In His Arms Again – Lisa Marie Davis

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“After five years of denying himself, resisting temptation, distracting himself with work and family concerns, Ayden was at a crossroad, but he had no control of the direction he was about to take.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. Honestly, I wasn’t really sure if I was gonna like this one, but then it punched me right in the feels and I was totally here for it. Ayden is a business man who has spent the last five years in a marriage of convenience with a woman because of his homophobic father’s scheming. He has been living a lie for all that time, and would probably have continued on with it had a reason to change not literally fallen right into his lap. Ayden meets Simon on a plane and they form an immediate connection (and then join the mile-high club, because go big or go home I guess). Ayden’s not sure what’s come over him, but he knows that he desperately wants to be with Simon while at the same time knowing that he can’t if he wants to keep the family company. Things are a bit different now than they were five years ago, and Ayden’s realizing that neither he nor his wife are happy in their marriage anymore. They both want to be able to live their true lives, but they can’t unless they’re willing to make some very drastic changes. The situation that Ayden is in, through no fault of his own, is heartbreaking. Between his late father’s fuckery, his monster of a step-mother’s evil, and his own unhappiness with it all, he’s got a lot to deal with. Finding Simon was a bit of a dream-come-true for him, even though he came very close to losing him. The emotional ups and downs in this book are amazing, especially for a read this short. I also really loved the support system Ayden found for himself, and the love they all shared. The epilogue was maybe a bit too sweet for my tastes, especially considering how the main story ended, but I still enjoyed the ride from beginning to end.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Five years ago a cruel clause in his father’s will forced Ayden Judson into marriage to keep the family company, and to protect that business from his stepmother’s machinations, Ayden decided to live without love. But when handsome gallery owner Simon Gibson literally falls into Ayden’s lap on a transatlantic flight, he shakes Ayden’s resolve, and by the time they land, Ayden knows he doesn’t want to live without Simon. Simon, burned before by a married man, refuses to hide. So once more, Ayden must choose between happiness for himself and the good of the company-threatened by how dark his stepmother’s plans have become-except Ayden knows he’ll give up all the money and success in the world just to have Simon in his arms again.

 

[available for purchase at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble; also available in the bundle Lisa Marie Davis’ Greatest Hits]

 

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Derek – B. G. Thomas

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“Men with men. Men who weren’t afraid to be with other men. Men who admitted who and what they were. Yes. He had a future. Who knows? Maybe it would start here. Tonight.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This was sweet and heartwarming and a quick read. All good things. Derek, the titular main character, is newly divorced and is a bit nervous about finally being able to live his life as a gay man for the first time in years (though, the first time he was ‘out’ it wasn’t really so openly). One of the baristas at his new favourite café befriends him suddenly and invites him to a party where he can meet other gay men. He meets Marshall at the party, and through him learns about letting go and being in love for real for the first time. This story is about a romance, but it’s also about letting go and moving forward. Derek has had his only two relationships fail, and isn’t sure if he should gamble his heart on a third. With Marshall’s help he’s able to gain some perspective on his past and look forward to what his future as an out gay man will hold for him. The story isn’t all that long so the characters aren’t totally developed (especially the many side-characters that are mentioned), but I still liked Derek and Marshall and their love story (even though it does technically tip into the insta-love category). I also really enjoyed the positive feel everything had. Derek is trying to deal with the death of a long-term relationship and what that means for him in the grand scheme of things; and even though it wasn’t necessarily a totally happy experience, Derek’s takeaway of it isn’t totally negative either. The message of the story, about not living in the past and looking forward to the future (loosely paraphrased), was also pretty positive.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) The end of his marriage leaves Derek Newton hurt and confused, but it also grants him the opportunity to embrace who he really is: a gay man. While navigating his new life with the help of friends in the local GLBT community, Derek meets Marshall Kenworthy, a man who embodies all his fantasies.

To Derek’s surprise, Marshall is as interested as he is, and they make a date. But a failure to communicate leads to a misunderstanding. The party they attend is not what Derek expected—at all—but Marshall, ever the gentleman, makes sure Derek feels comfortable. As they get to know each other, they see how much they have in common. Derek begins to heal and soon realizes he might thrive in this new chapter of his life—and it just might be with Marshall by his side.

 

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

 

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The Omega Nanny – Penelope Peters

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“And yet… Thomas couldn’t look at Kieran without thinking of the way Kieran glanced at him curious and shy, and not want to talk to him. Want to hear his voice, want to get to know him.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. If Omegaverse is not at all your thing you’re better off just skipping this one because, while it’s a good read, it’s not anything special. I really did enjoy reading this. Thomas, Kieran, Connie, Jessie, and their family and friends are very easily likeable and inoffensive. The romance between Thomas and Kieran went pretty quick, but it was fairly painless and low-drama. The thing I found more interesting was the world building. This story takes place in an alternate universe from our own; with biology dictating people’s actions and relationships far more than they would in real life. I’m not new to Omegaverse, but I thought that the story conveyed the basics of it fairly well for people who would be, and in a way that flowed along with the story being told. It also managed to establish this universe’s unique quirks in natural ways. There is some social commentary and gender politics going on in the background, but they weren’t what the story was about, so things didn’t get too deep. Though there were some aspects of the characters and their situations that I wished had been fleshed out more, all in all I have no real complaints. The characters were likeable, the romance was sweet, and the ending was happy.

 

[available for purchase at Amazon.ca]

 

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Finding Family – Connie Bailey

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“If he’d had any doubt about his feelings for Charles, this had put them to rest. Whatever the outcome, he was in love with Charles Macquarrie.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing. Overall I just couldn’t make myself like this one. I know the Dreamspun Desires series is supposed to be, like, gay Harlequin romance and that I’m not supposed to take anything about it too seriously, but this one was a bit much. Not in that the happenings were unbelievable, just in the way that everything happened too neatly and conveniently for my tastes. Though, having said that, I wouldn’t have had such an issue with that if the writing were good, but I have problems with the writing as well. The point of view switches constantly and without warning (it’s third person, but still), the dialogue just grates for the most part, there is a lot of ‘tell, no show’ and summarizing, and the chemistry between the two romantic leads isn’t really there (to me, anyway). Charles and Jon are both, in turns, charming and aggravating; the kids are decent, but a bit too well-behaved; and the side characters were mostly hit and miss. The situations the characters find themselves in were a bit over the top, but I was expecting that, the way things played out bothered me, though. Also, the real ‘exciting’ parts of the plot happen about halfway through the book, but up until then it’s boring day-to-day stuff in a land of rich people with two men, who we’re supposed to believe find each other irresistible, with no real chemistry. Or interactions. When the plot actually picks up it’s actually pretty entertaining, and it’s a quick read. If you enjoy soap opera type shenanigans you’ll most likely enjoy this. I can’t speak for the romance part there, I didn’t find there was much to it.

 

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

 

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Stained – Chris T. Kat

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“No way was I slowly falling out of lust with my boss. Equally, no way was I falling in love with Jack.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing. I really wanted to like this one. The summary got me hooked and I was a bit excited, but even in the first paragraph I realized that I probably wasn’t gonna like this one much. First-person point of view is often very hit and miss for me, and this one was a definite miss. There were some things that I liked about the book, but they were mostly outweighed by all the things I didn’t like. One of the biggest issues I had was that I didn’t like the writing, and that really impacted the way I felt about the story overall because I just couldn’t get away from the writing style. It also didn’t help that I couldn’t really get into the characters. Jack is fine enough, but Blair is way too whiny and needlessly self-deprecating for my tastes. Another thing that irked me is that I didn’t feel like the story I ended up reading was the story I was promised in the book’s summary. We don’t even get anything from Jack’s point of view, and the subplot with Travis got very dramatic very quickly. All in all, this book isn’t awful by any means, and it’s a quick read if you’re looking for something dramatic and soap opera-ish, but I can’t say I liked it all that much.

 

[available for purchase at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, and Chapters]

 

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A Christmas Boyfriend – Trina Solet

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“Hey, Mr Kenney. I need to know where to get a man for Daddy for Christmas.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This one is kinda like a Lifetime Christmas movie: fluffy, sappy, and heartwarming (only with sex you wouldn’t find in a Lifetime Christmas movie), though I kinda expected that. What I wasn’t expecting was how funny it was. Seriously, without Maya this story would just be run of the mill Christmas fluff. Maya makes things a lot more entertaining. The romance kinda fell into the insta-love territory, so I wasn’t really a big fan of that, though Ben and Jason’s interactions before they were officially together were pretty good. It’s really Maya’s character that’s the main draw for me, though. If you aren’t a fan of child characters, even when they aren’t being overly precious and annoying, then you probably won’t like most of A Christmas Boyfriend. It’s a feel-good romance story with very, very minimal angst and no conflict and lots of laughs. Our two leads are pretty standard, but they’re cute together and their no-obstacles relationship makes for a relaxing read. Also it’s a short book so it also makes for a quick read.

 

[available for purchase at All Romance E-Books, Amazon.ca, and Chapters]

 

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Trial By Fire – BA Tortuga

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“Shit, is there a gay cowboy that doesn’t start a relationship under extreme stress?”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I admit, I wasn’t a huge fan of this when I read it for the first time, but after reading it again I found that I actually liked it. The story is a bit ridiculous, and there are some plot holes, but if you’re willing to overlook this and just enjoy the story for what it is you’ll have a good time reading it. The writing took me a bit to get used to, which might be one of the biggest problems I had with the book on my first read through. I think the books in the Dreamspun Desires line are meant to be like Harlequin Romance, only with gay romance, so they’re all probably gonna be a bit ridiculous and out there and dramatic. Trial By Fire is definitely all of these things, but it’s also pretty fun and has some pretty entertaining characters to drive a fairly entertaining story.  There’s gay cowboys, Australians, biscuits and gravy, kidnapping, horses, and a guy named Crazy MacPhail. Really, what more can you ask for?

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

 

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