A MelanieM Review: Another Dance by LA Ashton

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Kaito Watanabe has finally nabbed an interview with his idol, Cristian Alvarez. Kaito is a journalist who’s spent his entire life looking up to the figure-skating champion. Cristian’s passion on the ice unearthed a love of dance in Kaito and made him believe in the power of artistic expression.

Now Kaito is face-to-face with the man he’s always admired. He believes himself insignificant and ordinary, a moth drawn to the light Alvarez casts. He can’t allow himself to believe Cristian’s flirtations are anything but natural charm—but Cristian has other plans. The tension pitches higher, legs and fingers intertwine, and Kaito begins to wonder if his fantasies have a shot at becoming reality.

Another Dance by L.A. Ashton is a sweet contemporary romance that charts the beginning of a love story between journalist Kaito Watanabe and his long held crush, champion ice skater Cristian Alvarez.  The characters are very well drawn here.  Kaito is downright adorable.  Awkward in his crush, hiding behind his bangs, humble and yet surprising in so many other ways.  I wish Ashton had explored his love of ballroom dancing more.  This element , along with it’s intersection with Cristian’s backhistory could have propelled this story further.  It’s already swoonworthy, this could have taken it to another level had it been explored past one scene.

Cristian on ice.  Cristian the professional skater is well represented here.  From the interview to the pitfalls and the highs of being a pro skater.  I regret we get to see Cristian “dance” across the ice in the story only once because Ashton’s descriptions are so vivid that the author makes us see why Kaito and everyone else loves him so. The person is also present and layered, from his love of Luna his elderly cat to his appreciation of Kaito’s writing in all its styles and what it reveals, this is a character who you can love and relate to.

Ashton also brings in interesting details about the world of the professional skater, such as most have poor eyesight due to continued exposure to the harsh glare of the ice and the use of composers for the music the skaters use and train too (the composers too have their own followers).  And the international politics of voting.  Fascinating!

All this mixed up in a short path to a new love and romance.  For me I wish there was so much more.  This could really be just the first quarter of a lovely novel instead of a novelette. That’s the frustrating part.  You are just loving them as a couple and the story is over.

The story ends with the acknowledgement that, even with all the difficulties of their professions and locations,  they want to get to know each other and go forward.  So it’s definitely a HFN.  Hey, we all knew they would end up together so that’s not exactly a spoiler.

Ah well.  Perhaps, another story will follow and we will get to see this couple at another stage in their relationship.  I can always hope for this is an interesting world and I’d love to see Ashton return to it and them.  If you love contemporary romance, check out Another Dance by L.A. Ashton and see what I mean.  I think you will be captivated by this couple.  I certainly was.

Cover art: Natasha Snow.  Just lovely with the entwined legs.  Perfect.

 

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: July 8th 2019 by Ninestar Press
Edition Language English

A Lucy Review: Who We Used to Be (Do-Over #1) by Dara J. Nelson

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RATING: 2.5 stars out of 5

Ten years is a long time to live with a broken heart

Ten years ago Zeke Malloy had everything:
A happy childhood, a shot at a state championship wrestling title, a best friend, a boyfriend (albeit a secret one but that was okay because, once they graduated, that would change).
He had love, happiness……a heart.
All of that changed in the blink of an eye.
One moment he was deliriously happy, looking forward to a future with Digger Brandt, building a life, a home, a forever, with him.
And then it was gone, disappearing like the tears that flowed down Zeke’s cheeks as he watched from the back of the church as Digger married Lisa – with his father sitting proudly in the front pew. Those tears were still flowing when he walked out of that church and went directly to the nearest recruiting office. Because he didn’t just lose the love of his life that day, he lost his hopes, his dreams, he lost…..himself.
For the next ten years he was a machine – the best Marine, the best friend, but like a machine, he did it all without a beating heart.
His was dead…..or was it?
Was ten years too long?
Was a broken heart too much?
Zeke didn’t know. Hell, he wasn’t even sure he wanted to know.
From the moment Digger walked up behind him and said Hello in that smooth, sexy voice that used to light him up six ways from Sunday, Zeke was screwed
The only thing he really knew now……..was that he was about to find out .

Second chance stories are my thing so I was excited for this one.  Zeke and Digger were in love ten years ago, everything was going great and then one day Digger just ghosted Zeke, the next thing being an invitation to 19-year-old Digger’s wedding to Lisa.  Lisa, a woman Digger had claimed to barely know.  Zeke was a secret guest at that wedding, walked out and joined the military.  Good things did come out of that because he got himself some amazing, loyal and supportive friends who remained with him all through.  They know the story of Digger the Douche. 

There is a lot of emphasis in the beginning of how dead inside Zeke is because of Digger’s betrayal.  The anger, the hurt is so powerful when the book starts, even more than when Zeke finds current boyfriend getting laid in their bed.  He is sort of “whatever” about it, because his heart is frozen.  Enter the return of Digger.

So far, so good.  I loved the interaction with Zeke’s crew in particular.  My issue is I felt as if I had been tossed into a story with the middle missing.  We get the anger and angst in the beginning.  “He was tired of trying to love anyone…other than him.  Tired of pretending that his heart wasn’t forever broken. Most of all, he was tired of being angry.”  Digger was a massive coward and unbelievably cruel (you can’t even tell Zeke to his face, you stick an invitation to your WEDDING under the doormat and run?) and ruined Zeke.

Except now that he’s back, he acts like it really wasn’t so bad. I say this because there is so little apology and even less groveling that I actually went back and reread parts because I was sure somehow I missed it.  There is one little mention of daddy dearest threatening to withhold college money if Digger didn’t do what daddy wanted (marry Lisa) and that’s it.  “….gone was the college money, unless he gave in to daddy’s demands…”  Then he tries to justify but saying that he couldn’t ask Zeke to be his secret.  “It would’ve killed the light on the inside that made him so f**king beautiful.”   As if being treated as disposable was better?  Not worthy of a note or a phone call?

So that all was horrible  – we get the story through flashbacks mostly – but then Digger is now out and for some weird reason Zeke and his crew all now live in the same town as Digger and Lisa.  We get a very, very short moment of Zeke having some self respect and then bam! Everything is forgiven and we move on.  Just a no for me. I needed way more justification as to why you would do this to someone you supposedly love, why Zeke would lay down and be a doormat without even an explanation of why.  I needed to know why Digger still, ten years later, works for daddy at a homophobic charity and remains under daddy’s control.  He just seems so selfish, even his reasons for returning to Zeke.  “Because I’m broken too. And fixing him is the only way to fix me.”

The book spends a lot of time setting up the next books in the series, Dallas and Bulldog will be up next, followed by Linc.  The partners for both are clear in this book.   There is also an odd flashback of a conversation that just happened hours before. Instead of showing us the interaction, we are told it in a flashback.  Another oddity is Zeke, who has been burned badly, meeting Slade in a coffee shop, offering him a place to stay and then giving him a key, garage door opener and alarm codes.  Same day!  Doesn’t know the man!

I struggled to finish the book because I was so frustrated by the erasure of ten years of pain. “Look, you didn’t just break his heart, Digger, you broke him. When I first met him, the pain in him, god, it was wrapped around him like a damn bullet-proof blanket.”  It’s why I felt the whole middle was missing.

There is also the random reappearance of Zeke’s cheating ex, who shows up after cheating and ruining Zeke’s house, and there was really no reason for it, so took yet more time away from the main plot. 

The only thing I remotely liked about Digger was his worry about “And then the anxiety creeped in.  The thoughts of: I haven’t showered or douched. What if he doesn’t like it? Oh god, what if I fart?”  Random of me, I know, but he at least was concerned about Zeke here. 

I was just disappointed in this story because the potential was there and it could have been something amazing. 

Cover art, showing Zeke and Digger embracing with their younger selves wrestling, fit the story.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 291 pages
Published June 15th 2019 by Dare Press
ASINB07S874XX2
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesDo-Over #

A VVivacious Review: Change of Heart by KM Neuhold

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Rating: 2 Stars out of 5

When Easton’s husband dies, he is absolutely devastated. How is he supposed to go on without the love of his life?

Five years later, Easton, still struggling in a world without Paul, comes across a letter written by the recipient of Paul’s heart. For the first time in five years, Easton wonders if River, the guy who got Paul’s heart, is worthy of it.

When Easton and River meet sparks fly. They can’t deny their chemistry which makes Easton come out of his shell and makes River take a chance but can their relationship survive the truth about Paul’s heart?

This review contains minor spoilers.

I was happiest when I finished the book and as everyone knows it’s not a good sign if you are happy a book is over. This book was hard for me. I think I would have most probably DNF’ed it if I wasn’t reviewing it. Having said that I still think having read this entire book made me realise that it was better than I thought it was. It wasn’t amazing but it wasn’t terribly horrible either. The ending assuaged some of my disappointment with this book. I think my final rating of two stars really encompasses my entire reading experience and not just parts of it.

So, let’s get to the meat of the review. This book see-sawed a lot for me in the beginning. Initially, I couldn’t quite realise why I was liking some parts of the book and hating others.
 
This book is written from the dual perspectives of both our main characters Easton and River with the POVs switching up quite frequently between these two. I soon realised that all the parts I didn’t like coincided with Easton’s POV. So, it was very clear for me from the beginning that I didn’t quite like Easton. I personally can’t quite put a finger on what exactly I didn’t like about him but I feel the fact that he is keeping a secret from River one he should probably reveal sooner rather than later coloured my opinion of him. On top of that, it isn’t quite obvious why Easton who has grieved for five years over his husband, who apparently never tried to move on does so now with River and manages it so successfully. Something about this experience rang false to me. Easton has already grieved for longer than he should which would suggest an unhealthy mindset but it doesn’t take anything more than meeting River to have him completely forgetting Paul. It was weird that Easton didn’t even think of Paul all that much throughout this book which made me wonder what he did all those five years. Also, I would have liked a few misfires where things went wrong while Easton was trying to move on. This could have happened during previous attempts to move on or while River and Easton were getting their feet under them in their new relationship. These moments could have served as a catalyst to figure out where Easton’s headspace was at. It felt like a lost opportunity. Instead, the story makes it very apparent that all Easton really needed to move on is River.

I liked River. He is a really sweet guy and I liked how he puts himself out there for Easton. I love how much he loves Easton. That comic he makes for Easton really made my heart clench, it was beautiful. The only problem with River is that he brings nothing to the plot. Side Note: Also, the medical science behind River requiring a heart transplant is mostly fictional (unfortunately, the parts that do hold up to scrutiny wouldn’t have lead to the need for a heart transplant).

The plot focuses on the fact that Easton is keeping a secret and the secret has the potential to wreck Easton and River’s budding romance. In all this River is a little better than a bystander as he has no idea what is going to happen to him and that had me a little frustrated because there was nothing that River could contribute to where the story was eventually going to have to go.

By the time the big reveal happens, the author has exhausted 23 of the 28 chapters in this book. The book has already stretched a single plot point too far and the book becomes a chore. How long can you wait for something to happen when it has already been established that it needs to happen? Apparently, if you are K. M. Neuhold you can wait a very long time. I would have preferred a quiet reveal but the author does it the dramatic way. After the reveal the story does become a little bearable and I enjoyed the last few chapters even though I do think it’s too soon but whatever. It was charming and nice and I can give that a pass.

Fox is an amazing character who I loved. Easton so didn’t deserve this guy who was just so amazing and so supportive. Fox made my day. The late night calls with Easton were just amazing. His willingness to bail Easton out no matter where he is was downright inspirational. He was amazing. He was the unexpected gem in this story and I loved him whole-heartedly.

Cover Art by Natasha Snow. I really love the art of that heart intertwined with a plant in the background. It is subtle but so gorgeous.

Sales Links: Universal Link: mybook.to/ChangeofHeart
Book Details:
ebook, 345 pages
Published June 17th 2019
Edition Language English

New Release Tour and Giveaway: Breaking Ground (Rocking Racers #8) by Megan Lowe (excerpt)

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Author: Megan Lowe
Title: Breaking Ground
Series: Rocking Racers, book 8
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Release Date: June 8, 2019
 Available now! 
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2VJQMgt
All other links: books2read.com/breaking-ground

Mason Thompson hates motorbike racing. It’s stupid, pointless, and dangerous. The glorified man-children who partake in this idiocy are even worse. None more so than Liam Ryan.

Liam Ryan is cocky, and he has every reason to be. There’s not a person on the track—or off it—who can get the better of him. He’ll be damned if drop-dead gorgeous paramedic Mason Thompson is the first.

But when events and overzealous bloggers seek to force them even further apart, will they risk everything to be together?

Will they break ground and realise sometimes the greatest risk results in the ultimate reward?

Breaking Ground is a M/M romance prequel to Megan Lowe’s Australian sports romance series. This book can be read as a stand-alone novella.

 Available now! 
As I double-check the supplies in the medical centre, I tell myself for what has to be at least the ninety-seventh time in the past two hours that this will be good experience and look impressive on my résumé. At twenty-one, I’m in my last year as a paramedical science student; then there’s just two years on-the-job training. If I will indeed be a paramedic, I need to get used to thinking on my feet, working in unfamiliar places and in situations I may not know a lot about. Volunteering at the National Racing Series ticks all of those boxes, even if I think the event is nothing more than an excuse for man-children to strut around and try to figure out who has the biggest… engine.
Motorbike racing is dangerous and frankly unnecessary. All racing is. What does it prove? That the winner can go round a track the fastest? Whoop de doo.
It’s good experience, Mase, I remind myself.
It might be, I reply, but it’s still idiotic.
Great, now I’m talking to myself.
“I told you, Pop, I’m fine,” someone says just outside the doors.
“And Reed is fine trying to take on that nutcase Hunter David,” someone—Pop, I presume—replies. “Just get your arse in there.”
A second later, a guy—he can’t be over eighteen—struts through the door. I say strut because that’s what he does. He has the build all the riders do. Not tall, I’m going for about five nine-ish, slim but strong, solid but not overly so, slightly bow-legged, with longish dark brown hair, deep brown eyes, and a smirk on his face. If I’d seen him on the street, he’s definitely someone I’d give a second glance to. That face…. But meeting him here, knowing what he does? No, thank you.
“Can I help you?” I ask.
“Yeah, my pop wants me to get checked out even though I told him I’m fine,” he says. He’s cradling his right hand, and although he clearly doesn’t want to show it, the edges of his smirk pull slightly.
“Are you in pain?” I ask, stepping forward and grabbing his gloved hand.
“Nah.”
I give him my best no-nonsense look. “If you’re in pain, I need you to tell me. Check all that macho he-man shit at the door, all right? Pain is the body’s way of letting us know something isn’t right.”
He hisses as I gently pull off his glove.
“Yeah, not so tough now, are we?” I know I shouldn’t have said that, but I can’t help myself. These guys, they act like they’re doing the world a favour, going round on their bikes at frankly ridiculous speeds.
“Screw you, man,” he says, pulling his hand out of mine. “I came here for help, even though I didn’t want it and I certainly don’t need it.”
“Is that right?”
“Yeah, it is.” He hitches his chin.
“Bend that finger, then.” I motion to his clearly broken index finger. “You can’t, can you?” I ask as he struggles to do it. “That’s because it’s broken. It’s going to need surgery and a pin inserted to stabilise it.”
“Look, buttercup,” he says, “I don’t have time for this. Give me a jab for the pain and strap my fingers together. I’ve got a bike to ride.”
I shake my head and cross my arms. “I don’t think so. There’s no way I’m declaring you fit to race, not with an injury like that.”
I glare at him, and he at me, neither of us willing to back down.
“Ah, excuse me?”
Although it kills me to, I break the staring competition and turn my attention to the guy who came in with arseface here.

 

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Rocking Racers Series!
 
Book 1
 All buy links HERE
 
Book 2
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Book 3
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Book 4

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Book 5

All buy links HERE

Book 6

All buy links HERE

Book 7

All buy links HERE

Megan Lowe is a lost journalism graduate who after many painful years searching for a job in that field, decided if she couldn’t write news stories, she would start listening to the characters whispering stories to her and decided to write them down.  She writes primarily New Adult/Contemporary Romance stories with Sport and Music themes. She is based on the Gold Coast but her heart belongs to New York City. When she’s not writing she’s either curled up with a good book, travelling or screaming at the TV willing her sporting teams to pull out the win.

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