she's just a girl who loves books.

Messy x infinity = I'm reading

The Straight Line - EAB

Where I ramble my thoughts on the entertaintment of The Straight Line and why I needed it...

So this book has the honor (or horror - depends on who you ask) being read pre- and post- election.

(Don't worry this won't get political)

The Straight Line was supposed to be introductory peek into EAB's writing, because his other book Black Snow sounded all kinds of yum. But this book's blurb was a SRAL order du jour on the author's short menu: cheating, an uptight guy losing his mind over the third from he and his wife's supposed to be one time threesome...and look at the drawn cover.

Yaoi haze descended on me.

I saw the drama filled lights blaring loud and clear.

And the peek was only supposed to be brief; my review pile is so long, it probably has its own zip code at this point.

To be honest, I was going to DNF after the first 10%. The book's start was rough as fuck. And I was getting weird sort of FSOG vibes with not naming the genitals that is a pet peeve of mine: if you're old enough to use the fuck parts, call them by their name.

The husband and wife were your run of the mill couple I guess. The hubby was WAY uptight. The wife thought bringing her resident from her job would be a good idea to spice it up. And the third...he's one interesting character.

There's something intriguing about him. It could be fantasy that he represents.
Or that he fucked like a champ.
Or maybe that he dismantled the hell out of the husband, Courtney, piece by piece.

Thankfully, the author got into the groove as the story progressed. This is a self published book and reads as such - yes there is a need for editing. But I can overlook it especially if I'm hooked (which I was).

So I'm trekking along as the story continues to unfurl deeper with messy antics (I'll get to that)

And then the election. Cut to post election. :|

And mourning. What's a girl who loves to read to do?

Get back to the fucking book (and visiting GR for more books to add the massive TBR because book therapy is definitely going to be needed)

This book...oh...I feel like I should buy EAB a drink.

Because damn it. I was entertained!

It wasn't the best book in the world. Trust.

Biggest concern: Editing. It's self pubbed - so if you don't mind things like age discrepancies, or changing hair colors, the story entertains. But the editing issues are glaring that even I noticed.

I'm waffling on where it rates, somewhere in the 3.5 to not quite-4 stars range.

This story is yaoi-ish, drama filled with Courtney (uke) and Sebastian (seme). Sebastian's age varies (editing issues) but I believe he's 10 years younger than Courtney, the married suburban lawyer husband who was secretly closeted. It takes the invited third to rattle Courtney's world. Our book's seme is fantasy quality - tall, dark and handsome. Add the chemistry and charisma he oozed and it was just delicious.

But it wasn't just hot seduction for 300+ pages.

Courtney is an asshole supreme. His self hatred and the way he views and treats others including Sebastian and Claire, Courtney's wife, can be vile. Courtney is so paranoid and deep in the closet, he can't seem to realize his effect in the first half of the book.

And Sebastian isn't a saint either. In fact, he's about maybe a level 6 on my scale of cray . *squints* He actually touched level 7 - those threats. *widen eyes*

So...triggers: non-con drugging/physical abuse/emotional abuse/ cheating

If this was a RL couple, I'd be calling the cops. Messy x infinity

I even questioned why once or twice...but their chemistry. It's undeniable. I don't think either one could function without the other. Vicious...crazytrain cycle.

And if they weren't fighting, they were sexing. The yaoi sex sound effects...(it could grate on a nerve after a while.) And these went at it...hard.

There's a HEA (I was a little worried there around 83%) and it all worked out in the end. Maybe a little too easily after trekking through the soap opera that was Courtney and Sebastian's love life.

The novel could benefit from an edit - it needs to be shaved down maybe 15-20%. And some areas could benefit being expanded on.

But for what I got now? Especially now...

Enjoyable introduction into EAB's writing for me (despite my gripes)

I don't recommend "The Straight Line" for everyone. More for readers who don't mind the triggers and liars.

aka readers like me.

*on the hunt for more books*

Ambitious...but the pay off didn't work for me.

Five-Sided Heart - Max MacGowan

A Hearts On Fire Review

3.5 HEARTS--Five Sided Heart by Max MacGowan is a polyamorous romance set in the Outer Banks. Told from multiple POV, the novel starts off with a funeral of one of the five men's father, Noah Trevelyan. Noah was kicked out his house for being gay at eighteen, and returned back to his hometown for the first time in years. He is an outcast to a majority of the islanders who view him as the prodigal son (in a way) but just way too late. One local who has no problem telling Noah how he feels about him is Ian, an out gay man and conservationist. He's been Noah's father's neighbor for the last 5 years. Another local doesn't share Ian's view due to having more than enough on his plate is young Ty. Ty and Ian get offered a ride on Noah's boat while trying to escape and Noah just so happens to invite two stranded strangers, Joshua and Gabriel.

What starts a good deed ends in a bit of a disaster. But the disaster is also the foundation of all the troubled men to start a relationship.

Five men in a relationship? You're probably thinking this was a fantab erotica.

Not so.

This is more of a romance, I think a little ambitious. But kudos for tackling a poly romance and trying to capture all of the mens' feelings. The story relies heavily on characters to get the story moving and, for me, it did not scratch enough of the surface for all men equally.

I have the honor of reading all of MacGowan's work, all of two. And with both books, the author has a way of piecing together the plot: with MacGowan's debut, the plot was told by different states visited. In this book, it was a different POV.

I would really like to read a simple plot from this author, that just follows the romantic leads (however many make up the partnership) where the characters get a deeper connection and further characterization. I rated both books by this author the same, but character wise, the debut was better. What did Noah do for a living? How could he stay for all those weeks with no cash flow? Gabriel and Joshua, the most damaged of the five, barely touched the surface onto their background. The crux of Ty's situation gets cutoff and somehow it left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

There were a number of times where that feeling happened- cut off scenes mostly - albeit sex scenes, the insta-connection, the kink of one of the guys. I'll stretch the rubber band of reality with five men who all just so happen to be gay on dock at the right time, who were open to be in a relationship.

And the last 15-20% was a soft finish. What's up with Ian's ex? If there was ever a guy to wish ill on, it's Ian's ex. He's a douche canoe and oddly needed to make the plot move. But the way he entered the book and the way he left, didn't match to how he was originally portrayed for me.

The men are a good group together - they all have their roles in the group: Noah is the paternal one, Ian is like a hen gathering his chicks and feeding them, Ty is happy-go-lucky and still a young pup, Gabriel is scarred, artistic and listens to what is said and unsaid and Joshua who had a rough patch is very intuitive and lives for the moment.

Good guys, I do think they'll last.

The sex takes a backseat to the romance, so if you've come for erotica, look somewhere else. It's an interesting read, but not something I'd re-read.

I think this would work best for fans of the Outer Banks and poly romances where the characters are developed just enough to keep the plot moving.

Wizards, magical tattoos and a ginger haired cyborg? Oh my!

The Cyborg He Brought Home - A.M. Hawke
  2.5 HEARTS--Wizards, magical tattoos and a ginger haired cyborg can be found in A.M. Hawke's The Cyborg He Brought Home. The title literally tells the plot of the sci-fi/fantasy mashup.

Jake is a mage, or wizard, the details are a little fuzzy. What isn't fuzzy is he lives in a settlement of wizards called Greentree where there are magic trees and magic tattoos all over folk. Technology isn't revered as magic. While drinking in the local wizard bar, in walks a cyborg. Which sounds like the start of possibly an awesome story but that's pretty much all there is.

We learn the cyborg's name is Cory. He's from a moon colony and on an information seeking trip on wizard colonies. There is instant dislike from most of the magical practicing folk except from Jake.

Jake is fascinated by the mechanical eyes, copper wire hair and Cory's fascination with the simplest magic. The story plot wise? Doesn't offer much. It's about 10K and I'm reviewing an uncorrected, unedited ARC. The entire thing read closer to an outline - there were two scenes: initial meeting and then going home to have sex. The lack of chemistry was an issue for me. I couldn't buy it between Cory and Jake, which hung like a grey cloud for the rest of this very short story.

The world created was an interesting idea. I like that tattoos were conduits of magic. The Nature vs. Machines idea, if developed, could have been something. If the entire story was more developed, it could have been magical. It was more of cool ideas and concepts (wizards in nature, cyborgs living on the moon, MAGIC TATTOOS!) and meh a sex scene. *shrugs*

I will say Cory was the stronger developed character of the pair. I'd have enjoyed reading more back story on him. There were inklings of story possibilities when he spoke briefly on moon life. I believe this was my first trans cyborg I've ever read. It was Jake's first trans partner, so he asked a lot of questions. Cory was cool with them.

"Right, but I mean--you're already half metal. You could look like whatever you want."
"That's true, I could."
"So why keep a scar?"
"Because they're mine, Jake. They remind me of where I've been and what it took to get to where I am now."

The story ends with a possible HFN. It's a first time hook up, so who knows what the future holds for Jake and Cory?

Overall, interesting concepts, but the execution is underdeveloped. If this is ever re-edited or re-released in the future, I'll take a peek.

A copy provided via Netgalley for an honest review.


Sometimes, not even KNOTTING can save a book...

The Artist And His Alpha (Alpha and Omega Series) (Volume 3) - Lisa Oliver

Stopped at 29% for my sanity.

I think I'm looking too deeply at it but the attempted rape was too much.

Or maybe it was the dramatic artist tantrum?

Or maybe the AK-47 wielding?

There's KNOTTING, so maybe I'll be back.

As is, story is in 1-2 star range. DNF

Fluff, hotness and fluff...le yum!

Loving Djinni - Beryll Brackhaus, Osiris Brackhaus
3.75 HEARTS--Genies!

Or in Loving Djinni's case, the djinn.

Genie, djinn, whatever you'd like to refer to these magical entities, I've been a fan for a LONG time. I've put out the call for authors in the past to think genie. I think it's an untapped magical treasure chest of fun just begging to be written. In the paranormal sector of Romancelandia where werewolves and vampires reign supreme, genies are practically nonexistent.

You could just imagine my excite when I saw this title. Once I read the blurb, I quelted. Thieves? A twink? Dub Con? NY? Nerd? Humor? Not only did the entire thing read like it was written for me, it was like manna was delivered directly into my hot hands.

Nerdy doormat New York arts dealer David is trapped in a sealed tomb in Cairo at the beginning of Loving Djinni, written by the Brackhaus husband and wife team. He's been dumped by his over confident sleaze of an ex-boyfriend, lawyer Stanley. And David thought maybe going on a grand adventure with questionable thieves in Egypt might catch his wayward ex's eye. All he gets is impending death for his trouble in a nearly empty for an oil lamp containing a cursed djinni who shall be called Sharu.

The mischievous spirit was enslaved be an evil sorcerer (who is actually a historical figure - cool tidbit) and forced to grant whoever rubs his lamp three wishes and serve them as magical servant to their Master. And his form changes to whatever is most pleasing to his new Master. It's demeaning and Sharu hates humans with an unholy passion. Imagine his surprise that he's been locked up in his lamp for over thousand years.

Imagine the culture shock...

Imagine the hijinks...

I happened to read over one important tag in the beginning: fluff .

Oh cracky fluff how you make me happy.

The story spans a couple of days. But it didn't read like it. Or maybe it was the fluff haze *shrug* Where the story really shined is getting deeper into David and Sharu's characters. We get to learn of their insecurities and feelings. Both have baggage: Sharu was once mighty and powerful, brought down by a human. David is a nerd, average looking and just wanted to find someone to call his own...and did some questionable things for a guy's attention. His self esteem is lacking. And both of their hang ups endeared them to me.

And the fact that the sex didn't start automatically. Consent and feelings were a key factor in the development of David and Sharu's relationship that started in the beginning with a healthy animosity in Sharu's part and nerdtastic wonder on David's. The asshole ex made for a good enough villain. A little OTT, a little predictable, but within the fluff category, he worked.

It all worked.

And the sex...seriously, it really was like it was written for me. *coughs* public shenanigans *coughs* More than once!


Is the story perfect? Nope. I don't think it's trying to be. (Thank goodness)

Overall, the pacing is good. It could have been better in a few areas. The main characters would hit a decent stride, then either of them would say something slightly out of character or a little odd, making it a little disconcerting. I had to reread passages or sentences maybe 3-4 times at most to see of a character switched POV, or if there was a jump, the authors would weave the story back around the oddity. And there were about once or twice where the story got to be indulgent for the writers, more than the characters (ex. that elevator scene: hot, but what did it really add to the story?)

And the ending was so abrupt. I literally was stunned at the end of the story. I kept hitting the corner page of my Kindle as if it'd give me the last pages of the epilogue, Loving Djinni, could have benefited from. So many it could have been a touch longer?

Does the story need a sequel? No.

But the history intertwined with the fantasy of djinn made for interesting would building. It would be cool to read more about Sharu's world, how the beings came to be, what other magical beings there are, or at least learn of his actual name.

It's trope-y. The fluff tag is definitely put to good use, so please keep it mind when reading for maximum enjoyment.

The is a quick, fluffy read with endearing characters, a cool little historical sprinkling with magic dosed all around

Because genies djinn.

This story proves genies romances needs to continue being a thing.

Recommended for readers who don't mind the blurb's tags, enjoy light, low angst, trope-y bonbons with magic and historical strokes.

A copy provided for an honest review.

Like erotic thrillers? This is one to check out!

Max - Bey Deckard
A tag team review with Sara!

4.5 HEARTS--

There was no climbing back out of the rabbit hole; he was fucked and fucked good, but at least the company was interesting.

Down the rabbit hole indeed...

What a twisted, psychological thrilling roller coaster of a ride Max turned out to be.

I'd rather warn potential readers there are triggers in here: rape, dubious consent, unethical practices, cheating, some violence. (A checklist of sorts that guaranteed me reading) And I don't consider this a trigger by any means, but there are readers who don't like vaginas in their fiction *gasp*...whelp, there are few in here (put to good use might I add. I mean it is a Bey Deckard title *grin*) Is Max dark? I don't think so. On a scale from 1-5, maybe 1 or 1.5? It's more a head game...a devious fucking head game.


There's oodles and oodles of lies. And I've read this 1.5 times, and I'm trying to figure out where all the truths were.

Set in Montréal, Dr. Dennis Crane is a newly minted psychologist, married and seems to have a normal life. Enter his patient, young Max, who he can tell has a madness in his eyes, that Max is hiding something. But Dr. Crane is drawn to the younger man. Maybe he can diagnose him, fix Max. He doesn't even realize he's been ensnared in the spider's web and Max is running the show.

"Are you afraid of me, Dennis? You shouldn't be. I'm trying my very best to make you understand that I like you. And I'm offering you the very thing you desire the most: me. You know I'm a fine specimen of amorality. I'm giving you the opportunity to look behind the curtain. No holding back."

I believe I've made it known I enjoy reading the cray crays, especially when they're well written. Psychopaths, sociopaths, amoral puppet masters that treat others they encounter as their toys...I enjoy reading them.

This is Max.

He's a level 7 on my scale, 100%.  And I was plugged in for his show. Really enjoyed that twisted fucker.

Reading Dr. Crane lose more of himself to the miasma of the depravity that reeks from Max, and you read it as Crane knows and still can't help himself. *claps hands wildly* That was everything. The story is told in a journal style, from Dr. Crane's POV. Max and Dr. Crane's interactions starts with sessions, and steadily moves from the doctor's practice, taking over Crane's life. A mild mannered man who develops kinks he didn't even know existed. The sex was scorching hot, while the lines between doctor and patient blurred, melded and made new definitions.

"I've opened you up to a whole new range of experiences. Once you get acclimatized, you'll see it the way I do."

I had minor quibbles.  I wanted to know more. What exactly happened during the missing days? There are hints, subtle hints dotted in between the lies. It's a little frustrating not knowing. Maybe there'll be a B-side to Max? Maybe not. Who knows if the world's ready to know what's going on inside that "lizard brain" of Max's. *wink*

The ending is...I'm still a little wide eyed after that ending. I don't know what else to define it other than a little sad, yet fitting.

Recommended for readers who like amoral liars, characters who don't care to define their sexuality and twisted psychological erotica.

Watch your step.

That rabbit hole,'s a helluva ride.

A copy provided for an honest review.

Bleh and meh.

Beyond the Grill - Tracey Michael
Two Hearts--Based on the blurb, I thought I was going to get a redeemed cumdump romance novella. I was hopeful for a reformed cum dumpster who doesn't know their worth, and they finally realize it on their own and also rebuild self esteem to find love. (Without a magic penis please.) Alas... that wasn't to be found here.

In fact, it barely delivers the blurb.

Justin is (who knows how old) but he works in a fast food chain as an assistant manager and learned to fix cars because he read a manual. He flirts with his friend/acquaintance who he thinks is straight and doesn't know how read his stalking signals. (I'll get to that later) This friend/acquaintance owns a mechanic shop, is "alpha" (and not a shifter--trust me I checked) and doesn't know how to communicate well.

The two sloppily date, drily start a...relationship(?) (I don't know what to call that when it was poorly executed within such a short time frame). Spoiler-ish: the story's tone is so monotone, a third person is thrown in for left field drama which includes roofie and coke use. (Side note: I'm not going to lecture on how to use roofies, but just to take a picture of a person naked?)

I could go on for hours on the book's so-called villain or the nonsensical scenes such as characters commenting smelling smoke when there was a locked door. You'd think there was a fire right? Wrong? It's a guy with a gun. Potential triggers: attempted rape

Basically, it was a no from the first page, but I was still holding out hope for a personality transplant.

Shane stalks Justin, who is presented as a doormat in the beginning. And is a doormat throughout the story. He learned nothing and did nothing. Shane actually hooks up with someone else very easily when his access to Justin is denied, so any feeling (which is questionable from the start) is meaningless.

The writing style is too underdeveloped for the mediocre plot.  Who are the main characters? How old are they? Why would the "villain" want to be with Shane? Or Justin? Rather than spend time on discussing drag racing, Fast and the Furious (which I've never watched) and the NHRA, it could have been spent on making the characters three dimensional and more than one note. Justin and Shane just continued to say they were lonely instead of show, a main problem of the book. Too much tell, not enough showing. And then when it came time to make a difference with the story, it was way too late.story could've been cut in half or written differently if the characters were developed more.

The best thing about the book? It's an AngtsyG cover. I kinda fell for the cover and then read the blurb.

Beyond the Grill is not the worst book I've read this year, which is also a plus in its favor. I just can't recommend.

The story ends with a HEA. And if you prefer a book to be penetration free, look no further. I can guarantee, this will be my last time reading from this author.

P.S. If anyone knows of cum dumpsters who reform and find self esteem with a romance added in, please point me in the direction. I'm on the hunt for reading something like that.

A copy provided for an honest review.

A broken hero, dark urban fantasy and a magical world can be found in here...

In the Twist - L. A. Stockman
3.5 Hearts--Debut novella urban fantasy with a religious/mythology tinge, In the Twist, is the first in the Wild Hunt series. It's definitely a story that is not for everyone. Read the blurb. Still think you're ready? The story begins with a gory start...a disemboweled junkie child kind of start. Still with me? There are triggers up the wazoo, potential readers are heavily warned. While the subjects are dark, the story isn't as dark as it seems. (Think light-ish DMC read)

If you don't mind viscera here and there.

Anyone, still here with me?

You are?

Great. :)

Irish ex-priest, now American detective David Shaughnessy is a damaged soul with so baggage he could probably run his own department store. He's fairly young but has lived a lifetime of pain, shares a home with a sister and houses unwanted orphans. He was an unwanted once. And was used and abused by those who he should have trusted.

Present day David can care for those in need but doesn't care about himself, he's scarred and tattooed. While on a case, he meets older and worldly Interpol agent Dallan Jaeger. Dallan and David see the world...differently. Together, they uncover the mundane and magic world, open a new way of life for David and meet the 'The Wild Hunt', a group of the world's best warriors of legend.

The first 30% was a struggle for me. In fact, it took me days to get through. It wasn't the subject matter (because this barely scratches my dark meter) but the POV is muddled. At one point eye colors changed from ice blue to green-grey. And I thought it disemboweling was going to be as good as it got. But something pushed me to keep reading.

And I'm glad I did.

After 30% or so, the story got less muddled and more interesting, especially the urban fantasy world, religious and historical undertones brushed through. There was action, magic, romance, horror and mystery. It might've also been the swords added in too. I'm a sucker for swords. There's more to Dallan, David and his family. I like the mythological/fantasy world created. And I enjoy anything with a hint of heaven/hell thrown in made interesting. I enjoyed the author's take on it (the hints the reader gets).

Bare bones, this story hits an appropriate checklist of romance: man meets man, they share interests and mutual attraction, fight said attraction while uncovering a mystery and falling for one another for a solid HFN.

Not bad, right? What's the difference from all the other urban fantasy romances? The Wild Hunt, for one. Picture international badass immortal warriors from the ages. The faeries in this book are evil. And there are dukedoms in Hell.

I thought all of that was cool.

But I have quibbles.

My main quibble with this novella is it could have been longer.

For someone with David's depth of damage, the rapid way he gets over his hangups for love? I want to buy it. I really do. But it takes time. His mental abuse is so ingrained, the hurt and pain were written so well (a bit too well in aspects) that I ached for him. We get novel length feelings and major declarations in a novella. And some really lovely words, that I normally flutter like glitter fairy to I really enjoy. But the time span the men spend together is days. It's not like we're talking normal human relationships here. I can turn a blind eye for fated mates (not the case here).

I liked the attraction between Dallan and David. The romance was nice when I overlook the muddle. Because the conversations that Dallan and David had, really had when trying to overcome the hardships of their past (namely the abused), oh...those were sweet. Like laying jewels on your damaged feet kind of sweet. I basked in some the words when the muddling lessened.

I especially liked the duke. I kind of wished there was elaboration on the backstory about that. The story slowly unfolds David's background and his kids. It's more about him than Dallan, though both men are equally interesting.

Worth a gander (those who can handle the subject matter)? I think so.

Underneath the weaker start, rapid insta-love, beginning POV confusion, there's a solid plot. And it's too soon to call, but there were hints of something in the prose. It reminded me of a few urban fantasy stories I used to read in the past underneath my quibbles. And I think that if the author finds a groove, explains plot points and keep the POV separate...this could be an urban fantasy series to watch.

I'll be back for book #2, Titan's Watch, see what else the author has up her sleeve especially for these characters.

A copy provided for an honest review.

I'm ALL ABOUT this narrator...Mr. Davies, you have a fan in me. *wink*

Betrothed: A Faery Tale - Therese Woodson
A Hearts On Fire Review

4.25 HEARTS--Must love faeries, brats and faery tales.

Thankfully, I enjoy all of the above.

Fantasy is very much my go-to genre. My favorite magical beings after unicorns and mermaids are the fae. They're not just twee little folk when written right. (Yes, they're open for interpretation)

Therese Woodson did a very interesting version of faeries. They're separated by four elements: sun, water, air and earth. Each element ruled by their respective kingdom. Due to a war hundreds of years ago between the greedy Sun King and the other elements, a marriage treaty was created between the air, water and earth (the winners). The elements must be married to maintain's been arranged.

Enter Puck aka half-human/ half- earth faery, Prince Chrysanths who is sort of a black sheep of both the faery and human world. He doesn't fit in either realm. While faeries have tattoo like colorful markings all over their body that depict their base element, his human side mutes it to faint colors. And he doesn't have wings and can't fly like his full blooded mother or subjects. His ears are rounded like a human, his magic isn't as strong and he's regulated to seeing his father once a year, if that.

When his mother, Queen Bellis tells Puck it's time for his arranged marriage to air faery prince Sky to happen, in three weeks, Puck does the only logical thing. He runs to Earth. Thus begins a fish out of water like experience for (Prince Sky) because of course he has to follow his betrothed into the human world (where he's never traveled).

The story has a lot of great themes going for it that I like to read in budding romances. This reads like New Adult. Puck still has growing up to do. Sky is definitely more responsible. They're opposites in a lot of ways. But where the author created magic (despite the obvious subject) is the little moments. Puck is frustrating but Sky can't help but charmed by the color in his eyes, or the way he thinks about something. That makes or breaks a romance for me. I'm more of a small gestures kind of reader.

And the young men learn one another while virtually strangers in a short amount of time (about three weeks) in America (?) guessing by the narrator's accent.

And this narrator. He is 5 Hearts all the way I want him to narrate all the things for me, especially fantasy books. I can name 5 GLBT fantasy books I want him to narrate for me right now. It'd be epic. EPIC!
My list of audiobook narrators I've listened to isn't long, but I'm telling you Matthew Lloyd Davies is on my list of best narrators ever. He does the voices, the inflections, breaks at the right moment. He put thought into the characters, he breathed life into the characters. They were all distinct! I felt like I was at a production with my audiobook. (My favorite words Mr. Davies said? The dirty ones, of course!)

My one quibble with the narration is the American accents are read with a British pronunciation, so it made the American in me pause for a bit. Hearing the "mall" pronounced 'mell' rather than MALL with a long 'A' gave me acute screw face. Just for a teeny bit. Hell after awhile, Jim (Puck's dad) accent grew on me. I thought it added charm after awhile, Jim's accent like sounding syrupy British with marbles in the mouth. I was all for it.

Narration skills aside, the story is a modern day faery tale. We get an arranged marriage where love blossoms organically. Yes, there is a short amount of time. And there is a villain so to speak and a little outside action (very minor) But Woodson made sure to add little details from the Puck and Sky's first meeting to detail their attraction and chemistry.

So much so, I would have been fine if they didn't have any kind of sexual contact. And the story was strictly PG-13. Don't worry smutsters, it's not. ;D

I wanted to give this book 5 Hearts. It pains me not to especially with that top notch narration. Because all the romance details work so wonderfully. But...I can't. There were two areas where elaboration and development should have happened. The story is chugging along at a nice pace, a twist that I had a feeling was coming, happens. Cool. And then another plot twist happens, even better. But the way it just fizzled, to rush to a HEA. I need answers.

1) What the hell was the malady?
2) What the hell happened with the 'villain'? One doesn't just plot for so long and do...that.

Unless there is a sequel? (I wouldn't mind a sequel)

I really enjoyed the world Therese wooden created, the faery mythology and background. I even love the ingenious way faery babies are created. (So how are Sun babies made, just curious?)
This is different. Puck will try the patience of some - his brattiness can test the patience of a saint. I think Sky is a good foil for him and they make a great couple. The outcome despite the hiccups in the the last 20% or so was a good faery tale.

I'm charmed by the whole kit and caboodle that is Betrothed. I do hope to see more fantasy by this author, more from this world.

A copy provided for an honest review

Adorkable music nerds who started on a PWP foot but turned into something meaningful.

Play (A Fairview Story Book 4)  - Bruce Rose
A Hearts On Fire Review

3.5 Hearts -
"I'm going to do you a favor and pretend I didn't just hear you offer me a bribe."
"I'm also going to get rid of this." Officer Hot Pants dropped the remains of the joint on the blacktop and crushed it under his heel. [...]
"And I'm going to do you one more favor." Officer Hot Pants leaned over until he was practically nose to nose with Daniel. "I'm going to take you behind that hill over there and fuck you raw."


21 year old Daniel is a world renowned musician and former child prodigy that finally put his foot down and escaped his greedy family's clutches. He finds a job as a bartender at club Bow and place to live in gay friendly town of Fairview. On his way to Fairview, he gets stopped by a hunky, older cop...who is an erotic dream. Not only does the officer have a rocking bod and baton in his in and out of his pants...Officer Hot Pants uses them on Daniel! (Any role playing fans out there?)

While the story starts off in the PWP zone, it transitions into something a little more. There is a plot, nothing too heavy and organic for the characters. Both men start off on a very hot branch of meeting but it develops into something meaningful when neither of them expecting it. It was believable.

Two adorkable guys who fit the 'twunk' and 'alpha muscle jock' categories but have more to offer than their looks. Officer Hot Pants aka 38 year old James Roca just retired from the police force after 20 years and has a new job as a bouncer at a club in a new town. Daniel and Roca meet again and become co-workers

This is a romance that not only features a decent age gap but a restarting a new life theme. I like those. When the main character tries to overcome hurts or issues from their past. In their case, it's Roca not being able to be accepted for being gay and being harassed while on the job. And for Daniel, it's not being able to have a personal life and treated as a cash cow instead of a person.

The men share common bonds through music and learn about each other through this. I liked that it wasn't just about the sex. There were a few moments that I had to stretch the reality rubber band here and there but the author warns in the beginning of the book.

The story was easy to read, very sexy when it needed to be. The sex was safe and consensual, a little spicy vanilla with the bit of role playing, handcuffs and holding down. Nothing too out there. Play had a nice dose of snark (I think it is my favorite thing about this author's tone), but there were a few quibbles. Eh, there were a few typos (I'm not counting them in my quibbles). My issues were more with the transition from PWP to something meaningful. There was a point where Roca was being followed, it seemed like it was from his former police force. It could have been developed more on page but it didn't. It read like a thought that fizzled out.

Another was the added nothing to the overall story. I like that we get a big schmoopy HEA, I believe it with those two. However, I like epilogue to give a meaningful update - six months, a year however many months down the road, give a snapshot of the HEA if you have to. That really did nothing, showed nothing, it could have been the last paragraph of the last chapter. I also wished we got a scene with the big bad parents or maybe a flashback to Daniel's past. I think I would have rated higher.

Overall, it's a good story with likable characters that are loosely connected to Fairview series (can be read in any order) My favorite still is Risky, which features Daniel and Roca's bosses. This was a fun little follow up on the club. Can't wait for more (namely Brandon the twunk bartender/waiter; the ginger baker from Risky and the other bouncer who likes submissive twinks)

Recommended if you're in the mood for age gaps, cops who wield big batons during sex, twunks who just need a big guy to protect them and an appreciation of different types of music.

A copy provided for an honest review.

*shrugs* It was free and there were pictures, plus horns!

The Incubus and the Woodcutter - Yamila Abraham

It's been awhile since I delved into yaoi.

So why not with a quick freebie?

Very simple fairy tale:

Figaru, an incubus wakes up from a hibernation ready to bury his D. The homely local woodcutter is his massive cock's target. With a sort of dub-con ish seduction, the virgin woodsmen gets a mate.

Nothing world rocking.

Easy, erotic and free with PICTURES!

Pardon me, is that a Pretty Woman-esque Romance in your pocket?

Rented Heart - Garrett Leigh

It's an international unicorn gang bang review with Sheziss and Adam!

4.5 HEARTS--

"Am I your only client tonight?"
"Client?" Zac regarded Liam through a haze of smoke. "This ain't Pretty Woman, mate."

 Oh, but it was.

First things first, I haven't read a Garret Leigh before this, so I don't know what the standard or normal quality is. Consider this a virgin review, you dig? (Just about the only thing virgin in here. I kid. I kid.) Leigh is another author I've been meaning to read and it takes a review book to finally pop the cherry.

But the blurb was a SRAL magnet mathematics equation:

1 grieving widower (I want to lick your sweet tears)
1 rent boy (I swear a trombone plays every time rent boy is mentioned around me)
Damaged, lonely men = SRAL jackpot!

Garrett Leigh did a great job telling a story that wasn't as dark as I originally thought it would be. Instead, it wasangstyish, no way minimizing real life situations. But it had the rent boy romance fairy tale effect going on here something fierce.

Zac, the 23 year old hooker reminded me a lot of this pic:

He's been through so much through his young life, and yet he still keeps going. Liam was supposed be an attractive john, wank fodder to push Zac through his dark days. From day one the two men have enough chemistry to light up the Eiffel Tower.

To read their business/sexual relationship progress into a meaningful one a great read.

Granted, the erotic part was scorching as hell.

"Instead Zac found himself rushing to obey his gentle commands, every instinct screaming at him to make Liam happy because pleasing Liam did amazing this to Zac's heart.
That, and he had a feeling Liam was going to fuck his brains out and he couldn't bloody wait."

There is a lot of sex. (It's a story featuring a sex worker, the reader is taken along to the aftermath of some johns) But I never got tired nor did I think it was too much for the story.

Zac and Liam try to deny each other but that electricity they share can't be denied for long. The way Zac would understand Liam's loneliness added nice touches to the story. Do I wish the couple spent more time together? Yes. But for some reason, it worked for them.

I liked Liam. He was white knight all the way and I was swept up in the fantasy of him, even if he was a surfer (I'm not into them, sorry surfer lovers). I really liked Zac. I liked his tenaciousness, even if I don't think he thinks he is. That spirit that overcomes drug addiction, survived a crap life in the system and streets...he's a wonderfully flawed character.

There were a very few twists that slowly unfurled toward the end, some that I did not see coming. Some parts were a little predictable: the fairy tale ending and way everything is neatly wrapped up in a bow. Jamie made for a good secondary character. I hope the author revisits and shares more info about him in his own starring book. The Brit slang and ease of tone proved the author has a deft hand with writing. The way it didn't get into heavy melodrama, instead letting the main men and their lives lead the direction of the book proved it to me. It wasn't the most remarkable rent boy romance I've ever read, (it's 2016 and rent boy has been done to death though I never tire of it). But it was a solid rent boy romance.

And a rent boy romance wearing the Pretty Woman swirl and a happy ending (no matter how much the story tries to deny it) always makes me stops in my tracks.

The story is a solid 4 Hearts. The fact that I can't seem to stop thinking about the main characters days after finishing? It deserves an extra half heart. I definitely won't wait too long to read another Garrett Leigh.

A copy provided via Netgalley for an honest review.

Established couple fans, this one's for you!

Take Two - Shira Anthony

3.5 Hearts--

"We don't feel like a couple. It's like we're running in the same direction, but we're not on the same team."

I've had this song [Charlie Puth - "We Don't Talk Anymore"] stuck on my brain the entire time while reading Take Two by Shira Anthony. This awesome song and a fave couple from Sense8 (fans of the show should figure out which closeted couple) on my brain I should say.

Why? This story is about how non-communication can break down a relationship. A couple who suffers from "right person, wrong time." Love, sex and compatibility are definitely big key factors to have a great relationship, but the biggest is communication. Without it, the strongest can even fail. As what happened in Take Two.

Thirty nine year old NY history professor Wesley Coolidge is finally getting his life back on track. Work's great, he has a new academic boyfriend and...he's weeks away from having his divorce finalized. His soon to be ex-husband is famous actor thirty five year old Sander Carson aka Sam Carr. With a marriage of ten years and a separation of three years, it's time for them to move on.

Even though Wesley loves Sam just as much as Sam loves Wesley.

Even though their spark never faded.

The problem is the lines of communications faltered as Sam made it in Hollywood and hid their marriage in the closet. (The closet isn't to blame for the divorce)

The author bills the story as funny, and it might have had a moment or two that made me smile...I don't think it was funny. It's more fluffy and cute. It could have easily been another addition to the Dreamspun line, if you squinted just right.

Second romance, established couple, big grand gestures and sneaky machinations to make your lover realize the spark is still there...all key elements for a light second chance romance. Sam is very stubborn and charming. He tricks Wesley to North Carolina to his pirate set for a job and goes out the way to make sure Wesley know he doesn't want the divorce. (There's no cheating & low angst)

There is something about Shira Anthony's writing that is infectious for me. I get swept away in her characters. They're not outrageous or OTT, simple men who have real life problems and don't mind a little romance.

I do have quibbles. My main one being Wesley realizes why he needs to divorce Sam. At least, I think he did. Wesley is shy, doesn't seem to like grand, dramatic gestures (which after a decade....Sam should have known) and he didn't want to fall under the charismatic Sam spell. He admits it's hard to resist but seems to be on the same communication wavelength that Sam wasn't trying to find. Sam was more of a talk at Wesley than listen and talk to him type of man.  I wanted more from Sam. I needed more from Sam. I could see the new boyfriend plot device. from a mile away. I could see the natrual disaster plot device from ten feet away.

What I wanted to see was Sam finally get the light bulb upstairs and quit the personal 'CGI' and get real with his man. Wesley held strong...mostly. It might come off as wishy-washy, but I think Wesley explains his reactions.

I did wish the boyfriend angle was non existent. I don't think it really added to the story. The entire HEA seemed like a rebound which defeats the purpose of reconciliation for me, if they're trying to avoid making the same mistakes again.

But it's light and happy. And I shouldn't go looking for depth and maturity. That's not this book.

It's a good read. Sweet love scenes (minimal sex scenes, it's more about reconnection) Not my favorite Shira Anthony, that of course being the deceptively angsty ones like Prelude.

Sweet, light, big romantic gestures, established couple yum yum (not my kink, tbh), pirate actors (definitely my kink), geeks and hunky actors can all be found in Shira Anthony's Take Two.

A copy provided for an honest review.

Decent royal AU's something with sex. ;P

His Royal Secret - Lilah Pace

A tag team review with Sheziss

3.5 Hearts--An alternate universe where the Prince of Wales to the British Throne is secretly gay...

No, we're not talking about Wills, baby.

"Your Royal Highness. Or is it Your Majesty now that you've become Prince Regent?"
"I don't think you've came all this way to discuss royal protocol."

His Royal Secret is the first half of two part series from author Lilah Pace. His Royal Secret is Pace's first foray into MM. This alternate universe is the same as present day just with an alternate British royal lineage.

HRH James is young, orphaned, high educated and directly in the public eye due to being the future king of Britain. He's been raised in the spotlight and sadly can't be free with his sexuality. With a best friend as his public beard, a younger sister with untreated mental health issues and a sad sexual history, due to isolation and fear, James is firmly inside his closet with all the stressors in his private life. Enter Ben Dahan, hot Israeli openly gay, anti-commitment, international journalist who has a chance meeting with James in Kenya. A game of chess and rainy season turns an opportune moment into a steamy little tryst.

Did it make an impression? Not really. It was a nice little interlude. Cut to months down the road and a move to London on Dahan's part, the men figure they're at perfect points in their life to start a strictly sexual relationship. The sex got better as the story progressed though for the first third it was borderline repetitive with the same stroke-finger-lube-penetrate. Thankfully, it broke out the mold.

The story on a whole has good parts. It was better than good when reflecting on the entire thing. A decent set up, two men who shouldn't be together on paper but somehow are-- due to availability and a sexual chemistry. I don't mind closeted reads, but the anti-commitment MC's are my juice. I love them. Especially reading them turn into a pro-commitment fan. We don't get much reflection on the change from either men, especially from the stubborn one. I think the story could have gone deeper with both men, more so with Ben. I'm hoping it's because this is a duology and the second half is going to be bombastic. Or I'll just come back and rate this lower, once I read the second half.

I don't think this story hit it's full potential. There were awkward breaks, weird transitions into chapters or to different characters. And what I think my biggest gripe is if this story was supposed to be Erotica or Romance? I don't mind the two mixed, or separate. The erotica was spicy vanilla at best with role playing being the hardest kink (lol) James seemed naive for that. Maybe if he didn't have his background, I'd have had an easier time buying it. The guys start off slow, kind of lukewarm/medium heat. Then presto!

We're getting sentences like this:

"Hand jobs are well and good, but this time I'm not leaving without getting fucked."

Or even better:

"I thought you'd get back around now."
"Only just. Is anything wrong?"

 "Yeah. Your mouth's not around my cock."

That's a drawers dropper sentence. Mmmhmm I'm all for it!

Sometimes the erotic actions, words and role play kink, seemed at odds with the characters introduced. Erotically, the story works. Romantically...ehhhh...I guess?

I like Ben.

I like James.

Do I like Ben and James together? It's a hesitant yes. But a yes, nonetheless.

I wasn't invested until 75% into the story. Or really cared about the romance until 97%...

There were bursts of magic within.

"Nobody else ever got to me like this. Nobody ever. And nobody's going to get to me like this again. You got through my defense when on one else could, or can, or will. You're the only one I could ever have loved, the only man on this earth. I can't change it now. It's done. All I know is that if I walk away from you tonight, I'll spend the rest of my life...broken in two. Needing you. So I won't walk away."

I wish we got to know more of the person as the reader was inside their head when they made they decisions, to get a sense of their feelings.

 A plus on this novel's side? It didn't read like stereotypes or thinly veiled MF in a MM coating.

I'm pretty good at sniffing those out. And I'm happy to report that is not the case in His Royal Secret. #yay

Just dudes who placed strict boundaries on being fuck buddies and somehow broke their own rules because feelings became involved. [Just wish there was more attention paid on that detail of feelings, sharing more inside the character's head when it was their turn]

The story ends with a cliffhanger of sorts. But it's a soft cliffhanger, meaning it's a HFN with a promise of a HEA. But the stakes are too high not to read what the outcome is in the second book of this duology.

I'd read from this author again, to see how this all wraps up. I'm curious how it plays out for the royal and his lover.

A copy provided for an honest review via Netgalley.

Yawn City with a side of 'Are You Kidding Me'? sauce

Blind Date (Back in the Game) (Volume 1) - Kay Doherty
TWO HEARTS--I have no shame in admitting, I jumped to read this because there was cheating mentioned in the blurb. Warning: there is on page sex between an MC and another character.

(Good) cheating romances aren't easy to find. Unabashedly doing whatever to get the other person...even if it means to break another's heart? It can make for a strong story. A lot of times when there is cheating in a romance, the author will cop out, try to make it the new person's fault for the other person who is currently in a relationship for stepping out.

Basically, blame game is supposed to be the stand in for passion. The old 'I wasn't myself, you made me do it' excuse.

You can find a version of that in Blind Date. For readers who need the protagonists to not admit to being guilty or owning up to their feelings from the start, Blind Date might be a choice for you.

Dekker Callan falls for a guy's voice during a charity dating auction. He wasn't allowed to see his contestants. He meets his choice, Slade Gannon on their blind date and falls for him after a conversation of shallow small talk. Slade just got back with his boyfriend...even though he feels something too for Dekker. And is upfront about it.Which kind of makes him a jerk but I can understand where he came from after the first date. Days of flirting stretched into weeks to try to move the story along, painting Slade's boyfriend George as a possessive cheater and liar though...pretty suspect for me.

First time author Kay Doherty read like...a first time author's effort to me. There were too many characters (who were also unofficial mind readers), too much superficial, poor development and over the top antics. Plus, instalove.

I tried to like this book. But it was a sinking ship when one of the MC's declared, "I'll start my seduction then. I'm gonna...I'm gonna eat food and make him wish it was him, and then I'll win".

And it kept sinking with contradicting antics from the characters like Dekker who told the reader he was outgoing and acted shy. Or declaring he was going to "go full force" in seducing Slade and by the next paragraph declaring he wasn't going to "force the issue".

The ex-boyfriend got crazier as the story progressed, though his behavior and the characteristics had me question his purpose for the story. Without him, the story has no conflict. And is just a lot of 'I can tell by the way you listened to his voice, he's perfect for you'

Rather than go into all of the quotes that I quibbled with. I'll just leave a few questions.

Simple questions: Do most friends waltz into bathrooms while showering and talk to each other naked? [Take out them being men as a factor] Or make out with each other (while in relationships) to make their sad friend feel better? Or know exactly what you're thinking by looking at you? Why was everyone able to read each other's mind, know exactly what they were thinking and thought exactly the same?

*tilts head*

Something about the way the men interacted with one another read unnatural to me. The thin romance, the extreme HEA...nothing worked for me. If I don't find anything remotely worthy in either MC, I'm not invested into whatever is dished out. One guy is a adult toy store owner, the other is a wine and gallery owner. The fact that their jobs read tacked on and no development was given to either guy, more attention was paid to having cute twins and their hot buff boyfriends parade about... read paper thin. The premise was interesting, the delivery didn't work for me.

I know I'm not the right reader for this writing style. It's in the same vein of Stormy Glenn/Scarlet Hyacinth/Joyee Flynn which has a solid readership. Fans of that band of authors, might enjoy Kay Doherty's efforts.

The story isn't bad. I'd be curious to see a story from this author, after a lot more books under her belt. But I'm pretty sure, this is a one time deal for me.

If you prefer not be invested in the characters, just want a solid HEA with an over the top/left field plot twist thrown in...check out Blind Date.

A copy provided for an honest review.

Months later...and I'm still not over it. STILL! *side-eyes*

Bootleg Diva: Confessions of a Quarterback Princess by Levi Brody (A Southern Scrimmage Biography Book 4) (English Edition) - Mercy Celeste

I don't know where to begin.

This isn't a full 5 Stars but JAY-SUS was it close. So...4.555 Stars?

This isn't for newbs to Mercy Celeste. Highly recommended for Southern Scrimmage fans especially fans of Levi Brody MUST READ PRIOR BOOKS before starting this.

This memoir kicked my ass. Triggers: Abuse (mentions of physical, child abuse), rape, gay bashing, violence

I just wanted to take a peek, ended up reading this in less than 24 hours because I had to learn about every inch of Levi's life.

We get a heavy taste of it in Offside Chance.

His memoir doesn't detail exactly everything (ex - there's a lot of child rape but it's off page). But nothing was left to the imagination, if you catch my drift.

We start with adolescent Levi who already is too worldly for his own good. Just about everyone has let him down. And it could be argued there are laws and agencies to put a stop to cases like Levi's but there are times when it falls through the cracks. And Levi... I just hurt thinking about all her went through.

Me every time something bad happened to Levi:

It was a LOT of abuse. And there were sweet moments. mixed in with the angst and hurt.

However, when one reads Celeste, expect ton of angst. There was no exception with this.

I think the way the memoir was told was true to Levi's voice. He is the most interesting character of the entire series, IMO. Mental health issues aside, there is something about him that grabs the attention. (No, not the cross dressing, or gender identity conflict)

His personality, his will to survive for those he loves....I think that made his memoir worthwhile.

Is the story without flaws? Nope. There are typos. Sometimes, the transitions where scattered and all over the place. And a chapter would end at a weird spot. The story couldn't hurt from maybe 1-2 rounds of edits. The uneven bits kind of work in Levi's favor but was a little jarring while reading.

And something that sticks out for me was Levi saying he would "let [insert whomever] do [whatever sexual sexual act to him]". I get his thought process while with customers (did I mention he was a teenage prostitute too?) but he felt this way with his consensual acts as well. made me question every person he ever slept with. If he's mentally capable of consent, since he's learned the hard way about bad touch from such an early age. I might be over analyzing it. *shrugs*

But it's my quibble.

The story ends on one hell of a cliffhanger.

So while I still go through book withdrawal and recover by finding the pulverized bits from the floor...

...I'll be waiting with bated breath for "Blindsided" (which I expect to an epic story to explain what the hell is going on and give a HEA).

Book withdrawal is a bitch.

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