American Gothic in book form – creepy and perfectly weird

Insight (The Community #1)Insight by Santino Hassell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I said in my update, this book is like American Gothic, the famous painting which looks ordinary on the surface but the more you examine it, the stranger it gets.

Santino’s incredible world building skills are in full force for this edgy suspense story which mixes in the romance element without ever fully giving in to that particular trope’s usual formula.

There’s no miscommunication, no odd little hiccup at 70% to allow the couple to reunite, instead there’s a strangely subdued relationship developing between Nate and Trent while around them, stranger things happen.

I clocked the likely villain fairly early on but not anything on how the plot would develop and the final denouement was a quiet surprise in how it came about.

There is an element of cliff hanger to this one in so much as the storyline continues into book two but this opening novel does also wrap up what’s been happening with Nate and Trent and puts them into a pretty steady and secure relationship.

Steam levels are appropriately low, which works for the nature of the narrative but there is a nice connection when they do occur.

I enjoyed it but, unlike other Santino stories, I don’t think I’d be likely to read it again.

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Another solid romance from Avery Ford

A Marriage ResolutionA Marriage Resolution by Avery Ford

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Like all her books, there’s light angst, a little bit of steam and a generally sweet romance thrown together with the usual trials of life to make a good solid read.

While there’s nothing out of the ordinary in this one, it has some cute moments and the epilogue is a lot of fun. I’m not sure the side plot with Vincent really worked though, it all got cleared up a bit too easily and quickly for it to seem believable.

However, I liked that Owen decided on his own it was time to move on and that Ethan was too good to let him go.

I’m also ignoring the espionage twist, that was ridiculous and could have been left out altogether imho.

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Cute romance with an adorable dog

Crushed (Foster Puppies Book 1)Crushed by A.R. Steele

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2.5* There’s a lot of good things in this book. It’s fairly low angst, it has a cute dog and her litter of puppies, it has a tinge of sadness to stop it being overly sweet and it has a lovely epilogue.

I liked Harley, he was simple in his ways, no manipulation or falseness in his character, he knew what he wanted and wasn’t afraid to let it out. Tynan on the other hand, took some warming to. He was repressed and closed off and not particularly nice for a while.

Eventually though, he found the inner strength to be himself and do what made him happy. They made a sweet pair and I did find the relationship development believable.

Steam factor is on the low side, a lot happens off page or fades to black but there are also times when they come together and it felt organic and emotionally connected.

But there’s loads of gay stereotyping goes on in this book which made me roll my eyes a lot. Also there’s no actual story narrative, not a lot happens other than an act of dramady which felt out of place.

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Nice later life romance

Silver FoxesSilver Foxes by Grant C. Holland

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a nice gentle later life romance which also doubles as a second chance one as college friends Byron and Gage reconnect at their 30 year reunion.

There’s not a lot of plot to this one, it’s fairly low in both angst and steam but it’s a sweet read with a nice story narrative and a couple of hot men finding love second time round.

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