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

Review: Once Upon a Bad Boy

My only complaint of the cover is I imagined more of a height difference. The heroine is only 5’1″.

This book is a very sweet, emotional m/f contemporary romance, with a second chance at love. Sadie and Bo were childhood sweethearts, but Bo broke up with her on prom night and broke her heart. They don’t see each other for 10 years. They end up having to work together on a movie that is Sadie’s big break as an actress and Bo’s biggest job as a stunt coordinator. The old sparks reignite and they don’t fight their feelings.

I appreciated that they didn’t run from what they felt for each other. They both accepted really early that they were each other’s person. But the road is not all smooth sailing as they still have ghosts from the past to face. She never knew why he broke up with her. And she also kept a big secret from him.

I was able to guess what the secret was pretty quickly, but I didn’t mind. I liked the way they talked to each other. I liked the way they cared about each other. I liked the memories of their time together as first loves. But it drove me crazy how long it took them to talk about their past. I wanted to scream at them to just talk already! But really, that’s a minor complaint.

All the friends from the previous books in the series were there, and they were fantastic. I would have liked more of them, actually. We got to see so much of them in the first book, which was a smart way to kick off the series. In fact, this book might be my favorite in the series. I loved the first one because of the big, sexy ginger hero, but this one gave me more feels. It was a bit of a slow start, but once I got into it, I couldn’t stop.

I give this book 4.5 stars. It was a fun, sweet read, and I will probably enjoy it on rereads. In fact, I’ll probably track down a print copy to go with my copy of Getting Hot with the Scot. Also, I really love the covers they are putting on this series.

Reading this Week – June 16

  • All Hours by Andie J. Christopher – This m/m was sweet and steamy. Full review coming.
  • Natural Enemies by Roan Parrish – Another feels-y m/m from this wonderful author. Great descriptions of plants and the love story was super sweet.
  • Mr. Hotshot CEO by Jackie Lau – This m/f had excellent depression representation. Almost too good in fact. Her descriptions of depressed feelings nearly bummed me out.
  • Misadventures with a Professor by Sierra Simone – m/f, age gap. This author is hot, hot, hot.
  • Somebody to Love by Aurelia Fray – m/f. This was not my favorite. Full review already posted.

Reread this week

  • Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish
  • Out of Nowhere by Roan Parrish

Review – Somebody to Love

I received an e-ARC of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

I really hate writing negative reviews. I like squeeing over books and it bums me out when I don’t like something. But I really did not like this book. All of the characters were stupid and mean. That sounds really harsh, but it’s true! The main characters meet when the heroine mistakes the plumber (hero) for her new psychologist, and he realizes her mistake and pretends to be the doctor. She feels like he’s probably full of shit but agrees to another session (I guess because she’s self-hating and curious??) and then continues seeing him for coffee and other activities while still pretending she thinks she’s getting therapy. At first, I thought she mistook him for a prostitute she had hired and that would have been less ridiculous, or at least less offensive. But then she starts spilling her guts to him and I realize she thinks it’s therapy. Maybe it’s my extensive history with mental health care services, but I couldn’t believe someone would pretend to be a therapist. And it’s not a funny meet-cute to me.

The heroine has this cousin/best friend who’s a total monster and makes the heroine feel like shit all the time. Both MCs screw around with other people over the course of the book. The hero’s girlfriend is another mega-bitch crazy woman. It just felt really woman hating. Although the heroine was plus size and mostly happy about it, there was fat-shamey language throughout the book from other characters. Including the hero. The mega-bitches get their comeuppance in the end, but the heroine sinks to their level too much for my liking by publicly humiliating them. 

I didn’t get the feeling that this author truly likes romance novels. It felt more like she was trying to subvert tropes and mocking them instead. There were some funny lines though. And the cover is adorable.

Flash Review: Create a Life to Love

CW: This book has some explicit m/f domestic violence.

I received an ARC of Create a Life to Love by Erin Zak from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is a sweet f/f romance with an adorable side story of a teenager falling in love as well. The book opens with 16-year-old Beth arriving at the doorstep of her birth mother, Jackie, after tracking her down with a private investigator. Jackie is shocked but agrees to drive Beth home where she meets Susan, Beth’s adoptive mother. Susan is married to Beth’s adoptive father and he is abusive. There is abuse on the page and it was really disturbing. I can imagine it would be very triggering for anyone with this in their history and it was not indicated in the blurb for the book so be warned. Susan takes Beth and leaves her husband. They want to go somewhere he won’t think to look for them and Beth suggests Jackie’s house. While there, Susan becomes more open to her attraction to Jackie and they fall in love. Beth meets some local teens and hits it off with a girl and realizes she’s bisexual. I was not surprised that there was a confrontation with the ex-husband, but it went much smoother than I expected.

Again, this book was really sweet. Jackie and Susan were both likable and I was rooting for them. I give this book 3.5 stars.

Review: 28 Dates

28 Dates by Stacey Lynn was cute and sweet. Caitlin and Jonas are friends with benefits but Jonas wants more. Caitlin is afraid of commitment and breaks it off. They remain friends, sort of. Caitlin’s boss asks her to test his dating app and Jonas joins without her knowing. They get matched and Jonas tries to win her heart via text, while watching her go on 28 dates with random dudes. Eventually Caitlin finds out the dude she likes from the app is Jonas. She’s not pissed that he sort of lied. She’s very wooed. Then HEA, baby. (Actually babies. Nice epilogue. I know a lot of people think baby epilogues are unnecessary. And they are. But I still like them.)

I felt like the book kind of glossed over Caitlin’s issues. She has parental problems and she just kind of magically gets over it after one conversation with her friend. And Jonas dates another girl after Caitlin rejects him at the beginning. He breaks up with the other woman before he starts going after the Heroine again, but I just don’t like any other woman drama.

I give this book 4 Stars. I enjoyed the writing style and the side characters. I will probably track down the other books in this series.

Oh, and I have to say, I freaking hated the cover on the ARC. I don’t know if it will end up being the final cover, but I’m guessing it will because it has the same look as another book in the series. It made me expect a very different book. I was happily surprised that the book didn’t deliver on the promise of the cover.

I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Reading this Week – June 9

  • Hardcore by Dakota Gray – m/f, workplace, sort of second chance. This was first person narration from the hero’s point of view, which I feel like is hard to do well. First person of anyone is hard to pull off, but I’m always impressed when the hero’s POV is done well and it was here. He was a dirty dude though. Wow.
  • Want Me by Neve Wilder – m/m, college. Definitely the most explicit m/m I’ve ever read, but it also had these moments of true sweetness from the two alpha bros who fell in love. Typically, I don’t love an alpha bro, much less two, but seeing these guys come together was lovely. So.Much.Sex. though. So if you’re looking for lots of plot and dialog, probably want to skip this one. I loved it though. I’ve already read it two more times.
  • Dedicated by Neve Wilder – m/m, workplace, friends to lovers – Another sweet one from this author. This one had more conflict and less sexytimes, but it was still really good.
  • Knight’s Fire by SJ Himes – m/m, paranormal, DRAGONS! I fucking love dragons. I don’t know why, but I do. This mythology was a little different. Rather than a human/dragon shifter, the dragon was a true shape shifter and could assume any shape. He preferred to assume the human shape so he could get it on with the knight. I’m looking forward to the next in the series, about their wedding and resolving the Big Bad.
  • Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut by R. Cooper – m/m, friends to lovers, virgin hero – This was the sweetest, most precious (in the best sense of the word) love story. Jerry is my favorite. And I loved Lincoln’s dad bod.

Reread this week:

  • Band Sinister by KJ Charles – My #1 go-to comfort read. And fitting my theme of only reading LGBT books the rest of this month for Pride.