Falling Down

Falling Down by Eli Easton: Review by Lost in a Book

Falling Down

Blurb:

Josh finds himself homeless at eighteen, but he has a plan. He’ll head north on the bus to New England and spend October there for his mother’s sake. She always talked about going to see the fall leaves someday. And when the leaves are done and the harsh winter comes, Josh plans to find a place to curl up and let go. It will be a relief to finally stop fighting.

Mark spent his life trying to live up to the tough swagger of his older brothers until he pushed himself so far against his nature that he cracked. Now a former Marine, he rents a little cabin in the White Mountains of New Hampshire where he can lick his wounds and figure out what to do with the rest of his life. One thing was clear: Mark was nobody’s hero.

Fate intervenes when Josh sets up camp under a covered bridge near Mark’s cabin. Mark recognizes the dead look in the young stranger’s eyes, and he feels compelled to do something about it. When Mark offers Josh a job, he never expects that he’ll be the one to fall.

The snow is coming soon. Can Mark convince Josh that the two of them can build a life together before the flurries begin?

Trigger Warning: Suicidal thoughts

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3 Stars

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Mark- 24yo, in the closet, former Vet, lives in a New Hampshire cabin for many reasons including trauma witnessed in Afghanistan, lives away from family that do not know he’s gay, and a handyman working odd jobs in a new city.

Josh- 18yo, homeless, ran away from his stepdad after he found out he was gay, mother’s passing and being homeless sent him spiraling into severe depression which led to suicidal thoughts and planning of his own passing.

Josh has the perfect place in mind to end it all, to peacefully slip away into a blanket of snow in New Hampshire. He finds the idyllic bridge and pond that he day dreamed about with his mother and makes his way there. Mark finds him sleeping under this bridge and coaxes Josh to eat and help him paint a large house while he’s in town. Josh reluctantly agrees but he has time since the leaves haven’t fully turned colors and there’s no snow to help him follow through with his plan… yet.

Josh seemingly comes back to life as he brings the old Victorian house back to life with each stoke of the paint brush (or sprayer). Mark offers Josh a place to stay while he’s working on the house. Both men grow closer each day and become intimate while in close quarters as they claw their way to an HEA with many bumps along the road.

I liked Mark and Josh… I think? Mark more than Josh. I didn’t fully believe their chemistry when they first get together. To me, it seems more like convenience and Josh finally being fed, warm, and well rested that led to these supposedly intense feelings. The lead up to the *big moment* and the actual event seems to be just a means to an end.

Josh needs help and although this isn’t the case of magic peen to the rescue, I wish Josh got a little more help than a “couple/few months.” I mean, he was suicidal, came up with a plan, started executing his plan… *shrug*

I listened to the audio for Falling Down and Michael Stellman did a pretty good job conveying Josh’s voice. The other voices were hard to distinguish at times. There were also random noises throughout like something clanking on the recording desk or movement in the studio. The first I noticed began in chapter four and then here and there throughout. The transitions between the end of the chapter and then saying the next chapter (ex. Chapter 6) is way too fast with zero breath making it seem like a run on sentence. On the opposite end, the transitions between POV in the same chapter were way too long and interrupted flow.

I adored Ms. Fisher because everyone needs a fully accepting grandmotherly figure in their lives and she fit the bill. I liked this story but it surely wasn’t love. Trigger Warning for suicidal thoughts. Recommended to fans of Eli Easton.

Copy provided for honest review.

 

Arctic Sun (Frozen Hearts, #1)

Arctic sun (frozen Hearts, #1) by Annabeth Albert: Review by Lost in a Book

Arctic Sun (Frozen Hearts, #1)

Blurb:

Everything’s bigger in Alaska, especially the HEAs. Annabeth Albert kicks off the brand-new Frozen Hearts series with Arctic Sun, an opposites-attract romance between a rugged outdoorsman and a smoking hot former male model.

He’s built a quiet life for himself in Alaska. But it doesn’t stand a chance against the unrelenting pull of a man who’s everything he shouldn’t want.

Ex-military mountain man Griffin Barrett likes his solitude. It keeps him from falling back into old habits. Bad habits. He’s fought too hard for his sobriety to lose control now. However, his gig as a wildlife guide presents a new kind of temptation in superhot supermodel River Vale. Nothing the Alaskan wilderness has to offer has ever called to Griffin so badly. And that can only lead to trouble…

River has his own methods for coping. Chasing adventure means always moving forward. Nobody’s ever made him want to stand still—until Griffin. The rugged bush pilot is the very best kind of distraction, but the emotions he stirs up in River feel anything but casual, and he’s in no position to stay put.

With temptation lurking in close quarters, keeping even a shred of distance is a challenge neither’s willing to meet. And the closer Griffin gets to River, the easier it is to ignore every last reason he should run.

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

Publisher’s Note: Arctic Sun deals with topics some readers may find difficult, including sobriety and eating disorders.

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2 Stars

I chose this book because I love stories with wilderness settings. Some of my favorites take place in the Alaskan Wild and therefore I was all in. Arctic Sun is less about living in the wild and more about sight seeing. Throw in a “romance” with the sightseeing and that’s the book.

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Griffin is a recovering addict living in Alaska. He flies bush planes for his family’s tourism company and isolates himself to avoid temptation of anything else. Griffin has to step up and take a tourism group out for a couple weeks and that’s how he meets supermodel, River Vale.

River wants to be more than a model. He also has an eating disorder that he works really hard to overcome. River’s at peace in nature and wants to experience everything there is to see while writing a book about his travels. When he arrives in Alaska for his tour, he sets his sights on the burly Griffin. That’s pretty much it.

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The rest of the book is about them traveling together and road blocks popping up at every turn as they drag along their insane amount of baggage. Loads of it. Arctic Sun just didn’t work for me. It was boring. *shrugs* The MCs lack chemistry, the pacing was cold molasses slow, and the men had so many issues thrown into the ring that they couldn’t be adequately addressed/fleshed out in one story… or five.

Unfortunately this book didn’t work for me but as always, YMMV.

Copy provided for honest review.

Boy Shattered

Boy Shattered by Eli Easton: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Boy Shattered

Blurb

Brian
You’ll make it out of here, Brian. I swear.
I had everything—school quarterback, popular with girls, and my dad was proud of me. I told myself it didn’t matter no one knew the real me. And then I nearly died. Landon saved my life. He’s the bravest guy I know. He came out a few years ago, proud and fierce, and he ran into gunfire to help others. Me, I’m a mess. Can’t even stand to be in a room with the curtains open. But here’s the thing about losing it all: You get a chance to start over and be someone new. Only how can I move on when the two shooters who attacked our school were never caught? And why do I feel like I’m still in the crosshairs?

Landon
Will you kiss me?
When I came across Brian Marshall,the hottest guy in school, dying on the cafeteria floor, I did what anyone would do. I tried to save him. His request surprised me, but I figured he needed comfort, so I kissed him on the forehead. When he survived and came back to school, he was broken in body and mind. He still needed me, and soon we were unlikely besties. But what I saw at school that day woke me up. I want to demand action on gun control, lead protests, raise my fist. I’ll tear the world down if I have to. And if I can get the man of my dreams and save the world at the same time? I’ll take it. Only I didn’t understand that the horror at Jefferson Waller High wasn’t over.

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3.25 Stars

Wow.

I think I need a minute month to process. I tip toed into this book. The subject matter is hard and hits pretty close to home. So yeah, hesitant AF is an understatement.

Before I start discussing the book, I want to provide insight on the rating. My rating has nothing to do with the quality of the writing. It has a lot to do with personal preferences and an immense dislike for politics. If I had access to the foreword prior to requesting the ARC I would have known that politics play a huge role in not only the main crisis, but also in the lives of one of the MCs. Politics make me ragey and I get enough of it in RL that I can’t fully enjoy my escape with books when it’s there too. Politics definitely have a place in this book and I knew going in that there would be some politics around gun control but this went beyond that and anything MAGA makes me want to poke my eyes out. It’s more of a personal preference and not a knock on the content.

My first reaction when I saw that Eli went there…
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You know… the place that has so much sadness, anger, hopelessness, and bloodshed. These tragedies have brilliant students rising to fight for their lives when their fallen classmates can’t. The shooting in the story happens within the first few chapters with the POVs switching between Brian and Landon. We get a window into the soul crushing panic each boy feels as they try to make a decision on which hiding place will hopefully keep them alive and then the direct aftermath when they realize what monsters are capable of.

Landon (out and proud senior) closely resembles the brave students we see on the news fighting for gun control. Brian (closeted junior and quarterback) has many hurdles beyond the shooting that make day to day life a struggle, especially his asshole dad. However, he becomes obsessed with finding out who was responsible for the shooting. Both boys find comfort in each other while the storm rages around them. The relationship isn’t the main focus, has low heat/off page interactions, and thankfully included very minor angst on their way to a HEA. The story dynamic worked with the tragedy taking center stage.

This is a very angsty read. When the administrator came over the speaker to announce an active shooter, it took me back to my days in the classroom when we had non-drill “code reds.” I felt like I was right back in my classroom trying to find places for my students to hide. I like angsty stories but I don’t think this is a book written for enjoyment?.?. IMO it’s more of a thought provoking experience on a topic that has been hitting the nightly news on the regular. It’s hard to digest at some points but Easton does a commendable job touching on this topic. Boy Shattered really drives home that the tragedy isn’t over when the students are buried and the school reopens.

Besides the politics not working for me, the wrap up of all the storylines is a little too pretty. There was so much build up and then it’s all solved quickly with the nitty gritty details happening off page. Trigger Warnings: School shooting, death, PTSD, and homophobia If you like angst and politics don’t send you running for the hills, this may be your cuppa. Recommended.

Copy provided for honest review.

Crocus

Crocus (Bonfires #2) by Amy Lane: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Buddy listen with R.

Crocus (Bonfires, #2)

Blurb:

Saying “I love you” doesn’t guarantee peace or a happy ending.

High School Principal “Larx” Larkin was pretty sure he’d hit the jackpot when Deputy Sherriff Aaron George moved in with him, merging their two families as seamlessly as the chaos around them could possibly allow.

But when Larx’s pregnant daughter comes home unexpectedly and two of Larx’s students are put in danger, their tentative beginning comes crashing down around their ears.

Larx thought he was okay with the dangers of Aaron’s job, and Aaron thought he was okay with Larx’s daughter—who is not okay—but when their worst fears are almost realized, it puts their hearts and their lives to the test. Larx and Aaron have never wanted anything as badly as they want a life together. Will they be able to make it work when the world is working hard to keep them apart?

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3.25 Stars

“Saying ‘I love you’ doesn’t guarantee peace or a happy ending.”

That’s for damn sure when it comes to Crocus and all of the drammmmmmmmaaaaaaaa that took place.

Just a little house keeping before we get started- If you haven’t read the first book in the series, Bonfires I recommend that you do. This isn’t a standalone. At all. If it’s been more than a month since you’ve read the first book, I HIGHLY recommend you revisit your notes/review/etc… because this jumps right into Aaron and Larx’s chaotic life. So many names were dropping and I couldn’t pick them up right away. Thank goodness I had R along for the buddy reading ride and between my old review and her character maps, we were able to sort it out. I think.

As I mentioned, we jump right into the Aaron/Larx household. Everything is going pretty well considering they still have the pregnant daughter, blended family, dangerous job, and a safe haven for the lost and lonely kid thing going on.

As the blurb mentions, Larx has some students that find themselves in trouble and both Aaron and Larx play roles in trying to get them to safety. The troubled student story line has serious implications on Larx and Aaron’s safety, sanity, and sex life. One of my issues with the story is that there’s a TON going on. There were already lots of continuing characters with their own baggage and Crocus adds many more along with doubling the drama. On one hand, the MC relationship has very mild growing pains as they are an established couple living together. They are able to be steadfast with the comfort of being partners while each having their own moments to be vulnerable. On the other, their coupledom was so far from focus that I’m not sure what I would classify this as. They had some sexy moments slipped in but I wanted more of them as a couple and less when life gives you lemons type of angst.

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Have you ever read a book where the good characters are insanely good and the bad are really fucking bad? No room for gray?  That’s how Crocus read to me. The kids, Larx, and Aaron are PERFECT. Even in their worst moments, they’re so respectable, likable, and teaching life lessons like a boss- especially the kids. The bad characters are absolute assholes (which is probably not harsh enough). The other characters are very likable but a tad too perfect. I know there are loads of readers that will love this because reading is definitely an escape. Sometimes though, I want a tad bit of realness. If you’re gonna lose your shit, lose it epically. Pretty please, for me.

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Nick Russo did a decent job narrating but another edit for the audio would help. There are inconsistent character name pronunciations along with some character voice missteps that could use tightening up. My narration complaint about Aaron’s “voice” in book one seems to have been adjusted for this book or it’s the exact same and I’ve been desensitized by increased exposure. Either way, the voices were more enjoyable.

Let’s talk triggers. There should be trigger warnings for rape on a minor (not detailed on page but important to the story), homophobia, depression, abortion, racism.

If you adored the first, Crocus will probably read much the same for you. I’m in the minority with my rating, YMMV. It’s written well with likable MCs who get their HEA. This will be the end of the Larx and Aaron road for me but I’d read Kellan’s story.

Copy provided for honest review.

Release Blitz: Curl Around My Heart by Londra Laine

RELEASE BLITZ

Title: Curl Around My Heart

Author: Londra Laine

Editor: Jae Ashley

Cover Art: Aria Tan

Publisher: Self-Published

Release Date: July 24, 2018

Rating: 18+

Page Count: 168

Word Count: 61,923

Themes: California, single dad, beauty shop, contemporary, neighbor romance, African-American, drug addiction

Add on Goodreads 

BUY LINKS – AVAILABLE ON KINDLE UNLIMITED

Amazon US        Amazon UK 

Blurb

At Pearl’s Hair and Nails, no one questions Tate Robinson about his high heels, crop tops, and lipstick, because he’s the boss and he can wear what he damn well pleases. The shop is his life, and he doesn’t need anything more. Until a man walks in with his adorable daughter, and Tate has to untangle her helmet-hair…and his growing feelings for the single dad.

Reece Evans has been on his job for years, has his own place, and now has custody of his eight-year-old daughter. But he doesn’t trust himself to avoid screwing up. Adulting is not his strong suit—or so he’s been told.And now a sexy beautician, who also happens to be his new downstairs neighbor, has Reece wanting and reaching for more than he thinks he’s capable of.

As Tate and Reece move past their own fears about relationships, Reece’s ex issues a threat that could destroy everything. Will Reece’s worries about other people judging him undermine his budding romance? And will Tate’s fear of rejection make him push Reece away? Or have the sweet single dad and his precocious daughter curled too tightly around his heart to give them up?

***Please be aware that this book contains references to drug addiction.***

Excerpt 

Eventually they eased away from each other, their lips pressing briefly against a cheek, an eyelid, the corner of a mouth, until their foreheads were touching as they shared slightly labored breaths.

“I like you, Tate.” The words spilled from Reece as though Tate had wrung them from him. Tate pulled back, forcing Reece to disentangle their legs. Tate was in profile to Reece now, his head dropped against the back of the couch. His stomach seized and his confidence drained, waiting to hear Tate’s response.

“I like you too, Reece,” the other man mumbled.

Oh, thank fuck.

Reece sighed in relief as Tate shifted to meet his gaze.

“I’m crazy attracted to you. Obviously. But, I’m just nervous because guys like you⎯”

Reece’s hackles rose. “Guys like me?”

Tate closed his eyes briefly then opened them. “Yeah. Guys like you. Stereotypically male. Not so obviously queer. Well, they’ve been attracted to me, dated me. But inevitably break things off, because they think I’m too femme. Too flamboyant.” Tate’s shine flickered, and a well of heat raced up Reece’s chest.

“Well, fuck those dudes,” Reece said, throwing himself back on the couch. “And don’t ever compare me to them. I see you, Tate.” He turned his head and waited until Tate met his gaze. “I like what I see. All of it. All of you. You look good to me in heels,kicks, tight-ass ladies’ jeans, and sweats too. I just like you, man.” He ended his little tirade on a shaky breath and then leaned over to brush his lips against Tate’s.

As he went to pull back, Tate trapped Reece against him, gliding his tongue across the seam of Reece’s lips, coaxing Reece to open then luring him into an urgent kiss. Their lips and noses smashed, teeth bit and clacked as they clutched at each other before Tate pulled back abruptly.

“What am I doing?” Tate whispered, resting his head against Reece’s. “You have a kid. You’re my client. My neighbor.” He pulled back, his face serious, eyes searching Reece’s. “And I like to top. Mostly. Like seventy-thirty.” Tate lifted his chin as though waiting for Reece to object.

Reece just smiled, his dick twitching at the thought of Tate topping him, bending him over the couch and making him wail. He brushed his lips against Tate’s. “Well, lucky for both of us then that I like to bottom, mostly. I’d say about sixty-forty. I figure we can meet somewhere in the middle. As far as the other stuff goes… What? You discriminating against me?”

Tate shook his head. “No, it’s just that I’ve been here before, okay. With the straight guys, the bi guys, even the gay ones, and most of them just wanted to fuck and didn’t even want to take me out on a date because I was too effeminate for them.” Tate waved his hand. “Too whatever, too…me, and I just…” He trailed off.

“You expect me to be like them,” Reece finished.

Tate groaned then covered his face briefly. “No, okay? Maybe. Ugh. It’s hard not to expect this to be the same, you know?” Tate grimaced.

Disappointment surged through Reece but then quickly dissipated. Tate didn’tthink Reece would personally fuckup whatever this was that was starting between them. No, this had nothing to do with Reece. Tate had been burned, and Reece could relate.He couldn’t make any promises about the outcome of their budding whatever it was, but he damn sure wanted to try. He didn’t want to be to Tate what all the other men who’d come before had been.

Reece grabbed Tate’s hand, turning to face the man. “Well, how about we do the unexpected? Can I take you out next Friday after work?” Reece held his breath.

About the Author 

Londra Laine

A forever-man for every man

Londra has loved to read since she discovered The Baby-Sitters Club. As a child, her parents would ground her by taking all the books out of her room for several days. Londra began reading romance in 2008 and fell in love with the M/M romance genre after purchasing a book by accident several years later.

After decades of daydreaming, and jotting down story ideas, Londra decided to give life to the characters in her head. She writes to give her guys the happy ending she wishes everyone––no matter their race, religion, gender, or orientation––could experience in real life.

During the day, Londra is a communications manager for a consulting firm. She is a recovering journalist. Londra loves the New York Yankees, Seinfeld reruns, tacos, and Friday nights on the couch with wine and a new book.

In 2010, she moved from her native California to New York City where she lived in Harlem for nearly eight years. In early 2018 she relocated to Seattle with her husband

Social Media Links

Londra on Twitter       Londra on Amazon       Londra on QueeRomance Ink

Londra on Goodreads        Londra on Facebook       Amazon        Goodreads

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

 

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Slide (Roads #1)

Slide by Garrett Leigh: Review by Lost in a Book

Slide (Roads, #1)

Blurb:

Don’t look back. Don’t you ever look back…

Shy tattoo artist Ash has a troubled past. Years of neglect, drug abuse, and life on the streets have taken their toll, and sometimes it seems the deep, unspoken bond with his lover is the only balm for wounds he doesn’t quite understand.

Chicago paramedic Pete is warmth, love, and strength—things Ash never knew he could have, and never even knew he wanted until Pete showed him. But fate is a cruel, cruel mistress, and when nightmares collide with the present, their tentatively built world comes crashing down.

Traumatic events in Pete’s work life distance him from home, and he doesn’t realize until it’s too late that Ash has slipped away. Betrayal, secrets, and lies unfold, and when a devastating coincidence takes hold, Pete must fight with all he has to save the love of his life.

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4.25 Stars

Ok, I knew this book was going to hurt. With the dramatic cover, the blurb, and the fact that it’s Garrett Leigh, I knew I wasn’t in for a big ball of fluff. But, when we got this from Ash at 4%…

“Waking up was a crappy way to start the day.”

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I had to start preparing for face leaking and some strong feels coming my way. Slide is riddled with trigger warnings as Ash deals with the fall out of past drug use, self-harm, PTSD, anxiety, and prior abuse. He’s trying to get his life together and finally has a job as a tattoo artist. His new roommate Pete has a soothing personality and kind brown eyes that provide a respite from the nightmares plaguing his daily life.

Pete’s a paramedic in Chicago and drawn to his new roommate who is more skittish than a cat. The men are tentative around each other and little by little they form a solid friendship that transforms into a intimate relationship. Pete’s warmth and kindness doesn’t give Ash the opportunity to build walls.

”He smiles, and for the first time in my life I believed that, for him, I could be more than I’d ever dreamed.”

Pete’s job is full of challenges and the stress of them doesn’t stay within his clocked in hours. The issues follow him home which affects Ash and their relationship in ways neither of them can predict until everything hits rock bottom. I love the balance between Pete and Ash. Pete is strong, kind, and completely human in his mistakes. They are both understanding and provide something that calls to the other man. Ash has the most to overcome and I love that Pete doesn’t fly onto the scene with his Mr. Perfect cape and magic penis to “fix” Ash. I just wanted to hug Ash. The hardships they have in their relationship weren’t glossed over and left me with zero choice but to feel what they were experiencing. Pete and Ash have mountains to climb, cliffs to scale, and stormy peaks to reach on the way to their eventual HEA.

Along the way there were some time lapses that left me a little confused. This story spans years and the jumps in time just popped up. I did listen the audio which might have made them more obvious. I also didn’t understand one of the story lines that was vaguely mentioned a couple of times and then BAM! surpriiiiiiiiiise at the end. What a coincidence. *gasp* It seemed unnecessary to the overall story IMO. *shrugs*

As I mentioned above, I listened to the audio which is narrated by Michael Lesley. I’m a huge fan of his ability to bring characters to life. The voices for Pete and Ash fit perfectly with their personalities. The emotional turmoil and also the peace their presence brought each other is conveyed through the narration.

I love Ash and Pete, I love the secondary characters and the support system they provide, and I love the kick in the gut Garrett Leigh provides that makes me beg for more with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face.
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Definitely recommended.

Riven

Riven by Roan Parrish: Review by Lost in a Book

Synopsis: Theo Decker might be the lead singer of Riven, but he hates being a rock star. The paparazzi, the endless tours, being recognized everywhere he goes—it all makes him squirm. The only thing he doesn’t hate is the music. Feeling an audience’s energy as they lose themselves in Riven’s music is a rush unlike anything else . . . until he meets Caleb Blake Whitman. Caleb is rough and damaged, yet his fingers on his guitar are pure poetry. And his hands on Theo? They’re all he can think about. But Caleb’s no groupie—and one night with him won’t be enough.

Just when Caleb is accepting his new life as a loner, Theo Decker slinks into it and turns his world upside-down. Theo’s sexy and brilliant and addictively vulnerable, and all Caleb wants is another hit. And another. That’s how he knows Theo’s trouble. Caleb can’t even handle performing these days. How the hell is he going to survive an affair with a tabloid superstar? But after Caleb sees the man behind the rock star, he begins to wonder if Theo might be his chance at a future he thought he’d lost forever.

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4.25 Stars

*Stage Whispers*

This was my first time reading Roan Parrish.

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Initially the cover caught my attention but my interest transformed into enjoyment with Roan’s unique story telling about a terrified addict afraid to fully live and a reluctantly famous rock star that just wants to do what he loves- making music.

Theo Decker is lead singer and song writer for the band, Riven. He’s lonely without ever being alone while craving acceptance from those around him. To have a tether in his world that saw him and not his fame. He’s a mercurial introvert that struggles with everything that comes with being in a band and being famous. He has insecurities stemming from his childhood that creep up and desperately wants to be wanted. To be enough. For Theo, music makes his world go round and gives him the ability to lose himself.

”I could lose myself in a way I’d never known, and by losing myself I found pieces I could live with.”

While walking on a quiet night, the sound of music brought Theo to a hole in the wall bar to find the creator of such a beautifully broken song.

Lost in his music,  Caleb Whitman hunched over his guitar while shutting the world out. He’s a recovering addict after his latest stint in rehab. Caleb has cut all ties to his former life as a musician and seeks solace in the country. He’s terrified to trust his decisions, instincts, and actions in fear of heading back down the same drug filled road he came from. Then he meets Theo.

Caleb and Theo initially bond over their passion for music. After meeting in the bar, they spend the night talking about music and then getting lost in each other until the morning light… until Theo wakes up alone.

Their connection is instant and tangible on that first night which terrified Caleb and left them both craving the other for weeks after. Luckily, their story doesn’t end there. We are treated to an angsty ride as Caleb tries to piece back together a clean life that’s worth living and not merely existing. ”This was no natural circle of life, but a desperate resurrection. I had to put one self to death before it could kill the one I hoped to create.” He has to navigate triggers and landmines surrounding each decision he makes which causes heavy angst and relational rollercoasters for him and Theo.

Theo and Caleb have a lot of turmoil to wade through with potential landmines at every corner. I love them, their connection, their passion about music and each other, their struggles and the authentic way they are portrayed and fleshed out. This is an angsty read that lacks sugar coating but is woven together with a thread of hope for second chances, redemption, love, and their HEA.

They have some smokin’ hot chemistry. There was an element of slow burn after their initial night but once the seal was broken, DAYUMMMM. Delicious stuff was happening on those pages… until I started skimming the sex scenes. *Gasp again* About 2/3 of the way through, things started to drag for me a bit and I was over-sexed. That feeling didn’t last too long and once my Kindle cooled down, I was able to reconnect with Theo and Caleb.

I absolutely adore the secondary characters of Huey and Rhys. They have major love for Caleb and provide a pillar of strength when he can’t hold himself up any longer. I was a tad confused about Rhys and his husband Matt. IMO, they were written as if I should have already known them from a previous book but I couldn’t find them in her (author) backlog. *If you know which book they hail from (if they are previous characters), please let me know and I’ll read that one, too.*

Warning: There should be a trigger warning for past drug/alcohol use as well as the struggles Caleb faces each day to stay clean. There are also separation periods in this book which I know can be a deal breaker for some. They were well written and helped add authenticity to the MC circumstances but I felt it’s worth noting.

I enjoyed and appreciated this unique take on rock star romance. Instead of the typical antics rock stars get into, this book highlights men where music forms the essence of who they are, men that are far from perfect, and men that struggle to become better versions of themselves while loving each other deeply. Definitely recommended and will not be my last read from this author.

“pieces were shuffling into place: in my head, in my gut, in my chest—all of it forming me into a different man. A man who had been ruined and remade so many times he should have been dust, but instead was luminescence.”

Copy provided from publisher via NetGalley for honest review.

 

Julien (Confessions #2)

Julien by Ella Frank: Review by Lost in a Book

Julien (Confessions #2)

Blurb:

People are complex.
Love a double-edged sword.
And when it comes to a broken heart, there are no rules, only time…

For the past eight years, Julien Thornton has been living with a secret. One that only a handful of people know about.

To the outside world, he has it all.
A thriving career. A loving husband. And a face that the American public fell for by the millions, on a reality show that inadvertently saved his life.

But behind the shine of celebrity, behind the easygoing nature, a crippling truth fills Julien with pain and self-loathing. It’s a truth that he fights to overcome daily with the help of his husband, Joel Priestley, and now their boyfriend, Robbie Bianchi.

But unlike Priest, Robbie doesn’t know what he’s helping Julien to fight. He doesn’t know what Julien did all those years ago. And with the anniversary of his sister’s death fast approaching, the time for explanations is running out.

And thus the question: will the princess be able to forgive the prick as the priest once did?

Only time will tell.

**Please note this book contains sensitive situations regarding drug use.**

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4 Stars

*Psssssttttt* I’ll tell you a secret… I’m holding out for Priest. He’s the dessert I’ve been waiting to devour. I’m not saying I haven’t enjoyed Robbie and Julien, I’m just being clear and upfront that Priest is where it’s at for me.

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This story is aptly named because it goes through Julien’s mysterious history that we understand from the first story, runs very deep. Much of Julien’s POV are flashbacks either he has or stories he is telling. Robbie and Priest help Julien navigate through the emotional turmoil in their own way with Priest’s solid support and Robbie’s ray of light shining through all the darkness.

We still get all three POVs in Julien as the men continue to find their footing as a relationship of three. For me, the Julien situation is overshadowed by the connection that grew with Robbie and Priest. I’m was for that too since I love Robbie and Priest HARD! They become more comfortable as a duo outside and inside the bedroom. Lemme just say, the closet and shower scenes… 🔥🔥🔥

<b>“We are allowed to do whatever we like to whomever we like within the three of us. There’s no room or cause for jealousy. There has to be trust, honesty, and total transparency.”</b>

Robbie, Julien, and Priest are still hot together but the focus is more on deepening the connection with everyone as duos and a trio. The situation with Julien had an EPIC build-up. I was expecting something insanely unthinkable and once everything was revealed, I had a moment of “that’s it?” I’m not saying the situation as it happened wouldn’t leave scars, I just went way worse in my mind based on the reactions and emotions prior to the reveal.

Julien is an enjoyable follow-up to Robbie but didn’t quite hit the same enjoyment level as the first (which had insane levels of reading excite). I definitely recommend this book. Now, *SQUEEEEEE* it’s time for my dessert Priest.

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Trigger Warning: Drug usage and alcohol

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

A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat

Reviewed for @BMBR

4.5 Stars

EEeEeeppp!!!

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It took DAYS for me to suck it up and read this. I was in this weird place of come on, it’s Roe Horvat and oh my, this is gonna hurt. I was weak and finally grabbed my blankey and prepared for the big dose of angst I knew was coming. I survived. Barely.

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In all seriousness, I have a thing for angst. I may get all whiney before and need fluff after but I just love when it hurts so good. Just like this one. A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat was like having the wind knocked out of you and not catching your breath for a while. Whatevs, I’m all bring on the pain, angst, and the melancholy it was riddled with. Luckily, mingled in with all the heaviness is fire, passion, connection, and love.

Just a quick note before we dig in… we won’t be digging in too deeply. I liked the discovery in this book and having to really feel for Simon and Matěj as they navigate their pain so I won’t be giving too much away.

The book starts off in 2012 and goes back and forth to various times throughout a five year period that ends in 2017. Matěj is in his last semester of medical school in Prague. Right away, we get his snarky yet brilliant personality as he tries to get a reaction out of the unflappable Dr. Simon Mráz AKA The Cruel Doctor Frost. Matěj is a predator with sights locked on his prey and ready to pounce. Simon is a structured yet mercurial doctor that’s an expert at controlling the emotion he conveys to others. His self control and willpower is on point until he loses himself, his sanity and succumbs to the relentless hauntings of memories.

We get windows into Simon and Matěj’s dysfunctional lives and see the sweet relief for each man when they come together as secret lovers and friends. Matěj soothed Simon’s need for control, order and the habit of being locked in his head while Simon became Matěj’s safe haven. There was just so much want and need between them. They were on fire together and all the noise in their lives went away.

This books drags you through a myriad of emotions as a reader while *seeing* the utter passion, desolation, and then hope the characters go though. There’s so much pain and melancholy that it becomes a tangible thing. I loved the secondary characters and the energy they brought to the story. My one niggle with this angsty AF read was the ending. Yeah, they figured shit out and get their HFN. Maybe it’s the tiny cynic in me but I needed a lengthier resolution where explanations were provided. I believed their connection, love, passion, etc., but was the heartbreak necessary? I think so but I’m not sure. *shrug*

I love professor/student romances. I was enthralled with the story, the feels, the desperation and helplessness. I’m glad I sucked it up even though I’m diving into fluff land for a bit. Definitely recommended.

Trigger warning- Suicide and abuse take place off page with minor character but the details of the suicide are described. 

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

Copy provided for honest review.