Dreamy delight about falling for your best friend

bffBFF by K.C. Wells

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this for the story itself, which is beautifully told and filled with emotion. I loved it even more knowing that it’s loosely based on a real couple who one day realised they were in love with each other.

I know this has had a mixed reception because of the earliest exchanges between the boys but I personally didn’t find them to be too outlandish.

My son had to grow up pretty fast when I nearly died back when he was just six years old, and his vocabulary has always been way advanced for his age as we’ve always read with him and to him.

He started talking relatively late when he was almost four, but once he started, he never stopped and he’s always been an advanced reader (he takes after his mum in that, I could read before I started school).

So, for me anyway, the way David and Matt talked in their younger days, didn’t seem too far beyond reality and, given the story was being narrated as flashback type recollection, I just took it as David embellishing it a bit 🙂

As this is a Dreamspinner release, it’s relatively low angst and no real steam to talk about up until the final 10% and it works for the setting. The whole book felt, for me, as if I was being given a peak into these two men’s lives as they waited until they were young adults before their eyes were opened to the love they had. It’s a truly sweet read.

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

View all my Goodreads reviews

Good follow up to the fabulous Femme

Masc_ebook-web

Masc by Marshall Thornton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It took me a lot longer to get into this one than I did the original Femme, but Lionel and Dog are still crazy fun together and still trying to navigate their way through life.

Lionel is panicking that him and Doug have nothing in common, Doug is trying to avoid the attentions of a creepy hospital colleague and the rest of the gang are alternatively chasing their happy ending or getting caught up in the muddle of already finding one.

I didn’t find this one as funny as Femme, although it still has its moments, but it does carry the same great message about being true to yourself and being the best person you can be.

It ends on an open note once again so I don’t know if more is yet to come for Lionel and Dog but they are very definitely starting a long term HEA.

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

View all my Goodreads reviews

Wonderfully surprised by this new to me author’s hockey romance

On the Ice (Stick Side, #1)On the Ice by Amy Aislin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well this was an utter surprise and a very pleasant one. I’ve never read Amy Aislin before but I shall definitely be keeping an eye out for more of this series.

I absolutely adored it. This is slow burn but with a difference because NHL defensive lineman Alex is demisexual and he needs to be emotionally connected to someone before he even thinks about having feelings of sexual attraction.

Mitch, on the other hand, is younger and, on the face of it, way more confident. He’s bold and brash but hiding a lot of hurt and loss underneath his veneer of self-assurance. He’s been putting a brave face on for so long, he’s lost the ability to be himself. But, if he wants Alex, that’s what he’s got to be.

The slow, slow burn in this is beautifully written. Alex is repulsed at first by Mitch’s open come ons and he doesn’t want to get involved. But once he sees that the visible Mitch isn’t the real one, he’s intrigued and, as he begins to tutor him for a class he can’t afford to fail while out on an injury leave, Alex starts to to get that emotional connection.

I have to say, the only aspect of this one that didn’t quite work for me was the background to why Mitch was on his own and struggling so much and, while it was thoroughly explained and was a perfectly reasonable reason, I think I needed maybe a tiny bit more interaction with his mother for it to be sold perfectly. Especially the bits with his brother.

There’s a great bunch of secondary characters in this one and a very visual setting which was well described and I’m hoping there’s going to be more involving the guys from Mitch’s college team and some of Alex’s Tampa teammates.

I loved that there was a long time period over which this story was told as well, running from 2008 through to 2015 and the final chapter/epilogue was so ridiculously sweet it had me tearing up – which doesn’t happen often!

Sports romances are one of my favourite tropes because they provide me with hope that, eventually, the toxic masculinity present in so many of the “big name” games will fade away and it won’t matter about someone’s sexuality – just how well they can play.

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

View all my reviews

Lots of fun to be had in the first of this new Dreamspinner series

Out of the Ashes (Asheville Arcana #1)Out of the Ashes by Ari McKay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was super sweet and had a lot of world building for a relatively short book.

I liked the setting, the paranormal elements were treated as just part of the world where werewolves, vampires, Fae, wizards, witches, diviners and other magic creatures lived alongside humans but separated off from them.

The threat was built up nicely, as was the sexual tension between alpha pack leader Eli and his half-elf mate Arden. Because this is a Dreamspun Beyond romance, there was just the one on page sex scene but it was worth the wait. Arden and Eli are perfect mates and blew the sheets off!

As this is an ongoing series (and I’ll be reviewing Book Two shortly as well), there was a sort of cliffhanger. The plot narrative for this book was wrapped up but the overall story arc is still be concluded and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes next.

There’s plenty going on in Out of the Ashes and lots of potential for where the story is going next but it’s Whimsy the mage up next in Forged In Fire!

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

View all my reviews

The length of this one may put readers off but the slow burn is worth it

Untouchable

Untouchable by Ruthie Luhnow & Kay Simone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s a 4* for me simply because of the length, I felt the same situation arose over and over (the internal monologuing and second guessing of the other person’s thoughts and feelings just got a bit wearing for me personally).

But, that aside, the rest of this book is a beautifully written exploration of how two completely different and disparate people can actually turn out to be perfect for each other and just “understand” how the other one ticks and know how to comfort and support them.

Both Kay Simone and Ruthie Luhnow have written books I’ve previously 5*ed and thoroughly enjoyed and I thought this collaboration between the two of them highlighted and showcased each of their great writing skills for both a sense of place and in the beautiful language used.

It’s written in first person present, which can be a little difficult to get your head around and is one of the reasons for me that the first quarter of the book just felt like it was going on forever with very little happening.

However, once Harp and Parker actually admit to their blossoming feelings, the pace kicks up a gear and we start to see some real character development as Harp gets over his insular nature and Parker begins to stand up for himself and not feel quite so unworthy. Both men have suffered from the slings and arrows of life so it’s joyful to see them start to open up to each other.

There are hurdles along the way though, and this means there’s a lot of angsty and only a little steam – which actually makes sense given the unique natures of each individual man.

I love a good May to December and Harp is almost two decades older than Parker (who is 26), which again leads to a whole other level of anxiety and insecurities and what I liked about this story is that the relationship didn’t all of a sudden remove all those characteristics.

Both men remained anxious at times, insecure at times, fearful and with all their hang ups, but they also grow and adapt, learn to be flexible and rely on the other.

I think this will appeal to readers who enjoy a slow burn, it is glacial at times, but because of the quality of the writing, it’s something you (generic) can live with as it marches on to what’s a bit of a swoony epilogue.

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

This book drew me in and I was lost in Jason, Chase and Shade’s story

rule-of-thirdsRule of Thirds by Aidan Wayne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t know where to start with this one or what to say really other than, if you’re looking for a hot menage, this isn’t your book.

I’ve never read this author before but I absolutely will be keeping an eye out now because this book was stunning. A character-driven exploration of the terrors of PTSD and trauma, nothing cured by magic dick.

No one recovers, Jason and Shade (oh God, how much did I fall for Shade), still suffer trauma. They don’t reach their best self, but they do become a better self.

The concept of AI becoming sentient independent beings is also superbly explored. Chase and Shade are not constructed AI, both had their awareness birthed through circumstance.

Shade has been badly treated, Chase is his rescuer, his love, his partner, together they offer companionship in the form of a home help essentially. Jason is so deeply traumatised he fears himself.

To watch these three begin to break barriers and for Jason to open up to touch and to emotion really was beautiful. Theirs is a long, slow, at times painful journey, but it’s absolutely worth the pay off.

There’s no steam in this and it totally works for the narrative. There is a lot of communication, a lot of learning to rely on others, an element of of assumed belief of what’s going on off page between Shade and Chase, then later with Jason too.

There is, however, lots of love. It’s shown in a myriad of ways, from Chase’s baking, to Shade’s loyalty and to the gentle kisses that start to bring Jason joy.

Imho there’s been a lot of research into PTSD and the various ways it can manifest gone into this book. I believed in these guys and I loved reading their romance.

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

Get your copy here at DSP: https://www.dsppublications.com/books/rule-of-thirds-by-aidan-wayne-451-b 

View all my reviews

Lots of positives in this debut read from a new to me author

Our Stage (Weldstone Harbor, #1)Our Stage by James T. Prince

My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

3.75*

I have lots of thoughts about this book, most are positive and I enjoyed reading a new author who clearly has a lot of talent.

I do have a couple of negatives, the main one being that, for me, the book went on too long without the narrative justifying it.

There was a fair bit of repetition about David’s anxieties and what he was feeling (and while it’s never said, I think it’s fairly clear he’s either demisexual or gray ace) and Louis’ inability to clearly state his feelings left me a bit frustrated at times.

Also, the big misunderstanding element, in this case a missing letter, was a neat way to bring tension but when combined with all the other angsty things which were going on, again just felt a bit forced.

But the positives did make up for these two issues which will probably not be a big deal to other readers. The writing style is nice and clean, the setting is very well described and brought to life, the secondary plot was handled well and with a lot of sensitivity, and David and Louis were both uniquely fascinating in their own right.

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

View all my reviews