Love Me Louder

Love Me Louder by Christina Lee: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Love Me Louder

Blurb:

Noah Dixon is damaged goods. After an accident leaves him physically scarred and emotionally vulnerable, dating isn’t in the cards, so he throws himself head-first into his retail job. When he’s obligated to attend his best friend’s engagement party on Fire Island, it dawns on him he’s about to spend yet another weekend feeling totally invisible and alone among a swarm of gorgeous men.

That’s when the idea of an escort comes in.

After Will Crossen was forced to put his theater major on hold in favor of two jobs to tackle his ailing mother’s hospital bills, he tells himself becoming an escort isn’t that big of a deal. It’s just another form of acting, right? He doesn’t expect his newest customer to be the cheery, overconfident sales associate he avoids like the plague at his day job. Talk about awkward.

But what happens on Fire Island stays on Fire Island…especially when a smoldering attraction sparks into flames. Will doesn’t feel so alone anymore, and for the first time, Noah realizes someone is seeing him behind all the scars. But between their jobs, Will’s massive familial responsibilities, and Noah’s vulnerabilities, they don’t stand a chance unless they find a way to let love speak louder than their demons.

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3.75 Stars

Holy fishnets Batman!!

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I’m in the minority with my rating but the fishnets, the way Will rocked them, and how much Noah got off on them brought out my happy face.

Noah works at a home furnishings store with the quiet and stand-offish Will. Noah is happiest at work where he is able to transform spaces for customers. In his private life he’s lonely, insecure about his scars, and distancing himself from the friends and family that love him. This distance from his helicopter parents and physically “beautiful” friends works until he has to go back to Fire Island for a birthday party and secret engagement for his friends. Unable to stomach a trip back alone with everyone hooking up except him, he spots a bat signal in the form of a card his co-worker Will accidentally drops.

Gotham City Escorts.

Will works multiple jobs to help support his mother and her medical bills. He meets up with his next client to prepare for a weekend away at a coffee shop and is taken aback to find Noah waiting. After a rocky start, Will agrees to escort Noah for the Fire Island trip.

Will and Noah’s agreement begins a tentative friendship where they spend time getting to know each other. They definitely can’t show up for the weekend acting like they’ve never spent a minute together. Outside of work, they realize they have things in common and that their assumptions about the other were way off base. A connection is made and then at Fire Island their chemistry comes alive. Except, they don’t know what’s real and what isn’t. Noah doesn’t understand how anyone can be attracted to him beyond a hook-up and believes that Will is just doing what he is paid to do; which is to act like he’s a devoted boyfriend. Will can’t see past his need for money and what that means in caring for his mom. There are some mild curve balls thrown in to make decisions more complicated but low to medium angst overall with a HEA.

The first 50-60% of the book dragged for me. I wasn’t even sure I would hit 3 stars for a rating because I wasn’t having a very enjoyable time. The insecurities and self-doubt were understandable but Noah grated on my patience. Assumptions in high quantities were being spewed on both sides. The back and forth does he/doesn’t he or he’s only interested because I’m paying him drove me cray-cray after a while. I was extremely relieved that everything picked up and my sanity/enjoyment was restored as I finished out the story. Clearly this is a case of “it’s not you, it’s me.”

A warning for readers that like their MCs to only have *ahem* interactions between themselves: There are other… escorty type situations while Noah and Will find their place together. They’re minor but bills gotta be paid and all. *shrugs*

Recommended.

”Show me, fuck me, hire me again just so we can pretend to pretend.”

Copy provided for honest review.

The Werewolf’s Fae Mate

The Werewolf’s Fae Mate by Liv Rider: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR.

The Werewolf's Fae Mate

Blurb:

He never expected his mate to be fae. Now he has to choose between his heart and his pack.

When mixed-blood werewolf Mahon comes across powerful fae magic in a nightclub, dealing with the threat is a chance to prove to his new pack where his loyalties lie. But the threat turns out to be a gorgeous, wide-eyed college student who’s never heard of the supernatural world. After they’re attacked by bloodsucking vampire bats, he takes Oscar and his small, angry cat home for their own protection. He’ll definitely tell his pack about Oscar…later.

Abandoned as an infant, Oscar’s always wondered where he came from—he just never expected the answer to include pointy ears, magical powers, and evil forces trying to kill him. Oscar knows he shouldn’t rely on Mahon for help, but it’s hard to resist when a six-foot-six werewolf literally sweeps you off your feet. The key to Oscar’s past might lie with the local fae court—where werewolves aren’t welcome.

Oscar and Mahon are mates—but how can they be together when it might cost them both everything?

The Werewolf’s Fae Mate is an m/m paranormal werewolf/fae romance with a HEA and no cliffhangers.

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3 Stars

The Werewolf’s Fae Mate is a short, straight forward paranormal read with heat and action.

As the blurb states, Oscar is a normal college student, until he realizes he’s anything but a normal college student. Unfortunately for Oscar, that realization happens right around the time a vampire and vampire bats come calling. Luckily for him, Mahon (a werewolf) also comes calling and Oscar is thrust into a world that he once believed was only in storybooks.

With the danger lurking around Oscar, he ends up staying with Mahon as they try to figure out the specifics about his missing past. One thing leads to another quickly and it’s all growly, mine, mates, sex, thinking about sex, and more sex. Oscar is clueless, goofy, and endearing. I wish we had more of his personality without being clouded by lust and overshadowed by the main drama of miscommunication. There is insta-love as usual in a mates situation and they ride that train all the way to an HEA.

While Mahon and Oscar are cute together, the relationship and world building is lacking IMO. I liked the premise and the characters but everything felt so rushed. Oscar has a cat named Marshmallow and I didn’t understand why there was so much emphasis placed on her. I kept waiting for *something* to happen. It didn’t. Still, I’ll definitely keep Marshmallow on the table for my future pet’s name.

If you’re new to m/m paranormal, this could be a good starting point for you. Hopefully the world building comes together in the next book. I’ll give Aidan (Mahon’s brother) a shot if he gets a book. Recommended if you’re looking for a quick and easy paranormal.

Copy provided for honest review.

Masc (Femme #2)

Masc (Femme #2) by Marshall Thornton: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Masc

Blurb:

Lionel and Dog are back in this follow-up to the Lambda finalist, Femme. Almost six months have passed and, after taking an online quiz, Lionel believes their relationship is doomed because they have nothing in common. To save their future together, the pair joins a gay bowling league and discovers that Lionel is an excellent, if somewhat eccentric, bowler.

Meanwhile, Dog gets profiled in a work newsletter. He’s excited that he’s out at work, but doesn’t immediately realize that by fawning over Dog’s masculine nature the writer was also putting down all femme guys. Lionel takes it personally, which leads the to a crisis in their relationship. Attempting to make it up to Lionel, Dog makes a grand gesture—which backfires spectacularly.

Will the two manage to put things right? And will a night in jail, a morning of drag bingo, an afternoon of day drinking, and a month of moping make things better or worse?

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3.5 Stars

Masc is a solid follow up to the Dog and Lionel show. It had many of the same ingredients that were present in the first:

Sassy Lionel? Check
Clueless yet introspective Dog? Yep
Dog’s crazy family? uh huh
Over analysis of how a relationship should look? In spades.
OTT moments? Is the sky blue?

Masc deals a lot with the growing pains of a new relationship and the questions that creep up after the honeymoon phase; Questions about purpose, direction, and the longevity of Lionel and Dog’s future. Lionel and Dog also have a lot of personal obstacles they have to battle before they can fully appreciate each other and the relationship they’re building. Things get shaken up when Lionel takes a relationship quiz that shows having nothing in common pretty much equates to a doomed relationship.

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Unfortunately for their supposed doomed relationship, shit hits the fan even more when Dog is profiled at work. That article shines the light on biases/stereotypes/gender role issues that plague the MCs, their family, and co-workers. I’m not sure I’m all the way on board with the way Dog had to work through his issues, but I will say that I was raging for a bit during the read.

Dog and Lionel are so silly but stay true to themselves. I enjoyed it for the most part but at times I felt like I was hitting my threshold for dramatics. I was hoping that there would be more growth to the relationship but much of this book was dysfunction with a big helping of OTT. They got their HEA but the cohesiveness took a lonnnnnnnng while to obtain.

I’m not going to lie, I was a tad nervous in the beginning with Graham’s sister being on page so soon. Dog’s family drove me crazy in book one but his sister was the icing on the cray-cray cake. It’s enjoyable to *see* the growth she makes and how far his dad has come since the first book. They all grew on me and become a nice support system for Lionel and Dog.

Dramatics and OTT-ness are pretty much the M.O. for Lionel and Dog’s relationship in Femme so expect the same for this one. There are some serious issues taking place in this book with a trigger warning for sexual harassment and insinuation of past child abuse. It was nice to spend more time with Lionel and Dog. Recommended.

Copy provided for honest review.

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

Campus Life

Campus Life (CYOA #2) by T.C. Orton: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Synopsis:
All books in this series are stand alone. 
A choose your own adventure for adults! 

Young, dumb, and full of… You get the picture.

Welcome to Mentis University, your name is Joseph Smith and you’ve been unremarkable all your life. No – really, you’ve been absolutely, unequivocally, insert-smart-word-here mundane since the day the doctor slapped your ass and you let out a sigh. HOWEVER, you did manage to achieve one thing this year – you transferred to a better college. Bravo! (Mentis University has been rated number 2 on Top 10 worst colleges to attend for the last seven years… Guess where you were before this)

Since no one else from your hometown of – insert rural American town here – managed to claw their way out of mediocrity, you decided there was no point in hiding anymore. And thus, at an energetic twenty-one years old, you’re now an openly gay man. Congratulations.

Of course, there’s not much point in being openly gay if there are no gays to be in your opening. So, after spending a few days getting accustomed to your new life, you flopped onto your single bed, closed your eyes, and prayed to the lord… (And you’re still waiting for the day Cher tweets you back)

“Please,” you begged. “Guide me to a man who will treat me right… or pound me like a piece of veal.”

Luckily for you, someone was listening…

Dear Reader

You will assume the role of Joe Smith (first-person, present tense) and guide him through his final year of college. Don’t worry, you won’t be expected to do anything as absurd as learn mathematics, but you will, on occasion, be provided with choices that will impact the outcome of the story.

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3 Stars

I’ll be honest, I was squeeing for this before I ever read the blurb. This is my first foray into CYOA as an adult. I was obsessed with them growing up and didn’t even know they had an option for them in romance. *dreamy sigh* There are times when I read and just want to yell at the characters in a book for the decisions they are making and this format obviously puts the power in my hands…. which apparently I was pervy AF when I started because WHOA… that was quite a rabbit hole I fell down.

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Campus Life puts you in the driver’s seat of college senior, Joe Smith. You are faced with decisions of the student variety from roommate fights to coffee crisis and coming out to lusting after a hot ass professor.

There are a plethora of directions to go, with completely different outcomes. It’s a short, quick, and OTT read. This isn’t a deep story where you leave with new appreciation for life and humanity. It’s silly, lacks depth with characters and plot, and even the less sex focused choices end in lots of sex. I went super pervy the first time through *shrug* and ended up saying “Yes, sir” and being on board with being called a slut. *shrug* There was a tad more character development when I went the complete opposite route and wanted to find a nice guy with more substance than filling holes… still had lots of sex but there was a tiny bit more to that story than me being on my knees.

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It was a light, quick, and entertaining read. Recommended for fans of CYOA-pornyland looking for a break from serious.

Copy provided for honest review.

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

The Book of Beginnings: It’s Just Us Here (Unfinished Self-Portrait)

The Book of Beginnings: It’s Just Us Here: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

The Book of Beginnings: It's Just Us Here

Blurb:

An asexual man meets a male model… and slowly falls in love.
Chris is a nerdy bookworm with a very direct personality. He tends to take jokes literally. He doesn’t like small talk.

Chris has never been sexually attracted to anyone in real life, though he can look at photos and think up exciting scenarios in his head… as long as the people are all wearing clothes. Porn is definitely a no go.

Mark is a charismatic, beautiful man with a pretty person job and pretty person problems. He’s very pushy.

Mark is also struggling with a summer college course for business writing. Luckily, Chris makes a living from his writing and always falls for a sob story… so he ends up helping the model with his assignment.

After a chance encounter in Chris’ favorite park, the two men’s lives slowly entangle until the pair become inseparable.

First Chris and Mark become friends, then companions, then partners, then lovers… and then they get engaged, married and… finally… adopt a very amazing kid.
This is their story… or, well, I guess it’s my story. I’m Chris and I wrote this. It’s very weird to refer to myself in the third person, so I’m going back to first person now.

Mark didn’t tell me he was into guys until I was very much in love with him. Anytime he got close to telling me the truth, I would instinctively pull back. But I never ran away completely, and he kept coming after me.

I guess you’ll have to read the book to understand why.

[ADVISORY: I’d just like to make sure you know that this book is not the complete love story between me and my husband. I’ve broken my story up into ten 100,000 word installments. Each installment follows its own ‘arc’. There are four ‘super arcs’ typical of romance novels spread over the ten installments.

“The Book of Beginnings” contains the beginning of each of those ten installments. So we’re going to jump through time quite a bit. These ‘beginnings’ total over 140,000 words and the final project will be over 1,000,000 words.
Don’t worry, I will finish this story. It’s terribly important to me. But it is huge. So I will also be posting an Abridged Version, which will consist of the chapters in “The Book of Endings” and “The Book of Beginnings”.

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5 Stars

I tried to type a review for this a few times and finally realized that it’s impossible. So, I’ve decided to provide a warning: incoherent ramblings ahead on this memoir-romanceish book. Before we commence to the ramblings, I think it’s important to know that this isn’t a conventional romance, it’s a true “story.” Please see the author’s special note in the blurb. More books are in the works that break down important stages of the MCs relationship with a full arc. This book is strictly the beginnings of each of those stages coming together to form the Book of Beginnings. Make sense? Fabulous.

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Chris: Asexual man, writer, friend, worrier, planner

Mark: Model, highly sexual, laid back, incredibly social

These two men come together randomly in a park after Chris’ typical Monday run. Chris is on a bench writing and Mark is a lonely man looking for a friend. From their first meeting, it’s a whirlwind where they create their own boundaries on what it means to be friends, lovers, partners, and eventually parents. Chris and Mark come from diverse backgrounds, have diverse sexual appetites, opposite personalities, and experience real life growing pains as they move through each stage of their relationship.

Book of Beginnings is written in the format of a romance novel but the situations these men face aren’t romanticized. The writing style is easy to breeze through but the angsty content isn’t easy to read. There was so much more feeling involved while reading this book because I couldn’t forget that these are real people with issues that aren’t sugar coated. Having to *see* the struggle Chris and Mark go through in their intimacy was gut wrenching, especially from Chris’ POV as he tries to be all his partner needs sexually while still being very much an asexual man at his core. Early on my heart was breaking for Mark as I could see the love he had for Chris but couldn’t fully release his feelings. Another difficult aspect of this story is the dynamic between Mark and Chris. Mark’s personality is larger than life and he has such a pull over Chris. It may seem like Mark steamrolls (and rightfully so, sometimes) Chris into capitulating often- but Mark knows Chris and is able to nudge him out of the comfort zone he likes to exist in. Mark usually has Chris’ best interests at heart and even though he may be resisting something, a part of him seems to crave it as well.

It’s a captivating read that allows us to focus on the emotional aspect of them falling in love way before physical intimacy is introduced. I adore the connection they have, the foundation they build, and the growth each man makes toward their HEA.

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Y’all, I was hooked from the beginning. It’s a beast of a book in length but I couldn’t put it down. I pretended to be productive and do adult things but I was really just reading this and when I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about reading it.

Was it perfect? No, but it’s a work in progress and the author makes that point clear multiple times. As mentioned above, The Book of Beginnings: It’s Just Us Here is written in an unconventional format, needs more editing, has incomplete “story” arcs, has multiple big-moment time lapses, and missing very important bits of their lives. All of those are noted in the blurb warning. Did I care? Not one teeny tiny bit. I went all Dr. Seuss on this book and would read it in a boat, with a goat, in the rain, on a train… (I’m a dork, sorry *shrug*)

There were times I wanted to scream at my kindle because I just had to know what happened only for it to have a time jump. This actually reminds me of a CliffsNotes version for their life story with the main parts coming out as their own books over the next year.

At the heart of this book is a “story” of two people meeting, loving each other, and then falling in love. Life can be a major bitch sometimes and still, Chris and Mark find a way to love on their own terms as the relationship evolves into something deeper. Something real. Something beautiful and imperfectly perfect.

I’m SO frakin’ glad I chose to take a chance on this love story and I’m looking forward to reading the first full installment. This author now has a new stalker stage-10 clinger big fan. Highly recommended.

Copy provided for honest review.

Level Up

Level Up by Annabeth Albert: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Level Up

Blurb:

Landon can’t believe he’s let himself get roped into participating in a charity calendar, let alone one that features tastefully photographed nudes. The genius physicist is hardly model material and he’s dreading the nude part of the photoshoot. Amid his reluctance, the one bright spot is his emails back and forth with the photographer.

However, Bailey ends up being not quite what Landon expects, and their first meeting is decidedly awkward. Bailey’s persistent though, and gradually Landon warms to the burly photographer, and they discover they have a shared love of gamer culture.

A tentative friendship is born, but the road from friends to lovers isn’t easy. Landon’s battling past trauma and must decide how much of a risk he’s willing to take. A sexy connection may not be enough to keep them together unless both are willing to put their hearts on the line.

Approximately 40,000 words. Previously released as part of the EXPOSED anthology, and loosely linked to the #Gaymers universe, this friends-to-lovers, hurt/comfort story stands alone with a guaranteed happy ending. Contains a brief mention of a prior assault, but no on-screen violence or flashbacks.

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3 Stars

This is another one of those, I like the premise but the execution fell a bit short IMO. I was hooked on photographer and genius physicist are supposed to meet up for a charity gig but prior to the event, they communicate online for a couple of weeks allowing things go from professional to flirty. Unfortunately my excitement didn’t extend throughout and this became an okay level of enjoyment.

As the blurb mentions, Landon is voluntold to help with a nude charity calendar. He begins email communication with the photographer (Bailey) about logistics and then as multiple emails are exchanged, they find themselves in flirty territory where each “man” is looking forward to meeting with an almost giddy anticipation.

Their first meet is awkward and isn’t the slam dunk each was hoping for. They decide to be friends and over their love of video games, a tentative romantic relationship forms. Landon has serious issues from the past he must navigate to make it work and Bailey is so patient. He handles him with understanding and care while moving towards a HEA.

My hang-ups with this book deal mostly with the lack of depth and fleshing out of the characters. We jump right in when Bailey and Landon are about to meet and miss out on the communication or build up prior. The interactions that take place are awkward and never quite cohesive. There’s a lot of sex, sex talk, “cyber,” etc., when some of that page time could have been spent developing their connection. I like sex but I like well rounded characters with chemistry AND connection even more.

This book can definitely use another round of edits prior to release and please heed the Trigger Warning for mentions of past sexual-assault. I’m not sure if these men were mentioned in the #gaymers books since it’s “loosely linked” and maybe that would provide more depth to the characters? But if you’re a fan of that series, this may work better for you.

Copy provided for honest review.

Life of Bliss

Life of Bliss (Love Life #2) by Erin McLellan: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Synopsis:

Nobody plans to accidentally marry their frenemy with benefits.

Todd McGower and Victor Consuelos do not like each other. They can’t have a conversation without insults flying, and Victor seems to get off on pushing Todd’s buttons. The fact that their antagonism always leads to explosive sex . . . well, that’s their little secret.

Victor has a secret of his own. His full-blown crush on Todd is ruining his sex life. He hasn’t looked at anyone else in months, and he’s too hung up on Todd to find a date to his cousin’s wedding.

In a moment of weakness after a heart-stopping night together, Todd agrees to be Victor’s fake boyfriend for the wedding. Victor will have his plus-one—which will get his family off his back—and Todd will get a free mini-vacation. It’s a win-win.

But pretending to be fake boyfriends leads to real intimacy, which leads to too much wine, and suddenly, Todd and Victor wake up with wedding bands and a marriage license between them. That was not their plan, but a summer of wedded bliss might just change their minds.

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3.75 stars

Victoooooooooor!!! I had a serious case of excite finding out that Victor got his story. He was the highlight for me in book one and I had to get my hands on the sassy, hilarious, and fierce dancer. He didn’t disappoint.

Todd is a piano accompanist on summer break. We were introduced to Todd in book one as Rusty’s fickle ex. Todd and Victor were always biting each others head off and all that built up frustration led to “hate” sex. Don’t get too excited, the hate sex takes place off page. *sad face* But, they have chemistry and I’m a big fan of sass, sarcasm, and sex.

Life of Bliss begins when Todd and Victor have already been hooking up for 5ish months. They were able to keep these “booty calls” a secret from their best friends with their typical antagonistic behavior, making others none the wiser. Victor has been secretly pining after Todd since they met. After their latest hookup, Victor has a moment of weakness and invites Todd to his cousin’s wedding. Wedding + hidden feelings + lots of alcohol= drunken nuptials. What happens in Vegas Arkansas clearly doesn’t stay in Arkansas. They decide to give it the summer as a married couple and at the end, Victor and Todd will make a decision on whether they get a divorce or stay married.

“Maybe they’d move so fast and fuck so often that he wouldn’t have time to screw this up?”

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Todd has a lot of insecurities about his career path, financial situation, parental judgement, and inability to have a relationship. He does a bang up job of turning the doubt into a self-fulfilling prophecy and throws wrenches into their marital bliss throughout the summer.

Todd and Victor’s relational development wasn’t fully fleshed out on page, either. However, they had been hooking up many months prior to this book starting which gave us an established friendship, connection, and chemistry instead of strangers meeting. It’s also a sex heavy book which is to be expected with the status of their “relationship” prior to getting married.

I liked watching their growing pains and subtle changes as feelings progressed and deepened giving them a connection beyond sex. My favorite parts are the snarky parts though. The back and forth they have at the beginning is less frenemies and more foreplay. When they are “figuring” things out, they lost that part and I was a little bummed about it.

Life of Bliss is a low angst read with fabulous characters (😍😍Victor), syrupy sweet HEA closure- all wrapped up in a big ol’ ball of fluff. Recommended.

“I’ve liked you all along too. Even when I didn’t like you at all.”

Copy provided for honest review.

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

Astray

Astray (Wavesongs, #1) by Elvira Bell: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Synopsis: 

Nick Andrews has grown up in poverty in a tiny village. All his life he’s been told that he’s useless. After getting one scolding too many he decides to go far away, off to sea. But his experience as a farmhand has done little to prepare him for the hardships of a sailor’s life.

When his ship is attacked by pirates, Nick’s life is miraculously spared by the notorious pirate captain, Christopher Hart—a man in charge of a crew feared for their brutality. Nick is forced to join the pirates, and he dreads finding out for what reason the captain has saved him.

But Hart is nothing like his reputation suggests, and Nick soon finds himself entangled in a relationship that could endanger both their lives. Unless Nick can help Hart on his quest to find a long lost treasure, their forbidden love may tear his new life apart.

Warning: This book ends with a cliffhanger, and it does not have a happy ending. The series as a whole will have a HEA ending.

Content note: This book contains dark themes and depictions of torture, murder, and rape.

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4 Stars

*Deep Breath* THIS ENDS ON A EPICALLY MASSIVE CLIFFHANGER!!

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I’m not one of those readers that like can handle a cliffhanger. I’ll eventually read it but I always wait until a series is complete so I can move on to the next book. Immediately. My motto has never been patience is virtue. But you know what I’m even more peeved about besides a surprise cliffhanger??? That I actually really liked this book. I was swept away into the land of pirates and at the end it’s all…

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Note: This book now contains a cliffhanger warning on Goodreads.

Alright, I’m done being whiny and dramatic so let’s do this.

Astray is set in the 1700’s and begins with Nick at home living with his family. He’s a dreamer which provides more frustration for his family as they are poor and Nick’s another mouth to feed. He leaves home in search of the same open seas his father once sailed. He quickly learns that being on a ship isn’t a place for dreamers but he can’t return home. Soon, his ship is overtaken by pirates and the Pirate Captain, Christopher Hart spares his life.

Christopher Hart is the mercurial captain of the Victory. The pirates are terrors of the sea, brutal in obtaining bounty, and they’re in search of the ultimate long lost treasure. Captain Hart has quite the reputation and Nick gets first hand knowledge of the merciless man. Christopher brings Nick to his ship where he must find his place if he wants to survive. Captain Hart begins asking Nick to complete small tasks in his cabin and over time, lines are crossed and boundaries in private become non-existent. Nick is enamored with Hart and Hart confuses Nick with his public versus private persona.

The crew is uneasy with the developing closeness of the two men and circumstances become more dangerous. Hart must prove himself to the pirates and we get to follow along on their journey full of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

Hart and Nick are opposites. Nick’s laid back, needy for affection, and trying to find himself. Hart is commanding yet insecure, on a quest for validation, and obsessive about Nick. I felt the connection even though their relationship was very rocky and they spent so much time apart.

The world building is thorough and drew me in. The secondary characters are endearing and entertaining. Goldie. Oh Goldie, I love him and would like his story any way I could get it. This is a dark and gritty read. They are pirates that do piratey things while living and dying by their articles.

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There were some areas for improvement IMO. There are many time lapses without notation or even a line break from one sentence to the next. Sometimes these were happening in the middle of conversation or action so I’m *assuming* the scene was a fade to black? There were also times when the pacing was slow and parts dragged and on the other hand, parts where there should have been character/relationship development but it was rushed/lacking.

I enjoyed the world Astray allowed me to escape to. I’ll continue with the series but… I’ll be waiting until it’s complete before moving on to the next book. Recommended for fans of ruthless pirates and all that entails.

Copy provided for honest review.

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

 

Soul to Keep (Rented Heart, #2)

Soul to Keep (Rented Heart, #2) by Garrett Leigh: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Synopsis:

Recovering addict Jamie Yorke has returned to England from California. With no home or family to speak of, he sticks a pin in a map and finds a small town in the Derbyshire Peak District. Matlock Bath is a quiet place—he just needs to get there, keep his head down, and stay clean. Simple, right? Until a chance meeting on the flight home alters the course of his so-called life forever.

Ex-Army medic Marc Ramsey is recovering from life-changing combat injuries while pulling nights as a trauma specialist at the local hospital. Keeping busy is a habit he can’t quit, but when Jamie—so wild and beautiful—bursts into his life, working himself into the ground isn’t as compelling as it used to be.

Marc falls hard, but chaos lurks behind Jamie’s fragile facade. He’s winning his battle against addiction, but another old foe is slowly consuming him. Both men have weathered many storms, but the path to the peace they deserve might prove the roughest ride yet.

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Tag Team with Adam

4 Stars

Gah!!!! This book was difficult for me to rate. Not much happened beyond the day to day struggles with Jamie and Marc navigating addictions, physical limitations, their relationship, and how to cope with their new realities. Ok, that sounds like a lot. It was, kinda sorta…emotionally speaking and not really in a way that made me bite my nails with anticipation for what would happen next. This was like driving down a slow country road where your biggest distraction is an animal crossing the road. If this was a standalone, I’d probably rate it lower but my heart broke for Jamie in book 1 and the journey to self acceptance in this one gave me lots of feels.

Jamie- an addict that hit rock bottom, went to rehab in California, and wants to relocate back to England. He chooses a place on the map and moves there to start over. He’s terrified of flying and while on the plane sits next to a man that saves him from his crippling fear.

Marc- airplane hero, wounded Veteran with a prosthetic leg, and doctor. He’s miserable, lonely, and just existing.

As mentioned, the men meet on a plane, end up living in the same town, practically neighbors, and develop a friendship as they begin spending more time together. I like the patience they have with each other, the unconditional acceptance, and the sanctuary each provides without anything physically intimate. They offer comfort and a soothing balm to all the physical and emotional wounds that they carry around like armor. Jamie is his own worst critic and Marc provides another voice without judgement. Their relationship follows a natural progression when taking into account where they are starting and how they got there. I enjoyed each step they make towards healing their hearts, managing addiction, and eventually HEA love.

The book starts off slow for me. It seems Marc’s character has appeared in another book. Based on what I found, I *think* he was a secondary character in Between Ghosts. I haven’t read that story so Marc’s POV in the beginning chapters left me confused and feeling as if I should know all the people he mentioned without providing context.

Another bit of disappointment was the lack of backstory for Jamie. He hit rock bottom in Rented Heart and then he’s California living with a foot out the door back to England. What happened in between? He was a much more gritty character before and we are only left with the aftermath of him after a year of being clean.

Soul to Keep kept me interested and invested in Marc and Jamie’s transformation. I appreciate the details regarding their struggles and how life doesn’t miraculously become all cotton candy and rainbows when you meet “the one.” It can suck and take effort to find the good parts. They learn you have to work for the little bits of happy and that it’s ok to just focus on taking one itty bitty baby step forward when taking a full one isn’t possible. Recommended.

Trigger warnings: past drug use, recovering addict, mention of attempted child abuse, character with OCD and anxiety.

Copy provided for honest review.

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

Livingston (Trenton Security #1)

Livingston by J.M. Dabney: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Synopsis:

He was the Beast without the escape clause.

Francis “Liv” Livingston was a beast. No matter if he wore a perfectly tailored suit or if he was in his tactical gear, people avoided looking at him. He was always first to volunteer for the jobs only a person with a death wish wanted. Tomorrows weren’t guaranteed. His boss had come to him and told him he needed him for a job. Linus knew the jobs he liked, but when he opened the file, it all went to hell.

Beauty was only skin deep.

Fielding Haskell made his way in the world on his looks. He’d earned his first film role before he could read a script. He didn’t want the fame. He wanted to go to college. He wanted a man who didn’t look at him and see how pretty he was. Unfortunately, a so-called fan only cared how attractive he was, and it earned him a personal bodyguard and a vacation. He looked forward to the break until he met the man in charge of his safety and wondered if the danger he left was worth dealing with a sudden attraction to a man who was colder than ice.

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Review:

3 Stars

I’m going to start this off with some warnings and information that I wish I had prior to diving in. This read is full of Daddy kink. The MCs and secondary characters are all part of the lifestyle and it’s a huge element of the story. There’s also a fisting scene that isn’t super graphic but worth noting. There are triggers for abuse, stalking, and mentions of prior suicide attempts.

Still here?

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Daddy kink and fisting aren’t my kinks of choice but I still somewhat enjoyed this read. Both Fielding and Livingston were very likable with heartbreaking backstories that had me cheering for them along the way.

Livingston was born into an environment where “love came in shades of blue and black, fading to a deceptively pretty purple and a sick greenish-yellow.” After a horrific childhood ripe with abuse and time in the military, he works for a security company. Livingston lives his life waiting, hoping for it to end. He’s scarred from head to toe on half his body and accepts that he’ll never find someone that will look past his beastly exterior.

Fielding is a 23 year old actor that has never truly lived. He’s beautiful and on a very short leash with zero freedom. Fielding is starved, denied relationships, micromanaged, and has a keeper 24/7. No chocolate for two years? *gasp* #fuckthatnoise! He also has a very aggressive stalker which is how he’s placed in the care of Livingston, his new bodyguard.

Both men are broken and hesitant to reach for more. They are immediately attracted to each other but Livingston has a difficult time getting past his hangups and the 15 year age gap to move on. Things obviously heat up for the men and Livingston gets his boy while trying to suss out a stalker. They have a few bumps in the road while Livingston tries to do what’s right. Eventually they get their Daddy/boy situation resolved for a predictable HEA.

Here are my issues: I felt like I was entering a story that had already started.  There was a lack of depth and shortfalls in character and plot development. Many things are rushed, especially the Daddy/boy dynamic without being fully realized. I *think* it’s due to the fact that the secondary characters already had their stories told. However, this is supposed to be a standalone and the first of a new series. A little warning about reading order would go a long way for clarity. I didn’t read the other books by this author and therefore can’t speak on whether it would have provided the foundational depth that Livingston is lacking.

As I mentioned above, I was still able to find pieces to enjoy. The stalker storyline held my attention and I was invested in the outcome of Livingston and Fielding. This story isn’t for the squeamish but I’d recommend it to those that have already read the previous books about the secondary characters.

*skips off to eat chocolate*

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Copy provided for honest review.

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com