• Adam’s Trial (Trials in Abingdon #2) by J.M. Wolf

    Adam's Trial (Trials in Abingdon #2)Adam’s Trial by J.M. Wolf
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    Well, that was a rollercoaster ride. If you enjoy secrets with good intentions, fierce fabulousness, family and former lover drama, and a big ole health scare, Adam’s Trial is for you.

    I love Adam. He’s snarky and outrageous and stubborn. Jerrick is a good match with his mostly level head.

    This book hits home with family is what you make of it. Adam and his crew are tightknit, regardless of blood relation. I enjoyed the interactions between the characters. They are written really well, it’s impossible not to feel the connection they have with each other.

    There were several minor characters introduced throughout, and a times I had difficulty recalling who everyone was and how they related to Adam. Also, some of the dialogue was a bit over the top for me.

    Overall, I enjoyed the story and look forward to the continuation of the series. There’s definitely more going on with this crew that I’m anxious to know about.

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  • Behind the Lights (Social Sinners #1) by T.L. Travis

    Behind the Lights (Social Sinners #1)Behind the Lights by T.L. Travis
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    ***Copy provided by author is exchange for honest review.***

    I’m excited for this series, each book from the POV of a different member of a metal band formed in high school. Behind the Lights is lead singer Joey’s story.

    First off, this story is not heavy on the romance at all. It’s basically Joey’s life from a small child to the band’s headlining tour. And as we all know, life isn’t just roses and kisses and hot sexy times. (One can find two of those things in this book, and roses isn’t one of them.) The reader learns of Joey’s home life and his growth as a sensitive, rambunctious child with a rough home life to a teen discovering his sexuality to a rockstar.

    I loved reading about Social Sinner’s beginnings and rise to a big touring band. The reader gets a look at the music industry through the eyes of Joey as he recounts Social Sinners’ start as a small town band playing local gigs and evolution to a nationally known band with a manager and recording contract.

    I really enjoyed getting to know Joey and his friends through Joey’s eyes. His feelings and reactions (especially to bigger bands and rockstars on their first tour) feel genuine and are endearing. I felt like I got to know him really well. He is very much a likable character.

    As I mentioned, there isn’t much romance in this story as it is more of a tale of growing up and life. It’s refreshing to read a story that isn’t only focused on building romantic relationships, and instead is about friendship and life’s highs and lows.

    What I am calling the prologue (titled “June 9, 2018” in my copy) and epilogue were a bit repetitive. They do take place at the same time, so I guess that’s inevitable, but I did find at least one line repeated word for word in both.

    I look forward to reading the next releases in this series.

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  • The Art of Falling In Love by Eli Summers

    The Art of Falling In LoveThe Art of Falling In Love by Eli Summers
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Mean Girls meets 10 Things I Hate About You meets Romeo & Juliet

    You’ve got the snarky, cruel, and petty classmates and supposed friends; you’ve got the somewhat of an outcast sibling with the popular brother; and you’ve got the star-crossed lovers fighting against obstacle after obstacle to be together.

    Even at just 150 pages, there’s a lot going on in this story. One can’t help but feel the pull of heartstrings for Holden. He’s coming to terms with his newly discovered sexuality while dealing with life-long friends turning their backs on him, a father who is hyper critical, and adults who should be…well, adults but aren’t.

    Then you have sweet Aaron, new to the town and trying to fit in. I loved how awkward they are with each other and the bold moves Holden makes. Aaron is a great ally for Holden as he witnesses first hand the bigotry of the people he’s known his entire life. Aaron is also the voice of reason, reminding Holden of the reality of the people he used to trust. It seemed like Holden could never catch a break. Each chapter saw a different hurdle for Holden to navigate. Unfortunately, those obstacles are far too true to life.

    While I enjoyed getting to know Holden and Aaron and their developing relationship, I did feel their pairing was a bit rushed. I wanted more build up between the two before the sexy times and the declarations of commitment.

    Another issue (and I use that word lightly) I had was the ending. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME, MR. SUMMERS?! I will be waiting on pins and needles for the next installment of Holden and Aaron’s love story.

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  • Love at First Hate (Porthkennack, #11) by J.L. Merrow

    Love at First Hate (Porthkennack, #11)
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    ***ARC provided via NetGalley in exchange for honest and impartial review.***

    Love at First Hate is set in the Porthkennack universe and features some of the characters from the previous books. however, it isn’t necessary to read the previous books to fully enjoy this installment. I’ve read a few others, not in order, and I wasn’t lost at any part of the book.

    The is the slowest of slow burns. It took until about two thirds of the way before the characters kiss. I loved the build up to that moment. The book kept me riveted and not just for the potential love connection. The author delves into Bran’s complicated family history and ties into the exhibition of the Black Prince (an ancestor) that he is funding. Sam has his own troublesome history that he’s trying to work through and get past. .

    While I enjoyed the history lessons interwoven into the story and the development of the characters, I was disappointed with the resolution of one of the points of conflict. I believe the author intended to use this as an example of the character’s evolution, but it was far from a reality I could easily accept. This particular event left me perplexed.

    Overall, I really liked all facets of the story and the characters.

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  • Trans Figured: My Journey from Boy to Girl to Woman to Man by Brian Belovitch

    ***ARC provided via NetGalley in exchange for honest and impartial review.***

    Trans Figured: My Journey from Boy to Girl to Woman to ManTrans Figured: My Journey from Boy to Girl to Woman to Man by Brian Belovitch
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    TW/CW for rape/sexual assault, physical abuse, emotional abuse, transphobia, homophobia, body dysphoria, drug use…I’m probably overlooking some.

    Trans Figured is Brian Belovitch’s true story of growing up and becoming an adult as a transgender person during a time when being different was not only frowned upon, but dangerous at times.. It’s a heavy read, one rife with difficult topics.

    Brian’s chronicle of his evolution from a cherub child to transgender woman to a gay man is at times both fabulous and heart-wrenching. His story is filled with abusive family members, celebrity cameos, nefarious friends and acquaintances, and unexpected fairy godmothers/fathers.

    How one lived through everything he experienced and made it out in one piece is a mystery. Brian is very candid in relating all the good and bad events from his life. He doesn’t sugarcoat any of the roadblocks and pit stops on his journey. No doubt he has lived an exciting and varied life.

    Brian gives the reader a unique insight into his account of his inner turmoil of his outward appearance not matching his internal identity and his struggle to adapt to his changing circumstances. Lack of stability and ulterior motives of the people he wants to trust form and influence his bumpy journey. One can’t help but think if one particular event didn’t occur or if one particular person didn’t cross his path or treat him a certain way, his life might have turned out quite differently.

    But his story isn’t all bad. He does form great, positive relationships that help him repair the damage, In the end, he flourishes. Sometimes you have to go through the bad to get to the good.

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  • Worth Fighting For (Heart of the South #3) by Wendy Qualls

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    ***ARC provided via NetGalley in exchange for honest and impartial review.***

    This is not your typical romance story and that’s what made me like this book so much. Sterling is raising his 10 year old daughter, Alexa, alone after his wife’s passing. He hires Jericho as Alexa’s live-in babysitter for the summer. The reader gets a unique insight into Alexa and her transition to the girl she knows she is. I appreciated Alexa’s perspective as a young person beginning the transition process and all the challenges that come with it. The reader also gets Sterling’s perceptive as a closeted gay, single dad struggling to cope with the loss of his wife, the out-right nastiness of his in-laws, all the while he has his hands full of a rambunctious child. Jericho’s perspective is that of a gay POC living in a closed-minded environment.

    The author does a great job of developing each characters’ own voice. I sympathized with each of their varying struggles. There’s no sugar-coating or skimming of serious issues that come with being transgender and autistic, black and gay, and gay and closeted. A book simply cannot have such varying, unique characters without addressing homophobia, transphobia, racism, classism.

    Sterling is a great parent to Alexa, and Jericho is the perfect addition as her advocate. Jericho helps dad and daughter navigate the ups and downs of her transition, and I just wanted to hug him for being so awesome.

    The romance between Sterling and Jericho is definitely a slow burn, but once Sterling gets his head out of his butt, theses guys can’t keep their hands off each other. They are so sweet with each other and i loved reading their growing connection.

    If you’re looking for something different from the norm, the book is worth the read.

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  • Over and Over Again by Cole McCade

    Over and Over AgainOver and Over Again by Cole McCade
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    ***ARC kindly provided by the author in exchange for a honest and impartial review.***

    I’ve been struggling with how to review this book. This is my first read by Cole McCade, and I wasn’t familiar with any of this writing prior to reading Over and Over again.

    First, I should mention that I prefer reading longer stories to shorter ones. This one clocks in at just under 700 pages, which excited me from the get-go. What also attracted me was the demisexual rep.

    The author goes into great detail of the day-to-day operations of a farm, and while I appreciated the attention to detail (and I did learn quite a few things), My interest was lost for about half of the book. I would have liked to get more interactions between Luca and his parents, to get more insight into their family dynamic. I also wanted to know more about Imre during the ten years Luca and his family were gone.

    Another issue I had was that the writing is a bit too purple prosey for me. Descriptions are good for setting the mood and creating a visual for the reader; however, the excessive use of descriptive words went overboard for me.

    In spite of the above issues, I really liked Luca and Imre. The characters were well-developed and easy to empathize with. I also enjoyed the inclusion of Hungarian and Romanian culture references.

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  • Vanilla Clouds by Roe Horvat

    Vanilla CloudsVanilla Clouds by Roe Horvat
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    ***ARC kindly provided by the author in exchange for an honest and impartial review.***

    Damn, does Roe know how to write a captivating story. Vanilla Clouds is one of the sweetest I’ve read recently, and is quite different from Roe’s previous works. It doesn’t matter what they write, I will drop everything to read it.

    Mouth watering descriptions of chocolate treats and references to Black Books (great show!) kept me riveted, and the developing relationship between the MC and his LI had me smiling. There are lots of tender moments and hot sexy times.

    Vanilla Clouds is a delicious, short read for anyone looking for a sweet HEA.

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  • Going Sasquatch (Finnegan & Morrow #1) by Jess Whitecroft

    Going Sasquatch (Finnegan & Morrow #1)Going Sasquatch by Jess Whitecroft
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    I have a new favorite author and her name is Jess Whitecroft. This is my second book of hers and Going Sasquatch is just as amazing as my first read of hers (Burn Me), but for different reasons. While Burn Me is heavy and dark, Going Sasquatch is ridiculously hilarious and sweet.

    As the title suggests, Bigfoot plays a big role in the plot. The situations the MC and his LI find themselves in are laugh out loud funny. The minor characters introduced throughout are perfect additions to the story.

    Finn is a great voice for this story, and Chase is a darling. Oh, and the chemistry between the two…WOWZA. There’s a lot of sexy times in this story, but it never felt stale. Usually, for me, when a book has a lot of sex in it, there’s much opportunity for repetition and I can get bored easily. Not with this one. Each coupling felt fresh and new, both from my perspective as a reader and as told from the characters’ perspectives.

    If you’re looking for an outrageously silly story with a sweet, hot romance, I highly recommend Going Sasquatch.