Tag Archives: coming of age

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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Son of Money by Brandon Witt

Reviewed by Kiwi

TITLE: Son of Money

SERIES:

PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press

RELEASE DATE: July 11, 2016

SUMMARY: Randall Morgan, youngest son of one of Seattle’s wealthiest families, rejected his family’s money to live free of their control and pursue his career as a photographer. To make ends meet, Randall does erotic photography and massage—a secret he keeps from his family so he can remain a part of his young niece’s life. But the price of that relationship is high, and Randall is once more slipping under his family’s thumb.

Noah Carroll is the spokesperson for the Seattle Humane Society, and the city holds a special place in his heart. When fate intervenes during a pet adoption, Noah finds himself face-to-face with his first love—Randall.

While Noah and Randall are not the teenagers they once were, the flame of a first kiss long ago draws them together. Their romance is beginning to grow, but someone is out to destroy Randall and expose all he keeps hidden.

When secrets and rumors thrust Randall into the public eye, his relationship with Noah isn’t the only thing that comes under threat.

REVIEW: I got this book not really expecting to like it. Not because the author isn’t good at telling a story but because it’s a storyline that’s been done numerous times before. I’ve read quite a few of them and I actually opened this book expecting more of the same old prince pretending to be pauper type of story.

Needless to say that I was presently surprised by what I actually got! Brandon Witt did an excellent job of telling a story that’s been told countless times and making it fresh and and interesting. I was expecting Randall to be the prince in the castle who was slumming, but what I got was a guy who genuinely wanted to make it on his own; to have an identity completely separated and independent from that pretentious clan of his. His character was quite likable.

Noah is my kind of people. He’s an animal lover, kind and just an all around nice guy. He and Randall were old flames years ago and an chance meeting put then in each other’s path. It’s then they realize that the old flames were still burning with them both and they went from there, rekindling their relationship.

Of course, it’s not going to be a smooth ride to their HEA ending. Their journey to happiness is becomes a bumpy road when some own threatens to expose the secret and unravel the life Randall has worked so hard to retain and maintain. Not only that, it threatens to destroy the growing romance with Noah. It is then you truly see the strength of the bond these men share. The problems that arise that would tear a less than strong couple apart brings these two closer together.

I can say enough good things about this book. The characters, storyline, dialogue, and technical aspects of the book were wonderful. Needless to say that it exceeded my expectations.

RATING: ❤️❤️❤️❤️

BUY LINKS:

 

Amazon

Dreamspinner Press

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Falling by Suki Fleet

Dreamspinner Presents http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6457

FallingSukiFleetBlurb

Josh’s idea of a romance is curling up alone and reading a novel with a happily ever after. He’s made his flat a safe haven where the wall are covered with beautiful words, and his living room ceiling is a map of the universe.

Angus may be shy and inexperienced, but he’s incapable of hiding anything, especially his attraction to his older neighbor.

When Josh admits to Angus that he’s gay, he doesn’t expect Angus’s reaction. Angus’s obvious interest terrifies Josh. For years he’s managed to keep the world at arm’s length and avoid getting too close to anyone. Well, anyone except Elenor, Angus’s mother, who helped Josh rebuild his life after he was hospitalized for depression. But Josh still thinks he’s broken. His past has left scars he thinks are too deep to heal. Despite Josh’s defenses, Angus begins to mean more to him than just the cute boy next door. If Josh can take a risk and let someone into his isolated world, he might have a chance for a real life happy ending.

Review

Josh has severe depression, and has been hospitalized for it in the past. He is estranged from his biological family but has built himself a support system of people where he lives now. One of those is Eleanor, his neighbor, the mother of Angus.

Eleanor has anxiety issues that are slowly making her life unbearable. Angus turns to Josh for help and more.

Josh feels like he isn’t stable enough to help either Eleanor or Angus but Eleanor was there for him when he needed her and he can’t help but be infatuated with the adorable and innocent Angus (who clearly has a crush on Josh.)

Together, Angus and Josh navigate the health system to find the right solution for Eleanor and along the way the right solution for themselves, as well.

**

This was a very, very, very dark read. The issues these guys face are real, and heavy and not likely to ever go away.

The romance is very slow burn – sometimes painfully slow.

I was glad that having a “boyfriend” wasn’t offered up as a solution to Josh’s depression, Josh was very clear with Angus about the future and it does seem hopeful. However, I wasn’t given a lot of page time with him and Angus to know if their coupledom will be successful long term – Angus is so young and Josh’s illness is severe.

The writing is excellent as is the editing. If you are in the mood for a dark, yet hopeful romance, with a very positive ending about a difficult subject – this is the book for you.

For me – I’d have liked to see more of the romance and less of the internal dialog. I would shift the balance of the book to at least 50/50 build up and coupledom because I really think they have their work cut out for them and that it doesn’t end just because they say the magic three words.

I really didn’t feel that connected to Angus (this is told from Josh’s POV) and as a result I just don’t know what compels him as well as I’d like.

3.5 of 5 hearts

Love the cover!

3.5

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Anything Goes Audiobook BY BG Thomas Narrated by Charlie David

Dreampsinner Presents http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6542

AnythingCouldHappenAUDMEDBlurb

Moving to Kansas City could be the best thing Austin Shelbourne has ever done. For a start, he can stop living a lie and finally come out of the closet. And there’s a chance, though slim, that he might be able to locate the love of his life, Todd Burton. It had seemed like a good idea when he seduced his friend, but Todd freaked out and vanished. Austin hopes to find Todd, make things right between them, and win his love. But when he meets actor Guy Campbell, things get even more confusing.

The moment Guy sets eyes on Austin, he knows Austin is The One. But Austin makes it clear he feels a responsibility to Todd, and Guy has some dark secrets of his own. He’s found redemption in acting and directing, but worries that if Austin learns the truth, he might not be able bear it. And what if Todd accepts Austin’s apology and the love Austin offers? Guy wants Austin desperately, but he also wants him to be happy. In the play of life, with the happiness of good men in the balance, anything could happen.

 

Austin and Todd were friends, Austin fell in love and hit on Todd, Todd freaked and ran. Now Austin is tracking Todd down and hoping that they both can live the life they should, out and proud.

What Austin finds is his Uncle Bodie and Guy. Together, all three men explore what it is to be true to yourself and your passion.

There is a lot of subtext and learning through the work Guy does in the theatre and this takes up a lot of page time.

The romance between Guy and Austin is filled with growth and learning the difference between true love and fantasy.
**

I did not read the first book in this series, though I’m told it works as a stand-alone and I think that’s accurate. I also LISTENED to this so that shaped my feelings as well.

On the one hand I ADORE Charlie David and when he gets to use his southern twang it is always a good narration! On the other hand, this is a very slow burn, character based, more coming of age book than a fast moving contemporary romance.

For me, it’s just not my favorite thing. I appreciated the growth of all the characters and the way the author used the theatre to demonstrate this growth, but I like my romances to be the central theme and at times the other characters and their stories took center stage.

I’d give the narration a 5 of 5 and the story a 2 of 5, so overall a 3 of 5 because it is an entertaining, nicely written story about men finding themselves and Charlie David does an excellent job brining life to the story with his narration.

3

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Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane

Riptide Publishing Presents http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/christmas-kitsch

ChristmasKitsch_500x750Blurb

Sometimes the best thing you can get for Christmas is knowing what you really want.
Rusty Baker is a blond, rich, entitled football player in a high school full of them—just the type of oblivious jock all the bullied kids hate. And he might have stayed that way, except he develops a friendship with out-and-proud Oliver Campbell from the wrong side of the tracks. Rusty thinks the friendship is just pity—Oliver is very bright, and Rusty is very not—but then Oliver kisses him goodbye when Rusty leaves for college, and Rusty is forced to rethink everything he knows about himself.
But even Rusty’s newfound awareness can’t help him survive a semester at Berkeley. He returns home for Thanksgiving break clinging to the one thing he knows to be true: Oliver Campbell is the best thing that’s ever happened to him.
Rusty’s parents disagree, and Rusty finds himself homeless for the holidays. Oliver may not have much money, but he’s got something Rusty has never known: true family. With their help and Oliver’s love, Rusty comes to realize that he may have failed college, but he’ll pass real life with flying rainbow colors.

Review

Rusty is a good kid. He’s popular. Plays sports. Has girlfriends. Does what his parents tell him to. He’s not the “quickest” but he’s not stupid either.
Oliver is the “new brown kid”. He’s small. Snarky. Gay. And in need of a friend. Despite Rusty’s peer group’s objections, Rusty befriends Oliver and Oliver helps Rusty through his last year of high school.
When it comes time for Rusty to go to Berkley, where he just knows he’s going to fail, Oliver does all he can to assure him that he’ll be there for him and that he knows Rusty won’t get lost in the shuffle. And… he kisses Rusty.
Rusty is left at school, lost, scared, trapped with a crazy but warm-hearted-hyper-sexual-roommate, and the memory of Oliver’s kiss to make him question everything he is or wants to be.
When it becomes apparent that Rusty is in fact NOT ready for Berkley – though he tries damn hard – he is ready for Oliver and KNOWS that Oliver is more than just his best friend. When Rusty gets home for Thanksgiving Oliver is there to greet him and the two kiss again. This time they get caught by Rusty’s homophobic family who immediately throw Rusty out of the house.
Luckily Oliver’s dad is amazing and he helps Rusty to get his bearings again.
What follows is Rusty’s jump into the deep end of adulthood and his navigation of his first real relationship that also happens to be his first gay relationship. Oliver’s impatience and love both help and hinder him in this process, but the underlying support he and his dad offer Rusty give him the strength to grow into the man he needs to become.
**

This is another of my all-time favorite Amy Lane books. Another one I’m hoping will soon become an Audiobook. (Hint, hint!)
Rusty is so very lost but he’s also so sweet and lovable you want to reach through the pages and wrap him in blankets and kiss his cheeks.
Oliver is just smart and snarky enough to ease the saccharine sweetness of Rusty’s goodness and make them a real, fun, and sexy couple.
I loved the interactions with the secondary characters. The role model of Oliver’s dad. The hilarity of the cousins. The hero-worship of Rusty’s sister. And the eventual grace of Rusty’s parents.
I read this book when I need a warm hug on a rainy afternoon and it always makes me feel better.

I can’t recommend it enough.

6 of 5 hearts

amazing

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