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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Boy Banned – RJ Scott

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“He liked this: being close, touching, breathing in unison with this beautiful man.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This one was a bit different, with the whole thing taking place during a singing competition, the fictional Sing UK (which I’m assuming is something like American Idol). Our two romantic leads, Corey and Angel, start off competing against each other but then end up competing with each other (along with three other men). The story doesn’t really go into too much detail about the show and how it all works, even the details of living a celebrity lifestyle are brushed over for the most part, and is more about the relationship between Corey and Angel and the other relationships they form along the way. The story had some light-ish angst, but it was pretty sweet for the most part. An extra bonus, along with the love story, was also seeing five strangers coming together as friends and watching those relationships develop. Also, one of the romantic leads is on the autism spectrum, and that’s not something we see enough of.

 

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

 

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For A Good Time, Call… (Bluewater Bay #17) – Anne Tenino & E. J. Russell

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“Yeah, and this is exactly why I never go out anymore. Everyone assumes that because I’m single, I must be panting to get laid.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I really enjoyed this one, and not only because of the friendship and romance between leads Nate Albano and Seth Larson, though I did like that part a lot. This book actually had a lot of appearances from some of the guys from other books. Nate is friends with Levi Pritchard, so we saw a lot of him and other people from his circle (Carter, Ginsberg, Derrick, Anna, and so on). Reading about these guys again was a lot of fun, and it was good to see the couples still happy together. That was one major part of what I found so enjoyable about this book. The other enjoyable part was, of course, Seth and Nate and their awkward courting. Nate is grey-asexual and has only had two previous relationships, and Seth has never had a committed relationship before, so they’re both a little unsure of what they’re doing and it takes a bit of trial and error before they can come together properly as a couple that can meet each others’ needs. As the two of them are getting to know each other (and mostly accidentally falling in love – so much romantic tension) they are also trying to solve a decades-old mystery surrounding the murder of Seth’s great-great-grandfather, though that doesn’t entirely resolve itself so I do hope we get a more concrete resolution to that in a future book. Also I can’t just not mention Nate’s adorable dog Tarkus, who I love forever and pretty much stole most of the scenes he was in.

 

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

 

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The Burnt Toast B&B (Bluewater Bay #5) – Heidi Belleau & Rachel Haimowitz

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“Ginsberg was still here, and not only that, Derrick had discovered he really did like having the kid around.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I laughed and cried reading this, that’s how emotional it was. Another wonderful installment in the Bluewater Bay series. The story follows Derrick and Ginsberg as they try to bring life back into Derrick’s parents’ failing B&B and accidentally fall in love with each other along the way. In between various rom-com shenanigans there is also a lot about gender issues that comes up, since Ginsberg is trans and Derrick struggles with toxic masculinity. A lot of the story is pretty funny, mostly at Derrick’s expense as he tries to deal with Ginsberg’s enthusiastic plans to help save the B&B while Derrick waffles about whether or not he actually wants to keep the thing open. Then there are the less funny parts where Derrick struggles to convince himself to stop falling in love with Ginsberg because their situation is temporary and everyone leaves eventually. This was actually one of the few times where I found the third-act breakup depressing rather than annoying (I legit cried, at work). I did get a bit annoyed at Derrick’s attitude a few times, but overall I really enjoyed his character. I also enjoyed Ginsberg and his seemingly-endless optimism. A real bonus was the return of Carter Samuels and Levi Pritchard, the main couple from Starstruck (book one), still together and happy.

 

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

 

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Red River (Pack #2) – Cardeno C.

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“From his first night in Red River, Wesley had realized Jobe would be a wonderful person for an Alpha to have by his side.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. For some reason, I didn’t know whether or not I was gonna like this one, but I ended up really liking it. It’s got a nice mix of angst and schmoop. Wesley and Jobe are both good characters and I got invested in their relationship right away; they’re good together. The part I liked most was the world building and the way the characters fit into the world. Wesley and Jobe were born into two different packs that had two different takes on how they fit into the grand scheme of things. I hated the way Wesley’s pack ran, and I was so happy for him that being traded to a new pack ended up being the best thing for him. Jobe’s pack is basically a utopia. Also good is that the world building wasn’t clunky exposition, even if we don’t get a sense of the whole picture, we get enough to enjoy the story as it is. Just a note that there is mpreg in this story, but not until near the end and I think it’s the most unusual mpreg lore I’ve ever heard of.

 

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

 

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