Review: Caught! by JL Merrow

34747619Behind Robert Emeny’s cheerfully eccentric exterior lies a young heart battered and bruised by his past. He’s taken a job in a village primary school to make a fresh start, and love isn’t part of his plans. But then he’s knocked for six—literally—by a chance encounter with the uncle of two of his pupils.

Sean Grant works in pest control, lives on a council estate, and rides a motorbike. Robert is an ex–public schoolboy from a posh family who drives a classic car. On the face of it, they shouldn’t have anything in common. Yet Robert can’t resist Sean’s roguish grin, and passion sparks between them even after an excruciatingly embarrassing first date.

Too bad the past Robert’s hiding from is about to come looking for him. His increasingly ludicrous efforts to keep his secrets are pushing Sean away—but telling the truth could make Sean leave him for good.

This book was so much fun.

For many reasons, but the main one is the protagonist, Robert. He’s pretty unique and interesting, and I absolutely loved his voice. Reading this story from his perspective made the whole thing more…. well, fun. He’s not your average m/m romance MC and I liked reading about him/liked seeing this story from his POV.

Sean, the love interest, was an interesting character too, but he didn’t captivate me as well as Robert. The secondary characters were also awesome, especially Rose, Robert’s best friend, Sean’s twin nephews and some of Robert’s students. They brought the story to whole new level and protagonized some of the most funny moments in Caught!

The one thing that bothered me, though, were the… weird? comments about Sean being bisexual or random comments about someone looking or not looking trans. That was just… so unnecessary and brought literally nothing to the story. What was the point of it? None. It was certainly not funny.

I’m not sure if I’ll continue this series (kinda because of these comments, to be honest), but Caught! was a fun read. 4.0 stars.

The Other Five Percent by Quinn Anderson

34857690Logan Vanderveer has a joke he’s been telling since college: he’s ninety-five percent straight. He did some experimenting in school, but none of the men he fooled around with inspired him to abandon “the plan”: meet a nice girl, get married, and settle down, just like his parents always said.

None of them except Ellis Floyd, who aroused desires and feelings that scared Logan. So much so that he abandoned their burgeoning relationship just as it might have become something. But four years later, Ellis is back, and Logan finds himself questioning his sexuality in a big way.

Ellis doesn’t fit into Logan’s plan. He’s happy being a starving artist, whereas Logan has sold his soul to corporate America. Ellis is ripped jeans, and Logan is tailored suits. And, most notably, Ellis is out. But seeing him again is dredging up memories—like how it feels to kiss Ellis, and that time they almost went all the way. With chemistry like theirs, Logan isn’t sure he can—or should—keep ignoring the other five percent.

I got an e-ARC of this book through Netgalley.

Well, this one was disappointing.

I can’t even begin to explain why it was disappointing because… well, nothing about it worked for me, which was a (very sad) surprise. Even thought I hated the ending of Hotline by the same author, that book had awesome writing and really interesting characters. Reading it was pleasant, fun. But reading The Other Five Percent was almost painful.

First, because it’s too short. There is no time to develop the characters & their relationship, no time to really get to know them. Second, what we get to know about the characters isn’t that interesting. Logan and Ellis have no depth and I couldn’t care less about them & their past relationship.

But what made me really dislike this book was how condescending Ellis was about Logan’s sexuality. Now, don’t get me wrong: I completely understand why Ellis was angry because he had every right to be, but there is line between being pissed off your ex-boyfriend won’t even admit he likes men and using his denial to be condescending about his sexuality with other people in front of said ex-boyfriend. The whole thing was so unnecessary it was a bit cringey.

Logan’s eureka moment about wanting to be with Ellis/accepting he’s bi also came out of nowhere, so I also can’t blame Ellis for not believing it at first. Honestly, this book had no payoff whatsoever and was almost completely unsatisfying.

There’s also been criticism of this book’s title by bisexual readers.

2.0 stars for The Other Five Percent.

Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

23766634Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

As I’ve said before in my review of Empire of Shadows, I have a complicated relationship with SJM’s books. Some of her worldbuilding interests me, as do one or two of her characters, but her worlds and stories are so problematic and so white, cis, allo and straight that now I’m just waiting to read the last books of her series to say good bye to her writing completely.

(Spoilers ahead) (I do mean it: SPOILERS AHEAD).

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Review: Concourse by Santino Hassell

30364779Ashton Townsend is the most famous celebutante of Manhattan’s glitterati. The black sheep of his wealthy family, he’s known for his club appearances, Instagram account, and sex tape. Most people can’t imagine him wanting for anything, but Ashton yearns for friendship, respect, and the love of his best friend—amateur boxer Valdrin Leka.

Val’s relationship with Ashton is complicated. As the son of Ashton’s beloved nanny, Val has always bounced between resenting Ashton and regarding him as his best friend. And then there’s the sexual attraction between them that Val tries so hard to ignore.

When Ashton flees his glitzy lifestyle, he finds refuge with Val in the Bronx. Between Val’s training for an upcoming fight and dodging paparazzi, they succumb to their need for each other. But before they can figure out what it all means—and what they want to do about it—the world drags them out of their haven, revealing a secret Val has kept for years. Now, Ashton has to decide whether to once again envelop himself in his party-boy persona, or to trust in the only man who’s ever seen the real him.

It’s no secret that the Five Boroughs series is my favorite romance series ever. As I’ve said before, it was what got me into reading romance again and some of these characters are in my list of favorite characters ever written. So yeah, I was really excited for this book and I’m so glad to say it didn’t disappoint.

Continue reading “Review: Concourse by Santino Hassell”

Review: Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer

33976926Jeremy Reeve is one of the best divers in the world, and he’s worked hard to get where he is. He intends to keep pushing himself with one very clear goal in mind: winning gold at the summer Olympics in two years. That medal might be the only way to earn his father’s respect as an athlete.

Brandon Evans is everything Jeremy isn’t: carefree, outgoing, and openly gay. With his bright-blue eyes and dramatic tattoos, he’s a temptation that Jeremy refuses to acknowledge. But Jeremy can’t ignore how talented Brandon is—or that Brandon has no interest in using his diving skills to compete.

They’re opposites who are forced to work together as teammates, but Jeremy’s fear of his own sexuality and Brandon’s disinterest in anything “not fun” may end their partnership before it begins. Until a single moment changes everything, and they help each other discover that “team” can also mean family and love.

This book was… complicated.

You know, I’m at this weird place where I can recognize that this one is good, but that it just wasn’t for me. The characters are interesting and well developed and I really liked Jeremy and Valerie’s (who is also a diver) friendship, but… I just didn’t want Jeremy and Brandon to end up together. Or, putting it in another way, I didn’t care if they got together or not, and I certainly thought Jeremy still had a lot to apologize for in the end.

So yeah. No way this book could’ve worked for me.

In a way, I felt like the ending was a bit anti-climatic, though I can’t explain why without giving away all the spoilers. Jeremy’s realization re: his father was the most obvious thing ever (and I don’t think it was intended to not be obvious, but still) so it felt like Jeremy’s change only came because the clock was ticking and the Olympics were happening. If it – the Olympics – hadn’t happened, would him have realized what he did? Maybe, but not for a long time, and that bugs me. The climax of the book is more or less unrelated to the actions of the characters, and that threw me off a bit. Plus, I never understood what Brandon & Jeremy saw in each other, so I wasn’t that invested in their relationship.

There are also lots of slurs in this book, which eventually wore me down a bit, so here’s the warning for those who might be affected by them. It’s usually Jeremy’s family who says them, so be careful.

In the end, Heels Over Head is a nicely written story with interesting characters & relationships that just wasn’t for me. Others might love it, so I still recommend it. 3.0 stars.

Review: Insight by Santino Hassell

30364791Growing up the outcast in an infamous family of psychics, Nate Black never learned how to control his empath abilities. Then after five years without contact, his estranged twin turns up dead in New York City. The claim of suicide doesn’t ring true, especially when a mysterious vision tells Nate it was murder. Now his long-hated gift is his only tool to investigate.

Hitching from his tiny Texas town, Nate is picked up by Trent, a gorgeous engineer who thrives on sarcasm and skepticism. The heat that sparks between them is instant and intense, and Nate ends up trusting Trent with his secrets—something he’s never done before. But once they arrive in the city, the secrets multiply when Nate discovers an underground supernatural community, more missing psychics, and frightening information about his own talent.

Nate is left questioning his connection with Trent. Are their feelings real, or are they being propelled by abilities Nate didn’t realize he had? His fear of his power grows, but Nate must overcome it to find his brother’s killer and trust himself with Trent’s heart.

Santino Hassell is my favorite romance writer, but I must admit I hesitated a little before approaching this book. I have a… bad history, so to speak, with paranormal romance (perks of being aro & reading hundreds of paranormal romances because they were the only thing available – now I avoid them like the plague), but I’m happy to say that Insight didn’t disappoint.

Though this book was mainly marketed as romance, what I enjoyed the most in it wasn’t the romance, but the worldbuilding, the plot & the characters. Hassell created a world of psychics that was so interesting & different from everything I’ve seen in the genre, with a dark/gloomy atmosphere & a lot of mystery, that I couldn’t help but read the book in one sitting. Nate was a great protagonist as well, and I was surprised to realize I even cared about his dead, asshole of a twin, Theo (everyone hated the guy and yes, he was annoying, but I felt bad for him).

I didn’t guess who the person behind the murders/disappearances was, but one of the book’s revelations/plot twists was pretty obvious for me half-way through the book, which wasn’t necessarily bad, but well, it weakened the ending a little. As for the romance… I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t feel much about it either, mainly because I found Trent to be immensely boring. Nothing about him was interesting or captivating, and towards the end he became a bit annoying with his jealously. It wasn’t bad enough to tarnish the book for me, but… still disappointing, I guess.

In short, Insight has some awesome characters (the secondary characters are just great), an engaging plot & interesting worldbuilding, but the romance feels a bit lacking. I would say I can’t wait to read the next book, but well… I hated its protagonist here in Insight, so I’m a bit hesitant. Hassell did the same thing in Five Boroughs and managed to convince me that a character I hated wasn’t so bad, so maybe he will do it again in Oversight.  I guess we will see.

4.0 stars for Insight.

Review: Peter Darling by Austin Chant

33358438Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.

But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.

I was expecting a lot of this book – I mean, a Peter Pan retelling where Peter is a trans man? That sounded really, really cool (plus, I loved Coffee Boy by the same author), so I was excited to read it. Fortunately, I got an e-ARC through NetGalley and was able to read right away.

And it was just delightful.

Continue reading “Review: Peter Darling by Austin Chant”