A Lucy Release Day Review: Q*pid by Xavier Mayne

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

I had a difficult time trying to decide how to review this because I loved some of it and I didn’t love some of it.  Let’s see if I can come up with a coherent explanation. Veera, a very intelligent woman, has come up with a new way of artificial intelligence.  She has designed a system, dubbed Archer, that will look past the typical “get to know you questions” of online dating and really look at you to find your perfect match.  This means allowing Archer access to everything you do online (a security nightmare no matter what they say and it made my skin crawl) to see what you actually are interested in, not what you say you are.  I did have to laugh when we see the chosen people clicking like on puppies and babies and kittens just to make a “cute” presence online known.  Tut, tut, boys, Archer is smarter than that.

So we have Fox, the only one of his friends still unattached, who has a standard email rejection letter for women he dates who don’t make the number criteria in the spreadsheet he has, which is the most bizarre thing.  “Numbers of attempts to pay the dinner check, and height of heels in inches, and number of visible piercings, and done.” He’s rejected women he likes this way and so is still alone.  So the novelty of the Q*Pid trial appeals to him.

Then we have Drew, a quiet, shy, adorable grad student who has an unlikely bestie in Mrs. Schwartzmann but seems to attract the strangest of women.  On seeing his coffee table, his last date “As soon as she stepped into my apartment and saw it, she kind of freaked out.  She said something about how cheap coffee tables are a product of third-world sweat shops and she leapt on top of it and started stomping on it.”  This did not stop him from sleeping with her but relationship wise, it’s a no.  Drew also signs up for the Q*Pid trial, hoping to meet someone a little less chaotic. 

When the app goes live, it begins pairing people up.  Both Fox and Drew are astonished to find out Archer has matched them.  Has to be a mistake, neither one has ever been attracted to men before.  Veera is nervous but she’s also sort of ticked because Ross, one of the team members, is a total naysayer.  He questions why anyone would voluntarily give them access to everything online (I also questioned the same thing) and he is 100% positive this will not only fail but bring lawsuits as well.  The day it goes live, he studies his phone, “Just checking to see whether the first violation of privacy suits has been filed yet.”

Secondary characters, Fox’s friend Chad and particularly Mrs Schwartzmann are likeable and loyal.  Mrs. Schwartzmann, with her saving food and water for doomsday, made me smile.  She is supportive of Drew and he of her, it was a sweet relationship. “Entirely without warning, Drew heard her voice in his head, “I cannot be anything other than what I am.”   This is when Drew decides to be completely honest about his profile (and the fact that he watches porn). This actually took a lot of courage because as soon as he decides to watch porn, the laptop camera comes on.  Seems kinky. He is matched with someone who seems perfect and it is to Mrs Schwartzmann he admits, “She was exactly what I thought I wanted, and yet she turned out to be not at all what I wanted.”  And here we go.  I’ll just say, Mrs. Schwartzmann’s response made me want to hug her.

Chad is Fox’s best friend and he’s there for him, trying to make Fox see what is in front of him.  I felt bad for Fox at one point, as he is talking about the group that used to go to the diner together and slowly dwindled down to just him as people paired off.  “I hate to be the one to break it to you, but we didn’t stop hanging out every night.  We stopped hanging out.” Chad, though, is supportive, funny, ridiculous and ridiculously in love with his wife.  Both Chad and Mrs Schwartzmann were winners for me.

Back to Fox and Drew. Despite the shock of being paired with a man, they end up meeting and hit it off so well they decide being friends is exactly what they need.   They are both lonely, Fox with all his money and Drew with all his academics.  They are also both caught being real in front of their laptop cameras, meaning Archer sees.  “Why can’t I find the right person and fall in love?” made me want to hug Drew.  They are worlds apart financially.  Fox lives in a penthouse and drives a BMW, Drew is a grad student.  “My people eat ramen twenty-nine times out of thirty.”

We get to see the building of a true friendship with Drew and Fox, as they get to know each other, swim in the river of denial and yet keep coming back to each other for hanging out, cause obviously these are not dates.

I wanted to know what happened with Miyoko, as this was a big thing for Fox and it really wasn’t addressed.  I wanted to hug Drew for really putting himself out there more than once, even when Fox was being an idiot.  When Fox is so in denial and just keeps looking for that “perfect woman”, Drew is a little broken hearted but he’s open to the fact that what he thought about himself may not be complete. When Fox is matched with his “perfect woman”, a score in the high 90s, (Drew and Fox have a 99.5 compatibility rating), he is appalled to realize that it wasn’t at all what he wanted.  He was bored, he was twitchy and he felt like he was sitting with his sister.  Luckily, she agreed.  Sometimes what we think we want isn’t what we need.

I liked this book immensely.  The writing was strong, although there were a few times I had to look up an unfamiliar word.  I appreciated that finding out you are not as clear on your sexuality as you always thought you were wasn’t a simple thing to deal with.  Did I want to slap Fox with his response to Drew at one point?  You bet, I was SO pissed at him.  Naked wrestling took care of Fox’s idea that Drew was female.  I loved that scene. 

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a slow burn, sort of “what are we doing” type of story with likeable secondary characters and MC that, especially in the case of Drew, you are really pulling for.

Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas.  Its ok.  Obviously a hard concept to get across and this is a cute cover, bright and eye catching.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 310 pages
Expected publication: August 28th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640802292
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Lucy Review: Challenging Chance (Love Letters #3) by Anyta Sunday

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

In this third installment of the Love Letters series, I was thoroughly prepared to hate Chance, and not give him a chance, so to speak.  He was so dreadful to Landon in book 2, Begging Ben, that I just couldn’t see a way that he could be redeemed.  I underestimated Ms Sunday because by the end of this book I loved him. 

Chance is a poor little rich boy who is surrounded by hangers-on who just want him to foot the bill for everything, a father who has never been proud of him, a perfect brother who can do no wrong, and people who are willing to sell him out for cash.  He has never been able to come out as bisexual because he knows that will be one more nail on the coffin in his father’s regard.

The book starts with an epic fail on the part of Chance, who brings a completely inappropriate date, Bunny Sparkelz, to his brother’s engagement party.  The unfortunate date is not only highly criticized by Chance’s father but also manages to sink Chance’s Lamborghini into the pool.   Not only that but he finds out that his personal assistant has been paid to spill all the dirt on Chance to his father. Well, then, can only go up from there, right? 

Chance is a basketball player who’s teammates all take advantage of him and use him. He’s really only had one friend in his life, Landon, and he slept with him over the course of a week and then tossed him out,  so that relationship is over. “Landon might have his life together but he didn’t want Chance anywhere near it just in case he messed it up again.  Another relationship he’d screwed up …”   Dad threatens to cut Chance off and insists Chance plan his brother’s rehearsal dinner. 

I was already feeling sympathy for Chance by this time because he really does want to be a better person and he just wants his father to be proud of him but “No matter how closely Chance followed in Danny’s footsteps, he always pissed his dad off rather than amused him.”  Funny enough, Danny is the younger son.  Usually it is the other way around.  Chance is trying and getting nowhere.  “He needed to mature. Not only for the money –he had no skills to afford his lifestyle on his own- but for one look of pride from his dad.” 

Since Chance has fired his PA for spilling to dad, he ends up hiring (sort of against his will) Brook.  Brook has to convince Chance to hire him, mainly because Chance is worried what he will do when faced with a handsome man day in and day out.  Can’t be bi, remember, or dad will be upset.  “Brook reminded him of his ex-friend Landon – and the one week Chance had given in to what his body craved.”

Brook knows something about mistakes and wanting to be a better person.  He’s made his share of them, some big, and he’s trying to make up for them.  He has a secret but he needs this job and he will work hard to make it happen. And he does.  He is so good for Chance, seeing through the “friends” who step all over Chance and he sees the Chance that is inside.  Brook tries to do what is good for Chance.  Chance is a vegetarian and Brook’s first effort at cooking for him ends up a disgusting soupy mash, Chance still realizes it was the effort that the kindest thing.  “It’s been so long since he appreciated how hard others died.  When Landon had been there for him, he’d taken it for granted.  He scooped up the mash and brought it to his lips.”  He’s growing, our boy.

He broke my heart, Chance did, and I was cheering on Brook to help.  “Brook had walked in on Chance in bed, tossing a ball towards the ceiling. Up and down, the telltale sounds of a wheezed sob.”  I admit, I was super ticked at dad, expecting the worst always and in one case, moving out the mansion to a bigger one and only taking Danny with him, leaving Chance to his money and lonely huge house.

Chance does everything he can to not give in to what he feels for Brook.  He keeps him a secret and fights everything he feels. He hurts Brook multiple times.  “Brook’s shoulders dropped as he lurched for the door.  Chance hated that he was disappointing another person in his life.”  But it takes time to grow as a person, to realize that you are worthy of being happy and living your own life.  Chance is working on it and Brook helps. I loved getting to see it.

The ending is sweet and perfect, just what I would have wished for these two.

Cover art by Natasha Snow continues the pattern of the others in the series, a colorful background (this one in shades of orange) with the MC on the front, in this case Chance, looking cocky.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 151 pages
Published July 29th 2018
ASINB07G1612KH
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesLove Letters #3

Admiring Ash
Begging Ben
Challenging Chance

A Lucy Review: Nobody Else’s by Nell Iris

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Beckett’s best friend, Matt, comes from a big family.  As in, a really big one with eleven children.  Matt is the oldest and his younger brother, Levi, is three years his junior.  Levi is also the focus of Beckett’s crush. “I’d had a crush on him for years, but he was Matt’s little brother, and besides…what would he see in someone like me?”  Beckett is a bit of a bear, hairy with a chubby belly.  When he sees Levi, he “…pulled in my stomach and sat a little straighter.  Not that it helped.  My belly couldn’t be hidden.” 

In a family of loud people, Levi is the exception.  While everyone else is yelling over each other to be heard, he is quiet.  He is a tech wizard, nearly dropping out of high school to open his business (though parents put the stop to that).  His business is very successful and he lives in an apartment over the garage at his parent’s, helping out financially and with the siblings, particularly the Hell Sisters, twins age 5. 

The story is told in back and forth first person point of view from both Levi and Beckett.  This is something I always appreciate as I like to know the why of what each person does, says and how they react.  It begins with Matt and Beckett meeting for a meal and Beckett is surprised by the arrival of Levi.  I was a little surprised at Matt’s behavior – when Beckett reads a horoscope (which is racy, gay and funny) from a website, Matt is shocked.  “It’s a site for gay people.”  Because Beckett is bisexual and his last partner was female, Matt thought, well now he’s straight.  Which is sad considering Levi is gay, but they call him out on it.

I loved reading the horoscopes, one for each chapter.  First it was surprising and then they were funny.  You can see where it’s going early but that didn’t detract from them at all. That’s the kind of horoscope I would read!

The story is sweet with very little angst, if any.  Beckett is a serious Harry Potter fan, which I enjoyed, being one myself.  Beckett is an accountant and offers to help Levi with his business accounting and that’s how the courtship begins.

“Levi: Why would you offer something that valuable to me?

Beckett: Because you always help everyone else. It’s time someone has your back.” 

Like I said, sweet.  There is quite often mentioning of how each thinks the other is so cute and so kind.   I liked that when Levi talks to Matt about asking Beckett out, Matt gives the “don’t hurt my friend” speech to Levi, rather than to Beckett about Levi.  Their first date is an amazing one and shows how much Levi understands Beckett.

The book is very relationship focused, with little outside plot. We get insights into both Levi’s and Beckett’s families.  I liked this book but be warned that at times it is very sugary.

Cover art, depicting both Levi and Beckett, was pretty close to what I imagined they would look like.

Book Details:

ebook
Published June 30th 2018 by JMS Books, LLC
ISBN139781634866712
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Lucy Review: Face the Music (Replay #1) by K.M. Neuhold

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Rating: 4  stars out of 5

Trigger warnings:  Suicide attempt, self-harm.

I have to start out by saying I’m probably in the minority about my rating on this one but I will explain why.  Lincoln and Jace have been friends since they were kids, spending summers together at their family’s cabins by the lake.  They were best friends who, at age 15, realized they could be something more.  And so they were best friends and boyfriends, eagerly awaiting the time they could be together all the time and not just in the summer.  As they approached time to go to college, they made promises to each other and planned their future.  The problem is, Lincoln didn’t keep those promises,  instead ghosting Jace after a night spent together and never contacting him again.  No note, no communication until Lincoln’s band makes it big with a song, Cherry Hill, written by Lincoln about his love affair with Jace, putting it out for the world.  Brutal.

Ten years have passed and Lincoln and his band, Downward Spiral, are immensely successful and popular.  They are also falling apart, at each other’s throats and Lincoln especially is doing just that – downward spiraling.  Lincoln doesn’t care about anything, struggling to get through the day.  He’s had a suicide attempt fairly recently and when the band manager finds him passed out on the balcony in freezing weather, it’s time to do something.  The band takes a hiatus and Lincoln goes to the only place he’s felt really happy, that cabin by the lake.  “What was I thinking, coming here to torture myself with memories of the love I threw away?”

Providentially, Jace, an epidemiologist, has also decided to spend some vacation time at his parents’ cabin by the lake.  The two run into each other at the grocery story for the first time in ten painful years and it made sense to me that Jace was angry.  Ten years you’ve suffered because the love of your life just disappeared, never to contact you again, making money off the song of your pain, until an accidental meeting.  The blurb talks about Jace hating him but I just felt like Jace gave into Linc a little too easily.  He had the advice from his awesome brother, Joel, and his best friend, Wyatt, to use this time to get closure on Linc but he almost immediately starts hanging out with Linc and then sleeping with him.  He doesn’t give his trust easily but them even hanging out and sleeping together just seemed too quick for someone who’s life was nearly destroyed by the pain of his love leaving.

The story is told in alternating first person point of view, so we get the insights of both Lincoln and Jace.  This was so helpful in really connecting with the characters and as a reader I appreciated getting the thought processes they had going on.  This is an emotional story with some heavy baggage on Lincoln’s side particularly and some incredibly difficult feelings for them to work through. When they play video games, loser has to tell a truth, it was the start, really. 

“I wrote more songs about you, but I never showed them to a label because I didn’t want to share them with the world.”

“You didn’t have a problem with that first one.  I mean, Jesus, Linc, you talk about the first time we…” Jace shakes his head and clenches his jaw.

“I know, and I wished I hadn’t as soon as we started recording. But they wouldn’t let me back out. I felt like I gave away a piece of us when I let the world have that song, and that’s one of my biggest regrets.” 

Definitely, since not only did Linc ghost Jace but had to hear one of the most popular songs of the time (and one that is still played). Linc is very apologetic throughout, waiting for Jace to be ready to listen to him explain and mean the apology.  To show that a second chance will bring a much different result.  I did hate that through it Jace kept feeling bad.  As he said, “I didn’t break this, you don’t.  You don’t get to make me feel bad about not wanting to pick up where we left off.”  But still, he kept feeling bad.

They do fall into bed together, “…a little fun… for old time’s sake”and Linc has such happy memories of their times at the cabin.  Jace, however, “Funny, I can only remember the morning I woke up all alone in that bed, all of your things packed and gone.  You didn’t even have the courtesy to leave me a note.” Linc acts surprised, or maybe hurt that’s what Jace remembers.  I wanted to shake him and say, what did you think!  “The sad thing is those are all my happy memories, too.  But you ruined it, Linc.  You took every good thing inside me, and you stomped all over it, then tossed it away like it never meant anything to you.”  I can’t even imagine the depth of pain he has been feeling for ten years.  Linc has felt it as well, but at least he knows the reason.

The thing that was done extraordinarily well here was Linc’s depression.  The darkness that encompasses him was real and his reactions were also real.  His way of coping with the pain of his life and the darkness is to self harm, a mechanism he’s been using since his teen years.  His father was a verbally abusive nightmare and cutting was a way for Linc to control that pain.  “Do you have any idea how happy I was to have a son when you were born?  And then you turned out to be the world’s biggest disappointment.  You’re weak.  Boys don’t cry, you f**king queer” is just the tip of the iceberg.   The cutting scenes are realistic and we get Lincoln’s feelings, or maybe lack of feeling is the better way to put it, during those times.  I especially appreciated that there was no magic cure here.  Having Jace by him made Linc happy and hopeful but when the depression set in, it still set in.  Because serious depression isn’t that simple and this was so realistic.  I couldn’t help worry for Jace as Lincoln deals with what he thinks is rejection by cutting more.  That’s a lot to put on someone. I was glad when Jace declared his deal-breaker.

The whole thing is a second chance work in progress and it is not an easy one.  There are Side B chapters (flashbacks to when they were teenagers) to give some background of the intensity of their relationship and while I am not usually a fan of flashbacks, they definitely worked here.  They were so cute and so sweet as teens, it just made the whole separation more painful. When Linc remembers things he planned and promised at that time, as the perfect Christmas that never happened, I kept thinking, please let the reason for leaving be a good one, something we can forgive him for.  For me, the reason didn’t work and that kept this from being five stars. I dislike that kind of thing and Jace deserved at least a conversation.  But it wasn’t annoying enough to take away from the powerful aspect of this book.

The author has set up the next books in the series with the other band members, Benji, Lando and Jude, in a way that wasn’t clunky or obvious, just a really nice teaser as to things coming next.  Even Linc doesn’t know what has happened yet!  This vacation was good for everyone, it seems.  This is a great start to a new series.  Not light and fluffy (although I am hoping at least one of their stories will be) but definitely worth the read.

Cover art by Inked Design fit the feel of the book.  The cover boy is a decent representation of Lincoln, tattooed and a little brooding, with the city and the lake as a backdrop. 

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 294 pages
Published May 20th 2018
ASINB07D1QLJWR
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesReplay #1

A Lucy Review: And the next Thing You Know . . . (Why You? #2) by  Chase Taylor Hackett

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Rated 4.5 stars out of 5

Jeffrey Bornic has this vision of his idea partner.  He will be gorgeous, successful, fit, intelligent, socially adept, etc etc etc.   He was dumped by his musician boyfriend, Roger, months ago and he’s still working on the new partner thing.  Maybe because

“Got up in a bad mood. 

Again. 

It had been a stretch of bad moods lately.  Seriously.  Since like October.

I suppose that means since Roger.  Old boyfriend.  Make of that what you will.”

The thing is, Jeffrey is kind of an arrogant jerk.  He’s a lawyer and he puts a lot of time into that. He has one really good friend, Rebecca, who works at the same law firm, and that’s sort of it.  He works all the time and he can be so rude. 

When his apartment is under construction, this elaborate remodel, he turns to Rebecca for a spot on his couch. Problem is, Rebecca’s firebrand little brother, Theo, has already staked a claim on that spot on the couch.  The first time the two meet is a comedy of errors and Jeffrey comes off looking like an idiot.  Theo is a songwriter and is short, red-haired, snarky and homeless right now.  He will not, however, be jobless.  “As long as you’re sleeping on my couch, you’ll have a job.  Or it’s back to the farm.  This is not the Rebecca McPherson Unemployed Songwriters Retreat.”  Where does Rebecca find him a job?  At their law firm of course!  Jeffrey is facing not only the man who makes him crazy but finds out that Roger’s best friend, Tommy, is now working for the firm as well.

The two of them end up having to share the couch for a while and they spend all their time insulting each other, something starts to change.  At least for Jeffrey it does.  Theo has a maybe-boyfriend named Madison who treats him pretty negligently but he’s got harassing Jeffrey to brighten his days.  I admit, there were a couple times, such as blindsiding Jeffrey at the party with Roger, showing up where Jeffrey was having dinner with parents or the aftermath of Hamilton, where I thought, Theo is too much.  He’s out to hurt people.  Maybe it was because Jeffrey seems to be really in love for the first time (Roger W. Prescott Memorial Project notwithstanding) that he appears the more vulnerable one here.  He’s the one doing the sweet things (the shoelaces, omg) and trying hard.  Of course, his past actions of being a douche come back to bite both of them and that was painful.

Thank heaven for Tommy, who befriends Theo at work and is the voice of reason when Theo needs it.   We really, really need Tommy’s book. 

The story is told in alternating first person point of view and we also get Tommy’s thoughts.  I loved being able to connect with everyone like that.  Getting to see Jeffrey grow as a person, become stronger, was a glorious thing.  There were times I wanted to hug him, such as when he shows Theo his under-construction apartment, and times I wanted to hug Theo and times I wanted to shake them both.  They both do some growing up here and it was wonderful.

I have to admit I read this before the first in this series and I am so glad I did.  The Jeffrey Bornic of this book is snarky, obnoxious and arrogant but he isn’t vile as I thought he was in the first book, Where Do I Start?  Had I read the series in order I wouldn’t have bothered with Jeffrey’s book and I’d have missed out.  The Jeffrey of this book was serious.

Completely recommend this book, especially for those who love characters who redeem themselves and those who love the snark. 

The cover art was sort of middle of the road for me.  Headless torso in a long sleeved t-shirt was, I assume, Theo, with Jeffrey’s hands clasped around his middle.  While I liked the idea of the closeness, I was disappointed we didn’t get the red hair that Theo is so known for.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 290 pages
Published February 6th 2018 by Lyrical Press
Original TitleAnd the Next Thing You Know . . .
ASINB071VHV289
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesWhy You? #2

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

A Lucy Review: And The Next Thing You Know by Chase Taylor Hackett

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Rated 4.5 stars out of 5

Jeffrey Bornic has this vision of his idea partner.  He will be gorgeous, successful, fit, intelligent, socially adept, etc etc etc.   He was dumped by his musician boyfriend, Roger, months ago and he’s still working on the new partner thing.  Maybe because

“Got up in a bad mood. 

Again. 

It had been a stretch of bad moods lately.  Seriously.  Since like October.

I suppose that means since Roger.  Old boyfriend.  Make of that what you will.”

The thing is, Jeffrey is kind of an arrogant jerk.  He’s a lawyer and he puts a lot of time into that. He has one really good friend, Rebecca, who works at the same law firm, and that’s sort of it.  He works all the time and he can be so rude. 

When his apartment is under construction, this elaborate remodel, he turns to Rebecca for a spot on his couch. Problem is, Rebecca’s firebrand little brother, Theo, has already staked a claim on that spot on the couch.  The first time the two meet is a comedy of errors and Jeffrey comes off looking like an idiot.  Theo is a songwriter and is short, red-haired, snarky and homeless right now.  He will not, however, be jobless.  “As long as you’re sleeping on my couch, you’ll have a job.  Or it’s back to the farm.  This is not the Rebecca McPherson Unemployed Songwriters Retreat.”  Where does Rebecca find him a job?  At their law firm of course!  Jeffrey is facing not only the man who makes him crazy but finds out that Roger’s best friend, Tommy, is now working for the firm as well.

The two of them end up having to share the couch for a while and they spend all their time insulting each other, something starts to change.  At least for Jeffrey it does.  Theo has a maybe-boyfriend named Madison who treats him pretty negligently but he’s got harassing Jeffrey to brighten his days.  I admit, there were a couple times, such as blindsiding Jeffrey at the party with Roger, showing up where Jeffrey was having dinner with parents or the aftermath of Hamilton, where I thought, Theo is too much.  He’s out to hurt people.  Maybe it was because Jeffrey seems to be really in love for the first time (Roger W. Prescott Memorial Project notwithstanding) that he appears the more vulnerable one here.  He’s the one doing the sweet things (the shoelaces, omg) and trying hard.  Of course, his past actions of being a douche come back to bite both of them and that was painful.

Thank heaven for Tommy, who befriends Theo at work and is the voice of reason when Theo needs it.   We really, really need Tommy’s book. 

The story is told in alternating first person point of view and we also get Tommy’s thoughts.  I loved being able to connect with everyone like that.  Getting to see Jeffrey grow as a person, become stronger, was a glorious thing.  There were times I wanted to hug him, such as when he shows Theo his under-construction apartment, and times I wanted to hug Theo and times I wanted to shake them both.  They both do some growing up here and it was wonderful.

I have to admit I read this before the first in this series and I am so glad I did.  The Jeffrey Bornic of this book is snarky, obnoxious and arrogant but he isn’t vile as I thought he was in the first book, Where Do I Start?  Had I read the series in order I wouldn’t have bothered with Jeffrey’s book and I’d have missed out.  The Jeffrey of this book was serious.

Completely recommend this book, especially for those who love characters who redeem themselves and those who love the snark. 

The cover art was sort of middle of the road for me.  Headless torso in a long sleeved t-shirt was, I assume, Theo, with Jeffrey’s hands clasped around his middle.  While I liked the idea of the closeness, I was disappointed we didn’t get the red hair that Theo is so known for.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 290 pages
Published February 6th 2018 by Lyrical Press
Original TitleAnd the Next Thing You Know . . .
ASINB071VHV289
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesWhy You? #2

A Lucy Review: And The Beagle Makes Three by Geoffrey Knight

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Rating:  4 Stars out of 5

Stuart was married to Claire, someone he loved very much, and they had a son, Atticus (Atty).  Life was really good until the night Stu had to tell Claire his truth – he is gay.  It didn’t end well and now Stuart carries around so much guilt for what happened.  It’s been eleven months and they are coming up on the last weekend in autumn, a time they traditionally spent at Claire’s sister Bethany’s house at the lake.  Bethany, she raises my blood pressure. Stuart wanted to skip it all.  Bethany isn’t kind at the best of times and this will just be a reminder of who is missing.  But Atty forces the issue and off they go, with their dog, Digby.   The trip is just as awful as Stu was afraid it would be and maybe even a little worse.   Atty, Stuart and meddlesome Bethany (plus family) all have some adjusting and facing facts to do, all while dealing with something so painful.

The book begins with a class presentation by Atty.  His mom had been a videographer and when she died, her 8 mm camera went to Atty.  She had taught him how to edit and how to work with movies, so his presentation was a documentary.  The theme, The Story of My Life So Far, is a typical one for an eight-year-old’s classroom but Atty’s presentation was not typical.  After all, his mother died and he and his father are grieving.  Atty hasn’t cried, but he’s grieving nonetheless.   It shows in his presentation.

Mrs Duckworth, Stuart’s personal assistant.  I don’t even have words for this woman (and I originally gave the book 3.5 stars then had to raise it some just for her).  She is matronly and motherly.  She lectures Stuart about talking with food in his mouth, how he ties his tie and her quirk is ahhhh-mazing.   “I’m talking your ‘lingo’”.  Oh my, how I loved me some Mrs. Duckworth.  She lectures Stuart on being gay and “…made a point of educating myself on all things homosexual.” 

It should be noted that while there is a possible love interest in the person of Cain, this is definitely not a romance.  It is a journey of father and son, and extended family, through grief and being able to move forward.   The romance is very much in the beginning stage and we don’t even meet Cain until halfway through and he doesn’t show up again until nearly the end.  Because that isn’t what this book is about.

There were times when Atty didn’t talk like your average eight-year-old. I teach four to eight-year-olds and I’ve never heard one say “Duly noted.”   Or “perhaps”.  Even, “Thank you for an eventful weekend.”  He didn’t talk that way throughout the book, just at the end, which is probably why I noticed it there.

There are some hard truths that Aunt Bethany has to face as well.  Even after her epiphany, I didn’t like her.  She made some headway at the end but her theory that she was always trying to be perfect doesn’t jibe with the absolute meanness she shows, not only to Stuart and Atty but to her husband and children as well.  Hopefully, she had enough self-realization at the end to make a turnaround.

There was a twist I wasn’t expecting, although it made sense.  This was by turns sad and hopeful.   And when Mrs Duckworth was around, funny.  “Bare throat” indeed.  But mostly it was a hurting father and son sticking together.  And the beagle makes three. 

Cover art by Geoffrey Knight fits the book perfectly.  Stuart, Digby and Atticus, in the car on their road trip to the lake. 

Sales Links:

AMAZON US: https://amzn.to/2GPSbHi

AMAZON UK: https://amzn.to/2EAgBTz

Book Details:

Published April 12th 2018
Original TitleAnd the Beagle Makes Three
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Lucy Review: Coming Out In The Art by J. Sanders

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Jacob Carlson is a medical transcriptionist who works at home, pretty much hiding out from the world except for his best friend, Chris, and his cat, Sebastian.  An accident in his senior year caused a fire to burn the right side of his face and body.  The reactions he got from his friends and still gets from uncaring people have turned his view of himself monstrous.   His one link to the outside world is Chris, an amazing and loyal friend from before the accident who works to make sure Jacob is not alone.  It is through Chris that he has a meeting with someone (Tristan) who makes him long.  “It’s just…he sometimes wonders what it would be like to have someone – other than a doctor or nurse – actually touch him.  Because they want to. Because they like him.  Because they want to make him feel good.”  This boy, he grabbed my heart.  He gives people the cold shoulder so they don’t have to deal with his face.  Sigh.

Tristan is on the Council for the Arts and a knows Chris.  It is at a party that Jacob reluctantly attends with Chris that Tristan shows he’s a good person.  He talks to Jacob even when Jacob is being pretty cold. When Jacob shows the scar, “…his ace in the hole”, Tristan just keeps talking about Jacob’s job and math and finally, art.  That’s where Jacob finally joins the conversation and the two of them begin on a journey of getting to know you and maybe getting to like you. 

Let’s put it right out there:  Jacob has scars from a fire.  He is not monstrous.  He is lonely and lovely.  The way the accident happened, the timing of it, just made my heart ache for him. He’s spent ten years hiding himself and it’s very difficult to change that, particularly when rude people react badly.   He’s now not sure how to act when someone might be interested. “The scarring from the accident makes him a freak and it’s ten times easier not to have to explain or deal with the pitying looks he gets.”  Notice, he says “makes him a freak”, not “makes him look like a freak.”  He’s so self-loathing.

When he and Tristan begin to be friends, Jacob opens up a little.  Sharing the how of the fire doesn’t make Tristan eye him with pity, just sympathy.  Their first kiss was perfect.   Tristan’s way of making Jacob feel important and his attitude that only Jacob’s opinion matters about Jacob was so vital to making Jacob feel better.  Not to say Tristan is always serious.  As they begin the “Tristan and Jacob Text Discussions of 2017 ™”, Jacob gets “Horseradish is a very underrated condiment or For some reason  I have always like the smell of gasoline.”

I’m sure somewhere Tristan has some flaws but I didn’t seem them.  Or maybe I did and didn’t care because I liked them both so much.   He sings Afternoon Delight (yes!) and is patient with people and kind.  He is kind when Jacob is so very brave and for the first time, takes his shirt off in front of another man, a man he cares about. “You humble me every time we’re together.  Your strength is so incredible.”  These two, they work.

I knew something was going to happen to mar Jacob’s happiness but when it happened it came from an area I wasn’t expecting and I was pretty pissed about it all.  People can suck.   Despite that, this is very low angst story.   I thoroughly appreciated that the characters, including Chris, were good people and I was pulling for them.  As a former medical transcriptionist, I could empathize with the unintelligible doctor voices too!  I would recommend this book without reservation.

The cover art, by Winterheart Designs, didn’t work wonders for me.  The model wasn’t Jacob, because there is no scar, yet I couldn’t see it being Tristan either.  The model is very brooding, while Tristan is known for “…the smile – wide and open and happy..”  The background is arty and perfect but then the title is difficult to read.  All in all, not really a fan of the cover.

Sales Link:  MLR Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published March 22nd 2018 by MLR Press
ISBN139781370547876