A Hard Winter Rain - John Inman

I'm kind of confused in my reaction to this book.


The thriller part of it was written very well - it was suspenseful the whole time and I couldn't stopped reading, even though during some of the horrid parts, I wanted to. The horror went a little bit over the top on one occasion

(the part where he masturbated in the window and felt gleeful about (accidentally) killing the small child felt like too much, had no connection plot-wise and it seemed like the author wanted to make the reader loathe him even more - kind of unnecessary, in my opinion - plus it wasn't coherent with the killer's religious motivation - why would he be happy about something like that?)

(show spoiler)

, but other than that, while gruesome, everything was connected and felt realistic (in an insane way).


I loved the detectives investigating the case - while the gallows humour was too much for me on occasion, it was a believable way for them to cope with what they were seeing in their day-to-day job. I seriously like that, while there was gay romance in this book, the detectives were both straight, but not homophobic at all. There were also some great and colourful side characters, including some strong and powerful women (loved Stella!). On the other hand, some of the side characters felt a little bit like racist caricatures, but I'm hoping they were presented as such to characterise the characters from whose point of view the author was showing them, because there was also some great racial diversity in the main characters and they weren't presented that way at all.


What I had trouble with was the romance - there were I-love-you's exchanged, but I couldn't feel the chemistry between Sean and Harry, couldn't really understand what would have made them fall for each other, after having only met 3-4 times before (it's kind of believable for a 45-year-old guy to fall for a pretty rentboy, but the opposite?). Other than that, even though he was trying to give reasons for his actions, there was no excuse for Harry to keep away from the police. I mean, he was ex-military and a rather reasonable man! Why would he have such distrust for the police? Thinking he could protect Sean on his own, with a single gun, against a brutal murderer, just doesn't seem like something he would do with a background like that.

And keeping the windows uncurtained, so the killer could just shoot them without even showing himself? Even I could understand it was a bad idea, and I don't know the first thing about guns and dangerous situations.

(show spoiler)


Because of the reasons given in the previous paragraph, I'm sticking with 3 stars, but if you don't mind a little stupidity from your imaginary characters, give this book a go - as said, the suspense is written very well.

— feeling hypnotized
The Grand Ballast - J.A. Rock

I don't know what to write, maybe I'll think of something later, but this was a breathtaking trip and my heartfelt thanks to Mel for convincing me to read this book.

Risk It All (Dance with the Devil) - Megan Derr

Megan Derr's books are my guilty pleasure. It got started because Dance with the Devil was the first M/M fantasy book I ever read (didn't even know they existed before that, I'd just seen slash fiction online), and I loved it. Her books follow more or less the same formula, with at least one of the characters thinking he's not good enough for the other MC and the other being a really forceful alpha and convincing him of their belonging together. I don't even actually like that sort of thing, but for some reason, in Megan Derr's books it just works for me. This one was no exception, although the instalove was a bit too instant for my liking.


I'd just really like to somehow convince LT3 Press to hire a proofreader - there are always so many typos and basic spelling errors in their books, and while they wouldn't be hard to fix, they always pull me out of the story.

— feeling amazing
On the Clock - L.A. Witt, Aleksandr Voinov

If you're looking for monogamy in your romance, do not read this book. If you want some sizzling hot erotica, bundled with beautiful, believably developing romance with open communication and no unnecessary angst, this book is a must-read!
As I already commented in my update during the first quarter of the book, the sex scenes in this book were simply mind-blowing, quite on the same level with the first two Rolex books (and, to be honest, all Market Garden books). I think this is among the best erotica I have ever read.

Be warned - the next part is spoilerish, though nothing unexpected.

One of the MCs, Jason, has an unusual kink - he gets off on being paid for sex. Since Rolex (or Blake, as is his real name) is very generous with his money, but also likes negotiating, the two obviously clicked in the bedroom (and in the car, and on top of the car, and... well, you get the drift ;)). What I also enjoyed, though, was their spending time together outside of sex - the banter, listening to each other's past and life philosophy. Jason unexpectedly getting a flu forced them to sort of try to be a real couple for a while, and it clearly made them realise they were something more than a prostitute and a john. It's obvious that the relationship isn't going to be easy, but the HFN worked for me and I certainly see the possibility of a HEA coming at some point in the future. The main thing I'm kind of doubtful about is Blake's jealousy - kudos to him for accepting Jason's continued working at the Market Garden, but it was clear that at some points, when he knew Jason was with another client, he was jealous, and if that continues, it might destroy the relationship. I'm hoping, though, that the jealousy might fade when it's clear that he's the one who Jason actually cares about and that the others are simply clients.

A special thanks to the author for showing us Tristan and Jared again - they look like they're doing great. :)

Non-Stop Till Tokyo - K.J. Charles

I've loved many of K.J. Charles's books, but for this one, I'm teetering between 2 and 3 stars. During the first half of the book, I was seriously frustrated (as could be seen from my updates) - I can't handle stupid MCs and Kerry did some incredibly idiotic things. My companion in BR, Mel, even abandoned the book for this reason, so I had to continue alone, with her enjoying my misery.

I'm actually glad I read on, because the second half of the book was more enjoyable. There was a lot of action, and even though none of the stuff was actually very surprising (you could see disasters coming from a mile away), it was pretty entertaining and written well. I especially enjoyed the description of the maneuvers to save Sonja:


Finally, as the train pulled into Ikebukero, a number of things did happen, pretty much at once. One of the yakuza in the carriage to Sonja’s right had been jammed up against a woman for much of the journey. She was probably a bit chunky for his taste, and definitely past her prime, as she was pushing thirty, and I don’t imagine he even noticed her until, as the train lurched slightly as it slowed, she swayed against him, gave a shrill gasp of fury, turned and punched him in the groin with a cry of “Groper!” The yakuza went down like a sack of bricks, as any man would do, considering that Junko was a prizewinning kickboxer, and her thick mittens were pulled over knuckledusters. The crowd swayed out of the way to let the poor man collapse, whereupon she gave him a short-range kick to the same target with her pointy shoe, adding, “Pervert!” with righteous indignation. At this point his partner grabbed at her arm. Junko turned deftly, so that he appeared to be going for her breast instead, let out a shriek of maidenly alarm, and swung her loaded handbag, smacking the second man in the face so hard he went stumbling back into the awed crowd, where a hitherto unnoticed young man in a rather cheap suit jabbed two rigid fingers into his kidney as the train came to a complete stop.


The solution was quite elegant, with (nearly) all of the puzzle pieces fitting together neatly. The only problem I have is that the Kerry in the culmination scene (discussing with the Korean mafioso, doing excellent strategic thinking and having an answer to everything) couldn't have been the Kerry from the first half of the book, who offered the yakuza countless opportunities to find and attack her, without thinking of even the most basic things (like throwing away your phone, or at least turning it off). That Kerry was fierce and smart and admirable, as opposed to the stupid girl in the first half of the book.

I liked the romantic developments in the book, including the fact that Chanko wasn't your average tall-and-dark romantic interest. The growth from active dislike to attraction, although maybe a bit swift, was believable because of the extraordinary circumstances, and the (fade-to-black) erotic scenes were smoking hot (especially the foot massage!). The one thing I didn't get was the scene with Taka where he seemed to show some (reciprocated) attraction to Kerry as well, because it was so disconnected from the rest of the story and didn't really go anywhere, but the HFN was the right solution, considering the short time they had known each other.


All in all, since I enjoyed the second half of the book, I'm rounding my 2,5 stars up to 3 on Goodreads, but I'm disappointed because I expected more from this author.

Lessons in Desire - Charlie Cochrane

This book had a lovely Agatha Christie feel to it, everybody on a vacation, a murder with many suspects and a complicated solution, people playing bridge (love it!), with some M/M romance as a bonus. I think I enjoyed it even more than the first book, with the relationship nicely established and the MC's simply having wonderful time together. I disliked Jonty's actions at the beginning (leaving Orlando alone with Matthew, understanding the situation and knowing Orlando's helplessness), but he redeemed himself later, and their chemistry is simply wonderful to watch. Not regretting my decision to buy the whole bunch at all! :)

Played! - J.L. Merrow

This was a fun and entertaining read. Sometimes, I felt the brittishness of this book was a bit over-the-top, but most of the time, it was simply enjoyable. There were scenes where I just couldn't keep from laughing out loud, and scenes that made me hurt inside for the characters. Tristan didn't seem like a very nice person in the beginning, but deeper into the story, he started to show his softer sides. He was definitely a bit shallow and snobbish, but I just couldn't help liking him. The way the MC's kept dancing around each other started getting on my nerves a little towards the end, and I hated their defensive mechanisms keeping the other away, but other than that, it was a sweet, if very slow-burning romance, and by the end, made me feel warm inside. The ambience is very similar to "Pressure Head" by the same author, so if you enjoyed that one (which is one of my favourites by J.L. Merrow), you'll probably enjoy this as well. :)

Queer on a Bench - Mark William Lindberg

This was a fascinating stream-of-consciousness type of story, all taking place in the mind of a single person. Some of their thoughts are mundane, some philosophical, sometimes they think up stories about people around them. This book is pretty slow-going since almost nothing really happens, but if you're in the mood for something contemplative and thought-provoking, then it's definitely worth reading.


PS. If you're not in the US, buy this from smashwords - amazon adds something extra to the price for shady reasons (i.e more than VAT).

Bear, Otter, and the Kid - T.J. Klune

I know most people love this book, but it was just way too much melodrama for me. And the audiobook narration didn't help - this book had lots of flashbacks and imaginary scenes playing out in the MC's head, and they were hard to distinguish when listening. Also, although the narrator did distinguish different characters' voices, he gave some of the characters (including the kid) really weird squeaky voices - I don't think kids really talk like that... I think I will continue the series, if not for other reasons than

to find out what was behind the mother's return

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, because these events didn't make any sense to me

(what did the ultimatum give her?)

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, but I'll definitely pick the e-book.

When I Grow Up (Tales from Foster High) - John  Goode

I've heard people thought the ending was great, but I'm still not sure why it was necessary for Brad to join the army for such a long time - why not just start studying at the same time as Kyle, when they had the funds from Robbie just for that? It would have solved the issue they had, with Brad having nothing else to do but wait for Kyle...

(show spoiler)

Other than the tiny thing that I just referred to in the spoiler (actual plot spoiler, don't read if you don't want to know what happens at the end), this book was very realistic - painful, but realistic, with the not-quite-grown-up-yet boys having problems living together for the first time, miscommunications and distrust. The father storyline was a bit over-the-top, in my opinion, but I did like the solution. Overall, despite the difficulties and the tears, this was an enjoyable read and just what I expected from this author.[spoiler]

Save Yourself (Tales From Foster High) - John Goode

This was kind of underwhelming - I liked how it was written, but it just felt very hurried, like a summary of a full story. Also, it was kind of strange that Matt didn't doubt Tyler's goodness, not even for a moment - there was no struggle on his behalf except for trying to convince Tyler. 

And even by the end, we didn't really get the explanation from Tyler's side, why he did what he did.

(show spoiler)

Still, it was nice to see the familiar Foster High atmosphere again. :)

Double Up - Vanessa North

The conflict felt a little artificially manufactured to me

(why the hell would someone break up with someone they care about because they don't want to have surgery because they have problems with addiction?! I couldn't imagine someone actually doing that, out of the blue)

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 and the solution a bit too easy

(so, your childhood friend has been on your case to have the surgery for 10 years, promising to support you afterwards if you develop addiction problems again, and you haven't done it, and a random sexy guy comes into your life, breaks up with you again, and you suddenly decide to do it? again, sounds extremely unrealistic)

(show spoiler)

, but the quality of writing is high, and the supporting characters great (especially Eddie!), so I still enjoyed reading this.

For The Living - L.A. Witt

An interesting premise, but the stupidly acting MCs kind of ruined it for me. :(

Loving Jay - Renae Kaye

The characters are incredibly cute and lovable, and the story itself fun and light-hearted (there are some difficulties, but basically no angst), so this is a must-read if you're in a need of fluff. And I especially recommend the audiobook - the Aussie accent was great to listen to, and I loved the narrator's elevated tone of voice. This book might be a bit over-the-top, but it's fantastic entertainment!

For Real (A Spires Story) - Alexis Hall

As expected from Alexis Hall, this is an excellent and unusual romance. I love Toby's character - he feels insecure (which is natural, considering his age), but at the same time, has the will and courage to fight for what he wants, and recognises his strong sides and knows how to use them to his advantage. I love how Laurie finds beauty in things that other people might consider ugly (like Toby's acne - something that is really completely natural and often unavoidable). I love the fact that there are no artificially created misunderstandings between the MC's - just the level that you'd expect from to people with such different life experiences. I found Laurie a bit assholeish at the beginning, but his actions are somewhat understandable as well, since he's trying to protect himself from future heartache (and misguidedly tries to protect Toby). I especially identified with him towards the end - he was a bit condescending and parent-ish, but I have the same habit of offering solutions instead of listening, so I could very much understand him. I also loved how the author challenged the usual tropes about sub-and-dom-relationships - the sub that much older and more experienced, the dom doubting himself etc. It all felt very realistic (although I'm no expert, so that's just how it seemed to an outsider).
Also, I love lemon meringue pie, and I'm definitely going to try the recipe sometime in the near future. :)

This would have been almost perfect, but I reduced half a star because of the editing stuff - nothing major, but several sentences were missing a word and there were a couple of mistakes like "were" instead of "where" etc. I guess that's more the editor's fault than the author's, though, so well done again, Alexis Hall! Can't wait for his next book.

Max and Finn (Men of Smithfield #2) - L.B. Gregg

While the mystery part of this book was quite interesting (although I figured out the point much sooner than the MC), I did not enjoy the rest. Maybe it was because the book started when the MCs already knew each other, but I couldn't feel the attraction between them - they seemed to have so different world views and, apart from the lust, I didn't get why Finn liked Max and vice versa (Max did explain it a bit at some point, but why would he value the free spirit in Finn when he didn't want someone like that (who sounds like a great teacher) to tutor his relative?). I can't see them having a future together.
Something else that annoyed me was how the "bad guy" was described - in the finale, when the culprit was exposed, the author constantly drew attention to them being overweight, with every other sentence having "meaty", "beefy" or "puffy" in it. This wasn't necessary at all, so it just came over as a cheap way to show them as unattractive. Fat-shaming is not cool, and if I hadn't already bought one more book in this series, I wouldn't.

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