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.

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.

Inseparable

Reviewed for @BMBR

3.5 Stars

This was a sweet college romance that brought about a bit of nostalgia. Do you remember the feelings you had (or currently have) when you couldn’t wait to leave home for college (or any other reason)? That when you went away, you could finally be yourself, find yourself, and find your tribe? That’s what Inseparable reminded me of; Those feelings of hope that everything would be epic and smooth sailing once you were an “adult”.

They aren’t at the point where they realize adulting is overrated.

Anywhooo, Gabe and Trevor have been best friends since the crib. Seriously. Their moms are best friends and were pregnant at the same time. They lived two houses from each other and did everything together from playing childhood games all the way to an eventual attraction once puberty hit. Gabe and Trevor started secretly dating their junior year of high school and decided they would wait until college to make everything official. Trevor was still in the closet and both boys were terrified of how their families would react to them being together.

The day had come and they were all moved into their dorm. Freeeeeedom. They found relief in the privacy of their dorm room as they explored new aspects of being in a relationship. I loved the way Gabe loves Trevor. Trevor gets to see a part of Gabe that’s only for him. His typical abrasiveness is replaced with vulnerability, affections, and openly showing Trevor love.

Outside of their room, they struggled with the course load, making time for each other, insecurities, coming out, and family issues.

The family mom issues were insane.

Their moms, especially Trevor’s were wayyyyyyyy beyond helicopter parenting. If she could have found a way to reattach the cord, she probably would. Most of the drama in the book was caused by fear of parental (mom) expectations with coming out and/or admitting that they were in a relationship. I didn’t get it. Why did it matter that they were together? Just when I was about to hit my WTF is the big deal moment, clarity was provided the last quarter of the book and the worry *kind of* made sense.

We’re also provided a helping of relational angst with insecurities, lack of communication, and the burden of hiding their relationship. They soon realize not everything about adulting is amazing and have to navigate through the muck and mire to reach the other side. They get their HEA and find *their* people. I ended up enjoying the families (minus Trevor’s mom because drama) and really liked the secondary characters they met at college.

I read the ARC version so I’m hoping this went through another round of edits. Seth (secondary character) was called Alan a couple times at the end. I don’t hold that or spelling/grammar against the rating for ARCs. The time lapses though… *smh.* They were random throughout and a few times skipped parts that should have been on page based on the build up.

It wasn’t love, but I liked it. The characters were relatable and the leaving home nostalgia this story provided kept me coming back for more. I’d recommend it and would read Seth’s story if he gets one.

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

Copy provided for honest review.

The Soldier Next Door

Reviewed for @BMBR

3 Stars

Holy short story Batman!! I didn’t even know I was at the end until I turned the page at 84% and hit an excerpt for another book. Umm… ok? The good news is that I was interested in reading more. The bad news was the ending was rushed and many parts throughout were glossed over, which compromised the completeness of the story.

Owen is an 18 year old recent high school grad that enlisted in the Army. He’s also a virgin and wants to cash in his v-card before he ships out for basic in a month. When his parents go on vacation and ask Travis, the next door neighbor to keep an eye on Owen, he decides that close, penetrating contact will be the best course of action. Repeatedly. Travis, being such a nice guy, is willing to help Owen out and take one for team USA.

What started as a cherry popping turned into a month long sex-fest. The men get to know each other as more than just neighbors and when Owen ships out, they continue their “relationship” during stolen moments through basic and even into Owen’s first duty station. Feelings become involved and then Owen goes radio silent and leaves behind a heartbroken Travis.

It isn’t until a July 4th BBQ five years later that the men see each other again.

So then what happens? I don’t know. It ended. They got a HEA or maybe it was a HFN? Or it’s whatever blow jobs and fire works equate to?

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There was a story there and could have definitely been expanded to be a longer novella if not novel. I enjoyed the bones of the story and the characters were likable. I wouldn’t mind a reworking to add length, a fully realized plot, and added depth to the characters beyond the shallow details that we were given. The potential is there but this is more of the CliffsNotes version than an actual, fully fleshed out story.

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

Copy provided for honest review.

Holding On

Reviewed for @BMBR

4 Stars

How does one classify this book? Is it a coming of age? It had all of the coming of age feels that I love: the hesitance, the self-discovery, the falling for your best friend, and the coming out. But, it also had other aspects that made me think we were dealing with characters much older than 18 year old high school seniors. Still, there were the moments of magic I crave in coming of age stories that made me pretend the other stuff didn’t exist… at least for a little while.

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Aaron is a high school senior that has it rough. An abusive, alcoholic father has been a dark cloud that finally turned into a cat 5 hurricane. Add in being homophobic to his father’s already glowing personality, a mother who stayed and endured the abuse (not judging, just recounting), a sister that witnessed it and Aaron wins the award for the crappiest luck of the draw. Aaron’s bright spot though, is his best friend Jeff who doesn’t know his two biggest secrets: abusive home life and that he’s gay.

Jeff is an amazing best friend that’s the calm in Aaron’s storm. He attends to his every need and is able to calm Aaron down from his panic attacks. He is the constant rock Aaron counts on as all hell breaks loose. Jeff is also gay and Aaron doesn’t know.

How they finally got together is beyond me. Every time they were about to make a step in the right direction, drama intervened. There was a TON of drama which meant a lonnnng delay in coming out and an even longer delay in actually communicating interest in each other.

Once they got over the overly dramatic lack of communication and the seal was broken on sex, it was balls to the wall. Errr… more like balls to the chin, hand, ass. You get my point. This was one of those areas I had to suspend my reality and pretend. Aaron and Jeff are two nerdy (but hot) high school virgins with zero girlfriends/boyfriends in the past. BUT, you wouldn’t have know based on their sex life. I’m talking zilch on hesitance, dirty talk that was seasoned, alpha male title drops (literally), fantasy sharing, etc.

“Now tell me, my sexy alpha man, what is it you want?”

There was none of the fumbling first time awkwardness. It read like college or mature adult sex which didn’t line up with their age or experience.

As I mentioned, they go through a lot in the story and I appreciated the balance they had in their friendship and eventually relationship. They had a great connection and chemistry that made me all warm and fuzzy… and if I closed my eyes and pretended they were at least in college, it was hot too. They did take for-freakin’-ever to finally come together. It was amazing how clueless Aaron was. Some of the drama was a little after school special-ish with the star quarterback back coming to their defense and awkward classroom speech. The legal proceedings at the end were also a tad unrealistic but again, I pretended because I enjoyed the bond that Aaron and Jeff had.

For the most part, Holding On kept me coming back for more. I’d recommend it for 18+ coming of age fans who don’t mind lots of drama. Trigger warning for abuse, alcoholism, homophobia, and death.

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

Copy provided for honest review.

 

Dragon’s Heat

Originally posted @BMBR

2 Stars

I’ve expended enough brain power trying to figure out how to start this review and every time I come back to same thought.

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I had to keep checking the book info just to make sure it wasn’t listed as a shifter parody. My enjoyment might have gone up a smidgen if it was. My first thought was that it’s silly and cartoonish which is disappointing as I’m a fan of the alpha-shifter-growly-fated mate vibe. I think the intention was the latter based on the synopsis, but it wasn’t executed properly. Not even a little bit.

I’m hoping you guys have read the synopsis so I can go ahead and make my case for its immediate citizenship approval to WTF-ville.

Exhibit A:
When Dirk catches a whiff of Jon and immediately realizes it’s his fated mate, he runs the other way (against his dragon’s wishes) because there is zero chance he would mate with a lowly dog.

Exhibit B: Dirk and his dragon were practically written as two separate beings that shared the same body. They had actual conversations about vacation spots, cuddling, etc… I get more of a Pete’s Dragon (circa 1977) than a fiery alpha “proudest of all shifters” feel.

”We should take him on holiday and lavish lots of attention on him until he knows better; somewhere with lots of sun.”

”Ooh, our mate is soooo smart.”

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Exhibit C: Dirk dream-walks with his dragon to talk some sense into him. Dirk doesn’t want to claim his mate so he tries to reason with his dragon in hopes it will stop putting him in mating heat. The dragon disagrees with the decision and removes himself until Dirk changes his ways.

“Fine. I will stop it. In fact, you won’t notice me at all.”

Exhibit D: Dirk comes up with a plan to use his mate for personal gain (again, bizarro world) which doesn’t work. Once Dirk has been tortured enough by his own dragon, his dragon breaks free to find and claim Jon. Of course Jon forgives instantly, they find a little motel to have sex, get their claiming marks and are talking about adopting within hours.

Exhibit E: Lets not forget the soap opera drama with crazy dads, brothers, cousins, trapping into marriage, pregnant but not yours, attempted murders, embezzlement, getting shot but instead of checking your mate right away you have rational conversations with the two men who aided in the crazy. Around 50% I thought the book was wrapping up due to all the craziness getting resolved that I had to check the menu to see if another book was starting. Not to worry, more boarded the crazy train soon after and kept on going.

Exhibit F: After the claiming, Jon the dog shifter is now able to shoot flames out of HIS FINGERS.

Exhibit G: Dirk’s brother challenges him with the intention of becoming head of the company/clan. This is where both dragon forms come out and they fight. But when they got to the challenge, Byron’s dragon wouldn’t come out to play because he didn’t like the way Byron was treating him. Then, and I can’t make this shit up…

Exhibit H: Byron’s dragon spirit left his body. A little blue dragon spirit FLOATED up and refused to come back until their “human” changed its attitude.

“’You belong in me, dragon. Get your ass over here so I can fight my brother,’ he yelled, flapping his arms around, which when naked is never a good look.”

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Exhibit I: Dirk brings Jon to see his hoard and then they play in the piles of gold and gems.

“Count it. Roll in it. Add to it. Play with it.” Dirk stepped out of his pants and Jon swallowed his drool. “It’s fun. Watch.”

This one I could understand. If I was loaded, I’d probably wanna roll around in my money every once in a while too. *shrug*

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There are more exhibits of evidence but the defense rests and I hope by now you understand why I’ve granted this book its WTF-ville citizenship card.

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When I read shifter books I know I’m going to have to forgive more than I would in regular romance. I can overlook a lot and just pass off the ridiculousness as a mates thing. But this. Can’t recommended this one.

 

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

Copy provided for honest review.