Love Her Or Lose Her By: Tessa Bailey :😶: | Book Review

Love Her or Lose Her (Hot & Hammered #2)
By: Tessa Bailey
Genre:Contemporary Romance, Marriage, Therapy, Relationships, Adult Fiction
Rating: Liked it
Publisher: Harper Collins/Avon
Release Date: Jan 14 , 2020

IndieBound | Amazon |

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Tessa Bailey returns with a unique, sexy romantic comedy about a young married couple whose rocky relationship needs a serious renovation.

Rosie and Dominic Vega are the perfect couple: high school sweethearts, best friends, madly in love. Well, they used to be anyway. Now Rosie’s lucky to get a caveman grunt from the ex-soldier every time she walks in the door. Dom is faithful and a great provider, but the man she fell in love with ten years ago is nowhere to be found. When her girlfriends encourage Rosie to demand more out of life and pursue her dream of opening a restaurant, she decides to demand more out of love, too. Three words: marriage boot camp.

Never in a million years did Rosie believe her stoic, too-manly-to-emote husband would actually agree to relationship rehab with a weed-smoking hippy. Dom talking about feelings? Sitting on pillows? Communing with nature? Learning love languages? Nope. But to her surprise, he’s all in, and it forces her to admit her own role in their cracked foundation. As they complete one ridiculous—yet surprisingly helpful—assignment after another, their remodeled relationship gets stronger than ever. Except just as they’re getting back on track, Rosie discovers Dom has a secret… and it could demolish everything.

My Thoughts

I thought this book was a fairly good read. There was great chemistry between the two main characters and I could feel their history and connection with one another come off of the page. But I have to be honest, it took two full-chapters for me to invest in Dominic’s character😂 .

In the beginning, I was worried we were going to see his character as this overbearing, abusive ex-military husband but I’m happy to say that that is so far from the truth. His character was more complex and emotionally shut-off than Rosie’s character after being so unhappy in their marriage for so long.

Moreover, I also enjoyed the level of insight we were able to see with Dom’s character by the end of Love Her or Lose Her even if it was just scraping the surface.

Seeing Dom and Rosie go to therapy to confront the distance and issues between them felt real and dynamic because the sessions, although started as a joke, acted as the vessel they needed to get back on track.

And guys, these two were not just husband and wife, they were each other’s best friends. It made me root for them to mend what was broken between them.

I also liked that I could just pick up this book without having to read Hot & Hammered #1 but I suspect with the way the secondary characters were set-up in this book that the other book(s) in the series likely revolved around them but didn’t spoil much of their stories.

Hands down, Dominic’s character development was my favorite in this book because of where we see him at the beginning, but I ADORED Rosie’s breakthrough in this book. No longer settling, timid, or hesitant, we get the chance to see her character go after what she wants and follow her dream of opening up her restaurant 😊.

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If I Never Met You By: Mhairi McFarlane :🤔: | Book Review

If I Never Met You
By: Mhairi McFarlane
Genre:Contemporary Romance, Friendship, Relationships, Law Drama
Rating: I liked it
Publisher:HarperCollins Publishers/William Marrow Paperbacks
Release Date: March 24, 2020

IndieBound | Amazon |

Synopsis:

If faking love is this easy… how do you know when it’s real?

When her partner of over a decade suddenly ends things, Laurie is left reeling—not only because they work at the same law firm and she has to see him every day. Her once perfect life is in shambles and the thought of dating again in the age of Tinder is nothing short of horrifying. When news of her ex’s pregnant girlfriend hits the office grapevine, taking the humiliation lying down is not an option. Then a chance encounter in a broken-down elevator with the office playboy opens up a new possibility.

Jamie Carter doesn’t believe in love, but he needs a respectable, steady girlfriend to impress their bosses. Laurie wants a hot new man to give the rumor mill something else to talk about. It’s the perfect proposition: a fauxmance played out on social media, with strategically staged photographs and a specific end date in mind. With the plan hatched, Laurie and Jamie begin to flaunt their new couple status, to the astonishment—and jealousy—of their friends and colleagues. But there’s a fine line between pretending to be in love and actually falling for your charming, handsome fake boyfriend…

My Thoughts

Hiya, guys.

I’m back again with another book review and thoughts post and today’s book is if I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane.

Highlights & Summary:😃

If I Never Met You, is a book about a successful, smart, beautiful lawyer in her mid-thirties named Laurie.

Laurie who has spent nearly two decades with the same guy, Dan, since college, lives with him and even works at the same law firm. She and her boyfriend have been in a solid, strong, and committed relationship—or so she thought. After a night out with some work friends, Laurie comes home to her committed long-term boyfriend, but he suddenly hits her with the shock of her life. He wants to break up.

Coining the reasoning behind his sudden change of heart is down to the two of them going in different directions. Laurie, thinking he might just be having cold feet (again) with planning to get pregnant attempts to talk him down like she has done several times in the past. But the longer the conversation goes on Laurie begins to realize that Dan isn’t having a midlife crisis, the love of her life (or so she thinks) is really finished with her.

Laurie is obviously devastated; they’ve been living together for so long and he has been the only person she’s ever been with intimately that her world is completely turned upside down.

Not sure how to move forward, Laurie holds onto hope that the pair could reconcile like they’ve done in the past until she realizes Dan has been dishonest about what sparked their breakup. In my opinion, that’s when things really start to get interesting in If I Never Met You.

First off, I will openly admit that the story was an ok read. More like a summer book for light reading because it doesn’t have a page-turning-can’t-press-pause feel to it. And there was a bit of predictability with the development of Laurie’s new relationship that stems from the fake-love to real-love troupe.

However, the elements that really made the story good for me were the dry humor moments in the narrative. And I liked the slow buildup of Jamie and Laurie’s relationship—this is an important thing to note here because the beginning was very slow 😂.

But the slow buildup of their relationship that expanded out from their little “deal” is what makes their chemistry and bond feel more authentic.

And because Jamie and Laurie are perceived as these two extremely different people on the outside, their interactions carried that much more of an impact as we see their lives and hearts change as the story progressed. Especially getting to see Jamie’s true character which was nothing like how Laurie and the rest of their firm perceived him to be.

Least I forget to mention the fact that McFarlane gives us a mature relationship on both a professional and romantic level with these lead characters. (Who share an age difference in Laurie’s favor). It is one that contests against more than just the issues that her ex, Dan has with the pair being together.

And the drama that follows in the workplace was pretty entertaining–I’m talking about you, Michael🙃🙃. Seriously, guys that guy, just…

Personal Pitfalls & Narrative Flags:😬

I want to make it clear to have this section as personal pitfalls and narrative flags as the issues I had with this book may not strike a chord with other readers or fans of this book.

From the beginning, I think that it took me a while to kind of warm-up to Laurie’s character. As I did like Jamie kind of at the start; he was charming, respectful and confident but always vulnerable around Laurie even when she wasn’t aware of it. The dry humor and witty banter structure of their back-and-forth were also things that I liked about this book.

They are elements that are close to my personality and style of interaction.

Likewise, I am not the outlandish, flashy or in your face type of person. I live in a world of sarcasm and being upfront and honest. So, I felt more in sync with her friends Emily and Nadia who by the way this book needed MORE of.

In comparison with the main lead, Laurie. My eyes glazed over the repetitive passages of her going over and over her relationship with Dan especially after it was made clear how repressive and dishonest, he had been in their relationship. I know she loved the guy, but why put up with so much of that nonsense, Laurie? Why?? 😫

Yes, obviously with a relationship as old as theirs Laurie’s character is going to have this abundance of faith in a guy but as the book progresses, those seeds of doubt that she mulls over didn’t just materialize overnight. They were there for several years while they were together, so the logical part of my brain was constantly questioning why would she ignore her instincts, you know?

While I liked the self-reflection Laurie’s character has in this book, it should not have taken Jamie to come in to tell her how powerful and special she was for Laurie to have that “aha” moment. In my opinion, this cheapens her development and character strength because she is lead there by another man while still picking up the pieces of herself from her breakup with Dan. I would have loved it so much if these two elements were kept separate in the narrative and Jamie’s effect on her only highlighted what Laurie came to realize on her own.

Second, the most notable narrative flag for me reading this book was the fact that the lead character is a POC of mixed ethnicity. And unless I am incorrect the author is not a POC, therefore, it lacks the true connection to Laurie’s character when it comes to prejudices, racial comment, stigma, and stereotypes that come with being a person of color.

I do not bring it up often, but it is an element that I will never, ever, ever be ok with and not draw some attention to it. It would be a different thing if her ethnicity was not drawn directly into the story or brought up in such a way that warrants discussion, but it does.

The points of biracial discrepancies and the prejudices on mixed-race all the way down to the texture of her hair were all brought up with Laurie’s backstory. No matter the amount of “research” pursued to pluck these anecdotes from friends’ stories, books or media outlets, etc. In my opinion, if it is something so fundamentally rooted within an entity that you cannot and will not ever have a personal experience with everyday life as a person of color.

Then it’s best not to try to write or imagine up details like that. I don’t care if you must have a co-author come in and write all those POC perspectives for you 😂 it is just something that should be avoided.—I don’t know the editors for this book and if this they even had any influence with this, but I think you get my point by now.

I have read books dealing with POC characters and non-POC authors before (Because lots of people do it) but there was just something about  the way Laurie was presented that made this notch of the narrative stick with me.

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LORD OF THE SENSES (STORIES) BY: VIKRAM KOLMANNSKOG |BOOK REVIEW

Lord of the Senses (Stories)
By: Vikram Kolmannskog
Genre/Themes:LGBTQ/Gay, Fiction, Drama, Short Stories, Religion, Multi-Culture, Anti-Classism (18+)
Publisher: TeamAngelica
Release Date:  September 6, 2019

TeamAngelica | Amazon | AmazonUK

Synopsis:  A groundbreaking collection of frank, provocative short stories from gay Indian-Norwegian Vikram Kolmannskog, published to coincide with the anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in India.

From the forest-fringed suburbs of Oslo to the bustling heart of Bombay; from the timeless banks of the Ganges to the never-closing nightclubs of Berlin, Lord of the Senses captures a headily contemporary sense of what it is to be queer, cosmopolitan, spiritual and sexual.

My Thoughts

~~With a combination of an extended month of unanticipated work, and several hiccups at the beginning of the school year for my cousin—this post is well overdue.~~

In terms of context and themes, Lord of the Senses does not hold any punches. The stories are straightforward, in your face, honest, revealing, open and unapologetic with a lot of the erotic material the stories cover. That’s not to say that the book needs to be apologetic or reined in. Moreover, since the stories build on this sense of caution, due to shameful (and dangerous) social judgment, the secretive means of being affectionate with their partners and the openness of these stories seem to counteract those barriers.

Trying to condense all of the themes and genres we can pick up in this book was a challenge as I did not want to spiral down any mythological or fantasy rabbit-holes, but Shredded Dates and Raven Leela were two of the main contenders for my notes on that.

And I love the simplistic bittersweetness we get from the shorts Raja, Nanima and Roger Toilet, Growing Up Queer, The Sunset Point, and The Sacred Heart. Moments and pieces from each of those just seemed to linger with me the longest as I moved on to the next story.

Lord of the Senses should not be viewed as a book entirely made up of short stories that have physically erotic scenes—even though it does—but rather, a collection of stories intent on invoking a connection of each character to the reader. Hence, another aspect I liked in this book was the different levels of (sometimes anonymous) intimacy; emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

The writer takes us on these brief journeys with each character/tale conveying these strong, open, and liberatingly potent perspectives. Some of which came directly from the deeply obscured minds of the characters, that as an outsider, I felt like I had been intruding on their private thoughts.

While organizing my thoughts to mention how the micro-detailed descriptions interlaced with the intricate sensory markers, and scenery specifics of these stories help to transport your mind to some of these places—I ended up reading this great interview with Vikram.

He brings up points on how some of the pieces in Lord of the Senses have developed from drafts over the years and through the course of the movement for equal rights for the LGBTQ community in India. In the interview, Vikram also speaks about his desire to not only have his stories tether connections to the LGBTQ community within India. But also, to straight individuals outside of the community with ties to India as a means of highlighting, as I understood it, just how similar we all are at our core.

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Absolutely, Almost, Perfect By: Lissa Reed | Book Review, Q&A (+Giveaway)

Absolutely, Almost, Perfect (Sucre Coeur Series #3)
By: Lissa Reed
Genre: M/M Romance, LGBTQ+, Contemporary Fiction, Rom/Com Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: August 3, 2017
Publisher: Duet Books/ Interlude Press
Received an ARC copy from publisher in exchange for an honest review

Craig Oliver and Alex Scheff lead a charmed life. Craig is part owner of Sucre Coeur, the bakery he’s loved and managed for years. Alex is an up-and-coming Seattle photographer. Their relationship has been going strong for a year, and everything is absolutely perfect—right up until Craig receives a wedding invitation from his long-estranged brother.

As Craig grows tense over seeing his brother for the first time in years, Alex can’t control his anxiety over meeting Craig’s family. At the wedding in an English hamlet, boisterous Scottish mothers, smirking teenage sisters, and awkward ex-boyfriends complicate the sweet life they lead.

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Huntsmen by: Michelle Osgood | Book Review (+Author Interview & Giveaway)

Huntsmen
By: Michelle Osgood
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: F/F Romance, Supernatural, Drama, LGBTQ+, Fantasy
Release Date: April 13, 2017
Publisher: Interlude Press

Interlude | Amazon | B&N | Apple | Kobo | Smashwords | Book Depository | Indiebound

Synopsis:

Months after saving Jamie and Deanna from crywolf, Kiara and her brother Cole have moved into the city. While clubbing one night, Kiara is stunned to see her ex, Taryn, onstage. But before she can react, Jamie notices a distinctive tattoo in the crowd: an axe rumored to be the mark of the Huntsmen, a group of werewolf-tracking humans. The girls need to leave immediately—and since Taryn is also a werewolf, they need to take her with them.

The Huntsmen are more than a myth, and they’re scouring the city for lone wolves just like Taryn. Until the General North American Assembly of Werewolves lends a plan of action, Kiara’s small pack is on lockdown in a friend’s apartment, where she and Taryn must face the differences that drove them apart. Furthermore, the longer the group waits, the more it seems the Huntsmen haven’t been acting entirely on their own.

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Certainly, Possibly, You By: Lissa Reed Book Review (+ Giveaway)

Certainly, Possible,You (Sucre Coeur Series #2)
By: Lissa Reed
Genre: F/F Romance, LGBTQ+, Contemporary Fiction, Rom/Com Fiction
Rating: 3.5 stars
Release Date: October 6th 2016
Publisher: Duet Books/ Interlude Press
Received an ARC copy from publisher in exchange for an honest review
Sarita Sengupta is in her last semester of grad school and has finally realized she doesn’t have a career plan, a girlfriend, or a clear outlook on life. She works as a pastry shop’s head decorator, but is otherwise drifting without direction until a friend’s birthday party ends with her waking up in surprise next to Maritza Quiñones, a pretty ballroom dancer whose cheerful charm and laser focus sets Sarita on a path to making all of the choices she’s been avoiding.

Book Review

Told in the present, third-person perspective, Certainly, Possibly, You brings a humbling, yet relatable perspective as the reader follows along with Sarita—Sucre’s top cake designer and ambitious PHD student trying to sort out her existential career path problem—and Maritza (Mari). The part-time pizza shop worker and full-time ballroom dancer–as their relationship tries to blossom and bloom amidst the two’s hectic schedules.

There were so many moments and scenes that made me fall in love with these two as a couple and as individual characters. From their awkward and shy encounters, to their blunt openness with one another and the sexy, gravitational pull that sparks when they’re around each other, but I ultimately had to give this book 3.5 star rating mainly because I became too bothered with one secondary character’s involvement with Mari and Sarita’s story.

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Book Review: Fairytales For Lost Children By: Diriye Osman

Rating: 4.5 stars
Genre: Short Stories, Cultural/Somali, LGBTQ+ Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Folklore
Publisher: Team Angelica Publishing
Release Date: September 1, 2013
I Graciously Received A Copy Of This Book In Exchange For An Honest Review
Synopsis:
Fairytales For Lost Children” is narrated by people constantly on the verge of self-revelation. These characters – young, gay and lesbian Somalis – must navigate the complexities of family, identity and the immigrant experience as they tumble towards freedom. Using a unique idiom rooted in hip-hop, graphic illustrations, Arabic calligraphy and folklore studded with Kiswahili and Somali slang, these stories mark the arrival of a singular new voice in contemporary fiction

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Book Review: The Unforgettables by: GL Tomas

The Unforgettables
Genre: YA Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Interracial Romance, Learning Disability
Rating: 4.5 stars
Release Date: September 12 2016
Publisher: Rebellious Valkyrie Press

Received An Advanced Reader Copy in Exchange for An Honest Review.

Synopsis:

Neighbors and best friends Paul and Felicia hoped they’d be friends forever. But as they change, so does their friendship. She shouldn’t have kissed her…He shouldn’t have liked it. Starting school changed everything.

Book Review:

I am always excited for the new mix of characters and stories GL Tomas graciously share with us with their books because I genuinely feel like I’m glancing in at the lives of real people who you can connect with each and every time. Paul and Felicia from The Unforgettables were no exception to the rule.

Whatsmore, reading anything by them always sparks inspiration in me to dive into another new world. Particularly when I’m in a reading slump. So, when I heard about their newest book about two superhero/comic booking loving friends who decided to give themselves alter egos and pair up as a formidable duo, naturally I jumped and squealed at the chance like any normal person would. What I loved so much about this book was the fact that the main characters Felicia and Paul were nearly polar opposites. Aside from their mutual love for comics and superheroes’, they weren’t that similar, but I feel like that is what made them work.

Paul—the social butterfly, who thrived on crowds and at social events, and Felicia—the quiet, smart and observant killer soccer player, who was completely content to forever walk the line of solidarity for the rest of her life (or at least until she finished high school). The two came together in such a beautiful, awkward teenage shuffle.

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