Category Archives: Reviews: LGBTQ+

This twist on the Cinderfella romance is a real pleasure read

hisuptownguy-1400x2100His Uptown Guy by Felice Stevens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So far my 2019 romance reading has been a joy, filled with stories which don’t follow a traditional contemporary path to love.

Felice Stevens’ latest is no exception and in this she gives us what seems like a bit of a Cinderfella style relationship until you realise that it’s the handsome prince who is need of help, not our erstwhile Albanian porter.

Jesse has suffered a slow decline since his world was ended so abruptly – like so many others – when his father was killed in the 9/11 attack.

His anxieties worsened until he ended up with agoraphobia in his late 20s and he’s not left his apartment in the famous Dakota Building in New York for the last five years.

Now, it’d be easy to say Dash saves him, but really he doesn’t, he just gives Jesse another foundation stone to rely on.

They’re such wonderfully drawn characters, the Dakota Building as much as the rest bringing a unique strand to this lovely romance.

One of the best from this author imho and a real delight. I can’t wait to see what Landmark comes next and find out which men will be finding love around it!

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

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Oxford-set romance is just the ticket!

A Late Summer Night's DreamA Late Summer Night’s Dream by Eleanor Harkstead & Catherine Curzon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I do love the way these two write together. Usually, it’s historical, but this one’s contemporary and set amid Oxford’s dreaming spires.

The idea behind this one just tickled me, a mix up over theatre seats turns into a pie and mash date between PhD student Simeon and Anthony, the guy he thought was sitting in his seat.

Things look like they’re moving to the start of something special but Anthony is older than Simeon and he lost his husband to brain cancer just four years earlier and he has a touch of the second thoughts.

Thankfully, in the words of the immortal bard, ‘all’s well that ends well’ and a coincidental meeting a short while later puts them both back in each other’s orbit and a second chance begins.

These books are always so very English in feel and this one’s no different, it’s just a delightful romance.

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

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Noble Hops is a perfect sign off to this series

Noble Hops (Trouble Brewing, #3)Noble Hops by Layla Reyne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I need more stars! Lordy but this book was good and it perfectly wrapped up the Trouble Brewing series with a comprehensively tight and fast-paced plot.

So many times while reading this my heart was in my mouth wondering just where it was going to go next and how our merry band of suits was going to take the bad guy down.

I won’t be spoilering anything, but suffice it to say, the pay off is well worth the efforts expended to reach it and Cam and Nic are as solid as the rock of Gibraltar when it comes to their love and commitment to each other.

There are some surprises on the way, I’d guessed one of them but not necessarily the same circumstances it arose in, but other than that, I was biting my metaphorical nails right to the end.

I’m hoping the next foray will be a sideways shuffle across to the Coast Guard where I’d like to see someone get the better of Eddie and humble him with love!

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

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I might even love these more than Irish and Whiskey ;)

Imperial Stout (Trouble Brewing, #1)Imperial Stout by Layla Reyne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, that was just as good, if not even better, as an opener for this follow-up to the Irish and Whiskey series.

Assistant Attorney Dom and Aiden’s number two – Jamie’s best friend Cam – are even more alpha male than their fellow law enforcement colleagues and there’s a slow burn with intense chemistry going on here.

Another really good plot, involving historical artefacts and a seriously twisted double crossing FBI plot sits alongside threats to Nic’s life from his estranged father’s actions.

As with the first series, the book’s story wraps in this one, with the main narrative arc continuing through the series.

I’m loving it!

More serious turn of events in this book but still superb plotting

Craft Brew (Trouble Brewing, #2)Craft Brew by Layla Reyne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This one had a totally different feel to it than book one as it intimately involved Cameron’s past and his biggest regret and guilty mistake – a case he’d never been able to solve.

Without going too much into the connection and the plot, there’s more emphasis on the suspense and investigation elements in this narrative but there’s still just as much attraction between the two men

Nic’s still trying to avoid painting more targets on those he’s beginning to realise are family and Cam’s dealing with issues involving his own family back in Boston.

It’s an interesting move to bring both men together but with huge fears still causing them anxieties but I think Layla pulls it off.

Tensions ramp up to a fitting end, it would have been difficult to narrate any other outcome I think but I would have liked perhaps a bit more of the aftermath from the legislative conclusions as well with the bad guy.

The tone of these is quite different to the Irish and Whiskey series but it’s no less enthralling.

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Gorgeous exploration of puppy play kink from K.M. Neuhold

StayStay by K.M. Neuhold

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

RTC when I’m at the laptop as the stupid Kindle just lost what I already wrote.

Okay, now that it’s not going to disappear on me I’ll do the review 🙂

This book is an excellent example of how to write about a kink exploration when one of the couples isn’t sure what their partner will think about it.

K.M. takes the reader on a journey as much as she takes the characters as they begin to explore the dynamics of puppy play – a kink which is based in mutual power exchange and the absolute freedom which comes with giving up control to a Master who takes care of everything for their pup.

I absolutely adored this, puppy play is generally full of sweet expressions of love and care and comfort and this was no exception. Jonah is afraid Lars – his lover of 10 years, but his best friend since birth (their mothers were also best friends and pregnant at the same time) – will think there’s something odd with him because he’s drawn to the idea of being a pup.

There’s nothing salacious about this book, it’s romance at its purest, the need to make your partner happy and the pleasure gained from being the one to do it forms a hallmark on the relationship between Jonah and Lars.

After a little bit of angsting, a lot of conversation and some awesome side characters that I’m dying to get the stories of (and please, please, please K.M. you have to give Van to Adrian and find someone new for Seb!), this book dives headlong into what makes puppy play attractive.

It’s not an overly sexual book, the deep connection between Jonah and Lars is strengthened and extended by the puppy play, they’re incredibly sweet together, the dynamic is very much power exchange as Jonah willingly gives up control to Lars over all to do with their play together.

Personally, I’d say this is a wonderful book to read if you want to poke a toe into non-vanilla kink.

The sexual side of the narrative focuses more on the existing relationship between the two men, rather than the puppy play’s more erotic potential, and it works perfectly for this pairing. They’re friends, soulmates, lovers and they talk like grown-ups about everything, which was a delight to read.

There’s also a side plot featuring a blog written by the brother of one of the people Lars works with which was a clever device to give the reader more info about the world of kink and one which I thought fit well within the narrative.

I’m looking forward to more from this series.

#ARC kindly provided by the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

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Another sure-fire hit in the Ballsy Boys series

Campy (Ballsy Boys #4)Campy by K.M. Neuhold & Nora Phoenix

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn’t sure whether I was going to like this one as it, on the surface, focused on gay for pay (controversial in some circles) star Campy but I shouldn’t have been worried.

There are enough little hints and snippets dropped into the opening couple of chapters for the reader to realise, way before Campy aka Cameron himself does, that he’s bisexual and has had crushes on men he’s never noticed for what they were.

Jackson’s arrival in town, as Cameron’s new roommate, begins to stir feelings he’s never had before and it’s amusing to watch him fall in love without noticing he’s doing so.

Campy/Cameron is a cleverly written character, he takes the reader on a journey as much as he takes himself as his various different lives and personas begin to come crashing together once Jackson arrives in his life.

Jackson’s almost too good to be true 🙂 he’s really just a genuine old-fashioned Texas boy who wants to find the love of his life and settle into the white picket fence life and when he meets Cam, it quickly becomes clear he’s found his one.

The story goes on a few twists and turns as Jackson’s TV show starts to make his face more recognisable and then inadvertently expose all Cam’s secrets. The fall out is dealt with in a way which makes sense and which gives Cam the chance to get his own head around what’s happening in his life.

Eventually there’s reconciliation and a truly lovely conclusion to what was an excellently plotted and paced – and seriously sweet and hot – romance in the Ballsy Boys series.

Now bring on Pixie and Bear!

#ARC kindly provided by the authors in return for an honest and unbiased review

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Complex narrative deeply surrounds this romance from Garrett Leigh

43188699Cash by Garrett Leigh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From ‘The Beautiful Game’ in Lucky to Blood Sports in Cash, Garrett Leigh’s new release takes readers through a tumultuous narrative which may be confusing to those not aware of all the ins and outs of Fox Hunting and the saboteurs that come along hand in hand.

This isn’t typical romance genre fare, there’s a deeper understanding to this story of how far under a saboteur can get involved in trying to disrupt a hunt and the unusual lengths some hunts go to try and get round the present ban on hunting foxes with packs of more than two hounds.

The romance in this is also a more complex one as it is so intricately entwined with that of the book’s message about blood sports.

It fluctuates between intense passion and understanding to dislocation and mistrust and all points in between and I honestly don’t think this will be for everyone.

My own opinion is that is exceptionally detailed, an incredibly strong narrative with great pacing and the characters are compelling but I’m not actually sure if I can say it’s a ‘sit back and chill’ read.

I have mixed feelings about the behaviour of hunt saboteurs in the same way as I have similar feelings about the hunts themselves. I’m not sure that two wrongs ever make a right and illegal activity shouldn’t be condoned on either side.

I think in this instance there is clearly a right and a wrong side to be on however, as it befits the storyline being told and it is told well.

Both Cash and Rae are engaging and equally frustrating men, with their own foibles and unique stubbornness and they play well against the other when they’re on the same page but also when they’re on the outs.

There’s wonderful extended cameos from Dom and Lucky, who are on hand throughout to offer up their own brand of unasked for help and advice but also unwavering loyalty and friendship.

There’s a fully fleshed out set of secondary characters and a clever plot which unveils itself steadily throughout.

So, while I haven’t 5*-ed this one, that’s more down to my own experiences growing up in a Yorkshire market town surrounded by active farming communities and my journalism history of being an agricultural correspondent and rural affairs specialist.

I perhaps have a slightly different view than most of the fox as a creature capable of devastating destruction as well as the beautiful subject of much wildlife photography. Not that I think chasing them to exhaustion with a pack of hounds is the solution either mind.

This is a brilliantly drawn narrative but focused on a subject I’m not truly at ease with and it’s certainly coloured my own enjoyment.

Ultimately I think the message about illegal hunting practices outweighed the romance just a little bit for me to thoroughly enjoy the book as a whole fully.

However, we do also get a sneak peek into book three of the series which is beyond tempting and I can’t wait to find out more about how that will play out.

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

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