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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Power Play (Scoring Chances #3) – Avon Gale

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“Misha’s words were all stolen away, taken from him by Max Ashford’s pretty eyes and his easy smile – all the things he was giving to Misha that Misha did not deserve. All the things he wanted that he couldn’t have.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. Another winner, of course. I still love this series, and this was another wonderful addition to it. In a change of pace from the other books in the series, the romantic couple aren’t hockey players, but former hockey players who are now hockey coaches. Max and Misha are more or less strangers who are forever tied to each other because of one event that changed both of their lives forever. Misha accidentally caused Max an injury that ended his professional hockey career, and he’s never really gotten over it. Max, however, has moved on with his life and is now happy to have a chance to coach the game he loves. The two men had never expected to see each other again, so of course it’s no surprise (to us) that they do and that their eventual reactions to each other is basically ‘Oh no, he’s hot’. They’re hired to coach the Spartanburg Spitfires because the team’s manager thinks that the potential drama will be good for ticket sales. There ends up being no drama, instead there’s a romance and a journey of self-forgiveness and sometimes there’s hockey. There’s also plenty of Isaac Drake, which I especially enjoyed because I already read Empty Net, which is about him, and liked him in that.

 

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

 

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Can’t Live Without You – Andrew Grey

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“As much as Justin could try to deny it, George had entered his soul when he was eighteen, and he’d never left.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I did like the story and the characters, but I never really got into it in a big way. I still recommend it because it’s very emotional and I really did enjoy those parts. Justin and George were young and in love when Justin got disowned by his parents and then suddenly left town. They remained separated for seven years, until Justin returns for his father’s funeral. Once they’re together again the two of them realize that they’ve really never stopped loving each other while they were apart, and they don’t want to be separated again. The problem there is that Justin is a popular actor out in LA, and George has a life he can’t just uproot back in their small Pennsylvanian hometown. If they can’t figure out a way to make things work for them it looks like they’re doomed to be forever apart. The really emotional parts, where Justin and George are sad and mopey about being apart, were the parts I liked the best. Their struggle felt really real to me and all I wanted was for them to find a way to be together. A lot of the dialogue is pretty annoying in how expository and unnatural it is, but other than that I thought it was good and it really pulled at my heart-strings at times.

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