• book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Wood by A.E. Via

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    A True Lover’s Story: Wood – A.E. Via

    This isn’t a romance about billionaires, movie stars, or models. This is a story of two ordinary, working-class men, dealing with life’s real problems, and trying to find love along the way.

    It’s been a long seventeen years but Herschel Wood Jr. is finally a free man and he’s looking forward to reconnecting with his old cellmate, Bishop Stockley, who promised him a place to stay and some help getting back on his feet. Wood had a good life once upon time when he’d owned one of the most successful tattoo shops on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront – until a fatal accident that was his fault cost him everything.

    Now at forty-six years old, all Wood wants is to work in another shop on the beach and find a mature, easygoing man to settle down with. But when he gets to his new place and finds he has to share the small trailer with Bishop’s childhood friend, he wasn’t expecting a sexy, smart-mouthed brat that enjoys pushing a man to his limits.

    Wood pressed in tight until there was only misunderstanding between them, his mouth mere inches from Trent’s parted lips. “You wanted to get a reaction out of me you annoying, immature little shit… now you’ve got one.”

    Trent Armstrong has never been considered a catch. He’s a twenty-nine year old laborer, an ex-con, and not the easiest person to get along with. He’s used to being the one people cast to the side when they’re done with him. Everyone he’s ever cared about has walked out of his life without a backward glance, so he’s used to the loneliness. His foul mouth and quick temper are a great defense mechanism and an easy way to hide his hurt.

    From the moment the tattooed, silver-haired man walked into the house there had been nothing but tension, side-eyeing, and sparks between them. Trent has always held back a side of himself that he’s terrified to explore, and without warning Wood’s voice, his maturity, that maddening scent, and even his damaged past all trigger feelings that Trent thought he’d buried deep long ago.

    Trent went completely still when Wood dragged his nose over his forehead and down the side of his face. His voice was shaky, and his breaths were hot and swift along Wood’s throat. “What the hell are you doing?”
    “I’m doing what you want me to do.” Wood whispered. “I’m playing your bullshit game, Trent.”

    The True Lover’s Stories are connected standalones. Each title features a different couple but will contain previously mentioned characters.
    No multiple pairings. No cliffhangers. Ends with a HEA.
    Note: This is a steaming agnsty, age gap, new-to-love romance.


    Trigger Warning: AA Recovery 


    Wood is the second book of the True Lover’s Stories. Readers of Book 1, Bishop, knew Trent Armstrong as the titular character’s hot-headed, mouthy bestfriend. By all accounts, the man was into girls. It took a silver fox ex-con with beautiful tattoos for him to admit, that might not be exactly the case.

    Herschel Wood Jr was mentioned in the first book as Bishop‘s beloved mentor. After almost two decades, he was finally released from prison. Now it’s time to pick up whatever’s left of his old life. Bishop‘s dad, Mike, offered to rent him his trailer. He’s to be rooming with a young ex-con who hated him at first sight but was also giving that certain unmistakable look that pinged Wood’s gaydar.

    I was excited for Trent’s story. He was an interesting character. He’s practically a brother to Bishop and a second son to Mike. He’s doofus and has a temper but his antics were entertaining. I wanted to see how this dork deals with his gay-for- you moment.

    I loved how Wood and Trent found their common ground despite their many differences. One was a mature, levelheaded former tattoo artist who wants to reclaim his lost art, the other was a bratty construction worker with a penchant for jazz music. Both a bit broken and a little lonely and realized they enjoyed each other’s company if they, well, Trent really (because this guy is an idiot), were honest with themselves.

    I really liked Wood’s explanation when said he would choose a cactus tattoo to represent Trent and it’s not because he’s prickly. It showed how perceptive the older man was, seeing through Trent’s bluster to his core.

    For all his faults, Trent’s loyalty shone through. When Wood’s demons got the better of him, it was him who doggedly nursed the other man back to health. Those scenes were the best parts of Trent.

    For Wood, the author went out of her way to emphasize the age difference, giving descriptions of how prison aged the character. This is different from the usual route most authors take where they tend to highlight how youthful the older man looks despite his age. It’s also more realistic which I appreciated.

    Wood has gone through and done a lot but he’s not jaded. He still has some optimism left, enough to give him strength to start anew. He has the kind of grace that comes with age and wisdom. Fine wine indeed. With that, he’s also in denial about his alcoholism.

    The book tackled the struggles ex-cons go through once they regain their freedom. We follow Wood as he goes about finding a job, deal with discrimination, meet people from his past, and tie up the loose ends. The story executed this theme well.

    I wanted to like this story more but unfortunately, the thing plodded along oh so slowly, especially the first half. If I thought Bishop was slow, the pace here made it a real struggle to keep going. I even put the book on hold for a couple of months.

    Trent’s development, from antagonistic to civil to interested to committed, was done believably and progressed at a good pace. It’s just that the writing made things feel slow. I gave it a go once in a while until I hit the point where things moved faster, which was around the second half.

    The last stretch could have been done better. The scheming ex felt forced, so were the petty jealousy. The most ridiculous part for me was the ending where out of the blue, Mike, who is straight and has a serious girlfriend, suddenly had the hots for a young, sex-addicted twink. It seemed like a ploy just so the next book will be connected to the rest. Do we really need another gay-for-you, age-gap story for this series?

    Wood might not have gone about it fast enough but it delivered the angst, the hurt comfort, the redemption and the happy ever after for two men who very much deserved their second chance. It didn’t exactly set my world on fire but I still liked it overall.

    Rating:
    3 Stars – not exactly setting my world on fire but I liked it

    Soundtrack: My My My!
    Artist: Troye Sivan
    Album: Bloom

    P.S.

    Wood can be read as a standalone but I recommend meeting the wonderful Edison, whose old world charm and culinary magic won the heart of an equally awesome and talented man. Bishop is really great and his story is much better. Check out my review here.


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

    US: Bishop | Wood
    UK: Bishop | Wood

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

    WOOD

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    LAST YEAR I WAS READING…(April 7, 2021)

    This meme was created by Reading Marie. It’s a great meme because it’s nice and easy to do.

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    LAST YEAR I WAS READING…(November 11, 2020)

    This meme was created by Reading Marie. It’s a great meme because it’s nice and easy to do.

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  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Ex Meridian by A.E. Via

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    Nothing Special VII: Ex Meridian – A.E. Via

    Police Lieutenants, God and Day are under intense pressure from the chief to take back control of Atlanta’s streets.The last thing their task force needs is a pair of trained killers in town with a personal score to settle.

    Take a man and strip him of his ability to feel compassion, empathy, remorse, or any of the emotions that make him human, but leave the ones that ignite rage and aggression and you have the perfect killing machine—now imagine two of them.

    Code names Ex and Meridian are synonymous for ‘guaranteed death’ to international terrorists. Two broken men from the same crooked streets, recruited into an unsanctioned government program that few know about. Trained to operate most efficiently—lethally—together.

    When Ex returns from an op in Bolivia to learn his little brother has been accidentally killed in a feud between drug gangs, he’s stateside before he can consider the rules he’ll be breaking, and of course Meridian is right beside him. There’s mayhem on the streets of Atlanta and the police are losing control. If Godfrey and his elite team of detectives can’t get the job done then they’d be happy to lighten their caseloads for them. And Ex nor Meridian care about doing it quietly.

    “I know who you are.”The man grunted when Ex turned to leave.“You’re the fucking devil.”
    Meridian walked past, glaring one final time.“Say that loud enough… maybe God will save you.”

    But after their first run-in with the big lieutenant and his protective husband, Day, Ex and Meridian start to reevaluate their own relationship. Wondering if they could be even deadlier if they let loose the feelings for each other that they’ve been forced to suppress for years.

    Meridian’s dark eyes stayed locked on his, “A man who can fight beside the one he loves doesn’t make him weaker, Ex—it makes him more dangerous.”

    No multiple pairings. No cliffhangers. Ends with a HEA.

    Note: This title focuses on two new characters in the series. And while it can standalone, there are appearences from prior main characters.
    Note: This is a partners-to-lovers, out-for-you, action romance.
    Note: There are depictions of violence in this novel.


    A grieving brother out for revenge.

    A killer whose blood is literally cold.

    An assassin who kills with a whisper.

    The Devil in the house of God.

    A most compelling partners-to-lovers romance that slow-burned for eight years! Squee~!

    OTT action and suspense that’s perfectly balanced with the rest of the plot.

    God and Day’s boys coming together with their bounty hunting friends.

    Some of God’s most vulnerable moments!

    Day still winning and annoying everyone with his mouthy ways.

    The King brothers’ most painful memories coming out in the open.

    Ruxs and Green are tested as they have never been before!

    Ex seeing Meridian in the truest light.

    Meridian giving Ex the world. Ex doesn’t even need to ask. ♥(ˆ⌣ˆԅ)

    The baddest, toughest alpha pair of ’em all!

    Meridian’s dark eyes stayed locked on his, “A man who can fight beside the one he loves doesn’t make him weaker, Ex—it makes him more dangerous.”

    P.S.

    Okay, so I’m addicted to this series and I’m sticking around for good or bad. Luckily, it’s mostly good. The last two books showed huge improvements. My thoughts on the rest of the books here.
    Ms. V’s books here.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: This Is A Call
    Artist: Les Friction
    Album: Dark Matter

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    PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE (June 3, 2020)

    I found this tag on Chelle’s Book Ramblings . It’s simple and fun. I thought I would put my own spin on it and make it a weekly thing.

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    REVIEW: Promises: The Next Generation by A.E. Via

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    The Bounty Hunters: Promises: The Next Generation – A.E. Via

    Duke Webb has run the most successful bail recovery agency in Atlanta for over twenty years. That’s because he has a team of trained, competent hunters backing him up to keep his name feared on the streets. But Duke knows that nothing can go on forever. His hunters are in committed relationships and ready to settle down, and so is he. That’s what leads him to start his new training program.

    “That’s the new vision for Dukes. Veterans operating and tracking behind the scenes with a new powerhouse apprehension team on the streets.”

    Brian and Quick are the first to offer up two new recruits.

    Kellam Knight has studied martial arts under his sensei, Quick, since he was eight years old. A tossed-out reject from high-society, Kell has a problem fighting on the right side of the law. If he sees an injustice, he has to correct it. He doesn’t have to run and cower from his enemies anymore, he’s a fighter who can protect himself and others. When Quick offers Kell the opportunity to join Duke’s training program, he’s all in. Except he’s not prepared for the straight, over-confident, extremely disciplined, sexy man Brian has recruited to be his partner.

    Tyrell Jenkins’ world was flipped upside down when his father never returned home from his last deployment. He’d been Ty’s teacher, mentor, his guide to living a righteous life as a good man. His father didn’t raise him to be like every other young, stereotypical male in Atlanta. Instead, he’s been taught to be respectful, to speak the language of real men. When Brian King – his father’s most trusted comrade – finally comes to him with the truth, he doesn’t come alone. He comes with trained men hidden in the shadows… and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join a brotherhood unlike any other.

    This installment is a part of a series and contains previously mentioned characters, but CAN standalone. Each book centers around a new couple.

    This book ends in a HEA. NO cliffhanger.


    I dropped everything for this book. Tyrell Jenkins nearly made me drop it all together.

    At first, I thought, maybe it’s just me. Maybe I was not getting it. Then when I read the other reviews, I knew I wasn’t alone. It was indeed Tyrell who ruined the whole thing. This review echos many of the observations pointed out by other reviewers on Goodreads.

    First, the the whole thing read like a YA book. All along I thought Kell and Ty were in their early twenties. Turned out they were pushing thirties. This is okay. I think Ms. Via was going for that pure, virginal vibe that was one of the major themes of the story.

    Unfortunately, the book also read like MF. I remember when I first started out with MM, I was wary that the stories were just gendered-switched MF stories. Well, the fifth installment of Promises did exactly that. I couldn’t believe Kell went from a fiery, hot-tempered martial arts master to what other reviewers say “50s housewife/hijabi woman” complete with his own version of a burka.

    I thought it was such a waste of character. I liked Kell a lot. The author built him up as a modern day mo fo badass ninja and I actually liked his outfit. Heck, I would like to wear a hood+beanie+scarf combo that hides half the face myself. It’s what the cool characters wear in anime. Unfortunately, there was this whole schtick about wanting to hide the hair because it oh so fabulous that people won’t take him seriously. I understand this is a nod to the Muslim side of Ty’s family but it was further cementing Kell’s status as a woman-substitute.

    Now to Tyrell. The man was raised by a Muslim father who instilled in him moral lessons that were quite frankly double standard. Ty is in search of a woman that would pass his stringent criteria to become his Queen. Criteria that backward, chauvinistic males like to impose on women. Like being a virgin in one’s wedding day, exposing oneself only to one’s husband and so on. He expects his woman to keep herself covered while he struts around in designer clothes.

    Tyrell likes to slut-shame many of the women he comes across in his daily life. He is also very critical of the poor people in his neighborhood. He goes on and on how he is better than everyone else which was funny because he had no real job apart from delivering packages with suspicious contents. He justifies that he doesn’t know what’s inside so his conscience is clear. He also goes on and on about respect but disrespects his boss and co-workers when he became part of Duke’s bounty hunters.

    I appreciate arrogant, uber-confident alphas but Tyrell had none of their charm. I wished Kell had a different love interest.

    On the plus side, all the other bounty hunters were there. They were the reason I hung on. Yay for Brian’s many appearances! Too bad Sway didn’t make it on page.

    I’m not giving up on this series. I love these bounty hunters too much. I’m hoping this is a fluke and the next one’s better.

    P.S.

    The Bounty Hunters: Promises books here.
    A.E. Via books here.

    Rating:
    2 Stars – it’s a struggle to finish the damn book

    Soundtrack: This Magic Stuff
    Artist: Nina Hynes
    Album: Creation

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