The Other Book

The Other Book by Roe Horvat: Review by Lost in a Book

The Other Book

Blurb:

It was supposed to be just sex… Famous last words.

Tyler doesn’t overthink pleasure and avoids complications. He knows it might be stupid to get involved with his closeted boss, but the temptation is too great. At first, the cold and beautiful Joel Sandstrom seems to loathe Tyler’s guts.

Except one late night at the office, his reasons become clear…and his control breaks.

Every time they touch, Joel’s stony face comes alive, harsh lines smooth out, and for a minute, he looks serene. Happy, even. Just sex – dirty, intense, spectacular sex.

During their covert encounters, Tyler discovers the power he has over the lonesome man, and it’s a heady feeling. What if he could set Joel free and give him peace of mind? When Tyler realizes how much Joel needs him, he doesn’t regret breaking his own rules.

Gay erotic romance. Contains explicit scenes and sexual interactions between more than two partners. For adult readers only.

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4 Stars

Before we get started, I’ll just need a moment (or ten) to cool down after this read. I decided to start The Other Book while getting a pedicure. At a nail salon.

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This story escalates very quickly and within the first six page swipes I was starting to sweat from gems like,

“Either you get out of my way or you get down on your knees,” I said.

“Hands behind your back.” He did as he was told, looking up at me with defiance. And hunger.

I’m sure it was the hot pedicure water causing me to squirm but dayum, I was all ears for the rest and the pedicure was *ahem* touch and go from there.

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Tyler works for Joel Sandstrom as a freelance employee. They have a lust/hate relationship. Joel is a bossy boss showing little emotion which drives Tyler up the wall. Then, after both men are worked up with all that employee/employer stuff, it’s time for hands and knees (can’t have all work and no play😉). There’s HATE SEXXXXXX.

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It’s fanfreakingtastic hate sex, too. The power exchange is delicious. There’s lots of sex. Seriously, a ton of sex. It doesn’t come off as pornland (even if I started skimming towards the end) because the sex has a purpose and drives the plot forward as characters find their way to themselves and each other. Their relationship is well written and comes with a lot of feels as they deal with internal and external factors. (Homophobia warning) Tyler is a free spirit who likes pleasure and doesn’t apologize for who he is and what gets him off. Joel is tightly locked up in the closet and isn’t able to let go; until Tyler begins to slowly set him free. It’s important to note for some readers that there are explicitly erotic sex scenes with a third and fourth character added. I wasn’t mad at all.

There’s a note from the author I would usually skip over but I’m glad I didn’t. It provides insight that I think is valuable prior to reading. The Other Book is about finding inner peace with who you are and not being ashamed of what you desire. I’m a fan of Roe Horvat and would absolutely recommend this book (although I don’t recommend reading it in public because it’s hot AF).

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.

Cash (Lucky, #2)

Cash (Lucky, #2) by Garrett Leigh: Review by Lost in a Book

Cash (Lucky, #2)

Blurb:

Cash is a car mechanic with a secret. Head down, sleeves up, he hides from the past as much as his shattered heart, until a reluctant stumble into a Tottenham bar ends in the one night stand of his dreams.

Hunt saboteur Rae can’t believe his luck when he wakes up the next morning. Cash is gorgeous, and the hottest hook up he’s ever had. He doesn’t expect to see him again, until a twist of fate lands him on Cash’s doorstep a few months later.

United by a cause that’s broken Cash before, they are drawn together. They have more in common than they ever imagined, but with Cash haunted by the past, and Rae so tangled in the present, it’s not long before love isn’t enough to keep them alive.

Part of a series, but can be read as a STANDALONE.

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3.25 Stars

Welp, this starts out with a bang…literally. Cash and Rae meet in a pub, have a night full hot sex, and move on the next morning as if the hook-up(s) never happened. This works until Rae ends up back on Cash’s door step looking for someone that came from the life Rae leads.

Cash is a mechanic, living a simple life, and trying desperately to remain unattached to the sab life that Rae lives and breathes. Rae is obsessed with the fox hunting cause and his days are marked by hunts, sabotage, and roughing it on a patch of land with his group of like-minded friends.

Being thrust back into each others lives has brought Rae and Cash closer together. They have a tentative friendship and smokin’ hot chemistry. I really enjoyed their personalities and the way they are together. Unfortunately, we don’t get much time with them in a relationship due to other circumstances. The characters are fleshed out but their relationship isn’t. The romance is very minimal and stays in the shadows with the fox hunting/sabbing being front and center. I love animals and want them safe but the topic overshadowing the relationship threw off my reading enjoyment/RL escape. It’s a creative story with a platform that shines a spotlight on an issue I lacked prior knowledge of. I really liked Rae and Cash but I found that I could put the story down and go about my day without the burning desire to pick it up.

This is Garret Leigh so there’s depth with an interesting twist along the way. The rating is strictly for my enjoyment of this story and not the quality of the writing. There are triggers for depression and off page mentions of animal cruelty. I will absolutely continue on with the series. If you’re a fan of GL and/or animal activism, I’d recommend.

P.S. Googling fox hunt saboteurs is an interesting experience.

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Copy provided for honest review.

The Friend

The Friend (It’s Just Us Here #1) by Christopher X. Sullivan:
Review by Lost in a Book

The Friend (It's Just Us Here #1)

Blurb:

An asexual man meets a male model… and slowly falls in love.

Mark, the model, has not been challenged in his life and is emotionally withdrawn. He returns to Chicago in the hopes of reconnecting with his college friends, but everyone has moved on without him, starting families and growing up.

Chris, the writer, is socially awkward and introverted. He actively tries to be as invisible as possible.

The two men meet one day in Chris’ favorite park and strike up a friendship. Since this is written as a romance, you probably have a pretty good idea where the story goes from there.

You’d be wrong. (Well… and kinda right.)

I’m Chris and this is my story. It’s not a traditional romance. This is my version of a Happily Ever After, which means Mark and I became great friends… and that’s it.

Mark and I end this first installment of my self-portrait in a Queer Platonic Relationship. There was cuddling and emotional closeness, but nothing remotely sexual… at least not to my mind. Mark obviously wanted more and he would eventually get it, but this book, Book One of It’s Just Us Here, would have been my perfect, ideal romance.

If you need banging and crazy monkey sex to keep your interest in a story, then jump in at Book Four of this self-portrait (The Lover). Otherwise, come along for the ride and meet the man who would sweep me off my feet, Mark Wolff, one of the top ten most self-absorbed men in the whole world.

[NOTE: This book is a 95,000 word romantic self-portrait featuring the beginnings of a queer relationship. It is the first book of a trilogy, which is itself part of a larger trilogy. Low heat… for now. I don’t think we need trigger warnings for this book, but future installments might warrant them. Maybe that can serve as enough of a warning? Warning: this book if full of life.]

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5 Stars

I’ll start off by linking my review for The Book of Beginnings which is where I started on my journey with Mark and Chris and became hooked. Fangirling is probably more accurate. *unapologetic shrug* Warning: This linked review goes well beyond (spoilersish in nature when considering what this book focuses on) The Friend but I feel that my review was much more eloquent (well, as much as I can actually be when squeeing) than what will take place in this review for the single installment of The Friend. I’m not going to walk through this book because the blurb does a great job of explaining exactly what to expect with this “romantic self-portrait.”

My initial thoughts after reading this book were, did I really just read a little over 300 pages about becoming friends? About single individuals finding common interests, while deepening their connection platonically? With some of their interactions having more intimacy than those in physical relationships? It’s not just a book about meeting a friend, it’s so much more because these men are opposites with their own hangups, hard limits, deep feelings, and insecurities. Any other story and I would’ve been sleeping if I had to read that much about a simple friendship. But I think these pages are laced with crack and kept me coming back for more. In this case, the crack I’m referring to are two quirky (both are in their own way) men understanding who they are as individuals and finding their way to a deep relationship that is soooo much more than Friends.

Did I mention that this is a REAL story? About real men, dealing with real emotions and real life events? I will 100% continue on this journey of finding love while sometimes getting lost and needing to take the scenic routes. 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.

 

The Replacement Husband

The Replacement Husband by Eliot Grayson: Review by Lost in a Book

The Replacement Husband

Blurb:

Goddess-blessed Owen Honeyfield is destined to enjoy perfect good fortune, and the arrival of handsome and eligible Tom Drake in his country town appears to be just the latest manifestation. Tom’s proposal is the fulfillment of Owen’s desires, but Owen is left heartbroken and at the mercy of Arthur, Tom’s disapproving elder brother, when his betrothal takes a disastrous turn. His reputation ruined and his bright future shattered, Owen must choose between loneliness and practicality.

Arthur Drake has taken responsibility for Tom’s scandalous behavior all their lives. He doesn’t think much of his brother’s engagement, knowing that even Owen’s sweetness won’t be enough to influence Tom for the better. When Tom’s impulsive selfishness threatens to ruin the lives of everyone involved, Arthur has only one honorable choice. He’ll need to repair the damage Tom has done and fight for his own happiness, knowing all the while he may never be able to take Tom’s place in Owen’s heart.

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4 Stars

This is the second M/M historical I’ve read by Eliot Grayson (I believe the second book they have released, too) and I’m a fan. The Replacement Husband isn’t a cookie cutter historical with having its goddess element and the ability for these main characters to be open about their relationship. The unique approach may be a negative for historical romance sticklers who prefer the secrecy and the heightened angst from societal and criminal implications when two men fall in love. However, all the readers that stay away from M/M for those very reasons may appreciate a historicalish romance where not only can two men be together, it’s accepted and celebrated.

As the blurb mentions, Owen is blessed by the goddess with great fortune, blessings, and a husband to live happily ever after with. He lives at home with his parents and waits to meet the one. The wrong one comes in the form of Tom Drake, a charming man with dazzling eyes and the inability to follow through. After Tom becomes engaged to Owen, a series of events take place and Tom’s brother Arthur has to pick up the pieces or Owen’s reputation is ruined.

Arthur, being nothing like his brother, begins to immediately fix the problems. Owen and Arthur’s tentative relationship grows into much more as they navigate their new life. There’s a lot of heat between the blushing virgin and growly Arthur. I adored Arthur with his commanding presence and his sweet nature towards those he loves. Owen is somewhat likable but also very much a pushover. I’m happy he finds his place with Arthur but wish he had more of a backbone when it comes to the other characters and the situations he falls in.

I was engaged throughout the story and appreciate that the goddess element isn’t a heavy focus. I wish the epilogue gave us more because we didn’t get a lot of time with Owen and Arthur together together on page outside of sex. Still, I felt warm and fuzzy at this lighthearted *historical* where love is love and men can marry men. Recommended.

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.

Unwrapping Hank

Unwrapping Hank by Eli Easton: Review by Lost in a Book

Unwrapping Hank (Unwrapping Hank, #1)

Blurb:

Sloane loves a good mystery. He grew up as the son of two psychiatrists, so he finds most people tediously easy to figure out. He finds his way to Pennsylvania State University, longing for a rural experience, and ends up being lured into joining a frat by Micah Springfield, the hippest guy on campus.

Nothing in Sloane’s classes is as intriguing as Hank Springfield, Micah’s brother and fellow frat house member. Hank looks like a tough guy—big muscles, tatts, and a beard—but his eyes are soft and sweet. He acts dumb, but he’s a philosophy major. He’s presumably straight, but then why does Sloane feel such crazy chemistry whenever Hank is around? And why does Hank hate Sloane so much?

When Sloane ends up stuck on campus over Christmas, Micah invites him to spend the holidays at their family farm in Amish country. It’s a chance to experience a true Americana Christmas–and further investigate the mystery that is Hank Springfield. Can Sloane unlock the secrets of this family and unwrap the heart hidden inside the beefcake?

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4.5 Stars

I read a holiday book and LIKED it. No, I REALLY liked it. I don’t usually get along with holiday reads and avoid them like the plague. So thank you Eli for making my grinch heart grow a bit this year (even though this came out yearssss ago).

Oh Sloane. 😍 He’s sweet, sophisticated, well traveled, and practically grew up with a PhD in psychiatry due to his parents both having one and analyzing him on the regular. The best thing is that he isn’t pretentious about his background and he’s also not afraid to be himself and act his age. He’s attending college in Pennsylvania and joins a frat where he meets Micah and his mysterious brother, Hank. Micah loves solving mysteries and Hank, with his standoffish mercurial behavior became number one on his list.

Hank is Micah’s brother and where Micah’s a hipster, Hank is macho, tattooed, and hides his intelligence behind a dude-bro persona. Hank is crotchety where Sloane is easy going. Hank tries to avoid Sloane until he’s stuck with him at his family’s house over Christmas.

The Christmas holiday gives Sloane the perfect opportunity to fully *ahem* unwrap the mystery that is Hank Springfield.

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Hank and Sloane are fabuuuuuulous and highly entertaining together. They have a snarky front that is practically foreplay even if they don’t realize it. The relationship development isn’t rushed and we get to feel all warm and fuzzy at the perfect pace as they find a way to HEA-ville. You know what else? The Christmas element was tastefully done throughout to where I didn’t feel like I was rode hard and hung up wet by Santa, the elves, and reindeers. I wish there were more pages though because I’m greedy. What’s going to happen with Micah? Does he already have a story and I just don’t know about it? I could have read another hundred pages about Sloane and Hank. *dreamy sigh*

This was such a comfort read that I may have to revisit yearly to get my dose of Christmas cheer. It provides the feel of sitting by the fire with hot chocolate, cozy blankets, and hot ass smexy times (though refreshingly, it isn’t a gratuitous sex-fest). Definitely recommended.

P.S. I forgot to mention I listened to the audio. Tristan Wright is the narrator and he did a great job bringing these personalities to life.

Rocky Mountain Refuge

Rocky Mountain Refuge by Nicky James: Review by Lost in a Book

Rocky Mountain Refuge

Blurb:

Run! Hide! We are watching you, Huxley!

Huxley Dempsy suffers from a paranoid personality disorder. After a horrific tragedy five years ago, Huxley is convinced people are out to get him. Taking refuge in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, he is a prisoner to his own mind. If he can think it up, it must be true, and there is no convincing him otherwise.

Wildlife biologist, Aspen Taylor, is on his way north again to close up the final year of the Grizzly Bear Research Project. Studying wildlife in their natural habitat is what sings to his soul. However, who he finds in the mountains is almost as beastly as the bears he studies.

An underlying sense of familiarity draws Aspen to learn more about this Wildman, and a strong sense of attraction binds them together almost instantly. But can Aspen break through the barriers of Huxley’s mind and convince him to go home?

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4.75 Stars

YASSSS!!!

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I devoured this insanely fast. Rocky Mountain Refuge left me hungover and scouring lists and recommendations for rustic and/or wilderness M/M reads. Not gonna lie though, this book hurt. It’s hard to read Huxley’s POV and my face might have leaked a tiny bit. However, it’s balanced with a lightness that surrounds Aspen and that makes it hurt SO good.

Huxley has struggled with paranoia since childhood. Between therapy and the amazing support system of his mom and husband Nathaniel, he was able to function throughout his day to day life. That is, until he witnessed the murder of his husband and then his paranoia got the better of him and he now lives secluded in the wilderness for fear of being found by the men who committed the crime. From the beginning of the story, Huxley’s paranoia is suffocating. It’s debilitating, full of delusional thoughts, and complete rationalization of maintaining his current lifestyle cutoff from the outside world.

Aspen is a wildlife biologist that’s working on a grizzly bear project in the middle of nowhere with only his team around… and unbeknownst to him, Huxley. He has such a calm nature and is totally at ease in the wilderness. He stumbles upon Huxley and that encounter and many that follow have Aspen approaching Huxley as if he’s a wild animal. Aspen is intrigued by Huxley and can’t help himself from creeping around his cabin.

Their relationship begins as a way to release the pent up sexual frustration and loneliness. Huxley can only give Aspen one thing and that’s an orgasm. Their smexy times are hot AF. For real. Huxley is all growly and bossy and hot and strong and huge and…

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Anywhoo, Aspen is more than willing to keep coming back for those times and senses the need to go slow with a friendship and then hopefully more. The more time Aspen spends with Huxley, the clearer the paranoia becomes. Day by day, their relationship forms as they try to develop a new normal and hopefully get Huxley the help he needs while not scaring him away. Huxley’s mental illness isn’t sugar coated. It’s not swept under the rug and a magic penis doesn’t come to fix all his woes. Shit got real and their HEA is not easily earned but is definitely sweeter in the end.

Let’s talk about Nathaniel, the murdered husband. I know this book isn’t about their relationship and the story starts after the murder. BUT, the writing and portrayal of love between Nathaniel and Huxley is absolutely beautiful. Nothing is diminished and it really added more feels to the heartbreak of what Huxley survived. I’ve read many romances where the partner passes away and for some reason the living MC says “best I ever had” or “way better than before.” The author didn’t do that here and it was absolutely refreshing to know that two people shared an amazing love that tragically didn’t last and they move on. Instead of breaking down that prior relationship to prop up the current one, it’s kept on a loving pedestal and only adds to the foundation of the new one.

*hops off soapbox*

I really, really, really enjoyed this book and hope we see more from Huxley and Aspen in the future. Definitely recommended.

P.S. Just a note of warning, this book takes place in the wilderness and wilderness things take place such as skinning/killing animals for survival. Mental illness is also prevalent throughout.

 

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.