Review: Fight For This by Suki Fleet, For This 1

FightForThis

 

I would rate this 3.5 stars

Grey, has a crush on his friend and co-worker named Si. Good thing Si has a crush on Grey right back. But the school they both work at, run by Headmaster Greene, is full of secrets–secrets that could harm or save everyone there. At first the POV switches between Grey and Si, the main couple here, but also grows to include Jaime’s POV. They meet Jaime in a nightclub and their fates seem tied together. The cast is further rounded out by Jaime’s twin sister Harry, a student at the school Robyn, and another of the teachers Tabitha with her cat that is not a cat Luna. This is a good introduction to a range of supernatural beings, or Folk, and some of their powers.

The main romance relies heavily on the weeks prior to the book, that the reader is not privy to, in order for their relationship to work. The lust is already there but this still feels like insta-love. The love scenes have that bonded fated mate feel. Then there is a manufactured crisis to keep them apart, which goes nowhere. This book seemed fairly straightforward at first, but as the mythos is built, it gets more complicated leaving questions without answers. Everything is foreshadowed with where this story will go and the story made sense, but many things are not explained. I think the parts of the plot that are meant to be saved for the next book could have been handed more deftly, made more intriguing. As it is, it just seems like the world-building is lacking.

The other driving force of the story is the secrecy that Greene encouraged. The Veil between the worlds is failing. It’s the Veil that was created to allow Folk to hide amongst humans as long as they were careful about using their powers. Greene has been collecting faculty, staff, and students who are Folk, often some who don’t know it, and created the school for them. It is assumed for them to be safer when the Veil falls, but his is a complicated character, good and bad in turns. It is only when all the secrecy falls away, that the characters can work together to strengthen the Veil before it’s too late. This is a temporary fix, so a more permanent solution will need to found for the future to help those trapped protecting the Folk.

Since the younger characters Robyn, Harry, and Jaime will likely play a larger role in the rest of the series, this is more like a YA book about a school for Folk, like a paranormal urban fantasy version of the school in XMen. The world-building only shows what the reader needs for each scene, so it’s easy to read. I just need more than that if I am going to be kept mentally engaged. I didn’t feel attached to the characters; I feel like I know things about them, rather than that I know them, so my emotional investment was low even though it was entertaining. Overall this is a stress free read for when you want to relax with an interesting premise and cute characters.

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Review: Enough by Matthew J Metzger

Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Jesse is a firefighter with a huge lack of self-esteem. He seems to think the only thing he has to offer is sex. His first boyfriend is a teacher named Ezra. They’ve been together for 8 months and he is meeting Ezra’s conservative, Catholic family for the first time. Then, he meets Ezra’s ex-boyfriend and things start to go really wrong.

This book is more about Jesse’s journey battling his past demons and fears while learning to trust Ezra and himself. Erza has his own family issues. If Ezra’s mom is awful, Ezra’s sister is a true horror. At least Ezra’s mom has a moment in here where she redeems herself in the hospital. I don’t want to give you more of a spoiler than that, but while the book blurb tells you the whole plot, it also doesn’t give you the depth of what you are getting into here. The family issues are not magically solved with everyone an accepting happy clappy group at the end. I found this very realistic.

One issue that is used well at the beginning as a plot point is Ezra’s ex-boyfriend Liam. He is a foil and catalyst for some of their most conflicted moments as a couple. Yet, at the end, he is just dropped. I am of two minds about that. On the one hand, he is finally relegated to where he actually belongs in regards to his importance in their lives. On the other hand…did he just give up? If so, why did he give up? Did he finally back off because Ezra actually has a boyfriend, or was it something else? Did he no longer want Ezra? That would make him the biggest douchebag of all time under the circumstances, and contradicts how Ezra describes him.

Most of this is about those moments when dating turns into love and now the couple have to rip themselves open to each other to let that someone in. Seeing behind the curtain to see if they can be a real couple that shares the good and bad is part of the battle. Jesse learning his worth is a major part of the plot, but I was not totally happy with his epiphany moment. For me, there could have been some tweaking to let the reader know Jesse understood his value as a man: not just a firefighter or because Ezra loves him, and not just because he stayed. Still, the scenes between them are sexy and meaningful. There is never a doubt that Ezra is his whole world. It’s touching when he finally sees and believes that he is Ezra’s whole world too. There is a lot of time that passes in this novella so the reader gets to see when Jesse trusts himself to be himself, and trusts what Ezra tells him. I have to say I am starting to really like this author.

The cover art by Erin Dameron-Hill. I have to say I like the color choices. The hoodie is even reminiscent of fire gear and the blackened room shows Jesse’s nightmare landscape. I did picture him a bit bulkier due to the size difference with Ezra.

Salels Links: Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details: Kindle Edition, 192 pages
Published July 9th 2019 by Pride Publishing (first published May 22nd 2014)
ASINB07S7HXDXK
Edition Language: English

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Enough by Matthew J Metzger — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Love Is All: Volume 2 edited by Xio Axelrod

LoveIsAllVol2
Copyright © 2019 by Xio Axelrod LLC

I would rate this whole collection 3.75 stars.

This is a charity anthology, so I tend to think of the stories as a thank you for donating money. All anthologies are a mixed bag and people will like different stories than I do, but here are a few of my favorites from this collection. There is a variety of combinations (M/M, F/F, M/M/F, M/F) with bisexual, trans, and ace represented. They are all contemporary except for the one historical, paranormal romance. The foreword by Roan Parrish is quite eloquent.

R.L. Merrill, Pinups and Puppies (F/F, 4 stars)

This is told from the first person POV of Marianne, who is struggling with grief and reintegration after her retirement from the Air Force. She owns a vintage plane and volunteers to transport dogs to help shelters who find them homes. That’s how she meets Dinah, who co-owns the shelter. They both seem to have great support systems filled with family and friends. With great chemistry, their lives and interests slot nicely together, making them a cute couple.

Susan Scott Shelley, Sugar Crush (Bliss Bakery Series) (M/M, 4.5 stars)

Jack, a horror novelist, gets to know a baker named Gabriel when he joins a softball team to help his friend Shane. This has an opposites attract trope with great sexual tension and friends as extended family. This is about fitting into someone’s life and making room for them to fit into yours–giving each other a safe space and carving out shared time, while still having their own interests. Also, not letting fear or the past get in the way of the future.

Xio Axelrod When Frankie Meets Johnny (M/M, 4.25 stars)

DJ meets contractor/teacher in this hurt/comfort tale with an age gap. This story is what you make it. I highly recommend listening to all the songs that he plays for a hell of a good time. If an artist is mentioned, but not a song, pick one that has a title that fits the scene. I would have rated this higher, but I couldn’t tell if this was Johnny’s first time with a man or he was demisexual? There is certainly a misunderstanding I think could have been handled better, but the story is charming.

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Review: Fox Hunt by J. Leigh Bailey, Shifter U 4

Fox Hunt
Cover Art © 2019 Aaron Anderson aaronbydesign55@gmail.com

I would rate this 4 stars.

This is the fourth book in this series, but can sincerely be read as a standalone. I haven’t read all the series in order, but didn’t feel at a disadvantage at all. In fact, this is a great example of how to blend pertinent information into a story without awkward or wordy recaps. In the course of doing a favor for a friend, David hacks something that brings him to the attention of the Moreau Initiative, a group of scientists researching and experimenting on shifters. He mother assigns him a bodyguard, Buddy aka Theo, he doesn’t think he needs, as he goes on a three week cross-country road trip for a college campus tour before he starts graduate school for journalism.

This is a great road trip story featuring a slew of tropes: age gap, forced proximity, fake boyfriends, gentle giant, and bodyguard crush. Since Buddy is a bear shifter, there is some humor thrown in during a leather night at a LGBTQ+ Irish pub. David’s skills match his foxy, inquisitive nature, lending him maturity when he could fly off the handle and derail things. I like that he stops and thinks. His family plays a large part as his mother is the head of the Western Division Shifter Council Headquarters, his older brother Aidan is her aide, and his mother’s fiance Darren is a member. I liked that there is a strong female leader who can direct the shifters, even in battle. Although Buddy’s family is not highlighted in this book (I think his brothers are in previous books), he helped raise his brothers. His patient and nurturing way is just what David needs. David’s fierce loyalty and consideration is just what Buddy needs. Though fast, they grow close by being honest and sharing confidences. The action throughout the book was always leading to a violent conclusion. It’s a shame the bad guys here, at every step of the way, are quite one dimensional, and none too clever. Also, the emotional exchanges with and between the other characters are not as rich as those between David and Buddy. This was an enjoyable ride, with an interesting plot, likeable leads, and a fast but realistically compact romance in intense situations. I think I’ll go back and read the ones I missed.

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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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