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★★★ Better Than Friends by Lane Hayes ★★★

Mishyjo reviews the third book in Lane Hayes’ Better Than Series

  • Better Than Good (Better Than #1)
  • Better Than Chance (Better Than #2)
  • Better Than Friends (Better Than #3) – in this review.

 

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Better Than Friends

by

Lane Hayes

 

The blurb

 

When Curt Townsend, a successful young DC lawyer, attends his first gay wedding, he doesn’t expect anything more than a great evening out spent celebrating two lucky guys willing to commit to one another. He certainly doesn’t anticipate meeting someone like Jack Farinelli. Fourteen years Curt’s senior, Jack owns two businesses: a gay bar and a motorcycle shop. He’s gorgeous and self-assured, but Curt is positive they have nothing in common.

Jack is comfortable in his own skin. He’s attracted to Curt’s quick wit and easy manner but most of all, to their unexpected mutual love of baseball. As they forge a friendship based on their shared enthusiasm for the sport, they begin a journey which reveals how their differences might be the catalyst behind a growing attraction. Both men have experienced their share of pain, but they realize they need to set aside the past and learn to trust in a future if they are to have one together.

Our thoughts

 

Better than Friends is book 3 in Lane Hayes’s Better Than series.  Although I liked it well enough, it wasn’t quite a good as books 1 and 2 in my opinion.
I loved Jack.  Although the story was told from Curtis’s first person point of view, I felt that we got to know Jack really well.  There was a strong sense of who he was and how he had gotten there without a huge information dump.  His character here was nicely different than what I expected from the little bit we knew of him from book 2.  The real Jack and his prior relationship with Peter was far more complex and Jack was far more likable than the glimpse of him we got from Jay’s perspective in Better than Chance.
But I also felt a little misled about Jack through much of the book.  He owned a leather bar. Was he a leather daddy?  I kinda hoped so.  He was a biker and owned a bike repair shop as well. Was there gonna be an MC in the background?  That would have been fun too.  There were hints that he had a bit of a Dom thing going on.  Was a D/s type of relationship going to develop between the MCs?  That would have been awesome.  I suppose we were figuring Jack out as Curtis was, but in the end I was a bit let down about how these various assumptions played out.
Curtis I liked less.  I understood his insecurities.  To the extent there was a love triangle, it didn’t bother me although the fallout was predictable.  But there were moments that he was downright whiny.  Those moments were not only annoying but didn’t seem consistent with who Curtis was and I couldn’t see why Jack tolerated him at those times.
The romance itself was pretty good.  I liked the chemistry between the two and the way that Jack and Curtis played off of each other.   At times the relationship development felt somewhat similar to that in Better than Chance, however, and the two story lines are now a bit confused in my mind.
I think that writing books in a series can be a double edged sword for an author. Although there is already a built-in audience by the time book 3 rolls around, there are also expectations that have to be met, including the dueling expectations that the story be as strong as the prior entries and consistent in their feel while not so similar as to become predictable formulaic.
I am both hopeful for a book 4 in this series and optimistic that it will carry it’s own weight in this series and not ride on the coattails of the first 3.
3 stars

Hope you enjoy – Mishyjo x

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PRE-RELEASE REVIEW: ★★★★ Maybe This Time by A.M. Arthur ★★★★

Maybe This Time

Maybe This Time

by A.M. Arthur

Release Date: 21st July 2014

The blurb…

As a regular at gay hotspot Pot O Gold, Ezra Kelley avoids his tangled emotions with the simplicity of one-night stands and attachment-free hookups. Until the night bartender Donner Davis picks him up off the floor after a misunderstanding and too much tequila. Ezra can’t remember the last time someone was…nice. It’s more than he deserves.

Witnessing his lover’s death two years ago has Donner trapped in a holding pattern living in his sister’s basement, working at the Pot and flirting with the customers. He’s not above spending a night with the gorgeous Ezra, but love is not in the cards. That’s more than he’s ready for.

A passionate night leads to a connection neither man expects, and they take the first steps to something that looks like a real relationship. But Ezra’s been running from himself so long he doesn’t know how to live any other way. And Donner can’t risk his heart just to lose everything again. They’ll both need the strength to let go of the past if they want to get it right this time.

So what did I think?

Donner has lived a life of tragedy. He has endured the death of his ​ ​step-mother at the hands of his abusive father. He witnessed the​ death of his boyfriend, Jacob, while doing charity work. He is now ​ living in his step-sister’s basement, relying on the small bit of
family he has left to get by. Although he is happy going from one ​ night stand to one night stand, he is also open to the possibility of​ finding love again. For Donner, there is nothing in between, however. ​ He won’t do casual. At least not when it comes to Ezra.

Ezra is wandering through life with no real goals. He finished 4 ​ years of college but never even chose a major. Rather than finding​ meaningful work, he is satisfied being supported by his parents’ guilt ​ money for having sent him to therapy for being gay. His last​ ​boyfriend, Bryan, left him when he finally admitted to the baggage he ​ carried. Now he believes he must keep that baggage hidden from​ everyone. He wants to be what Donner needs but doesn’t know if he has ​ it in himself to let his guard down again.

I loved Donner. He was warm. He was caring. His sense of loyalty ​ showed on so many occasions. He was working to overcome his demons​ and live a life that Jacob would have been proud of.

Ezra I didn’t get until the end. Yes, Bryan dumped him. Yes, he made​ a point of leaving his family to be with Bryan and is now embarrassed ​ it didn’t work out. But that was quite a while ago. Through much of​ the book kept I thinking “get over it already.” It isn’t until we
find out why Bryan dumped him and we meet Ezra’s poor excuse for a ​ family that I really began to have sympathy for him. I know that the​ author held back this information for effect, but I think I would have ​ enjoyed the story more had it been disclosed earlier.

There were so many things to love about this story. First and foremost, the sex was HOT and didn’t take too long to happen. Always a bonus. Both MCs had ​ great back stories that made me want to reach into my Kindle and hug​ them. The relationship came together really well. The secondary ​ characters did a great job of supporting the story. The writing was​ quite good.

My first read from this author. Certainly not the last.

4 stars

Mishyjo x

To find out more about A.M. Arthur and her books visit her website.

 

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★★★½ Vibrations by LA Witt ★★★½

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Vibrations

by

LA Witt

The blurb…

Nate Bard is at his wit’s end. There’s something living—or not living, as the case may be—in his house, and if he ever wants to sleep again, it needs to go. Ever the skeptic, Nate balks at his sister’s suggestion of bringing in a psychic, but after another sleepless night, he’s desperate.
Enter Isaac Lane, the hot psychic who immediately senses both the ghost and the homeowner’s doubts.
Within minutes of Isaac’s arrival, weird things start happening. Though Nate hasn’t had a clue what’s been making this ghost so restless, now it seems the ghost is bent on getting the two men together. And neither Nate nor Isaac is able—or willing—to resist.

So what did Mishyjo think? 

Ever since Nate’s boyfriend moved out, strange things have been happening in his house.  He is finally convinced to call in a psychic.  Enter Isaac.  Suddenly the sexual attraction between the two is overwhelming.  Though Nate is highly skeptical of psychics and Isaac wishes to remain the consummate professional, the aphrodisiac effect being caused by the ghost is overwhelming.

At only 31 pages the story was a bit rushed but it worked well.  It was a interesting take on the lonely ghost theme.  Both MCs were likable and believable.  I would like to have seen more of them together as a couple without the ghost’s supernatural sexual energy.  I would also like to have seen what happened with the ghost once he brought the two men together.

3.5 stars

 

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☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ The Hot Corner by Heidi Champa ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

The Hot Corner

The Hot Corner

By Heidi Champa

The Blurb…

After breaking up with his boyfriend Josh for the fifth time, Jeremy Woodward is in desperate need of a change. At the urging of his best friend, Jeremy decides to tag along on a trip to Nashville in the hopes of finding a job in minor league baseball. Even though Jeremy knows little about the game, the chance for a fresh start and a little distance from his old life is too hard to pass up. A short time later, Jeremy returns from Nashville with a new job, a fresh beginning, and sizzling memories of a one-night stand with a baseball player named Trevor.
While working for the Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Jeremy gets a taste of the life he wants. But his past is never far away. His ex, Josh, has promised to wait patiently for him to come to his senses. And the sexy Trevor, the team’s star third baseman, is never far away. Even though Jeremy works in the minor leagues, he’s got a major-league decision to make. Does he keep stealing time with the guy at third? Run home to the safety of his ex? Or perhaps take a chance on something exciting and entirely new with Theo, the cute guy hiding underneath the mascot suit?…

So what did I think?

4 Inside-the-Park Home Run Stars

I went into this book knowing nothing about the story or the author. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised. Very much so in fact.

Jeremy is one of those guys who goes from one bad relationship to the next. He is always making the wrong decisions, leaping before he looks. The one time he tries to do the right thing, however, that’s the wrong thing too. So instead of pursuing Theo, who is obviously perfect for Jeremy, he friend zones him.

The sexual tension in this story was yummy. My frustration with Jeremy was immeasurable. I wanted to reach into my Kindle, grab him by the shoulders and shake him. Hard. And often. The hurt that Jeremy suffered each time it seemed that Theo was moving on was palpable. Towards the end though, Jeremy’s continuing failure to just tell Theo how he felt got a little old. The almost telling him then backing away happened one, maybe two, times to many for my tastes.

It should be noted that this isn’t really a sports book. Jeremy and his friend go to work for a minor league baseball team. One of Jeremy’s countless mistakes is a “relationship” with a ballplayer. You get lots of interesting tidbits about stadium operations and the like, but it’s not really a book about an athlete. Which was fine with me. The story worked, even if the cover was a bit misleading. And none of that will dissuade me from posting the picture above.

Also, there wasn’t a lot of on page sex. Of course, sex is good but the way it was written at least the romance scenes didn’t feel like they were being cut off just as things were getting hot.

Mishy Jo

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★★★★ Sharp Love by Ava March ★★★★

Gambling on Love series

  • All In With the Duke (book #1) – click here for review
  • Sharp Love – (book 2) – in this review
  • Viscount’s Wager (book #3) – expected December 2014

❅❅❅❅❅❅❅

Sharp Love

 

The Blurb…

London, 1822

William Drake has lived among thieves, bastards and beggars all his life, doing what’s necessary to survive. As a young orphan, that included looking after his best friend, Jack Morgan. But as they grew older, Jack took the honest path, leaving Will behind to fend for himself the only ways he knows how.

When an unsavory errand for his employer brings Jack back to London’s underbelly, he needs Will’s help. It’s there, among the alleys they ran through as children, that the love he’s always felt for Will returns. As their nights together grow hotter, Will discovers something new about his old friend—Jack’s need to serve extends into the bedchamber.

Will has never fully abandoned his dream of escaping London with Jack. But what could the Duke’s driver want with a dishonest cheat like him, beyond a bit of rough sex? It takes the gamble of Will’s life to find out if he can win Jack’s heart…

So what did I think?

4+ stars.

Jack and Will met in a London workhouse when then were 6. Jack had been abandoned by his father. Will was an orphan. For the next 10 years they did everything they could to take care of each other. At 16, they went their separate ways. Now 10 years later at 26, they see each other infrequently. They have grown apart. There is bitterness on both sides for choices the other has made.

To add to the growing resentment, Jack and Will have each always loved the other but assumed the sentiment was not mutual. When things were better between them, neither would admit his feelings for fear of ruining their friendship. This encounter between the two, however, may be their last. Jack has a new life outside of London and Will plans to leave the city as well, forever separating the two. Facing the end of their time together, it seems almost pointless to admit their love only to have their hearts broken.

I loved this story. Ava March is probably my favorite historical MM writer and this is probably my favorite era for MM romances. Though perhaps not historically accurate, her MCs, although discreet in their “preference for men,” never fear persecution. The elimination of that stress from the stories allows for the relationships to develop their own angst due to the choices the MCs have made rather than from outside forces. Knowing that I am not likely going to read about some terrible imprisonment for an MC’s homosexuality, I am better able to relax into the story.

Sharp Love takes place at the same time as the events in All in with the Duke. The tie ins are done with precision without ever feeling forced. Getting to see Max and Tristan again from another perspective was a treat. But I also think that Sharp Love could be read as a stand alone. I don’t say that often with books in a series, but here Jack and Will’s story stood well on its own and not knowing the full details of Max and Tristan’s relationship probably wouldn’t affect a reader’s enjoyment of Sharp Love.

❅❅❅❅❅❅❅

To find out more about Ava March and her books visit her website.

Buy Sharp Love  from Amazon.

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★★★★ A Fighting Man by Sandrine Gasq-Dion★★★★

We are joined by the lovely Mishyjo with a review of A Fighting Man, the third book in The Men of Manhattan series by Sandrine Gasq-Dion. 4 stars!

  • A Betting Man (book #1) – click here for review
  • A Marrying Man (book #2)
  • A Fighting Man (book #3) – in this review

A Fighting Man

The blurb…

Army Ranger Slater Cassidy has a very special – very sexy – target in his sights. Meeting gorgeous, smart, uber-snarky Casper Kennedy was the highlight of Slater’s last trip home to New York. The soldier in him carefully plans his conquest. Unfortunately, Casper’s wearing some seriously strong armor and Slater’s charm offensives bounce right off. Casper’s refusal to fall for him is puzzling – not to mention incredibly annoying. When Slater gets leave again after grueling back-to-back tours in Afghanistan, all he wants is another shot at wooing Casper. He jumps right into the battle for the other man’s heart, but Casper does not intend to entertain the troops. A heartbreaking revelation changes the rules of romantic warfare, and Slater suddenly realizes he doesn’t just want Casper. He wants to capture his heart, too.

Casper Kennedy is fighting a losing battle. A certain outrageously demonstrative Army Ranger has been a thorn in his side since his last trip home – and the main character in his steamiest dreams. Now he’s back. He launches an all-out sensual assault and no matter how hard Casper pushes Slater away, the man somehow manages to inch closer. So close, in fact, that Casper’s once-impenetrable defenses are in danger of collapsing. Should he throw up the white flag and take a chance at love? Or start firing back and keep his heart protected? When the handsome Ranger shows his true colors, Casper just might have to surrender the fight.

So what did I think?

I loved the first book in this series, A Betting Man. Loved it. The second book, A Marrying Man, was a bit of a let down after the high of A Betting Man but still quite good. A Fighting Man, however, is right back up there in the “loved it” classification. Not quite the 5 starts I gave A Betting Man but a very solid 4 stars, maybe even a fraction more.

From book 2 I was already crazy about Casper and the way he rebuffed​ the sexy but overconfident Slater. In A Fighting Man, however, Casper and Slater become real people and Casper’s standoffish behavior towards Slater transforms from a funny side story to something more serious. Casper is heartbroken and has drawn certain lines in the sand to protect his heart from being broken in the same way again.

A Fighting Man was, to me, the most realistic book of the three stories so far. The issues of survivor’s guilt and dealing with trauma played out in a way that really connected with me. These issues were not too heavy yet they were not glossed over or resolved in a manner that seemed too tidy.

Family matters were also a fairly serious theme addressed in this story. Although we already know that Slater’s family is incredible, Casper isn’t so lucky in that regard. Not only is he missing the support of his own family when he needs it, homophobia robbed him of his right to properly mourn a previously lost loved one. He carries that pain with him and it interferes with his ability to let Slater in.

I am assuming (and hoping) there will be a book 4 to this series. Perhaps Drakon??? Perhaps Mr. Hawke? Perhaps Drakon with Mr. Hawke. I guess we will have to wait and see. One thing is certain though, I hope to be one of the first to read it.

Mishyjo x

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