• book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: The Solnyshko Duet by Ashlyn Drewek

    I grabbed this series on a whim because I like the word ‘solnyshko.’ I was glad it was the weekend because I ended up reading until 5:00 AM. I finished the first book in one sitting. This duet is just sooo good.

    Now this might not be most people’s cup of tea. This comes with a list of warnings, from homophobia to graphic violence and PTSD. Things get nasty, even horrific, at some points. So please do head the TWs.

    Beyond all that darkness, this is a story of ‘two broken people who found each other,‘ according to the author’s notes. It all started with a kidnapping…


    58097486. sy475

    The Solnyshko Duet: The Kidnapping Of Roan Sinclair – Ashlyn Drewek

    Roan Sinclair’s life is perfect, just ask anyone. Set to graduate college and bound for grad school at Georgetown, Roan’s life has been all planned out for him. Except, he doesn’t want it. Dedicated to his music, he dreams of a life free from his parents’ expectations. Those dreams are gone the minute he’s kidnapped by a group of Russians, led by the tall, dark, and broody Sasha — a man ripped straight from Roan’s fantasies. Determined to make it out alive, Roan will do whatever is necessary to secure his freedom, even if that means seducing his captor.

    Aleksandr Vassiliev doesn’t care about anything except surviving in a merciless world. Known as the Wolf of Verkhoyansk, Sasha’s reputation for brutality is far-reaching and well-deserved. When a bank robbery goes wrong, he’ll do whatever he can to fix it — including kidnapping the bank owner’s son. Instead of complying like he should, Roan defies Sasha at every turn. Worst of all, he makes Sasha want things he can’t have, things that are a death sentence for men like him. Things like Roan Sinclair.

    Content warning: This book contains references to alcohol/drug use, sexual assault, graphic violence, self-harm, ethnic and homosexual slurs, and a lot of profanity. Reader discretion is advised.


    Roan Sinclair is a poor little rich boy trapped in a gilded cage. Music is his passion, but his banker dad blackmailed him to take a business major. He has one year to go before he leaves for business school.

    Aleksandr ‘Sacha’ Vassiliev is a feared, ruthless killer, not a bank robber and certainly not a kidnapper. But when a bank heist had gone wrong, a heist they didn’t fully understand why they had to do, he and his fellow bratva members were forced to change tactics. They kidnapped the banker’s son instead.

    It wasn’t the most ideal meeting, to say the least, but right from the get-go, Roan got under Sacha’s skin. Given his environment, the Russian is deeply in the closet. But he pinged Roan’s gaydar, and our boy used it to his advantage.

    One of the things I really loved about the books was the writing. There were no long paragraphs, and it’s very easy to read. The prose is straight to the point. Just 3-4 sentences per paragraph, yet they conveyed everything the reader needs to know. You feel the emotions jumping off the page. The graphic bits were written to show the nastiness without being gratuitous.

    Thawing the cold, dead heart of a man like Sacha is an impossible feat. Our boy Roan not only brought it back to life, but he became the center of Sacha’s universe. I was completely riveted to their journey, swept away by a tide of emotions. The story is devastating, painful, and, as mentioned, quite dark. But the lighter moments when they come is as heart-warming and bright as the proverbial solnyshko the duet is named after.

    It ends with a HFN but this is one of the best Stockholm Syndrome romances for me!

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Captivate You
    Artist: Marmozets
    Album: The Weird And Wonderful Marmozets


    60037743. sy475

    The Solnyshko Duet: The Vengeance Of Roan Sinclair – Ashlyn Drewek

    After a lifetime of death and suffering, Aleksandr Vassiliev finally has everything he could ever want — the most important being someone to share his future with. Somehow a spoiled American named Roan gave Sasha a reason to see life could be more. Except, that’s where the fairytale ends. He’s not surprised Roan hasn’t been the same since his attack, but with every day that passes, Sasha sees less and less of the boy he fell in love with. He would do anything to get his Solnyshko back, but old enemies from Sasha’s past might end up costing him everything, even Roan.

    Roan Sinclair used to have it all. Now? He’s a shell of his former self. No longer the rich, carefree college guy who brought a Russian criminal to his knees, all he’s trying to do is recover from an assault that nearly killed him. Roan knows he should be grateful to be alive… but he’s not. He’s humiliated. Ashamed. Most of all, he’s angry. He hasn’t forgotten the part his dad played in everything that happened and when he threatens Sasha’s freedom, Roan takes a page from the Russian’s playbook. Maybe vengeance will piece him back together. Maybe then Roan can move on and get to the happily ever after he so desperately wants with the Wolf of Verkhoyansk.

    Content warning: This book contains references to alcohol/smoking, ethnic and homosexual slurs, sexual assault, mental health issues including PTSD and depression, on-page torture, and a lot of profanity. Reader discretion is advised.


    The second book picks up on the aftermath of the very traumatic events of Book 1. Roan is not in a good place, and Sacha is at his wit’s end. He does everything he thinks would help Roan, but the younger man isn’t taking it well.

    Here we have the major presence of Misha, Sacha’s boss, who is also sort of a friend and Misha’s nephew, Ilya. Sacha hired the young man to be Roan’s bodyguard. The easy going man provided a normalcy in Roan’s life during these troubled times.

    Misha has intrigued me since Book 1. He offers Sacha advice on his Roan situation. Where Sacha is a grumpy mofo, Misha is all easy smiles. But make no mistake, they are both wolves. I am so thrilled the bratva boss is going to have his own book!

    I struggled for a bit in the first part because going through Sacha and Roan’s rocky patch wasn’t a pleasant experience. It was angsty and raw. Communication isn’t their strongest suit, and you can really feel how bad they were struggling. All of these is worth going through just to get to the part where Roan smiles and Sacha declares, his sun is back!

    And that’s when we get to the vengeance portion of the story. Roan wants revenge for what his father did, and a ghost from the past is out to get Sacha. I really enjoyed this arc because it felt happier and lighter despite the gruesome bratva business.

    Sacha and Roan evolved to become the power couple they were meant to be. The pace here was also smoother and faster, and there was more action. Characters from the author’s other series popped up, the very mysterious Leander and his flamboyant husband, Bennet. I must investigate these two.

    Both books go through suspenseful, brutal climaxes where the piper is paid in blood and gore. But this time, the ending is a solid and very satisfying HEA. It was such a sweet and uplifting conclusion that sensation of relief was very palpable. I couldn’t ask for a better one for Sasha and Roan! Sometimes all you need in life is a new lease and some sunshine.

    Rating:
    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: Who Needs The Sunshine?
    Artist: The Heavy
    Album: Great Vengeance And Furious Fire


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of The Solnysho Duet. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

    The Kidnapping Of Roan Sinclair :US | UK
    The Vengeance Of Roan Sinclair :US | UK

    If you like my content, please consider supporting me on Ko-fi or PayPal. Your donations will help keep this website going. Thank you so much!

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Egotistical Puckboy by Eden Finley & Saxon James

    59623625. sy475

    Puckboys: Egotistical Puckboy – Eden Finley & Saxon James

    EZRA

    Partying, dudes, and hockey. What more could a gay NHL player want?

    If it weren’t for Anton Hayes, my life would be perfect.

    Not that he affects my life in any way. At all. That would imply I care what the winger from Philly thinks of me.

    Which I don’t.

    Not even a one-night stand with him can thaw his misplaced animosity toward me.

    He says I’m the one with the ego, but he can talk. He rivals me for most egotistical puck boy in the league.

    I hate him as much as he hates me. Even if I crave a repeat.

    ANTON

    When it comes to hockey, I’m all about the game.

    I’ve worked for years to be one of the best in the league, and l’ve done it without splashing my orientation all over the tabloids.

    My hockey image is one I’ve carefully cultivated, and after one night with Ezra Palaszczuk, I risk it all.

    He’s cocky, obnoxious, and has an ego bigger than Massachusetts. And okay, maybe he’s the sexiest man I’ve ever known.

    We’ll never get along. Not when we sleep together. Not even when my possessive streak awakens.

    That doesn’t stop us from falling into bed together over and over again.


    Hockey romance is my most-read MM sports romance. I don’t know what it is about these hockey players that makes them so shippable. Being gorgeous specimens of humanity, I guess. I barely know anything about the sport. Mind you, I hate sports, but the way these hockey romances play out, I’m almost tempted to watch some games.

    Egotistical Puckboy by author duo, Eden Finley & Saxon James, is the opener of the new hockey series, Puckboys. It’s a spin-off of the authors’ CU Hockey series.

    Our egotistical puckboy is hockey royalty, Ezra Palaszczuk. He’s an openly gay troublemaking manwhore who never shuts up. Or so it seems. A closer look reveals a man who wants affection but fears rejection. As unlikely as it seems, he’s also an inspiration to aspiring queer athletes. Spend time with him, you’ll notice how he subtly goes out of his way to make people happy.

    Ez’s rival in the ice and in ego is top athlete Anton Hayes. Anton has a good boy image. He’s grateful for his privileged upbringing and he’s committed to giving back. Anton’s is so serious about it, he even has secret volunteer gigs nobody, not even his team, knows about.

    The man also likes control and has a possessive streak. He doesn’t like to share. He’s still partly in the closet, with only family and teammates knowing he’s gay. He doesn’t want his orientation made public because he doesn’t want to be defined by his sexuality.

    By all accounts, the two hated each other. Then one very drunk evening, Ezra was rescued by Anton from being beaten by angry fans. Feeling responsible, he takes Ezra into his apartment to sleep it off. The idiot took it upon himself to provoke his rescuer. The two ended with a hatefuck, and then continued hooking up, right until Anton was traded into Ezra’s team. And that’s when they start catching certain inescapable feelings.

    I like my enemies-to-lovers story to be intense. This one has the right level of intensity that makes this trope so delicious. I live for the snark and banter! The romance was executed brilliantly, the transition very organic and so very satisfying.

    Ezra, holy heck, the mouth on the guy! There were times when he was almost too much. Even during sex, he wouldn’t shut up. At some particularly exasperating statement, I even thought, man, that is such a boner killer.

    Anton has no problems matching Ez snark per snark. I enjoyed how he challenges the other man and keeps him on his toes. He saw through the ego and the bluster and recognized Ez’s vulnerability and innate goodness. And I loved how he accepts Ezra for who he is all the way.

    Ezra is mine.

    I groan at the thought.

    At doing what no one else has ever done.

    The thing is, I don’t want to rein him in. I don’t want to change him. He’s light. He’s attention. People are drawn to him and his larger-than-life personality. I want to wind him up and watch him fly, then be the safe place where he can land. The one he always comes back to.

    My favorite thing about these two is that they may trade in one-upmanship and sarcasm but when real issues come up, they take time to communicate properly. They talked about everything from the get-go, from how their hook-ups should go down, to going exclusive, to Ez’s family issues, to Anton’s coming out. Ez inspired Anton to embrace his truth. Attaboy!

    I struggled with a few other books but when I picked this up, I was riveted for hours. I was immediately drawn to the characters, even the supporting ones. I loved the Queer Collective! They’re a group of queer NHL players who banded together. Most of these guys are from the CU Hockey series.

    Rivals/enemies-to-lovers hockey romances always bring to mind that famously steamy rivalry between the cocky Russian and the polite Canadian. Happily, after a couple of chapters, comparisons to that other book faded. Egotistical Puckboy is sufficiently different to set itself apart. It’s fun, sweet, low-angst, and very swoony! It made me laugh and smile.

    Let these puckboys show you a good time too!

    Ratings:
    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: Catching Feelings
    Artist: Mathew V
    Album


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Egotistical Puckboy. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

    US | UK

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperbacks and MP3 CD audiobooks and help support independent bookstores.

    US | UK

    If you like my content, please consider supporting me on Ko-fi or PayPal. Your donations will help keep this website going. Thank you so much!

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Winter Of The Owl by Iris Foxglove

    59901416. sy475

    Seasons Of The Lukoi: Winter Of The Owl – Iris Foxglove

    Sava has the best house in all of Lukos. He built it himself, dreaming of the day when he and Milan, the man he loved, could live there and brave the harsh winters of Lukos together—only to be devastated when Milan was found dead in the spring. Fraught with grief, Sava resigns himself to spending his winters alone.

    Then a stranger appears on his doorstep, and everything changes.

    Victor is a scholar from Gerakia, a land known for its long summers and vibrant history, and he has never been more unprepared in his life. Abandoned on the inhospitable island of Lukos after a disastrous relationship, Victor has to adapt quickly to survive. It helps, of course, that he’s taken in by Sava, who has the biggest heart of any man Victor has ever known. Victor and Sava start to make a home together, growing close as snow falls outside, but the true danger of a Lukos winter is closer than they suspect…


    Winter Of The Owl is the first book of the fantasy series, Seasons of the Lukoi. It is also my first from author duo, Iris Foxglove. I couldn’t have picked a better book to start with because I couldn’t get enough of the Cozy Husbands!

    The series is set in the Starian world. Even if I haven’t read the other books, world-building is effortless and intuitive. It was easy to picture the cold, frigid island with its survivalist community.

    Lukos is an island way up north. Not much is known about it by the rest of the world. It was built by exiles who established laws that helped them survive the harsh territory.

    The Lukoi has a strong sense of community and family. They have their own unique culture heavily influenced by their environment. They are welcoming to those who were abandoned. They mate for life and are fiercely protective of children. Despite the toughness of their living conditions, I found Lukos almost like a utopia the way the Lukoi thrived and flourished.

    Like the related series, Seasons of the Lukoi also has its people born as either dominant or submissive. Sava, being a dominant, is responsible for providing all the best that he can give to his potential mate, Milan. He did it so well, his house was considered the best house in Lukos.

    But then, Milan died and he was left all alone in his very nice abode. One day, the kuvar, their leader, drags in a scholar they found on the beach and requests Sava to house the poor man. Thus begins a sweet and achingly tender love story built on mutual care and trust.

    Victor is from sunny Gerakia. He is a beautiful, pure-hearted soul, a veritable “sweet summer child”. Cast aside by an abusive lover and left for dead, he still found joy and wonder everywhere he looked. I could practically see him lighting up at the sight of the first snowfall. His enthusiasm for learning is boundless.

    Sava was so kind, attentive, and patient with Victor from the very beginning. He teaches him skills to survive winter. The man is a total sweetheart. He’s a selfless gentle giant who gives the adorkable scholar a ride on his back whenever the clumsy dork had a hard time navigating rocky paths.

    I loved how they comfort each other and prop each other up whenever one is beset by insecurities. They helped the other rediscover their self-worth and find closure. Victor had to process the betrayal and the mean things his ex did. Sava had to deal with guilt over Milan’s death.

    One of the best moments for me was when Sava, first time to see eyeglasses, asked Victor what those are for. “To make your pretty eyes look bigger?” Then, later in the story, noticing how Victor complains about them slipping, quietly ties a ribbon to keep them in place. The megane moe is strong!!! I love it! Especially when it was revealed Victor’s ex hated his glasses.

    Sava and Victor are just too adorable!!! Then they adopted Speedy, the snowcat, who stole the show. I died from fluff overload!

    There are some BDSM elements present. The authors wisely deployed them at a minimum. It kept the story’s vibe cozy and wholesome in harmony with Sava and Victor’s dynamics.

    I loved how the book was written. It’s detailed yet easy to read. The characters were fully fleshed out. The relationships were given time to develop properly. The plot is deceptively straightforward, almost conflict-free. Most of it is Sava and Victor getting to know each other, enveloped in domestic bliss.

    Far from feeling nothing is happening, we see Lukos coming alive through Victor’s fresh eyes. His openness and curiosity were contagious. He made me want to visit the island. It has a rich culture and a chockful of intriguing characters I’d love to know more.

    The book has mentions of suicide and cultural misunderstanding of mental illness so take note of the CWs if they are triggering for you. This is in connection with Milan, which leads to a not-so-surprising twist and the suspenseful climax. The book nicely wraps up with Victor’s ex getting his comeuppance. I think they let him off too easily. They should’ve just dropped him in the sea.

    Winter of the Owl is a feel-good, forced proximity story filled with kindness and affection. It’s about finding joy in the mundane and looking at the world with wonder. It’s about seeing the good in other people and rediscovering self-worth. Immersive, compelling, and hella squee-tastic, it may be set in the dead of winter but it certainly warms the heart.

    Rating:
    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: The White Owl Of Winter
    Artist: MIKL
    Album: The Life And Death Of The Effervescent Lover


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Winter Of The Owl. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

    US UK

    If you like my content, please consider supporting me on Ko-fi or PayPal. Your donations will help keep this website going. Thank you so much!

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Hostile Takeover by Lucy Lennox

    58229111. sy475

    Hostile Takeover – Lucy Lennox

    It was supposed to be a prank. A silly frat boy dare.

    One hot moment in a hidden storage closet. One kiss. No consequences.

    But if you get that close to a man with fire in his eyes, you’re gonna get burned, and I was no exception. One taste of Grey Blackwood ruined me for life.

    The way Grey sees it, I was the one who did the ruining. I humiliated him. Wrecked his life. Destroyed his future.

    Doesn’t matter that he’s clawed his way back and then some. Doesn’t matter that he’s already top of the Wall Street food chain. The man’s ruthless. Heartless. And he likes his revenge served cold.

    Now he’s taking down the companies owned by every frat boy who did him wrong. And when he comes for my family’s company, the quiet life I’ve built for myself far away from Manhattan comes crumbling down, too.

    But when Grey’s standing in our boardroom, threatening a hostile takeover and demanding I negotiate on behalf of my family, I don’t see an enemy. I see the chance I’ve been waiting for.

    The chance for another night in his arms, and hopefully a whole lot more.

    Let the negotiations begin.

    Hostile Takeover is a full-length, standalone novel.


    The blurb for this book grabbed me immediately. Hostile Takeover promised all sorts of vengeful enemies to lovers goodness. I am happy to report that it made good on its promise.

    It started with a drunken dare at the country club. Ellison York was egged on by fellow elite frat boys to do something naughty in the closet with the first person who entered the room. To the supposedly straight Ellison’s shock, in comes Grey Blackwood, the server, sometimes caddy, and scholarship student in their university. Also, his super-secret crush.

    To Ellison’s surprise, Grey was very willing to kiss him. He had no clue he was Grey’s super-secret crush too. They would have done more if not for Ellison’s dad and the rest of the frat boys walking in on them. Grey was promptly fired, lost his internships, lost most of his connections, and almost lost his standing as a student. Ellison stood silently by as it all happened.

    Fifteen years later, Grey, now a billionaire venture capitalist, takes over York Capital as revenge. He demanded Ellison work as his PA. He intends to make the most of this cold dish and this is where the real fun starts.

    Grey got more than he bargained for with Ellison. For one, he (and I) didn’t expect present-day Ellison to be such a cheeky bastard, Grey was so prepared to make the other man’s life miserable but it’s hard to hate on Ellison when he made things fun. He even managed to negotiate a deal to win some of the York properties back. He’s also very determined to launch his own takeover of Grey’s heart.

    Ellison’s very, very sorry for being too cowardly to speak up that he was the one who initiated the kiss with Grey all those years ago. Unknown to Grey, this had led Ellison to create his passion project, a boarding school for underprivileged students. This, in turn, led to my favorite part, the scene where Grey learned how much he meant to Ellison ever since the beginning, I was as blown away as Grey.

    This book is tight and intense, with the kind of electric chemistry that crackles through the pages. I loved the secret crush connection they had in the past, even if it was ruined by scandal. It’s a delight to see the sparks reigniting even as they antagonized each other. The fake boyfriend plus bisexual awakening made the USTs even more explosive.

    Grey realized Ellison wasn’t the spoiled rich boy he thought he was. Ellison slowly but surely earned Grey’s trust. I loved how the transition from enemies to lovers was executed, especially the way it was built up so effortlessly and flawlessly. It was very satisfying watching these two men go from dancing around each other to finally acknowledging that they fit perfectly.

    It’s not a Lucy Lennox book without some nasty bad guys and high drama. The bad guy comes in the form of Ellison’s evil dad, a manipulative, scheming man. He blackmailed Ellison into working as York Capital’s corporate lawyer, a job he knows his son hates. This man is also responsible for putting, yet again, a wedge between Grey and Ellison.

    I’m not a fan of the misunderstanding trope. I felt that the conflict in the third arc could have gone differently instead of the miscommunication and separation route. However, it paved the way for my favorite scene mentioned earlier and for some desperate, heartfelt groveling.

    Hostile Takeover is a fun page-turner that has you rooting for Grey and Ellison and occasionally wanting to smack their heads together. It’s a delicious combination of second chance romance, enemies-to-lovers, bisexual awakening, and fake boyfriends tropes. I dare say it’s one of Lucy Lennox‘s best books.

    Rating:
    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: How Dare You
    Artist: Malinda
    Album:


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Hostile Takeover. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

    US | UK

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperbacks and MP3 CD audiobooks and help support independent bookstores.

    HOSTILE TAKEOVER

    If you like my content, please consider supporting me on Ko-fi or PayPal. Your donations will help keep this website going. Thank you so much!

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Beautiful Mistakes by Felice Stevens

    58367443. sy475

    Second Chances: Beautiful Mistakes – Felice Stevens

    The other side of loathing might be lust …

    Or love …

    Wolf
    Desire: What Wolf struggles with from the moment he sees Spencer Hawkins the first day of college.
    Fear: Not a word in Wolf’s vocabulary except when it comes to facing his feelings for Spencer.
    Lust: What he gives in to that changes everything between them. And his life forever.
    Denial: Something Wolf is all too familiar with—denying who he is and who he wants. It’s better this way, even if it’s tearing him and his friendship with Spencer apart.

    Spencer
    Hide: What Spencer does best. He hides from everyone, especially himself and the crazy attraction to Wolf he can’t shake.
    Walls: Spencer throws them up to protect himself from all the hurts life heaps on him—his mother’s death, his father’s indifference, and the men who share his bed and walk away.
    Betrayal: Not by just anyone. By Wolf. The one man he can’t forget. Or forgive.
    Want: Spencer wants to live in the moment, but he can’t stop thinking about that night. And it doesn’t help that he and Wolf keep knocking heads…and locking lips.

    Love: What these two idiots need to realize is happening between them. What started out as their ugliest regret could end up being the most beautiful mistake they ever made.


    Sometimes, you meet one character in a story and you just know right off the bat, their own book is going to blow you away.

    This is what happened with Wolf. I met him in Second Chances, Book 1. He barely said two sentences when I immediately latched on to him. Then seeing his antagonistic interactions with Spencer, I was super eager to find out what was going on between them. So much so that I didn’t wait to finish the first book and completely skipped the second. I jumped right to their story.

    Beautiful Mistakes is an angsty, slow-burn, frenemies to lovers romance of mega-lawyer Garrett Wolf and fashion stylist Spencer Hawkins. The tumultuous history of the two started way back in college. They were rooming with two other students, Elliot and Chess.

    For some reason, Wolf found himself attracted to Spencer. He couldn’t understand why because he has never been attracted to anyone. He never acted on it, not wanting to be just another one-night stand to the very active Spencer.

    Fifteen years later, the four are still friends. Elliot is now a freelance journalist and Chess, a college professor. Wolf still wants Spencer.

    Second Chances is a character-driven series. One of the things that makes Beautiful Mistakes the best installment is that both Wolf and Spencer are very compelling characters. They stood out individually and as a couple. The biggest hurdle of the first book was I didn’t care much about Elliot’s and Win’s issues. Here, I was heavily invested in Wolf’s welfare. I really, really wanted him to be happy because our boy is too hard on himself.

    Wolfie is the workaholic of the group. An enigmatic, dominating presence, he tends to be serious, scowly, blunt, and aloof. He has a deep, dark secret he spent his entire life running away from. And trying to make up for. He also thinks there’s something wrong with him because no one seems to interest him at all. Excerpt for one very infuriating man.

    He kept his desires strictly under lock and key for years, thinking he’s not good enough for Spence. Until one moment of weakness in Milan. Then, he ghosted the next morning. They kept that magical night a secret from their friends. Spencer was hurt by Wolf calling it a mistake. Things were progressively going downhill for them. It got so bad that Chess and Elliot had to stage an intervention.

    Gad! Spencer is annoying! The two tried, boy, they really tried, to talk things out. Several times too. My heart went out to Wolfie. It’s already difficult enough to explain his painful family history, much more about his complicated feelings for a friend. The idiot Spencer would interrupt with a ridiculous comment that would totally derail the conversation. It’s frustrating as hell!

    Spencer also has some family drama he prefers to leave in the past. He might be silly and outrageous, but he’s talented, ambitious, and driven. I loved the way his personality jives with Wolf’s sardonic humor.

    They clash because Spencer is a flamboyant, life of the party. His motto is the more, the merrier. Meanwhile, the demisexual Wolf doesn’t approve of Spencer’s cavalier way with sex. He insists his friend deserves so much more than randos. Me! Me! Poor Wolfie cries silently. Unknown to him, Spencer was also attracted to him since way back when. I wanted to crack their heads together.

    The push and pull between the two men was intense! They had that crazy good annoy-you-because-I-want-you-so-bad chemistry that makes the enemies or in this case, frenemies to lovers trope a joy to read. When they finally realized why they liked pushing each other’s buttons so much, BAM! Fireworks!

    I struggled with Elliot and Win’s story, The List. It didn’t have enough hook to keep me engaged. I also wasn’t so keen on Chess and Andre’s book, Footsteps of the Past. I would have loved to read about an established couple but Chess is kind of meh. However, these two couples make great supporting characters in the third book. I love how the four college friends plus the men in their lives built this lifelong bond with each other.

    If there’s one book that badly needs an epilogue, this is it. I can’t believe it left Wolfie and Spence standing in front of a window. I need more!

    Still, Beautiful Mistakes is a well-written finale. It flowed just right and hit a perfect balance of emotional notes. The book is deep and moving. Many times, heartbreaking. But it’s also funny, snarky, sweet, and heartwarming.

    The way Wolf and Spencer zing throughout the book! The way they became each other’s rock when the past caught up to them. How right it felt when they finally came to terms with their feelings and let each other in. It’s beautiful and damn near perfect!

    Rating:
    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: Beautiful Mistake
    Artist: Mango
    Album: Beautiful Mistake

    P.S.

    I might have jumped the line but Second Chances is best read in order. Witness hopeless romantic Elliot find his ideal match in hotshot detective Win in The List. Watch long-time boyfriends Chess and Andre rediscover why they’re stronger together in Footsteps Of The Past. All the while, you can enjoy the delicious USTs building up between the bickering dorks. The first two books have rave reviews so I think you can’t go wrong with this series.


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Beautiful Mistakes. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

    US | UK

    If you like my content, please consider supporting me on Ko-fi or PayPal. Your donations will help keep this website going. Thank you so much!

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Unhinged by Onley James

    58415294. sy475

    Necessary Evils: Unhinged – Onley James

    Adam Mulvaney lives a double life. By day, he’s the spoiled youngest son of an eccentric billionaire. By night, he’s an unrepentant killer, one of seven psychopaths raised to right the wrongs of a justice system that keeps failing.

    Noah Holt has spent years dreaming of vengeance for the death of his father, but when faced with his killer, he learns a daunting truth he can’t escape. His father was a monster.

    Unable to ignore his own surfacing memories, Noah embarks on a quest to find the truth about his childhood with the help of an unlikely ally: the very person who murdered his father. Since their confrontation, Adam is obsessed with Noah, and he wants to help him uncover the answers he seeks, however dark they may be.

    The two share a mutual attraction, but deep down, Noah knows Adam’s not like other boys. Adam can’t love. He wasn’t born that way. But he refuses to let Noah go, and Noah’s not sure he wants him to.

    Can Adam prove to Noah that passion, power, and protection are just as good as love?


    Gaga for fictional psychos?

    Meet the Mulvaney brothers: Atticus, August, Archer, twins Asa and Avi, Aidan and Adam. All gorgeous. All talented. All certified by a board of doctors to be psychopaths.

    The boys were adopted by billionaire Thomas Mulvaney and trained to be secret vigilante killers who follow a strict code. Their father calls them necessary evil. Each Mulvaney brother stood out. Their interactions were a riot! Even Thomas left me intrigued. Adopt me, please!

    Each book would feature one brother. I want everyone’s books!!!

    First up, Adam.

    Adam is the youngest. He is publicly known as a supermodel. One night, he was held at gunpoint by Noah Holt, son of one of his earlier victims. He deftly took control of the situation and showed Noah who his father really was. Turns out, the man was a pedophile and a major player in the child trafficking ring. This led the two, along with the rest of the Mulvaneys, to hunt down the other abusers who had participated in the crimes.

    The story is a crime-solving procedural of sorts, where instead of a detective, you get a family of super-rich serial killers and their mysterious (and super sassy) hacker working together to put down other monsters. I totally love the concept! And Onley James pulled it off spectacularly!

    Murder is the default crime in mysteries so I really liked that this is not a murder mystery. In most mysteries, I just enjoy tagging along in the investigation and not care too much about the killer. Here I enjoyed the procedural and I felt heavily invested in seeing the bad guys get their comeuppance.

    This book has a pretty grim topic so TW for sexual abuse of children. However, the author did a great job handling the issue. There were no graphic details or anything on-page. The wordings were written with tact and sensitivity while still giving us a good sense of how horrific Noah’s experiences were. His brain blocked his childhood traumas but the more evidence they unearthed, the more his memories returned. It got so bad he had a melt down.

    This is where both Adam and Noah shone the brightest.

    You’re not going to lecture me on drinking my problems away?” Noah asked.
    “No. If this is what you need to cope, then I’ll keep you safe while you do it.”

    Their romance sprang practically fully formed overnight. I might not be too keen on the insta-ness of things but it fits their story in a way. As a psychopath, Adam doesn’t really feel emotions like love and empathy. But he can be rage-y, obsessive, and possessive. That he can decide Noah was his the moment he laid his eyes on the young man is in keeping with who he is.

    But for a psycho, Adam can be surprisingly sweet. I loved how he adores Noah and took care of him when he was hurting badly. He doesn’t really understand human emotions but he asked other people for help so that he can comfort his boyfriend. How many men you know would do that?

    Noah is perfect for Adam. He appreciated Adam’s possessiveness and obsession. He understood that Adam needed clear, concise rules to help him better navigate their relationship. I loved that they talk things out. Their chemistry?

    Adam was a match and Noah was gasoline-soaked paper

    Adam might go all caveman protective on him but Noah is no damsel in distress. Our boy is a survivor and a fighter. I especially loved how when he was given the chance to take action, he took the ball and ran with it. Attaboy!

    The book might be dark but is also very romantic, filled with squee-tastic lines that go right to the kokoro. One of the most beautiful scenes in the book was in the warehouse where Adam was tracing the stars connecting Noah’s freckles. It was so tender and quite breathtaking. It was one of those moments where time seem to stop and there’s nothing but that moment.

    Unhinged is a fantastic series opener. It effectively set the Necessary Evils world. It effortlessly drew me into Adam and Noah’s story, as well as seamlessly introducing all the key players. The story is a heady mix of mystery, romance, humor, hurt comfort, and family dynamics. Sometimes devastating, often funny, many times swoony, always crazy good!

    Rating:
    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: Unhinged
    Artist: Lydia Kaye
    Album: Seventh Sense


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Unhinged. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

    US |  UK  

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperbacks and MP3 CD audiobooks and help support independent bookstores.

    UNHINGED

    If you like my content, please consider supporting me on Ko-fi. Your donations will help keep this website going. Thank you so much!

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Exposed by H.L. Day

    54637851. sy475

    Exposed – H.L. Day

    A survival gay romance

    Sometimes salvation comes from the most unlikely hero.

    When Tate Gillespie is marked for death for a crime he didn’t commit, his life crumbles. In a world where ‘justice’ is meted out by a relentless military force, he’s going to need more than a mythical guardian angel. His life down to seconds, he’s saved by the mysterious X, a knife-wielding man he’s never even met before. But who is X? Is he the man who threatens and kills without a second thought? Or the strangely gentle man who only seems to act that way around Tate?

    X is a shadow. A wraith. A man who flits through the city virtually unseen. He’s got no time for people when knives are far more reliable. X does have one weakness though—the man he’s been keeping safe for years who doesn’t even know it. He’d burn the whole world to keep him alive. But what he won’t do is stake his claim. Tate’s not his and he needs to remember that, no matter how close they might become.

    With the military in hot pursuit, they’re going to need to rely on X’s skills to keep them both alive. Tate’s feelings are growing with every hour they spend together, but X is a tough nut to crack. Can two people from very different backgrounds really find common ground? Or will one of the many perils they face throughout their long journey drive them apart?

    It’s all about survival. Not love. Isn’t it?

    Exposed is a 132k action/adventure story featuring two men who couldn’t be more opposite.


    Exposed is a book where everything came together fabulously. Starting with the model on the cover who is spot-on as X. I was also thrilled to hear that not only was the narrator fantastic at bringing the characters to life, he delivered the story with an Australian accent. It’s such a rare treat!

    When I first read the blurb, I was super intrigued by the shadowy figure lurking in the dark. My guts told me this is going to be so good. It turned out to be one heck of an adventure and a touching chronicle of one man’s unconditional love and devotion.

    The book immediately pulled me into a dystopian world in what was supposedly the former Australian continent. The world-building is straightforward but detailed enough to set the vibe properly. The more affluent citizens lived in cities ruled by martial law. The rest lived in slums.

    There are talks of other cities, some underground, others, probably nothing more than myths. There is one somewhere in the north, past the desert, said to be a utopia for all. Nobody could verify its existence because none came back to do so. Either they did find the place or more likely, they died trying.

    Tate blissfully carries on with his life as a pharmaceutical employee in the city, unaware of the guardian shadow watching over him. One day, he was set up for a crime punishable by death. Just as he was about to be executed by the military police, he was saved by a mysterious knife-wielding man. The two quickly set off to find a haven and freedom, with the military hot on their heels.

    X is an assassin from the slums. This is a man who loves his knives so much he doesn’t let anyone touch them and live. He’s very anti-social, very taciturn, very broody. He is a hard man living a hard life. His sole purpose was to protect Tate, whether or not the man knew of his existence. Ask him how long he has been stalking him. That is how long he has been hopelessly in love with Tate.

    X!!! The name is perfect! I love him!!! X’s strength as a character was what carried me through the story. I’m happy the story is told in dual 1st person POVs because being inside X’s head was everything!

    The man is soft for Tate and only for Tate. He was a badass through and through. He’s tough even to himself. He doesn’t believe he is worthy of being loved. Not even when Tate already said he liked him.

    “It’s possible to want something but to not let yourself have it.”

    My heart went out to X during these moments. The man has a habit of talking himself into believing nobody’s going to love a killer like him. Mind you, he’s still very butch about it. The part that hit me the hardest was how X never, ever expects anything in return from Tate. He would have been okay with just escorting Tate to the underground city. Then, he would go off to the desert and die happy knowing the love of his life was safe.

    Tate took some time winning me over. He’s chatty, naïve, and occasionally bratty. He was slightly annoying at some points. But to give Tate his due, he was smart enough to figure X out. Also, he accepted X for who he is, dark past and all. The part where I appreciated Tate the most was where he truly understood how much the knives meant to X.

    The romance was both intense and gentle. The connection between X and Tate was a palpable, slow-burning energy, building heat until it went nuclear. It was a beautiful rendering of unrequited love getting requited.

    The characters and the romance developed over the course of their adventure. I don’t really go for stories where a long journey is involved because the traveling part bores me. Here, I did feel a very slight drag.

    However, the author skillfully kept the momentum going. I loved how she balanced the action scenes with the more emotional ones. I enjoyed how one moment we get crazy ninja moves and throat-slitting, then we get some downtime of X cleaning Tate’s wound with excruciating tenderness. And then it’s back to adrenaline-pumping chases and explosions. And a LOT of walking!

    Exposed is my first H.L. Day and definitely won’t be the last. It’s a brilliantly executed dystopian action/adventure love story driven by compelling characters that leave their mark. Gritty, suspenseful, thrilling, and deeply moving, it is two men’s mad dash to freedom and a hard-fought journey towards a lifetime together.

    Rating:
    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: I’ll Fall With Your Knife
    Artist: Peter Murphy
    Album: Cascade


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Exposed. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

    US |  UK  

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperbacks and MP3 CD audiobooks and help support independent bookstores.

    EXPOSED

    If you like my content, please consider supporting me on Ko-fi. Your donations will help keep this website going. Thank you so much!

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Better The Devil You Know by Bey Deckard

    27159197. sy475

    Better The Devil You Know – Bey Deckard

    This is not a romance.

    Tags: graphic torture, murder, paranormal, forced incest, rape

    Byron is tall, handsome, well spoken, wealthy, and has outstanding taste in wine and food. You’ll be impressed by his impeccable attire and eloquence in conversation, ranging from Baroque art to the newest advances in pharmacology. With his charming smile and elegant manners, Byron truly is the perfect date… and who doesn’t love a man who appreciates opera?

    What’s the catch, you ask?

    Just this: if Byron finds you suitable, he will subject you to utterly depraved forms of torture.

    No, I’m not talking about S&M.

    Byron will mutilate, rape, and then kill you. Don’t think that you will survive the encounter, because you won’t.

    He has a perfect record.

    Intrigued? Would you like me to arrange a rendezvous? It has to be in the next few days because he’s leaving on a trip south to much warmer climes, and his calendar will be completely full.

    Yes? Very good. I will make a reservation for two under the name of Smith.

    Who am I? I’m Gloria, his personal assistant.


    This is where a very bad man goes to hell to give the Devil what he deserves.

    Better The Devil You Know is most definitely not for the faint of heart. Please do heed the trigger warnings. As mentioned in the blurb, this is not a romance. This is paranormal horror. If you like it painful and gruesome, this one takes it to the extreme.

    Byron was a former doctor who uses his money to cover up his many illicit activities. With the help of his uber-efficient assistant, Gloria, he seduces men then later turns them into his playthings. With his medical knowledge, he prolongs his victim’s life and inflicts the sickest, most depraved tortures you can ever imagine.

    This sicko has no redeeming qualities what so ever. There’s no redemption, no turning over a new leaf at the end. But I have to say, boy is he charming!

    This is a story that feels very much like its main character. Dark, monstrous, sickening, terrifying but somehow you are still drawn to it. The sheer force of Byron’s charisma compels one to stay, makes one curious, keeps one interested.

    Each chapter is shown through the eyes of Byron’s many victims. All too often, it is a tale of hapless young men drawn to the handsome gentleman with impeccable taste and perfect manners, only to find out too late that this beauty is worst than a beast.

    It’s very intense to go through these men’s thoughts as they writhe in agony and breathe their last breaths. The author gave them names, faces, voices and backstories. It makes their plight even more heart-breaking knowing that two brothers just wanting a new car or a gay immigrant just wanting to make a connection unknowingly threw themselves into the hands of a monster

    There are a couple of mysteries presented in the book. One is Michael, Byron’s last date. Why does this young man seem vaguely familiar? Gloria became a mystery as the story progressed. Who exactly is this assistant who seem almost too good at her job?

    Then there is Lucifer. Luce to his friends. Never ever Lucie. Wondering what would it take to break a man like Byron. The Lord Of Hell has always been a fascinating character. Here, he’s fabulous, if perpetually bored. Seeing him light up when he talks to Byron, well, I couldn’t help but ship the two. But again, this is not romance. Fantastic chemistry notwithstanding, Luce is too good for the likes of Byron. Yes, the man is that bad.

    There are so many clever twists and turns. Everything came together in a thrilling climax. It was a something I half expected since it felt like the logical conclusion given the set-up. I just didn’t know how exactly it would be done. The other half was something like Luce and Byron plotting elaborate methods of soul rehabilitation together. Would have loved to see that.

    Either way, I loved how things were resolved. It does have its own kind of happy ending for the two, Because really, when I think about it, take away all the blood and gore, Better The Devil You Know is a story about one hell of a job promotion.

    Rating:
    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: Pray The Devil Back To Hell
    Artist: Lucinda Williams
    Album: Good Souls Better Angels


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Better The Devil You Know. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

     US |  UK

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperbacks and MP3 CD audiobooks and help support independent bookstores.

    BETTER THE DEVIL YOU KNOW

    If you like my content, please consider supporting me on Ko-fi. Your donations will help keep this website going. Thank you so much!

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Role Model by Rachel Reid

    56760672. sy475

    Game Changers: Role Model – Rachel Reid

    The highly anticipated fifth novel in Rachel Reid’s Game Changers series sees a grumpy professional hockey player meet his match in an out-and-proud social media manager

    The hits just keep coming for Troy Barrett. Traded to the worst team in the league would be bad enough, but coming on the heels of a messy breakup and a recent scandal… Troy just wants to play hockey and be left alone. He doesn’t want to be in the news anymore, and he definitely doesn’t want to “work on his online presence” with the team’s peppy social media manager.

    Harris Drover can tell standoffish Troy isn’t happy about the trade—anyone could tell, frankly, as he doesn’t exactly hide it well—but Harris doesn’t give up on people easily. Even when he’s developing a crush he’s sure is one-sided. And when he sees Troy’s smile finally crack through his grumpy exterior, well… That’s a man Harris couldn’t turn his back on if he wanted to.

    Suddenly, Troy’s move to the new team feels like an opportunity—for Troy to embrace his true self, and for both men to surrender to their growing attraction. But indulging in each other behind closed doors is one thing, and for Troy, being in a public relationship with Harris will mean facing off with his fears, once and for all.


    As much as I love Rachel Reid’s hockey romance series, Game Changers, I struggled with Book 3. As a result, I didn’t bother with Book 4. However, there was something about Book 5 that piqued my interest again. Because who doesn’t love a bad boy redemption story?

    Role Model is top pro hockey player and asshole by association Troy Barrett, fresh from a scandal and having just been traded to bottom ranked team, Ottawa Centaurs. Feeling lonely and miserable, also secretly nursing a broken heart, he grumps his way through the day with the intent of moving to a better team when the season is over.

    Troy is considered a pariah in the league after calling out his former teammate/best friend for sexually assaulting several women. Anticipating a frosty reception, he did not expect his new team welcoming him with open arms. Nor did he expect the Centaurs’ out-and-proud social media manager, Harris Drover, befriending him. And slowly but surely, drawing out that super secret side he had hidden for years. Also, is he imagining it or does the man smell like apples?

    One thing that made me keen to read this is the promise of Ilya sightings. He is in very fine form here. Witness him cooing over a puppy. The author really made good use of his character in the plot, as well as setting up his and Shane’s second book.

    However, what made Role Model stood out for me was that even with Ilya’s magnificent self making a very strong presence, Troy and Harris managed to shine and they did it quite brilliantly. There were no doubts that this is their story.

    Raised by a happy family of apple farmers, Harris is the ray of sunshine Troy needed in his life. With his booming laugh and his beaming smiles and him being completely comfortable in his own skin. Everyone in the team loves the guy. I loved his openness and how he looked, really looked, and saw that behind the cold expressions was an anxious young man who could use a friend.

    The romance was a beautifully rendered slow burn, friends to lovers, out for you story between two opposite people. It was super sweet and oh so gentle, showing a surprisingly thoughtful and caring side of Troy very few people are privileged to know.

    The book did a fabulous job portraying how Troy’s character evolved from an angry, heart-broken and very sullen newcomer to Harris’ tentative friend to a motivated team player to a young man on the cusp of new love to the inspirational hero he is.

    My heart went out to Troy when he felt like the whole world was against him. I was rooting so hard for him. The book’s Disney fairy tale ending couldn’t be more perfect. Of all people who deserved that many rainbows and his very own apple-scented prince, it was him.

    Role Model is not only a story of bad boy gone good, it also a story about giving voice to those who were silenced and the courage it takes to be truly yourself. Funny, heartwarming and uplifting, this here is Rachel Reid upping her game and scoring a definite win

    Rating:
    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: Apple Pie
    Artist: The Scary Jokes
    Album: April Fools

    P.S.

    While Role Model can be read as a standalone, hockey is a group effort. So it’s best to meet the rest of the team starting with the meet-cute that led to the Stanley cup in Game Changer and that infamously incendiary trysts between that cocky Russian and the polite Canadian boy in Heated Rivalry.


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Role Model. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

     US |  UK

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperbacks and MP3 CD audiobooks and help support independent bookstores.

    ROLE MODEL

    If you like my content, please consider supporting me on Ko-fi. Your donations will help keep this website going. Thank you so much!