5/30/2023 0 Comments
This Will Hurt II by Cara Dee
I absolutely loved the first part of the This Will Hurt Duet and couldn’t wait to read the second part with Roe’s POV on this emotional rollercoaster friends-to-lovers, bisexual awakening, slow burn MM romance. And the second part did not disappoint in the beautiful friendship and all pining and suppressed attraction between Jake and Roe, but there were some parts that I felt conflicted about morally.
The This Will Hurt Duet follows the two friends and business partners Jake and Roe from their first meeting as young and broke film students and onwards over the years as they become best friends, roommates and partners in a very successful travel show and production company. Over the years they get married and have children, but there is always a burning attraction between them. In the first part of the duet, the story was told from Jake’s POV, where we got to see his struggle with internal homophobia and the ‘forbidden’ feelings for his friend. Here in the second part, the story continues from Roe’s POV after him getting married and becoming a father, while still loving Jake.
I love Jake and Roe as a couple, and how they first of all are friends, always there for each other and happy for each other even though it means getting hurt yourself. I also love the way the interacted with each other’s children and how they created a new kind of family with Jake’s ex and sister and the company crew.
But I have to admit that I struggled with the morality of some of Jake’s and Roe’s actions. I don’t want to make any spoilers here, but they crossed a line that was not okay for me.
But those objections aside, overall, there were so many things I loved about this series and the wonderful relationship between Jake and Roe that only grew stronger over the years. The story was so realistic and authentic, and I truly rooted for Jake and Roe. The love story itself is definitely a five star one, but because of the moral lines that were crossed, I have to settle for a 3.5 star rating.
But please don’t let that discourage you from reading this beautiful and emotional story about friendship, love and family. Despite my moral objections it’s still a wonderful story about overcoming internal struggles and past trauma for a chance of true love.
I received a free ARC of this book, which I have voluntarily reviewed.
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5/25/2023 0 Comments
The Art of Husbandry by Jay Hogan
I’m a huge fan of Jay Hogan’s character driven mm romances set in New Zealand, and The Art of Husbandry certainly didn’t’ disappoint. It was such a wonderful and swoon worthy gay romance with two amazing main characters to root for, and some added layers of grief and PTDS after the loss of a child.
This is the first book in Jay Hogan’s new Mackenzie country series, and follows two main characters, in alternating POVs; the sheep farm boss Holden with commitment issues and the grieving Gil who lost is daughter in a car accident one and a half year ago, and his marriage soon thereafter.
In an attempt to get a new start and find a way forward from the anger, the grief, the nightmares and the sheer hopelessness of it all that has been his life for the past eighteen months, Gil accepts a temporary offer to be a chef for three months at a high country sheep station in the middle of nowhere. Leaving his psychologist practice and his old life behind, he hoped for a way to move forward. But he got so much more when he unexpectedly connected with the young station boss and suddenly started to feel again…
I truly rooted for both Holden and Gil, and I really appreciated the way in which they slowly began to open up to each other, and for Gil to possibly see a new beginning and hope for happiness and love again, and for Holden to deal with his relationship and commitment problems.
Jay Hogan did a wonderful job with Gil, truly making us see and feel his loss and grief and his inner turmoil, his vulnerability and fear for opening up again and risking more pain. And Hogan was such a cocky and sexy, fun guy with a heart of gold and his own battles. The way the two of them lifted each other was so amazing!
There were also some great side characters and some interesting insights to the hard sheep farming life in southern New Zeeland that I truly appreciated. Sometimes there were perhaps a bit too many details about the farm and its surroundings and the description of the muster and all other farm work that slowed the story down. I also wasn’t a big fan of the way the characters not only told us about their feelings, but also analyzed them for us readers. Especially Gil, which of course in a way makes perfect sense with him being a psychologist, but I still think the story could have benefited from leaving a little more up to the readers. But those minor complaints set aside, this was a beautiful and wholesome story. I especially appreciated that there weren’t any truly bad guys. (Apart from Zach’s homophobic dad.) Gil’s ex Luke was also grieving and just dealt with his grief in another way than Gil, and Zach was jealous at first of course when founding out this best friend/long time crush had moved on, but quickly became supportive.
All in all, this was a heartwarming, poignant and addictive reading experience and a great way to start a new series! I can’t wait to read Zach and Luke’s story in the next installment!
I received a free ARC of this book, which I have voluntarily reviewed.
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I was lucky to get an ARC of the new edition of Wolfsong, which will be published on July 4th, by Tor Books and NetGalley. I couldn’t really tell what had been changed from the previous edition, but I can tell you this: This book is an absolute masterpiece! It’s a magical, beautiful and poetic tale about love and friendship, pack and mates that will make you cry and break your heart and then heal it again. It’s a book that hasn’t left my mind since I first read it, and that will always have a special place in my heart. Please give yourself the gift of experiencing the magical and heartfelt world of Green Greek and its werewolf villagers and read this book you too!
It’s not really possible to describe in words what makes this book so special and all the things it made me feel while reading it, nor properly explain the impact it had, and will continue to have, on me. It’s the way it sings to you, the way it speaks directly to your heart and the way it rips your heart in pieces and makes you fall madly in love with all the characters. But in short, Wolfsong is an urban fantasy/paranormal story taking place in the small village of Green Greek somewhere in USA, where the main character Ox gets abandoned by his father as a young kid. To help his mother, Ox starts to work for Gordo’s car repair shop about the same time as the intriguing Bennett family moves into the house next door, with the youngest son, Joe, immediately taking an interest in Ox. But as Ox is about to find out, the world is not what it seems, and there are werewolf and witches, kindness and cruelty, magic and destiny to discover.
Wolfsong is one of those epic family histories that lets us readers follow along for decades and tells the story by letting us readers truly get to know the characters and feel their feelings. The writing style is so unique and perfect it feels ethereal. And the characters are so lovable, so vulnerable, so full of flaws that you immediately take them all to your heart.
There is Ox, who’d always been seen as slow and stupid, but who was aimed for greatness. His POV is just one of the best I’ve ever encountered. He sees the world in such a beautiful way, and T J Klune really lets us see and feel all his emotions and his growth from insecure and sad to feeling loved and being able to love wholeheartedly and lead others.
“Things made sense, so much more sense now, but they didn’t. At all. The world was not full of monsters and magic. It was meant to be mundane and marred with little broken pieces of fucking retard and you’re gonna get shit, Ox.”
And Joe. Sweet, sweet Joe, who’d been so severely traumatized but who found a home in Ox and dared to start living fully again. Their journey to discover what’s howling between them is so heartwrenching and breathtaking. But also fun! T J Klune has this special humor that I adore.
Joe wore a pair of low-slung shorts. Just the smallest things. And that was it.”
“He must have seen me out of the corner of his eye. He turned and grinned at me, and it was Joe, but it was Joe.
So, naturally, that’s when I walked into the side of the house. The tomatoes in my hand crushed against me. My head hit the wood siding and I thought, Oh shit.”
And all the members of the Bennett family with their amazing bonds and how they run and sing together, Gordo who is suffering from his own broken heart but who nevertheless wraps his love around Ox, the other workers at the shop who are like their own pack and the love and spirit of the village and the nature itself.
“I thought, I won’t let anyone hurt them because pack, because home, because love.”
I really don’t know how to explain how much I love these characters and their love for each other, the world building and the magical, poetically writing. All I know is that this is a book that hit me straight in the heart and will stay there forever.
Thank you to Tor Publishing Group and NetGalley for the ARC and the opportunity to read this marvelous book! All opinions are my own and I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
5 epic stars
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5/17/2023 0 Comments
Time to Shine by Rachel Reid
This was such a marvelous read! Absolutely adorable! So cute, fun and heartwarming, and with the sweetest main characters that completely stole my heart from the very first page. I stayed up all night to read this book, completely hooked!
Time to Shine is the new MM hockey romance by Rachel Reid, who has written many great ones, but this is a sweeter story and closer to YA in the writing style. Which I loved! It was such a perfect slow burn romance that focused on the main characters truly getting to know each other and build the trust in one another to dare to fully open up and be vulnerable before getting physical. But don’t worry, there were some precious steamy moments worth waiting for!
The story is about the two hockey players Landon Stackhouse and Casey Hicks, who on paper are as different as one can get. Where Landon is shy, introvert, dealing with grief and guilt after the loss of his sister, having proximity problems and not making friends easily, Casey is the complete opposite; an all star player thriving in the spotlight, easy and outgoing, loving people and flirting. His only problem is that he’s afraid of the dark and of being alone. So, his offer to let the new called in backup goalie stay in his house is actually more for his own benefit than a pure act of goodness.
The way the awkward roommate situation turns into a bromance that turns into something else was so heartwarming. Casey was such a cinnamon roll, so sweet and kind and always focused on making everyone feel happy, always up for a party and never ashamed of the mess he creates on the way. I loved the way he cared for Landon and adapted to Landon’s need for privacy and his inexperience. And Landon was so precious. My heart ached for the way he grieved and blamed himself, not letting himself live his life fully. Until Casey came along. I absolutely loved how the two of them brought out the best in each other! And their banter… pure gold! This story was full of humor, witty humor and comradery with the wonderful and supportive side characters.
All in all, this was a completely adorable, sweet, tender, witty, thoughtful and heartwarming story about falling in love, dealing with grief and guilt and finding your place and yourself and allowing yourself to be happy. It’s a story that deals with difficult topics in a both honest and fun way at the same time, and I cannot recommend it enough!
Thank you to NetGalley and Carina Adores & Harlequin for the ARC of the book, which I have voluntarily reviewed.
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5/8/2023 0 Comments
The New Guy by Sarina Bowen
Sarina Bowen does it again! Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy is one of my absolute favorite m/m romances, and I was curious to see how Sarina Bowen would match that book with this new one on her own. Let me tell you that she nailed it! The New Guy is such a wonderful and sweet m/m hockey romance with two amazing main characters to root for, and some added layers of grief and the struggle of being a single parent.
The New Guy is the first book in Sarina Bowen’s new series Hockey Guys, and follows two main characters – the closeted hockey star Hudson Newgate and the out but widowed athletic trainer Gavin. Hudson’s nickname “New Guy” comes not only from his last name, but from the fact that he keeps getting traded. The first time he got traded was immediately after telling the management that he was bisexual, which is why he’s decided to stay in the closet for his remaining career. Especially since his agent and father keeps telling him to stay quiet to not risk anything.
Hence, Hudson keeps to himself, and stays away from socializing with his teammates and avoids anything that could risk exposure. Like hooking up with a guy at a bar. Definitely not doing that! Until he meets this gorgeous guy at a bar, realizing too late that he lives in the same team-owned building…
Gavin lost his husband two years ago and ended up being a grieving widower with sole responsibility for the daughter his husband adopted before they met. Being a single parent, he really needs the new job to support his daughter. Until he meets this gorgeous guy at a bar, realizing too late that he is a hockey player at the new team he will start working for…
I read this book in one sitting, it was so addictive and I rooted so much for all characters that I just couldn’t bear to put it down until the very end! It was such a perfect forbidden romance story with lots of depths and added layers. Like Hudson’s toxic relationship with his dad, Gavin’s problems with this late husband’s parents (especially the “monster in law”) and how they were threatening to take his daughter from him, Hudson’s loneliness and longing for being able to show his true self and the way Hudson and Gavin were immediately attracted to each other and had such a sizzling chemistry, but it still felt like a slow burn romance with true relationship development.
All in all, this was a both heartwarming and heartbreaking story with a perfect balance of hockey and romance, fun banter, vulnerability, steam and sweetness. Highly recommended!
4.5 stars rounding up to 5
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This second book in the Breakaway series was just as adorable, sweet and heartwarming as the first one! I binged both books in just one day, completely smitten by the fun and witty story, the sweet main characters and their perfect slow burn romance, and the awesome side characters.
In this second book, we get to see more of Alex’s point of view. For the first time in his life he is happy, but the hiding is starting to take its toll. Especially as their very visible “friendship” is already raising eyebrows, and it’s just so easy to get insecure and jealous when you can’t tell anyone your feelings.
I loved how this story really examined what it means to be in love. The happiness and cuteness, but also the fear of heartbreak and vulnerability, and the pain it causes when you can’t be open about who you are. Alex is truly struggling with his mental health, and is trying is very best to examine and understand his own feelings. Some part might have been a bit cheesy, but I don’t care, the way he described his feelings for Eli (“why isn’t there a word for more than love”) were the sweetest ever! It just melted my heart!
This book also shone some light on the important issues of forced outings, homophobia and about role models in sports. But even though it didn’t shy away from heavy topics, it was nevertheless a truly hopeful story with a positive and uplifting message.
I also loved the Hell Hound teammates even more in this book. They all went on a journey with Alex and Eli, and their character growth was amazing! I can’t wait to read the next book and to continue to follow them all, as well as the new characters that were introduced at the end.
All in all, I can say the exact same thing about this book as I did about the first one: This was a completely adorable, sweet, tender, witty, thoughtful and heartwarming story about friendship, falling in love, dealing with mental health issues and being true to who you are. It’s a story that deals with difficult topics in a both honest and fun way at the same time, and I cannot recommend it enough!
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This was such an adorable, sweet and heartwarming read! Fun and witty, with the sweetest main characters, a perfect slow burn romance and awesome side characters. I binged it and the second book in the series in just one day, completely smitten!
The story is about Eli and Alex and their friends and the Hell Hounds hockey team. Eli is recovering from a devastating accident that derailed his Olympic figure-skating dreams and caused a seizure disorder, for which he has a service dog, Hawk. Growing up a mixed-race and gay figure skater in smalltown Alabama, and now disabled too, Eli’s learnt to avoid the hockey jocks. Especially the big shot out-of-control ones like prodigy Alexander Price. But after an antagonistic introduction, he’s surprised to learn that he actually enjoys spending time with Alex and his hockey friends. Alex on his side is trying to hide his big secret of being gay, while dealing with an anxiety disorder and the expectations of an expansion franchise on his shoulders. But being with Eli is soothing and fun and maybe, just maybe, coming out wouldn’t be a complete disaster after all?
This was such a marvelous read! It’s difficult to give it justice and explain exactly what made it so different, but it just had the perfect wonderful and relatable characters with so many flaws, over-the-top feelings and vulnerability, and the cutest plotline and writing style. Eli totally stole my heart and the chemistry between him and Alex was amazing! Their slow burn friends-to-lovers romance was pure perfection. It was like watching your two sweetest and kindest friends fall for each other.
It had such wonderful queer, fun and adorable romcom vibes, but it was also filled with some truly great mental health representation. The realistic and genuine way in which Alex and his anxiety disorders, as well as Eli’s seizures, were portrayed was just amazing. The beautiful way in which E.L. Massey included these parts into the story really helps normalize mental health issues and made me love the characters even more. And Hawk, the amazing service dog, truly added to the story! Not to mention the adorable Hell Hound hockey players and the way they stood up for each other and Eli and Alex, as well as Eli’s best friend Cody. And the cooking vlog part – loved it!
All in all, this was a completely adorable, sweet, tender, witty, thoughtful and heartwarming story about friendship, falling in love, dealing with mental health issues and being true to who you are. It’s a story that deals with difficult topics in a both honest and fun way at the same time, and I cannot recommend it enough!
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