Kneel Mr. President by Lauren Gallagher

This book was both more and less than I expected. I expected fun and playful, which is what the title, cover and blurb imply. That’s not what I got though. At all. I was prepared for a light-hearted, naughty read and not much else. And yes, I guess Kneel Mr. President could be called naughty. But it wasn’t even a smidge easy-going.

Synopsis: When the President of the United states – James – is about to buckle under the pressure of his office, his wife Carlene decides that the best way to settle James is to bring their head of security into their bedroom. Kent, an ex SEAL and James’ former lover agrees to Carlene’s proposition and all sorts of naked activities ensue. Angst, jealousy, orgasms, more angst and some blowjobs. The end.

I was impressed by the beginning. It was a surprisingly in-depth portrayal of the characters involved. They were three-dimensional and real in a way that was as refreshing as it was unexpected. James, Kent and Carlene all felt very authentic with distinct and complex personalities. Their ambivalence and their fears were perfectly described through the alternating POVs. They all truly had their own voice and mind. Carlene’s struggles to accept the changes in dynamics were especially captivating.

Basically, this read delivered more depth than I’d expected. And Gallagher did a great job in laying the ground-work and making the story-line as plausible as could possibly be expected from this particular trope.

But unfortunately, once the shenanigans finally started, it wasn’t particularly tickling. It was actually quite disappointing. I mean, the mechanics of it all might have been hot if there had been more affection and genuine emotion between the three. But instead there was always this tension from at least one of them. Jealousy that was simmering beneath the surface. And call me old fashioned, but I don’t think it’s hot when there’s such an obvious imbalance within a threesome.

In Kneel Mr President, James always had the emotional leverage in having two other people loving him. While both Carlene and Kent were at a disadvantage, Kent more so than Carlene because of him – obviously – being the outsider. And even though the story tried to portray some kind of growing affection between Kent and Carlene, I wasn’t convinced. So the second half of this book I was mostly uncomfortable and put off. I just can’t stomach a threesome with that kind of inequality.

Yes, there’s a happy ending. Not a HEA though, more of a happy for now. That wasn’t quite enough for me though. The ending felt forced which maybe isn’t all that surprising. Inventing a happy ending for a threesome involving the US President surely sounds tricky.

So, for me, this book started with surprisingly impressive depth and ended with a disappointing and uneasy feeling in my gut. Not what I was hoping for when I selected this read.

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23. August 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: F/M, M/M, Romance | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Kneel Mr. President by Lauren Gallagher

Dark Edge of Honor (Doctrine Wars) by Alexandr Voinov and Rhi Etzweiler

This is an enemies-to-lovers story in the truest sense of the trope. Two soldiers, fighting for opposite sides, falling for each other despite their beginning being based on betrayal and deceit.

Dark Edge of Honor is awesome, but I’m also super conflicted about it. It’s such a typical guy’s book with all these elements that I should – and usually do – find mind-numbingly boring. And yet I didn’t. Granted, the two lovers both being men did help of course.

Synopsis: Sergei is a young Coalition officer who’s been sent to assisst in the invasion of the planet of Cirokko. Honorful and conscientious, he follows The Doctrine in everything – apart from him hiding a forbidden flaw. His defect. Mike is an undercover Alliance agent supporting the native resistance. As Mike is following Sergei and his superior, he discovers Sergei’s secret and is tasked to seduce him. But he didn’t expect to fall for his target. And when Sergei is put in charge of a military campaign going into enemy territory, Mike comes along even though he knows they’re heading into a trap.

This story is complex, captivating and excruciatingly slow-paced in equal measure. It has so much going for it but unfortunately there are also parts of the story that’s harder to swallow. No pun intended.

But first to the good stuff. The story has a fascinating Sci-Fi back-drop. Two major forces, the Coalition and the Alliance, representing the figurative East and West, but with the conflict transplanted into space. There’s so much potential in that world-building, and there are all these aspects of the universe and the two clashing principles, I was so eager to learn more I was practically salivating. The plot twists in this story were terrific. There were so many changes in direction of the story I didn’t ever get bored, only more engaged. And finally, of course, there are the two main characters. Both Mike and Sergei were of the onion variety. Many layers to peel back, and they kept growing on me the further into the story I got. I liked them both and I loved them together.

However, there were also quite a few things I had trouble with.

For one, in the beginning it was really hard to get into the story. There were just too much information presented too fast. There were so many new terms, names and places mentioned that there was no way of getting a grasp of them. Like the authors were trying to do an insta world-building because they just wanted to get on with the rest of the story. So it was confusing at first.

And later it was the other way around, I was frustrated at the lack of detail and superficial descriptions of the underlying conflict. This story could simply have been so much more than it was. I mean, there were these big-ass, sentient, flying lizards for fucks sake! Of course I’d want more details about them!

Dark Edge of Honor is entirely character-driven, despite there being a whole lot of action. The understated love affair between Sergei and Mike is what drives the story forward, while the many plot-twists keep working against them ever having a happily ever after. But despite that focus, surprisingly little of the story entailed Mike and Sergei actually being able to act on their feelings. It’s a bit of a contradiction that, a love story where the love interests are mostly kept apart.

In the end though, despite my objections, this is still a brilliant and intricate story that is well worth reading.

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21. August 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: 4-star, M/M, Romance, Sci-Fi | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Dark Edge of Honor (Doctrine Wars) by Alexandr Voinov and Rhi Etzweiler

Kiss My Cupcake by Helena Hunting

Wow. So this was a ridiculously cute story. And it was amazing! The downside is of course its terrible influence on my diet. All the delicious baked goods described in this read gave me a serious sweet tooth. All I wanted to do while reading was to eat cupcakes – and also, open up my own cupcake-shop.

Kiss My Cupcake is the very best if you’re looking for a cute, feel-good, rom-com. There’s absolutely nothing to gripe about – which makes writing a review pretty darn difficult. I can absolutely gush when the occasion calls for it, but it’s also kind of boring to read overly gush-y reviews. Therefore I’ll simply say this once: Kiss My Cupcake is super awesome.

Synopsis: Blaire, the heroine of the story, has worked her ass off to open up her own Cupcake shop. However, the owner of the bar next to her shop seems intent on ruining her efforts. Not only is his renovations rattling the walls of her shop, but he’s also trying to steal her thunder on the day of her grand opening. Also, that he’s like a ridiculously hot, tattooed lumberjack doesn’t help things either. But the barely civil competition between Blaire and Ronan the lumberjack evolves into something more. Maybe Ronan isn’t such an ass after all.

I fell head over heels in love with this book. The story-setting, the whole vibe of the story was just so delightful. You know, it’s the kind of read where you just want to move into the book and stay there. Blaire was insta-likable. She’s driven and strong, but silly and quirky too. Ronan was also great, but since the first chapters are told from Blaire’s point of view, Ronan takes a bit more time to get to know and love. So the story is told through dual POV’s, but about two thirds are Blaire’s viewpoint.

This is a funny read as well. There’s banter and wit and you can’t can’t laugh. Also, the euphemisms are pure gold. Now, I doubt I’ll ever actually say anything out loud about riding a metaphorical bologna pony, but you can bet I’ll be thinking it.

It’s not easy to pinpoint exactly what made this story such a winner because there are so many things that I liked about it. The writing is top-notch (but that pretty much goes without saying) and I was sucked into the story from page one. Blaire’s and Ronan’s interactions are just so fun. And frustrating. And the sexual tension is through the roof. They had me really invested and I couldn’t but the book down.

There was a part, maybe 75% into the book, where the story lost a bit of steam. That would be after Blaire and Ronan get it on and there doesn’t appear to be any more hurdles to overcome. So for a few chapters there weren’t really a direction to the story. But that changed quickly and I was all in once again.

And really. Kiss My Cupcake is the kind of story where I just wanted to keep on reading. I wanted Blaire’s and Ronan’s happily ever after and I wanted to read about them having a bunch of cute babies and a dog. That’s the level of engaging this book was.

So this book left me feeling all the warm fuzzies – while also providing me with completely inappropriate sayings about mounting metaphorical sausage equines. I highly recommend it!

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16. August 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: 5-star reads, F/M, Romance | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Kiss My Cupcake by Helena Hunting

Stray (Fennys Den College #1) by Crystel Greene

I read this the other day when I needed a quick fix of M/M, Alpha-Omega naughtiness. More specifically, Stray is a non-shifter, fake mate, alpha-omega, gay romance. And what’s even more, it’s in an mpreg universe even if that feature isn’t actually on-page.

M/M shifter stories are absolutely one of my guilty pleasures, but I find that the non-shifter variety with just the Alpha-Omega dynamics works just as well. And boy, did Stray work well!

Synopsis: At an all Were(wolf) College, Alphas and Omegas are – apparently very progressively – now allowed to attend the same classes. Aryn, an Alpha who needs a pretend mate, decides to approach an Omega he’s been attracted to since he started at Fennys Den. Trae, the Omega in question, isn’t impressed. Because even if he secretly has the hots for Aryn, he’s sick of alpha high-handedness and the Pack-Weres treatment of those without a pack. But Trae’s not about to turn down $1000 for only one night of acting. They can spend a night together without anything happening, right?

I wanted something short, which Stray most definitely was, but despite the compact story format, the characters weren’t only darn endearing and catching my interest, but they were also surprisingly well developed. Not only did I immediately like both Aryn and Trae, but Greene made me want to learn more. Both about them and the Fennys Den College world. There shouldn’t be any room for world-building in a 157-page read, and yet Greene managed it. That’s bloody impressive.

Now, it’s a really simple story line, and there’s no room for side stories. But the supporting characters still feels three-dimensional and there’s a hint about an underlying plot about murdered Were families. And it all just melded together to this yummy read that left me wanting more. Way more. Unfortunately there’s only two books published in the series so far (there’s a #1.5 too, but in my experience, point fivers are only ever like extended epilogues so they don’t count) and I can’t imagine that the second book will be enough to satisfy this new Fennys Den College craving I’ve got.

In summary, this is a great read if you need an M/M, Alpha-Omega quickie. I’m really impressed by Greene’s writing. She managed a perfectly balanced short story. Romance, sexual tension, character depth and a fresh new angle on a Were universe. If she’d ever decide to write full-length novels with a bit more flesh on them bones, I bet they’d be 5-stars.

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12. August 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: 4-star, Delicious smut, M/M, Paranormal, Romance | Tags: , , , , | 2 comments

Rocket Science (Love Logic #1) by K.M. Neuhold

Just to be clear. Rocket Science is fluff. But there’s nothing wrong with that. Especially when said fluff is entirely honest and out about its own fluffiness.

So, this was a 100% cute and feel-good story. I chose it as a comfort-read. I wanted sweet and simple, nerd+tattooed hunk, hot shenanigans and safe predictability. And Rocket Science hit the spot. Cute and sexy with a HEA.

Synopsis: The super smart and super awkward Elijah moves across the country to start a PhD program. Incidentally, that places him in the same city as his best friend’s brother – Pax – who’s been Elijah’s secret crush for years. When Pax is tasked by his brother to keep an eye on Elijah, Pax discovers that the awkward little kid he remembers is all grown up.

I liked this read. I liked the characters, even if they weren’t all that well developed. The story line was predictable AF which was exactly what I wanted.

But – and I never thought I’d say this – the book would have benefited from a little less sex and a little more story.

Now, I wasn’t expecting anything profound, I didn’t want substance. But the supporting characters were pretty great and I would have loved to read more about them and their interactions with Elijah and Pax. Instead, there was this total focus on the Pax-Elijah sex-bubble. Don’t get me wrong, I like to read about D just as much as the next girl. But it’s usually a win if the nooky is a natural part of the story line, instead of having a hump-fest sparingly sprinkled with story.

So because of that, it was a bit of an uneven read. I really enjoyed the beginning where Elijah and Pax circled around each other. All of the I-want-him-but-he’s-my-brother’s-best-friend angst from Pax and the He’s-so-hot-but-he’s-just-hanging-with-me-out-of-sympathy anxiety from Elijah. It was sweet. But then the sexing began, and granted, it was fun at first. But I got bored pretty fast because it just went on and on.

Finally though, the story started up once more, and I crushed on the book all over again. And, even with its ups and downs, my overall impression of this book is still that of a super sweet pick-me-up.

There’s no doubt that Neuhold is a great writer and talented storyteller. A nerd meeting a (in essence) jock is a somewhat silly and clichéd trope, but she still managed to entertain and engage. So if you’re looking for shallow, feel-good entertainment I definitely recommend Rocket Science. Despite the high shag percentage.

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11. August 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: 4-star, Delicious smut, Entertaining, M/M, Romance | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Rocket Science (Love Logic #1) by K.M. Neuhold

Breaking News (Prime Time #2) by Ella Frank

This was not the sequel to Inside Affair that I expected. Breaking News‘ disparity to its prequel was in fact rather striking.

Synopsis: This is writing describing Sean and Xander from Inside Affair. That’s it really.

It all started out alright with the aftermath of the dramatic events that concluded Inside Affair (which was a horrible cliff-hanger, just FYI). It was just enough of angst and worry, combined with the fact that Xander and Sean, who just started getting serious, still weren’t out as a couple to their family and friends.

The way Xander cared for Sean was cute and I thought it was a nice segue into them getting closer in a less strained way than during their forced proximity in the first installment. But apart from that, nothing much was happening. There was no story line.

Ella Frank is without a doubt a skilled writer, but storytelling-wise, her books are starting to resemble serials rather than series. And that’s such a shame. I get that a series with short installments will earn her a bigger check in the end, but it’s bloody insulting to her readers who are counting on full-length novels with actual plots and events forming a cohesive story.

The writing plodded along. I don’t think it’s correct calling it a story at this point. And Xander was having anxiety attacks because of the events in the first installment. The solution to that was apparently for Sean – who had recuperated enough now – to whisk him away for a sex-cation (or whatever you call a vacation with the one and only purpose of doing as much dicking-out as possible).

At this point I was bored out of my mind, still waiting for some kind of plot development. There was none.

Finally, in the last chapter, there was a bit of a commotion that I guess was meant to pique your interest for the sequel. But it involved a character who’s introduction had been rather superficial and generic, and I wasn’t particularly interested in what would come next. In other words, Breaking News ended in an unremarkable *meh*.

So no, I’m not impressed by this read. I won’t read the third and final installment and I probably won’t read anything more written by Frank either.

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08. August 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: M/M, Romance | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Breaking News (Prime Time #2) by Ella Frank

Hard Knox (Havenwood #3) by Riley Hart

This is a bi-awakening read that will melt your heart and and warm your insides. In a good way.

Up until previously I actually avoided books by Riley Hart. And now, I’m kicking myself over that fact. I mean, Hart’s books are always highly rated on vendor-sites and are recommended on all the book forums. But somehow, I had gotten it into my head that her stories were always sickly sweet, low-angst and without any drama. Which I equated to boring. I still don’t know if my preconceived idea of Hart’s books always being sweet, low-angst stories is true or not since Hard Knox was both of those things. But it was also anything but boring.

And I loved it. So, so, sooo much!

The entire read, I just had this happy, warm feeling in my chest. I don’t know how Hart managed it, but from page one it was like stepping into a feel-good universe inhabited by the most endearing characters. It was insta-love on my end.

Synopsis: After finding out his boyfriend is a serial-cheater, Callum moves away to the little town of Havenwood. There, on his first night in town, he meets a gorgeous guy – Knox – who’s like a lumberjack wet dream. Knox is also straight and a divorced father of two. But there’s an undeniable bond between them and they soon become friends. Callum is attracted to Knox, but treasures their growing friendship. However, Knox’s feelings evolves into something more. But does he dare act on his feelings? And how will his kids react to their father coming out as bisexual?

Both Callum and Knox charmed me from the start. Callum is outgoing and spunky but hides his insecurities and hurt. Knox has a heart of gold and would do anything for his kids. He’s also a man of few words who tries to get better at expressing his feelings. Callum and Knox is that unlikely pairing that is just perfect together. These two opposites found each other immediately, though in a platonic way at first. And I think that what made this read so utterly endearing was how naturally and comfortably they fitted together. They became friends first, and then that friendship evolved organically into more. It was lovely. Just beautiful writing.

I devoured this story. Despite the sweetness and lack of high-level trouble. Hard Knox captivated me. And I was so emotionally invested in Callum and Knox it’s not even funny. Just the very low-key drama of Knox’s daughter not accepting Callum in Knox’s life had me almost in tears.

So I can only say that I’m in awe of Hart’s writing and storytelling talent. This is the sweetest, most organic and convincing lovestory I’ve read in a long time. I can’t recommend it enough.

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03. August 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: 5-star reads, M/M, Sweet sweeter sweetest | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Hard Knox (Havenwood #3) by Riley Hart

Dire Warning (Blackwood Pack #1) by Mary Rundle

This is the second book in a row that I didn’t finish. So it’s safe to say that Dire Warning was a disappointment.

I was intrigued by the blurb, as the M/M, wolf-shifter fan that I am. But the writing was so poor I couldn’t make myself continue.

So, why review a bad read? Well, to warn off others of course. This book has a 4.2 star rating on Amazon, 4.5 stars on Bookbub and 3.9 on Goodreads. And that’s just not right.

The storyline as such was alright, the cover pic was fun and hot. But the writing was a total mess. And when I – someone with English as a second language and who has never lived in an English speaking country – am unable to concentrate on the story because of sucky language, then it’s truly bad.

First off, there are many super strange switch-up of words. Like two and too being mixed up. Or instead of someone staring, they’re starring.

Another thing that’s super annoying is the constant jumping between different point of views. The POV changes constantly, sometimes within the same paragraph. It’s practically impossible to know who’s POV it is at any given time.

Then there’s the awkward dialogue. Everyone is talking in the exact same way as the rest of the book is written. Meaning, they talk in very long and complete sentences all the time. Often with a bit of backstory thrown in. And it’s just… Nobody talks that way! It’s super silly.

Also, for some reason there’s some type of paragraph system that is entirely illogical. Every few sentences, there’s a new paragraph. Even in the middle of a sentence there could be a new paragraph. It’s ridiculous.

It’s obvious this book is in need of some serious editing. But even then I’m afraid that still wouldn’t be enough to save Dire Warning. Anyway, I give this book two stars. Because it could always be worse.

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31. July 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: Absolute crap, DNF - Did not finish, M/M, Shifter | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Dire Warning (Blackwood Pack #1) by Mary Rundle

Black Balled (Black Balle #1) by Andrea Smith & Eva LeNoir

I decided to give this book a try after it was highly recommended in one of my reader-groups. Usually, I stay clear of books featuring authors as a main character. In my experience, writers writing about a writer is more often than not an indication of one of three things; either the writer in question lacks in imagination, is a really poor writer or has an inflated ego. Sometimes, even all three applies.

As I started in on Black Balled, I thought the writing itself was pretty good. No worries on that account. However, one of the main characters, the reviewer called Babu, was such a despicable douchebag I couldn’t believe he was actually one of the love interests. I mean, it’s a classic technique to slowly reveal more information as a story progresses that explains previous actions, thus changing ones view of a character. And I like reads like that. Where the author is able to gradually change the readers perception of events or characters. But. I actually put Black Balled down after a bit because it left me feeling so uncomfortable. I didn’t know if I even wanted to continue the story.

That’s when I went and read the reviews on Goodreads.

Now, I didn’t just read one review and took that at face value, but I dug around a bit and concluded that I did believe what was being said. A summary of the turn of events can be read here.

But to sum things up, this is what happened: A book by Andrea Smith is reviewed by a reviewer calling himself Baba. Smith doesn’t like the review. A while later, Smith sends another book to Baba, but under a different pen name. Baba doesn’t like that either and says so. Smith goes ballistic. In the end, she writes Black Balled about an asshole reviewer named Babu who sets out to ruin an innocent – and talented – author’s career.

It sounds like the plot from a movie, right? But since it’s not, I just couldn’t make myself to finish Black Balled. I can’t imagine the workings of Smith’s mind, but it’s safe to say that my opinion of her isn’t favourable and I will definitely not read any more of her work.

Now, I absolutely understand that it can suck big time to put your heart and soul into a book and then, when you put it out there for the world to see, it gets criticized. It must be tough as hell. But first, you can’t expect everyone to like your work. Second, if you have such a fragile ego that you can’t handle (i.e. ignore) criticism, you have no business being a publishing author in the first place. And third, if you start stalking someone for criticizing your work, you should probably be commited. It’s so petty and childish it’s hard to find words.

But one thing I can’t fathom, though, is how Smith managed to convince Eva LeNoir to co-write this story. I hope that she was just unaware of the backstory. It would be sad to think there’s actually two such petty authors out there.

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30. July 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: Absolute crap, DNF - Did not finish | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Black Balled (Black Balle #1) by Andrea Smith & Eva LeNoir

Smash & Grab (Relic #1) by Maz Maddox

This is a cute and whimsical read. It’s lighthearted entertainment with a fresh angle on the shifter genre. And I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Blurb: There’s a nerdy paleontologist, Simon, who’s working on a fossil a certain cartel collector is set on stealing. When cartel goons are about to grab both Simon and the fossil, a guy with a bat and a pink mohawk shows up and saves both. While kicking some cartel ass. What started as a regular work day for Simon ends up with him setting out on a road trip across the country with a total stranger, albeit a good looking one. Dalton – Simon’s savior – is weird, charming and hot. And he can turn into a dinosaur.

This is a fun story and definitely my first dinosaur shifter read. It’s well-written, but the storyline would need some more work. Sure, the story isn’t meant to be plausible but, dinosaur shifters aside, it would have been nice if the rest of the plot had been slightly more believable.

As for the characters, both Simon and Dalton were endearing in their own way. Also, they couldn’t have been more dissimilar. Opposites may attract according to some, but I wasn’t actually convinced of their attraction to each other. I couldn’t feel the spark. And with Simon’s somewhat square personality, it grated how easily Dalton convinced Simon that a road trip to Dallas was the solution to his cartel-problem.

Smash & Grab is a short read. Really short. So despite the cuteness, despite the delightful whimsy, there’s no room for either character or plot development. The storyline’s straight as an arrow with no surprises. So as cute and fun that it is, Smash & Grab isn’t particularly memorable.

It’s perfect if you want a couple of hours of distraction and some laughs though.

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28. July 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: Entertaining, M/M, Shifter | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Smash & Grab (Relic #1) by Maz Maddox

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