A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: Inked Music by Sean Michael — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5 Rene Conette is a bored businessman looking for…something. The first impression is of complete privilege so I wasn’t sure if I liked him, but I found myself warming to him more and more as he is patient and kind, if used to getting his way. Gavin Turner is a […]

via A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: Inked Music by Sean Michael — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: The Blueprint by S.E. Harmon, The Game 1

The Blueprint Cover
Cover Artist is Kanaxa

I would rate this 4.25 stars.

Kelly Cannon is having a very bad night. This book throws you in the deep end immediately. But sometimes you can’t ignore things anymore and Kelly is in love with his best friend, NFL player Britton “Blue” Montgomery. With Blue under so much pressure in his career, to have to worry about losing his best friend too is not helping. I can say I liked Kelly right away. I loved the use of humor. It took me longer to warm up to Blue, but then he does get less time on page at the beginning. After being in their heads, I can say these two deserve each other. The most difficult part of this book is being in Blue’s head, how does he not know?! Oh course, it’s obvious why. But, there comes a point when he can’t lie to himself anymore either. Turning a 17 year friendship into a relationship is not without its ups and downs.

This just feels natural. I love their interactions. Even during sex, they are themselves with humor and banter. Just when I thought they couldn’t be mature about things, they proved me wrong. The reminiscing about childhood events really works in this story as they both think about how much their relationship means to them. Kelly’s family adds so much to this story, I can’t imagine it without them but, it makes Blue’s family a glaring omission. I would have liked to see them too, even though his dad doesn’t sound pleasant. There is nothing about his brother. Still, they have made an impact on who Blue is and it would have added another layer.

There were small issues I had, like how accepting everyone is, which is less realistic than the rest of the book. There is also the timing of Kelly basically giving Blue an ultimatum–while I understood his feelings and why, the particular moment had me more sympathetic with Blue than Kelly. Maybe that’s on purpose though, and I just didn’t realize it. For anyone who likes friends to lovers, the nerd and the jock theme, and bisexual for you, as well as a coming out story, this is your book. Because there is a full range of emotions here, and it’s realistic without being overly dramatic, it doesn’t feel like a list of tropes.

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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: All He Ever Needed By Cate Ashwood

all-he-ever-needed cover
Cover design by Cate Ashwood

Ethan just graduated college and is working as a barista. Jase is a firefighter for the Seattle fire department. Ethan’s girlfriend Allison calls Jase to say they broke up so Jase races over to check on Ethan and ends up taking him out of town to his uncle’s cabin where they spent a lot of time as kids. Jace is in a really bad spot here, trying to be friends to both parties during the breakup and this could have been explored more to give this a bit more depth. The story is told in alternating POV so we get both views of what is happening.

The care that Jase shows Ethan, the thoughts he has and the actions he takes, really clue us in that this is beyond most friendships. It is also clear he has no idea; to him it is natural to be this way with Ethan. Jase never thinks about why he hugs and cuddles Ethan so much. This is mostly about reminiscing about their relationship. When Ethan tells Jace he is gay, Jace is utterly shocked. He feels angry and betrayed without being able to articulate why. Once Jase sees Ethan differently, he starts to notice things he didn’t before, like subjects they avoided. And now he’s picturing things he shouldn’t be. Ethan’s coming out has him questioning everything he knows about his best friend.

The author has framed this as a coming out bisexual story. When they come together, it seems natural, like an extension of their relationship. Ethan is terrified it will change their friendship or that Jase will freak out. But, a vacation in the woods in a place that holds sentimental value for them is different from day to day life, with jobs, friends, and family. As soon as they leave the cabin, they both falter in completely different ways. Jase falters about being honest with his friends and starts treating Ethan like we imagine he’s treated his girlfriends. Ethan has always been with Allison and has no frame of reference to deal with dating or navigating a relationship with anyone else. The author provides a sounding board for Ethan in the form of a friend named Tyler. Poor Jase seems left to work it out for himself.

Jase coming out to his colleagues was a little worrying without knowing whether they would have his back. He could have actually been putting his life in danger and that wasn’t addressed. Also, I have to say that I read an uncorrected advanced reader copy, so maybe this issue will be resolved before publication, but I was confused about time periods/ages as they conflict in a few places.

The epilogue takes place a year later so we can catch up with all the characters for all the feels to get our HEA. I would recommend this for a short, low angst, easy read.

I would rate this 3.5 stars.

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