Category Archives: Reviews: LGBTQ+

This is a wonderful exploration of just what makes people connect

Blue Umbrella SkyBlue Umbrella Sky by Rick R. Reed

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I read a book written by Rick R. Reed, I never feel like I’m reading a story, he always transports me into a snippet of the lives of two – on the surface – ordinary men who together manage to find the right glue to hold them together.

In this one he gives us two vastly different men, different ages, different life experiences, different expectations and then he slowly, oh so slowly, brings them together into a glorious, but so very realistic, future.

There’s no real central plot to Blue Umbrella Sky, it’s more about accepting change, accepting you eventually will move on after loss, though the hurt will always remain, it’s about accepting your flaws and your frailties and learning how to live your best life with them.

It also has possibly one of the best representations of an alcoholic living in sobriety and the steps needed to remain in that state without it being overly dramatic, overly angsty or depressing.

I loved the characters of both Billy and Milt and even though this is low steam, all fade to black or off page, it didn’t annoy me as much as that often does because this story wasn’t about the passion of a sexual relationship, it was about finding a new place to call home.

#ARC kindly received from the publishers Dreamspinner Press in return for an honest and unbiased review

Out March 19th, get your pre-order at Dreamspinner Press here: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/blue-umbrella-sky-by-rick-r-reed-10315-b

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A simply beautiful love story with a message about taking a chance

The CoincidenceThe Coincidence by Felice Stevens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is simply beautiful.

Buried deep is a story of traumatic loss reaching back to the Second World War, when Nazi Germany was determined to wipe out anything that didn’t conform to its twisted ideals and whole communities were wiped out in moments.

Felice Stevens draws on her own family history to give this gorgeous romance, between two Jewish men brought up in wildly different circumstances, a pathos that isn’t often found in narratives of this type and it adds layers of feeling.

Coby and Eli are opposites, one out and proud but trampled on by a shitty ex who treated him like dirt, the other a virgin and only just taking his first steps into admitting his sexuality.

It’s almost impossible from more than eight decades later, to be able to put yourself back in those days but as we get to know the characters and their families, we see how life’s experiences can fundamentally change the way emotional connections develop.

In a world of coincidences, which may just be fate, Coby’s best friend sets him up on a blind date with Eli.

Everything about their slow burn falling in love worked for me. From Eli’s hesitant first steps, to Coby fearing he’d not be enough, their journeys are shaped by their experiences at home.

Coby has had love and acceptance from his family, while Eli and his brother Darren have never met their father’s expectations.

But, as the narrative unfolds, we get more clues behind this behaviour and by the end, I felt perhaps a bit more of an understanding for why that was the case, even if I didn’t forgive it.

The romance itself is just the type I love, there’s no real angsting once Coby and Eli have talked. Their slow fall into love is depicted with ease by Felice and there’s a great bunch of secondary characters hanging around to bring a touch of lightness.

It’s difficult to express just what captivated me in this book but a lot of it is to do with the cultural heritage found throughout.

I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like for a Jewish family in the 1930s, but I can understand totally the need to hold to those traditions and values that were so nearly lost forever.

The premise which shines through this book is simple – to find that other being who just makes life that little bit more special and to hold them tight because not everyone gets that chance.

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

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Second time around and I loved this complex issues-focused romance

43527040Dirty Laundry by Heidi Cullinan

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Re-reading the revised and expanded edition due out soon from Dreamspinner.

***

4.5*

Well, second time around I’m not sure if I can tell what’s been changed from the first edition but I have to say, I vastly enjoyed this more than I obviously did the first time round when I only gave it 3* but didn’t review (for whatever reason I can’t remember now)

I’d forgotten how deliciously filthy – in the absolute best way – it is, with Denver and Adam’s BDSM taking them into some seriously sensual and highly erotic scenes which burst with not only sexual tensions and lust, but also with clearly developing emotions and the start of relationship connections which only strengthen with time.

It’s also a stunning examination of the outcomes living with OCD and clinical anxiety can do to a human’s mind and how it can twist beyond recognition the normalities of day to day life into nightmarish proportions.

But, that’s not to say that the exploration of BDSM brings with it a cure or that Denver has a magic dick with which to stop all of Adam’s issues. He doesn’t. What he provides is an outlet through which Adam learns to find managing techniques which help him process the tics and the panic attacks and the irrational fears.

There’s also a wonderful cast of helpful and supporting secondary characters. I’d forgotten just how much I loved Louisa, the trans woman Adam bumps into shortly after his dickhead ex has managed to drive him into an anxiety spike.

The new cover for this book also beautifully illustrates Denver’s strengths, the cowboy who has his own issues to deal with, who thinks he’s dumb but actually has what’s probably dyslexia or a similar learning processing disorder.

So, second time round and it’s a massive hit for me.

#ARC kindly received from the publishers Dreamspinner Press in return for an honest and unbiased review

Pre-order your copy here from Dreamspinner Press: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/dirty-laundry-by-heidi-cullinan-10335-b

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So many feels make this a fabulous MMM romance

44302180Uncomplicated by K.M. Neuhold

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fabulous and my favourite in this set of interconnected books so far.

An exceptionally good MMM narrative which perfectly demonstrates how a two can become a three with good communication and a whole lot of feels.

And believe me, there are feels all over in this book.

I’ve been intrigued by Beau and Cas throughout the Heathens Ink series and now, in this spin-off, we finally get his story.

It’s incendiary. Beau and Cas together, Beau and Finn, Finn and Cas, each one brings something to close the circle of love which began when Cas and Finn were just teenagers.

All three together takes the roof off, they are not only hot, but they’re all emotionally connected and the sex only strengthens the bonds between these men.

I loved this book.

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

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I am so in love with this setting and these characters

Midnight Flit (The Carstairs Affairs, #2)Midnight Flit by Elin Gregory

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Simply brilliant. This is everything I want in a historical novel. It draws you into the time period perfectly, bringing a real sense of the start of the madness leading up to the Second World War.

Here we’re only just into the 1930s but there’re enough tensions for a modern reader to see where this time period is eventually going and Elin lays it all down with a deft touch.

I cannot wax lyrical enough about how much I love Millie Carstairs, the alter ego of cypher clerk Miles Siward, and here she’s on top form as a rescue mission to bring Miles’ beloved mother home to Blighty goes wrong from the moment they leave the Embassy in Bucharest.

This series needs to be turned into a TV show, its utterly compelling and superb settings just lend themselves to be adapted.

It’s daring do of the highest quality and reminds me a great deal of the wonderful Tommy and Tuppence Beresford from that master craftswoman Agatha Christie.

I’m intrigued by Falk, the German assassin who keeps popping up in the series, he needs his own book!

And Elin really threw me for a loop with one of the things which happened in this book. I wasn’t expecting it at all and was made very sad but it works so well to bring a real sense of the dangers of the world that Briers and Miles move in 😦

There’re some delicious plot elements left open for book three and another new character introduced who isn’t all he seems to be either.

Reading this just took me right back to the Saturday morning black & white weekly adventure shows of my childhood and I can’t wait for more.

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

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Loved the idea behind this fake boyfriend reality TV romance

Cowboy Seeks HusbandCowboy Seeks Husband by Leta Blake & Indra Vaughn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, that was a surprise. I loved the idea behind this book, the fakeness of a reality TV show, the idea of two men falling for each other despite the manipulations.

For the most part, it delivered perfectly on the premise and the wee bit of kink that snuck in towards the end as Roan and Walker got fully invested was delicious.

But there were bits where I felt the narrative dropped, if not a clanger, then more of a hiccup in how it dealt with threads brought up earlier.

It’s difficult to highlight them without spoilers though and I don’t want to use tags either as I still think it will work better for the reader if they don’t know in advance.

Almost like you’ve been watching the TV show itself, the plot unfolds in distinct chapters and as it drew closer to the end, I did feel the tension rising.

Surprisingly, it’s only moderate steam, there’s a single sexy encounter during the show filming and the majority of the book is slow burn until the final ten per cent.

I also felt like everything wrapped up a bit quickly and there were threads left open which may be there to kick off another book and turn this into a series, which I’d be down for.

But, as always with both of these authors, there’s some gorgeous emotions, great prose and I was happy with where the epilogue took the characters.

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

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I love me a good ice hockey focused romance

Off the IceOff the Ice by Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am such a sucker for a sports romance and I’m particularly keen on ice hockey as it’s a game I know little about but which seems to have such a great sense of community.

That this one also came along with an age gap, a stern Puerto Rican professor and a wee bit of humiliation kink and a light sprinkling of power exchange BDSM made it all the more delicious.

Every bit of the narrative worked, I liked the tensions which were introduced as Tristan had to consider the outcomes of coming out and Sebastian’s concerns over not being forced back into the closet.

The sex is hot, but it also has purpose to help anchor Tristan when he gets overwhelmed by his career and his feelings. The spankings, and his need to be lightly humiliated, felt completely grounded in the narrative and not just there to add in some sex.

I loved the secondary characters too, especially Sebastian’s friend RJ and Tristan’s teammates, although I thought one element of the plot was a bit out of left field and seemed to be there only as a way of setting up what I suspect will be book three.

Still, that’s my only criticism and why it didn’t make it into a five star read. I’m very much looking forward to book two though with both goalies in focus.

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

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