Review: Save The Date by RJ Scott and V.L. Locey, Harrisburg Railers Railers 9

Save-the-Date-600-533x800
Cover design by Meredith Russell

I would rate this 4.5 stars.

I don’t think we need a whole lot of paraphrasing the plot–it’s a wedding! The wedding we have all been waiting for. This is the ninth story, so this not the place to jump in. It is a short novella and for what it is, accomplishes everything it sets out to do. Tennant’s mom, Lisa, and Lisa (his sisters-in-law), are trying to help plan the wedding…but the guys haven’t been helping a whole lot. They decide to hire a professional wedding planner three weeks before the wedding. Snort. Luckily, Trent comes to the rescue! What could possibly go wrong? Thankfully nothing too important because the relationship is the real thing, and the wedding is just a million details that are less important. The way all of their friends rally around them to plan the bachelor weekend and the venue lead to so many touching moments. Right when it might jump into schmaltzy territory, the authors rein it back in. This is all good fun with hot, sexy moments sprinkled throughout.

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When both authors write together: MM Hockey Romance

*The authors move their books in and out of KU to give everyone a chance to buy them. If you read this review at a later date and the links don’t work, check their website and subscribe to their newsletter. They are great at communicating when the books will be sold where and for how long, with link to all the sites and countries, not just US Amazon. I wish all authors did this.

Review: The Bucket List by RJ Scott

BucketList
Cover design by Meredith Russell

I would rate this 4.5 stars.

Jason contacts Mark about the death of his brother Andrew. Andrew and Mark had been best friends when they were young, but didn’t keep in touch after Mark left town at 15. Now at 33, all the memories Mark buried away are back. It was Andrew’s last wish that Jason complete his bucket list of things he wanted to do and Mark is made a part of it with his 15th high school reunion. Throughout this book they both face grief of a life lost, lost chances, and regret for bad decisions and might have beens. This is tapered with some of the best memories of their lives. Questions of all the missed years are painful. At first, both have things they are hiding; watching them earn those secrets is an emotional rollercoaster. The flashbacks they both have keep the emotional punches coming.

This was a bit unexpectedly triggering for me. Be advised much of this is about child abuse and bullying. The grief and shared history gives them something to bond over initially, but it is being together daily that makes it mean more, letting their relationship blossom. This book come across as very real to me with enough sweet and sexy parts to make it believable they can make it work and not just as a vacation romance. I liked the honest communication between them, both about the past and what they are feeling for each other as it happens. This is about righting old wrongs and really living because life is short, not revenge or comeuppance, although the reader gets a bit of that too.

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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: Somebody To Die For By Kris T. Bethke, Requiem Inc. 3

Somebody to Die For Cover
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

 

Kris T. Bethke Somebody To Die For

This is the third book in the Requiem Inc., series. To learn more about the first book, Ghost of a Chance, or the second book, Lost Souls Found, go here.

The people who work at the company help find stranded souls so they can go on the next step of their journey after death and find peace. As a recap, the mediums find the spirits, the ghostwalkers die and go to them, the anchors bring them back and provide aftercare, and the guardians, as anchors with greater abilities, oversee several teams at once and make sure everything goes smoothly.

Ghostwalker Avery Wagner lost his anchor and bonded partner to cancer four years ago and now teaches rather than ghostwalking himself. Get ready to be mired in the angst of a widower. Jameson is in training, but doesn’t have the anchor gene. He’s awkward, determined and somehow really likeable because he wants to help people. The attraction is there for both of them pretty immediately and they both fight against it for different reasons. Even though the age gap here is 18 years and Jameson does make some immature mistakes, he also steps up when he needs to and learns from them.

Jameson hasn’t been assigned a ghostwalker yet and is going through the training alone. Thrust into working an emergency with Jameson, Avery is afraid of his feelings, not wanting to open himself up to that kind of pain again. The author took the time for Avery to be thoughtful about his grief. Jameson was so sweet and understanding. Their intimate moments were perfect: hot, sweet, and confused feelings. It’s the emotions that anchor this story and put it a shoulder above others. I did cry at one point. I love how everything is not magically fixed at the end–grief is a long process and love is complex. Even with the age difference, this gets to the point of being a true partnership where they work through issues and talk things out.

I’ve enjoyed this whole series. This may actually be my favorite of the three and it’s nice that the author finishes strong rather than the first one setting everything up while the other two seem tacked on to make more money. This is not that. This seems to have been a trilogy from the start and, whilst there could be many more stories to tell in this world if done right (there are 47 branch offices), the HEA of all the originally focused upon characters is now complete.

I would rate this 4.25 stars.

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Review: Love You So Special By Tara Lain, Love You So 3

Love You So Special
Cover Artist: Reese Dante

This is the third book in the Love You So series. I have not read the first two and didn’t feel like I missed anything at all so I would call this a standalone. I admit having a bias here as I went to school in and worked in Orange County, CA where this and a lot of her books are set. Tara Lain usually does the blue collar/wealthy trope well. She has reigned in the fabulousness for this one, although there is still a little OTT plot point.

Artie, a plumber working on a job in a concert hall gets to hear some of the music played for rehearsals. We know by his POV that it’s a unique experience for him. When we see the rest of his life–his work buddies, his family–we understand how he only superficially fits into his own life. His quirks as they are called, his interests, hobbies, what moves him, are what flesh him out as a person for the readers.

Francois is a rich, famous classical pianist who loves composing, but has anxiety performing because of the crowds. He lives with his overbearing mother in an exclusive gated community. They meet when Artie is hired to take over work on the guest house, being built in the back of the main house. Artie is enchanted by the music and then attracted by the man. Francois has been home schooled and is socially awkward, but he’s intrigued by Artie.

As Artie and Francois become friends, I found the interactions between them charming. Artie has spent so long pretending to be what everyone expects him to be, he is lonely. While Francois is out, Artie is not–not even to Francois. Of course, I’m happy when that changes. Some people just click when they meet and it just works. Francois having met Artie is the impetus for him to start trading security for some independence. Artie needs to stop living to accommodate everyone else in his life and start living for himself. Have you ever had someone say the right thing to you at the right time? Don, Artie’s landlord gives Artie something to think about that changes the way he looks at things. Francois’s epiphany comes during a much more traumatic experience.

At first I didn’t really like Francois’s mom, but then once we get to know her more she becomes more human and she does actually care for her son. Her idea of what’s best for him and his idea of what’s best for him don’t always gel. I could say the same for Artie’s family, but when they needed to step up and be supportive, they were so that’s all that matters. Right? So, yes, everything is resolved easily and there is some fan girl nodding to her favorite authors. Not everything has to be angsty. While I’m the first to say I like realistic stories, I like a good fantasy to cheer me up also. Sometimes the world is dark enough and I want to escape into a well written cheerful happy, sappy gay romance novel. This hit the spot.

I would rate this 4 stars.

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