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SandraM

Sandra

"Finally, from so little sleep and so much reading, her brain dried up and she went completely out of her mind."
Proclamation (Acclamation, 4) - Vee Hoffman

This series is so hard for me to rate. On the emotional turmoil aspect, I want to give it 5 stars. When they come to important scenes, they are so well done, so beautifully written and so insightful. My problem is that they are so few and far between. While I enjoyed taking a journey with Michael and Dominic, experiencing things with them and watching their love grow, I felt the sword of Damocles hanging over my head the whole time.

I have never been so tempted to say "fuck it", and just jump to the last 5o pages to read the climax. Both this and the last book, Intimation, had something dramatic that we knew was going to happen. And in both it doesn't happen until the very end. This makes it hard to enjoy the journey. I sped through these last two books, not because I was so drawn in by the beautiful prose, but because I wanted to get it over with. I was trying to scarf down my veggies without tasting them so I could get to desert.

These would be great to go back and read again at some point, when I can enjoy the subtle nuisances and not be worried about the end game. But as beautiful as it was, there was too much filler in each book after always a dramatic cliffhanger, and I found myself resentful of having to go immediately to the next book for resolution of the story-line.

Edit: Later the same day - I had initially rounded down to 3 stars due to the issues I listed above, but the fact of the matter is that I cannot stop thinking about this book. Reliving arguments and tender moments and fucking, imagining scenes that never happened or have yet to happen of arguments or tender moments or fucking. It stayed with me, so for that, I have to give Vee Hoffman credit. I'm a little depressed, a little hopeful, a little troubled. I'm looking up flight info to travel somewhere, anywhere. I feel somewhat inspired, so I'd say that deserves a rounding up.

Packing Heat - Kele Moon

I liked this. It's definitely more 'erotic romance' than 'contemporary romance' due to the sex versus not-sex ratio, but that's fine as long as you're aware going in. I thought all the sex scenes were good (aka: hot-dirty-man-sex) actually, and wouldn't have minded if this has been stretched into a full-length novel with some more filler, but it's fine for what it is. Pretty angst free. We got one scene with Gavin and his partner to give us some context and have a secondary character, which I appreciated. And I liked the Epilogue so that we could follow up with these guys down the road.

The Tin Box - Kim Fielding

I waited to review this, so it's not quite as fresh.  But I Have to say that this was a nice change of pace.  A different sort of story, it could have easily transitioned into a paranormal with a ghost appearance, and in a way I wanted it to, but it was good the way it was.  

I liked the comparison of William's life to Bill's.  I really enjoyed Will and Colby's slow relationship development.  The one complaint would be the all-too-common and dreaded miscommunication.  Their estrangement went on a bit too long, so that I wasn't as involved when they finally got back together.  And they only got back together at the end so I didn't have time to bask in it.

But a lovely story nonetheless.

On Thin Ice - Jessica Lee

This was OK.  I liked the development between Theo and Silas as Silas healed and they got to know each other.  Although Theo's attitude and the way he talked to himself initially made it seem like he was on the run or hiding out or had done something horrible, so the big-reveal was kinda anti-climactic.

There were several instances where things weren't explained fully.  I found myself getting distracted with details that she'd left out and nit-picking, only to have them mentioned later and think, "Oh, that's what they meant."  One example of this was the plane crash itself and another is the culprit of the crash..

Like I said, my favorite parts where the two of them together.  Once we got into the Pride stuff it all felt like filler, like they needed to explain the minimum possible so you can get the idea, but who really gives a fuck.  And that's the problem, I didn't give a fuck.  I couldn't get a sense of how the Pride ran, it seemed huge and Silas more like a president than an Alpha.  There didn't seem to be the familial/emotional connection that I love from my wolf-shifter books.

Anyway, nice light read.  The few sex scenes were hot.  HFN transitioning into HEA, although I would have liked a little more explanation on that.

Body Magic - Poppy Dennison

I gave this series another chance, but yet again it ended abruptly, and yet again there was no explanation or resolution of the big-bad at all.

I appreciate following up with our former MC's, but just as much (if not more) time was spent focusing on Simon and Grey in this book.  Not all that much happened with Cade and Rocky.  When they finally fucked it was great, and their fight was good and necessary drama, but then... happily ever after.  It felt very clumsy.  We didn't get to know Cade or Rocky much.  Rocky alludes to abuse from his previous pack but I didn't feel it.  He should have opened up to Cade about a few specific events so we could feel his pain and understand him more.  As it is I don't dislike him, but I don't like him either.  They're both kinda... whatever.  And the whole "I'm the only black guy in my pack" and "I'm the only Omega in my pack" felt really awkwardly forced and out of place.

And as cute as Riley was, they added a whole secondary plot and character that were not explained in any way, shape, or form.  It's a shame.

I wanted to know what happened but I didn't want pages and pages of Simon talking about the garden, or describing a spell.  I didn't want to read endlessly about what games the boys were playing.  So I flew through this and skimmed a large majority.  I like Cormac, but given the lack of resolution so far in the first two books, I doubt his book will have any either.  I think I'm done.

The Ideal Cut - Elinor Gray

This was a fun little short.  One thing that bothers me in stories, though, if when a thief or assassin acts unprofessionally.  I know I know, that sounds stupid.  But Clayton is supposedly this world renowned jewel thief, but he's bumbling around through the first half of the story.  It was cute the way they found each other out, but I wish he had been confident up until that point instead of bumbling.  It just didn't ring true.  

Opposite issue with Theo.  He was all suave, calm-cool-and-collected during the heist, then was all innocent newbie the next morning.  I will, however, say... that sex scene was smokin! Cute little HFN.

 

Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts - Lyn Gala

Lyn Gala has created a wonderful and imaginative alien race.  I loved all the cultural differences and how things were explained, it's always interesting to see alien perceptions of the human race and vice versa.

We got to go through a little emotional journey with Liam during his initial captivity, and I felt for him.  I even found myself harboring the same thoughts towards Ondry and not understanding the need for the chain, but I along with Liam began to see the action from an alien perspective and understand the protective nature.

And of course, I wondered how I would get my M/M lovin' fix with incompatible genitalia, let alone a cold blooded species who only has sex for reproductive purposes and not pleasure!  But as usual, Miss Gala was creative and fun with the way this developed, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Mourning Heaven - Amy Lane

You know how sometimes you just need a good cry?  And as fucked up as it sounds, you want that feeling of being gutted, of having your heart ripped out.  Well next time you're in one of those moods, read this book.  It's beautiful torture.  Exquisite pain.  You get the idea.

It starts out with Peter finding out that his beloved cousin has been killed in Afghanistan.  Then flashes back to them growing up together.  My first thought?  Uhg, not one of these back and forth books!  But the frequency of flash backs decreased over the course of the book, and it really was the most appropriate way to tell the story.  We started to learn of Peter's devotion and love for Michael, and then for Bodi.  We witnessed Bodi and Michael's beautiful young love.  All the while knowing the tragic outcome, but not quite knowing what had precipitated the change.

Until the very end that loss of potential, of a young life not only snuffed out too soon but ruined and tainted beforehand, was devastating.  But we have to learn to live with that the same as Peter and Bodi, the same as Aileen.  In the end I had a smile on my face.  For new love, and new relationships.  For repairing old relationships and at least the potential for future connections.  I appreciated that they showed Aileen's regret and sorrow.  Yes, she fucked up.  Yes, she treated people she loved poorly.  But she at least seemed to be trying to mend things and to finally realize and accept that what she did was wrong.

I know that the town's vilification was an important part of the story, but I will say that one bit was over the top.  Yes, people can be homophobic assholes, but it was a little much.  Not my favorite Amy Lane book, but well-written and emotional as is expected.

The Actor and the Earl - Rebecca Cohen

Yes, the plot is flimsy.  And yes, the main love interest is kind of an ass.  But I have to say I did enjoy this, although I can't tell you why.  I'll try nonetheless.

I liked Sebastian.  I liked the comedy of errors aspect with the twins (although despite Bronwyn being in Kent, did anyone think to consider she might not want to be killed off, what if she ever wanted to return to London?)  And you can't have identical twins that are opposite genders.  But anywho.

The emotional turmoil of Sebastian's discovery really hit me hard.  I think it was reading Sebastian's side of things, and how upset he was but at the same time how strong he was.  It also worked for me that we did not see Anthony's POV in this case, so I really related with Sebastian and was just as in the dark as he was.

I do wish that Anthony wasn't quite such an ass though.  Yes, he was sweet at times.  And yes, he seemed to care for Sebastian.  But the childish pouting and lashing out was really unattractive.  It reminded me of abusive relationships where one hits the other and then immediately is super apologetic and all "It'll never happen again!  I just love you so much!" I'm OK with them needing to have had a few fights prior to the big one, I get the build up and culmination of events.  But it was one too many for me.  And one in particular made me question whether Sebastian should be with him at all.

One thing that could have pushed my rating up were steamier sex scenes.  They weren't fade to black or anything, they were just kind of... meh.

Reclamation (Acclamation) - Vee Hoffman

Basically this felt kind of like a filler book.  I was hoping for more development but it ended up being a very long winded love letter.  I was emotionally prepared for my boys to be discovered and couldn't wait to see how the author decided to tackle that conflict.  Would they be caught in the act?  Would they confess to Renee?  Would Dominic go off to Uni with none-the-wiser and they would pretend it started later?  How would Renee react?  But alas, apparently there is another (or more?) books.  I'm debating whether to continue on.  As I said, I want that final conflict!  I need to know!  But I just don't know if I can do another rambling Michael stream of consciousness.

And while I love how much Micheal loves Dominic, the waxing poetic got quite dramatic at times.

The Magpie Lord - K.J. Charles

Utterly charming. Clever and funny and mysterious and a little steamy (although I could have used a bit more steam), I thoroughly enjoyed this. Definitely eager to read book 2!

 

Some funny quotes:

 

"This is the drawing room. It probably wouldn't be so bad without the panelling, or the chairs, and if it was in a different house."

 

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"There's something very old and odd and quite unpleasant about this house."

"Yes, it's Graham."

 

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"What the fuck, what the fucking, bloody devil-shit, what in the name of Satan's swollen cock was THAT?"

 

Fifteen Shades of Gay (for Pay) - T. Baggins

I'm waffling. This lost me at the end, things just started happening so fast and way too simply. I felt like their fight was sort of unfair in the first place, and then was resolved too easily. Even the stilted make-up scene with Andrew and his dad felt forced and awkward, just added on to tie up lose ends.

As I said, the ending wrap up didn't work for me. But I did enjoy Andrew and Cormac's relationship up until that point. But the whole gay-for-pay side plot... kinda weird. I liked that that was how the two guys met. But all the stuff with Paresh, and then later Sven... was just really weird. And I'm not really sure what the point was. I would have much preferred if it had been a simple romance between Cormac and Andrew, with the added complications of Andrew's sick sister, Cormac's political career and closet-case status, and the fact that Andrew needs to be a male escort for money to add drama. That's plenty without the odd specifics of the escort/BDSM/breathe play side of things.

Life's too short.

Beyond Obsession - John Simpson, Robert Cummings

No emotional connection. I didn't like anyone. Literally, no one. From page 1 our MC was kind of a dick. His friend Ashton was supposed to come across as a flamboyant queen but he just seemed mean and self-centered a lot of the time. His 'love interest'? I guess, if you can call it that, was awkwardly flirty in a pre-teen sort of obvious come-on-line kinda way. Despite Adam flirting with and screwing everybody, he anti-climatically tells us "I love him" out of nowhere and then continues to screw around. I know Steve isn't committing and that's his problem, but Adam doesn't seem that broken up about it. Maybe this makes sense in the end if they end up together, but I just couldn't hold out any longer.

And I didn't know who I should hate more. Adam's mom, for not supporting him and then continuing to be involved in his life while standing idly by and allowing his father to ruin it... or him, for being a whiny bitch that allows his father to ruin his life by cutting off financial support. There were no other options? Really? Doesn't seem like he tried too hard to find alternatives. It's easier to complain and blame someone else.

The only character I liked was the dog, and that was ruined by learning every detail of her every waking moment. Repeatedly. Waaaaaay too much detail about the dog.

Then we get to the mystery. I guess. This was just weird. I know stalkers are irrational and that is the point. But we needed more. Adam met this guy once and it escalated to a ridiculous degree. There were signs the author tried to hint at to let us know that Brian had actually been watching Adam for a while, but we should have gotten little hints from Adam's side of some spooky-creepy happening that then later make sense once we learn of Brian's shenanigans. But no. Instead it's just Brian making some crazy comment and we're supposed to surmise what happened.

And while I love me some paranormal, the 'twist' in this came completely out of nowhere and made no sense whatsoever. I don't mean "came out of nowhere" like an M. Night Shyamalan twist, I mean "came out of nowhere" like partway through the book the author decided to add some paranormal elements but never went back to incorporate them into the first half of the book.

Anyway, I don't remember a ton of details. I put this down due to a much needed mental cleansing and intended to try to come back and finish it to provide a thorough review, but as I said at the beginning... life's too short.

Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, reviewed for Hearts On Fire

The Long Return - Jessica Freely

This was a sweet little story. I thought Trev's reactions were authentic and he went through all the emotions that you would in this circumstance. The big reveal was a good one, it was hard to figure out what the F would make him disappear for 15 years, but they did a pretty good job with the explanation.

Just a side note of something that stood out to me... It seemed like a really bad stereotype to have the young black man drinking a 40. I mean I know he doesn't make a lot of money but, c'mon. We drank Olde English in college cuz you'd get 40 ounces for $2.50 and could play "Edward 40 Hands" and duct tape one to each hand and you couldn't get them off until you drank them both... but really? So that jolted me out of the story a bit because it seemed like an odd place for the black-people-like-malt-liquor stereotype.

Baited - Tami Veldura

So initially, I really liked this. I wish there were a smaller time gap instead of twenty years to make it more believable, but I appreciate the thought. But where things turned for me was the first sex scene, I wasn't really feeling an emotional connection from Mason.

And while I get that homophobic assholes exist and therefor sometimes appear in my stories, this was a little over the top. Not only that, but I just didn't want these guys to stay in that effen town. It's terrible! And none of that was resolved. Just the attitude of "oh well, this is what we'll have to deal with." There are other rural places they can move to where people aren't complete dicks.

Lastly, the reading of the will was stupid, and their history was never completely explained, I thought Ms. Amelia's action were totes uncool, and where the hell is Zack's family?!?

Free Falling - S.E. Jakes

I thought this was a decent novella, although I did put it down halfway (just because life happens) and didn't feel a strong urge to pick it back up. Luckily it was a monthly group read so that gave me the impetus, I hate leaving things unfinished.

Blue was a fun character, and I liked his initial interactions with Mick. I'm on the fence about the sex drug as a plot device. Yes it's obvious, but it also gave for some fun sexscapades and allowed the introduction of knowledge about Blue's difficulty to give up control and helped the boys build some trust. I do have to say though, that while I enjoyed this initial sex scene and a few to follow, there were one or two too many for me. I actually skipped the last one because I was kind of over it at that point. Not sure why. Despite the sexy bondage in the scene at Mick's house they just got a little... repetitive? Dull? Maybe it was the writing but I didn't feel a strong connection.

One thing I really liked, that I felt was different from a lot of books, was when Mick didn't try to change Blue. It obviously works because Mick works for a dangerous operation too, but still. It was nice not too have that argument... however despite Mick even saying they could be partners in the field, then he goes all protective Mama-Bear and telling Prophet to watch him, not let Blue go after him, and not wanting him to do that final bomb drop. News flash, you guys cannot be partners then.

But again, I liked the interlude of some realism that acknowledges the practicalities of their job. Decent read. I have the rest of the series so I will continue with it, excited for Prophet!

p.s. Blue trained with Old Man Wilson for 4 years as a thief, but not only is he a great thief, he is apparently also a master safe-cracker and the best hacker on the planet? Ah well, Escapism.