Publisher: Riptide Publishing

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Twice in a Lifetime – Jodie Griffin – 4 stars

January 24, 2018 NetGalley, Read in 2018, Riptide Publishing, Steph 0

Published by Riptide Publishing Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com

Ok Jodie knows I love her writing…  I also adore her as a person who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and love chatting with on Twitter…  before I get to the review I have to leave this here…

Yep…  I went there!

So on to the book, I don’t read a lot of F/F but I don’t see a lot of it in my feeds normally.  I have enjoyed the ones I have read so far and plan on trying to read more of them once I survive February so if you have any you’ve read let me know.  In this case we have a second chances romance where two women have had kids, been married and lived their lives with a lot of love but now are they willing to take the risk to love again?  There is a lot to overcome with one being the boss of the other and the fact that they are working in a very male, hetero field but these two women find a way to grasp this connection to create a new life with one another that is to be envied.

Talia is finally doing something she loves by working with the Police Department and their community involvement team.  She’s happy to be the assistant to a woman who sets sparks off and makes her want something that she doesn’t think she can have but as they work together the sparks seem to build to flames.  Talia had an amazing husband who she lost way too early but it has left her with a great view of love and now perhaps a chance to find it with a woman who makes her want.  I loved seeing her with her daughters as we get glimpses of how strong her partnership was with her husband.  You see how they built a life together and how that shaped the women her daughters have become.  They both had their own stories to go thru but they also provided Talia with the advice to go for what she wanted.  The support she received from them allows her to fight for what she wants.

Eve made me so happy as we got to see her fight for what she wanted while taking a risk that could impact the career she worked so hard to build.  She does make some choices that weren’t always the best but there was always a perceived good idea that underscored the choice.  I liked seeing her son and her reaction to his relationship as it felt like something I’d see in my real life should the situation arise.  I can see how much Eve cares for those around her and how badly she wants to help those who need it.  She’s strong but with Talia she does show how much love means to her.  She’s bold but practical and seeing how hard she fights to make things work will make you happy.  When the dark moment arrives it will hurt but how it plays out shows how much family means to her.

The story is a sweet love story with two women who love with everything in them.  It shows both in their relationship with each other and the ones they share with their children.  Give this one a try as it is truly a story of family and finding love later in life.

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Poster Boy – Anne Tenino – 4 Stars

April 27, 2014 April 2014 Read-A-Thon, NetGalley, Read in 2014, Riptide Publishing 0

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Poster Boy – Anne Tenino – 4 StarsPoster Boy Published by Riptide Publishing on April 21, 2014
Pages: 375
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

It's all fun and games until someone puts his heart out.

After being outed to his hockey team and then changing schools, Jock figures he’s due for something good—like the sex he missed out on in the closet. Toby, the hot grad student he meets at a frat party, seems like a great place to start, and their night together is an awesome introduction to the fine art of hooking up.

Toby’s heart takes a bruising after the near-perfect experience with Jock leads to . . . nothing. He’s been left on the outside as his friends pair up into blissful coupledom, and he’s in danger of never completing (or starting) his thesis. Can’t something go right?

Then Toby’s coerced into chaperoning a Theta Alpha Gamma trip to France. Not that he’s complaining. What better place to finish his thesis and get over that frat boy? Except Jock’s outing is leaked to the press, turning him into an unwilling gay rights martyr, and he decides France would be a great escape, too. It’s a break from reality for both guys, but they soon find their connection is as real as it gets.

Really nice story about a man coming to terms with his sexuality and another man realizing that maybe love is for him after all.

Toby is at a crossroads in his life.  He’s trying to finish a thesis his heart really isn’t in but also has to watch as all the people around him find their other halves.  He scoffs at the idea of being paired up and in love but you sense that it is more jealousy talking rather than a true scoffing at love.  When he sees Jock at a party he’s interested in the man’s obvious innocence but being the good guy he is he backs off when he senses the obvious reluctance.  When they meet later and the sparks fly again he’s happy that he finally gets to have Jock in bed but when Jock’s fears push him away Toby retreats in to a shell that causes him to have to accept a job in France as the RA for Jock’s frat brothers doing an international studies program.  He figures he can get over Jock and work on his thesis.

Jock is still traumatized by the way he came out.  He is intensely drawn to Toby but honestly is so conflicted by his own sexuality that it causes him to withdraw from their amazing moment.  When the heat gets to be too much he decides last minute to join the international program and ends up having to spend more time with Toby.  I liked watching his struggle with who he was and what he really wanted but did get upset a few times at the way he didn’t always take Toby’s feelings in to consideration.  I understood it and so did Toby but it still made me mad at him.  He really did a lot of growing up and I think his struggles are potentially what others go thru in real life.

Special thanks to NetGalley.com and Riptide Publishing for giving me the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.

four-stars

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Glitterland – Alexis Hall – 5 stars

August 26, 2013 NetGalley, Read in 2013, Riptide Publishing 0

Glitterland – Alexis Hall – 5 starsGlitterland Published by Riptide Publishing on August 26, 2013
Pages: 248
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon

The universe is a glitterball I hold in the palm of my hand.

Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on love, hope, happiness, and—most of all—himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people’s expectations.

Then a chance encounter at a stag party throws him into the arms of Essex boy Darian Taylor, an aspiring model who lives in a world of hair gel, fake tans, and fashion shows. By his own admission, Darian isn’t the crispest lettuce in the fridge, but he cooks a mean cottage pie and makes Ash laugh, reminding him of what it’s like to step beyond the boundaries of anxiety.

But Ash has been living in his own shadow for so long that he can’t see past the glitter to the light. Can a man who doesn’t trust himself ever trust in happiness? And how can a man who doesn’t believe in happiness ever fight for his own?

My Thoughts:

I’m going to start this review with a quick warning – Do Not go in to this book thinking you are getting a light read or easy one.  This being said it was a brilliant debut well hell a brilliant book period!  I’m struggling with how to sum this book up as it was a very hard read that I just couldn’t put down.

I’m going to start trying to put my thoughts down for you by beginning with Darian.  I’m starting here because he’s the heart of this book and brings his amazing personality to the page from the moment you first see him as Ash does at the club.   He’s brilliant in form and truly brings an infectious love of life to everyone around him that let’s this unique man in.  I loved how he didn’t make any real apologies for who he is but owned the fact that he might not be the most respectable person for polite society but he is who he is and you just have to deal with it.  He’s not stupid though and even when all he wants is to be loved he’s willing to step back to force Ash to give him the respect he deserves.  His dialogue can be hard for those not used to hearing or reading British street lingo but I adored that touch as it kept him real in my mind and with all my adoration of BBC I’m pretty used to hearing it so reading it didn’t throw me.  I loved watching his willingness to put himself out there and my heart broke with his as Ash makes a horrible mistake.  He’s just someone I think in real life I’d love knowing even as a part of me would cringe at how horribly inappropriate he can be.  I have to admit being jealous of people and characters that comfortable in their own skin as I wish I could let myself be.  I get my outlet via reading and now the blog but have issues truly letting go in public (those who know me or have met me can attest to that) but watching Darian demand what he deserved was awesome!

Ash is where we get to the hard parts…  Alexis does a great job bringing you in to the head of a mad man.  No I’m not exaggerating, Ash is certifiably a mess and has the scars to prove it.  We get to see his struggle with being bi-polar and how exhausting it is for him to even pretend to function.  Only as he spends time with Darian does he start to find some inner peace but he doesn’t trust that as the disease tells him he’s not worthy and that he will just end up destroying anything that comes near him.  I mean look at what he did with Niall.  He’s got himself so far down the rabbit hole that even heading out to the grocery store is a major event to dread.  His voice in all of this is one of a man that is struggling to want to even stay alive let alone allow someone to mean more to him than a quick anonymous shag.  As he spends more time around Darian he finds himself wanting more and more but being incredibly frightened of what will happen if Darin finds the truth out about him.  When the truth does come out he finds that Darian doesn’t really care as life/love is never guaranteed so why not live for the moment and let the pieces fall where they may.  Is this extremely optimistic?  Yes  but Darian has such an infectious joy of life you can’t help but want to give him everything he wants just to keep him happy.  Ash really is trying but when push comes to shove he makes some comments that slice to the bone and I found myself gutted as we saw Darian’s reaction.  I am very thankful that the author made the struggle Ash has to come to terms with what he wants/needs a hard one and even happier at the grovel that was very well done.  He has to work for what we as readers all know is what he needs and I loved how the disease was not whitewashed at all but highlighted and in a way a living, breathing character in the book as well.

We see books at times that whitewash mental illness and thankfully this one is not another one of those.  We get to see the nitty gritty painful details and the devastation it leaves for not only the sufferer but those around them that just want to help but go about it at times in the wrong ways.  Niall is a case in point on this but as much as I wanted to hate him for his behaviour I did understand it especially when  it comes to a head later in the book.  I would love to see more of the supporting characters especially Niall as I feel he deserves a chance to finally be happy.

As I said at the start this is not an easy book to read and there are a few parts that drag as we get deeper into the psyche of Ash but I wouldn’t trade those sections for anything as it makes you better understand the struggle he is having with feeling worthy of love or even of living.  I have to thank NetGalley.com and Riptide Publishing for giving me the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.  I also have to thank Sarah Frantz for being on the elevator with me at RT which started me down the path of actively seeking out more Riptide titles.  I have enjoyed seeing some of the amazingly complex stories that have come out of that initial meeting.  Keep them coming!

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Apple Polisher – Heidi Belleau – 4 stars

August 24, 2013 NetGalley, Read in 2013, Riptide Publishing 0

Apple Polisher – Heidi Belleau – 4 starsApple Polisher Published by Riptide Publishing on July 27, 2013
Pages: 230
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
four-stars

This straight-A student has a dirty little secret.

Christian Blake dreams of being a kindergarten teacher, but making the grade means maintaining a squeaky clean image: no drinking, no drugs, no swearing, no sex. And definitely no falling for his new roommate—tattooed bad-boy Max, who may or may not be a drug dealer.

Most of all, it means no working at a porn store. But Christian’s aunt has cancer, and her beloved Rear Entrance Video will go bankrupt if Christian doesn’t take over managerial duties. Soon enough, Christian finds himself juggling sticky twenty-five cent peepshow booths, a blackmailing employee, and a demanding professor who likes to make an example of him.

And then there’s Max, who doesn’t know anything about the store, but hates Christian’s preppy sweater vests and the closet Christian forces him into when they’re together. Max just wants Christian to be himself—even though Max is keeping secrets of his own. Christian struggles to find the impossible balance between his real life and the ideal one he thinks a teacher needs to live . . . all while trying to keep his aunt’s dream alive without losing his own.

My Thoughts:

I found myself truly enjoying this book and the ways it brought up how the public perception of a gay man’s behavior colors the choices that they may have for employment.  The images that Ms Belleau brings forth as Christian tries desperately to deny his identity in favor of becoming a kindergarten teacher were heartbreaking as none deserves to have to suppress their inherent nature in hopes of a job.  Unfortunately I do know many instances of having to hide the fact that you are homosexual for a career even today and for me that is fundamentally sad.

Christian is wound up so tight it is even funny but if he wants to be a kindergarten teacher he has to fulfill a certain public image of straight, conservative male even though he is not truly like that.  When he takes a room at an unconventional house he ends up being forced to face up to his life and the choices he is making that deny everything core to his psyche other than his need to teach.  He gets some horrible news about the only person who loved who he truly is and ends up having to take risks to save what she built, Rear Entrance Video… a porn store that also sells some fun extras.  He knows if anyone finds out about him working there it means the loss of his dream but when confronted with his aunt losing her livelihood and passion he just has to do the right thing.  Along the way he ends up having a hidden affair with Max but finds that he isn’t sure if his dream of teaching is worth the damage he is doing to his relationship.  Does he really want to hide who he is (other than the store) or does he want to be accepted as a gay man who wants to teach?

Max is a wild child with many hidden depths.  He ends up with money but no one knows what he does for a living and Christian first guesses drug dealer.  He is open with his sexuality and forces Christian to not only confront the insanity of his suppressing their attraction but also forces him to open his eyes and realize that sometimes taking a risk to help the ones you love is worth it.  Not taking the risk would be more damaging that anything that could come out of helping and the guilt you would have would choke any joy you possibly could have from teaching.  He’s very willing to be open with Christian and gets fed up with being a hidden secret as their relationship heats up.  I liked how he was willing to be patient with Christian initially but then pushed him out of his shell to become the man we loved at the end.  He’s something else and I can’t wait to see more of them as the stories come out.

This is a very good read with some hard moments when you are witness to how much some people are willing to sacrifice just in order to conform.  This makes me sad as I believe people should not be judged by if they love the same-sex or opposite sex but by their actions to the world at large.  I have to thank NetGalley.com and the wonderful people at Riptide Publishing that gave me access to this title with no restrictions on how I chose to review it or if I did.  I really enjoyed the title and am looking forward to more.

four-stars

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Finding Master Right – L.A. Witt – 3.5 Stars

July 2, 2013 NetGalley, Read in 2013, Riptide Publishing 0

Finding Master Right – L.A. Witt – 3.5 StarsFinding Master Right Published by Riptide Publishing on June 17, 2013
Pages: 170
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
three-half-stars

It's all fun and games until somebody falls in love.

Chase has just arrived at a much anticipated leather convention, and he’s about to lose his mind. Not only is his ex attending, but Chase is also rooming with Derek, a submissive he’s been dying to top. Although Derek is in search of a Dom, he made it painfully clear when the two of them hooked up for a very hot—but very vanilla—night just before the convention that he wasn’t interested in submitting to Chase.

Derek isn’t stupid. No matter how desperate he is to submit to Chase, he wants no part of a rebound relationship. As long as Chase is still pining after the sub who broke his heart a few months ago, Derek’s keeping him at arm’s length. Besides, there’s another Dom at this convention, the gorgeous Master Raul, who Derek is determined to attract.

But when Chase and Derek are confronted with all their kinks, from ropes to leather, bondage to flogging—not to mention each other—they can only ignore their mutual attraction for so long.

I have to admit to struggling a bit between rating this a 4 or a 3.5 star read mainly because I really did enjoy it but I sort of wish the pair had more page time once they both opened up to one another.

Chase is definitely a Dom and knows what he wants but what he wants is sharing a room with him at a leather convention and has his sight set on conquering another Master.  While Chase did get a night of amazing sex with him it just isn’t enough especially since it was only vanilla while what he craves is to see him on his knees serving his Master.  Chase is also still dealing with the bad breakup with his ex who also happens to be there but he gets an amazing chance for closure at this event and I must say I adored seeing him care for the man who is not only his best friend but might also be his true other half.  He really has to work hard to open up and I have to say I liked that he really didn’t jump in to anything but at the same time it did make parts of the book drag.  I also truly loved how we got to see exactly what he was feeling during those moments we were in his headspace as it did make the pacing seem realistic.

Derek is definitely a submissive who adores pain.  He loves to be used by the Dom he is scening with but has always had his eyes on Chase.  He gives in to his lust with Chase by having a single night of scorching vanilla sex but knows what he really wants from Chase is to be mastered.  He’s also aware of the fact that Chase is still struggling with the end of his last relationship and isn’t willing to be the rebound guy for someone he truly cares about.  He’s open about what he wants and needs from his partners and while he wants to play with a lot of partners we see that what he really craves is something that only a single man can give him.  He struggles with his feelings for Chase while still being open to playing around but when he is forced to look inwardly realizes the only reason why the times he’s had at the convention were perfect were when Chase was in the room and acting as his center.  He’s afraid to lose something so important to him but thankfully we get to see that he is willing to take a risk to get what will hopefully be the one thing he truly needed.

The buildup to their relationship is a bit slow at times but because we do get to see both sides struggle with their feelings and pasts I think it did work.  I really have to thank Sarah at Riptide again because she put L.A. on my radar as an author and now the staff at Riptide Publishing are awesome resources to feed my new addiction via NetGalley.com.  Thanks to both Riptide and NetGalley.com for a chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.  The two men were angsty goodness so I greatly appreciated it.

 

three-half-stars

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