Two Man Station (Emergency Services #1) – Lisa Henry

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“This is a two-man station. If things turn to shit, it’s just us.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This is the first book in a brand-new series by Lisa Henry, and I am very excited about the whole thing. The setting is the small, remote town of Richmond in the Australian outback. The main characters are the town’s two police officers: Sergeant Jason Quinn, and newcomer Gio Valeri (who is new to the town, not to policing). The plot is somewhat non-existent. This is very much more of a slice-of-life story, focusing more on the characters and setting than any sort of plot. Though there is a clear direction in the story, things move along and develop, it just doesn’t do it with a defined chain of events. This might not be some people’s thing, but I enjoyed it. I really liked Gio and Jason, and I enjoyed reading about what they had to deal with while policing their town. Jason’s son Taylor was a lot of fun, and Sandra from the police station was also pretty entertaining. Gio and Jason’s romance gets off to a slow start, since Gio’s background – the reason he wound up in Richmond in the first place – doesn’t make it easy for Jason to trust him; not to mention the fact that he’s still not completely over the death of his wife and his struggles with being a single parent. Gio’s background, the real one that no one else really knows about, makes it hard for him to trust Jason, or anyone else really. Despite everything, they still do manage to get close, though there really is a lot for them to work through before they can be functional together. This book is mostly character development and random happenings – although domestic violence is a consistent theme, so there is a specific chain of events for that happening in the background – and the story of two men trying to find a second chance at happiness while dealing with their own problems. I had a hard time putting this one down and ended up reading it in less than a day. The descriptions of life in the Australian outback (which is completely alien to me), and wanting to find out just what made Gio and Jason tick really grabbed my attention and made me interested. I’m not sure if either Jason or Gio will be appearing in future series installments, but I’m really excited to see what’s coming next.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Gio Valeri is a big city police officer who’s been transferred to the small outback town of Richmond with his professional reputation in tatters. His transfer is a punishment, and Gio just wants to keep his head down and survive the next two years. No more mistakes. No more complications.

Except Gio isn’t counting on Jason Quinn.

Jason Quinn, officer in charge of Richmond Station, is a single dad struggling with balancing the demands of shift work with the challenges of raising his son. The last thing he needs is a new senior constable with a history of destroying other people’s careers. But like it or not, Jason has to work with Gio.

In a remote two-man station hours away from the next town, Gio and Jason have to learn to trust and rely on each another. Close quarters and a growing attraction mean that the lines between professional and personal are blurring. And even in Richmond, being a copper can be dangerous enough without risking their hearts as well.

 

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

 

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Sweetwater – Lisa Henry

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“You and me – men like you and me – we don’t always fit with other people. So we make our own lives.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing. Looks like I’ve finally come across a Lisa Henry book that I’m not completely in love with. I know a lot of people gave this good reviews, but I thought it was a bit too bleak for me. The story kept me fully engaged and I basically couldn’t put it down, the writing is great (as usual), but after I finished reading I couldn’t really say that I liked it much. The story isn’t necessarily dark, but Elijah’s story from beginning to end is kind of a downer. His partial deafness gives the townspeople an excuse to look down on him and mistreat him, and his attraction to men is something he feels that he needs to keep secret (this story takes place in 1870 Wyoming, so he really does) and causes him to alienate himself from his adoptive father. He thinks some of those issues may be solved when he catches the eye of saloon owner Harlan Crane, but all that really brings him is a different set of problems. He also gets the attention of cattle rustler Grady Mullins, who gives him affection Elijah doesn’t really know what to do with. I think my biggest problem with this book is that I went into it looking for a story where Elijah gets in over his head with Crane and then Grady saves him and they ride off together into the sunset happily in love. That wasn’t what this story was ever going to be, so I ended up disappointed. Though if you are interested in a bit of a downer story about tortured souls, love, murder, revenge, and morally ambiguous characters in the old west, you’re probably gonna have a good time with this one.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Wyoming Territory, 1870.

Elijah Carter is afflicted. Most of the townsfolk of South Pass City treat him as a simpleton because he’s deaf, but that’s not his only problem. Something in Elijah runs contrary to nature and to God. Something that Elijah desperately tries to keep hidden.

Harlan Crane, owner of the Empire saloon, knows Elijah for what he is—and for all the ungodly things he wants. But Crane isn’t the only one. Grady Mullins desires Elijah too, but unlike Crane, he refuses to push the kid.

When violence shatters Elijah’s world, he is caught between two very different men and two devastating urges: revenge, and despair. In a boomtown teetering on the edge of a bust, Elijah must face what it means to be a man in control of his own destiny, and choose a course that might end his life . . . or truly begin it for the very first time.

 

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

 

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When All the World Sleeps – Lisa Henry & J. A. Rock

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“Bel didn’t even know what the hell he meant by trying to help Whitlock, what he planned to do, or whether it would work. He just knew he had to try.”

 

In a word: Read the thing! But oh holy hell be careful because this one is dark (still totally loved it though). This is definitely a romance story, but there is so much more going on here. The whole situation, and a lot of the characters, are really screwed up. It makes for some intense reading. I got sucked into the story and just could not bring myself to put this book down for anything. It’s close to 400 pages long and I got through it in one day, I just had to keep reading to see what would happen next. Daniel and Bel’s relationship is the farthest thing from easy considering all the shit they have to deal with, both from the people around them and each other. Daniel is hated by pretty much everyone in town, including his family, for things he doesn’t have any control over. He appears to be close to reaching the end of his rope at the beginning of the story; and he probably would have had it not been for Bel. The great part about Bel’s effect on Daniel is that Bel doesn’t technically ‘save’ him. Daniel at the end of the book is leagues better than Daniel at the beginning, but his problems are still very present and very real. Bel’s love doesn’t cure anything, but it does help Daniel to realize that he’s worth something as a person and that he doesn’t deserve to be constantly drowning in guilt. Bel also goes through his own development, because he can’t love Daniel and be the same person he was before he really got to know him. Their relationship is sometimes beautiful and sometimes heartbreaking (and sometimes cheesy), and it’s quite the read to see them from point A to point B. This might be a difficult book for some people to get through, because the dark stuff is pretty dark and all of Daniel and Bel’s successes are hard won, but I like to think that the ending is all worth it.

 

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

 

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Falling Away – Lisa Henry

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“Nobody had ever known every inch of Jason’s body the way that Ben did.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I absolutely hate that this is so short. This is definitely something that could easily be part of a much larger story. It’s a glimpse into the lives of Jason and Ben at a time where they’ve reached a turning point in their relationship. These two men have been fuckbuddies for the past five months and now Jason is struggling with the fact that he wants more. This story is emotionally intense, and quite angsty, as we follow Jason as he struggles with his wants and desires and whether or not he should tell Ben about them. You really come to feel for Jason as you read his internal anguish and about how ashamed he feels that he’s fallen so hard for someone who might not reciprocate those feelings. I was actually pretty worried about how this one was gonna turn out because we don’t see anything from Ben’s point of view, so he’s a bit of a wildcard, we don’t know for sure how he really feels about Jason. The emotions and suspense are high in this one, not really any humour this time, but this is definitely another great read from Lisa Henry.

 

[available for free at M/M Romance Group and Lisa Henry Online]

 

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The Boy Who Belonged (The Boy #2) – Lisa Henry & J. A. Rock

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“He had Derek, and Derek loved him, and Lane believed that.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This book picks up a few months after where The Good Boy left off, continuing Lane and Derek’s relationship and adding in even more drama with Lane’s family situation. Lane seems to be in a much better place now, but that’s not saying too much since he was in such an awful place for most of the last book. Lane has quite a few issues, and those issues aren’t going to go away just because Lane now has someone to love who loves him back. Lane is still on the road to recovery and, even with his mother interfering and throwing in roadblocks, he’s slowly getting to a place where he can feel comfortable with who he is as a person, and that it’s okay to just be Lane. Derek can’t do this for him, but he is a great help. A lot of this book deals with heavy subject matter, as Lane and Derek’s relationship definitely isn’t an easy one. Luckily, all the heavy angst is broken up by humorous scenes featuring a colourful cast of side characters to lighten things a bit. A colourful cast which includes everyone’s (but Derek) favourite foul-mouth macaw Mr. Zimmerman.

 

[available for purchase at Loose Id, Amazon.ca, and Book Depository]

 

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The Good Boy (The Boy #1) – Lisa Henry & J.A. Rock

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“Yeah. I plan to wake up one day to find out my mother has been arrested, my father has left the country, their bank accounts are frozen, and the feds are kicking me out of my house.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. Though a lot of it is pretty dark, so watch out with that. After I read Adulting 101 I decided that I was probably gonna end up reading all of Lisa Henry’s books, The Good Boy ended up being the one I decided on getting next. The Good Boy (co-written with J. A. Rock) is completely different from Adulting 101, like, total opposite. Here be angst. Lane is the first character we’re introduced to and he is just pitiful. He’s just lost just about everything and is about to lose his final lifeline. Not even the introduction of Derek, the second main character and love interest, makes anything better. In fact, Derek hates Lane at first. Aside from some humorous bits in Derek’s sections, the beginning of the story is pretty bleak. Even when it starts to get a bit lighter, there’s still a sinister undercurrent under everything. Lane’s been deeply affected by what he’s gone through, and that doesn’t go away overnight, even with love and affection. A lot of this story is pretty heavy, with a lot of angst and hurt/comfort, so if that’s your thing (it certainly is mine), than you’ll enjoy this one. I loved Lane and Derek’s relationship (both the romantic/sexual/BDSM aspect and the hurt/comfort aspect), I loved that there was no ‘third act breakup’, the side characters were entertaining and frustrating in turn and only added to the story (Mr. Zimmerman is my favourite), and I was totally engrossed in the events unfolding. I have pretty much no complaints about this book and if dark stories with happy endings are your thing I would definitely have to recommend this one. (Also there is a sequel that continues Lane and Derek’s story and I have a mighty need.)

 

[available for purchase at Loose Id, Amazon.ca, and Book Depository]

 

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Adulting 101 – Lisa Henry

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“’I like pizza,’ Nick says slowly, unable to tear his gaze away from Jai’s abs. Wild horses couldn’t even. Nick will stab them if they try.”

 

In a word: Read the thing! This book is a delight! The writing is hilarious and easy to read, the characters are entertaining and engaging, and the romance is sweet and dirty and funny. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard at a book in a while. Nick and Jai as the main couple are great together (between the sweeter moments, the awkward sex, and the dialogue there’s always something to smile about), and the side characters bring even more fun and drama. Also Nick and Devon (his best friend) have the most unique relationship I think I’ve ever read and I would absolutely read a book about them (as long as their significant others are also there to roll their eyes at all their shenanigans). There is nothing about this book that I don’t like. There is some light angst that all comes to a head near the end, but most of the story is hilarity, awkwardness, and fluff. It’s also a bit of a coming-of-age story for people like Nick who are just starting their journey to adulthood and have no idea what they’re doing. If you’re looking for a funny, light read, this is it.

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

 

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