Red, White & Royal Blue

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston: Review by Lost in a Book

Red, White & Royal Blue

Blurb:

A big-hearted romantic comedy in which First Son Alex falls in love with Prince Henry of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends…

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?

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4.5 Stars

Politics. *dreadful sigh* Books that revolve around politics are usually a hard limit, hell no for me. The day to day politics in RL are usually nauseating enough that I don’t want to read about them in my escape time. Red, White & Royal Blue drew me in with the cute cover/synopsis and I’m glad it did. For much of the book it was like this fantastical political dream world where the last two years didn’t actually happen and I was *totally* here for it. For the most part. This book had me smiling, laughing, sad, swooning, and full of hope from one page to the next.

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is all about politics. He lives and breathes them and dreams of one day becoming a politician that does the right thing- like his mother, the President. Alex is also a snarky smart ass and sometimes his antics get the best of him. Errrrr, or cause potential issues with diplomatic relations when he gets into it with uptight Prince Henry of Wales at a royal wedding. Now they have to pretend to be the best of friends as Alex grits his teeth and Henry puts on stoic front of impassiveness.

“So, you can hate the heir to the throne all you want, write mean poems about him in your diary, but the minute you see a camera, you act like the sun shines out of his dick, and you make it convincing.”

There’s more to both men than what meets the eye and as they continue on with this charade of friendship, walls start to crack. Alex and Henry gain so much understanding and common ground on what it’s like to grow up in the public eye and be held to impossible standards- unable to be who they really are.

I love the journey for Alex and Henry. From nemesis to lovers, it’s highly entertaining. Their friendship develops gradually over texts, emails and eventually face to face. The UST is thickkkkkk and the snark is highly entertaining. My first through when I found out they didn’t like each other was “please tell me there’s hate sex.” There isn’t. But, they have chemistry and witty banter in spades.

“I shall just have to make it the best orgasm of your life. What can I do to make it good for you? Talk about American tax reform during the act? Have you got talking points?” Alex looks up, and Henry is grinning at him. “I hate you.”

Alex and Henry get together fairly quick so there’s lots of intimate times but the sex scenes fade to black. You know what’s going on during the smexy times but it’s not explicit (which didn’t bother me because their relationship is *so* much more than sex). The build up to the kissing though… 🔥🔥. We are able to *see* their walls crumble completely as the tone of their correspondences change.

I LOVE all of the secondary characters. Red, White & Royal Blue has a diverse cast with multiple LGBT+ representations and races. There’s sassy wit, snarktastic humor, funny AF antics, and tons of pop culture references along the way.

So, remember how I was saying above that this is a refreshing take on politics and the bizarro world political fantasy land worked for me? It did. For a bit. However, it began to drag on the political parts around 50% and didn’t let up. I began skimming some of the political parts but my enjoyment for everything else never waned.

I totally adored Alex and Henry along with their patchwork family. I really like the format with texts and emails being an important part of their love story. I even day dreamed what-ifs with the fantastic idea that the political climate in the U.S. could be different. Recommended.

Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Strange the Dreamer Series

Strange the Dreamer & Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor: Incoherent Ramblings by Lost in a Book

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)

Blurb:

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.

Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer, #2)

Blurb:

Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.

She believed she knew every horror and was beyond surprise.

She was wrong.

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this astonishing and heart-stopping sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.

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5 Million Stars (probably not enough)

I’ve decided that I’m completely unable to do either of these books justice in full reviews. Impossible. The storytelling is exquisite. The world creation is impeccable. The audio is one of the best I’ve heard and Steve West (narrator) completely delivers. I love both books so hard (with book #1 slightly more) that along with the audio, I bought the hard copies to have on my nightstand. So, because I’m unable to live up to the books, I’ll be giving my breakdown of feels with gifs. You’re welcome. 😉

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now…

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both stories…

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the cliffhanger at the end of book #1…

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the wrap up of book #2…

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the audio…

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Laini Taylor…

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Over all feelings…

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The Partner

The Partner by Christopher X. Sullivan: Review by Lost in a Book

The Partner (It's Just Us Here #3)

Blurb:

An asexual man falls in love with a male model… and they make it work.

Chris and Mark try to separate.

It doesn’t go smoothly.

Why was it so easy to grow close, yet now so difficult to pull apart?

Maybe they can pretend one last time… can they pretend to be boyfriends for a week? Can that solve their problems?

 

 

 

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5 Stars

Welp, I was raging after the 2nd book. Like, spitting fire, tantrum throwing rage for days hours seconds before hopping onto the 3rd book (thank you for dispensing the first three at once, Chris). That ending ruined all hope of adulting until I got to a “pleasant” place in this one, The Partner. I use pleasant lightly because there were tons of feels in this. Chris goes through so many emotions in this book as he struggles with his feelings on his relationship with Mark, the type of relationship they will have, what he will and will not be able to contribute, etc…

Chris doesn’t sugar coat his quirks. He lets them allllllllll hang out and Mark is totally here for them. Mark’s a trooper. If he wasn’t so steadfast in his feelings for Chris (even though we know what’s coming, I don’t believe it ever came down to not feeling enough), I don’t believe Chris would have come out on the other side to have a partnership with so much love. Mark dusts himself off after every missed hurdle and keeps on going.

Actual footage of Mark trying to progress their relationship:

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Ok, all silliness aside, They have come a long way and seem to be finding some footing with their new relationship. That doesn’t mean everything is perfect, it’s real life and growing pains are inevitable. They work through issues (even if Chris is having lots of internal dialogue that provides a case of whiplash). Alongside the real issues are humor and love. Again, that’s life. Although, reading from Chris’ perspective makes me giggle more. Because quirks. 😂

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.

Slammed Into You

Slammed Into You (Coffee & Cardigans #1) by C.M. Valencourt: Review by Lost in a Book

Slammed into You (Coffee & Cardigans #1)

Blurb:

They were like two hurricanes, touching down on the same shore.

Amir is a rising slam poet who wants to make it big. While he works a day job at a café, he writes poems like his life depends on it and performs at a local poetry slam every week.

But then Landon comes to a slam, and he’s not impressed by Amir. When he joins the slam team, he jeopardizes Amir’s chance to go to Nationals, all Amir’s been dreaming about for the past year. He vows to show Landon that he is the better poet.

As Amir and Landon clash to get the last spot at Nationals, their bickering and attempts to undermine each other quickly turn into angry lust. Amir’s priority is to win, but he can’t seem to get Landon out of his head…

This is the first book in the Coffee & Cardigans series, but can be read as a stand-alone. The next books will follow different couples.

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3 Stars

I love slam poetry so hard. If there’s a story that features it, I wanna read it. I’m not a connoisseur of poetry but there’s just something about slam poetry AND two characters that live for it that gets me excited.

Slammed Into You was calling my name loudly and I had to dive in. Amir is a slam poet. He may work at a coffee shop but he lives for writing and performing his poems. He’s the only male on his slam team until an annoying yet handsome new guy wants to join.

Landon participates at open mic night and jumps at the offer to join a slam team. He’s standoffish and provides lots of feedback to the others, especially Amir, on how to improve their poems. Amir dislikes Landon right away and tensions run high for much of the book as they prepare for different slam competitions while figuring out the other person.

I mentioned that I love slam poems right? Ok, just checking because Amir annoyed the hell out of me. I had to keep on reminding myself that I want to read the poems since Amir almost had me DNFing. He’s whiny, self centered, insecure, and, immature. There’s only Amir’s POV which definitely didn’t help and his character doesn’t really show growth from beginning to end with his it’s all about me ways. Landon remains a mystery outside of his religious upbringing that comes up as they are planning a group poem. I think Landon’s POV would definitely improve the enjoyment factor and also help with his character development.

Amir and Landon’s relationship could use some finessing. They aren’t fleshed out as individuals and that carries over to their relationship. Their relational progression seemed disjointed and some of the sex is awkward to read, especially when Amir wants to try “being the dominant one.” Amir and Landon are very sexual once the seal is broken which I don’t typically complain about. But conversations and/or some info seeking usually occurs prior to whipping out the lube and/or condoms but not in this read. Their first time was hate sex with spanking, choking, and flip fucking. Without a single word on preferences. Hard limits. Nothing.

Slammed Into You does have a diverse group of characters and clear diversity is represented through their poems which is refreshing. The poetry was the highlight for me and kept me coming back for more.

Warning: Slam poetry tackles a variety of topics that may be sensitive to readers. In this book some tackled conversion therapy, religion, and politics.

Copy provided for honest review.

The Companion

The Companion (It’s Just Us Here #2) by Christopher X. Sullivan: Review by Lost in a Book

The Companion (It's Just Us Here #2)

Blurb:

An asexual man has met a male model… and they became fast friends.

The summer has been magical so far for both Mark and Chris. Their friendship has grown naturally and quickly, but now it will be tested in ways that go beyond casual friendship.

Both men are generally tight-lipped about their internal struggles. Can they be trusting enough to evolve from mere friends to something deeper?

Mark, the globe-trotting man who usually treats friends as accessories to be changed with the seasons… finds Chris to be a steadying, consistent companion. Mark sees something in Chris that is so tantalizing… and starts to dream of a settled future he used to mock.

Chris, the often reserved writer who always seeks to avoid confrontations… enjoys Mark’s youthful, untroubled personality and is unable, or unwilling, to guard his heart around the straight-acting model. Chris has always felt most comfortable in friendships with straight men and lesbians… because then there’s no chance of sexual pressure.

[ADVISORY: This 100,000 word installment is the continuation of my self-portrait, It’s Just Us Here. You should read Book 1: The Friend before reading this, but I don’t think you’ll be completely lost if you start here. I have written this series as a romance so some of you will be expecting a HEA… this installment doesn’t have that.]

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5 Stars

I’m telling y’all again, these pages are laced with crack.

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I know I haven’t kept my love of this “story” a secret but I’m still amazed at how real it all is and how much feeling each stage of Chris and Mark’s relationship can evoke.

I mentioned in my review of The Friend that they have an intimacy that isn’t seen in many intimate relationships. Chris and Mark are very much different but seem to crave the closeness of each other. This isn’t a problem for many except that their idea of closeness differs drastically as an already deep “friendship” deepens. By now, Chris and Mark have began sewing each other into the very fabric of their beings. Mark is treading carefully forward (and loving it) while Chris is panicking and one touch lingering look sweet word light breeze away from calling a time of death on the progression of their relationship. What they have *is* a romantic relationship and that realization creates an emotional tail spin.

I love the change that takes place in this installment. There are so many feels of elation, anxiety, happiness, hope, and almost paralyzing fear. Chris wants someone to share his life with yet is insecure with his ability to fit into a relationship. To become a pair, love someone so much, and still fall short.

How I ended my previous review on the first installment still fits and I’ll probably end them all this way…

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.

You. Forever. Always

You. Forever. Always. by K.A. Merikan: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

You. Forever. Always. (The Underdogs, #3)

Blurb:

—Years of loving in secret. Now the secret’s out.—

Mage. Reasonable. Mature. In love with his best friend’s little brother.
Dawn. Painfully shy. Crazy talented. An anxious cinnamon roll in need of protection.

Mage has always been Dawn’s hero. He’s been there for him when Dawn was bullied, when Dawn came out, and when he joined The Underdogs. He’s also been Dawn’s first and only love—painfully unrequited, since Mage is straight. But that’s only for the better, because they’re bandmates, and Dawn’s brother is Mage’s best friend.

It would all be too intense, too complicated, too real.

But then one drunken kiss proves Mage might not be as straight as he seemed, and their whole world turns upside down. Even though Dawn craves Mage’s love so much his heart could burst, his shyness stands in the way of any future they could share.

While they have to keep their budding relationship under wraps and they prepare to sign a major record deal, Dawn’s anxiety gets out of control. Mage will have to choose between the success he’s always craved and the love of his life.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS:
Themes: 
rock band, bandmates romance, older brother’s best friend, coming out, bisexuality, first love, anxiety, compromise, music, secret love
Genre: Contemporary M/M Rocker Romance
Heat level: sweet, explicit scenes

Length: ~50,000 words (Can be read as standalone, HEA)

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2.75 Stars

Hmmm… I’m not sure why I thought this was my first Merikan read but it wasn’t. However, it’s worlds different than Laurent and the Beast which is my only other read by this duo. This was sweet, really sweet and while I know I’m not one to gravitate to fluff, this one didn’t hold my attention. At all. So, I’ll just move on over to my dissenting-opinion-table for one and get this lonely party started.

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Dawn has been in love with his brother’s best friend (Mage) and now they’re both adults playing in the same band, The Underdogs. Mage, being older than Dawn has always looked out for him starting from a young age. When Mage saved him from bullies, Dawn’s kid heart fell in love and hero worship began. As both grew older, their bond strengthens and they become inseparable.

Dawn has anxiety, is very sensitive, and comes off as super fragile. Mage is here for it though and has been and continues to be his protector. Dawn feels everything- too much of everything. It doesn’t help that he’s in love and that it’s supposedly unrequited. Until, it isn’t.

See? Mage is soooooo sweet. But, something is missing. There are time lapses that skip over parts I actually wanted to read. How did Dawn and Mage go from a panic attack while kissing to making out and curled in bed together? Tour dates are mentioned without much detail and somehow they go from roughing it at the beginning of their tour to nice hotels? There’s not a lot of sex which is totally fine because it fits Dawn. However, many of the moments where they were apparently deepening their connection happens off page and then mentioned after the fact.

I haven’t read any others in this series and maybe that was a mistake as they could have potentially filled in some of the holes? Maybe not? IMO, not much happened in You. Forever. Always. that will entice me to read the others. It was just okay and not a ride that I will continue. As always, while I won’t recommend it, YMMV.

Copy provided for honest review.

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.