So here’s a quick recommendation for a great series I’ve just binge listened my way through the last couple of days. It’s the All’s Fair series, by Josh Lanyon, that had me totally hooked. It’s a three installment series; Fair Game, Fair Play and Fair Chance. Despite the uninspired and generic titles, they’re actually awesome stories.
The series main character is the former FBI agent Elliot Mills. After a crippling injury, he left the bureau and is now working as a College history professor.
In Fair Game, Elliot agrees to look into the disappearance of the son of a family friend. This forces him back in contact with agent Tucker Lance, Elliot’s former lover and the agent in charge of the missing person’s case. And while old feelings are re-awakened, Elliot has unwittingly caught the interest of a serial-killer.
In Fair Play, someone tries to kill Elliot’s father in order to prevent him from publishing his memoirs. There’s arson, cross-bow shootings and former peace activist shenanigans. The events from Fair Game aren’t forgotten but they’re not the main focus here.
In Fair Chance, the series finale, the serial killer angle is back in full force and this was by far the most intense of the three books. Not only because of the plot developments but because at this point I had gotten way more invested in Elliot and Tucker and had my heart in my throat for fear of their happily ever after being thwarted.
Each book has a distinct ending and case conclusion, but the events of each installment still meld together nicely, forming a cohesive, overall storyline. It’s great really.
Suspense isn’t my favourite genre, but there’s no denying that paired with romance it can be bloody brilliant. And the All’s Fair series is captivating. It’s mystery. It’s nail-biting suspense. It’s crazy murderers. And it’s love of the M/M variety. So, this is just an incredibly yummy series.
I love how the two main attractions of the books – solving tricky cases and the relationship between Elliot and Tucker – are seamlessly weaved together to drive the story forward. So there’s never a dull moment. If it’s not a crazy guy with a cross-bow or a serial killer, it’s steamy sex and man-love. It can’t get much better than that really.
The only thing I’m not happy about is that it’s only a three part series. I would have loved to continue reading about Elliot and Tucker.
Now this is some juicy, M/M smut!
And not only that, it’s juicy smut combined with my favourite trope; wolf shifter romance.
However, you should know that even though I do love me some hot, man-on-man action, this story has so much more going for it than hide-the-salami. Because Timber Pack Chronicles has this new, fresh take on the whole wolf-shifter genre. Or maybe it’s actually more of a return to the classic werewolf story roots. The world is one where wolf-shifters are unknown to society in general. A bite from a wolf can turn a human into one, but that’s strictly forbidden. It’s also risky since a bitten human might not survive their first shift.
Synopsis: There’s Parker, a slight and somewhat nerdy gay guy, just starting his senior year in High school (High school stories usually creeps me out because I can never remember the ages of the students. But Parker’s just starting his senior year and turns 18 before anything naughty happens so don’t worry. Granted, in my head, I choose to imagine these guys being even older because … you know, eww cradle-robbing). Anyway, Parker is the twink in this story. Then there’s Colton, a hot and built wolf shifter, who knows that Parker is his mate. Only he keeps his distance since Parker’s still a minor while Colton is 19. When Colton finally makes his move, there’s more to overcome than just the fact that Parker’s human. There’s bigotry within Colton’s pack, a rogue wolf appearing to stalk Parker and the obnoxious school bully who’s the Pack Alpha’s son.
So, I basically devoured this story. There was just never a dull moment. There were always something driving the story forward. Whether it was the progression of Colton’s and Parker’s budding romance or outside forces working against them, it was non-stop action. Sure, there was such an abundance of dick that it was almost straight out porn, but it was dispersed pretty evenly throughout the story, so it worked.
There were also a lot of great secondary characters that made the world-building that much more nuanced and interesting. The sole focus wasn’t just on Colton and Parker which absolutely made me crave to know more of this world. I’ve already bought the second installment – Enforcer, Timber Pack Chronicles Book 2 – which is Colton’s enforcer Jed’s story.
Parker was an insta-love for me. He was cute and likable. Insecure, with a big heart but with surprising strength. Colton, though, was harder to like. His most redeeming quality was his love for Parker and his loyalty to his friends. Personality-wise he was a cocky and slightly overbearing a-hole and a sore loser. That being said, Timber Pack Chronicles is still an awesome, delicious read. It would have been even better with a less arrogant Colton, but then, no book is perfect I guess.
However, there were two things about this story that made me cringe.
First, the book cover. This is a story with mature content. Soooo very, very mature. But the cover makes it look like a kids book. Creepy!
Then it’s the way Colton keeps calling Parker “pup” all the time. It’s supposed to be an endearment, I get that. But to me it’s just infantilizing and disturbing since it makes me think of daddy-kink and – I wish I didn’t even know what this was but – puppy-play. *Full body shudder*. Also, Colton may be physically bigger than Parker but he’s only one year older. So, the pup-thing most definitely doesn’t work for me.
Now, if I haven’t been clear enough, I’ll just point out – again – that there’s an extreme abundance of D in this story. It’s hot, sure, but it’s also quite repetitive and mostly not of the sweet lovin’ variety. So be prepared for that if you decide to give this book a try.
20. September 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: Delicious smut, M/M, Shifter | Tags: #enforcertimberpackchroniclesbook2, #robcolton, #robcoltonauthor, #timberpackchronicles, #timberpackchroniclesbook1 | Leave a comment
There were several reasons I picked this book. I wanted a short read, Lily Morton’s books are recommended left and right and I thought it was time for me to try her out, and – for some reason – I was under the impression Spring Strings would be steamy as hell.
But instead of steam there was mostly sugar. So much sugar. Which isn’t a bad thing at all if that’s what you’re in the mood for.
Synopsis: This is the unlikely story of supermodel Malachi who ends up passing out from bronchitis at a certain grumpy farmer’s property. Caden, the grouchy farmer in question who is really just a big teddy bear at heart, ends up carrying Mal to his bed and nursing him back to health. Mal’s snarky as hell, but away from the cutthroat modelling business, he begins to let down his defences. Caden thinks Mal is the most beautiful man he’s ever seen, but he’s been hurt before and don’t know if he can dare trust again. But after dancing around each other for weeks, they agree to just have some fun, no strings. That shouldn’t be a problem, right?
There are many who rave about Morton’s books. As far as I know, this is my first Lily Morton, so I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but the expectations I did have were high.
But, I wasn’t particularly awed by Spring Strings. However, I’ll need to read more of Morton’s work before I can form a proper opinion of her writing because this was a super short read. And short books are probably the hardest to write. There’s not enough length to be thorough, but the readers still expect a full story since it’s not a novella.
So yes. This book felt pretty rushed. The first part, the build-up to Mal’s and Caden’s romance, was told through shorter segments separated by time jumps and with lots of quick recaps to try to establish a sense of naturally, growing affection. It didn’t quite succeed. I thought that first third of the book felt very disjointed.
The story didn’t really hit its stride until the lovestory began for real, i.e., when Mal and Caden gave in to their attraction. Once they did, it was a really great story.
If you like super sweet romance that is.
Because there was only minimal drama and sweet, sweet love. Those last two thirds of the book were also very well-written. Mal and Caden were super cute together and I definitely got the HEA I require from all my reads. Extra credit for the epilogue too. It was set three whole years later enabling Morton go all out describing everything they’d accomplished. And I’m a huge fan of those full-bodied epilogues.
I thought the original plot was spectacular. What with a passed out supermodel and a surly farmer. But I felt that Morton could have done so much more with that plot-line than she did. There was so much potential there that just went to waste. So I can’t help to think that this could have been a truly awesome book if she’d written a longer story, and that’s just sad.
So, to summarize, this is a super short and super sweet romance. If you’re in the mood for a quickie and aren’t diabetic, this is absolutely a good choice. The chopped up storytelling and the missed potential lowers the overall experience though, and I’d rate it at 3.5 stars.
Spotlight is the second installment in Finley’s new Famous series and it’s a bit more low-key than its prequel Popstar. But it’s delicious and lovely and really hits the spot.
Synopsis: This is the story of a struggling musician, Lyric, who tries to make it in L.A.He’s also baby-sitting on the side and somehow manages to land a baby-sitting gig for the daughter of the former boyband member Ryder Kennedy by, sort of, insulting him the first time they meet. Ryder is attracted to Lyric from the start, but he’s wary of new people and doesn’t trust easily. Oh, and he’s not out. Lyric thinks his new boss is hot as hell, but crushing on the boss is a bad idea.
I thoroughly enjoyed this read. It’s a through-and through feel-good story that can only be described as utterly sweet. Ryder and Lyric are circling each other while Ryder’s daughter Kaylee is both what draws them together and keeps them apart. It all revolves around her really, as Ryder is doing his damndest to always put her first. As he should. So it’s a much more subdued lovestory in that sense than the story of Harley in Popstar. Despite both Ryder and Lyric being in their twenties, they’re both very mature with priorities most twenty-somethings usually don’t have.
I think it’s their maturity – however improbable – that made this read such a cozy, warm story. It was the slow way their affection for the other grew, and the understated way they showed it (not counting the hand-job in the studio, because that was the opposite of understated). Beacuse of that maturity, Kaylee could be that central part to the story that gave it such a family-vibe (again, if disregarding all the sexing). And I can totally see this book made into a sappy family movie (apart from… yeah, you get it).
However, there were two things I struggled with.
The first was that, at times, it was difficult to keep the voices of Ryder and Lyric apart. I really like stories written with alternating POVs. That way I get into the head of both love interests and can see the full picture. But somewhere in the middle of Spotlight I noticed that I kept having to go back and check whose chapter I was currently reading. I couldn’t distinguish the two viewpoints from each other because Ryder and Lyric were basically the same person, they were so alike. They were cute as hell, sure, but I think the story would have benefited from them having more diverse personalities.
The second (and last) thing that I couldn’t get over was Lyric’s name. Now, English is only my second language and I don’t live in an English speaking country. So I can’t imagine how Lyric is perceived by all you Americans, Brits and Australians. But to me, Lyric is absolutely a female name. A pretentious female name no less. It’s right up there with Apple, Cricket and Poppy Honey. I totally get that names are tricky and that there just aren’t any names that would work equally well in all different languages. I accept that. But when a name is applied – in my eyes – to the wrong gender. I have a hard time letting it go (read, I can’t let it go).
But both the POV confusion and Lyric’s name are just minor details that don’t affect my opinion of this book one bit. I still think it’s a great read with the coziest feel there is. Despite it being about celebrity popstars in L.A. It has such a homey and lovely feel to it all I don’t know how Finley managed it. It’s super sweet but still has super hot sexytimes. The best combo really. I absolutely recommend!
10. September 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: Cover Reveals Promos | Tags: #cuhockey, #edenfinleyauthor, #faceoffsandcheapshots, #saxonjames, #saxonjamesauthor, EdenFinley | Comments Off on Cover Reveal: Face Offs & Cheap Shots by Eden Finley and Saxon James
Coming September 22nd
So, this one was a bit of a roller-coaster for me. Not only because of the emotional story – even though that did indeed contribute – but rather because of the trope.
Synopsis: This is the story of Kira and Jonas. They meet during a summer that Jonas spends writing songs in Kira’s small home town. Kira doesn’t know he’s a rock star and when he leaves at summer’s end, she doesn’t know she’s pregnant. Five years later, Jonas rolls back into town and is confronted with a little girl that looks just like him. Jonas had never forgotten the magical summer he spent with Kira. And Kira isn’t prepared to feel the same attraction to Jonas that she did five years earlier. But is reconnecting even possible after Jonas’ lies and Kira’s secrecy?
But first a bit of backstory. I need to start from the beginning and explain that Sarina Bowen is one of my favourite authors. As such, I don’t really bother with reading the blurbs for upcoming books because I know I’ll love whatever she writes. And so, I didn’t know what Lies & Lullabies was about until I started in on the read. Then, when I realised where the story was headed, and that the trope in question was actually a pet peeve of mine, I didn’t really know what to do with myself. I felt disappointment and even a little resentment because I didn’t think Bowen would be able to pull it off, and I wasn’t prepared to be let down by her. (Yes, just like a creepy fan-girl, I absolutely feel more emotionally connected to my favourite authors than what’s probably healthy).
The funny thing is, I actually loooove the secret baby-trope. I mean, the idea of a secret love-child, it doesn’t get more romantic than that. But my issue with that particular type of plot-line is that so very few authors can use it while also keeping the baby-mama from appearing cold-hearted and selfish. And I get that. It’s hard to make up a plausible excuse for a woman keeping a baby a secret from the father, especially for several years, while still keeping her likable.
But I kept reading. And I was sucked in despite my reservations. Because OMG what a story this was! So for a while I loved the story while still holding a grudge against Kira. But I just couldn’t keep that up. I tried resenting Kira for keeping her daughter a secret, but Bowen practically forced me to forgive her. And that’s some amazing writing right there.
This lovestory basically has it all. It’s so warm and genuine with the most lovable couple. Both Kira and Jonas have their flaws, but they’re mostly just insecure and scared of being rejected and hurt while they try to find their way back to each other. So this is an absolutely wonderful low-key romance. Sure, there are ups and downs, but both Kira and Jonas are very down-to-earth and not the least prone to dramatics. It’s refreshing and so very heart-warming.
Another thing I absolutely adored about this story was the depth with which the supporting characters were portrayed. They weren’t just there as props in the world-building. They were characters in their own right with intriguing personalities and stories of their own. Kira’s brother Adam even had a couple of his own chapters and that was bloody genius.
So this is an absolutely amazing romance – despite the little issue of the child-hiding – and if you’re looking for top notch, feel-good romance Lies & Lullabies is the way to go.
There’s no question about whether I’ll read the two upcoming Hush Note installments Rifts & Refrains and Muses & Melodies, because I will. But I need more than that. I need Adam’s and Ethan’s story too, so I just hope that Bowen realize what kind of craving she’s stirred up with this story and that she’ll do something about it. Soon.
09. September 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: 5-star reads, F/M, Romance | Tags: #hushnote, #hushnoteseries, #liesandlullabies, #musesandmelodies, #riftsandrefrains, #sarinabowenauthor, sarinabowen | Comments Off on Lies & Lullabies (Hush Note #1) by Sarina Bowen
Who We Are was everything I expect from a Klune-book and more. It was laughter and tears. It was amazing and lovely. Tragic but also so very wonderful. Epic really.
Now, I was a bit disappointed by the prequel, but it’s absolutely essential to have that backstory to be able to enjoy Who We Are fully. So even though the first installment was overly angsty, not as funny as I expect Klune’s books to be, and chock-full of long-winded sentimentality (which isn’t my cup of tea, just FYI), it’s still a great story that you need to read in order to enjoy the awesomeness that is Who We Are.
As with Bear, Otter, and the Kid, the story is told entirely from Bear’s point of view. The slightly neurotic, entirely charming and hilarious Bear. What I was missing in the prequel, Who We Are more than made up for. Because the Klune humour was back. And OMG how I laughed. I was occasionally in literal tears from laughing.
Synopsis: So, the story kicks off pretty much where BOatK ended with Bear and Otter happily together but with the threat of losing Tyson hanging over their heads. Bear and the Kid both need to adjust a bit to their new, more stable living arrangements and the fact that they can actually lean on someone else for a change. Bear is allowed – for the first time – to consider his own dreams and desires. With Otter by his side, he’s pretty much unstoppable. Still a rambling mess, but a happy mess. He also discovers that now that he’s out, he notices guys in an entirely new way. And that Otter is a jealous guy. But then when everything seems to come together, tragedy strikes.
At one point in the beginning of the read I feared the story would be the kind where the lovers would be ripped apart again just to have to fight for a new happily ever after. And I hate those stories. But, fortunately, that didn’t happen even if it was a close call. Instead I got to see Bear spread his wings and get his happy even if his own neurosis kept getting in the way. That there were some hot, hot, hot sexytimes sprinkled in didn’t hurt either. But this read is so much more. It’s downright swoon-worthy.
Who We Are is the very best type of story since it’s completely character-driven. There’s a lot going on in the story, but the biggest kick is to follow the emotional journey of Bear and his crazy inner monologues. But there are many other characters to get to know and fall in love with too. My personal favourite side-character was Mrs. Paquinn and her inappropriate and hilarious comments.
The only thing I didn’t like about Who We Are was the cover picture. I never really like covers where you can see the faces of the characters. I mean, tastes differ. And it’s hard to picture the leading hot guy if the book cover features someone – in your eyes – not so hot. But the cover of Who We Are took that to a whole new level. It’s just super creepy and I can’t imagine the thought process that led to that picture being chosen. I mean, look at them!
But anyway. Don’t let the cover scare you away because the story is amazing and I can’t recommend it enough. Ten out of five stars. Easy.
05. September 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: 5-star reads, M/M, Romance | Tags: #theseafarechronicles, #tjklune, #tjkluneauthor, #whoweare | Comments Off on Who We Are (The Seafare Chronicles #2) by T.J. Klune
So, I’m working my way through TJ Klune’s entire bibliography because he’s bloody brilliant. So far, I’ve 5-starred every Klune book I’ve read. Unfortunately I can’t do that with Bear, Otter, and the Kid.
This read was captivating, it truly was. But I guess the other Klune-books I’ve read have spoiled me and given me unrealistically high expectations. Because there were unfortunately too many things bringing this story down in my eyes. Also, it was a veritable angst-fest.
Synopsis: This is a story of an oblivious, bi (or completely gay? It’s a bit unclear) young man – Bear – whose mom left him to raise his 6-year old brother on his own when Bear was only 17. Oliver, or Otter in this story, is the gay big brother of Bear’s best friend.
And you see where this is going…
Bear is doing his damndest to provide for his brother Tyson while at the same time struggling to make sense of his feeling towards Otter. Otter knows what he wants though, but Bear is being stupidly slow on the uptake.
There’s no question this is a great story. It’s heart-felt and engaging and of course I got super invested in the characters. I loved how Bear and Otter were when together, it made me all soft and gooey inside. And Otter’s parenting of his little brother really pulled at my heart-strings. In fact, it’s so good that I didn’t even mind the recurring flashbacks to Bear’s childhood or all of the chapters starting with dramatics and then going on crazy, irrelevant tangents before coming back to the topic at hand.
But, despite all that, I really couldn’t handle all the teary drama.
Bear’s less than smart behaviour didn’t help matters either. I think that’s probably what bugged me the most about this read. Everyone is allowed to do stupid shit, and perfect characters are too boring to bother with, but oh my god was Bear slow! It was like a never ending spiral of mistakes where he’s ruining for himself more and more and just alienates everyone around him. It was so very frustrating and so very angsty. It was downright depressing to be honest.
Now, as a heterosexual woman, I can’t claim to know the first thing about being a young, gay man living in denial. However, what I can say is that the portrayal of Bear’s constant back and forth, his inner monologue denying his feelings, the back-pedalling after each and every “gay” thought he has, it was annoying as hell. It was like that almost the entire book and it was beyond exhausting.
Thank fuck for Otter being more mature at least.
Then there’s the Kid. I really liked him at first. But as the story progressed, he became a little too much. Sure, he’s precocious, extremely intelligent and unnaturally perceptive. Such kids exist. They’re rare but it’s not unheard of. But then he kept getting more and more eloquent. He was a 9-year old mix of a philosopher and a therapist with an encyclopedic vocabulary. About halfway through the book, Tyson stopped being cute and started to seriously creep me out.
The eloquence of the characters in general were striking – and very unrealistic. Even though Bear did a lot of stammering, his inner voice was extremely good at expressing himself. There were simply so many long-winded – admittedly also very deep and heart-felt – monologues in this read that it distracted, and frankly ruined, the story.
And I missed the humour which I view as somewhat of a Klune trademark. That very inappropriate and slightly juvenile humour that is right up my alley, it was completely missing from this book. All that was left was angst.
So, even though the story was intriguing, I had expected more. And laughs, I had counted on lots of laughs and didn’t get any.
Wow, when re-reading my review it sounds like an awful book. It isn’t though, not at all. It’s mostly my disappointment talking, I think. And my low tolerance for long-winded, flowery speeches and repeated stupidity. So, granted, it’s not a 5-star in my eyes, but it is well above a 4.
01. September 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: 4-star, M/M, Romance | Tags: #bearotterandthekid, #theseafarechronicles, #tjklune, #tjkluneauthor | Comments Off on Bear, Otter, and the Kid (The Seafare Chronicles #1) by TJ Klune
This isn’t a new book by any means, but I was in the mood for a hurt/comfort-read and was recommended this one. It wasn’t what I had hoped for though. Not even close.
Synopsis: Sebastian, a rich and selfish prick, crashes into a homeless man one day. The homeless man is a beautiful 19-year old who looks 16. His name is Nathan and Sebastian becomes obsessed. After Nathan is attacked and utterly broken, Sebastian brings him home to his appartment and “takes care” of him. Sex, sex, sex. Sugardaddy. Sex. Some commotion to get revenge on Nathan’s childhood molester. The end.
To be fair I’ll start off by saying what I liked about this story.
Let me just think for a bit.
Wow, nothing comes to mind. At all.
Okay, so I’ll start with everything that made me cringe instead.
So there’s this abused, shell of a young man (or boy as Sebastian keeps referring to him as) who’s been deeply traumatized. First by sexual abuse as a child, then by all the stuff he had to resort to just to survive on the streets. Including prostituting himself. And apparently the cure for all that ails him is some good old nooky with his savior Sebastian.
It doesn’t matter how loving and über-consensual Elsworth tries to portray it, it’s still creepy as hell. No matter how it’s described, it’s practically impossible to view Nathan’s and Sebastian’s relationship than anything other than another kind of abuse, where Sebastian takes advantage and Nathan’s in no position to say no. That it all happens in a luxury appartment doesn’t make it less disturbing.
It’s especially disconcerting when considering Nathan’s propensity to act younger than his age. He’s a 19-year old who’s reverting back to a more child-like state when overwhelmed or triggered. But hey, why not solve the problems of the rape victim with lots and lots of sex!?
Sounds like a good idea?
Well, I didn’t think so either which is why I had a huge lump in my throat and a sick feeling in my chest the entire story. I don’t know why I even finished it.
Coming August 29
This is a bit of a tricky one for me to review. You see, the story is quite a bit out of my comfort zone, but I’m also intrigued as all get out meaning I can’t stay away. So, tricky indeed.
Synopsis: Interrupt is the 5th part of a serial featuring Ewan and Nate, a masochist and a sadist, who are trying to set the boundaries defining their relationship. So this is obviously anything but vanilla. Ewan has a hard time trusting anyone, let alone a Dom, because of past trauma. Nate on the other hand is terrified of pushing too far and hurting Ewan (more than intended). At the same time they both need the other, not merely to fulfil some sexual kink quota, but on a deep emotional level.
I consider myself pretty damn open minded. But this level of hard core pain, domination and humiliation play that these guys are into is not particularly palatable to me. However, Ewan and Nate themselves, their struggles and their fates very much are. And I’m completely invested in their literary future.
Ewan in particular makes my heart bleed. He’s such a damaged individual. He appears to not be able to fully admit his needs even to himself, so expressing them to Nate is near impossible. Especially since he doesn’t dare trust his Dom, resenting him for it and at the same time feeling extreme self loathing . It’s bloody heart-wrenching. Nate on the other hand has to walk that fine line of giving Ewan what he needs without going too far and simultaneously keep his own sadist tendencies from getting out of hand.
This read got me very emotional and I really felt for the characters. Ewan, the ultimate brat, is the kind of character you just want to smack over the head but also hug the hell out of and comfort. Interrupt is sweeter and – to my eyes – more loving than the previous Debug, but it’s still rough as hell. That makes rating it rather difficult. It’d be a 5-star to someone enjoying sadomasochistic reads, but since I only want Nate’s and Ewan’s story and need to see them thrive, I can’t rate it higher than 4.
Reading this kinky as all get out serial just for the characters and amazing portrayal of a complicated relationship sounds improbable, right? Kind of like saying you buy the pornos for the articles. Only, in my case it’s actually true. So, if you can handle the rough, I highly recommend this serial.
25. August 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: Dark, Romance | Tags: #acollarforhisbrat, #debug, #interrupt, #rjmoray, #rjmorayauthor, #robinmoray, #robinmorayauthor | Comments Off on Interrupt (A Collar For His Brat #5) by R.J. Moray