Review – Work for It

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

OMG, can a book review just be one big sigh of happiness? This book was so good. I’m going to struggle to explain how good this book was. It’s the story of Olu and Griff. Olu is struggling with depression after a forced outing and Griff is the outcast of his small town. Olu goes to the small town for the elderflower harvest and meets Griff. They meet and become fast enemies. But they keep crossing paths because Griff runs the elderflower farm. There is hate-staring and pining and wishing. Olu apologizes for being a jerk when they met, and they start to become friends. Then they hold hands. Sparks!!!! It’s a slow burn, especially for this author, and it fits the story perfectly. I was dying for these two to get together already. To just freaking kiss! And then they did! And I died.

This story is told in alternating first person POV, and it suited the story perfectly. They both had unique voices. And there were moments that were so funny. They both have sarcastic inner monologues that made me laugh. I wanted to highlight something on every page. Both men fought their feelings so hard. But they fell hard too. And the HEA was so sweet.

Now for some of my favorite things about this book. One, I loved the description of Griff. Olu thinks he’s ugly at first but then sees his beauty. He’s described as huge, a bear of a man, and he has a soft belly. I am all for softer heroes in romance. Give me a dadbod any day of the week. Cuddles for days is what I’m saying.

Second, the mental health rep was spot-on. Olu has depression and Talia (I can call her by her first name because we’re totes bff’s in my imagination) writes him in the perfect tone. She captures how depression isn’t just stealing your good moods and your capacity for feeling, it steals a part of you. It changes your you-ness. And fills you with fear that no one will accept you as you are, that you don’t deserve acceptance, that you’re just a burden on everyone. Olu had those fears. Griff had experience with being there for someone in this situation, as his mom also had depression. He accepts Olu as he is and just wants to be there for him, especially when he’s feeling less than himself.

Griff is steady and true and I loved him. I didn’t really understand why he was such an outcast. I guess being a huge, scary looking dude with a scandalous mom is enough to make you the weird one in a small town. Everyone except his best friend treats him like he’s stupid, but he’s not. He’s amazing. Do not come for Griff. I will fight you.

I give this book all the stars, 5 giant, twinkling heart eye emoji stars. I already want to read it again. I want it in print and audio. I want it painted on the walls of my house.

Basically, what I’m saying is, go buy this book right now.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.