Deal Maker

Review of Deal Maker by Lily Morton

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Jude is a highly successful model with obligations and secrets. He’s resigned himself to a life of hook-ups and no feelings. When he needs to find a temporary place to live for the summer, he meets Asa. Asa is a former movie star who’s taken time away to raise his young son. He’s larger than life with a warm personality and an inviting air that draws people in. Asa agrees to let Jude stay with them in exchange for his help as his PA. The men make a deal that will last the summer. But when hearts and feelings become involved, what will happen when the summer is over? Jude can’t ever have a relationship and Asa has been burned too many times.

“But a deal’s a deal and they said it was just for the summer. What can Asa do with a man who has forever in his eyes and goodbye on his lips?” ~ Lily Morton 

*** 5 AMAZING STARS ***

OMG, this is everything!

I don’t even know where to begin… Not only was the story so incredibly good but it was hilarious!! I haven’t laughed so hard from a book in a long time! I couldn’t go to sleep that night because I kept laughing and just wanted to keep reading. I’m snickering right now even just remembering some of the scenes. LOL!

Wow, both Jude and Asa were fantastic characters, but of course, Billy was such a scene stealer as well. So much comedy can come from the innocent mouths of children and air-headed models who count calories. It was just the perfect combination of warm loveable characters, lighthearted humor, and steamy romance (throw in a puppy rescue and you can guarantee we’ll have hearts in our eyes). I loved the way Asa was so trusting of Jude with Billy as if Jude was just a part of the family. And Jude was amazing! I could totally see this book being picked up as a movie. It had the perfect setting and cast of secondary characters as well. I loved the tender nature and loyalty of Peggy, and the doom and gloom, glass is always half empty attitude of Amos. They rounded out the leads and added the perfect compliments to the family dynamic. There were also several appearances from Dylan and Gabe from Rule Breaker as well. This is definitely going to be added to my list of favorite books to reread.

 

** Green Eyed Monsters ** (A Jude and Asa short story – takes place between the end of the book and the epilogue)

Can be found at http://lilymortonauthor.com/extras/

I gave this 4 stars. After reading such a fantastic story, I was a little let down and frankly, this made me uncomfortable. I didn’t like the implication or thought of someone coming between Jude and Asa. I loathed Hayden. He was vile and I hated him for trying to separate the perfect couple. Maybe this was still a well written short, but it just left a bitter taste in my mouth. I didn’t find it to be so much about jealousy as someone purposely trying to break them up. I might have liked it better if it was simply a case of misplaced jealousy. But in Hayden’s case, he actually was delusional in thinking Asa still might want him, so he was planting doubt in Jude’s mind. I was hurt on his behalf for what he went through. I didn’t mind Malachi so much since he was fairly innocuous. But what a coincidence that they both had an ex at the same place and the same time. That part of the story was a bit more tolerable for me.

Rule Breaker

Review of Rule Breaker by Lily Morton

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Dylan has been the executive assistant to his jerk of a boss for two years. Every day he plans out new and inventive ways to kill the arrogant and cold man he works for. But when circumstances force Dylan to see Gabe in a new light, things may not be as they have always seemed. Once Dylan’s view of the intriguing man has changed, what is he to do when he realizes his heart may be involved. Can he melt the heart of a man sworn to freeze him out? Will Gabe break his rules to never let anyone in?

** I gave this book 4 stars**

With one book I have become a Lily Morton fan! This book was so good. The quality of the writing and voice used were amazing. Morton is a very descriptive storyteller. I loved how the characters slowly realized their views of the other could be more than just physical attraction. They both knew they were attracted to the other person on a surface level and made every effort to keep it that way.  Only once they started to see another side of the other, did things really take off. Although I will admit that even up to about 40% of the way through the novel, I couldn’t imagine how Gabe would ever turn the corner into a likable character. I hated him and how he treated Dylan. He was such an asshole. Even as I knew in my head they would end up together and there was going to be a character shift, I just couldn’t feel it in him. I was very glad Morton was able to change my mind and bring Gabe around (I will admit that I was ready to jump ship on him though when he brought in the third on Valentine’s day. Ugh… Jerk. LOL). Dylan had a heart of gold to forgive so easily. Of course, I’m glad all worked out for the pair and the ending was super sweet.

 

*** Scrambled Eggs and Lemsip*** (Gabe’s Proposal)

The follow-up short story can be found at http://lilymortonauthor.com/extras/

I seriously loved this!!! I loved this more than the book and totally gave it 5 stars!! It was everything a follow-up should be. All the sweet and tender with the most romantic feels. I got all teary-eyed and sniffly! Totally amazing… Sigh… 🙂

 

Trained to Win: Winter Sports, Book 2

Review of Trained to Win: Winter Sports, Book 2 by Declan Rhodes

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Figurative bad boy of ice skating, Tristan, has a reputation for wearing all black and skating to rock music. He safeguards his heart and keeps his distance from relationships to avoid being placed in vulnerable situations again.

Jordi is a happy-go-lucky college hockey player who also skates short track speed skating occasionally. Walking through Chicago one cold winter night, Jordi is stopped in his tracks by a mesmerizing ice skating performance. Only Jordi can’t figure out if his fascination is from the man, the ice skating or the buzz of the crowd.

When a chance meeting and a shared kiss tilt both men’s lives on their axis, how can they come together when Jordi isn’t sure if he even likes guys and Tristan trains across the country?

** I gave this book 4 stars. I really loved the premise of a chance encounter and the building up of a friendship/relationship over time and distance. I liked that Jordi was so fascinated with Tristan he was totally open and willing to explore something new with him.

Rhodes’ style of storytelling must strike a chord with me because I have loved these two books. The way he portrays real life and the complications and setbacks we all face, really make these stories genuine and relatable. We have probably all found ourselves in a situation where we found someone we were attracted to or connected with while on a vacation or away from home. Only to discover that person lives somewhere else entirely. You might say you would keep in touch and even swap contact info, but reality creeps back in once you return home. That was the case with Jordi and Tristan. Even when Jordi goes out to visit Tristan in California and only gets a few hours with him during his whole trip, things come up and stuff gets in the way. What makes relationships work is the desire and willingness to connect, to seek out the other person and be upfront with your circumstances. In this story, events transpired to naturally bring the two men together again but they stuck it out as well, making a difficult long distance relationship work.

This book felt very natural and organic in the way the two men came together. I appreciated that, as so many stories try to force the characters into conforming to situations to make the story work. Of course, a bit of tweaking is needed at the end to ensure all is well but I was pleased with how it all turned out in the end.

Built For Speed: Winter Sports, Book 1

Review of Built For Speed: Winter Sports, Book 1 by Declan Rhodes

James is a college hockey player with a need to conquer the ice. On a trip to Chicago for Christmas, he encounters another skater on the ice at Millennium Park ice track. James is intrigued by the speed of the other man and strikes up a conversation that will change his life.

Lucas is visiting his sister, from Amsterdam, in Chicago over Christmas. He is a retired speed skater who only skates now for the love of the national sport. When he issues a friendly challenge to an American, things take an unexpected turn.

With an entire ocean between them, can the two men make a relationship work? When disaster strikes, will one of the men have enough strength to overcome the setbacks of both?

** I would give this book 4 stars. I really enjoyed the reality of the setting in this book. So often the characters in the book have the world at their fingertips and this story presented real-life challenges for both characters. They met in a happenstance way while they were both visiting Chicago and quickly discovered they were literally worlds apart. I loved that they faced the very real circumstances of a long distance relationship and dealing with their daily life on their own. I also loved that the characters broke up a few times. The challenges of distance and miscommunication, pride and embarrassment are very real obstacles that every relationship has to deal with. Rhodes portrays these situations in very realistic fashion. I also enjoyed the way the ending pulled everything together with Lucas getting a job in Chicago, not too far from James. Once they both get out of their own way, the path is an easy one for them to walk.

I also really like that these books come during and around the time of the Winter Olympics of 2018. Perfect timing for these great stories as we all just fell in love with winter sports all over again!

 

Heart2Heart: A Charity Anthology

Review of Heart2Heart: A Charity Anthology

Authors include: May Archer, Charlie Cochet, Poppy Dennison, Alison Hendricks, Sloane Kennedy, Lucy Lennox, Ruthie Luhnow, Lily Morton, Chris Owen, Hailey Turner, A .E. Wasp

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When 11 amazing authors get together to celebrate Valentine’s Day: Imagine a new dating app that promises to find you your perfect other half. What happens when the app’s algorithms miscalculate just before Valentine’s day and pair up the least likely matches? Will the couple’s dates end in disaster or will fate intervene?

** Overall I would give this anthology 5 stars!! **

I loved the idea of this anthology and that all proceeds will go to the charities of the authors choosing:

The Trevor Project https://www.thetrevorproject.org

Bisexual Resource Centre http://biresource.org/

one-n-ten http://onenten.org/

I was familiar with a few of the authors that took part in the collection, but there were also several authors that I had never read before. These stories were sweet, hot and so cute. I loved that some of them were insta-love and others were a definite slow burn. Most of the stories were opposites attract situations and eventually ended up with a HEA or HFN. I don’t plan to review every story, but I will at least include the titles and my star ratings.

The Magician and the Mortician by A. E. Wasp  *5 Stars*

The Professional Gamer and the Paranormal Photographer by Alison Hendricks  *4 Stars*

The Assassin and the Dog Walker by Charlie Cochet  *4 Stars*

The Criminal and the Sommelier by Chris Owen  *4 Stars*

The Superhero and the NSA Agent by Hailey Turner  *4 Stars*

The Tattoo Artist and the Writer by Lily Morton  *5 Stars*

The Uber Driver and the Phone Sex Operator by Lucy Lennox  *5 Stars*

The Baker and the SEAL by May Archer  *5 Stars*

The Event Planner and the Electrician by Poppy Dennison  *4 Stars*

The Lawyer and the Lobsterman Ruthie Luhnow  *4 Stars*

The Florist and the Lawyer by Sloane Kennedy  *5 Stars*

Something New

Review of Something New by Sean Ashcroft

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Declan has been miserable in his job for years. When his great-uncle leaves him a bookstore in his will, Declan thinks this might be the change of pace he’s been waiting for. The only catch? He has to be married to inherit the store.

Ash is Declan’s best friend and has worked in a bookstore for years. He’s beyond excited when Declan askes him to check out his inherited store and the tiny town of Hope Springs with him.

What will happen when the two men enter into a sham marriage so Declan can take over the bookstore? Will Ash’s secret feeling for Declan finally come out? Will Declan finally realize the one person he always wants in his life can actually be his, in all the ways that matter?

** I would give this book 4 stars. I do love a good friends-to-lovers/gay-for-you story and this one had a bookstore in a small LGBT friendly town. It was pretty much a win for me from the start. This story was so sweet. I loved the way Declan really had no clue that he loved Ash, but couldn’t seem to live without him. Ash was such a loveable character, with a deep-seated passion for books, that, for me, he really drove this story. He seemed the more outgoing and accepting of new friendships, cultivated their relationships with the new town and really brought the whole story its legs.

All that being said, apparently, this was a spinoff of a previously written series following the Jules family through Hope Springs. As I came to find out after I read this book, I have already read The Family Jules series, but have absolutely no recollection of it. I reread the blurbs of the 3.5 books in that series and could hardly place them in my memory. I was a little soured to that fact and it would have been much nicer to have known that before I started this book so I could have remembered the previous characters and been glad of their presence. But that was not the case, and I will not be finishing the rest of this series either. I checked out the next book and the third, in this series and they all seem so similarly themed that I really am not interested in them at all. I usually will just bite the bullet and read them anyway, but I’m just not going to this time.

Rocky Mountain Refuge

Review of Rocky Mountain Refuge by Nicky James

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Aspen is a wildlife biologist studying the grizzly population in the northern territory of Canada. He stumbles across a seemingly deserted cabin in the area he and his students are studying. Only to find the cabin is not as deserted as he originally thought.

Huxley suffers from paranoid personality disorder. When he witnessed his husbands’ murder years earlier, Huxley ran and secluded himself in the wilderness to hide away from all the people who mean to blame him.

When a chance encounter deep in the wild causes these men to cross paths, Aspen becomes curious about the mountain man who seems familiar somehow and Huxley is terrified that Aspen has been sent to collect him for a crime he didn’t commit. Convinced there are spies in the trees and everyone is watching him, Huxley cannot believe Aspen when the man says he merely wants to be his friend. Will Aspen be able to help Huxley understand the world isn’t out to get him? Can Huxley trust Aspen even when all his instincts tell him not to?

** Absolutely 5 stars!!! The writing was fantastic, the story was fantastic, the whole thing was amazing. Another knock out from Nicky James! The way she studies the characters and their traits then delivers them to us, is just phenomenal. I am blown away by how well thought out every scene is and how the characters come to life, the depth of feeling and emotion, the struggle and frustration, it’s all handled so beautifully. The way James takes something like a mental disorder and portrays how real and complex it is, for the one suffering and for those who love them, is really a triumph. I am definitely on board the Nicky James train!

The prologue was ingenious. What a brilliant way to start the novel. We were immediately in the world of both Huxley and Aspen, without even entering the story yet. I was already gripped by the emotionally charged setting of the court and the trial before really even meeting the characters in full. Definitely set the stage for how their worlds would collide.

The body of the novel was complicated and intricate and delicate. The depth of planning and research really showed throughout the book’s entirety. Every scene with the research team and the scent sites was well thought out and descriptive. Every moment with Huxley and his wild, frantic thoughts was just so well done. Aspen’s frustration and willingness to persist was palpable.

I loved that when they returned home, everything was not just roses. There were lots of trails and time spent apart. Both men needed to figure out what they wanted and how they could become what the other needed. They both had to decide if the things they needed were things they could give of themselves as well. I did think it was just a little too coincidental that they ended up back in the cabin, but it certainly made my heart all warm and fuzzy that they did. It really did make the ending for me. Both men needed that.

Beautiful, complex, detailed and emotional. Thank you, Nicky James, for telling this story.

To Spoil Or Not To Spoil

In thinking about this blog I’ve wondered whether or not I should leave reviews that reveal the ending of each story. When I first started looking into what people actually say in book review blogs, it was recommended to not give away the ending and try to refrain from sharing any spoilers. As I have been writing my reviews, they only feel half complete to me. I feel like I can’t say what it was specifically that I liked/disliked about the outcome without giving too much away. I’m not really sure if anyone will care about spoilers or if I tell what happens at the end since I’m pretty sure no one is reading this anyways. And since I typically only read stories that have a HEA or HFN theme, it feels like I would be safe in assuming I’m okay to talk about the endings.

Just for clarification purposes, however, since almost every story is a HEA, I’m simply stating now, almost every story I’ve read feels contrived. Mostly because they are. As necessary to complete a nice, feel-good romance, every story must be wrapped up in a pretty rainbow sparkle bow and handed over to the reader. All the loose ends tied up, all the bad people suitably dealt with, every living situation sorted, money is never of concern, etc… Even if a story covers several books, all is usually well in the end. I can only think of one instance in recent memory where the outcome was otherwise. And may I recommend, if you haven’t already, spend the $10 and read Call Me By Your Name! You will bawl your eyes out. No HEA there, but absolutely fantastic!

I’m still not entirely sure what approach I will take, but I think I would like to talk about the endings. I will feel better not having to skirt around which words I use and how I state my review so no info is leaked. If I think about what I would want to read in a review, would I care if the ending was revealed? Not really because almost all the blurbs say at the end, HEA or no cliffhanger, anyway. I love reading about the journey and the reveal, (even if I know the couple will finally get their shit together in the end) that’s what makes a good story, the meat, and potatoes. So I think I will give a try to writing a more complete review, and if someone doesn’t like it, maybe they can leave a comment. (If someone really did leave a comment I think I might pass out since that would mean I actually had a person reading this!)

On that note, thanks for reading!

Out For Spring Break

Review of Out For Spring Break by Avery Ford

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Jay is from a small town and has never felt comfortable being ‘out’ there. He’s decided to give himself the opportunity to have fun and fool around on a week-long gay cruise.

Tyler has only ever been with women. He knows he’s always been attracted to men as well and hopes that since winning tickets to a week-long gay cruise, he will finally get to explore his attraction to men.

Neither man is looking for anything long-term. With one week to live free and play hard, they are both caught off guard by their mutual chemistry and feelings for the other. When their week together ends and both men need to return to reality, what will happen to the best thing either of them has ever had?

** I would give this book 4 stars for cuteness! I thought it was the cutest, sweetest story I’ve read in a long time. I do love a good 5-star story but sometimes a sweet, heartwarming story can be just as good as a long drawn out drama. This was simply written and easy to follow. The characters were written with enough emotional depth to make them loveable and maintain interest. I think my favorite thing was the straightforward delivery of the story. The two characters meet, hit it off and decide to spend the cruise together.

I did find this version of the story on Kindle Unlimited a bit misleading, however. The description indicates this book is 382 pages, (which is why I put off reading it for so long since I wanted a nice chunk of time to read a really long book) but that is not the case. This book is only about 140 pages. The other 2/3rds of the 382 pages is a different book altogether. The second book is titled Love Song. I thought the premise of the second book sounded really familiar and after some digging discovered that I’ve already read this book under a different title and author. Not sure what is going on with that since no credit was being given to the other author but maybe that was just a pen name? The original version I read was called Write You A Song by Beau Evans and was published March 20, 2017.

Either way, Out For Spring Break was a nice, easy read. Someone looking for sweet characters and a quick page turner will find this quite enjoyable.

Until the End of Time

Review of Until the End of Time by Nicky James

Simon Stockley is a Magistrate and judge in training in 1827, England. While commencing trial and sentencing one afternoon, Simon’s entire world is thrown for a loop. One glance at James Hansen changes everything for the Magistrate. He himself has worked his entire life to hide his true nature and inclination, yet here is James with his life hanging in the balance for the very same crimes Simon could be accused of. What is it in those few moments, staring into those eyes so filled with rage, that has Simon questioning his decisions from that moment on?

** Definitely 5 stars from me. Maybe I’m turning into a bit of a historical romance lover, but this book was so well done. I really appreciated the modern lead in that set the groundwork for the tale to be told, making the story feel more like a memory than just a novel set in time.

Nicky James put so much detail and thought into every page of this story. The prose was so poetic and seamless, it was such a joy to read. This book was flawless and we sometimes forget, as readers, all the hard work and research that goes into a work of this quality. The terminology and references of a time long gone, gave the reader a concrete setting and headspace. Though I am not a history buff, the details of the setting and world building, immediately transported me back to a time where I could easily envision the everyday life of the characters. The struggle Simon and James faced was a very real part of their daily life and every decision they made. It hurts to know there was a time when these events would have been commonplace and to think there are places like this still; such a tragedy.

There were so many emotions being processed throughout this reading (by me and the characters). I laughed, I cried, I was pissed, my heart broke, and I loved it all! This was a story I won’t soon forget. It’s so nice when you find a story to measure other stories against. They remind you why you are so frugal with your highest praise and what it takes to measure up. This was only my second Nicky James novel, but I can assure you, there will be more to follow.