Tag Archives: genre: romance

Building Arcadia (Blueprints Not Included) by Ryan Loveless

Building Arcadia

Building Arcadia (Blueprints Not Included) by Ryan Loveless

Published by: Ryan Loveless on March 22, 2011
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Connor Adams and Sam Henning are best friends and fellow musicians who find themselves often mistaken for a couple. They usually just let it go–Connor is married and Sam has a boyfriend–but when they find themselves cornered by three intimidating men spouting homophobic taunts, that might not be an option. They come out on the other side with Sam shot and unconscious and one of their attackers dead while Connor has no memory of what happened. With all signs pointing to Connor shooting the perpetrator, while he was walking away, and no evidence to contradict that narrative, Connor soon finds himself facing criminal charges and serious prison time. As traumatic as that one night turned out to be, it’s just the beginning in the trials that Connor, Sam, and Connor’s wife, Kelly, will only be able to get through if they can do it together.

I had a visceral (not necessarily negative) reaction to much of the early part of this book. Imagine being cornered into a life-or-death situation only to come out on the other side alive but with no memory of what happened and facing the reality that you’re still in danger of losing your life in a completely different way. And the system is not good to Connor. Not at all. I found that the second half the book seemed to drag, though, in comparison since it did not possess the intensity that the early book carried with it. Overall, though, this is a thought-provoking read that goes off the beaten path in a number of interesting ways. And it’s worth the read.

Something About Trevor by Drew Hunt

Something About Trevor

Something About Trevor by Drew Hunt

Published by: JMS Books on June 29, 2010
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Paul is in a bind. His house has flooded…again…and he needs a place to stay. It’s just that there aren’t many options for him to choose from. Except Trevor. And Trevor’s a nice guy, but he’s gay and rather obvious about it. And it’s not that Paul has a problem with gay people, he’s just not sure he’s comfortable staying with one in such close quarters. But when all other options exhaust themselves–and as Paul realizes he is maybe being just a bit unfair to his colleague–he takes Trevor up on his offer for a place to crash. What Paul doesn’t expect is that he will learn a lot more about Trevor and about his preconceptions of gay guys than he ever thought he would. Of course, he also doesn’t expect that he’s about to learn something even more unexpected about himself…

This is a charming and entertaining read. Some of Paul’s reactions, especially early on, are a bit humorous. And it is interesting to watch his journey as he starts to come to some unexpected realizations. With our identities being self-constructed based on social influences, it is easy for us to think that our own experiences are universal. But not everyone gets to the same place in the same way, and stories that help us see the perspective of another person help to enrich the ways in which we view the world. That’s probably a bit deeper analysis than the author intended, but I kept it brief–especially for those of you who are just in it for the steamy scenes, of which there are a few to keep you interested…

 

Out of Bounds by A.R. Barley

Out of Bounds

Out of Bounds by A.R. Barley

Series: Boundaries, Book 1
Published by: Carina Press on March 14, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

When Kelly finds Jesse Cole beaten and bloodied on the quad after his roommate attacked him, he brings him back to his dorm and puts him in a room with his friend and ex-boyfriend, Nick Moretti. Jesse is glad to be away from Ryan, but he is wary of his new stranger roommate who is much larger than him and apparently a total slob. And then there’s the fact that Nick isn’t exactly excited to find that he now needs to share his room. But Kelly lets Nick know that Jesse has been through a rough patch, and Nick is willing to give him a chance. And while Jesse is distant at first, the two quickly find a comfort with each other that takes them down a path that makes them clearly more than roommates. But Jesse is not the only one who has experienced some trauma in his past, and Nick finds himself struggling to be the man he thinks Jesse wants and needs him to be. And the pressure may just be what breaks them both…

Give and take is an important part of any relationship. And sometimes we give what we are asked to give and we take what we explicitly request. And then other times we guess what we think should be given or we take more than we probably should. Communication can help us to navigate and mitigate these issues, but it’s one thing to say we will be open and honest and another to truly let go of our fears and do so. Nick and Jesse each carry their own laundry list of things they think they other wants or needs, but they don’t really ever sit down and reconcile those lists. And even though we all know that can be a recipe for disaster, the two end up going through those motions anyway. And when you add a dash of stubbornness into the mix, well, I guess you’ll have to read to find out…

Slide by Garrett Leigh

Slide

Slide by Garrett Leigh

Series: Roads, Book 1
Published by: Dreamspinner Press on October 14, 2013
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Tattoo artist Ash has trouble trusting people. A life that started in foster care and ended on the streets taught him to be self-reliant. Which is why even he is surprised when he starts to fall for his paramedic roommate, Pete, and the feelings seem to be mutual. What he finds with Pete helps to keep his demons at bay, and he thinks he may just be able to make it. But it can take quite a bit to exorcise the ghosts that haunt us. And a series of unexpected events and miscommunications send everything crashing down for Pete and Ash, leaving them unsure if they will be able to piece everything back together…

Sometimes it is easy to forget that bring able to trust someone, to give them your heart and really mean it, can be a scary and difficult prospect. And that’s not just for those who have experienced heartbreak, abuse, or violence in their past. But those experiences certainly complicate matters in ways that we can’t always understand. By recognizing this and understanding that everyone brings things to a relationship that are beyond their control, perhaps we can be a bit easier on ourselves and give ourselves permission to love freely, to trust another person, and to really engage. Some deep themes here in what is a well-written story of acknowledging and confronting the past rather than simply hoping it will go away.

Wicked Frat Boy Ways by Todd Gregory

Wicked Frat Boy Ways

Wicked Frat Boy Ways by Todd Gregory

Published by: Bold Strokes Books on May 16, 2017
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Phil Connor and Brandon Benson live to challenge each other to a dare. But they do not always think about how their actions affect the people around them. With Phil being president of their fraternity for their senior year, the two know that a wild ride is in store. New pledges, transfers, and straight brothers who have no problem getting a little help from the willing gay guy next store provide so many opportunities for Phil and Brandon to play. But love, sex, and life–these are not games. And if they’re not careful, they just might be faced with unintended consequences they can never take back…

I must say these two guys did very little to make me want to root for them. They are not upstanding young men, but that also seems to be very much the point of the story. And at least some of the people around them see them for who they really are, even if they are quite good at hiding themselves from those who are closest.

There were two things that bothered me a bit as I was reading. First, there are references to how hard it would be to be out and gay in the fraternity. Yet there’s at least a handful of gay men who are brothers, and their sexuality isn’t really a secret from anyone else. And second, the ending was a bit more abrupt than I was expecting. As I take more time to reflect on it, I think it does have an interesting effect in terms of how the story flows. But I would have liked to see at least something about what came after…

But it’s still an interesting read with some very steamy moments.

[Disclaimer: This review is based on an advance reading copy obtained from the publisher via NetGalley.]

A Little Complicated by Kade Boehme

A Little Complicated

A Little Complicated by Kade Boehme

Published by: Kade Boehme on September 2, 2013
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Ryan Borja missed out on the perfect guy when he was in college. Brady Novak was everything Ryan could want. He was attractive, charming, funny, and caring. Ryan even had a soft spot for Brady’s daughter too. But Brady seemed more interested in Ryan’s sister, Ellie, so Ryan thought it best to move on. Now, years later, Ellie let Ryan know that Brady has moved in nearby. She ran into him and is looking to see if she can pick up where they left off. What she doesn’t know is that Ryan longs for the same chance. If only Brady was looking to do the same…

To me, it is often a mark of good writing when a book goes by quickly but tells a complete story. The flow here is excellent, and I reached the end of the book surprised that it had gone by so quickly but not for a moment feeling like anything was missing. The story is interesting–some interesting family dynamics at play on both sides–and is a nice read for a rainy day or a warm afternoon on the beach.

 

Playing for Keeps by Avery Cockburn

Playing for Keeps

Playing for Keeps by Avery Cockburn

Series: Glasgow Lads, Book 1
Published by: Avery Cockburn on June 17, 2015
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Fergus has been burned by love, and now he knows better than to mix it with his soccer team, which he is bound and determined to lead to a winning season. And when a determined–and quite attractive–lad shows up with an offer for the team to participate in a charity match, Fergus sees it as a perfect opportunity to rally the team and get them some exposure at the same time. It’s just that, well, having this guy around makes it very hard to stick to his new rules.

John has always kept guys at an arm’s length. It hasn’t stopped him from taking a guy home, but he knows it can never be more than that. No one can know the truth about John’s family, and he is determined to keep it that way. Until he sets his sights on Fergus, and he knows he needs to leave his family’s secret behind. But will Fergus be able to accept him if he knows the truth?

Honesty. Is it really always the best policy? And if it is, when is the best time to enact it? Do people have the right to reveal themselves in their own time? Or when entering a relationship, is there an obligation to put it all out there, even if it seems likely the other person will not be able to accept it? For John and Fergus, every one of these questions is put to the test. And when you’re dealing with people who have been burned by secrets and dishonesty in the past, it just adds fuel to the fire in trying to create, maintain, and grow a relationship. And in this case, it leads to some unintended and unexpected explosions.

Ace in the Hole by Ava Drake

Ace in the Hole

Ace in the Hole by Ava Drake

Series: Wild Cards, Book 1
Published by: Dreamspinner Press on July 1, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Christian Chatsworth-Brandeis is nothing if not devoted to his job. And even though the senator he works for is probably not the greatest human being on the planet, Christian is not going to let him down. Besides, it is only for a few more years and then he can be on to something bigger and better. But when a series of threats against the senator lead to the hiring of an additional security team–one that includes Stone Jackson–things go in some unexpected directions. And the almost completely fall off the rails when the senator disappears right before a series of important public appearances and fundraising events. But Christian has a plan…and he can only hope that his burning attraction for Stone–something it’s clear is reciprocal–doesn’t get in the way.

Fun. Lighthearted. Original. Steamy. These are all words I would use to describe this book. It is written in an engaging and entertaining style, and I found myself quickly drawn in to Christian and Stone’s world. It is well worth a read, and is the first book in a series so I am looking forward to what’s to come…

At Attention by Annabeth Albert

At Attention

At Attention by Annabeth Albert

Series: Out of Uniform, Book 2
Published by: Carina Press on April 10, 2017
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Lieutenant Apollo Floros will not readily admit he needs help. But being a father to his two girls after his husband’s death has been a challenge. But his friend’s younger brother needs a place to stay and it just might be a win-win situation all around. Until Apollo sees Dylan all grown up and finds he is not so sure it could work. After all, Dylan always had a crush of his own on Apollo and the combination of them living together could be a recipe for disaster. But the girls take to Dylan right away and Apollo really could use the help…

When you put two headstrong and stubborn men who harbor an attraction for each other in the same house, it can be like sitting on a powder keg as sparks fall from the ceiling. And that is exactly what is packed into this story. But you can expect that when that powder keg does finally catch, there will be quite the explosion. There are those times when we stand in our own way and we just need someone to help us realize it in order to move forward.

[This review is based on an advance review copy received from the publisher via NetGalley.]

Second Chances by Kimberly Hunter

Second Chances

Second Chances by Kimberly Hunter

Published by: Kimberly Hunter on June 27, 2013 (re-release)
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

After being kidnapped by an abusive former lover, Noah Richards has found it challenging to trust another person. But he is committed to putting that behind him, determined to still live his life to the fullest extent possible. Marcus Stewart was left behind by the man he thought was the love of his life, leaving him heartbroken and uncertain if he ever wants to give someone that part of him again. But when Noah and Marcus meet, the connection is difficult to deny. And so they both need to find a way to look forward if they want to act on that spark and see where it leads. But the past, for both of them, may not be as far behind them as they believe it to be…

“I grew up in the Mid-West where being gay is as bad as being a Democrat.”

I can relate to that! And overall, this is an interesting read. The way the author tells the two histories of these gentlemen makes for an engaging story that builds to some unwelcome surprises as the plot trucks along. I will say that there are some descriptions of violence that may be uncomfortable for people who have a hard time reading that, but it is nothing too graphic and is only in a small part of the story. Worth a read.