A MADNESS MOST DISCREET by Laura Lascarso

Michael D’Agostino is a bestselling mystery author suffering from writer’s block when he meets Arden Evans, a beguiling escort and catalog model attempting to write a memoir of his own.

Michael is captivated by the young man, whom he finds refreshingly honest and authentic. When Arden asks that they “keep it simple,” Michael readily obliges. Their arrangement becomes increasingly complicated, however, as Michael begins to want more from his enchanting lover.

And then there is the matter of Arden’s finances, something so fiercely personal that Arden refuses to discuss it. This same debt is what obligates Arden to his wealthy benefactor, much to Michael’s vexation.

Michael wants their love affair to last, but how do you hold onto a man whose gaze is forever fixed on the horizon?


Title : A Madness Most Discreet
Author : Laura Lascarso
Series : A Midsummer Story
Format : eARC
Page Count : 298
Genre : m/m romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : June 20, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

As is often the case with me, I tend to forget what books are about by the time I pick them up. There are obviously times where this isn’t the case but it happens more often than you might think. Case in point : I had convinced myself that Lascarso had written something light and fluffy because a) my brain is a sieve these days due to work and the world and b) that cover is gorgeous and lovely and gives me happy vibes.

This book was way more than the cover implies. But it’s also a Lascarso so I’m an idiot for thinking it wouldn’t be more.. though one day she’ll probably write fluff just to mess with me.

What started out as a story leaning into a PRIDE AND PREJUDICE vibe (as explained by the author herself) due to the economic disparity — as well as the vast distance between opportunity and circumstance — between the protagonist’s situations shifted instead into a something sorta resembling Sex and the City. But with an HBO edge.

You’re cultivating a mystique.
I have to. It’s my only currency.”

This is a story I’ll admit did not hook me right away (though to be fair reading is a struggle these days..). But after a turning point, and I couldn’t even really say what or when that was, I looked up and it was eleven PM on a worknight, so. That says it all.

A MADNESS MOST DISCREET isn’t all sparkling Cosmos and the male-equivalent of Manolo Blahniks (right, that was the shoe? I maybe watched one episode of SatC), there are some less than comfortable situations, abutting completely real and often testy but still lovely friendship dynamics, so much steam it’s unreal, and is, still, somehow, also really sweet.

My one complaint is to do with an element of one of those uncomfortable situations because I do wish it had been clearer if there had been an end-in-sight to a certain arrangement, how long it had lasted, and/or how much traction had been made in the ensuing years.. but perhaps I had missed some of this info, as I did read well past my bedtime and it could’ve been one of those situations where your eyes see the words but the brain doesn’t get the memo. So, as I fully see myself rereading this, I will table that under the “maybe I’m just dumb” and eventually follow up. If it’s not mentioned, I mean, it doesn’t have to be, we as readers definitely get the idea, as well as the breadth of the situation, but it’s something I found myself musing on after finishing the book.

That said, if you couldn’t tell, I definitely recommend, and I definitely want more from this series. Whether that’s a companion, a sequel, or even a book focusing on the other couples. I don’t care what it looks like. I just want it.

** I received an ARC from the author (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING by Charlie Adhara

Agent Cooper Dayton and his partner, Oliver Park, are going undercover—at a retreat for couples who need counselling. They do say the best cover story is one that’s close to the truth…

Agent Cooper Dayton is almost relieved to get a phone call from his former boss at the Bureau of Special Investigations. It means a temporary reprieve from tensions created by house hunting with Oliver Park, his partner both in work and in life. Living together in a forever home is exactly what Cooper wants. He’s just not keen on working out the details.

With a former alpha werewolf missing, Cooper and Park are loaned to the BSI to conduct the search at a secluded mountain retreat. The agents will travel to the resort undercover…as a couple in need of counseling.

The resort is picturesque, the grounds are stunning and the staff members are all suspicious as hell.

With a long list of suspects and danger lurking around every cabin, Cooper should be focusing on the case. But he’s always been anxious about the power dynamics in his relationship with Park, and participating in the couples’ activities at the retreat brings it all to the surface. A storm is brewing, though, and Cooper and Park must rush to solve the case before the weather turns. Or before any more guests—or the agents themselves—end up dead.


Title : Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Author : Charlie Adhara
Series : Big Bad Wolf (book four)
Format : eARC
Page Count :
Genre : LGBTQIA+ paranormal romance
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : March 2, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Ho-ho-how great was this! For reference, I started and finished this on Christmas Eve, so. That’s why this opening line is funny to me right now.. knowing this won’t go live until March.

But back on track!

I am new to this series, having binged the first three back in the summer, but seeing this installment up for request was exciting because a) I wasn’t sure we’d get more and b) the third book was my favourite of the series so I had hoped that momentum, and track record, would continue on the up and up. And this was pretty damn great.

Frankly, Dayton, I don’t know anyone less concerned with pissing off people and wolves alike.
Careful, all this flattery is going straight to my head.”

It’s hard to know what to talk about for a series that’s a few books in but suffice it to say, if you’re a fan, you’ll still be, and if you’re keen to start a m/m werewolf shifter series and this is the first you’re hearing about it? Surprise! Go settle in for a nice binge. This one is much fun.

What the hell about him had Park seen and thought, Oh yes, anxiety-ridden loner with a temper sharper than a serpent’s tongue and a deep-seated fear of change whose longest successful relationship is with an equally judgmental cat? Swoon.

On the emotional/relationship front, this one started to worry me a bit because I thought we had come very far in book three, and some of the issues Cooper was working through felt a little bit two steps back. But. Oh but. There were some great moments to push us even further than we’d gone in book three, and with some very good rationale and reasoning, and a heck of a lot of teasing. In the best way.

It’s not you, it’s me.
Very helpful. How on earth will an evolved couple like us convincingly pretend to need counseling?

Plus? EeeeEeEeEeEe. <– this was my brain during a certain hug. That’s all I’m saying.

What do you think? Would Kyle and Andrew venture out and ask directions?
I don’t know, are Kyle and Andrew auditioning for victims one and two in a horror movie?
Kyle would. Andrew needs to keep the car running and getaway ready. For reasons.
I hate Andrew.”
That’s why we’re here.

The excuse for this particular adventure, going undercover at a couple’s counseling retreat for werewolves, was genius. Who doesn’t love the ‘pretend relationship’ trope except it’s even juicier when they are in a relationship and get forced to work through some things. Delicious. Also, I liked how Adhara introduced another element for the shifters in such a natural way. It seems to happen in each book, the total opposite of an info dump, and always relevant for the moment, not for a ‘maybe in the future you need to know this’, and it’s so perfect. The worldbuilding is so fabulous and so natural, so subtle.

Nice secret passage. Narnia’s keeping well, I assume.

So, yes, this wasn’t Christmassy at all, I’m reading it three months early, but who even cares. I had so much fun, this was sexy as hell, and also hilarious. Sometimes I wonder which I like better, the humour or the swoons (it’s both, but seriously, so funny). I can’t wait for more because with the ending of this one, this series is definitely not over.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. ** 

SOMEDAY, SOMEDAY by Emma Scott

How long would you wait for love? 

Max Kaufman was kicked out of his home as a teen and his life has been an uphill battle ever since. From addiction and living on the streets, to recovery and putting himself through nursing school, he’s spent the last ten years rebuilding his shattered sense of self. Now he’s taken a job as a private caretaker to Edward Marsh III, the president and CEO of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Max soon learns Marsh’s multi-billion-dollar empire is a gold and diamond-encrusted web of secrets and lies.

The longer Max works and lives with the Marsh family, the tighter the secrets tangle around him. And his heart—that he’s worked so hard to protect—falls straight into the hands of the distant, cold, and beautiful son of a dynasty…

Silas Marsh is set to inherit the family fortune, but his father is determined his heir be the “perfect” son. Before Silas can take over the company and end its shady business practices, he must prove himself worthy…and deny his true nature.

Silas must choose: stand up to his father by being true to himself and his undeniable feelings for Max. Or pretend to be someone he is not in order to inherit everything. Even if it means sacrificing a chance at happiness and real love.


Title : Someday, Someday
Author : Emma Scott
Format : eARC
Page Count : 374
Genre : LGBTQIA+ romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : November 24, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★


Hollis’ 2 star review

So, I want to be clear, that I respect what the author set out to do with this story. With the subject matter, the redemption, the healing.. even dragging something as relevant to our every day as the opioid crisis into the spotlight. But..

.. but. This story feels a lot like it’s trying very hard for me to feel things. For me to be heartbroken, or angry, and to champion the MCs, to rage against the villains. All of which, like, valid. The material is there. I just didn’t quite sink into any of it. Probably because so much of it is melodramatic, or manufactured, and also just vacillating between different extremes to the point that things felt a little (a lot) unbelievable and hard to hold onto.

I’ll say it again. I appreciate some of the topics, I appreciate the representation, but this was just a little too OTT for me whilst also not being enough for me to feel much of anything. But hey, what do I know, this is beloved by almost everyone, so, hey. Grain of salty salted salt.

This was my first Scott, despite having bought up most of her books during one kindle sale or another, and I would like to give her other works a try. This is definitely not the worst ‘romance author tries m/m’ foray I’ve ever read. I think I’ve just read too many better ones to think much of this one. But a lot of potential was here so I definitely won’t be deleting her off my kindle. I might even finally read those other books! Sounds like a good 2020 goal.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

WORK FOR IT by Talia Hibbert

In this village, I’m an outcast: Griffin Everett, the scowling giant who prefers plants to people. Then I meet Keynes, a stranger from the city who’s everything I’m not: sharp-tongued, sophisticated, beautiful. Free. For a few precious moments in a dark alleyway, he’s also mine, hot and sweet under the stars… until he crushes me like dirt beneath his designer boot. 

When the prettiest man I’ve ever hated shows up at my job the next day, I’m not sure if I want to strangle him or drag him into bed. Actually—I think I want both. But Keynes isn’t here for the likes of me: he makes that painfully clear. With everyone else at work, he’s all gorgeous, glittering charm—but when I get too close, he turns vicious. 

And yet, I can’t stay away. Because there’s something about this ice king that sets me on fire, a secret vulnerability that makes my chest ache. I’ll do whatever it takes to sneak past his walls and see the real man again. 

The last thing I expect is for that man to ruin me. 


Title : Work for It
Author : Talia Hibbert
Series : Just For Him (book four)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 283
Genre : LGBTQIA+ contemporary romance
Publisher : Nixon House
Release Date : September 3, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Goodness. I.. goodness.

So I treated myself to this book after a disappointing read, which felt good because I love supporting delightful authors, and then I ended up sorta impulsively buddy reading it with friends who also deserved a treat (also hahaha sorry guys, as always, I am the worst buddy reader), so generally everything about this read was heading towards a good time. And then I started getting sucked into this book and things got even better.

I may not be built like a lorry, like some people–
I prefer ‘brick shit-house’.”
–but I’ve been told I have a terrifying aura.”
Would be more terrifying you didn’t talk about auras.”

If you like Roan Parrish’s Riven series, you’ll love WORK FOR IT. Hibbert infuses this slowburn m/m romance with the same kind of mental health focus that Parrish does and she, too, does it so well. It adds layers to a story that didn’t need them, because it would’ve been good even without, but with them it’s delicious and emotional. Even better it’s a hate-to-love — in a broad sense, that is, but more specifically it’s a attracted-but-prefer-to-bicker-instead-of-bone which eases into friendship and then more. It’s not only beautiful but it’s a delight. 

How, exactly, does one say, “I assumed you would stop loving me if you found out how depressed and anxious I am,” without making it sounds as if you think the other person’s a bit of a prick?

This book steamed up my glasses, made me cry, made me laugh, made me swoon. There are passages that are angsty af as well as heartbreaking but the emotional evolution, the character growth and the challenges they face, it’s all such a perfect balance. For all the quick build of the connection, it’s equally glacial. The pacing between them is the perfect kind of slow, of cautious, of clear consent, and it’s completely and categorically hot. Also the feeeeeels.

What the fuck am I supposed to do with him if he doesn’t want tea? He’s just exhausted my social knowhow with five words.

I now realize I’ve said nothing at all about the book itself so let’s break it down :

depressed former playboy. reclusive grumpy farmer. opposites attract. age gap. size gap. wait, that last one sounds awful, I just mean one of them is Very Big and the other is Not As Big. kitchen hijinks. Soft Men (not boys, they are older, it’s great). trying a little tenderness. supportive friends. also some sheep.

This is how he wins, how he makes me all dizzy and soft: he smiles, for real, and for me.

I’m not sure that break down accomplished anything at all so instead you should just read this book.

For Christ’s sake, did he have to insult me with Scrabble words? Couldn’t he have just called me a tosser?

I will mention that in writing this review I discovered this is the fourth book of a series which does make sense considering some side characters who were woven in and out with backstory that was both briefly explained and implied, so. Maybe that’ll keep you from picking this up right away but. It definitely stands on its own. Though I may find myself working my way through the right order sooner rather than later..

GOALIE INTERFERENCE by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn

It’s goalie vs. goalie in this brand-new enemies-to-lovers hockey romance from Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn… 

Ryu Mori has had a stellar season as goalie for the Atlanta Venom. So when he’s called into management’s office, he’s expecting to hear he’s the new starting goalie for the team, not that some new guy—an incredibly hot, annoyingly bratty rookie—is here to compete for his spot.

Not everyone gets to play in the best league in the world. Emmitt Armstrong knows that, and he’s not about to waste the opportunity after grinding his way from the bottom to the top. If the Venom is looking for a meek, mild-mannered pushover, they’ve got the wrong guy.

Ryu doesn’t want to admit the other goalie’s smart mouth turns him on. Beating Armstrong at practice feels good, sure, but there are other, more fun ways to shut his rival up.

In this league, it’s winner takes all. But there’s more to life than winning, and if Emmitt and Ryu can get past their egos and competitive natures, they might just discover they work better as partners than they ever imagined possible.


Title : Goalie Interference
Author : Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn
Series : Hat Trick (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 304
Genre : m/m sports romance
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : September 30, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

The premise around book two in the Hat Trick trilogy is competing goalies. Not from opposing teams but the same team. One, the more established regular for the Venom, who we met in book one, and two, a recent trade from the minor league. These two are total opposites in personality but share some surprising similarities, not just limited to being minorities in a predominantly white-populated sport. 

People write erotic stories about you two, bro.”
What? Where? Why?
Enemies to lovers, man. It’s a Thing.”

I’m a total sucker for hate, or enemies, to love (particularly in m/m) and the banter and push and pull and aggression between these two in the early stages of the getting-to-know-you phase was great. Stone cold Ryu facing off with hot-shot cocky Emmitt was a joy. Particularly when offset by all the personas on the team around them. I really am a sucker for the team ensemble dynamic. 

This is the last thing I wanted.”
Your romantic declarations need some serious work.

Their relationship becomes one, after agreeing to no-strings, but is put to the test as they approach playoff season when it might come down to a real competition between them, as opposed to the tandem-playing they had settled into in the regular season. This conflict was one the least contrived I’ve experienced and felt very real, and genuine, and I loved how they still tried to keep things civil, despite heartbreak, near the climax. Oh, and the final moments? Delightful.

Fucking score some goddamn goals or you’re walking back to Atlanta.”
Wow. I haven’t had a coach threaten to make me walk since Timbits hockey.”

This was a lot of good fun, and I’m so happy it didn’t flounder along the way despite the less than solid start, and while I didn’t love it as much as book one, I’m still so very keen for the final book in this series. Also, I forever love books set in this sport by authors who clearly know and love the game. It always comes through and I always appreciate it. This definitely cured me of my slump and I’m ever so grateful.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. ** 

YOU COULD MAKE A LIFE by Taylor Fitzpatrick

The first thing Dan says to him is, “we’re in the NHL!”, because that’s how he’s been greeting anyone wearing a jersey, and Marc Lapointe, ‘the future of the franchise’, is wearing Dan’s colours.

“I think you’re my new best friend,” Dan says, his excitement beating out common sense, social filters, the need to play it cool.

“It is nice to meet you, new best friend,” Marc says, his mouth twitching.

In hindsight, Dan probably falls in love with him in that moment, Marc laughing at him and with him all at once, but it takes a little while to figure that out.


Title : You Could Make a Life
Author : Taylor Fitzpatrick
Format : eBook (scribd)
Page Count : 202
Genre : LGBTQIA+ contemporary sports romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : December 20, 2015

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

It’s so hard not to compare this to the author’s more recent work (why, oh why, did I read this so soon after? who stole my chill?) which was similar but so different. And yet this was still so good. Just not one the same level, in so many ways, that THROWN OFF THE ICE was.

First of all, the angst is way lower in decibel. There is no age gap. And this one didn’t make me cry. But it was still sexy, funny, ridiculous, and had even more hockey than my first experience with Fitzpatrick’s writing did. I’ve said it for other authors and I’ll say it again : nothing makes me love a hockey romance more than when it is obvious the author is a true blue fan. This author definitely is.

Oh my god. There is totally a Quebec Secret Society, you lied to me!
We are not a cult. We are a province.”

Overall, if I had to recommend a reading order, even though I’m not sure they exist in the same universe (unless they do? I know she has other shorts and stories, seemingly all hockey based), I would recommend people start here. It’s lighter on all topics, really, with less blunt force on both the emotional impact as well as lighter on the sexy times, too. It sort’ve follows a more traditional path, one many LGBTQIA+ sports romance readers will be familiar with, but with more depth, if that makes sense.

He said you gave him a blowjob in Juniors and that it was terrible. [..]. Do not worry, I told him you are much improved at it now.”
Marc, don’t talk about my blowjob skills on the ice.”
Why is it always me that hears this shit?

The one (only?) major downfall to YOU COULD MAKE A LIFE is the beginning isn’t as solid as the latter half. It felt a little more surface level, and I’m not sure I liked some of the early angst conflict, and how quickly it resolved, that whole transition read weird to me, and even in hindsight I’m not sure about it all, but the last 60% was great, strong, fun, and just emotional enough that you are invested when things aren’t going right.

You are the Brangelina of hockey.”
I don’t want to be the Brangelina of hockey.”
You are years too late for that, bud. You guys have a following. If you ever broke up you would make girls cry.”
I don’t want to break up. Or make girls cry.”

So much of Dan was different than Mike, so much of Marc different from Liam, but you can see feel the author’s touch, her style, even after just one book. I love that. I’m glad this was different but still distinctive, with familiar tropes that are still made fun.

Dan’s always been a Leafs fan — his Toronto citizenship would have probably been revoked if he wasn’t one. <– hahah as a non-Leaf fan Torontonian, this killed me.

Even though I definitely dove into this too soon, and already kind of regret it, I’m so excited to have an author like this on my radar. If you’re into queer romance, or hockey romances, and love when they intersect, you absolutely need to be watching, and reading, this author.

THROWN OFF THE ICE by Taylor Fitzpatrick

Mike knew he was making a mistake when he let the rookie climb into bed with him. He just didn’t know it’d be a mistake that would follow him for the rest of his life.


Title : Thrown Off The Ice
Author : Taylor Fitzpatrick
Format : eBook (scribd)
Page Count : 224
Genre : LGBTQIA+ sports contemporary romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : December 13, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 5 star review

No one grows up dreaming of being an enforcer.

What’s this, another m/m hockey romance that gets five stars from me? Am I becoming predictable? Well, no. Because nothing about this book was expected.

Why can’t I just stay with you?
Because I’m not a fucking lunatic. And I would become one if I had to deal with you all the fucking time.”
I’m here all the time anyway.”
And I’m already one day away from killing you.”

Starting with that summary : short and to the point, right? Sure, but no. But it does set up a certain expectation. The same one I had when I decided to fit in a “novella”-ish length story for the end of my night, not wanting to pick up something full length, something I thought would be happy times, or sexy uncomplicated hockey times, and, hahahahaha. I probably should’ve known better considering the two GR buddies who had both recently read it, and also rated it five stars, love the stuff that hurts.

Mike can’t help but want to shake some of that innocence out of him, knows he’s awful because all he wants to do is get Fitzgerald on a bed and make him fucking cry.

And wow did this hurt.

You remind me of that guy from Twilight.
You read Twilight, Tom?
Don’t need to, know all I have to. Old sulky dude obsessed with a teenager and being angsty about it. Sound about right?

As I write this review I have tears drying on my face and a twisted stomach left over from crying as long as I did. Probably some snot smeared around, too, let’s be real. Because for all that the age gap shenanigans between the effervescent rookie and the grumpy, reluctant, veteran enforcer, that made me laugh; for all the non-relationship and romantic angst, and push and pull that hurts, that you ache over; you won’t be prepared for where this story goes. And even if you see it coming, I challenge you to not be made a mess by it.

I’m not tiny. I’m concentrated.”
That’s what they’re calling it now?

This is a book I will absolutely read again, to hell with the heartache, and that is why it gets full stars from me. It’s sexy as hell, it’s funny, and I loved these frustrating and ridiculous characters. The only thing almost as devastating as parts of this book is knowing this author only has one other book in her backlist. Am I going to be reading it sooner rather than later anyway? Yes.

RAZE by Roan Parrish

Sometimes the walls we build to save ourselves have to come tumbling down.

For the last ten years, Huey has built his life around his sobriety. If that means he doesn’t give a damn about finding love or companionship for himself, well, it’s probably better that way. After all, the last thing he wants is to hurt anyone else. Until Felix Rainey walks into his bar, fresh-faced, unbearably sweet–and, for some reason Huey can’t fathom, interested in him.

As the eldest of five kids, Felix Rainey spent his childhood cooking dinner, checking homework, and working after-school jobs. Now in his twenties, he’s still scrambling to make ends meet and wondering what the hell he’s doing with his life. When he meets Huey, he’s intimidated . . . and enamored. Huey’s strong and confident, he owns his own business–hell, he’s friends with rock stars. What could he ever see in Felix?

As Huey and Felix get closer, the spark catches and soon they can’t get enough of each other. But Huey’s worked hard to avoid intimacy, and Felix threatens his carefully constructed defenses. Huey realizes he needs to change if he wants to truly put his past behind him–and build a future with Felix.


Title : Raze
Author: Roan Parrish
Series : Riven (book three)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 316
Genre : contemporary romance, LGBTQIA+
Publisher : Loveswept
Release Date : July 2, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I forgot you’re not supposed to bring up masturbation at the dinner table on the first date.
Yeah, that’s strictly second-date dinner convo.

Right off the bat, I have to say, this cover does not do Felix justice. I wasn’t really a fan of it to begin with but after seeing how the character was not only described but acted? There’s no match-up here whatsoever. But, having said that, at the end of the day it’s about the content, not the window dressing.

Felix seemed like a map folded up small and perfect that would sprawl when unfurled, and show you everything. And I..fuck, I wanted to see it.

This is easily my favourite series by Parrish and while RAZE didn’t match my love for RIVEN, and nor did REND, each book has been emotional, lovely, heart wrenching, beautiful, tough, real, all the things. Oh and swoony and sexy af. The author devastates with the simplest of things, like a hug, and exposes very real insecurities in her characters that I think everyone can immediately connect with. No matter their size or strength, no matter their fame or success, no matter what they’ve overcome or shouldered, each individual is struggling or hiding or avoiding something. Just like every day humans. And it’s this connection that makes these books, even set as they are around rockstars and the music industry, even only peripherally (at least since book one), so so easy to love. Just as it’s impossible not to love these imminently precious characters who, in some form or another, feel they aren’t worthy or deserving of love; or are just overlooked, maybe even just held back.. by outside forces or themselves. Never seen or pursued by the right person.

The problem with feeling so much pleasure, so much joy, so much contentment — with feeling so much, period — after so long spent feeling very little, was that I instantly craved more of it.

If you’re looking for sweetness and sexiness, with a solid foundation of grit and realness, I would definitely recommend this series.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

RED, WHITE and ROYAL BLUE by Casey McQuiston 🎧

A big-hearted romantic comedy in which First Son Alex falls in love with Prince Henry of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends…

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?


Title : Red White & Royal Blue
Author : Casey McQuiston
Narrator : Ramon de Ocampo
Format : Audiobook (OverDrive)
Time : 12 hours 15 minutes
Genre : Rom-com m/m
Publisher : Macmillan Audio
Release Date : 14 May 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

First of all, if you haven’t read Hollis’ review for this book, stop what you’re doing and read that first here. After all, that’s what made me want to read, well that and the constant prodding…I was getting a bit of a bruise.

I went into listening to this book with a dose of ‘help me with the hype’ and a slice of native Brit anti-monarchy (there are many of us, by the way). I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get past the issue of this being an English royal prince. Casey McQuiston gently herded me on board with how she dealt with the issue of the monarchy as an institution and more than anything, by writing Henry, “just as he was” (think Bridget Jones moment).

I challenge anyone not to be blown away by Henry and Alex but for me, most surprisingly, it was the humanity of Henry’s character that sold this story to my big, feeling heart from minute one to hour twelve. Henry was Prince stick-up-his-arse and pretty hilarious in this facet. Alex, the more down to earth of the two, was rude but also funny. These two, building a friendship and then building a relationship, were just about one of the most beautiful love stories I have ever read. My heart expanded with their poignant words and genuine connection.

The adversity these two have to traverse made for a fierce and heart-wrenching story. I have to say how I loved the author’s use of that vile rag, The Daily Mail. It truly is a publication without scruples or heart and was rightly placed to play a role in what happened. My heart and mind rode the roller coaster with Henry and Alex, I mentally wore a supportive T-shirt and waved a flag. I felt a lull as this book reached it’s culmination and the last 10% lost a little traction for me, but overall it was bloody fantastic.

The narration blew me away. Again, as a Brit, I had sceptacism regarding one narrator doing both British and American accents (also Mexican accents) but this guy HAD IT DOWN. He brought the banter, the dialogue and the love to life. Ramon de Ocampo will be on my audio searches now.

I feel a little late to the game on this, six weeks down the line, but I want to recommend the audio for this book. You will be invited in to the intimacy and brought to life by the humour.

HITHER, PAGE by Cat Sebastian


A jaded spy and a shell shocked country doctor team up to solve a murder in postwar England.

James Sommers returned from the war with his nerves in tatters. All he wants is to retreat to the quiet village of his childhood and enjoy the boring, predictable life of a country doctor. The last thing in the world he needs is a handsome stranger who seems to be mixed up with the first violent death the village has seen in years. It certainly doesn’t help that this stranger is the first person James has wanted to touch since before the war.

The war may be over for the rest of the world, but Leo Page is still busy doing the dirty work for one of the more disreputable branches of the intelligence service. When his boss orders him to cover up a murder, Leo isn’t expecting to be sent to a sleepy village. After a week of helping old ladies wind balls of yarn and flirting with a handsome doctor, Leo is in danger of forgetting what he really is and why he’s there. He’s in danger of feeling things he has no business feeling. A person who burns his identity after every job can’t set down roots.

As he starts to untangle the mess of secrets and lies that lurk behind the lace curtains of even the most peaceful-seeming of villages, Leo realizes that the truths he’s about to uncover will affect his future and those of the man he’s growing to care about.


Title : Hither, Page
Author Cat Sebastian
Series : Page and Sommers (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 200
Genre : historical romance, LGBTQ+
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : June 18, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating
: ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

It feels like it’s been some time since I read something by Sebastian and I quite enjoyed this little reunion. But I’ll admit that of the plot, the characters, and the romance.. I think I only liked the characters.

He was so accustomed to playing a role, acting a part, completing a mission, that sometimes he found it convenient to ignore that beneath the mission there was a man.

The plot for HITHER, PAGE was an almost Clue-like whodunnit, set in a small English town after the war, and there was spycraft and secrets afoot. But I wasn’t really too bothered by the who or the why. I mostly just wanted to spend more time with the characters. This town had a whole host of interesting personalities and, to be honest, I’m not sure I disliked a single one. Some were just.. darling. Others clever and mischievous and precious af. And even more were all of the above plus suffering from mental trauma and PTSD and longing for quiet from the horror the world had just survived. Side note : all signs point to this being a series and oh I hope so. I want more of this little place and these people.

You’ve got what half the village seems to have. Half has a streptococcus infection and the other half is murdered. Quite the lovely place.

As for the romance. Because this wasn’t quite novel length, yet not quite novella (?), there was only so much time dedicated to the romance what with all the murder-yness murder going on. It definitely had moments of cute but, I think, if it is actually going to be a series.. I wouldn’t have minded waiting on them to cement things until the next instalment. Things moved a little quickly considering they knew one another for only the span of a week and I know it happens all the time in romance books but.. sometimes you just aren’t sold. Like I said, cute, but.

I wasn’t sure you’d want to see me.”
Then you’re not as clever as you look. I’m losing all faith in the intelligence services.”

I’ll definitely read on because I love the idea of a mystery series set in a small town and I’m looking forward to getting to know the other characters a little better each time. Plus I want a chance to be sold on the romance. So, yes, consider me invested.

** I received an ARC from the author (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **