A Mika Review: I’m The Guy You Hate by Isa K.

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Rating: 3 star out of 5 stars

Im The Guy You Hate coverThirty-eight year old Jonny Ordell is hopelessly in love with his friend Mark Dorsett. There’s just one small problem: Mark Dorsett is insane.

Not a charming, cute, surprisingly insightful kind of insane. The kind of mental illness that rips apart Jonny’s insides and turns otherwise good people into villains. It isn’t Mark’s fault. It’s not like he asked to be sick. At the same time Mark’s erratic behavior and his refusal to get help is destroying everything in his path, including Jonny.

Now Jonny must decide: does he stand by his man and hope loyalty and love are enough to make Mark realize the error of his ways? Or does he abandon Mark to his illness and save himself? Neither choice offers much hope of happiness. As their affair continues Jonny must confront the possibility that his love is not healing Mark, it may actually be making him worse.

There’s no damsel in distress here. The character may be tragic, I’ll give you that, but he’s a willing participant in his own destruction and there’s nothing you can do about that. 

That might the sanest thing said throughout this entire tragedy. It was train wreck from beginning to end. The writing wasn’t bad but it was the way I felt about the characters and plot. Isa K  is a new author to me. The story itself was depressing, sad and just frustrating. I hope that if this was real for anyone, anywhere, that they would have the strength to walk away. The two guys, were bad for each other. Nobody can dispute that. Mark is sick, he’s alcoholic, had mental illness issues that I felt like the author should have told us which disease was involved. He might be the most unstable person I’ve ever read about. He’s selfish, rude, sexist, inappropriate, and sick. First and foremost enabling a sick person with any kind of addiction is wrong. I have no sympathy for Johnny, he put himself in the worst positions ever. I honestly felt like he forced Mark’s hand on the sexuality issue.

I want people to know I’m The Guy You Hate is not romance so don’t go in thinking it’s going to be, a person who is sick then magically gets help and falls in love. 

It’s destruction from page 1. I kept getting so frustrated because Johnny felt the need to validate Mark’s behavior to everyone. I hated it, Mark is a grown ass man who didn’t need anyone to stand up for him. It kept pissing me off because in the novel Johnny keeps making references to Mark being a good guy. When is Mark a good guy? I haven’t seen anything selfless he’s ever done for no one in the entire book. I’m trying to understand what the author wants us to realize while reading it. Honestly if Johnny was supposed to be the sane person in this story, how come no one pointed that out. He’s so pathetic in how he reacts to Mark. For me this element is a slap in the face the entire book involving other relationships.

The author explained that this is more based on the illness than the actual romance, and I’m okay with that. I’m just not happy with what was on the page. The author wrote well enough, and if that’s the case then it’s a 3 for writing, . I want to know Why to everything? The main character that was gay who wasn’t sick almost devoted his life to Mark in a worshipful sense. It was horrible, that the treatment of him.  And no one in this book acknowledged that Mark had any type of mental illness. I guess I’m just upset that I read this, and I might be feeling a certain  way for actual people that go through things like this in real life. It sucks. Honestly I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. If you can feel my anger at this book, then you’ll understand. Maybe I’ll go email the author and get some questions answered.

Cover Art by Wilde City Press.I don’t get the cover at all. It doesn’t match the tone of the book, as well as where we leave off after reading it.

Sales Links:  Wilde City Press            Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook
Published March 25th 2015 by Wilde City Press
ISBN139781925313017
edition languageEnglish

A Stella Review: An Intrepid Trip to Love (A Little Bite of Love #1) by Charlie Cochet

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

An Intrepid Trip to Love coverTristan ‘Trip’ Hagan is a Husky shifter who was born to be the Hagan Clan’s next Alpha, a position of honor and nobility, a position he never wanted and was all too happy to pass onto his younger brother. But when they discovered his brother couldn’t have pups, the responsibility of continuing the Hagan Alpha line fell back to Trip. Under the weight of the Hagan Council’s demand to fulfill his duty, Trip settled down and produced an heir, but after years of struggling to uphold his family’s traditions, Trip found the courage to do what no other Hagan Alpha had done in the history of the clan: he came out.

Five years later, and Trip is living a happy life with his cheeky pup and their own little makeshift family. True mates within canine shifter clans are very rare, but Trip has had one since he can remember. Despite losing his heart to Boone twenty years ago, Trip holds little hope of ever getting to bond with the sexy Enforcer, as it’s against clan laws for pure-bloods to bond with half-breeds. With the call from their feral halves to seal the bond growing stronger by the day, can Trip and Boone find a way to be together without losing everything?

This story was written as a part of the M/M Romance Group’s “Love Has No Boundaries” event. Group members were asked to write a story prompt inspired by a photo of their choice. Authors of the group selected a photo and prompt that spoke to them and wrote a short story

The blurb tells pretty much everything you have to know about the story so I’m just going to leave some of my thoughts.

First of all it’s free, so picking it will cost nothing, you can give it a chance and I’m sure you’re going to love it. If you are already a Cochet’s fan like me you can’t absolute miss this gem, but if she’s a new to you author, An Intrepid Trip To Love it could be the right book to start knowing how amazingly she writes.

An Intrepid Trip to Love is a fantastic read, it caught me from the start and Robbie got my heart at his first whined Dad!.
The story opens with an hilarious dis-adventure, four grown up men and a seven years old who can’t get rid of a monster of a spider, saved by a woman (of course, we’re awesome!). Robbie is funny and smart, definitely too smart for his age.

“It’s okay, Dad. No one’s going to think any less of you for not being able to kill a spider.”
Trip arched an eyebrow at his son. “You’re the next Alpha, why don’t you kill it?”
“Because I’m seven.” The “duh” wasn’t said but it was certainly implied. “But you, you’re old.”
“I’m thirty-five! In human years, anyway.”
“That’s, like, still super old. Even in human years.”
“Why am I bothering? I have underwear older than you.”
“Gross.”
“They’re clean…”

Trip is the greatest dad ever, even if he makes Robbie feels ashamed of him every day with the unbelievable things trip is capable of. Boone is Trip’s mate since Trip was fifteen years old. Boone has been at his side as his guardian, never insisting to be something more considering the Hagan Clan and its rules. They had some stolen moments sometimes, but Trip can’t take it anymore, being without Boone as his mate is becoming unbearable.

“What did you think you were doing?”
“You always say if we need help or if there’s an emergency to call Boone. You said he’s the biggest, strongest, bravest, most honest, most reliable…”
Trip felt his face burning up as Robbie proceeded to list every one of Boone’s virtues off his little fingers. With a nervous laugh, Trip threw a hand over his pup’s mouth. Mortified didn’t begin to cover it. Boone, on the other hand, seemed thoroughly amused, and his lips quirked up on one side.
“Is that so?”
“Well, you know, you are an Enforcer.”

An Intrepid Trip To Love is funny, sweet, with a great second characters cast and a huge sense of family. There is also a lot of hatred but the HEA is assure so don’t worry, you are going to read a light story.

I reread An Intrepid Trip To Love to refresh my memory of this funny couple and be ready for the second one in the series, Healing Hunter’s Heart, and I loved it more than the first time if possible, cause I already gave it a five stars review.

There is a short free Valentine story too, called The Perfect Valentine’s Day (you can find it here if you are interested. Here we meet Trip and Robbie looking for a present to Boone for the Valentine’s Day. Trip is our usual dork and Robbie is our lovely too smart kid who knows the difference between underwear and a hairband (I’m starting to doubt he’s really Trip’s son!). A super sweet and funny little story, adorable as the first one, in which we can get a glimpse of Trip and Boone life together.

Cover art by Charlie Cochet. Sweet and cute as the story.

Sales Links:  It’s Free here at Goodreads M/M Romance Group    All Romance (ARe) 

Book Details:

Published May 26th 2013 by M/M Romance Group @ goodreads
ebook, 84 pages

A Little Bite of Love Series
An Intrepid Trip To Love #1
The Perfect Valentine’s Day #1,5
Healing Hunter’s Heart #2

 

A MelanieM Review: Truth & Tenderness (Faith, Love, & Devotion #6) by Tere Michaels

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Truth and Tenderness coverNewly promoted police captain Evan Cerelli takes command of his own precinct as Matt Haight’s security business begins to expand at a rapid rate. Both of their careers require more and more of their time—away from home and each other. When his most famous clients, Daisy and Bennett Ames, suffer a traumatic breakup, Matt is drawn into a dangerous and dramatic situation. With attentions diverted, Evan and Matt’s tight-knit home life begins to unravel.

As Griffin Drake’s movie nears final edit, his thoughts turn toward building a home with his new fiancé, Jim Shea—and maybe even starting a family. Before he can think of a new family, Jim is caught up in his past. The possibility of putting Tripp Ingersoll in jail once and for all beckons, and Jim wants the closure that has long eluded him. As a new lead spurs him on, Jim begins to lose sight of the future by chasing an old ghost.

Both couples struggle to remember that “happily ever after” requires hard work, trust, and tender, open hearts.

Truth and Tenderness by Tere Michaels brings the terrific Faith, Love & Devotion series to a heartwarming and totally satisfying close.  After discovering the amazing characters Michaels introduced in Faith & Fidelity (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #1), I soon became “obsessed” with these complicated men and their often tortuous path to love and HEA.  What a tough path its been for all involved, and that includes the reader.  It’s been a A Ticket Ride all the way to the end and I loved every word of it.

First there was New York City Vice Detective Evan Cerelli, a widower with a passel of kids.  He’s the character I most often wanted to slap upside the head….over and over again.  Evan has been one continual PITA in this series but I grew to love him mostly because Matt did.  And his kids did…as well as his sister.  Evan has lots of redeeming features that kept the readers involved in him, no matter that we often felt like giving him a boot to the rear.  He quaffled, and quibbled and ran from a character we loved immediately.  That was former Homicide Detective Matt Haight, a veritable Rubik’s Cube of emotions and doubt.  Both men had shied away from the fact that they were attracted to men and to each other.  Between Evan’s massive load of guilt over his treatment of the  dead wife he loved (although not in the way she wanted),  his kids and his wife’s parents, Evan’s journey to another relationship, let alone one with a man, was strewn with emotional land mines.  Ones he stepped on time and again.  Matt too came with enough baggage dragging behind him to outfit a trip to deepest Africa.  He had problems with trying to solve his issues with alcohol, he got fired from the police department, a job he was made to do and loved. Plus he was a total womanizer in order to hide what he felt towards men.  And it took books for these men to come together with any sort of equanimity or solidity.   There was doubt and fights even through this last story.  Man, love is hard for these two.  But also, in Tere Michaels hands, rewarding, believable, and fierce.   Through every hard won battle and advancements made, it seemed as though this pair then took as many steps backward.  And the reader was dragged back and forth along with emotional journey, becoming even more committed to their happiness along the way.

And not only did these men need to find out how to make their relationship work with their strong personalities, they had Evan’s kids to contend with and fold into their relationship as well.  That would be the twins, Danny and Elizabeth as well as the older girls, Katie and Miranda.  How I loved that Katie! In fact, these kids acted and sounded…well, like kids..ones still trying to recover from the loss of their mother. Again this was handled so authentically by the author that you wept and laughed and loved all the interaction among this family as it enlarged to include Matt.  Some kids loved Matt, others not so much seeing him as a replacement for their beloved mother.  Sound familiar?  Yep, it does.   And because it does, the stories worked even better due to the recognizable rivalry and reality they reflected back at us.

But the couple that really, completely stole my heart?  That would be Detective James “Jim” Shea, a Seattle cop, and Hollywood screenwriter Griffin Drake who met over a horrific homicide case, an investigation that runs the length of the series and is resolved finally here. Love & Loyalty (Faith, Love, & Devotion #2) was the book I went back to multiple times because this pairing was so hot, so gripping that I couldn’t get enough of them.  They were an odd pair, on the surface, but underneath, Michaels showed us two men who fit together so well, that imagining them ever parting was heartbreaking.  Jim Shea has so many  layers to him, one of which was a somewhat cold exterior he shed only with a few close friends.  Watching Griffin climb inside that barrier was such a joy of this story.  Equally so was watching the impact Jim made on Griffin’s life.

Tere Michaels created something remarkable with this series.  She brought these men, their lives, and struggle to make a difference and find love real and memorable.  I was so invested in these stories I often lost track of the fact that they were characters on a page (or screen).  I got angry over their actions (see Evan), I got frustrated when their relationship got stymied by their jobs (see all of them) and by their doubts and inability to communicate that caused them to stumble and fall repeatedly.  But then I was also there to cheer when they got it together enough to pick themselves back up and try to make it all work one more time.  How this series and the author put me and these marvelous characters through the wringer more times than I can count.  I love/hated every minute of their relationship waltzes.  How sorry I am that its finally over.

In Truth and Tenderness, all the pairings are looking fairly stable (at least for this group) when Jim decides he just can’t let go of the case that brought them all together.  There is Daisy and Bennett, Shane and Helena, Miranda and boyfriend Kent, Evan and Matt, Jim and Griffin.  While that may sound like a crowd, it’s not.  It’s all one giant extended family. But the explosions are about to start, and they happen everywhere, small and humongous just as Evan is getting his captaincy.  It’s the evil that is Tripp Ingersoil, the killer who got away with the murder of Carmen a teenage hooker, that is occupying Jim’s thoughts and time when they should be turned towards his new life with Griffin.  This is the case that brought them together when Griffin made a screenplay out of the story. It also made Jim a close friend/surrogate son of Ed Kelly, Carmen’s dad, another reason he can’t let go of this case. Well, that and the killer walked.

If someone asked me to point out one reason why this series resonated with me so, I’m not sure I could do it.  Yes, the dialog is snappy, believable and relevant in every aspect, from the “police speak” to the manner in which you talk intimately to someone you love.   Their words and conversations come at you with all the force of the grittiness that life and living entails. It’s not always pretty, flowers and hearts.  Sometimes its ugly, and painful and raw.  It’s stubbornness and silence, slamming doors and phone calls not returned.  Michaels gets that too about love and life and lays it all out here before us.   It’s not just that the characterizations are multidimensional and real, its that these men and the people that support them breathe, emote, and scream with an energy and vividness that captures you in every scene and situation.  Jim, Griffin, Evan, Matt and the rest work because we believe in them as well as their dynamics.

Same goes for the various plot threads and overall theme.  Michaels carries them all logically and authentically to the satisfying climax, including several white knuckle action scenes and situations.  Really,  you know, we wouldn’t have been happy with less.  These are police officers, detectives and killers so whatever happens need to reflect those professions, actions and accountability.  And it does.  Thank you, Tere Michaels, for that procedural attentiveness to detail as well.

Did I hate to see this end?  You betcha.  But was I happy with how it ended?  Almost.  Of course, it’s Evan and Matt who leave with that little bit of snarkiness you have come to expect from them.  I left them all 99.9 percent happy and that works for me.  It will for you too.  But if you are new to these men and their Rube Goldberg path to love and HEA, please run dont’ walk back to the first story and see how it (and they) all begin.  I have listed the stories below, use it as a list to check them all off.  And let me know which story was your favorite as you now know mine.

I highly recommend Truth & Tenderness and the entire Faith, Love, & Devotion series by Tere Michaels.  This book and this series will be on my Best of 2015 list.  Read them and find out why they should be on yours.

 Cover art by Aaron Anderson.  I don’t think I would be happy with any cover here because of all the elements I would want to see.  I thought it was ok but wanted so much more.  Probably not fair to the artist.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press eBook & Paperback      All Romance (ARe)   Amazon   Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: May 1st 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632167118
edition languageEnglish
seriesFaith, Love, & Devotion #6
charactersMatt Haight, Evan Cerelli, Jim Shea, Griffin Drake

Faith, Love & Devotion Series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters, relationships and plot threads:

  • Faith & Fidelity (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #1)
  • Love & Loyalty (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #2)
  • Duty & Devotion (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #3)
  • Cherish (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #4)
  • Cherish & Blessed (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #4 & #5)
  • Truth & Tenderness (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #6)

 

A MelanieM Review: Cherish & Blessed (Faith, Love, & Devotion #4&5) by Tere Michaels

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Cherish & Blessed coverFaith, Love, & Devotion: Books Four & Book Five

Cherished

After several years of happy coupledom, Matt and Evan can relax in the knowledge that their little family has survived the worst of it. The two older girls are away at college, the twins have yet to fully hit teen angst, Matt is doing well with his part time security consulting, and Evan is about to be promoted to captain—it seems like things are calm and bright.

Until they aren’t.

As the holidays approach, Evan and Matt get a shock no parent is ever prepared for: feisty Miranda, Evan’s eldest, has a new boyfriend, Kent, and they are talking marriage after just three months together. In fact, Miranda wants to bring him to Thanksgiving dinner—along with his parents, Blake and Cornelia.

Blessed

Lives are in transition as everyone gathers at the stunning Hamptons beach home of Daisy and Bennett to celebrate the christening of their new baby. Griffin and Jim—secretly growing tired of their rootless lifestyle—are in a rocky spot in their relationship. And as the godfather, Griffin finds himself yearning for something he’s sure Jim won’t be interested in.

Fatherhood.

Matt and Evan are looking to reconnect during the long weekend, as their respective careers pull them in separate directions. With less time spent together, Evan grows concerned about what will happen when the last two kids leave the nest.

1st Edition of Cherish published as an eBook by Loose Id LLC, November 2012.

 

This is the fourth and fifth book combined in the Faith, Love & Devotion series by Tere Michaels and it is a series close to my heart. We first met Matt and Evan in the first book Faith & Fidelity, at the angst ridden beginnings of their relationship. Then Evan was mourning the loss of his beloved wife and first and only person he has ever slept with. In addition to his grief, he was trying to do his job as a police officer and fill in the void for his four kids left behind when his wife died. Evan is full of pain, grief and overburdened by stress and doubts about his ability to be a good father and step up to the plate. Matt is a complete mess when the reader and Evan first encounter him. Forced to resign from the police force he loves over behavior issues, he has become a bitter, disillusioned drunk, getting by as a security cop and on anonymous sex with women. But a conversation in a bar and the exchange of personal confidences leads to an unlikely friendship that eventually turns into a shattering love affair that forces each man to rethink his sexuality and their acceptance of the fact that they love each other. It is a tough road for Evan and Matt, especially Evan, who has the reactions of his children, former inlaws and police force to think about.

One of the things I cherish about this series is that Tere Michaels lets us in on the emotional fallout and oscillating feelings, including bouts of denial, that come with identity earthquakes. By that I mean the paradigm shifts that occur within a person when the most basic self knowledge is proven wrong. And being gay or bisexual is a major shift for them both. The author lets their relationship play out, not over one book but four stories, including this one. The Evan/Matt relationship here is the strongest it has ever been (and that’s saying something) but even here it has its shaky moments, most of which come from the stress brought on by Miranda. Let me tell you, there are many times that I am as frustrated with Miranda as everyone else in her family. I don’t like her behavior, I can’t think of too many people who would.  But it is  realistic?  Yes, I think so.  And while we all would wish that Evan  get a grip when dealing with her, those of us who have been in his shoes will also understand his reluctance. But does that sound like I think of them as characters? No it does not. And that’s the beauty of these stories and these amazing characters, they might make you gnash your teeth and pull some hair, but they are never anything less than believable.

Michaels also takes into account how much alike fathers and their daughters can be as Evan and Miranda’s behavior is often a reflection of each other. Matt too has aged and grown into his role as caregiver/second father to at least 3 of the kids, and his growth is as realistic and wry as can be. Tere Michaels has a wonderful grip on relationship dynamics, not only between romantic partners but familial relationships too. Siblings squabbles, family arguments, and the small joys of an established bond are all found here in this latest addition to the series.

Cherish takes place over Thanksgiving and includes the family of Miranda’s boyfriend, which adds that unknown element so often present at Thanksgiving when multiple family groups, including strangers, are brought together and forced to engage each other on the most intimate of American celebrations, the Thanksgiving dinner. Expectations are perhaps unreasonably high for what we think this holiday with its traditions of being grateful and giving thanks will bring. And that stress alone has blown up more turkeys than any fryer on the market. I will tell you that all ends well, at least temporarily for this wonderful family I have become so fond of.

Then comes Blessed and the tribe, at least part of it, is gathering together again…this time for Shane and Helena’s wedding.  It’s stressful, funny, and wry look at relationships formed when older.  But Shane and Helena’s marriage is making the others ask Matt and Evan when they will get married and once again the ground under them starts to shake. I loved this section because I adore the secondary characters  Michaels created as a support system for the main couples.

Missing from the wedding?  Jim and Griffin who are on their way to Albany where Griffin’s dad has had a heart attack.  Griffin is a mess, Jim is being his rock and uncertainty is in the air.  and then later at the Drake household where Griffin’s father has had a heartattack.  And instead of the word blessed, I often thought of substituting the word blessed as in “There isn’t a blessed thing you can do about it!”  Add a  damnit or two as well.  Because things are still shaky here underneath a calm exterior for a number of our favorite couples.  Once again, Michaels has chosen to be into the raw and gritty of the relationship dynamics instead of the “hearts and flowers”.  The author grounds us into the sometimes painful reality of the uncertainty, statsis and silence of non communication that can descend on the most loving of couples.  And it plays out here for Matt and Evan, Jim and Griffin, and Daisy and Bennett.  One happy moment in one of the couple’s  relationship leaves an elephant of a subject matter in another pairing, a big relationship topic that the men are afraid to bring up.  Why? Because doing so will take some deep introspection into their past lives and present emotional status.  That’s always a scary prospect no matter how wealthy or experienced you may be and it sets the stage beautifully for the next book to come up.

Blessed is more a series of relationship vinaigrettes than a complete story.  It skips from one situation and time line to the next.  From the birth of Daisy and Bennett’s baby to their house in the Hamptons, with each scene portraying a moment or two in each couple’s growth in their relationship.  I loved each  segment, as it provides needed momentum and respite from the  uncertainty and doubt that comes with most of the other stories.  However, its Tere Michaels at the pen and however happy the couples appear, the cracks and fissures are starting to appear that will cause the foundations to shake for all of them in Truth and Tenderness, the 6th and final story in the series.

Truthfully, I can’t get enough of all of the couples and their combined stories.  Sometimes their actions anger or frustrate, or give cause for hope and joy, or something realistically in between.  Love and relationships take work.  That’s a truth that should be painted at every wedding chapel or city hall.  Fairy tales last but a moment and then real life sets in.  That’s what Tere Michaels excels at giving us….couples we love living their lives realistically and authentically as possible.  Yes, there are crimes committed, ones that get you locked up and others against the heart.  Michaels charts them all and lays them out in this amazing series of novels.

I highly recommend them all and find myself eagerly awaiting the final installment.  I’ll meet you there.

Cover art by Aaron Anderson.  I find all these covers a little bland and nondescript.  Nothing to separate this story from anyone else’s.  Too bad.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook & Paperback   All Romance (ARe)  Amazon     Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition, 200 pages
Published February 13th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
ISBN139781634761994
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com
seriesFaith, Love, & Devotion #4&5

Here are the books in the series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the history and couples involved:

  • Faith & Fidelity (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #1)
  • Love & Loyalty (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #2)
  • Duty & Devotion (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #3)
  • Cherish (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #4)
  • Cherish & Blessed (Faith, Love, & Devotion #4 & 5)
  • Truth & Tenderness (Faith, Love, & Devotion #6) series finale