Review: ‘Pisces Hooks Taurus’ by Anyta Sunday

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Published October 16th 2018
288 pages

Zane has it all planned out: land the perfect Meet Cute, fall in love, and live happily ever after.
Should be simple enough if he put his mind to it. A little creativity and some thinking outside of the box, and voila, he’d be married to the woman of his dreams.
It would be perfect.
And it would be before his visa ran out.

But why are his feelings running wild now that the pressure’s on? Why is his picture-perfect plan turning into a muddled mess of morphed metaphors he can’t make sense of anymore?

Just as well he’s met an English professor to help. And even though their first meet is anything but cute, this down-to-earth teacher may just be the realist Zane needs to ground him and give him a shot at love after all.

Anyta Sunday has outdone herself yet again. This book is solid gold. It’s a little bit cheesy, very sweet and the most feel-good book I’ve read this year. I smiled from start to finish.

The characters are everything. Zane is the sole narrator of this story, and he is simply stunning. Charming, unintentionally hilarious, and a completely hopeless romantic; working against the clock to find, fall for and marry the love of his life. He’s certainly not as unintelligent as he thinks he is, he’s more naive than anything else, but he’s so incredibly oblivious to the way his new friend Beckett feels about him. He’s even more oblivious to his own feelings towards Beckett, believing with such certainty for so long that their “bromance” is just a glorious friendship, until the truth of it smacks him in the face.

Beckett really is the “broken bull” that his neighbour, Darla (forever a scene-stealer), says he is. Divorced and jaded, he doesn’t believe in love anymore. Or more accurately, he wants to shut himself away from the possibility of being hurt by love again. So when this beautiful, brash, straight man lands on the doorstep of his neatly structured life, it turns his world upside down. Zane may be his polar opposite, but he’s the ray of light Beckett needed to see the fun and adventure the world still has to offer.

Beckett can see what Zane’s feelings are long before Zane himself does, but thankfully Beckett has the patience to wait for Zane to come to his own realisations. Yes, it takes time, but Anyta Sunday is the Queen of Slow-burn for a reason. Zane and Beckett’s journey is paced to perfection.

This is a book, and a series, that I will gladly read over and over again. Something to reach for whenever I need something warm and cozy to sink into, with characters that capture me every single time.

5/5 stars

Review: ‘Craft Brew’ by Layla Reyne

40242605Published October 8th 2018
304 pages

Assistant US attorney Dominic Price is staring down the barrel of his father’s debts. The bull’s-eye on his back makes him a threat to everyone he cares about, so when his lover wants to go public with their relationship, he bolts. Not because he isn’t in love—he can’t stomach the thought of putting Cam in danger.

Kidnap and rescue expert Cameron Byrne is determined to figure out what trouble Nic is running from, but devastating news from home brings him back to Boston and to the cold case that has haunted his family for two decades. Shoving aside his pride, he calls Nic for help.

Together they search for answers, navigating the minefield of Cam’s past. But when they get too close to the truth, Cam must use every skill in his arsenal to save the man he loves…before it’s too late.

In my review of Imperial Stout, I was struggling to decide if I loved Cam and Nic more than Aidan and Jamie from the Agents Irish and Whiskey series…well, it’s official. Cam and Nic have taken top spot!

I adored this book from start to finish. The two MCs are so much part of each other’s lives now, their chemistry is undeniable, and they feel like they’ve been together for years. Even though Nic is resistant to any kind of formal commitment for fear of dragging Nic into the danger of his family drama. But the universe just keeps on pushing them closer and closer together and it’s impossible not to will it to succeed.

It’s another case of the romance taking a little bit of a back seat to the suspense, but the action we’re following in this instalment is so much more personal and therefore it all holds a lot more meaning. Cam is going through some emotional trauma within his family, and then he goes on the hunt for his little sister who went missing so long ago. Something he’s carried around with him for so long, the guilt that has always tortured him and pulled him away from his family, and a case he’s bound by responsibility to solve.

It’s heart-wrenching, it’s gripping, it’s a difficult journey to follow Cam on, but we get to learn so much about him and his family along the way. A beautiful family hurt so deeply by such a tragedy. And the way that Nic is Cam’s anchor through it all is stunning. Nic is far away from the drama in his own life, although we gets glimpses of the progress on that side of things, and he just wants to be there to hold his man up. Even when that man is struggling to let him.

This book has the same thrilling feel as Layla’s other romantic suspense novels, but it has so much more depth. So much emotion and passion, I couldn’t get enough of it. Add in the explosive electricity between Cam and Nic and you’ve got yourself a masterpiece. I cannot recommend this book and this series enough.

5/5 stars

Review: ‘Honeymoon for One’ by Keira Andrews

41823691Published September 27th 2018
286 pages

Betrayed the night before his wedding by the supposed boy of his dreams, Ethan Robinson escapes the devastating fallout by going on his honeymoon alone to the other side of the world. Hard of hearing and still struggling with the repercussions of being late-deafened, traveling by himself leaves him feeling painfully isolated with his raw, broken heart.

Clay Kelly never expected to be starting life over in his forties. He got hitched young, but now his wife has divorced him and remarried, his kids are grown, and he’s left his rural Outback town. In a new career driving a tour bus on Australia’s East Coast, Clay reckons he’s happy enough. He enjoys his cricket, a few beers, and a quiet life. If he’s a bit lonely, it’s not the end of the world.

Clay befriends Ethan, hoping he can cheer up the sad-eyed young man, and a crush on an unattainable straight guy is exactly the safe distraction Ethan needs. Yet as the days pass and their connection grows, long-repressed desires surface in Clay, and they are shocked to discover romance sparking. Clay is the sexy, rugged man of Ethan’s dreams, and as the clock counts down on their time together, neither wants this honeymoon to end.

Keira Andrews can always be counted on to give me an enjoyable read, and this right here is another great one. Ethan is so wonderful; he’s sweet and reserved and he’s had a lot to come to terms with, losing his hearing later in life. And then he has to deal with the most heart-breaking betrayal. My heart ached for him. But he’s braver and stronger than he gives himself credit for and heads to the other side of the world to make the most of his dream honeymoon without his would-be-husband.

This is definitely a slow burn romance. A large amount of this book is seeing things through Ethan’s eyes (and ears), experiencing all of these new things along with him and witnessing how his hearing loss affects them. It’s a perspective I’ve never read before, and I feel like I’ve learned a lot through reading this story. I have a lot of admiration for Ethan and the way he handles everything. He really deserves better than what he got in his last relationship. And that’s where Clay comes in.

Clay is so incredibly Australian. A proper old-school Aussie bloke. He was such a joy to read. He’s genuine, kind and patient. Charming and funny. He is a little older than Ethan, he’s been married and divorced and has a couple of grown up kids, so he’s settled and mostly content doing what he does. He and Ethan’s friendship, and it really is just a friendship for quite a while, is organic and so very heart-warming. Clay is exactly what Ethan needed on his trip. And Ethan’s not-so-little crush on Clay is truly adorable.

Clay’s self-discovery about his sexuality could so easily have felt forced, but it really was believable. The young kid from the Outback suppressing his feelings and desires, burying them so deep and not allowing himself to think of them, that he genuinely doesn’t realise what it is that he’s buried. But Ethan has landed in Clay’s little world at the right time, in the right place, and they’ve both found something that fits them both perfectly.

This is a light-hearted read, but the characters have a fabulous depth to them, and I loved going on their journeys with them. There was a few moments where the writing felt a little stiff, just not quite as fluent as I’m used to from Andrews, but it didn’t put me off at all. Plus there’s talk of cricket (my favourite sport in the world) and an excellent canine companion. It’s a winner for me!

4/5 stars

Review: ‘Lucky’ by Garrett Leigh

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Published September 18th 2018

Dominic Ramos is a Premiership football player with a secret. There are no trophies for being gay in his game. Locked into his rep as the meanest defender on the pitch, keeping his secret is soul-crushing, but love has no place in his sport, even if his soft heart craves it.

Lucky Coleman is on his knees when he meets a man with more money than sense. It’s a Grindr hook-up for cash, not a love match, but dreaming of his desperate, kind eyes earns a place amongst his numerous bad habits.

Meeting once was risky, twice pushes Dom’s courage to the limit. Losing Lucky seems inevitable, but his tight grip on his image counts for nothing when Lucky starts to fall.

Catching him could cost Dom everything, but if he can set his heart free, getting Lucky long term might be a risk worth taking.

Welcome to another review where I blether on about the exceptionally talented Garrett Leigh and her beautiful beautiful words. I’ve never not loved a book she’s written, and this one is right up there with my absolute favourites from her.

I am a huge fan of sports romances, and this one had enough sportiness to tick all my boxes whilst still being perfectly accessible to people who aren’t into football or sport in general. It had a bucketload of everything Garrett is best at, the angst and turmoil and broken souls finding healing in each other. There is no one better when it comes to that.

I can’t even put my finger on exactly why this one ranked so highly with me, it just spoke to me. The chemistry between Dom and Lucky is tangible, setting the pages alight, and I was so desperate for them to find a way to make it work. They are from such completely different worlds, and yet they’re drawn together time and time again.

This book addresses so many issues. So many. And yet it never felt like too much, nothing ever went too far. There’s addiction, there’s homelessness, there’s homophobia in sport, it hits hard at every turn. It really pushes you to think, whilst never letting go of the romance at the very heart of the story.

It’s deep, it’s raw, it’s another Garrett Leigh masterpiece.

5/5 stars

Review: ‘Darcy’ by R.J. Scott and Meredith Russell

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Published 10th September 2018

Darcy’s newest assignment is to play the role of boyfriend to a wealthy socialite, but never expected the intense attraction to his date’s brother. Falling for Adrian is dangerous and certainly not part of the plan.

Adrian has been as unlucky in love as his sister, but he doesn’t approve of hiring a boyfriend, whatever the reason. Until he meets Darcy. Then he comes to realize that love can happen in the most unexpected of ways.

One week. That is all the two men needed to fall in lust, but will they have a lifetime to fall in love?

This is such a lovely read, very sweet and fluffy. R.J. Scott is becoming one of those auto-buy authors for me, and I’ve never read anything by Meredith Russell before but this has definitely piqued my interest in her work.

Darcy is an absolute dreamboat, not your typical hardened ex-soldier, and his and Adrian’s spark is undeniable. I love a good fake-boyfriends romance and when I first read the title of the series I thought that’s what I was getting, but this isn’t really that kind of book. Darcy may have been hired, but it’s not the person who hired him that he falls for. However, I still enjoyed the whole set up. It was something different, a slight twist on the trope, so I was hardly disappointed.

There was charm and humour and a general lightness to the whole story. A bucketload of family drama, over the top relatives and personality clashes, but nothing too heavy. Tensions were perhaps resolved a little too easily, I was waiting for the moment I was so completely gripped I wouldn’t dare put the book down, but no moment like that ever came. Everything pretty much happens on one level without going too deep.

This is the perfect story to pick up if you’re looking for something light that will make you smile. I may not have been overwhelmed with feelings, but I honestly really enjoyed this book and will no doubt pick however many other instalments end up in this series.

3.5/5 stars

Review: ‘Second Chance Ranch’ by R. J. Scott

41026271Published August 28th 2018

Rob runs to Crooked Tree determined to find a safe place for his nephews. A family for them is the final thing on his list, and then he can vanish completely. Falling for a local paramedic along the way is a disaster in Rob’s otherwise perfect plans.

Paramedic Aaron, the middle of five brothers, would like someone to love. A great believer in fate he is convinced though, that one day he’ll find someone. He just never thought it would be a man in so much pain, or that children would be part of the package.

Rob is ready to leave. Aaron wants him to stay. Their love has an expiry date, and it’s tearing them apart. Can they find a way to save what they have?

It had been a long while since I’d read the first four books in this Montana series, so I really enjoyed my trip down memory lane and catching up with all those couples. This isn’t really a book that holds up as a standalone, with so many surrounding characters from previous instalments and references to big events. Definitely some spoilers in regards to those previous books so I would highly recommend catching up before starting this one.

It took me a minute to remember who Rob was when I first started, the blurb doesn’t exactly give it away, but as soon as I remembered I was instantly so much more into this book. It added a whole new dimension to the story, the kind of dynamic I’d never really seen before. Rob is dangerous, he’s smart and calculating and ruthless. He’s a killer. And he’s dying. And he’s got two kids he has to find a place for. Where could be better than Crooked Tree Ranch?

I’ve always loved Crooked Tree, it’s one of those fictional places you wish were real so you could visit. The people, the horses, the scenery, the way it brings people together. It feels like family, feels like home. Rob and Aaron weren’t the kind of people I’d have expected to fit there, especially not together, but that’s the magic of Crooked Tree. Everybody belongs there.

Aaron has a big ol’ heart, and Rob’s not sure he’s got one left at all. There’s an immediate spark between the two, but it’s born more out of dislike than anything else. There’s lust there, but they clash in a way that shouldn’t work but really does. I’m still not entirely sure how that lust transformed into something deeper, it almost seemed to come out of nowhere for me. It didn’t feel the most organic, the sparring turned to caring a bit too quickly with nothing in between. I believed it once they got there though, and I suppose that’s what counts.

There was a fair amount of angst in this one, troubled pasts and haunting experiences, stress and trauma, darkness and mortality. Hardly sunshine and roses. But it’s what the story needed to be, gritty and raw but with that sense of hope that Crooked Tree always brings. I really enjoyed it and it’s a series I know I’ll read again.

4/5 stars

Buy links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: ‘Darkest Night’ by Megan Erickson

36345096Published July 31st 2018
320 pages

Bodyguard Jock Bosh has one job: keep Fiona Madden safe. Safe from the men who’ve been hunting her. Safe from the bastard responsible for ruining her life. And with the attraction sizzling white-hot between them, that means keeping Fiona safe from him too.

Fiona has spent the past decade on the run. Her survival is the single greatest weapon she’s had against the men out to destroy her. Until Jock. Now, with him by her side, she finally has a chance to bring them down. But when her enemies make their next move and Jock puts himself in the line of fire, Fiona realizes that there’s more at stake than just her life-she’s also risking her heart.

Cdawgz reads a M/F book?? It’s a rarity, I’ll admit. But Megan Erickson got me hooked with the first book in this series, Zero Hour, and given who the MCs are in this book I was always going to follow it.

Jock, Jock, Jock. I have a thing for big, bulky men, especially of the quiet and grumpy variety, so I was all about this man. And I so desperately wanted Fiona to get her happy ending after what we found out she went through in the previous book. Jock doesn’t appear to be the best match for Fiona at first, too cold and too distant. But of course he’s actually just a big teddy bear when it comes to her. A deadly one when it comes to anyone who might try to harm her, but Fiona gets that squishy centre to come to the surface and they turn into the perfect fit for each other.

The plot continues on from Zero Hour, full of suspense and intrigue. Zero Hour was probably heavier on the plot, with more action, and Darkest Night has less of that. It’s more about Fiona’s life, how she copes with her trauma and the steady growth of her connection with Jock. The drama certainly picks up at the end, but a lot of it happens in a short space of time rather than being spread over the whole book. Which I really liked, making the two novels different, following the same story without following the same pattern. The drama from this book is resolved in a really satidfying way, but the storyline that runs through the two novels is clearly not over yet, so the next book in the series is going to be just as exciting.

I also have to mention Sundance. I cannot get enough of that dog. I love any dog that appears in the books I read, and Sundance was a special one. A proper character all on his own, he was a star. So Megan gets bonus points for an excellent animal sidekick.

The next book, due in October, is going to focus on Erick. And we’ve now met his love interest. I am so damn excited about it. You can feel the tension building, the team has definitely got some serious chaos heading their way, and something tells me the romance will be just as explosive as the action.

4.5/5 stars