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 Facebook

The Apothecary's Garden by Julie Bozza Review

The Apothecary's Garden - Julie Bozza

Hilary Kent, a Londoner all his working life, retires to Wiltshire after an estranged cousin unexpectedly leaves him an inhabitable tower surrounded by an overgrown physic garden – and that’s when graduate student Tom Laurence suddenly erupts into his life, convincing him that together they can restore the ancient garden to its former glory. Tom’s cheerful friendship is the best thing that’s ever happened to Hilary and he’s perfectly content with that until, to his astonishment and confusion, it seems that Tom’s affection for him is beginning to grow into something more … something he feels he probably shouldn’t allow.




If you like age gaps in romance this is a doozy. There are so many little gestures to love in this quiet romance. History, the garden, the discussion of love...

The writing is lyrical and comforting. It is a mellow book despite some of the internal drama. I would have loved if this book was told from the younger hero's point of view and not just Hilary's. There are just details that are missing because of a solo point of view. 

They both are kind fine men and I am glad they found each other.


What It Looks Like by Matthew J. Metzger Review

What It Looks Like - Matthew J. Metzger

Eli Bell is the only son of a police chief inspector and a forensic scientist. He's grown up wonky in a world that only deals with the straight and narrow -- and his new boyfriend isn't helping.

Rob Hawkes is six feet of muscle, tattoos, and arrest warrants. A career criminal and a former tenant of Her Majesty's Prison Service, he'd rather hit Eli's parents than sit down to dinner with them. One wrong move, and Rob could destroy Eli -- and his family -- without a second thought.

But this isn't what it looks like.

Rob's not in control here -- and Eli's the one to blame.




This book is a bit of a wild ride. Both Rob and Eli have explosive tempers. They fight. With each other and in Eli's case with his family members. 

There are class difference and some star crossed issue to clear up. The BDSM parts were a bit intense for me but I bought into the love between the heroes.

The portions of the book that dealt with transgender identify and family emotionially connected as did the discussion of police and public relations. 

The resolution to the conflicts was a bit over the top but in here is tucked a pretty good love story.

Poster Boy (Theta Alpha Gamma #5) by Anne Tenino Review

Poster Boy - Anne Tenino

t's all fun and games until someone puts his heart out.

After being outed to his hockey team and then changing schools, Jock figures he’s due for something good — like the sex he missed out on in the closet. Toby, the hot grad student he meets at a frat party, seems like a great place to start, and their night together is an awesome introduction to the fine art of hooking up.

Toby’s heart takes a bruising after the near-perfect experience with Jock leads to . . . nothing. He’s been left on the outside as his friends pair up into blissful coupledom, and he’s in danger of never completing (or starting) his thesis. Can’t something go right?

Then Toby’s coerced into chaperoning a Theta Alpha Gamma trip to France. Not that he’s complaining. What better place to finish his thesis and get over that frat boy? Except Jock’s outing is leaked to the press, turning him into an unwilling gay rights martyr, and he decides France would be a great escape, too. It’s a break from reality for both guys, but they soon find their connection is as real as it gets.




 have enjoyed this series and Toby's and Jock's romance makes an intersting addition.

Toby in previous books has been kind of hard to read. We get in this book that he feels kind of plain and not that valuable. His fetish of more "virginal" guys isn't well explored but we do get a lot more insight into who he is. He grows a great deal in this book and I end up liking him a great deal. 

Jock is a bit of a mess. Young and self centered. Jock hooks up briefly with Toby and is pretty rude really about the whole thing. It means more to Toby or at least Jock isn't ready to have it mean anything. 

They end up in France together. Jock is terrified on emotionial intimacy and has all sorts of internalized homophobia to deal with. Toby takes all kinds of emotionial risks that I am not always sure the Jock deserves. But it ends up a sweet love story in the end and Jock really sorts his stuff out in a very satisfying way and Toby learns his true calling. Good stuff. 

I love the surprise secondary romance, the madcap frat boys, setting, and the history.

I hope Noah gets his own book.

There's Something About Ari (Bluewater Bay #2) by L.B. Gregg Review

There's Something About Ari - L.B. Gregg

Buck Ellis’s future seems pretty damn bright. With a full college scholarship in hand, he’s going to ditch Bluewater Bay and pave the way for his kid brother Charlie to do the same. The only fly in Buck’s ointment is his ten-year addiction to his best friend since second grade, his true love, and his Achilles heel: Ari Valentine, Mr. Least Likely to Succeed.

But then Buck’s mother dies, changing everything, and five years later, his future is still on hold. It’s a struggle to keep food on the table, a roof over their heads, and Charlie on the straight and narrow. Buck can’t afford any temptation, especially in the form of the newly returned, super hot, super confident, super successful television star Ari Valentine.

ADHD poster-child Ari Valentine left for Hollywood and lost everything, including his bad reputation. Then the breakthrough role of his skyrocketing career lands him back in Bluewater Bay, to the stunned disbelief of, well, everyone. But there’s only one person Ari longs to impress — the only person who ever really mattered to him, the person he left behind: Buck Ellis.



I was really enjoying this book and then when the best part was coming when they were really really going to talk and be together, it ended. Bah. I hate that.


Buck is gruff, socially awkward, uncommunicative. LOL and yet protective and lovable

Ari left him at the worst possible moment because of his own crap. They were young and a mess and this all makes sense.


Now, Ari is back. He want Buck. Buck is being difficult.


The best scenes for me are the ones from their childhood friendship. I want this closeness after they get together for real and well more hot sexy times.


Gregg can really write but I want fully finished stories.

It's All Geek to Me by J.L. Merrow Review

It's All Geek to Me - JL Merrow

Jez is on a mission of mercy: to replace a tragically deceased comic book for his injured best mate, Tel. Venturing into the Hidden Asteroid bookstore in London — the temple of geekdom itself — Jez is bowled over by the guy behind the counter.

Rhys is the poster boy for hot geeks: tall, gorgeous, and totally cool. Jez is desperate to impress him, so he bluffs his way through comic book jargon . . . and then dashes back to the hospital to beg Tel to teach him how to speak Geek.

Tel’s happy to oblige, and Jez is over the moon when Rhys asks him out. He’s even more thrilled when they discover a shared love of rugby, something he won’t have to fake for Rhys. The question is, how long can Jez keep up the deception, and what will happen when Rhys realizes he’s going out with a Fake Geek Guy?




I breezed through this light read. I am glad I got it on sale though as it came ended too quickly.

We get lured in by the promise of geek culture but there is less geek here than we think. I like the self esteem issues that get brought up. I like less the perfect heroes but these issues are left out there.

The romance is cute but the novella is over just when something really interesting might happen between the two.

Flowers for Him by Marie Sexton and Rowan Speedwell Review

Flowers for Him - Marie Sexton, Rowan Speedwell

He wanted to learn about beauty. He never expected to learn about love.

Billionaire Chandler Harrison’s third marriage is now history, and he’s left with his ex-wife’s parting barb, 'You have no appreciation of beauty.' Determined to prove her wrong, Chandler hires artist Neil Sweeney to add a mural to his office wall. He doesn’t even care what the picture is, as long as it’s beautiful.

Neil Sweeney is an ex-tagger, a free spirit, and a bit of a hippie. He’s never met anybody as uptight as Chandler, but when it comes to warming up Chandler’s cold, stark office, Neil has plans involving more than art.

Chandler begins to find himself strangely moved by the mural developing on his office wall. He’s especially moved by the artist himself. Chandler has denied his homosexual urges for most of his life, but it isn’t long before Neil begins introducing Chandler to all kinds of new things. As Neil’s masterpiece comes to life, so does Chandler’s appreciation for art, color, and the best kind of beauty of all—love.




This is a sweet romance about an artist and a very wealthy man who finds color, beauty, and his sexual identity. 


As always, Sexton's writing is great and the character are both very likable. The start of the book is great and then we get a panic and rushed ending but it is still a lovely sexy read.


Country Boy (Hot off the Ice #2) by A.E. Wasp 4 Star Review

Country Boy (Hot Off the Ice Book 2) - A. E. Wasp

The first time Paul Dyson met Robbie Rhodes, they ended up naked in Robbie’s bed. The last time they met, on the ice the morning after, Paul punched Robbie in the face and called him something he’d rather not repeat. 

Two years later, they’re teammates and Paul is so deep in the closet he'll need a roadmap to find his way out again.

Robbie might be his compass. But to be with Robbie, Paul will have to turn his back on his family and everything he’s ever believed in. 

It’s going to take a lot of faith to find their way together in this shiny new world. 





This love story is much more angsty than the first one in the series but it is just as good.


Paul is struggling to accept his own sexuality and integrate it into his deeply held faith. He risks losing his church community and his connection to his family. Wasp does a great job exploring this tensions and the crisis of worldview with care and respect.


Robbie is trying to figure out if he want to be out in the media as a sports figure and if being with Paul is what he should do.


These two heroes coming from very different worlds but they like snd love each other so.


The romance is compelling, the hockey great, the circle of friends a joy.


There are some lovely twists and turns. This could have been a five star book but Paul's integration of faith and sexuality isn't as well explored as it could be in the closing and the stuff with his father felt rushed. The end of the book would be richer if it happened over a series of months and it needed and epilogue like crazy.


But it is a really good read overall.



First and First (Five Boroughs #3) by Santino Hassell Review

First and First (Five Boroughs Book 3) - Santino Hassell

Caleb Stone was raised on the Upper East Side, where wealth and lineage reign and "alternative lifestyles" are hidden. It took him years to come out to his family, but he's still stuck in the stranglehold of their expectations. Caleb knows he has to build his confidence and shake things up, but he doesn't know how... until Oliver Buckley enters the picture.

Oli is everything Caleb isn't--risk-taking, provocative, and fiercely independent. Disowned by his family, Oli has made his own way in the world and is beholden to no one. After a chance encounter on New Year's Eve, Caleb is smitten.

As Caleb sheds the insecurities that have held him back for years, he makes bold steps toward changing his career and escaping years of sexual repression. But for Caleb to take full control of his life, he has to be brave enough to confront his feelings and trust Oli with his heart.




After reading about Caleb in Sunset Park, I was eager for his romance,. I am thrilled he gets to comes to terms with his own sexual needs in this book.


While I am not a huge fan of sex parties in my romances, Hassell, as ever, write a compelling story set in a believable world.


All the gang is here for the series and that is a wonderful thing. We get to spend time with Charles who I hope gets his own book.


However, Caleb and Ollie are both so emotionially shuttered that it is hard to get to the intimacy part of the romance and for me the book ends too soon. We need more time with them committed and together.


Good overall but needed more emotionial connection.


Swish (The Riley Brothers #3) by E. Davies Review

Swish (The Riley Brothers Book 3) - E.  Davies

“Alex was always something else.”

Bank teller Thomas Riley is the youngest of three brothers, and the only single one. That's not to say nobody's interested... His ex, hunky Alex, is back in town and wants to see him. But Alex nearly screwed up both of his brothers' lives, and Thomas isn't willing to forgive him easily. There's no way reigniting an old flame can work... right?

“I knew we still had chemistry.”

Moving back to your hometown isn't easy when your ex moves back, too – especially the one that got away. After getting on Thomas's bad side, private detective Alex Walker is determined to at least explain himself. He's not just looking to screw Thomas again. Then, on the ski trails, Thomas falls head over heels for him... more literally than Alex hoped. How can he prove he's trustworthy to the family after spying on both of Thomas's brothers?

“Is it becoming more?”

Becoming boyfriends is risky when Thomas just wants to get ahead in life and Alex is challenging his morals and his fears. If Alex wants to catch Thomas, this time, Alex will have to keep up and change his ways for good. And can Thomas overcome his own fears to come clean to everyone?




I never warmed to Thomas. I liked Alex well enough but Thomas remained reserved and frankly cold to the point where I didn't understand why Alex would care for someone so unyeilding and private to the point of never letting anyone in. 

I did enjoy this book in terms of seeing the Riley Brothers more and being in this world but the romance did not work for me.

Sweet Young Thang (Theta Alpha Gamma #3) by Anne Tenino Review

Sweet Young Thang - Anne Tenino

Thanks to Collin Montes, Theta Alpha Gamma now welcomes gay and bisexual students. Persuading his Uncle Monty, president of the TAG Alumni Association, that the open approach won’t adversely affect TAG’s reputation is Collin’s own first step toward coming out. As long as there are no repercussions, he’ll escape the closet by graduation.

Enter repercussions, stage left: someone rigs the TAG House water heater to launch through the ceiling, then plants a bomb — thankfully unsuccessful — in the fraternity’s basement. Now Collin has his hands full not only trying to convince his uncle that this might not be the work of homophobes, but also dealing with a fratful of brothers worried about their kegger fridge.

Paramedic Eric Dixon can’t stop thinking about the kid he met during a call at his former college fraternity house. The age gap between them is trumped by sexy eyes, so when Eric sees Collin again at the bomb scene, he pursues him. Soon, Eric is dreaming of being a househusband, fighting to keep Collin safe from whoever’s trying to destroy the fraternity, and helping his sweet young thang realize that repercussions sometimes have silver linings.



There is a lot to like in this coming of age romance. Colin is trying to come out but is dealing with old ole boy homophobia from his uncle and cronies.


The aspects of the book that deal with the mystery and the frat changing its ways are fun.

Eric is a wonderful hero but it is a bit too insta love of his part for the romance to have the depth I would like.


I love how smart Collin turns out to be and I do love they way they are together.

The book gets into a bit of overall the top mayhem but it is a good read.

Lost and Found by Rick R. Reed Review

Lost and Found - Rick R. Reed

On a bright autumn day, Flynn Marlowe lost his best friend, a beagle named Barley, while out on a hike in Seattle’s Discovery Park.

On a cold winter day, Mac Bowersox found his best friend, a lost, scared, and emaciated beagle, on the streets of Seattle.

Two men. One dog. When Flynn and Mac meet by chance in a park the next summer, there’s a problem—who does Barley really belong to? Flynn wants him back, but he can see that Mac rescued him and loves him just as much as he does. Mac wants to keep the dog, and he can imagine how heartbreaking losing him would be—but that's just what Flynn experienced.

A “shared custody” compromise might be just the way to work things out. But will the arrangement be successful? Mac and Flynn are willing to try it—and along the way, they just might fall in love.



The idea of this book is great. I love the emotionial complexity around how to deal with the issue of the dog. I also like how the relationship unfolds and some of the class and regional issues that come up. I also like the complex figures of some of the elders in the story.


What I struggled with the kind of ick portrayal of one of the hero's friends. And then she, after meaning so much to the hero, just vanishes.


Then, one hero makes a pretty big decision which I could believe in if it was really talked out but it wasn't so it feels odd.


We don't get enough after they are really together time to make this love story work for me.


The dog, of course, is great.

Can't Live Without You (Forever Yours #1) by Andrew Grey Review

Can't Live Without You - Andrew  Grey

Justin Hawthorne worked hard to realize his silver-screen dreams, making his way from small-town Pennsylvania to Hollywood and success. But it hasn’t come without sacrifice. When Justin’s father kicked him out for being gay, George Miller’s family offered to take him in, but circumstances prevented it. Now Justin is back in town and has come face to face with George, the man he left without so much as a good-bye… and the man he’s never stopped loving.

Justin’s disappearance hit George hard, but he’s made a life for himself as a home nurse and finds fulfillment in helping others. When he sees Justin again, George realizes the hole in his heart never mended, and he isn’t the only one in need of healing. Justin needs time out of the public eye to find himself again, and George and his mother cannot turn him away. As they stay together in George’s home, old feelings are rekindled. Is a second chance possible when everything George cares about is in Pennsylvania and Justin must return to his career in California? First they’ll have to deal with the reason for Justin’s abrupt departure all those years ago.



I have a hard time getting over dumb behavior and worse when what happened is hidden for most of the book and then revealed and then it was just really stupid kid thinking. I hate lack of communication and I ultimately couldn't believe in this love story because the action didn't feel right to the character.


George is wonderful and Justin is very closed off. I have no idea why George loves him. This is never good.


I stuck it out until the end but even the the HEA is sweet I just couldn't settle into the pacing and though the conflict was misplaced in the book.

Working It (Metropolis Book 2) by Riley Hart and Devon McCormack Review

Working It (Metropolis) - Devon McCormack, Riley Hart

After his boyfriend dumps him, Hayden is in need of a place to live. Thanks to his buddies, he has a great lead to room with a guy named Cody in Metropolis, the hottest condominium in town. But things get a little uncomfortable when Hayden shows up for the interview and discovers he and Cody share an awkward up close and personal experience from their past.

Cody doesn't have a problem living with Hayden. He's had his share of help when he was down and out, and he wants to do the same for this guy. It's not long until Cody realizes how great it is having someone around. Sometimes, they watch movies together...and other times, they help get each other off--one of the perks of living with a guy who's as laid back about sex as he is. They hit off so well Cody even decides to act as wingman for Hayden while he gets used to hitting the town again.

Before they know it, they're spending more time with each other than with anyone else. But Hayden just got out of a relationship and should be spending his nights having fun and working it around town, not jumping into something serious again. Cody's always just gone with the flow, believing if it's meant to happen, it will. But life doesn't always work that way, and if they don't fight for what's right in front of them, Hayden and Cody might be over before they have the chance to even get started.





My least favorite of the series so far but it is still a good read and a must read if you are enjoying the series!


Hayden and Cody fall in deep like and then love. They both have interesting backstories which I don't want to spoil for you.


Cody is really well defined as person.


Hayden has a lot of traits like backing, loving math, and having a bad break up but a lot of this seems surface level and he never feels as developed as a character.


I wanted him to be way more nerdy than he is or at least that to come out more.


The circle of friends aspect remains great. There are some sexual escapades that might make you google to see that is possible but overall it is a sweet romance.

Black John (Johnnies, #4) by Amy Lane Review

Black John - Amy Lane

John Carey is just out of rehab and dying inside when he gets word that Tory, the guy who loved him and broke him, has removed himself from the world in the most bitter way possible—and left John to clean up his mess.

Forced back to his hometown in Florida, John's craving a hit with every memory when he meets Tory's neighbor. Spacey and judgmental, Galen Henderson has been rotting in his crappy apartment since a motorcycle accident robbed him of his mobility, his looks, and his boyfriend all in one mistake. Galen's been hiding at the bottom of an oxy bottle, but when John shows up, he feels obligated to help wade through the wreckage of Tory's life.

The last thing John needs is another relationship with an addict, and the last thing Galen wants is a conscience. Both of them are shocked when they find that their battered souls can learn from and heal one another. It doesn't hurt that they're both getting a crash course on how growing up and getting past your worst mistakes sure beats the alternative—and that true love is something to fight to keep if your lover is fighting to love you back.


I am not a huge fan of books this dark and angst and this is a trigger fest for me dealing with addiction but more so the sexual mania in Tory, John's first love.

I have read the other books in the series and if you are going to read this one, you should too because it is a better book that way.

I liked Galen and John's romance even though it was a bit too fast and could have remain non sexual for longer.

The pacing of the book is a problem. Tory and John in flashback take up as much time as Galen and John. Also, so much about Tory is held in peril and John doesn't see certain things so it is like watching a car crashing come all the time. This part needed to be sped up for me and the book centered on healing and Galen and John instead. 

The addiction piece is vivid and well done but the sexual mania piece is not as discussed. I get that this series tries to think about pornography in critical (not negative just at how complex it its) ways 
but I think that the various character lines get away from Lane.

S0, in the end this one does not work for me.

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…



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. 




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.