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Meentje63

The Way She Reads

My thoughts on everything I read; good, bad and indifferent.

Great Fun

Detective Fox and the Christmas Caper (Dick and the Sidekick Book 1) - Isobel Starling

Oh but this book was fun; a cosy and humorous crime-caper come romance is probably the best description I can come up with. I pretty much smiled and laughed my way through this novella from start to finish.

 

There is a lot to like about this book. I loved both Tom’s gruffness and Eli’s sweet temperament, especially because the tables are completely turned once these two men get naked together. Sexy doesn’t begin to describe their bedroom (and living room for that matter) antics, but as hot as they were, they always erred on the side of sweet.

 

The crime in this book is rather ingenious and made me wonder about the author’s morality for a moment J I could actually see a set up as the one described in this book work in reality. The way the case ended on the other hand was all high jinks and far from realistic, but all the more fun for it. (And that’s all you’re getting, read the book if you want to know what I mean).

 

I’ve been a fan of ‘Midsomer Murders’, both the books and the TV series, and was delighted to see the author took her inspiration for Tom from those stories. Now that I’ve finished this story I can only hope the author will revisit Tom and Eli. Surely there are more mysteries and sexy-times in their future, and I for one, really want to read those.

 

If you’d like a lighthearted, sexy, and funny Christmas story look no further; Detective Fox and the Christmas Caper is exactly what you’re looking for.

Fun, Thrilling and Captivating

Empty Places - S A Laybourn

Empty Places was such a fun, thrilling, and captivating story I read it more or less in one sitting, something which came as a very pleasant surprise.

 

One of the reasons I rarely read m/f these days, especially suspense, is because all too often the female lead can only be described as ‘too stupid to live’. And, if I’m honest I have to admit that the blurb worried me somewhat. Threatening phone calls leave lots of scope for less than advisable behaviour. Thankfully Ellie Freeman did not live up to the stereotype. She does everything right; contacts the authorities, keeps a record of the threats made against her, and even accepts a gun although she hates the things. None of which saves her from the inevitable, of course.

 

In fact, this story kept on surprising me in that it managed to avoid being predictable completely. For starters, while the leader of the cult taking Ellie captive was every bit as creepy and crazy as you’d expect such a character to be, most of the other people Ellie interacts with there were no such thing. I liked that even now that I’ve finished the book I still can’t decide whether Ellie or Duncan was the stronger character; the fact that they both had their strengths and their weaknesses made them truly relatable.

 

If I do have an ‘issue’ with this story it is that Ellie, for me at least, gave in too easily in the end.  I won’t say anything else since I don’t believe in spoilers, but personally I’d have let him suffer for at least a short while.

 

What struck me most about this book though is how exquisite the writing was. The sentences flow, the balance between thought, action, and description was just about perfect and the story read so smoothly I was surprised to have reached the end when I did. The author transported me first to that desert and then to the mountains. I suffered in the blistering heat, enjoyed the cooling rain, and could see the desolation.

 

Long story short: if you want to read a very well written, thrilling, sexy, and thoroughly entertaining m/f romance, look no further. Empty Places won’t disappoint!

So close to perfect, but...

Our Souls at Night: A novel - Kent Haruf

This book was quite a reading experience for me. For starters, I didn’t realise how much I depend on quotation marks when I read, until they weren’t there. I got used to it, but the first few pages I kept on going back in confusion, wondering whether or not I’d just read spoken word.

 

I’m listening, Louis said.

I wonder if you would consider coming to my house sometimes to sleep with me.

What? How do you mean?

I mean we’re both alone. We’ve been by ourselves for too long. For years. I’m lonely. I think you might be too. I wonder if you would come and sleep in the night with me. And talk.

 

Confusing or not, it does make for an intriguing and thought-provoking start to what turned out to be a deeply touching story.

 

It is such a simple idea: ‘getting through the night together. And lying warm in bed, companionably.’  Because the nights are the worst. Because sometimes being alone is too much like hard work, too lonely. And also because the fact that you’ve reached the age of 70 doesn’t have to mean your life is over.

 

There’s a wonderful and refreshing honesty to the way these two characters talk to each other. At times if almost feel blunt, yet it isn’t. They don’t have time for all the pretty words without meaning anymore, and get to the core of what they feel and think with meaning to give offence or taking it that way.

 

Sentences and chapters are short, the story is told in few words. Which means that every words has to count, and it does. Without any detailed or spun out background information we get a clear idea about Louis and Addie, their lives before they started spending their nights together and the world they live in. I suspect that in the hands of almost any other author the scarcity of the words and details would have left me yearning for more. In this book it felt right. This story didn’t need elaboration any more than the conversations Addie and Louis have together did.

 

That’s the main point of this being a good time. Getting to know somebody well at this age. And finding out you like her and discovering you’re not just all dried up after all.– Louis

 

I love how they almost got to be a family for a while when Addie’s grandson Jamie comes to stay with her for most of the summer. When they get a dog for the six-year-old boy who is not dealing with his parent’s separation very well, it felt even more as if they were living an experience they’d had individually but would have been unlikely to have together under any other circumstances.

 

In one of their conversations, Louis and Addie discuss three books ‘someone’ has written about Holt—the town where they live—and discuss whether they themselves would like to be in a book by the author who wrote them. The subterfuge made me smile because they are of course talking about Benediction, Eventide and Plainsongby, who else, Kent Haruf.

 

At some point in the book Addie says: It’s a hopeful thing, isn’t it. And that is the reason most of this book resonated with me. It ties into to my favourite (George Eliot) quote ‘It’s never too late to be what you might have been.’ It is the idea that if we open ourselves up to the world around us and the people in it, there are always new opportunities, new avenues to explore. That is an attitude towards life I can get fully behind.

 

Which brings me to my one, big, ‘but’. I didn’t like the ending. It may be realistic (although I’m not even fully convinced about that) but it wasn’t good for me. It felt like the characters (or the author) lost their courage. I understood the motives but I didn’t like how it played out. Addie and Louis’s courage deserved so much more than the ending they got. In the last few chapters what had been a 5+, extra special read for me, turned into a very solid 4. However, don’t allow that personal sentiment to stop you from reading this book. For the most it is a hopeful, inspired and wonderful story about living your life to the full, regardless of your age, and embracing opportunities when they come your way.

Ghostly Romance

Between Us - F.E. Feeley Jr., Carrie Anne Kennedy, David Bridger

I don’t read (or watch) scary stories as a rule. I’m all for murder and mayhem, but horror… not so much most of the time. This blurb, however, intrigued me so I decided to overcome whatever preconceived reservations I might have and dive in.

 

The start of the story lulled me into a false sense of security. But the playful banter was soon replaced by the first apparition and the creepiness kicked off. As soon as it did I remembered why I so rarely read creepy stories; they make me feel too much. My stomach churns and I get jittery. It gets too much and I close the book only to open it again two minutes later because I HAVE to know what happens next, except that I don’t want to because NERVES, but I do because I can’t stand the tension of not knowing. LOL. It’s an experience I both love and try to avoid. And the more invested I am in a story the stronger those feelings become.

 

Yes, I did get quite invested in Between Us. Me, the self-confessed wimp who doesn’t deal well with either angst or tension, fully enjoyed the wonderfully torturous combination of romantic uncertainty and ghostly scariness. In fact, I was really impressed that the romance and ghost storylines in this book are perfectly balanced. All too often I’ve come across books in which one storyline ends up taking precedence at the expense of the other. Not in this book; romance and ghostliness play next to each other and one enhances the other.

 

I liked Jeremy and Roger, enjoyed the way they interacted, and I loved the premise of the story. While this is a fully formed story without an open ending, I would love to see more of them. And given what Roger’s secret is, and considering that he’s met and recognised Cindy (yes, I'm being vague on purpose), I could well see more spooky adventures for these two men. I would most definitely read them.

 

This was my first encounter with this author and I can safely say it won’t be my last.Between Us packed a whole lot of story into relatively few pages and did so very well. While I wouldn’t have minded more words, the story didn’t need them. If F.E. Feeley Jr can hook me this much in under fifty pages I can’t wait to find out what’ll happen when I pick up a full length novel.

 

Overall I highly recommend this book if you'd like to add more ghosts and romance to your Halloween.

Mixed Feelings

Fallen - Lia Mills

This book was selected as the 2016 ‘One City One Book’ title for both Dublin and Belfast.

 

I’m feeling very ambivalent about this book. While there were parts of this story I loved and admired, more if it left me either indifferent or dissatisfied.

 

For me there was too much telling and nowhere near enough showing in this story. I know how devastating WW I was and how confusing the situation in Dublin during the Easter Rising must have been but that is as a result of prior knowledge, not because I experienced those nightmares while reading this book. More than that, even Katie’s story remained distant for me, as if I was observing her story through a filter. I had to imagine her feelings rather than experience them.

 

The first part of the book especially didn’t do a lot for me. It was easy enough to read but I didn’t connect with either Katie or her story. In fact, it was almost as if I was reading an article rather than a novel. Soon after the second part of the story (and the Easter Rising) starts, the story became more engaging. As Katie connects with Hubie and finds herself caught up in the Rising in ways she couldn’t have imagined, I, at last, got an idea of the person she really was. Then again, I think the same was true for Katie herself, so I’m fairly sure I wasn’t meant to really see her or connect with her earlier on in the story; how can you know someone who doesn’t know themselves? As such the difference between the two parts in this book was a clever and well executed plot device—just not one I’m overly fond of since I prefer to connect with my characters early on in a story.

 

The letters Liam wrote to Katie before he died really touched me, though. The raw emotion and the combination of despair and resignation were so vivid they made my stomach churn. And the developing bond between Katie and Hubie sprung of the page too. Thrown together under extreme circumstances, and with Hubie relatively fresh back from the Western Front they bounce off each other, are brutally honest and, as a result, becoming very close in record time and with, for those days especially, shocking levels of intimacy. Those parts of the story felt real to me.

 

And another thing I don’t particularly like is a story without a proper ending. Maybe it’s the result of my love for romance and crime novels; those come with either a happy ever after or a resolution of the mystery. This book ended mid everything. The Easter Rising is still going on, be it nearing its end, and Katie doesn’t decide what to do next. If that is what makes a story literature, I can do without it. As much as I like to occasionally indulge in what-if scenarios taking place after a story ends, even for those I need a proper ending to embroider on from.

 

 

All in all this was a mixed reading experience for me. This book was easy to read; maybe too easy considering all the subjects it deals with. While most of it left me indifferent, some parts touched me deeply. Right now the best I can say for this book is that I suspect it will make for a good discussion when my bookclub meets next. I’d rate this book 3.5 stars but for once I’m rounding it down rather than up; I just don’t think it is a 4.

Angst and Relief

The Rancher's Son - RJ Scott

I adored this book. If there is such a thing as the perfect combination of angst and relief, The Ranger’s Son had it for me. There’s so much hurt in this story. There’s Ethan who’s been searching for his Justin, his younger brother, and Adam for twelve years, refusing to believe they’re dead despite never finding a trace of them or a clue as to what might have happened all that time ago. The emotional rollercoaster he embarks on when he finds Adam, the man he professed his love to as a seventeen year old, is stunning. The joy of finding Adam and the frustration and fear when he discovers Adam has lost his memories and can’t provide him with any answers about his brother are in stark contrast to each other.

 

Adam—sigh. My heart bled for him from the moment he was introduced. He is such a wonderful combination of fragile and determined he took my breath away. I loved being able to follow his journey, even if it was heartbreaking at times.

 

I was delighted to visit Crooked Tree Ranch again and have an opportunity to catch up with all the characters I’d fallen for in the first book. But the best part of this book for me was watching Ethan and Adam finding each other again, to see their love for each other still pulling them together, despite twelve years and despite lost memories.

 

This is a quiet sorta romance. The tension isn’t found in a ‘will they – won’t they’ scenario but in the unraveling of what happened in the past and what, if any, dangers it poses for the present and future. I adored Adam and Ethan, I adored their story and I adored the way it was told. It doesn’t get much better than that. To say I’m ready for the next book, A Cowboy’s Home, would be a gross understatement.

 

On a final note; I’ve got a feeling this may well be one of the most quoted sentences in the genre, and rightly so. It put a huge smile to my face.

 

“You mean I’m healing you with my magic penis” - Ethan

 

But, if I’m going to share that quote, I’ve got to include the following sentence as well; you can’t have one without the other.

 

“Who needs romance when they have access to a magic penis.” - Adam

Great Fun

Bigfoot Hunters in Love - Jamie Fessenden This book was so much fun. As an uncomplicated, angst free story filled with fun and humour, it kept me entertained from start to finish. I have to be honest and admit that my first reaction when I looked at the cover was: ‘that’s a bit over the top’. And then I read the book and realised the cover is as perfect for this story as a cover could possibly be. Not only because it perfectly conveys the light-hearted tone of this novella but also because poor Stuart ends up flashing his bits in all sorts of awkward (for him) and fun (for the reader and Jake) situations. Yes, we are most definitely dealing with a case of insta-lust, insta-infatuation, or even insta-love but hey, there’s nothing like a stressful situation to bring strong feelings to the forefront. And if finding yourself face to face with Bigfoot isn’t stressful, I don’t know what is. And besides, both men in the story are well aware of the fact that they’ve only just met and can’t really put any expectations on the other, even if it doesn’t stop them from hoping that maybe the other man shares their hopes. I read this book with a huge smile on my face from start to finish. I adored Stuart’s dog, Thor who loyally tries to protect his human from the big-footed intruders and in the process causes Stuart a lot of trouble, but also brings him in contact with Jake. And Stuart and Jake were nice characters; the sort of men I would love to be friends with. And yes, the two of them are rather hot together too. I liked that even the characters in the book aren’t prepared to make definitive statements with regards to Bigfoot, despite the fact that they’ve been up close and way too personal with creatures that closely resemble the descriptions of this myth. And I liked the fact that they decide they’d rather keep the creatures safe than make a name for themselves by revealing what they’ve discovered even more. Overall this was a fun and fast read — perfect for a relaxing Sunday afternoon. “If you get me killed before I deliver these samples to a lab, my ghost will stand at the foot of your bed every night and stare at you, moaning.” - “Kinky.”

All Sorts of Wonderful

The Misadventures of Doc and Dirk, Volume II - Dan Skinner, Tina Adamski

“Because that’s how dreams find life….words…..Words.”

 

This book could also have been titled ‘The Birth of the MuseNerd’ as we learn how he inspires Doc/Dan to write A Summer of Guiltless Sex (and thank you very much for that moment of inspiration, MuseNerd; I simply adored that book) as well as this particular series of delightful reads.

 

Getting to know Dirk is a pure pleasure. I imagine it might be quite exhausting in real life, but on my Kindle he is wonderful company. His honesty and lack of filters are in fact refreshing in a world where political correctness does appear to have gone mad. All of us have been programmed, from a very early age, to think before we speak and to not stand out – fade to grey, don’t look for the spotlight, don’t stand out from the crowd. Dirk isn’t built that way and couldn’t stop standing out if you paid him to do so. Personally I think the world would be a nicer, probably more tolerant and definitely more entertaining place if we could all take at least a small leaf out of Dirk’s book and occasionally approach life with uncensored honesty without fearing the repercussions.

 

While we obviously get to know Dirk better with each subsequent instalment of this series, the same can be said for Doc/Dan. Not that he describes himself in details similar to the one he uses for his apprentice. It is more that we get an insight in to the author from the way he reacts to and thinks about Dirk as he describes their misadventures.

 

Our Dirk is an undemanding muse. He’s not in it for recognition. He just has these genius ideas for stories and sequels to stories and, because he has no filter, he blurts them out, leaving Doc/Dan scrambling to keep up while writing them all down on whatever writing material he can find.

 

“…sometimes only ten words out of a thousand I say make sense. So if you can make sense of it, more power, dude.”

 

The Dirkisms, both those shared by Doc/Dan on Facebook and the ones you’ll find in this book are fun. I thought about sharing one or two of them here but that would mean having to choose, pick favourites, and that’s just impossible for me. I’ll say this much though, if you want to read with a huge grin on your face and happy spreading through your body, read them these books and the Dirkisms they contain for yourself; they will, without a doubt, brighten your day.

 

 

“He puts both the whip and snap in whippersnapper.”

Thrilling Read

Morning My Angel - Sue  Brown

Morning My Angel brought all of my reading favourites together and turned them into one beautiful, fast-paced, unputdownable, and heart-warming story. This book gave me fascinating mysteries to solve, combined it with heart-stopping action to keep me turning the pages, and topped it all off with an utterly charming love story, I mean what’s not to love?

 

Let’s look at the mysteries first, because there are several. First and foremost (for me at least) was the question as to who exactly was ‘Charlie’ the mysterious man Josh has been exchanging messages with for two years and for whom he’s fallen…hard. I have to admit I was several chapters ahead of Josh when it came to unravelling this question but I’m fairly sure that was the author’s intention. And then there are the unresolved questions related directly to Josh and his team being send to London; where’s the missing man and why exactly are the Americans in England, dealing with a case that’s normally out of their remit? To say that the revelation as to who exactly was the ‘criminal mastermind’ came as a huge shock, which is exactly as it should be in a well plotted thriller. I did raise one or two eyebrows when it came to the explanation as to why it had taken so long to uncover the bad guy, but in the greater scheme of things that was really a minor issue, and afterthought more than something that bothered me while reading.

 

As for Charlie (of course I’m not going to reveal who he is) and Josh’s love story, that was a pure joy to read. Mostly angst free, the coming together of these two men was portrayed in a charming, at times cute, and overall very satisfying manner. Of course there are issues, but they’re dealt with in an adult and realistic way. I have to admit to reading large sections of this book with a huge grin on my face. Charlie and Josh/Angel together, bouncing off each other (both verbally and physically) were a pure delight.

 

I’m so happy this book is listed as #1 Angel Enterprises. I’m looking forward to spending more time with Angel and his Charlie. I sorta hope that a future story featuring these two men will be told from Charlie’s point of view. Not because I felt that seeing the whole story through Josh’s eyes somehow short-changed the reader—far from it—but because I’m now so intrigued by Charlie that I’d love to get to know him more intimately.

 

Well written, with characters who were both charming and fascinating, Morning My Angel came with what for me was exactly the right balance of mystery, action, and romance. This surely is Sue Brown at her best and I couldn’t recommend this book more!

Stunning

Sweet Summer Sweat - Clare London

“It’s the stuff of your imagination. Your dreams,” Connor murmured. “Isn’t it?”

 

 

This is one stunning and extra-special book.

 

Sensual, sexy even, with an understated note of creepy, I experienced—felt—this story as much as I read it. Sweet Summer Sweat mesmerized me, which was very appropriate considering it’s all about two young men being mesmerized by the motel where they end up and the three men who exist there. I loved how conflicted Scot felt, torn between being seduced by his surroundings— by the constant sensuality surrounding him—and his yearning for freedom and the wider world. I could feel his confusion and understood how he tittered on the edge of giving in to the promise of unending intimacy only to be pulled back from the edge by the knowledge that it might not be enough for him, that his dreams were bigger than that.

 

The connection between these five men, but especially between Scot and Connor, is like something out of a dream; they can hear each other’s thoughts, touch each other without physical contact, and recognise each other without ever having met before. At first glance it would appear that Scot and Jerry have stumbled upon their personal version of paradise. But while the motel may be exactly what Jerry needs, Scot can’t escape the feeling that what looks like heaven could just as easily turn out to be hell.

 

I loved the magical realism in this book. The motel and what happens there is definitely otherworldly, and yet because we experience it all through Scot’s eyes, emotions, and thoughts we are never fully ripped from the real world. I’m glad that we never get a full explanation of exactly what is going on in the Motel, or how any of it is possible. The mystery, the magic of it all, only added to the charm of this story.

 

I’m in awe of the way in which Clare London managed to tell a lot of this story not through dialogue or thoughts but through sensuality, physical contact and intimacy. This is one of the sexiest stories I’ve ever read and yet at no point did it feel as if the sex was there for any other reason than to push the story forward, to explain the characters’ emotions to the readers.

 

This is one of those occasions when my vocabulary isn’t big enough to convey all the emotions I felt while reading this book. The story pulled me into a magical spell and captured me, not unlike the way in which the motel captured Jerry and Scot. And just like those two young men discover that they can’t really (bring themselves to) leave the motel, I found it impossible to look away from my Kindle until I’d finished the story.

 

The ending of this book is deliciously ambiguous. Not as far as the happily ever after is concerned, but other than that it is up to the reader to decide what happens next, and I love it when a story allows me to fantasize on after I’ve read the last page of a book.

 

On a final note I want to say this. As soon as I read the blurb I was reminded of the song ‘Hotel California’ by the Eagles. Now that I’ve read the book I’m convinced that Clare London was inspired by this song; the coincidences would be too extra-ordinary otherwise. For example, the lyrics say the following:

 

*Welcome to the Hotel California

Such a lovely place

Such a lovely face

They livin’ it up at the Hotel California

What a nice surprise, bring your alibis*

 

And then, at some point Connor says to Scot: “You had your own agenda, your own alibis”. And later on in reference to another part of the song, Connor says: “A prisoner…well, I can see how it might be seen like that. But it’s by my own device, Scot.” Of course, the biggest clue can be found in the title itself.

 

For me this connection was perfect. I’ve loved the song and the story its lyrics tell since the very first time I heard it, and it has always been a source of inspiration for me—the words allowed all sorts of stories to pop up in my head long before I ever thought about writing. It is wonderful to read a book that mirrors the fantasies I’ve had over the years so closely. In fact, it’s a bit like the story in this book, stunning and at the same time somewhat creepy. Scot and Connor can hear each other’s thoughts and that is very easy to believe when it feels as if the author has been listening to mine.

Meh

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes - Anna McPartlin

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes didn’t quite do it for me. I was going to call this an easy and fun book, because that’s how it read. But that is also what is wrong with this it. I don’t want a book about cancer and dying to be easy to read—and probably easy to forget—or fun. Some levity among the darkness is always welcome. But this was more than just ‘some’; this felt like an author trying too hard and/or over-compensating. Sometimes a story is just sad, and it’s okay for the reader to actually experience that emotion fully.

 

I think the problem is that it is nigh on impossible to write a light-hearted book about a youngish woman, single mother to a twelve year old daughter, dying from cancer. At some point the author has to choose between funny and poignant, or at least strike a convincing balance, and I can’t help feeling the author failed to do so. Every time the story appeared to be leaning towards poignancy some light-hearted relief would be thrown in. It almost felt as if the author was trying to shield the reader from raw emotions. And while I’m no lover of angst, this, to me, was the other extreme. Some subjects should not be taken lightly or glossed over.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the characters in this book. Rabbit Hayes is fabulous, the sort of person I’d love to hang out with. I thoroughly enjoyed the banter between the various characters in this book and the very Irish nature of it. In any other story-line the characters and the way they interact would have made this a perfect read for me. But there comes a time when you have to leave banter behind and be serious and that didn’t happen or for long enough in this book.

 

The combination of enjoying the characters but disliking the way the author treated a very serious subject made for an interesting and at times confusing reading experience. There were sections in this book where I completely forgot I was reading a book about a 42 year young woman dying from cancer. And I would enjoy the section right until the moment Rabbit’s stark reality was brought into focus again. By that stage I would dislike both myself for having forgotten and the author for allowing me to—or maybe even making me—forget.

 

On a final note I also have to say that I feel the author was trying to be too smart with the ending to this story. What is she trying to say? That Rabbit had been wrong in her assumptions about life and death? Did she feel ending the story this way made it less depressing? Was did an attempt to give a happy ever after to a story that couldn’t possibly have one? I have absolutely no idea how to answer those questions. What I do know is that it left me feeling distinctly ‘meh’.

Delightful and Touching

Escaping from Him - Liam Livings

“It was the heat of the summer, my inability to be comfortable in my own home, remembering things we’d talked about properly, without Chris there to correct me on my memory. All these had combined to this one feeling that I had to go. I had to leave this place and run.”

 

I wasn’t sure what to expect before I started this book. The reference to a ‘controlling boyfriend’ in the blurb seemed to indicate this might be a tough and darker read. But then it also talked about a ‘deceased’ air-conditioner, which definitely pointed at a sense of humour. It is always wonderful when a blurb perfectly captures both the story and the tone in which it is told; this could have been a hard and heavy story, but thanks to Darryl’s way of addressing his reading audience, this book is anything but angsty.

 

Darryl is a wonderful main character. He’s fully aware of the shortcomings in his life but doesn’t obsess about them. Once he decides to make his break, he’s off into the unknown, trusting that something will come his way, and boy is he right. Not only does he find safety, he also finds a group of friends who will form the family he’s never really had. Glasgow was meant to be a hiding place as far away from Chris, his domineering and older boyfriend as he can get, but instead it turns out to be home.

 

The book is titled Escaping From Him and while getting away from Chris is certainly the catalyst to this story, I feel that ‘Finding Himself’ would have been as appropriate a title. In fact, to me this read as a coming of age / New Adult story. Darryl was only 16 when he fled the foster system and met and moved in with Chris. Young as he was he didn’t stand a chance against Chris’s dominance and manipulation. Four years later Darryl is ready to spread his wings, to become who he was always meant to be, to learn that he can take care of himself and find his own place in the world—assuming a new first name is only the start of it.

 

I loved the cast of secondary characters. From the ever practical and loyal Swedish Lena, to Charlie who first introduces Darryl to the people who will form his Glaswegian family, and from Devine, the glorious drag queen to the two Gavins who are each others’ opposites and all the more perfect together for it. And Callum was just perfection both as a character and as the person Darryl needed in his life.

 

There were one or two moments in this book that touched me deeply, but I’ll mostly remember this book for the smiles it brought me. The chapter about the Eurovision evening especially, had me giggling and laughing out loud. I also really want to throw a ‘naff nibbles’ party now.

 

In short, Escaping From Him was an utterly delightful and at the same time very touching story. It would appear I have found yet another author to add to my ‘must read’ list.

Delightful and Touching

Escaping from Him - Liam Livings

“It was the heat of the summer, my inability to be comfortable in my own home, remembering things we’d talked about properly, without Chris there to correct me on my memory. All these had combined to this one feeling that I had to go. I had to leave this place and run.”

 

I wasn’t sure what to expect before I started this book. The reference to a ‘controlling boyfriend’ in the blurb seemed to indicate this might be a tough and darker read. But then it also talked about a ‘deceased’ air-conditioner, which definitely pointed at a sense of humour. It is always wonderful when a blurb perfectly captures both the story and the tone in which it is told; this could have been a hard and heavy story, but thanks to Darryl’s way of addressing his reading audience, this book is anything but angsty.

 

Darryl is a wonderful main character. He’s fully aware of the shortcomings in his life but doesn’t obsess about them. Once he decides to make his break, he’s off into the unknown, trusting that something will come his way, and boy is he right. Not only does he find safety, he also finds a group of friends who will form the family he’s never really had. Glasgow was meant to be a hiding place as far away from Chris, his domineering and older boyfriend as he can get, but instead it turns out to be home.

 

The book is titled Escaping From Him and while getting away from Chris is certainly the catalyst to this story, I feel that ‘Finding Himself’ would have been as appropriate a title. In fact, to me this read as a coming of age / New Adult story. Darryl was only 16 when he fled the foster system and met and moved in with Chris. Young as he was he didn’t stand a chance against Chris’s dominance and manipulation. Four years later Darryl is ready to spread his wings, to become who he was always meant to be, to learn that he can take care of himself and find his own place in the world—assuming a new first name is only the start of it.

 

I loved the cast of secondary characters. From the ever practical and loyal Swedish Lena, to Charlie who first introduces Darryl to the people who will form his Glaswegian family, and from Devine, the glorious drag queen to the two Gavins who are each others’ opposites and all the more perfect together for it. And Callum was just perfection both as a character and as the person Darryl needed in his life.

 

There were one or two moments in this book that touched me deeply, but I’ll mostly remember this book for the smiles it brought me. The chapter about the Eurovision evening especially, had me giggling and laughing out loud. I also really want to throw a ‘naff nibbles’ party now.

 

In short, Escaping From Him was an utterly delightful and at the same time very touching story. It would appear I have found yet another author to add to my ‘must read’ list.

A Wonderful Fantasy Trilogy

A Triad in Three Acts: The Complete Forester Trilogy - Blaine D. Arden I thoroughly enjoyed this book. A fantasy featuring elves, bringing us three mysteries in need of solving, as well as the touching and hot story of three men finding a way to share their love and lives despite the odds being stacked against them; what’s not to love? Especially when all of that comes in the form of a well written, perfectly balanced, not overly angsty, but very gripping, sexy, and touching tale. While the three separate stories in this trilogy all bring their own mystery for Kelnath to solve, the overriding arc is the tale of how he, Taruif, and Lanys eventually end up being able to live and love openly despite all the obstacles in their way. When the story starts Taruif has been shunned by his community and lives in public isolation, with Kelnath longing for him from afar. Lanys used to be Kelnath’s lover until trust was betrayed. Now all the three men want is to claim each other and live out their lives together, as a triad, but between Taruif’s shunning and the promise Lanys made to his now deceased wife, such a union appears impossible. I was impressed with the world building in this book, it felt spot-on. We learn about elves—both of the flying and the non-flying variety—and the society they live in, without ever having to work our way through an information-dump. We get the facts as we need them, always in the context of the story and woven into the narrative. And the picture painted is one of a world I slowly fell in love with. Not because it appeared to be a perfect world, but because it felt like a place where people wanted to do what was best for all rather than just look after selfish interests. The same is true for the characters; we get to know them better as the stories unfold and it is clear that while all three of them have good hearts and the best intentions, none of them are perfect. Which of course only serves to make it very easy to relate to them and to get lost in their tale. Since the story is told from Kelnath’s perspective we end up knowing him better than the other two. And while I completely get why the story was told in this way I am kinda sorry I didn’t get to spend at least some time in the head of the other two. I would have loved a better insight into Taruif’s state of mind while he was shunned, or into Lanys’s, no doubt very confused, feelings when his daughter falls ill. I was sorry when I reached the end of the third story. Not because the story felt unfinished or because the ending didn’t satisfy, quite the opposite in fact. I’d gotten very comfortable in the company of these elves and could happily have spent more time with them. But, it seems to me there’s scope for more stories set in this universe, and I for one hope those tales will be told too. In the meantime all that remains for me to say is that if you enjoy fantasies you really ought to pick up your own copy of this book.

Fast paced and very erotic

Fall Together: (2nd Edition) (Pretty Boy Book 1) - Isobel Starling

This story in Fall Together takes the reader on a fast paced and very erotic ride. From the moment Emilie and Pieter first literally bump into each other in an overstuffed tube carriage in London, to the moment when they’ve created their own perfect world together, these two barely come up for breath, and as a result, neither does the reader.

 

From the moment Emilie first glares at Pieter it is clear that these two are made for each other, even if it will be another five weeks before they get to act on the attraction they both instantly feel. And when they do get together Emilie and Pieter manage to set each other alight. When it’s just the two of them, there’s no doubt these two characters belong together, if only the rest of the world would stop putting obstacles in their way.

 

Personally I enjoyed the chapters and scenes featuring Emilie and Pieter getting to know each other and exploring each others’ bodies more than I did those featuring almost every secondary character. It would appear that both Pieter the model and Emilie the artist have managed to surround themselves with people who use and/or abuse them. The mystery for me wasn’t so much that these things had happened to them, but more that the people who’d caused them pain and confusion where, for the most part, still an important part of their lives. I couldn’t find any redeeming qualities in either Simeon or Darien and was at a loss why they were still part of Pieter and Emilie’s life when the story starts.

 

The funny thing is that for once it wasn’t the main characters themselves who created obstacles to overcome on their way to happiness; it was the people around them. Where it would have been easy to turn the age difference between them or the fact that Pieter is bisexual, or even their individual careers forcing them to spend huge chunks of time apart, into relationship threatening issues, none of them do. Any conflict in this story is the result of outside forces trying to come between them and forcing them to deal with forgotten or repressed and at times heartbreaking memories in the process.

 

This is a very erotic story and the sex scenes are beautiful as well as imaginative and enticing. There isn’t much Emilie and Pieter aren’t up for, and the reader gets to enjoy it all with them.

 

One thing that didn’t work very well for me is the fact that the story is written from multiple perspectives and that the point of view freely jumped from one character to another. A small voice in the back of my mind kept on saying ‘stop head-hopping already’, even though I was well aware that strictly speaking this wasn’t head-hopping at all, just a different way of telling the story. This however is a personal preference and I can easily imagine that other readers might be delighted to for once get to see everybody’s motivation rather than having to infer it from what the main characters chose to share.

 

Overall this was a sexy, fast paced and intriguing story. And while I really didn’t care for Simeon in this story I have to admit I am kinda intrigued that the next book in thisPretty Boy series will focus on him. He’s got quite a bit of redeeming to do and I’m very curious as to what form that will take.

Very Cute

Into You - Jay Northcote

If I had to describe Into You in one word, I’d say ‘cute’. This story and the characters in it are adorable, charming and a joy to spend time with.

 

Olly and Scott have been friends for years when a combination of teenage curiosity and teenage angst pull them apart. Four years later they still live across the street from each other and their friendship is still a thing of the past.

 

Also in their street lives an older lady who they’ve never felt completely comfortable around. One day, when the lads are 18, she’s clearly upset when she sees them having an argument on the street. Olly and Scott don’t pay her a lot of attention when she states that fate might need a push in the right direction, but maybe they should have because the morning after they wake up to discover they’ve swapped bodies. In order to function as each other they have to work together; a process that allows them to reconnect and discover things about themselves and each other they’d been previously unaware off.

 

As I said, this is a super cute story. While the situation Olly and Scott find themselves in certainly leads to introspection and soul searching for both of them, there’s very little angst in this story. In fact, even though they are confused and trying to figure out what is going on and how to fix the situation again, the whole swap is nowhere near as fraught with trouble and danger of being exposed as you might expect. For two young men who haven’t really interacted for four years, Ollie and Scott have remarkably little problems living each other’s lives. Ollie takes to football as if he’s been training for years and Scott, who doesn’t understand Shakespeare and isn’t into drama, takes to the role of Romeo like a fish to water. Because the story isn’t so much about the difficulties associated with a body-swap as it is about two young men reconnecting and finding each other and their joined destiny, that lack of tension makes sense, but it did leave me feeling it was all a bit too easy.

 

There are relatively few sexy times in this story. Having said that, watching the two boys figure out whether or not it would be appropriate to indulge in a handjob while in the others body, was both intriguing and great fun, not to mention enticing once they give in to their needs.

 

Of course this story is very well written and smoothly told; I’d be surprised if a book by Jay Northcote was anything else. I’m not quite sure how to label this book. Coming of age fits, as do friends to lovers and enemies to lovers, but there’s also a dose of paranormal / magical realism to be found here.

 

If you enjoy a fun, sweet, very cute and somewhat magical feel good story, I highly recommend Into You by Jay Northcote.