such, when Adam DeFranco walks back into his life, it threatens to shake the foundations of the entire adult life he has built.

At first, Dane thinks it’s deja vu. It’ll be difficult, but all he has to do is show James that Adam is an asshole, just like he learned about Sam. Trouble is that he soon learns that Adam DeFranco is not an asshole. He’s genuine competition – and if Dane isn’t careful, the fabric of the perfect life he’s built could be torn out from underneath him.

This Romance Short Story Was Formerly Titled Close Encounters.

This Is Book 2 Of A Second Chance Which Can Also Be Read As A Standalone.

 

[available for purchase from Amazon.ca as part of the Surprise Baby: Gay MPREG Romance Collection]

 

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