Category Archives: Reviews: LGBTQ+

Nice to see an older age bracket in this novella from Nell Iris

48060422._SY475_Of Autumn Leaves and New Beginnings by Nell Iris

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Nell Iris is able to craft a beautiful love story in novella form and it’s a real skill.

This one was extra lovely because both protagonists were nearly 50, and it’s not often you get that in an MM romance.

I really liked Oren and Peter, I loved that Pete’s ex-wife was a supportive and involved character and I adored Oren’s mum.

My only issue is, as it always is when it occurs, that all the sexual intimacy occurs off page. For me it’s a missed opportunity to show that building of trust as people begin to explore what makes their partner feel good.

However, I also appreciate that not everyone is interested in the sexual element, so this will be perfect for those readers.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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Keira skilfully navigates a tough subject in this Aussie-set romance

48054988._SY475_Flash Rip by Keira Andrews

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Keira Andrews skillfully navigates her way through a complex closet case romance set in the twin macho worlds of Australia’s AFL and Lifeguards.

Liam is a former AFL star who could have been one of the greats when injury forced him into retirement after four years at the age of just 24.

He’s been a Lifeguard for ten years and he’s hiding a deep secret which is severely affected when 20-year-old Cody joins his team as a trainee.

After an incident with an ex, Cody’s also out and accepted by the rest of the squad and it puts Liam in fear of his own outing.

I thought the way Keira worked through the incredibly deep and painful internalised homophobia Liam suffers from was excellent.

It never becomes over self-flagellant, it’s not turned into a masochistic streak of internal monologues but instead, it presents a forbidding representation of how damaging toxic masculinity can be.

Liam also hides another secret which he thinks makes him less of a man and I just wanted to hug him so hard as this is revealed.

And while everything takes place in a relatively short time, it never feels rushed or too instant love. The connection between them is compelling and the sexual trust is volcanic.

Keira has a serious talent for this type of relationship and here I think she’s outdone herself. As Liam learns that submitting doesn’t make him weak, Cody’s dominant side gets an unexpected awakening.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it’s a bit of a different take on the age gap, sports romance.

As a PS I loved the brief cameo from Keira’s Honeymoon For One couple Ethan and Clay. Totally sweet.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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An absolute gem of a romance from Clare

Romancing the Rough Diamond (Dreamspun Desires Book 90)Romancing the Rough Diamond by Clare London

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An absolute gem (see what I did there 🤣 ) of a romance, this is my favourite of the Romancing books I’ve read so far.

There’s an element of enemies to lovers about this but it’s really more about trust. About opening up yourself to the risk of heartbreak because you find someone who might just be the perfect partner for your heart to find a home with.

I loved the Britishness of this as well although, as a Brit, I always have a small element of cringe when an author uses the existing British Royal Family and adds on a gay element to it.
A lot of that though is because the author, usually not British themselves, often gets the details wrong and calls it the English Throne or refers to the Queen of England etc, and that really grinds my gears.

Clare does use the existing Royal Family here, but it worked for me mostly because Prince Arthur and his opera singer fiance are treated more as an entity in their own right (even though William and Harry are his older brothers 😉 ) and we never really see them in connection with our real Royal Family.

The plot itself is a fairly straightforward one and it works well. Matt’s a jewellery designer who’s smarting because his family firm just got bought out – he thinks aggressively and without proper acknowledgement of its history – by the company Joel is CEO of.

Their first meet/cute is when they have no clue who the other is and it’s a pretty chemistry-filled encounter before it comes to an unscheduled halt when Matt has to rush home to Norfolk.

Once they meet again, there’s a delicious push/pull of attraction which is compounded by the high-pressure commission they’re working on and I really loved the sparks which fly between them each time they’re in the same room.

This book made me laugh a lot, it made me go awwwww quite a few times too and it’s fairly steamy for a Dreamspun Desires imprint. All in all just my cup of tea.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

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Once again Rick R. Reed delivers up something unusual

The Secrets We KeepThe Secrets We Keep by Rick R. Reed

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is another unusual romance from Rick R Reed in which the protagonists feel like they’re people he knows whose lives have been played out in front of him.

It’s a strange twist between an angsty May to December romance and a sort of whimsical almost paranormal ghost-like tale of two lives which have known tragedy.

Be aware that this book also has heavy subject matter and, imho anyways, really should have a trigger warning.

As the story begins, I think it’s clear what direction the path of one character is taking but it is still a sensitive matter to deal with on page.

The two men at the heart of the narrative are fleshed out perfectly into distinct personalities even though for much of the narrative they are apart.

It’s not your traditional love story, I was both frustrated and elated by the path taken to happiness.

It’s a Dreamspinner Press publication so the sex is referenced in passing and takes place in bare-bones detail but it works for the melancholy nature of the tale.

There’s a wonderfully uplifting Epilogue which goes a long way to bringing a sense of peace to the relationship between Jasper and Rob which works very well.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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The expanded epilogue still kills me with this fabulous Medieval romance

47948494._SY475_The Lion and the Crow by Eli Easton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

NOTE: Reading again as it’s been re-released 28/08/19

Yep, the updated epilogue still kills me and makes my eyes leak!

However, the rest of this novella is also still as beautifully involving and historically evoking as it was the first time I read it.

William and Christian are brilliantly realised characters, full of honour and bravery, willing to risk all not only for their own love but for the safety and protection of William’s abused sister.

The solution to homosexuality being punishable by death in the early centuries of the Middle Ages still rings true given what we know of the time period and Christian’s actions are still well within the brutal kill or be killed way of life which was prevalent.

The adventure is a slow-burning UST filled ride with many stumbles along the way.

Eli has included the book’s original epilogue when it was first published as part of the Love Has No Boundaries event in the MM Book Group here on Goodreads.

But, for me, even though it makes me cry, the updated Epilogue is the better one because it covers decades of a lifetime’s happiness before a final shout of glory.

I will just say though

*** Spoiler***

if you don’t like to read about character deaths, even though it’s after a pretty long and happy life together, do skip over the new epilogue and head to the older one

Original Review

Oh that epilogue, painfully heartbreaking and yet a herald of a lifetime of happiness at the same time.

I really liked this one, medieval England is a difficult historic setting to get right and there were only a couple of slips in terminology or title.

The killing of Lord Somerfield is a tricky one, required for the plot but still a murder committed with aforethought.

Still, it worked within the story narrative and if it truly had been a serving wench, then self-defence would have been a justification.

William and Christian were two truly beautiful men and their love in a time when not only the law but their immortal souls were on the line according to the times, was cleverly explored.

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Leta Blake continues to impress with this omegaverse series

Copy of Copy of bitter heat high resBitter Heat by Leta Blake

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As with the first two novels in this brilliant series, Leta Blake uses the narrative to raise questions which parallel events which are happening in our own world.

Here it’s more expansion on omega rights, the lack of any control over their own heats for bonded omegas and what happens with a pregnancy which isn’t wanted.

It’s also a redemption story, that of Janus Heelies and his determination to live up to the forgiveness and friendship Caleb (from Alpha Heat has given him as he heads into the mountains to learn how to become a doctor.

There’s an interesting path taken as Kerry is already pregnant with his abusive alpha’s baby, and while he is free in so much as that alpha is now in prison, his obligations to his in-laws mean there is still overwhelming pressure which is weighing him down.

Janus is doing his best to be a better alpha and for the most part he’s succeeding. He’s thrown in at the deep end with his doctoring and he’s learning how to be grateful for life’s small bounties. But Kerry throws a massive spanner in the works.

I loved how their relationship built up so slowly and, without spoiling anything, I really loved the clever path Leta takes with the plotlines here as they move into friendship and beyond.

There’s a fabulous cast of secondary characters, we get to catch up with Caleb and his family and get an insight into where the series may be going next.

These books are wonderfully insightful, superbly crafted and remain among my favourite shifter stories.

This one only isn’t a 5* read for me because I wanted more of Janus and Kerry together and, while Leta gave a wonderful extended epilogue, I would have liked to have seen the growth on page.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

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An extraordinary twist to the shifter genre from Garrett

67283455_2401506443270930_1027755549032185856_oFated Hearts by Garrett Leigh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Garrett Leigh turns her considerable talent to paranormal romance and brings forth an extraordinary alternative to the usual fare of creatures that go bump in the night.

Here her shifters are a different entity to werewolves, vampires exist in covens and the Shadow Clan is something else entirely and sits above all other non-humans providing a sort of balance between conflicting wolf packs.

And both sets of creatures have a unique blend of the traditional animal/human hybrid but with enhanced abilities and a gentle thread of magic which ties them to the physical world around them.

Zio and Deven are polar opposites but their attraction bounces off the page as they’re thrown headlong into a situation thwart with danger.

Part action, part paranormal romance, part mystery adventure, this opener has all the hallmarks of Garrett at her finest.

There is superb world-building, there are real and painful consequences for choices made, there is a deep and abiding love which fights to conquer all obstacles thrown in its path and there are threads laid down for the wider narrative to continue on.

It ends with a blend of extreme happiness, some trepidation about where series arcs will go next, some sorrow, a continuing battle between the species and loads of hope for a changing future.

I seriously cannot wait to see where it goes next.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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