Review: Rebound (Overtime #1) by V.L. Locey

 

I would rate this 3.75 stars.

This is a spin-off starring characters introduced in V.L. Locey’s Point Shot Trilogy and again in Coach’s Challenge, Book 3 of the Cayuga Cougars series. You could read this on its own, but you wouldn’t love the main character as much as you need to for this story to shine. Victor, aka “The Venomous Pole” is the coach of an ice hockey team, married to the forward Dan, but when Dan gets sent up to the NHL, their settled life gets flipped upside down. This builds on all the trials they have faced as a couple and takes the story in difficult places, showing what many romances fail to–what happens after Happily Ever After. This is for those people that want to see what everyday love looks like, when two people repeatedly choose to stay together through thick and thin, blended family, health scares, separation, and alcoholism. I assume this will also be a trilogy also.

Because this book is told from Victor’s POV, expect rude, crass, angry and defeatist thinking. It’s also written in common vernacular. Besides having a traumatic childhood, he has brain damage from concussions and has named the worry wort voice in his head Igor. Victor is also in love with his husband, loves his 5 year old son, is working to forgive his dad, whilst also trying to maintain good relations with the mother of his son and her fiance. Sometimes he succeeds and sometimes Igor, or the cruel inner voice of his mother, wins instead and so he fails. One of the most difficult parts of the book is seeing him fall off the wagon. The other difficult part is feeling his worry over how to protect his genderqueer son from people’s meanness and judgment when Heather moves Jack to Louisiana. Jack is a huge part of this book with age appropriate dialogue.

While some of the decisions Vic made upset me, I understood why – because Dan, Heather, Brooks, and Gene all upset me more. There are hot, gritty sex scenes here, but I felt distant from Dan because Vic did. I didn’t like Dan’s response to Vic’s drinking. I also felt like this was just completely ignored afterwards. I applaud him for not participating in AA, as there are good science based programs out there, but he wasn’t participating in one of those either. I enjoyed his therapy sessions with Doc L and Professor T for the comic relief, rather than for seeing any actual type of support for Victor. He is still demoralized and depressed, although the book ends on an uplifting note of hope for him. It will be interesting to see Jack as he grows older, and that time when Dan (like all sports figures) can no longer play hockey–how will that change their relationship?

The cover design is by Meredith Russell. It communicates that is about hockey and shows a darkness I imagine Vic’s head is in.

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Rebound (Overtime #1) by V.L. Locey — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review : A Fluid State by Rob Browatzke

I would rate this 4 stars.

In the beginning, Patrick is seeing his son Peter for the first time in two years after coming home from Afghanistan. Patrick’s ex-wife Christy really drop kicks Patrick into the deep end, and expects him to adapt and act appropriately without any frame of previous reference for how to deal with his new gender bending, vegetarian, 11 year old son who loves Saturday morning Drag Queen Storytelling at the local library. Of course, the idea that Patrick’s ex is a POC, that he acknowledges the issue for his son, was the only thing that made me give him the benefit of the doubt. Then, it switches to Andrew’s POV: he is lonely and having trouble dating. At first most of his personality is funny and snarky asides, which come from his drag persona Ann. When they meet while Andrew is out of drag, Patrick realizes maybe it’s a good idea to get to know who his son spends time with. If this keeps him from looking like a bigot, then all the better.

Being inside Patrick’s head and listening to what is coming out of his mouth at the beginning is cringeworthy. All anyone has is what they are taught until they know better, then they need to do better, and he does. Patrick’s most important consideration seems to be for Peter be happy, but Peter is still figuring things out and the effects of bullying are difficult to read. I’m not a huge fan of babies or kids in books, but Peter is a huge part of why this all works rather than just an excuse for Andrew and Patrick to get together. I like that Patrick likes Andrew, and isn’t just attracted to Ann. Although that can be hot too when written right, the author is clear that Patrick isn’t ever pretending Andrew is Ann or fetishizing Ann in any way. In many ways Andrew is too good to be true: always patient, kind, understanding, good with kids, and good natured in general.

The timeframe is a bit too short to believe the 180 Patrick does from the beginning of the book to the end because there’s nothing gradual about this, but I remember seeing an episode of a show called Faking It on Channel 4 in the UK in 2002. It was about people who have a complete career change in four weeks and a heterosexual ex-navy officer learns to be a drag queen. Not that Patrick goes that far (lol), but that someone really can learn to have empathy, respect, and integrate into a new way a thinking, a new community, if they make the effort.

As for the bi for you and first time tropes, Patrick reads demisexual to me, having only been in two prior relationships, one of which was his wife. This is a heartwarming story of a father who discovers who he is and what he wants for himself later in life. While it has all the feels and hot love scenes, it’s because I wanted the fairytale, rather than it was entirely realistically fleshed out–it’s an easy read with surprisingly low angst. But, sometimes life does slot into place just like it ought to and those times are magical whether real or on the page.

The cover design is by Alexandria Corza. I think it’s striking, but it doesn’t show the family aspect of the story.

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review :A Fluid State by Rob Browatzke — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Best Behaviour by Matthew Metzger

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Jim does everything in his power to not have to ask his sister Sarah for help, but when it’s not enough, he ends up staying at her house until he can get back on his feet. Sarah’s husband is a reverend and his flavor of religion can’t coexist with Jim being bisexual, but it’s Sarah’s (and their mother’s) lack of support that hurts Jim emotionally. At 26, Jim has made some mistakes and at the beginning of this book still seems like he is “cutting off his nose to spite his face.” The fact that Sarah helps him at all and allows him to stay at her house, even when it may cause problems with her husband is not really given a whole lot of credit here, in my opinion. It’s definitely time for Jim to grow up. At first, his affair with the piano teacher that tutors Sarah’s children doesn’t encourage hope that is going to happen–hot and sexy though it is!

This has more heart than I expected right away, but what starts out as sexy fun ends up as a relationship. What starts out as an erotic romance, ends up to be a heartwarming and heartbreaking story of family. Fran is completely Jim’s type and has family issues of his own. Jim has finally met someone who could be good for him, but this is just good timing. I like the fact that what really motivates Jim to step up and sort himself out is his niece, not his boyfriend. Don’t get me wrong because I love Fran’s character and his place in the book is vital. I just don’t like storylines where one person “saves” the other. Fran provides support that allows Jim to more easily navigate his issues, but they are his issues to navigate.

It’s good to see a representation of the spectrum in this book. Be aware this story uses British English and vernacular, but it very easy to read and follow. I loved seeing character development in a story that has very erotic scenes as a natual part of his life and who he is. I loved that it is emotionally accessible. I am glad the author shows what can happen when a person changes their actions with someone; it changes their reactions too. Breaking cycles is difficult and it’s work. I would definitely read something by this author again.

The cover art is by Erin Dameron-Hill. I’m of two minds about the cover. It’s shows the tension and has the piano to represent Fran, but instead of showing that life is messy, it looks a bit like a horror novel. However, it’s not boring and neither is this book.

Sales Links: Pride Publishing |   Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Kobo

Book Details: ebook, 222 pages
Published February 12th 2019 by Pride Publishing
ISBN139781786517050
Edition Language: English

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Best Behaviour by Matthew Metzger — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Fracture (Unbreakable Bonds #6) by Jocelynn Drake and Rinda Elliott

Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

This is the sixth book in the series. If you don’t read these in order, you will miss some inside couple things, references to their friends and background for Jude’s family. Still, this plot is not connected to the other books, so you could jump in with this one and follow the story, it will just have less emotional impact. There is enough recapping to get by for new people, and annoy those already following the series.

Someone hurt Jude’s 21 year old brother, Jordan, who works construction for their uncle. When Jude starts looking into what might have happened to his brother, he realizes something has been wrong for awhile. What did Jordan get into and how does Jude really know him anymore? Has Jordan changed so much while his brothers Jude and Carrick got busy in their own lives; there is a thirteen and twelve year age difference respectively. Jordan isn’t a child anymore and he is making his own way in life. As Jordan lies in the hospital in a coma, Jude struggles with his emotions and trying to find out who did this and why. It’s his boyfriend’s turn to be the rock this time.

It’s nice to see the other side to both of them as the normal roles are reversed with Jude being the one who is a mess and Snow having to be the strong, rational one.

In this book, Snow’s past is both a curse and a blessing. This sort of plot makes more sense in the Ward Securities spin off series than these things continually happening to medical professionals, a businessman, and a chef. I understand Rowe, Andrei, and Noah getting involved in these sorts of plots, but how many times in real life is this going to realistically keep happening to normal people? In trying to make the book accessible to those who haven’t read the other five books, or remind people of past events if they haven’t read them in awhile, the recapping throughout the book highlights all the implausibilities in the previous plots. I think this is why even though the book is well written, it seems to plod along. Also, the scenes that have other popular characters in them are more like walk-on parts without adding anything to their characters.

I like these characters. I like their loyalty and the family they’ve built. The love scenes are erotic and passionate. The connection and love that Snow and Jude have is well written. I think this is their HEA, even filled with shame, guilt, and nightmares. Everyone is coupled up and starting families, so I’m not sure where else this series can go, but it is enjoyable and it’s difficult to say goodbye to characters you like.

The cover art is by Stephen Drake of Design by Drake. I admit I have no idea who is on the cover or what it has to do with anything. Since this is supposed to be about Jordan, my guess would be he is whose life has been fractured by the events in this book.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details: Kindle Edition, 249 pages
Published March 29th 2019 by Drake & Elliott Publishing LLC
ASINB 07P51MQNH
Edition Language: English
Series: Unbreakable Bonds

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Fracture (Unbreakable Bonds #6) by Jocelynn Drake & Rinda Elliott — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Trusted (Until You #3) by Karrie Roman

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

This starts three days after the events of the previous book and focuses on Zach, the cult leader’s son, who was rescued during an FBI raid on the compound. He may have had a crush on Ben for helping rescue him, but it’s Ben’s brother Cameron who is helping him now by giving him a place to stay. Since he’s grown up in a cult, he really doesn’t know how to deal with the modern world and needs help navigating his new reality. Also, the legal issues are just beginning as the FBI questions all the cult members in order to get evidence on the men they arrested, including “Father” Piper. Many of the cultists are brainwashed and hate Zach for trying to help save them from being killed.

The fun parts of this book are really all of Zach’s firsts: candy, popcorn, movie theater, plane, ocean–yes, other firsts too. This will appeal to readers who like the hurt/comfort trope. Often, it’s Cameron who seems most hurt by some past event. Having Cameron be the one who is scared, unsure, and flustered by Zach’s advances makes it work for me in a way it wouldn’t if Cameron were the aggressor. It would be difficult to get past the idea that Zach was being taken advantage of. It also helps there’s only an 8 year age difference. I like that Cameron trusts his brother Ben enough to talk about his past: that this book can portray a strong, successful rescue pilot without the toxic masculinity. I liked them both as characters, but I felt Cameron was not as well written as Zach. I wanted them to have their happy ending because that’s what you expect in a romance, but I wasn’t really emotionally invested in it. Both Cameron and Zach fight their own demons, which is as it should be–no one can fix everything for you.

Cameron tries pushing Zach away, but when Cameron’s past has come back to haunt him and Zach is in danger all bets are off. In comparison with book two, the action sequences are contained here. The story really splits nicely into three parts: Zach adjusting to the world while Cameron fights his attraction to Zach, Zach’s rescue, and then the conclusion of Zach dealing with his mother and father. This works well and flows nicely. This book also does a better job of recapping in a way that you could read it as a standalone, but it is really a continuation of book two. In fact, at this point book one is the anomaly except that Lucas and Ryan are funding the adventures.

Lucas, Ryan, Ben, and Ethan have started an investigation firm to help find missing children. Zach wants to work with them to help, so I expect Cameron will too. The next book seems like it’s going to feature Alec finally, the now former FBI agent we met in book two. This series seems like it will go back into the action adventure mode previously established, but it was nice to get a bit of a breather here–there was action, but it was a smaller part of the overall story about two men who want to move on with their lives and leave their bad past behind.

The cover art is by Natasha Snow. The models’ pose with the jacket is a little strange but I like the rest of the cover. The bottom has echos of Zach’s nightmares. With Cameron being a helicopter pilot and Zach wanting to learn, it has the look of them flying off into the sunset together.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details: ebook
Published October 29th 2018 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781949909081
Edition Language: English

Series: Until You

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Trusted (Until You #3) by Karrie Roman — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Prerelease Review: The Bones Beneath My Skin by T.J. Klune

Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

After the death of Nate’s parents, he takes the truck he inherited to the cabin they left him in order to take some time to grieve. The drive to the cabin lets us get to know Nate and his family history; it should come as no surprise it is gut wrenching stuff from this author. If possible, Nate’s night is about to become a whole lot worse, or better–at least interesting.

When he encounters the man and girl at his cabin, the series of events are strange. The main question I think anyone would have is, why does Nate go along with everything happening? There is his curiosity, of course. He is a journalist, so it’s in his nature to dig and want information. There is shock, and sometimes you just go along with what is going on around you and do what you’re told. Sometimes when you have nothing to lose, you make different decisions than you normally would. But if he thought his life was toast before, it is really crispy now, and there is no turning back into bread ever again (read the book.)

The thing is, even in a book full of strange and impossible things, these characters are more real than the characters in most stories. Art is that child that is too knowing, yet is still excited about every new thing. Nate is that man who has lost faith in the world and himself, but he can still surprise himself. Alex is the man who is resurrected from the ashes of his own life with a new purpose. The forced intimacy of them staying alone in an isolated place, and then being on the run together, works well. The slow burn finally gets kindled when everything snaps into place–when we know they are there by choice, rather than just letting events carry them. The author set this book in the 1990’s, so the use of political events, news, and pop culture help keep it grounded in the period.

The story is told from Nate’s POV, so it’s easy to sympathize with his emotions: as he gets attached to Alex and Artemis Darth Vader, as he has his existential crisis, as he experiences things so foreign to the way his neat ordered world was before. I laughed and cried reading this. There are times we do get to see other points of view that I enjoyed and added to the emotional impact of what was happening. It’s very difficult to review without spoilers, and really her name should tell you all you need to know. The genius of this book is not that I didn’t see what was happening beforehand–it is that I was still shocked and horrified when things happened. Then, I had no idea how the story was going to get out of the walls it had built; don’t worry, it walks through them.

The ending does go to an omnipotent observer POV before switching back to Nate’s POV and that annoyed me for a second. The epilogue was the best ending I could have hoped for, the one that made sense. There is a lot to be said for people being fearful of those different, of fear turning to violence, but there is more to be said for love and hope, of building the family you choose. What sets it apart from other science fiction in a similar vein, is that it focuses on the heart and mind of the characters, so this is not hard science fiction, more of a character study. I would recommend it.

The cover art is by Reese Dante and has a “so above, so below” feel that works well for the subject matter and the idea of how we are all stardust.

Sales Links on 10/26:
Book Details: ebook, 385 pages
Expected publication: October 26th 2018 by TJ Klune
Original Title The Bones Beneath My Skin
ISBN139781732399914
Edition Language: English

via A Chaos Moondrawn Prerelease Review: The Bones Beneath My Skin by T.J. Klune — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: A Dance of Water and Air (Elemental Magicae #1) by Antonia Aquilante

Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Due to rising tensions with their neighbor, Tycen, the King of Thalassa is pushing an alliance with Aither on their western border. The king’s son Prince Edmund is to marry Aither’s Queen Hollis and conceive within two years. The author nicely sets up some political intrigue at court in an understated way that will germinate in later books. The prince and his secretary, Peregrine, travel to Aither for the wedding to take place in three months time. Since the Queen’s father died and she is still in mourning, the wedding can’t take place any faster. This allows the author to also set up political intrigue for this court.

The queen’s brother, Prince Arden, is told to spend time with Edmund–time the queen should be spending to get to know her betrothed, but is avoiding. We meet Arden’s best friends, Larkin and twin brother Ciaran, who are the eyes and ears for court politics. The alternating POV between Arden and Edmund allows the reader to know he is unhappy about being attracted to Edmund and that Edmund doesn’t really allow himself to admit or understand he might feel it too. As they get to know each other better, the ways of Aither being open to people of all elements, challenges everything Edmund has learned from his father and the way he rules Thalassa. This also plants seeds for future books. We get to know a little bit about Edmund’s affinity with water and Arden’s affinity with air and how that magic can be used. Their common enemy Tycen is know for their affity with fire. We know little about the earth affinity, so I guess that will be in future books.

This author is known for high fantasy and political intrigue so I expected the world-building to be good and it was, but I have hopes there will be a lot more detail later. I was enjoying the story, the court, the politics, the slow burn as they were getting to know each other, yet nothing is in great detail. When someone with an affinity with water tries to kill the Queen, Edmund is arrested and after spending so much time with him, Arden is in a precarious position. We are told Hollis and Arden were close once, but we never see it. There could have been more done with that plot-wise. We only get a glimmer of Arden’s feelings of muted hurt. If fact, we know little of the queen or any of the characters beside Arden, Ciaran, Peregrine, and Edmund.

Once they flee the castle, it was like the author no longer knew what to do with them. Edmund and Arden are suddenly stumbling around when they already know how they feel about each other. It was all handled in an awkward, drawn out way. I liked the depictions of Edmund as a demisexual, and Arden, who reads as non-binary (the publisher’s tag is trans). Their love scenes were sweet, yet circumspect and while explicit, were not really erotic. At this point even Ciaran, who has grow up in political intrigue and has a spy network, starts to act childish. He shouldn’t be failing apart about something he knew would happen. Then, all of the sudden they start writing in code as he communicates with his sister. As if this had never occurred to him before whilst they are fleeing for their lives? Ciaran and Peregrine are also in a relationship now which seems to consist of a lot of handholding. For me, this read as high fantasy that turned into YA.

As Tycen prepares for war, Arden and Edmund meet with Queen Hollis along the border, whereupon she acts like an unreasonable child. This is the most we get to see of the queen and I was not impressed. Unless we get to see her POV in future books and a lot more backstory, I am not sure how this character can be redeemed for me at this point. Maybe she won’t be, but everything is so sweet and slots into place so easily, I expect the sister and brother will eventually make up, somehow.

The end of the book really points to learning more about the various magics and how they can be utilized together. Right now, they are like kids studying and playing with magic. We’ll see if that changes if war actually happens. I would have liked a lot more of the elements and their creatures that magic wielders can communicate with. I wanted this to have more detail and depth about everything. While I liked the MCs, I didn’t feel emotionally attached to them. This is a nice, sometime sweet, easy read for a couple of evenings and I recommend it be enjoyed as such.

The cover art by Natasha Snow is fitting for the story, showing a blend of the two main elements covered in this story and a castle. The color palette fits with the dark intrigues. Although most of the story takes place in Aither, this seems to be the palace in Thalassa, where the story starts and finishes.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details: ebook
Published October 1st 2018 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781949340853
Edition Language: English

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: A Dance of Water and Air (Elemental Magicae #1) by Antonia Aquilante — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Building Forever by Kelly Jensen, This Time Forever 1

Building Forever Cover
Cover By: Natasha Snow

I would rate this 4.5 stars

Charlie is a widower with a teenage daughter and a crush on his neighbor. Simon is on the rebound and rebuilding his life in a new state at a new job. When Simon’s ex Brian steps back into the picture, and Charlie needs to prioritize his daughter Olivia over his love life, things get complicated.

I find that I like the dual POV in alternating chapters approach rather than the willy nilly style some authors have. Seeing their relationship unfold from both sides made me care about each of them and I never struggled to figure out whose thoughts were whose. Charlie is adorable. His admitting he was bisexual and sharing that with his friend and daughter was handled in the confident way of someone who is honest with themself and others while still showing his doubts and anxieties. Simon is more serious and cautious, taking longer to think things through. I laughed out loud a few times; I felt weepy a few times too, and cringing–there was definately cringing. They burn up the sheets, but in a way that is real and human. They connect in that way that people do when they are actually honest when getting to know each, other instead of just putting on a face.

Their story is engaging with interesting side characters that give it richer layers: Simon’s friend Frank, Charlie’s friend Phil and his neighbor Cassie, Simon’s new business partner Aurther, even Charlie’s daughter Liv are all there to show us different facets of the MCs.

The difficult part about being in love and staying in love is the daily decision to–the decision to stay when things hurt, or are not fun and easy, but still confront and fix them. To think about what someone else needs even if they don’t communicate well or ask for help is part of building a partnership. Stressful things can either pull people apart or bring them closer together, and that’s a choice too.

Sometimes I feel like I judge books too harshly, like I’m being mean, but then I read a book like this and I know that all the books I gave a lower rating to are missing what this book has, and I feel fine about it. This is the kind of romance I want to read, regardless of genre.

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Review: Sword Oath By Jackie Keswick

Jackie Keswick Prequel
Cover Artwork by Emma Griffin

This is a short story prequel for a new series called the Dornast Saga Tales. Madan, a Warrior, and Serrai, King of Karak, have been friends since childhood and lovers since they were teenagers. We are introduced to them on the eve before a battle against a General named Haryn. While Serrai lay dead he flashes back on his life with Madan and makes a bargain with one of the Graces, but Madan has his own choice to make. I’ll not spoil it. With the epilogue, I wonder if the next book will be Karak in the future, or if we will ever get more stories of Madan and Serrai before this takes place. This is story is complete (not a cliffhanger), but it will make you want to read more in this world, so sign me up.

I would rate this 4 stars.

Tagged with: epic fantasy, fantasy, hero fantasy, mm, short read, explicit

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