30 March 2016

Tied to Trouble by Megan Erickson

Hey everyone,

Today I’m reviewing Tied to Trouble by Megan Erickson. Although Tied to Trouble is part of the Gamers series, this is the only one focusing on an LGBT+ relationship. Can I just say how happy I am that more authors are starting to create series that include books about LGBT+ couples alongside books about straight couples. Maybe its just me but I see that as a step forward. Anyway enough serious stuff and on with the review!

The book:
Between love and hate, there's a whole lot of trouble…

Chad Lake only showed up at his sister's party for the free food, but when he spots an uptight nerd at the edge of the crowd, he can't resist trying to ruffle the guy's perfect bow tie and impeccable hair. The hottie's ready for him, though, and in the end, it's Chad who's left wide-eyed, his ears still ringing with the filthy things Bow Tie whispered in his ear. No one gets the upper hand on Chad. Ever.

Owen Hawkins has heard all about the cocky Adonis from Chad's sister—the same sister who holds Owen's career advancement in her hands. He has every intention of steering clear of the other man…until Chad's sexy taunts push him too far. There's something intriguing about Chad, and even though Owen knows that getting tangled up with the infuriating man is trouble, he can't seem to stay away…
My thoughts:

You’ve got to love a book about gamers and the wider gaming culture. At least I do. In Tied to Trouble our hero Owen works for Gamers Magazine, which as the name would suggest is a magazine that reports on all things related to gaming. In many ways he’s a typical nerdy character. He’s shy, awkward in social situations and yet has a wealth of knowledge and experience about his passion. Owen is also surprisingly good at talking dirty and I’ll be honest it was this that convinced me to read this book. Plus just because someone is shy in public doesn’t mean they're shy in the bedroom and Owen definitely proved this!

I’d take my time, peeling all these clothes off you. I wouldn’t touch you, though. No, I’d make it so you were naked in front of me, begging, begging for just a brush of my hand on your skin. And then I’d stroke you, nice and slow.

25 March 2016

The Gay-For-You debate

Hey everyone,

I don’t normally got involved in the wider debates that happen within the romance community. Partly because I hate conflict, but also because someone has usually said what I feel already, but in a way more articulate why than I myself could manage. However, the recent debate about the GFY (Gay-For-You) trope and its role within the M/M romance book world is close to my heart.

I love M/M romances, or any romance with an LGBT+ plus main character. I love that the rise in popularity with M/M romances has led to more diverse LGBT+ romance books across the sub-genres. Yet the rise in popularity has led many people to question the role of M/M romances in a primarily female-led genre. That isn’t to diminish the present of the wonderful male readers, publishers, writers and reviewers in our community, but it is a fact that the romance community is largely female. I myself am all for more men in the romance community as discussed in this post. But questions are rightly being asked. Questions like ‘'do M/M romance books written by straight women for straight women actually damage the LGBT+ community?’.

22 March 2016

The Secret Pearl by Mary Balogh

Hey everyone,

Mary Balogh’s Slightly series was one of the first romance series I was read and I still regularly return to her books ten years later. The Secret Pearl is one of Mary Balogh’s classic romances and I couldn’t wait to start reading it!

The book:

The Secret Pearl is a tale of temptation and seduction, of guarded hearts and raw emotion…and of a love so powerful it will take your breath away….

He first spies her in the shadows outside a London theatre, a ravishing creature forced to barter her body to survive. 

To the woman known simply as Fleur, the well-dressed gentleman with the mesmerizing eyes is an unlikely savior. And when she takes the stranger to her bed, she never expects to see him again. But then Fleur accepts a position as governess to a young girl…and is stunned to discover that her midnight lover is a powerful nobleman. As two wary hearts ignite–and the threat of scandal hovers over them–one question remains: will she be mistress or wife? 

My thoughts:

The Secret Pearl is a wonderful historical romance book from the 1990s. Like most romance books from this period the pacing and tone of The Secret Pearl is long and drawn out. With the plot being carried by the secrets and the emotions of the hero and heroine. Yet I loved The Secret Pearl because of this. It gave me time to became immersed in the characters emotions and world. This was particularly important because of how the hero and heroine first meet. When Fleur arrives in London her circumstances force her into prostitution, which is how she meets Adam Kent. Mary Balogh doesn’t shy away from the transactional nature of Fleur and Adam’s first meeting. Nor does she undermine the psychological affect this experience has on Fleur. That for me is what made The Secret Pearl so great.

I don't think I could have been more terrified of the devil than I was of you," she said, "when it was happening and in my thoughts and nightmares afterward. And when you came home to Willoughby and I realized that the Duke of Ridgeway was you, I thought I would die from the horror of it.

15 March 2016

The Actor and the Earl by Rebecca Cohen

Hey everyone,

I’d been eyeing up The Actor and The Earl by Rebecca Cohen on Amazon and Goodreads for quite a while and finally brought it last weekend. I was intrigued by an M/M novel where the two heroes are married in Elizabethan times.

The book:
Elizabethan actor Sebastian Hewel takes his bow at the proscenium only to embark on the role of a lifetime. When his twin sister, Bronwyn, reneges on the arrangement to marry Anthony Redbourn, Earl of Crofton, Sebastian reluctantly takes her place. At nineteen, Sebastian knows his days as a leading lady are numbered, but with this last performance, he hopes to restore his family’s name and pay off his late father’s debts. Never mind the danger of losing his head should he be discovered.

He didn’t expect Anthony to be so charming and alluring—not to mention shrewd. While he applauds Sebastian’s plan, Anthony offers a mutually beneficial arrangement instead. Sebastian will need every drop of talent he has to survive with both his head and his heart intact, because this is the best part he’s ever had.

My thoughts:

Before beginning this review I would like to repeat what Dreamspinner have already about the Timeless Dreams range: 'these stories celebrate M/M love in a manner that may address, minimize, or ignore historical stigma'. Because of this I will not be judging The Actor and the Earl on its historical accuracy. This M/M romance tells the story of Sebastian and Anthony, who meet when Sebastian’s twin sister elopes with someone else while engaged to Anthony.

Your errant twin sister has reneged on an agreement she made with my father and has run off to Kent with Jeremiah, the blacksmith’s son.

12 March 2016

Born of Fury by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Hey everyone,

I’ve really been enjoying science-fiction recently, be it the form of TV shows, films or books. If it has aliens, space or time-travel (cause I count that as science-fiction) I reading/watching it. Being a long-time lover of romance books I immediately turn to Sherrilyn Kenyon’s League series as its one of my favourite science-fiction romance series. Also Born of Fury has been languishing on my bookshelves for far too long! Haven’t all my books though?

The book:
The war is on...

Counted among the fiercest Andarion warriors ever born, Hauk is one of the five founding members of the Sentella- an organization that has declared war on the League that rules the Ichidian universe with an iron fist and terrifies it with an army of well-trained assassins. Hauk's enemies are legion, but he fears nothing and no one. He will do whatever it takes to survive and protect his Sentella brethren.

Sumi Antaxas is one of the best assassins the League has ever trained. In her world, failure is not an option and she has never met a target she couldn't execute. So when she's assigned Hauk, she believes it'll be a quick and easy mission.

But nothing is ever as simple as it seems, and Hauk is far better trained and skilled than his dossier shows. More than that, as she pursues him, she stumbles upon the key that will bring down not only Hauk, but the entire Sentella organization.

In the race to report her information, she is overtaken by enemies out to end her as effectively as she intends to end Hauk. Now her only key to survival is the one man she's been sent to kill. And Hauk doesn't trust her at all.

The only question is, will he help her to live... or send her to her grave.

My thoughts:

Born of Fury completely absorbed me while I was reading it. I had to know whether Dancer and Sumi would get the happily ever after they both deserved. Dancer is a member of the Sentalla, and has appeared in most (all?) of the previous League books. In contrast Sumi is a league assassin whose been sent on a mission by Dancer’s brother to bring back evidence that Dancer is a member of the Sentella. On paper this is a couple who should hate each others guts and to start with they do. But pretty quickly Sherrilyn Kenyon works her magic and shows us that Sumi and Dancer are more similar than appearances would first suggest.

The three of them are the only thing keeping you alive right now. Release them and we'll let you live. It's your choice on how you leave this place. On your feet or feet first. You have thirty seconds to decide.

9 March 2016

Chocolate Cake for Breakfast by Danielle Hawkins

Hey everyone,

When I saw the cover of this book in Waterstones I knew I was going to buy it. That title and those tights won my heart over pretty quickly. I wasn’t sure going in if this was a contemporary romance or a chick-lit but I decided it didn’t matter as I wanted to read a story about a small-town vet and a rugby player! Also this shamefully the first romance book I’ve read set in New Zealand (and I have relatives over there!).

The book:
Helen McNeil is a vet in the small rural town of Broadview. While taking evasive action from a dull girl at a party one night she falls over - and fails to recognise - national sporting hero, Mark Tipene. For some mysterious reason Helen never really grasps, Mark finds this charming and appears the next day at the front counter of the vet clinic to ask her out.

A whirlwind romance follows and everything is going swimmingly until one little hiccup changes everything...

Chocolate Cake for Breakfast is the funny and heart-warming story of the pros and cons of dating a man whose shirtless picture adorns a wall in every second lunchroom in the country, of calving cows and crazy cat ladies, and of doing your best when life takes an unexpected turn.

My thoughts:

While reading Chocolate Cake for Breakfast I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of detail Danielle Hawkins included about being a large-animal vet. Now I know nothing about veterinary science so Danielle Hawkins could have been making everything up, but I really liked that Helen’s job was an important part of the story. Hawkins didn’t shy away from including some of the grittier realities of being a vet in a largely rural country. In fact one of Helen and Mark’s dates was to pull a rotting calf out of its mother womb... Not the most pleasant moment in the book but Danielle Hawkins still managed to inject an element of humour.

“Pressing a man who doesn’t even have a pair of gumboots into service as a rotten-calf midwife, I thought, has to be some kind of record dating low.”

3 March 2016

Magpie by Kim Dare

Hey everyone,

Kim Dare cemented herself as one of my auto-buy authors when she wrote Axel’s Pup last year. So when I was stuck with what to read I decided to browse her back catalogue of work and came across Magpie. This is the second book in her Avian Shifters series and shouldn’t be read without first reading Duck! Luckily I read that a few reads ago so I dived right on in.

The book:

Everet has found his perfect place in the nest. As a raven, he’s ideally suited to his new role in the nest’s security flock. Some of the jobs it entails have been far more enjoyable than others, but when he’s called to retrieve a magpie, whose got himself into trouble in a local human club, it becomes a truly life changing experience.

Magpie shifters have always been looked down on by other avians. Just as attracted to shiny things in their human bodies as they are in their avian forms, everyone knows they’ll do anything for money—and they’re not above stealing what they can’t get by more honest means.

Kane knows what being a magpie means, and he’s got the bruises to show for it. When Everet rescues him from his latest scrape, Kane knows better than to believe the raven will actually take an interest in him and his welfare, but it’s just possible that Everet is different to any other man Kane has ever met.

My thoughts:

In the world Dare has created bird shifters have an extremely strict hierarchy and a lot of prejudices about how certain species of birds should behave. These concepts were explored in Duck! and continue in Magpie, with our new heroes Kane, the magpie shifter, and Everet, the raven shifter. In the bird-shifting world Magpies are looked down upon and assumed to be gold-digging drug addicts. Amazingly, given what was expected of him in life, Kane has become just that. Since running away from his family he has survived by whatever means necessary.

“You’re a cop?” Kane didn’t even try to hide his horror. Everet could obviously be crossed off his list of possible sugar-daddies. Cops weren’t just trouble; they were usually broke, too.

1 March 2016

The Immortal Hunter by Lynsay Sands

Hey everyone,

I’m back with the vampire books! When I saw The Immortal Hunter for sale on Amazon a few weeks ago I couldn’t resist picking it up. Lynsay Sands was one of the first paranormal romance authors I read and I always enjoyed her Argeneau series before. So I thought why not treat myself?

The book:
Even vampires need a vacation. But Decker Argeneau's ends abruptly when he's asked to help hunt the group of rogue vampires targeting mortals - one that might include a defector in his own family. Before he can worry about that, though, he's got to rescue the latest victim. It's all part of the job, including taking a bullet for a beautiful doctor.
Dr Danielle McGill doesn't know if she can trust the man who just saved her life. There are too many questions, such as what is the secret organization he says he's part of, and why do his wounds hardly bleed? However, with her sister in the hands of some dangerous men, she doesn't have much choice but to trust him.
Except now Decker's talking about life mates and awakening a passion that's taking Dani beyond anything she's ever known. Being undead may not be half-bad...especially if it means spending forever with a man who would love her with his mind, body, and immortal soul.

My thoughts:

I’m going to start with a little FYI. Due to reading this series completely out of order and having long gaps between each book, my memory of the extended Argeneau clan is hazy. A lot of the secondary characters are people I probably should have recognised, but I didn’t. Although this didn’t detract from the central romance between Decker and Dani, I do think it detracted from my enjoyment of the story as a whole. I felt like I was expected to already know and love all the extended characters and because of this they weren’t fully developed within this story.

Why is it you men always say trust me before spitting out something completely unpalatable?" she asked, irritation flickering through her.