Soul to Keep (Rented Heart, #2)

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

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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Tag Team with Adam

4 Stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copy provided for honest review.

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

Urban Soul Series

Misfits (Urban Soul #1) & Strays (Urban Soul #2) by Garrett Leigh:
Incoherent gushing by Lost in a Book

Synopsis:

Restaurant owner Tom Fearnes has loved his partner Cass for as long as he can remember, but their work often keeps them apart. When he meets a striking young man named Jake on the vibrant streets of Camden Town, their heady first encounter takes an unexpected turn.

Jake Thompson can hardly believe his luck when he wakes up in Tom’s bed. Tom is gorgeous, kind, and . . . taken. Tom’s explanation of his open relationship leaves Jake cold, but Tom is too tempting, and when hard times force Jake to accept Tom’s helping hand, he finds himself between two men who’ve lost their way.

Cass Pearson is a troubled soul. He loves Tom with all he has, but some days it feels like he hasn’t much to give. Jake seems like the perfect solution. Cass risks everything to push Jake and Tom together, but Jake resists, wary, until the darkness of Cass’s past comes to call. Then Jake finds himself the last man standing, and it’s time to dig deep and shine a light for the men he’s grown to love.

Synopsis:

Work, sleep, work, repeat. Nero’s lonely life suits him just fine until his best friend, Cass, asks him to take on a new apprentice—a beautiful young man who’s never set foot in a professional kitchen. Despite his irritation and his lifelong ability to shut the world out, Nero is mesmerised by the vibrant stray, especially when he learns what drove him to seek sanctuary on Nero’s battered old couch.

Lenny Mitchell is living under a cloud of fear. Pursued by a stalker, he has nowhere left to run until Nero offers him a port in a storm—a job at the hottest restaurant in Shepherd’s Bush. Kitchen life proves heady and addictive, and it’s not long before he finds himself falling hard and fast for the man who has taken him in.

Fast-forward a month and a neither man can imagine life without the other, but one thing stands in their way: a lifetime of horrors Nero can’t bring himself to share with Lenny. Or can he? For the first time ever, happiness is there for the taking, and Nero must learn to embrace it before fate steps in and rips it away.

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Review Rambling thoughts: I don’t typically post a book that doesn’t have a semi-decent review and/or description. However, I binged on the Urban Soul series this weekend and still haven’t been able to get the characters out of my mind. So, here is just some quick thoughts on both books available in the series.

Misfits (Urban Soul #1)

5 Stars

Holy Hell, I have a serious love obsession for Jake, Tom, and Cass now. I didn’t want this to end but I couldn’t slow down to savor because… Well, Jake, Tom, and Cass are worth the insane lack of sleep and lack of productivity over the last 24 hours. I’m sad AF they don’t have a million more stories about them because I would read the shit out of them.

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Garrett Leigh just got herself a Stage-10 Clinger after this read. *shrug* I will be moving on have already moved to the next book in this series just to help with my book hangover.

*kicks self in the ass for waiting so long to read this divine book*

Strays (Urban Soul #2)

4 Stars

Well, those two books went down fast and smooth as fine wine. I really enjoyed this book but it didn’t take up as much of my heart Misfits did. Nero and Lenny had to climb mountains and I was hooked each step of the way. We are also treated to multiple appearances by Cass, Tom, and Jake. *Happy face* Definitely recommended and can’t wait for more in this series.

This is my 3rd Garrett Leigh book in a couple weeks… which means it all hurts so good and now I need to dive into a big huge ball of fluff.

Dear Aaron

Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata: Review by Lost in a Book

Synopsis: 

Ruby Santos knew exactly what she was getting herself into when she signed up to write a soldier overseas.

The guidelines were simple: one letter or email a week for the length of his or her deployment. Care packages were optional.

Been there, done that. She thought she knew what to expect.

What she didn’t count on was falling in love with the guy.

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4 Stars

This may be the looooooooooooooooongest slow burn I’ve ever read. Holy hell! I’m a huge fan of Zapata’s writes and can usually handle her slow burn method… this brought it to a WHOLE new level. The amount of time we had to “burn” just to get an “I like you revelation” tested my sanity.

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That’s actually fitting because it didn’t happen until the mid 80ish%. Still, I’m not mad… just lost a few brain cells from all that burning while I waited for a kiss hug  an “I like you, too.”

I’m not going too far into the plot but Ruby volunteers to be pen pals for an adopt a solider type program and gets paired with Aaron. Aaron is on a long deployment and looks forward to hearing from his pen pals to break up the monotony in the desert. They form a friendship and oh so slowly it becomes more.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s not my favorite book by this author and that’s ok. The slow burn tested my sanity, it was a long read (485pg), and Ruby could be long winded in her thought process at times many times. Still, another enjoyable read and I look forward to the next book about her sister.

I did audio as well as Kindle with this one. Both narrators were a great fit for this book but as I’ve said before, Teddy Hamilton can read the phone book and I’d pay to listen.

Definitely recommended.

Closets Are for Clothes

Closets Are for Clothes by Addison Albright: Review by Lost in a Book

Synopsis:

Mike’s life is carefully compartmentalized. He’s deep in the closet to his family back in Kansas, but lives life honestly and openly in Austin. He’s unnerved when Wes, his old university crush, turns up at his door in answer to a roommate advertisement, but quickly sees the potential…benefits of the arrangement. Wes has never doubted nor denied his sexuality. With the support of his family he’s an out and proud LGBT activist.

On the scale balancing his self-esteem on one side, and the love of his family on the other, Mike has to decide which weighs more. Is Mike being fair to his parents by not giving them the chance to know his real self? When the delicate balance of his life is disrupted, he decides he’s tired of living a lie. Will Wes understand his concerns, or will their fledgling relationship crumble under the strain of Mike’s uncertainty?

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2 Stars

Closets Are for Clothes had a very promising start. I was all giddy with potential roommate possibilities. When the MCs met, there were sparks and teasing. My only questions were who would admit the mutual attraction first? And what would they do about it? Then I got bummed because it went downhill. Fast.

Mike’s on the roommate hunt searching for that perfect person to fill the extra room. He isn’t too picky but definitely wants one that’s not overly chatty or homophobic. Mike’s openly gay in Austin but he’s locked tight in the closet when it comes to his family.

Wes, medical resident and LGBT activist has moved in with Mike. He’s out, proud, and interested in his new straight?? Gay?? roommate.

The initial teasing was the highlight of the story which is dissapointing because it took place very early on. Mike and Andrew got together extremely quick and oh so awkwardly IMO.

From their initial hookup, we are in Mike’s head and trust me when I say that’s not a good place to be. The main “angst” surrounds Mike and his decision to come out with his family. That’s the entire book. The book consisted of Mike rambling in his head, arguing with himself, and going through the SAME scenarios over and over and over and…

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The “angst” felt contrived. Coming out can provide enough anxiety on its own without Mike’s inability to let things go- even when they were positive. He finds a way to look for ulterior motives when the person has always been trustworthy and he can turn positive reactions into negatives all in his mind #talent.

Maybe including Wes’ POV would have broken up the mundane trip through Mike’s head and the continual repetition of his dramatic thoughts? Maybe not? Either way, this was hard to get through. It didn’t work for me but my reading experiences are my own.

Copy provided for honest review.

 

Rented Heart

Rented Heart (Rented Heart #1) by Garrett Leigh: Review by Lost in a Book

Synopsis:

Ex-surfer-turned-businessman Liam Mallaney moved back to Holkham, Norfolk, to mourn the loss of his husband. Grief and loneliness keep him a solitary figure, and he likes it that way. There’s no room in his broken heart for anything else.

Rentboy Zac Payne left London and most of his demons behind, but he still only knows one way to make a living. When he spots Liam in a club one night, it seems he’s found his mark. But Liam proves nicer—and their connection far deeper—than he’d bargained for.

Their arrangement quickly becomes too complicated for Zac, who has other things on his mind: namely his BFF and wayward flatmate, Jamie. Zac owes Jamie the world, and even as Jamie’s drug addiction destroys all they have, Zac won’t leave him behind.

Besides, Liam knows nothing of Zac’s home life, too caught up in his own head to think much beyond the crazy heat he and Zac share. But when trouble comes to Zac’s door, putting his life in danger, Liam must set his grief and anger aside to pick up the pieces of Zac’s shattered heart and his own.

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4.5 Stars

Can someone tell me WHY I waited so long to read this? I feel like it’s been on my TBR forever. Can someone also explain to me how it’s even possible that I’ve never read Garrett Leigh before? How the hell did that happen? I’ve got many other reads from her just chillin’ on my TBR that I need to tackle STAT. Anywhoo, my GL cherry is popped and this rent boy read was definitely the way to go.

“Oh, and by the way, it’s a hundred for the fuck . . . three if you want to stay all night.”

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The blurb does a great job of setting the stage for this story and the events that follow. I was swooning big time with its Pretty Woman feel. Zac and Liam worked for me in a huge way. Their connection is instant yet they are slow to identify it as more. Liam is an oasis for Zac away from the exhausting reality of his difficult circumstances. He never acts like a john to Zac and slowly begins breaking down his walls. The sneaky thing about crumbling walls is daring to hope for a better life.

“You’re not a john.” Liam pushed the money back. “Then you’ll never be my whore.”

*swoon*

Liam is lost after the death of his husband and Zac becomes the perfect distraction while providing physical release and then friendship. He understands what Zac is doing when they aren’t together and doesn’t let it interfere with what they’re building. Misunderstandings and Zac’s loyalty to his best friend cause some heartbreak and gut punching angst. Their HEA is hard-fought and shines a bright light through the melancholy that hangs over much of the story. I knew it was going to hurt and it hurt so good. Liam’s support system outside of Zac was positive, accepting, and encouraging. They want Liam happy and don’t care how that came to be.

Trigger warning for drugs. This was a successful cherry popping. They say you always remember your first. *wink* I wish there was more backstory on Zac’s life prior to being a rent boy. Other than that, I definitely enjoyed this and can’t wait for Jamie’s story.

“There’s someone worth knowing in every smile you see.”

Copy provided for honest review.

Robbie (Confessions, #1)

Robbie (Confessions, #1) by Ella Frank: Review by Lost in a Book

Synopsis: 

Relationships are complex.
Love ever-changing.
And when it comes to rules of the heart,
they were made to be broken…

That’s what Robert Antonio Bianchi was telling himself, anyway.
Otherwise, he really had no excuse for what—or who—he’d done.

No excuse, except for his lonely heart, a pitcher of margaritas, four Bitter Bitches, and the apparent need to confess all his weaknesses to the two men he knew would bring him nothing but trouble.

But trouble was nothing new.

Just ask his crazy sisters or any of his friends, and they’d be the first to tell you:
If there was a bad decision to be made, Robbie always had a knack for making it.

And thus begins the story of the priest, the princess, and the prick.

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Review

4.5 “holy shit that was hot” Stars

Buckle up Y’all, this is going to be another gushfest. It’ll also be a quick and dirty summary of all the things I had heart eyes for while reading (and only one that threw me off). I had a lot of love for PRIEST, Julien, and Robbie. *let the gushing begin*

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I LOVE that cover. Robbie is so freakin’ beautiful!!

I LOVE these broken characters. All of them. Priest hit all my yes, please- every day and twice on Sunday buttons but the other two men held their own as well. They actually communicated. The lack of drama and jealously was SO refreshing in this M/M/M read.

I LOVE the reason Priest and Julien added a third. They have so much love for each other, their chemistry was off the charts, and they were adult enough to communicate and understand that there were needs they couldn’t meet for the other.

I LOVE the equality for the trio and the relationships being built in each duo. Robbie provides something different for Julien than he does for Priest and vice versa. Again, all of this without an ounce of jealously. Each man has vulnerable moments and times to be the rock. There’s a hierarchy in their relationship that compliments and provides what each man needs.

I LOVE and had insane hot flashes with all the chemistry and UST. Julien and Priest themselves were hot AF- adding Robbie to the mix with all that chemistry becomes a health hazard.

Speaking of hot flashes and health hazards…

The actual sexy times…

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There’s a lot to LOVE. Oh my, they knew their way around a man. Not even just penetration but the anticipation, foreplay, the looks, light touches, the commands, the submission… sheeee-it. This is a stripped down D/s where the craving for submission alone is desired.

Warning: There is kinda sorta cliffhanger for this one. It isn’t dealing with the relationship of the MCs but has to do with the circumstances and backstories. You *could* stop after the first one but it was so good I’ve GOTTA spend some more time with them.

My only compliant when reading was the missing bits of information for each character. I felt like I should know them already or at least some of their backstory/history. Note: (I read Try when it came out 4 & 1/2 years ago and couldn’t remember anything. When I began Robbie, I didn’t know that it had a carry over character from that book or I would have revisited it as a refresher.) I definitely wanted more of Priest and Julien’s story while reading and I’m tickled pink that we’re getting more books about them in MAY!!!!!!! I’m gonna roll around in Priest SO HARD as soon as May gets here… Did I mention he is a ginger? *Growl* Julien’s book comes out in May but I’m going to assume well be treated to the multiple POV that I enjoyed for this one.

In the meantime, I’ll need to cool off in preparation for book 2… because health hazard.

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**Thanks for the rec R, I owe ya one lots.**

Love on a Battlefield

Love on a Battlefield by Posy Roberts: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Synopsis:

Not every compass points north.

Andrew Summers is forced to spend his vacations reliving Civil War battles with his father. He hates every minute, until a blue-eyed, red-haired boy behind enemy lines catches his eye.

Shep Wells would much rather travel the world than play at boring war reenactments. He never dreamed a Texan boy would capture his heart.

Real life and years separate them; Andrew is forced onto real battlefields, but for Shep the world is a playground. They’re opposites, but writing letters closes the distance, uncovering their hopes and dreams. When Shep visits Andrew, they get to see if the tug they’ve felt for years is the compass pointing the way home.

***
This is a story about first times, second chances, and the transformative power of the written word.

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 4 Stars

 

ERMAHGERRRRD!!

I devoured this book. The synopsis drew me in and then I saw the cover and just had to read it. The Civil War reenactment is unique by itself but the letters… *happy sigh* Letters. Actual hand written letters to each other. Over many years.

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Andrew and Shep meet while at a Civil War reenactment with their dads. They’re on opposite sides of the North/South line. The two meet at a water pump and later are drawn to each other during the actual battle. Right away their connection is evident as they both feign being “shot” to lay down right next to each other until the battle is over. So much is conveyed as they silently stare into the others’s eyes and quietly make plans to meet up later.

And meet up they did. Andrew and Shep share a passionate night fulfilling their desires until the morning light. Later that day, Shep passes his address to Andrew and requests that he write.

From there, they correspond mostly through written letters as they try to chase their dreams. While Shep is off doing what he loves, Andrew realizes that sometimes life doesn’t go according to plan. His life veers way off track but his feelings for Shep remain.

“Shep was the one I dreamed about at night, the one I wanted to lie beneath, the one I saw myself spending the rest of my life with. He was the only person I’d felt drawn to. And even after five years, that pull hadn’t diminished one bit.”

This story is written from Andrew’s perspective with the insight of Shep’s letters as he read them. The snippets we are treated to show the longing, closeness, and connection they have forged through the years. It takes a while but they realize it’s ok to have new dreams and that home isn’t necessarily a place- it’s can be a person.

I appreciate the natural angst that was present in their relationship with a cautious warrior and a brighter than life Shep. They have an overwhelming sweetness to their interactions that left me swooning and an openness that was refreshing. The letters provided this slow burn feel as the men bare their souls, love from afar, and crave each other without explicitly writing it.

I loved this story hard until about 85%ish when it seemed that there was a race to the finish line. The odd drama at the end came across as a page filler when the focus could have been on Shep, Andrew, and navigating their relationship. More focus on the letters would have hit me in my happy place, too. I also wouldn’t have complained for a tiny bit from Shep’s POV. Did I mention he’s a ginger? *growl* With blue eyes? *slow blink*

Love on a Battlefield is an enjoyable story that was well executed. The unique premise caught my attention and the cover drew me in with its simplicity. Definitely recommended.

Copy provided for honest review.

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

New Release & Giveaway

One fiery American woman and one hot British guy? The language of love knows no boundaries…

From #1 NYT Bestselling author Lauren Blakely, comes the hot, new romance guaranteed to sweep you away while scorching the sheets, WANDERLUST! A brand new, sinfully sexy romance, WANDERLUST is now available on all retailers! Get your copy delivered now!

 

 

✮✮✮WANDERLUST is here! Grab your copy today! ✮✮✮

From #1 NYT bestselling author Lauren Blakely comes a sexy new standalone romance!

The first time I met him, his sexy British accent almost talked me into giving him my number on the spot. The second time, he nearly charmed the panties off me with his wit. Then I learned he’s the key to success in my new job in Paris. The man who tempts me into fling-worthy dirty daydreams has turned out to be my personal translator, and his accent is the hottest thing I’ve ever heard.

My mantra is simple — Don’t mix business with pleasure.

I do my best to resist him as he teaches me how to converse with my co-workers, navigate the metro and order the perfect bottle of wine at dinner. But I also figure out how to tell the charming and clever man what I most want to say — that I want him to take me back to his flat — tonight.

Except there’s a catch…

***

One more assignment before I take off on my big adventure…

And it involves the toughest work ever — resisting the fetching American woman I spend all my days with. But you know what they say about best intentions. Soon, we’re spending our nights tangled together, and I don’t want to let her go. The trouble is, my wanderlust is calling to me, and before we know it I’ll be traveling the globe to fulfill a promise I made long ago.

What could possibly go wrong with falling in love in Paris? Nothing…unless one of you is leaving.

 

ORDER YOUR COPIES HERE!

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Paperback

 

 

 

✦The audiobook is narrated by Richard Armitage and Grace Grant! ✦
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EXCERPT ONE:

~JOY~

Forget oysters. Screw candlelight and champagne. A sexy accent is the truest aphrodisiac. I’m talking a weak-in-the-knees, flutters-all-over, fast-track to euphoria.

I’ve tried to analyze precisely why the sound of a man’s words can elicit this reaction in, frankly, millions of women. But when I break down an accent and study it like a chemical reaction, it’s nearly impossible to draw a logical conclusion. The ingredients in and of themselves don’t seem swoontastic enough.

And yet, accents have been known to induce major swooning.

That’s why, in my professional opinion, the sounds aren’t the rocket fuel for the tingles. Instead, it’s the associations evoked. Italian is food, wine, and days drenched in the pleasures of the senses. Australian is the laid-back twang of a surfer. A Southern drawl says a man will take his sweet time. Oh, yes, darlin’, will he ever.

But British? Dear God. A delicious British accent to my oh-so-American ears triggers wave after wave of goose bumps across my skin. My knees wobble. My stomach swoops. My skin heats. All the turned-on centers in my body are cranked to high.

A British accent is James Bond in a bottle. It’s sex, it’s style, it’s sophistication, and it’s the man who’ll find his way out of any jam, save the damsel, and do it all with silver cuff links on.

Wait. Make that platinum.

Charmed, indeed.

That’s why I say it’s a damn good thing I’m moving to a country that won’t be chock full of my personal vocal kryptonite, since I don’t have the time or inclination for distractions in my life right now. Look, I don’t have a single problem with the French accent whatsoever. A hot French man can voulez-vouscoucher avecmoi, if you know what I mean.

But it’s a British accent that turns me to Silly Putty, so in Paris I’ll be mighty fine.

Then, I meet him.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS TODAY!

 “Wanderlust is the love story to end all! I laughed, cried, dreamed, and hoped. To say I was transfixed by this story is to underrate its power. I am a romantic at heart and this book spoke to me like no other.”
-Gloria Herrera for As You Wish Reviews

“Packed with flirty banter, a slow-building, yet scorching hot romance, and characters that are enchanting, voracious, and delightfully unreserved, Wanderlust is a hopelessly romantic, heart-meltingly sweet love story from Lauren Blakely.”
-Yvette for Nose Stuck in a Book

“Loved this! Wanderlust is a delightful and utterly romantic read.”
-ShawnaLovesRomance

 

 

✮✮✮ Enter to win the ultimate gift for anyone who has a little WANDERLUST! ✮✮✮

This prize pack includes a Kate Spade Travel Bag ($500 value), along with a $50 gift card to Bath and
Body Works where you can pick out your favorite scented lotion, bubblebath or candles.

https://laurenblakely.com/wanderlustgiveaway/

About Lauren Blakely:

A #1 New York Times Bestselling author, and #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling author, Lauren Blakely is known for her contemporary romance style that’s hot, sweet and sexy. She lives in California with her family and has plotted entire novels while walking her dogs. With fourteen New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists more than 90 times, and she’s sold more than 2.5 million books. In March she’ll release WANDERLUST, a sexy new standalone romance. To receive an email when Lauren releases a new book, sign up for her newsletter! laurenblakely.com/newsletter

 

Website ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Newsletter ** Goodreads

 

Squared Away (Out of Uniform #5)

Squared Away by Annabeth Albert: Review by Lost in a Book

Synopsis: 

In the wake of tragedy, SEAL Mark Whitley rushed stateside to act as guardian to his sister’s three young children. But a conflicting will could give custody to someone else—someone Mark remembers as a too young, too hot, wild party boy. Even after six years, Mark can’t shake the memory of his close encounter with Isaiah James, or face up to what it says about his own sexuality.

Isaiah’s totally over the crush that made him proposition Mark all those years ago. In fact, he’s done with crushing on the wrong men altogether. For now, he’s throwing himself into proving he’s the best person to care for his cousin’s kids. But there’s no denying there’s something sexy about a big, tough military man with a baby in his arms.

As the legal details get sorted out, their long-buried attraction resurfaces, leading to intimate evenings after the kids are tucked in. A forever future is within reach for all of them, if only Mark can find the courage he needs to trust Isaiah with his secrets—and his heart.

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Review

3 Stars

Well, *sigh* this wasn’t my favorite book in the series. I had a very “meh, this is an ok read,” vibe going on throughout.  However, I’m still a fan of all things Navy and especially all things SEALs.

Too bad Isaiah wasn’t a SEAL because this one could have been the inspiration. 🔥🔥

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Did you get an eye full of the………. dog tags?

Sorry, where were we?

In Squared Away, we get to know the confident virgin, Isaiah. He’s 18 and determined to lose his virginity to the hot AF Navy SEAL, Mark. While at a family wedding, Isaiah makes his intentions clear and Mark shoots him down.

Fast forward six years and the death of Isaiah’s cousin along with Mark’s sister pushes both men together again as they attempt to pick up the pieces and determine the best arrangements for the three children left without parents. Contradicting wills set off some heated disagreements on how to proceed. Mark has been ghosting Isaiah for the past six years and Isaiah has played nanny for those children many times throughout their lives.  Unfortunately, Mark can’t get past his prior knowledge of Isaiah or take the time to process and become comfortable with his sexuality.

While I liked both men separately, they were never simpatico. I never had that feeling of them being on the same page. Mark’s very insecure, has trust issues, and his inner monologue of people always letting him down became frustrating. I don’t expect nor want everything tied up in a pretty bow but I would have appreciated them having some cohesiveness as they navigate their daily life and eventual relationship.

Isaiah is a very sexual person which is opposite of Mark’s gray ace or demisexual identity. I did enjoy how patient and understanding Isaiah was as Mark finds his comfort with intimacy. I also appreciate the diversity Albert provided with an interracial couple and a varying spectrum of sexual comfort and identity.

The kids. They were the spotlight of the story and understandably the focus of their lives. There was authenticity to their growing pains as they learn that children don’t come with an on/off switch. Especially as young as these little ones are. Isaiah and Mark learned that when life kicks you in the ass, sometimes you have to paste a smile on and give the performance of a lifetime so the little ones don’t feel the stress and grief that creep up.

Editing point of contention which I believe I mentioned in the last release were the POV and time lapses. These aren’t indicated and would randomly change in the middle of a page from one sentence to the next. Once again, I’m hoping this is sorted before the official release.

Isaiah is very relatable with his feisty personality and big heart. The men got their HEA even if it went from no I can’t have a relationship to I must be with you always within a couple pages. *shrug*

I think this is the end of the road for me- but if you’re a fan of the series, you’ll probably be a fan of this one too.

Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Contour

Contour by Meg Harding: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Synopsis: 

Jamie “Roxy” Albright has one great love in his life and room for no other. He lives and breathes makeup. Men are nothing more than temporary distractions and romance… well, that isn’t worth his time. With a burgeoning career as a YouTube makeup artist opening doors to never before dreamed of opportunities, time isn’t something Jamie has and distractions aren’t something he can afford.

Instagram model and shirtless wonder Tyler Jackson is quickly falling for elusive Jamie. How it went from a seemingly innocent message to feelings, he’ll never know. Their chemistry is instant and fiery hot, and Tyler’s never been that good at self control. The challenges are endless, though. There’s Jamie’s walls to break through and a country worth of space between them. And just when things are starting to look up, life throws a wrench in the works.

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 4 Stars

This is such a relevant read at the moment with how on fire YouTube and Instagram are. There are millions of people who are extremely loyal to their favorite online personalities that this read hit me in my happy place. Picture it… Male Youtube make up artist (MUA) lusting over an Instagram model. Add in a private message sent and buckle in for the delicious ride.

I may be a *tad* bit in love with Jamie “ Foxy Roxy.” He’s a 20 year old MUA with a sassy personality. He’s honest yet evasive. Jamie’s unapologetic and has zero shame. Oh, and he wears MANTIIIIIIIIES. Along with the satin and lace, he has an ass you can bounce a quarter off.

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Where were we? Oh yeah, Jamie. He has commitment issues and never sleeps with the same man twice. Due to his past, his ideal gift is lube and condoms in lieu of flowers #practical.  He’s also thirsty AF for Instagram model, Tyler Jackson and his two adorable dogs.

Tyler is a country boy at heart and “Instafamous”  model by accident. He has dimples, tattoos and abs for days. *growl* Tyler is also really down to earth, caring, and becomes genuinely interested in the beautiful, Jamie. What started with a flirty private message became two different yet compatible men forging a friendship and then those pesky feelings just creep up.

The thing about Tyler is that he’s a serial monogamist while Jamie favors his one and done approach. Jamie is overly guarded for fear of giving away his power. He’s closed up tighter than Fort Knox in a way that isn’t rude, just honest. He wants to be in charge of the power exchange that happens when you release the inconsequential and the important pieces of what makes up a person. Jamie has reasons and Tyler respects the boundaries while trying to find a way to chisel at the walls.

“I’m not asking you for forever, I’m just asking you for right now.”

I lovvvvvvvvvvved them together. Every time Jamie revealed a tiny piece of himself I wanted to cheer.

“Jamie was a secret I wanted to unravel. But if I pushed, he’d run, and that was the last thing I wanted.”

The messages they exchanged had me swooning and cackling at their banter. You can *see* how their relationship develops online and then when they meet in person it has a natural progression. The growth was realistic to their circumstances of living long distance. Tyler and Jamie actually communicated. *gasp* I know, I know… relationships are no place for communication but they were very adult about their boundaries, expectations, and who they are as people. Their personalities complimented each other and I was doing my happy dance all the way to an HEA.

The sex. The chemistry. The heat.

Y’all, it deserves its own paragraph. This book wasn’t a sexfest but when it did take place…

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Their first time… HAWWWTT.

”I straddled his waist and started to pull my panties down. He stopped me. “Keep them on. Push them to the side.”

Not to discredit the writing of the sex scenes… but, I think what added the cherry on top for me (besides the lace thongs), was the connection and foundation they built before they had sex. They communicated for months and Tyler insisted on a date before they rode their way to orgasm.

With all this gushing over my love for Contour, I had to give it 4 stars. Why, you ask? The ending. This story drew me in right away with Jamie’s voice and had me hooked until the end. The last 10ish% left me scratching my head. The pacing throughout was great and then BAM, the end was rushed. Everything was just tied up in a fast little bow that altered my enjoyment. The “angst” and its resolution were unnecessary IMO and led to a disjointed ending where the MCs didn’t fully act like themselves.

Still, I enjoyed this book, the banter between Tyler and Jamie, and the secondary characters. This is my first book by Harding and I’ll definitely read more of her work as well as any additions to this series. Recommended.

Copy provided for honest review.

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