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.

View all my reviews

Brilliantly concludes the PresLocke series

Wedlocked (Preslocke, #3)Wedlocked by Ella Frank

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love the love in these books. I love how passionately Ace and Dylan love each other. I love the love Ziggy and Sunshine have for their family and I love the love the extended cast of motley characters have for each other.

The epilogue is fabulous and takes the reader into a future you know will be glorious and filled with a real and true Happy Ever After, although I’m not saying I wouldn’t want to read another peek into the Locke-Prescotts a few more years down the line (not so subtle hint there ladies).

Sex, yes there’s plenty and it’s laced with the same depth of emotion it always has been, both these beautiful men wear their hearts on their sleeves and aren’t afraid of letting the other know how important they are.

We get a coming together of all the characters from this ingenious crossover as Ace and Dylan prepare for their wedding and with them all comes the usual humour and chaos which has played a big part in these books.

Oh and yet another staggeringly beautiful cover helps to mirror the wonderful story inside the pages.

View all my reviews

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 future 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.

View all my reviews

Smoking hot return to Metropolis

Working It (Metropolis Book 2)Working It by Riley Hart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hot, hot, hot, this book is explosive. In Working It Devon and Riley take the reader back to their skyscraper of ridiculously hot men with a beautifully paced story of friends with benefits turning into something much stronger.

I loved book one but this one is even better as I found Hayden and Cody’s relationship a bit less stressy and a lot more of a gentle slide into romance – with the added benefit of some incendiary sexy times. There’s a lot of humour in this one too, the guys laugh a lot together and there’s not as much angsty or dramatic moments.

Hayden was a nicely constructed character, I liked that he wasn’t sure where his life was going and how he was trying to find a new one after breaking up with his ex.
Cody also could have been a one note character, fixated on his pained upbringing, but instead the authors made him an optimistic and encouraging friend to Hayden.

I loved reading their relationship grow slowly as they figured out that the friends with benefits option of their relationship wasn’t enough anymore. Oh and the scene with Finn, make sure you’ve got a) a fan and b) a towel to hand when reading that one. Methinks that sailor boy needs his own story. It’s not easy to write something generally considered “porny” without making it porn but in the hands of these two authors it felt perfectly placed and constructed within the narrative.

The epilogue was all ends up sweet as well. Now we wait for Derek’s story and I’m intrigued as to see how Devon and Riley handle him and stop him from becoming too full on annoying.

Oh, and that cover, where can I get one please?! That’s pretty much my dream guy.

View all my reviews

Superb start to new military series from Annabeth Albert

Off Base (Out of Uniform, #1)Off Base by Annabeth Albert

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love military romances and I love Annabeth Albert so this was a marriage truly made in MM heaven for me.

How much did I want to just grab Zach and give him a massive hug?! The poor guy had so much shit to deal with and his fears about being gay felt so real, especially with the background Annabeth gave him. This book is not for the fainthearted with it’s continual insidious low levels of homophobia.

I honestly don’t think anyone who doesn’t identify as LGBTQ+ can truly understand, even if we can absolutely empathise and sympathise, just how damaging it can be when a percentage of the world thinks there’s something fundamentally wrong with you simply because of how and who you love.

This book takes the military, a hotbed of testosterone and masculinity, and focusses on what it’s like to be gay within those uniforms but it does it on a relatively low level, giving the reader insight into how things can still be a problem even with the repeal of DADT.

Zach is such a complex character, never one note but fully expressed as a young man proud of his service but also scared and bewildered at the hostility expressed against anyone who might possibly be gay by a minority of his team mates. The threat hanging over him from bullying draws him back to his confused youth with an older brother who behaved in the same way and parents who never stepped in the way.

Pike, by contrast, is out and proud but also scared to commit having been burnt once before by a “straight” guy who let him get too close and he desperately tries to just be friends with the taciturn Navy SEAL even though he’s attracted to him and his nature is to be a flirt. He senses how Zach is struggling and does his best to make it easier.

Their gradual slide through friendship into lovers is extremely well done, the tip off point resulting in an explosive encounter which leaves them both reeling. I loved every single bit of this book and never wanted it to stop and now I can’t wait to get to read the others.

Apollo is next and I’m sure hoping there’s a guy waiting to bring joy and sunshine back into his life following the death of his husband because who wouldn’t want the kick ass LT to be happy?!

View all my reviews

Five fat fairy tale stars

Beau and the BeastBeau and the Beast by Kay Simone

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t know how Kay Simone does it but here, again, is an epic tale of love in unusual circumstances, totally different to each of her other novels but carried out with aplomb.

This is billed as a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but it’s way more than that. Yes we have the ‘beast’ in Wolfram, yes we have the beauty in Beau, but this isn’t so much a tale of beauty saving the beast as of two souls finding their perfect other selves and of acceptance in a world of different.

The ending, and the novel way it deals with what usually happens in this fairy tale, is truly inspired, I didn’t see it coming and I hope readers of this book are able to discover it themselves without spoilers, believe me it’s worth it.

The world building is superb, the secondary characters are given the same depth of treatment as the two leads and Kay’s use of language is again beautiful.

And the sex scenes, let’s just say if anyone ever needs to know just how erotic lovemaking can be between a slight figure of a man and a seven foot furrred man with arm’s horns and a lion’s tail, this book proves beyond doubt that Non Human People can get it on with the best of them.
The sex is lovingly woven into the story as a part of the ever growing relationship between these two and never feels like it’s there simply for titillation.

The ending is perfect, the epilogue a glimpse into a future in which society embraces the differences instead of fearing them and that’s a world I’d love to live in.

Oh, and Noah and Lincoln were absolutely brilliant, such a riot and a pairing which, on the surface never should have worked, but in practice, absolutely did.

View all my reviews

Well crafted but not a traditional romance

Necessary MedicineNecessary Medicine by M.K. York

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5*

This is an exceptionally well written book, well crafted, detailed and knowledgeable about the world of medicine. I’m just not sure that it really qualifies to be designated as a romance though when the romance element of it doesn’t occur until the final 20% of the book.

Having said that, there is a fair bit of UST from about 30% in but, for the overwhelming majority of this story, it focusses on the difficulties of being in the final stages of training necessary to become a surgeon.

Now, that doesn’t make this book unreadable, on the contrary, this book is eminently readable, it’s engaging and Neil, the protagonist, is a very likable chap, he’s dedicated to his calling, he’s frustrated at his lack of personal life and he’s aching with the attraction he has for a senior colleague.
But nothing happens, absolutely nothing at all, for pretty much three quarters of this book. Yes we get glimpses into Neil’s head and his pining for Eli, but that’s it, apart from one stolen kiss which causes all sorts of angst.

The romance, when it does eventually come, is so well done I felt cheated to have not had more of it. Neil and Eli eventually realise that love is something that they should be willing to fight and make sacrifices for and, if they don’t, they could end up an eminently respected – but incredibly lonely – medical expert.
The book also covers a long time span but the jumps are well done and never feel jarring, the segues from one year to another are logical and explained well in the narrative.
I did feel the secondary characters were also well developed, although they were sort of pushed to the side a little once the romance did kick in.

The epilogue goes some way to mollifying my pouting over the romance because it is beautifully done and a real HEA where we find out just how aware each man had been of the other and it picked up nicely on what was happening with the secondary characters from earlier, which was again a great touch.

Overall this is a very impressive debut novel, I just wish it were perhaps better signposted that it’s not a romance in the traditional sense, at least not until near the end.

View all my reviews