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 | 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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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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Book Review | Primal by K.A. Merikan

Jag. Uninhibited. Possessive. Walks on the wild side.

Dane. Gentle giant. Monster lover. Plays it safe.

Dane always knew his illicit fantasies of rough sex and dangerous men would one day lead him down a path of no return, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t stay away.

After being beaten half to death by his ex, he wakes up in a collar, chained to a wall by a wild man who claims Dane as his property.

From the moment Jag lays his eyes on Dane, he knows he wants to keep him. Big, strong, with colorful ink all over, he is the most unique man Jag had ever seen. But Dane has to be tamed if he is to become Jag’s mate for life.

All Jag needs to do is assure Dane that he will be protected and provided for, because the sparks are already flying. But Dane keeps nagging about irrelevant things like his family, responsibilities, and the Internet. No wonder Jag needs to keep him chained for longer than he expected.

The only way out for Dane is to play the role of Jag’s obedient, loving ‘mate’, and bide his time until he can escape. But while Jag is absolutely batshit, and his junkyard den lifestyle is insanity, he also showers Dane with treats, worships the ground he walks on, and f*cks him like a monster, the way Dane always dreamed of in his most secret fantasies.

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How was it?

Primal was  a roller coaster of emotions for me, I went in blind like I most often do, and immediately started feeling really bad for Jaguar, who seemed sweet but rough around the edges. However this sweet wild man got me worried that he was slowly becoming irredeemable, because the situation he got himself in was getting from bad to worse at one point. While I understood where Jaguar was coming from, I found him brave and loved that he followed his instincts when it came to his attraction to men, I still did not excusing his actions regarding Dane.

It is real skill that Merikan has to make this crazy, f’ed up situation engaging, somewhat cute and…rational? Because I believed in Jaguar’s intentions and Dane’s feelings for him. I didn’t feel like the wrong things were getting glorified, Jaguar’s actions, as misguided as they were, seemed understandable once I got who he was. Jag left his unconventional family behind years ago, but he didn’t let go of his father’s teachings and beliefs. We may not go as in depth with Dane as we go with Jag but Dane is so much the average Joe, the guy next door, a canvas for readers to see themselves in that he didn’t need it as much as Jag did. Because Jaguar’s “crazy” needed to be explained and understood.

The second entry in the Wrong Side of the Tracks series is a book that I would have ignored because of the premise alone and maybe some of my prejudices about how romances featuring captivity or kidnapping are written and what they seem to promote. This was scary, lovely and sweet with a gem of a character that is the definition of a diamond in the rough. this book didn’t disappoint and I love how it all turned out in the end.

One thing I have to admit though, is that for a little while I thought this was a shifter romance because of how Jaguar talks and acts but he’s just a wild.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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

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