One Small Thing (One Thing #1) – Piper Vaughn & M. J. O’Shea

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“I wanted him to have that part of me, the part no one else had ever touched and no one else ever would. The last of my firsts. And it belonged to him.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I will admit that things started getting a little slow for me at one point, and I thought that some of the main couple’s behaviours re: possible breakups were a bit worrying, but overall I did like this book and it’s worth a read. Rue initially approaches Erik looking for a nanny for his newborn daughter, and then they somehow tumble headfirst into a friendship and then a romance. The start is a bit rough, but things get better as the story goes on. Rue and Erik tell the story in two distinct voices, baby Alice is adorable (when she’s actually there), and the main cast is well rounded out with Rue’s best friend Dusty, who is just begging for a romance of his own. It’s a great story of first loves and found families and, when it wasn’t dragging, a great read. First person POV is something I can usually take or leave, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I greatly enjoyed it here in Erik’s voice. That man is such a romantic and I loved reading his narration when he was thinking about Rue. I’d recommend this for that alone.

 

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

 

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The Forgotten Man – Ryan Loveless

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“As he wrapped his arm around Will’s chest, that sense of connection came back, the one that made him feel like his emptiness was filled.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This one is a pretty interesting story about two men finding love during the Great Depression, while also dealing with a homophobic society. Joshua is an ex-army Captain; escalating money problems have seen him move back into his childhood-home-cum-boarding-house with his mother, brother, and various tenants. Will is a widowed, homeless, single father, playing his guitar on a street corner for small change to survive. It’s not love at first sight when they meet, but there is a connection of some sort between them by the time Joshua rescues a sick Will and brings him and his infant daughter home. Their romance is not destined to be in any way easy. They both live and love in a time where being gay is a crime and just generally unsafe. It’s clear that Joshua and Will are very much into each other, but they’re terrified (and rightfully so) about what could happen to them and their families if they decide to act on their feelings. It’s not exactly a downer, but the fact that Joshua and Will have to live with these secrets that might have their loved ones turn on them at a moment’s notice doesn’t exactly make for a fluff fest. The story isn’t as dark as it could’ve been but at the same time it doesn’t really sugar-coat anything.

 

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

 

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Two Cowboys and a Baby – BA Tortuga

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“How had this happened? How had they gone from fishing buddies to lovers to fathers in the matter of two weeks?”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This was actually a lot funnier than I was expecting. Not so much in the story’s events, but in the narration. I laughed a lot reading this. It’s also written in Texan slang, so that took a bit of getting used to (though not so much because it was the same when I read Trial By Fire, another Dreamspun Desires book by the same author). The story picks up immediately when rodeo cowboy Hoss McMasters discovers that someone has left an infant on his front porch. Unable to find the baby’s mother, and not wanting to get the baby lost in the foster care system, it’s decided that Hoss will care for the baby until the authorities can figure out what to do in the long term. Hoss knows nothing about caring for human babies, more used to livestock, so it takes some help from family and friends to keep everything from going to shit. Hoss’ best friend Bradley is the one who helps out the most, so it’s no surprise when long-held secret feelings get revealed and the two of them fall hard for each other. It’s also no surprise that they both get really attached to the baby. So much so that it doesn’t matter whose baby it turns out to be, Hoss and Bradley want to raise her together as a family.

 

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

 

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Guardian – Sierra Riley

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“They sparked every time they touched. Alex wasn’t mistaken there. That wasn’t an illusion, it wasn’t a dream, and it wasn’t wishful thinking. Hell no. It was chemistry.”

 

In a word:  Read the thing. This is a cute, sweet, low-angst, low-drama romance between a family law attorney and an ex-soldier mechanic. This is mostly pure fluff, it’s great. Alex is a lawyer and Titus is a mechanic, theirs is a chance meeting. Alex is in need of a mechanic one day and Ty happens to be the closest. Alex is instantly into Ty when he first sees him (Ty pushes all of his buttons), but since Ty seems straight, Alex isn’t overly hopeful that anything will come of it. Alex doesn’t really expect to see Ty again, but he gets a pleasant surprise when Ty shows up at his office one day, needing his services. Alex still finds Ty beyond attractive, and Ty is shocked to realize that he’s also having feeling for his – very male – attorney. They can’t act on their feelings while they’re still technically working together, but that doesn’t stop the sexual tension from ramping up every time they’re alone together. The first half of the book is mostly Alex and Ty trying to keep their hands off each other while they try to win a custody battle, while the second half is them getting together and having a fairly drama-free relationship (it’s technically a GFY, but Ty doesn’t have much of a reaction to suddenly being attracted to a guy for the first time in his life). There is very minimal drama going on, and it mostly resolves itself. Most of this story is just schmoop and pretty low-stress to read.

 

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

 

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Poppy’s Secret – Andrew Grey

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“Pat tried not to think of what he’d lost and how his heart had shattered when Edge left, because if he did, he’d lose it even further, and he’d be damned if he was going to do that.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This book isn’t particularly short, but I got through it really fast because I just could not put it down. I read the whole thing in two sittings and was a bit sad that it was over, though it ended in a good place. I was a bit apprehensive going into this one because the only other Andrew Grey book I read was A Present in Swaddling Clothes and I didn’t like that one all that much. Poppy’s Secret was a major improvement story and writing wise. This is the story of Pat and Edge trying to navigate a second chance romance after years of hurt and silence. Edge left Pat nine years ago and Pat has never really gotten over it, and Edge’s reappearance initially only causes further pain. It also causes some fear because Pat has a secret that involves him, Edge, and Pat’s daughter Emma. A secret that, in a worst-case scenario, could break up the entire family for good. I will say that Pat’s secret was a bit obvious to me from the beginning, but even knowing it didn’t take away anything from the story because I still wanted to know what the reactions would be to it, and I wasn’t disappointed. Another thing I like about the book was that Pat didn’t take Edge back right away. The story does take place over a fairly short amount of time (a few weeks, maybe a couple of months at the most), but Pat’s warming up to Edge came off like it happened in a natural unforced way that made it easier to get invested in. Pat and Edge both made some mistakes, and they’re mistakes that can’t just be swept under the rug, and they both have to make peace with them if they can realistically be together romantically.

 

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

 

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Big Love – Rick R. Reed

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“How freeing it would be, he thought, when he had no one to answer to save for himself, to just be who you were, to not have a choice in the matter, as he had believed he did.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This one is more than just a romance story, though it is also that. This book actually has three protagonists: two teachers, Dane and Seth, and one of their students, Truman (this is not a teacher-student relationship book, that’s not where I’m going with this). The main romance happens between Dane and Seth, and that’s a good-sized part of the plot, but the bigger part of the story is about Dane and Truman learning to accept themselves as they are as gay men. It’s an interesting read because these are two very different people at two difference places in their lives, but they’re still going on the same journey. There are different reasons as to why this is difficult for both of them, but they do eventually get there in the end. Seth himself is already out and proud (and has been since his teens) and it’s mostly with his encouragement that Dane and Truman learn to come into their own. The story is an emotional roller coaster, starting with Truman’s introduction and the death of Dane’s wife, a happily ever after, and then a whole lot happening in between. I was pretty invested in all the emotional twists and turns and the writing was good enough that it all flowed well. I did think that the writing was a bit to flowery for my tastes in some parts, but overall it was a well-written story and I definitely recommend it.

 

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

 

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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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