A Lila Audiobook Review: Manny Get Your Guy (The Mannies #2) by Amy Lane and John Solo (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 

Starting over and falling in love.

 

Tino Robbins’s sister, Nica, and her husband, Jacob, are expecting their fifth child. Fortunately, Nica’s best friend, Taylor Cochran, is back in town, released from PT and in need of a job.

 

After years in the service and recovering from grave injury, Taylor has grown a lot from the callow troublemaker he’d been in high school. Now he’s hoping for a fresh start with Nica and her family.

 

Jacob’s cousin Brandon lives above the garage and thinks “Taylor the manny” is a bad idea. Taylor might be great at protecting civilians from a zombie apocalypse, but is he any good with kids?

 

Turns out, Taylor’s a natural. As he tries to fit in, using common sense and dry wit, Brandon realizes that Taylor doesn’t just love their family—he’s desperate to be part of it. And just like that, Brandon wants Taylor to be part of his future.

 

Manny Get Your Guy takes place about ten years later than the first book in the series. It took me a minute to get used to the changes in the characters, but a couple of pages in, I was back in their world. It was a refreshing change since most stories end with a HEA and we don’t get to experience their lives afterwards.

 

This story is a classic combination of Amy Lane and Dreamspun Desire. It’s over-the-top, soap opera-like, and perfect for a cute story with more than a simple romance. As readers, we get to be part of Brandon’s and Taylor’s path to happiness, without forgetting how they became the men we met. It’s a slow journey but an interesting one.

 

I like the MCs enemies-to-lovers story and how they fought their attraction in the beginning, even if short lived. Both characters are lovely and their support system complemented their relationship. As always, it’s nice having both POV; easier to see how they fall for each other.

 

The moments between the couples are great but those between Taylor and Brandon felt intimate and awe inspiring. There are lightheaded moments and many embarrassing tidbits. Overall, this is another winner for this author and series.

 

One thing I like about John Solo’s narrations is his consistency. As soon as I heard the voices, I could connect them with the characters in the previous book. He did an excellent job bringing everyone to life and making Brandon and Taylor the center of the story.

 

The cover by Paul Richmond fits the series and shows a happy version of Taylor. It reminds me of one of the characters in Days of Our Lives.

 

Sales Links: Dreamspinner | iTunes | Audible

 

Audiobook Details:

 

Narrator: John Solo
Length: 6 hours 16 minutes
Published: August 10, 2017 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN: B074NCK18W
Edition Language: English

 

Series: The Mannies
Book #1: The Virgin Manny
Book #2: Manny Get Your Guy

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan

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Rating: 5+ out of 5

A single stroke can change your world.

Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist. He came to idyllic, Japanese culture-soaked Benten College to hide and make manga, not to be transformed into a corporate clone in the eleventh hour.

Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself.

Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another. But as their senior year begins, they must decide if they will part ways and return to the dull futures they had planned, or if they will take a risk and leap into a brightly colored future—together.

I’ve loved this author and her stories just forever and for so many different reasons.  And I have many several 5 stars reviews of her stories.  Cullinan always was one of my baselines in for bringing in unusual yet thoroughly realistic characters and situations and letting me connect emotionally on deep levels with each and every one.  Yet once I finished Antisocial, I was stunned by it’s beauty and its depth, Cullinan’s handling of asexuality and the main characters relationship.  I think it’s the best story she’s written.  Even now Xander and Skylar, their transformation from, well, if not frenemies, strangers on campus, to friends to lovers with their own HEA is one that continues to resonate within me.

The warmth of Cullinan’s style of writing is one that pulls a reader, this reader, intimately into her stories and lives of her characters.  Whether it’s the damaged, artistic Xander or stressed, high-society Skylar Stone, the Greek with the silver tongue and closet of secrets, Cullinan gently ushers you into their minds and hearts.  She reveals the detritus of Stone’s upbringing that’s keeping him from growing into the person he can be, the same being said for Xander too.  Then uses the Pygmalion story in a wonderful reversal that will thread elements together and bring closure in an emotionally satisfying and joyous climax.

In between, we get an amazing exploration of what asexuality in different forms can mean to a couple, to a person or persons and to a romance/relationship. The scenes with simple touches gave me shivers of delight as her descriptions telegraphed what it meant to Xander, Skylar and both of them as couple so beautifully.  Each explore the fact that there’s not just one “ace label” or two, but a spectrum of grey as it were.  Something other characters will or already understand.  Cullinan brings the element of asexuality and threads it throughout Antisocial in a number of ways, stunning, unexpected, and important ways.

A great plus?  The manga details and Japanese art history details that this story is laced with, like the woodcuts of Hokusai, seen to the right.  Finally, there is the cast of characters that surround and support Xander and Skylar, ones that I want to see so much more of.  All the tight members of the group from Lucky 7, especially Unc.  I would  plead with the author to bring them all back for more stories as I fell in love with all of them too.

But this is truly Xander and Skylar’s story and it’s in my top five of 2017.  The beauty of its story, its characters and relationship, the complexities of their romance, the growth and change each underwent in order for a future to be possible for them together.  Well, it still brings tears to my eyes and a glow to my heart.  I highly recommend this to you all.

 

Cover art by Natsukoworks, Cover design by Kanaxa Designs.  An absolutely perfect cover for an absolutely perfect story.  From the style, coloring and characters, its exquisite.

Buy Links  

Amazon US ebookAmazon US paperback,
Amazon UK ebookAmazon UK paperbackBarnes & NobleiTunesKoboScribdSmashwords

Book Details:

ebook, 460 pages
Expected publication: August 8th 2017 by Heidi Cullinan
ISBN13 9781945116094
Edition Language English

An Alisa Review: Believe in the Wish by Christi Snow

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Rating:  3.75 stars out of 5

 

I buried my twin sister six months after she found out she had cancer. Her funeral was three months ago.

 

Today is our birthday and it started with delivery of letters from her.

 

It seems she didn’t trust me to move on after her death. She knows me too well. But how can I go on when my other half is just…gone? That’s not something I can recover from with a snap of my fingers. But I also can’t ignore her instructions even though I’d be perfectly content to cuddle up with my buddy, Johnnie Walker, and call it a year.

 

She has a list of things for me to do and there are rules attached.

 

There’s one major problem besides the fact it’s been three months since I left the house. I have to do all these things with her jerk of an ex, Hawk Simmons. He abandoned her shortly after she found out she was sick. If that wasn’t enough to make this a really bad idea, the fact that he makes an appearance in all my nighttime fantasies probably does.

 

I don’t think I can do this, but I owe it to my sister’s memory to try.

 

This was an emotional story and trying story for me.  Ethan has pretty much given up since the death of his sister, Emma.  He is now alone in the world since she was the only family and friend he had.

 

He is hit with another blow when his sister’s lawyer comes to him with some conditions to his sister’s will.  He has to complete tasks his sister made with her ex-boyfriend at his side and if he doesn’t then he will lose everything, his house and his business since she owned half of each.  Hawk is forced to go through this charade due to the condition in Emma’s will but doesn’t want to lie to Ethan about anything.  We see how both of these characters are hurting and how they feel trapped by Emma’s will.  Ethan and Hawk both needed to do a bit of introspection for them to fully appreciate their feelings for each other.

 

So… this is a unique idea for a story but I couldn’t help but be angry with Emma.  Considering she was Ethan’s best friend and they lived and worked together she sure kept a lot of secrets from him.  For how much she worried about Ethan’s loneliness she had a great small circle of friends that she didn’t introduce to Ethan or bring him into and decidedly kept them separate.  Even though the ending is what she was hoping for I don’t think she went about it the right way and really ended up hurting them both more especially by making Ethan and Hawk think that Ethan could lose everything if they don’t complete her tasks.

 

The cover art by Jay Aheer is beautiful and gives a wonderful picture of the main characters connection to each other.

 

Sales Links: Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 211 pages

Published: May 11, 2017 by Christi Snow

ISBN-13: 9781545344309

Edition Language: English

Review: Reviewing Life (A Review Story) by Lara Brukz

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Reviewing Life coverAfter a life spent as an alcoholic,  Marshall Ellerbee finds a himself at an AA meeting and on the path to sobriety.  Finally sober, Marshall find a new outlook and the strength to change his life in every aspect.  He starts a new job at the Wellness Center that houses his sponsor and starts making amends.  Then his sponsor suffers a heart attack and dies.  His replacement is none other than Kyle Young, Marshall’s ex-lover’s best friend.  Kyle was no friend to Marshall even when Marshall and Eric were just dating.  But after the drunk driving accident that cost Eric the use of his legs, Kyle’s distain turned to hate.  And now Marshall is expected to work with the man who hates him.  Marshall wants to show Kyle that he has changed, but will Kyle accept that fact and Marshall?

Kyle Young is floored when he finds out that the athletic manager for the Wellness Center where he was just hired is none other than the drunk that almost killed his best friend, Eric.  But Marshall appears sober and when Marshall saves Eric’s life, then Kyle must finally accept the fact that Marshall has turned his life around and become a better person, not just a sober one.

When the men find themselves attracted to each other, and not just physically, it upsets the fragile state of their budding friendship.  Is a romance even possible between two men who shared  a past such as Marshall’s?

I thoroughly enjoyed Lara Brukz’s first story in the series, Five-Star Review.  That novel was Eric Carillo (a reviewer of M/M Romances) and Cade Montgomery’s (author of M/M Romances) story.  But Marshall Ellerbee figured largely in that tale as the ex-lover who, driving drunk, put Eric in the wheelchair and the lifestyle that isolated him in his loft.  His attempts to re-enter Eric’s life after the accident only caused more pain and heartache through a scheme hatched by a drunken Marshall.  In another story, it would have been easy to write  Marshall off as the villain he certainly was but in Brukz’s hands, Marshall was also a person in great pain, drowning in alcohol, destroying his life and others in the process.  Eric could never bring himself to hate Marshall although he hated what the man had done and who he became under the influence of alcohol.     Brukz created a character who could be redeemed but not in that story.  I think many of us who read Five-Star Review wanted to see what happened to Marshall and now we have our answer in Reviewing Life.

As the story opens we find Marshall sitting in at his first AA meeting, listening to people relate the traumatic events that finally made them get sober.  It is a bleak picture and Marshall sits there shaking wondering if he has the courage to go to the podium and acknowledge that he is an alcoholic.  It is a powerful scene and handled with the  painful realism it deserves by Lara Brukz.  Alcoholism and the path to sobriety is a topic of much larger and detailed stories.  But Brukz’s treatment rings with sincerity and the need to make Marshall Ellerbee’s recovering alcoholic as authentic as possible.  We get glimpses into Marshall’s upbringing and his use of booze as a bandaid for the problems he encountered.  And Brukz makes Marshall work for his acceptance, asking for forgiveness and trying the make amends for his past actions.

Kyle Young also has a past that includes alcoholism, although not his own.  So Kyle’s approach to the disease and those afflicted is colored by his own experiences, again a realistic handling of the subject matter.  I liked Kyle and the sober Marshall found in this story.  Their romance was slow to build, as it should be with two characters and their past issues.

At 124 pages, it would be a challenge for any author to bring in the full range of issues and milestones in an alcoholic’s road to recovery.  There are several mentions of the temptation to drink again, including one scene at a bar.  The need for support for a alcoholic is there throughout Reviewing Life, a necessity for someone to remain sober.  Lara Brukz introduces a few secondary characters at the Wellness Center, including a young man called Toby.  I loved the scenes that took place there and can only hope the next novel is located at the Center and brings  back not only Toby but the other children and adults as well.

Of course Eric and Cade are strong secondary characters in this tale, so those readers as fond of them as I am will be overjoyed  to see them again.  This is a strong romance which could have benefited by additional length to add some more layers to  Marshall’s recovery and Kyle’s background.  However, I enjoyed Marshall and Kyle’s romance and think most readers will too.  Consider this definitely recommended for both the story and the author. More please.

This is how Reviewing Life starts…

“I LOVED vodka. Vodka martinis; Bloody Marys; screwdrivers. Oh, and I loved green apple vodka. Simply an amazing drink. It was what I went to when I was happy, when I was sad, when I was frustrated. I used any excuse as a reason to practically drink myself into a coma.”

Cover art by Catt Ford.  Just a terrific cover, love the artwork.

Books in this series include:

Five-Star Review (A Review Story #1)
Reviewing Life (A Review Story #2)

Book Details:

ebook, 134 pages
Published November 20th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press (first published November 19th 2013)
ISBN 1627982752 (ISBN13: 9781627982757)
edition language English