Thursday, March 29, 2018

Off Base By Annabeth Albert

Rating: ★★★★ | 8 hrs 9 min | Carina Press| M/M Contemporary| 1/09/2017 | Buy Now!

Off Base is my first foray into M/M romance. I've been wanting to read M/M for awhile and  I've been hesitant about non #ownvoices, because the idea of a subgenre that is generally accepted as being, written by straight women about gay men for straight women. just made me unsure. But I've heard good things about Annabeth Albert and this series has won a few audiobook awards, so I was ready to jump in.

Zack Nelson is the good son. He has made his parents proud by moving to California and becoming a Navy SEAL. But on the inside, Zack is struggling to confront his sexuality. Even though he is serving in a post-DADT military he is still confronted with homophobic jokes by the men who are supposed to have his back.

Needing some space, Zack decides to move on off base (oh, I get the title) to a house in need of a serious renovation. He agrees to take acquaintance Pike Reynolds-- a smart, vocal out-and-proud math professor and home repair expert--on as a roommate. The two work together on the house but soon Pike is doing a rehab of his own on the tough SEAL.  As Pike slowly gets Zack to open up, their bond becomes a safe haven f, but can they ever explore the possibility of being together outside the four walls of the house they share?

The house is sort of like a third character in this book (Yeah, I said it) because it serves as this sort of refugee for the Pike and Zack. It's a safe place for Zack to explore his feelings while not having to confront them, which becomes the main emotional crux of the book.  Pike is also dealing with his career taking a turn he didn't expect, but I found his plot pretty predictable. Zack steals the show in this one.

The book doesn't glamorize Navy SEALs, there are no clandestine missions or doors being broken down. The harassment and blackmail Zack has to deal with is handled very seriously and methodically in this book, I am curious how much of this is pulled from true stories.

Narrator Tyler Stevens does an amazing job and he gets real emphatic during emotional scenes. You can just tell he is really getting into it. I'm kind of sad to find out he only does one book in this series.

 Zack is 23 years-old and I think Pike is supposed to be a bit older but to me this skewed as New Adult. The characters are finding their place in the world and no one has a ton of money to throw around.

I'm just going to say it. I really dislike the name Pike. It just made me think about Starbucks.

An emotional character driven military novel with a slow-burning romance and unbeatable odds.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

How The Cowboy Was Won by Lori Wilde (Cupid, Texas #6)

Rating: +.5 | 3/2/2018 | 384 pages | Avon | Contemporary | Cupid, Texas  #6

After a bitter divorce Ember Azalte is back in her hometown of Cupid, Texas where she’s fashioned herself into something of a matchmaker. Her current prospect is Ranger Lockhart, her childhood best friend now brother-in-law back in town from a year abroad. A year away has made Ranger realize he only has eyes for Ember...if only he could tell her that without ruining their lifelong friendship.

As I’m sure 90% of you have already put together, yes, yes this is an Emma inspired romance.

I’ve been reading a lot of Lori Wilde for Avon Addicts and she writes playfully warm contemporary romances with a little Texas twang. I loved that Ember was an impulsive extrovert who existed opposite the more introverted and pragmatic Ranger who (as I’m sure you tell by the cover) is a post doc astrobiologist. Their life-long friendship felt authentic. This is also a slo-o-o-ow burn romance, like they don’t get together as a couple until like 90% in and then it moves at a  break neck pace as they go  almost immediately to the black moment and HEA.

All that said, the way in which this book used Native American culture feels incredibly cringe-y. Ember is half Apache and we get a lot of the spiritual parts of Native Americans without any real nuance. I understand half-Native is a common trope in western romances but there are just a few moments where characters make rude comments towards Native Americans and it's kind of treated like nothing. The worst is a flashback where as children Ember and Ranger are playing with a knife and Ranger’s stepmom sees them and says Ember is trying to scalp Ranger and I’m just like wow, we’re really going to have a character make a racist statement and just blow over it ? Was it supposed to be funny to the reader ?

I’m not saying authors needs to write political thinkpieces but you just can’t strip a culture down to it’s pretty mystical parts. Ranger has this minor backstory about being sick as a child that you don’t really need so I don’t see they couldn’t stick in some of the cultural back story with Ember. In the book Ember has been recruited to make a tourist film about the town’s white founders. Why not make it about the Native American that used to live there ?

Maybe this stuff is fleshed out better in the other books about Ember’s relatives, but I’m rating this one and while the book was passable I have to drop it a star because this stuff bothered me. It’s 2018, ya’ll.

ARC received as part of the Avon Addicts program

Monday, March 19, 2018

Book Blitz: Unearth Me by Grey


Unearthing is the act of discovering something hidden, lost or kept secret by probing, investigating or digging.

Kirklynn Sayers, 34-year-old renowned therapist of Huffington Mill, has mastered every aspect of her life except love. She refuses to refer to herself as a hopeless romantic, simply, because she’s lost interest in finding it, altogether. Unsympathetic about her shallow hopes of partnership, she buries the hatchet and focuses on creating a legacy and defying the stigma attached to therapists as herself.

Heath Benedict, 26 years old and the newest heir of the Benedict throne, is still suffering from the death of his grandfather years prior. Though he was blessed with a budding empire as a result of it, Harold Benedict’s death unsealed wounds that he’d covered for Heath’s sanity and protection. Heath has the world at the tip of his fingers, but the feeling of inadequacy is keeping him from accessing it.

From the day he took charge of Benedict and Associates, Heath has only been content with one aspect of the company... access to Kirklynn Sayers. He, soon, discovers that her wholesomeness is the key to unlock his sanity. While she tries to solve his issues of inadequacy through treatment, Heath reveals that there’s only one way to heal him. Submission.

Kirklynn refuses to submit and jeopardize her career, leaving Heath with no choice but to force his hand. Journey through a story of uncertainty as the two struggle to unearth their most sacred aspirations while undressing one another in the process.

Purchase on Amazon  | Add to Goodreads

Grey Huffington, evoking emotions through raw, heart-piercing Romance.

Between the pages and through the bleeding ink of my pen, I urge to create whimsical stories that depict the truth about black love with relative situations, circumstances, and characters. Grey is a penman derived from a deeper desire to tell of less complex, circumstantial, stereotyped, and biased stories of black and interracial love. My goal is to highlight the misconception that black love stories can be everything BUT pleasant, joyful, everlasting, and beautiful.

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

A Princess In Theory By Alyssa Cole

Rating: ★★★★ | 354 pages | Avon | Contemporary / Royalty | 2/27/2018 

A Princess In Theory is a humorous and delightful  kick-off to Alyssa Cole's Reluctant Royals series. Naledi Smith has a ton to juggle between grad school, lab work and waitressing--the last thing she needs is to get caught up with Jamal, the cute guy at work who just happens to be her new neighbor.

... except Jamal isn't who he say he is, he is actually Prince Thabsio, the crown prince of Thesolo who has gone undercover to meet the girl he was bethored to as a child. Thabsio gets more than he bargained for with Naledi --- but can he tell her who he really is before it's too late ?

In a lot of ways, this book was exactly what I thought it would be, but I wasn't expecting this book to be so funny ! A lot of the initial humor comes from Thabiso's early interactions with Ledi. It's this comedy of manners as he tries to be blend in as a regular American guy. It hits all the moments you want to see in a romance like this and is filled with memorable side characters.

I also like that Alyssa Cole threw in cute little expys for real life things like there is a food delivery service called "Yellow Spoon" and "Instaphoto" is a popular social media platform. I gather these are going to keep showing up in the wold of these books. I'm also pretty sure Regina's , Ledi's best friend's sister, website GirlWithGlasses is an expy of BlackGirlNerds ! I hope Regina gets to be the heroine of a book.

As you can imagine when you have a hero lying to a heroine you want a good grovel, and don't worry we get a pretty good one here.Look, I'm going to be honest,  the book didn't completely land the ending. There was an intrigue plot that popped up and was really easy to figure out. I really just wanted was more of the cute Brooklyn love story from the first half of the book.

So, if you're looking for a book that features STEM, African Royalty and female characters who are crushin' it--and you've already seen Black Panther five times--A Princess, In Theory, is everything you want, and that is a fact! 

*ARC received for review

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Knocked Up Plan by Lauren Blakely

Rating: |  6/23/2017 | 302 pages | Self-Published  | Contemporary | Standalone

I’ve been reading a lot of traditionally published romance as part of Avon Addicts and wanted to break it up with something indie and a little zany so when this came through on my library holds I snapped it up.

30-year-old Nicole Powers thinks she is immune to love but she is ready to become a single mom by choice and wants her co-worker Ryder Lockhart as her sperm donor. Ryder and Nicole are the resident dating and intimacy experts at a media conglomerate and decide they’re both mature enough to forgo the clinics and stirrups, draw up a contract of their own and do things the old fashioned way.

This book is not actually as cray as I thought it would be. It turned out to be a down-to-earth, well written, funny story with a sweet slow burn romance that just kind of sneaks up on you.

I think Blakely made some really great choices with her characters, particularly with the hero. Ryder wrote a bestseller and gave seminars to men on how to date women but lost it all when his picture perfect marriage ended. Now he has had to become more of a pick up artist type. I think male dating experts are hard to capture and he could have easily come off as a creep but Blakely makes it work.

Ryder and Nicole communicate using humor and I got so many rom com vibes from this book. I’m so mad Hallmark would probably never touch it because of the plot so I need you to come through Lifetime.

Lauren Blakely originally  caught my eye as an author because some of her covers are constantly doing the most to lure readers in.