The Doctor’s Date

The Doctor’s Date (Copper Point Medical #2) by Heidi Cullinan:
Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Buddy Read with Adam

The Doctor's Date (Copper Point Medical #2)

Blurb:

Sequel to The Doctor’s Secret
Copper Point Medical: Book Two 

The hospital’s least eligible bachelor and its aloof administrator hate each other… so why are they pretending to date?

Dr. Owen Gagnon and HR director Erin Andreas are infamous for their hospital hallway shouting matches. So imagine the town’s surprise when Erin bids an obscene amount of money to win Owen in the hospital bachelor auction—and Owen ups the ante by insisting Erin move in with him.

Copper Point may not know what’s going on, but neither do Erin and Owen. Erin intends his gesture to let Owen know he’s interested. Owen, on the other hand, suspects ulterior motives—that Erin wants a fake relationship as a refuge from his overbearing father.

With Erin suddenly heading a messy internal investigation, Owen wants to step up and be the hero Erin’s never had. Too bad Erin would rather spend his energy trying to rescue Owen from the shadows of a past he doesn’t talk about.

This relationship may be fake, but the feelings aren’t. Still, what Erin and Owen have won’t last unless they put their respective demons to rest. To do that, they’ll have to do more than work together—they’ll have to trust they can heal each other’s hearts.

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BR with Adam

3.5 Stars

The Doctor’s Date is the second installment in Cullinan’s new series and I’m glad that I gave it a try. After the first book I was hesitant to dive in but this book has a little more depth to the characters. It’s still sweet with low angst but doesn’t flatline like the last one did for me.

The story starts off with Erin’s childhood background story that provides context on his behavior as an adult. Erin’s in charge of human resources for the hospital. He’s skittish, isolated, and has had a long life of intimidation and neglect from his father (who is also the president of the board). He has never done anything with another person (not even a kiss) and has been starved for affection, touch, and kind words. Erin has been looking for a mighty ogre to rescue him since he was boy and the ogre has a name, Owen. It’s always been Owen. Always.

Owen’s an anesthesiologist that has quite the reputation within the hospital as pretty much being an asshole. His glower sends the gossiping nurses scurrying but, with those he loves, he’s loyal and a protector. His favorite past-time is rubbing up against Erin until they are both breathing fire… not in a sexual way, that comes later. Much. Much. later.

My thoughts on Erin and Owen are a little confusing. I liked them together sometimes because there’s respect, patience, and a connection of building a deeper friendship. As I was reading though, I kept wondering if some chemistry would appear- I don’t think it ever really did. This lacking of chemistry has nothing to do with sex. I’m not sure where Erin falls on the sexuality spectrum but I would guess closer to asexual than not. I appreciated that they didn’t rush to sex and instead took little steps that added some depth to their friendship. The sex scenes are fade to black which doesn’t really bother me if the characters have a great connection and chemistry.

Owen’s a natural leader that takes charge and that’s no different when it comes to Erin. It takes a while for Owen to reveal himself and his childhood trauma because he’d rather be helping others. Erin lets himself be rescued with his backbone appearing a few times in his role as HR director and the auction. Other than that, Erin just goes along and enjoys the fruit of his ogre coming for him and fully caring for him (almost helpless at some points). There’s not many medical situations taking place in The Doctor’s Date but there’s an underlying mystery to solve that adds some suspense.

As I mentioned, I enjoyed this installment and will possibly continue with the next book. If you’re looking for a really sweet, low angst M/M romance, with a little bit of humor, this could be your cuppa.

Trigger Warnings for abuse.

Copy provided for honest review.

 

Thirst for You

Thirst for You (Beyond the Cove #2) by Jaclyn Quinn: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Thirst for You (Beyond the Cove, #2)

Blurb

What happens when thirst becomes an obsession that can’t be quenched?

Forty-year-old Zachariah Taylor prides himself on being the overprotective older brother of seven. He owns a successful bar, Zach’s Bar and Grill, in the quiet town of Riverside Falls and loves the life he’s built for himself. But as his siblings move on and find their forever partners in life, he’s starting to feel less and less needed—not to mention old. Suddenly, he’s finding it even harder to ignore the younger man who has pursued him for years, but the twelve years separating them is something Zach can’t seem to overlook.

Twenty-eight-year-old Drew Belford has been in love with the stubborn Zach Taylor for seven years. Sure, he was a kid when they’d first met, but what Zach is determined to ignore is the man Drew has become. Drew, however, is just as strong-minded and refuses to let Zach use their age difference as an excuse to disregard the attraction burning between them. He doesn’t need an overprotective older brother—he needs Zach.

When Drew begins to get unsettling messages from an unknown person, Zach feels helpless in a way he’s never felt before. How can he protect Drew from someone he can’t find? The thought of anyone hurting Drew unleashes years’ worth of pent-up desire Zach has had for the younger man. Is his thirst for Drew enough to protect him from the danger lurking in the shadows, or will the threat of the unknown be enough to dowse the spark of love between them—and silence Drew forever?

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3.5ish Stars

I’m going to start off with a warning: I didn’t read the first book in the series because this can be read as a stand-alone… at 2% I was confused and feeling like I should know some things. But, I kept pushing through.

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Names were dropping faster than I could pick them up and it became clear that book #1 should definitely be read (or at least go on a review binge to gain understanding) before this one. However, I’m a special snowflake and decided to ignore this and thus it took a bit to get it all sorted. Luckily, after the first 25ish% the story picked up.

Drew is an extrovert with his sights set on his brother’s best friend A.K.A his boss and owner of the bar he works at. He isn’t shy about his interest much to the annoyance (and sexual frustration) of said owner, Zach. Drew has been biding his time in getting Zach to finally notice him as more than a kid and he expedites it in the most pleasurable of ways when he gets sick of waiting.

Zach is the boss and friends with Drew’s brother and therefore places him on the do not feel/fuck list… even if it’s pure torture to work with him each day and deny those feelings. Let’s not forget the age gap- Zach is 40 and Drew is 28. The way Zach acted, you would have thought he was 80. It’s constantly mentioned and I did want to scream *get over it* many times for this measly 12 year age gap. They have good chemistry and worked well together once they got on the same page.

Things really begin to pick up for Zach and Drew when a stalker is introduced. They come together for safety and comfort during a very scary time. The stalker plot is engaging and well written. I enjoyed the family aspect going on in Riverside Falls and would be open to continuing with this series. Some of the medical stuff left me scratching my head- not in confusion but with bafflement of actual medical policy/procedure/protocol in comparison to the events detailed in this book. Trigger warnings for one instance of homophobia and a stalker.

Recommended.

Copy provided for honest review.

Gideon

Gideon (Finding Home #3) by Lily Morton: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Gideon (Finding Home, #3)

Blurb:

Gideon Ramsay is so far in the closet he should be a talking faun.

A talented, mercurial, and often selfish man, Gideon has everything he should want in life. Fame, money, acting awards – he has it all. Everything but honesty. At the advice of his agent, Gideon has concealed his sexuality for years. But it’s starting to get harder to hide, and his increasingly wild behaviour is threatening to destroy his career.

Then he’s laid low by a serious illness and into his life comes Eli Jones. Eli is everything that Gideon can’t understand. He’s sunny tempered, friendly, and optimistic. Even worse, he’s unaffected by grumpiness and sarcasm, which forms ninety percent of Gideon’s body weight. And now Gideon is trapped with him without any recourse to the drugs and alcohol that have previously eased his way through awkward situations.

However, as Gideon gets to know the other man, he finds himself wildly attracted to his lazy smiles and warm, scruffy charm that seem to fill a hole inside Gideon that’s been empty for a long time. Will he give in to this incomprehensible attraction when it could mean the end of everything that he’s worked for?

From the bestselling author of the Mixed Messages series comes a story about a man who needs to realise that being true to yourself is really just a form of finding home.

This is the third book in the Finding Home series but it can be read as a standalone.

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4.5 Stars

Soooo… in the previous book there was an element that was really off putting for me that centered around Gideon and I even mentioned it in my review for book #2. I was all wtf… grrrr…. Gideon sucks (even though the name is 🔥🔥).

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Gideon starts off with a bang as he’s drinking, doing drugs, and all about sex with as many people as possible. All those vices at the same time with multiple partners is a bonus. He’s self destructing as rapidly as his declining health and he’s doing anything to remain in a state of numbness. This gets him in trouble and he ends up in the care of nurse Eli.

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Eli is a giant ray of sunshine in Gideon’s stormy world. He’s kind, funny, bossy, sarcastic, and has zero issues calling Gideon out on his behavior while he ignores his bastard persona. Soon, Eli becomes one of the very few people in Gideon’s world that cares and looks out for him; not their paycheck.

I adore Eli and Gideon together. They have great banter, lots of chemistry and heat. There’s some dirty talk, a bossy top, and some entertaining attempts to top from the bottom. This is a hurt/comfort that left me with all the warm/fuzzy feels. Gideon had an incredible redemptive character arc that was fully fleshed out. I was rooting for him very early on and he didn’t let me down.

The secondary characters in Lily’s books are always on point. Constance is a dream and the patchwork family that continues to build throughout each book in this series is highly entertaining and fun of warmth.

I really enjoyed Gideon but I had one niggle… where are MY LETTERS? Ahhhhhh!! I’m a HUGE sucker for written communication between MCs (whether it’s texts, emails, or actual letters). When they start writing letters I gear up to read a bunch of correspondence with witty lines and heartfelt sentiments. But I only got two? Total? One from each? That’s it? #sadface #GIVEMEMYLETTERS

I was able to turn my frown upside down with the amazeballs epilogue. It’s full y’all. You’ll walk away with so many answers about the future and their HEA. I adore this series and will continue to read any that come out. Recommended.

Trigger Warning for drug and alcohol usage.

Copy provided for honest review.

 

The Doctor’s Secret

The Doctor’s Secret (Copper Point Medical #1) by Heidi Cullinan: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

The Doctor's Secret (Copper Point Medical #1)

Blurb:

The brilliant but brooding new doctor encounters Copper Point’s sunny nurse-next-door… and nothing can stand in the way of this romance.

Dr. Hong-Wei Wu has come to Copper Point, Wisconsin, after the pressures of a high-powered residency burned him out of his career before he started. Ashamed of letting his family down after all they’ve done for him, he plans to live a quiet life as a simple surgeon in this tiny northern town. His plans, however, don’t include his outgoing, kind, and attractive surgical nurse, Simon Lane.

Simon wasn’t ready for the new surgeon to be a handsome charmer who keeps asking him for help getting settled and who woos him with amazing Taiwanese dishes. There’s no question—Dr. Wu is flirting with him, and Simon is flirting back. The problem is, St. Ann’s has a strict no-dating policy between staff, which means their romance is off the table… unless they bend the rules.

But a romance that keeps them—literally—in the closet can’t lead to happy ever after. Simon doesn’t want to stay a secret, and Hong-Wei doesn’t want to keep himself removed from life, not anymore. To secure their happiness, they’ll have to change the administration’s mind. But what other secrets will they uncover along the way, about Copper Point… and about each other?

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Tag Team with Adam

2.5 Stars

Ermm… *checks author name*

Heidi Cullinan wrote this?

I was all ready to play doctor when I cracked this open but the sugary fluff was wafting off the page very early on.

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My past reads with Cullinan have raked my emotions over the coals while chasing it down with tissues and a bottle of wine. This wasn’t that experience at all. I’m all about branching out but The Doctor’s Secret left me wanting more substance while trying to come down from a sugar high.

Dr. Hong-Wei Wu moves to Copper Point to live a slower paced lifestyle and just be a general surgeon. He ran away from Texas to a small town and is greeted at the airport by his new surgical nurse, Simon.

Simon is a very positive and competent surgical nurse that has lived in Copper Point all his life. He’s very involved in the community and has a thing for K-Pop, Asian TV, and apparently hot AF Taiwanese doctors. Unfortunately for both of them, the hospital policy prohibits getting together with other employees.

I didn’t get Simon and Dr. Wu together. They had insta-love with no real depth. They wen’t from we can’t date to I love you way too fast. Dr. Wu remains closed off throughout (which might be more his culture than poor character development) and the way his “secret” was hyped, I was ready for something huge. Like it has to be a BFD. *sigh*

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Everything seems so fantastical and the lack of strong characters was off putting. I hate to say this but I was bored reading the story.

I did enjoy the town, the endearing secondary characters, and the antics of Simon’s surgeon friends- My favorite parts didn’t involve the MCs.  I’m still a big fan of Heidi’s other works but this just wan’t for me. Not recommended but YMMV.

Copy provided for honest review.

 

Arctic Sun (Frozen Hearts, #1)

Arctic sun (frozen Hearts, #1) by Annabeth Albert: Review by Lost in a Book

Arctic Sun (Frozen Hearts, #1)

Blurb:

Everything’s bigger in Alaska, especially the HEAs. Annabeth Albert kicks off the brand-new Frozen Hearts series with Arctic Sun, an opposites-attract romance between a rugged outdoorsman and a smoking hot former male model.

He’s built a quiet life for himself in Alaska. But it doesn’t stand a chance against the unrelenting pull of a man who’s everything he shouldn’t want.

Ex-military mountain man Griffin Barrett likes his solitude. It keeps him from falling back into old habits. Bad habits. He’s fought too hard for his sobriety to lose control now. However, his gig as a wildlife guide presents a new kind of temptation in superhot supermodel River Vale. Nothing the Alaskan wilderness has to offer has ever called to Griffin so badly. And that can only lead to trouble…

River has his own methods for coping. Chasing adventure means always moving forward. Nobody’s ever made him want to stand still—until Griffin. The rugged bush pilot is the very best kind of distraction, but the emotions he stirs up in River feel anything but casual, and he’s in no position to stay put.

With temptation lurking in close quarters, keeping even a shred of distance is a challenge neither’s willing to meet. And the closer Griffin gets to River, the easier it is to ignore every last reason he should run.

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

Publisher’s Note: Arctic Sun deals with topics some readers may find difficult, including sobriety and eating disorders.

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2 Stars

I chose this book because I love stories with wilderness settings. Some of my favorites take place in the Alaskan Wild and therefore I was all in. Arctic Sun is less about living in the wild and more about sight seeing. Throw in a “romance” with the sightseeing and that’s the book.

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Griffin is a recovering addict living in Alaska. He flies bush planes for his family’s tourism company and isolates himself to avoid temptation of anything else. Griffin has to step up and take a tourism group out for a couple weeks and that’s how he meets supermodel, River Vale.

River wants to be more than a model. He also has an eating disorder that he works really hard to overcome. River’s at peace in nature and wants to experience everything there is to see while writing a book about his travels. When he arrives in Alaska for his tour, he sets his sights on the burly Griffin. That’s pretty much it.

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The rest of the book is about them traveling together and road blocks popping up at every turn as they drag along their insane amount of baggage. Loads of it. Arctic Sun just didn’t work for me. It was boring. *shrugs* The MCs lack chemistry, the pacing was cold molasses slow, and the men had so many issues thrown into the ring that they couldn’t be adequately addressed/fleshed out in one story… or five.

Unfortunately this book didn’t work for me but as always, YMMV.

Copy provided for honest review.

Milo (Finding Home #2)

Milo (Finding Home #2) by Lily Morton: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Milo (Finding Home #2)

Blurb:

Once upon a time a brave knight rescued a young man. Unfortunately, he then spent the next few years bossing the young man around and treating him like a child.

Milo has been burying himself at Chi an Mor, hiding from the wreckage of his once promising career and running from a bad relationship that destroyed what little confidence he had. Niall, his big brother’s best friend, has been there for him that entire time. An arrogant and funny man, Niall couldn’t be any more different from the shy and occasionally stuttering Milo, which has never stopped Milo from crushing wildly on the man who saved him.

However, just as Milo makes the decision to move on from his hopeless crush, he and Niall are thrown into close contact, and for the first time ever Niall seems to be returning his interest. But it can never work. How can it when Milo always needs rescuing?

From the bestselling author of the Mixed Messages series comes a story about a man who needs to write his own happily ever after.

This is the second book in the Finding Home series, but it can be read as a standalone.

Content warning: There are descriptions of domestic abuse in this book.

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3.5 Stars

Chi an Mor

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In Milo, we are back at Chi an Mor where Oz and Silas fell in love (In the book #1, Oz) and at the end of that book I was impatiently waiting for Milo’s story so I could dwell in the land of witty banter between Milo and Niall forever and ever. And I did, at least for the first half.

Milo starts out with a big trigger warning for domestic abuse. Milo is at such a low point during the opening scene and is thankfully saved by Niall who goes all beast mode on the fucker of an ex while wrapping Milo in a blanket of protection. Milo is carried off to Chi an Mor, an estate in the wilds of Cornwall to heal, find his inner strength again, and realize the sassy spitfire he used to be is still there.

Niall, the frustratingly arrogant yet kind soul that he is, slowly brings Milo back to life. He doesn’t fix him but gently forces Milo to realize his own self worth along the way and is always Milo’s biggest supporter. Niall has been in Milo’s life since they were teenagers and Niall was best friends with Milo’s brother. They have a sweet friendship because of the long history and there’s also a sassy wit and/or low grade exasperation between them that begins to serve as foreplay. They are soooooo sweet together but not in the everything is so perfect and lovey dovey boring without snark kind of way. I’m talking the good kind where each man is supportive, brings their own personalities and quirks to the relationship, and can still have fantastically entertaining exchanges as each make their points.

“Well, Milo,” he says mock seriously. “My milkshake might bring all the boys to my yard, but I’m afraid you’re not getting a drink yet because I value my body too much to give it away for free.”

Milo starts out very strong and entertaining. However, IMO, as the story unfolds, too much is added in. It seems like the overall plot gets lost about midway through and it never quite gets back on track as drama continues to randomly pop up. Some of it seems like filler and another element becomes *really* off-putting. I understand that Milo’s brother is going to end up playing a part in this story, but the direction it goes would have been fine if there weren’t constant references to the part he played.

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Still, I LOVE Niall and Milo separately and together. They are hot during their smexy times and are really lovely to experience as their own story. I have also maintained my giant crush on Oz and Silas and I’m *so* happy they have an active part in this story. Recommended.

“A real man? Can you hear that? What is a real man, Milo? I’ll tell you what a real man is. He’s someone kind and generous and loving. Someone who has had his spirit crushed yet gets back up and carries on making ugly things beautiful.”

Copy provided for honest review.

 

Not Dead Yet

Not Dead Yet by Jenn Burke: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Not Dead Yet (Not Dead Yet #1)

Blurb:

Dying isn’t what it used to be. 

Wes Cooper was dead. Then he wasn’t—though he’s not exactly alive, either. As an immortal not-ghost, he can transition between this world and the otherplane, which makes him the perfect thief for hire. For seventy years he’s made a “living” returning items to their rightful owners, seeing his fair share of the bizarre in the process. But he’s never witnessed murder. Until now.

His latest mission brings him more than he bargained for: a very-dead actor who is definitely going to stay that way. It’s just Wes’s luck that his ex-boyfriend, Detective Hudson Rojas, is assigned to the case. Hudson broke Wes’s heart years ago—and could again, given he’s rocking a hot silver-fox look that shouldn’t be legal.

As they work together to track down the murderer before anyone else gets hurt, it becomes clear Wes and Hudson have unfinished business. And when a secret Hudson’s been keeping threatens more than just their happiness, it might mean the end of their not-life together—permanently.

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4 Stars

Not Dead Yet is a pleasant surprise with a unique feel amidst the overwhelming monotony of many paranormal romances. Don’t get me wrong, there are ghosts and some other paranormal elements that appear throughout the genre. However, this one felt different and held my attention throughout.

This is a paranormal mystery with a lot of dark things happening. It’s almost impossible to provide tidbits without revealing spoilers because so much happens and it all interconnects. Wes has the ability be alive and enter the plane of the dead. He embraces this ability as it provides a way to live without drawing attention to the fact that he never ages. Wes allows very few people in his inner circle and when he witnesses a murder while on the other plane, he ends up working with the one man who held his heart 30 years ago, Detective Hudson Rojas.

Wes is loveable and full of life (minus the dead plane parts) while Rojas’ is growly, cranky, and analytical. Rojas’ is also one of the very few people Wes has ever felt sexual attraction with (*cheers* some ACE representation). They have baggage from the past but their feelings after 30 years apart are still there even if Growly McGrowlerson runs hot/cold with Wes on the regular.

“My heart hurt and I wanted you. Not just in a sex way, but in a heart way.”

The characters are well connected and fleshed out. They have chemistry and heat but sex isn’t and doesn’t have to be the main attraction to their relationship. As both men work together to solve these murders, their chemistry, humor, and feelings sneak through without their approval. The plot is engaging, the secondary characters are entertaining and utterly endearing (🥰 Evan), and the suspense had me guessing along the way.

Towards the end, the events started becoming too OTT for my taste. Also, Rojas is a detective and he broke the CARDINAL rule (If it’s not, it should be). Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it but he did a certain something and I was left scratching my head.

There should be a trigger warning for mentions of suicide. I enjoyed Not Dead Yet and I’m hoping Evan gets his story next. Recommended.

 Copy provided for honest review.

You. Forever. Always

You. Forever. Always. by K.A. Merikan: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

You. Forever. Always. (The Underdogs, #3)

Blurb:

—Years of loving in secret. Now the secret’s out.—

Mage. Reasonable. Mature. In love with his best friend’s little brother.
Dawn. Painfully shy. Crazy talented. An anxious cinnamon roll in need of protection.

Mage has always been Dawn’s hero. He’s been there for him when Dawn was bullied, when Dawn came out, and when he joined The Underdogs. He’s also been Dawn’s first and only love—painfully unrequited, since Mage is straight. But that’s only for the better, because they’re bandmates, and Dawn’s brother is Mage’s best friend.

It would all be too intense, too complicated, too real.

But then one drunken kiss proves Mage might not be as straight as he seemed, and their whole world turns upside down. Even though Dawn craves Mage’s love so much his heart could burst, his shyness stands in the way of any future they could share.

While they have to keep their budding relationship under wraps and they prepare to sign a major record deal, Dawn’s anxiety gets out of control. Mage will have to choose between the success he’s always craved and the love of his life.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS:
Themes: 
rock band, bandmates romance, older brother’s best friend, coming out, bisexuality, first love, anxiety, compromise, music, secret love
Genre: Contemporary M/M Rocker Romance
Heat level: sweet, explicit scenes

Length: ~50,000 words (Can be read as standalone, HEA)

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2.75 Stars

Hmmm… I’m not sure why I thought this was my first Merikan read but it wasn’t. However, it’s worlds different than Laurent and the Beast which is my only other read by this duo. This was sweet, really sweet and while I know I’m not one to gravitate to fluff, this one didn’t hold my attention. At all. So, I’ll just move on over to my dissenting-opinion-table for one and get this lonely party started.

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Dawn has been in love with his brother’s best friend (Mage) and now they’re both adults playing in the same band, The Underdogs. Mage, being older than Dawn has always looked out for him starting from a young age. When Mage saved him from bullies, Dawn’s kid heart fell in love and hero worship began. As both grew older, their bond strengthens and they become inseparable.

Dawn has anxiety, is very sensitive, and comes off as super fragile. Mage is here for it though and has been and continues to be his protector. Dawn feels everything- too much of everything. It doesn’t help that he’s in love and that it’s supposedly unrequited. Until, it isn’t.

See? Mage is soooooo sweet. But, something is missing. There are time lapses that skip over parts I actually wanted to read. How did Dawn and Mage go from a panic attack while kissing to making out and curled in bed together? Tour dates are mentioned without much detail and somehow they go from roughing it at the beginning of their tour to nice hotels? There’s not a lot of sex which is totally fine because it fits Dawn. However, many of the moments where they were apparently deepening their connection happens off page and then mentioned after the fact.

I haven’t read any others in this series and maybe that was a mistake as they could have potentially filled in some of the holes? Maybe not? IMO, not much happened in You. Forever. Always. that will entice me to read the others. It was just okay and not a ride that I will continue. As always, while I won’t recommend it, YMMV.

Copy provided for honest review.

Any Old Diamonds

Any Old Diamonds (Lilywhite Boys #1) by K.J. Charles: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR -Buddy Read with Adam

Any Old Diamonds (Lilywhite Boys #1)

Blurb:

Lord Alexander Pyne-ffoulkes is the younger son of the Duke of Ilvar, with a bitter grudge against his wealthy father. The Duke intends to give his Duchess a priceless diamond parure on their wedding anniversary—so Alec hires a pair of jewel thieves to steal it.

The Duke’s remote castle is a difficult target, and Alec needs a way to get the thieves in. Soldier-turned-criminal Jerry Crozier has the answer: he’ll pose as a Society gentleman and become Alec’s new best friend.

But Jerry is a dangerous man: controlling, remote, and devastating. He effortlessly teases out the lonely young nobleman’s most secret desires, and soon he’s got Alec in his bed—and the palm of his hand.

Or maybe not. Because as the plot thickens, betrayals, secrets, new loves, and old evils come to light. Now the jewel thief and the aristocrat must keep up the pretence, find their way through a maze of privilege and deceit, and confront the truth of what’s between them…all without getting caught.

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4 Stars

There’s something so comforting about a K.J. Charles historical romance. Well, as comforting as intrigue, murder, jewel thieves, and filial retribution can be…which for me is as effective as a cozy blanket and a mug of hot chocolate. #content

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Lord Alexander has harbored rage for years after his family was turned away by his father, Duke Ilvar. The Duke and Duchess remain quite wealthy while their children live in poverty. With their anniversary coming soon, the Duke has commissioned a diamond parure for his wife and Lord Alexander (Alec) hires renowned jewel thieves to steal it.

Jewel thief, Jerry Crozier is unapologetic about his profession and instructs Alec that he must get in the good graces of the Duke and his wife. This is a really tough pill to swallow for Alec who has to alienate important people in his life to see the mission through. Part of the mission requires Jerry and Lord Alexander to become the very best of friends. The benefits they discover and partake in are strictly a bonus.

Jerry is harsh and doesn’t sugarcoat his past nor what he expects out of the present/future. Alec is independent but craves someone to take control in the bedroom (Jerry was good at doing control type things and let’s just say I was here for it). I do wish Jerry and Alec had more getting to know you moments instead of always hopping on the orgasm train… which isn’t totally a complaint but I wanted more. I could *see* some subtle moments during those intimate times, moving them closer together. Yet, I would have definitely welcomed more relational development.

The plot has a lot of moving pieces and I really like all the ground work that has to be laid in order to pull off the heist. There are lots of twists and turns along the way.

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Holy plot twist Batman. I also enjoyed the mentions of the Vanes and Cirencester from the Society series. Any Old Diamonds is not a touchy feely romance. It’s sexy, entertaining, gruesome, and suspenseful, with plot twists around every bend. Recommended.

Copy provided for honest review.

The Bibliophile

The Bibliophile by Drew Marvin Frayne: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

The Bibliophile

Blurb:
To toughen him up, Nathanial’s father has indentured him to a ranchman, Cayuse Jem, a large, raw-boned, taciturn man Nathanial’s father believes will help teach his son to “become a man.” Cut off from his books and the life he has always known, Nathanial is not only forced to co-exist with Cayuse Jem, but to truly get to know him. In doing so, Nathanial discovers there is more to this silent horseman than meets the eye. And, in the process, Nathanial also learns a few things about life, about human nature, and about the differences in being a man and a boy…

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4 Stars

Well, this one snuck up on me. My love for historical romance pushed me over the edge on choosing The Bibliophile and I’m glad. It’s a unique, nineteenth century story told through journal entries for one of the main characters, Nathanial. This style might not work for some and even though I would have liked some more perspective, I enjoyed it and moved right along from entry to entry.

Nathanial has been ordered to leave his studies and take his place as the only son beside his rich father to learn the family business. He’s an academic at heart and feels the most joy spending his days surrounded by books and having intellectual discussions on anything and everything. Unfortunately, Nathanial becomes indentured as a ranch hand to toughen him up and make him “a man.” Luck is shining down on him because he’s dropped off with Cayuse Jem, a huge, burly man that is the complete opposite of his father.

Cayuse, man of very few words, is a horse trainer with a very patient and gentle hand. He doesn’t believe in bending a horse or person to his will, but to coax them gently. He uses this approach with Nathanial from the first day which builds trust and a deeply meaningful connection. Cayuse slowly built him up after Nathanial’s father and grandmother spent years tearing him down.

There’s a sweetness to the relationship between Cayuse and Nathanial. Nathanial is a virgin in every way, including never being kissed. He finds safety and validation with Cayuse in just being his boy. During an era of reserved life, their relationship and love is simple and peaceful. Cayuse may be a man of few words but that doesn’t make what they have any less meaningful. There’s some erotic heat between the eager pupil Nathanial AKA Boy and Cayuse that helps get through some of the more difficult times.

The Bibliophile has relatively low angst for a M/M historical romance. The angst comes from other circumstances and a devastating loss to both men. The transition from indentured servant to lover was odd. I enjoyed the entries but would have liked Cayuse’s POV. We get to know him through Nathanial’s eyes but there’s so much missing. I think having that extra insight would have helped the transition not feel so abrupt when they become lovers and smoothed some of the other areas that lacked finesse.

Overall, I really enjoyed seeing Cayuse and Nathanial ride into the sunset with their HEA. Recommended for fans of historical romance and classic literature.

P.S. I clearly missed a TON of classics while taking Lit in HS/college because Nathanial is a lover of it all, references them throughout, and left me in the dust with anything beyond Shakespeare.

Copy provided for honest review.