Review: Man vs. Durian

How adorable is this cover?
I love it.

I received an e-ARC of this book from the author for an honest review.

This book is one of my favorites of the year. It’s the third in a series that I haven’t read, and I loved the side characters. I will definitely be reading the first two books.

Valerie had a bad year. Her boyfriend cheated on her and she had to quit her job due to sexual harassment. She’s working at her best friend’s Ice Cream shop where she meets Peter. Peter is a landscaper who hates durian. Valerie spills durian ice cream all over Peter, and it was an excellent meet cute. Peter asks Valerie out and she turns him down but asks him to be her fake boyfriend. Then they both catch real feelings.

I had so many favorite things about this book: 1. The excellent communication. 2. Peter’s appreciation of Valerie — supporting her without pushing. 3. All the food! And finally, Valerie can only orgasm with certain stimulation, and she is NOT “fixed” by Peter’s magical man parts! He has to learn how to please her and what works for her, and he is a VERY eager student.

I give this book five heart-eye emoji stars! My highest rating. haha. I loved this book and I already can’t wait to read it again. Jackie Lau has such a great voice and awesome characters. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

Reading this Week – August 18

I’m a couple of weeks behind so this will be a long list.

  • Trashed by Mia Hopkins – m/f, contemporary. See my full review of this one here.
  • The Weight of It All by N.R. Walker – m/m, friends to lovers. This was a great story that included a hero with a less-than-perfect body. There is a lot of discussion of exercise and weight loss, but it was from a healthy perspective. No fat shaming. It was a really sweet story. I loved the characters.
  • Team A.L.P.H.A. Books 1-4 by Susi Hawke – m/m, mpreg, wolf shifters, fated mates – These are light, goofy stories that I tore through in no time. I don’t know why I enjoy male pregnancy books so much, but I do.
  • Facing West by Lucy Lennox – m/m, enemies to lovers. This was the first in the Forever Wilde series about a family made up of mostly gay guys, and I liked it. These books were good. Enjoyable, quick reads. Nothing earth-shattering.
  • The DILF by London Hale – m/f, age gap, best friend’s father. Meh. This was a book. Mostly just a lot of doin’ it.
  • Felix and the Prince by Lucy Lennox – m/m, royalty. Another Forever Wilde novel. Enjoyable. I’m glad it was on KU.
  • Wilde Fire by Lucy Lennox – m/m, second chance. This Forever Wilde novel was super sweet and had a little mystery.
  • Hudson’s Luck by Lucy Lennox – m/m. Another Forever Wilde. Guess what? That one brother you thought was straight, nope. Totes bi. Falls for a cute femme ginger.
  • Flirt by Lucy Lennox – m/m, age gap. Forever Wilde novella featuring the young bakery guy and the salt-and-pepper fire chief.
  • His Saint by Lucy Lennox – m/m. Most unusual pairing of the Forever Wilde series. Ex Navy SEAL with small antiquities dealer. There was a mystery in this one too.
  • Wilde Love by Lucy Lennox – m/m, friends to lovers. The story of the grandfathers of the rest of the Wilde boys. Includes a section during the Vietnam War and the death of a wife. It’s a really touching love story too.
  • King Me by Lucy Lennox – m/m, enemies to lovers. Final Forever Wilde novel to date. Good stuff, but Dirk Falcon is a terrible name.
  • Scales and a Tail by Stormy Glen – m/m, mpreg, dragon, bunny, paranormal. This book was funny and fun. A quick read. Another excellent addition to my dragon collection. And there’s good grovel here too.
  • Spells and Bananas by Joyee Flynn – m/m, witch, spider monkey, mpreg. Funny book in this midnight matings series.
  • Hot Ride by Lucy Lennox – m/m, age gap, virgin hero. Cute story about two dancers who fall for each other.
  • Fire and Ash by Gabrielle Evans – m/m, phoenix, fae. Another goofy midnight matings book.
  • Grounding Griffin by Lucy Lennox – m/m – Another family series by this author. Good stuff.
  • Jumping Jude by Lucy Lennox – m/m, workplace. Sweet story of country music star and his bodyguard. I liked the bodyguard character a lot.
  • IRL: In Real Life by Lucy Lennox and Molly Maddox – m/m, enemies to lovers, secret. Funny, cute story from dick pic to true love. I really enjoyed this one.

Flash Review – Trashed

I received an e-ARC of Trashed by Mia Hopkins from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This was the second book in The Eastside Brewery series. I have enjoyed both books. This was about the middle brother, Eddie, and how he makes a life for himself after prison, and of course, the woman he falls in love with along the way. Eddie was a great character. I don’t always like first-person Hero point of view books, but I liked his voice.

Carmen was an awesome heroine — a badass chef who sees the good in Eddie. I wanted more of her and more conversations between the two of them. There was a side story about Eddie finding out what happened to his father, who supposedly died while Eddie was in prison. It was necessary to Eddie’s story, but I really wanted more of him and Carmen.

It’s cool to read about characters who aren’t your typical romance novel main characters. Of course, they’re still above average attractiveness, but they’re not rich or privileged. Eddie struggles. Carmen struggles. They help each other.

I give this book four stars. It was so well-written. The blurb at the end from the third book in the series has me on pins and needles waiting for it. It sounds amazing. I highly recommend this entire series. It’s sexy as hell and shows a side of life not often found in romance.

Reading this Week – August 4

  • Her Christmas Cookie by Katrina Jackson – Somehow I missed this one when I was reading the Welcome to Sea Port series. It’s a continuation of the throuple in From Scratch where they meet each other’s families. m-m-f, happily ever after.
  • Dirty by Kylie Scott – m/f, contemporary This was funny and cute. A quick read.
  • The Client by Meghan O’Brien – f/f, former bully. This was a quick, steamy story. I have trouble with the former bully trope, but it was well-done here. I wish this had been longer and gone more into their relationship and a true HEA instead of the quick HFN.
  • By Fairy Means or Foul by Meghan Maslow – m/m, magic, dragons, fairies. This was an adorable and funny book. The first in a series and I am looking forward to reading more.
  • Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean – m/f, historical – This was an amazing story with an AMAZING heroine! It is indeed the Year of Hattie and I am here for it! Whitt was an excellent hero as well. I don’t always love the grunt-y heroes, but this totally worked for me. I already bought the paperback for my keeper shelf.
  • Man vs. Durian by Jackie Lau – m/f, fake relationship. OMG, I loved this book! My review will post on the 27th, release day. Another that I’ll have to track down in print for the keeper shelf. Peter is total book boyfriend material.
  • Swallow by Piper Scott and Virginia Kelly – m/m, dragons. This is a spinoff of the bananapants crazy series that I loved so much by these authors. It’s about the dad dragon and his HEA. Major age gap. Something like 1,000 year-old dragon with a 20 year old. haha. This wasn’t as bananas as the original series but I still enjoyed it and loved seeing some of my favorite characters from the original series pop in.
  • Loving the Secret Billionaire by Adriana Anders – m/f, disability rep, age gap, virgin hero. This was a good story. Older heroine (I don’t remember if it ever says how old, but I’m guessing late 30’s) falls for a 23 year old billionaire hacker.
  • Endless Stretch of Blue by Riley Hart – m/m, grief, friends to lovers. This was a sweet story of two straight guys who both lost siblings in a bar fire and they meet and fall in love.
  • The Beast in Him by Shelly Laurenston – m/f, wolves, wild dogs, shifters, paranormal, friends to lovers. Like everything from this author, this was a funny read with enough steam and some original characters. I really hope the hero’s sister gets a story in this series. She’s mean and crazy, but kind of my favorite.

Reread this week:

  • A Boy Called Cin by Cecil Wilde
  • S.O.S. by Arabella Faith
  • Getaway Girl, Runaway Girl and Halfway Girl by Tessa Bailey

Review – All Hours

I received an e-ARC of All Hours by Andie J. Christopher from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This m/m romance was a quick, sweet read. Felix’s sister is married to Javier’s cousin so they’ve known each other for a while, but hadn’t interacted much. Javier’s grandmother tries to set up Felix and Javier, but it doesn’t really work. Javier gets injured and needs surgery so Felix takes over his restaurant while he recovers. Javier gets pants feelings for Felix pretty quickly and they decide to have a fling. They both catch feelings and there’s a dust up with an evil ex that threatens their happily-ever-after.

I don’t always enjoy chef romances because I don’t get a lot out of the food descriptions, but this book didn’t talk much about the food so I appreciated that. The sexytimes were hot and sweet and gave them both heart feelings in addition to the pants feelings. I wish it had been longer and gotten more into the heads and hearts of the main characters, but this is book 6 in a series so maybe the previous books introduced them more. I will be seeking out at least a couple of those books because I really liked both of their sisters.

This was my first book by this author, and I was excited to read it. She cracks me up on Twitter. I really enjoyed her voice and the tone of this book. I give it 4 stars.

Reading this Week – July 23

The reading slump is over!

  • Wound Tight by Tessa Bailey – very sexy m/m between a CEO and his security guy. I like stories with two alpha dudes falling in love.
  • Toxic Desire by Robin Lovett – crazy-pants m/f alien romance. It’s a planet full of a toxin that will kill you if you don’t have sex regularly. First in a trilogy. Naturally, I’m reading them all as fast as I can.
  • Captivated by Tessa Bailey and Eve Dangerfield – m/f, neighbors. This was good. Funny and dirty.
  • Heat Wave by Ceri Grenelle – m/f, neighbors, friends to lovers. This quick read was cute.
  • Building Up to Love by J.V. Speyer – cute enough m/m. See full review here.
  • Written on His Skin by Simone Stark – m/f, epistolary, plus size heroine. This quick and dirty read was good.
  • Drilled by Brill Harper – m/f, age gap, plus size heroine, brothers bff – The author describes it as trope soup and that’s accurate. This came up in KU recommendations and it was ok.
  • Captive Desire by Robin Lovett – m/f, enemies to lovers, aliens – Second in the crazy-pants sex planet series. More wtf sexytimes. Very entertaining.
  • It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time by Kylie Scott – m/f, age gap, surprise baby. This was cute and funny, but I was let down by the ending. Still, I enjoyed the author’s style enough to know I’ll read more of her stuff.

Review: Building Up to Love

I received an e-ARC of Building Up to Love by J.V. Speyer from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is a second chance story between a designer/contractor, Jared, and defense lawyer, Logan, who’s being tormented by the mob. They were together in college but Logan, who is gay, broke up with Jared for being bi. There was lots of biphobic language in this book so there’s a content warning. Mostly, it was Jared remembering things Logan had said to him as well as biphobic stuff he internalized over the years. I was bothered by it, but it was Jared’s main conflict and reason for staying away from Logan after they ran into each other after 10 years apart. Logan believed all the hateful stuff his parents said about Jared back in college but during their time apart, he grew up, realized all that stuff was bullshit, and was very sorry he treated Jared that way. So when they meet up again, he immediately wants to make amends. Jared’s not into it because he can’t trust Logan, but he still wants him. They have sex a couple of times, but Jared says he doesn’t want to see Logan anymore. Then Logan confesses his love in an email.

This is where the story lost me. I just didn’t feel like the story earned the “I love you” yet. It felt like Logan was cheating, trying to skip the hard part of reconciling and just using I love you as an emotional bomb to get Jared back. This whole time, Logan is being stalked in more and more lethal ways by one of his client’s mob bosses and Jared saves his life a few times. Eventually, the mob boss gets put away and Jared decides to take a chance on Logan. But again, it just didn’t feel earned. Jared goes from “I don’t trust you and I don’t want to see you” to “I love you. Let’s have sexy times forever” without much effort. There was no grovel, no major conversation, and their relationship seemed pretty shallow. There’s another ex-boyfriend of Jared’s as a secondary character who was much more intriguing. I wanted them to work it out more than I cared about Jared/Logan.

I give this book three stars. It wasn’t bad, but I had quite a few issues with it. Also, the cover bugs me because Logan is described as having light brown skin and curly hair, not some basic white bro with straight douchebag hair.

Reading this Week – July 14

Another two weeks together. The reading slump is somewhat better. I read more but I wasn’t super enthusiastic about it.

  • Obey by Piper Scott – m/m, omegaverse, mpreg, billionaire, bdsm. No shifters in this one, just regular old human omega men who can get pregnant. haha.
  • Theirs for the Night by Katee Robert – m/m/f, good enough menage novella
  • S.O.S. by Arabella Faith – m/m, sweet, writer hero. I enjoyed this one a lot.
  • Runaway Girl by Tessa Bailey – m/f, funny. You can always count on some good old Tessa Bailey dirty talk to bust a reading slump.
  • Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey – m/f, funny, brothers best friend. I loved this one. Tessa Bailey can do no wrong to me.
  • Wound Tight by Tessa Bailey – m/m, workplace. This story was intense and somewhat uncomfortable because both dudes were so alpha. But I liked seeing how they worked it out.
  • Tied to the Tycoon by Chloe Cox – m/f, wtf sexytimes. I read this one from a Romancelandia friend’s WTF sex scene spreadsheet. They do butt stuff while the heroine is suspended by ropes off a skyscraper in Manhattan. Totally nuts.
  • Smoke Signals by Meredith Katz – m/m, dragons! This was a new type of dragon shifter and I loved it. His hoard was comprised of every game in existence. So cute.
  • All Grown Up by Vi Keeland – m/f, age gap. This older woman, younger man romance was a cute, fun, quick read.

Review: Raze

Not crazy about this cover. It’s not how I pictured Felix at all.

I received an e-ARC of Raze by Roan Parrish from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I loved the first two books in this series and I was excited to get the chance to read this one early.

I was really looking forward to Huey’s story and it did not disappoint! Roan Parrish writes emotions and personal growth so well. There was not a lot of “action” in this story, just a lovely tale of two people coming together to find their forever person and overcoming a lot of personal baggage that stands in the way of their relationship. Huey is a recovering addict who has overextended himself trying to give back, and Felix had to grow up fast and be responsible for his younger siblings from an early age. We get to see them learn to communicate their needs and wants in an open and honest way. This book comes alive in small moments, looks, and touches. It’s so beautifully written.

I give this book five stars. If you like Roan Parrish, you will love this book. If you like books that create emotional space, you will love this book. I highly recommend it.

Reading this Week – June 30

This is actually the past two weeks. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump.

  • A Boy Called Cin by Cecile Wilde – m/nb, billionaire, age gap. This was a super sweet romance with fantastic trans rep (according to trans reviewers on Goodreads, as well as my cis perception). The main characters are a bi trans man and a bi genderqueer man. Cin is one of the best characters I’ve read this year. I absolutely loved him.
  • To One Hundred by Melissa Blue – m/f, professor/student (but she’s older and just finishing a couple of credits, not a coed). This is the first in the Dirty Sexy Geeks series, and I loved it. I think Melissa Blue is highly underrated.
  • Three Nights with a Rock Star by Amber Lin and Shari Slade – m/f, rockstar. This was just ok. There was some manufactured angst that never really felt true. But it was steamy.
  • Perv by Dakota Gray – m/f This was my second try of this book and I was much more in the mood. The hero has an oral fetish so you really have to be in the mood for that. This book is filthy, in the best way.
  • Once Upon a Bad Boy by Melonie Johnson – m/f, second chance. See my previous post for the full review of this sweet book. I just love this series.
  • Being Neighborly: A Close Proximity Romance by Meka James – m/f, neighbors. This was a quick, one-handed read. I got it because I think the cover is hella sexy (see below) and it did not disappoint.
  • Where’s My Hero anthology – I read this for the Lisa Kleypas story featuring Derek and Sara Craven’s daughter. It was ok.

Re-read over the past two weeks

  • Want Me by Neve Wilder – I can’t stop with this book.
  • Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas – tried to bust the slump with an old favorite.
  • Misadventures with a Professor by Sierra Simone
  • Nine Rules to Break when Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean – another old favorite that failed to bust the slump.
  • A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean – Got this lovely one on sale and had to reread.
  • So Sweet by Rebekah Weatherspoon