Season’s Change by Cait Nary

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3 Out of 5 Stars

Summary

Olly Järvinen has a long way to go. He’s got a fresh start playing for a new team, but getting his hockey career back on track is going to take more than a change of scenery. He’s got to shut his past out and focus. On the game, not on his rookie roommate and his annoyingly sunny disposition—and annoyingly distracting good looks.

All Benji Bryzinski ever wanted was to play in the big leagues, and he’s not going to waste one single second of his rookie season. Yoga, kale smoothies and guided meditation help keep his head in the game. But his roommate keeps knocking him off track. Maybe it’s just that Olly is a grumpy bastard. Or maybe it’s something else, something Benji doesn’t have a name for yet.

Olly and Benji spend all their time together—on the ice, in the locker room, in their apartment—and ignoring their unspoken feelings isn’t making them go away. Acting on attraction is one thing, but turning a season’s fling into forever would mean facing the past—and redefining the future.

The Review

            Ya’ll know I love my sports romances. Especially, hockey. So, it hurts me to say this one, was a little difficult for me to get into.

            I think it was more the presentation of the material than the actual storyline. The story was good. There were too many page breaks and not enough transition from scene to scene that I got lost a couple of times. There were a lot of shifts in time that weren’t entirely clear.

            There were aspects about Olly that I think the reader was supposed to infer but later it’s finally spelled out. I’m not a fan of that in writing. I need to understand why a character acts the way they do for me to connect to them better. I didn’t connect as much with Olly and Benji as I usually do with characters.  

            On to the actual story.

            Olly is a bit of a jaded, veteran hockey player. He’s got a lot of issues that impact how he plays on his new team and you can see it in how he plays the game now. Benji is the bright-eyed, excited rookie. He is himself, no matter what anyone else (Olly) may think about his yoga, meditation, and kale smoothies. I like that about Benji. Even if he was pretty clueless at times lol.

            Olly and Benji are a good balance of each other. There is a push/pull kind of relationship that developed between the two men. Benji doesn’t back down when Olly is his angry, grumpy self. Olly listens to some of the things that Benji talks about, like yoga and meditation.

            I was very surprised when Olly and Benji participated in a … spoiler alert …. I’ll let your mind do the running or you can check my tags. I just, don’t feel like Olly would have done that no matter what. Benji? Yes, one hundred percent. That I could see happening.  

            I wanted more affection between the pair. I wanted more tender moments of actualization. I wanted more romance.

            This was definitely a story that focused more on Olly coming to terms with who he is as an individual and as a hockey player on a new team. It got a bit angsty at times, but that was an emotion called for in this storyline.

 

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Uncharted by Alli Temple

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Five out of Five Stars

Summary

In a world of arrogant nobles and their punishing laws, Georgina will be hanged if anyone discovers she is a spy. But when the wicked prince proposes marriage, Georgina must accept. Refusing would expose the secrets she has delivered to a hidden resistance and forfeit her life. With her wedding day looming ever closer, salvation comes from an unlikely source.

Pirate Captain Cinder is a terror on the open sea, striking fear into hearts wherever she sails. Now she has a new target. The vulnerable Princess Georgina should be an easy mark in Cinder’s kidnapping plot. But the legend of Captain Cinder is more intertwined with Georgina’s own history than either of them expect.

Treacherous storms. A mysterious pirate king. The prince’s unrelenting pursuit. Georgina and Cinder can only escape by following the uncharted course of their hearts. But just as a future together is within their grasp, Cinder’s past threatens to drag them both to the deep.

Review

Georgina, “George” is doing her part in resisting the rule of kingdom. She sneaks messages in the skirts of her dress. It isn’t much, but she’s trying her best to help. Never would she have expected to be married off to the King by her brother. It’s a whirlwind of having new clothes made, jewelry, learning how to be a royal, and a handmaid named Rosie, Georgina thinks she’s lost any chance of having the life she wishes for.

Pirate Captain Cinder’s tales are what parents use to scare their children into acting right. Redheaded and willing to do whatever it takes to man her ship and find her riches.

In an explosion, Georgina is swept from the kingdom and onto a pirate ship. Rosie, devoted to Georgina, sneaks onto the ship. It all comes to a screaming stop when Georgina recognizes Captain Cinder and then finds out all she heard of Captain Cinder may not have been true.

What did I love about this book? Everything!!

Royalty, pirates, and an epic race to keep George out of the king’s hands kept me reading page after page. Cinder was everything a pirate should be. She was hard, powerful, and smart. Everyone on her ship served a purpose. The details of certain jobs on the ship and why they were done, like scouring the deck daily, my inner historian did a happy dance. I felt like I was there on the ship with Cinder and George.

The cast of characters were extremely diverse (which I expect on a pirate ship in my mind). There are lesbian pirates, non-binary pirates, and an island they visit is full of LGBTQ+ residents. Maro, Rosie, and Ender were so much fun. For such a big guy, Ender sure was gentle and kind to Rosie. Maro was a hard first mate, but they were kind to George and Rosie.

Rosie was such a spitfire. She is exactly who you want to be by your side. George got in trouble and she was right there with her. George needed to scheme. Rosie was scheming with her. They were quite the pair and I enjoyed every scene with the two of them.

The chemistry between George and Cinder had and ebb and flow that just felt right. The small jealousy moments and all the times they tried to stay away from each other just made their romance sweeter.

If you are a fan of a fast paced adventure, you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of this one.

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The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

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Five out of Five Stars

Summary

A world divided. A queendom without an heir. An ancient enemy awakens.

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction – but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained to be a dragonrider since she was a child, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

The Review

This book is a whopping 848 pages and took me 24 days to read (hence the pause in my reviews) but it was very much worth the read!

The Priory of the Orange Tree features LGBTQ+ characters and a dash of romance, but that isn’t the main focus of this novel. It is an epic fantasy featuring dragons, magic, witches, pirates, women who kick ass, and a battle to save the world they know.

Ead Duryan was once an outsider at court, killing anyone who threatened Queen Sabran in the shadows, rises to be a lady-in-waiting for Sabran. She uses forbidden magic to keep the Queen safe. The closer she gets to Sabran, the more she wonders if what she had been taught growing up is the true religion or if there may be something to the religion of Inys.

In Inys dragons are wrong and should be slain.

Across the dark sea, dragons are worshipped as gods.

Tane, who has been training since she was a child to become a dragonrider, faces challenges that she hadn’t expected she would ever face. She gracefully takes what is given (I want to go into detail here so badly but that would spoil it) and in the end, you see she truly has the heart of a dragonrider. Courageous, fearless, and unrelenting.

Each of the women has a special place in my heart. They were the main characters and each of their stories was vital to this overarching story. Ead was my favorite. She faced leaving her home for years, falling in love, then she has to run for her life, but she didn’t give up on the people who threatened her life.

Tane pushed forward when she thought she couldn’t push herself any further. I was in awe of her drive.

Loth, as a secondary character, I sure was invested in his journey from start to finish. I needed him to make it through each event that he faced. You have no idea how I want to detail his journey but I won’t. He was strong and willing to venture into infinitely dangerous territories because it was for Inys.

Roos, this fella here, oh boy. He made me grind my teeth and I could feel his anger and distrust towards Inys and the pirates.    

I highly recommend reading this book if you are into fantasy novels and epic worlds. It’s a vivid and exciting adventure starting from page one.

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Jeremiah by Jayce Ellis

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary

Jeremiah Stewart’s sexuality is no one’s business. Not that he’s hiding it. When—if—he finds the right one, he’ll absolutely introduce him to Mom. But a late-night brush with a sexy stranger in too much lip gloss has him rethinking nearly everything…

To Collin Galloway, direction is a four-letter word. Sure, he hates his job, he hates living with his parents and he really hates watching everyone move on without him. But he doesn’t know what he wants to do, long-term, and he won’t figure it out by thirsting over Jeremiah, the superhot, superintense paramedic who is suddenly everywhere Collin looks.

When Jeremiah’s faced with losing all he’s worked so hard to build, he reluctantly accepts Collin’s help. They’re both determined to stay professional…which works about as well as either would imagine. But Collin only does closets with clothes, and Jeremiah has to decide if he’s finally found the one worth bringing home to Mom.

Review

I loved a previous book by Jayce Ellis and I fully expected that I would love this one as well. Jeremiah was a good read, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t a memorable read for me.

Jeremiah, a paramedic and still slightly closeted, is figuring life out. He’s facing a potential lay off and finding a new job, but in the process, he stumbles across Collin Galloway in the elevator in his apartment complex. As repayment for helping Collin get his friends home safely, Jeremiah gets help brushing up is resume.

Their attraction between them is clear. It burns steadily and grows the more they get to know each other. What I liked was their stay-cation. I feel like we got to know more about them while they explored DC and explored each other *wink* in the hotel room.

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Learned Behaviors by Jayce Ellis

Learned Behaviors (Higher Education, #1)

Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Two single dads meet at the office where it’s hate at first sight in this new series from acclaimed author Jayce Ellis.

Sending his daughter off to college is the proudest day of single dad JaQuan Reynolds’ life. Everything took a back seat to raising her—including his career. He has no idea what comes next, but his newfound freedom is quickly curtailed by a crash deadline at work and the uptight, hovering presence of consultant Matthew Donaldson. He’s surly and insufferably sexy, and Jaq’s ready to check him out and write him off—right up until a work assignment forces them together.

Every day. From now until Thanksgiving.

Work and fatherhood have been Matt’s whole world for years now, ever since his marriage ended. His eldest son is getting hitched over Thanksgiving weekend, and he’s not going to let a work deadline get in the way of celebrating with his family—not this time. The hours aren’t a problem, but the executive assistant on the project might be. Jaq’s sexy voice makes Matt yearn for things he let go of a long time ago.

Lust isn’t on the schedule, and neither is longing. But as the weeks go by, Matt and Jaq are forced to reevaluate their plans…and discover that even the most tight-knit of families can make room for one more.

Review

This was the first novel I’ve read by Jayce Ellis, and I loved it! I’ve got all the rest of Jayce’s novels on my wishlist.

JaQuan Reynolds is a dedicated, hardworking, young single-father. At 35 he’s dropping his daughter off for her first days of college and finding out who he is outside of fatherhood. He loves his job, but being thrown head first into a time crunch with a partner company to release a line of home goods for Black Friday, it’s stressful.

What JaQuan didn’t factor in was Matt and how, smart, determined, and undeniably attractive the man was. Matt is a little too married to his job and it shows in his family life. He almost doesn’t get an invitation to his son’s wedding, his daughter doesn’t talk to him about her personal life, and his ex-wife has little faith in him when it comes to anything besides work.

What I loved what how distinctive JaQuan and Matt were. I could hear their voices in my head as I read, and oh my, it felt like fingertips dancing down my spine. I was in the office they worked in, on campus with their girls and at Matt’s son’s wedding. I could picture their daughters, Jaq’s mother like they were my family. The secondary characters, were strong, independent women. I don’t think we get that enough in books. They were just as important to Jaq and Matt’s storyline as their interactions were. Ellis paints a vivid picture with her writing.

JaQuan, while younger than Matt, taught Matt more about the important things in life. Your family, friends, and individual happiness is more important than the whir of work. Someone is always there to take your place at work, but not with your family.

The chemistry between Jaq and Matt *fans self* oh from the moment they laid eyes on each other I could feel the heat. They may not have liked each other all that much in the beginning, but the more they worked together the more intense their feelings became. I do wish there was a little more to the romance scenes.  

I’m going to go see which book I’m going to buy next!

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Quarterback Sneak by Baylin Crow

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary:

The boundaries of our friendship are tested and lines are crossed.

RUSH: I’m in love with my best friend.

There wasn’t an exact moment when I fell for him. It was something that grew and evolved over time. He loves me back, but it’ll never be more than platonic. It can’t be because he’s straight.

Then one night he kissed me and left me with more questions than answers. The very next morning my trust was shattered by a family secret. I’d been lied to my whole life. He was by my side through it all, offering support when I needed it most.

How can I risk losing a friendship that held me together when I was falling apart?

TORIN: He friend-zoned me.

Four years ago, I gathered enough courage to kiss my best friend. What I’d hoped would be a pivotal moment that would start a new kind of relationship between us was over before it began. His world was upended, so I put my feelings aside and stepped back into my role as a friend he could count on.

He wasn’t ready then, but now it’s time to find out if he’s willing to take a chance on us being something more.

We’ve been friends, roommates and teammates, but I want him, body and heart.

Review

This was a fun, super-quick, novella-length read. I needed more sports-romances in my life, and this was recommended by another sports-romance junkie. Normally I’m not a fan of this POV (1st Person) but this one I didn’t mind it in.

Rush and Torin Hopkins are childhood best friends, who play football and have more than friend feelings for each other. Rush learns a family secret that derails their blossoming relationship. Fast forward into the end of their college football careers, they finally get their act together.

It had one of my absolute favorite moments a couple can have, the first public kiss. It just gave me all the warm and fuzzy feelings.  

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Open: A Tale of Love, Mermaids, Bassists, & Creepy Dudes by Emilie Nantel

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary:

Amy Evans. Bisexual. Millenial. Montrealer.

Amy and David are in an open relationship and it’s going great. She navigates the ups – dating gorgeous people – and downs – trying to avoid creeps – of the dating scene, when she meets a hot bassist and falls in love.

This was not part of the plan.

Amy must figure out how to deal with these unexpected feelings without neglecting her primary relationship, even as she keeps meeting new potential hook-ups.

Surrounded by her quirky group of queer friends and the support of her boyfriend, she might find there’s a simple answer: polyamory.

Well, not so simple. But y’know

The Review

Amy Evans is bisexual and in an open relationship with her long-time boyfriend, David. They have rules and as time progresses, their relationship must evolve to keep up with each of their wants and needs.  Amy is sexually empowered and pursues adventures with whoever strikes her fancy. I loved that she doesn’t care what anyone else thinks about it. Like, fist bumps to her, because she was herself one hundred percent.

What I enjoyed was the diversity featured with the characters, main and secondary. Ethnicities and orientation wise. There was a character for every reader to relate to. I felt like I was able to learn a lot about the community that I didn’t know. I also like how polyamory and open relationships were represented throughout this book. It was honest and fresh. Anyone Amy approached, she informed them of her relationship status and moved forward or didn’t from there. There was no trickery, which I was so glad to see, but as a con there were so many relationships both long and short term for Amy. It got difficult to keep track of.

When I really enjoyed Amy’s story, was when Emma walked into her and David’s life. I was so excited for their relationship. Sure, it was the biggest coincidence ever, but I was ALL about it! They balanced each other out in a way only a triad relationship could have. I liked getting to see them navigate wedding invites, meeting the parents and deciding on their home life. It was sweet.

While there was a lot going on, I did enjoy reading this novel. It was fun, at times funny, and honest. Give this one a try, you might like it more than you thought you originally thought.

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Common Goal by Rachel Reid

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary:

New York Admirals goalie Eric never thought his friends-with-benefits arrangement with much-younger Kyle would leave them both wanting more…

Veteran goaltender Eric Bennett has faced down some of the toughest shooters on the ice, but nothing prepared him for his latest challenge—life after hockey. It’s time to make some big changes, starting with finally dating men for the first time.

Graduate student Kyle Swift moved to New York nursing a broken heart. He’d sworn to find someone his own age to crush on (for once). Until he meets a gorgeous, distinguished silver fox hockey player. Despite their intense physical attraction, Kyle has no intention of getting emotionally involved. He’ll teach Eric a few tricks, have some mutually consensual fun, then walk away.

Eric is more than happy to learn anything Kyle brings to the table. And Kyle never expected their friends-with-benefits arrangement to leave him wanting more. Happily-ever-after might be staring them in the face, but it won’t happen if they’re too stubborn to come clean about their feelings.

Everything they both want is within reach… They just have to be brave enough to grab it.

Review

First, ya’ll I apologize. I’m in a strict hockey headspace because the Stanley Cup and HOCKEY IS BACK!!

That being said, this cover, uh, yes please, thank you. I need all the gorgeous goalie covers in my life. I have a soft spot for goalies and their quirks. Like, the goalie head-bumps at the end of the game? I LIVE for those moments.

Eric, veteran goalie, recently divorced and he is exploring his bisexuality for the first time. He’s seen several other players find the type of love he didn’t think he could have and he’s finally found someone who he wants to experience these moments with.

Kyle is getting over his long time crush and offers his expertise to Eric. As he and Eric end up in each other’s lives more often than not, it would be hard not to form a friendship. That relationship steadily develops the more time they spend with each other.

What I absolutely loved? Eric, just one hundred percent Eric. He had a kinship with the goalie posts and it reminded me of all the moments I caught of a goalie tapping their goal posts after a save, or pregame as they’re getting into the zone. There was more to him than being a professional hockey player. He has a love for art that he wants to share with people (which just so happens to be Kyle). I enjoyed the party scene where he and Kyle were off on their own connecting with each other. Even in a house full of hockey players, it still felt intimate.

Kyle,  oh I felt for him. I just wanted to give him all the hugs. Like I know what it feels like to be in those shoes, crushing hard on someone only to find out they’ll never return those feelings. I just wished he would have had more faith in Eric instead of being stuck on the age difference.

They were such a great pairing though. Their chemistry as both friends and lovers was off the charts. They communicated, tried new things and enjoyed themselves when they were together.

I have so much love for this series! If you are a hockey fan, give these a read because they don’t let you down At all.

Pre-Order your copy here

To be released September 21, 2020

 

Out on the Ice by Kelly Farmer

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary:

Caro Cassidy used to be a legend.

During her career, Caro was one of the best defense players in women’s hockey. These days, she keeps to herself. Her all-girls hockey camp is her life, and she hopes it’ll be her legacy. Sure, her new summer hire is charming and magnetic, but Caro keeps her work and personal life strictly separate.

Amy Schwarzbach lives life out loud.

Amy’s as bright and cheerful as her lavender hair, and she uses her high-profile position in women’s hockey to advocate for the things she believes in. Ten weeks in Chicago coaching a girls’ training camp is the perfect opportunity to mentor the next generation before she goes back to Boston.

Letting love in means putting yourself out there.

When the reticent head coach offers to help Amy get in shape for next season, her starstruck crush on Caro quickly blossoms into real chemistry. As summer comes to an end, neither of them can quite let go of this fling—but Amy can’t afford a distraction, and Caro can’t risk her relationship becoming public and jeopardizing the one thing that’s really hers.

The Review

This was a low-angst, quick-to-read, romance.

Caro Cassidy runs a hockey school for girls. She keeps her personal life close to the vest and doesn’t advertise her sexuality. She adheres to a strict professional policy. In comes Amy Schwarzbach, lives her life out loud and doesn’t let anyone tell her how she should live her life. She does her best to encourage girls to be true to themselves while playing hockey in a safe space provided by Girls and Goals.

What I liked about Out on the Ice was the fact Caro and Amy were polar opposites, but they still fit together. Caro had gotten stuck in a repetitive cycle, but Amy makes her consider what how she could change for the better.

Amy was a bisexual character and If eel like there aren’t enough books with bisexual characters, and they talk about their previous partners. It was a genuine representation.

A lot of the romance was off screen, so if you’re looking for that you aren’t going to find that here. It was very sweet.

I was left wanting, but this was a good debut for Kelly Farmer .

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Wolfsong by T.J. Klune

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Five out of Five Stars

Summary:

Ox was twelve when his daddy taught him a very valuable lesson. He said that Ox wasn’t worth anything and people would never understand him. Then he left.

Ox was sixteen when he met the boy on the road, the boy who talked and talked and talked. Ox found out later the boy hadn’t spoken in almost two years before that day, and that the boy belonged to a family who had moved into the house at the end of the lane.

Ox was seventeen when he found out the boy’s secret, and it painted the world around him in colors of red and orange and violet, of Alpha and Beta and Omega.

Ox was twenty-three when murder came to town and tore a hole in his head and heart. The boy chased after the monster with revenge in his bloodred eyes, leaving Ox behind to pick up the pieces.

It’s been three years since that fateful day—and the boy is back. Except now he’s a man, and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.

The Review

As soon as I finished Wolfsong, I immediately purchased the next books in the series. I found a werewolf novel that was just like what I loved growing up. There was pack, found families, danger, discovery, and love. While there is the alpha, beta, omega dynamics explored it isn’t sex here. It was the hierarchy in the pack. This is the werewolf story that I freaking love (and secretly want to write one day)!

Ox was sixteen when he met Joe. He had never met anyone like Joe. Slowly, he was pulled into the Bennett’s family and into a life he didn’t know was possible to exist. Werewolves exist and he’s found himself part of a pack. He and his mother become part of their pack, taking on the danger that comes with being associated with the Bennetts.

I had so much love for Ox. He’s an outcast, but there’s something about him that I was able to connect with and understand entirely. He’s damaged goods, but with the help of Bennetts he’s learning that he’s better than what his father said to him. He’s strong, important, and perhaps the person they need in their lives.

Joe, there were times I wanted to hug him and then times I just wanted to shake him. How could he do this to Ox? Didn’t he see that his pack needed him home? But I understood his need to do what he did. I still hated it.

I think I fell a little bit in love with each character in this novel. They were each vital to pushing the plot forward, they were each important for every dangerous situation that the Bennett pack came across. I loved Gordo and the body shop guys. They cracked me up. You could tell they had worked together for years and considered themselves to be brother.

Ox and Joe’s relationship *wistful sigh* it grew from childhood to adulthood so naturally. You could feel their bond. Once they both (Joe is younger by a few years) reached adulthood, their flirting was so goooood. Then they had to relearn each other and their spot in the pack.

There’s so many good things I could say about Wolfsong, but I feel like I would give the book away. If you haven’t had the chance to read this, go grab a copy and read it.

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