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.

 

Oz

Oz (Finding Home, #1) by Lily Morton: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Oz (Finding Home, #1)

Blurb:

What happens when temporary becomes forever?

Oz Gallagher does not do relationships well. Bored and jobless after another disastrous hook up, he decides to leave London for a temporary job in the wilds of Cornwall. Surely managing a stately home on a country estate will be easier than navigating the detritus of his relationships at home. Six months there will alleviate a bit of his wanderlust and then he can come back to London as footloose and fancy free as the day he left it.

However, when he gets there he finds a house in danger of crumbling to the ground and a man who is completely unlike anyone he’s ever met. An earl belonging to a family whose roots go back hundreds of years, Silas is the living embodiment of duty and sacrifice. Two things that Oz has never wanted. He’s also warm and funny and he draws Oz to him like a magnet.

Oz banks on the fact that they’re from two very different worlds to stop himself falling for Silas. But what will he do when he realises that these differences are actually part of the pull to one another? Will falling in love be enough to make him stop moving at last and realise that he’s finally home?

From bestselling author, Lily Morton, comes a romantic comedy about two very different men and one very dilapidated house.

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

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4.25 Stars

Keeping it 💯, I have a crush on Lily Morton with all her writery (totally a word) talents? Her books always have elements that keep me coming back for more and she has secured a spot on my automatic author list.
Humor- ✔️
Snark-✔️
Sassy character(s)-✔️
Chemistry-✔️
Great secondary characters-✔️
Depth in main characters-✔️

Oz is sick of spinning his wheels through life and after walking in on his ex bone deep inside his replacement, he moves on with the help of friends to a *highly* entertaining interview for a position to manage the estate of an Earl. Oz is a little fireball full of sass and wit with the ability to have everyone eating out of his hand. He shockingly gets the job at the estate and sets to work right away. It isn’t long before he meets Silas and the stars align, angels sing, and sound of condom wrappers being torn open fill their day dreams.

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Silas is an Earl by birth but a veterinarian by choice. He’s huge, rugged, hairy, kind, and has plenty of ex-boyfriend baggage to go along with a crumbling estate. Silas is a lonely man bound by duty with a love of the land he calls home. He takes to Oz right away but neither can act on their lust filled visions because the whole employee/employer/banging the boss thing didn’t work well in the past and they’re turning over a new leaf.

”You two. It’s like watching elephants mate. Dangerous, messy, and uncomfortable, but ever so slightly sweet.”

Oz quickly begins work on the estate and his interactions are hilarious. Silas and Oz are oozing chemistry from their initial meeting and you just know when they finally kiss it’s gonna be scorching. I adore them separately and together. They compliment each other and are able to be themselves without any pretense.

”I’d thought the moment when I fell in love would be dramatic and full of noise and energy. Instead, it’s in a quiet bedroom where a soft song plays and the light dances on the man’s hair and the planes of his face as he makes me back into me. The only man who’s ever valued that person.”

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There are multiple LOL moments but the revenge on his douchebag ex, the interview, and when Oz first meets the Earl (OMG 😂) are at the top. I cackled throughout with glee as Oz was kicking ass and taking names. I also want to note that Silas is the brother of Henry from Risk Taker. This can standalone but there are multiple characters that make appearances and having that background knowledge would definitely increase enjoyment IMO.

Oz and Silas’ relational evolution is pretty low angst and ends on a HEA with a bunch of heat to pave the way. I’ll definitely continue on with the series and hope Oz’s adorably snarky assistant Milo gets his turn next. Definitely recommended.

”He’s nothing like I imagined but somehow everything I should have known enough to wish for.”

Copy provided for honest review.

Boy Shattered

Boy Shattered by Eli Easton: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Boy Shattered

Blurb

Brian
You’ll make it out of here, Brian. I swear.
I had everything—school quarterback, popular with girls, and my dad was proud of me. I told myself it didn’t matter no one knew the real me. And then I nearly died. Landon saved my life. He’s the bravest guy I know. He came out a few years ago, proud and fierce, and he ran into gunfire to help others. Me, I’m a mess. Can’t even stand to be in a room with the curtains open. But here’s the thing about losing it all: You get a chance to start over and be someone new. Only how can I move on when the two shooters who attacked our school were never caught? And why do I feel like I’m still in the crosshairs?

Landon
Will you kiss me?
When I came across Brian Marshall,the hottest guy in school, dying on the cafeteria floor, I did what anyone would do. I tried to save him. His request surprised me, but I figured he needed comfort, so I kissed him on the forehead. When he survived and came back to school, he was broken in body and mind. He still needed me, and soon we were unlikely besties. But what I saw at school that day woke me up. I want to demand action on gun control, lead protests, raise my fist. I’ll tear the world down if I have to. And if I can get the man of my dreams and save the world at the same time? I’ll take it. Only I didn’t understand that the horror at Jefferson Waller High wasn’t over.

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3.25 Stars

Wow.

I think I need a minute month to process. I tip toed into this book. The subject matter is hard and hits pretty close to home. So yeah, hesitant AF is an understatement.

Before I start discussing the book, I want to provide insight on the rating. My rating has nothing to do with the quality of the writing. It has a lot to do with personal preferences and an immense dislike for politics. If I had access to the foreword prior to requesting the ARC I would have known that politics play a huge role in not only the main crisis, but also in the lives of one of the MCs. Politics make me ragey and I get enough of it in RL that I can’t fully enjoy my escape with books when it’s there too. Politics definitely have a place in this book and I knew going in that there would be some politics around gun control but this went beyond that and anything MAGA makes me want to poke my eyes out. It’s more of a personal preference and not a knock on the content.

My first reaction when I saw that Eli went there…
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You know… the place that has so much sadness, anger, hopelessness, and bloodshed. These tragedies have brilliant students rising to fight for their lives when their fallen classmates can’t. The shooting in the story happens within the first few chapters with the POVs switching between Brian and Landon. We get a window into the soul crushing panic each boy feels as they try to make a decision on which hiding place will hopefully keep them alive and then the direct aftermath when they realize what monsters are capable of.

Landon (out and proud senior) closely resembles the brave students we see on the news fighting for gun control. Brian (closeted junior and quarterback) has many hurdles beyond the shooting that make day to day life a struggle, especially his asshole dad. However, he becomes obsessed with finding out who was responsible for the shooting. Both boys find comfort in each other while the storm rages around them. The relationship isn’t the main focus, has low heat/off page interactions, and thankfully included very minor angst on their way to a HEA. The story dynamic worked with the tragedy taking center stage.

This is a very angsty read. When the administrator came over the speaker to announce an active shooter, it took me back to my days in the classroom when we had non-drill “code reds.” I felt like I was right back in my classroom trying to find places for my students to hide. I like angsty stories but I don’t think this is a book written for enjoyment?.?. IMO it’s more of a thought provoking experience on a topic that has been hitting the nightly news on the regular. It’s hard to digest at some points but Easton does a commendable job touching on this topic. Boy Shattered really drives home that the tragedy isn’t over when the students are buried and the school reopens.

Besides the politics not working for me, the wrap up of all the storylines is a little too pretty. There was so much build up and then it’s all solved quickly with the nitty gritty details happening off page. Trigger Warnings: School shooting, death, PTSD, and homophobia If you like angst and politics don’t send you running for the hills, this may be your cuppa. Recommended.

Copy provided for honest review.

Lone Wolf

Lone Wolf by Anna Martin: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Lone Wolf

Blurb:

Jackson Lewis isn’t a typical werewolf. He isolates himself in a small town outside Spokane and dedicates himself to making his business—Lone Wolf Brewery—a success. If it leaves him little time for romance, he’s okay with that. His soul mate could be out there somewhere, but he isn’t actively looking.

So he’s in for quite the shock when he literally bumps into his soul mate—Leo Gallagher, an adorable, nerdy, vibrant music therapist who’s Jackson’s polar opposite.

But he’s human. And a man.

Jackson is straight—or at least he’s always assumed so. Though he can’t deny his attraction to Leo, it’s a lot for both of them to deal with.

While Jackson and Leo figure out what their future might hold, they face prejudice from both the human and werewolf communities—including a group of fanatics willing to kill to show humans and werewolves don’t belong together.

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DNF

I tried… realllllllllly tried. I picked this book up many times over the span of a week and struggled page by page and couldn’t make a dent. This may be another it’s not you, it’s me but just know it was absolutely not my thing and here’s why…

It’s unlike any shifter book I’ve experienced which didn’t turn out to be a positive. I like unique reading experiences but this was so out of the typical realm of “soul mates” shifter style that I was scratching my head a lot. Right away STRAIGHT Jackson knows that Leo is his soul mate and Leo understands that there’s a connection between them. Does Jackson get all possessive? Growly? Protective? Ecstatic at finding his mate?

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Their meeting is cut short and what happens from here are a bunch of meetings at random places so they can take it slow and get to know each other. Huh? I like the getting to know you part of a book and they don’t have to jump on the orgasm train right away (or at all). But their meetings read like job interviews and not shifter soul mates. Each time is very awkward and I didn’t understand why being mates was part of this story if they weren’t going to act like it. *sigh*

Did you know Jackson is straight? Not Bi. Not Gay. Straighttttttttttt. He even states that he would be perfectly happy finding a woman to marry and “get on with his life” (EVEN KNOWING HE HAS A SOUL MATE). Because he’s straight. It’s worth mentioning because Jackson makes it clear repeatedly and in all the ways it can be stated. He probably used the Rosetta Stone to speak it in every language. #StraightAF

There’s a lot going on. It’s sort of like the kitchen sink was thrown in and the focus, chemistry, heat, and connection fell to the wayside. Maybe it picked up at the end? I wasn’t compelled to find out. Not recommended but as always, these thoughts are my own and YMMV.

Copy provided for honest review.

Crocus

Crocus (Bonfires #2) by Amy Lane: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Buddy listen with R.

Crocus (Bonfires, #2)

Blurb:

Saying “I love you” doesn’t guarantee peace or a happy ending.

High School Principal “Larx” Larkin was pretty sure he’d hit the jackpot when Deputy Sherriff Aaron George moved in with him, merging their two families as seamlessly as the chaos around them could possibly allow.

But when Larx’s pregnant daughter comes home unexpectedly and two of Larx’s students are put in danger, their tentative beginning comes crashing down around their ears.

Larx thought he was okay with the dangers of Aaron’s job, and Aaron thought he was okay with Larx’s daughter—who is not okay—but when their worst fears are almost realized, it puts their hearts and their lives to the test. Larx and Aaron have never wanted anything as badly as they want a life together. Will they be able to make it work when the world is working hard to keep them apart?

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3.25 Stars

“Saying ‘I love you’ doesn’t guarantee peace or a happy ending.”

That’s for damn sure when it comes to Crocus and all of the drammmmmmmmaaaaaaaa that took place.

Just a little house keeping before we get started- If you haven’t read the first book in the series, Bonfires I recommend that you do. This isn’t a standalone. At all. If it’s been more than a month since you’ve read the first book, I HIGHLY recommend you revisit your notes/review/etc… because this jumps right into Aaron and Larx’s chaotic life. So many names were dropping and I couldn’t pick them up right away. Thank goodness I had R along for the buddy reading ride and between my old review and her character maps, we were able to sort it out. I think.

As I mentioned, we jump right into the Aaron/Larx household. Everything is going pretty well considering they still have the pregnant daughter, blended family, dangerous job, and a safe haven for the lost and lonely kid thing going on.

As the blurb mentions, Larx has some students that find themselves in trouble and both Aaron and Larx play roles in trying to get them to safety. The troubled student story line has serious implications on Larx and Aaron’s safety, sanity, and sex life. One of my issues with the story is that there’s a TON going on. There were already lots of continuing characters with their own baggage and Crocus adds many more along with doubling the drama. On one hand, the MC relationship has very mild growing pains as they are an established couple living together. They are able to be steadfast with the comfort of being partners while each having their own moments to be vulnerable. On the other, their coupledom was so far from focus that I’m not sure what I would classify this as. They had some sexy moments slipped in but I wanted more of them as a couple and less when life gives you lemons type of angst.

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Have you ever read a book where the good characters are insanely good and the bad are really fucking bad? No room for gray?  That’s how Crocus read to me. The kids, Larx, and Aaron are PERFECT. Even in their worst moments, they’re so respectable, likable, and teaching life lessons like a boss- especially the kids. The bad characters are absolute assholes (which is probably not harsh enough). The other characters are very likable but a tad too perfect. I know there are loads of readers that will love this because reading is definitely an escape. Sometimes though, I want a tad bit of realness. If you’re gonna lose your shit, lose it epically. Pretty please, for me.

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Nick Russo did a decent job narrating but another edit for the audio would help. There are inconsistent character name pronunciations along with some character voice missteps that could use tightening up. My narration complaint about Aaron’s “voice” in book one seems to have been adjusted for this book or it’s the exact same and I’ve been desensitized by increased exposure. Either way, the voices were more enjoyable.

Let’s talk triggers. There should be trigger warnings for rape on a minor (not detailed on page but important to the story), homophobia, depression, abortion, racism.

If you adored the first, Crocus will probably read much the same for you. I’m in the minority with my rating, YMMV. It’s written well with likable MCs who get their HEA. This will be the end of the Larx and Aaron road for me but I’d read Kellan’s story.

Copy provided for honest review.