Inside Affair is Ella Frank’s latest release and the first in a trilogy called the Prime Time series.
And I have to say, Frank sure knows her way around real, fine MM romance writing.
This story follows the news anchor Alexander – Xander – Thorne, and detective Sean Bailey. Xander is targeted by a stalker and needs a bodyguard pronto. He hires Sean who is his ex’s and best friend’s brother, but also a frenemy of sorts. As not to tip off Xander’s stalker, Sean goes undercover as Xander’s new boyfriend. But, Xander and Sean has never seen eye to eye and no way can a straight guy manage to pull off the gay boyfriend act. However, after a while, the act starts to feel real.
I enjoyed Inside Affair soooo much. But I don’t know if I can pinpoint why. It was one of those reads where you feel at home right away. From the first page, the characters, the backdrop, the plot, the whole ambience, just everything, sucked me in. I loved both Sean and Xander. Despite only getting hints of their backstory, they had me instantly intrigued and left me wanting more.
This is also a complete teaser read.
It’s short AF and ends on a cliff-hanger. I knew going in that it was the first in a series, so I knew I wouldn’t get full closure at the end. But still. I thought there would at least be some sort of semi-closure. And hot, hot lovin’. But I got none of those things. I’m not sure Inside Affair could really be defined as a slow-burn romance. Xander’s and Sean’s attraction is too fast for that and there’s lots of innuendo, teasing and starts and stops as they begin to explore that attraction. But it is absolutely slow going where romance is concerned. It’s a bit like those really cheesy soap-operas where there’s always a break just when something dramatic happens. And then, once the break is over, all the tension’s gone and a new build up starts. Inside Affair is just like that. And I still loved it. It’s perplexing really.
I should be irritated because this read left me feeling so un-fulfilled. But that’s just because I need to have the rest of the story. Right now! Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait until July for that. But damn, it was good. You should read it!
Double Teamed is a train wreck. And that’s putting it mildly.
All I wanted was some juicy smut. Lots of explicit nooky and hot guys. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for. So a short story with an MMM ménage? Sign me up! But my god! This was crap straight through. Is it mean of me to be so blunt? Maybe. But this is another one of those books getting ridiculously inflated ratings on Amazon. I just want to save people from reading this disaster.
It’s a story about a guy named Adam who meets up with his old bestie from High School. A bestie he also had a major crush on but always assumed was straight. Only he’s not of course and Adam ends up in bed together with Blair the crush and his partner Logan. But the three lovebirds aren’t allowed their happiness because there’s an evil woman trying to break them up. But the blurb is really not important at this point. The execution is.
Because it’s not the storyline as such that makes this such a terrible read. Even a silly storyline can be awesome if told by a talented writer. No, it’s the complete lack of writing skill, inability to master the english language and also that minor detail of not actually possessing the gift of storytelling. The obvious “I’m writing about something I don’t know about” doesn’t help matters either.
I could close my eyes, scroll through Double Teamed and point my finger at random and I’ll be touching complete and utter shite every time. Usually there’s something redeemable about any book. Usually there’s some aspect of a story that’s fine even if the final composition isn’t a 5-star. But this book has nothing. Not a single thing.
The most minor thing, in my opinion, but the thing that is so very telling about an author, are all the spelling errors, switched around words and general grammatical jumble. Those things are annoying and it’s obvious Double Teamed wasn’t proof read, but I can look past such things for a good story. Meaning I can’t look past them at all in this book. So if you don’t want to read a book with adult content written in the style of a 5th grader, don’t read this book.
This is a story with a threeway. It’s a short read focusing entirely on the interactions and relations between the main characters. I was counting on some quality shagging and sexytimes. And yes, there was definitely some nudy scenes. They were far from sexy though. Since the writing is so poor, it’s hard to say if it’s the writing itself that’s the problem or if the robotic description of random licking, slapping and sucking on bodyparts is due to lack of understanding of human sexual relations. There’s a little something called arousal. If an author can’t convince the readers that their characters feel that, then stay the hell away from smut-writing. And also, I get that it’s more difficult to describe three people getting it on than it is describing two. But for fuck’s sake. What’s the point of smut if you’re unable to tell who’s doing what with whom and where? And most importantly, there is absolutely no point in describing the nasty if it’s just robotic, repetitive motion. So, if you prefer to read smut that’s actually hot, don’t read this book.
Now, about the storytelling. If it wasn’t for the shenanigans, I’d say this is exactly the type of writing that english teachers in elementary schools encounter on a daily basis when grading homework. It sucks. The POV jumps around even though the entire story is told from Adam’s point of view. Everything is exaggerated and/or implausible. The characters feel as real and three-dimensional as paper cutouts. The “plot” is so infantile it would be funny if only I hadn’t actually paid for this book. Also, it’s painfully clear that Van Cole hasn’t done any research. If you write about stuff you don’t know, it shines through. Always. Adam’s supposedly a lawyer. He’s described as wanting to be a “correct” lawyer. Coles description of Adam’s lawyer-ly job is “signing those papers and replying emails”. Wow. So, if you don’t want a story with the feel of being written by your average 10 year-old, don’t read this book.
I could go on. But I think I’ve made my point.
Coming June 1st
First, full disclosure. I only read half of Heroan. You may think that I shouldn’t write a review for a book I didn’t finish, but let me explain.
In my opinion, this is not a book meant for adults and I did not sign up to read something written for teens. If it wasn’t for the gory, detailed, violence, I’d say for sure this was meant for a younger audience because it has all the trademarks of a children’s book, but as it stands, I’m very conflicted about Heroan. I don’t know if I should review it as an adult-novel or as a teen-read. So I guess I’ll do both.
From a teen perspective, this is a perfectly fine, action-filled story about a young woman set out to avenge the murder of her mother eleven years prior. In a dystopian future, where life has reverted back to the likes which were found in the Old West, you get to follow her on her path to track down this vicious, evil killer. The pace of the story is pretty fast and there are many forward jumps which increases the pace further.
I like that the main character is a really strong young woman. Girls absolutely need that kind of empowering reads. I also liked that Cameron didn’t let her attraction to a guy get in the way of her mission, or make her totally silly and girly. However, the overly descriptive violence is a bit inappropriate for a kids read, but maybe it would be suitable for 15-16 year-olds?
As a more distinguishing, adult reader though, Heroan doesn’t cut it.
The book is entirely driven by events and descriptive action, not by the characters, and their perceptions. In fact, the characters are just crude outlines of people with very little personality to them. And the book starts off with a barrage of back-story which is pretty much the exemplification of a mistake made by inexperienced authors. Even the dialogue is mostly used as a way to provide even more back-story, not as a means to get to know the characters.
That’s really the main thing lacking in Heroan, character development. There’s nothing wrong about that way of writing per se, but in an adult novel it usually doesn’t work. I need to feel connected to the characters. I need to feel I care for them and their fate or, at the very least, are fascinated by them. They need personalities and depth which I’m sorry to say is sorely lacking.
There are also quite a few unrealistic portrayals and plot-holes that pulled me out of the book. The world-building for one. It’s supposed to be dystopian, but what should have been a hard life is glossed over and instead it is portrayed as quaint rather than challenging. Also, there are very few hints to confirm the dystopian future-part. Hardly any technology, only nice and fresh forest country.
Then there are quite a few instances where Cameron just acts way illogical. The most blatant one being that she apparently follows her target by foot going on instincts alone. Another one is assuming that a bad guy that got away decided to run instead of hiding somewhere nearby just waiting to pick her off.
The clashes between sudden bouts of graphic violence and the rest of the picturesque setting is maybe a stylistic choice the author made. But to me is doesn’t fit. If the Heroan world is so obviously violent, the people in it shouldn’t be so naively ignorant and unprepared.
In conclusion, I give Heroan a rating of 4 as a teen-read, and a 2 as an adult read. I’m not going to lie, I’m very disappointed. I love a good dystopian novel. This just wasn’t it.
This Time Is Different is a cozy, low-key romance. It’s about a second chance at love and about navigating the unfamiliar waters of dating as a more mature adult.
It’s about Amy Forsythe who is nearing forty and single for the first time since her senior prom. Her friends is pushing her to date but her teenager isn’t thrilled by the idea and neither is Amy.
Whereas silver fox Thomas Popov isn’t looking for The One. He found her decades ago. And fell apart when she died. At fifty-three with a new job, a new city, and an empty nest, he’s focused on climbing the corporate ladder.
But then a softball accident lands Thomas in Amy’s dental chair and sparks fly.
There was so much I liked about this read. I liked the whole ambience of the book. The homey picture Wood painted of Amy’s and Thomas’ lives. The portrayal of their relationships with their (almost) adult children that couldn’t have been more on point. But most of all, I liked how Wood managed to describe that precarious balancing act of being a parent while also acknowledging your own wants and needs. That part was simply brilliant.
But even though I really liked this read, and even though it’s so very, very well written, I didn’t love it. Maybe it was the more subdued style of the love-story that had me not overly invested in the characters. Maybe I need to have more passion and grand gestures in order to fall in love with a romance-read. And, maybe, it would have been good if I thought the leading lady ended up with the right guy. Because, yes, I thought Amy’s ex Bert was much more intriguing than Thomas. In every aspect. And even if that was an obvious set-up for the sequel – Bert’s story – I’d say Wood did too good a job of it when the ex outshines the actual love-interest. My feelings towards Thomas’ character were of the luke-warm variety I’m afraid.
In my opinion, this is a perfectly lovely read that is genuinely warm and through-and-through feel-good. There’s no angst and no downs to speak of. The highs aren’t particularly high either, but you’ll walk away feeling quite content after finishing This Time Is Different. In conclusion, it’s the perfect comfort read.
So, Abel’s Omega was a bit of a strange read.
It’s the story of Baxter – an Omega who was mated off at too young an age – and Abel – an Alpha who is working his ass off to provide for his pack. The story takes place in a world where shifters are forced into small enclaves and are strictly policed by humans. And in this world, where shifters are second-class citizens and Omegas are the lowest ranking among all shifters, Bax is just trying to give his pups the best life they can have. When Bax’s mate dies and he’s about to be forced to give up his pups, he flees to another enclave where he’s hoping to find refuge. He wasn’t expecting to meet Abel though. Because even if he’s one hot piece of man, Bax knows that Alphas can’t be trusted.
In a sense this is a regular mpreg, alpha-omega universe story. There’s omega oppression, abusive alphas, general prejudice towards shifters, shifter enclave conflict, custody battles and of course the alpha-omega love story. But even though there’s lots of stuff happening, the entire thing felt oddly uneventful. Or rather, everything that happened, every conflict and all the build up never amounted to anything. Either the resolution was entirely anti-climactic or it simply fizzled out without any sense of closure.
I kept reading, and waiting for… something. But the story just went on and on and… when I was 93% through the book (gotta love how precise Kindle is), I just didn’t have the energy to finish.
Abel’s Omega is a very long story. The author could have easily divided it into two or even three installments. I’m thinking that might actually have been better. Then maybe each of the show-downs and each dramatic turn of events would have gotten the attention it deserved. Instead, the story is just a very long sequence of events that objectively should be dramatic and engaging but in actuality just ends up de-sensitizing the reader. In other words, instead of getting immersed in the story and feeling all the feels, the never-ending flow of events made me rather numb and uncaring about the characters.
I liked the world-building in this story a whole lot. It was frankly awesome. And the book was also very well-written. That’s why it’s extra disappointing that Byrde’s storytelling was lacking. Because the story itself and the characters had such potential.
15. May 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: M/M, Romance | Tags: #abelsomega, #annkatrinbyrde, #annkatrinbyrdeauthor, #mercyhillspack, #mercyhillspackseries | Comments Off on Abel’s Omega by Ann-Katrin Byrde
Blood Truth is the fourth and latest book in the Black Dagger Legacy series. It’s vampire romance with very little focus on blood-sucking. And I looove this book universe. I love both the Black Dagger Brotherhood series and the Legacy one. I’m hooked om Ward’s vampire world and I think anyone reading Blood Truth is too. Because this just isn’t a stand-alone. Either you’re a committed Ward vampire-fan and have read them all, or you haven’t read any of them. There’s no in between.
Blood Truth is the book about Boone, a soldier in the Black Dagger Brotherhood ‘s training program, and Helania who’s trying to find her sister’s killer. The two cross paths when another young woman is killed, in the exact same place where Helania’s sister was murdered. The Brotherhood investigates the murder, but Boone has a hard time staying impartial. Helania is a witness but the instant attraction and connection he feels for her isn’t something he can ignore.
Now. This isn’t a thriller. It’s romance with a murder plot. And the continuation of the awesome twists and turns of Ward’s vampire community in Caldwell. As all of the books in the Black Dagger series it focuses on one couple and weave their story into the stories of all the characters from previous books. Unfortunately, Blood Truth is not one of Ward’s best stories. It’s actually way down on the bottom.
For starters, I had real trouble getting into the story. And I consider myself a hard-core fan. Half-way through the plot picked up though, and after that I couldn’t put it down. But that was due to the murder plot and not because I was particularly engaged in Boone’s and Helania’s shenanigans. In fact, I was almost entirely indifferent to what they were up to. Romantically or otherwise. What kept me reading were the other characters, the original Black Dagger Brotherhood crew. Because really, neither Boone nor Helania had any kind of personality. Those two characters couldn’t have been more meh. And that’s despite Boone torturing a rapist and chopping off his dangly bits.
I can’t pinpoint exactly what’s lacking in Blood Truth, but this book just feels like it was written on some kind of auto-pilot. And when combining all these things; a new romance, introducing new characters, murder-solving and also adding tidbits about the original crew, none of those things gets done with the care or depth they deserve. It’s obvious that character development wasn’t a priority and even the glimpses of the much loved original Black Dagger gang was perfunctory. They were predictable in a way suggesting each of them is very much the sum of just a few fixed traits and not the three-dimensional characters they once appeared to be.
So I’m disappointed. But I’m also a total sucker for this series and one dud won’t prevent me from reading the future installments.
Shots on Goal is another hockey romance. It’s of the M/M, jock-meets-nerd variety – which I love. And I thought I knew exactly what I’d be getting with this read. I chose it more or less as a comfort read; a familiar storyline of closeted athlete meets out-and-proud, sprinkled with angst and sexytimes followed by a happily ever after. And in a sense, that is the gist of the story, but it was a bit more than that.
This is actually the third installment in the Stick Side series. And no, I haven’t read the two previous ones. Shots on Goal works as a stand-alone. Though I must admit, in the beginning it was a bit of a challenge to keep some of the names and characters straight – even though they weren’t (Sorry, couldn’t help myself there).
Anyway. Shots on Goal is about Roman, an NHL player who’s learned the hard way not to trust anyone, and Cody, a Physcology major with a love of books. Despite Roman’s grumpy and standoffish demeanor, Cody sees past Roman’s defences to the man beneath. And Roman, despite his fear of betrayal, can’t seem to stay away from the passionate, lively Cody. There’s only those minor inconveniances of closets, ghosts from the past and potentially bigoted teammates to overcome.
This is a true slow-burn romance. So, if you’re looking for fast and furious, look elsewhere. The tentative development of Roman’s and Cody’s relationship is slow going. They become friends, long before they become anything more. But the portrayal of Roman’s struggle to trust again, Cody’s insecurities and their gradual, growing affection is totally engaging.
After a very heartbreaking prologue, I had a bit of trouble getting into the story though. The slow pace took some getting used to. But I’m so glad I stuck it out. Because I really liked this read. I hadn’t meant to pick up such a romance-y romance, but I’m so glad I did. It’s beautiful and so well written. And there’s a hopeful undertone throughout the story implying that no, humanity might not be a totally fucked up race after all. Also, my very heterosexual, ignorant self got a bit educated which is also a bonus. I hadn’t heard the term demisexual before and I most certainly didn’t know what it meant. I do now though. 🙂
Coming May 12
I tried to hold off a bit, reading Sure Shot. Because I know that once I start one of Bowen’s books, I usually can’t put it down until I’ve finished it. And yes, that’s pretty much what happened. So, as per usual, I started out carefully trying to savor every word, but soon I was racing through to the end feeling a whole lot of feels and nursing a book hangover.
Sure Shot is the latest installment in the Brooklyn Bruisers series. That’s hockey-themed romance of the very best kind. This series takes place in the kind of book universe where there are the same recurring characters throughout several books. Getting to know them from so many perspectives is just awesome. So, simply put, the story can absolutely be read as a stand-alone but I still recommend reading the entire series. In the correct order.
So, to the blurb. Sure Shot is about Mark Tankiewicz, who naturally is a drool-worthy hunk of man meat who also happens to be a hockey player (🙄) and Bess Beringer who’s working as a sports-agent with only one rule: She doesn’t date athletes. But Tank and Bess have chemistry with a big C and also some scorching history. They can still have some fun, right? Even if Tank doesn’t fit into Bess’ five year plan. And even though Tank’s marriage just ended and he’s not looking to settle down and he’s adamant he won’t ever marry again. They can fool around some without anyone getting hurt, right? But feelings are a bitch. They just won’t be controlled. And when Bess falls hard, she discovers that Tank can’t give her what she wants.
I loved Sure Shot. I still haven’t met a Bowen-book I didn’t like, so it’s no surprise this one was no different. Tank has the ultimate grumpy guy exterior but is the sweetest underneath. And Bess is so strong and independent but vulnerable with lots of unhealed scars. I loved them so much. And I loved them together.
Then the story took a very emotional turn. I don’t know why that always surprises me, it shouldn’t. Even though this series is romance and all the feel-goods, there is still always more depth to them than the genre might imply. And Sure Shot covers a very sensitive and, for those personally affected, painful subject. I won’t reveal any spoilers, but I got plenty emotional and probably got some onion in my eye or something.
I’m so very impressed about the way Bowen portrayed this oh so difficult issue. Even if I think that almost all women can relate to this kind of grief, it could so easily have been depicted in a clichéd romance-y way, or even worse, in an overly tear-jerking way. But instead, it was such a perfect balance between gravity and strength, acceptance and hope. It was beautifully done. And I was so, so, so bloody happy that they stuck to their plan in the end, despite things…. happening. Wow. Avoiding spoilers is hard.
Anyway. This is a lovely read. A lovely romance with great characters. And also with nooky. Hot nooky. Read it!
30. April 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: Delicious smut, Entertaining, Great, Romance | Tags: #brooklynbruisers, #sarinabowenauthor, #sureshot, sarinabowen | Comments Off on Sure Shot by Sarina Bowen
This is a sweet little story in a non-shifter, alpha-omega, mpreg universe. It’s a freebie I received in return for an honest review. From the title, you can tell there’s royalty and, what’s even more, there are castles and arranged marriages too. So it’s basically an M/M fairytale for adults.
It’s about the Omega Rowan and prince Gaspar (Gus for short) who meet at a royal ball and promptly fall into bed. Rowan doesn’t know that Gus is the prince who’s about to become engaged to his best friend. But neither Gus nor Rowan expected there to be more than physical attraction. Or a very tangible reminder of their night together.
This is a very short book, I read it in just a few hours. But it still covers not only the lovestory between Rowan and Gus, but also an attempted political coup. The story is an alright pastime, sure, but the storyline felt a bit too simple. A bit naive. Or maybe stories about princes and princesses just aren’t meant for me.
But putting aside my recently discovered dislike of royalty-reads, The Prince and the Omega was still pretty entertaining. I liked the lovestory. I liked the alpha-omega dynamics described. I liked Rowan, he was a total dear, but my impression of Gus was not as favorable. Even though he was supposedly depicted as the ultimate, heartthrob prince, he just seemed a bit spine-less. Going along with the arranged marriage-thing for far too long without too much objection. But. The romance still worked and Rowan and Gus were cute together.
What I didn’t like about the story was the whole kidnapping-business towards the end. It felt rushed and didn’t really add that much to the story. It was frankly unnecessary and felt like an afterthought more than anything.
When I think about it though, my main reason for having trouble with this read is probably the world-building which I just couldn’t buy into. There are too many contradictions and inconsistencies for my taste. It’s a modern society with modern technology, but there’s the very old-fashioned and Disney-inspired view on royalty on what a monarchy is. Then there’s the basis of the entire story plot, namely the arranged marriage. That arrangement is – allegedly – a crucial requisite of ending a terrible, long-time war between the two countries. But any mention of where, how and why this war is fought and its consequences for the respective societies are non-existent. The picture being painted of life for the “commoners” are actually very peaceful and easy-going. Bordering on picturesque.
So yeah, I feel a bit conflicted about this read. It’s a perfectly fine romance. Though obviously I’m not the target reader. But if you like the fairytale-y story-style, then go for it!
19. April 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: Entertaining, M/M, Romance | Tags: #mpregromance, #penelopepeters, #penelopepetersauthor, #theprinceandtheomega | Comments Off on The Prince and the Omega by Penelope Peters
Lies and Lullabies by Sarina Bowen will be the first one out on 22 September
15. April 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: Cover Reveals Promos | Tags: #devneyperry, #hushnoteseries, #liesandlullabies, #musesandmelodies, #rebeccayarros, #riftsandrefrains, #sarinabowenauthor, sarinabowen | Comments Off on Cover reveals for the Hush Note Series