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Monday, July 13, 2020

Hands Down by Mariana Zapata

I ADORE Mariana's writing. I didn't even KNOW I love slow burn so much until I started reading her books. But I do! and in this one you have to WAIT and wait and wait and it's SO worth it because besides LOVING the slow burn it's also my favorite trope of (best) friends to lovers. It took me long enough but I DID finally realized why Zac was familiar.. He has already appeared in a previous novel by Mariana - "The Wall of Winnipeg and Me" - being firstly Aiden's roommate and second a close friend to Vanessa. These two actually make an appearance in this one which was much appreciated and also made me want to read it all over again.

Like all of Mariana's books this one is also solely told from our heroine - Bianca Maria Brannen. While she didn't have the easiest life she has managed to make it her own and even make a successful business as a cook on social media. She is still working at the front desk of "Maio House" (the business Elena's family from "The Best Thing" has founded) but until her close friend Deepa who also works there finds another job she is staying to be there for her and secure herself a bit more before counting on her rather new found business to support her.

She has a big extended family, but her close one is rather small with parents working far away they entrusted both her and her her big sister Connie to the loving hands of her Mama Lupe who cared for both girls as well as 2 certain boys until her last days. The two boys are Boogie - Bianca's cousin who is like a real brother to her, and Zachary "Zac" Travis his best friend who also lives close by. All of Bianca's childhood and teens are filled with endless memories of them spending time together and though Boogie and Zac are 7 years older than her, it never truly affected their friendship spending time together, playing and laughing. But things changed when Zac left their small town to college and became a known quarterback. They might call him "Big Texas" now, but he used to be her much smaller "Snack Pack" best friend. Back when he remembered who she was..

Saturday, July 4, 2020

The Tank (The Train #3) by Cari Z.

While this isn't my usual read Cari is! This is the third installment in what I refer to as "The Train" series, as it was the first story of Anton and Camille. Where last we left off it's clear both men wish for more than they have but it doesn't seem like a future together is something they can have at the moment. Camille's post as "a Lumiere" the Emperor's investigator takes him whenever there is trouble and Anton is all invested in his academic studies. Please be advised, if you haven't read the first two installment you MUST start at the beginning but no worries, all three are free reads though Cari's blog.

Now that Anton Seiber has finished his Master training in Thaumaturgy (magic) in the Universitate Zurich he isn't sure what to do with his life. His previous "adventure" with Camille has brought him no more trouble but the association with the man who has tried to kill him has left him with no employment offers. On the eve of his graduation he wishes for a friendly face. He has contacted both his mother and his closest friend from childhood Caroline but both haven't replied to his letters. He would have LOVED for Camille to come but he doesn't even know how to contact him. Camille seems to appear out of the blue and stay for the shortest time. Yet before the evening ends two of the three appear with a promise of adventure, one he isn't really sure about..

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Conventionally Yours (True Colors #1) [Conrad & Alden] by Annabeth Albert

Though I'm a HUGE Annabeth fan (read ALL of her books) this one just wasn't for me. Somehow the plot and the characters simply didn't "grab" me. I felt like the road tripping itself (shifting drivers and getting lost) and the card game (including too many actual games) made this, well, boring.. I used to be into RPG (Role Playing Games) back in the day so I COULD relate and yet I totally couldn't because I don't know this game (or interested in it).

Conrad Stewart seems like he has it all but it's all a front to a lonely life. He used to have a loving family, a promising start in college and a very active social life. What's left? Working in as many jobs as he can and playing "Odyssey ". After coming out his family basically thrown him into the wolves leaving him with no way of paying college (so he dropped out) and barely a way to make things end enough for him to even feed himself. Two weeks on the road to get into an "Odyssey" convention seems like a waste of time and money but if he wins the big price he might FINALLY have means to support himself (while doing something he loves).

Alden Roth looks to have won the jackpot of a family. Two extremely loving moms (and two older sisters) with a planned future as a doctor. But he hides how much his family's expectations is weighing on him. He hasn't been able to get into any program and after two years trying he doesn't feel like going through it again for a third. His moms are pushing him to make decisions concerning his future and all he feels like doing is hiding and playing "Odyssey" - one of the few if not only thing he feels he is good at. Though he has a group who plays "together" he struggles socially. The guys don't really like him - especially not Conrad but the convention might be his way out. Winning big can change his future! Though it might not be the kind his family "approves" of, at least they are happy he is going with friends.. (though they don't know they aren't really).

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Redemption (Darkest Skies #1) [Luis & Paolo] by Garrett Leigh

I have no words. This book was angst galore, but the best kind. I couldn't put this book down. I only did when I absolutely HAD to. The pits of despair were open wide, but I was hoping and wishing Luis and Paolo will come out of it in one piece arms around each other. They did. It was one HELL of a ride, but it was SO worth it.

Luis Pope had very little choice in his life. His father died when he was very young and his mother couldn't have cared less about her children. Dante, his big brother, found his way in life through selling drugs and such in a gang and Luis found himself doing his brother's bidding with nothing to really look forward in life. Until the day he got arrested and realized that THIS is his way out of the life he despises. 6 years has passed and now that he is out he has no idea what to do. So much has changed and besides, who would want an ex-gang member? Wanting to warm his bones a little with a hot cup of tea he stumbles into Toni's Cafe with the job notice on the front - this HAS to mean something, right?

Paolo Cilberto's life has also been predetermined for him. Raised by his loving grandparents, now both in assisted care homes, he is running their cafe. Considering what his last few workers have said about him, it seems he's not an easy boss. Well, what can he say, he has a bit of a temper.. When Luis asks for a cup of tea and a job he offers the tea but doesn't feel desperate enough for the job. Yep, he recognized him, even if it had been years. But seeing him a few more times helps change his mind. Especially when the days aren't getting shorter or easier without any help.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Better Have Heart (Harrison Campus #2) [Isaiah & Darren] by Anyta Sunday & Andy Gallo

This book! THIS BOOK! I don't really know what to say and certainly not where to start. I LOVED IT. I loved everything about it. I want everyone to read it. It was a PERFECT slow burn. It took these two FOREVER to actually act on their feelings (which was more than understandable considering the circumstance they were in). It allowed them to actually get to know each other and make the first move when the feelings were already there and it meant much more to both of them.

We've met Darren Gage in the first installment of this series "Better Be Sure" (though this book could TOTALLY be read as a standalone (just be advised there is  a little spoiler related to the first book). He started as being the "bad guy", not for his actions but for the lack of, as a friend of Harper he stood by when he was being a total douche. But near the ending he realized he couldn't just stand there and do nothing and so he made the right move and from there things have changed for him in the fraternity though his personal situation just got worse (not that anyone knew about that..)

Darren is born of money. A LOT of money. But it doesn't mean his life is easy. Well, it used to be until he came out of the closet and his father, who was one of the closest people in his life, totally and absolutely shut him from his life. He was crashed. His only hope of proving his father he is not a total failure and disappointment is "winning" the family's scholarship. As one of Darren's ancestors helped found Harrison College, each year there is a scholarship including a position in the family business to a student who wins out of all participants. Yet in a year a Gage is in school the scholarship automatically goes to him as it was meant to be for the family first. Yet this year things are a bit different...

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Slippery Creatures (The Will Darling Adventures #1) by K.J. Charles

I REALLY enjoyed this one. I LOVED our two MCs Will and Kim and though they have a LONG way to go to establish a real relationship between them, I can't wait to see it truly evolving in the net two installments as this one left us with two guys who might WANT to have something together but it's still quite complicated considering everything that has happened. 

Will Darling has returned from war only to realize that there is no job to be found even for a heroe and all his medals have no value but the metal they are made of at a pawn shop (which isn't much..). He was lucky when contacting his only living relative - his uncle - he found himself not long after the new owner of "Darling’s Used & Antiquarian" his uncle's bookstore. Though he loves books he is a bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount of them and the state of disarray the store is in. He doesn't even know where to start and has no motivation to begin.

But some organization or sorting out is needed when he finds himself smack in the middle of a curious case. There are two companies who are VERY interested in an item his uncle was handed by his friend Professor Edward Draven. Will doesn't know what it is or what it would contain but both parties are pushing all his buttons in order to get their hands on it and so he needs to do his own investigation to find what his uncle was hiding and who he should give it to (or maybe neither).

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Bequest (Enlightenment Epilogue) by Joanna Chambers

I didn't know I missed Murdo and David so much until I started reading this wonderful epilogue. This series was one of my first attempts at Historical Romance and it's been so wonderful I can only thank Joanna for introducing me to this sub-genre with these two. Getting this short novella truly made me BELIEVE they couldn't have had a better Happily Ever After. 

It's obvious in Murdo's words when David asks him if he misses what he left behind to live with him in the country: "I have not missed London for a single moment. But I would miss it with my whole heart if you were here and I was not. You are my home. My heart is wherever you are".

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Pretty Sweet (Boys in Makeup #2) [Seth & Jake] by Christina Lee & Riley Hart

When I say this book was ADORABLE I mean it. It was the sweetest thing ever. Truth being told, I'm having a hard time lately committing to a whole length novel yet once I started this one I couldn't put it down and I was reminded how happy I get when I immerse myself in a beautiful heartfelt book. Jake and Seth's story was vulnerable and tender. they were both exploring parts of themselves they haven't before and that's without mentioning the sexual part that was rather new to both of them. 

We've met Seth in the previous installment. He is Jesse's best friend. They used to live together in Seth's apartment before Jesse found his own HEA with Dane (If you haven't read "Pretty Perfect" it's simply a MUST). Jake has lived a rather sheltered life. He comes from a wealthy family but a cold one. It used to be different when his father was alive, but after his death his mother became WAY too controlling, trying to build a perfect life for her only son, not seeing for a second it's never what he wanted for himself. He didn't know how to stand up to her, how to pursue his real interests which is a big part of the reason he has left home to study (what she wants - and he dislikes), in the university his father went to, and more importantly far from home.