A MelanieM Review: A Taste Of Agapi by Chris Ethan

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

A sweet, Greek romance that will hook you from start to finish.

Jimmy has a secret.

But when he meets Ren, he can no longer hide it.

Ren is an adventurous comic-book nerd.
He transfers to Thessaloniki, Greece in an attempt to find his place in the world.
What he gets is more than just an escape from his academic family.

Jimmy is a hard working man.
After losing his mother, he has put his heart and soul into finishing his studies and helping his dad through his financial difficulties.

When he is introduced to Ren, Jimmy initiates him into the coffee-and-chill culture of his Greek city.

But something awakens in both of them. Something neither can tame.

Can the two boys be more than just friends?

And what is that feeling called? That feeling they can’t seem to shake off?

A Taste of Agapi is a sweet, low-angst, coming-out romance with some swearing, a little bit of geekiness, a lot of Greek culture and a happy ever after.

If you read that last sentence of the blurb above basically my review is written for me.  All that is true.  Review done.  Shortest review ever!  Excerpt that A Taste Of Agapi by Chris Ethan also opens a window into Thessaloniki, Greece. We meet its people with its infinite variety, dive into Greek culture through its food, language, politics, family life, and yes, monuments.  We even get to travel into parts of collegiate life with Ren when we attend classes with him.  No, A Taste of Agapi is a treasure trove and love letter to Greece and the Greek people with it’s honesty about its issues (the elements of racism, homophobia, intolerance) that high unemployment and an economic slump has seen increased as well.  We still want to travel there, share in the love and joy of those we will meet eating and celebrating in their neighborhood bars and seaside establishments, hoping for the same welcome that Ren was lucky enough to find with Jimmy and his friends.

Ethan’s characterizations are marvelous.

Warm, layered portraits of people that you not only want to meet but might recognize anywhere.  Funny, flawed, fierce, and loving, these are young men and women at that most bright and precarious stage of their lives.  Coming into adulthood, finding themselves, figuring out futures, and just being young.  Chris Ethan captures it all and does it while making them genuine Greek youth navigating the peculiars of Greek society.  In this case, it’s the very real fear of what coming out will do to you and those around you in a culture that sees it as something not only to be reviled but criminal, the laws only now changing.  No, this is not liberal Europe or the US.

The relationship between Ren from England (and a more liberal culture) and Jimmy (definitely not out in a hostile one) still manages to be sweet, questioning, and romantic.  It also feels entirely real.  It’s very easy to connect with these two as they try to figure out what they feel about each other, what they are doing with each other (virgins), and  all the conflicting issues they face, each other’s cultures not withstanding.  Huge questions that face these young men in such a short time together.

Therein lies my one issue with this story.

It’s really only half of a book.  It ends exactly where the other half of the book should start.  That keeps this story from being a 5 star read for me.  It almost took it down to a 4 (that and a element with 2 brothers and a uncle that petered out to nothing, not that I’m complaining).

No, it’s that we need the rest of this story.  I can only hope that the author is hard at work writing it.  This couple and the readers deserve to know how it all plays out.  Until then, travel to Thessaloniki, Greece in A Taste Of Agapi by Chris Ethan for a sweet coming out romance you will thoroughly love.

Cover art:  Tiferet Designs.  Gorgeous cover with the White Tower of Thessaloniki in the background, one of the many monuments that Jimmy took Ren to.  Love it.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 190 pages
Published September 26th 2018 by Chris Ethan Gay Romance
ASINB07GTK9MP2
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Review: Hard to Let Go (Haven’s Cove #1) by Jaclyn Quinn

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 

Owen Richards lives a quiet life in his small hometown of Haven’s Cove. He has a rewarding life consisting of three very supportive—not to mention feisty—women, and a successful bakery that he owns and absolutely loves. Yet, Owen can’t seem to shake this emptiness inside or the intense feeling that something is missing. A sudden encounter with a man from his past, one he despises, turns his entire world upside down. When Owen finds himself attracted to that sexy man, he questions everything, including his sanity. After all, only an incredibly disturbed person would find that he can’t stop thinking about his high school bully.

Brody Walker never expected to return to Haven’s Cove. He’s made a life for himself in Boston, where he can truly be the person he was always meant to be. But an unexpected call has Brody facing all the demons he’d left behind so long ago. Now, he’s faced with not only a difficult goodbye, but one long overdue apology to a man who is no longer that lanky kid from high school. The challenge is to convince the guy he’s changed—and also prove he’s worth taking a chance on.

When passions ignite truths are exposed, changing the beliefs these men have held on to for years. Faced with the knowledge that things aren’t always what they seem, will they choose to hold on to the incredible thing they’ve found…or is it easier to give in to the fear and let go?

I love it when I discover a new author and start a new series all while reading a book I enjoyed thoroughly.  That just happened with Hard to Let Go (Haven’s Cove #1) by Jaclyn Quinn.   Quinn has created a small town filled with lovely atmosphere and local flavor, enough to have started pulling home it’s young people who left for college and returned to start businesses and buy homes. Of course, other things, sadder,  more angst driven events have brought them home as well.

For Brody Walker who hoped never to set foot in Haven’s Cover again, it’s to spend time with his dying mother and to hopefully find some closer for himself on his traumatic youth and childhood.  He also needs to face his own past and guilt over deeds done.  It’s a journey he’s not sure he can face.  The author switches pov, putting us into the emotional turmoil and mental anguish that is Brody upon his return to Haven’s Cove.  We feel an immediate connection to this character and his life is spread out before us like a map, showing us exactly a line from the childhood abuse to his behavior throughout his life.  He’s a poignant and powerful figure.

Owen Richards has close ties to Brody.  How close we find out almost upon Brody’s return to town.  It’ impact upon Owen’s life pushes it out of the stagnant level it was in, especially concerning his relationship with his best friend/boyfriend Jonas into one of uncertainty, excitement and action.

I just loved all the characters here including the ones that I hope Quinn is setting up for future stories including Jonas and Gabe (not as a couple but separately).  Each is looking for someone different and Gabe, Brody’s best friend, already has someone in mind, whether they want it or not.

The abuse here is brought up in memories or flashbacks but packs an emotional punch as it should.  My only sorrow is that the father was never made to pay for his crimes, especially as he confessed in front of a witness.  Although I’m not sure what the law says about the statute of limitations.

That being my only element of irritation, I loved everything else about this story, from the characters to the universe the author is building in Haven’s Cove to the depth of the storylines.  It has everything you would want and more.  I highly recommend  Hard to Let Go and can’t wait for the next in the series to be released.

Cover by Cate Ashwood Designs. I just love this cover.  Its both the characters and Haven’s Cove tied up together. Perfect.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 254 pages
Published February 18th 2018
Original TitleHard to Let Go
ASINB079WTSJWD
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHaven’s Cove #1

A MelanieM Review: Second Wind by Aimee Nicole Walker

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Second wind: a new strength or energy to continue something that is an effort. After an amicable divorce, Lincoln Huxley is ready to embrace the sexuality he repressed for more than two decades. Rush Holden is no longer willing to settle for closeted men or those who don’t share his dreams of marriage and fatherhood. A chance encounter on a lakeside pier is the second wind they both need. Or will it just be a painful reminder of all they had lost?

Second chance: an opportunity to try something again that failed one time. Rush and Lincoln have shared a lot of firsts—friendship, young love, and heartbreak. Cruel reality forced the two men to choose paths that took their lives in different directions. Twenty-six years later, they get a second chance to fall in love with each all over again. Can it really be that simple, or will the same issues ruin their happiness a second time?

Happily ever after: to live happily for the rest of one’s life. Rush and Lincoln know that love and life can’t be defined by words alone. Patience, commitment, and the determination to do whatever it takes will be the only way the two men achieve their happily ever after.

Second Wind by Aimee Nicole Walker is a lovely, warmhearted second chance at love story, one of my favorite tropes.  Lincoln Huxley and Rush Holden have both moved on from their broken hearted teenage love or have they?  Rush Holden and his sister left home, unable to continue living under the rules and roof of his conservative, bigoted father and mother.  Lincoln Husley, unwilling to act on his feelings or give up the dream of living “normally” goes on to marry a girl and have a family on the West Coast. But twenty-six years can’t diminish the fact that Lincoln is gay or that Rush is the man he has always loved.  One divorce, and one chance meeting all those years later and sparks fly.

So many elements to admire here.  I love the way the author handled a couple whose marriage was in dissolution while the husband was figuring out how to deal with his sexuality and coming out to his wife and children.  It was realistic, gut-wrenching in a way, and done in a manner that showed all the parties as flawed, compassionate human beings who still loved each other.  Even the grown children’s reaction to their parents decision to divorce (one wanting to know who’s pushing for it), then their Dad’s later announcement of his homosexuality all rings so true.  These are great characters, fully fleshed out personalities, and they form a wonderful foundation not just for Lincoln and Rush’s relationship but for the extended family they all become as well.

The central element here, of course, is the romance and enduring love between Rush and Lincoln.  That’s such a  deeply moving storyline.  Switching between perspectives and even timelines using flashbacks, we see these men at differing times of their lives making decisions that put them on different paths.  Many scenes here will emotionally impact you to the point of sending you running for the tissues.  I can’t think now of a ammo box of Polaroid’s without sniffling.  This couple makes me smile even now.

Second Wind by Aimee Nicole Walker is just a wonderful story.  It’s everything you want in a contemporary romance and more.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Cover Art: JAY AHEER/ Simply Defined Art.  I love this cover. Full of important elements from the story.  Great job.

Cover Photographer: WANDER AGUIAR

Buy Link: http://mybook.to/SecondWind

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 236 pages
Published February 14th 2018 by Chasing Rainbows Press LLC
Original Title Second Wind
ASIN B079QKNW5L
Edition Language English