The Scale by Mika Jolie
I got this book on a whim and it was a good decision on my part. I’ve been flunking hardcore on finding decent black heroine romance and “The Scale” is like a needle in a haystack. I’m glad I found this treasure.
The premise of being in love with your sister’s boyfriend pulled me in immediately. I really sympathized with Minka’s struggle with her weight, insecurities, and never being someone’s first choice romantically. I saw myself in Mika’s shoes, though I’m sure I’m destined to be forever alone. And I felt like I was being called out on my bullshit when Mika was being called out on her, haha.
I liked all the characters. Even though the meddling friends and family and romance trickery tropes were pretty constant throughout, it didn’t grate on my nerves like it usually does. Probably because the relationships/friendships between everyone just came off naturally and didn’t seem like it was some forced plot point.
Though I am kind of tired of the rich, playboy hero who gets tamed by the practical virgin heroine trope. Very rarely is the reverse true or both hero and heroine have the same amount of sexual bravado. Perhaps I’m not looking in the right places.
What a great start to a new series. This is pretty decent debut from this author and I’ll definitely be reading more of her stuff.
The Beginning by Vicktor Alexander
I originally got this because the excerpt made me laugh. Actually, this line is what really reeled me in:
Ronny’s eyes widened. He’d read enough romance novels to know what that word meant and he also knew that there was never a black man or woman involved in something like that. Mates seemed to be only for other races, so there was no way that he could be somebody’s mate.
It’s a true statement depending on what romance you’re reading. But it just made me cackle so I said eff it. I was looking for something absurd and I got exactly that.
To be honest, I was looking up ‘mpreg’ on ARe and goodreads and this popped up. Mpreg is the final frontier for me. I’ve read and accepted a lot off-the-wall shit, but mpreg is such a record scratch in my head. Cisgender men getting pregnant and giving birth is just so beyond my comprehension.
So anyway, so when I decided to buy this, I knew I was getting into the height of absurdity. But it turned out to be quite interesting and I got into the story. It starts off like most shifter romances do— mate meets mate and insta-love ensues— but the changing of biblical history got me paying attention.
All the similar sounding/looking “biblical” names made it really hard to follow the world building and in some parts, distracted from the current day timeline part of the story. I found the prologue and flashbacks out of whack with the rest of the story. In that instance, I’d be totally okay with more telling than showing and staying with Cole and Robby. And there was superfluous information that didn’t help do any for the story (eg- shopping for furniture).
As far as the mpreg was concerned, I was expecting more. But no one seemed to know anything in that regard. On the one hand, I would’ve liked more focus on the mpreg, but on the other hand, I’m glad it wasn’t as graphic as I feel it could’ve been. I’m still confused on the hows and the whys, but it’s fantasy, I can look over it.
There were a lot of characters, possibly too many, and the destined mates are supposed to save the world. While the writing could’ve been tighter and the world the book is based in could’ve been explained better, I’m definitely interested in where this series is going.
A Perfect Dream by Raven J. Spencer
I don’t know how I feel about this, to be honest. LOVED the first 20 pages and the last two and half. But those four-ish pages in between was like a record scratch in my head.
So Beatrice is a seen-but-not-heard wife to a politician. It’s simply a marriage of convenience, neither really happy, but they have an arrangement: Beatrice gets to live the life of wealth and privilege on her husband’s dime, while he galavants around being an anti-gay sleezeball. Beatrice spends that money planning trips to lesbian sex parties that last for a few days.
(I’m jealous and reminded how poor I am because I’m pretty sure things like this exist if you have enough money and know the right people)
First off, the sex? Hells yes. Just….damn, girl. And by ‘girl’ I mean Mrs. Spencer. The sex scenes between everyone was extremely sensual and hot. Sexy and sensual, but not overly detailed. I could see everything play out in my head beautifully. It made my skin tingle deliciously.
We didn’t get much background about Beatrice, but I actually felt bad for her. Not everyone can be out, and I feel like Beatrice wanting to stay in the life she’d grown accustomed to was only part of the reason. Sure it was convenient and easier, but to purposefully stay in an unhappy marriage to a man who makes policies against people like her? There has to be something else behind it. I can’t be reading too much into it, can I?
I’m sorry, but Sage still owed Beatrice an apology. Sage could be up on that out and proud high horse all she wanted to, but she still majorly betrayed not only Beatrice, but the other women that participated in A Perfect Dream. And to not feel a bit remorseful about it because Beatrice was a hypocrite? Who isn’t? Who hasn’t been? Nah. Nope. Not here for it.
Bottom line, I just wasn’t happy with Beatrice finding love (I say that loosely) with Sage. I would’ve been happier with Beatrice finding her own inner power to stand on her own feet with a big flipping bird to Sage (and her husband) and start her new life. Then maybe after that, her and Sage could talk.
But I wish Beatrice the best of luck regardless.
The author provided a copy of this book for an honest review.
Worth the Seeing Through by Lisa M. Owens
I was waiting for this book to come out since the ending of Worth the Coming Home. I always felt Guy got such a rotten deal in that book and I really wanted him to have his own story. So I was happy to see that this book finally came out.
However, I was really disappointed that this wasn’t Guy’s book. Sure Guy was in it, but the book isn’t from his POV like I was truly hoping. Guy’s POV wasn’t explored at all.
Instead, it’s from Connor’s POV. Connor raised the biggest red flag for me: Moving to a completely different city to be with a man who a) stopped communicating with you and b) you’ve been driving by his house/work without saying anything for weeks is considered STALKING. But it’s okay because it’s true love. I can look passed that, I guess.
Because Guy’s personality wasn’t explored, I still feel like we know nothing about him, only what other characters say about him. He had a flare for the dramatic, sure, but he was a complex character. I would’ve found him much more interesting than Connor’s whiny, jealous inner ramblings. But I admit, the whole dinner party theatrics at the end had so much secondhand embarrassment.
Also, Josh was still a horrible friend. First, it takes you days to see about him in the hospital. Then, you don’t want to take him home with you to make sure he gets on his feet, but leave him with a complete stranger. AND THEN, you get married and don’t even invite him! But Josh considered Guy a best friend? Yeah, okay, bruh.
So once again, Guy gets a rotten deal. This time from his own creator
Texas Rough by Sara York
This…wasn’t good. I feel like I attempted to read a book by Sara York before, but was unsuccessful. I managed to get through this, though I skimmed the majority of this book.
The was more sex than story/plot and they were boring to boot. And the love triangle was so unnecessary and Riley was a creep. And I would really question Lane’s love if another man’s attention made him practically stray and believe whatever Riley told him. I wouldn’t have taken Lane back had I been Gresh.
Here you have two closeted men, both emotionally scarred in someway, York could’ve done so much with that. Everything about Gresh and Lane’s relationship was so superficial and shallow.
And was the last 10 or so pages truly necessary? I have a very hard time believing a black man would have really attacked a white man. Not in southern Texas (or Texas, period.), gay or not. I mean, it happens, but they would’ve put Adam UNDER the jail.
There was just so many needless events and not enough depth to the characters that made this novella ‘rough’ to get through.
It’s Complicated by L.A. Witt
This was alright. I wanted to read this book because the baby-drama angle. I felt like I came in at the middle-end of Brad and Jeff’s relationship. I’ve only read book one in the Tucker Springs series, but reading the blurbs of the other books, there didn’t seem to be another book starring this couple. Perhaps I should’ve read the previous book(s) in the series, but I don’t think I would’ve gotten as much information as I needed to understand the relationship between Brad and Jeff prior to the start of this book.
I didn’t need a complete rehash of their relationship, but just something more than background information. I guess it wasn’t particularly necessary, but it would’ve helped in getting to know the characters a better beyond the fights and the bickering.
Usually I need multiple POVs, but I couldn’t differentiate between Brad and Jeff’s voices. I kept getting confused as to who was saying what and who was having the baby with Christine. I also thought their problems could’ve been solved by asking simple questions. Like, will you go to Denver with me? Would you help me take over the shop? Things that could’ve been discussed but were only glossed over in the end. I didn’t blame Brad for simply just letting go. As a reader, I couldn’t really see why they were hanging on to their relationship because we didn’t really get a glimpse into what they were like before. It really started to feel like they just wanted to stay together for the sex.
I don’t resent Christine wanting to leave. It could’ve come at a better time, but I don’t blame her at all. I wouldn’t want my child growing up being the only black kid around. And I truly hope that, if the series continues, that both authors will have more diversity in the books.
I could go on and on about this. Bottomline, by the end I didn’t really have much hope that they’d be together long term and it seemed like the bad outweighed the good in their relationship. Hopefully their ending is truly happily ever after instead of happy for now.
An ARC copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review.
Contemporary Colors by Adrienne Wilder
This book is intense. It took me a few chapters to really get into it, but once the momentum got going, I couldn’t put it down.
I was really drawn into the mystery of Paris’ past traumas. I usually have a a low tolerance for rich, ~tortured~ artists, but the mystery surrounding his mental illness intrigued me. Though I was surprised he wasn’t diagnosed with some form of synesthesia/ideasthesia.
I wanted more of a romance between Roy and Paris. I’m bit of a traditionalist when it comes to reading romance. I prefer that I only see the main couple have sex on-page and, if there has to be a random hook-up, I’d rather it were implied. Especially when the sex scenes without Roy were so seedy. So many diseases could’ve been spread between all parties. Sure, people were “clean” but it still made me uneasy. In my perception, there just wasn’t a lot of relationship development between Roy and Paris because I felt so wrapped up in Paris’s problems that Roy just seemed like another body. But through his actions, I could see Roy was a good guy and did right by Paris.
I think it took a little too long to reveal what happened to Paris. I got bored in some parts, but my need to know what happened kept be going. Actually the need to see Julia’s utter demise was what kept me reading. I instantly hated her and wished nothing but the worst for her when everything was over and I was completely satisfied in that regard. And I wanted something to happen to Alice. Nothing as bad as Julia per se, but she was a victim blamer and did nothing to stop the abuse Paris went through and got off practically scott free. That was unsatisfying.
Overall, this was a good read. I like psychological thrillers even though they stress me out, haha. But by the end, there were still some unanswered questions that I’d wish had been addressed. Too many people got away with horrible crimes and that’s always something I have a hard time swallowing when reading books like this.
*An ARC copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Sagittarius: Mr. November by Pepper Espinoza
I don’t have a lengthly review for this one. I’ve read the majority of the books in the pepper espinoza/vivien dean/jamie craig “Boys of the Zodiac” series and this one has been on my to-read-wishlist for a long time. So I thought, why not?
I like interracial and sports romances, so I was looking forward to reading this. I’m also a fan of Pepper’s work; she’s one of the first m/m authors I started reading when I got into the genre. Plus, I’m a sagittarius and had to get it, mostly for that ;)
This was a solid read. My only complaints is that I wish there had been more relationship development between DeShawn and Patton. And I would’ve liked more of DeShawn’s POV. From the blurb, you’d expect a relatively equal alternating POV, but it was mostly just Patton contemplating his life as an aging athlete. I would’ve like less of the technical mumbo-jumbo about the american football games they played, which would be lost on anyone who wasn’t extremely familiar with the sport. I just continued reading pretending like I knew what was going on, like I mostly do when I attempt to watch sports. Live or on TV. The pages were scrolling away and they were still playing football at the 15% mark and I was nervous nothing was going to be resolved. The MCs were two closeted athletes, that alone could’ve created the drama that the football games lacked. I know it’s not always about the drama, but I’m sure it’d be more exciting that reading about a football game.
Their story ended on a such happy-for-now note (and it feels like nothing was really resolved), that I’d like to read more about them again.
I have 9 review drafts, but in order to finish them, I’d have to reread the books.
I’ll get to them eventually, I guess.
Let it Ride by L.C. Chase
I read the previous book in this series, Pickup Men, which led up to Let it Ride. I liked the first book enough to read the second.
I actually liked Let it Ride better than Pickup Men. However, the prologue was very clunky and annoying. It just didn’t match the flow of the rest of the novel and could’ve done without it since Bridge’s sexual identity was repeatedly brought up in the following chapters. The prologue also had me fearful that Chase was going to be yet another M/M author who denies the existence of bisexuality in their work, which I really wasn’t in the mood for. It seem to touch that line, but didn’t cross it.
Getting passed the prologue, the story got much better. What I liked most about it was the slow burn. Chase did a great job building up the sexual tension between Eric and Bridge. Slow burning love is always the best.
I empathized with Eric a lot, but I did think his reasonings were repetitive. Actually, many of the same issues were constantly brought up— like Bridge’s sexuality and Eric’s abandonment issues— that felt like beating a dead horse.
This wasn’t the best I’ve read in the gay cowboy genre, but another decent summer read. And I’ll definitely read book three in the series. Chase writes on the sappy side, but the plots are enough to marginally keep my interest.