Beautiful broken Beck stole my heart

Victim of LoveVictim of Love by Darien Cox

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh Beck, beautifully broken Beck, how much did I love you? This book made me hurt so much because I’ve been where Olsen was but I didn’t get the HEA.

My Beck, (not his actual name obvs), walked out the door just after Christmas 1996 and he took my heart with him. It took an awfully long time for me to take control of it again. Even now, when I’m very happily settled into a 12 year relationship, with a 9-year-old son together, I’m honestly not sure how I’d react if my Beck walked back into my life.

I’d like to say I’d be able to sit down and shoot the breeze, catch up on those two decades, but if I’m brutally honest, I’m not sure I wouldn’t just want to fall right back into his arms, in spite of how much pain it would cause.

I can understand why people found Beck frustrating. But I got him, he’d suffered an intensely traumatic experience, he had lingering guilt over it, he felt he had to push away everything that had made him Beck before the incident happened. He put a mask on to protect himself from the pain.
When he met Olsen, he didn’t know what to do. Here was someone with the potential power to heal some of that pain, but also capable of crippling Beck beyond recovery.
I understood Olsen, I’ve been Olsen, waiting for just a glimpse of something that, if given the chance to bloom and grow, could develop into something truly beautiful.

You live with the expectation that today might be the day when your Beck admits that you are their one, the one they’re willing to fight for, to open up everything and you wait. You wait until eventually the realisation slips in that they’re not – in the words of Arnie – going to “be back” and you shut your heart down.

I was hoping and praying throughout this book that Beck and Olsen got their Happy Ever After together because for me, it never came. My Beck was the one that got away, that was too damaged to let go

The setting, the secondary characters, the world building, all are superb, these people feel real, you could bump into them on the street. The sex was sensual, passionate, powerful, heart-breaking, emotional, painful, healing and caring.

This book broke me.

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All the stars, every single one of them

Who We AreWho We Are by Nicola Haken

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nicola Haken does it again with this perfectly crafted story of two men whose lives randomly collide and who then go on to build a futureĀ together.

On the way there are trials, and please read this without spoilering yourselves because it truly does need to he discovered piece by piece.

Oliver and Seb are wonderfully expressed characters, so different from each other but with an abiding sense of rightness as a pair. Life hasn’t been easy for either of them but in the fairly low level way of how things can just sometimes be tough.

Their romance is gentle, it creeps slowly with an overwhelming feeling of love and support and it’s needed and tested to a degree most people thankfully will never have to endure.

The setting is fabulously British, Manchester’s Canal Street is somewhere I know quite well and the language is Northern English vernacular, hilarious and harsh, bred from an industrial heritage and a sense of pride of place.

The research, as always with this author, is impeccable, and it’s hard to read at times but oh so very worth it. This is a book about flirting, about family, about love, hope and joy, but also about fear and pain, hopelessness and worry.
Ultimately though, it’s about life and all the unique experiences it brings if people are willing to open their eyes and their hearts.

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Epic introduction chapter kicks off another brilliant story

Finding Hope (Finding Series, Book 5)Finding Hope by Sloane Kennedy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t think I’ve ever read an opening chapter that was at once both incendiary levels of hotness and intriguing enough to lay out the main narrative until this one.

Seriously, Sloane Kennedy is one of the finest writers of MMM I’ve ever read, she has a supreme talent for not only making them volcanic levels of sexual tension, but also deeply emotional and erotic where one of the three never feels like a spare wheel.

This book takes us back to Dare, where there’s an extended level of connection with both Ronan’s Protectors and the Barretti security guys, but which we’ve not had a story from for quite a while.

Beck, eldest adopted son of Cade and Rafe Barretti needs to get away from Seattle and so goes to spend the summer with Cade’s former military partner Jax and his husband Dane, where he’s going to work for Callan at his ranch.

Along the way he has an encounter in a club bathroom with not just one man but two, both of whom he never expects to meet again, which leaves him reeling from the intensity.

So he’s shocked into panic when he discovers the man who made him fly on emotions is Quinn, Callan’s right hand horse man. On his panicked flight from Quinn, he crashes his car and discovers the second of his bathroom partners is Brody, a paramedic.

Where the story goes from here is cleverly woven through the lives of both the close knit family in Dare but also ripples back to the extended Seattle crowd. Beck is drowning until the point at which he gives in and lets himself float with the support of Quinn and Brody.

Beautifully unravelled throughout the romance, we find each of the three has fears they have been struggling to live with but which they find a way of coping when they’re in the arms of the others.

No magic dick in this one either – yay thanks Sloane! – happiness is worked for, professional help is sought, and communication is had to make these three work at their relationship.

The scene where they exchange I love yous is beautifully crafted and feels truthful and well earned. I loved this book and was ridiculously happy when I saw it released early.

Now Sloane, bring out the next Protectors book early please!

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Simply beautiful tale of love

True Colors (True Love, #2)True Colors by Anyta Sunday

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Beautiful, simply beautiful. This book is not a unique trope, it tells the age old story of two young men who were once the truest of friends before it all went horribly wrong.

What is unique about it though is the simple but so very clever way Anyta uses colours to signify emotional states and moments of connection, both negative and positive, throughout this romance.

We have, of course, met both Oskar and Marco before, in the Wish You Were Here anthology short story which was also published as a stand alone late last year Bottle Boy. Now we find out just what happened to push them apart for more than two years.

This is a tale of broken teenage hearts, a piratical play, fears over being hurt again, and a young man who needs to see his own soul burns just as sunburnt yellow bright as he once saw his best friend’s shining.

I’m just a little bit purple and maybe a tiny bit pillar box red after reading this.

#ARC received from NetGalley in return for an unbiased review.

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Epic epilogue on top of a beautifully told story of pain and redemption

Between These SheetsBetween These Sheets by Devon McCormack

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love it when the epilogue of a story jumps years into the future and not just a few weeks. The one in this romance is wonderful, it brings with it such hope and happiness and it makes everything that went before it a well earned journey.

War isn’t kind, it’s cruel and vicious, destructive and damaging, even in those times of justified conflict, the suffering it brings has lingering effects.
This book looks at what it’s like afterwards, when you have to deal with the aftermath of a war zone, what PTSD can do to a person’s brain and how it affects every single thing they do.

Reese and Jay were fully fleshed out characters, their flaws and faults as real as their positive traits. Reese was terrified he’d hurt Jay simply because he couldn’t always cope. Jay was scared he’d be the second choice, the one not good enough for anything but sex.

And speaking of sex, Devon sure knows how to write those, this book has some incredibly passionate moments between the two men and some off the charts hot action to leave you flustered.

What I enjoyed the most about this though was that, in spite of all their hang ups and insecurities, they leant on each other and they talked, truly talked, through the pain.

And a shout out for the stunning cover from Jay Aheer and Allan Spiers Photography.

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Gut wrenching but also full of hope

Falling DownFalling Down by Eli Easton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second of the books I’ve had on my Kindle for ages which I knew was going to be a tough read because of the subject matter.

However, it’s not quite as bleak as Weight of the World and for a lot of the book, it’s a fairly traditional romance setting. Easton handles the themes of suicide and depression with a gentle touch and the voice of Josh’s mum was a clever way to allow the reader into his thoughts without loads of exposition.

I loved Mrs. Fisher, the elderly lady whose house Mark and Josh were painting, she brought a gentleness to the story and was a well fleshed out secondary character who perhaps, through her own loneliness because of her children living so far away, gained a sort of substitute family with the two men and provided Josh with a grandmotherly unconditional affection he’d not had before.

When the big dramatic moment came, it wasn’t unexpected but it was handled well and I liked that Mark’s family came to help out, dealing with him coming out at the same time, in what I thought was a fairly reasonable way, not quite perfect with enough of an edge to feel realistic.

Josh’s hurt was real, his behaviour true to character, if heartbreakingly sad, and the build up to the ending was well paced with more than one moment which make me catch my breath. I didn’t get as teary with this one as I did with Weight of the World because throughout this book just seemed to have a bit more hope.

Ultimately there is happiness and a sure sense of new beginnings for both Josh and Mark amid the peaceful landscapes of New England.

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Oh sweet Lord that cover!

Hard Wired (Cyberlove, #3)Hard Wired by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Five big fat utter perfection stars. This book is everything about online gaming, the communities which grow up around it and the hopes and fears of having to put your true self out there in the real world.

Garvy has my heart, his perfect imperfections and lack of self confidence are not mine (I’ve always been a bit of a gobby git with an attitude in my long journalism career) but I completely understood him and how hard it was to push back and take a stand with his parents.
My parents were fabulous but I’ve had friends who behaved in similar fashion and I think everyone’s been a mug for someone they’ve loved at least once in their life. Mine was called Mark šŸ˜‰

Ian, on the other hand, stole my soul. Every bit of his personality split into different ways of coping with life spoke to me. My gaming persona has always been quite radically different, right from the days of pen & paper table top through text MUDs and into MMOs.
Plus I met both my now ex husband and my life long (12 years and counting now along with the one 8-year-old son) partner through online gaming.
Real and honest relationships can be made, both of friendships but also of love, and that people don’t always seem to get that saddens me.

With this pair, and the Cyberlove series, Megan and Santino have created a truly beautiful world with gorgeous men who may not necessarily meet society’s ‘norm’ but who know how to love with all they’ve got.

The words inside are as glorious as the pretties on the covers. The smexy time is epic, emotionally, sensual and fun, deep and caring, smoking hot and satisfyingly sweet.

Bravo, this series is a triumph.

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