liz blue ~ paperback reader

“I believe in everything until it's disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it's in your mind. Who's to say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real as the here and now?” ~John Lennon

Rock Rod Studios Presents: Alex Undone

Rock Rod Studios Presents: Alex Undone - Emory Vargas short. hot.

The Stars that Tremble

The Stars that Tremble - Kate McMurray 3.5 stars
This book was a mostly happy feels kind of book. Both MCs need some healing from tragedy, and they're basically sweet and perfectly complement each other. A good balance of sexual tension followed by really good fireworks and sexy times. I found the opera storyline as difficult to follow as Mike, but it made me like the way Gio was with him all the more. I liked the alternating POVs too. Good book.

Four Corners

Four Corners - Kate McMurray 2.5 stars
While I enjoyed this story, the plot felt circular. ""I love him, do I trust him, but I love him"" and repeat. I was honestly a bit sick of being inside of Jake's head. I'm not sure I would have liked it more with an alternating POV, but maybe so. Adam certainly has a lot swirling around inside of him. The first person from Jake's perspective had me alternating feeling sympathy for Adam and wanting to kick him in the shins. Which I think is how Jake felt and is reflected in the circular plot.

There's also the small matter of Kyle's bisexuality. That's how he identifies, and yet Jake is fairly dismissive. When the subject is first introduced, Jake says it's a bit of a mystery. Then he goes on to a flashback to the teen years where Kyle tells them he IS bisexual. mystery there. When the following present day convo happens between the two, I wanted to punch Jake.
""You know,"" I said, ""I'm starting to think that the only reason you think you're bisexual is that you've run out of new women to fuck.""
Kyle frowned. ""You don't think I'm bisexual? Because I have slept with a few men. Not as many as you, probably, but--""
I rolled my eyes. ""Come on, Longo. I appreciate your sense of sexual adventure, but at the end of the night, wouldn't you rather go home with a woman?""
""Sure. Who wouldn't?""
""I wouldn't.""

Thus proving you're GAY, Jake, not disproving one of your besties is bi. Go burn your judgy pants, buddy. I'm really hoping this scene only serves to prove how very judgmental Jake is, not only about Kyle's sexuality, but in the way Adam chooses to express HIS gayness. They fight about this multiple times, and in each case, I felt more and more sympathy for Adam trying to compromise with Jake's idea that his way of being out and proud was the only way to be. I didn't love how it sometime sounded like Adam was being condescending, but I think that's ALL Jake was focusing on.

I do think all of that was deliberate, but I suppose it's why I didn't love being stuck in Jake's brain for the whole book. So yes. I did enjoy this book at times. I overall liked the relationship when Jake and Adam were sweet together, and I like the brotherhood of the 4 men. My feelings on the book are about as circular as the plot.

Menage (Black Lace)

Menage (Black Lace) - Emma Holly 1.5 stars
This book is set in Philadelphia but is written as though it's set in London. British English spelling and grammar and even speech patterns. Additionally, there's dubcon kink. It's dubcon when you have ZERO discussion of limits or desires. Giving someone a safeword is BARELY enough, so half a star for that. Additionally, the characters were beyond absurd. Caricatures of some sort of people. And in the 6 months timeline at the end of the book is so insanely fast for the professional AND personal development. Add in the gag-worthy OTT language (ie quivering quims), and this didn't even work as spank bank material. Which, let's be honest, is all I was hopeful for.

A Shot of Forgiveness

A Shot of Forgiveness - Cardeno C. Childhood bully redeemed and fall in love in under 100 pages? I should have known better.

Strange Bedfellows

Strange Bedfellows - Cardeno C.
Polished in public, tender in private, and filthy in bed...

The perfect line to describe the balance in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the dynamics here. I was pleasantly surprised by even the political elements. This is a super win.

Perfect Imperfections

Perfect Imperfections - Cardeno C. 3.5 stars
sweet and enjoyable rockstar read.

Job Hunt

Job Hunt - Jackie Keswick This book was much more than I expected. It’s the author’s first novel, and I sincerely hope it’s not the last. While the blurb describes Jack’s former jobs and current plans gone awry, I wasn’t prepared for the depth to his character.

The blurb feels like Jack the Superhero. And that’s true. He’s an amazing guy who uses all of his wicked computer skills to take on the underworld of pimps, but he’s also a man needing taking care of. Enter Gareth Flynn. Or better yet, re-enter. Gareth is the man Jack fell for at the age of 17 when Gareth was his commanding officer in the military. That was many years ago, though that’s a bit unclear. This is one of my quibbles with the book: timelines. It took me some math to figure out how old Jack is, and that occurred around halfway through the book. I still don’t know how old Gareth is. This isn’t critical information, but it would be nice to know. Beyond that, there’s some confusion about how long ago Jack left the military, how long Gareth has been out, and why for both of them.

Second quibble: WHY did they each leave the military? We find out the bare bones for Jack’s departure, and we know a little about the motivation for it. For as long as this book is, there’s a lot of missing information about this as well as Gareth’s history.

Most of the book in in third person from either Jack or Gareth’s POV, and that’s a good thing. It would be hard to judge either of them through just the other’s eyes. Jack struggles with his past and his ability to share any part of himself with another. He spends so much time wrapped in his mind that it would be difficult to understand him or empathize without his POV. His feelings for Gareth are a constant struggle.

Gareth would seem way too much the caretaker and overbearing bossy guy without the in-his-head times. While he clearly respects Jack’s professional skills, he spends a lot of brain power worrying about Jack and making sure he eats and sleeps. For Jack, who has been independent since the age of 11, it feels less cared for and more smothered. Watching these two figure out how to be with the other is fun. Even better, there’s no angst. These are adult men who communicate (to the best of their abilities) with each other. Jack isn’t a talker, but he’s involved with guy determined to give them a chance.

I also enjoyed the alternate POVs in this book. It was nice to see how Jack and Gareth are perceived by others, and it made me want the stories for some of the secondary characters. I’d like a whole series set in this world.

One thing the book didn’t address was the sexuality of the characters. I found this a relief, to be honest. Jack has a lot of struggles with his past and flashbacks, but he doesn’t sit around wondering about being attracted to men. Gareth is attracted to men and women. There’s no deep discussion of this, and the author doesn’t explicitly tell the reader. Instead, we find out through reference to previous relationships and fantasy attractions. There wasn’t manufactured angst or conflict over sexuality. While that is an important part of some LGBTQ stories, it doesn’t need to be in every book. I appreciate the author leaving it out of this book, because the book already has a lot of moving parts.

My quibbles over timeline and missing information make sense for a multi-book story arc, but it’s a little frustrating for a free-standing novel. The author responded to a question on Goodreads saying there will be more books planned for these two characters. I’m looking forward to seeing the continuing story of Jack and Gareth, because this is much more of a Happy for Now kind of ending as far as the romance goes. There’s also quite a bit left hanging with the secondary characters. There’s no information currently available about sequels, but I’ll be checking back for sure.

This review was first posted on Romance Novel News.

UPDATE: Since I wrote this review, I learned the next book about Jack and Gareth will be coming out in January. Can. Not. Wait.


Breaking - Barbara Elsborg As a free standing book, I generally enjoyed this. One of the issues I did have though is the supposed badassery of Conrad. This book is much more tell than show. Even with dual third person POV, there's very little where you see Conrad as the cold man he's supposed to be. He repeatedly fights his attraction to co-alpha Archer. The primary relationship issue (aside from the lies of a hitman) is two alpha men in one relationship. How can you have 2 tops or 2 bottoms in a male/male relationship? It's an interesting change from the usual more defined relationship (top/bottom or switches). I waffled a whole lot while reading this as to whether I liked it.

I liked everything about [b:Falling|23521523|Falling (Fall or Break, #1)|Barbara Elsborg||43124611], even Conrad's cold love for Malachai. It might be easier to read Breaking without having seen Conrad before. He starts Breaking in a very different life position then he ended on in Falling. The juxtaposition of his physical limitations and recovery with his former/current alpha maleness is a tool. And I feel ambivalent about it. I feel ambivalent about the whole book. And so I don't know who to recommend it for.

The external conflict and hitman side effects in this story make it significantly more action-packed than the previous book. I suppose this could be romantic suspense, which I don't think the first would be considered.

The sex is hot. There's a scene where the alphas are fighting for dominance, and I'm not sure how I felt about the consent in that moment. It ultimately worked out, but I wanted to kick Archer at times. I had one moment in particular where I was mad at the character, and, frankly, the author for writing it.
""Was he gay?""
""Bisexual. That wasn't enough for me. I didn't want part of him. I wanted all of him. He had a girlfriend but he hadn't committed to being het. I thought I had a chance.""

Oh, hai, bi-erasure moment. Grr.

I did like this book. I just spent more time uncertain of that than I like. And I'm sorry this review is as rambling as my thoughts were while reading it.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.


Blush - Cherry Adair This book was disappointing. I've been a fan of Cherry Adair's romantic suspense for years. I wanted to love everything about this. Nope. The characters are too hard to buy, the relationship is insta-lust followed by near insta-love, and the plot is predictable. I use ""plot"" loosely, since a good 60% of this book is sex. This was the closest to porn-with-plot I've seen from Adair. I'm not generally opposed, but I was bored here. I skimmed through so much of the sex scenes, and I'm certain I missed nothing important. So sad for me.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.

Smart Boy

Smart Boy - AJ Sisko, Misha Horne I was willing to overlook the egregious typos and errors, but I just can't with ""I don't do no...And I don't do safewords"". Even my spank bank material needs safewords. ESPECIALLY with spanking.

Bitter Taffy

Bitter Taffy - Amy Lane Honestly, I was more interested in Adam and Finn's continuing story. The scenes with them stole the book. Rico and Derek were a boring couple. Derek is a lot of tell not show about being a big, bad businessman. I mean, he's nice. They're both nice. The story is underwhelming though. And there's a fair amount of redundancy in story and writing (word use).

I thoroughly recommend the first one, but I'd say pass on this one.

An American Homo in Paris

An American Homo in Paris - Vanessa North Such sweet happiness.

Suck This, Neil Patrick Harris

Suck This, Neil Patrick Harris - Eleanor Bruce, H.L. Holston This book is a mess. The plot is predictable, the relationship drama is OTT, and the editing is weak. Sexist =/= Sexiest, but that's at least an amusing mistake of the many many throughout this book.

It's sad. I had high hopes from such a funny title. Massive disappointment.

Forever Promised (Keeping Promise Rock)

Forever Promised (Keeping Promise Rock) - Amy Lane 3.5 stars
A great end to an emotional and wonderful series. It made me cry. Again.

The Truth About Forever

The Truth About Forever - Piper Vaughn Sweet and emotional short.

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