The Doctor’s Date

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

Buddy Read with Adam

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

Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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BR with Adam

3.5 Stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trigger Warnings for abuse.

Copy provided for honest review.

 

How to Run with the Wolves

How to Run With the Wolves by Eli Easton: Review by Lost in a Book

How to Run with the Wolves (Howl at the Moon #5)

Blurb:

Zeus loves his job on the new Mad Creek Search & Rescue team, and his inner Saint Bernard is finally being used to his full potential. When he sees a mysterious and wild-looking quickened—a dog shifter—at an earthquake site in Alaska, Zeus is compelled to investigate. Zeus falls hard for the primal beauty of Timo and of Alaska itself. Both call to his deep canine soul. But the Quimmiq pack’s laws are as harsh as the Alaskan winters, and Timo is out of his reach.

Timo’s pack of dog shifters left their Inuit village generations ago and have lived wild ever since. Not trusting the “one-skinned,” and with their numbers dwindling, the Quimmiq are on the verge of extinction. Timo is shocked to discover a whole group of “two-skinned” working as a rescue team, and he is particularly fascinated by Zeus, a gentle giant. He senses what Zeus feels for him… but it’s forbidden.

Can Mad Creek save this lost quickened clan? Perhaps—if they can learn how to run with the wolves.

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4ish Stars

I’ve gotta say that I adored being back in Mad Creek for some friendly dog shifter living. All the old favorites make their appearances while the “main” romance is between Zeus and Timo.

Zeus is a Mad Creek native that moved for a bit and then found his way back… except that it’s too crowded. Luckily he gets on the search and rescue team for Mad Creek and ships out when needed to find trapped people or animals. Zeus finds himself in Alaska after an earthquake to help find missing people and this is where he meets Timo. The majority of this story plays out in Alaska while Timo and Zeus become friends and eventually something more. Zeus is at peace in Alaska with the openness and Timo wants to keep him in his pack- not only because he wants something that’s his but he hopes that Zeus has answers that will help his pack survive.

The relationship between Zeus and Timo isn’t front and center. They have a slowwwwwwwwwww realization about what pulls them together but become closer by the end for a HEA. The main focus of the story is about Alaska and Timo’s pack, the Quimmig and not the romance and relationship building. Easton makes note that there will be a spin-off series with the characters introduced as part of the Quimmig pack.

How to Run With the Wolves ends more abruptly than I like and I absolutely wanted more of them together at the end because it took *so* flippin’ long for Zeus and Timo’s epiphany to actually happen.

I love Mad Creek and all the people in it. I also like the idea of an Alaska spin-off and will definitely continue on the Easton Shifter Train. Recommended.

Copy provided for honest review.

Complementary Colors

Complementary Colors by Adrienne Wilder: Review by Lost in a Book

Complementary Colors

Blurb:

My sister Julia manipulated my life into a prison to keep me silent about our dirty family secret. Her greed made me a slave and circumstance left me with no way to escape.

Trapped, the only way I could silence the nightmares driving me to insanity was to wrap them in color, hold them with shadow, and stitch them to negative space with line.

But no matter how bright the pigments, no one could see my confession.

Except for Roy Callahan.

I thought he was just another nameless one-night stand in a long line of many.
But I was wrong. Roy could see past the façade of my life and through the veil color over the canvas. He could see what the world couldn’t.

And with him I’d find the courage to tell the truth about the boy.

The boy who kissed me.
The boy who loved me.
The boy whose name I couldn’t remember.

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4.5ish Stars

Ummm….. *snuggles with blanket* This one hurt. A lot. It’s angsty AF, dark, erotic, brutal and with trigger warnings for pretty much everything littering the pages. This wasn’t my first rodeo with Wilder so I was mentally preparing but some of it was realllllly hard to read.

Paris is a broken yet brilliant artist that disposes the horrors he has seen on canvas while covering them up and making millions. He has multiple mental diagnoses and an absolute vile sister that abuses him regularly to ensure her pockets are lined and secrets aren’t exposed. She can’t see the secrets on the canvas and the art collectors that purchase them can’t either. Roy does though.

Roy is a handyman that meets Paris in a dark room. Their relationship begins with sex and is *very* sexual throughout. Roy is perfect. Seriously freakin’ perfect. He isn’t a rich guy, but humble, hardworking, has made and learned from his mistakes. Roy loves Paris in a way that’s beautiful but also damaging to his sanity and quality of life.

Roy is the escape Paris needs and eventually the good, the bad, and the really ugly comes out to play. Roy offsets Paris’ severely jacked up world and during these moments of respite, they get to know each other. I love them together but I’m not convinced they are actually good for each other, moreso Paris not being good for Roy’s wellbeing. At times it’s hard to read with the abuse and the destructive nature of Paris trying to escape the monsters in his head and in his life. As mentioned above, Roy and Paris’ relationship is very sex heavy and not in a healthy way but that’s all Roy could give and all Paris would let himself take for the longest time. They get their HEA but there’s a trail of blood and a bottle of antacids needed before that happens.

Complementary Colors has many layers and there were times I was trying to piece parts together. Julia is definitely the character I despise most out of any book I’ve probably ever read. She is THAT bad and I had many not nice thoughts about her and ways she could be taken care of.

This book could use another round of edits. There are lots of psych things going on and I’m not an expert on whether creative license was used of if these are actually proper protocols on treatment. Still, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to fans of dark, erotic, and angsty romance.

Copy provided for honest review.

 

Kiss Me Again

Kiss Me Again by Garrett Leigh: Review by Lost in a Book

Kiss Me Again

Blurb:

Tree surgeon Aidan Drummond is content with his own company. He works alone, and lives alone, and it doesn’t occur to him to want anything else until a life-changing accident lands him in hospital. Then a glimpse of the beautiful boy in the opposite bed changes everything.

Ludo Giordano is trapped on the ward with a bunch of old men. His mind plays tricks on him, keeping him awake. Then late one night, a new face brings a welcome distraction. Their unlikely friendship is addictive. And, like most things in Ludo’s life, temporary.

Back in the real world, Aidan’s monochrome existence is no longer enough. He craves the colour Ludo brought him, and when a chance meeting brings them back together, before long, they’re inseparable again.

But bliss comes with complications. Aidan is on the road to recovery, but Ludo has been unwell his entire life, and that’s not going to change. Aidan can kiss him as much as he likes, but if he can’t help Ludo when he needs him most, they don’t stand a chance. 

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4 Stars

Once again, Garrett Leigh has brought on the angst, feels, and some very bogged down British men. As usual, I ate it up.

Ludo and Aidan meet in the hospital after Aidan is wheeled in from an accident. Ludo’s a frequent flyer in the hospital due to his mental illness diagnoses and sometimes his mind gets the best of him. Ludo’s a loner that works from home. His only interactions are with his community nurse and psychiatrist. He’s anxious and experiences manic and depression states throughout. Ludo’s anxiety and sometimes forgetfulness causes more problems when he forgets to take a dose of medication and then spirals from there. One thing is for sure though, Ludo is enamored with Aidan as soon as he’s brought in the room, unconscious and all. Really enamored.

Aidan’s also a loner like Ludo but is a major grump too. He hides behind his fortress walls that I’m sure are littered with “beware of dog” type signs. He’s in obvious pain during the hospital (after falling from a tree) stay but after a bit, he craves Ludo’s presence until one day Ludo just isn’t there. After leaving hospital. Aidan can’t stop thinking of Ludo, his comforting presence and calming touches. He begins to wonder if he imagined the man until they happen to bump into each other.

Ludo and Aidan start very slow and build a foundation of friendship and an eventual relationship that works for them. They don’t sugar coat issues, there’s not a magic bipolar eraser, and they aren’t trying to fix and/or change the other person. They are supportive, understanding, loyal, patient, and loving. Aidan and Ludo build intimacy without a lot of sexual interactions. There are lots of feels without lots of feels. The lack of sex definitely works with this story and is tastefully done. Both men learn how to lean on one another as they get their sweet HEA.

After finishing, I couldn’t help feeling like I wanted more of them together. Not in the oh my gosh, I could read their story for the rest of my life and hope the author writes an entire series about them way. It was more that I felt like their story finally came together and they were just getting started when the book ended. *sad face*

There’s a character that is mentioned a few times in this story that was a MC in SKINS. I haven’t read that series but had no problem reading this as a stand alone.

Kiss Me Again is a heavy read that gives some insight into the daily struggles of mental illness. I’m not a psychologist/psychiatrist so I am unable to speak on the technical aspects of mental illness and whether this portrayal is how each diagnosis could present itself. But I’m also not a stranger to anxiety and bipolar disorder with very close family members experiencing it. My biggest takeaway is that I appreciate there wasn’t a cure-all and that even on the best days, when there are smiles and laughter, they’re still a struggle too.  Recommended.

Warning: Triggers for mental illness and the very real struggles that go along with it. Self harm is also mentioned, hallucinations, anxiety, etc…

Copy provided for honest review.

 

The Reluctant Husband

The Reluctant Husband (Goddess-Blessed, #2) by Eliot Grayson:
Review by Lost in a Book

The Reluctant Husband

Blurb:

Disowned, disgraced, and with nowhere to turn, Tom Drake is willing to barter anything — even himself — for a reprieve from starvation and despair. Years spent lying to protect his secrets have left him longing for someone to value him, even if it’s only for his body and the blessing of his patron goddess.

Mal Leighton’s cousin and heir is dying. Only a miracle can save him — and if a miracle doesn’t appear, Mal’s damn well going to create one. Marrying Tom for his blessing is his last desperate hope to preserve his family. And if Tom happens to be as irresistibly seductive as he is untrustworthy? Well, Mal can focus on more than one goal at a time.

Tom doesn’t fall in love, and Mal knows better than to believe he’s the exception. But when Tom’s blessing doesn’t provide the quick cure they’d hoped, it’s clear that the goddess expects them to have a marriage in more than name. To save Mal’s family and find their own happiness, they will both need to sacrifice their pride and risk their hearts.

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4.25 Stars

How the hell was my heart breaking for Tom??? Tom?? The poor, kicked out on his conniving ass VILLAN in the last book of this series, The Replacement Husband

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Somehow Tom ends up Goddess-blessed AND redeemed and now I’m converted to his side while waving my Team Tom t-shirt. Color me impressed, Eliot Grayson. Random note but as any voracious reader, I used to stay up all hours of the night to read *before* having a kid. Work the next day was tiring but I could hack it. Now, I try not to lose sleep over reading unless the book has it’s hooks in because ultimately my daughter is going to wake up at the ass crack of dawn if I stay up. BUT… I gave up sleep for this book. *gasp*

The premise for this Goddess-Blessed series is intriguing and I’m here for it. The Reluctant Husband is a historical fantasy where it’s completely acceptable for men to love men when they’re blessed by a goddess. The first book did a great job of laying down the foundation for this world while this one adds depth. It’s captivating from the very beginning when Tom and growly Mal have their initial interactions. As mentioned, Tom is blessed and Mal needs to marry someone that’s blessed for important reasons. Unfortunately, both men are stubborn and have their own hangups from the past that affect their relationship. They have a very bumpy road full of dysfunction while trying to form a complete bond that meets the goddess’ requirements.

Tom and Mal are hawt together once they can stomach being near for more than a few minutes. Slowly, Tom reveals his true self and Mal can’t help but draw near even though he’s an ass and I wanted strangle him for how he talked to and treated my oft misunderstood Tom. (Oh how far we’ve come that I’m calling him mine!!) I wanted to throw my Kindle a couple times throughout though. Tom stands his ground for a bit but gives in wayyyyyyyyy too fast for my liking at the end. They get their HEA but I wanted Mal to grovel and show his remorse. *sigh*

Anywho, Grayson’s writing and storytelling has always been enjoyable but both have come a long way since the debut novel. I will absolutely continue to devour any other books in this series. Recommended.

Copy provided for honest review.

Thirst for You

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

Thirst for You (Beyond the Cove, #2)

Blurb

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

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

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

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

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3.5ish Stars

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended.

Copy provided for honest review.

Gideon

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

Gideon (Finding Home, #3)

Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4.5 Stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trigger Warning for drug and alcohol usage.

Copy provided for honest review.

 

The Doctor’s Secret

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

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

Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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Tag Team with Adam

2.5 Stars

Ermm… *checks author name*

Heidi Cullinan wrote this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copy provided for honest review.

 

Jude (Lucky #3)

Jude (Lucky #3) by Garrett Leigh: Review by Lost in a Book

Jude (Lucky #3)

Blurb:

Isha has spent the last year watching his BFF get his happily-ever-after. He’s proud of Dom, but…it hurts to see him so free while Isha’s love life is still on lockdown. Only Isha’s ex-wife knows the secret that he’s kept caged for so long—that he’s queer too, and he’s lonely.

Jude’s too chained to his work to notice what he’s missing by being terminally single, but a new face in the village soon catches his attention. City boy Isha is gorgeous, and when he starts to haunt Jude’s reptile shop as well as the hook-up app on his phone, he’s a welcome distraction from Jude’s business problems.

For a control freak like Isha, letting Jude under his skin is an existential meltdown, but Jude’s not in the market to be anyone’s queer crisis, not when he’s facing troubles of his own. Unlocking their lives could push both men apart forever, but it might be a risk worth taking if sharing is the key to their happy future.

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4 Stars

Jude is an enjoyable addition to the Lucky series. This book can be a stand-alone, but just know that I’ve read the previous books and felt like I needed a character map for the initial introductions (which is more my fault for not remembering everyone).

Jude is all about man meets man on hook up app, they have crazy hot sex, each man goes their separate ways, and then they have a coincidental meet-up at Jude’s reptile shop when Isha comes looking for a birthday venue.

From the initial meet and coming together Isha and Jude have a connection. They don’t do much talking at first but they have awesome chemistry and Isha can give it how Jude likes it. Vice versa. Both men are surprised to run into each other at the reptile shop but they make it work and plan a birthday party for Isha’s son. Through the planning process, Isha and Jude get to know each other in and out of the bedroom. Isha has a really hard time with the growing relationship because he’s a closeted bi-sexual and terrified of others finding out. Being closeted and miscommunication causes much strife until Isha gets with the program. It takes a good long while for them to get their shit together outside of fucking and determining there is *more*.

Isha is far from winning a dad of the year award and would more likely be in the running for most Absent Dad of the Year. His kids are a big part of Jude and
I was pleasantly surprised that they aren’t annoying, act their age, and they matter. They are important to Jude and Isha really wants to improve his relationship with them. I enjoyed the secondary characters and the cameos from the previous MCs in the series. I totally appreciate that Isha’s ex-wife is portrayed as a badass and still a large part of his life not only as a friend but valued voice and mother of his children.

I’m totally digging this series and will continue on the journey. Recommended.

Copy provided for honest review.

The Stud

The Stud (It’s Just Us Here #5) by Christopher X. Sullivan: Review by Lost in a Book

The Stud (It's Just Us Here #5)

Blurb:

An asexual man is now in a sexual relationship with a male model… and is in over his head.

Chris and Mark’s relationship evolves. Both men learn to depend on the other during trying times. Chris is in the closet with his family, but Mark doesn’t add pressure and remains a solid support. Meanwhile, Mark is struggling to reconnect with his parents and older sisters and Chris is the catalyst that enables the vain male model to return home.

All good things must come to an end, and if you’ve read this far in the series, you should know that the last few chapters of this book contain the long-foreshadowed Big Fight. This self-portrait was written as a romance… but not every story gets a happy ending.

[The Stud is Book Five in a ten book series. You can read this as the mid-point of a four book arc. You should probably read the friends-to-lovers story (contained in the first three books) to understand the fullness of the characters, but this isn’t strictly necessary. Book One, Book Four and Book Eight all serve as ‘jumping in’ points for the series.

It’s Just Us Here: The Stud is a 118,000 word journey of two men connecting in a deep, spiritual way as they navigate a sexual relationship while juggling careers, friends and family.]

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5 Stars

The Stud is definitely my favorite so far on the journey of Chris and Mark in It’s just Us Here. Apparently I’m a masochist because this one hurt and I loved it. Not the pain they went through, but that it makes you feel throughout the entire book.

For most of this book, there’s a surface level feeling of happiness between the MCs. They seem to be on the same page, in love, and increasing their sexual exploration. But, lurking under the surface is pain and heartbreak evident from the very beginning. I could *feel* the decline of their relationship in the little moments; the moments that seem insignificant but have huge implications for the future.

“We had our differences and they were plain to see… and it wouldn’t be easy to work around my limitations… but it was so easy to be with Mark”

Mark and Chris are trying to please the other person at a detriment to themselves and it’s impossible to keep up without breaking. The closet scene with Mark was soooooooo sad to me. The lengths Mark is willing to go to keep Chris close when it goes against his very nature just ripped my heart out. There are so many red flags along the way that made me want to stop and scream, “WOULD YOU JUST ACTUALLY TALK TO EACH OTHER.” I don’t want lack of communication to be confused with using a misunderstanding or miscommunication trope in a romance novel. This is real life and it’s as if Chris and Mark are trying so hard to be together, be everything the other person could ever want or need, that they lose themselves in the process. They stop speaking up on the big and little things that might not always be of major importance but to them, it’s another crack in the crumbling foundation.

So sadness be damned, I loved this book. Not to worry though, there are many reminders that the overall “story” ends with a HEA. They just have to find a way to repair all these cracks or demolish the building and start over. Remember that this is a REAL story. About real men, dealing with real emotions and real life events. Definitely recommended.

Trigger- addiction, depression

Copy provided for honest review.