Review: The Empty Box (The Square Peg #3) by Jane Davitt and Alexa Snow

Dave’s taking life day by day after leaving Travis, his emotionally abusive partner of fifteen years. Working as the cook at the Square Peg is all the social life he has and he’s content with that.

When a swerving car leaves him sprawled on the snowy sidewalk with a broken ankle, being rescued by his new neighbor, young, sinfully pretty Jeremy, seems like the start of something good, even if twenty years separate the two men. But Travis isn’t content to let Dave slip away and Dave’s his own worst enemy, holding Jeremy at arms’ length when Jeremy wants to get as close as possible.

With decisions about his future complicated by his tangled past, can Dave accept the second chance Jeremy offers or will his heart stay empty of love?

I was really looking forward to this one when it came through as a review request to the clubhouse. I love the series and the unique personalities. I think the first it still my favorite, the dynamics that Shane and Ben have is tough to go up against. The strength in this series is in the characters and The Empty Box did not disappoint. Shane and Ben were there as well as Vin and Patrick and I loved reading about them all again. I was worried I would be a little lost since I read The Broken Triangle two years ago but I had no trouble picking up where that one left off which says a lot for the strength of all the characters in the series.

Jeremy is the new addition and he appealed to me immediately. He “rescues” Dave one late night and is attracted to him from the beginning. An older man is definitely his thing and Dave pushes all his buttons. Jeremy is no kid though, he’s 29, successful and independent. His experience with men is sparse, but he’s been with plenty of women. You know the saying, “what he lacks in experience he makes up for in enthusiasm”? That’s Jeremy. He gets tongue tied around Dave and his stream of consciousness conversations are really quite charming.

The first half of the book is Jeremy and Dave getting to know one another and Dave struggling with how to fit Jeremy into his life in a realistic way. He’s not convinced that Jeremy could be interested in him long term because he’s so much younger and he’s beautiful and he’s an eternal optimist and all the ridiculous things a dude with a messed up head thinks. Dave doesn’t get his own appeal so he doesn’t understand Jeremy’s attraction. Dave also has the specter of his long term love with Travis hanging over him and it really had made him into a hot mess. I’ve got to admit, I got frustrated with Dave and his attitude. I mean, I got it, his whole frame of reference with relationships is broken, but not giving Jeremy the benefit of deciding for himself what he did or did not want got old and was just plain disrespectful after a while. It was unfair to put his issues on Jeremy.

Half way through the book I hit a wall of what-the-fuckery. Beware, minor spoilers ahead. The evil ex makes his appearance and threatens Jeremy. Frankly, Jeremy’s reaction surprised me. I understood he was scared, and rightfully so, but until the resolution of their relationship a few chapters later I felt like a new character had taken over Jeremy’s body. His speech and actions didn’t connect at all with his character in the first half of the book and I lost the momentum in the story.

From then on out Travis is a major focus of the book even if his character isn’t present. Jeremy took a bit of a backseat and it just made me sad for him. He deserved better. I really couldn’t blame Dave a whole lot, again, his inner relationship guide is broken, but it was just a big old, fat-ass, hairy bummer for me. Things got way worse for the guys before they got better and they didn’t get better until the very end. By then I was so completely over Travis but he’d been front and center for so long that I had trouble reconciling Jeremy and Dave back together. Dave spent a lot of time pushing Jeremy away and Jeremy spent a lot of time being patient. So very fucking patient. I have to say that it read realistically though. If Dave would have miraculously gotten his head straight I would have called BS.

 My wish would be that Travis got less page time and there was more of Dave and Jeremy as a couple at the end. I think I needed that different balance to put them back together as a couple in my head. I’ll be ready for the next one when it’s rolls around. At least I hope there’s going to be a next one, please tell me there will be! I really like how the authors flow from one story to the next. It’s very smooth with well written reminders of prior stories and characters without a complete rehash that takes up a big chunk of the new story. So, that means I would get more Jeremy and Dave. I need to get back to liking Dave and read about him loving Jeremy. I need to get resolution on the balance of their relationship. Not to mention I love Jeremy’s ramblings and anytime I can read more of Shane and his attitude I’m a happy unicorn.

Read more about The Empty Box over on Goodreads.

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

Review: Best-Laid Plans by Willa Okati

Teddy and Jefferson get along like a house on fire. Literally. Jefferson’s a serious-natured soccer star, and Teddy was born to party till the wheels come off. Oh, they might have jerked it a few times thinking about each other, but they’ll burn this mother to the ground before they ever get along. The only thing they have in common are their friends--Jefferson’s buddy Emmett, and Teddy’s BFF Noelani. Emmett’s just blown all his savings on a house near campus, and he needs tenants to help make the monthly payments. That’s where Teddy and Jefferson come in. Hey, anything’s better than the dorms.

So far so good. Until Noelani’s former fiancĂ© Beau--also Emmett’s former best friend--rolls back into town. Panicked over the return of their old feelings for the rough-riding badass, Noelani and Emmett decide the only sensible ‘save’ is to get married. Of course. Teddy and Jefferson both know that’s a bad idea, and that those two are going to need their friends more than ever. That means only one thing: no choice but to raise the white flag and join forces.

Pros: free rein for sexual hijinks in the name of ‘getting along’. Cons: Easier said than done.

Despite it all, Teddy and Jefferson are also discovering that they have more fun fighting with each other than they would kissing anyone else. Maybe--maybe--they're falling in love. But when Beau reveals the real reason for his return and everything turns topsy-turvy for everyone involved, is their new alliance strong enough to save the day?

This book suffers from trywaytooharditis.

It was too kitschy, too trendy, too many unnecessary words, puns and plot twists. Too much. Meh.

If I could get away with an entire review of just about 50 "meh" and "eh", this would be the book for it. I'll aim to review longer than the blurb. *fingers crossed*  But I'd rather get to the point (of which this book really didn't seem to have) other than showing how on scene it could be.

This book tried too hard to impress, tried too hard to be was closer to lame. Instead of trying to deliver distinguishable characters, other than a few stereotypes (ex. hot tempered red haired man, dramatic effeminate man, the 'butch' macho jock, etc.), their personalities were all kind of the same. It's hard to read a novel of basically the same character with different names.

Frenemies Teddy and Jefferson are college students who don't like each other because Teddy tends to get offended for every damn thing and Jefferson has a tendency to speak without thinking. The thing is Teddy was written to be a big mouth drama queen, but if he just shut up once in a while and stop being quick to be mad (I really can't with people like that, always looking for something to be pissed- it's exhausting) he wasn't that bad. Well, if he lost the quips too. In fact all the characters.  I grimaced all throughout the read and breathed a sigh of relief when I finally saw "The End". 

Jefferson and Teddy would get upset, play fight, avoid each other (quite foolishly) for a long period of time, then have a wank off competition. And then call a truce in the sake of their best friends and their relationship and then start up again for...why? Weak plot device that gets weaker when the ex-fiance shows up in town. The new adults show how adult they really aren't by playing in the big people sandbox and Teddy and Jefferson fall into insta-love during the process. The sex scenes,when they happened in between the quips and long puns was lukewarm because so many words of wasted page time. 

This book was two-thirds too long; a stretched-out-should've been novella where the secondary characters remained the background. Noelani and Emmett and Beau get just as much page time as the main characters, maybe more I can't tell in between Noelani and Teddy huffing, hiding, climbing or running away in the heat of the moment. The pranks in the middle of the book served no purpose but I laughed at the Saran Wrap on the toilet seat prank. 

This is my first Willa Okati, so I don't know if this is standard fare. If it is, I can consider it my last. Because it's too reminiscent to a writing style that doesn't work for me - the cheesy, campy factor. It took me forever to finish this book, it dragged. Once I finally got to the end, I couldn't believe, I read all of that just for that ending. It was really convoluted for a lot of really nothing. It could have easily been told in 20K tops *shrugs* Not memorable in the least. 

P.S. The redhead jokes weren't cool. 

P.P.S. Meh. Eh. Meh.

For more information on Goodreads or Booklikes!

Review: Red Hot (Sex & Mayhem #5) by KA Merikan

--- Live fast. Die young. Fuck hard.---

Red Jack. Rude. Crude. Horny ginger mess. In love with… himself.
Loki. Deadbeat. Volatile. Stalker. Terminally ill. Fatally in love.

When it comes to men, Red Jack has three rules. The guy has to be hot, out of town, and not up for repeats. It’s a good way to keep the gay flings far away from the eyes of his brothers in the Coffin Nails Motorcycle Club, and he will make damn sure it stays that way. When a hookup takes an ominous turn, and the sexy stranger turns up at his house, the heat is on. Loki invades his life and just won’t leave, wreaking havoc wherever he follows Jack, but getting rid of him becomes harder with every kiss.

The world crumbles around Loki when he finds out he has cancer. As if his life wasn’t shit enough already. With only a few months left, he decides to live to the fullest and get every last wish on his bucket list fulfilled. One of those is fucking the hot bearded biker he meets the same night he got the bad news. Big, confident, and dangerous, Red Jack is all Loki ever wanted in a man. After all, he deserves one last shot at love. Who cares if Red Jack is a stubborn, closeted asshole? Loki knows what he wants, and he won’t settle for anything less. Even if it kills him. 

Well, holy shit and fuck-me-sideways, this was good.

First, the cover. *stares* *drools* It's gorgeous! Amiright?

Second, LOKI! Crazier than shit, he is. Loki was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. With not much time left, he made a bucket list. He added "fuck a ginger" to his list. I mean, who wouldn't, really? To fulfill this item he scheduled a hot meet-up with Red Jack.

Red Jack was mean, rude and arrogant. When he hooked up with guys, it's a one time thing and only blow jobs. That way he wouldn't be gay. He did his thing with Loki and moved on. Until Loki turned up at his house, making himself comfortable.

Loki inserted himself into Red Jack's life. He showed up and decided he's going to be Red Jack's boyfriend. It was awkward, to say the least. It was so awesomely awkward.
"Never in Red Jack's life had anyone pursued him this intensely. It was... weird. 'Invasion of privacy' didn't cut it."
Loki took things to an extreme level, but really made no apologies for himself. He was dying, he wanted this guy as his boyfriend and he was going to have it. Beyond the cray-cray, he really just wanted someone there for him in his last months. He wanted someone to miss him and he was going to make Red Jack that person.
"You know I won't change, right? I'm not gonna become some super-gay dude, no matter how much bacon you make for me?"
Oh, Red Jack. Ha! If you only knew. He constantly complained about Loki and his craziness, but he totally loved it at the same time. Red Jack has this huge ego. He overcompensates for his insecurities from his red hair with his arrogance. So even though Loki is driving him insane, all the strokes to his ego are never a bad thing.
"'Yeah? I'm all you can think about?' Red Jack grinned."
Uh huh. He loved all of Loki's unwanted attention.

Hot sex was hot. Dirty talk was dirrrrttttyyyyyyy. All wrong and degrading. *smack lips* These two were sexy. There were sexy-times aplenty, but also some very, very graphic and violent scenes. Red Jack went to great lengths for Loki and it was so wrong, but it warmed Loki's little crazy heart. And that's all that mattered to Red Jack.

Loki and Red Jack's story was hot, graphic, brutal, and sometimes a little outlandish, with a few sweet moments sprinkled in. Completely unputdownable.

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Audiobook Review: Flipping for Him by Jeff Adams

Finding a guy was easy. Keeping him might be harder than running up a tree.

Kevin McCollum is a high school junior with the usual things on his mind: getting good grades, having fun, and finding a boyfriend. The last one was eluding him until he noticed the "parkour guy." After several days of pretending to study while watching the attractive teen jump on rocks, run up trees, and do flips, Shin finally comes over to introduce himself. As they start dating, Kevin should've known it wouldn't be that easy.

Shin's parents only want their son to date Japanese boys. When cultures clash and pressures mount, Kevin has no idea how to subvert traditions and Shin's parents to keep the boy he cares about.

Kevin will need to clear some tricky obstacles to make his modern love story a reality. 

I'm a huge YA fan, so I was excited to not only read one from a new-2-me author, but in audio.  Flipping for Him ended up being a cute story of young love, but overall it fell a bit flat for me.

Kevin is hanging out at the park, thinking of his ex and how he'd like to find that kind of connection again with someone else. There are some guys doing parkour and one catches his eye. He then finds himself coming up with excuses to study at this park where he can ogle this cute guy jumping around.

First of all, I had honestly never heard of parkour before. I had to look it up to see if it really is a thing. And it is! I don't know if that makes me old or just really uncool (<- proven here by my use of the word 'uncool'). But those dudes are cray-zay! For real, they jump around and do tricks on rocks and concrete.  I really liked how parkour played a part in the story and I learned something new. Now if it were to come up in conversation, I can be all, "Oh yeah. Sure. I totally know parkour." *shrugs* No big deal.

Back to the story, turns out Kevin wasn't the only one checking someone out, his crush was ogling him, too. Shin came up an introduced himself, which led to dates and kisses and cuteness.

Kevin and Shin were sweet and just what I love in a YA, but the drama surrounding Shin's family and Quan was borderline silly to me. Shin's family is traditional and expects him to be with someone who is Japanese. Girl or boy, it doesn't matter, as long as they're Japanese. Unfortunately, I'm sure this rings true for many families, but what I didn't enjoy was the resolution to all this. It was very anticlimactic as most of the problems were resolved off-page. Not to mention it felt very unrealistic. Shin's family changed their minds, just like that? I would think years and years of "traditions" would be further ingrained in their minds and wouldn't be so easily erased.

Jason Frazier is a good narrator, especially for YA or NA. He has a young voice and has good intonation. He was a little breathy, which was awkward sometimes. But it was a good listen, I'd definitely listen to Jason Frazier again.

I think if Flipping for Him would have stayed with on the sweet and cute side, I'd have enjoyed it more. While I can't highly recommend it, I'll look for more Jeff Adams in the future.

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Group Review: The Complications of T by Bey Deckard

Stuart Leandro knows he’s washed up, both on the big screen, and in his marriage. Then, when things take an even bigger turn for the worse one night, he winds up blind drunk and lost in a foreign city.

Thankfully, someone’s there to rescue him before his face ends up plastered all over the tabloids.

Wary of the motives of the reclusive stranger who brings the fading star into the quiet shelter of a hip but isolated loft, Stuart nonetheless can't deny his curiosity… Or his attraction. Tim is unlike anyone the actor has ever met, but underneath the mystery and quiet attempts at invisibility, Stuart discovers someone whose life has been intertwined with his own for years.

Neither could have predicted that Tim's act of kindness would lead to one of the most intense encounters of their lives—but, are they willing to weather the media storm their extraordinary relationship will cause?

Cupcake - 4 Hearts

There's not just one trans story. There's not just one trans experience. 
-Laverne Cox
I've been on sort of a trans vision quest lately, trying to lessen some of my idiocy on the subject, so this story came along at just the right time. It's filled with powerful and fluid dialogue that's both educational and moving. It's also sweet without being fluffy and gave me squishy good feels. 

Stuart is a bonafide movie star who's in the midst of a separation/divorce and tries to drown his sorrows in the bottle at a bar. I'm not sure how he didn't get noticed until he's curbside considering a brief and cool concrete respite when Tim comes to his rescue and gives him a bed in his spacious warehouse. Tim is transgendered but hasn't had bottom surgery, though there is just one sex scene that's not overly explicit.  

Two things niggle at Stuart's drunken brain: (a) Tim sounds familiar and (b) Tim looks like a she? Turns out Tim is none other than a well known movie critic who as lambasted several of Stuart's films. Awkward. 

BeyBey has put together an endearing tale of self-discovery, open mindedness and finding love in the unlikeliest of places without delving into the dreaded instalove. I would've liked more page time between them that showed their relationship progression, but what is there is golden, so maybe I'm just a hedonist. I was also firmly in Camp Stuart on the 3 month radio silence gambit. A romantic notion to be sure but not pragmatic, in my opinion, especially for two people who've "known" one another for 5 days.

Still, a most enjoyable, quick and enlightening read from one of my favorite authors and highly recommended. I would be delighted to read more about these two if he were so inclined to turn this into a series. 

Bonus points for the sneaky Millennium Falcon tattoo.

SheReadsALot - 4.25 Hearts

Quite simply this is just a romance between two people who just so happen to meet at the right time under slightly intoxicated circumstances. The rest...gender identity, relationship status, fan/hero worship...those are just semantics.

Sweet? Eh...I guess? *scrunches nose* Considering the typical stuff written by the author, this could be considered sweeter. I think it's definitely lighter with a sprinkling of hurt/comfort (very thin layer covering the prominent romantic tones). The story put me in a happy sort of mood.

The world we live in is constantly changing, right? We're becoming more politically correct and title specific each day. And while the transgender community is not a new, it's still in its infancy compared to other parts of the LGBT acronym. The media continues to embrace popular trans figures and it makes me happy. A lot of everyday people are still catching up to change, embracing the rainbow. I think the story's strongest suit is the fact it embraces the main character's cluelessness about a lot of trans topics. I thought it was written tastefully, writing the story from 1st POV helped eased the vibe the author was going for...well for me anyway.

Stuart Leandro's world is crashing down. The famous actor fell off the wagon and is embarrassingly drunk. He gets saved by a well meaning passerby before any fans take any compromising photos. Stuart's estranged wife has finally tapped the final nail in the coffin, his career is sort of in the toilet. Suffice to say, it's just not Stuart's day. Or maybe it is. He's saved by Tim who he confuses to be a man and then a woman and then he sort of puts his foot in his mouth. But once Tim lets him know it's okay and they get to know each other, there is an attraction that they can't deny. This is Stuart's first gay experience and he handles it as best he can. Namely with questions and coming a few times.

There was a sense of humor and snark: 

"You want to know if I have a penis?"
"I do! I was, however, unfortunately born without it, and seeing as what science can offer really, and I mean really, doesn't appeal to me, I'm forced to keep it in the top drawer of the bedside table. Why? Do you want to see it?"
Plus it had the wish fulfillment factor, a cinephile's wet dream: getting to meet their favorite actor and really getting to share their passion and interests. And if they happen to fall for one another on a more intimate level,it doesn't hurt either.

Now, since it has the wish fulfillment angle going on there, the romantic pace got intense really quick and then the pair takes a breather for ninety days. and Tim's reasoning makes sense when he explains himself but I wish I got to read what their ninety days consisted of. I'd like to think a lot of woeful grunts and dreadful pouts and whimpers and muttering of each other's name because the pain became too much to bear.

The story doesn't get too deep. I think it could have gone further but it might be just for my greedy purposes more than for the story that is told. Because it's solid and gets the job done. Quirky, light, hopeful, scattered with snark and...sweet?

Yeah, I guess it is. ;P

Lorix - 4.5 Hearts

Oh how I wish this wasn't a short story because I wanted more. I sat down with my morning coffee and devoured this offering from Bey Deckard. The Complications of T is about as different from his Baal's Heart series as you can get - except I adored it every bit as much. 

If I could have one wish about this story... actually, make that two wishes, firstly I'd want it to be longer and secondly I'd want the insta love angle dropped. In fact, I wouldn't have cared about the insta attraction at all if it hadn't been that Stuart was drunk and disorderly when we (and Tim) first meet him because his wife wanted a divorce. So, it wasn't the attraction that felt too quick, but it made me feel like Stuart was a bit flakey. A longer story would have solved this with a slower on page romance development. 

Actually, as I analyse this story while I write my review, I want to pick the whole timing aspect of it apart. I get instant horniness and sex and attraction, but a week together, then three months totally away from each other, no contact at all and then that's it big decisions made forever. Logically I don't like it. 

Emotionally though - I loved this book. I loved Stuart and Tim. I loved their interactions. I loved Tim's honesty. I loved the fact that an f-m trans character didn't need to be super butch to be male. I loved the sexy times. I loved Stuart's acceptance of Tim and of his feelings for Tim. I loved the writing and descriptions and how it made me feel. I'm an emotional reader and that is why this gets 4.5 hearts from me. Logic v emotion in the book stakes, and emotion wins hands down.

ETA: So, I've just read my girl SRAL's review and I'm stealing the opener...
Quite simply this is just a romance between two people who just so happen to meet at the right time under slightly intoxicated circumstances. The rest...gender identity, relationship status, fan/hero worship...those are just semantics.
Pretty much this is why I loved this story. SO go read the other unicorns' reviews, they say it better than me. 

Justin - 4.25 hearts

This book was very hard for me to rate. It was way out of my comfort zone and not something I would normally read. On one hand I loved it and wanted to give it all the hearts. I loved the writing, I loved the story and I loved Stuart and Tim, the main characters. I didn’t have a problem with the relationship between the MCs starting before Stuart was legally divorced and surprisingly, I didn’t have a problem with the female anatomy in the story. Tim, a transsexual, considered himself fully transitioned yet with the lack of options available to him, he still had a vagina. This was certainly leaning in the insta-love direction but there was no mention of soul mates or professions of love so I was happy with the relationship as it was written.

So what was my minor beef with this story? I think was the missed opportunity. It was a very good romance, but I feel like it could have been EPIC! All the making were there. The setup and how the MCs met was unique and interesting. The chemistry between the main characters was there in droves. Add in the transsexual aspect of this story and you’ve got the potential to knock it out of the park and claim a spot on the "Best Romances of 2015" list. If this story had gone a little deeper, the characters and the relationship fleshed out a little more, it would have on my 'best of 2015' list for sure. Unfortunately, for me, it was very good but not quite spectacular. And I really wanted it to be spectacular!

Let me end on a positive note. This book is really good. I think it would appeal to most any romance reader. Don't let the female anatomy bit scare you even if that's not normally something you're comfortable with. I was very skeptical too, but Mr. Deckard showed me what's important in a relationship. It's not so much the bodies, it's the two hearts that really count.  

Ann - 4.5 Hearts

That was an absolutely lovely story. I actually had that description going through my head while reading it when Stuart said, “’That would be lovely. Really . . lovely.’ Go on Stu. Say lovely again.” Stu was so charming in his clueless ness. Now if someone told me after reading the Baal’s Heart trilogy that Bey would give us a book that would make me sigh and swoon from the sheer loveliness of it I would have snortled in their face. I’m a HUGE fan of that series and the fact that the author can then give us this as well speaks to the range of his talent.
I think what I appreciated most was how he knows how to trust his own words. This is a short story with a big impact and many salient points. The downfall of a lot of shorts that try to cover big topics is that many end up beating a point into the ground and the whole idea loses its impact with the repetition. Bey knows how to write a sentence or convey a thought and then leave it there for me to digest. It shows respect for me as the reader and trust in his own words as a writer. That’s a tough balance and he achieved it here.
Tim and Stuart are great couple characters both together and apart. Tim’s experiences have made him very wise and Stuart is smart enough to know a good thing when it comes his way and not to be a stubborn idiot about what it all “means”. Sometimes things just are and overthinking them will guarantee a failure. As Tim says, “If it works for you, it works for me. The trick is not to overthink it.” Such simple and sage advice.
Of course I would love more, but that’s just me being a selfish reader.

Find out more on Goodreads.

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

Unicorn Favourites: Love in an Open Road Stories: Week Ten

The M/M Romance Group on Goodreads hosts a Don't Read in the Closet event each year where they invite members to submit a photo with a story prompt. Interested authors then volunteer to write the requested stories, which are published for free for everyone to read. It's a fun/exciting/stressful process, and a great opportunity to read stories from favourite authors. And chances are, you'll also discover some new authors, who hopefully have a back-list of goodies to check out :)

This year's event was named Love is an Open Road and they started releasing the completed stories on June first. Here at BMBR, we've been following along on comment threads, anticipating the stories from our favourite prompts, and now greedily reading the stories as they become available.

Sunny: Deep Magic by Gillian St Kevern
Awesome read...

Loved the characters, their story, and the world they lived in.  With an otherworldly feel, with touches of sweetness and humor, and with brilliant little details (Sir Spikesalot :D), this fascinating story captured and kept my interest through every layer, through every reveal.

A few small niggles, mostly how young the adult MCs seemed at times...and I would have liked more world building details like how the morgen age in the water, if they age differently out of the water. Overall, though, this was a delightful, engaging tale and I would love to see it continued, maybe with Duhywynt and Myfanwy? *crosses fingers*

Optimist King's Wench: Still Waters by Alex Gabriel
Be prepared to be blown away.

The world building, story and characters are so rich and nuanced that I sort of went into a trance while reading. Fair warning, it's slightly dark and not at all saccharine for those who tend to shy away from that sort of read.

Drakjan is a ginger nix, not a merman. The lake and river in which he resides are part of world vibrant with mythical creatures from werewolves to match girls, some fundamentally malevolent. The circumstances under which the rip/portal was opened to allow Drakjan through are murky, though I believe that's intentional. Drakjan coexists with his fellow creatures, but doesn't interact with them and hasn't for quite some time. He's forced from his watery home by a couple of murders that have the townsfolk on edge. 

Hraban attempts to hunt him in his own waters. Nixs are not known for their benevolence and their first couple of meetings are hostile and rife with murderous intent. However, Hraban being a professional hunter has a vast knowledge of mythical beings and together they form an uneasy alliance to solve the mystery.

The words are evocative and mesmerizing. Nix mythology was expertly woven into this story. The enemies to lovers trope is deftly composed. Neither of these characters are in the least bit squishy and when they come together it is savage and fierce. 

There's not one fault I can find. The ending is perfect. I couldn't ask for anything more.

It boggles my mind that it's free. I love this country!

Highly recommended.

My thanks to the author and their team for this contribution to the LOR event.

Lorix: Inkling by Alice Archer
This's one of those I don't know how to rate. On one hand I love the writing style, on the other the storyline drove me a bit mad. I loved the premise of the story (great prompt and pic, the author does very well at providing what the prompter asked for), but it felt a little bit like a soap opera. In fact, it was very much like a soap. While I enjoyed reading the story, and the style kept me turning the pages, the over-the-top events and reactions made me raise an eyebrow at times. Mary Calmes makes me feel the same way. I decided on 4 stars, because I did enjoy the story and, at the end of the day, that is what reading is all about. Thank you. 

Review: Protection by T.T. Kove

Adrian isn’t looking for a boyfriend. He’s focused on school and social situations make him anxious. When his mother encourages him to make a friend and be more outgoing, he takes a chance at a party. It doesn’t live up to expectations. His classmates ignore him and the alcohol tastes bad. Worse? Oliver finds him moping in the bathroom.

Oliver, the class clown and know-it-all, might grate Adrian’s last nerve, but he’s the only one paying Adrian any attention. Not only does Oliver flirt him into a bedroom, he charms Adrian’s pants off. Adrian loses his virginity to a man he doesn’t even like and in the morning his anxiety spirals into full panic. They didn’t use protection and popular-with-everyone Oliver insists they need to get tested.

Adrian is sure this isn’t the kind of friendship his mother meant and he tries to distance himself. But it turns out Oliver’s brash personality is just a mask to hide his own insecurities and family embarrassments. Adrian can relate. Oliver may be a know-it-all, yet Adrian can’t abandon him. Besides, they still need their test results. But how can the popular kid be friends with him when Adrian doesn’t want to come out of his shell?

Adrian pushed himself out of his comfort zone by going to party and being with actual people. So while at the party he decides he's just going to hide out until everyone leaves and then he can sneak away. This right here was weird to me. Huh? Why don't you just leave? Nobody was making him stay, he was just worried that leaving would draw attention to himself. Again... huh?

He's discovered in his hiding spot by Oliver. Oliver and Adrian have a class together but have never actually spoken. Oliver is drunk, talks up Adrian and decides to go for it. In the rush of things they have unprotected sex and then have to deal with the repercussions the next day.

That's where their story begins.

Can I say that Adrian is one of the most  unlikable characters I've encountered? He's so rude and off-putting. It's said that he suffers from anxiety, but that didn't translate to me. He just came off as an ass. He very rude towards Oliver and, honestly, I have no idea what Oliver saw in him.

I liked the whole 'opposites attract' theme going on here. Where Adrian is quiet and to himself, Oliver is outgoing and friendly. But I felt like both these characters were cliched and things felt forced. Even though Oliver was more likable, neither character was particularly believable.

The ending was rushed and unfinished. I don't believe in their HEA... but I really don't care about it either, since neither guy really struck a chord with me.

 A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.