This was simply adorable and I loved it so much. It was so refreshing to see a different kind of romantic relationship than what is often seen in romance novels. Xander and Skylar were so cute together, and I have to be honest, I almost stopped reading at about 70% because I afraid there was going to be this awful Black Moment, something that split them up temporarily before they found there way back to each other. I'm so happy that didn't happen, so happy Ms. Cullinan chose a different direction than what, again, you often see in romance novels.
Xander and Skylar both have baggage and family issues to deal with, but I love that they deal with them together. And I loved how they dealt with Skylar's emerging sexuality as a couple, by communicating and being honest. I just loved them all around, they worked so great together.
The epilogue had me smiling all the way through and it also made me cry. Sad tears because the story was over, and happy tears because of the beautiful picture Ms. Cullinan paints with her words in the final few paragraphs.
This was a beautiful and sweet story, although I would have liked to see a more conclusive resolution between Xander and his mom.
The cast of secondary characters were great, although it did take me quite some time to warm up to Zelda. They were abrasive and aggressive, but after the talk in the car with Skylar, I warmed up to them slightly, although to be honest, I could've done without this character. I found them unnecessarily rude and brash. For someone who's asexual/aromantic (if I remember correctly), Zelda probably gets stereotyped against all the time, and yet they spent a few scenes berating Xander for having anything to do with Skylar, a frat boy. Because apparently all frat boys are douchebags. Anyway, thankfully Zelda wasn't in the book too much.
Full disclosure: I almost DNF'd somewhere around 20% because the story starts off slowly. But once Xander and Skylar start to get to know each other, I couldn't put it down.
There have been reviews that state that this book is a bad representation of ace spectrum characters because the ace character (Skylar) has to be rescued by the allosexual one (Xander). While I do agree to some agree, I was also never personally convinced that Xander is actually allosexual. To me he read more as somewhere on the ace spectrum. That being said, this is a subjective topic, so I will caution against the book if you're sensitive to this or identify on the ace spectrum. Personally, I do identify on the ace spectrum, but because I never considered Xander as strictly allosexual, I didn't see it as an issue, although I do understand how and why others do.
All in all, five stars from me despite some of the issues I identified above, simply because Xander and Skylar were so utterly adorable together.
All the love for this book! Tal Bauer has a way with words. He even has a way of making what should be boring court appearances interesting to the reader. I loved Mike and Tom, as individuals and as a couple. I just want to hug them and squeeze them 🙂
This is a Tal Bauer book, so of course there are twists and turns you won't see coming, and in true Tal Bauer fashion, you'll find yourself questioning the motives of literally every character. But I love it. I love a book I can sink my teeth into and at 150K words, this was a doozy.
If you haven't read this, I highly recommend it, as well as Tal's other books. Master storyteller right here, ladies and gents!
I'm so, so, so looking forward to Kris's book (assuming he's going to get one, of course).
I loved this! I liked the first book in the Hoppity Shifter series, but I think I liked this one even better. Justin melted my heart. He was the perfect blend of innocent and fierce, confused and protective.
I wouldn't say this is quite insta-love, but it borders on the cusp. Nevertheless, the author is able to weave in character backstory among a background of shifter politics, in a book that's only about 30K words. Pretty impressive. I'd love to know more about shifter politics and dynamics in future books.
It was cute, it was sweet, it was funny. It's a great, low-angst, summertime read, and we even get a peek into how the MC's from Chasing His Cottontail (book 1) are doing.
Buy it from Amazon here.
The Play of His Life is now live at the following retailers! I hope you enjoy Christian and Riley's story. If you like the book (and even if you don't), I hope you consider leaving an honest review at your favourite retailer or blog! Reviews are an author's bread and butter.
MLR Press | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Kobo | B&N | Smashwords | iBooks
In my April 3rd post, Why I write m/m romance, I mentioned that I’d post my recommendations on where to start your gay romance journey if you’ve never read it before. As promised, here are my suggestions.
If the thought of two dudes having sex wigs you out and you want to start easy, I recommend either of the two YA books below.
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell or Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. You can find both at your local bookstore or library. The first is a fantasy reminiscent of Harry Potter; the second is about a closeted high school kid. Both are sweet, funny, and low angst. The most action the MCs see is a bit of kissing. (MC=main characters)
Suzanne Brockmann’s TroubleShooters
Suzanne Brockmann writes military romance featuring a man and woman falling in love. The TroubleShooters series has about 14 books, if I remember correctly. Jules Cassidy is an out-and-proud FBI agent introduced early in the series. Book #8, Hot Target, introduces Jules’s love interest, a complete hot-mess, closeted actor named Robin Chadwick. Now don’t get scared! Jules and Robin’s relationship in Hot Target is pretty tame (remember, Robin is closeted), and it’s also the book’s secondary storyline, taking a backseat to the main love story between Robin’s sister and a Navy SEAL. Ergo, it is not heavy on the steam.
Sarina Bowen writes both m/m and m/f. If you’re really leery of trying m/m, start with Sarina’s Ivy Years series: the first two books (The Year We Fell Down and The Year We Hid Away) are m/f. Book three, however, The Understatement of the Year, is m/m and is phenomenal! If you like Understatement, I suggest reading Sarina’s two-book series, Him and Us. Note that Sarina’s sex scenes are, um, graphic. If this squicks you out, you can always skip them and read the non-sex parts.
Friends to lovers
The four books below are friends-to-lovers books. Friends-to-lovers is one of my favourite tropes 🙂
Switched by NR Walker: one of my favourite reads of 2017. Sam and Israel’s relationship is sweet and touching and angst-free. The book is not heavy on sex scenes, but the ones that are there are mildly graphic. Again, you can skip them. I highly, highly recommend this novel.
Pillow Talk by JH Knight. Bonus! This story is free! You can find it here. I love, love, love this story. Jimmy and Scott are hilarious together; JH Knight knows how to do banter. In the reviews, somebody described the story as “like sugar in text-form.” I won’t refute that because it’s 100% true. Again, the sex scenes aren’t many, and they’re also not too graphic.
Leo Loves Aries by Anyta Sunday: A great slow-burn romance with great banter!
Rock by Anyta Sunday: If you want to be taken on a beautiful, emotional journey, this book’s for you. Anyta Sunday writes in such a way that you can actually feel the characters’ emotions. Have tissues nearby for the last 30% or so. This is one of the strongest books I’ve ever read.
All the angst
If you want something to really sink your teeth into, something gritty and emotional, yet funny and heart-warming, try Bear, Otter, and the Kid by TJ Klune. You’ll cry, you’ll laugh, you’ll roll your eyes, you’ll want to punch Bear in the face and throw your e-reader across the room. I promise it’s all worth it!
Additional recommendations, just because
The Lightning-Struck Heart by TJ Klune. This book is a total one-eighty from TJ Klune’s Bear, Otter, and the Kid. Lightning is literally laugh-out-loud hilarious. I LOL’d on public transit on my way to and from work so much. Tears of laughter, guys. Tears of laughter. You’ve got a hornless gay unicorn, a half-giant, a knight in shining armour, a reprehensible prince, a sexed-up dragon…and Sam of Wilds, our hero. Read it. You won’t be disappointed.
Ngozi Ukazu’s Check, Please! It is the cutest, most adorable web comic about a pie-baking vlogger named Eric Bittle and his teammate Jack Zimmermann. Jack and Bittle play on the same college hockey team and they’re surrounded by a cast of hilarious and endearing characters. I am OBSESSED with this web comic…I check Ngozi Ukazu’s Tumblr page at least once a week for updates. I love it so much I backed the Kickstarter campaign and got myself a hardcover copy of the first and second years of the comic. Guys, read it! Please! I’d love to have someone to obsess over it with. You can find it here.
If you decide to try one of these books, I’d love to know what you think of it! Either comment on this blog post, find me on Facebook, or send me an email. Cheers and happy reading.
Photos by Amy Aislin. Disclaimer: These are my personal book recommendations. This post has not been endorsed by any of the authors mentioned above.