• book,  Uncategorized

    SERIES REVIEW: Haven Hart Books 1-7 by Davidson King

    ***Long post. you can skip to the end for the tl,dr version if preferred

    Never judge a series by its spin-off is a lesson I learned from Haven Hart.

    I read Joker’s Sin series first, and I’m sad to say, I wasn’t too impressed. I didn’t bother with Haven Hart after that. Then on a whim, I decided to pick up Snow Falling, since heck, Joel Leslie and Philip Alces were narrating, and these two are always fantastic. Plus, I was also in the mood for some mafia romance.

    I ended up binging the entire series! That GOOD!

    These are not-so-mini reviews of the seven books in the main Haven Hart universe. The books should be read in order.

    Snow Falling: A man with a dangerous past and a man with a dangerous future find love amidst murder and mayhem. But with Snow’s life being threatened at every turn, will Christopher’s best be enough to prevent Snow Falling?


    I didn’t have much expectations going in. I thought it would be the usual mafia romance. Little did I know, I would be completely charmed by the delightful titular character, Snow. This ray of sunshine also charmed a houseful of mobsters, especially the boss, Christopher Manos.

    Snow saved Simon, Christopher’s 8-year-old nephew, from a dire fate, putting himself in grave danger in return. Christopher offered the homeless Snow protection and a place to stay, hiring him as Simon’s companion.

    It was a joy to watch the much-feared mob boss, Christopher Manos, become simply Chris. I loved how he was drawn to Snow without seeming to realize it. He instinctively let him take the lead, and it was so endearing that Snow didn’t even realize how much power he had having the Christopher Manos in his corner. Our boy asked for so little, and here was Chris, ready to give him the world!

    It’s a fabulous book to open the series. It showed a glimpsed of Haven Hart from its underbelly. It touches upon some dark themes, but still relatively lighter than the other books. The plot had many surprising twists and dark secrets to uncover. I was completely riveted!

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

    Soundtrack: Naked
    Artist: Jaymes Young
    Album: Feel Something


    Hug It Out: When a mole is discovered within Riordan’s organization, relationships are compromised, and people’s lives are in danger. Time isn’t on their side, and they discover answers can’t always be found by hugging it out when someone is hell-bent on eliminating each and every one of them.

    So I tried reading this a couple years back, but I wasn’t feeling it. I was a bit skeptical (and admittedly judgey) about Teddy’s job. Like seriously, a professional hugger? I don’t even like hugging my relatives.

    Second time’s the charm because past the first couple of chapters, I got the hang of it. It’s a cute story of an assassin who was gifted with a professional hugger. He didn’t know what to do with him, so he ended up falling in love.

    I wasn’t as interested in the romance as I was with Riordan’s organization and his co-workers. He works for Black, an enigmatic and intimidating Thor of a man, who suddenly discovered somebody plans to launch a hostile takeover of his assassin company. Riordan and a few other trusted assassins work to uncover who was behind it.

    This installment introduced many of the characters who star in the succeeding books. The plot is as suspenseful and more action-packed. It also hinted at the presence of the nameless, faceless, hella mysterious heir to the Haven Hart founding family via the presence of Poe. He is an artist Snow befriended, and also the Hart heir’s representative. I was dying with curiosity!

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Bullet Holes
    Artist: Gregory Alan Isakov
    Album: Evening Machines


    A Dangerous Dance: Bill and Mace’s traitorous hearts draw them closer together no matter how hard they fight the inevitable. With the lives of their loved ones hanging in the balance, they find themselves in the middle of a dangerous dance.

    This is an enemies-to-lovers story of Bill, Christopher Manos’s underling who became Snow’s best friend, and Mace, an assassin from Black’s organization. They were forced to work together.

    I didn’t expect Bill to get his own book. He was a goon from the Russian mob who threatened Snow. He had been given a second chance by Christopher after Snow asked to spare his life. He was mostly in the background, so I was surprised that he was suddenly Snow’s best friend.

    Mace was more memorable because he’s a flashier character. That’s all I’ll say about him because he and Bill weren’t that interesting. However, both are great as secondary characters.

    Their story felt very much like a mid-series book. It picked up the threads from the previous book and ended in an HFN. Not so satisfying but understandable given how things went.

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Born Killers
    Artist: Selebrities
    Album: Lovely Things


    From the Ashes: Unknowingly sharing the same goal—burying their own pasts deeper than the fires of hell can reach—Black and Quill are unaware that jumping into that fire will do more than ignite their feelings, it could lead to their own demise.

    I was excited about this because Quill piqued my interest when he first appeared in Book 2. I was thrilled he’s paired with Black because they’re total opposites.

    Quill is the colorfully tattooed smallish barista who latched on to Black and flirted every chance he got. Black is this grumpy giant who couldn’t understand why Quill, 20 years his junior, was interested in him. After the events in Book 3, he hired the young man to do deliveries.

    At first, the story was cute and amusing with Black trying to fend off the relentless Quill. Then things took a darker turn when it was revealed Quill was a victim of domestic abuse. Black was in full protective mode because he took such crime personally.

    Why he takes it personally was a story so tragic and horrific it triggered my anxieties. And I’m normally the type of reader who’s barely ruffled by blood and gore scenes. The author didn’t make it too graphic, it was just that terrible. You can feel how heartbreaking it was for Black to talk about it. Also, the scene where Quill was being hunted had me holding my breath. I was so terrified for him!

    My heart went out to Black and Quill! I am so glad this is romance, and the happy ending is guaranteed, or else I would be completely devastated.

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Born In Flames
    Artist: In This Moment
    Album: Mother


    Snow Storm: The city of Haven Hart rests under the heel of Christopher Manos. Snow has found a home, a family, and the love of one of Haven Hart’s most powerful men. When Christopher and Simon are kidnapped, Snow risks everything to find his family. Snow calls in every favor he is owed, risking his life promising favors in return, all to save his family and the man he loves.

    This installment returns to Christopher, Snow, and now teen, Simon. The happy couple wants to celebrate Simon’s birthday. Chris promised his nephew the two of them would go camping so that they could spend some quality time together. En route, they were ambushed and kidnapped.

    Manos family skeletons were unearthed when Christopher came face to face with their kidnappers. The lengths Snow would go through to save his family knew no bounds. He even went so far as break his friendship with Poe by asking him to do the unthinkable, betray the Hart heir.

    This part was particularly juicy because I was hungry for crumbs about the Hart heir. Poe guarded his secrets like a dragon guarding his hoard. I’m so tempted to skip to the 7th book!!!

    Anyway, Snow was wonderfully brave and smart, even if he had to hurt Poe in process. Thankfully, they reconciled later on. With Black’s help, Snow hatched a clever rescue mission. This book also has a mid-series feel to it, bridging the past events to the present and laying down the seeds of things revealed in the next book. It’s not as dark as the previous book but still very gripping!

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Find You
    Artist: Ruelle
    Album: Rival


    Triple Threat: Lee, Jones, and Ginger deal with dangerous situations and mounting stress daily working for the most powerful assassin organization in the world. All of those things seem like a walk in the park compared to the friction that sparks between them. When all three are assigned to the same job, ignoring the heat from the inferno of desire becomes impossible.

    Lee, Jones, and Ginger are Black’s people. Jones is the muscle and Lee’s best friend, while Ginger is the recruit. Lee is a hacker who went to the dark web to track down human traffickers who were running an auction. Then they discovered Ginger’s brother being sold and rushed to save him.

    This is a road trip poly romance running alongside a vigilante mission to take down the human trafficking ring. It had Jones and Lee pretending to be buyers while Ginger worked in the shadows since his close resemblance to his brother would give them away. They had to follow instructions and codes to various locations before they could retrieve their “merchandise.”

    Given the stomach-turning crime tackled here, the author did a good job keeping things from becoming too disturbing. The plot brings various arcs together and edges closer to the finale. I love how things are starting to fall into place. At the same time, it had me asking burning questions!

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Bloom
    Artist: Murder By Death
    Album: The Other Shore


    Raven’s Hart: Haven Hart stands on the edge of good and evil. Having balance between the two is the only thing keeping the town from crumbling to the ground. For years, one man has been charged with maintaining that balance. Poe. The air of mystery surrounding Poe is one of necessity. Poe will need the help of his friends to fight the ultimate battle; not just save Haven Hart but everything and everyone he holds dear to him.

    Finally, Poe’s book!!!!

    I will not say much about the plot. All you need to know is that it’s so worth it to read the first six to get to this! My jaw dropped to the floor at the revelations. And that’s just in the opening chapters!

    I was also floored to know the true measure of the weight and heartache Poe carries. This guy is holding Haven Hart together single-handedly. And doing it while barely holding himself together. It’s a wonder he’s still standing, the poor man! Poe is amazing!!!

    Davidson King definitely saved the best for last! Haven Hart was never the same after this!

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

    Soundtrack: You
    Artist: Tally Hall
    Album: Good & Evil

    The Haven Hart series is about family. The good ones, the ones people found, and the ones they’d rather forget. I loved how the main characters were so alive and real, I felt like I knew them personally. Their stories moved me, scared me, amused me, made me feel like I’m part of their lives. Their stories are a delicate balance of good and evil, much like the city that gave the series its name.


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  • song,  Uncategorized

    SOUNDTRACK: Haven Hart Playlist

    ***there’s a Spotify playlist at the bottom for convenience

    Soundtrack to Haven Hart: Snow Falling by Davidson King

    Soundtrack to Haven Hart: Hug It Out by Davidson King

    Soundtrack to Haven Hart: A Dangerous Dance by Davidson King

    Soundtrack to Haven Hart: From These Ashes by Davidson King

    Soundtrack to Haven Hart: Snow Storm by Davidson King

    Soundtrack Haven Hart: Triple Threat by Davidson King

    Soundtrack to Haven Hart: Raven’s Hart by Davidson King

  • quote,  Uncategorized

    You’re the only one who knows my demons
    Only your eyes have seen my skeletons
    Wearing all my scars for you to feel now
    Smoothing them over with your loving hands
    ‘Cause there are no secrets that I keep from you
    And there are no lies upon my tongue

    For you I am naked
    There’s nothing to hide inside the dark
    My ego is wasted, as I let you open up my heart

    For you I am naked
    For you I am naked

    Now’s the only time to let my dark side show
    ‘Cause you understand that I’m only flesh and bones
    You help me forget the shape like my favorite chemicals
    Straight through my body and let you see my soul

    For you I am naked
    There’s nothing to hide inside the dark
    My ego is wasted, as I let you open up my heart

    For you I am naked
    For you I am naked

    I forget my pride, don’t care about my place
    When we’re alone
    Oh conscience this time, don’t get in my way

    For you I am naked
    There’s nothing to hide inside the dark
    My ego is wasted, as I let you open up my heart

    For you I am naked (for you)
    For you I am naked
    For you I am naked
    For you I am naked

    Wither and bloom
    Like we all do, soon enough
    Cover me up with your love

    Scratches from the branches
    We took our chances, sure enough
    I am brambles
    But I am tangled in your love

    Bullet holes, bullet holes,
    All patched up and headed home
    Bullet holes, bullet holes,
    All patched up and headed home

    Silver and gold
    Precious stones, so I’m told
    Aw, we’re clutching,
    But there ain’t nothing we can hold

    Bullet holes, bullet holes,
    All patched up and headed home
    Bullet holes, bullet holes,
    All patched up and headed home

    Drifting, passing through
    Until we all fall, we all do
    In the meantime, come and cover me up
    I’m all patched up and headed home

    With hands tied and feet bound
    Life went with no sound
    Clouds gray to make dark skies
    Your long hair and soft eyes
    And fate is pushing us apart

    Take my hand, follow my lead
    Into the greatest mistake of our lives
    Happily and merrily
    Into the greatest mistake of our lives
    Take my hand, follow my lead
    Into the greatest mistake of our lives
    Happily and merrily
    Into the greatest mistake of our lives

    With arms sore and mind gone
    Life went with no cause
    Moon rays to make deep waves
    Your smooth skin and gentle face
    And fate is pushing us apart

    Take my hand, follow my lead
    Into the greatest mistake of our lives
    Happily and merrily
    Into the greatest mistake of our lives
    Take my hand, follow my lead
    Into the greatest mistake of our lives
    Happily and merrily
    Into the greatest mistake of our lives

    I can feel that you’re hurting
    I feel it in your eyes
    A familiar sting I always recognize
    You don’t speak a word
    But I can hear what you’re saying
    I watch as you burn and come back to life again

    And don’t you know
    That we are gods
    And holy blood
    Runs through our veins
    And don’t you know
    That you’re a king
    Raised by queens
    Born in flames

    I can see that you’re changing
    Something’s taking hold
    I watched you harness your demons
    You’re starting to take control
    You know you are me
    And I know I am you
    And I promised you someday our pain would-
    Pull us through

    And don’t you know
    That we are gods
    And holy blood
    Runs through our veins
    And don’t you know
    That you’re a king
    Raised by queens
    Born in flames

    And don’t you know
    That we are gods
    And holy blood
    Runs through our veins
    And don’t you know
    That you’re a king
    Raised by queens
    Born in flames

    Born in flames
    Don’t you know, born in flames

    I can hear the sound
    Of your barely beating heart
    Pieces on the ground
    From a world that fell apart

    Just hold on
    It won’t be long

    I will find you here inside the dark
    I will break through
    No matter where you are
    I will find you
    I will find you

    Like the wind that cries
    I can feel you in the night
    A distant lullaby
    Underneath the shattered sky

    Just hold on
    It won’t be long

    I will find you here inside the dark
    I will break through no matter where you are
    I will find you
    I will find you

    I’ll be the light that leads you home
    When there’s nowhere left to go
    I’ll be the voice you always know
    When you’re lost and all alone
    I won’t let you go

    I will find you here inside the dark
    I will break through no matter where you are
    I will find you here inside the dark
    I will break through no matter where you are
    I will find you
    I will find you

    I just had the feeling
    I was in a dark room
    I was underwater
    I was waiting to bloom
    And you were floating above me
    I was coming out of a dark dream
    I was like a child
    All alone
    I couldn’t find shelter
    No hope
    And I couldn’t stay dry
    All around me tempests writhed
    I couldn’t open up to you
    I couldn’t read the room
    I was searching for you
    I was waiting to bloom

    It’s never fair to say I never care about
    Anything ’cause I always care about you
    Oo-oo-oo-oo-oo
    It doesn’t seem like there’s anything happening
    Nothing ever seems happening without you
    Oo-oo-oo-oo-oo

    Mm-mm-mm-mm
    Mm-mm-mm-mm-mm
    Mm-mm-mm-mm-mm-mm
    Mm-mm-mm-mm-mm

    It never seems like I’m all alone when now
    Everywhere that I search about is for you
    Oo-oo-oo-oo-oo
    There’s always something that’s worth believing in
    Keep uncovering more of the thoughts for you
    Oo-oo-oo-oo-oo

    Mm-mm-mm-mm
    Mm-mm-mm-mm-mm
    Mm-mm-mm-mm-mm-mm
    Mm-mm-mm-mm-mm
    Mm-mm-mm-mm-mm
    Mm-mm-mm-mm-mm
    Mm-mm-mm-mm-mm-mm
    Mm-mm-mm-mm-mm

    In the warm sun
    Past the winter
    Here & ever
    Here forever
    In the motion
    Frozen quiet
    Still it’s spoken
    Heart unbroken
    Clouds before us
    Unknown waters
    Greater spaces
    Hold no hiding
    Far & near to
    Change or constant
    I’ll still wait &
    Do it all for you

    Mm-mm-mm-mm-mm
    Mm-mm-mm-mm-mm-mm
    Mm-mm-mm-mm-mm
    Mm-mm-mm-mm-mm
    Mm-mm-mm-mm-mm
    Mm-mm-mm-mm-mm-mm
    Mm-mm-mm-mm-mm

  • song,  Uncategorized

    SOUNDTRACK: My My My! by Troye Sivan

    Soundtrack to A True Lover’s Story: Wood by A.E. Via

    With lyrics that go “Now, let’s stop running from love/ Running from love… Let’s stop running from us”, My My My! is a song about liberation and sexuality. It’s talks of two people who were in initially in denial about their feelings but eventually stopped running away and came together. I relate this to how Trent, who liked to think he was straight, came to terms with his attraction to Wood.

  • book,  Uncategorized

    AUDIO REVIEW: Natural Twenty by Charlie Novak

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    Roll For Love: Natural Twenty – Charlie Novak

    Plants are easier than people—that’s Leo’s rule of thumb. After all, nobody really wants a man who looks like he belongs in a biker gang but would rather spend his time buried in books and flowers. It’s just easier to be single. Until he meets the owner of the new book shop.

    Jacob Morris knows two things: he’s really attracted to the man who runs the local flower shop, and he doesn’t date. Not when he’s still healing from a bad breakup, has a new business to run, game nights to organise, workshops to host, and a website to build.

    When friendship blooms into something more, Leo and Jay must decide whether to roll the dice and take a chance on love or keep forging ahead on their quests alone. Will their roll yield a one or a perfect, natural twenty?

    Natural Twenty is an 80,000-word contemporary MM romance featuring Dungeons & Dragons, secret flower language bouquets, a spoilt Staffy (or two), and a best friend who is basically a gothic prince. It is book one in the Roll for Love series and can be read as a standalone.


    When I picked this up, I had no idea what “natural twenty” meant. I learned later this refers to the roll of the twenty-sided dice in Dungeons and Dragons. If I understood it correctly, getting a natural twenty means maximum success.

    Natural Twenty is the first book of the geek-tastic series, Roll for Love. This is an insta-attraction, slow-burn, friends-to-lovers story of Leo, florist and Jay, bookseller. It’s packed full of all things geeky, from scifi and fantasy books, Dungeons and Dragons, cosplayers, steampunk conventions, superhero shows and pop culture references.

    Leo looks like a lion but is actually a kitten. His intimidating, taciturn exterior puts off a lot of people. They failed to notice underneath it all, there was a sweet, gentle giant who gives his heart too easily. His sole companion in life is his dog, Angie.

    Jay is an adorkable transplant from London, who left his old life after his ex cheated on him. He came to live with his friend, Edward, to mend his broken heart. Starting fresh, he bravely opened his own bookstore in Yorkshire. On his opening day, he received a welcome bouquet from Leo, who had decided to check out the new establishment in the neighborhood.

    The two struck a friendship but couldn’t deny the attraction between them. Friendship was slowly turning into an enjoyable, comfortable relationship when angst, internal conflict and struggling business got the better of Jay. He decided to put a temporary halt on things because he couldn’t handle all the pressure.

    This should actually be a more straightforward book. I couldn’t help but feel it should have been a lot shorter, perhaps a novella. Things could have been resolved a lot quicker.

    It showed Leo and Jay going about their day to day. This is fine, even enjoyable sometimes but there was too much internal dialogue. Mostly, I struggled with keeping my attention focused on the story. I felt the dreaded saggy middle. Happily, Joel Leslie’s fabulously on-point narration kept me going.

    And while I liked reading about the how-tos of running a small business, especially a bookstore, going through some business minutiae did feel a bit tedious at some points. Ditto with the Dungeons and Dragons part. Having never played the game, I couldn’t fully appreciate all the references.

    On the upside, the book had a lot of wonderful side-characters. Chief of whom is Edward, cosplayer and gothic prince, who basically stole the show. All the time I was reading, I kept thinking how much fun his book would be.

    My favorite part here was floriography, the language of flowers. Each chapter is marked with a flower and their meanings. I have zero interest in flowers but the way Leo put together his bouquets for Jay, carefully picking each flower and leaving pieces of his heart in each blossom, that was absolutely beautiful! Especially coming from a guy who struggles with words. It was such a deeply romantic and meaningful gesture. It made me appreciate flowers a little better.

    Things started picking up when Jay’s bookstore became viral. From then on, the story moved faster and I was able to enjoy it more. Despite my complaints about the draggy bits of the book, I still love the way Leo and Jay were brought together, first as friends, then as lovers and then later when they were reunited. It was a sweet, fluffy journey made more charming with some floral magic.

    All in all, Natural Twenty might not have rolled out maximum success but it’s still a good roll. Read if you love adorkable elven bards who sing Spice Girls offkey, gothic princes who drink in tea sets that match their wardrobe and most especially, gentle giants who speak in flowers.

    P.S.

    Thank you to Gay Romance Reviews and Audible UK for giving me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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

    Soundtrack: Bloom
    Artist: RKCB
    Album:


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    KINDLE
    AUDIOBOOK
  • song,  Uncategorized

    SOUNDTRACK: Bloom by RKCB

    Soundtack to Roll For Love: Natural Twenty by Charlie Novak

    Stepping outside my usual genres by chillin’ with a flora-themed RnB love song for the florist and his bookseller.

  • quote,  Uncategorized

    Laying on my back wanna think of that magic hour
    I meet you in the wildflowers, undercover
    See it on my face ’cause your nectar tastes so sour
    I greet you like a higher power, my summer lover

    Grow you from the roots, I rain on you, rain on you, rain on you
    Take another sip of my perfume, taking two, taking two
    Dreaming up the skies you wanna touch, don’t you rush, don’t you rush
    ‘Cause I’m the one reaching up, now, I’m the one reaching

    I come to wake you up
    And pollinate your love
    I’ll never leave you to be
    Forgotten in the sun
    I come to wake you up
    And pollinate your love
    I’ll never leave you to be
    Forgotten in the sun

    Digging in your bed when you’re on the edge of something new
    I just wanna watch you bloom in every color
    Shining up the walls in the glow, it’s all you consume
    Honey, let me garden you in every wonder

    Dreaming up the skies we wanna touch, don’t you rush, don’t you rush
    ‘Cause you’re the one reaching up, now, you’re the one reaching

    I come to wake you up
    And pollinate your love
    I’ll never leave you to be
    Forgotten in the sun
    I come to wake you up
    And pollinate your love
    I’ll never leave you to be
    Forgotten in the sun

    If I’m gonna be your summer love, then
    Promise me I’ll never be forgotten
    Even when the skies begin to darken
    You give me light
    If I’m gonna be your summer love, then
    Promise me I’ll never be forgotten
    Even when the skies begin to darken
    You give me light