Loved this fake boyfriend romance

The Shipwreck (Lavender Shores Book 4)The Shipwreck by Rosalind Abel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not sure I quite buy into part of what happens at the end of this book but up to that point it was absolutely heading for my favourite in the series.

This is a wonderful read, it’s got a lot of humour, a lot of good sex, a little bit of angst, some character development and a wonderfully brilliant grovel.

Lamont is a real sweetie, he’s quiet and a bit neurotic and, at the age of 45, mostly given up on love finding him outside of the hetero romance novels he writes under a female pseudonym.

But fate has a funny little habit of putting things in the path of people when they least expect it and such is the case here when he bumps into cover model Tyler in a bar during a convention.

Lamont and Tyler hit it off and a plan is hatched for him to visit Lavender Shores for Andrew and Joel’s baby shower and pose as Lamont’s boyfriend.

Of course, nothing ever goes to plan and as they spend more time together it becomes clear it’s not just pretend. Lamont was honest about sex always needing to have an emotional connection for him in the past and how he’d been burned so many times by people just wanting the physical.

Watching him fall for Tyler but not know whether he was still playing a role was a little bit heart breaking but it made the joy all the more sweeter when his feelings were returned.

Tyler’s carrying his own baggage too and the author never loses sight of that, he’s worried about losing himself and letting go from his only sex no emotions state of living.

There’s a hiccup along the way but some good groveling and a lay it bare letter helps bridge the gap and leads into a truly spectacular make up sex session involving a pool table.

Now bring on book five and finally Connor and Micah’s ‘forbidden’ romance!

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Gorgeous catch up with Eric and Zane

Leaning Into Always (Leaning Into Stories, #1.5)Leaning Into Always by Lane Hayes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5*

I loved these two in the short story Lane wrote for the anthology, there’s nothing sweeter than friends to lovers romance.

Here we get to catch up with the pair in the lead up to their wedding when Zane’s old school friend, and first lover, Dean comes back on the scene.

Eric feels vulnerable because he still can’t believe Zane has loved him for years and Dean does his best to play on those worries.

But Zane is true to his love and everything ends with a beautiful epilogue and the two men flying off into the sunset together.

It’s not got more stars only because it’s short! I wanted more of these two as I did in the anthology. I adore Eric and Zane.

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Conflicted feelings for this one

His Convenient HusbandHis Convenient Husband by Robin Covington

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Victor is amazing, Isaiah is a dick and lots of bits of this book are a hot mess but I still mostly enjoyed it.

I note from friends reviews that the blurb changed at some point to remove references to Victor being gender fluid and that’s probably a good thing as I didn’t really read anything within the text which gave that impression.

Evan, Isaiah’s adopted son on the other hand, did seem to be pushing boundaries and I loved him and his fierce attitude and determination to be himself.

Victor was awesome too, did I mention I loved Victor?! Dancers are a weakness for me, the power and grace and artistry and sexuality, vulnerability and their ability to convey emotion just ticks all my boxes.

It’s one of the greatest joys and biggest regrets of my life that I didn’t keep dancing past my mid teens, especially when I was dancing with some of the finest contemporary dancers who went on to found Phoenix Dance Theatre (as they were known back then).

I wanted Victor to kick Isaiah to the curb after he hurt him through his foolish words and unthinking actions. I did understand where Isaiah was coming from, having lost his first husband, but he was still a dick.

There is some good groveling though and a very public declaration of feelings once Isaiah gets his head out of his own way and realises he’s being a coward and the epilogue is super sweet.

It’s quite a short story, longer than a novella but not full length story mode and I think that is what caused a bit of the messy plotting. Isaiah’s change of heart and willingness to actually be with Victor as a proper husband just felt a bit too quick, even with Evan’s calling out of his behaviour.

Still, kudos for the MCs being a POC pro footballer and Chechnyan dancer rather than the more commonly portrayed Caucasian males.

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

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Gray for You hit all the right notes

I might be your your fantasy. But I’m nobody’s forever…

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Spencer Spears’ second installment in the 8 Million Hearts series is a fun romp through the making of a high class porn film – yes there exists such a thing! In fiction at any rate, and centres on Gray, owner of Maggie’s Bar where Ben and Adam played their music in book one.

Now, you’d expect, it having the porn link (Gray is an ex New York porn star voted best in the game for four years running) that this book would be all about the sex.

But, surprisingly not. The other protagonist is former child star Tyler Lang, now in his early 20s and reeling after one two many disasters and a media storm of epic proportions.

He’s looking for something different, a way to take control of the life which had, up until his latest drugs related disaster (and oh how my heart went out to him when he couldn’t remember even buying the coke that had been found in his beat up minivan) been firmly operated by his presently estranged father (more on that ass later).

Their two worlds collide during the filming of a book which has been gaining attention as a high-brow, literary gay porn novel. Tyler is deliciously inexperienced but has a reputation for being a player, all untrue. He’s not even 100% sure he’s gay until he meets Gray and then watches one of his old scenes online.

For Gray, he’s been hanging on to the hope that his dick of a “boyfriend” will finally tell his family about them and admit they’re a couple when he’s dumped, yet again. He’s felt rejected and unworthy his whole life, with the exception of Maggie, who took him in, became his guardian angel and eventually left him her bar and a shedload of properties.

Together they start to navigate their way to a relationship which is both supportive and encouraging of each other, it’s beautiful to read how each opens up to the possibility that there might be someone who sees them for who they are.

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

 

Another powerful New York tale from Santino

Concourse (Five Boroughs, #5)Concourse by Santino Hassell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Ashton first appeared in one of the earlier Five Borough novels at the Liberty X party I knew there was going to be more to him than was shown on the surface.

And I was right, throughout this book I wanted to take Ashton away and wrap him up in bubble wrap and give him a big hug and tell him he was a person of worth.

I don’t think there’s much more emotionally damaging than to be told you’re a failure, an embarrassment, to consider yourself to be useless. That he manages to find a purpose is down to him being encouraged to look within for the strengths he possesses comes, rather appropriately, via a Nunzio cameo.

Ashton also has his rock, Valdrin, son of his nanny, a boxer who loves the thrill of the fight but couldn’t care less if he wins, a pleaser who finds it hard to let things go and do what’s right for him.

Together they have a seriously beautiful friendship which Santino allows to play out in slow burn perfectly. The usual New York setting and cast of supporting characters are also here to bring this world to life.

It is a rare talent to make a book feel like you’re reading about a bunch of real people who decided one day to allow their stories to be told and Santino has it in spades.

I can’t wait to take another trip through the streets of New York with these guys and gals.

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Truly scrumptious friends to lovers romance

Adam's Song (8 Million Hearts, #1)Adam’s Song by Spencer Spears

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a fabulous friends to lovers romance which – like toffee sauce down the side of an ice cream sundae – brings a little drizzle of sweetness to a sharp bite.

While this is truly sweet at times, there is also an edge to the friendship between Adam and Ben which is caused by quite realistically depicted anxieties and fears on the part of Adam and a slow dawning that his feelings for his best friend might be a but more from Ben.

There is a proper slow burn to this one too, it’s a long book but every bit of the story felt necessary and earnt its place in the narrative.

When the smexy times come they just add the sprinkles on top as Ben fully embraces his newly developing feelings. Virgin sex is handled with care and with plenty of emotionally driven feelings.

The world building is excellent too and I’m looking forward to finding out more about the secondary characters which help prop up the narrative in this one.

#ARC received from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

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Keira Andrews pulls at the heart strings yet again

35121059 In her latest novel – Road to the Sun – Keira Andrews demonstrates that innate talent she has for realism even in a scenario which on paper is completely unlikely.

The dynamic between Jason and Ben is powerfully brought to life as they connect under Montana’s “Big Sky” out in the wilds of the national park where Ben’s skills as a ranger will be tested to the full after Jason’s eight-year-old daughter Maggie is kidnapped by a murderer on the loose.

There’s passion, there’s emotion, there’s heart-stopping moments of bravery and heroic action, there’s hurt and conflict and there’s pain and suffering but – at the heart of it all – there is love.

The love Jason has for Maggie, who he’s looked after since he was a teenager himself, there’s the broken love Ben once had with his former partner, and boss, Brad who is now living the life he thought they’d have together, there’s the estranged love of Jason’s parents and younger brother and then, finally, there’s the fledgling love which is slowly building between Jason and Ben when the crisis strikes.

When the tensions boil over, it looks like all is lost but under Andrews’ skillful hand, the plot is allowed to expand, develop and come to a conclusion which feels both right and completely believable.

The epilogue is all ends up awesome and helps to give that depth of love that brings a heart-warming feeling to this romance.

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