Heartland by Sarina Bowen

Coming January 28th

Heartland is the newest book in the True North series by Sarina Bowen and it’s another emotional rollercoaster with all the feels, just like the other True North books are. I did bawl a bit at one point. You know that ugly kind of crying involving snot. But don’t worry, there’s a happily ever after in the very end.

Heartland is Dylan Shipley’s and Chastity’s story. Dylan is the College heartthrob, the altogether nice – but also a bit slutty – guy who’s devoted to his family and friends. And Chastity, she’s one of his very best ones. Raised in a religious cult, Chastity managed to escape as a 19 year-old and ended up at the farm just next door to the Shipley’s. Three years later, she’s in College together with Dylan, trying to ignore her feelings for her best friend all the while everyone – and Dylan in particular – tries to shelter her from the wilder side of College life. But Chastity doesn’t want to be sheltered. The question is, can she make Dylan see her as something more than just a friend?

I loved this story. And it had me quite emotional since I was immediately invested in the characters. But then again, pulling readers in is the trademark of talented authors and Bowen is a fantastic storyteller.

Basically, Heartland is the perfect friends-to-lovers story. There’s the first love, and… lots of other firsts as well. Meaning, there’s steam and delicious sexytimes. For a farm-boy, Dylan has a surprisingly dirty mind. Which is awesome of course. The beginning of the story was a bit angst-y though. The minor detail of Dylan already having a girlfriend in the start of the book was quite unsettling.

I don’t think you can ever be to old to enjoy a great College romance, and I stand by that. However, as I’m now well passed College-age myself, I tend to notice aspects of a story that I probably wouldn’t have when I was younger. So I can’t possibly write this review without mentioning the dichotomy of Dylan’s behaviour. He’s a 20-year old, highly sexed dreamboat who keeps messing up and putting his foot in his mouth whenever he’s talking to Chastity. But he has these long, very mature and insightful discussions with his roommate. So Dylan acting stupid when he clearly isn’t was really frustrating. Disturbingly so. But then again, that’s what happens when you’re engaged in a story.

And also, two College-aged guys talking about feelings, love and whatnot? It lowers the realism if you know what I mean. 🙂 Not that it matters one bit of course. It’s still an awesome read!

Technically, Heartland is a stand-alone. But you’ll have a much better time of it if you’ve read the series. You get sneak peeks into the HEAs of previous True North couples, and new characters are introduced that hopefully will all join the Shipley clan in one way or another. I’m guessing – or mostly hoping – that Rickie and Daphne will get a book next.

But to sum things up. Heartland is a warm, fuzzy, sexy, angst-y romance with a happily ever after. Read it!

14. January 2020 by swedishgirl
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British Bedmate by Penelope Ward & Vi Keeland

British Bedmate is quite a sweet story. A sweet story with a dirty talker for a main male character. It’s about Bridget – a single mother and a two-year widow – and Simon, a seriously drool-worthy, British doctor who doesn’t plan on being tied down. Ever. When Bridget decides to rent out a room in her house to a friend of a friend, she had no idea it was to the hot doctor who removed a fishing hook from her ass a few months ago. And not only does the close proximity to all that cocky manliness at her house make her all hot and bothered, Simon’s also started working in the same hospital that Bridget works as a nurse. The attraction is absolutely reciprocated, but Simon’s planning on going back to England. And besides, he never wanted kids.

I enjoyed this read, I really did. But the story won’t stick with me. It’s a perfectly fine rom-com with a little bit of everything to appeal to the masses but not a lot to make it stick out. There’s a beautiful widow with a cute son. There’s a Brit with abs for days. There’s dirty talk and sexual tension that eventually leads to some well-earned nooky. And after a bit of angst, there are professions of love. And then there’s more angst. What’s not to love right?

For me, the average reads are the hardest to review. I liked the story well enough, but the intrigue didn’t really pull me in. But the thing is, I know there are many who will love this book, and that’s perfectly understandable. It’s very well written with interesting characters. The storyline is good and there’s an awesome plot twist – kudos to Ward and Keeland. But the story simply didn’t really speak to me and I can’t explain why since, on paper (though I read on my Kindle), this is the perfect rom-com.

Even though I loved Bridget’s character immediately, Simon was a harder pill to swallow. The fact that he started talking dirty to her during their very first meeting, while acting as her physician, felt sort of creepy. I’m sure it was intended to be sexy, but to me it just came off as seriously lewd and inappropriate. So he had some redeeming to do in the next chapters which I’m sure wasn’t the intention of the authors.

The way Bridget and Simon danced around each other was nicely described. And the increasing tension and chemistry between them was as well. The plot twist was great but in retrospect I’m a bit conflicted about it. The initial shock-value was through the roof so story-wise it was a win. But now – trying to avoid any spoilers – I’m thinking it was maybe an easy out for Ward and Keeland to justify Bridget moving on with her new love.

Either way. This is a perfectly fine read that will be adored by so many readers. Just not by me. But it was an acceptable pastime with a HEA so there aren’t any reasons not to read it.

07. January 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: Entertaining, Romance | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Not Safe For Work by L.A. Witt

I’m so hooked on M/M smut right now, it’s not even funny. When I started this blog, I only wanted to share my thoughts on all the delicious romance/smut/erotica I read – which is plenty. But I didn’t expect the blog to turn into some kind of gay literary spank bank buffet. But here we are. And you’re welcome. 😉

Not Safe For Work is really NSFW. It’s an M/M romance also classified as BDSM. And technically, I suppose it is. But it’s extremely vanilla. The Dom in the story talks a lot, but what is depicted is mostly gentle dominance and submission and sweet sweet lovin’. It’s still a great story though, which I really enjoyed reading, but if you’re looking for actual BDSM, you better keep looking.

The main characters, Jon McNeill and Rick Pierce, are both into kink. Other than that, they don’t appear to have much in common. At least at a first glance. Jon’s a model maker at an architectural firm, two time divorced and the father of three college aged kids. Rick is the CEO of a multi million dollar company and the biggest client of Jon’s firm. Jon and Rick are matched through a hook-up app, Jon being a Dom and Rick being a Sub. They decide to try out a Dom-Sub relationship but to keep the relationship secret, especially at work. They didn’t expect their play to lead to anything serious though. And they definitely didn’t foresee the consequences of their affair being discovered.

I can’t say I’m particularly fond of hardcore BDSM stories. So Not Safe For Work was actually perfect in that sense. But what mainly drew me in and kept me captivated was the very sweet way that Jon’s and Rick’s budding relationship was described. Sure, there’s the Dom-Sub dynamics, but there’s only mild dominance and light bondage. Pain isn’t really a factor and there’s thankfully no degradation. Only mutual attraction and respect. And two men falling for each other. While they also have lots and lots of sex. Hot sex.

The story is told exclusive from Jon’s viewpoint. Which is a bit of a shame since I would have loved to see Rick’s side of things too. The progression of the story and the eventual fall-out from their relationship being outed at work would probably haven’t been as nerve-wrecking with dual POVs though, so it’s all good. And it did get nerve-wrecking. I even had to put my Kindle down a few times to calm myself before I could go on.

Anyway. To summarize. Not Safe For Work is a very well-written story. There’s plenty of shagging and some hot dominance play, but mostly it’s a beautiful love story with a HEA in the end. Another plus was that the MCs are more mature. As in, not in their twenties. Both are a bit over forty, more grounded and real in that sense. I absolutely recommend this read if you like dick, men and love.

03. January 2020 by swedishgirl
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Changed – Mated to the Alien Alpha by Robin Moray

It appears that I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole. I could never in a million years have imagined the immensity of available smutty paranormal subgenres if it wasn’t for my seemingly innocent gateway drug: M/M shifter romance. But now I’ve found a veritable mother lode of pornographic, and often unintentionally funny, novels within the “fucked by a huge alien”-genre. Technically, I think it’s classified as paranormal romance – alien-style – but the fucked category is way more appropriate. And self explanatory.

Changed, with the subtitle Mated to the Alien Alpha, by Robin Moray is actually a great story. The Avatar-factor is high though, with some minor differences. First, it’s M/M. Second, it’s NSFW. And third, it’s an mpreg story.

 

So, the blurb: An all-male group, comprising of miners and a few scientists, is transported to an uninhabited planet. The trip is company funded and the objective is to mine a precious mineral. The human MC, Cameron who is a xenolinguist but still managed to tag along despite the supposed lack of intelligent life, soon discovers that there are in fact big, purple humanoids inhabiting the planet. One of which seem to be particularly fond of Cameron. Their meetings almost immediately escalate to include all sorts X-rated activity. Cameron and his alien, Tal’jen, are quite fond of each other even though they can’t actually understand one another. But then again, a huge, purple and conveniently ribbed cock might have something to do with that. Anyway, the alien planet, that seemed to be quite safe for humans, turns out to have quite a pronounced effects on human physiology. And when the humans starts changing, all hell breaks loose.

Changed is quite an intriguing story and, as a general fan of science fiction, I really enjoyed the world building and the entire story setting. It’s also very well written which honestly surprised me a little. It’s probably my prejudice talking, but I hadn’t expected a clearly talented author and storyteller to write this kind of juicy alien porn.

Because it is porn. The focus is very much on alien cock, cum and different kinds of suction, slobbering and penetration. It’s weirdly spectacular and awesome. If you can get behind the whole inter-species thing. And exhibitionism. There’s public fucking galore.

There is romance, sure. But that part is more of an afterthought. The physical attraction between Cameron and Tal’jen is what drives the story. And there seem to be a component of fated mates even if it’s not a term mentioned out loud. The mpreg bit, I’m not sure how I feel about that. And how would that work physiology-wise? The back-door also going up to a uterus? That sounds like the beginning of a severe uterine infection if you ask me. But what’s the saying, everything is allowed in love and fiction, right?

I had a bit of trouble keeping the different miner and scientist characters apart. They were all introduced in quick succession with only cursory features. I’d say that’s my main objection to the story. But I get it, Moray was probably eager to write about the good stuff and didn’t want to spend time on side-characters that weren’t directly involved in the alien humping. I mean. A ribbed dick. I wouldn’t spend time on trivial details in a story like that either. And. Since this is the first in the new Omega Colony series, I’m guessing that all those side-kicks will be properly introduced in their own books, where they get their very own alien.

In conclusion, this was great, filthy entertainment. Surprising, but kind of awesome. Because who knew that aliens could be so hot. I’m really thankful they were humanoid though. I don’t think I could’ve stomached something with tentacles.

29. December 2019 by swedishgirl
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The Walshes by Kate Canterbary

I’ve mostly been re-reading old favourites this holiday. There’s something so very comforting about snuggling up in the couch with a blanket and re-acquaint oneself with familiar characters in guaranteed HEAs. Especially during christmas.

So, since I haven’t read anything new in a few weeks, I’ll just recommend one of my favorite re-reads instead. The smut-factor of this series is high – which is basically a must for a re-read if you ask me – and the smut-quality is superb. World-building and character development are outstanding and there’s guaranteed laughter and tears both.

The series about The Walshes by Kate Canterbary is a collection of eight books, each focusing on one of six Walsh siblings. Despite them all dealing with the trauma of growing up with an abusive parent, five of them run a successful architectural firm in Boston where the series is set. Each installment follows one of the siblings finding their special someone, or the beginning of that story since there are more books than Walshes.

Underneath it all is the first one and it’s an absolutely scorching story about Matthew (Matt) Walsh and Lauren Halstead. The next is The Space Between about the very grumpy and bossy Patrick Walsh meeting his match in intern Andy Asani. The series continues with Neccessary Restorations, The Cornerstone, Restored, The Spire, Preservation and finally Thresholds. I actually started with these out of order and began with no. 4, The Cornerstone, which is the absolutely awesome, heart-wrenching and heart-warming story of Shannon Walsh finding love with her Will. I wouldn’t recommend reading these books out of order, but they are all stand-alones with HEAs – except for Sam Walsh’s story because he needed two books (Neccessary Restorations and Restored). And Thresholds which is more of an ultimate epilogue for us die-hard Walsh fans who don’t want to let go of the Walsh universe.

Anyway. I won’t do blurbs for eight books, instead I’ll try to convey the awesomeness of this series in more general terms.

Beacuse these books are truly awesome. Smutty, witty and super funny romance with lots of serious undertones. They’re the perfect balance between light and dark. They describe damaged and flawed characters, survivors, who while battling their own demons and insecurities still manages to trust and love. It’s beautiful. And what makes these stories really stand out is that despite the dark, they’re hilarious. The wit and humour is outstanding and basically what makes the characters so damn lovable. I can’t comprehend where Canterbary comes up with all her material, but she is funny AF! And when adding lots of seriously hot sexytimes, they’re basically the ultimate contemporary romance.

Just read them will you. Or listen. The audiobooks are also great. You won’t regret it.

25. December 2019 by swedishgirl
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Cover Reveal for Heartland by Sarina Bowen!

18. December 2019 by swedishgirl
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The Sumage Solution by G.L. Carriger (Gail Carriger)

The Sumage Solution, the first installment in The San Andreas Shifter series, is a funny and very quirky – and as Carrigery as can be – romance. It features all kinds of shifters, Mages and also some very explicit M/M shenanigans. It’s simply delightful.

The story is about Max, a failed Mage, who is a miserably unhappy and paper-pushing civil servant, and it’s about Bryan, the Beta of a Wolf pack that wants to settle down in San Fransisco, far away from their old Pack. When Max and Bryan meet there’s an instant attraction. Despite Bryan being a werewolf, and Max knows they’re nothing but trouble. And despite the fact that Sumages should be utterly incompatible with wolfs. And despite that Bryan haven’t even come out to his Pack yet. Despite all that, there seem to be more than simple physical attraction and they’re both falling fast. Too fast. Max is too damaged to let someone in completely and Bryan’s Pack members won’t accept a mouthy Sumage as their Beta’s boyfriend.

To enjoy this read, open-mindedness is a requisite. There are shifters and gays all over the place. There’s sexual innuendo to the max (often expressed by Max in fact) and lots of nudity. If plenty of dicks and serious tongue action isn’t your thing, I recommend you move along.

But for the rest of us, this is a wonderful, fast-pacing och so funny story. Exactly what I expect from Carriger. She has world-building down to an art and always manages to surprise and delight me with her humour and wit. As anyone who’s familiar with Carriger’s work knows, her books are truly dry humour heaven. That’s true for The Sumage Solution as well.

If I didn’t know any better, I would have sworn Carriger was British.

It’s a fast-pacing story, but the character development is still brilliant. Both Max and Bryan grow as individuals (alright, it’s mostly Max since he had some catching up to do) and as a couple. And there are so many lovely characters that I’d like to get to know better. The way Carriger is able to cram so many interesting, quirky and thought-provoking individuals in one story is a true testament to her talent.

You don’t have to have read any other of Carriger’s books before The Sumage Solution, but I did enjoy the fact that it appears to take place in the same world as her steampunk “historical” series; the Parasol Protectorate, the Custard Protocol and the Finishing School series. Only now it’s modern time. In The Sumage Solution, there are several references to historical events which actually sheds new light on happenings in those other series, which is a big plus in my book.

To be honest, I wasn’t really persuaded by the blurb. But since it was a Carriger book I got it anyway. And I’m so glad I did. I’ve already started in on the second installment, The Omega Objection, and I will get the third one as well when it (hopefully) comes out next year. This is an awesome read – for those so inclined. I strongly recommend it!

15. December 2019 by swedishgirl
Categories: Delicious smut, Entertaining, Great, M/M, Romance | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Sumage Solution by G.L. Carriger (Gail Carriger)

Christmas in the City by L.J. Shen and many many more

Christmas in the City is a total gem. It’s a Christmas (duh) themed anthology featuring the best authors, and is guaranteed to put a goofy smile on your face. It’s a total of six stories, co-written by twelve authors, including L.J. Shen, Helena Hunting, Penelope Ward, Penny Reid, Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy.

If you’re anything like me and don’t have nearly enough time for reading now that the holiday season is here, then you’ll appreciate this anthology for sure. Usually I prefer full-length novels, but during December especially, there’s never enough time to really immerse myself, and then bite-sized is the shit.

Christmas in the City is a super cute, sexy and altogether fuzzy collection of love stories that is bound to make you all warm inside. Personally, I was most excited to get re-acquainted with Jamie and Wes from Him and Us by Bowen and Kennedy, but every single one of the stories was perfect in its own way.

There’s a story of an encounter in Paris entailing a shoe full och dog piss and a missed tip, but that ends with epic sex and true love.

Then there’s the story with the christmas tree stuck in the door and where a sexy neighbour being neighbourly leads to so much more.

There’s the queen and the bodyguard, a story that is both sizzling and romantic.

The two strangers in Dublin, meeting on christmas eve.

The unexpected, but not unwelcome, consequences of kissing a stranger in a coffee shop on a dare.

And Wesmie of course. Oh my lordt, the feels!

So, basically, Christmas in the City is great for a quick fix of the feel-goods. In other words, perfect for this time of year. Read it!

07. December 2019 by swedishgirl
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Headstrong Like Us by Krista and Becca Ritchie

Headstrong Like Us is the 6th installment in the Like Us series and continues Maximoff’s and Farrow’s story. And if you’re like me and have read the first five books in the series, you’re already hooked and will love this one as well.

I adore this series. And I love Maximoff and Farrow. The world that the Ritchies have created in the Like Us universe is completely captivating. I just can’t get enough of all the intriguing characters of the Hale, Cobalt and Meadows families, or their bodyguards. Whenever there’s a new installment, I dive in and love every minute of it.

I can’t deny that Maximoff and Farrow – so far – is my favourite couple in the series. And continuing to read about them and the progression of their relationship is simply awesome. In a way, this book was almost like a really extended epilogue in that it’s a continuation that extends way after the initial ILUs. You get to follow them living in a solid relationship. It’s beautiful, sappy and wonderful.

So, trying to be somewhat objective in my review of this book is hard, but I’ll try.

As all of the previous books, Headstrong Like Us is written alternating between Maximoff’s and Farrow’s respective viewpoints. And I really like the dynamics between the two. They’re so obviously and helplessly in love with each other, but they express it in other ways than sentimental, flowery declarations. It’s depicted in such an understated, typically guy-way that is absolutely perfect. There couldn’t be a more suitable writing style to describe Maximoff’s and Farrow’s love story.

However, there is also a tendency to skip, or gloss over, significant incidents. At least incidents that I, as a reader, find important. Like Maximoff getting hurt, or conflicts that are resolved but without any details being provided. It’s a bit frustrating and annoying. Because really, it’s those juicy parts that keep the story interesting, and I felt a bit cheated on information on more than one occasion.

And also, I did have trouble with the baby.

Sure. It’s a big step to become guardians to a baby and you might say that it takes away some of the focus from the Marrow relationship. But most of all, it’s so bloody unrealistically described. It’s too picture perfect. Ripley, despite constant wailing is apparently the easiest baby in the world, having no effect on Maximoff’s and Farrow’s relationship. Which is bullshit. Because a baby up-ends everything. Mostly in a good way, but still. Sleepless nights, having another human being glued to you 24-7, vomit, pee and poop, incessant colicky screaming. The sleepless nights. And oh, yes, the sleepless nights. But in Headstrong Like Us, little baby Ripley is portrayed, not like an actual baby, but like a cute accessory. Something to be brought along anywhere or handed off when inconvenient. I can only surmise that the Ritchies don’t have kids themselves and haven’t met many parents with infants.

Still, despite these things, Headstrong Like Us is a great read. I particularly admire Farrow’s hair quality. His hair must be as strong as steel, the hardcore way he alternates between colouring and bleaching it without it dissolving into dust is enviable.

28. November 2019 by swedishgirl
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The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

The Bromance Book Club is an adorable romance. It’s sweet, funny and gave me all the feels. It’s a guaranteed favourite for everyone who enjoys romance, and it’s the first in a new series I imagine will become immensely popular.

The story is about professional baseball player Gavin and his wife Thea. After finding out that Thea has been faking her O’s their entire marriage, Gavin’s self esteem takes a huge hit. Instead of trying to resolve anything, he cuts her off. When she later wants a divorce he’s crushed. She’s the love of his life and he’ll do anything to win her back. The help comes in an unexpected form; a romance book club for men. A bunch of macho guys reading feminist smut to try to understand their wifes and girlfriends better.

The Bromance Book Club is super funny. The description of the manly-men discussing the female perspective and feelings in general is hilarious. But there’s also a serious undertone, because the lack of understanding the Bromance guys start out with feels painfully realistic.

The main characters are wonderful and so endearing. The story is written as alternating between the viewpoints of either Gavin or Thea. And their rocky journey finding their way back to each other is everything you could possibly want from a romance. I highly recommend this read.

Personally, I wouldn’t have minded a bit more of the naughty. But since The Bromance Book Club is more of a romance than anything else, it’s all good. Just know that the amount of smut is limited.

But in short, this is a great read. It’s so warm and sweet without being over the top sugary. And there’s a perfect balance between the humour and the feels. Even though it’s a story about saving a marriage, it’s absolutely a low-angst story and will leave you feeling happy and satisfied. In an entirely asexual kind of way.

24. November 2019 by swedishgirl
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