Astray

Astray (Wavesongs, #1) by Elvira Bell: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Synopsis: 

Nick Andrews has grown up in poverty in a tiny village. All his life he’s been told that he’s useless. After getting one scolding too many he decides to go far away, off to sea. But his experience as a farmhand has done little to prepare him for the hardships of a sailor’s life.

When his ship is attacked by pirates, Nick’s life is miraculously spared by the notorious pirate captain, Christopher Hart—a man in charge of a crew feared for their brutality. Nick is forced to join the pirates, and he dreads finding out for what reason the captain has saved him.

But Hart is nothing like his reputation suggests, and Nick soon finds himself entangled in a relationship that could endanger both their lives. Unless Nick can help Hart on his quest to find a long lost treasure, their forbidden love may tear his new life apart.

Warning: This book ends with a cliffhanger, and it does not have a happy ending. The series as a whole will have a HEA ending.

Content note: This book contains dark themes and depictions of torture, murder, and rape.

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4 Stars

*Deep Breath* THIS ENDS ON A EPICALLY MASSIVE CLIFFHANGER!!

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I’m not one of those readers that like can handle a cliffhanger. I’ll eventually read it but I always wait until a series is complete so I can move on to the next book. Immediately. My motto has never been patience is virtue. But you know what I’m even more peeved about besides a surprise cliffhanger??? That I actually really liked this book. I was swept away into the land of pirates and at the end it’s all…

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Note: This book now contains a cliffhanger warning on Goodreads.

Alright, I’m done being whiny and dramatic so let’s do this.

Astray is set in the 1700’s and begins with Nick at home living with his family. He’s a dreamer which provides more frustration for his family as they are poor and Nick’s another mouth to feed. He leaves home in search of the same open seas his father once sailed. He quickly learns that being on a ship isn’t a place for dreamers but he can’t return home. Soon, his ship is overtaken by pirates and the Pirate Captain, Christopher Hart spares his life.

Christopher Hart is the mercurial captain of the Victory. The pirates are terrors of the sea, brutal in obtaining bounty, and they’re in search of the ultimate long lost treasure. Captain Hart has quite the reputation and Nick gets first hand knowledge of the merciless man. Christopher brings Nick to his ship where he must find his place if he wants to survive. Captain Hart begins asking Nick to complete small tasks in his cabin and over time, lines are crossed and boundaries in private become non-existent. Nick is enamored with Hart and Hart confuses Nick with his public versus private persona.

The crew is uneasy with the developing closeness of the two men and circumstances become more dangerous. Hart must prove himself to the pirates and we get to follow along on their journey full of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

Hart and Nick are opposites. Nick’s laid back, needy for affection, and trying to find himself. Hart is commanding yet insecure, on a quest for validation, and obsessive about Nick. I felt the connection even though their relationship was very rocky and they spent so much time apart.

The world building is thorough and drew me in. The secondary characters are endearing and entertaining. Goldie. Oh Goldie, I love him and would like his story any way I could get it. This is a dark and gritty read. They are pirates that do piratey things while living and dying by their articles.

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There were some areas for improvement IMO. There are many time lapses without notation or even a line break from one sentence to the next. Sometimes these were happening in the middle of conversation or action so I’m *assuming* the scene was a fade to black? There were also times when the pacing was slow and parts dragged and on the other hand, parts where there should have been character/relationship development but it was rushed/lacking.

I enjoyed the world Astray allowed me to escape to. I’ll continue with the series but… I’ll be waiting until it’s complete before moving on to the next book. Recommended for fans of ruthless pirates and all that entails.

Copy provided for honest review.

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

 

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

Captain Merric

Captain Merric by Rebecca Cohen: Review by Lost in a Book

Synopsis:

A tale of pirates, lost love, and the fight for a happy ending.

After he’s set adrift and left to die by his mutinous crew, the last person Royal Navy officer Daniel Horton expects to come to his rescue is Captain Merric. An infamous pirate, Merric is known as much for stealing his victims’ hearts as their jewels. Daniel’s world is about to be turned upside down when he recognises Captain Merric as none other than Edward Merriston, someone he thought he’d never see again.
Edward can’t believe Daniel Horton is aboard his ship. While Edward is willing to do anything he can to get a second chance at their happy ending, Daniel isn’t interested in digging up the past. But Daniel is one priceless treasure Captain Merric isn’t about to let go of without a fight.

Captain Merric first appeared as short story in a pirate-themed anthology. Now completely rewritten and extended he is ready to set sail again.

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4 Stars

Ahoy Mateys!! I’ve been back in pirate land the past few weeks enjoying all of these upcoming/newly released pirate romances. This one continues my streak of pirate success and I enjoyed the world Rebecca Cohen created in Captain Merric.

Daniel and Edward were lovers when they were younger. At that time in England, their relationship had to be hidden or face arrest. Edward sets off to sea only never to return home. Daniel finds out about Edward’s death and continues to mourn him for the next 15 years as he climbs rank in The Royal Navy to that of Captain. Daniel’s crew sets him adrift in the ocean and leaves him to die. Luckily for Daniel, the Opal sails by and brings him on board and face to face with the man he thought dead so many years ago, Edward Captain Merric.

Right away Daniel is angry, hurt, relieved, and devastated that Merric is alive, well, and has been living the high life in the Caribbean. Merric has his own reasons for shock at seeing Daniel yet he’s so happy and wants to start where they left off with his one true love. *Silly Merric*

“As you said, what is past is past. I am no more in your future today than yesterday before I knew you were alive.”

After their reunion, each man must determine what they can and can’t live with, what they will or will not forgive and what it means for their future. I didn’t understand Captain Merric in the first half. As a pirate captain, it was clear. As a man devastated by heartbreak for 15 years, I didn’t see it. His words were contrary to his actions as he attempted to win back Daniel’s affections. Even at 80% he was expressing his absolute love and yet was extremely tempted by others? As a pirate, Merric was successful at plundering on the seas. They enjoyed their rum, finery, and warm bodies but they still had a sense of humanity in tact when encountering “the enemy.”

Daniel’s much easier to understand with his ice veins and “empty shell.” He makes Merric work for everything. He built up walls over many years and it takes a while for them to be knocked down, for him to get out of his head, and back on the trail to rational-thought land. Merric has a hard time controlling his feelings and this causes relational strife.

I believed their relationship towards the end of the book but would have liked more time with them being on the same page. I was disappointed there wasn’t an epilogue. I don’t need one for every book I read if there is decent closure at the end. This has a HEA *I think* but their options for the future were left open ended. Maybe there will be another book that provides complete closure?.? Captain Merric also had a lot of repetition going on, especially during conversations where I was internally shouting you said that already. Again.

This second chance romance was entertaining. It’s a familiar take on pirates while at the same time being completely different. Friendly pirates? Who knew. Recommended.

Copy provided for honest review.

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.

A Scot’s Surrender (The Townsends #3)

A Scot’s Surrender by Lily Maxton: Review by Lost in a Book

Synopsis:

When his brother leaves him in charge of Llynmore Castle, Robert Townsend is determined to make everything go smoothly. What does it matter if he’s inexplicably drawn to Ian Cameron, the estate’s stoic steward? Robert is sure he can ignore the way the Highlander’s apparent dislike of him gets under his skin. They’ll muddle along just fine so long as they avoid one another. An excellent plan…until a fire forces Ian into the castle—and Robert’s personal space.

Ian Cameron has worked for everything he owns, unlike spoiled Robert Townsend. And he may not have friends, but he has the Highlands and the stars, and what more could he really need? But when a guest’s stolen possession appears in his room, he doesn’t have much choice but to admit to the handsome and aggravatingly charming Townsend brother that he needs help. To solve this mystery, they’ll have to put aside their differences. And as Ian learns more about Robert, he’ll have to guard his heart…or it may be the next thing stolen.

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Review

4 Stars

This book made me happy.

Historical? Uh huh!
Scottish Highlands? Yep!
Ginger? Yassssss! UNF!
A KILT wearing ginger? Hell to the Yassss!

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Scot’s Surrender is an enjoyable historical that’s humorous with well written characters. The angst is minimal, the plot simple, but the actual romance is well crafted. As mentioned in the synopsis, Robert Townsend is running the castle while his brother is away. One of the cottages on his estate caught fire and the occupant, a frustratingly handsome steward named Ian Cameron is relocated to the main castle. Robert and Ian do not get along. Both are attracted to the other but Cameron keeps an icy facade at Robert’s attempts to connect. After a series of unfortunate events, Cameron and Robert have to join forces to solve a mystery of missing houseguest items.

Cameron is harsh and judgmental towards Robert and the idea of surrendering any part of himself. He has survived much in his life and isn’t about to let Robert tear down the walls he has built. Cameron is very much a man of few words. Robert is likable, social, and whimsy. He has insecurities that he covers with a disarming smile. Their journey is *very* slow paced but follows a natural progression of enemies to lovers and is befitting of the customs and the legal implications of being with a man in 1814. This isn’t a case of insta-love and I felt like a fly on the wall while watching two men form bonds of friendship, love, and intimacy. The chemistry and connection is there even if it isn’t loaded with sex. However, when there is sex, it’s hot! When the “Ask me nicely.” came during smexy times…sheee-it.

Then…

“Press me into the mattress. Fuck me like you mean it.”

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I adored Robert’s family. They were accepting, loving, and loyal. I didn’t read the first books in this series but the past characters were present and likable. I was pleasantly surprised how cohesive this third book was and didn’t feel lost at any time due to skipping the first two books. I will definitely read Lily Maxton again and absolutely recommend this book for fans of historical romance.

“Say but little and say it well,”

Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an 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.**

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.