Featured New Release Of The Week: A Lot Like Christmas by Jennifer Snow

This week we’re looking at a book that uses a Christmas countdown to both countdown to Christmas… and to a goodbye. This week we’re looking at A Lot Like Christmas by Jennifer Snow.

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

A Different Kind of Christmas Countdown. What happens when you meet a new person 3 weeks before Christmas and you find yourself falling in love… and yet they have told you up front that they are leaving town again on Christmas Day? Well, in this case… you have a plot (and plot device, as the countdown is given at the start of every chapter) for a romance novel. ๐Ÿ˜€ For the clean/ sweet crowd, know that Snow doesn’t exactly shy away from the sex scenes here, and they are never of the “behind closed doors” (unless inside a freezer counts? :D) nor “fade to black”. Otherwise, this was a fun Christmas novel of the various parties and sweets that flavor the season while also dealing with a couple of distinctly non-Christmas heavier issues as well. Truly an excellent work that shows Snow’s skill of showing off social issues without letting them weigh a story down – and even working them into the overall theme of the given book. Finally, I love the “connective tissue” of the series such that we see the couple from the first book a few times and seem to have an indication of who at least one person in the next couple in the next book will be. Excellent tale no matter the time of year you read it, and very much recommended.

#BlogTour: Sailor Proof by Annabeth Albert

For this blog tour we’re looking at the first entry in a new series of gay military romances. For this blog tour we’re looking at Sailor Proof by Annabeth Albert.

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

Solid Military Romance. This is a fairly standard romance / Annabeth Albert romance with one guy in uniform and the other not… and eventually, neither is. ๐Ÿ˜‰ She’s done the virgin thing at least once or twice (I fully cop to not reading her full back catalog, and I seem to remember her covering this even in the books I *have* read from her), and here it works just as well as it did the last time. For those looking for “clean” / “sweet” romance… Albert uses the virgin trope to explore as many successive sex acts as she can squeeze into a book. So this won’t be something that fits those definitions, but will work well within the more general romance/ gay romance reader crowd. The family dynamics are fun, some of the situations border on silly yet work, and the military scenes are accurate enough for someone who is only vaguely aware of US Navy operations. Looking forward to seeing where this new series will go. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt and the details about the book from the publisher, including the book description, author bio and social media links, and links to buy the book.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Sailor Proof by Annabeth Albert”

#BookReview: The Other Man by Farhad J Dadyburjor

Interesting Romance In (Arguably) Underserved Setting. Maybe there are more gay romances set in India written in Hindi and/ or marketed to Indian audiences. This American that doesn’t know any human languages other than English can’t say. But *in my experience* as someone for whom this was Book 189 on the year and who has read over 600 books since Jan 1, 2019 alone… this was unique in setting and primary characters.

Further, as someone in tech (who actually manages – and thus interacts near-daily with – teams of Indian nationals), the workload described here sounds realistic. (For better or for worse. My guys are *awesome*, but they *do* tend to work quite a bit.) The interfering family dynamics are something Nicola Marsh has written of fairly often in her straight romances involving the Indian diaspora (such as July 2021’s The Man Ban), and the struggles of coming out vs submitting to familial and societal expectations are well known and told quite often in American literature and culture at minimum. Hell, even in the US gay sex was officially illegal even this Millennium!

All of this to say, as a romance, I think this book actually works in showing a (mostly) seemingly realistic view while still falling into the standard rules of the genre. Yes, there is a fair amount of sex, on screen though not erotica level explicit. Yes, there is a happily ever after. And yes, there is a fair amount of angst getting there, culminating in a massive fight that splits the couple up before finally coming together – fairly standard stuff for the genre, and yet filled with details specific to its setting. While I don’t know if the Indian law that plays a fair role in the background of the story was ever actually overturned and I have no idea when this fight was going on, it doesn’t play enough of a role to detract from the story not knowing when this was – though those that *are* more familiar with that particular fight may be able to identify a bit more with the book just from seeing what was happening in their own lives at that time. While I’m not sure that I personally would classify this book as romantic *comedy*, there were a few funny moments and it could well be that there is more humor to be found here for those more familiar with Indian culture.

Overall a strong and interesting book, and very much recommended.

This review of The Other Man by Farhad J Dadyburjor was originally written on September 8, 2021.

#BookReview: Offsides With My Ex-Boyfriend by Christina Benjamin

Excellent Series Starter. This is a romance that manages to be both first-love *and* second-chance, as HS sweethearts who had been friends then best friends since forever before finally dating had broken up a year before the events of this book – and this book is as much about the fallout/ reconnecting there as it is about soccer. And yet, the actual soccer does indeed play a prominent role in this tale – which is not exactly a common feature of many of the previous Tomboy tales Benjamin and friends had worked on in the previous couple of years. So a marked improvement in the balance there, and in integrating both sports and romance. The secondary couple here being so prominently displayed throughout this particular story shows quite blatantly who Book 2 will be about, and this reader is looking forward to that tale as well. Very much recommended.

This review of Offsides With My Ex-Boyfriend by Christina Benjamin was originally written on August 30, 2021.

#BlogTour: The Girl In The Picture by Melissa Wiesner

For this blog tour we’re looking at a solid road trip romance that really does work for fans of Kerry Lonsdale and Diane Chamberlain, as the publisher notes – both of whom are authors I’ve read and reviewed on this very site. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Girl In The Picture by Melissa Wiesner.

Strong Road Trip Romance. This is a really solid road trip romance full of misunderstandings, some hijinx, tragic backstories for our main characters, and an element or two of danger – all while traveling the backroads of America as two strangers who happen to get thrown together due to, well, a major misunderstanding. ๐Ÿ˜€ You’ll laugh some, you’ll cry some, you’ll imagine yourself getting a bit wet – from rain, get your mind out of the damn gutter -, and yeah, you’ll probably fall in love with these two yourself. Very much recommended.

Below the jump, the “publisher details” including the book description, author bio, and social media/ buy links.
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#BookReview: Her Renegade Cowboy by Lora Leigh

Strong Romance – With A Couple Of Issues. As a romance book, this one works. It has the all the requisite parts and even a couple of the optional ones – clean/ sweet crowd, you’re not going to like all the XXX sex in this one, and there is more of it here than many romance novels, even those that include such scenes. As a bit of a psychological drama, it still kind of works, with the female lead clearly having issues she needs to work through. As a suspense… well, the only actual action here occurs in the last few chapters, the rest of the suspense here is more of the “looming threat” variety. Which works well enough here, but never really makes the pulse pound.

No, there really are two primary issues, one of which has been mentioned by at least one other reviewer and the other of which no existing review on Goodreads mentions: First, this is a female who it is made quite clear fairly early on (to the reader) has been assaulted. While there is indeed a fair amount of studies and even anecdotes of this turning the woman a bit promiscuous – for a variety of reasons – the more general feel seems to be that women become much more closed off to sex after this, particularly when still struggling with dealing with the events – as our female lead here is. And yet, the sex scenes here start pretty damn rapidly once she and our male lead connect. Again, in-story, it works well enough. This is mostly a “wait a second” level observation after the story, at least for this reader. (For others, it may well be a true game-stopper.)

The other issue, that hasn’t been mentioned in a Goodreads review yet, is the constant mention of a gun’s “clip”. NO! It is a “magazine” or “mag”. It is NOT a “clip”, and a former Army Ranger and current US Marshall would *damn* well know this! Still, even with this rather glaring example of complete unfamiliarity with the subject, it is one that readers similarly unfamiliar with the subject would think works reasonably well within the story.

And then there is the whole thing about this being titled as a cowboy story… and yet there is very little cowboy’ing happening here. Other than a ride inspecting fence posts, the rest of the “ranch” scenes could pretty well have any other location as their base of operations and the book would both read and work the same, almost without any even word changes.

Still, these are mostly more observational level issues that didn’t really detract from the book – other than the “clip” / “magazine thing – and the story itself, even with the magazine issue, is pretty solid with an action packed ending. And despite being marked as “Book 3” here, it actually works quite well as a standalone, which is how I read it.

Very much recommended.

This review of Her Renegade Cowboy by Lora Leigh was originally written on August 23, 2021.

#BookReview: Much Ado About Barbecue by Sally Kilpatrick

Fun Southern Enemies To Lovers Romance. The title of this review tells you most everything you need to know here. This book has quite a few moving parts, but overall they work together to create a solid, fun Southern romance – in this case, centered on the titular barbecue and the retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. The intricacies of barbecue – and no, you damn Yankees and foreigners from other nations (joking, an allusion to Southern comic Jeff Foxworthy’s “Redneck Games”), simply putting something on a grill is not “barbecueing”, nor is the grill itself a “barbecue” – are discussed well, but always in context with and service to the overall story and character development. Small town southern life, with all of its greatness and pitfalls, are also shown well – yes, including the one person who claims to be able to speak to ghosts. The pranks are mostly in the past, and it is always quite clear that they were in the past. The reasons for the enmity between the leads are compelling, tragic, and completely “reasonable”-ish for where the characters were at those points, and the slow-burn nature of the romance allows both to see that perhaps there is more to the adult versions of each other than they remember of the kid versions. And that perhaps there was more going on with the kid versions that their own kid versions didn’t fully know about. For the clean/ sweet crowd, this has very minor cussing – including a grandma who actively admonishes such words in her presence – and no even fade-to-black sex. (Some heavy kissing though, for those more absolutist against absolutely anything physical.) Oh, and there is a more minor subplot – revealing even its nature would be a spoiler – that is refreshing, accurate… and yet still feels mostly thrown in due to the author’s own political leanings. It totally works, and it is nice to see an author defying the normal conventions of the genre to even subtly go there, and yet it also *does* feel a bit forced, as though this was a wrinkle intentionally placed to draw the eye away from the actual main subject to a degree. Still, on the whole a solid, fun romance novel that does a great job of explaining Southern Barbecue, and very much recommended.

This review of Much Ado About Barbecue by Sally Kilpatrick was originally written on August 11, 2021.

#BlogTour: The Wildest Ride by Marcella Bell

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a fun romance with a very atypical… well, twang. For this romance we’re looking at The Wildest Ride by Marcella Bell.

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

Romance With An Atypical Twang. Let’s face it. When you think of rodeo, you don’t exactly think of non-white dudes competing. Much less a non-white chick. Nor do you really think of “reality competition show”, despite that particular type of show being *so* overdone these days. And yet, in this particular romance, we get all of the above. We get the obligatory overt Garth reference or two, a more subtle Merle reference or two, and two non-white rodeo champions putting it all on the line in a rodeo-based reality competition show in order to save the things they love. And since this is a romance tale, yeah, that builds along the way too. For the clean/ sweet crowd… y’all aint gonna like this one. It only has two outright sex scenes, but one of them is about as far from blink-and-you’ll-miss-it as you can get without dragging the story or veering into erotica. Overall a well-done tale that sets up what looks to be a medium-coupled series – not so loose that the characters never appear in each other’s books, but also not so tightly coupled that future readers would be completely lost if coming into the series in later books. It will be interesting to see where Ms. Bell goes from here and exactly how she executes stylistically on joining the series together. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an except and the publisher details ๐Ÿ™‚
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Wildest Ride by Marcella Bell”

#BookReview: Alaska Reunion by Jennifer Snow

Unanswered Prayers. This is another solid continuation of this loosely-coupled series where the couples in each book may show up in the others, but the focus of each story is its leading couple. Here, we get a great and fun forced proximity / fake relationship romance… that of course (because it *is* a romance novel) becomes a real one. Solid fun in the Alaskan setting, including getting out on the multitudinous waterways of the region and even some climbing and other more adventuresome activities. For the clean/ sweet crowd… ummm… maybe sit this one out. ๐Ÿ˜‰ For those that like intense sex scenes (nothing particularly kinky, just enough steam to drive a dang electric generator), I think you’ll like this one. ๐Ÿ™‚ Snow knows her genre very well, and this is a perfect example of that. Very much recommended.

This review of Alaska Reunion by Jennifer Snow was originally written on August 1, 2021.

#BookReview: Meeting Up With The Mason by Maddie Evans

Light And Fun Will They/ Won’t They. This is a novella length (just 72 pages) light and fun end of summer read where a couple meets up accidentally via a video chat service (the basic premise of this multi-author series) and falls in love over the span of just a few days. The only real tension here is both of the people involved knowing all along that they only have these three days together before they go back to their “real” worlds, and since this is a romance book… well, you already know (roughly) how it ends. ๐Ÿ˜€ Great for the “clean” crowd, and a great introduction to this author’s general style. For those looking for spicier romance tales… this author, and this series apparently, isn’t that. But for those looking for a short book you can read while the kids are in the pool or at some sports practice or whatever… again, 72 pages. If you have an hour, maybe two, you can easily finish this book. ๐Ÿ˜€ Very much recommended.

This review of Meeting Up With The Mason by Maddie Evans was originally written on July 24, 2021.