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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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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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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Breakaway (Scoring Chances #1) – Avon Gale

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“Jared was going to take him to bed. It was a terrible idea, and he didn’t care.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I loved this book. I started the Scoring Chances series with the fourth (and latest, at the time) book, which I also loved, and was very excited to start the series at the beginning. I wasn’t disappointed. The characters in this book had little to no connection with the characters in Empty Net, but I loved them anyway. Lane and Jared are two minor league pro hockey players in two completely different places in their careers. Lane is a rookie, just beginning his pro career, while Jared is a hockey veteran at 31 years old and pretty close to retirement. They both play on rival teams, so it makes sense that their relationship would start with a fight on the ice. It all works out though because, as weird as the two of them really are, they’re really good together. Lane is awkward as all hell and somewhat insecure, and Jared had long ago sworn off relationships after getting badly burned in the past, but being with each other gives them both the love and support they need to better themselves and reach for what they really want in life and love. And also they play hockey. Aside from Lane and Jared, who are more than enough to carry the story on their own, there is a cast of side characters to add even more fun to the story. These characters include, but aren’t limited to, Lane’s first ever best friend Zoe (who is awesome), and one of the protagonists for the next book, Riley Hunter.

 

[available for purchase at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Book Depository, 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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Empty Net (Scoring Chances #4) – Avon Gale

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I like you. Laurent didn’t say it, but he didn’t need to. It was probably written all over his face.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I didn’t really know much about this book going in. All I knew was that it was about hockey players and that one of the leads was asexual. I really liked this book. Like, a lot. I’m not really a big hockey fan, but I didn’t really need to be since the story was more about the characters and less about the game, so that worked for me. This is book four in the Scoring Chances series so a lot of the characters that I read about for the first time were actually already introduced in previous books. This didn’t turn out to be too much of a problem because the book gave me enough information about past major events so that I wasn’t too out of the loop, but I feel like I did miss a lot of character development in some places (this isn’t the book’s fault). Regardless, it didn’t take me long to get attached to the characters. There’s our two leads, of course, Isaac and Laurent, but there’s also their friends and coaches and a wacky landlady I enjoyed reading about as well. Although this story is definitely a romance, it’s also kind of Laurent’s journey to find himself and become the man he was truly meant to be outside of his father’s shadow. Also sometimes hockey happens. This book is both heartbreaking and heartwarming in parts, and also surprisingly funny. I don’t know if this series is still ongoing, but if it is I hope we get to see more of Isaac and Laurent (and their teammates) in the future.

 

[available for purchase at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Book Depository, Chapters, All Romance E-books, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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Running With the Pack – A. M. Burns & Caitlin Ricci

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“It didn’t feel strange for the three of them to be like that together. It seemed normal.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This is a sweet one. Also it’s the first YA book I’ve ever read that featured a poly relationship, and an asexual character. I don’t really know much about poly relationships or how they work, but the one in this book seems accurate enough. This is a story about Finn, Ivan, and Adrian, three high school seniors who discover that it’s okay to be in love with more than one person at a time (so long as everyone is onboard). The three boys are adorable and so open in their affection and love for each other, which you don’t really see much of in YA books (I find). Even before they decide to start dating each other they are really close (especially Ivan and Adrian, who’ve known each other longer). Their relationship is really easy to get invested in; which is a good thing because it’s really the main focus of the story. Also the book kinda gives off the impression that there is a supernatural element of some sort going on. There is none of that. The story features wolves heavily but they are just normal wolves, no shifters. This is a simple story of teenagers falling in love, with a little twist. There’s some drama, some laughs, some fluff, and even some danger. It’s a nice story and a quick read. I really wish that it was a bit longer because I really would have loved to read more about Finn, Ivan, and Adrian and how they and their relationships grow and develop.

 

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

 

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