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: ‘Invitation to the Blues’ by Roan Parrish

38510053Published March 28th 2018
220 pages

Eight months ago Jude Lucen fled his partner, his career, and a hospital in Boston after a suicide attempt. Now back in Philadelphia, he feels like a complete failure. Piano has always been his passion and his only escape. Without it, he has nothing. Well, nothing except a pathetic crush on the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen.

Faron Locklear came to Philly looking for a fresh start and has thrown himself into tattooing at Small Change. He’s only met Jude a few times, but something about the red-haired man with the haunted eyes calls to him. Faron is blown away by Jude’s talent. What he isn’t expecting is the electricity he feels the first time they kiss—and the way Jude’s needs in bed speak directly to his own deepest desires.

Jude and Faron fall fast and hard, but Jude has spent a lifetime learning that he can’t be what the people he loves need. So when the opportunity arises to renew his career in Boston, he thinks he has to choose: music, or Faron? Only by taking a huge risk—and finally believing he’s worthy of love just as he is—can he have the chance for both.

THIS BOOK. THIS SERIES. THIS AUTHOR. Everything is just so good. So so so SO good. With every book I read from Roan Parrish, I get more and more blown away by her way with words. She just gets better and better. This book was absolutely stunning.

We met Jude and Faron in the first book of this series, ‘Small Change’, but I do feel like this book stands pretty well on its own if you haven’t read that (although I highly recommend that you do anyway, because it’s one of my favourite M/F books of all time). There are characters who pop up from the first book, but this is most definitely entirely Jude’s story. And god, is it heartbreakingly gorgeous.

I will say that it’s not always the easiest story to read. Not because of the writing, that is flawless, but the subject matter is pretty heavy. Jude is seriously depressed. There’s no sugar-coating it, he is not in a good place. He’s coming back from a suicide attempt, feeling worthless and hopeless, feeling like a failure and undeserving of love. Like he’s not worth the effort. He’s having to deal with his manipulative ex and the loss of the music career that was his whole life. It’s difficult to be inside his head, seeing how badly he’s hurting and not being able to reassure him.

But that’s where Faron comes in. These two were so completely meant to be. Faron is captivating and compassionate and so completely in tune with what Jude needs. He doesn’t see him as damaged or broken, he sees the beauty and strength and passion inside of him that Jude can’t see himself. It’s one of those romances where neither of the people involved are perfect, but they are truly perfect for one another. Faron brings Jude back to life, brings him back out into the world, brings him the all-encompassing, unconditional love and understanding he’s always needed.

As someone who struggles with depression and anxiety myself, this was quite a therapeutic read for me; watching someone battling demons like mine let someone in to love them as they are. I saw a lot of myself in Jude, so him getting his happy ending was quite overwhelming in the best kind of way.

Essentially, this was a powerful romance full of everything I’ve come to adore from Roan. Poetic writing, gorgeous characters with deep connections, delicious descriptions of food (and some not so pleasant ones, but still just as vivid) and, of course, a wonderful canine companion. I felt completely wrung out by the end, but also like a little broken part inside of me had been healed. It was simply beautiful.

5/5 stars

Review: ‘Dream’ by Garrett Leigh

36423334Published January 23rd 2018
240 pages

When unrequited love leaves Dylan Hart sleepless and nursing his wounds, instinct draws him to the one place he’s found mindless respite in the past—Lovato’s. It’s a place for every fantasy — for crazy-hot encounters — where a night of insane NSA sex brings relief to Dylan’s fragile feelings.

It should be a perfect escape, and for one magical night it seems that way, but then worlds collide, and reality bites when his hookup desperately needs a friend. Surely Dylan can’t trust his instincts when friendship has bruised his heart so badly before?

The deck is stacked against former ballet dancer Angelo Giordano ever finding real love. At least visiting Lovato’s offers respite from a life defined by illness; a glimmer of light in the dull grey of his so-called life without dance. But then he encounters Dylan — a glorious ray of the brightest sunshine — who makes his heart pound once more with purpose.

Angelo’s mind is blown by this man, but the disease that ended his career won’t let him bask in new love. He’s drowning, and Dylan can’t save him while insecurities swamp them both. The only way to make it means confronting their demons.

If Dylan can turn his back on the past, and Angelo can face his uncertain future, maybe they can chase their dreams together.

It’s a new Garrett Leigh release! My favourite kind. And oh my lord….HOT. DAMN. In every sense of those words. It’s packed with everything Garrett is best at; angst and hurt and grit, but also a real sense of comfort and healing. The perpetual ray of sunshine that is Dylan from ‘What Matters’ returns, and meets the heart-breakingly tortured soul that is Angelo.

And boy, do they meet in spectacular fashion. There’s no messing around, it’s straight in with a smokin’ hot encounter in a dark, grungy sex club. Entirely anonymous, blindfold included, but there’s an immediate connection. Angelo is so drawn to Dylan, captured by this angelically beautiful man completely at his mercy, and Dylan falls apart beneath his powerful touch. There’s certainly never a doubt about their chemistry.

This whole book was a constant contrast of light and dark, Dylan with his sunny attitude and Angelo shrouded in dark clouds and mystery. I really like that Dylan had such a normal job, nothing glamorous or sexy, and he really loved it. That whole environment suited him more than I expected it to, and it really emphasised his inherent need to help people. He’s slowly trying to bring that bright spirit of his into Angelo’s world, but Angelo has these walls around him, boxing him in and weighing heavily on his shoulders, and it’s a real battle for them to get any kind of emotional intimacy.

The physical stuff, though? That they can do. There’s such a raw magnetism between the two of them. And the way Angelo transforms in the club is so damn sexy. It’s like he finally gets to be the man who he is deep down, all the pressure lifts off his shoulders so he can stand taller and command everything. He’s understated, he doesn’t need to be brash about it, the power just oozes out of him. But once they leave he starts to crumble, his body can’t hold him up anymore. It was genuinely painful to read how Angelo was at war with himself, physically and mentally, and it’s no wonder he feels so hopeless.

But once they start to get better at that whole communication thing, it finally gives them the opportunity to show a bit of affection and get closer. Dylan is so wonderful at taking care of Angelo, who’s so vulnerable that it broke my heart, and Angelo comes to crave that soothing comfort he provides. He feels like “Dylan’s touch brought him back to life”, and it’s such a fleeting thought for him, but it holds so much truth. And it’s obvious at the time that it’s going to continue to be even more true for them further down the line.

It does get quite heavy at times, being in Angelo’s head. He’s so despondent, forever asking himself why someone like Dylan would want him. He really can’t see it. Angelo’s self-esteem has been demolished by his illness, so he just can’t see anything good about the person he’s become because of it. In his head, he’s just this total mess, and he believes Dylan deserves the whole fucking world, so he’s always waiting for the other shoe to drop; tearing my heart into pieces the whole time because he has so much to give and it killed me that he couldn’t see it.

As deep and dark as this book may get, it’s also real and charming and Dylan keeps injecting these rays of light. As does Rhys, I love Rhys! He’s exactly what Dylan and Angelo needed, swooping in at the right moment to help them fix things. He’s level-headed and easy-going, the calm in their storm, and I’m very much looking forward to his book. I was also very taken with the sexy doctor that Angelo had the good fortune to meet, and a little birdie told me that was the gorgeous Marc from ‘Between Ghosts’! Who is also getting his own book, ‘Soul To Keep’, that comes out in April (that I have been lucky enough to read already and oh holy wow it’s incredible). Yay for wonderful intertwining worlds!

Somehow Garrett manages to get me every time with her little twists. I should learn to expect them by now, but I never see them coming. Just when things are looking up for the lovely boys, when you’re finally starting to believe they’re on the right track, communicating and being mature and falling in love…enter stage left DRAMA THAT HAS MY HEART IN MY THROAT. But all that hurt is always followed by the most wonderful comfort, and the scene in this book where Angelo and Dylan are stretching together, healing together, made my heart so full. Seeing Angelo more positive and in control, recognising his own progress and using it to help Dylan, it was beautiful. These two really felt made for each other.

The epilogue was everything I needed, it was damn near fluff for Garrett (fluff in a sex club, who knew?). Dylan and Angelo are not the same contrast of light and dark anymore; they’re keeping each other in the light. They endured the pain of the journey and came out the other side believing in their future together, and that loveliness mended all the little pieces of my heart that had been shattered throughout this story. I adored it.

5/5 stars