Buchanan House (Buchanan House #1) – Charley Descoteaux

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“Was he trapped in a tiny prison of his own making, or had his life been saved by the happy accident of finding Buchanan House?”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing? The main feeling I had while reading this book was frustration, which doesn’t strike me as a good thing when one is reading a romance novel. I had a really hard time getting into this book and caring about the main relationship. I never did really come to like Eric, who is essentially our narrator. I found him annoying and aggravating, and sometimes inconsistent. The man he falls in love with, Tim Tate (not to be confused with Eric’s ex, also named Tim), is a bit bland and confusing. Also them falling in love kinda skirts the edge of insta-love territory, which I don’t think was done well here because I was definitely not invested, especially since I didn’t think they had any chemistry with each other. Though having said that, the passage of time in the story was never really made clear and I’m not entirely sure of the time frame. The story either takes place over the course of a few months or a few weeks, I was never entirely sure about that. There were too many side characters wandering around with nothing to do. Even Nathan, who is Eric’s best friend and easily the main side character, didn’t seem to have anything relevant to do half the time once Eric and Tim’s ‘relationship’ really kicked off. There’s also the issue of Eric’s family, which eventually became a non-issue at some point since the story mostly seemed to forget about them most of the time. The writing was also something I wasn’t fond of, mostly because I felt, bland characters and tepid romance aside, that we really weren’t getting enough information about the important things. We got bits and pieces of things, but never really enough to put major plot points together. Honestly I felt as if I was trying to read this through a brain-fog, which wasn’t fun.

 

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

 

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A Fine Bromance – Christopher Hawthorne Moss

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“Robby found the time he spent with Andy was the most comfortable and rewarding of his life.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing? I really wanted to like this one. The premise was an interesting one and I’m still having a hard time finding books with asexual leads. But I just didn’t like it. Robby and Andy are good characters, in theory, and I really wanted to read their story. But I just couldn’t with the writing. The writing annoyed me and the romance was basically nonexistent. Also a lot of characters acted horribly with barely any consequences. What originally drew me to the story was the idea of Robby learning that he is asexual and falling in love with his new friend (who happens to be trans) while they solve a mystery. What I ended up with was a story that was almost nothing like that, and was also badly written with a very obvious mystery and an inconsistent romance and tone. I recommend this one on the premise alone, the execution leaves a lot to be desired, and it’s not really a book I’d read again. To be fair, I’m not the target audience (this book is YA), but I don’t think that excuses much here. Teens deserve better.

 

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

 

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Blue Steel Chain (Trowchester Blues #3) – Alex Beecroft

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“After all, this was supposed to be about learning to be his own person, yes? And what if his own person was the kind of person who wanted to be with James?”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing. I read through this pretty quickly, but I’m not sure I liked it much. Aidan, one half of the main couple, starts out the story in an extremely abusive relationship, and the narrative doesn’t shy away from that one bit. On the one hand, it certainly doesn’t sugarcoat anything; on the other hand, it wasn’t exactly entertaining to read about Aidan being controlled and getting the shit kicked out of him by a man who’s supposed to love him. Also I don’t feel as if the hurt/comfort payoff was worth it in the end, especially since it seemed to get interrupted with everything else going on. There’s a lot going on in this story, and I’d rather it focused more on Aidan’s healing and his budding relationship with James. James, by the way, was going through his own tough time with his own ex-partner (though nothing like what was hinted at in the book’s summary), which would’ve been better if it’d had the room to be properly fleshed out instead of just popping up now and again. The first half of the book, even with how heavy and dark it was, was the part I liked best because it seemed like it was more focused on setting up Aidan’s terrible lot in life so that James could come in and rescue him and then their relationship could develop (the hurt and then the comfort). But then after the hurt was over, we got a lot of confusion and all the comfort was mixed up with James struggling with his sexual desire for Aidan while Aidan was discovering his asexuality in the background. And then the situation with James’ ex-partner kept butting in and ruining the flow. I’ll say that this is a compelling read, but I feel like the second half doesn’t really make up for all that went on in the first half.

 

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

 

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The Ongoing Reformation of Micah Johnson (Get Out #1) – Sean Kennedy

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“Yes, because I have a raging boner for all the guys in the school. Soon it will explode and shower them all and they will catch The Gay and life will never be the same.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing? I started out liking this book, but I was completely ready to be done with it by the time I got to the end. A lot of other people seem to like it so I’m assuming it’s just a personal problem I have with it. This is a book about teenager Micah Johnson and his ongoing struggle to not be an arsehole. I think. The reason I started off really enjoying this was that I found Micah pretty funny. He’s really sarcastic and snarky and a bit of a dick, but I found him a likeable enough character. I liked Micah, which was probably part of the problem of why I didn’t end up liking the book. Judging by the behaviour of the other characters, I don’t think I was supposed to like Micah as much as I did. Micah first appeared in a previous book in a different series by the same author (Tigers and Devils) and a lot of things happened in that book that are only vaguely summarized in this one, so anyone who hasn’t read the previous book is missing a large chunk of the backstory. As it is, Micah comes off with an attitude problem, but I didn’t feel it was so bad that it warranted the other characters to get on his case every time he opened his mouth (there were times where he crossed a line, but most of his behaviour is average teenage dickishness). This book also has no real plot; though I suppose Micah’s reformation is supposed to be the main one, though I never got into it. There are few other subplots about starting a GSA, Micah’s school environment, a vague romance, and his future career in the AFL. I usually enjoy reading slice of life stories, but not really ones that only seemed to shit on the main character for reasons not adequately portrayed.

 

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

 

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A Wounded Promise (Sam’s Café Romances #2) – Ashavan Doyon

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Will Russ be mad at me? Which wasn’t nearly as bad as the other thought. Am I allowed to be mad at Russ?

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing? I had a few problems with this one, and I’m not sure which problems are down to bad writing and which are due to the fact that I didn’t read the book that came before this one. Russ and Justin got together in the previous book (The King’s Mate) and this book continues their story. While I was reading this book it felt a lot like the author was banking on me already having read the first book. It kinda felt like being dumped into a story already in progress, with minimal character introductions and people making references to events in ways that make it seem like I should already know about them. Sam and Russ in particular are always talking about past events and the text doesn’t explain anything about them, but I don’t know if that’s bad writing and we will be learning about those events eventually, or if it was already explained in the first book and I’m missing out because I didn’t read it. Although I also had problems with the writing in other ways, mostly with the dialogue and the (many) sex scenes. Also I never felt that I connected with any of the characters, I felt for them and their problems, but I didn’t really care about them. Speaking of problems, this story is also really bleak. The main focus of it is about Russ and Justin confiding in each other about issues they have about their past and how they are trying to work through them and learning to work through them together. It’s mostly a downer and pretty heavy. Also I don’t think I was ever really sold on Russ and Justin as a couple; I never really got invested in them.

 

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

 

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A Present in Swaddling Clothes – Andrew Grey

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“In other areas of their lives, they did most everything together, and the thought of doing anything major without Sammy hurt, and raising a child, even for a short period of time, was definitely major.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing? I can’t really figure out how I feel about this one. On the one hand, it’s a bittersweet story about a man coming to terms with the possibility that he may have to raise his baby niece, which I was expecting when I started reading. On the other hand, it’s a lot darker than I was expecting. For some reason, I found it really hard to get into the story. I couldn’t connect to any of the characters, or any of the emotions. I liked the dynamic between Josh and Nicky (his sister), but Josh’s relationship with his partner Sammy fell a bit flat for me. But I mostly chalked that up to never really warming up to Sammy. I also felt that the story was a bit too short to fully explore all the events that were happening. Though all the plot threads are technically tied up by the end, it still felt a bit incomplete and that we didn’t really get any concrete answers. Also I felt like the author was trying to shove in a more romantic plot into a story that shouldn’t have been focusing on the romance to begin with. It’s a slightly darker read than I was anticipating, though anything not having to do with the darker elements felt like uninteresting filler. It’s not a bad story, by any means, I just mostly found the execution lacking.

 

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

 

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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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