Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I'm back! Minis & Updates: Susan Fox, Susan Andersen, Cara Dee, Amy Lane

Hey, I'm back! I wasn't on vacation or anything, instead I pulled a back muscle and was bedridden for over a week taking pain medication. Not fun. I couldn't sit up long enough to blog, and for a while couldn't stay awake long enough to really concentrate on fresh reading. I missed Wendy's TBR Challenge read and review this month! First time for me, sigh... But, I did get to do some light reading toward the end of the week and reread some favorite short M/M romances.

I've been trying to write some minis and reviews for books I read earlier this month. Some of them are memorable, and frankly it is a shame but some of them just turned out to be quite forgettable!

Home on the Range (Caribou Crossings #2) by Susan Fox

This contemporary western romance is memorable to me for its Canadian Western setting and wonderful atmosphere. It IS different and as it turned out, an absolute treat for me. The fact that the romance takes place on a horse ranch in the fictional small town of Caribou Crossing, which has a history rich with lore about the olden Gold Rush mining days also made it a winner. The gorgeous landscape and horses as described by Fox serve as the perfect background for the romance that blooms between childhood best friends Evan Kincade and Jess Bly Cousins years after they last saw each other.

There is a lot going on in this romance, and a few overused tropes used to achieve that lasting happy ever after for Evan and Jess: the old friends to lovers, the secret child, and one more that I won't give away. So, yes, there is a sense of predictability to the story. However, what is not predictable is that conflicts and struggles are more internal than external as the characters deal with their feelings for each other and personal issues, so that in the process there is measurable character growth. This applies to Evan in particular who in the beginning comes off as a bit of a jackass.

The conflict is internal for Evan, it has to do with his upbringing and his lack of love as a child. His abusive childhood, a subject that is well rendered by Fox. For Jess, there is no conflict when it comes to the love she feels for Evan, only when it comes to her lie. In this, I found Evan to be much more willing to be upfront about his feelings, more sincere about his complex and hard-won growth. Jess on the other hand is much more protective of what she has, even though on the surface she comes off as more giving and forgiving. Thankfully, the old friendship and warmth between Evan and Jess comes through for them. They make a good team and a great, passionate couple. I was so glad they finally found happiness together. (Zebra, August 6, 2013) Grade: B-

Some Like It Hot by Susan Andersen

I either really like or enjoy Susan Andersen's romances, or I have a problem with her characters. In the case of Some Like It Hot, my problem is different. Here are my thoughts as posted on Goodreads:
It's a bad thing when I end up remembering the brothers' relationship more than the romance. A contemporary romance enjoyable for Max and his brother's backstory and the intriguing ending, but with a rather forgettable romance.

Susan Andersen's romances are a hit and miss for me. This book is an obvious miss.
Please note that I read this contemporary romance in August! (Harlequin, July 30, 2013) Grade D+

Aftermath by Cara Dee


This is a new-to-me author and I believe new to the M/M romance genre. Here are my initial impressions:
Interesting and creative approach to the "gay for you" trope. It's so well done that the reader may miss it. A tale of survival, bonding through violent events and finding love in the most unexpected of places and between the most unlikely people.

The author begins the story in the present, and relates the violent events that brought the main characters together by using PTSD flashback episodes. These are necessary to tell the complete story, but also serve to establish the relationship between the two men. I'm not a fan of flashbacks, but in this case they worked for me.

There is a strong bond and a tenderness between the main characters that is touching. There is also a slow buildup to passion that works well. The relationship development is not without conflict, the strongest being their own struggle to survive the recent violence and how it changed them. Other conflicts such as Austin's prior relationships and commitments are not as well addressed.

Overall, a solid read and romance with graphic violence, a psycho, PTSD, loving moments, hot sexy scenes, and a sweeter HEA than expected.
Aftermath was recommended to me while browsing through amazon and it sounded interesting so I picked it up. It's a good thing because in quite a few levels, it worked for me. Please note that despite what you may think when you look at the cover, there is no BDSM incorporated in the storyline. (Amazon Digital, August 6, 2013) Grade: B

Left on St. Truth-be-Well by Amy Lane

Continuing with M/M Romance reads, I enjoyed Left on St. Truth-be-Well by Amy Lane. Lane is an author whose works I have not explored extensively because they tend to be a bit angsty and I have to be in the mood. I'm pretty sure the only other book I've read by Lane so far is Sidecar. Yet this romance is totally different, not angsty or deep in any way, shape or form -- just what I needed this past weekend. Instead this piece set in sunny Florida is a short, light, amusing, hot read by Amy Lane with endearing sexy characters, a fabulous little mystery and enough crazy moments to make it fun. That is it! A quick read, perfect for a summer afternoon.

COMMENTARY: I did not read this little piece as a serious crime suspense, but as a crazy little piece of insanity that led to two people finding each other. So my warning is: if you read this piece as a serious crime mystery, it won't work. So just enjoy the insanity! (Dreamspinner Press, July 23, 2013) Grade: B-

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These are just a few of the books I read. Quite a few more M/M Romances actually, some that have been in my TBR for a long, long time like Strawberries for Dessert by Marie Sexton and Cut & Run by Abigail Roux and Madeline Urban, but I also finished Summer Lovin' with JL Merrow, Chrissy Munder, Clare London and Josephine Myles and while I couldn't concentrate because of those pain pills, other short rereads. I'll come back with more minis later. It's good to be back!

READING:
OMENS by Kelly Armstrong
CARNIEPUNK Anthology (still)

5 comments:

  1. Welcome back, Hils - I hope you feel better now!

    I've not really read much memorable M/M romance recently - I did like Alexis Hall's GLITTERLAND but had a couple of reservations about the level of "Essex-speak" in it. I've also read both of Josh Lanyon's recent releases, but was kind of disappointed in both - the fact that the price points were on the high side didn't help, he's normally an auto-buy for me but I may have to rethink that!

    Li

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    1. Thanks Li! I'm getting there. :)

      Hmm... I considered purchasing Lanyon's latest release but when I released it's YAOI inspired decided against it. Not my cup of tea. He's not an auto-buy for me at the moment... not after the last two books I purchased, but I will continue to look at his works and decide as they are released. I will, however, take a look at Glitterland by Alexis Hall since I'm in the "mood" for M/M romance at the moment.

      Talking about memorable? None of the new releases I read were truly out of this world memorable, but some turned out to be enjoyable enough.

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  2. Awww, Hils! I'm so sorry to hear! I wasn't wondering what you were up to! Should have emailed you :( Sigh. Hope you're feeling better!

    Ouch for the Susan Andersen. I ended up liking more than you did I guess LOL. The brothers' relationship was good though :)

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    1. Nath, thanks... it came out of left field! I'm back at work today, so I'm feeling better. :)

      Sigh... yes, the Andersen. I don't know... I remember thinking it was less than ok, but two weeks later I didn't remember ANYTHING about the book! So yeah, a forgettable read is not getting more than that grade from me. LOL!

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  3. Yike! That must be hard to be stuck in bed and not even be able to read! I hope your back is better!

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