Review of Starting from Scratch by Jay Northcote

Starting from Scratch (Housemates, #5)Starting from Scratch by Jay Northcote

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free ARC of this book from the author, for my reading pleasure. This has in no way affected my review.

I love the Housemates series. Fun, lighthearted, hot and thoughtful NA series, and they just keep getting better, book by book. This story is Ben and Sid’s story. We met both of them briefly in book 4, but you do not need to read any of the others in the series to enjoy this book – although why would cheat yourself out of that treat?

I read romance for the sake of romance. I am not too concerned with the gender pairing or how many participants are in the romance, as long as it is a good story with a happy ending, I’ll read it!
However, I have been following Jay’s own personal journey, and have a person in my own circle who is also transitioning, so transgender characters in romances do hold a bit of special interest to me. This is by far the best romance with a transgender MC, I have read so far! So much more focus on the mental issues of transitioning, and not just the physical ones.

Ben has a great supportive network in his family, thank god, and when he finds the courage to come out to his friends, he luckily finds nothing but support there as well.
We get to see things from Sid’s point of view too, which I thought was great. Because yes, you would have thoughts and questions in your mind, if the person you were interested in turned out to be transgender, it’s human nature.

Due to its subject matter – and maybe the importance of the subject to the author – this is not as lighthearted a read as many of the others in the series, but it is still a great NA story, with a super sweet and steamy love story between its pages. Warmly recommended.

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Review of Wolfsong by T.J. Klune

WolfsongWolfsong by T.J. Klune

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am exhausted! This book was so intense I forgot to breathe! Someone told me, this was Kirt Graves first audiobook narration – well hat’s off to that man, because he was flawless and did this amazing story justice in every way.

I am not big on shifter stories – there, I said it! I have a select few I enjoy, but they rarely generate strong emotional responses, as they are in general kind of hard to fully relate to. But this? I cried, I choked up, I forgot to breathe, I ached.

TJ gives nods to both Twilight and Harry Potter – and I enjoy both of these series immensely – but this story is not those stories. It is completely it’s own and it is beautiful.

Cannot recommend enough. All the feelings. All the stars. Take it. Go get it. Read it. Or even better: Listen to it.

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Review of Pansies by Alexis Hall

Pansies (Spires Universe)Pansies by Alexis Hall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewing an Alexis Hall book is always difficult. Mainly because the man’s writing is so poetically beautiful that you hardly feel worthy of writing anything after having read it. The prose is flowery and beautiful and probably not for everyone, but it speaks to me. And so does the stories behind the words. Pansies is no exception.

Alfie Bell is a small town Northern boy, who have moved up in the world. He is working as a banker in London, living in a penthouse in Canary Wharf, driving a sports car, visiting the newest and hippest clubs and bars with his friends and earning loads of money. He apparently has it all.
Unfortunately Alfie is in no way comfortable in his life or in his own skin. He is finally out, after a lifetime in denial.

A trip home to South Shields for his best friends wedding ends in a chance encounter and hook up with a man Alfie doesn’t recognise until after the deed. Fen was the slight effeminate boy whom Alfie used to bully mercilessly growing up and now he is suddenly everything Alfie wants.

This slow moving romance is beautiful and the characters are complex real people with all their flaws, insecurities and cowardice. This is mainly Alfie’s story. Alfie who has to find out who he really is, now that he is Alfie Bell, gay. And not Alfie Bell, one of the lads.

I read this is one sitting, so even if it is slow moving and quite long, it still kept me engaged all the way through. In pacing it probably feels more like ‘Waiting for the flood’ than the other Spires stories, there is not a lot of action per se, but there is loads of character growth and relationship growth. And once again Alexis Hall explores the cultural diversity in modern Britain, dialects and all, which I always find fascinating.

To summarise: this is another achingly beautiful romance from Alexis Hall, which I believe will once again be a love it or hate it type of book. I loved it!

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Review of A Second Harvest by Eli Easton

A Second Harvest (Men of Lancaster County, #1)A Second Harvest by Eli Easton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, Eli Easton, what you do to me!

I was going to read a few chapters before bed. At 4.30 in the morning, having read the first two parts of the book, I had to force myself to go to bed. I loved this sweet and slow moving coming out story.

David is 41, a widower with two grown children, who runs a farm in a small Mennonite community. He is lonely and deeply depressed, just going through the motions and basically waiting to die, but at 41, he feels that he still has quite a lot of waiting to do, even if he drops dead early, as his father did.

Christie is a graphic designer and party boy living in Manhattan. At 30 he is starting to wonder, if there is more to life than drinking, clubbing and hooking up, when he gets a nasty wake up call in the shape of his best friend and room mate’s overdosing on drugs.
He recently inherited a small farm house from his late aunt and decides to go live in the house, to get away from his life and get the house ready for sale.

The courtship is slow and lovely. I guess in a way this book proves the old saying that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, as Christie woos David through exotic meal after exotic meal. But he is not only feeding David’s body, he is feeding his soul and his travelling spirit.

David’s community and children as well as his own inner turmoil is the main conflict of the story. It is a very quiet little tale. There is not a lot of action per se, but the story still kept me completely engrossed all the way through.

Sometimes a book find you, just a the right time and therefore resonates. I could not have said if I would have granted this book 5 stars at another point in time, but right now, it made me smile and cry and had me up all night, so 5 stars it is for David and Christie, for life should not be over at 40, especially not for someone whose life has never really begun.

Warmly recommended.

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Review of Hexbreaker by Jordan L. Hawk

Hexbreaker (Hexworld, #1)Hexbreaker by Jordan L. Hawk

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, if there is a queen of the paranormal historical romance, Jordan L. Hawk must be it! This woman is an amazing storyteller! I loved her Whyborne & Griffin series so much it actually hurt, so when this new series was published, I was so happy I could cry! But also, a bit hesitant. Could she do it again?

I know this is only book 1, but if we count the short prequel I think it safe to say, that yes! She has done it. This is going to be another fantastic series, to be devoured and adored. I cannot wait to continue!

Tom Halloran is a rarity: an honest beat cop in New York. He is also a man with a past. When said past suddenly starts to rear it’s ugly face through some horrific murders, he has to make a choice: keep his head down or do the right thing, even if it means risking exposure.
This leads to him crossing paths with Cicero the Cat, an unbonded familiar working for the Witch Police. Unbeknownst to Tom, Cicero recognises Tom as ‘his’ witch, the second he sets eyes on him. Much to Cicero’s dismay. Cicero is a bohemian, an artist, a refined man of elegance and style. Tom is not! Tom is a big brute of a man and in Cicero’s experience, big brute men talk with their fists and abuse their power. And familiars have precious little power in the world as it is. No way is Cicero going to bond with this ogre.

The murders that started it all are seen as closed cases by the police, written off to madness on the part of the perpetrators. But there is a link to a missing familiar, Isac, Cicero’s best friend. Based on this, the unlikely pair are allowed to investigate.

Jordan L. Hawk mixes fiction and fact seamlessly, in a way that leads us through the real life events and politics of New York in the 1890’ies with a twist of magic. The world building is brilliant and the mystery and investigation is thrilling and nerve gripping.

Warmly recommended. Do yourself a favour and read the short prequel. It’s not required, but it does give an extra dimension to the world building and it tells Rook and Dominic’s story. I will be going straight for the pre-order button for Hexmaker.

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Review of Wes’ Denial by Joseph Lance Tonlet

Wes' Denial (Tease and Denial, #2)Wes’ Denial by Joseph Lance Tonlet

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s 6.30 in the morning and I am a sobbing mess! Review to come!

*********

I have waited years, well ok, a year and a half, for this story. I almost wanted to slap Joseph Lance Tonlet, and declare October 1st 2015 a day of mourning, when he postponed the release date. I even speculated if the evil man had planned it that way, to ensure that the series lived up it’s name…
That also meant, that I had pretty high expectations of this book. And I am happy to say, that they were met and that Wes’ story was worth the wait.

This book cannot be read as a stand alone, you need to pick up Grif’s Toy first, as this one continues right were we left of, this time through Wes’ eyes. Like the first book the author chose time jumps to slowly build the complex puzzle that is Wes De Luca. I thought it worked well in Grif’s Toy, but man does it work here. Every chapter and new facet shown made me want more.

We see snippets of teenage Wes, exploring his sexuality and his dominance, his experiences in boot camp in his early twenties and him developing as a Dom in his thirties. But mainly we see him and Grif develop and grow together and it is beautiful and so romantic.

Don’t get me wrong, there is still kink here, in fact there’s a lot and Grif and Wes expand Chocolate quite a bit during the course of the book, and yet, just like in Grif’s Toy, the author manages to convey clearly the incredible love between the two. You are never left in any doubt as to whether they are both completely into what they are doing. Because, at it’s core, this series is actually an incredibly sweet romance. And that, to me, is quite an amazing feat!

I am aware, that this may leave the author with a book that does not speak to everyone. Readers looking for the sadism, might find it ‘diluted’ by the ‘fluffy stuff’ and fluff readers may be scared off by the level of sadism and humiliation. But for me, it works perfectly.

I had a few niggles a long the way, but since I stayed up all night, finished reading this as the sun came up, sitting in my sofa crying uncontrollably, there is no way I will be able to grant this less than 5 stars.

Warmly recommended, but be aware of the tags and that you need to read both books.

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Review of Adulting 101 by Lisa Henry

Adulting 101Adulting 101 by Lisa Henry

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Nick is 18, gay, has just graduated high school and is college bound after the summer. He spends his days bored in his summer office job for a construction company, stapling things together and writing bad poetry about one of the construction workers beautiful backside.

Jai is 25, bi and has restless feet. He spends every summer working in his small hometown and then the rest of the year travelling the world. He is aware of the geeky temp with a major crush on him, but nothing else, until said geeky temp blows him in a porta-potty and ends up getting them both fired.

Nick is adorable and hilarious in his scatterbrained own way. He goes off on one tangent after another, angsting over the future in the way only a teenager can. Jai’s more mature with his 25 years, but not so much that you don’t believe the relationship between the two.

And lastly I must give a special shout out to Devon, Nicks best friend and the very best bro anyone could have ever asked for. Everyone should have a Devon. I would read his story, whether it is with Ebony or another girl.

To summarise: I loved this! The characters were great, even the secondary ones. I would recommend it to everyone who has ever been a teenager, so basically… everyone. It’s brilliant, adorable, hilarious and so freaking cute you want to hug it. I already know it will be a favourite re-read, and should I be so lucky that it will be released on audio, I will be first in line to buy it.

Adulating 101 will be released on August 15th 2016.

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