An Ali Audiobook Review: Bobby Green (Johnnies # 5) by Amy Lane and Gomez Pugh (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Vern Roberts couldn’t wait to turn eighteen and get the hell out of Dogpatch, California. But city living is expensive, and he’s damned desperate when Dex from Johnnies spots him bussing tables.

As “Bobby,” he’s a natural at gay porn. Soon he’s surrounded by hot guys and sex for the taking, but it’s not just his girlfriend back in Dogpatch—or her blackmailing brother—that keeps him from taking it. It’s the sweet guy who held the lights for his first solo scene, who showed him decency, kindness, and a smile.

Reg Williams likes to think he’s too stupid to realize what a shitty hand life dealt him, but Bobby knows better. What Reg lacks in family, opportunity, education, and money, he makes up for in heart. One fumbling step at a time, they connect, not just in their hearts but in their bodies, where sex that’s not on camera, casual, or meaningless, becomes the most important thing in the world.

But Reg is hampered by an inescapable family burden, and he and Bobby will never fly unless he can find a way to manage it. Can he break the painful link to his unrealized childhood and grow into the love Bobby wants to give?

This is the fifth installment of this series and takes places at the same time the events of the first four books are taking place. There are references to things that are happening with the other characters and most of them have some role in this. The story starts with us meeting Vern/Bobby (his porn name & what I’m going to use for the rest of the review) who’s living an unhappy life in a bigoted small town. A chance to work construction in Sacramento helps him get out but when that quickly goes bad, Bobby is desperate to not have to go back. A chance meeting with Dex gives him the solution he needs and leads him to working at Johnnies where he meets and becomes friends with Reg.

I have to be honest and say I don’t remember Reg or Bobby at all from the other books (but it’s been years since I read the first three books in this series). Reg is a veteran porn star at Johnnies and he’s the good natured guy everyone is friends with (& friends w benefits with). At first Reg was presented as being slow intellectually and I wasn’t sure this book was going to work for me. Characters with cognitive delays can be dicey for me. If there’s any hint of a power imbalance between the two MC’s I’m out. Fortunately (for me) this is not how this plays out. I thought the author did a good job looking at how social issues effect one’s IQ and how emotional IQ is also a big part of how people present. Reg has a really difficult life. He’s been responsible for his mentally ill sister since he was 16 years old. She keeps him captive in his own home and he has no life outside porn and no friends other than the Johnnies guys. His meeting Bobby changes his perspective and challenges what he thought he wanted out of life.

These two start off as friends and it’s a really slow burn between them. I really liked that change up from most romance books. They spent months just hanging out and snuggling and talking. It takes them both awhile to even realize they’re in love.

This book is pretty gritty and parts aren’t pretty at all. Reg’s sister has a very serious mental health issue and some of the scenes with her are pretty rough. She’s verbally and physically aggressive and poor Reg takes a ton of abuse. The situation Bobby is in in the first part of the book was also pretty difficult to read. There was one scene in particular where my stomach kind of knotted up for him.

Something else I think is important to note is these two are not together-together for the first 50-60% of the book and they both sleep with other people, on and off the set. They weren’t at a commitment stage yet, and honestly the way things played out seemed very realistic. I personally didn’t have a problem with it, although I admit a few parts were a little sad, but I think it fit the plot in a very true to life manner. I mention it though as I know that dynamic is a big “no” for a lot of romance readers.

I had previously read and loved this book so I decided to give it a try on audio and I’m really glad I did.  Sometimes a good narration can make a book even better and that was the case here.  This book was narrated by Gomez Pugh and I loved the way he did both Reg and Bobby as well as all of the side characters.  He captured the strong emotions that went on in this story and he made the grittiness of the book come to life.  I thought the entire narration was extremely well done.

This could be read as a standalone. There is a lot of interaction from the guys in the Johnnies group and all of them play at least a small role in this. Some (Dex, Kane and Ethan) play pretty big roles. You don’t have to read their books to be able to follow this one. You will spoiler yourself for multiple things from the first four books though. As someone who’s read all the books, I liked seeing the other guys and it was interesting to see them & their various issues from Reg & Bobby’s view points

This started a bit rough for me but ended up being my favorite in the series except for Chase in Shadows. These two are just fantastic together and watching them as they work through their problems (in life, not with each other) was really touching. They were perfect for each other & I was happy for them in the end like they were real people.

Cover:  This cover is done by Reese Dante and I think it is well done.  The cover models fit the descriptions of the MC’s very well and this cover goes well with the previous four books of the series.
Audiobook Details:
13 hrs 44 mins
Audible Audio, 14 pages
Published April 19th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published February 6th 2018)
Original TitleBobby Green
ASINB07CGFNCXM
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesJohnnies #5

A Caryn Review : Mason and the Dog Wrangler by CL Etta

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

This is the first story I’ve read by this author, and it was very sweet.  And very short!  I’m not usually a fan of short stories, and though I enjoyed this, I would not have wanted to pay for it individually.  Maybe as part of a collection…

Mason was married to an Air Force officer, staying with him through multiple deployments and through the long years of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  When DADT was finally repealed, they married, had a daughter via surrogate, and settled down to a long and happy life together.

And then Mason’s husband was killed, leaving Mason a single father, isolated, and lonely.

Their daughter Nik became Mason’s entire life.  Four years later, he was still continuously grieving, and still having nightmares about his husband’s death.  He was an absolutely devoted father, and when he finally gave in to his daughter’s desire to have a puppy, he found not only an energetic and loving little ball of fur for Nik, but a cute younger man who worked at the pet store.  Jeremy was clearly interested in Mason, and immediately pursued him and pushed through all of Mason’s barriers and insecurities.  When Jeremy was injured saving Nik’s life, that attraction turned into love.  The End.

I prefer to read a book that I can really sink my teeth into, and what I got most from this story was that if someone took the bare bones of it, and lost the insta-love aspect, perhaps fleshed out Mason’s first marriage, expanded it…  Well, you get the story.  I can’t be satisfied with a bite – I want a meal.  So though this is a nice story, I wouldn’t go back and read more.

Cover art by Emmy@studioenp was surprisingly nice – the model on the cover is exactly how I pictured Mason – a little skinny, a little unsure, and the puppy of course is just adorable.

Sales Links:  Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 39 pages
Published April 24th 2018 by Pride Publishing
ISBN139781786516312
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: The Solstice Prince (Realms of Love #1) by S.J. Himes and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

This is a very sweet, angst-free story about a young healer who was rescued from slavery and the prince who sees beyond the servant to the heart of the man beneath.

Jamie Buchanan was sold into slavery when his father passed away with tremendous debt. When the slaver’s ship takes on water, it makes port in the kingdom of Pyrderi, a kingdom totally opposite his homeland. This country is ruled by a kind king and his sons are no different, so when Prince Maxim spots the scars made by the chains that bound him, he tries to help the young man but instead scares Jamie away. Until circumstances make it clear that he is the young healer who has been reported missing from the academy and Jamie’s good fortune begins.

As the winter solstice ball approaches, Jamie and Maxim become closer and it’s very evident that the young prince wants Jamie by his side forever. Honestly, there was no conflict in this story at all. It was like listening to a fairy tale, especially given that it was told in the inimitable voice of Joel Leslie. I could listen to him for hours—and I have, many times! This time, he told Jamie and Maxim’s story beautifully and, of course, they did get their HEA.

There’s really not much more to be said. It’s a sweet romance, and I gave it 3 stars because it wasn’t highly complex and there were quite a few misplaced modifiers that I think I would have cringed at if I had read the book, but Mr. Leslie smoothed over them nicely and I was so caught up into the sweet romance that I just kept going. The additional ½ star, making it 3 ½ stars overall, is due to his outstanding narration.

Those who love a sweet, easy listening story should definitely pick this one up in audio. Heartwarming and recommended.

The attractive cover is done in bright colors with caricatures of the two principal characters: the prince and the healer. It depicts the story and grabs attention.

Sales Links: Amazon | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Length: 6 hrs and 1 min

Audible Audio
Published April 30th 2018 by Tantor Audio (first published November 24th 2017)
ASIN B07CGRWH98
Edition Language English

A Lucy Review: Where Do I Start (Why You? #1) by Chase Taylor Hacket

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 

This is the first book of the Why You? series and I read this after I read the second book.  I wasn’t actually going to read it, considering that Fletcher Andrews, the MC, was such a cheater and broke Roger’s heart.  I don’t read cheating and I was going into this already hating Fletch.  He’s beautiful, languorous, gets what he wants and drops his pants for everyone.  So of course, I hate him.  But this book is about losing something you didn’t realize how much you treasured and what it does to you to try to get it back.

Fletch and Roger were living together, happily and homey, until Roger finds out Fletch has been cheating on him. It devastates Roger and he throws Fletch out.  They don’t see each other for two years until they accidentally meet at the opera.  Fletch is with his sugar daddy, Darwin, and Roger is with his bestie, Tommy.  While Tommy is thrilled to meet costume-designer Darwin, Fletch is more interested in Roger’s reaction.  “Was he impressed? With my six-time Tony-winning date?”  Right there I thought, my god, this guy is clueless.  Luckily, he gets that clue.  “And when Roger looked at me, he saw that I was just today’s eye candy, an expensive accessory like a watch.  The boy du jour.”  That one simple thing made Fletch take a hard look at himself.  “Let’s be honest – if you go on a date and can show profit at the end of the evening, there’s a word for that.  And that’s what Roger saw when he looked at me.”

Fletch also comes to realize that what he wants in life is Roger.  Roger has a boyfriend, Jeffrey, another lawyer but that doesn’t matter to Fletch.  He wants Roger back and he wants to do it right this time.  We get some flashbacks not only into the pain Fletch caused Roger but also the how they met and some good things.  “And although it ended miserably, which spoiled everything, if I could look beyond that – and let’s face it, I hardly ever could – but when I could look beyond that, I could see it had been a fantastic period in my life.  I knew it at the time.  I’d never been happier, and I had thought it would go on like that forever.”  Oh, Roger.

This is told in alternating first person point of view, so we get the full extent of Fletch’s remorse and Roger’s pain.   This is more striking because Roger is dealing with his current boyfriend, the infamous Jeffrey, who often acts like a jerk.  The Jeffrey of book two doesn’t seem to be the same Jeffrey here.  He does two terrible things, one of which I would expect of him but the other shocked me. No wonder Fletch got so angry, “Imagine how I felt, hearting Roger defend this smug, self-righteous, hypocritical little pr**k”. 

Fletch goes to great lengths to win Roger back, and sometimes is dangerously close to being a stalker, but he’s putting Roger first this time, all the way. Roger is trying to fight it because he’s scared.  The effects of infidelity can be long lasting and far reaching.  “Because that’s what it came down to.  Sure, Fletch says he loves me, and maybe he even meant it….But does any of this mean that he isn’t going to pull his boxers down for the next casual acquaintance or total stranger who looks even mildly interested?”  That is the biggest hurdle. 

As in Jeffrey and Theo’s book, there are times I wanted to hug Roger (well, that was really all the time) and times I wanted to hug Fletch.  These guys, they grow on you and make you care what happens.  When the bad things come out, I cringed and wanted it somehow to work out.

We get the history of Fletch, which isn’t pretty and he doesn’t share easily, and we get his dedicated efforts to win Roger back.  There are times when Jeff and Fletch seem like they are about to pee on Roger to stake their claim.  It was funny and ridiculous.   We also get to have Tommy in this and he is completely lovely.  I want his story so badly.  He gives such great advice.  “I don’t know.  Have you ever asked him?” 

One thing that I would have liked was a better reason why Fletch cheated on Roger, constantly and repeatedly, when he himself admitted he was a great boyfriend. Yes, I get it that Fletch didn’t believe in love, didn’t believe in relationships, didn’t believe in anything, but it really made him shallow.  “You could think twice about hurting me horribly, or you could get – whatever- with whomever.  And we can see which was more important to you.”  Even though it’s two years in the past, my heart broke for Roger. 

There is no on-page sex here and that worked for me.  I have a problem with all issues big and small being solved by the magic penis.  It makes me roll my eyes.  Here, they have to work things out the old fashioned way.  While I’m sure people are going to skip this book because of the infidelity, as I was going to, that would be a shame because that isn’t what this is about.  It’s about redemption, forgiveness and understanding what you need.  I would highly recommend this. 

The cover, two men walking a Scottish terrier with only half their heads visible, was pretty spot on for me.  The casual elegant beauty of Fletch and the more buttoned up handsomeness of Roger.  Oddly, throughout the book I kept picturing Roger as older or less attractive.  Maybe I was judgy about his name.  But the depiction on the cover is more how he should be. 

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 266 pages
Published October 17th 2017 by Lyrical Press
Original TitleWhere Do I Start?
ASINB01N5S23MN
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesWhy You? #1

Harmony Promo Shirley Anne Edwards on Favorite Stories, Writing, and Rage to Live (Finding the Strength #1) 

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Rage to Live (Finding the Strength #1) by Shirley Anne Edwards 

Harmony Ink Press

Cover Artist: Tiferet Design

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Shirley Ann Edwards here today to talk about her latest story at Harmony Ink Press, Rage to Live.  Welcome, Shirley.

 

♦︎

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview – Shirley Anne Edwards

How much of yourself goes into a character?

Shirley: My characters are not an extension of me, although their experiences during the story are some of mine. An example is in Rage to Live, Charlie’s (my heroine) older cousins are involved in Greek life at the college they attend. When I was in college, I was in a sorority, which was a very positive for me. I wanted to show the positive side to Greek life and not the eyebrow rising stereotypes about sororities and fraternities sometimes portrayal in novels.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Shirley: Growing up I was a big fan of the Babysitters Club and Nancy Drew Mysteries series. These series promoted great friendships, which I try to show in any book I write. Even when my main protagonist might have gone through some trauma or drama, they can always count on their group of friends to support them. When I entered high school, I became a big fan of historical fiction and romance, such as Gone with the Wind and the Outlander series. Strong female characters like Scarlett O’Hara and Claire Fraser are my inspirations to write independent and smart heroines.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

Shirley: I’m more of a fan of the HEA than the HFN. An HEA is everything beautiful and wonderful. All the drama and angst is now over, and the main couple can finally find peace within themselves and with one another.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

Shirley: Once I entered high school, all I wanted to do was read romance. I still read romance but I’ve branched out to mysteries and thrillers. I also read young adult because that’s the genre I choose to write.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

Shirley: Classic romance authors such as Jane Austen and the Bronte sister influenced me because their writing is so poetic and engaging. Again, they created some of the most beloved heroines in all of literature. I also adore Louisa May Alcott’s adult fiction. Her adult fiction, which is a blend of gothic thrillers and romance was such a departure from her children’s fiction.

I’ve always admired Nora Roberts and Stephen King because of their huge following and work ethic. I’m also a huge fan of young adult/ new adult author, Jennifer L. Armentrout, who amazes me with her output and generous spirit when it comes to writers and authors. She also writes some of the best hunky heroes currently 😊.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

Shirley: I love ebooks. I read most books on my Kindle or Ebook app on my phone. Prior to working with Harmony Ink Press, I self-published four novels, so ebooks to me are my bread and butter.

What’s next for you as an author?

Shirley: I’m planning on writing another book in the Rage to Live world with a secondary character who I adore. It’s also going to be another LGBTQ young adult, but this time my somewhat traditional thinking male protagonist, who dreams of one day becoming the President of the Unites State falls for a somewhat older guy who loves tattoos and lives each day like it’s his last.

About the Author:

Shirley Anne Edwards is a Northeast girl who discovered her love for books when she read Nancy Drew’s The Secret of the Old Clock Tower at thirteen. Shirley found her love for writing at a very young age and, since then, has let her imagination run wild by creating quirky characters and vast worlds in her head. Shirley is also a brownie addict who loves to bake when she’s not busy writing. Shirley lives in New Jersey and works in the entertainment industry in New York City.

Shirley loves to hear from readers! You can email her at shirlwriteredwards@gmail.com or tweet her at @shirlawriter.

Website: http://shirlwriteredwards.wordpress.com

Harmony Ink author page: https://www.harmonyinkpress.com/authors/shirley-anne-edwards-185

 

Rage to Live blurb:

Can a young woman reveal her traumatic past to the woman who wants her to release the bubbling rage inside… her rage to live?

An act of violence tore Charlie’s existence, and her family, apart. In an effort to reclaim something like the life she enjoyed before, Charlie moves in with relatives in a different state. Charlie might be damaged, but she isn’t going down without a fight. With the help of her cousins, who attend the local college, she steels herself to repeat her final year of high school. On the university campus, she meets Arielle Forest, president of a popular sorority, daughter of the dean, and bisexual. Charlie is drawn to Arielle’s sunny outlook, but she can’t banish her doubts as romance blossoms. Does Arielle know what she’s getting into with Charlie and her unhealed wounds? Will she want to deal with the complications?

When Charlie’s past catches up to her, will she find the strength to keep fighting… or succumb to the call to escape all her pain for good?