Wrong Way Home by K.A. Merikan

Wrong Way Home by Kat and Agnes Merikan is a dark M/M romance. It’s a pretty twisted tale of murder, attraction, anger and trust. It’s about a man falling for his captor and about difficult choices. It’s also – despite the wrongness of the plot-line – so very, very captivating.

When reading so called dark romances, I’m usually vacillating between some kind of strange fascination and slight nausea, with quick stops at all kinds of emotions in between. But Wrong Way Home definitely kept me securely at the fascinated end of the spectrum. It even turned quite sweet and romantic now and again, so obviously it’s a vanilla dark romance, which suits me just fine.

This is the story about Colin, a young pre-med student, who decides to take a detour on his way home from class. On a remote forest road he becomes the accidental witness of a murder and ends up being taken captive by the murderer. Taron, the big, broody beefcake of a killer, is prepared for anything – or so he thinks. Content to keep to himself at his remote homestead, he never planned on sharing his space with anyone, least of all a captive. But owning the sexy Colin is definitely something he can get used to.

Yeah. This was a sizzling hot read. It’s all very twisted, I know. But despite the fact that Colin is held prisoner by Taron, every physical encounter is entirely consensual. Which without a doubt contributes a lot in relieving the heavy.
Well sure, the read starts with Taron chopping a mans face off with an axe. It’s gross. But it’s not only Colin who is persuaded to look past that, the Merikans manages to make the reader look past that too. That’s pretty talented.

I was entirely sucked into this story. The changes in perception of circumstances and the general view of the world that Colin goes through is utterly fascinating. It’s also quite thought provoking. And even though the story is pretty extreme, I can absolutely see the allure of the simpler, less stressful, life that Colin and Taron chooses in the end.

I won’t lie, the sexy-times in Wrong Way Home contributed quite a lot in making this an awesome story. Simply put, it’s top notch smut. And I love me some great smut. But in the context of this story, the shagging is so much more than just hot dick-action. The dynamics between captive and captor, Colin’s contradictory feelings, it all adds to the complexity and depth of the story. In other words, it’s truly a great read.

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29. February 2020 by swedishgirl
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Rough Sketch by Kate Canterbary

Rough Sketch by Kate Canterbary was a bit of a surprise. Mostly because I hadn’t realized it was only a novella. It’s a very intense and raunchy story taking place in Canterbary’s Talbot’s Cove universe. It’s very high on the smut-scale (love it!) but it also has a surprisingly serious and contemplative undertone.

The story describes the first few days of Neera’s and Gus’ passionate relationship. Neera was first introduced in Fresh Catch while Gus is new to the series. Gus is an artist, a free spirit and a wanderer. Neera – an ambitious and highly disciplined executive – is Gus’ opposite in every way. They irritate and frustrate each other to no end, but they’re also intensely attracted to one another. And when they give in to their desires, it’s quite frankly incendiary.

I would say that Rough Sketch differs quite a lot from Canterbary’s previous work. It’s a love story sure, but there’s a whole different feel to the writing than her usual full length romances.

First, the story progresses very fast to some very naughty, semi-public, naked acrobatics. Which is awesome, naturally. It may be that I’m a bit of an inexperienced short-story reader, because I was a bit taken aback by the pace and how they jumped right in.

Then, there’s the tone of the writing. The story is told through dual POVs and mainly through the inner monologue of either Neera or Gus. It’s introspective in the extreme. Which isn’t a bad thing at all, but it also makes the story way more earnest and less of light, fluffy entertainment. It’s actually so very full of weighty and significant contemplation that I feel that I should have read Rough Sketch way, waaaaay slower than I did to really savor the wording and reflect upon the content.

In other words. Not what I expected from Canterbary. But that being said, it’s still so, so good! As short stories goes, this is da bomb! Yes, there is more food for thought but if you can get behind that, you’ll love Rough Sketch.

The thing I miss though, the thing that I’ve always seen as Canterbary’s trademark, is her humour. Her books are usually hilarious. And sure, the splooge sock was priceless, but apart from that Rough Sketch isn’t that kind of story. But it’s still a great read well worth your time.

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26. February 2020 by swedishgirl
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That Alien Feeling by Alessandra Hazard

That Alien Feeling is a bit of a whimsical story. Whimsical but at the same time tremendously endearing and thoroughly entertaining. I also became – very unexpectedly I might add – quite emotional when the forces working against the two MCs just wouldn’t let up. And yes, there were a few tears.

The main character of the book is a young guy named Harry. Harry is utterly blind to social cues, lacking all fashion sense, naive to a fault and working in a coffee shop in London. Also, he’s an alien prince from the planet of Calluvia. Which certainly explains a lot of his weird behaviour. Anyway. Harry was sent to earth by his parents as a punishment. Not that Harry is the least bit remorseful though because he adores earth and humans.

Enter Adam. A very hot human coming to get his daily caffeine fix. Sparks fly, etcetera. But Harry can’t actually feel sexual attraction due to a psychic bond linking him to his betrothed – his bondmate, chosen by his parents – who is also an alien. So despite very intense feelings, Harry doesn’t really understand what is growing between him and Adam.

But Harry isn’t allowed to stay on earth. And a romantic relationship with a barbaric human would never be accepted by any of Harry’s fellow Calluvians. He is forced to return to his home planet without knowing if he’ll ever be able to get back to Adam. Only it’s not only Harry’s heart on the line, it turns out his very life might be in danger.

So you see, the plot is a bit silly. But it’s all in good fun and Hazard manages to turn this whimsy into an absolutely charming story.

However, the first few chapters were a bit painful to get through. Not because of the alien thing. Not because Harry’s a telepath and prince to boot. Not even because of his clueless weirdness and odd behaviour, by human standards that is. No, it was painful because of the entirely implausible way Adam reacts to Harry’s extreme strangeness. Almost instantly, Adam is totally infatuated with Harry and finds all his outrageous behaviour, all his evasive responses when asked about himself, to be completely adorable. Adam falls hard and fast and it’s just too much.

Still, after that awkward beginning, the story goes on and it’s frankly awesome, if you’re not expecting something deep and Nobel prize-y that is. It’s cute and altogether yummy. It’s a fairy tale with some X-rated sections. It’s a feel-good story with a roller-coaster middle for grown-ups who enjoy reading about against-the-odds love and male naked bits getting in close contact with other male naked bits.

There isn’t much of world-building or even character development going on, but that’s just fine. That’s not what the book is about. It’s all about the angst-y love. Lovers forced apart. Insecurities and hope. I would have loved if there had been more clashes between human and alien society (sci-fi fan here!), but the story didn’t need any of that. It’s still utterly delightful. And it had me craving more too. That Alien Feeling is the first book in the Calluvia’s Royalty series, and in the second installment – That Irresistible Poison – you get to follow Harry’s best friend and Harry’s brother. Which I’ve already started in on. So obviously, this read is well worth your time!

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20. February 2020 by swedishgirl
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The Wolf at the Door by Charlie Adhara

The Wolf at the Door by Charlie Adhara isn’t really one of my typical reads. But it’s an absolutely wonderful mix of several of my favourite genres, and it’s a positively amazing book. It’s an M/M, wolf shifter, romantic suspense story. That’s quite a mouthful, but it’s so, so good.

The Wolf at the Door isn’t new either, it’s the first in the Big Bad Wolf series that so far has three installments but more are coming. Which is a good thing because I’m totally hooked.

Agent Cooper Dayton works for the BSI, the special branch of FBI that handles crimes involving werewolfs. While Cooper is still recuperating after a vicious werewolf attack, his superiors thinks it’s a great idea to saddle him with a new partner – Agent Park. And Park just so happens to be a werewolf. A sexy AF werewolf. The two men have to work together to solve a series of mysterious deaths where all the evidence points to a wolf killer. Cooper doesn’t know if he can trust his new partner, but that doesn’t stop him from being all sorts of attracted to him. An attraction that is very much reciprocated.

Right, so. I can obviously enjoy a fine suspense novel, but if there’s no love and shenanigans interwoven into the suspense-y storyline, I’ll get bored. I’m all about the love. But this read has it all. Two partners attracted to each other but unsure of the other one’s feelings. People that can turn into wolfs and are impossibly strong and fit (yum). Naughty, delicious raunchiness. And all is mixed in with the overall plot of finding a clawed killer. Obviously I was engrossed from the very beginning.

I would have liked to see more of Park’s wolf characteristics. Sure, he’s super fit and built, and he has a very good sense of smell. But it sure would have been nice to get to see him in action, so to speak. There was a noticeable lack of sweaty, bare-chested show-downs. Which is a bit of a shame if you ask me.

Also, the entire story is told from the viewpoint of Cooper. So the read keeps you guessing a lot concerning Park and wolfs in general. I suppose that’s part of the allure though, and there are two more books already where hopefully more will be revealed. I truly hope the next book – The Wolf at Bay – has dual POVs. I’d just love to get into Park’s head.

The Wolf at the Door is a great, great read. And I adored Adhara’s writing. It’s really funny how you can just immediately tell sometimes, whether the author is a man or a woman. In Cooper’s musings when he tries to connect all the dots in the case, he compares it to trying to make a bed with a too-small sheet. That was probably the best analogy I’ve read in a long time. It’s also – in my mind – not a comparison a male author would have made.

I really loved this book. But I can’t write this review without going on a bit of a tangent here. I don’t read suspense that often but The Wolf at the Door got me thinking of one of the few I have read, namely Gregory Ashe’s series about Hazard and Somerset. That series is …. amazeballs. A work of art. And Gregory Ashe is simply brilliant. So if you’re craving some exceptional suspense with a pair of gay detectives who are also involved with each other, this is the series for you. There aren’t any werewolfs though.

That was a weird review. I started writing about one book and ended with recommending a completely different series. Well, we can’t have that. The Wolf at the Door is a truly great read and I’ve already bought the sequel. So if you can’t decide where to start, you should go for both Adhara’s and Ashe’s books. They will not disappoint!

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17. February 2020 by swedishgirl
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A Pizza My Heart by Teagan Hunter

A Pizza My Heart isn’t a new release, but it is an absolutely fabulous, feel-good romance. And what better way of supporting a great author than to spread the word?

This is more or less the perfect rom-com. It has all the feels, it’s sexy, it’s funny and left me perfectly satisfied. The main characters, Wren and Foster, grew up together. When Foster left town, Wren was devastated to loose him. Now, four years later, he’s back after an ugly divorce and he’s determined to make Wren see him as more than a friend. By any means possible. Even if he has to make her agree to fake date him allegedly to help him step up his dating game after the divorce.

I loved this book. There’s so much sexual tension it sizzles, and the entire read is hilarious. I laughed out loud several times. I can honestly say I’ve never highlighted so many paragraphs in any other book as I did in this one. Both Wren and Foster are practically insta-likable and snarky in the very best way. They’re far from perfect, but so, so perfect together. *sigh*

The first few pages though, had me a bit confused. Reading about Wren’s and her best friend Drew’s antics at work had me thinking they were about 15 years old. And I had not signed up to read a high school romance. Luckily, that was not the case, and after getting past that first hurdle, I sort of inhaled the rest of the story in one sitting.

There’s much to love about this read. But one of the most memorable is really Wren’s honest thoughts on spunk. As every reader of love-stories knows, there’s always lots of swallowing going on. And fictional jizz apparently tastes great. Wren, however, doesn’t suffer from this gross (!) misconception, and I adore Hunter for that!

I loved both Wren and Foster. Their banter and their insane chemistry. But in all honesty, Wren was also a bit obtuse. Foster confessed his feelings for her over and over. And each single time, Wren was awestruck. She went from being surprised, then becoming all warm and fuzzy because she felt the same way, and finally forgetting about it all and going back to thinking it’s all fake. Despite that there are some pretty hot and heavy petting going on in between all the confessions. I guess that’s the one thing about this read I had trouble looking past. That same scenario repeated itself a few too many times. I’m guessing the intent was to convey Wren’s insecurity and fear of Foster leaving her again, but Hunter missed the mark there just a bit. Fortunately, everything is forgiven and then some since Wren is so bloody spunky! 😉

But when all is said and done, A Pizza My Heart is an awesome romance (despite Wren being a bit daft). And Hunter is clearly a fantastic storyteller. The altogether warm feelings I had while reading this book is a testament to that. This is the kind of story that will put a smile on your face and a warm feeling in your chest. A great story for all romance lovers.

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13. February 2020 by swedishgirl
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Worship by Ella James

Worship blew me away. There is no other way of describing it. The story sucked me in and now I can’t get it out of my head.

This is another M/M read. Yes, I’m totally hooked on the gay. So sue me.

Anyway. The two main characters, Vance and Luke, meet through rather unusal circumstances. In fact, Vance is stranded on a Caribbean island and gets rescued by Luke. Sort of. And yes, that sounds pretty unlikely and silly, but once I got past that itty, bitty, corny detail the story is anything but. The official blurb is pretty vague, and I don’t want to reveal too much of the storyline. But lets just say that Luke is famous. Really famous. And if word got out that he likes men, he’d loose everything he’s ever worked for. But that chance meeting between Vance and Luke sparks something. Something that will torment, wreck and burn them both for years.

I was quite overwhelmed reading about Vance and Luke. It’s such an emotional story, even though the writing is understated and the dialogue too. It’s a painful description of two utterly different men fighting their desires and wants because of societal pressure. It’s sad and tragic, but also incredibly steamy and beautiful. I’m frankly in awe of James’ writing.

The story span years. And the pace changes accordingly. During that time, the way the characters evolve is pretty heartwrenching. When in the beginning there are glimmers of hope, they both harden in different ways. One of them unable to accept their impossible circumstances, the other resigned in forsaking what his heart wants. The emotional ups and downs are quite draining, but so, so worth it.

There are very few side-characters in Worship. And no side-stories either. But it doesn’t matter one bit. The total focus on Vance and Luke, separately and together, and their inner turmoil, is more than enough to make this read a solid 5-star.

But a word of warning, there’s a cliff-hanger. Or rather. It’s a duet. I can’t say I’m happy about that, since Worship is rather short (or maybe I just devoured it so fast that it seemed short?) so splitting the story in two doesn’t make sense. That being said, I still can’t be irritated, the story’s that good. And what’s even more, I can’t see how there ever could be a HEA. And I. Don’t. Even. Care. That’s the level of awesomeness we’re talking about.

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09. February 2020 by swedishgirl
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Bet on Me by Saxon James

Bet on Me is the newest release from Saxon James, an M/M author who is completely new to me. I’d label the story as a sweet, gay romance with a hint of suspense. And all in all, it was a great read.

But I must admit, I chose this read because of the hunk of a man on the cover. I mean, look at those pecs and shoulders! Sure, the level of drool-worthiness of the cover model might be a somewhat subpar way of choosing my reading. But luckily it worked out this time since Bet on Me was pretty awesome.

The story’s main characters are Taryn, a professional fotball player, and Elliot who’s working as a bookie. When they meet for the first time, the attraction is instant. But Taryn is deep in the closet and Elliot who’s out and proud only does one-night stands. However, their chemistry can’t be denied and they try for something casual. Despite the fact that Elliot’s illegal job might ruin Taryn’s career. And then, when the two are starting to get serious, Elliot discovers something that not only affects Taryn’s Team but also puts Elliot in severe danger.

I really liked this story. I don’t know what it is about hot, gay athletes meeting the love of their life which eventually leads to them coming out that I find so captivating. But in my book, that trope never gets old.

Taryn and Elliot are very different characters, but it works. Taryn is the sweetest guy looking for someone to share his life with while Elliot tries to keep their relationship strictly physical so as not to get hurt. It’s beautifully described how these very different men grow to love each other.

There’s two very distinct parts in this story. The first half of the book is a slow-paced description of a tentative relationship growing more serious. In the second part, the story picks up pace when Elliot’s illegal bookmaking gets him in serious trouble. The turn the story took when that happened had me literally gasping in shock, so that was great writing by James. However, the final resolution of it all was perhaps a little too simple. An easy out that left me a bit unsatisfied as a reader. Also, Elliot’s healing capabilities felt a bit magical which I’m sure wasn’t the intent.

There aren’t that many side-characters in Bet on Me, but the ones who are there I would have loved to read more about. Elliot’s bestie Rainer will get his own book, Good Times and Tan Lines, but I’d much rather read about Taryn’s friend Zane. Hopefully he’ll be up next after that.

The smut-factor of Bet on Me is pretty average for an M/M read. There are some hot nudy scenes, but nothing to get too worked up about. The story is more of a romance in that aspect. But don’t let that discourage you 😉 this is still a great story for all man-lovers.

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06. February 2020 by swedishgirl
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Love According to Science by Claire Kingsley

Love According to Science – Claire Kinglsley’s latest release – is a truly delightful read.

It’s the story of two nerdy psychology researchers who starts out as rivals but ends up as so much more. Hazel Keigen is a brilliant scientist, smart as a whip and beautiful to boot. When Hazel’s department hires Corban Nash though, Hazel can’t exactly keep up a professional facade. Corban’s research is entirely too un-scientific and his findings completely unsubstantiated. At least according to Hazel. Then Hazel and Corban are forced to work together on a research project. But their professional disagreements and heated discussions provokes way too many contradictory feelings in Hazel. Some of them very inappropriate for work.

Love According to Science has everything you could possibly want in a romance. First, the enemies to lovers trope is always a winner. Then there’s the awesome, heartwarming relationships between Hazel and her girlfriends. There’s hot and super steamy nooky. And of course the requisite misunderstandnings and dramatics that makes a good lovestory truly great. Add to that some emotional side-stories and this read is the best.

I must admit though, that I had a bit of a hard time getting into the story. To me, the characters weren’t exactly instantly likable and especially Hazel was difficult to relate to. She was depicted as the ultimate prude, stuck-up, know-it-all with all the stereotypic characteristics of a scientist, right down to her glasses and her tendency to express herself as a scientific paper. And I perceived Corban as a rather immature and definitely asexual individual. But as the story unfolded I got more and more engaged. And, oh boy, was I invested in both of them! Once I got past the stick up Hazel’s ass and Corban’s childish games, I loved this read. Loved it! I couldn’t put my Kindle down and read way too late into the night. There were some tears and many heart-wrenching moments. With the best end imaginable.

Love According to Science is the third stand-alone about the women of the Dirty Martini Running Club series. But if you ask me, this is the absolute best of them. It was simply a pleasure to read it and I recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a feel-good romance.

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02. February 2020 by swedishgirl
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The Spiral Down by Aly Martinez

The Spiral Down isn’t new by any means, but it was recommended to me and it definitely deserves a review. So here we are.

Full disclosure though, I didn’t actually read this one, I listened to the audiobook. Also, I was delirious with fever parts of it, so that may have affected my perception of the story.

The Spiral Down is a very, very sweet M/M romance well worth reading/listening to. It’s an altogether feel-good story of two damaged men learning to trust and love again. It also has that super important component of humor which lifts it from severely angst-y to fun, sweet and entertaining but with severe undertones. Which is exactly my speed.

The main characters appears to be polar opposites. Henry Alexander is a music superstar, openly gay and cripplingly afraid to fly. Evan Roth is the pilot who loves the sky and who has sworn off ever dating a man again. When Evan is forced to stand in for Henry’s regular pilot, something sparks between the two. Which is the start of a complicated relationship going from boss and employee to maybe friendly to more. Henry loves the chase, but Evan has no intention of ever getting caught. Not for real anyway.

I’d say that the smut-factor of this story is a bit below average. And that’s somewhat of an achievement considering the attraction between Henry and Evan, and their meetings, are the sole focus of the story. The book revolves completely around their hook-ups and strangely secluded interactions. Meaning there is very little world-building going on. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing though, and Martinez totally gets away with it, but still. With a bit more inspired sexytimes and some expansion on the side-plots that are mostly just hinted at, this story could have been awesome!

But either way, I truly enjoyed this story. And the narrators Teddy Hamilton and Aiden Snow did a terrific job of bringing it to life. However, I must bitch a little about a certain aspect of the book that had me quite annoyed. You know how they say that feelings can never be wrong and you have the right to your feelings? Well, that may be true, but when those feelings manifest in utterly stupid ways, I’d say I do have the right to be irritated at least. Both Evan and Henry carries emotional baggage. I get that. It wouldn’t be an interesting story otherwise. But – spoiler alert! – when that baggage makes Evan act like a selfish jerk in bed, it’s not the best of times being a reader. Or when Henry’s insecurities has him freaking out over Evan not being straight. That’s silly AF! So. That lowered my overall enjoyment of the story.

But when all is said and done, this is a beautiful story by a talented author. Perfect when you’re looking for a light romance and some pick-me-up.

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24. January 2020 by swedishgirl
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Grim, by M.K. Eidem

Grim is a paranormal romance involving aliens. Really big ones with muscles all over the place and, you know, big… bodyparts. It’s a lovestory between a human woman and a super intimidating alien, Grim – who of course is a big teddy bear at heart – in a kind of X-rated fairytale.

It’s about Lisa, a widowed mother of two, who gets abducted by aliens since the alien people – the Tornians – are on the verge of extinction due to lack of females. So yeah, human women are kidnapped to be used as breeding stock. Luckily, the Tornians are not only genetically compatible with humans, but they’re also very hunky. Colorful as well, but mainly they’re very, very well built. All over. Which is damn lucky. A lovestory between a human woman and a tiny little creature with a miniscule weiner would be a tough sell.

Anyway. Lisa gets abducted, along with her two daughters. Since women are so rare, Lisa and her children are considered to be extremely valuable. Too valuable, according to other Tornian lords, for the unworthy Grim to keep. There’s political intrigue, cultural clashes (alien society, duh), misunderstandings (humans vs aliens, duh), some more kidnapping attempts, inter-species shagging and love of course.

It was truly an interesting read, that’s for sure. I vacillated between being thoroughly entertained to irritation over the never ending grammatical errors and then I was back to being all engrossed in the story again. The entire thing has a sort of naive quality to it, in that it’s very simple and black and white. The bad guys are super bad, the good ones are so honorable that all they’re missing are halos. The plot is easy to deduce and there’s very little nuance in general. But still, it’s a long story with obvious effort put into it. Even if the character and plot development both are a bit crudely executed, I still wanted to finish the story. I had to see it through to the end. So despite the storytelling leaving a lot of room for improvement, the story in itself was entertaining as all hell.

But I really struggled with the read for a while. Eidem mixed past and present tense in a completely insufferable way. Even switching tense in the same sentence. And the point of view jumped back and forth between characters in a way that it was sometimes hard to tell who’s POV it was. It made reading both hard and irritating. I think that was the most off-putting about Grim. I would definitely read more of Eidem’s books if I only knew they had been proof-read first. Sad but true.

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20. January 2020 by swedishgirl
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