Review: Buchanan House by Charley Descoteaux

Eric Allen, thirty-three-year-old line cook, moved in with his grandmother, Jewell, after a disastrous coming-out when he was in middle school. She raised him, and he cared for her when she fell ill. When Jewell died, she left everything to Eric—angering his parents and older brother. The inheritance isn’t much, but Eric and his bestie, Nathan, pool their money and buy an abandoned hotel on an isolated stretch of the Central Oregon Coast. The hotel isn't far from Lincoln City—a town with its own Pride Festival and named for a president—so they christen it Buchanan House after James Buchanan, the “confirmed bachelor” president with the close male friend.

Eric and Nathan need a handyman to help them turn Buchanan House into the gay resort of their dreams. Eric finds Tim Tate in the local listings, and over the months leading to opening weekend, Tim reveals himself as a skilled carpenter with many hidden talents. Eric falls hard for Tim, but before he can see a future with the gorgeous handyman, he has to get over twenty years of being bullied and shamed by his birth family. It would be much easier if Eric’s brother Zach wasn't trying to grab part of the inheritance or ruin opening weekend.

It started good and then...

It crashed.

Buchanan House starts with Eric grieving at his grandmother's funeral. His grandmother was the only positive family figure in his life. Eric's family is homophobic and his mother tries to make a scene at the funeral, they feel they deserve to get a share of Grandma Jewel's will. Eric, with the help of his best friend and his grandma's best friend, puts a stop to the money hungry family with a little clever trick. Eric, living a grueling job as a cook, pools his money with his best bud, Nathan, and opens a resort in Oregon named the Buchanan for the only bachelor American president.

The story was solid up to that point. It kind of jumped around with Eric and Nathan not discussing actually purchasing the resort or Eric's drinking problem that disappears in the rest of the book. this became an issue for me. I would just start getting used to a new idea being introduced and then the story jumped to a different plot point or twist and I'm left wonder and rereading what I missed. Because I must have missed it. I'm wondering who's on first, who's on second while the story is already on fourth base and it skipped third.

The romance started late in the story and then went from level 1 to 10 super fast. Eric has issues: self-esteem, bad break up (he's only been in one relationship and the ex boyfriend was a douche-knuckle with the same name as the current love interest), grief, psychosexual anal issues which relate to his family's homophobia and his struggle with his self acceptance/hatred of his bisexuality (Freud would have a field day with him) So you add all of that and his love of cooking and then the cast of characters and friends into only a novella...the romance will get shortchanged unless the author kept an eye on it.

What the story gave was rushed romance, decent-ish gay fiction, but both suffered because the other half wasn't strong enough to help carry the story.

What I liked:

- The QUILTBAG cast of characters. - The author tried to include as much of those letters in that acronym as possible. Ambitious but it was cool.

- Eric wasn't the typical hot, anal-ready, tall, good looking, sexually aware main character. He was 33 and still questioning his sexual identity as a bisexual man. He still had hang ups (don't we all) and yes his family and their homophobia added to his mental issues with his anus (Freud would have a field day with this guy)

- Eric cried a lot. He was emotional, short and bitchy but still a good person. I liked him. The story not as much as him. Because he became real to me, the way he was written. Eric getting his happy ending. His friendship with Nathan. Though I question the speed of their relationship, the way Tim and Eric acted toward one another was great.

The Problems:

- Storytelling/style - I might be not too clever enough to get all the points of this story. It was too jarring, the pacing was weird instead of quirky.  When it finally hit its stride (last fourth - was far too late to make much of an impact)

- While trying to include the entire QUILTBAG, the romance was swept under the rug -  Eric and Tim barely speak more than a handful of sentences, Eric goes from pining for Tim assuming Tim falls for him more glamorous BFF within two weeks of working on the job. Tim reads standoffish, then enter a big life or death crisis and suddenly Tim is all about Eric. Um...when? (this is an issue I'll discuss later) Then the two are zipping through a relationship into a white wedding in a matter of months when I'm still stuck on the fact they didn't have a solid starting point. The author does a great job of trying to stick every letter from LGBTQIA and having a character represent each faction. And that is great. Thank you. Also the disabled characters also get some shine. Love it but while all those characters are getting included...the romance, or lack thereof is the one that suffers.

- Rushed ending - So not only was I playing who's on first, who's on second and what the hell did I leave on third base, the romance continues to speed train into a HEA whether the characters were ready in my opinion or not (they weren't).

- And the story's 'villain', Eric's brother Zach, who I thought the author did a decent job of portraying as a homophobic bully, just does a 180 without any retaliation or revenge in a phone call? Not buying it. Greedy people don't just stop being greedy because you will it to be or have friends of friends in high places. If the brother was just going to be forgotten like that toward the end, why include him in the first place? The evil mother in the beginning did a fine job of being the bad guy without having to write an evil brother. Yes, he does help add dimension to Eric. But overall, if he starts with a bang and ends with a minor peep, to me, Zach wasn't needed.

I've read this author in the past and enjoyed her work, so I'll just take this as an off day and look out for something else from her in the future. I did enjoy the ideas in this one, wanted to love this so bad but the execution was off. 
For more information on Goodreads or Booklikes!

Audiobook Review: Nowhere Ranch by Heidi Cullinan

Love will grow through the cracks you leave open.

Ranch hand Roe Davis absolutely never mixes business with pleasure—until he runs into his boss, Travis Loving, at the only gay bar within two hundred miles.

Getting involved with the ranch owner is a bad idea, but Roe’s and Travis’s bedroom kinks line up against one another like a pair of custom-cut rails. As long as they’re both clear this is sex on the side, no relationship, no interfering with the job, they could make it work.

Shut out by his family years ago, Roe survived by steadfastly refusing to settle into so much as a post office box. As his affair with Travis grows into more than just sex, Roe’s past catches up with him, threatening the thin ray of happiness he’s found, reminding him it’s well past time he went on his way.

But even a loner gets lonely, and at this point, there’s nowhere left to run. The shame and sorrow of what he’s lost will stay with Roe wherever he goes—until he’s ready to let love lead him home.

 "Unbutton your fly and put your hands on the table."


Oh, how I love Travis & Roe.

Roe has been moving around the country since he was kicked out of his home for being gay. He doesn’t stay in one place too long. He doesn’t get attached. Then, he finds himself working at Nowhere Ranch and he is able to build himself a nice life there. When he decides to go to a gay bar neighboring city he finds his boss, Travis, there as well. While talking and drinking at the bar they realize that they’re both looking for the same thing. Some good ol’ slutty, kinky fun.

OHMIGOD. Holy Hot Damn -- this was some serious sex. Roe likes feeling like a slut. He wants to be dirty and wrong. And, OH BOY, did Travis oblige. When they start their sexual escapades the deal is this: Just -hotcrazyfistingholyshitdidtheyjustdothat- Sex, No Relationship. Well, we’ve seen this a million times folks and we know how it will turn out. But, regardless of the predictability of their relationship I loved the story between Travis and Roe. 

Roe has worked so hard at building his walls, he’s convinced himself that he doesn’t do friendship. With anyone. He spends his birthday and holiday’s alone and wants to keep it that way. His family deserted him, so what’s to stop others from doing the same? That was until Hayley came along and demolished his little safe haven he thinks he’s built around himself. She decided she was going to be his friend and DARN IT, she did. Slowly but surely, Roe opens himself up more and more to the people around him. He’s starting to realize that not everyone will leave him and he is capable of being loved and loving someone in return. I adored Hayley. She’s one tough cookie and proved to Roe how family is supposed to be. 

While Roe easily accepts his status of “friends” with Hayley, he’s not as accepting of the word “relationship” with Travis. In fact, neither one of them are at first. But as time goes on they grow closer and a bond between them forms. I mean, c’mon, you have to have some real trust with someone to do the things and scenes that these two did. I appreciated that there was a struggle to accept their new feelings for each other. This was something that they battled and fought. It was hard for them to accept that what they have is more than friends with benefits. What they had was real and worth the risk. 

I'm pretty sure I've raved about Iggy Toma a time or two. So, let's make it three. My goodness, he is talented. He brings the characters and their dialogue to life. His intonation is spot on and he makes you feel everything happening. Honestly, if Iggy Toma narrates it, I'm going to listen. I'd listen to him read a chemistry book.

I’ve love Heidi Cullinan. She’s able to write one seriously hot book, while still having a strong, heartfelt romance along with it. This book was absolutely not all about their sexual relationship. Yes, that’s how it started, but it turned into so much more. 

 A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Strange Bedfellows by Cardeno C.

Can the billionaire son of a Democratic president build a family with the congressman son of a Republican senator? Forget politics, love makes strange bedfellows. 

As the sole offspring of the Democratic United States president and his political operative wife, Trevor Moga was raised in an environment driven by the election cycle. During childhood, he fantasized about living in a made-for-television family, and as an adult, he rejected all things politics and built a highly successful career as far from his parents as possible. 

Newly elected congressman Ford Hollingsworth is Republican royalty. The grandson of a revered governor and son of a respected senator, he was bred to value faith, family, and the goal of seeing a Hollingsworth in the White House. 

When Trevor and Ford meet, sparks fly and a strong friendship is formed. But can the billionaire son of a Democratic president build a family with the congressman son of a Republican senator? Forget politics, love makes strange bedfellows. 

Strange Bedfellows opens up with... a sexy as hell sex scene. Ah, yes.

Trevor and Ford meet and have, what Ford thinks, is an anonymous hookup, complete with awkward thank yous and goodbyes in the end. Things didn't go as he'd planned. Turns out, things weren't as anonymous as Ford thought and Trevor knew exactly who he was having sex with.

Ford is a Republican congressman who grew up around politics. It's his family business, so to speak. His family is very religious and conservative, and because of this he stays locked up tight in the closet. He sticks to random hookups with guys he doesn't know and who don't know him. He thinks he's happy this way. He thinks this is the only way he can live as a gay man. Until he hooks up with someone who does know who he is.

Trevor is the son of POTUS and a democrat. So when he sees Ford he knows exactly who the other man is. But that doesn't stop him, he knows politics and knows how to be discreet. Although Trevor knows politics, because he grew up surrounded by it, he despises it. He hates the games and the power plays. He wants nothing to do with it all.

After their one-night-stand... it didn't turn out to be a one-night-stand at all. They hit it off and started seeing each other, under the radar. They had awesome chemistry together and I loved their budding relationship as it progressed into more.

Trevor has money. Lots of it. One things that always drives me crazy in M/M is when one MC is wealthy and wants to spoil his guy, but the other guy is all, "Nah, bro. I can't let you buy me stuff. I'm a man." OMG, get over it. Someone wants to do something nice for you, let them. So I was pleased as punch that Ford did not have any problems with Trevor's money. He didn't take advantage or anything, but when Trevor wanted to fly him out to stay in a fancy-shmancy hotel, he had no arguments. I think it's so pointless to angst over, so THANK YOU FORD for not angsting over this non-issue.

Something they did angst over was Ford's coming out, or not coming out, I guess I should say. But I think they both handled this wonderfully. Especially Ford, he's so likable and cute and a bit naive, which only added to the cuteness. He had a lot to risk with his sexuality, but he went all in for Trevor. If that's not a grand gesture, I don't know what is.

This is one of my favorites of Cardeno C.'s. Definitely in my top 3. It was so sexy and sweet, with little angst.

 A copy was provided in exchange for and honest review.

Review: Murder and Mayhem (Murder and Mayhem #1) by Rhys Ford

Former cat burglar Rook Stevens stole many a priceless thing in the past, but he’s never been accused of taking a life—until now. It was one thing to find a former associate inside Potter’s Field, his pop culture memorabilia shop, but quite another to stumble across her dead body.

Detective Dante Montoya thought he’d never see Rook Stevens again—not after his former partner’d falsified evidence to entrap the jewelry thief and Stevens walked off scot-free. So when he tackled a fleeing murder suspect, Dante was shocked to discover the blood-covered man was none other than the thief he’d fought to put in prison and who still made his blood sing.

Rook is determined to shake loose the murder charge against him, even if it means putting distance between him and the rugged Cuban-Mexican detective who brought him down. If one dead con artist wasn’t bad enough, others soon follow, and as the bodies pile up around Rook’s feet, he’s forced to reach out to the last man he’d expect to believe in his innocence—and the only man who’s ever gotten under Rook’s skin.

Murder and Mayhem (Murder and Mayhem #1) by Rhys Ford This is the start of a beautiful friendship between this series and I. I could tell from the first page that I was diving into a Rhys Ford murder mystery, she has a unique and all-consuming way of telling a story. That being said, it’s no formula though, the setting, the mystery and most importantly, the characters are all Murder and Mayhem.

The strength is definitely in the characters. Rook and Dante have great chemistry and their banter is priceless. They are the very definition of enemies to lovers. Dante is on board that train a lot more quickly than Rook is and given Rook’s history it’s understandable.There is more focus on Rook’s character, also understandable, his history is much more complex and if his transition from aloof and alone reformed cat burglar to legit business man and partner were too fast I would have felt cheated and his character would not have rang true in the end.

My favorite aspect of Dante, besides the hotness of course, was that he embodies the modern definition of the word gentleman. According to good old Miriam W, a gentleman is: A well-mannered and considerate man with high standards of proper conduct. That’s Dante, with everything. Even when he breaks the rules he does it with the most noble of intentions and just the proper amount of guilt and urge to make things right again. It makes his character seem almost simple, he’s not of course, but he doesn’t waiver from his core personality and I really liked that. It made it really easy to connect with his character and his balance was needed for the chaos that is Rook. Dante was Rook’s ultimate goal to live a life of normal. No one could give that to Rook but Dante.

The secondary characters are probably some of the strongest I’ve read. The story would not have been the same without Rook’s grandfather Archie, Dante’s uncle Manny and Dante’s partner Hank. Archie is just plain awesome. He’s a complete asshole and he can afford it and he owns it. He also has a deep respect and love for his grandson buried beneath the snark and insults. Manny is Dante’s entirely too wise queen of an uncle. They are one another’s rocks and I know Manny gives Dante a tremendous amount of strength just by loving him. Now Hank is just a total kick and gives the story good balance. He doesn’t play a huge role, but he’s a great vehicle for sounding out issues of acceptance and friendship all laced with humor. I loved every conversation he and Dante had.

The overall story is heavy on aforementioned murders and mayhem and if those are go-to’s for you like they are for me, you will have so much fun reading this story. The romance and relationship aren’t as big of a focus but I’m sure more will be coming in the next installments. Reading this felt like I was reading the beginning of something much bigger for Dante and Rock. While the mystery was solved, their relationship is just beginning and I’m looking forward to more!

As an aside, I loved this:

“Loss of control could do marvelous things for someone caught in a sticky situation.”

For more info on Murder and Mayhem (Murder and Mayhem #1) check it out on Goodreads.

** a copy of this story was provided for an honest review **

Review: Rattlesnake by Kim Fielding

A drifter since his teens, Jimmy Dorsett has no home and no hope. What he does have is a duffel bag, a lot of stories, and a junker car. Then one cold desert night he picks up a hitchhiker and ends up with something more: a letter from a dying man to the son he hasn’t seen in years.

On a quest to deliver the letter, Jimmy travels to Rattlesnake, a small town nestled in the foothills of the California Sierras. The centerpiece of the town is the Rattlesnake Inn, where the bartender is handsome former cowboy Shane Little. Sparks fly, and when Jimmy’s car gives up the ghost, Shane gets him a job as handyman at the inn.

Both within the community of Rattlesnake and in Shane’s arms, Jimmy finds an unaccustomed peace. But it can’t be a lasting thing. The open road continues to call, and surely Shane—a strong, proud man with a painful past and a difficult present—deserves better than a lying vagabond who can’t stay put for long.

You know that saying about how we never see ourselves objectively? Sometimes it takes seeing your reflection in someone else's eyes to register that you're more than you give yourself credit for? I kept coming back to that saying while reading this and hoping Jimmy could catch just a sliver of himself through Shane's eyes.

Jimmy Dorsett is a nuanced character that will warm on even the coldest of hearts. He's grizzled and worn down by life. He's battered and broken and he's learned the hard way that hope is the most dangerous thing of all. It's the poisoned well he can't afford to drink from again.

He'll break your heart with his simple truths. He's long since given up on the idea of "home" and love is not even on his radar. Those things happens to other people. Not him.

He's a ghost, one of the forgotten people. The ones we pass everyday and try to avoid eye contact with them. Through a series of oddly serendipitous events he finds himself in a sleepy little town where everybody knows everybody called Rattlesnake and meets Shane Little.

Shane notices Jimmy immediately. Sees the good, maybe recognizes a kindred spirit and sees his pain. Shane, too, has seen his fair share of hard knocks and maybe that's what makes him throw all his chips in on Jimmy. Jimmy's a gamble if ever there was one.

I knew you'd love me as long as you wanted
And then someday you'd leave me for somebody new
Why do I let myself worry?
What in the world did I do?
Oh, crazy
For thinking my love could hold you
I'm crazy for trying
I'm crazy for crying
And I'm crazy for loving you

~Patsy Cline

Drifting is all Jimmy's ever known and every day in Rattlesnake he tells himself will be his last. He'll be off to the next town, the next adventure. And one day turns into two turns into weeks turns into a couple of months... Then small glimmers of hope start to creep in, a subtle turning of the tide.

Their journey is not the easiest nor is it the hardest. They are two ordinary, middle aged men who want desperately to belong to someone and, hopefully, that person can overlook their flaws, the ones that are visible and the ones that aren't.

Rattlesnake is a quiet slice of life tale that is character driven. It's low angst and if you're looking for characters that are glitzy and ostentatious, explosions or action, you'll be disappointed. When you boil it down, Rattlesnake is about the nurturance and care of a blossoming and fragile relationship and one man's journey to rediscovering hope.

Fielding creates an atmosphere with a few deftly chosen words that put me right into whatever fictional place she's crafted without inundating me with interior decorating. I could almost smell the french toast wafting from Mae's, hear Betty's a cappella rendition of 'Crazy' and feel the bark on that 500 yr old tree on the ranch. 

She weaves the character development into the quilt of this story with each patch being another heartbreaking, joyous or poignant moment that will take your breath away. I don't know if I fell more for Jimmy and Shane or Rattlesnake and all its meddling, protective and dynamic secondary characters. They protect their own, but once you're one of them you can expect the same treatment. 

"It's about the folks who want you, who stick with you no matter what. They know your secrets and flaws, and you know theirs, and you love each other anyway."

The sex is intimate, passionate, not overly explicit yet erotic with some stunningly vivid moments of vulnerability.

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep the ends out of the ties that bind
I find it very, very easy to be true
I find myself alone when each day is through
Yes, I'll admit I'm a fool for you
As sure as night is dark and day is light
I keep you on my mind both day and night
And happiness I've known proves it right
You've got a way to keep me on your side
You give me cause for love that I can't hide
Because you're mine, I walk the line

~Johnny Cash

If you're looking for a feel good read, you've found it.

Highly recommended.

An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more on Goodreads.

Review: Boss by Ashley John

After years of travelling the world using his trust fund, college-dropout Joshua Silverton returns to London to discover two shocking truths: his estranged and wealthy father has been dead for over a year and he left his fortune to a total stranger. Joshua soon meets the man who stole his inheritance and even though he expects to hate Ezra Steele, he can’t ignore the strange attraction he suddenly feels towards him.

Bill Silverton saved Ezra Steele from his troubled past when he signed Silverton Tower over to him on his deathbed. Ezra now has the house, the business, the cars, the money and a different man in his bed every night. It’s a life he wants to cling to, so when Bill’s gorgeous son unexpectedly turns up and demands he hand everything back, his life is turned upside down in more ways than one.

A need to finally prove himself to his dead father forces Joshua to challenge Ezra but will he be able to ignore the attraction in order to be ruthless? Ezra tries to keep his enemies close by getting Joshua into his bed but as history catches up with him, he is forced to face himself. They are both running from their past, so in a battle between head and heart, Joshua and Ezra must choose what is more important – money or each other.

" "Fuck me," Joshua moaned, "do it." It was a demand, a raw and primal demand. A demand unbothered by sexuality or conflict. A demand from a man who was ready to give in to his desires. A demand from a man who knew what he really wanted. "
Ashley John has a talent. Not just his writing talent, but a talent to make me enjoy books I would not normally. He can take a story and make me want to read it, even if I don't want to read it! I'm kinda talking in riddles, huh.

Okay. When I first read the blurb of Boss, I wanted to read it. It sounded different to what Ashley usually writes - and I have to admit, I liked the fact it was set in England. When I started reading I didn't really like Joshua at all. He sounded like a stuck up, self-entitled, rich brat. He was a stuck up, self-entitled, rich brat. Starting a book with an MC I could barely tolerate is not usually a good sign. But here is where the magic of Ashley's writing comes in, because he makes me care about the rich brat, even while my brain is telling me not to. 

Not only did he make me care about the rich brat, he made me care about the antagonist, Ezra, too. Even when Ezra was being a dickhead. Ezra, who came from nowhere and took everything. Ezra with  pain in his past and a burning need to succeed. (Ezra, who in my head looked exactly like Idris Elba, even though the description of him was nothing like him!  I think it was the name, Ezra/Elba, because before I'd even started I'd got that image in my head - and let's face it, it's a pretty good image to have stuck in your noggin!).

The story of these two - slightly reminicscent of a Prince and a Pauper, set in the business world of today's London - was so readable. Rich boy left with nothing, poor boy given everything. The fight they have, one to regain and one to keep, all while experiencing emotions they've neither been party too before. Love. Neither had truly been loved, not for a long time. Both were toughened, hardened to the world at large, more interested in the tangible than the emotional.To love your enemy though? It takes a whole lot of trust - and trust is a difficult commodity for them both to come by.

As I read this book, I could switch off my emotion and clinically point out things that would normally make me roll my eyes - but this lad is talented, and I am so engrossed in the story and the tale of the characters that I don't care. I really don't. Nit-picky me can take a hike because, as far as I'm concerned, reading is about enjoyment and I damn well enjoyed this story. I really did. I'm super pleased to see there is going to be a second book in this series and would recommend people check out this author, he just gets better and better.
A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.
Find out more at Goodreads.