Review: ‘Kiss Me Again’ by Garrett Leigh

46129556Published June 7th 2019
227 pages

Tree surgeon Aidan Drummond is content with his own company. He works alone, and lives alone, and it doesn’t occur to him to want anything else until a life-changing accident lands him in hospital. Then a glimpse of the beautiful boy in the opposite bed changes everything.

Ludo Giordano is trapped on the ward with a bunch of old men. His mind plays tricks on him, keeping him awake. Then late one night, a new face brings a welcome distraction. Their unlikely friendship is addictive. And, like most things in Ludo’s life, temporary.

Back in the real world, Aidan’s monochrome existence is no longer enough. He craves the colour Ludo brought him, and when a chance meeting brings them back together, before long, they’re inseparable again.

But bliss comes with complications. Aidan is on the road to recovery, but Ludo has been unwell his entire life, and that’s not going to change. Aidan can kiss him as much as he likes, but if he can’t help Ludo when he needs him most, they don’t stand a chance.

This book was everything. It’s no secret that Garrett Leigh is one of my favourite authors and I love everything she writes, but there’s solid reasoning behind that. She’s really just that good. The first time we ever meet Ludo is in Soul to Keep. It was only a brief glimpse, but as soon as he appeared on the page I knew he needed his own story with his own happy ending. And I told Garrett this in a conversation we had in January 2018 after I’d finished Soul to Keep, and in return I got a glimmer of hope that one day I’d get to read that story:

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A year and a half later, Ludo’s happy ending is finally here and it is exactly the kind of book I love to read. It is classic Garrett Leigh, depth and complexity with that perfect level of angst. Both Ludo and Aidan have their own demons; Ludo is living with bipolar and having to deal with everything that entails largely on his own (but he does have a truly excellent canine companion – A++ dog content); and Aidan is far lonelier than he would ever admit, using alcohol as a crutch to deal with not being able to do the job he loves after a freak accident has left him seriously injured.

These two men have an instant bond even though they’re pretty much opposites; but although the friendship happens quickly, the romance burns far slower. There’s a lot they need to understand about each other, a lot of trust they need to build, and when they finally get there it’s a truly beautiful thing.

And this book’s greatest strength for me was that once they were together, that was it! No, things weren’t always easy or smooth; yes, they each had their doubts and insecurities; but they never once got scared and ran away from each other. They communicated, they worked together, they were so goddamn mature about everything…it was bliss. It’s the book I’ve always wished someone would write – Garrett absolutely nailed it.

5/5 stars

Review: ‘Arctic Wild’ by Annabeth Albert

43263021Published June 3rd 2019

Hotshot attorney Reuben Graham has finally agreed to take a vacation, when his plane suddenly plunges into the Alaskan wilderness.

Just his luck.

But his frustrations have only begun as he finds himself stranded with the injured, and superhot, pilot, a man who’s endearingly sociable—and much too young for Reuben to be wanting him this badly.

As the sole provider for his sisters and ailing father, Tobias Kooly is devastated to learn his injuries will prevent him from working or even making it back home. So when Reuben insists on giving him a place to recover, not even Toby’s pride can make him refuse. He’s never been tempted by a silver fox before, but something about Reuben is impossible to resist.

Recuperating in Reuben’s care is the last thing Toby expected, yet the closer they become, the more incredibly right it feels, prompting workaholic Reuben to question the life he’s been living. But when the pressure Toby’s under starts closing in, both men will have to decide if there’s room in their hearts for a love they never saw coming.

As always, it was a joy to read Annabeth Albert’s latest offering. Arctic Wild is the second in the series after Arctic Sun, and where Arctic Sun had a lot of moments that were hard to read, that really hollowed you out and hurt you, Arctic Wild wasn’t quite so intense but still just as beautiful.

Reuben is a real silver fox (or silver bear as Toby likes to call him), smooth and sophisticated, his career has hardened him to a point where “fun” isn’t really on his radar. He’s got stresses and pressures and he ends up on a holiday on his own just to prove a point. He’s hardly thrilled to be there. Which isn’t Toby’s favourite kind of customer.

Toby has stresses and pressures of his own, supporting his younger sisters through education and his father through his failing body. He’s relied on for so much, so he has to put up with the grumpy, slick lawyer for the sake of his pay-cheque. Then suddenly the one thing he can count on, his ability to fly and provide for his family, is stripped away from him as he and Reuben fall from the sky.

He and Reuben have to save each other in more ways than one, surviving the crash is only the beginning. Toby shows Reuben that work isn’t everything, happiness doesn’t have to come from wealth and success, it can come from spending quality time with your family and appreciating the beauty of the world around you. Reuben shows Toby that he doesn’t have to shoulder every burden, it’s ok to share the weight and let go of some of the control, to let yourself have some freedom.

Reuben may be older than Toby, but Toby’s had to live a lot of life in fewer years – together they find a way to recapture the youth they’ve both lost along the way. This is a gorgeous story of two men learning from each other and finding out that “home” means more than they ever knew.

4.5/5 stars

Review: ‘Adam Only’ by Roe Horvat

45297701Published May 30th 2019

On stage, Adam lets his passion drive him. All his secret desires, everything nasty, dirty, and beautiful flows freely through him, for once in harmony. His soul thrives when his body moves, but only on stage. Adam’s passionate nature makes him a great dancer…and a failure at life. He’s a lonely, emotional mess. Going home with a man far out of his reach is the last thing Adam should do. Christoffer represents everything Adam isn’t: strong, independent, educated, and rich. His kind eyes, at odds with his brutish form, make Adam’s knees and restraint buckle.

Once Christoffer sees Adam dancing, he’s lost. The young man is mesmerizing, otherworldly, and unpredictable. Whatever might happen between them, it will be transient, and Christoffer will most likely get hurt. The temptation is too great, however, and the sex explosive. He might as well enjoy every moment he’s given, even if it’s just one day, maybe two. If Christoffer treads carefully, Adam might stay until Monday.

Now this is the book I’ve been waiting for from Roe Horvat. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the other books of his I’ve read, but this is the one that truly captured me. Adam Only is the prequel to the first of “Those Other Books”, which I liked but didn’t love, giving us the story of how Tyler’s friends Christoffer and Adam met and fell for each other. And damn, is it one hell of a story.

Young, creative and vulnerable Adam meets older, bigger, teddy-bear Christoffer and the chemistry is off the charts. It’s not necessarily a revolutionary dynamic, but it is hands down one of my favourites. Adam doesn’t trust easily, he’s rebellious and flighty but deep down he wants everything that Christoffer has to offer. Christoffer just wants him to stay. Their connection is beautiful and I was swept up in how they were together.

This book is heavy on the sex, but that was exactly Horvat’s intention. He wrote these books to explore the more erotic side of things and the balance of this was delicious. Adam and Christoffer’s story was genuine, and romantic, their connection felt so real, and the sex they had nearly short-circuited my Kindle. I could have read an entire series about their story. Simply gorgeous.

4.5/5 stars

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: ‘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