QR: Poison Marked – TJ Nichols

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“I would love nothing more than to find a place where our status didn’t come between us at every opportunity. I love you. That’s one thing you don’t need to doubt.”

 

In a word: Read the thing.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Kill his lover or disobey his king and instigate civil war?

As the feared court poison master, Nikko is sworn to do as his king bids. As the lover of the king’s nephew, Lord Rodas, Nikko must hide his affection or risk being labeled a traitor and punished. A former thief who clawed his way into the palace from the filthy streets, Nikko longs to be deserving of Rodas’s love.

A respected war hero, Rodas is in a delicate political situation. He is not the kingdom’s natural heir, though many support his claim over the wastrel, Prince Fortin. The last thing Rodas wants is war. His highest ambition is for Nikko to openly wear the jewels he’s bestowed on him as a public declaration of their love.

Neither man is prepared for the king to order Nikko to poison Rodas during the solstice feast or for the deadly intrigue they’re plunged into, which exposes their affair and rocks the foundations of the kingdom.

 

[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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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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What No One Else Can Hear – Brynn Stein

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“Hard not to fall in love with the little imp, isn’t it?”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This one was pretty fun, and weird. Also it’s less about the romance (although there is some of that in here) and more about the relationship between our narrator and main character, Jesse, and the little boy he can communicate with in his dreams, Stevie. The story is one part slice-of-life about the kids and staff of a residential clinic for autistic children, and one part courtroom thriller. Personally, my favourite parts were about life in the center (I was a TA in a past life), but the drama surrounding the court case and everything that followed had me hooked. There’s also a magical element with Jesse and Stevie’s mental connection (it’s not telepathy), which was explained just enough to have things make sense. The writing isn’t the best, but it’s not a disaster or anything, and it doesn’t really affect the story itself (although the plot probably tends to drag a bit if slice-of-life isn’t your thing). I enjoyed reading this, and there was enough cuteness and drama to keep me interested.

[available for purchase at Dreamspinner Press, Book Depository, 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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Get Your Shine On – Nick Wilgus

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“I want him to know he’s loved, and will always have me and his Uncle Sam there to take care of him.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing? I don’t know. I have very mixed feelings about this book. A lot of it is slice-of-life stuff in a small Mississippi town as seen through the eyes of our main character/narrator, Henry Hood. Adding to that, though, is the undercurrent of a somewhat deeper and darker plot involving Henry’s nephew and custody and family secrets. It sounds fine on paper, but in execution there’s a lot of homophobia and racism (from the characters, not the author), which is fine as it makes for a varied cast of characters and interesting dialogue, but it’s not something that I enjoy reading personally. Some parts of this book made me unbelievably angry, some parts made me uncomfortable, some parts made me laugh, and some parts made me go ‘aww’; it was a very emotional read. Most of the problems I had with this book were personal ones, there’s nothing really wrong with the book itself. The characters are interesting, the plot sometimes drags, but ultimately everything flows well. Try it out if you want, but if you don’t like reading things that are going to make you angry and upset you’re probably better off skipping it.

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

 

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