#BookReview: The Shell Collector by Nancy Naigle

Solid, Maybe Not ‘Real’ For Everyone. This is one of those Hallmarkie type books – from an author who apparently has had a few of her books become Hallmark movies – that goes a bit deep into the whole pro-military, pro-say-your-prayers portrayal of a “small town” that many will love and many others will find doesn’t exactly reflect their own experiences with small towns. But working within that Hallmarkie / conservative Christian / Christian Fiction type niche, this is one that will likely be beloved. And don’t get me wrong, as an overall story it is genuinely solid for *anyone*. It does a great job as it explores some deep issues – including loss of a spouse, second chance romance, unrequited love, and other issues – that many experience well outside of the *exact* target demo for this effort, and thus it opens itself to a much wider audience… as long as you can stomach the not-*quite*-constant rah rah Go Military! type. There is nothing objectively here to hang any star reduction on, as, again, it is a solid story well told. Thus, it is very much recommended.

This review of The Shell Collector by Nancy Naigle was originally written on April 21, 2021.

#BookReview: Darling At The Campsite by Andy Abramowitz

Quirky With Heart. This is one of those books where it doesn’t seem like much is happening other than a loveable loser continually losing… except then you find its real heart, even amidst the continual “what the fuck” situations. If you’re a fan of slower paced, zany, small town explorations… you’re going to love this one. If that isn’t normally your thing, you should still try it out, because this is a good example of that kind of story. Because sometimes people *do* wait until they’re in their 30s to find out what they really want out of life. Even if it is both the same as and yet completely different from everything they ever imagined. Very much recommended.

This review of Darling At The Campsite by Andy Abramowitz was originally written on March 23, 2021.

#BlogTour: Best Laid Plans by Roan Parrish

For this blog tour, we’re looking at another Book 2 of a series that again can be read as a standalone and again features a pair of brothers. This week we’re looking at Best Laid Plans by Roan Parrish.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

Solid Romance, Animals Again Nearly Steal The Show. This was a solid romance featuring one guy that never really had a chance to find himself, and another that perhaps had too much time to find himself. The connection to the prior book is fairly loose, in the way that many romance series are these days, with Charlie of our primary couple here being introduced in Book 1 (Better Than People) as the brother of one half of that book’s couple. We get a touch of his back ground in that book, mostly as it relates to the brother, but here we get even more. And yes, the brother and his boyfriend from Book 1 show up a few times, even to the point of the new guy in this book befriending the boyfriend of Book 1 – which apparently is common when dating siblings. (At least according to what I’ve observed of my wife and sisters-in-law.) But in addition to the new guy, we are also introduced to a new *cat* in Chapter 1… and this cat damn near steals every scene it is in. Even moreso than the cats and dogs (including Charlie’s own cat) of the first book. For me, this book completely worked. There were far less issues reading it than the first book, as while I identified with different elements here, it wasn’t to the point of knowing all too well what certain … sometimes “debilitating”… issues are like. But, yeah, blog tour – I also knew I had to finish this thing soon no matter what, anyway. ๐Ÿ˜€ Still, truly at least as strong as Book 1 (I could see a strong debate on which tale is “stronger”, and I could probably argue either side of it), and at least for this cat-lover, with its emphasis on cats over dogs, I’ll give this one a *slight* edge on the first one. ๐Ÿ˜€ Very much recommended.

After the jump, about a page or so from Chapter 2 (IIRC), courtesy of the publisher, Carina Adores. And then the book information from the publisher.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Best Laid Plans by Roan Parrish”

#BlogTour: Unforgotten by Garrett Leigh

For this blog tour, we’re looking at Book 2 of a series that can very much be read as standalone (and totally works that way) yet which together with its predecessor forms one of the more courageous romance series I’ve ever come across. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Unforgotten by Garrett Leigh.

Here’s what I had to say about the book on Goodreads:

And Now, Part 2. In the second part of this courageous series of romance books, Leigh goes from MF romance in Book 1 (Forgiven) to MM romance here, a genre she is apparently much more well known in. And given the vitriol for MF romance in so much of the MM world, I expect this book to be received better than the first book was – and at this moment, the early Goodreads reviews are at least trending slightly in that direction.

Here, we get the full-on romance of two characters first introduced in Forgiven – the brothers of both of that book’s leads. And it is again a fairly standard gay/ bi romance. Fairly high degree of angst, lots of issues for both men to work through, sex scenes later in the tale given the inexperience of one of them, etc. If you like MM romance generally, this one will be another solid one for you. If you’re just exploring the genre, this is a good one to try out – and maybe even read Forgiven first, if you’re more comfortable in the MF romance space.

While I don’t see where this series goes from here, if indeed it is to continue, I’m not opposed to coming back to this world. Leigh does a truly solid job of establishing it and allowing her characters to live mostly real lives within it, including the added tag of drama near the end of this one – which can happen to most anyone. Very much recommended.

Below the jump, we get a little over a page from – IIRC – Chapter 1 as an excerpt, followed by the book information provided by the publisher. ๐Ÿ™‚
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Unforgotten by Garrett Leigh”

#BookReview: Saltwater Sweethearts by Christina Benjamin

Seldom Saccharine Sweet. This is the book in this trilogy about (in part) three brothers from a small Southern town where this eldest of three brothers from a small (ish) Southern town *really* started identifying with these boys. Particularly since I left my own hometown 15 years ago this summer and only rarely go back, almost always to spend time with my family there. Which is what Cole is doing here – coming back to town for his sister’s wedding. And Cole’s mom? Much moreso than in Book 1 (Palmetto Passion), here she sounds so much like my own mother I could actually hear my mother’s voice when she was speaking. Granted, my family doesn’t have any *towns* named after us, but there is a (small) lake north of Atlanta that bears my mom’s family’s name (and the road the lake is on to boot :D)

All of which to say, this book *really* felt like home in ways that few books have ever quite evoked. And yes, I know, people from other areas of the country/ world won’t get quite the same effect (even though the location of this book is a few hundred miles away from my own home region, to be clear :D), but even then – it *does* provide a pretty solid view of what family life is like for at least some in the region. ๐Ÿ™‚

Benjamin always does solid work creating mostly quick-read romances (and this one clocks in at just 180 ish pages) with heart, and this one is no different. And at this point, I’m *really* looking forward to Book 3, since at this point we know so very little about that particular brother. Oh, and if you liked the movie Sweet Home Alabama with Reese Witherspoon… well, this reader found this book to have at least some strong similarities with that tale. Which is a very good thing for this reader, since he very much enjoys that movie. ๐Ÿ™‚ With this noted, this book is very much recommended.

This review of Saltwater Sweetheart by Christina Benjamin was originally written on February 6, 2021.