Book Reviews

Friday review

book review banner smaller

aftercare tanya chrisAftercare (Ever After #1) by Tanya Chris

Aayan Denir knows Garrett Hillier was once a high-powered defense attorney, and—thanks to a leaked photograph—he knows Garrett is sexually submissive, which makes him ideally qualified to defend Aayan’s brother from the charge of murdering his sub. Aayan would do anything to protect Syed, even if he doesn’t understand how Syed could hurt someone he loves. He could never hurt Garrett. He only wants to take care of him—love him, serve him, cherish him. And maybe torture him. Just a little.

Garrett probably shouldn’t be dating his client’s brother. Right? And what’s the use in a confirmed sub dating a guy who doesn’t want to be a Dom anyway? The important thing is to get Syed cleared of the discriminatory murder charge he’s facing. Aayan is a distraction. But for the first time in the three lonely years since Garrett’s husband died, he’s feeling hope, ambition, and desire. Can he give up the pain he craves to find the love he needs?

As Syed’s trial date looms, Aayan and Garrett explore what a BDSM relationship means for them, and what they mean to each other.

(There is a newer cover than the one pictured above, but this is the version I read)

My last review here on the blog (Leather and Tea by K.L. Noone) was a BDSM book, and so is this one (I swear I don’t only read BDSM even if it seems like that 😀 ). In that review, I said that my favorite kind of BDSM book “What I like is the power dynamics, the BDSM not overpowered by props, the BDSM where the emotions are in focus, where the need to give up control is respected and handled with care” and Aftercare is another book that fits into that category.

Aside for that, Aftercare has three other things I love in my books:

  1. Court proceedings – I’m a sucker for court proceedings. I love court TV-shows or movies or stories, it’s really my thing. (Fiction though, not real life court TV)
  2. The MCs communicating. Gawd, is there anything sexier (except for consent – consent is always the most sexy thing to read) than people talking to each other? I think not!
  3. Diversity. Aayan and his brother Syed are Turkish Muslims.

So considering all that, it won’t come as a surprise to you that I really, really liked this book.

The characters were interesting and complex. I like that Garrett is a submissive masochist, but he’s also fierce in his profession and has backbone enough to stand up to Aayan when necessary. Aayan has problems incorporating his identity with his Muslim faith, but he tries so hard to accept who he is, and who his brother is, even though their parents aren’t exactly supportive.

This story line resonates with me. The brother, Syed, wanted to marry his boyfriend Jamie, but wanted to wait until he got his parents’ blessing. Unfortunately, he never got it and then it was too late. I have a gay friend who’s Muslim, and he’d like to be able to commit to his partner of many years, but he can’t do it because of his family. I know people like this which makes it even more real and touching and sad.

I would also like to go back to the communicating. If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know that I hate misunderstandings, and love talking. (So much that my current WIP is about two characters NOT misunderstanding each other!)  And there were a couple moments in Aftercare that had the potential of ending with misunderstanding, but didn’t. Tanya Chris handled these situations with utmost grace, and neither of the characters let the other get away with it. And that is how you do it, people. Because in real life we don’t always want to talk about the hard stuff, but we have to. If we have a grown-up partner who’s invested in our relationship, they won’t let us get away with crap like that. So kudos for that.

If you like an emotional BDSM story about two people who really want their relationship to work, and who struggle to find themselves in the circumstances they’re in – this is the book for you.

Buy link

After finishing Aftercare, I one-clicked book 2, Aftershock, which is Syed’s book. Can’t wait to read his story and HEA – he deserves it.

Book Reviews

Friday review

book review banner smaller

40946883Some nights, American secret agent Ben Smith just wants to come home to his husband. He misses that English accent and smile and, of course, Simon on his knees. He wants his perfect submissive at his feet, so the world and his mission can fall away.

Some nights, romance writer Simon Ashley misses his dashing American other half. Tea is nice, but it can’t pin him down in bed and make him beg, reminding him he’s loved and belongs to someone. He wants to forget everything and everyone he’s left behind, and just belong to Ben.

Tonight they both get what they want when Ben comes home early. tea is very nice … but so is leather.

After reading this book, I was left with one very important question: why on earth isn’t everybody reading K.L. Noone??

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile (at least since the advent calendar last December) you know I loved K.L. Noone’s holiday story Revelry. I’ve been meaning to read Leather and Tea for awhile, since the release of the 2018 Top Ten Gay Romance anthology where it’s is featured. But somehow it slipped my mind, until I read this fabulous review of the anthology by Becca over at Love Bytes. The first few sentences of her review (“Damn this story was amazing! It was almost like reading a love letter. It was so poignant and beautiful.”) reminded me of this book’s existence, and I decided to read it at once.

And wow, Becca is right; it’s a 7779 word long love letter. It’s 7779 words of pure perfection, of a love so bright and beautiful between Ben and Simon, and I simply adored it.

This story is everything I love about short stories. It’s a slice of life in the main characters’ lives with enough back story to make me care for them deeply. Combined with K.L. Noone’s mastery of the English language, I’m a goner.

Summer-morning eyes found his gaze with excitement, disbelief, hope like emerging sunrise.

This book is a BDSM erotica. I’m ambivalent when it comes to BDSM; I’m not a fan of the St. Andrew’s Cross-filled dungeon, or the kink club BDSM. What I like is the power dynamics, the BDSM not overpowered by props, the BDSM where the emotions are in focus, where the need to give up control is respected and handled with care. What I like, is the BDSM described in this book.

I love you, you give me everything, you trust me with all of you and I want to deserve that, to deserve you. Those eyes and that smile and the way you looked up with that little gasp the first time I spanked you, only teasing, in bed. The way you offer me all those pieces of you to hold secure and sacred and I will, I will, forever. 

Ben and Simon are two fantastic characters, and I loved them both, but maybe I loved the sassy, British Simon just a tad more, with his gilded locks, his clumsiness, and his complete trust in Ben. And who wouldn’t want to come home…

To crossword puzzles in bed and a trail of books like breadcrumbs from room to room and trusting fearlessness.

And then there’s the language.

Simon turned his head, studied their hands anew: Ben’s fingers tanned and powerful over that slender wrist, a study in light and contrast painted with the light from the bedside lamp. 

Like I said; I read this book in the 2018 Top Ten Gay Romance anthology, but when I finished it, I marched (I marched virtually, okay?) to JMS Books and bought it separately, too. And I bought three other books by K.L. Noone too, because everything I’ve read from her so far have been bloody fantastic, and I need to support writing like this.

Thank you Becca at Love Bytes for reminding me to read this book, and thank you to K.L. Noone for writing it.

Leather and Tea gets my warmest recommendations and I added it to my re-read feelgood shelf at Goodreads. *Happy sigh and heart eyes*

JMS Books | Amazon

Aaaaand I’m looking forward to the sequel that will be released tomorrow: A Leather and Tea Morning. I pre-ordered it weeks ago and I can’t wait to read it. I mean, this line from the excerpt made me one-click faster than you can say tea 🙂

Simon asleep looked like dawn, he decided: pale sunshine curls and fair skin and careless contentment, a miniature masterpiece painted in gold that’d collided with a pillow and learned how to very quietly snore.

Book Reviews

Friday review

book review banner smaller

shut your faceWhen Charlie was eight years old, his mum bought him a microscope for his birthday. Since then, he’s known how he wants to spend his life. There have been trials, and challenges, but now – finally – the day is here for him to start college with his lifelong friend Anthony Pace.

Anthony is a red-haired force of nature. He writes poetry about their enemies and eagerly participates in all Charlie’s science experiments without understanding a word. Every morning, he waits at the end of their street so they can get the bus together.

But things are changing.

Families are important, and complex. Charlie’s mum hasn’t been well, and his relationship with Anthony begins to shine like a different star in the sky.

Can everything come together in this explosion of physics and chemicals that Charlie calls life? Will Anthony Pace ever share his poems with the world, and can the Chihuahua, Princess Arabella, ever learn to stop licking?

Once a boy shows you the stars, they’re a hard act to follow

Claire Davis and Al Stewart are word magicians. Shut Your Face, Anthony Pace! is the third story of theirs I’ve read. The previous ones, Dear Mona Lisa…  (review by yours truly here) and Up!, were fabulous, and so is Anthony Pace.

Davis and Steward don’t write your garden variety characters that you can find in a gazillion other books. No, their characters – and stories – are unique and quirky and humorous with a clear thread of sadness running through them. They are the kind of stories that grab you in the heart and refuse to let go for days after you finished them.

Charlie and Anthony have been friends for a long time, since they were kids. Now they’re starting college, and are very excited. Their friendship is strong, even though they’re very different. Anthony is the red-head poet who understands Charlie completely, and offers him a safe haven whenever he needs it.

Charlie is the scientist to Anthony’s artist. He’s somewhere on the autism spectrum, but when his mum took him to the doctor, they didn’t want to diagnose him.

Charlie firmly shut the door in his head, the way Mum showed him when he was eight years old. He shoved away the galloping horses in his chest, the wire around his head and the dam wanting to burst from his eyes.

It becomes clear at the very beginning of the book that Charlie’s mum isn’t well. He does his best to take care of her, but it’s overwhelming and difficult for a teenager with undiagnosed autism. His mother’s illness is the only secret he’s kept from Anthony, and it’s difficult as they grow closer and their relationship deepens and takes a new turn.

When everything explodes, it’s magnificent. I hid in the bedroom with a box of Kleenex and ached as I watched Anthony being there for Charlie. My heart throbbed for hours afterward.

Thank you, Ofelia Gränd, for recommending this book to me. I blame you for my puffy eyes and runny nose after finishing the book, though! 🙂

Shut Your Face, Anthony Pace! gets my warmest recommendations.

I finish this review with one of Anthony’s poems. They are naive and fabulous, and tells you everything you need to know about what kind of person Anthony is.

Now spectrums they will cause
Lots of speculation
Nattering about you and your supposed
Problems with communication
But I hear
And I see
You are not problems
Not to me
Your beauty is much bigger than mine
I know one day
You’re gonna shine

Buy link


Book Reviews

Friday review

book review banner smaller

40627465Seizing his one chance to escape, Ethan Hosking leaves his violent ex-boyfriend, leaves his entire life, and walks into the path of a raging bushfire. Desperate to start over, a new man named Aubrey Hobbs walks out of the fire-ravaged forest, alive and alone. With no ID and no money, nothing but his grandfather’s telescope, he goes where the Southern Cross leads him.

Patrick Carney is the resident lighthouse keeper in Hadley Cove, a small town on the remote Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia. After the tragic death of his lover four years ago, he lives a solitary life; just him, a tabby cat, the Indian and Southern Oceans, and a whole lot of loneliness. He’s content with his life until a stranger shows up in town and turns Patrick’s head.

Patrick never expected to be interested in anyone else.

Aubrey never expected to be happy.

Between Aubrey’s love of the stars and Patrick’s love of the ocean, these two fragile hearts must navigate new waters. If they can weather the storm of their pasts, they could very well have a love that eclipses everything.

If I was adrift and lost, and I certainly felt it some days, then he was my shining beacon, my tether and guide to something good and whole. My lighthouse.

This is not really a book review. This is just me gushing about a book, looking like a heart-eye emoji. This book has everything I love. Hurt/comfort. May/December. Lots of looking at stars and the ocean. And romance. Oh, the romance. *swoon*

Galaxies and Oceans is maybe the most romantic book I ever read. Full stop.

When I was in Sweden back in January, I had to go on a road trip I really didn’t want to do (family obligations). My husband and daughter took turns doing the driving, so I was cooped up in the back, reading this book. It was cold and snowy and foggy, so we could hardly see where we were going, and my family worried about the driving conditions.

But, not me. I was too busy reading. I read all the way to the destination, trying to keep my tears quiet so my family wouldn’t notice. When we arrived, I didn’t want to get out of the car and be social; I just wanted to finish reading. I continued on way back home, and when it ended halfway, I spent the rest of the car ride staring out the window at the stars (the fog had cleared by then), thinking that these were the same stars Aubrey was guided by…even though it wasn’t because they live close to Antarctica and I was pretty much as far away from there you can get without leaving Earth. I thought about Aubrey and Patrick, overflowing with love for these wonderful characters and this wonderful book.

It’s a slow and quiet book; character driven and focused entirely on the relationship. Aubrey and Patrick get to know each other: they look at the stars, have picnics, visit penguins, repair a washing machine, and do things that doesn’t sound very exciting. But it is. The excitement is in the stillness. There’s beauty is in the quiet. And it’s so, so beautiful, I have no words.

Sometimes you have to listen to the silences. When things aren’t said. That’s where the truth is.

Galaxies and Oceans promptly ended up on my feel good re-read list. And the cover is fabulous.

My warmest, swooniest recommendations. But I warn you: there’s a real risk you’ll suffer from severe book hangover after you finish it. I did 🙂

Buy link


Book Reviews

Friday review

book review banner smaller

39347033Last month, Alex Barrow’s whole life imploded—partner, home, job, all gone in forty-eight hours. But sometimes when everything falls apart, better things appear almost like magic. Now, he’s back in his Michigan hometown, finally opening the bakery he’s always dreamed of. But the pleasure of opening day is nothing compared to the lonely and beautiful man who bewitches Alex before he even orders.

Corbin Wale is a weirdo. At least, that’s what he’s heard his whole life. He knows he’s often in a fantasy world, but the things he feels are very real. And so is the reason why he can never, ever be with Alex Barrow. Even if Alex is everything he’s always fantasized about. Even if maybe, just maybe, Corbin is Alex’s fantasy too.

When Corbin begins working at the bakery, he and Alex can’t deny their connection any longer. As the holiday season works its magic, Alex yearns for the man who seems out of reach. But to be with Alex, Corbin will have to challenge every truth he’s ever known. If his holiday risk pays off, two men from different worlds will get the love they’ve always longed for.

“Corbin,” Alex murmured. And he imagined that Corbin had been right when he said that a name gives power over the named. He imagined that he could speak Corbin’s name over and over until the man was his. “Corbin,” he said again, leaning closer.

Sometimes, I’m contrary when it comes to popular things like books or movies or TV shows. If everyone adores something, I tend to steer clear of it. I don’t really know why, maybe it’s an innate need in me to be different from everyone else and like more obscure things. Things that not everyone know about and that aren’t praised as though they’re the next big scientific discovery like life on earth.

So when everyone was gushing about The Remaking of Corbin Wale last year, I bought it…and didn’t read it. It’s been sitting on my virtual book shelf all year, collecting cyber dust, feeling unloved. Until a few days before Christmas, when I scrolled through my book folder in Dropbox to find something to read, and chose Corbin Wale.

And was completely blown away.

Corbin Wale is truly one of the most unique characters I’ve ever read. He lives in his own world, something that the rest of the world makes fun of him for, bullied him for in school and even as an adult. Adults in school told him he’s mentally ill, but he’s really not. He’s just different. Not raised as other people, he’s raised without boundaries and without rules, and doesn’t conform well to the rules when he encounters them. He’s been taught to believe in magic, and he knows it’s real.

Alex is just what Corbin needs. He’s instantly drawn to Corbin and it’s much more than attraction. And where other people are rude to Corbin and dismiss him as crazy, Alex listens and believes in him. He’s patient and takes his time wooing him, afraid to scare him off.

The Remaking of Corbin Wale is 218 pages of pure magic. The language, the characters, the plot, everything is crafted with skill. The simplest words are woven together in a magical way that tugs at my heart and make me cry or smile or despair. The book is so full of emotion, I couldn’t keep it inside. “Get me my cuddly elephant,” I sobbed to my husband when my heart poured out of my eyes, and when he gave it to me, I hugged it tightly until I finished the book.

Panic gripped Alex as he stared at the empty space and his own outstretched hands. He didn’t know what he’d done, but it had ripped Corbin from him, turning intimacy to distance, and pleasure to fear. He’d reached for something gossamer, and he’d shredded it with rough hands. The most beautiful kiss he’d ever shared had turned to dust in his mouth.

The story is beautiful, the writing is beautiful, and the characters are beautiful. I’m sorry that my words aren’t enough to convey how deeply I loved this book, you just have to trust me when I say I give it my warmest recommendations.

Buy link