Thursday, September 27, 2012

Two Tickets to Paradise

This is the latest Dreamspinner Press anthology, which I picked up from NetGalley. 

Because there are so many short stories included, I'll change up my usual review format and talk briefly about each one.  

A Good Night's Sleep by Anna Martin - B- - Two guys backpacking through Thailand and Malaysia meet on a train and hook up (yep, train sex).  The story is very short, so the hopeful kind of HFN is appropriate.  I know I got this from NetGalley and I can expect to find some errors which (hopefully) won't be there in the final version, but can I just say that Sydney, Australia is spelt with a "y" and not an "i"?  

Fall Forward by Jamie Love - D - 2 college guys take their first vacation together.  I didn't really enjoy this story; it was a bit clumsy and delved into boring minutiae.  

Reconnecting by Claire Russett - B - Physics professor meets up with the ex who broke his heart at a conference in Corfu. Quite good but I didn't get the excitement over getting a free 16GB flashdrive as conference swag - are they that expensive?  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I'm over at ARRA today

My review of Nora Roberts' The Last Boyfriend is up at the ARRA blog. They don't grade over there.  But I gave it a C+.  Come over and say hi! :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Seven Sexy Sins by Serenity Woods

Why I read it:  I heard Twitter buzz and pre-ordered this one.  As is often the case, it took me a little while to get to it on Mt. TBR.

What it's about:  (from Goodreads)  The road to passion is paved with guilty pleasures.

Faith Hillman is in a bit of a pickle. She’s been commissioned to write a series of magazine articles on spicing up your love life. She’s got the theme—the “Seven Sexy Sins”—but there’s one major problem. She hasn’t experienced any of them.

Ever since Faith’s older brother gave Rusty Thorne a black eye for kissing her on her eighteenth birthday, he’s kept his distance, waiting for the right time to make his move. This is it. She needs a research partner? He’s the man for the job.

When sex-on-legs Rusty offers his services, Faith is all over it—with one caveat. The notorious heartbreaker must sign a confidentiality contract. Just to keep him safe from her brother’s wrath, of course…and her heart off Rusty’s long list of conquests.

As they work their wicked way through the list, the implications of the contract hit Rusty as hard as the handcuffs binding his wrists to the bed. It isn’t just Faith’s touch that rocks his world. It’s the way his heart likes it that blows his defenses out of the water. And makes him wonder, when the contract ends, if he can bear to let her go.

What worked for me (and what didn't): This book was so much fun!  Faith and Rusty are part of a wider group of friends (which includes her brother Dan) who have all hung out together for years and know each other very well.  Their camaraderie was obvious right from the beginning.  I like friends-to-lovers themed stories anyway, but where this one worked especially well for me was that time was taken throughout the story to show (as opposed to tell) that this couple were actually friends, with things in common.  Sure, they had a smoking chemistry together but there was a lot more to their relationship.  They talked about work and goals and dreams and I absolutely believed that they would be very happy together for the long term.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar

Why I read it: Brie from Romance Around the Corner mentioned this one to me on Twitter when we were talking about some New Adult books we were loving.  She wanted to get hold of the book but as the author is Australian, it was geo restricted for her. as an ebook and at the time, not available in print either.  Myself, I ended up waiting for the UK publication as it was less than half the price to buy it from The Book Depository than to get it here - even in an ebook version.  Brie tells me this one is now lined up next in her queue.

What it's about: (from Goodreads)  Carly has dropped out of uni to spend her days surfing and her nights working as a cook in a Manly cafĂ©. Surfing is the one thing she loves doing … and the only thing that helps her stop thinking about what happened two years ago at schoolies week.

And then Carly meets Ryan, a local at the break, fresh out of jail. When Ryan learns the truth, Carly has to decide. Will she let the past bury her? Or can she let go of her anger and shame, and find the courage to be happy?

Warning:  If you have rape triggers, this is not a book for you.

What worked for me (and what didn't): This is kind of a hard one for me to grade.  On the one hand, I devoured this book in 1 day, staying up way too late to make sure Carly got a happy/hopeful ending.  The writing was clean and engaging, even though I probably didn't understand more than half of the surfing language. (It will be interesting to see what Brie thinks of the Australianisms in the book - there's a lot of "mate" and other Aussie terms.  It felt authentic to me even while I was sometimes cringing at the way some of my brethren can be... less than articulate).  

Friday, September 14, 2012

All He Ever Needed by Shannon Stacey

Why I read it: Carina sent an early copy to all of it's auto-approved NetGalley reviewers.  Thank you Carina! But in any event, I'm a fan of the series.

What it's about: (from Goodreads)  Born to Roam

Mitch Kowalski lives out of a suitcase—and he likes it that way. Traveling for work has the added bonus of scaring off women who would otherwise try to tie him down. But when he’s called home to help with running the family lodge, he’s intrigued by the new girl in town and her insistence that she doesn’t need a man—for anything. If there’s one thing Mitch can’t resist, it’s a challenge, especially a beautiful one.

Looking for Home

After a nomadic childhood, Paige Sullivan is finally putting down roots. Determined to stand on her own two feet, she lives by the motto men are a luxury, not a necessity. But when Mr. Tall, Dark and Hot pulls up a stool in her diner and offers her six weeks of naughty fun with a built-in expiration date, she’s tempted to indulge.

Mitch won’t stay put for a woman, and Paige won’t chase after a man—they’re the perfect match for a no-strings fling. Until they realize the amazing sex has become anything but casual…

What worked for me (and what didn't): First of all, Mitch Kowalski is ROWR.  He's also a bit of a player, but he's not a dick about it.  He makes it clear from the start that he's not into long term.  Things will end, he will say goodbye and leave.  He won't call, he won't text and he won't be back.His role as boss/owner of a demolition company (what a cool job!)  means he travels a lot and he's very busy and he learned the hard way that his business and a long term relationship don't mix well. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I'm at AudioGals today!

I'm over at AudioGals today discussing JD Robb's In Death series in general and Innocent in Death in particular.  So happy to be their very first guest reviewer.  Stop by and say hello! :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My review of Overseas is up at ARRA

I'm over at the ARRA blog with a review of Beatriz Williams' Overseas today.  (They don't grade there but I gave it a B.)  

There's even a giveaway for members.  Come say hi! :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Power Play by Rachel Haimowitz & Cat Grant

Why I read it: My very first foray into m/m romance was with Anah Crowe's Uneven, a book recommended by Sarah Frantz, former Dear Author reviewer (and, as it happens, current Riptide Publishing editor who, I understand, had a hand in editing either the second or both of the Power Play books).  Uneven was a book which didn't work for me that well, because I didn't "get" BDSM and especially the pain side of things.  Plus, there was blood.  One MC kept hitting the other and making him bleed and I just didn't understand why that would be fun for anyone. Since then, I've read a bit more and have learned a little more about it, although I can't say that I'm any kind of expert or that I really understand it.  Still, I'm a curious and adventurous reader.  I heard that this book/series "explained" BDSM in a way that made it accessible without being boring.    I downloaded it (as well as Power Play: Awakening) from NetGalley but I'll admit it took me a while to be brave enough to open it, especially after reading the advisory:  

Reader discretion advised. This title contains heavy kink. While consent is clearly established and frequently reaffirmed, some moments in Power Play push hard against the outer edges of consent.

What it's about: (from Goodreads)  Give me six months, and I'll give you the world.

Brandon McKinney has scraped and sacrificed for what little in life he's ever had. Though it's been fifteen years since he escaped his father's abuse, the damage remains. Trust seems as far out of reach as his dream of becoming an architect, and though he's come to accept being gay, he can't deny the shame and confusion he feels at other urges--the deeply repressed desire to submit.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Beautiful Mess by Lucy V. Morgan

Why I read it:   Jayne from Dear Author had a great review of this one.  And, after I read that,  realising I already had the book on my TBR I moved it on up to the top of the pile.

A review mainly in quotes:  This cute funny short story is about Bailey, who lives with 3 male roommates (well, one doesn't actually live there but he's there so often he might as well) and what happens after her boyfriend of 2 years dumps her.  The boys decide to cheer her up with some pizza and Jagermeister.  As Bailey is a one pot wonder, before long she's confessing that her ex never gave her an orgasm.  The boys' responses are hilarious. I had many laugh out loud moments in this one.
"It does take a while sometimes,” said Olly.

“But you have to find the buttons before you can push them, so to speak. Preferably before you get a hand cramp.”

Monday, September 3, 2012

August Reads

on Paper/eBook

Men of Smithfield:  Mark & Tony by LB Gregg - B  Originally published by the now defunct Aspen Mountain Press, LB Gregg has found a new home for her Men of Smithfield series at Carina Press.  All 4 books (as well as some new ones yet to be written – yippee!) will be released by Carina and the first is Mark & Tony (originally titled Gobsmacked).
Told from the first person POV of Mark, a surgeon at the Smithfield Hospital, the story details how he comes home unexpectedly to find his live-in lover Jamie bonking the landlord in his bed and the revenge he takes (it involves hitting Jamie with a bible at the Ash Wednesday Mass and taking his things to the rubbish dump), only to find out that Jamie has also stolen all of his savings and appears to be in some serious trouble.   State Trooper and long time crush Tony Gervase becomes involved when Jamie’s desperation leads him to assault and a little B&E.   It turns out that everyone but Mark knew that Jamie was a cheating dickwad and everyone but Mark knows that Tony’s loved Mark since forever.
Because Mark and Tony have been best friends for years, it is easy to accept the speed of the romance in this story, which spans only a few days.  There is a definite HFN with the promise of a HEA but they don’t rush into forever after, which was nice.   
Mark and Tony manage to find time to steam up the bathroom, the sheets and the lounge room, Jamie gets what’s coming to him (more actually) and it’s all wrapped up in LB Gregg’s trademark humour – which is quirky and laugh out loud.    Recommended for who likes a fast-paced funny contemporary M/M romance with some depth. **NB this review first appeared in the August ARRA members newsletter**

August Ice by Dev Bentham - See my full review here.