(Review) Faith, Love & Devotion Series ★★★★☆

Books: Faith & Fidelity, Love & Loyalty, Duty & Devotion, Cherish & Blessed, Truth & Tenderness

Author: Tere Michaels

Series: Love & Devotion

Genre: Contemporary Romance; M/M

Pub dates: 09/23/2008-05/01/2015

 

 

When going through all of the books that I read when I was sick so that I could write reviews I almost skipped over this series.  I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to figure out which book was which since I read them all in a row within a few days other than the first one.  So this review is for all 6 books.

In book one Faith & Fidelity we meet Matt and Evan.  Both think that they’re straight.  Evan’s wife died around a year before the book starts leaving him to raise his 4 children alone.  Matt made some mistakes that lost him his job in the police force and also made him lose most of his friends there as well.  They’re both lost and lonely.  After they meet they start going out every week or so and share their problems.  Friendship morphs into something neither of them expected.  As far as I know I’ve never read a m/m book in which both characters didn’t realize they were bi.  It was pretty interesting and at times heartbreaking.  I cried more than once.

When I finished Faith & Fidelity I was really upset to discover that Love & Loyalty wasn’t a continuation with Matt and Evan.  There was so much unfinished and I was left confused.  I decided not to even bother reading it.  Then it kept popping up on book lists as a favorite couple and favorite book in the genre and I decided to heck with it I’ll see if I like it.  I’m glad that I kept going because to my surprise and delight book 3 Duty & Devotion picks up with Matt and Evan again!  The rest of the series after that is a mix of the 2 couples.

As I said, in the second book Love & Loyalty we meet Jim and Griffin.  Jim was in Faith & Fidelity for maybe a chapter.  When I read the description and saw that this book was about a cop and a screenwriter I don’t know why but I thought it sounded stupid.  Kind of out there ya know?  But, once I read a bit of it and got some background and understood how they met and the dynamics of their relationship it made a lot more sense.  Unlike Matt and Evan in Faith & Fidelity both Jim and Griffin are openly gay.  It seems like you don’t see that very often in this genre so it was a nice change.  Despite Jim being a cop there isn’t any mystery or anything.  It’s a romance with some underlying story related to one of Jim’s cases.  Pay attention to this case as it plays a part in later books.

In Duty & Devotion and every book after it the point of view jumps between the four characters.  Things that I felt were left completely unfinished in Love & Loyalty with Matt and Evan pop up.  We also have the very tense and very entertaining meeting between the four.  I think my favorite part of this book would have to have been the lunch meeting between Evan and Griffin.  So funny!

Altogether, I enjoyed this series.  My favorite character was Matt with Griffin as a close second.  Evan annoyed me quite a bit and looking through other reviews of the books it looks like I’m not in the minority with that opinion.  I liked Jim okay but found his obsession with the case wore on me.  The ending nicely wrapped up everything for Jim and Griffin but kind of left things oddly with Matt and Evan.  I guess we were supposed to read between the lines in the last few paragraphs with them and I think I understood what they were trying to say but I wasn’t really sure and it just left me confused.

I would highly recommend the Love & Devotion series.  I’m glad that I decided to go back and read the second book.  I would not, on the other hand, recommend this series to anyone new to the m/m genre.  The first book Faith & Fidelity would be fine since it’s not very graphic but any of the books following that are.  I think the books mesh together quite well from the first to the last.  It’s always nice seeing how characters grow as time goes on.

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(Review) Six Degrees of Separation ★★★★☆

Book: Six Degrees of Separation

Author: Taylor V. Donovan

Series: By Degrees (Book #2)

Book 1 Review

Genre: Contemporary Romance; M/M; Mystery

Pub date: 08/26/2013

Pages: 397

Note from the author:
By Degrees is an ensemble serial with continuing story lines. Six Degrees of Separation is the second installment, and it must be read after Six Degrees of Lust. Thanks.

In the sequel to Six Degrees of Lust, F.B.I. team leader Samuel Shaughnessy and bar manager Machlan O’Bannon are exploring a new phase in their non-relationship. The intention is to take it slowly but power plays are still their favorite activity, and it isn’t long before lines begin blurring. After ending their friends with benefits agreement no rules are left in place to guide them, and soon enough the only thing that’s clear is that neither man is fighting hard enough to reestablish the boundaries.

Their particular situations haven’t improved in the three months since their first encounter. Sam is still focused on his immediate family issues, and everything indicates Mac will have to go to war with his own family before he can reclaim his freedom. The last thing they need is additional complications.

But when the opening of a night club brings Mac to New York City and a break in the Leviticus investigation leads Sam to Houston, they discover how closely their worlds have been connected from the very beginning. Hiding from the life-altering collision is not an option. Will they take the easier road and go their separate ways, or will they come to terms with their past and take a chance on each other?

First, let me warn you that this review may be jaded by the fact that the third book in the series Six Degrees of Agony not only hasn’t been published but last word was that it was supposed to have been published in 2015.  This is very disappointing as Six Degrees of Separation ended in a total cliffhanger.  I find it so frustrating when this happens.  Especially since I read so many book series that it’s highly unlikely that I’ll stumble on the third book if/when it’s ever published.

Six Degrees of Separation picks up pretty much exactly where Six Degrees of Lust left off.  I was glad to see that Sam and Mac continue on as the main focus.  Just as I said in the review for the first book the anticipation of the point when everyone discovers that they know each other was killing me and when they reached that point it did not disappoint.  Surely, it was the best part of the book!

The serial killer mystery continues as well.  The plot thickens when they discover even more murders in Houston linked to the ones in New York.  A new police detective in Houston, Eric, joins the cast of characters as a possible love interest for Logan but of course we may never know since that thread of the story was only hinted at in this book and would have likely been continued in the third book.

Things get much more serious between Sam and Mac.  There are several bumps along the way that surprisingly don’t break them apart and only show how much they really care for each other despite the relationship starting as a one night stand and then a friends with benefits situation.  Thankfully, their story is neatly tied up and I wouldn’t be surprised if the third book would have had a different couple as the main characters.

As far as the supporting characters go there are some big revelations with several of them which of course would ruin the plot if I outlined them here.  I will say that I still dislike Sam’s ex wife Gabby, perhaps even more than I did in Six Degrees of Lust.  I really don’t understand what everyone sees in her and why they all adore her so much.  Also, there is Mac’s ex-best friend, the mother of the twins, I can’t stand her either.  I guess there always has to be someone in books that you’ll dislike though right?  It would be quite boring if we loved everyone.  All sunshine and rainbows would make for a very boring read.

I’m really not sure if I would recommend this book or not despite giving it a 4 star review because of the unpublished 3rd book.  If it wasn’t for that I would most definitely recommend it.  As I said in the review for Six Degrees of Lust I really enjoy the ensemble point of view.  I think Taylor Donovan did a great job making something that could surely turn confusing fairly easy to keep up with.  I will admit there were a few times that I had to stop and remind myself of what was going on with the different characters, especially if they weren’t featured more in the series.  So, keep in mind about the 3rd book if you decide to take on the first two.  Know that the big serial killer plot is left totally on a cliffhanger and you will be frustrated with the ending.

Favorite quote:

“Sam had never felt so aware of anything in his life, or wanted anything as much as he wanted that love.  It was like he’d just been awakened from one hundred years of slumber, and he was feeling everything at once.  Need, commitment, happiness… he felt love, too.  There was no escaping that.”

(Review) Six Degrees of Lust ★★★★★

Book: Six Degrees of Lust

Author: Taylor V. Donovan

Series: By Degrees (Book #1)

Genre: Contemporary Romance; M/M; Mystery

Pub date: 12/30/2011

Pages: 389

*WARNING FROM THE AUTHOR:
Six Degrees of Lust is both an ensemble novel and the first installment in the By Degrees serial. This means there are several point of views and the story will continue. Thanks.

New York City FBI team leader Samuel Shaughnessy lives for his immediate family and his job. After a marriage gone wrong he has stuck to a firm rule when it comes to relationships: he doesn’t have them. Sexually active and emotionally unavailable keeps him satisfied, especially now that he is in hot pursuit of a serial killer targeting gay men.

Former firefighter Machlan O’Bannon now manages a successful sports bar in Houston and after years of waiting he’s ready to stand up and be the man he always wanted to be: out, proud and drama-free. His politically-aligned family wants to keep him locked in the closet, but Mac just wants to meet the man of his dreams.

One man is as high strung as the other is laid back. A chance meeting brings the two men together, and one night of passion ignites a fire neither can fight. Their lives are not only miles apart, but as different as day and night. They don’t want to get involved…but will they be able to stay apart?

I started reading Six Degrees of Lust before I went into the hospital 4 months ago.  I never finished it.  I’ve been trying to find a book to read and when I saw this one on my iPad I kept dismissing it thinking if I didn’t finish it I must not have liked it.  But I remembered there being a serial killer ensemble romance that I was close to finishing.  Somehow it didn’t click that they were one and the same.  I was, once again, going through my iPad and starting and discarding one unfinished book after another when I decided to take another look at this one.  I was a bit embarrassed to realize this was the book I kept thinking about.  Even more embarrassing was that it only took me less than an hour to finish it!  Luckily, all of the characters and events were very memorable and I didn’t feel confused about what was going on.

When I stopped reading it the first time, I assumed that within those last few chapters everything would just quickly wrap up.  I thought it would be like a lot of books and that the focus of the next book in the series would be one of the other couples.  I thought they would catch the serial killer and the next book would have another mystery.  Not so.  The book ended a bit abruptly.  Not really a cliffhanger but also not wrapping up any loose ends.  I’m sure it was frustrating to any readers who had to wait for the next book Six Degrees of Separation to be published.

Six Degrees of Lust is an ensemble novel.  Think of movies like Love Actually where all of the characters kind of move around each other.  At times it’s almost frustrating when you know that at any moment one character could discover that the person that one of the others is friends with is the same person with that name from their past.  Every time they’re mentioned you think surely it will come out now.  Yet it doesn’t.  I’ve started the second book and am still feeling that same edge-of-my-seat feeling waiting for everything to come to a head.  How can they all not know that they know each other in some way?  It’s mind boggling.

Although there are many characters based in New York and Houston, the main characters are Sam and Mac.  Their meeting was great.  I loved how they met and both couldn’t stop thinking of the other until finally they had to see each other again.  Both have some major issues with anything more than just a friends with benefits type of relationship.  Sam has some major skeletons in his closet and just can’t handle more.  Mac isn’t out, not because he doesn’t want to be though.  I love how they push the relationship a bit further as time goes by.  I love the struggle and the sweet moments.  I think this is one of the most believable couples in this genre.  It’s funny because I’m torn between wanting them to just get together already and loving the dance around a real relationship.

In addition to being a romance with a lot of different characters it’s also a sort of mystery.  I don’t know why but I love FBI and cop books lately.  I never used to.  It’s fun trying to figure out who the perp is.  Although in this case the fact that it’s a serial killer and that bodies keep showing up is kind of depressing.  I really expected them to figure it out in the end.  In this case the mystery continues into the second book.  I think the only books I’ve read that have done that were the Cut & Run series.  One of my all time favorite series and also FBI m/m books.  Notice a pattern?  I know what I like.  I just search for similar books when I find one that I really love.

I don’t know if I could do it justice to name all of the other characters.  This would be a huge post and I’d most likely give away too much of the story.  One of my favorites is Logan, Sam’s partner in the FBI.  I’m not sure what his deal is but I’m dying to find out.  I guess every book has to have a character you hate right?  I can’t stand Sam’s ex wife Gabi.  What annoys me the most about her is that she’s a total bi*** and yet everyone that meets her adores her.  There’s just no real reason for it.  Just “oh isn’t she the sweetest” or something like that and boom they love her and are all protective of her.  Let’s see.  Chris that works with her I like.  I look forward to seeing if anything happens between him and Remy.  Sasha is kind of a wild card and I’m dying to know what happens with the poor kid.

If you’ve never read a m/m book I’m thinking this isn’t really the best book to dip your toes in and try it out.  There’s some pretty hot sex scenes… that I’ll admit I end up skimming over after awhile.  This is why I don’t read much erotica.  I just find them boring and repetitive after the first couple of times.  I don’t read these books for that.  I read them for the love story and the struggle.  I think this book wouldn’t be as believable if it wasn’t based in New York City.  The gay community in this book is just huge and in any other place I would find it unrealistic.  But I could be wrong… who knows?

In the end, I highly recommend Six Degrees of Lust.  I think Taylor Donovan did a wonderful job with this ensemble novel.  I really love ensemble movies so this was a treat.  I couldn’t label it just one genre because it isn’t.  So if you like cop/FBI mysteries, gay romance, contemporary romance or ensembles this may be the book for you.  I’m not going to do a summary because there’s just so much happening in this book I wouldn’t do it justice.

(Review) True Colors ★★★★☆

Book: True Colors

Author: Anyta Sunday

Series: True Love (#2)

Genre: Contemporary Romance; M/M; New Adult

Source: Netgalley

Pub date: 03/14/17

Oskar used to be Marco’s best friend. His everything. His sunshine yellow.

But that was before. Before Marco stopped being a hot jock. Before he learned to live with scars and pain. And before Oskar tore their friendship apart.

Now the boy next door has returned home, determined to rekindle his friendship with Marco, and Marco’s more afraid than ever. Afraid of getting hurt. Afraid of being humiliated.

Afraid of falling in love.

Can Oskar find a way through Marco’s fear, back into his heart?

I really enjoyed this book.  It only took me two sittings to finish it and that was only because I needed to stop reading to get some sleep.  I will admit there was a point that I almost stopped reading it, though.  I have a hard time reading sad books.  I avoid them like the plague.  So when this one started off fairly sad and had even sadder flashbacks I considered stopping.  I’m so glad that I didn’t!  These flashbacks were necessary to give background on the two main characters Marco and Oskar’s past.

True Colors is written in first person.  Which I’m not a huge fan of but it was written well and I barely noticed after noting that this was the writing style.  Anyta Sunday did a wonderful job with the background of the characters and it didn’t take long at all to understand who was who and how they related to each other.  It can be read as a stand alone book.  I didn’t even realize it was part of a series until I went on Goodreads to get information for this review!

Marco is the main character.  He has a habit of assigning people around him colors.  The first is Oskar’s color: “It started with sunglow yellow and him.”  I found this book and Marco’s color references to be quite poetic.  He is mature in that respect but immature in many others.  I’m not a huge fan of new adult books and if I’d realized this was one I may not have read it.  I find angst tiring.  Luckily, Anyta Sunday didn’t include a ton of youth into it despite Marco and Oskar being college students.

This is a m/m aka gay romance which is quickly becoming one of my favorite book genres.  One of the characters is openly out while the other is not.  There are not a lot of love scenes.  If you enjoy a struggle and rocky past you will enjoy this book.  Like I said, I had a hard time stopping reading.  The by-play between Marco and Oskar is great.  I also really liked Oskar’s little sister Zoe.  There’s a lot of history between the two families and a lot of hurt.  At times, each of the men come off as jerks but knowing the underlying cause of their reactions are based in hurt makes it forgivable as a reader.

My favorite part of this book were the text messages between Marco and Oskar.  I can totally relate to how much easier it is to communicate through the phone or computer.  I also really enjoyed the play rehearsals.  I really thought that the whole play thing was kind of corny at first but I warmed up to it and it was pretty neat in the end.  I would highly recommend this book  even if you’re new to gay romance since the few sex scenes aren’t graphic or detailed.

Summary: Best friends and neighbors spent almost every moment together in their youth until they were torn apart by one wrong decision.  Little did they know that each was in love with the other.  They were brought closer as children by a terrible tragedy but it is also the results of this tragedy that causes them to lose their friendship.  Four years go by before they finally try to patch things up.  But can Marco get his confidence back in order to forgive Oskar?  Or will he continue being the color salmon and thinking of Oskar as the color rust?

(Review) Wallbanger ★★☆☆☆

Author: Alice Clayton
Series: Cocktail
Genre: Contemporary Romance
384 pages

The first night after Caroline moves into her fantastic new San Francisco apartment, she realizes she’s gaining an intimate knowledge of her new neighbor’s nocturnal adventures. Thanks to paper-thin walls and the guy’s athletic prowess, she can hear not just his bed banging against the wall but the ecstatic response of what seems (as loud night after loud night goes by) like an endless parade of women. And since Caroline is currently on a self-imposed dating hiatus, and her neighbor is clearly lethally attractive to women, she finds her fantasies keep her awake even longer than the noise. So when the wallbanging threatens to literally bounce her out of bed, Caroline, clad in sexual frustration and a pink baby-doll nightie, confronts Simon Parker, her heard-but-never-seen neighbor. The tension between them is as thick as the walls are thin, and the results just as mixed. Suddenly, Caroline is finding she may have discovered a whole new definition of neighborly…

In a delicious mix of silly and steamy, Alice Clayton dishes out a hot and hilarious tale of exasperation at first sight… 

I wanted to love this book.  I really did.  It was third on the list of humorous romance books on Goodreads.  At first, I found it pretty funny.  But after a while it seemed like the author was forcing the funny.  Near the end I was getting fairly annoyed with it.  Especially the “O”.  Dear God, if I see that again I’ll lose my freaking mind!  Suffice it to say I had to force myself to finish the book and ended up skimming over the last few chapters just to see what happened.

In the beginning I really liked Caroline.  About halfway through she really started to get on my nerves.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading so many m/m books but I felt like she was such a girl.  I wanted to tell her to man up and get over it already!  Stop being such a woosie.  Simon, on the other hand I really liked through the whole book.  Although I found the whole “harem” thing a bit extreme and unrealistic.  

My favorite part had to have been the night of the horror movie.  If you’re going into this book because of the “hot” part in the description though, you’ll be disappointed.  *spoiler*  There isn’t any hot until almost the end of the book and then there’s just too much at once.  I read the first bit and then skimmed to see what they were saying through the rest of it.  Like any normal humans can have sex that many times?  Give me a break.

I know I make it sound like I totally hated this book.  If I had I wouldn’t have finished it.  I did like it for most of the book.  I think it was just too darned long!  I kept checking to see how much longer there was left in the book at around 70% and it was like looking at the time on a clock when you really want to leave somewhere.  It dragged on so slowly.  I had every intention of reading the rest of the books in the Cocktail series but by the end of this first book have changed my mind.  If those books are anything like this one I don’t think I can handle it.

Favorite Quotes:
“You know those moments when everything is exactly the way it was meant to be?  When you find yourself and your entire universe aligning in perfect synchronization, and you know you couldn’t possibly be more content?  I was inside that very moment, and fully conscious of it.”

“It breaks my heart the way young girls pick themselves over, never thinking they’re good enough.  You make sure you always remember, you’re exactly the way you’re supposed to be.  Exactly.  And anyone who says otherwise, well, poppycock!”

 

(Review) Can You Keep a Secret? ★★★★★

Author: Sophie Kinsella
Genre: Contemporary Romance
218 pages

Meet Emma Corrigan, a young woman with a huge heart, an irrepressible spirit, and a few little secrets: Secrets from her boyfriend: I’ve always thought Connor looks a bit like Ken. As in Barbie and Ken. Secrets from her mother: I lost my virginity in the spare bedroom with Danny Nussbaum while Mum and Dad were downstairs watching Ben-Hur. Secrets she wouldn’t share with anyone in the world: I have no idea what NATO stands for. Or even what it is. Until she spills them all to a handsome stranger on a plane. At least, she thought he was a stranger.…Until Emma comes face-to-face with Jack Harper, the company’s elusive CEO, a man who knows every single humiliating detail about her…  

From start to finish this was a hilarious book.  I’ve been trying to read Christmasy books but truthfully so many of them start out pretty depressing that I have a hard time continuing to read until the happy part happens.  So I was trying to find something else to read and thought of a book I had enjoyed recently called Chez Stinky.  I had started to read the second book in that series Fuzzy Logic and lost interest.  It just wasn’t funny like the first one.  Then it hit me!  Look for funny books.  I got on Goodreads and found this list called Humorous Romance Books. Can You Keep a Secret is the top one voted by over 850 readers.  

I set out to find a light hearted funny book and I wasn’t disappointed.  If I had to compare it to something I’d say at least at the start it’s similar to the Bridget Jones movies.  I haven’t read the books so I can’t make a comparison to those.   She’s a bit silly and as most women are today uncomfortable in her own skin.  She’s lied to her boyfriend about pretty much everything and stays with him because everyone says they’re the perfect couple.  She’s bounced from job to job.  Her cousin has out-staged her in every way and her family treat her like a child because of it.

As the book progresses I grew to appreciate Emma’s personality.  I was totally rooting for her and Jack.  Even knowing everything would work out in the end because duh it’s a romance book I still felt her pain when things all went to hell.  I don’t think I could have been as brave as Emma was.  I think I would have quit my job out of humiliation and never saw Jack again.  Wouldn’t that have been a pity if she did?  I suppose you’ll have to read it to find out!  

Can You Keep a Secret reminds us that being ourselves, especially around the people who are important to us, is the most important thing of all.  It’s not a paranormal book, there’s no exciting enemy or anything.  No steamy sex scenes or big overdeveloped plot.  It’s not even part of a series… which usually is a deal breaker for me.  It’s just a fun and intriguing book.  Emma, Jack and everyone else in the book are like anyone else out there and I can imagine it all happening in real life.  It was different for me as I don’t read many contemporary romances or stand-alone novels but a welcome change to be sure.

Favorite quotes:

“It’s like Julie Andrews said.  When the dog bites, when the bee stings … I simply remember I have a boyfriend – and suddenly things don’t seem quite so completely shit.”

“I feel all agitated, like one of those snow globes you see resting peacefully on shop counters. I was perfectly happy being an ordinary, dull little Swiss village. But now Jack Harper’s come and shaken me up, and there are snowflakes all over the place, whirling around until I don’t know what I think anymore. And bits of glitter, too. Tiny bits of shiny, secret excitement.”

(Review) Shelter Mountain ★★★★★

Author: Robyn Carr
Genre: Contemporary Romance
384 pages

For the second time in a year a woman arrives in the small town of Virgin River trying to escape the past.

John “Preacher” Middleton is about to close the bar when a young woman and her three-year-old son come in out of a wet October night. A marine who has seen his share of pain, Preacher knows a crisis when he sees one—the woman is covered in bruises. He wants to protect them, and he wants to punish whoever did this to her, but he knows immediately that this inclination to protect is something much more. Paige Lassiter has stirred up emotions in this gentle giant of a man—emotions that he has never allowed himself to feel.

But when Paige’s ex-husband turns up in Virgin River, Preacher knows his own future hangs in the balance. And if there’s one thing in the marines’ motto of Semper Fidelis—always faithful—has taught him, it’s that some things are worth fighting for.


The first book in the Virgin River series was awesome.  The second book did not disappoint at all.  I was already familiar with the characters of Preacher and Paige because I read this series out of order while reading all the Christmas stories.  To say I was eager to get to their story is an understatement.  
Just imagine this: Preacher is this big very scary looking guy, one night a tiny lady with a young son stumbles into the bar looking for shelter from her abusive husband.  In no way at all would I have thought that Paige and Preacher would end up together because they are so different.  Also because of Paige’s abusive past, you would think she would be afraid of a big scary guy like Preacher.  But Robyn Carr does it.  She brings them together and it’s just great.
There are so many ups and downs in this book.  Don’t forget we also have a bit of Mel and Jack in this book as well as some other Virgin River residents.  My favorite part of this book was when Preacher teaches Paige’s son to make cookies.  I just love to picture in my mind this huge marine sitting with a small boy making cookies.  My second favorite part was when Preacher punches out Jack.  Heck yea.  Trust me, this book is well worth the read.
Favorite Quotes:

“It’s no good to lose touch with people who mean a lot,”

“Can’t any of us stand up to those women?”
“Nope,” said at least three men in unison.”