M/M Monday Carry the Ocean Review

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This book is a bit hard for me to review because it’s hard to really describe the characters and the depth of their relationship without giving too much away. This book made me think and it made me cry and it brought a few sighs out as well.

The main characters Emmet and Jeremey are both characters who are different (not on the mean). Emmet’s family is so loving and supportive that most the time he’s okay with that and he’s been raised to know that being like everyone else isn’t the best thing and that there is no normal. Unfortunately Jeremey wasn’t given the same love and support. His family wanted him to be “normal” and refused to accept that he needed help. This book really brought home how much of a difference having a loving and supportive family can make. This book showcases both Emmet and Jeremey and how they find a place where they belong and discover that someone who fits in their lives perfectly. That someone who sees them and accepts them and loves them because not despite who they are. I loved the language that they developed between the two of them for when they were overwhelmed or how they would text instead of talking because sometimes it was easier.

I also loved David who was a very important secondary character. I loved that Emmet saw David as a man not a paraplegic. Although Emmet didn’t like David for quite awhile David really liked that Emmet treated him as a man not a man in a wheel chair. This book hit me in so many different ways and the story was SO MUCH MORE than an M/M romance.

I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a touching and emotional story.  I give this book 4 Charms!

 

Still In Love with You Review

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I liked this book and I thought both Parker and Aubrey were very likable characters although I will say I didn’t like the way Aubrey not only let the gossips go on about “the wedding” but played along knowing that Parker had a girlfriend. That had me on the edge of not liking her but the farther we got along in the story the more I liked her. I liked the banter between Parker and Aubrey and I loved how comfortable they were together. I thought they dealt with the PTSD issue pretty well and I also liked that there were no easy answers for them. Aubrey wasn’t expected to just give up her career and Parker wasn’t expected to just up and move for her. It was two people who loved each other and who have to find ways to fight to be together. There were a few unrealistic moments in the book but it didn’t take me so far out of the reading pleasure that it truly bothered me. There were definitely some loose strings at the end that didn’t wrap up neatly but I never doubted that Aubrey and Parker would make it work.

Overall an enjoyable and humorous romance.  I give this book 3 charms.

 

 

Take Me Back Review

 

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Take Me Back is the 4th book in Paradise, Idaho but can easily be read as a stand alone book. The main characters are Jim and Hallie. Jim and Hallie had one night of sex when they were younger and then Jim went off to the Army. Hallie eventually left her hometown and made a life for herself. Hallie’s father who is a horrible person dies in the beginning of this book bringing Hallie home. In order to inherit she has to stay in his home for 6 months and not have sex with Jim. Jim and Hallie have a lot of sexual tension. Here’s where I had a bit of a problem (once you find out everything that really happened between Jim and Hallie I can’t quite figure out why she was still infatuated/in love with him. Let’s face it, Jim was a huge jerk as a young man and Hallie deserved better. What I did like is that Jim admitted what a rotten guy he was as a young man and that he should have treated Hallie better. He had to work to get her to be in a relationship with him again and I loved that. What didn’t really work for me was the suspense. Their were enough suspects to keep in interesting but I never really understood the motivation for the escalation of violence towards Hallie. It happened so quickly and IMO wasn’t explained well enough. I also would have liked to have seen more interaction between Jim’s daughter and Hallie because there were definitely some issues that needed to be worked out there. Overall, though I enjoyed the book and would definitely read another in the series.  I give this book 4 Charms.

 

Saved by Darkness Review

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Saved by the Darkness is the 6th book in the series and while you could possibly read it as a stand alone you’d get more enjoyment by starting at the beginning of the series. This book features Ian the half demon and half dragon. I was intrigued by this character in early books and was very happy to read his book. This is a second chance story about Ian and Fiona who he had met and fallen in love with 50 years earlier. Circumstances kept them apart until they finally met again in this book. There is plenty of action, intrigue and of course wonderful characters and a great love story. I have enjoyed all the characters in these books and we get several of their POVs in this book. It’s fun to catch up with Ian’s brothers and of course Finn. This book takes us to another hell realm and the descriptions make it easy to imagine the realm. This is an entertaining series with well developed and likable characters and we can’t forget it has Dragons!

I give this book 4 charms!

Top Ten Tuesday – Top M/M Romances

These are the Top Ten M/M Romances in no particular order chosen by both cloudberry and I:

10506237 Hot Head by Damon Suede

This was actually the first M/M book I ever read and it’s still one of my favorites.  Other than the fact that two fireman are super hot I loved the way the two friends were both attracted to each other and couldn’t admit it so they came up with some crazy excuse to be together.  The scenes between the two were smoking hot!

13423284 Chase in Shadow by Amy Lane

Maybe it’s weird, but I actually love this book because of just how messed up Chase is. He has his head so down the rabbit hole he can’t see the forest for the trees. Until he almost kills himself and then everything is clear to him. He has an amazing support net of friends and coworkers who believe in him even when he doesn’t believe in himself. In this book, Chase goes from a boy to a man.

22267616-1 Hell & High Water by Charlie Cochet

I love the world building in this book and it has likable, well developed characters with tons of humor!  I laughed out loud a few times while reading this book.  Dex is a really fun character who I loved and I liked the slow burn between him and Sloan.  I also enjoyed the secondary characters and the interactions between the whole team.

17560488 Dirty Laundry by Rhys Ford

This is where Cole and Jae really solidify. Jae realizes he’s never going to be the perfect son his mother wants and that he’s never going to get her to love him as he is, whereas Cole doesn’t want to change a thing about him and loves him anyway. What this series has taught me is to not pass up a Rhys Ford novel. Ever.

10835196 Between Sinners and Saints by Marie Sexton

I loved both Jamie and Levi and how they brought out the best in each other. It was a slow burn and really had to be given Jamie’s past. I loved the gradually opening of Jamie’s heart and trust and how he slowly was able to try new things and become less fearful. I also loved the changes that Levi was willing to make to help Jamie. Levi grew and put Jamie first and through that was able to accept himself. Watching Levi learn to accept himself and balance his religious beliefs with his homosexuality was profound and moving.

18043694 Double Blind by Heidi Cullinan

There are actually quite a few features in this story I didn’t really care about, and the more times I reread it, the less I like them. Like Crabtree. Just eww. But I LOVE how Randy saves Ethan and how Ethan lets him. I love how Ethan blossoms and becomes so much more than he was in the beginning. I love how Randy gets him to realize who he is and who he can be.

30622993 Aced by Ella Frank and Brooke Blaine

This was a fun, low angst M/M romance that I just really enjoyed.  I loved that both Ace and Dylan were lusting over each other before they even met.  The two just fit together and I liked how Dylan accepted Ace and his need to keep things private but also how Ace went out of his way to make Dylan’s fantasy come true.

24118011 Lonely Hearts by Heidi Cullinan

I’ve been smitten with this series since the start, but it just keeps getting better with each book. Baz and Elijah weren’t who I thought would end up together, I don’t think I even liked them in the beginning, but they work. I love their insecurities and how they support each other. These two have no qualms about being vulnerable when the other can see.

32053864 Leo Loves Aries by Anyta Sunday

This was another really cute and fun book.  The banter and humor is this book was perfect!  I loved how Theo was a bit clueless when it came to Jamie and his “date” with Liz that turned out to be more of a date with Jamie was priceless.  This was one of those books where you can’t help laughing and anticipating Theo’s Ah-ha moment.

23629498 Making Nice by Elizah J. Davis

This is one of my favorites through all time. I’ve read and/or listened to it maybe 4-5 times now, just in a few years. It’s a little snarky and a lot of funny, and it’s just nice to follow Ryan and Blake snipe at each other when all they really want to do is tear each other’s clothes off and do the beast with two backs while whispering sweet nothings to each other.

 

 

 

 

M/M Monday Dating Ryan Alback

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Dating Ryan Alback was a cute book without much angst. I liked the concept of the book but the chemistry between Ryan and Jason just fell flat for me.

Ryan is an actor who wants to keep his private life private no matter what. Although he is starring on a television show he hates publicity. Ryan has some serious trust issues but his agent convinces him to do a publicity stunt where he is set up on a date with someone.

Jason is a teacher who’s friend convinces him to let her enter him in the contest. He doesn’t expect to win and lets her just so she’ll stop bugging him about his lack of love life. Jason is still hung up on his ex who he was with for seven years. He thinks his ex is his soul mate and can’t understand what went wrong.

So between Ryan’s lack of trust and Jason still being hung up on his ex the “bonding” scenes between the two just didn’t seem to work for me and it all just seemed a bit awkward. It comes as no surprise when a tabloid gets the details of their date Ryan blames Jason and he isn’t nice about it! Jason not knowing about Ryan’s past gets angry and leaves.

I thought the scene where Jason goes out and gets drunk and trades hand jobs in a bar with some random stranger to be a bit out of place. I’m not sure why that was in the book and threw me off somewhat. His motive was never really clear – was he trying to forget Ryan? Was he mad at Ryan? Did it have anything to do with Ryan at all?

I also didn’t buy Jason’s ex all of sudden showing up a year later with a change of heart. It seemed a bit contrived and almost obvious.

The book ended with a HFN. The two didn’t really ever make any big plans for the future except for a vacation together over the summer. I don’t think they were living together at the end more of a feeling of well let’s see what happens. I give this book 3 Charms.

 

M/M Monday: Five Times My Best Friend Kissed Me by Anna Martin

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I’m a fan of Anna Martin. She’s written a few of my all-time favorite novels, such as Tattoos & Teacups and Summer Son. But then there are also a few just nice novels, such as My Prince and now Five Times My Best Friend Kissed Me.

My biggest problem with the story is not the friends-to-lovers trope or the sweetness of it (it’s sweet!) but the nonlinear storytelling.

In one chapter Evan and Scott are 7-year-olds, in the next twentysomething, then it’s back to their teen years, and over and over and over. Perhaps it would have been easier to keep track if I’d read the story instead of listening to the audiobook, but it is available on audio.

There are some fantastic relationships in the story. First, Evan and Scott as children and teens. Their closeness to each other was nearly palpable. Both Evan’s and Scott’s relationships to their families are warm and ooze belonging. Even if Evan’s family is only his mother, it doesn’t feel lacking. Sometimes all you need are two people who love and trust each other.

The story is sweet but that is to be expected. It tells how two boys grow up together and grow into each other, how they are family to each other from almost the first moment they meet.

I sometimes complain a story has too much drama or that the drama is too major to be believable. Five Times My Best Friend Kissed Me could have used a little more drama, in my opinion. Even with the ups and downs in Evan and Scott’s relationship, it did leave me wanting a little. Yes, I had a smile on my face (and still do as I write this) many, many times as I listened to the story, but a mild warmth is pretty much the only thing it left me with.

Then again, warm is never a bad thing. I just wish it evoked something more in me.

Three charms on the Book Charmers’ scale.

 

Visit Anna Martin | Buy Five Times My Best Friend Kissed Me from Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

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Jack of Hearts Review

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Jack of Hearts is the first book in the Aces & Eights Series and it breaks my heart to give this book 3 charms because K2 by Sandra Owens is one of my favorite series but I had a hard time with this book. I really liked the concept of three brothers who are FBI agents and own a biker bar together. I just couldn’t relate to the heroine at all. She seemed REALLY young to me. It drove me crazy that she wouldn’t say anything to her mother about her cousin sexually harassing her and her uncle trying to force her to launder money through her business because she thought her mom was too fragile. Then when we finally meet her mom she doesn’t come across fragile at all so that plot point just didn’t work for me. I really liked Alex right up until he was a complete jerk to Madison <spoiler>He has sex with her, she tells him she loves him and then he dumps her “for her own good”</spoiler>. Still the brother’s relationship was wonderful and I loved how they interacted with each other. So I’ll definitely read the next book in the series and hope this one was just a case of the heroine not working for me.

Guarding Mr. Fine Review

31869244Guarding Mr. Fine is the 3rd book in the Tough Love Series by HelenKay Dimon and can easily be read as a stand alone (I did). This book opens with the two main characters locking eyes across a crowded bar and a very hot, no-names hookup.

The next part has Seth Lang arriving in Munich to be the bodyguard of the U.S. consul general. Seth isn’t happy about this assignment and thinks of it as glorified babysitting. Rick Fine has been sent undercover to discover what happened to the last U.S. consul general who he thinks was murdered although the official ruling was suicide. Both Rick and Seth are shocked to find out that they will be working together and the attraction between the two is still blazing.

Throw in to males who are used to being in charge, a secret Rick is keeping from Seth, a mystery of who is using vaccine shipments to move illegal arms and this book explodes of the pages. The pacing of the book was well done and things moved along at a nice speed. There were a few twists and turns and a few suspicious characters although I have to admit I thought the villain was fairly obvious from the beginning.

I really liked both characters, the chemistry was fantastic and they had some humorous banter along the way, especially when Seth got jealous when faced with one of Rick’s old lovers. The sex was hot and just the right amount for me. I also found the dichotomy of Rick being a sexy “nerd” but still having his Alpha moments one of my favorite parts of the book. I found the secondary characters interesting and I hope that Alec and his brothers have their own books at some point.

The thing that took this from a 5 star to a 4 star book for me was the confusing climax at the end. <spoiler>Why was Owen there with a gun? </spoiler>and the ridiculous match making part of the plot.

Overall, an explosive, fast-paced, sexy and fun romantic suspense. I definitely plan to go back and read the first two books!  I give this book 4 Charms.

 

TOP TEN TUESDAY

In Honor of Valentine’s Day our Top Ten for the week is the Top Ten Contemporary Romance books.  Now I admit I don’t read as much contemporary as I do paranormal romance, science fiction romance and romantic suspense but I definitely have my favorites.  So here they are in no particular order:

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Here are some of the books that the other members of Book Charmers thought were Top Ten Contemporary Books:

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What are your favorite contemporary romances?