Tag Archives: addiction

Finding Hope (Finding Series #5) Sloane Kennedy

                         💫💫Reviewed by Michele💫💫

TITLE: Finding Hope

SERIES: Finding Series Book 5

AUTHOR: Sloane Kennedy

PUBLISHER: Self Published 

RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2017

BLURB: At 19, Beck Barretti is living two lives. To his family, he’s a young man trying to find his way after years of battling a mental illness that nearly cost him everything. But to the rest of the world he’s just another privileged kid with problems. The truth doesn’t even lie somewhere in between because Beck’s entire life is actually about keeping secrets.

From the people he loves.

From the ones he doesn’t.

From himself.

Spending a summer in Dare, Montana with family friends isn’t about starting fresh – it’s about escaping the crippling darkness that threatens to consume him.

Until one encounter that was supposed to mean nothing ends up changing everything…

Quinn Donovan had the life he’d always dreamed of until a brutal act of violence ripped it all away. Even though he’s found a new future working at the CB Bar Ranch in Dare, Montana, he’s not interested in trying to get back what he once had. All he wants is a quiet life that includes a job that’s worth getting up for each morning and hanging out with his best friend, a black and white Paint stallion named Koda.

But nothing prepares him for the strange twist of fate that brings not one, but two men into his life…

Brody Wilder is done hiding in the closet. As the son of a political scion, he’s spent his entire life hiding the truth about who he is just so he could inherit a legacy he never wanted. But those days are behind him and he’s starting a new life in rural Montana where he’s saving lives as a paramedic and building a successful construction business that would surely horrify his old-money, society-loving family.

After years of denying himself, he’s taking advantage of his newfound freedom by indulging in random, meaningless sexual encounters that are about pleasure, not emotion.

So no one is more surprised than him when one night in the back room of a sordid gay club leads to something more…

Can three men who came together by chance find the hope they need to build a future with each other, or will they end up letting their fears tear them apart?

Trigger Warning: This book contains multiple triggers. To review what they are, please take a look at the sample or use the “Look Inside” feature and scroll to right before the table of contents. Reviewing the triggers may cause spoilers.

***This book is part of a series but can be read as a standalone…no cliffhangers. However, there will be additional enjoyment if the series is read in order***

REVIEW: WOW! That’s all I can say. She did it to me again. My emotions were all over the place while reading this painful but cathartic story. For me this one hurt but in a good way. As I read Beck’s story, and I read all 4 of the previous books in this series, the characters in Finding Hope were by far the most captivating. The story was well written, which given that this was a ménage can be difficult.

This book is about 3 men, Beck, Quinn, and Brody, who separately are struggling with issues from their past. The lack of acceptance and betrayal by your own family, the painful loss of who you thought was the love of your life, and the physical and emotional abuse inflicted by those knowing and unknowingly who took an oath to protect, and those who professed their friendship only to be used in a game of deception.

Beck’s story brought out my feelings of indignation as I felt his fear, pain, sadness, and anger. I had to pull myself together more than once in order to continue reading. Even as I was flooded with all those emotions the story continually showed Beck coming out of the darkness of his past as he discovers himself and finds friendship, acceptance and love in the small town of Dare, Montana. This is a MUST READ. I HIGHLY recommend this book.

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RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

BUY LINKS:

Amazon

 

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Fighter (The Brick Yard #1) Carol Lynne

       ✨✨Reviewed by Michele✨✨

TITLE: Fighter

SERIES: The Brick Yard

AUTHOR: Carol Lynne

PUBLISHER: Pride Publishing

RELEASE DATE: February 9, 2017

BLURB: For Lucky Gunn, the hardest fight of his life happens outside the cage.

On the South Side of Chicago sits an old gym called The Brick Yard.

Ten years ago, on a bitterly cold day, Lucky Gunn wandered into The Brick Yard dressed in a threadbare jacket, looking for refuge. He hadn’t expected the owner, Tony Brick, to welcome him with a job and a place to sleep when Lucky’s abusive and drug-addicted mother made it too dangerous to return home.

Dray was a gay man living in a world of straight fighters. When his secret was exposed to the media, he dropped out, giving Lucky a piece of advice-if you want to make it as a MMA fighter, bury the part of yourself that won’t be accepted.

Lucky discovered the cage was the perfect place to keep his demons at bay, but when he learns his trainer and mentor, Brick, is suffering from end-stage cancer, he begins to spiral out of control. After eight years, Dray returns to help Lucky and Brick deal with the devastating news.

With Dray so close, Lucky’s old desires return, and Dray teaches him more than how to fight. Torn between his career and the passion he feels for Dray, Lucky’s past demons resurface in full force, threatening his sanity and his budding relationship with Dray.

Despite leaving the cage years earlier, Dray finds himself in the battle of his life with the only man he’s ever loved. Will he stand and fight or walk away like he did years earlier?

REVIEW: First let me say I loved this book. It really captured my heart. This book is truly a angsty romance that will have you experiencing every range of emotion possible. This is a love story, but it reads like a labor of love for Ms. Lynne. 

This very emotional story is about two men, one of whom has had his dream of becoming a MMA snatched from him, and the other is trying to become the next champion. I fell head first into the story of Lucky Gunn’s life. As you meet these very complex characters you will get pulled into a very intriguing and intensely emotional story I couldn’t put down and neither will you. The Brick Yard becomes a safe haven for Lucky and many other boys who suffer from physical and emotional abuse…sometimes neglect at the hand of a parent. The owner of the Brick Yard, who goes by the name Brick ( I know right), becomes a father figure to Lucky. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the journey of these two men and their connection to the others that form a family of sorts. As you meet Dray, Mack, and the boys you will laugh, cry, and at times get very angry. I’m a fan of this author and this book did not disappoint. Without a doubt this  will be one of my favorites for this year.

RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟.5

BUY LINKS:

Amazon

Pride Publishing

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Beneath the Stain Audiobook by Amy Lane Narrated by Nick J Russo

Dreamspinner Presents http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6367

BeneaththeStainAUDMedBlurb
Complete novel.

In a town as small as Tyson, CA, everybody knew the four brothers with the four different fathers– and their penchant for making good music when they weren’t getting into trouble. For Mackey Sanders, playing in Outbreak Monkey with his brothers and their friends—especially Grant Adams–made Tyson bearable. But Grant has plans for getting Mackey and the Sanders boys out of Tyson, even if that means staying behind.

Between the heartbreak of leaving Grant and the terrifying, glamorous life of rock stardom, Mackey is adrift and sinking fast. When he’s hit rock bottom, Trav Ford shows up, courtesy of their record company and a producer who wants to see what Mackey can do if he doesn’t flame out first. But cleaning up his act means coming clean about Grant, and that’s not easy to do or say. Mackey might make it with Trav’s help–but Trav’s not sure he’s going to survive falling in love with Mackey.

Mackey James Sanders comes with a whole lot of messy, painful baggage, and law-and-order Trav doesn’t do messy or painful. And just when Trav thinks they may have mastered every demon in Mackey’s past, the biggest, baddest demon of all comes knocking.

Book review here: http://kimichanexperience.com/beneath-stain-amy-lane-first-episode/

Audio

Wow. Can I just say? Wow.

I absolutely loved Nick J Russo’s narration! His Trav was sooooo sexy! He did an amazing job with the hours and hours of narration – giving each character a distinct voice and flavor. He does a nice job even with the female characters.

I really wish he could have included the bonus material – but I know that wasn’t his decision to make – I would have loved to hear the “ass-babies” discussion at the end!

I can’t recommend this book and the audiobook highly enough – 6 of 5 hearts!

amazing

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The Last Thing He Needs by JH Knight

Dreamspinner presents:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5262

last thingBlurb

Tommy O’Shea is raising his seven younger brothers and sisters without any help from his drug abusing father and stepmother. Since he was fifteen years old, he’s managed to keep the children fed and out of foster care. It takes up every ounce of his energy and the last thing he needs is romance complicating his life further.

Rookie cop Bobby McAlister doesn’t belong in Tommy’s harsh world, but Tommy can’t push him out. As their unlikely friendship turns into a tentative relationship, they weather the daily storm of Tommy’s life with a lot of laughs and more than a few arguments.

Tommy isn’t used to trusting outsiders, and he’s never asked for help in his life. But when a tragedy strikes the O’Shea family and threatens everything he’s fought for, he’ll have to learn to do both to recover from the brutal hit.

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Review

Tommy O’Shea has a rough, rough life. He’s in charge of his 6 younger siblings, didn’t finish high school, has drug-addled parents messing things up, and he’s very, very poor.

Bobby McAlister has been around for most of Tommy’s life. He’s an only child who lives at home with his recently widowed mother. He’s a gay cop who only wants to love and be loved.

It isn’t easy for Tommy to trust, everyone he knows has let him down, so when Bobby comes around, he is immediately treated with a heavy dose of skepticism.

Through time, perseverance and a lot of love, Bobby worms his way in and the result is this amazing love story written by JH Knight.

JH Knight a new author to me, but she now goes on my “must read” list.

I was blown away.

The story is so sweet, so tender, yet tough and gritty at the same time.

The problems Tommy and his family face are realistic and heart-breaking and I really loved that the “gay” part was really the least of their worries.

This was a story about trust, devotion, optimism and most of all, family. Despite all the odds and all the reasons why things really should not have worked out, family prevails, and in ways we could never predict.

I really loved the relationship between Bobby and his mother, June. I just think her involvement in the story added that the icing to this delicious cake of a book. She rounded out the family and brought everyone in that much tighter. She reminded us that you’re never too old to need a “Mommy”.

I felt the love scenes were erotic and touching and just numerous enough to add texture to the story without being the focus. The kids were amazing and I really hope we see more of their stories in the future.

I fell in love with this book and will definitely be reading it again.

I highly recommend it, giving it 6 out of 5 hearts!

amazing

 

JH Knight gave us a WONDERFUL present with this “Epilogue”:  https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/7586073-have-yourself-a-merry-little-free-short-read

 

SO WONDERFUL!

Black John (Johnnies #4) by Amy Lane

Dreampsinner Presents http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5982

black johnBlurb

John Carey is just out of rehab and dying inside when he gets word that Tory, the guy who loved him and broke him, has removed himself from the world in the most bitter way possible—and left John to clean up his mess.

Forced back to his hometown in Florida, John’s craving a hit with every memory when he meets Tory’s neighbor. Spacey and judgmental, Galen Henderson has been rotting in his crappy apartment since a motorcycle accident robbed him of his mobility, his looks, and his boyfriend all in one mistake. Galen’s been hiding at the bottom of an oxy bottle, but when John shows up, he feels obligated to help wade through the wreckage of Tory’s life.

The last thing John needs is another relationship with an addict, and the last thing Galen wants is a conscience. Both of them are shocked when they find that their battered souls can learn from and heal one another. It doesn’t hurt that they’re both getting a crash course on how growing up and getting past your worst mistakes sure beats the alternative—and that true love is something to fight to keep if your lover is fighting to love you back.

Review

Where to start….
Well, first we all know Johnnies right? – the made up porn studio that introduced us to Chase and Tommy, Dex and Kane, Ethan and Jonah and in a related way, Alejandro and Donny. We LOVE Johnnies. John… we didn’t love so much. He was a coke-head-douche in Dex in Blue and though he had glimmers of the kinda guy Dex might befriend, by the time we actually meet him, he’s gone over the edge.

This is his story.

We start out with John getting out of rehab, he’s still pretty shaky, but determined to stay clean, only to find out that this newly sober John has to fly to Florida (across the world practically) to help clean out the apartment and distribute the remains of his first love, Tory, who has committed suicide.

Uh…Thanks Amy for taking it easy on us. NOT!

Tory and John grew up together, realized they were gay together, started doing porn together but I can’t really say they loved each other because Tory never treated John like someone he loved.

As time passes Tory descends down a spiral of sex and drugs and after several years and three trips to rehab John decides Tory needs to try things on his own, because whatever John is doing, isn’t helping.

Thus the birth of Johnnies.

Flash back to today, John is at Tory’s apartment where he meets the neighbor, Galen. Galen is a lawyer who had a terrible accident three years ago, and has since been caught up in a cycle of depression and pain med addiction.

So… of course John is super attracted to Galen, but really – Can he? Should he? Is it remotely smart for him to take on another addict?

**

If I were to rank my favorite Johnnies books the order would be Dex, Super Sock Man, Chase, John, Ethan…. Black John is a good book, Amy doesn’t write anything bad. The angst is so painful. Tory hurt John so much. Dex (inadvertently) hurt John so much. But… the one piece I missed with Black John that Chase and Dex and even Super Sock Man had was a bit more of a connection between the lovers.

I loved that John could finally help Galen and that Galen wanted to be strong enough to show John he deserved someone whole. But I didn’t see them as a couple long enough to feel as attached to them as I have in other Amy Lane books.

On the other hand I absolutely loved that we got to see more of Dex and Kane again and I hope to see more in this series — Bobby and Reg perhaps???

Writing/Editing 5

Romance 3.5

Sex/Heat 3.5

Storyline 5

World Building/Characterizations 5

Overall, 4.5 hearts!

4.5

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Patient Privilege by Allison Cassatta

Dreamspinner presents http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5549

patient priv.Blurb

Dr Erik Daniels hasn’t had it easy. After losing love and fighting addiction, he becomes a successful substance abuse counselor and helps people regardless of their insurance or ability to pay. It isn’t the dream life he had in San Francisco, but at least he has something to be proud of. Everything seems to be getting back on the right track until Angel, a heroin-addicted male prostitute, crosses his path. Erik not only sees a lot of himself in Angel, but a lot of potential as well. He quickly realizes he’s willing to sacrifice a lot to get him on the right path–but is he willing to jeopardize his career?

Review

Erik Daniels is a rehab counselor who got into the profession after succumbing to his own alcohol addiction, which ruined his career and his relationship with Marshall, several years ago. Now, he’s working in a run-down rehab clinic but feels great about his life. He meets Angel and Jon in the hospital after almost losing a different patient and can’t get the young couple out of his mind.

Angel is a heroin addict and a rent boy who is loved by Jon. Jon pushes and pushes to get Angel into rehab but Angel doesn’t think he’s worth it or that the clean life is worth it. Finally, with Erik’s help, Angel agrees.

Things are complex though. Angel doesn’t love Jon. Jon loves Angel. Angel pushes Jon away and so Jon finds a new “love”. Angel is crushed so Angel turns to Erik for love.

And… Erik loved Marshall but Marshall pushed Erik away when Erik hit rock bottom and went into rehab. Now, suddenly, several years later, Marshall returns wanting Erik back, and Erik sort of wants Marshall back, but fears Marshall’s not good for Erik’s recovery. Marshall pushes for a relationship, so Erik and Marshall start a long-distance fling, then Marshall pushes Erik to move back to San Francisco, but Erik resists. Meanwhile, Erik falls for Angel but knows it’s unprofessional and maybe wrong, but Erik can’t resist. Until, finally, Angel and Erik end up together.

Phew, that’s a lot of drama!

There were parts of this book I really loved: the writing, the theme, the MCs, and even the secondary characters. I thought Allison Cassatta did a great job creating believable characters and a rich environment for them to interact in. She’s got a lovely writing style that flows well and is easy to follow and it was easy to become immersed in her story.

But… there was a lot I didn’t like: First, I didn’t feel comfortable with Erik and Angel’s love story. It felt too co-dependent and very unhealthy for Angel (who never even reclaimed his real name for Pete’s sake. Erik is still calling him Angel (not Luke, his given name) at the end of the book, without an explanation as to why. If he’d said something like, “I feel more like Angel than Luke so I’m keeping it” I’d have understood, but it’s just kind of left there, unexplained.

Second, Angel is too young (emotionally – not in years) for Erik and Erik is not in a good place to become his lover. I was willing to let the Doctor/Patient thing go IF, and that’s a big IF, it was explained and justified. I don’t feel it was. The end, where the two get together, is just too rushed for that to be overlooked as a real, significant, hurdle.

Third, I never liked Angel’s reasons for any of his actions. I didn’t get why he chose to live on the streets, I didn’t get where he fell in love with Erik, I didn’t get why he was so devastated when Jon did what he was told and found someone else. Sure, I get that he was a proud young guy who was rejected at home, but it seems he gave up trying to find his way with little effort and didn’t ever come back to a healthy place where I felt he had a chance at long term sobriety.

Fourth, I really didn’t like that most of the on page sex and relationship stuff was between the MCs and their secondary characters (Jon and Marshall) and not with each other. Those relationships really felt unsettled, especially between Marshall and Erik. I definitely agree that Marshall and Jon were not the right men for Angel and Erik but I didn’t feel we got enough time with Erik and Angel as a couple to feel good about their relationship. Erik and Angel were left feeling very co-dependent on each other and it didn’t feel healthy, even at the end.

I think if the story’d been a bit longer I’d have felt better about things. Maybe it was because the story ends with Erik and Angel hooking up and then the epilogue, a year later, tells us of the couple’s successes. If I’d read more about that time I’d have a better connection to that success. The ending just felt rushed.

So – overall I have to give this story a 3 of 5 hearts instead of the 4 or 4.5 that I was leaning towards in the beginning because I just didn’t feel good about the ending – even though I loved that they seemed so happy together at the end.

3

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