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    REVIEW: Fool’s Gold by Ki Brightly & M.D. Gregory

    Fool’s Gold – Ki Brightly & M.D. Gregory

    The Bad Boy from the Trailer Park

    There are certain unwritten rules in the Lakeview Trailer Park, and number five is clear—No Gay Stuff.

    Ethan “Shep” Shepherd has grown up hiding his true self so he doesn’t get kicked out of the only home he knows, but that doesn’t mean he can’t dream of a better life with the beautiful man who lives across the river. As a criminal, Ethan knows Jonas is too good for him, but when another one of the trailer park guys decides to attack Jonas, Ethan steps in and changes the course of their lives.

    The Good Boy from the Religious Family
    Jonas Nomikos is trying to survive his parents and their conservative views until he gets to college, where he can finally be himself. It isn’t an easy task to pretend to be the son they want, and when his best friend tells the truth to Jonas’s parents, he’s sure his life is over. Until Ethan. Ethan gives him hope and makes him smile, and Jonas wants to be with him, even if it means saying goodbye to the only life he knows.

    The Road to Being Who They Are
    If Ethan and Jonas want to be together, they’ll need to make sacrifices. The journey to happiness is filled with surprises, and Ethan isn’t sure Jonas is ready to accept the reality of his life—which includes motorcycle clubs, breaking the law, and living payday to payday. Jonas might shock him, though.

    Fool’s Gold has a theme of overcoming prejudice and contains depictions of homophobia and discrimination, including scenes in a conversion camp. The authors do not condone homophobic behavior or discrimination of any kind.

    New Gothenburg is a sprawling New York-based universe created by writer duo Ki Brightly and M.D. Gregory. It spans a multitude of interconnected, though frequently standalone, books and series usually involving motorcycle clubs, mobsters, sex workers, and even lawyers and law enforcement officers.

    I have this vague urge to read all of them, but it’s a hit or miss. Many times, I am more enamored with the premise as the actual book left much to be desired. Then, there are times I struck gold.

    Fool’s Gold is one of those that panned out. And fabulously at that! This is also a standalone.

    It’s a new adult tale of the boy from the wrong side of tracks crushing on the boy on the right side. Ethan ‘Shep’ Shephard is a trailer park bad boy who rescued Jonas Nomikos from a thug. And that was how Ethan finally spent some time with his crush, whom he has been making heart eyes for years from across the river.

    Jonas is from an ultra-conservative Methodist family, his father the pastor. A friend outing him to his parents had him sent to a conversion therapy camp. And it sparked a series of events that led him and Ethan to crime, violence and unlikely allies.

    First, I really loved the YA-ish vibe of the book. It felt like I was reading a cute manga about high school boys and adorably awkward first love moments. The fluff is tempered by the more somber scenes of homophobic people doling out the don’ts and the cannot’s. Ethan and Jonas’s relationship is forbidden on both sides of the river.

    Second, the Good Omens dynamic never fails to make me swoon! Who doesn’t squee at bad boys who hate the world being soft for no one but their angelic boyfriends! Ethan is crazy about his angel and has no qualms giving anyone who hurt his Jonas their just desserts. Well, the bad guy got served his, and I was surprised, Jonas didn’t make much fuss given who it is and how it was given.

    Third, the duo’s writing was particularly effective here. Most of their books have BDSM-ish or daddy/boy relationships, and while I loved some of them, the rest are repetitive and cringey. Here, the relationship is between two older teens. The plot moved steadily, and there were no lulls at all. I loved the anticipation whenever Ethan and Jonas are about to meet or when Jonas did something unexpected.

    The darker second half was a suspenseful hunt for the missing Jonas, a fateful meeting with the notorious motorcycle club, Kings of Men, and a tender night of firsts. It was action-packed, exhilarating, and sweet, a roller-coaster of feels!

    Ethan being uber protective of Jonas and giving the big bad bikers attitude was endearing and amusing the way a puppy might snarl. Thing is, puppies are cute, yet their bite has more rabies. Ethan gathering an army and storming enemy camp was complete badass! Jonas riding in his sidecar is adorbs! This angel is not meant for the bitch seat.

    The only reason why this is not a 5-star read is because of one glaring error. There was a scene where Ethan and Jonas were chased by a rival biker, and Jonas dropped his cellphone. It was even mentioned it cracked or broke. Then some time after, they were chased by more bikers, and Jonas was magically trying to call the police using his phone. There were no mentions that he picked up his dropped phone beforehand.

    Fool’s Gold is a thrill ride, a swoony romance, and a blushy BL manga. It’s a story of forbidden love and a coming-of-age tale of two teenagers caught in a world of bad bikers and worse pastors. This has some dark moments, so heed the trigger warnings. All in all, genuinely brilliant!

    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: Gold
    Artist: Loi
    Album: Gold

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    REVIEW: Broken by Colette Davison

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    Heaven and Hell Club: Broken – Colette Davison

    Rule #1: Keep running.

    Jag’s rules have kept him safe and free since he escaped conversion therapy, but that was before he walked into Heaven and Hell. A no-strings fling with the club owner, Michael, turns into so much more as Jag finds himself breaking one rule after another.

    Michael hasn’t been able to commit to anyone since his partner died, until Jag walks into his club. Falling in lust with the elfin young dancer is easy, and his heart is quick to follow.

    Michael gives Jag a reason to stay, but fear rules Jag’s heart more than love. Despite his deepening feelings for Michael, Jag knows he can’t stay. Can he?

    **Contains adult themes, content, and language.**

    My introduction to Colette Davison‘s Heaven and Hell Club was its delightful prequel, Unbreakable, starring Michael’s bestfriend, Mac and Mac’s partner, Russel. Michael was still with his boyfriend, Edward, and they were saving up money to buy the club.

    Fast forward almost 6 or so years after, the club is now a thriving pole dancing club in the evenings and an exercise venue at daytime, Michael is still feeling the emptiness left by Edward’s death

    I was more or less expecting the same humorous, angsty vibe but Broken had much more angst, less humor. I wasn’t as riveted to it as I would have liked. Once I stopped reading, I didn’t feel an urgent need to pick it up again. Not that I wanted to drop it totally. I wanted to see Jag have his closure. It’s just that, it felt a little flat for me.

    Jag came in out of the nowhere, asked for a job, did one heck of an audition and earned a spot on stage as an angel. He does not talk much about himself. As the story progress, we gradually learn that he was a victim of conversion therapy a.k.a abuse. He ran away when he was able.

    Jag is a survivor. He believes he’s broken. He was a bit naive about his rights and the legalities of such therapy. Running is the only life he knows. He has rules that helped him survive. Rules that he broke one by one as he and Michael grew closer.

    Michael took a chance on a mysterious young man who wouldn’t even reveal his real name. Well, he was a really good dancer. The attraction between them was almost instant. The romance was OK. I wasn’t as enthusiastic about Michael and Jag as with Mac and Russel, but I know both MCs were what each other needs.

    I’m not a fan of age gap but here, it made sense that Michael was older. He was able to offer the kind security and knowledge of practical world matters that come with age. This was especially crucial when they set about solving Jag’s issues.

    I really liked how Jag acknowledged Edward’s part in Michael’s life, instead of feeling threatened.

    All the Heaven and Hell boys are all perfectly likable (Mac is my favorite so far). I wished they have more page time. The story was very couple-centric, most of it just Michael and Jag. We are told that Jag feels more and more at home in the club as time goes by. And that he’s becoming friends with the others. I wanted to see his interactions with other dancers instead of just being told about it.

    Broken is a hurt comfort story about a second chance at love and finding a place to belong to. It’s also about healing, trust, new beginnings and meeting the right person that makes you break all the rules. Even if I wasn’t entirely wowed, it’s still an enjoyable read overall.


    Unbreakable review here.
    Colette Davison books here.

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

    Soundtrack: Broken Songs for Broken People
    Artist: Human Drama
    Album: Broken Songs for Broken People