Review: ‘Reverb’ by Anna Zabo

43185688Published May 6th 2019
317 pages

Twisted Wishes bass player Mish Sullivan is a rock goddess—gorgeous, sexy and comfortable in the spotlight. With fame comes unwanted attention, though: a stalker is desperate to get close. Mish can fend for herself, just as she always has. But after an attack lands her in the hospital, the band reacts, sticking her with a bodyguard she doesn’t need or want.

David Altet has an instant connection with Mish. A certified badass, this ex-army martial arts expert can take down a man twice his size. But nothing—not living as a trans man, not his intensive military training—prepared him for the challenge of Mish. Sex with her is a distraction neither of them can afford, yet the hot, kink-filled nights keep coming.

When Mish’s stalker ups his game, David must make a choice—lover or bodyguard. He’d rather have Mish alive than in his bed. But Mish wants David, and no one, especially not a stalker, will force her to give him up.

I was thrilled when I found out that Mish was getting a book! Seeing Ray and Dominic each get their respective HEAs in the first two books of this series was a joy, and it’s only right that we get to see Mish get hers too.

She may be a bad-ass rockstar but someone has it out for her and she needs a professional to watch her back. David is exactly the man for the job. And as much as she resents his presence in the beginning, the chemistry between them is explosive and she soon finds herself pretty damn glad that he’s there. David’s priority is keeping Mish and the rest of the band safe, but it gets harder and harder to do as he falls head over heels for his rock queen. And when he starts to think he’s not the best thing for her or her bandmates he has to make some tough decisions that break him apart.

This is a book full of a lot of intense emotion. Fear and anger, elation and lust. It takes you everywhere. I loved Mish’s strength, the way she stood her ground against the person wanting to tear her down, but also the way she let herself be vulnerable with the people she trusts. I loved how her and David complemented each other, how they let each other be unapologetically themselves. I loved David’s self-assurance, his honesty, his empathy and his genuinely huge heart.

I loved how beautifully queer everybody in this Twisted Wishes family was and how who they were, who they loved, how they identified – none of it ever became bigger than they were. It was never used as a plot point or something that entirely defined anyone, it was just a part of them, the way it always should be.

I also absolutely adored that David, an ex-military man in his 40s, carried a teddy bear with him and didn’t show an ounce of shame about it. I connected with him in a huge way over Marly, the comfort and safety Marly brought him given everything he’s had to combat in his life. And the way Mish accepted it too, the way she understood the importance of it, that really touched me.

There was so much to love, and that overwhelming sense of family and friendship that came through in the earlier instalments of this series really shined in this book. It’s most definitely a series I’ll go back to.

4/5 stars

Review: ‘Made For You’ by Anyta Sunday

45177210Published May 1st 2019
258 pages

Ben wants to find a new home.
Twenty-four-year-old Ben McCormick is the primary caregiver for his brother Milo after their parents’ death. A year into the job, he’s totally got the hang of it. Mostly. Sort of. Not at all?
Defeated and thoroughly chastised for his lack in parenting skills at teacher-parent night, Ben slumps away with the resolve to finally get his life sorted: be a better role model, and sell their parents’ house for a fresh start.
But first, he needs to spruce up his house to hit the market. He’s no DIY king, but Milo’s hot-as-hell woodwork teacher is…

Jack wants an old home to fix.
Thirty-nine-year-old Jack Pecker is waiting for the home of his dreams to come on the market in the summer. What better way to wait the interim months than working on a small renovation gig?
Only trouble is, the gig is for the McCormick brothers. And working in close quarters to red-haired Ben McCormick won’t be easy. Not with the attraction that simmers between them. Attraction Ben makes no effort to hide.
But Jack’s professional. Dating a parent is highly discouraged at Kresley Intermediate, and he’d never cross the lines…

Ben and Jack. Two guys searching for a home –
– a home that might just be where their hearts lead them.

The Queen of Slow Burn strikes yet again! This book was an absolute dream to read. Anyta Sunday always manages to bring light and joy to every book, and this was no exception. Ben and Milo have been dealt a dreadful hand, faced with the tragedy of losing both of their parents in an accident. So now it’s up to Ben to be a parent to his younger brother and it’s a heavier weight on his shoulders than he wants to admit.

Jack is a more mature figure in Milo’s school life, someone who can handle his attitude and misbehaviour. Someone who can understand the changes he’s going through, the grief he’s carrying, and channel it into something productive. Someone Ben can look up to as well, someone he can lean on, and when Jack can’t stop himself getting roped into fixing up Ben and Milo’s house, he can’t stop himself leaning on them too.

Anyta Sunday’s characters always have such incredible personalities that burst off the page. Ben and Milo are truly funny, they’re quirky and silly, and Jack harbours this irrepressible warmth and wonderful sense of humour. They all just felt so real. And they really were made for each other. Jack tries to maintain a professional distance from the caregiver of one of his students, but it’s simply impossible when faced with the beautiful Ben.

Ben who’s the best for so many reasons. Ben who’s trying so hard to do what he’s supposed to, who loves his brother with everything he has, who lights up any room he walks into. Jack and Ben are both exactly what the other needs, and together they’re exactly what Milo needs as well. These men, this family, will stick with me for a long time.

4.5/5 stars

Review: ‘Montana Sky’ by R. J. Scott

43442724Published April 24th 2019

Martin’s name was the very last on a kill list. The son of a murderer, he’s had no childhood; lost in a horrific holding pattern of death that turned his heart to stone. Thanks to the man who called him brave and spared his life, he no longer has to look over his shoulder, but he does have one question. Why did Justin let him live?

Tyler Colby has identified a major flaw in the seismic mapping system used to monitor earthquake activity. Sent to Crooked Tree by his employer, the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, he is tasked with adding a new remote station to the network. The installation should be his entire focus, but the lure of sapphires and his attraction to a heartbroken young man called Martin is enough to make him want more.

R. J. Scott takes us to Crooked Tree once more! Martin arrives on the ranch looking for answers from Justin and finds himself staying for longer than he imagined. He keeps his head down, doing what he needs to do before he moves on to somewhere else, but fate brings him a reason to stay in the form of Tyler.

Martin is shy and scared, lost and alone, having no clue where he belongs. Tyler is smart and passionate, awkward and goofy, and completely captivated by Martin. A lot of this book is spent with these two being away from the ranch and all its inhabitants, which I found myself really enjoying. As much as I love all the various characters, it can sometimes be a bit busy on Crooked Tree, so it was nice to focus on just these two men.

My favourite part of this story was the build up. When Martin and Tyler are getting to know each other, working together and starting to open up to each other. Seeing Martin start to let someone in after everything he’s been through and everything he believes about himself really tugs on the heartstrings. The pacing changed once they actually started exploring what they had together. I found things moved a bit too fast for me after that, their relationship becoming a bit of a whirlwind when I think Martin maybe needed a bit more time and space to come to terms with everything. But that’s just me!

This visit to Crooked Tree Ranch was sweet and charming whilst still tackling some pretty dark events, but as always with this series there’s the overall feeling of love, acceptance and forgiveness. Crooked Tree always feels like home.

3.5/5 stars

Review: ‘Play Hard’ by Avery Cockburn

44596044Published April 23rd 2019
135 pages

Robert McKenzie lives to work. He’s fresh out of university as a video-game entrepreneur, and his new app could actually save lives. But burning the candle at both ends means missing out on the best parts of his own life—including his boyfriend, Liam.

Liam Carroll works to live. His job as a bartender pays the rent—if not always the heating bill—and that’s plenty for now. But Robert’s workaholism reminds Liam his own life is going nowhere, and his own dreams are scaring the pants off him.

To jolt them out of their ruts, Robert invents a new game: He and Liam are to take turns offering each other sexy new challenges with irresistible rewards.

Of course, Robert gets more than he bargained for, as Liam takes their game in one surprising direction after another. Whether it’s in the bedroom, on the football pitch, or at the pub (or even the supermarket?), the things they learn about each other—and themselves—could change their lives forever.

This book was everything I needed! I always crave follow-ups to couples I love where there aren’t any big fights, no huge miscommunications, just lots of love and hard work trying to keep things as good and exciting as they were in the beginning. This is the follow-up book I’ve always wanted!

The Glasgow Lads series is one of my ultimate favourites, Avery Cockburn nails it every single time for me. Liam and Robert aren’t necessarily my favourite couple from the series (Colin and Andrew forever!), but I still love them dearly. They’re the true friends-to-lovers pairing that nobody can deny were meant to be. I’d have been thrilled by a second story from any of the Glasgow Lads, but I could feel in my soul that an update from Liam and Robert would bring me joy.

There were so many time where I was bracing myself for the inevitable fight and idiotic moment where the couple fall out because of egos or misunderstanding, but hallelujah! These guys didn’t conform! They actually talked to each other. They communicated like grown ups. They fit so perfectly into each other’s lives and knew exactly what the other needed. No words I could type would do justice to just how grateful I am for this book. Avery Cockburn didn’t go looking for drama, she didn’t manufacture unnecessary disagreements. She simply demonstrated just how much these two men loved each other and were willing to put in the work to keep each other happy.

This novella explores all the ways these boys know how to keep thing fresh and stimulating and romantic. It’s very sexy, Liam and Robert really know how to push each other’s buttons, but at the heart of every action is so much love. They want to build each other up, support each other, and make sure that the other is truly happy.

I could not get enough of this book, and I wish that all the couples in every book I’ve read could be revisited like Liam and Robert were. It was light-hearted and fun, but it was a real insight into how these guys will really make it in the long run. I cannot rate it highly enough, and I will be patiently waiting for whatever instalment Avery Cockburn has for us next in this spectacular series.

5/5 stars

 

Review: ‘Arctic Sun’ by Annabeth Albert

42354665Published April 1st 2019
384 pages

Ex-military mountain man Griffin Barrett likes his solitude. It keeps him from falling back into old habits. Bad habits. He’s fought too hard for his sobriety to lose control now. However, his gig as a wildlife guide presents a new kind of temptation in super hot supermodel River Vale. Nothing the Alaskan wilderness has to offer has ever called to Griffin so badly. And that can only lead to trouble…

River has his own methods for coping. Chasing adventure means always moving forward. Nobody’s ever made him want to stand still—until Griffin. The rugged bush pilot is the very best kind of distraction, but the emotions he stirs up in River feel anything but casual, and he’s in no position to stay put.

With temptation lurking in close quarters, keeping even a shred of distance is a challenge neither’s willing to meet. And the closer Griffin gets to River, the easier it is to ignore every last reason he should run.

Oh man. This book. I’ve got so many damn feelings about this book. I will read every word Annabeth Albert ever writes, and that is impossibly even more true after reading Arctic Sun. This felt like a slightly new direction for her. It was as beautifully written as ever, but there was something more intense about this book that I feel like I haven’t read from her before.

The whole story, but especially the first half of the book is very gently paced. Two men meet in the gorgeous surroundings the Alaskan wilderness, and it’s definitely on the slow-burn side of things when it comes to their romance. There’s chemistry from the start, but that goes along with a lot of avoidance and frustration and denial, and it feels like a very natural journey for these two very different people to take.

They’ve both got their demons, rather dark ones that infiltrate their minds quite a lot, and there’s a few parts of this story that I found really difficult to read. Mostly figuratively as all the emotions beat me up from every angle, but also literally at times as I could barely see my Kindle screen through the tears pouring down my face!

Both Griffin and River have weights on their shoulders, and the way they think about themselves is a tough thing to digest when from an outsider’s perspective it’s easy to see all the good in their hearts. But as rough a journey as it was for them, Annabeth guides them gracefully to a place where they can help build each other up and find somewhere safe to grow together.

This book went to new places I’ve never been with Annabeth Albert before, but I’d trust her to take me anywhere she wants to go. Her writing will always be right up there with my favourites, and I just know that this new series is going to be an adventure.

4.5/5 stars

Review: ‘Family Camp’ by Eli Easton

44437664Published March 28th 2019

When Geo signs up for Family Camp, he envisions nature hikes, s’mores, and a chance to win over his recalcitrant new foster kids, Jayden and Lucy. He’s tried to become a dad for so long, and he hopes the three of them can be the family he’s always wanted. What he doesn’t anticipate is the prickly and gorgeous camp counselor who constantly comes to his rescue.

Travis spends a week every year at Camp Evermore, the camp his adoptive parents own. As a pro baseball player, his presence guarantees a full campground and excited campers. He has one rule: never, ever mess around with anyone at camp. His profession demands he stay in the closet. But one sweet and funny new dad is about to test all his resolve.

Sparks fly for Geo and Travis, and not because of the nightly campfire. Having been a foster kid himself, Travis is drawn to Geo’s sincerity and big heart and to his kids. The four of them just fit. But will this be a summer romance? Or can they find a way to be a family long after Family Camp is over?

Oh man, this was such a feel good read! Geo is desperately trying to realise his dream of being a dad, and he’s taking his two new foster kids to a family camp for the week to do some bonding. A part of me wondered if it was going to get a bit cheesy or predictable, but everything felt so real and genuine. I was sucked in from the start.

It’s as much a story about family as it is about romance, there’s no way it could have been any different, but the balance was wonderful. I was rooting for Geo’s relationship with his kids as much as relationship with Travis. With Travis’s history of being a foster kid himself, he was just as eager as me to see Jayden and Lucy let their guards down and feel safe with Geo and his huge heart.

Both Travis and Geo were such good men, it warmed me down to my toes. But it wasn’t just a story overflowing with sunshine and flowers all the time, there were trials to be faced. So much trust had to be built, truths had to be faced, weights from the past left behind by everyone involved. But even with all of that complexity woven in, it didn’t take away from the feel-good factor.

I can’t wait to see what else Eli Easton will bring us with this series!

4/5 stars

Review: ‘Jude’ by Garrett Leigh

44588388Published March 24th 2019

Isha has spent the last year watching his BFF get his happily-ever-after. He’s proud of Dom, but…it hurts to see him so free while Isha’s love life is still on lockdown. Only Isha’s ex-wife knows the secret that he’s kept caged for so long—that he’s queer too, and he’s lonely.

Jude’s too chained to his work to notice what he’s missing by being terminally single, but a new face in the village soon catches his attention. City boy Isha is gorgeous, and when he starts to haunt Jude’s reptile shop as well as the hook-up app on his phone, he’s a welcome distraction from Jude’s business problems.

For a control freak like Isha, letting Jude under his skin is an existential meltdown, but Jude’s not in the market to be anyone’s queer crisis, not when he’s facing troubles of his own. Unlocking their lives could push both men apart forever, but it might be a risk worth taking if sharing is the key to their happy future.

I was excited about this book before I even knew what it was. Garrett was asking teasing questions about what to name the Exotic Pet Shop in this story and I knew from that point onwards it was going to be at the top of my TBR pile. I am a massive animal lover, every shape and size, and all the reptiles (plus the parrot!) in this book were stunning. I could genuinely read a book about Jude’s day to day life working in his shop…

But really the animals were just a welcome bonus in an incredible romance between two beautifully flawed men. Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely moments I wanted to bang their heads together for trying to push each other away when they had such ridiculous chemistry, but that was all just part of the rollercoaster I’ve come to expect from every story Garrett Leigh writes.

I loved every facet of this book, I really struggled to put it down. There’s so much complexity and, of course, plenty of angst. Jude dealing with his epilepsy was eye-opener for me as it’s not something I’ve ever known about, and I liked how although it had its influences on Jude’s life, it didn’t define who he was. Isha’s convinced it’s his job that drives him too, but I could see through that. He can think of himself as a bad father all he wants, but he lives for his kids. And of course the kids were complete and utter scene-stealers! Absolute gems.

These two men…they fit. It didn’t seem like they should, but they did. It was never going to be simple for them, but they got the ending they both genuinely deserved, and I like to think they were finally starting to see just how good they are, as people and as a couple. Hands down my favourite book of the series. Garrett, you nailed it yet again!

5/5 stars