There’s Something About Ari by L.B. Gregg

22468722
Grade: B
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, novella,  m/m, small town
Series: Bluewater Bay #2
Published: 11/10/14
Reviewed by Anne
101  pages

Buck Ellis was set to leave his small home town with a great college scholarship, but then his mom died and he stepped in to be a parent to his younger brother.  He took another blow when his best friend and secret crush, Ari, left town for Hollywood.  They haven’t had any contact in years, so Buck is shocked when Ari moves in to the house next door to him!  Ari’s in town to work on Wolf’s Landing, the hottest show on TV that just happens to be filmed in Ari’s home town.

This story is told entirely from  Buck’s point of view, which was a little disappointing, but makes sense in a novella.  The pacing felt a little quick, especially with their physical relationship, but again, it was a novella.  Actually, I think that it felt like it needed to be longer.  There was a lot going on between Ari and Buck, though they never really talked about it.

It was a good story.  I liked the relationship between Ari and Buck.  I thought the misunderstandings between the two of them were realistic and understandable. I did read the first story in this series, but I think this one would stand alone well.  I’d recommend it for anyone who enjoys m/m romance.

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Light My Fire by G.A. Aiken

17731347

Grade: B
Hotness Level: Blaze
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Paranormal, Shifter, Dragons
Series: Dragon Kin #7
Published: 11/25/14
Reviewed by Anne
483 pages

This is why you need to be reading the dragon books by G.A. Aiken:

“You best go to him, sister, and soothe his hurt feelings.”

“Why should I?”

“You know how men are.  If you treat them nice and buy them gifts, they will suck your pussy like a champion.”

“Well, when you put it like that…”

Seriously, no one does over the top humor like Aiken.  When I need to read a foulmouthed book full of equal parts violence and humor along with some hot sex, the Dragon Kin series is the place to go.  I’ve got kids, and I’m a pretty polite person, but it’s such a wonderful release to read about these dragon shifters and their mates!

Elina is not unforgettable.  In fact, the Daughter of the Steppes is all too forgettable to Celyn the Charming.  He deposits her in the local jail in the name of keeping her safe and promptly forgets her.  Thankfully she’s still safe there months later when the queen requests to see her.  Events force the human (Elina) and the dragon shifter (Celyn) together and Celyn is shocked that Elina isn’t falling for his charm.  He’s pretty amazed by her self confidence, ferocity, and willingness to use him for sex.  For her part, Elina finds Celyn annoying and far to talkative, but quite convenient for sex.

There’s a culture clash between Elina and Celyn that is quite interesting and entertaining.  In Elina’s homeland, women are the warriors and worthy warriors marry and keep multiple husbands who tend to household and raise the children.  She’s only heard rumors about dragons before.  Elina’s life has been hard, and she’s amazed at the life of laziness and luxury she finds in Celyn’s country.  This made for some nice and humorous conflict between the two of them.

Full, disclaimer, this book is more on the sci fi side than it is romance.  There are quite a few pages devoted to politics and a story arc running through the series.  There are a lot of characters – you need to engage your brain to keep track of them all.  I still loved it!

With all of the characters, I think this book would work best read in order in the series.  That said, I skipped two books and read this one and did ok.  I think the book is must read for people who have enjoyed the series so far.  If it sounds interesting, you can start with Dragon, Actually.  I highly recommend the series.

Broken Open by Lauren Dane

21938163
Grade: B
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary
Series: The Hurley Boys #2
Published: 11/25/14
Reviewed by Anne
275 pages

“If a woman could come just from being looked at, I’m pretty sure I’d be screaming your name right now.”

He locked his gaze to hers. “You will be soon enough.”  (p. 79)

Tuesday is just starting to stand on solid ground after the death of her husband five years ago.  Ezra is a member of Sweet Hollow Ranch, one of the most famous rock bands in existence.  This just means that his spectacular fall from grace due to drug addiction was a very public one.  Now he’s been clean for years and lives a simple life.  He’s a rancher on his family’s ranch, he helps with the band behind the scenes and spends time with his extended family.  When they meet each other their attraction is instant.  Then it’s just a matter of two people healing from past wounds try to find their way together.

I love, love, love low conflict romance, and this one is definitely low conflict.  However, the first half of the story was even a little slow for me.  That seemed pretty intentional, and it definitely fit with these two wounded characters, but it took me a while to get invested.  About half way through the issues these two had were clear and I didn’t want to set my reader down!

As always, Lauren Dane writes incredibly good and hot sex scenes.  Tuesday is confident in her self and her body and in her enjoyment of sex.  Ezra also knows what he likes.  At the beginning of their relationship they have to figure out if they’re going to fit together sexually.  That’s something you don’t normally see.

In your typical romance you have one partner mention they like to be in control and the response by the other partner is generally excitement and agreement with this power dynamic with no questions.  With Tuesday and Ezra it’s more complicated and more realistic.  Ezra admits he likes control and Tuesday thinks to herself,

“Sex with him?  Yes. Yes and yes again.  Control, though?  What did that mean?  Like something creepy?  Or something hot?  Sometimes people inexplicably found stuff like cell phone tracking and that sort of control to be superhot.  She was not one of them.” (p.31)

And then they go on to have an actual conversation about what they want from their sexual relationship.  How cool is that?

I also want to mention that Tuesday is African American and Ezra is white.  Their race is a factor in their relationship, but not a huge one.  I liked that it was acknowledged, but not the defining conflict in the story.

I really enjoyed Broken Open, despite its slow start.  I’ve read this series in order, including the series that came before it, but I think this one would stand on its own just fine.  In fact, I think having read the previous book actually worked against me in this case.  This story overlaps a bit with the story before it and it left me a little disoriented because it had been a while since I’d read the previous one. It was still a great read.  It wasn’t my favorite book in this series of series, but it was another solid entry.  I’d recommend it for anyone who enjoys contemporary romance, rock stars, strong women, hot sex, and internal conflict.