Cat's Books: Romance

This is a companion blog on the Romance genre to my theme and troupe list making madness. North American Wordcat: Romance Reader Reviewer, Romance List Maker.Twitter @Catsbookrom, Cat's Books Romance Novel Theme Park catsbooks.net Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cats-Books-Romance/

Coin Tricks by Willow Scarlett 4 Star Review!

Coin Tricks - Willow Scarlett

 

Wire's too huge and intimidating to find love… but that doesn't stop him dreaming.

His size has defined his whole life, from his jobs as a bouncer and store security to his brief and unsatisfying relationships. But beneath his scary appearance, Wire's kind and loving. He cares for his family and his dog and imagines a future with a goat at his side.

Then he catches Sid stealing soap.

Sid's a cute librarian and aspiring magician, raising his sister alone and stealing when he can't make ends meet. Wire should report the theft to the cops but instead he takes food parcels to Sid, and an unlikely friendship forms. Sid is shy and scared at first, but with time he reveals his inner strength and the burning ambition that makes him the opposite of Wire's laid-back aimlessness.

Wire falls hard. But he's never been anything more than disposable to goats, and he can't bear to have his heart broken by his only friend. And years of trying to be different can't hide the fact that Wire was raised to be rough, to think with his fists and ask questions later. He keeps making a bad impression on Sid without meaning to, running the risk of losing Sid before they have the chance of finding something more together.

They have to struggle with work and their families and the weight of the past, trying to unite their very separate lives to create something new and beautiful. Wire knows his dreams of love are just that: Dreams. Sweet but impossible. But that doesn't stop him dreaming…

Review 

 

This books is a little treasure. 

It is set in New Zealand with a wonderful interracial romance between an impoverished ginger hero who at a very young age is caring for his sister and Maori hero whose size often makes others see him as less than.

Wire is kind with all kinds of depth to his character including a love of books, a twin, a dog, and a large family that his is dedicated to taking care of. 

Sid is bristly but charming and full of magic and learning to trust. 

The romance between them is lovely and about making your own family and healing.

There are rough bits here an there with Sid's character's choices a bit less explored because we are in Wire's head but all in all a great slow burn of a romance you should pick up.

Fever Pitch (Love Lessons Book 2) by Heidi Cullinan 4 Star Review

Fever Pitch: Love Lessons, Book 2 - Heidi Cullinan, Iggy Toma

Sometimes you have to play love by ear.

Aaron Seavers is a pathetic mess, and he knows it. He lives in terror of incurring his father’s wrath and disappointing his mother, and he can’t stop dithering about where to go to college—with fall term only weeks away. Ditched by a friend at a miserable summer farewell party, all he can do is get drunk in the laundry room and regret he was ever born. Until a geeky-cute classmate lifts his spirits, leaving him confident of two things: his sexual orientation, and where he’s headed to school.

Giles Mulder can’t wait to get the hell out of Oak Grove, Minnesota, and off to college, where he plans to play his violin and figure out what he wants to be when he grows up. But when Aaron appears on campus, memories of hometown hazing threaten what he’d hoped would be his haven. As the semester wears on, their attraction crescendos from double-cautious to a rich, swelling chord. But if more than one set of controlling parents have their way, the music of their love could come to a shattering end. 

 

Review

 

So good! Heidi Cullinan is taking all my money.

 

Giles and Aaron are young and finding themselves. The stumble a great deal. Aaron very shy and lonely though on the outside he doesn't look it. Giles is very brave with everything but his heart.

 

They don't take enough risks with each other at first but as they grow into themselves they grown into friendship and a deep abiding love.

 

This is a really grand romance.

 

The whole cast is wonderful.

 

Great series. Great book.

Frozen Heart (Love Lessons) by Heidi Cullinan 4 Star Review

Frozen Heart - Heidi Cullinan

Proposals don’t come with instructions.

Walter Lucas knows his boyfriend has been looking forward to the newest movie about a certain snow princess, but he isn’t prepared for the reality that is the front-row seat of Kelly Davidson’s cartoon obsession. There’s more going on in November than just the movie, however—Walter’s been working up the nerve to ask Kelly a certain question. When Walter set up his elaborate Thanksgiving marriage proposal, it seemed like such a good idea, but as the holiday, the movie premiere, and the question Walter never dreamt he’d be asking anyone converge…let’s just say even Hollywood’s best couldn’t sing and dance their way out of Walter’s tangle.

 

Review

 

Wow. I can't get over how much wonderful Heidi Cullinan was able to pack into the Walter and Kelly short story.

 

I almost didn't pick this up because we had seen the proposal in anther book.

 

This is so worth it. All the Disney and loving your partner and awww.

 

The details are grand. If you like this series, read this one.

Ethan in Gold (Johnnies, #3) by Amy Lane Review

Ethan in Gold - Amy Lane

Evan Costa learned from a very early age that there was no such thing as unconditional love and that it was better to settle for what you could get instead of expecting the world to give you what you need. As Ethan, porn model for Johnnies, he gets exactly what he wants—comradeship and physical contact on trade—and he is perfectly satisfied with that. He’s sure of it. 

Jonah Stevens has spent most of his adult life helping to care for his sister and trying to keep his beleaguered family from fraying at the edges. He’s had very little time to work on his confidence or his body for that matter. When Jonah meets Ethan, he doesn’t see the hurt child or the shamelessly slutty porn star. He sees a funny, sexy, confident man who—against the odds—seems to like Jonah in spite of his very ordinary, but difficult, life. 

Sensing a kindred spirit and a common interest, Ethan thinks a platonic friendship with Jonah won’t violate his fair trade rules of sex and touch, but Jonah has different ideas. Ethan’s pretty sure his choice of jobs has stripped away all hope of a real relationship, but Jonah wants the whole package—the sexy man, the vulnerable boy, the charming companion who works so hard to make other people happy. Jonah wants to prove that underneath the damage Ethan has lived with all his life, he’s still gold with promise and the ability to love.

 

Review

 

I like Evan/Ethan a great deal and I love Jonah. All the time the book is dealing with the love story with Jonah it is great. Even the super sad parts. 

I love a geek hero (and they both have geeky hobbies). I love a plain Joe which Jonah is. I love the Jonah is steadfast and in pursuit. He is awesome. 

Ethan's backstory is sad but the details of his family drama are a bit of a splatter effect and not as well detailed as it could be.

This book parallel in time with the first two books in the series and I read it out of order but it is likely better in order. 

There is a really not great part where Kane the hero in the last books gets referred to by an animal name. It is not good and makes no sense really and wasn't needed and should have been edited out. It really makes the book sink in those places. 

Also, Ethan should have good back to therapy. Lots of triggers in this book too but more off screen than in Book 1 and Book 4.

Lonely Hearts by Heidi Cullinan 4 Star Review

Lonely Hearts - Heidi Cullinan

 

 

Even hot messes need a happily ever after.

With the quiet help of his wealthy family, Sebastian “Baz” Acker has successfully kept his painful past at bay. But as the end of college draws near, his friends—his buffer zone—are preparing to move on, while his own life is at a crippling standstill. With loneliness bearing down on him, Baz hooks up—then opens up—with Elijah Prince, the guy Baz took a bullet for last year. The aftershocks of their one-night stand leave giant cracks in Baz’s carefully constructed armor. For the first time, the prospect isn’t terrifying.

Accustomed to escaping his demons by withdrawing into his imagination, Elijah isn’t used to having a happy herd of friends. He’s even less comfortable as the object of a notorious playboy’s affections. Yet all signs seem to indicate this time happiness might be within his grasp. When Baz’s mother runs for a highly sought-after public office, the media hounds drag Baz’s and Elijah’s pasts into the light. In the blinding glare, Baz and Elijah face the ultimate test: discovering if they’re stronger together…or apart.

 

Review

 

You need to read the other books in this series to enjoy this book to its fullest but enjoy it you will.

 

As always, Heidi Cullinan writes compelling flawed lovable characters. Neither Bas nor Elijah are nice. Elijah has massive trust issues and Baz too easily use power. But they are both kind.

 

They each have so many open and closed wounds and have physical and mental disabilities created by the events of their past. They have coping mechanism that are not healthy.

 

They are drawn to each other and they come to love each other. And we can believe that while not easy, they will be each others soft place to fall.

They love.

 

A great circle of friends and all kinds of support systems, reaching out, healing of others, and fun details make this a really great book and romance.

Manic Pixie Dream Boy (The Underdogs #1) by K.A. Merikan Review

Manic Pixie Dream Boy (gay rockstar romance) (The Underdogs Book 1) - K.A. Merikan

Dusk. Leader of The Underdogs. Destined for greatness. Lives in the now.
Abe. AKA Lolly. Iridescent. Unicorn.

All Dusk wants out of life is for his band to become world famous. He also wants to have a lot of fun along the way. And to get his rocks off. When he wants something, he goes for it, consequences be damned.

So when he sees a gorgeous pink-haired guy who is the human equivalent of tattooed cotton candy, he can’t help but have a taste. But it’s when Lolly ends up on their tour bus that Dusk knows their meeting was destiny

Abe is the kind of guy who goes with the flow. He was hitchhiking anyway, so why not spend the week with a hot piece of rocker beefcake, getting smothered by his sexy long hair? And why not play the part of the supportive cutie while he’s at it? It’s not like he’d be sticking around for long anyway.

All plans hit a wall when photos of Abe and Dusk emerge online, suddenly pushing the band into the spotlight. To take advantage of the sudden popularity, the band offers Abe money for staying. 

Which means money for being in a fake relationship with Dusk.

Which isn’t even fake.

Or is it?

 

 

 

Review

 

I love the idea of Lolly/Abe. I adore the happy themed tattoos et all. But the actual development of the character is uneven and too late in the book to work well.

 

Dusk's character has many of the same issues. They don't talk even after several moments of saying TALK. I don't think Dusk even asks Lolly's real name until near end of the book 

 

Then, we get into a pretend relationship trope which is awkward and an even more awkward climax and break up.

 

Hmmmm. I will likely read Dawn's story because interested but I hope the emotionial depth of the writing gets better.

 

 

Signal Boost by Alyssa Cole $2.99

Signal Boost (Off the Grid) - Alyssa Cole

When technology stopped working, the world as they knew it ended.

In a secluded cabin, John and his loved ones have survived. He should feel grateful. But his family is in his face 24/7, he has to watch his best friend, Arden, and brother, Gabriel, flaunt their love, and as a techie in a Luddite world he’s pretty much useless. The cabin is brimming with people, but he feels utterly alone.

 

Until he catches Mr. Tall, Blond and Gorgeous raiding their garden. Mykhail is an astrophysics student, he makes John’s gaydar ping like crazy and he thinks he knows what caused the devastation. He’s on a journey to his university to find answers, and John invites himself along. Partly to get out of the house, and partly because he can’t let Mykhail go without acting on the mutual attraction that’s so obvious even John’s mom is playing matchmaker.

 

The closer they get to campus, the more Mykhail lets down his walls. But with answers come secrets both devastating and deadly, and before they can save the world, they’ll have to save themselves.

This Heart of Mine By Susan Elizabeth Phillips $1.99

This Heart of Mine - Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Molly Somerville loves her career as the creator of the Daphne the Bunny children's book series, but the rest of her life could use some improvement. She has a reputation for trouble that started even before she gave away her fifteen-million-dollar inheritance. Then there's her long-term crush on the quarterback for the Chicago Stars football team her sister owns—that awful, gorgeous Kevin Tucker, a man who can't even remember Molly's name!

One night Kevin barges into Molly's not-quite-perfect life and turns it upside down. Unfortunately, the Ferrari-driving riving, poodle-hating jock isn't as shallow as she wishes he were, and she soon finds herself at a place called Wind Lake. Surrounded by paintbox cottages, including a charming old bed-and-breakfast, Molly and Kevin battle their attraction and each other as they face one of life's most important lessons. Sometimes love hurts, sometimes it makes you mad as hell, and sometimes—if you're lucky—it can heal in a most unexpected way.

Enjoy the Dance (Dancing, #2) by Heidi Cullinan Review

Enjoy the Dance (Dancing Book 2) - Heidi Cullinan

Kindergarten teacher Spenser Harris has carved a quiet, stable future out of his tumultuous past, but his world turns upside down the night a homeless teen appears on his doorstep—a boy whose story mirrors the one Spenser has worked so hard to overcome. The decision to shelter Duon is easy. What’s tricky is juggling the network of caregivers in Duon’s life, especially Tomás Jimenez.

Tomás wouldn’t have hesitated to take Duon in, but his plate is already full working three jobs to support his family. Though Spenser’s carefully constructed walls are clearly designed to keep the world at bay, Tomás pushes past Spenser’s defenses, determined to ensure the man is worthy of his charge. As the two of them grow closer, Tomás dares to dream of a life beyond his responsibilities, and Spenser begins to believe he might finally find a home of his own after all.

But Spenser and Tomás’s world is forever poised to crash down around their ears. Duon’s grandmother isn’t sure she wants him to be raised by a gay man and challenges Spenser’s custody. Tomás’s undocumented parents could be deported at any time, and all the while the state of Minnesota votes on a constitutional amendment against marriage equality and the US Supreme Court debates whether or not Spenser and Tomás get a happily ever after. All they can do is hold tight to their love, hope for a better future…and remind each other to enjoy the dance.

 

Review

Spenser and Tomas are lovely. The romance between them unrolls slowly like it has to when we have family and work and life. 

This book ends up being about so many things in terms of social justice: the immigration system, equality, LGTBQA rights, adoption, fostering, the arts, job protection, poverty...

It is ground in a wonderful circle of friends and also deals with the addiction of a loved one. 

The romance balance could be richer in places but overall it is a very good read and a must for lovers of Cullinan's world.

Dex in Blue (Johnnies #2) by Amy Lane Review

Dex in Blue - Amy Lane

Ten years ago David Worral had plans to go to college and the potential for a beautiful future in front of him. One tragic accident later, he fled to California and reinvented himself as Dex, top porn model of Johnnies. 

Dex’s life is a tangled mess now, but the guys he works with only see the man who makes them believe even porn stars can lead normal lives. When Kane, one of Dex’s coworkers, gets kicked out of his house, the least Dex can do is give him a place to stay. Kane may be a hyperactive muscle-bound psycho, but he’s also a really nice guy. What could be the harm? 

Except nothing is simple—not sex, not love, and not the goofy kid with the big dick and bigger heart who moves his life into Dex’s guest room. When they start negotiating fractured pasts and broken friends, Dex wonders if Kane’s honest nature can untangle the sadness that stalled his once-promising future. With Kane by his side, Dex just might be able to reclaim the boy he once was—and if he can do that, he can give Kane the home and the family he deserves.

 

Review

 

I have a soft spot for kind, care taking heros who love pets and Carlos/Kane is just that. Dex is also a care taker and I just love them together.

 

This is a great friends to lovers romance. They both are pretty clueless about so many things but in the end they see and value each other.

 

It is my favorite book of the series.

 

There is a great deal of crazy plot with all of Johnnies but this book does a good job of

keeping the love story at the center.

Ready For Love (Semper Fi, The Forever Faithful, #1) by Stella Starling Review

Ready For Love (Semper Fi, The Forever Faithful Series) (Volume 1) - Stella Starling

Jake Hansen has been crushing on Gabe Byrne for half his life, but since Gabe is a straight, self-proclaimed commitment-phobe who moved away years ago to join the Marines, that crush is strictly a fantasy-best-enjoyed-in-private. And even when Gabe starts to flirt with him like crazy, Jake still knows better than to think it means anything.

Because falling in love with your straight bestie? Not just a cliche, but a guaranteed recipe for disaster.

…right?

Growing up, Gabe never saw “Little Jakey” as anything more than the kid who always liked to tag along after him and his brothers, but somehow, being friends with Jake has become the best part of his day. And after a seven-month deployment? Seeing Jake is the one thing he’s looking forward to the most.

He just didn’t expect that hanging out in person again would be so confusing… or keep blurring the lines about how straight he is… or keep making him want things that he never thought he would.

Things that seem a lot like forever.

 

Review

I liked this book despite myself. 

I adored Jake. I loved his self awareness and fun. 

Gabe is a commitment phobe and a reactor so not my favorite character type. He also is in the I have never felt desire for any other man but you type and not a demisexual so also not my favorite. He does a lot of not self aware stuff. 

And yet it is a sweet romance and I liked Jake enough and he liked Gabe enough that I enjoyed myself. 

A nice circle of friends and family. I have already started the next book in the series which is way sweeter and I like it much more.

Taking a Knee by Sean Ashcroft 4 Star Review!

Taking a Knee - Sean Ashcroft

Noah’s otherwise average life has just hit a wall. As an out-and-proud roller derby player, his team is right in the middle of qualifying for next year’s national competition when he suddenly loses his job--and therefore the work visa that was keeping him in the country. 

Unexpected help comes in the form of Jace, his straight best friend and ‘derby husband,’ the guy who always looks out for him on the track. The solution to all of Noah’s problems? Get fake married to Jace, get his green card, and play out the rest of the season after all. It almost sounds too good to be true.

Jace has two loves in his life: his career as a pediatric nurse, and his roller derby team. When he finds out that their star player is on the verge of being deported, he’s willing to do anything to stop it--including marrying the guy. It’s only for three years, and it’s not as though anyone's going to get hurt.

Things get messy when Jace begins to realise he may not be as straight as he’s always thought he was. Since when did Noah have such pretty eyes? And why the hell is he thinking about him all the time? 

Between a jealous rival, Noah’s ex-boyfriend, and the mother-in-law from hell, Jace comes to realise that he wants more out of this marriage than the chance to head to the national championships.

All he has to do now is summon the courage to tell Noah that. And win the rest of the games in the season. And deal with his new mother-in-law. Easy.

 

Review

This romance has a ton of catnip for me which made me really like it and forgiven some of the lighter brush stokes of plot, character, and family.

 

It is a great friends to lovers, marriage of connivence, green card marriage plot.

 

Both heroes were great and while there is a discovered sexuality theme, the angst level is low. There is a lot of love here.

 

And then the awesomeness of Roller Derby. Which is awesome.

 

A great deal of fun to be had here!

Destiny's Captive by Beverly Jenkins $1.99!

Destiny's Captive - Beverly Jenkins

Noah Yates fully believes in the joys of a happy family and a good wife. But that's not the life for him. No, he would much rather sail the wild seas in search of adventure, not tied down. But then the unthinkable happens . . . he finds himself literally tied down. To a bed. By a woman.

 

And Pilar isn't just an ordinary woman. She's descended from pirates. And after giving him one of the worst nights of his life, she steals his ship! Now Noah is on the hunt, and he'll stop at nothing to find this extraordinary woman . . . and make her his.

Destiny's Embrace by Beverly Jenkins $1.99

Destiny's Embrace - Beverly Jenkins

Logan Yates, a self-important ranch owner, must confront his feelings for his beautiful, free spirited housekeeper, Mariah Cooper. While they bicker incessantly, their sexual tension is palpable, and only rises when Mariah's former lover arrives on the scene. Will she accept Logan's heart?

Lingus by Mariana Zapata 99 cents! Funny!

Lingus - Mariana Zapata

Most people would describe Katherine Berger as a responsible girl with a big heart, a loyal friend who takes care of those close to her, and the possessor of a wicked sense of humor. There was something about her that most people didn't know. "My name is Kat Berger, and I love porn."

When twenty-five-year-old Kat is dragged to a porn convention by her best friend, she's both embarrassed and nervous. The last thing she ever expected was to meet someone who makes her laugh like no other. This is a story about acceptance and friendship, and a love born out of the most unexpected of places.

Forever Your Earl By Eva Leigh $1.99

Forever Your Earl - Eva Leigh

Eleanor Hawke loves a good scandal. And readers of her successful gossip rag live for the exploits of her favorite subject: Daniel Balfour, the notorious Earl of Ashford. So when the earl himself marches into her office and invites her to experience his illicit pursuits firsthand, Eleanor is stunned. Gambling hells, phaeton races, masquerades . . . What more could a scandal writer want than a secret look into the life of this devilishly handsome rake?

 

Daniel has secrets, and if The Hawk's Eye gets wind of them, a man's life could be at stake. And what better way to distract a gossip than by feeding her the scandal she desperately craves? But Daniel never expected the sharp mind and biting wit of the beautiful writer, and their desire for each other threatens even his best-laid plans.

But when Eleanor learns the truth of his deception, Daniel will do anything to prove a romance between a commoner and an earl could really last forever.