Another pitch perfect addition to the Out of Uniform series

37544729Squared Away by Annabeth Albert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There’s a few authors who I know, when it comes to a military setting, that I’m going to get a book that not only gets that aspect right, but also perfectly pitches the romance that goes with it.

Annabeth Albert is one of those and in her latest Out of Uniform offering, she gives the reader something different. This book still has all the military elements down pat, even with the narrative including a rush job home at the end of a deep ops mission.

But it also has great depth, especially when it comes to dealing with, and processing, the emotional, financial and legal aspects of sudden death.

There is grief here, but also anger, there is mistrust and fear, but also hope and expectations things will just work out with enough effort.

And, ultimately, there is a gorgeous romance and a relationship which relies on more than just a sexual connection to build up the tensions in the plotting.

Now that’s not to say that this book isn’t without sex, as always Annabeth has a light touch which puts on paper some incredibly powerful and moving experiences between Unca Ike and Unca Mark.
Mark’s awareness of his demisexual, possibly grey ace, status is handled with sensitivity.

He doesn’t suddenly want sex just because Ike is his person, sometimes the act of kissing is even more sensual and a bigger turn on than a full on sex scene.

There is a lot of hurt/comfort in this, but also a lot of situations which become hurtful to one or the other character and it’s refreshing to see this handled through conversation and not just magic dick-ed away.

The kids are also believable, there’s a good set of secondary characters and we get a chance to catch up with some of the guys from the series. Now, can we get as HEA for Bacon next please 😉

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

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Point of Contact will leave you hurting but it’s worth the pain

37763495Point of Contact by Melanie Hansen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


So, so, so many times this book made me tear up but I never full on ugly cried like I have with previous Melanie Hansen books and I think, for me, the reason for that was Carl.

I felt for Carl. It felt like Carl was there only to be discarded so that the “real” romance between Trevor and Jesse could begin and I felt like Carl was really badly done to.

Irrational perhaps because, don’t get me wrong, the romance between Trevor and Jesse was absolutely perfect, but it felt like that should have been the only one and Carl could have just been a really good friend instead.

I know he needed to be there for plot reasons at the party so Jesse could behave as he did, but it just still took the edge of the rest of the romance for me personally.

But, as for the rest, this book will rip your heart out at the sorrow and pain the characters experience. War hurts, no matter whether the cause is “righteous” or not. People die, families are devastated, friends are left to deal with the survivor guilt.

This book, like all of Melanie’s I’ve read, has meticulously researched elements which make it feel absolutely real. But there was one hiccup in this which surprised me. At one point Riley is trying to persuade Jesse to join the Army’s Special Forces and – instead of using the Hooah battle cry, he yells Oorah instead.

It’s a small detail but that’s the cry of the Marines, an entirely separate branch of the Military and one usually affiliated with the Navy (while being independant), so it threw me out a bit. If they were going to join the Army’s Special Forces, it’d have been the Rangers, Delta Force or Special Forces Regiment (amongst others).
Now I’m not saying they couldn’t have switched branches to the Marines, but it just didn’t seem likely and I was surprised at the error.

That aside, the rest of this book is impeccable as it shows the impact of Private First Class Riley Estes’ death in combat on his friends and his father. There is lots of pain, but also lots of comfort in this book as Trevor comes to rely on Jesse firstly for the connection to his dead son, but then for Jesse himself.

There is a tender romance at the heart of this and the writing style – of using time jumps to highlight key areas of the narrative – worked really well for me. The Epilogue is wonderful, carries some real hope and is beautifully bookended with the Prologue which opens the book.

The cover is tasteful, as befits the subject matter, and works perfectly. A book I won’t forget for a while.

#ARC kindly provided by the publishers through NetGalley in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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SPOILER ALERT: THE HERO DIES: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Other Four-Letter Words

ausiello-coverI’ve been a fan of Michael Ausiello since I started watching American TV series Glee and started following him to check for spoilers and other snippets about that show so it was difficult to read his announcement that his beloved partner Kit had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

They married in time for Kit’s first chemo appointment – another of the issues facing a same sex couple is having legal responsibilities in the event of illness

This autobiography goes into that painful time but it also gives some insight into a career which is as filled with humour and happiness as it is with sadness and pain.

The blurb for this book sums it up perfectly, you will howl with laughter, you will sob at the tragedy of losing the love of your life over such a short space of time and – ultimately – you will be thankful for the chance to come along for the ride as Ausiello shows the reader all the ups and downs of a life worth living.

Michael Ausiello’s SPOILER ALERT: THE HERO DIES: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Other Four-Letter Words (Atria Books; September 12, 2017; $26.00) chronicles a fourteen-year love affair that culminated in a final year of illness, resilience, and, tragically, death.

ausielloAbout the Author:

Michael Ausiello is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of, a television entertainment website owned by Penske Media that launched in 2010. Ausiello began his publishing career in 1997 as a senior news editor at Soaps in Depth magazine before moving over to TV Guide in 2000. During his eight-year tenure there, he wrote for both the magazine and its website.

Ausiello’s columns at TV Guide included “The Ausiello Report” – a weekly print column that expanded into a regularly updated blog online – and “Ask Ausiello,” an exclusively online weekly Q&A that he also conducted after moving over to Entertainment Weekly in 2008. Ausiello has also contributed commentary to media outlets such as Today, Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, Inside Edition, Extra, and Access Hollywood. He lives in New York City.


By Michael Ausiello

Atria Books Hardcover | On-sale: September 12, 2017 |ISBN: 9781501134968, $26.00

eBook: 9781501134982, $13.99

This book just hit all my buttons and almost made me cry

RegretRegret by Christina Lee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book needs a tissue warning! I didn’t full out blub but I was so close and definitely had very leaky eyes at the ending.

Sometimes a book just resonates with you as a reader and this was one of those for me. I could feel every ounce of Nick’s guilt and grief and all I wanted to do was reach into the book and wrap him in the world’s biggest hug.

Brin, on the other hand, for a lot of the book I wanted to sit down and just talk to, get inside his hurt and ask him to think logically about why Nick might have done what he did. His hurt was perfectly valid and I totally understood why he’d cut him off but as soon as they reconnected, it became really clear there had been something seriously wrong at the heart of Nick’s behaviour.

There’s nothing more delicious to me than a true enemies to lovers or second chance romance and this book turns both up in spades. Christina Lee is a writer who has such an authentic way of connecting her readers to the characters she’s writing. They are honest and real and flawed but also beautiful and hopeful and loving.

The sadness at the centre of this book is also wholly believable, it never once feels like a plot point thrown in just to create the drama. It was heart-breaking and something you know sadly happens more than we’d like to think and which leaves people living half lives.

The characters which surround Nick and Brin are also fully drawn out, inhabiting their own slice of the story perfectly and bringing the necessary depth to anchor their relationship reconnection on.

I’m really hoping this is the start of a new series Christina because I want to know more about Tristan and the mysterious Mr V’s boyfriend!

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Oh my word the angsty in this one is unending!

The Truth As He Knows It: (Perspectives #1)The Truth As He Knows It: by A.M. Arthur

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There’s an awful lot of angsty in this one, it just racks up and up until you reach a point where you wonder how much more one guy can take. . . and then another tonne is dropped.

However, in spite of all the angsty, this book isn’t an uncomfortable read, it has lots of sweet romance at the heart of it alongside some smoking smexy times and it has a lovely ending which feels like a genuine start of something pure and true.

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Favourite Bluewater Bay book yet

Selfie (Bluewater Bay, #13)Selfie by Amy Lane

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely my favourite one yet in this series. This book deals – most beautifully – with grief and how it can utterly cripple you to the point where you simply cease to be. You can function but you basically stop living.

For Connor that happened when the love of his life, Vinnie, was killed by a drunk driver and their 10 year relationship became a source of constant pain because – as Hollywood actors – they’d spent those 10 years hiding everything about how they were lovers, partners, friends, irreplaceable, from the world. No-one knew Connor’s overwhelming grief wasn’t just for his best friend. Until one night a drunken, but thankfully silent, video exposed all that pain.

This book so beautifully gives us Connor, in all his heart-break and grieving, his fears, his anger, his tentative steps back to the road to “normal” and it spares no punches in doing so. It’s also a story about love, about hope, about getting a second chance and not being too broken to grasp it.

I don’t think anyone writes this type of romance better than Amy Lane and this book takes all those tropes about the toxicity of having a closeted relationship and exposes them. The setting has been built up throughout this series of mostly stand alone books but they are still loosely connected through the town of Bluewater Bay and the TV show Wolf’s Landing which is filmed there.
This book sees appearances from some of the MCs from previous books and introduces its own new set of wonderful secondary characters who add flavour and I especially loved Jilly, Connor and Vinnie’s manager, who had been hiding her own pain a bit too well also.

Noah, Connor’s new love interest, is a study in contrasts. Part African-American, part Native American, he’s deferential in his role as Connor’s driver and general PA but, as their friendship develops, he becomes more than just a rock to lean against, he represents a way out of the darkness and into the light.
He’s sarcastic, witty, domineering in the bedroom and takes charge of Connor, allowing him to just switch everything off and remove the pain of loss and change it up for something else (although I’m not sure that exactly worked for me).

Not everything is doom and gloom though, there are flashes of humour, of sunlight and soft kisses as well as steamy sex and hot passionate love making. There are bike rides and brilliant acting shots, new friendships and, eventually, there is acceptance, closure and moving on.

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Five brutal heart breaking stars

A Walk Through Fire (Through Hell and Back Book 1)A Walk Through Fire by Felice Stevens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh Felice Stevens you know how to wrench every but of emotion from someone. This book is brutal and heart breaking but it’s also uplifting and heart warming.

It’s about pain and loss, joy and hope, second chances at life and new beginnings. It’s about finding family and learning how to let yourself be loved.

Asher and Drew are a magnificent pairing, birth men bowing under the weight of their past, both men capable of bearing the weight of the other’s fears.

That I could get teary about what happens to one of the secondary characters is testimony to the world building skills of the author.

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