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    SERIES REVIEW: Aster Valley Books 0.5 & 1 by Lucy Lennox

    Aster Valley is a contemporary romance series by Lucy Lennox. I think she’s one of the best writers of the genre. As I mentioned before, it’s hard for me to get into a pure contemporary romance book. But here, the author swept me along with her wonderfully written stories.

    The titular Aster Valley is a small town somewhere in the Colorado Mountains if I am not mistaken (sorry, I forgot the location). It’s formerly a ski resort town with it’s own unique charm that drew the characters in. The books are about the couples who eventually found a home here.

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    Aster Valley: Winter Waites – Lucy Lennox

    Gentry Kane is a rockstar I’ve been half in love with my whole life. And now he’s my patient.

    When Winter Waites knocks on the door to the snowy cabin where his next physical therapy patient awaits him, he has no idea his dream celebrity is on the other side. Gentry Kane is everything Winter has always fantasized about. But it was only a fantasy. What happens when Winter is faced with the flesh and blood man who wants more than physical therapy? Can one night in a cozy cabin lead to more? And how will that affect Winter’s growing career in the tiny, charming town of Aster Valley?

    Winter Waites is the prequel to the series. This is the story of how the famous rock star Gentry Kane found the love of his life among multitudes of fans in the middle of a concert.

    Occupational therapist Winter Waites has been a fan since the days Gentry Kane was singing in college campuses. To suddenly discover that your patient is not only your dream rock star but that dream rock star has been looking for you all this time, well, that’s mind blowing to say the least. It’s a highly improbable but very romantic premise. Don’t we all wish it would happened to us? Teen me would have been over the moon had Billie Joe Armstrong knew I existed.

    The story is very sweet and light on the angst. I loved how the author ramped up that awkward, tension-filled first meeting between them. I felt that scene! It’s easy to see how, beyond the physical attraction, Gentry would fall in love with the gentle, caring soul that is Winter. I didn’t even mind the insta-ness of it all. It was kismet.

    The only thing here was that Gentry’s hand was injured, which was why he needed a therapist in the first place. Winter was telling him he needed to keep in a brace. Then they had sex without putting Gentry’s hand back in the brace. All the while, I’m like, dude, your hand! Your hand!

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: I Will Wait
    Artist: Mumford & Sons
    Album: Babel


    Aster Valley: Right As Raine – Lucy Lennox


    As the first openly gay professional football player, I can’t afford to make any mistakes, on or off the field. And the absolute biggest mistake I could make right now would be to fall for Mikey Vining, my best friend, employee and, more importantly, Coach’s baby boy. I might fantasize about Mikey at night–every night-but actually touching him would be a serious personal foul.

    And falling for him? That’s completely out of bounds.


    I’ve learned my lesson about falling for one of my dad’s players. They’re a bunch of spoiled jocks with more muscles than brains. I’ve spent years learning to keep my eyes, and my hands, to myself. But resisting the temptation becomes nearly impossible when Tiller Raine and I end up together in a small cabin in a remote Colorado town.

    Suddenly, there’s not much to do but look at each other. And talk. And hopefully, hopefully touch.

    But what happens when our stay in Aster Valley is over and it’s time to return to the real world? Will Coach blow the whistle on our relationship? Or will Tiller admit there might actually be something he loves more than football after all?

    Right As Raine is the nerd/jock, forbidden romance of football star, Tiller Raine, and Michael Vining, his personal assistant/chef/coach’s son/long-time crush he couldn’t live without.

    Tiller is an award-winning, highest paid pro athlete. Also a lovable gentle giant who adores his coach’s son. I loved how he calls him “my Mikey“.

    Mikey is feisty, talented, ambitious and hardworking. He’s been crushing on his boss for the longest time but keeps his hands off. I really liked Mikey for keeping it professional. His family is shit. They say they accept him as gay but then go out of their way to exclude him.

    As with the prequel, the story is very sweet, and fluffy. It is mostly light until the later part. I loved the slow-burn-ness of it all. The book really took time to build up the simmering feelings between Tiller and Raine, resulting in delicious anticipation and fabulous chemistry. Their shift from friends to lovers felt so natural and very easy yet very satisfying.

    There’s a bit of angst involved with Mikey having to deal with his homophobic dad. The coach is a manipulative bastard, a homophobe who pretends to be accepting but underhandedly sabotages Mikey and discourages Tiller from openly pursuing relationships.

    The scene where Mikey confronts the bastard was difficult for me to go through. Not because it was badly written but because of all the negative emotions the evil dad generated. I nearly dropped the book so again, good job to the author for the effective writing.

    The rest of the Aster Valley boys were awesome. Gentry and Winter make appearances as well as Mikey’s best friend, Sam, and the cute geek, Truman, who will be paired with him in the next book.

    All in all, Right As Raine is a heartfelt, comfort read. The family drama might pull you out of it but stick around because it is ultimately, a very rewarding book.

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: All I Wanna Do
    Artist: Piotr & Sans Kar


    Aster Valley books can be read as standalones but I recommend reading them in order to get the best experience. The boys will make it worth your while.

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    REVIEW: Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy


    The most important things in Simon Murray’s life are football, friends, and film—in that order. His friends despair of him ever meeting someone, but despite his loneliness, Simon is cautious about looking for more. Then his best friends drag him to a party, where he barges into a football conversation and ends up defending the honour of star forward Declan Tyler—unaware that the athlete is present. In that first awkward meeting, neither man has any idea they will change each other’s lives forever.

    Like his entire family, Simon revels in living in Melbourne, the home of Australian Rules football and mecca for serious fans. There, players are treated like gods—until they do something to fall out of public favour. This year, the public is taking Declan to task for suffering injuries outside his control, so Simon’s support is a bright spot.

    But as Simon and Declan fumble toward a relationship, keeping Declan’s homosexuality a secret from well-meaning friends and an increasingly suspicious media becomes difficult. Nothing can stay hidden forever. Soon Declan will have to choose between the career he loves and the man he wants, and Simon has never been known to make things easy—for himself or for others.

    I listened to the audiobook and I thought it was a such missed opportunity that the narrator did not do the Australian accents. Instead, he read the book in a neutral American accent. The voices were distinct and the characters were emoted really well but man, do the Aussie accents please!!!

    Nonetheless, I had a great time with this book. This is another cute meet-cute sports-rom about a closeted footballer and an out and proud film fest director filled with snarky humor and fade to black sex scenes .

    Bearing in mind that Tigers and Devils was first published in 2009, there are some slight differences in the ‘feel’ of the book, particularly in the way people were not yet so ‘woke’ so expect homophobia, dumb questions and terminologies such as ‘the woman in the relationship’.

    But that’s just the rest of humanity.

    Simon Murray, of the Triple F, an indie film festival, is lucky to have supportive and awesome best friends in the couple, Fran and Roger. Not only are they open-minded, they took it upon themselves to find a man for him. Their well-meaning intentions don’t always work, but it was them who forced Simon to attend The Party. Same party where Simon, like all of Australia, had football as his religion and therefore couldn’t resist opining upon the subject of Declan Tyler.

    Declan was an award-winning football superstar, injured and always benched. Aspersions were cast on his abilities and Simon jumped in on a strangers’ conversation to both compliment and insult the footballer. Little did he know, the man was right behind him.

    I think this is a really adorable and also a most awkward way to meet your future celebrity boyfriend. Which is what made me grab this book immediately. Adorably awkward is catnip to me and Tigers and Devils had it in spades.

    Simon is a self-deprecating, self-confessed artistic wanker who couldn’t believe a football god like Declan Tyler would be interested in him much more date him. Dec is a well-mannered and very grounded superstar, perfect in every way. His only fault was that he tends to run away when things get too intense. Their romance followed the celebrity-dating-an-average-joe trope which was done in the most charming way possible.

    On the other hand, there were a lot of secrecy involved. I didn’t like the way Declan was outed. I would have preferred he done it himself but it was, understandably, part of the narrative. I would have also preferred Simon and Dec to power through the storm together instead of letting the pressure tear them apart but well, that is usual how things go in romance.

    The story is told through Simon’s first person POV and I loved how his ‘voice’ brought out the humor in many seemingly ordinary situations. It made the book come alive.

    Fran and Roger were a hoot. The three best friends had stuck together through thick and thin but their friendship was tested here when Roger felt the need to protect his friend from the footballer. Also there’s the fear of losing a best friend to a boyfriend. Simon falling out with his friends was almost as bad as him and Declan separating.

    Tigers and Devils did a great job portraying the high and lows of dating a closeted celebrity. It showed the pains of dealing with a controversial outing, and the hassles of fending off a very nosy public eager to judge your every move. It is also a story of enduring friendships where your football fanatic best friend is ready to punch a football god to defend your virtue.

    As far as sports-romance go, this is something I would recommend. Do check it out if you’re up for some PG-rated jock+artist hookup featuring doofus friends, cringy scenarios and Yoda’s advice to singletons.

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Never My Love
    Artist: Knox Hamilton
    Album: The Heights