Strait Laced

Reviewed for @BMBR 

Tag Team with Cupcake. Check out her review here.

3.5 Stars

This book was difficult to rate because while it wasn’t necessarily my cuppa, I can see the appeal and the overall enjoyment some might get out of the low angst read that features a couple navigating every day life and finding a way to do it together. So, for those of you who don’t want to be on the edge of your seat and take a break from angst in books and/or real life- this may be your cuppa.

Phillip is on a business trip to Manchester and heads to a club in The Village he frequents while in town. Hanging in the shadows, Phillip watches men having the experiences he wants but could never would never partake in. He’s uptight and constantly worries about what everyone in his life thinks about him and his choices. It cripples his ability to just live, get out of his head and stop judging. Luckily, a sexy go-go dancer likes what he sees and “buys” Phillip a drink.

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*Googles nearest club with go-go dancers… for a friend*

Ben is a sexy, tattooed, pierced, and scantily glad go-go dancer that breaks Phillip slowly out of his shell. He remains an enigma for some of the book and I needed his story. I just knew something had to be missing from his outward carefree persona. As the pieces are put in place, my feels for Ben increased.

As I mentioned above, this story is really low angst. There were some situations thrown in here and there but overall, just an easy relational read with natural growing pains present in any relationship. It’s two opposite men meeting, enjoying each other, and seeing how they fit together. I like how rational Ben is when it comes to Phillip. Phillip is a worry wart and Ben can sooth him while getting him to let go and finally live for himself.

“Ben unravelled me, stripped me apart, put me back together, and had me humming like a well-oiled engine.”

The first 30% moved super slow IMO and I was relieved when it began picking up a tiny bit. One thing that served as a pick me up were the smexy times. Ben is a pro at getting Phillip to take the stick out of his ass and replace it with objects that are much more promising. The days of Phillip’s sex being quieter than a church mouse were over. Ben worked him and they had some great chemistry.

“Nobody had ever set me alight this way. No man had made me shake and tremble, claw at him and cry out shamelessly because I couldn’t get enough.”

“I wanted to be rubbed raw, bruised and bitten, fucked hard and long until I couldn’t stand it anymore and my orgasm was dragged out of me kicking and screaming.”

I liked the MCs together and the growth they made as individuals. Thank goodness because Phillip was driving me crazy with being all Judgy McJudgerson.  The relationship pacing was authentic without the presence of insta-love and the magic peen. They moved through each phase of the getting to know each other, liking, and then loving and we were there through it all… which isn’t a complete positive. I could have done without such an in-depth seminar on the ins and outs of the London/Manchester night life and *every* aspect of domesticated bliss. Still, it was enjoyable and I’d recommend it if you’re looking for low key read with lots of domestication and some heat.

“I don’t mind fighting for you, Philip. Even if the only person I’m fighting is you.”

Copy provided for honest review.

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

DJ Dangerfield

4 Stars

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Okay, so I know that gif is kinda sorta creepy- but this short was like getting a book hug. The feelzzzzzz this left me with… *swoon*

For being such a short story, this had me reading with a dopey grin from its fleshed out and oh so likable characters, unique story, and their self discovery. The angst is pretty low but DJ Dangerfield and Justin have some complications to sift through.

Imagine you listen to the same radio station and call in to talk/banter/disagree with the DJ every night for a over a year. Then think about the connection and feelings that develop for someone you’ve never met and the trepidation on possibly ruining the magic by finally meeting? That’s this story.

It was SO. FREAKIN’. ADORABLE.

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Sex plays a very minor part in this short which was perfect. I didn’t need sex to feel the chemistry and connection these characters were working with. Once again, Anyta can make me fall in love with the worlds she builds and the amazing characters that navigate them. *dreamy sigh*

Fence Installments 1-3

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This installment series  by C.S. Pacat is such an interesting concept that I couldn’t stay away. A M/M comic series? Yes, please!!! I dove in head first and was finished in less than 30 minutes. Each installment is super short as we follow Nicholas and Seiji on their fencing journey.

Installment 1 (4 Stars): This is where Nicholas and Seiji first meet. I was giddy after reading this just dreaming about the potential.

Installment 2 (4 Stars): This had some great build-up as Nicholas and Seiji are forced to live together and compete against each other for the remaining spots on the team. The tension was great and again, held promise. Of course I raced on to Installment 3.

*Insert dramatic music*

Installment 3 (3 Stars): This is where it fell apart for me. It had the vibe of just being a filler installment. It read like a fencing handbook with very little plot advancement and relational development.

I know, I know… put your pitchforks away. It isn’t the most popular opinion but if each teeny tiny installment (minus the 1st @ $1.99) is $3.99, I need more than proper fencing mechanics. I’m interested in their story but may need to wait until it’s complete to determine whether I’ll continue on the journey.

I will add that the illustrations were beautifully done and added so much to the text. Here’s a sample.

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The Martian

 

4.5 Stars

I don’t think my brain capacity and IQ are at the proper levels to review this book and do it justice. I’m a NASA nerd. I’ve been a NASA nerd for many years and missed my calling to become an astronaut. *sigh* This was entertaining, captivating, filled with ingenuity, and so well researched that I loved every minute. I’m just gonna assume that everything was accurate because the amount of detail that went into every aspect of Mars survival made my head spin. If it isn’t real? Whatever, I’m still drinking the Kool-aid.

My ONLY disappointment was the closure. Not enough information was provided once he made it to that point. I need more. I want more. Even if it’s just an Earth epilogue. A CAPCOM printout detailing mission success/failure. ANYTHING.

I still loved it and definitely recommend.

I listed to the audio of this and R.C. Bray was the narrator. He did a fantastic job and I was entertained and/or on the edge of my seat throughout.

xo, Zach

2 Stars

Ok.

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**Note before getting down to business: I’m in the complete minority on my rating and thoughts for this book. We just weren’t meant to be. If Kendall Ryan normally works for you, this one may too. **

Let’s get the positive(s) out of the way. I liked the premise of the story. The advisor and a graduate student meet unknowingly at a party. I also liked the poetry major. I liked the illusion of Poppy’s strength and togetherness. I say illusion because she was a hot mess outside of her college major and her kid.

The rest hit all my no buttons in a way that I almost DNF. So what didn’t work for me?

~They meet at this house party and share some conversation and a kiss. From there, it wasn’t even an obsession- it was an odd fixation where their brains couldn’t function because everything reminded them of the other and spontaneous orgasms were a real threat each time their minds wandered. This translated to a seemingly forced connection between Poppy and Zach.

~Poppy was so hot and cold with Zach that it drove me fucking crazy. She would throw caution to the wind enough to kiss or get off and leave Zach with an epic case of blue balls. Then, after, she would run away and avoid him because she couldn’t let her desire ruin all that she has worked for. Every. Time. Rinse. Repeat.
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~Advice seeker or attention seeker? After every interaction where Poppy went hot and cold, she would go acting all sad and seeking advice about what she should do. Every person would tell her the same thing and then she would ignore it and expect a different response the next time she went to them. *Think Einstein’s definition of insanity*

~”It’s ok, I trust you and I’m on birth control.” Ummmm… what? So, you have a kid in high school (not judging, just stating story fact) and then you throw caution to the wind? *smh*

~Zach. I liked him in the beginning and then it decreased each time he put up with Poppy’s shit. In the end he was just too perfect and became a door mat.

I think it’s clear I didn’t enjoy Poppy and her brand of drama. The highlight of the story was Zach’s Mom and her lack of filter. She was OTT in the dirtiest and best way possible.

Not recommended.

Copy provided for honest review.

Headmaster

 

Reviewed by Cupcake

*2 Stars*

Bland

I’ve heard so many fantastic things about this author’s work that when this popped up on NetGalley I pounced. It’s not that this story is bad per se, it just wasn’t enough for me. Not enough kink. Not enough feels. Not enough zest. Not enough zhooshing.

The blurb does a good job of recapping the plot so I won’t go there. It’s a decent interpretation of fantasy rescue wish fulfillment. A little contrived, yes, but I can see the appeal.

Mariela was strike one for me. She is a dance instructor at the RACK (cute, huh?) Academy which is run by Lennox. Her crush on him predates his relationship with Winnie and they are friends, but her attitude toward him rubbed me the wrong way. I think she’s supposed to be portrayed as a sub with a spine but she comes across as a vitriolic anger ball. She antagonizes Lennox at every turn and I could muster up little to no sympathy for her cause. I get that she wants to be his submissive but her openly hostile/bratty behavior was very off-putting.

Strike number two is Lennox who’s prone to the ole martyr syndrome. Everything’s his fault, his responsibility.

Neither one of them are fully fleshed out instead relying on constructing both of their identities as “dominant” and “submissive”. I have issues with one’s entire personality construct being comprised of one thing, in this case their sexual proclivities. Even in real life if all anyone ever talks about is this one microcosm of their world they tend to come across one-dimensional and boring. At least to me they do.

The remainder of my issues are nitpicky:

1. it’s sugarkink and as hot as spanking can be, this was halfhearted at best. There’s no depth to the kink. It’s all labels, calisthenics positions and mediocre sex (dirty talk, anal, face-fucking, spanking, non-restraint bondage, mild orgasm denial).

2. Mariela gets into a fairly serious car accident and allegedly crushes her leg yet a few weeks later she’s at a BDSM club sceneing and only wears an ankle wrap?

It does have a nice HEA that is romantic and will be appealing to some. It probably would’ve been moreso for me had I liked either of the characters.

Unfortunately, I didn’t love it but sugarkink fans will probably enjoy it more than I.

An ARC was provided by NetGalley

A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat

Reviewed for @BMBR

4.5 Stars

EEeEeeppp!!!

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It took DAYS for me to suck it up and read this. I was in this weird place of come on, it’s Roe Horvat and oh my, this is gonna hurt. I was weak and finally grabbed my blankey and prepared for the big dose of angst I knew was coming. I survived. Barely.

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In all seriousness, I have a thing for angst. I may get all whiney before and need fluff after but I just love when it hurts so good. Just like this one. A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat was like having the wind knocked out of you and not catching your breath for a while. Whatevs, I’m all bring on the pain, angst, and the melancholy it was riddled with. Luckily, mingled in with all the heaviness is fire, passion, connection, and love.

Just a quick note before we dig in… we won’t be digging in too deeply. I liked the discovery in this book and having to really feel for Simon and Matěj as they navigate their pain so I won’t be giving too much away.

The book starts off in 2012 and goes back and forth to various times throughout a five year period that ends in 2017. Matěj is in his last semester of medical school in Prague. Right away, we get his snarky yet brilliant personality as he tries to get a reaction out of the unflappable Dr. Simon Mráz AKA The Cruel Doctor Frost. Matěj is a predator with sights locked on his prey and ready to pounce. Simon is a structured yet mercurial doctor that’s an expert at controlling the emotion he conveys to others. His self control and willpower is on point until he loses himself, his sanity and succumbs to the relentless hauntings of memories.

We get windows into Simon and Matěj’s dysfunctional lives and see the sweet relief for each man when they come together as secret lovers and friends. Matěj soothed Simon’s need for control, order and the habit of being locked in his head while Simon became Matěj’s safe haven. There was just so much want and need between them. They were on fire together and all the noise in their lives went away.

This books drags you through a myriad of emotions as a reader while *seeing* the utter passion, desolation, and then hope the characters go though. There’s so much pain and melancholy that it becomes a tangible thing. I loved the secondary characters and the energy they brought to the story. My one niggle with this angsty AF read was the ending. Yeah, they figured shit out and get their HFN. Maybe it’s the tiny cynic in me but I needed a lengthier resolution where explanations were provided. I believed their connection, love, passion, etc., but was the heartbreak necessary? I think so but I’m not sure. *shrug*

I love professor/student romances. I was enthralled with the story, the feels, the desperation and helplessness. I’m glad I sucked it up even though I’m diving into fluff land for a bit. Definitely recommended.

Trigger warning- Suicide and abuse take place off page with minor character but the details of the suicide are described. 

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

Copy provided for honest review.

Thrive

Reviewed by Lost in a Book

4 Stars

I’m a fan of this Guardian series Aly Martinez. She’s one of the very few M/F authors where I’ll read whatever she writes (bonus points because she can write a damn good M/M, too). We just click and this next book in the Guardian series isn’t any different.

This angsty, suspenseful, and sexy second chance romance is set up with a long separation period. A lot of life happens in the 17 years that the MCs were separated and unfortunately for Lark and Mira, it wasn’t filled with happiness.

Seventeen years ago, Lark and Mira were in love, with stars in their eyes, and plans of a future. There was just one teeny tiny problem… Mira’s actual boyfriend, Kurt. They were young, dumb, and dysfunctional. When it came time for Mira to pick, she chose Kurt.

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It was completely evident that Kurt was a cheating (I know, pot/kettle) jackass and she STILL chose him. *Grrrr* Anyway, fast forward time and Lark is a successful badass/Mira hater working with a private security firm while Mira is living in the slums, divorced, and now scared for her life. Good thing Mira is a little Lark stalker because she knows just where to find him when her life and her friend’s life is in jeopardy.

What starts as a hesitant phone call for help sends Mira and Lark on rollercoaster of danger, action, clarity, crime, drug lords, shootings, and kidnappings. And sex. And arguing. Lark taking on Mira’s case brings them in close contact 24/7 while they piece together the reasons behind her new danger. They have a truck load of old hurts to wade through while forging a path for the future. They are hot together. Smoking. But, Mira also argued or had a “snit fit” A LOT. Luckily for her, Lark got off on all the attitude. Unfortunately for me, Mira drove me bat shit crazy when she went off. *shrug* I believed their connection and chemistry. I felt their hurt from 17 years ago and how they hadn’t *really* moved past it even as the years passed them by. I fully appreciated the road they took to get their HEA. They moved fast but they also didn’t hide the hurt, hate, frustration, confusion, and most importantly, love.

The secondary characters were awesome in this one as well as the first. The Guardians are a bunch of gossiping biddies who are quite efficient in their jobs because they have a bunch of time to interfere. At least their interference was comical and I can’t wait for the other guys to get their stories. Especially Johnson *dreamy sigh* because I just know it’s gonna be an epic M/M (or MMF). Another thing I absolutely love about Martinez’s writes is the ability to include past characters from previous books without being awkward or gratuitous. There’s a purpose as they are mentioned/connected and a new reader to her writes wouldn’t feel lost at their inclusion.

This book won’t leave you wanting as the epilogue is *very* thorough. I definitely recommend this and will wait not so patiently for the next man up.

 Copy provided for honest review.

 

Gemini Rules Capricorn

4 Stars because this is a super shorty but still ridiciously sexy and entertaining.

This short little read is a charity release by Anyta Sunday. It’s only about 22 pages but it packs a deliciously sexy punch. Anyta’s writing style is my go to comfort when I’ve been in angst-land for a bit.

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Yep, just like that.

Yummmmmyyy! Warm chocolate chip cookies are my ultimate comfort food and with the sexiness going on for Lloyd and Wes, it was like I was eating a warm, gooey cookie with crispy edges. Works. Every. Time. But the problem with these things is I can’t eat just one… so, I’ll be waiting not so patiently once *again* for the next in this series.

Rebel (415 Ink) #1

Reviewed for @BMBR

4.5 Stars

My oh My this was an angsty read.

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On face value it has many of my favorite elements. Rough upbringing? Check. Tattoos? Mmmhmm, Yep. Tortured and broody MC(s)? Oh yes. Then, when I actually started reading it, so many more of my hot spots were being hit. Slow burn, patch-work family, overcoming crippling obstacles, etc… All were a big yes, please. Hell, I was even all about the second chance aspects of this romance when it isn’t something I actively seek.

Three years have gone by since Rey walked away from Gus. Both men have scars from their childhood but Gus’ are much deeper than Rey’s. When he walked away, it reminded Gus of every social worker, judge, foster family, parent, and random person who decided he wasn’t good enough. In the beginning I just thought Gus had a gypsy soul and kept on moving. It isn’t until the surfacing of his kid from a one night stand that he comes back home and we really get to see a different side of him and the effects of his heartbreaking past on his present circumstances.

Rey is a firefighter and best friends/roommates with Gus’ brother, Mason. We learn very early on that Mason pulled Rey out of a fire when they were younger. This solidified their bond as well as Rey’s bond with all of Gus’ brothers. Rey had his reasons for walking away when they were younger but their love for each other hasn’t dimmed over the three years. When Gus moves back to town, they have plenty of encounters and even more time to evaluate their choices.

As I mentioned, this is a slow burn. Both men have baggage and past hurts to work through. It was amazing to *see* how each man held stubbornly to their anger and as time went on, they were able to understand the other’s perspective. I also loved how they had to really work to get to a healthy place without the arrival of the magical peen to help make all the woes go away. Don’t get me wrong, they had chemistry and were H.O.T. together. But, their reconciliation was ugly, beautiful, and real. Their character arc was so transformative and I absolutely enjoyed each step of the way and where they settled.

Let’s talk about the baby mama. I LOVEEEEEEE that this wasn’t written as a bitter ex/one night stand scenario. I was thrilled that all parties acted like adults and Jules wasn’t written to be a she-bitch. Actually, all of the characters acted like adults (minus brotherly shenanigans) and it was refreshing.

It takes the entire book to fully appreciate the complexities of the characters and the role each plays. It reminded me of a kaleidoscope where the patterns can be distorted or crisp with only minor manipulation. The secondary characters of all the brothers added another dimension of angst, confusion, and clarity. Gus and Rey earned their HEA but I think that we’ll understand them even more as each brothers’ story is told. I’m down for that, especially Luke. AND Ivo with his “fuck me heels.” Oh and Bear with him being all big, growly, and soft-hearted. Actually, I just want them all.

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I really really enjoyed this book. There are still holes of information needed but I think the key to understanding each brother individually is to understand them all. Definitely recommended.

“Loving someone doesn’t mean needing them to be what you want them to be or swaddling them in bubble wrap so they can’t move. It means them knowing, deep down inside of their heart, you’re going to be there to hold them when they fall and celebrate when they fly.”

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

Copy provided for honest review.