Tag Archives: musician

Hugo and Helen’s journey touched my soul

58914491._SY475_Bring Me Home by Nicola Haken

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nicola Haken has a small catalogue of books but every one of them has touched me deep in my soul.

Bring Me Home is no exception, in fact it’s one of the rawest in terms of how mental illness can distort your world view and make you feel like you’re worthless even when you’re a mega famous rock star.

Hugo broke my heart, his autism adds another dimension to his mental health issues but it’s never made to be a defining issue.

His autism isn’t what causes Hugo’s life to start collapsing around him, it’s the depression he’s never really found a way to handle – not since he left his best friend Helen behind eight years ago that is.

Helen is one of life’s rocks. She’s grounded, although she’s not without issues herself, and she’s tried to put the past behind her. After losing her mother, she’s facing life truly on her own and forging ahead with a determination that is inspiring. She’s strong, but ultimately flawed like all of us.

This book tells a story which takes the reader on a journey through forgiveness, through understanding and reconnecting. It walks the path of two best friends who have always been everything to each other and perhaps more.

It pulls no punches when it deals with the insidious way that depression and mental health issues can distort your world view until there seems to be no way forward.

But it is also filled with joy, with hope, with understanding and with people who will provide the foundations on which a new path can be built. There is no cure for depression or autism or mental health dysfunctionality.

There is, however, structured methods for how to deal with it, there’s support networks, medication which can help to provide an even keel. There’s love, so much love, more than Hugo realised he was surrounded by.

Phoebe, Hugo’s superb therapist, describes his brain as a computer with a virus and herself and his IT gal, there to help him reboot his neurons and put them back in the right place. I thought this absolutely nailed it perfectly.

It helps Hugo understand that he has done nothing wrong. It’s not a choice he made, it’s a hand he’s been dealt and she’s there to provide him with all the support to find the right way to play it.

I loved her almost as much as I loved Helen. Ezra, Hugo’s bodyguard, is also a fabulous person, he’s there in the background, a sort of older brother/father figure. Drew, his manager, while a flawed character capable of making mistakes, is also doing everything he does from a place of love. Their relationship is turbulent but ultimately supportive.

And Chrissie, someone who starts as a sort of throwaway figure, who Helen isn’t sure she’s even really friends with, provides not only some levity to the narrative but support for Helen and is, without any doubt, a best friend, someone she can turn to at the darkest times.

I think what I loved the most about this book is that the falling in love bit was so natural. Hugo and Helen are each other’s forever and it’s been clear from the time they met, aged just four. The things which separated them on the way, only served to make them stronger.

Be aware of the warnings. This book covers heavy subjects, there are triggers for depression, for drug use (prescription not illegal), for desperate measures when all seems lost, for inpatient treatment at a clinic.

Ultimately, though, it’s a beautiful story about love, about soulmates, about walking a path together in the best way you can. It’s an authentic journey, told with real voices and I loved it.

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

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Release Blitz: Sailor Proof by Annabeth Albert

Sailor Proof | Annabeth Albert

Shore Leave #1

1-Banner_SailorProof

Release Date: September 28th

Publisher: Carina Press

Publisher Buy Link: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781335984920_sailor-proof.html

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/sailorproof

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56472984-sailor-proof

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Blurb

The sexy Navy chief and his best friend’s adorkable little brother…

It’s petty, but Naval Chief Derrick Fox wishes he could exact a little revenge on his ex by showing off a rebound fling. His submarine is due to return to its Bremerton, Washington, home base soon and Derrick knows all too well there won’t be anyone waiting with a big, showy welcome.

Enter one ill-advised plan…

Arthur Euler is the guy you go to in a pinch—he’s excellent at out-of-the-box solutions. It’s what the genius music-slash-computer nerd is known for. So when he finds out Derrick needs a favor, he’s happy to help. He can muster the sort of welcome a Naval Chief deserves, no problem at all.

Except it is a problem. A very big problem.

When Arthur’s homecoming welcome is a little too convincing, when a video of their gangplank smooch goes enormously viral, they’re caught between a dock and a hard place. Neither of them ever expected a temporary fake relationship to look—or feel—so real. And Arthur certainly never considered he’d be fighting for a very much not-fake forever with a military man.

Excerpt

Derrick

Arthur turned out hot. That was my first thought when I spotted him after I heard my name called. Derrick. My actual name, not Fox, not Chief, and outside of Calder a couple of times, I hadn’t heard that name in months. And definitely not like that, all eager and excited and happy. On the sub, hearing my name inevitably meant that someone needed something right that minute, but the way Arthur said it didn’t inspire dread at all.

I’d already been caught up in the energy of the day. Homecoming day was always exciting, even if I didn’t usually have someone waiting. The whole crew was jostling about, getting into our dress whites, making sure everything from our cover to the chest candy of ribbons and medals to the gig line was perfectly straight. Getting chosen to be on deck as we came into port was an honor, one that I usually let others, especially those with kids, fight over, since there was still plenty to do belowdecks in preparation and support. As the chief sonar tech, I was responsible for working with the A-gangers from engineering and the operations department to help navigate us in. Adrenaline was contagious, and by the time my department was cleared to disembark, I had enough energy to rival the reactor that powered the sub.

And then I heard my name.

I recognized Arthur’s red hair right away. But the rest…

Wow. Arthur had grown hot. Still shorter than me and skinnier, but wiry now, each lean muscle defined under a thin white shirt and tight jeans. No signs of his ever-present too-big nerd-humor tees. Same startling green eyes as before, though, and a new, more chiseled jaw sporting the perfect amount of fuzz. He’d grown into his long regal nose, and the hair that had seemed to have a life of its own when he’d been a teen was sculpted now, this perfectly styled wave that made me want to mess it up. His hands, which had always seemed too big for the rest of him, were clutching a giant sign.

For me.

And for a second—a literal instant when our eyes met and time stopped—I forgot it wasn’t real. And in that moment, I wanted it to be. Someone smiling that broadly for me. Had Steve ever been so happy to see me? Hell, I wasn’t even sure the poodle my grandmother had let me keep had been that happy. Arthur just radiated pure joy. The kid was one hell of an actor.

“Welcome home.” Even his voice was different. Deeper. Sexier.

“Hey,” I said because I was simply that brilliant at conver­sation. I reached an arm out, instinctively going for a hand­shake, but Arthur shifted his sign and met me partway, coming in for a hug.

A really tight hug.

Damn, he felt good. Amazing really. Solid muscle against me, hair tickling my nose, exactly as silky as it looked, strong arms able to haul me in and hold me tight. He smelled like mint and green tea, two things in short supply on a boat that tended to smell like old socks on a good day. Sweet. I inhaled deeply as his lips brushed my ear.

“Calder said to kiss you,” he whispered. “And I want to. But you gotta tell me you’re good with that first.”

Was I good with that? Hot guy who smelled like a concoction I wanted to drink every day for a month wanted to kiss me. And ordinarily, the friendship code would put Arthur far, far off-limits, but here was Calder telling us to kiss. It was a free pass, the sort I’d be a fool to turn down.

I wasn’t a fool.

And what harm could a peck do?

“Yeah.” My voice was a rough whisper, and I didn’t have a chance to brace myself before Arthur was sliding his mouth over from my ear to mouth. A double shot of tequila would have had less punch than the first brush of contact.

And okay, not a peck.

We were kissing. Arthur and I, which should have been weird but somehow wasn’t. At all. Someone whooped behind us, but almost all of my attention was riveted on Arthur, like I was on watch and every sense was heightened lest I miss something vital.

Like how soft his lips were. Full too. Or the bristle of his scruff against my cheek. I’d done a submarine shave that morn­ing, not my best job, but close enough that the rasp of beard felt electric. Our chests were pressed so tightly that I could feel his heart pounding. Or maybe that was mine, blood zooming to places that had been in deep freeze for months.

“Wow.” Arthur pulled back, leaving me dazed and still clinging to him.

“Damn.” The statuesque purple-haired woman he’d been standing with laughed loudly and thumped Arthur’s shoul­der. “Is that the best you can do? Your man has been at sea how many months?”

Your man. If only. If he were actually mine, we’d be racing across base, a mad dash to find a room with a door. But he wasn’t and all we’d ever have was this moment. A potent mix of want and resolve raced through me as suddenly I was determined to make this count.

I pulled him back to me, and this time when our mouths collided, I was ready. Ready to taste. Ready to absorb every single detail. Ready to seize control and kiss like the world might be ending.

And it could have. Not sure I would have noticed. Everything faded away. The crowd. The docks. The balloons Arthur had been clutching and his sign both as his strong hands clung to my shoulders as we kissed in earnest. He tasted like he smelled, sweet and minty, and his tongue against mine was like floodlights coming on.

“Welcome home,” Arthur breathed against my mouth as the sound of applause gradually pulled me back into awareness of our surroundings. Applause. Whoops of laughter. Clicking cameras. But still I couldn’t seem to look away from him.

Logo-CarinaAdores

Carina Adores is home to highly romantic contemporary love stories featuring beloved romance tropes, where LGBTQ+ characters find their happily-ever-afters.

Discover a new Carina Adores book every month!

  • Meet Me in Madrid by Verity Lowell (coming October 26)
  • The Life Revamp by Kris Ripper (coming November 30)
  • If You Love Something by Jayce Ellis (coming December 28)
  • D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding by Chencia C. Higgins (coming January 25)
  • Sink or Swim by Annabeth Albert (coming February 22)

About The Author

3-AuthorPhoto_AnnabethAlbert
Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required!

When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a Pacific Northwest romance writer of many critically acclaimed and fan-favorite LGBTQ romance series.

Social Media

Website: https://www.annabethalbert.com/

Facebook Fan Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/annabethsangels

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnabethAlbert

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annabeth_albert/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6477494.Annabeth_Albert

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Annabeth-Albert/e/B00LYFFAZK

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Annabeth goes back to her military best for this utterly delightful fake boyfriend romance

56469129Sailor Proof by Annabeth Albert

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For me, Annabeth is at her absolute best when she’s writing military based romances, I’ve yet to not absolutely adore every one she’s created.

This was no exception as she gives the reader a fabulous twist on the fake boyfriend/only one bed/best friend’s brother tropes and mixes them all up into an utterly delightful romance between two very different guys.

From the moment Derrick’s best friend Calder arranges for his younger brother Arthur to come and greet him when their submarine docks after a long deployment – during which Derrick’s ex cheated on him with a fellow officer who’s now won the First Kiss raffle – the two men are on a collision course into falling in love.

Arthur is everything Derrick isn’t – he’s younger, musically gifted, outgoing and disorganised – while Derrick’s focus has been on his Navy career, he’s disciplined, reserved, logical and secretly nursing a whole world of vulnerabilities.

From their supposedly staged First Kiss which goes viral thanks to Arthur’s social media influencer BBF Selina, to all the ones they subsequently share, these two men are on fire.

Arthur is a virgin and Derrick, while reluctant at first to take all his first moments, slowly comes to realise he not only wants to be the first, but he wants to be the only one Arthur is with.

They’re both holding back feelings, there’s a tad of martyrdom on both their parts but thankfully it never becomes too much and they do talk a fair bit about the rules of their fake relationship and whether they should continue it after the initial holiday with Arthur’s family.

The gorgeous cover on this book absolutely matches the gorgeous romance inside it as both Derrick and Arthur come to realise that because they started off as fake, doesn’t mean they can’t actually have real feelings.

As the lovely Dani said in her review, the Epilogue is insanely swoony and ridiculously romantic and this is a Happy Ever After you will truly believe in.

Now roll on Calder’s book because from the blurb and the sneak peek, that’s going to be an absolute cracker!

#ARC kindly received from the publishers Carina Press via NetGalley in return for an honest and unbiased review

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