Book Review: Bigger Love (Big Love #2) by Rick R. Reed

Bigger Love by Rick R. Reed book cover

Truman Reid is Summitville High’s most out-and-proud senior. He can’t wait to take his fierce, uncompromising self away from his small Ohio River hometown, where he’s suffered more than his share of bullying. He’s looking forward to bright lights and a big city. Maybe he’ll be the first ever genderfluid star to win an Academy Award. But all that changes on the first day of school when he locks eyes with the most gorgeous hunk he’s ever seen.

Mike Stewart, big, dark-haired, and with the most amazing blue eyes, is new to town. He’s quiet, manly, and has the sexy air of a lost soul. It’s almost love at first sight for Truman. He thinks that love could deepen when Mike becomes part of the stage crew for Harvey, the senior class play Truman’s directing. But is Mike even gay? And how will it work when Truman’s mother is falling for Mike’s dad?

Plus Truman, never the norm, makes a daring and controversial choice for the production that has the whole town up in arms.

See how it all plays out on a stage of love, laughter, tears, and sticking up for one’s essential self…

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How was it?

For a queer YA novel with some adult themes, Bigger Love has a predictable set up, with Truman, one of the main characters, living in a small-town with small-minded people. So you can easily imagine the bigotry and hypocrisy surrounding this young openly gay, gender-fluid boy.

However, where this novel stands out is how Truman is written. He is resilient and brave, it becomes quite easy to cheer him on. You see him struggle, internally, with what he has to deal with living in his small-town, but the way he faces these people and deals with the hurt they cause is inspiring. Also the fact that he has the mother he does – Patsy is the best – is a breath of fresh air. He’s not completely alone.
Often in young adult romances – at least the ones that I’ve read – the queer teen has little to no support, and a big effort is made for us to pity them.

As for Mike, the boy who caught Truman’s eye, he could have remained Truman’s crush for all I cared. But I found interesting that Mike decided to be more private about his sexuality once he moved into this small town – I can’t seem to remember the name of it. Because it seemed like he wasn’t as much in the closet beforehand. To me this illustrate how as queer people we sometime have to adapt to our surroundings for our own safety. Next to Truman it seemed to be a cowardly move, since Mike can pass as straight and Truman can’t. Yet seeing this difference in their experience of being young queer men was nice.

This story is a nice example of how one character can make a big difference in a story that may seem run of the mill. Truman really pulls you in, he’s kind, mature, and strong-willed. I enjoyed his story.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Bigger Love is available on Amazon, Audible and other book retailers near you.

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I received an advanced copy of this audiobook and this is my fair and unbiased review.

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Book Review | The Prince’s Poisoned Vow by Hailey Turner

Releasing: May 2, 2022
Cover Design: James T. Egan, www.bookflydesign.com

The Prince’s Poisoned Vow is out now!

Every country is built on revolution.

THE WARDEN. Soren is a nameless, stateless man, tasked with keeping watch over Maricol’s borders. He isn’t meant for politics, only dealing with the dead. His past was buried in the poison fields, but after a fateful encounter with a prince, Soren comes to realize he can’t keep what magic burns inside him hidden forever.

THE PRINCE. Vanya Sa’Liandel was the spare who survived the Houses’ murderous games to become the Imperial crown prince of Solaria. He has a duty to his country, but he’ll owe his life to the wardens. Payment of any kind is costly, especially when he’s at risk of losing his heart to the man who saved his life.

THE COG. Caris Dhemlan hears the siren song of clarion crystals better than anyone in Ashion. That skill for inventing has enriched her bloodline, but it’s who she can become that will ultimately entangle her with the Clockwork Brigade.

THE PRINCESS. Eimarille Rourke should have been raised to be queen of one country; instead, she is prisoner of another. Guided by a star god, Eimarille bides her time in a gilded cage, spinning a political web to gain a throne and start a war the world isn’t ready for.

From the author who brought you the best-selling Soulbound series comes a queer steampunk-inspired epic fantasy.

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How was it?

First of all, the world building in this book is insane! It’s huge, and rolled out differently from how the Soulbound series was introduced to us in A Ferry of Bones & Gold. Here it’s more subtle, the informations come in piece by piece, each one being more or as amazing and interesting as the next. It also makes the whole book more digestible, because every time I see a map on the first page of a book, I always think “hold on, this might get complicated.” but it’s not.

Don’t get me wrong, the story is complex, there are many names and places to remember, but Hailey Turner does a good job at breaking them down into manageable chunks. In fact having the book broken down in parts is a godsend. This is truly an epic story and you’re in for quite the ride. Because there are twists and misdirects pretty much from the get go, but once you’ve found your footing it’s great and smooth sailing. The different countries and the Star Gods they pray to will make sense, so does the influence these Star Gods have over these places.

The characters are awesome, they are complicated, some morally gray, strong willed, and total badasses. One or two might get on your nerves at times, because that’s how well Turner made them that they elicit such strong emotions. The different POVs also works wonders because they’re none of them wasted, each one is useful and moves the story along, while giving us a sense of who these characters are.

The pairings were a bit of a surprise, for some reason I expect only MM romances but I was nicely surprised that it’s not case, there’s an FF and essentially an MF couple. I really like these couples, the way they come to be together, and the unique dynamic each of them have. And also the political games they’re involved in makes it even more interesting.

This book does the most, it’s well-crafted, entertaining, and captivating. I don’t know who will narrate this – or if I did I forgot, I’ve been busy – but I’m waiting for that while eagerly waiting for The Emperor’s Bone Palace (Infernal War Saga Book 2).

While I hope that I perfectly conveyed my thoughts and feelings about the first Infernal Saga War Saga, I set out to talk about this book without spoiling anything or give names as to into about what happens to who, and I can’t believe I did.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I received an advanced copy of this book and this is my fair and unbiased review.

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Hailey Turner is big city girl who likes to spoil her cats rotten. She writes science fiction and fantasy with lots of action, epic plots, and romantic relationships that satisfy the heart. Hailey lives in sunny California when she isn’t adding stamps to her passport.

Connect with Hailey

Website: www.haileyturner.com

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Soulbound series by Hailey Turner:

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Book Review | Bent Corners by Kris Jacen

They say you can find just about anything in a book but who knew you could find love in a bookstore? Riley’s world is upended when he gets a call from the police that his uncle’s in the hospital. Evan’s schedule is turned upside down when he’s in charge of his yaya’s care while his parents are on vacation. Both men have their hands full but it seems fate has something else for them. Seems love in the stacks might be just what each of them needs.

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How was it? As short as this is I found myself zombie reading* parts of it, the heat was good but there were many attempts to drum up drama and sometimes it felt way to forced. It’s my first Kris Jacen read and I hope the books will be more engaging.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Bent corners is available on Amazon, Audible and other book retailers near you.

*Zombie reading: reading something without really processing any of the words on the page. One often wonders how they got a particular section, with little to no recollection of what came before, after zombie reading.

I received an advanced copy of this audiobook and this is my fair and unbiased review.

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Book Review | Truth or Dare by Ariana Nash

America. The land of the free. Unless you’re a latent.

Kage is missing. Alexander Kempthorne would prefer he stay that way. Life at the new-look Kempthorne & Co agency is difficult enough without adding a missing American to the mix. But John “Dom” Domenici won’t abandon someone who was once their friend, even if Kage is “technically” an enemy.

But as the team investigate Kage’s disappearance, a traumatic, hidden past comes to light. And a missing person case soon turns into a fight for survival for Dom and Kempthorne, in a land not-so-free.

***

Breathless action, suspenseful mystery, and steamy romance combine in the fast-paced gay adventure series from the author acclaimed for their enemies-to-lovers, epic twists, and morally conflicted characters.

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How was it?

A missing ex-lover, a dangerous country for latents, and two lovers smack in the middle of it. That’s how the Shadows of London fourth entry starts and it’s quite the ride.

When Kempthorne became a bigger focus in Trial by Fire it came as breath of fresh air, because Dom’s poor decision making skills was starting to be grating. Here it rears it’s ugly head again to the point where I was tempted to skip paragraphs and chapters whenever Dom acted like an idiot. Even the will they? Won’t they things was back.

But fear not, this entry gets increasingly better and captivating. Taking place in the united states seem to give the story a new edge, well a different edge. Alex and Dom are challenged in new and interesting ways. We learn a lot about Kage – some of which surprised me -, we also get to see Alexander and John as a couple. It’s a lot of unsaid, which can be frustrating, but then it gets amazing between them. The fact that it happens in book four is a tad annoying but I loved it so who cares.

Out of all the previous books, this entry is the one I had the most trouble putting down, the action is gripping and nicely paced. I love how the characters are evolving, even though some aspects about their personality still annoys me. It’s a great read, I might dive back in before the audio version is out.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Truth or Dare is available on Amazon (Kindle, and Paperback).

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I received an advanced copy of this book and this is my fair and unbiased review.

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Book Review | A Kiss to Revive Me by Michele Notaro

A prickly mage has me under his spell, and I think I kinda like it.

The first time I met him, I knew I was in trouble, but I hadn’t known just how much. I hadn’t been looking for a relationship, hadn’t wanted one, but it seems that a stubborn little mage did it for me because he’s impossible to resist.

When the NHSO goes on a manhunt for an unregistered mage, I can tell it’s upsetting for Mads and Jude. It’s upsetting for me, too, but even more so when I find out exactly why Mads is so worried about this kid. The more I find out about Madeo’s past and his world, the more I realize how special he is. No one who’s gone through what he has should come out the other side sane, let alone as kindhearted as him. I just hope he wants this thing between us to continue as badly as I do. And I want it to. Bad.

A Kiss To Revive Me is a 30K word MM urban fantasy novella and meant to be read AFTER The Scars That Bind Us (The Magi Accounts 1).

*Intended for adults only. Please read the trigger warnings at the beginning of this novella.

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How was it? Taking place between book one and two of The Magi Accounts, A kiss to Revive Me is a novella from Cosmo’s perspective, the Alpha pride shifter that Madeo falls for.

In fact while reading The Scars That Bind Us I did feel that Cosmo wasn’t as fleshed out as the Magi, meaning Madeo, Jude, and even Logan but it completely made sense given the rich and dark history regarding the Magi. Having Cosmo’s point of view adds to his character but also gives us a broader understanding of this world. Since Shifters, Magi, and Humans have been segregated it’s interesting to see how his perspective of their world is evolving by being around Mads. They’re learning about each as much as we are learning about them, and this story teases some potential changes in Cosmo’s future that I can’t wait to see happen.

This novella may start by retelling Cosmo’s pride arrival at the NHSO through the alpha’s eyes but it quickly its own thing, with an emotional case that affects all the parties involves, making it a great end-credit scene for book one and a good teaser for what’s to come in The Shackles That Hold Us (The Magi Accounts 2).

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A Kiss to Revive Me is available on Amazon and other book retailers near you.

This story continues in The Shackles That Hold Us (The Magi Accounts 2). Pre-order now!

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Book Review | My Iron Knight: An Enemy Territory Story by S.J. Coles

Dash Cassidy loves his town even more than his bike, but his priorities have a violent shift in gear when an irresistible Russian hitman comes along.

Blurb

Darius ‘Dash’ Cassidy has ended up president of the small town of Salvation’s Iron Knights motorcycle gang, almost by accident. His sister, Zara, is the more business-savvy and ambitious of the two, but their father—the infamous Butch Cassidy—was far from politically correct, so Dash was left in charge.

Up to now, Dash has been more than happy to muscle his way through life as his father did before him, even if he is starting to suspect that something might be missing.

But now there’s a new player in town. Iris Damaro has plans to make Salvation the center of her international smuggling operation. Dash isn’t going to sit still while Damaro steamrolls through his town, but when the crime boss sends her alluring Russian number two, Nikita Vasiliev, to do her negotiating, Dash realizes he may be in over his head.

Can Dash figure out where his priorities lie before his town—or his heart—is lost forever?

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How was it?

This story is dark and gritty, a good enemy to lovers, action packed read. The chemistry between the main characters, Dash Cassidy and Nikita Vasiliev, is intense and explosive. Emotions are high and the heat searing and hot, for a short-story it’s completely engaging and very entertaining.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My Iron Knight is available on Amazon.

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Book Review | The Dragon King’s Heart by C.K. Noel

Krispin Adair has been alone for years. After his family was killed by his brother in the ultimate betrayal, Krispin accepted his lonely fate. Until a chance encounter brought him face to face with his fated mate…

Ben Morgan, on the trail of a rogue gargoyle, finds himself in an ambush. Attacked and left for dead, he knows there’s no hope for him. But when he wakes, he finds himself face to face with his Beloved and an ultimatum; if he wants to live, he must bond with the dragon king… and bear his son.

While the pair are making things work, they learn that Ben’s attack was just the start of something bigger–a war between the species. As if that wasn’t bad enough, an old shadow emerges with one wish–destroy all dragons. Can they stop the war? Will the figures determined to kill dragons get their wish?

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How was it?

Now available as an audiobook, the first book in The High Garden Dragons series is short but has a lot of story. A lot happens in this novella and it’s quite entertaining throughout. There’s a decent amount of world building, some political intrigue, and a few surprises.

Although quick to happen, Krispin and Ben’s romance was sweet. I liked their chance encounter and how their relationship evolved. The Dragon King’s Heart is an mpreg story and I laughed out loud at how casually Kris sprung this information on Ben. The story in general moves fast and there’s enough action in and out of the bedroom to entertain.

This is the first audiobook, I’ve listened to where I feel like the story is far better than the narration suggested. I still think that Aaron Ross did a decent job with it but at times I had to rely on what was said to figure out who’s p.o.v we were on.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Dragon King’s Heart is available on Amazon, Audible and other book retailers near you.

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I received an advanced copy of this book and this is my fair and unbiased review.

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