Break Down

He knows his place on the pitch, but in life, it’s a whole other game.
All his life, Liam Donnelly looked and wondered. Could he? Would he? And then, finally, he did. But when he sampled a taste of that forbidden fruit, his whole world came crashing down, his position with Dublin Rugby right along with it. When the chance to ply his trade in Edinburgh comes along, Liam jumps at the offer, knowing it could be his best opportunity to start fresh and get back to the man he once was. But one look at Chef Lachlan MacLeod-his knowing, whisky-colored eyes, the abrasive scruff dotting his jaw, and the colorful ink lining his forearms-and Liam’s wondering all over again. Can he? Will he? His heart says no, but his body says yes. Too bad love is never that simple.

He’s conquered his own demons; can he help another man do the same?
Out and proud Chef Lachlan MacLeod has no problem with who he is, except he has a history of hooking up with bi-curious straight men. He’s vowed never to go down that path again, but when Liam Donnelly shows up in his restaurant, his eyes filled with heat and secret longing, Lachlan can’t help himself. He knows the closeted rugby player is a terrible idea, but the man calls to him in a way no one ever has before. What started as a safe way for Liam to explore his sexuality quickly morphs into something much deeper, and now Lachlan wants more. But can his heart reconcile what his head already knows-that loving the gorgeous, broken athlete might actually mean letting him go?

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 Reviewed by Cupcake

 

3.5 Stars

The blurb tapped into my inner sports nut even though I know fuckall about rugby aside from that Friends episode when Ross thought he was going to impress his Brit girlfriend then squealed. Doesn’t matter though, sports romances are my kryptonite. Add in a chef and…

DONE!

This is the fourth book in what up to now has been a MF series but can be read as a standalone. Liam is a pro rugby player and is coming to terms with being bisexual. He had a drunken encounter then the guy turned around and blackmailed him. First manlove and the guy turns out to be a blackmailing dicknozzle! So when an offer to play for Edinburgh comes along it seems like a good time for a change of scenery thus he takes it and gets the hell out of Dodge, or in this case Dublin.

He soon meets acclaimed chef Lachlan and sparks fly. Liam has vowed to keep his head down and just play rugby but all the flirting and dancing around each other chips away at his resolve.

Lachlan is out and the notion of returning to the closet is something he vowed never to do. He also swore off “straight” dudes too but he’s never been this drawn to another person, so he compromises himself to be with Liam on the DL. Naturally this causes conflict over time because who wants to be someone’s dirty little secret?

Every book I read I try to identify with the characters and something I’ve come to realize about myself with coming out books is I tend to need angst to really identify with the closeted character. Without it I find it’s just words on a page that rarely get my emotions involved. That was my biggest problem with Liam. His closetedness seemed like the standard cookie cutter athletes/pro sports aren’t LGBTQ friendly plot device without teeth. He tells himself once he’s hung up his cleats he’ll live life on his own terms but he soon realizes that’s not really fair to Lachlan. Expect lots of push/pull between them. Liam is a decent communicator though usually after he’s stuck his foot in it, but still. My other problem with him is he’s kind of an anger ball. I get that he’s supposed to be a badass on the pitch but don’t be a douche off the pitch. No one likes a douche.

Lachlan, on the other hand.. I liked being inside his head because he’s a good person. Plain and simple. I liked him. It didn’t hurt that he’s a chef and tattooed lumbersexual…

Their character development was mediocre with both never making it past 2D for me, but there are some sweet moments and the relationship development was good which is what ultimately won me over.

 

I needed him to touch me everywhere, and to keep on touching me and never stop.

The sex is kind of same same. They do have chemistry, are clearly into each other and Liam is a virgin so this should appeal to many. I’m probably jaded because at this point I’ve pretty much read everything on the sex spectrum so an author has to dig deeper than a little dirty talk, face fucking and rimming to blow my doors off. To be fair, as a frequent MM reader I’m probably more critical of verbiage and sex stuff than maybe others would be, though I will say, I had this reaction a few times…

But I believe this is the author’s first foray into MM and I’m excited by the fact that several traditionally MF writers are trying their hand at MM; makes me happy in my face. The MF bleeds through periodically but nothing too egregious. The narrative is somewhat clunky and would benefit from some polishing especially with regard to some of the crass language that got to be a little much at times. Maybe it tried too hard to convince me of their connection but the HEA is heartfelt, so I do hope she continues to write MM because I liked this more than I didn’t.

Lastly, there were an inordinate amount of editing issues that pulled me out of the story including continuity errors, extraneous words, the wrong name being used and repeated phrases. I don’t normally mention this kind of stuff so for me to mention it… I hope she finds a new editor or proofer soon.

Trigger for drug usage.

An ARC was provided by the publisher.

Brooklynaire

 

Reviewed by Cupcake

4 So, Cat tacos Stars!

O Fluff Queen! My Fluff Queen!

I’ve been waiting for this story since Rookie Move where Nate and Becca leapt off the page. Through the first three books their story has evolved but always maddeningly in the background. Until now.

“Everything worthwhile is complicated.”

If you’ve not read the first three, no worries! You’re probably better off than the rest of us, because much of this I already knew thus I found myself getting impatient for them to just be together already! Were there another 10-20 chapters after they got together, I would’ve been happy as a clam. I know they’ll show up in the rest of the series, but if there were to be another Nate and Becca book I would not be mad about that. At all.

Brooklynaire is a bit Cinderella with a dollop of opposites attract and a recurring fairy tale vibe.

Billionaire tech genius Nate Kattenberger has been pining for his office manager Rebecca Rowley for years! YEARS! She’s seemed oblivious and uninterested. Turns out she’s been sublimating her attraction. A head injury sets the wheels in motion triggering all of Nate’s protective instincts. Once he opens his heart and house to her in an effort to help her recover, he can’t seem to stuff everything back inside the box he’d put all his feelings.

I love love LOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEEEE Nate!! A geek who has a tendency to get lost in his own head, loves Sherlock and palindromes, he’s levelheaded, scary intelligent and generous. He’s a billionaire who hasn’t lost sight of what really matters, cares about his employees, is forthright and hasn’t lost the ability to identify with people far removed from his tax bracket. Is he too perfect?

Just look at that cover! Would you look at that cover? Don’t we all want that dude to be perfect? I admit it. I swooned. Sorry. Nope. Not sorry.

Rebecca, on the other hand, confused me. Through all three of the books she’s been sassy and fierce, but here she’s suddenly insecure and self-conscious about her body and her reputation within the company? Every woman I know struggles to some degree with body image issues so that felt authentic. However, she’s worked for Nate in some capacity for seven years. Seven years of proving herself invaluable, competent and reliable, so when she started freaking out about everyone assuming she’d slept her way to the top not only was a squinting but it just didn’t jive with the Becca I thought I knew. I still love her, her bubbliness and her ability to make everyone feel at ease. Ultimately she finds a way to make peace with her feelings and her reputation so it was a moot point.

Brooklynaire is sexy. My Fluff Queen is in a class by herself when it comes to bossy tops, so I should’ve anticipated it but I was still caught a little off-guard when the words started coming out of Nate’s mouth. He seemed so… sedate. Always the quiet ones, I tell ya.

There’s still a good bit of hockey happening since Brooklynaire overlaps Pipe Dreams. We learn how the playoffs actually went between Brooklyn and Dallas. The twist at the end kicked things up a notch and has me wondering if that’s going to crop up again in the future.

The secondary characters are fantastic, as always. I can’t even decide who I’d like to read about next. Castro? Heidi Jo? Silas? Stew?

Nate and Becca’s relationship is fluff magic and the last chapter plus epilogue were incandescent leaving me with a bad case of the feels and wanting more.

If you need some fluffy, swoony goodness in your life, look no further.

An ARC was provided by the publisher.

Us (Him #2)

 

Updated after Audio Book
4.5 Stars
Soooooooo, I’m in love. Yep, I’m in love with the narrators (Jacob Morgan and Teddy Hamilton) for this series. This was a book that I struggled with when I first read it. I didn’t understand why there was all this “unnecessary” drama. I know, I know. *smh* I’m sure your thinking suck it up buttercup. You would be right. I’m bumping up my star rating after listening to this while driving over the past 2 weeks. I’ve apparently matured in my thinking since the beginning of this year when I first read this. I realize now that sometimes you gain a better appreciation for the characters to see how they react to each other when life’s not perfect. It doesn’t mean I want all my books to have a second title full of shit storms; Just that I can appreciate the growth that comes from them.

Great job narrators!!
Great job Wesmie!!
I love you Blakey!!

 

Original Review:
3.5 stars
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Ok, that may be a tad dramatic. But the sentiment remains. I really struggled with this book. Before I give the low down I want to provide a warning… I was very hesitant to read this. Typically, I stay far away from series that keep the same MCs when the previous book(s) end in HEAs. I feel tricked. I left off one book thinking everything was rainbows and unicorns and then wait for it…it’s not…WTF? Drama for dramas sake isn’t all that appealing to me. I think in this case, it was the way to introduce Blake. Why couldn’t there have been a novella introducing Blake without 350 pages of Drama with a capital D? Max Monroe, author of the Billionaire series does a decent job of using a novella to set the stage for the next book. Alright, I’ll stop this bitchfest and move on to the book.

I LOVE Jamie and Wes. Well, I LOVED them hard in the first book. Jamie got on my nerves in this book. I thought they had such a great relationship and then it all went to hell in this one. Lack of communicating aside, the hang ups about coats, unpacked bags, money, helping when sick, etc… *bangs head on kindle* it was all too much. Then there were other moments where I was smiling like a cheeseball because it was like the “old” Jamie and Wes returned and all was right with the world.

Let’s talk about Blake. BLAKE!!!!!! *lights shine down from heaven* I seriously loved him. I would have been totally on board with some Blake/Wes/Jamie hot guy lovin’… ok, probably not. But I have a new book boyfriend and this time I have a chance because he likes girl parts.

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It’s probably best I stop pining after Wes anyway. Blake provided awesome comedic relief in the midst of the shitstorm. He was also an amazing friend to both guys and smoothed the transition a little for Wes’ coming out.

On one hand I felt like I needed a freakin’ gold star for making it through that drama. On the other, I loved the moments where they were actually themselves without all the crap. ANDDDD… we got Blake. I’m not sure if I would recommend this book. I’ll reassess after I read Blakes book. I can’t imagine it can go bad with “Blakeisms” like “The best defense is a great offense” when eating sheep.

*mic drop*

Riptide

4 Stars

Wow!! I really enjoyed this book. It’s the latest book in The Boys of Bellamy series and my favorite by this author. The other books in this series have been pretty hit or miss for me and I was absolutely surprised by this one. It had a different feel to it than the pervious three. We got the college experience in the first half while also getting a maturity and depth as they left college, started adulting and reconnected at a wedding. Side note: I wouldn’t consider this a standalone. It’s loaded with characters and situations from the previous books.

Andy and Drew were secondary characters in the other books. Especially book one because they were roommates with Max and Finn. I was curious about their story and really glad that they got a chance to have it told. Drew and Andy are best friends, college roommates and lovers without the label. What started as a silly first kiss led to many firsts between Drew and straight Andy. But, feelings start to grow and Andy realizes that maybe he isn’t quite as straight as he once believed. Do they talk about their feelings? Nope.

“It was easier to exist in this uncomfortable limbo, left wondering and hoping and waiting, rather than risk losing someone who’d become Andy’s entire world.”

This lack of communication leads to the classic misunderstanding about where they stand in the non-relationship and it isn’t until graduation that they realize both men had felt the same. Unfortunately, they are out of time. Drew heads to Chicago for a job and Andy stays at Bellamy for his MBA.

Fast forward two years and they are at a wedding. Without dates. Their reconnection is sweet, sexy, and emotional as they pour two years worth of longing into seeing each other again. Buuuuut, they both still live in different cities. The night of the wedding sets the stage for them to become friends again and step by step they find their way back. The journey has emotional highs and lows. I was cheering them on with every step, all the way to their HEA.

Drew is a classic introvert which made me automatically connect with him. I could see myself in him as he struggled with conversations, being the center of attention, etc… He had a core group of friends with Andy being the best of them all. Andy was the exact opposite and was able to pull Drew out of himself with his contagious personality. He also had a childish streak which annoyed me on occasion. He felt everything so deeply whether it was the highest of highs or lowest of lows. Andy had a darker side and Drew was the calm in his storms. They also had great chemistry and their connection deepened with each “hook-up.”

I appreciated being able to connect with the characters in both stages of life. There was a definite progression of maturity and confidence, individually and between them as a couple. The secondary characters took a piece of my heart too. Noel and Drew’s dad each had a quirkiness to them that I loved. They weren’t cookie cutter characters and I totally adored them and gained greater understanding of each MC through these men.

Definitely recommended to fans that have read the other books in this series.

Copy provided for honest review.

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