Review: “The Great Wall” by Z. Allora

TITLE: The Great Wall
AUTHOR: Z. Allora
SERIES: Made in China
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: PL Nunn
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 280 pages
RELEASE DATE: January 9, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 – e-book/ $14.99 – paperback

BLURB:

Jun “Styx” Wong’s heart and mind battle to determine his destiny. His mind tells him to be a good Chinese son and marry the girl his parents chose, but his heart longs for his best friend, Jin, and life with their new band. “Jun” means honesty, but he’s not even honest with himself. A quest to eradicate his feelings for Jin nearly ends his life. Styx’s near death serves as a wake-up call for Jin, whose blond hair–legacy of his German father–marks him as different. Jin harbors secrets of his own. His experiences prepare him to take the drastic measures needed to help Jun overcome the walls surrounding them.
Because there is no gay in China…


The Great Wall is the first book in the Made in China series by Z. Allora. The book takes place in China, and so we do get quite a bit of background into Chinese culture with this first book. It was a real eye-opener for me who lives in the USA. I was aware that in some places you couldn’t be as open about your sexuality but this is the first book that I have read about the Chinese culture and I was kind of sad at how repressed it was. That in order to be a good son you have to do whatever your parents want you to do and marry whoever they want you to marry whether you want to or not.

Like the concept that there aren’t any homes to take care of old people and so having a child is their insurance that somebody will take care of them as they get older. And in order to have a child, you have to get married which must lead to a lot of unhappy marriages. It’s all so very backward from what I am used to reading and how the world works in the USA. Not that the book wasn’t entertaining because it was, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series when it comes out.

I did sometimes have a hard time feeling the connection between Jun Tai “Styx” and his best friend, Jin. But I did enjoy watching both of them get more comfortable being a gay couple and being comfortable to show affection to each other in their apartment in front of their friends and fellow band members, Li and Indigo. And later their new singer, Tian Di. I do have to say that Li and Indigo stole the spotlight on more than one occasion and I was intrigued by their relationship, and I can’t wait to find out what happens to their relationship.

I also can’t wait to see who their singer, Tian Di, ends up with. I did like getting to see all of the different places that were visited in the book and with the way they were described I felt like I was there with the guys while they explored the Great Wall and other tourist places.

Overall, a good start to a new series, and I can’t wait to see where the series goes from here.

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

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Review: “Bleu Balls” by Tara Lain

TITLE: Bleu Balls
AUTHOR: Tara Lain
SERIES: Balls to the Wall
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Reese Dante
GENRE: Contemporary Romance; Enemies to Lovers
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 250 pages
RELEASE DATE: January 9, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 – e-book/ $16.99 – paperback

BLURB:

Double trouble. The McMillan twins, Robin and Bobby, are renowned for their talents—both as fine artists and for thrilling the various men who catch their eyes. As different in style and personality as their DNA is identical, they’re nonetheless best friends who divide and conquer, with Robin doing the serious painting and Bobby adding the sunny salesmanship.
But when their most important client decides Bobby must wield the paintbrush, the brothers revert to childhood tactics and switch places. Then along comes Micah, a handsome doctor who’s attracted to Bobby but invites Robin out to try to please his homophobic brother, and Paolo, the pain-in-the-butt client who thinks he’s wooing Bobby when he’s actually after Robin. Paolo harbors his own hidden pain that weirdly intersects with Robin’s, but pride and privacy conspire to produce what will either be a masterpiece—or end up as Dogs Playing Poker.


Bleu Balls is the seventh book in the Balls to the Wall series by Tara Lain. I’d eagerly awaited getting to read about the McMillan twins, Robin and Bobby, since meeting them in the previous book, Snow Balls, when they had a fling with JJ before he met Ryan. I have to say that Double trouble did live up to their name, but the book isn’t a bunch of threesome hookups between the twins and another guy. The book starts at the end of the hookup portion of their lives, and Bobby’s ready for a more series relationship with just another guy and not with his twin also. The book’s told from Robin, Bobby, Paolo, and Micah’s POV. So we do get to see inside of each guy’s heads and find out how they’re feeling. The book did get kind of confusing for me sometimes.

Robin and Bobby are both artists, but each has their own style and personality which are as different as their identical DNA. Robin’s the better painter but lacks people skills, and Bobby’s the better salesman with wonderful people skills and adds his sunny disposition to his brother’s dark and moody paintings. However, when Bobby comes down with a cold just before a big pitch to a new client, Robin’s forced to make the pitch. But Robin can tell that the main client and architect of the building, Paolo, takes an instant dislike to him, and Robin doesn’t pull any punches in giving him a piece of his mind. He figures that he has lost them the new client and puts off telling Bobby.

Bobby ends up going to the doctor for his cold and finds that his doctor has been replaced with his gorgeous gay son, Micah. The twins are both attracted, but Bobby can’t stop talking about him and wondering about him. When Bobby finally calls to find out if they got the job, they are pleasantly surprised to find out that they did win the contract. However, the client’s stipulated that Bobby’s to be the main painter for the job instead of Robin. And so they decided to switch places so that Robin can still paint the mural while Bobby sells their other paintings at the Festival. Robin gets to know Paolo while trying to impersonate his brother as he works on the job and Paolo ends up wanting to go out with “Bobby.” Dr. Micha Brown also wants Bobby, but because of his homophobic brother, he ends up asking out Robin instead. They end up realizing that they’re meant to be friends only, and Micha ends up asking out Bobby.

They’re the perfect couple, and their relationship moves quickly, leaving Robin feeling left out and lonely. Paolo also has a date with the real Bobby and is confused with how different he is from the Bobby he talks to when he’s painting the mural. And Bobby doesn’t feel any connection to Paolo either. Making Paolo realize that the twin he really wants is Robin. But it’s not all fun and games, and Paolo and Robin will have to work hard for their HEA. I greatly enjoyed getting to see cameos of the other guys in the Balls to the Wall series and how great their relationships are doing. Bleu Balls is a great addition to the series. My only issue is that the story ends kind of abruptly, and I wanted to know more about Bobby and Micha’s relationship after they got together.

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

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Review: “The Hockey Player’s Heart” by Jeff Adams and Will Knauss

TITLE: The Hockey Player’s Heart
AUTHOR: Jeff Adams and Will Knauss
SERIES: Hockey Hearts
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Bree Archer
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 226 pages
RELEASE DATE: January 16, 2018
PRICE: $4.99 – e-book/ $9.99 – paperback

BLURB:

Hometown hero. Hockey superstar. Perfect boyfriend?
When hockey star Caleb Carter returns to his hometown to recover from an injury, the only thing he’s interested in is a little R & R. He never expects to run into his onetime crush at a grade school fund-raiser. Seeing Aaron Price hits him hard, like being checked into the boards. The attraction is still there, even after all these years, and Caleb decides to make a play for the schoolteacher. You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take, right?
Aaron has been burned by love before and can’t imagine what a celebrity like Caleb could possibly see in a guy like him. Their differences are just too great. But as Aaron spends more time with Caleb, he begins to wonder if he might have what it takes to win the hockey player’s heart.


Caleb Carter and Aaron Price have known each other since they were kids. Growing up in Forest Grove, New York, Aaron was best friends with Caleb’s older sister, Pam, but also tutored Caleb in Geometry to help him stay on the hockey team. These tutoring sessions are where Caleb developed his crush on Aaron. Aaron now works as a teacher in the elementary school in their home-town where Pam is the principal, but Caleb is a star pro hockey player living in New York City and playing for the New York Rangers. Their lives can’t be any more different.

When Caleb is injured, he decides to return home to visit his family and stay out of the spotlight while he’s recovering. Pam asks if Caleb would be willing to take part in the school fundraising carnival by signing some autographs and pictures to help raise money, and he’s more than happy to get involved. But what he didn’t expect, was to see an older, and even more attractive Aaron there too. All of the feelings and nerves he had when he was around Aaron when he was younger suddenly came rushing back. Caleb decides at that moment that he needs to do whatever it takes to spend time with Aaron and to see if the friendship they once shared can become something more. Now that they are both out, proud, and single, Caleb is going to show Aaron exactly how he feels, and he won’t give up on his man without a fight.

Aaron is stunned by how good Caleb looks when he sees him in the school. But a bad experience and relationship when he lived in California has made it hard for Aaron to get close to anyone and trust them with his heart. And although there is an attraction between them, and he can see Caleb is interested in being more than friends, Aaron doesn’t think that a hot, rich and famous guy like Caleb would want someone like him when he could have his pick of men.

Long-brewing lust and passion eventually take over, and Caleb and Aaron discover what they’ve been missing out on for years. But Caleb’s life and Aaron’s past threaten to destroy the new-found romance before it’s hardly had a chance to begin.

The book was an enjoyable and easy read. I really liked the characters and the storyline. It was cute without being overly sweet. But I do have one criticism, and that is the pace of the story. It was a slow-burn romance which is fine, but personally for me, it was just too slow. I felt like I was just constantly waiting for something to happen, then when I thought it would be the moment, I’d find that I was still left waiting. Apart from that one thing, everything else was good. The ending was incredibly heartwarming and left me with a big cheesy smile. I really hope Dimitri gets a book of his own because he was a character I was really fond of and would love to get to know him more.

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

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Review: “Rebel” by Rhys Ford

TITLE: Rebel
AUTHOR: Rhys Ford
SERIES: 415 Ink
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Reece Notley
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 220 pages
RELEASE DATE: December 29,2017
PRICE: $6.99 -e-book / $ 14.99 – paperback

BLURB:

The hardest thing a rebel can do isn’t standing up for something — it’s standing up for himself.
Life takes delight in stabbing Gus Scott in the back when he least expects it. After years of running from his past, present and the dismal future every social worker predicted for him, Karma delivers the one thing Gus could never—would never—turn his back on; a son from a one-night stand he’d had after a devastating break-up three years ago.
Returning to San Francisco and to 415 Ink, his family’s tattoo shop, gave him the perfect shelter to battle his personal demons and get himself together… until the firefighter who’d broken him walked back into Gus’s life.
For Rey Montenegro, tattoo artist Gus Scott was an elusive brass ring, a glittering prize he hadn’t the strength or flexibility to hold onto. Severing his relationship with the mercurial tattoo artist hurt but Gus hadn’t wanted the kind of domestic life Rey craved, leaving Rey with an aching chasm in his soul.
When Gus’s life and world starts to unravel, Rey helps him pick up the pieces, and Gus wonders if that forever Rey wants is more than just a dream.


I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to more in the series. This book really shows how you do not need to be blood to be family. These men have really been through the ringer as children, from the family that should have loved and cared for them. Through everything they had been through, they came together and built a family of their own.

This first book of the series focus on Gus and Rey. Gus is a very troubled individual that has always ran from his problems. It has always seemed to work for him until he lost the love of his life in Rey. Rey wanted a forever with Gus but Gus didn’t know how to do that. So, three years ago, Rey ended it with Gus and Gus ran.

Now, three years later, Gus has come back for good and with a shocker to his family. On the night Rey ended their relationship, Gus got drunk and actually slept with a woman. And as you’ve probably guessed, got her pregnant. Gus wants to be a dad but is scared to death. His family is shocked but are very supportive and are behind him one hundred percent. They are all ready to welcome little Chris to the family.

Rey learns of this and is so confused with all these emotions he’s going through. For instance, why wasn’t I good enough for him to settle down? Can Gus really be a father? How can he still be so in love with this infuriating man? Why do I want to punch him as much as I want to kiss him? I’m sure the answers will come to you as you read this very emotional and sexy read as they did for me. Enjoy

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

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Review: “A Tangle Of Secrets” by R.G Thomas

TITLE: A Tangle Of Secrets
AUTHOR: R.G Thomas
SERIES: The Town of Superstition #4
PUBLISHER: Harmony Ink
COVER ARTIST: Tiferet Design
GENRE: Urban Fantasy; Teen Fiction
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 260 pages
RELEASE DATE: December 26, 2017
PRICE: $6.99 e-book / $16.99 paperback

BLURB:

Sequel to The Battle of Iron Gulch
The Town of Superstition: Book Four
Thaddeus and his family and friends have returned from Iron Gulch and Thaddeus’s summer of magical awakening to a very different life. For one, he has both his parents for the first time, though his mother is still haunted by terrors and powers she can’t yet control. Teofil, Thaddeus’s gnome boyfriend, is consumed with finding Thaddeus’s evil uncle Lucian and answers about what happened to his brother, and he spends his days sequestered in Leopold’s library, pouring over the old wizard’s journals. When Thaddeus starts school and makes friends Teofil doesn’t like, there’s tension between them for the first time ever.
Thaddeus’s problems don’t end there. It’s harder and harder for him to conceal his magic, especially when facing the school bully. He’s lost, confused, and lashing out, and for once, he finds no solace in those closest to him. His enemies are hiding in plain sight, biding their time, until the Bearagon reappears and instigates a fight not everyone will walk away from.


After the battle of Iron Gulch, Thaddeus and his family and his friends have returned to Superstition.
Thaddeus and his father have succeeded, they found Claire, Thaddeus’s mother, and freed her from her curse. Claire needs some time to adjust to her new life. Thaddeus needs to return to his old life, meaning go back to school. But this time everything is different for him, he’s no longer the lonely boy he was, he has a boyfriend, he’s a wizard and his mother is back home.

Between Teofil’s quest to find his brother Fetter, the bully at school who harasses Thaddeus, and his new friend Andy, Thaddeus lives through a lot of changes and he feels more and more like an outsider from everyone, including his family.

But when the past comes back to hurt them, Thaddeus will have to make a choice and find the truth in all the lies.

It’s the final book of this series, and it’s my favorite.
Thaddeus has to come back to school, deals with a bully too, and starts to have dark and mean thoughts. He talks back to his parents, fights with Teofil and he’s angry all the times…
At first, I thought, nothing is wrong with him, he’s just a teenager. But the more I read, the more I understood that there’s something really wrong with him. And I had to wait for the end of the book to have my suspicions confirmed or not.

This story was more focused on Thaddeus and his family. It was interesting, and I enjoyed it a lot.
I really liked this book and how the author describes Thaddeus’s change, he makes a great metaphor between magic and the change all teenagers go through when they hit puberty.
The plot was good, and we have a real closure at the end, no more secrets, suspicions, nothing left.

I’m a little bit sad to say goodbye to them, but it was a beautiful final chapter.

4 OptimuMMs for All of them.

***The ARC was provided by Ink Harmony . My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

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