Cops, Cakes, and Coffee (2014) by Sara York is a very good short read.
The book is the first in the author’s Love’s First Response series. It follows the romance of Drake Knowles and Adam Hughes. Drake is a cop and is hiding that he is gay from his colleagues. But when he meets coffee shop owner Adam, he begins to think there may possibly be a future for him outside the closet. But there is a lot of prejudice in the town and he is nervous of the response including the risk of violence.
This story has a lot packed into it. There is the gorgeous blossoming relationship between Drake and Adam and a deep message about homophobia when Grady is beaten up and Drake is beaten up when he steps in to defend Grady. Homophobia is also highlighted through the homophobic slurs and cruelty by characters such as Drake’s friend and colleague Dave. The author did not shy away from the homophobia still sadly present in our society and wrote it honestly without excuses and showed the pain and fear it causes people.
I loved the story but I would be lying if I said there wasn’t certain flaws in my opinion. While I believe you can fall very quickly, almost or fully instantly, for someone, I didn’t feel that Drake and Adam were in love at the start and it was put across that they were. I thought they liked each other but I thought the love between them came later in the book. Sometimes the dialogue felt contrived and things got wrapped up at times too quickly. Some expansion in some parts would have worked better.
However, the flaws didn’t outweigh the pros for me. I enjoyed the book. I found far more that I liked about it than I didn’t. The characters are great, there is a lot of backstory here which is hard to get into a short piece, important issues are highlighted and shown up in all their ugliness which will hopefully raise awareness. I think it was a great read with a lot of elements which are true to life varying from the good, the bad and the in-between.
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Pros & Cons of Vengeance (2018) by A.E. Wasp & May Archer is a wonderful, flawless book as far as I’m concerned.
The book follows the romance of Breck Pfeiffer and Steele Alvarez and the mission of a whole team of people to bring down the extremely evil Senator Harlan. Steele and a few others have blackmail hanging over their heads from a recently deceased man Charlie and another of those being blackmailed is Breck’s twin brother Ridge. Senator Harlan has recently beaten up Breck and his friend Danny who work as prostitutes and Breck and Danny are taken to the secret location to keep them safe. There love ensues between Breck and Steele. Together the team must come together to bring down Senator Harlan who has sexually abused young boys as well as being violent towards Breck and Danny and is also blackmailing many people. He is also a bigot of all sorts, a hypocrite and an all-round douchebag.
The main characters and the secondary characters in this book all have very distinct personalities from each other. It doesn’t matter that they are all involved in some illegal matters which have brought them to be in this position to take down the Senator because they all seem to have their hearts in the right place and would be cool to hang out with. My favourite was Breck. I absolutely loved him from start to finish. He was everything. And I have to give kudos to the authors on this because books don’t always portray characters like Breck in a fair way. I have a lot of Breck’s traits and the way characters like Breck are often portrayed is as childish and troublemaking and I loved how Breck was shown as having his strong, don’t think you can walk on me side and then his other softer side. He felt like a real person, a person who showed compassion to others but also to himself which is very important and something a lot of people are made feel guilty about. I loved him to pieces and I liked his humour too. I also loved Steele because he was so caring and kind too. I also was warmed by the fact that he liked the strong side of Breck which tells you a lot about someone. He obviously isn’t a controlling type and that is generally why people don’t like that strength of character in someone so seeing him actually loving that in Breck said a lot about him too and what kind of man he is.
I liked all the main and secondary characters but alongside Breck and Steele, I was very fond of Danny and Wes so when I caught onto the hints that they might actually get together I was super pleased. Danny and Wes have a personality similar to Breck but the only difference is they will say and cross boundaries with things they say that Breck doesn’t and my god, when they let loose with each other it’s fire. I’m pleased to see the next book has them as the main focus from the preview of book two in this series at the end. I think they work great together but it will be daggers at dawn for sure and I’m here with the popcorn ready for this!
The plot is great. The characters are great. Breck and Steele’s chemistry is great. Everything here in my opinion works amazingly well. Very much a page-turner for me, I couldn’t stop reading and I’m definitely going to continue with this series. I absolutely loved it. Wonderful writing.
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Laguna (2018) by Cate Ashwood is a short read set in California.
The story follows the romance of Beckett and Brody and is the prequel to Ashwood’s fourth Sawyer’s Ferry book. That is the reason why this story ends on a cliffhanger where we are unsure how, and if, their relationship will progress beyond their short holiday romance.
We meet Brody first in the book and he is spending the week in Laguna Beach but is originally from Sawyer’s Ferry in Alaska. He is dying for adventure and in the early part of the story it doesn’t look like he is going to have much of that but then a breakthrough finally comes and he begins to really enjoy himself. More than he could ever imagine! While accidentally trespassing on Beckett’s beach, he meets Beckett who after a brief awkward moment invites him up to his beach home and well, you don’t need a map to know what happens there!
Beckett is holding back a secret. He is a famous actor and is finding it hard to meet someone who wants him for him as opposed to his success. So when Brody doesn’t recognize him, it makes him feel at ease that Brody likes him for him which was sweet.
I like both characters but my favourite was Brody. I liked his personality, his inner thoughts were very real and quite funny too. But both of them are great and together they are magic. The only flaw I have with this story is that there is backstory but there isn’t enough of it. I know that is probably being reserved for the full book but a little bit more backstory about both characters wouldn’t have went amiss and would help readers connect more to the characters.
But it was a great read and a lot of fun!
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Wedding Trouble (2018) by D.J. Jamison is a short read that grabs you in and makes you read it in one sitting!
This piece follows David and Gage from Jamison’s book Heart Trouble. This book is about their wedding and the run-up to their wedding. David is feeling insecure about how Gage feels about him and the author has put in backstory about why David feels this way and how insecurity is something David has had for a long time. The book is quite fast-paced but at the same time there is great suspense as the reader sits there hoping that David’s insecurities won’t help destroy his and Gage’s relationship. They are both very likeable characters and work very well as a couple. You feel like they have a lot of history together and understand each other on a deep level.
I quite liked the modernity of this book. Sure they were getting married but it wasn’t the be all and end all. There was respect shown to their cohabiting relationship prior to their wedding too which was nice. That doesn’t always happen and I thought that was more true to how a lot of people nowadays would think than making the wedding the only major big deal. So yeah, that was cool.
I liked how the book spoke about insecurities which to some degree and in some way we all have and showing that yes, insecurities can be hard to break past but with someone patient and who genuinely cares by our side we can be helped through or we can help those we care about with their insecurities too. There is a positive message in this that insecurities don’t have to stop you from doing things in your life. My only flaw was that I felt David got over his insecurities very fast at the end. Battling through and fighting against them is one thing but losing enthrenched insecurities that fast is another. I understood that it might be because this was a shorter read and while I was happy for him, it didn’t completely ring true. Maybe I thought his insecurities could have improved from the story but I don’t think they would completely gone away that fast.
That aside, I completely enjoyed the story. It was engaging from start to finish and it was a nice introduction to David and Gage and their relationship.
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Toy Story (2019) by Allison Temple is a great romance read.
The book presents the romance between Tyler and Gray who are neighbors in an apartment building. Both have secret crushes on each other but begin getting to know each other under unique circumstances after Gray accidentally opens Tyler’s box of sex toys following a mailing mistake.
The plot is original and the humour in the book is superb. The author writes awkwardness mixed with humour amazingly well. We get to know each of the main characters very well and while they are very different, they definitely compliment each other very well. Tyler is more adventurous and yet a bit more staid-laced too while Gray is less adventurous and not very straid-laced at all. So they have things in common too and their chemistry and dialogue with each other is excellent.
The story is a great mix of cute and hot and seeing Tyler helping Gray to know about how many of the sex toys work is both sweet and hot at the one time. There is a lot of backstory about both characters packed in here despite the shortness of the book so it’s a well-rounded story which doesn’t leave the reader feeling like they didn’t really get to know the characters involved.
An amazing read!
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Light Touch (Rhythm of Love 0.5) (2018) By Neve Wilder is a great and very engaging novella.
The story is about the romance between musician Rufus Merrill and artist Quinn Marx. Quinn requests a song that is difficult to play on the guitar and this begins Rufus’ and Quinn’s playful flirting. After which a smooching session in an alley ensues and well a lot more at a Halloween party Quinn is hosting.
I really like the book. The characters of Rufus and Quinn are great and they flow and work very easy as a couple. I love how they are both creative and I could relate in my own way to that feeling of being creative and being creative and not rich. There was a lot of things to them that I kind of understood who the characters were, where they are coming from. Quinn and Rufus have great humor with each other too which works well.
The flow of this read is gorgeously done. The plot takes hold of your interest and from there it is difficult to stop reading. It is that engrossing that I was meant to only read a chapter or so of this book then do some writing and come back to it but in two sittings I read the whole book and didn’t get much writing done that day. It’s very enjoyable and you find yourself wanting to know what will happen next.
I also liked Owen who worked with Rufus. So I was very pleased to see at the back of the book that he and Dan are getting their own book Resonance which is defo on the TBR list.
Great pacing throughout, a fabulous read.
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The Career Killer (DCI Mabey #1) (2019) by Ali Gunn is a great murder mystery set in London.
In the book, we meet the main character DCI Elsie Mabey and her team who are tasked with finding The Lady Killer who is going around London killing random women. Mabey is under a lot of pressure, not only because of the high-profile nature of the case, but also because she has newly been promoted and she faces accusations that she has only got the position because of her father’s reputation. Mabey is also keeping back from her team that she has ME/CFS. So all in all, Mabey has a lot on her plate when we meet her in the novel.
The novel is a fantastic mystery. It gives the reader lots of twists and turns, there is fantastic mystery throughout. The research in this book is really great and must have took ages so I give the author much kudos for that. There is a great cast of characters with very different personalities. I absolutely love Knox. She is definitely my favourite character. She’s strong, she’s kind. She shows an immense amount of both strength and vulnerability in equal measure which I always love in characters. She suffers no fools, I think she’s amazing.
This mystery has much packed into it from the murder element to other important issues such as human trafficking, sexual harrassment, racism and ME/CFS. I think the author has written each of these topics very well and very cleverly weaved them all into the plot.
I really loved the read. It was a very classic mystery with modern technology and advances thrown into the mix. The only thing I did find was that the ending dragged on a bit after the killer/s was revealed and because it was dragging on, I thought there was maybe going to be another twist in the tale. But outside of that, I very much enjoyed the book. It’s a fantastic write and a wonderful debut to this series by Gunn. I very much liked that we got to know the victims and their lives as much as that of those responsible which doesn’t always happen in murder mysteries where random victims are murdered. I liked how all the different stories in the book were all tied together neatly at the end.
A stunning read which I highly recommend to any mystery buffs out there.
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Ricky (2019) by E.E. O’Brien is a fantastic short read.
This read is told through the eyes of Nate who is looking after his friend Ricky who is addicted to drugs. This story is short but so much is packed in. It is full of emotion and gritty truth. The author really helps the reader get to know the characters in so few words which is not easy. It’s very original, creative and not a word is wasted. Every single word adds to the overall plot.
The author deals with the important topic of drug addiction in both an honest and sensitive way. We get to see the effects it can have on both the person who is addicted and those close to them. The flow of the story is very well put together and it is easy to get engrossed in the story and want to know how it will end.
A really great and strong read.
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The Stolen Days of John Mann: Part 1 of All the Days of John Mann (2019) by Charles Barrow is a great read which mixes genres like sci-fi and mystery wonderfully with a touch of romance thrown in too.
In the book we meet the protagonist John Mann who is running away from a past of torment where he was used for a vaccine and kept captive. Since he escaped, he is now working as a preacher but when a mother is killed in front of him and her son is kidnapped, Mann is forced to revisit his past and put his freedom in danger to save the boy. This book is the first in a series set in England and in this book we really get to know the characters in the series.
It was very fast-paced and filled with great backstory. You find yourself on the edge of your seat wondering if Mann will be able to survive and complete his mission without being caught again. There is many twists which hold the reader’s interest throughout.
I loved the read. The twist at the end I didn’t see coming until just before it happened and the author really set that shock up fantastically well. There was a great variety of characters and we really get to know what motivates each character in the story. Their opposing ideas about things really helps add to the drama and plot and drives it forward very well. My favourite character was Keen. I found her very kind, strong and totally amazing. She’s a fantastic character and I’m looking forward to seeing how her story pans out in future books.
A great read and introduction to the series.
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Fated to Meet You (2018) By Despoina Kemeridou is a wonderful short time travel read.
The story follows Nora who finds herself in the olden days after she time travels from 2020. Nora is an extremely likable character who is very easy to relate to. She is a young woman in her 20s, not overly pushed about having a relationship and who is just getting by each day with her work and her social life. But when she finds herself back in the past, she begins to go on an adventure she definitely wasn’t expecting to go on. She takes the place of a deceased princess and meets Jake, a prince, who she must marry to save her ‘parents’ from bankruptcy. But there is more to it all. A mysterious curse must be taken care of and Nora is more involved in it’s outcome than she first realizes.
Nora and Jake make a lovely couple. There is great adventure and historical romance all packed into his delightful short read. Very interesting and fast-paced with great characters and an intriguing concept. Kemeridou perfectly weaves the mundane with the magical and creates a world and characters who you care about. Some heart-wrenching moments ensue especially towards the end and it is a mark of great writing that you feel so sad with Nora and Jake in these moments.
So super engrossing that I actually finished it in one sitting.
A fantastic read.
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