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.

September/October M/M Highlights

I’m baccccccckkk!! It was a hell of a few months but we made it and although I didn’t have a ton of reading time, I managed to knock a few back. I’m overwhelmed by the idea of trying to write back log reviews… so I’m not. Here are some of the M/M (I’ll be making another M/F post later) reads I (Lost in a Book) enjoyed during my moving craziness.

Glitterland (Glitterland, #1)

Glitterland by Alexis Hall

4.25 Stars

Format: Audio

Narrator: Nicholas Boulton

Thoughts:

This was a pleasant surprise. I’ve had Glitterland on my TBR for a while but not my “real” TBR. You know… the ever expanding list that I may one day get to. It was my lucky day when I saw this on audio and wasn’t annoyed by the narrator. Actually, Nicholas Boulton kicked ass with the narration and kept me hooked on Ash and Darian’s story. His voice… highly enjoyable.

This is one of those books I wanted to highlight like crazy but couldn’t audio. It says a lot that I went and purchased the Kindle version.

I love that the MCs weren’t magically fixed just because they were together, especially Ash. Their journey has a realistic portrayal that not all days are good days and some days are really bad… but by being together, they can enjoy the good days and not be alone during the bad and worse.

Trigger Warnings: Depression, Bi Polar, Mentions of suicide attempts

Definitely recommended.

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Love Lessons (Love Lessons, #1)

Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan

4 Stars

Format: Audio

Narrator: Iggy Toma

Thoughts:

Sugarrrrrr. I think I got a cavity. Snarky Walter and Disney movie loving Kelly are adorable. The lead up to the first Kiss… so damn good. It’s lead ups like this one that prove the first kiss can be WAY hotter than many sex scenes I’ve read.

There’s not much relational drama once they get past the initial hurtles and the characters have some issues to rally around that keep the plot moving.

The narration by Iggy Toma was enjoyable. His “voice” for Walter fit the snark that was always present.

Recommended.

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The Mating of Michael (Sex in Seattle, #3)

The Mating of Michael by Eli Easton

4 Stars

Format: Audio

Narrator: Michael Stellman

Thoughts:

Wow, I love Easton. The Mating of Michael has a much different feel than all the other books I’ve read from her. James and Michael are insanely sweet together even if James can be super moody. James has serious issues to overcome and although Michael doesn’t fix him, he shows him that there’s more to life than his limitations. He shows him that he matters, he is desirable, and lovable. They have a sweet HEA with some relational angst.

The narrator does a good job of bringing Michael to life. I appreciated his “voice” that gave the feel of sweet, patient, and understanding.

Recommended.

Robby Riverton: Mail Order Bride

Robby Riverton: Mail Order Bride by Eli Easton: Review by Lost in a Book

Synopsis: 

Being a fugitive in the old west shouldn’t be this much fun.

The year is 1860. Robby Riverton is a rising star on the New York stage. But he witnesses a murder by a famous crime boss and is forced to go on the run–all the way to Santa Fe. When he still hasn’t ditched his pursuers, he disguises himself as a mail order bride he meets on the wagon train. Caught between gangsters that want to kill him, and the crazy, uncouth family of his “intended”, Robby’s only ally is a lazy sheriff who sees exactly who Robby is — and can’t resist him.

Trace Crabtree took the job as sheriff of Flat Bottom because there was never a thing going on. And then Robby Riverton showed up. Disguised as a woman. And betrothed to Trace’s brother. If that wasn’t complication enough, Trace had to find the man as appealing as blueberry pie. He urges Robby to stay undercover until the danger has passed. But a few weeks of having Robby-Rowena at the ranch, and the Crabtree family will never be the same again.

Damn, what a kerfuffle. If only Trace can get rid of the fugitive while hanging on to his own stupid heart.

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4.25 Stars

Wow!! This book took me by surprise. I mean, it’s Easton so I knew I would enjoy it, but that cheeky cover (which I love) and blurb had me expecting something completely different than the depth that’s provided in Robby Riverton: Mail Order Bride. This story is packed with feels, has extremely endearing characters, with loads of sweetness, sassiness, love, and humor. While much of the plot is known, I’m not going in-depth because there are things that deserve self-discovery as you read and fall in love with Robby, Trace, and the rest of the Crabtree clan.

Robby is an actor in New York that has the unfortunate luck of witnessing a murder at the hands of a crime boss. He hops on the earliest wagon caravan heading to Santa Fe in hopes of ditching killers that want to take care of the last witness. Robby’s bad luck continues and the men follow the caravan all the way to Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has just enough time to throw on a dress, bonnet, gloves, and acquire the sweet accent of new and improved, Miss Rowena Fairchild.

Trace Crabtree is the sheriff of Flat Bottom and makes his monthly trip to Santa Fe for some supplies and a quick tumble with the local barber to meet his physical needs. Poor Trace isn’t able to get off  because he has to save Rowena from getting manhandled by the gangsters. One thing leads to another and Rowena is on her way to meet her betrothed and his family all while Trace is aware that she is actually a he and supposed to marry his brother.

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Very soon after Rowena meets the Crabtree family, Trace shows up and wants answers on why Robby is hiding. They decide to keep Rowena’s cover until the danger passes. Rowena’s not a shrinking violet and digs into the family dynamics immediately. She has perfected the art of challenging the status quo without fully ruffling feathers. The family bring her *mostly* into the fold right away and come to depend on her. It’s amazing how I started off thinking one way about the family and slowly but surely falling for the gruff Crabtrees and the way Pa-Pa is handled with care while being pushed to change. I fell in love with each member of the family and the insane feels that came with them.

Speaking of love, the romance between Trace and Robby is swoon-worthy. They have heat but it isn’t just about sex. There’s a connection forged through stolen moments. They talk, laugh, and enjoy just being together. Trace and Robby are complete opposites that complement each other perfectly with Robby’s fierce personality to Trace’s gentle badassness. It’s always refreshing when both MCs are able stand strong separately yet become indestructible together.

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This is set out in the Wild West but it didn’t overshadow the story. There is crime, shootouts, sheriffs, etc., yet the setting enhanced a story being told about love, family and acceptance. The start was a tad bit slow for me but picked up around 25ish%. Trace and Robby get their HEA with a glorious epilogue. *dreamy sigh* I really enjoyed this romance and want to be adopted into the Crabtree family. Definitely recommended.

Copy provided for honest review.

Release Blitz & Giveaway: Robby Riverton: Mail Order Bride

 
Cover Design: Dar Albert @ Wicked Smart Design
 
Length: 65,000 words approx.
 
Blurb
 

Being a fugitive in the old west shouldn’t be this much fun.

The year is 1860. Robby Riverton is a rising star on the New York stage. But he witnesses a murder by a famous crime boss and is forced to go on the run–all the way to Santa Fe. When he still hasn’t ditched his pursuers, he disguises himself as a mail order bride he meets on the wagon train. Caught between gangsters that want to kill him, and the crazy, uncouth family of his “intended”, Robby’s only ally is a lazy sheriff who sees exactly who Robby is — and can’t resist him.

Trace Crabtree took the job as sheriff of Flat Bottom because there was never a thing going on. And then Robby Riverton showed up. Disguised as a woman. And betrothed to Trace’s brother. If that wasn’t complication enough, Trace had to find the man as appealing as blueberry pie. He urges Robby to stay undercover until the danger has passed. But a few weeks of having Robby-Rowena at the ranch, and the Crabtree family will never be the same again.

 

About Eli
Having been, at various times and under different names, a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, and organic farmer, Eli has been a m/m romance author since 2013. She has over 30 books published.

Eli has loved romance since her teens and she particular admires writers who can combine literary merit, genuine humor, melting hotness, and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, bulldogs, cows, a cat, and lots of groundhogs.

In romance, Eli is best known for her Christmas stories because she’s a total Christmas sap. These include “Blame it on the Mistletoe”, “Unwrapping Hank” and “Merry Christmas, Mr. Miggles”. Her “Howl at the Moon” series of paranormal romances featuring the town of Mad Creek and its dog shifters has been popular with readers. And her series of Amish-themed romances, Men of Lancaster County, has won genre awards.

In 2018 Eli hopes to do more of the same, assuming they reschedule the apocalypse.

Her website is www.elieaston.com

You can email her at eli@elieaston.com

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Desperately Seeking Santa

Reviewed for @BMBR

3.5 Stars

Want a feel good, low drama holiday read? This fits the bill with its fluffy, low angst, and likable characters. I liked it, but it didn’t blow my elf socks off like Easton typically does. While many readers may want a feel good, easy peasy holiday romance, I’m all gimme my angst, kindle combusting steam and then seal it with sweetness. *shrug*

Gabe Martin, college senior and aspiring journalist has been assigned to cover the annual Elks Christmas Charity dinner that benefits St. Mark’s Children’s Home. After some research, Gabe decides to turn his story from puff piece to an investigative article on revealing the Santa that has a hidden identity yet brings much joy to the children at this dinner.

Now, I sure do hope you have read Superhero by Easton because it’s awesome and we’re treated to Owen and Jordan being secondary characters in this story. Jordan invites Gabe to Owen’s wrestling match and he begrudgingly accepts. Apparently the idea of skin tight singlets on fit wrestlers wasn’t that appealing… until he sees Mack “The Mountain” McDonall.

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Mack is a 285lb wrestler that’s straight muscle and stirs up an urgent need to learn all about “mountain climbing.” Gotta watch out for that high altitude and proper hand holds/placement. Maybe throw a carabiner in, too. *bites fist*

“That’s not a man, that’s a zip code.”

Yassssss… tell me more.

I was giddy with anticipation for Mack and his ability to pick up huge men off the ground. I was already dreaming about the *ahem* possibilities of someone that big and strong connecting with another man. Except, Mack wasn’t his wrestling persona. Don’t worry, I dig gentle giants too. He was shy, quiet, reserved, smart, and kept his head down to get through school and move on to the next stage. He wasn’t dealt the best hand at life but he is doing his part to make a difference.

Gabe and Mack are officially introduced when Jordan attempts to set them up. It’s all going swell until Mack retreats at Gabe’s mention of investigating Santa’s identity and using it for his article. The night ends quickly but it doesn’t stop Gabe from tracking Mack down. They form a tentative friendship and it slowwwwwly progresses. It grows as much as it can when both men are still tentative and hesitant to take it further. Much of the story shows their developing friendship with some real UST thrown in. An actual relationship doesn’t happen until the last 20% of the book which brought out my *disappointed face*. Gabe and Mack were opposites but likable characters and while I appreciated the foundation they built leading up to that moment when it all changes, I wanted more. More relational connection. More assertive in their wants. More of them together as they transitioned to boyfriends. And yes, I’ll say it, more heat.

One little oddity for me was the integration of Spanish. I’ll warn you that I took Spanish in high school for a few years and only came away with saying “No, I don’t have gum in my mouth” and “can I go to the bathroom.” Clearly, I’m not the expert on it and definitely wasn’t a model student either. However, Gabe embraced his Spanish side but stated that he wasn’t a proficient speaker due to his father not allowing it. Yet, there were many times throughout where Spanish words were thrown in. I have seen this in a few other books but it didn’t seem as forced as it did in this one. Mi Mama, dios, joder, etc., were all thrown in randomly and pulled me out each time. Again, not an expert on language integration and I look forward to some of my fellow reader’s thoughts on the authentic-ness of the placements.

All in all, this was a sugary sweet, low angst, holiday read with a HEA. If that’s what you’re looking for, I’d recommend it.

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

Copy provided for honest review.