Review: The Garden (Lavender Shores #2) by Rosalind Abel

The Garden (Lavender Shores #2) by Rosalind Abel
Kindle Edition, 264 pages
Published July 25th 2017 by Wings of Ink Publications, LLC
Genre: M/M, Contemporary, Romance

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Beautiful Gilbert Bryant designs jewelry for the rich and famous, and he made his escape from his gossipy little hometown of Lavender Shores. However, with so many friends and family, he keeps getting pulled back. When he attends his best friend’s engagement party, Gilbert can’t help but sample one of the new men in town. It’s just some innocent—or not so innocent—fun. Nothing that will even cross his mind once he gets back to his everyday life.

Walden Thompson dreamed about living in Lavender Shores since he visited as a child. He finally gets his chance, and he embraces the opportunity to start over, to become someone new. He leaves both hurts and dangerous habits in the past, where they belong. When Gilbert crosses his path, Walden gives in to his baser instincts. He can indulge in the carnal pleasures this once and still be okay.

Their few hours together haunt Gilbert, the two-hundred-mile buffer from home no longer shutting out the past or the sexy man he left behind. Walden is just beginning to recover from the smoldering encounter with Gilbert when they are thrust together once more. This time, neither of them can walk away, no matter how hard they try. But when their pasts crash into each other as surely as the magnetism that pulls them together, walking away may be the only option.

I enjoyed The Garden SO much more than I did the first book in this series, The Palisade. I wasn't sure I was going to like Gilbert - first impressions are everything - but I liked him more and more as the story progressed. And now I can firmly say that he completely won me over! And Walden? Simply too adorable for words! I loved them both so much, and they were just too cute together.

Gilbert and Walden were both such beautiful characters, but they were damaged and carrying a bit of baggage. The story wasn't too weighed down by their issues, and I loved that both characters realized not only were they deserving of love, they were capable of loving each other. I felt they couldn't be more perfect for each other!

My Rating: 4 Stars
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Waiting On Wednesday (326) Twisted and Tied (Marshals #4) by Mary Calmes

Twisted and Tied (Marshals #4) by Mary Calmes
Expected publication: March 13th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, previously hosted by Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating.

This my favorite day of the week because I love sharing and discovering new books.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Deputy US Marshal Miro Jones finally has everything he ever wanted. He’s head-over-heels in love and married to the man of his dreams, his partner Ian Doyle, he’s doing well at work, and all his friends are in good places as well. Things are all tied up nicely… until they’re not.

Change has never been easy for Miro, and when situations at work force the team he’s come to depend on to break apart, and worst of all, his and Ian’s individual strengths put them on two separate paths, he’s pretty certain everything just went up in smoke. But before he can even worry about the future, his past comes for a visit, shaking his world up even more. It’s hard to tell what road he should truly be on, but as he learns some paths are forged and others are discovered, it might be that where he's going is the right course after all. If he can navigate all the twists and turns, he and Ian might just get their happily ever after.

The final book in this series! I can't freaking wait! I love these guys. AND the author has a free novella coming out today that I assume is the wedding.... since they weren't married in book 3, but they are in book 4. I hope it's the wedding. It better be the wedding. Please be the wedding.
***ETA: It appears NOT to be the wedding, which makes me sad.***

What are you waiting on this week?
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Waiting On Wednesday (325) Daughter of the Siren Queen (Daughter of the Pirate King #2) by Tricia Levenseller

Expected publication: February 27th 2018 by Feiwel and Friends

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, previously hosted by Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating.

This my favorite day of the week because I love sharing and discovering new books.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Alosa's mission is finally complete. Not only has she recovered all three pieces of the map to a legendary hidden treasure, but the pirates who originally took her captive are now prisoners on her ship. Still unfairly attractive and unexpectedly loyal, first mate Riden is a constant distraction, but now he's under her orders. And she takes great comfort in knowing that the villainous Vordan will soon be facing her father's justice.

When Vordan exposes a secret her father has kept for years, Alosa and her crew find themselves in a deadly race with the feared Pirate King. Despite the danger, Alosa knows they will recover the treasure first . . . after all, she is the daughter of the Siren Queen.

I feel like a dork because I still haven't read the first book in this series! Has anyone read the first book, and can you try talking me into reading it asap? Thank you.

What are you waiting on this week?

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January Wrap Up and February TBR

I read a total of 25 books and novellas in January. I have so many books on my tbr that I don't know how I'll ever get to them all!

Read in January 2018

Counting on You (Counting #3) by Kelly Jensen
Body Art by Jordan Castillo Price
Risky Behavior (Bad Behavior #1) by L.A. Witt and Cari Z.

Suspicious Behavior (Bad Behavior #2) by L.A. Witt and Cari Z.
Reckless Behavior (Bad Behavior #3) by L.A. Witt and Cari Z.

I went back and reread the Bad Behavior series in anticipation of the final book in the series, a novella which turned out to be so darned cute! It was definitely worth getting past all the bad stuff that happened along the way to their happily ever after.

Model Exposure (Haven Investigations #4) by Lissa Kasey
Daylight Again (Hell or High Water #3) by S.E. Jakes
Not Fade Away (Hell or High Water #3.5) by S.E. Jakes

I finally finished the Haven Investigations series. I like all of the books well enough over all, but they sure are over the top!
I read the Hell or High Water series for the third time. I don't know why I keep torturing myself knowing that the end of the series may never be written.

Deal Maker (Deal Maker #1) by Lily Morton
Trick Roller (Seven of Spades #2) by Cordelia Kingsbridge
Winter (The Haunted Heart #1) by Josh Lanyon

Trick Roller was spectacular! I'm loving this series so far. (However, the cover and synopsis for the 4th book was recently revealed and it contains spoilers for book 3, which hasn't been released yet!!!)
I read Josh Lanyon's Winter in anticipation of book 2 being released later this year. I didn't know it would make me so sad! Something is revealed about the MC that broke my heart. But if I think about it logically, this is supposed to be a 4 part series, so things should be looking up for him.

The Boy Next Door by Josh Lanyon
In a Dark Wood (In A Dark Wood #1) by Josh Lanyon
The Parting Glass (In A Dark Wood #2) by Josh Lanyon

All 3 of these books were 2nd chance romances. The Boy Next Door was really cute and sweet, but too short!
In A Dark Wood is a 2 part series. The first book was a mystery that had an ambiguous ending. But in The Parting Glass the 2 MCs are trying to find their way back to each other, and it made me so sad at times.

Cut & Run (Cut & Run #1) by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban
Sticks & Stones (Cut & Run #2) by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban
Fish & Chips (Cut & Run #3) by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban

I've been seeing the Cut & Run series around for years, so I thought I'd give it a go. While I can understand the appeal of the 2 male leads, the writing isn't that great, and they aren't very good FBI agents!

The French Have a Word for It by Josh Lanyon
A Limited Engagement by Josh Lanyon
In Sunshine or in Shadow by Josh Lanyon

Some more Josh Lanyon novellas. These are really good, but way too short!

Perfect Day (Wyatt & Graham #1) by Josh Lanyon
Until We Meet Once More by Josh Lanyon
Heart Trouble by Josh Lanyon

Ditto what I said above - really, really cute, but way too short.

Just Desserts (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Mary Calmes
In Plain Sight by Josh Lanyon

A little something different from Mary Calmes. I enjoyed the first half of this book, but in the second half *things* happened too fast and were settled without any sort of conflict. So it was pretty anti-climactic.
Another second chance romance from Josh Lanyon that I wish was longer!

February 2018 TBR

Where Death Meets the Devil by L.J. Hayward
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
Divide & Conquer (Cut & Run #4) by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban

I plan on eventually reading all 9 books (and the novellas) in the Cut & Run Series.

I'm also looking forward to reading Together Tied, the Marshals novella on Instafreebie on the 15th of February. (The final book in the Marshals series comes out it March, so I can't wait for that!)

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Waiting On Wednesday (324) Where Death Meets the Devil by L.J. Hayward

Expected publication: February 26th 2018 by Riptide Publishing

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, previously hosted by Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating.

This my favorite day of the week because I love sharing and discovering new books.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Jack Reardon, former SAS soldier and current Australian Meta-State asset, has seen some messy battles. But “messy” takes on a whole new meaning when he finds himself tied to a chair in a torture shack, his cover blown wide open, all thanks to notorious killer-for-hire Ethan Blade.

Blade is everything Jack doesn’t believe in: remorseless, detached, lawless. Yet, Jack’s only chance to survive is to strike a bargain with the devil and join forces with Blade. As they trek across a hostile desert, Jack learns that Blade is much more than a dead-eyed killer—and harder to resist than he should be.

A year later, Jack is home and finally getting his life on track. Then Ethan Blade reappears and throws it all into chaos once more. It’s impossible to trust the assassin, especially when his presence casts doubts on Jack’s loyalty to his country, but Jack cannot ignore what Blade’s return means: the mess that brought them together is far from over, and Ethan might just bring back the piece of Jack’s soul he thought he’d lost forever.

So, maybe my initial attraction to this book was the cover. But that synopsis sounds exciting, so I'm looking forward to reading this.

What are you waiting on this week?
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Review: Trick Roller (Seven of Spades #2) by Cordelia Kingsbridge

Trick Roller (Seven of Spades #2) by Cordelia Kingsbridge
Published January 29th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Page Count: 295
Genre: M/M, Romance, Crime

Synopsis from Goodreads:

It’s the height of summer in Las Vegas. Everyone believes the serial killer Seven of Spades is dead—except Levi Abrams and Dominic Russo—and it’s back to business as usual. For Levi, that means investigating a suspicious overdose at the Mirage that looks like the work of a high-class call girl, while Dominic pursues a tough internship with a local private investigator. The one bright spot for both of them is their blossoming relationship.

But things aren’t so simple. Soon Levi is sucked into a dangerous web of secrets and lies, even as his obsession with the Seven of Spades intensifies. Dominic knows that Levi isn’t crazy. He knows the Seven of Spades is still out there, and he’ll do anything to prove it. But Dominic has his own demons to battle, and he may be fighting a losing war.

One thing is certain: the Seven of Spades holds all the cards. It won’t be long before they show their hand.

The first book in this series, Kill Game, was one of my favorite reads last year. I'm placing Trick Roller right up there on a high shelf as my favorite read so far this year. I'm convinced the rest of this series will not disappoint!

I am loving the progression of Levi and Dominic's relationship. They are absolutely perfect for each other and I love seeing them together. They have the potential to be tremendously awesome! I'm still waiting for them to have the 'relationship talk', but neither is ready to admit just how much they mean to each other. I may have to guard my heart (and break out the tissues) if they have tough times ahead.

Levi and Dominic's working relationship is an important part of why I enjoy them so much. The professional attention they give to each other speaks volumes about their mutual respect. They are both dedicated to doing their jobs well, and I like that Dominic is 100% behind Levi and his theories regarding the seven of spades killer.

Once again, the writing was impeccable. The plot had a ton of depth, and I loved how the the author managed to intertwine Levi's current murder investigation together with the seven of spades investigation.

Trick Roller was quite an enjoyable and memorable read. The murder / mystery plot was very tightly-constructed and kept me interested right to the end. After such a shocking ending, I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens in the rest of this 5 book series.

An arc of Trick Roller was generously provided by the publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars
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Waiting On Wednesday (323) The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

Expected publication: February 13th 2018 by First Second
Graphic Novel, Young Adult, LGBT+

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, previously hosted by Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating.

This my favorite day of the week because I love sharing and discovering new books.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.

I haven't read a graphic novel in quite a while, and this looks like it will be cute.

What are you waiting on this week?
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Review: Kairos by Mary Calmes

Published December 15th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Page Count: 154
Genre: M/M, Romance
Source: Library

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Sometimes the best day of your life is the one you never saw coming.

Joe Cohen has devoted the past two years of his life to one thing: the care and feeding of Kade Bosa. His partner in their PI business, roommate, and best friend, Kade is everything to Joe, even if their relationship falls short of what Joe desires most. But he won’t push. Kade has suffered a rough road, and Joe’s pretty sure he’s the only thing holding Kade together.

Estranged from his own family, Joe knows the value of desperately holding on to someone dear, but he never expected his present and past to collide just as Kade’s is doing the same. Now they’ve stumbled across evidence that could change their lives: the impact of Kade’s tragic past, their job partnership, and any future Joe might allow himself to wish for….

The first 75% of this book could have been a scene from early on in the Marshals Series. I love, love, love Miro and Ian, so I shouldn't have any complaints, but I wanted to read a new story with new characters. And Kairos just makes me really miss Miro and Ian. Sigh.

I'm still not sure how I feel about Kade and Joe. On one hand, the character type is so familiar to me. But on the other hand, I feel like I didn't get to know them very well at all. So you could say that I'm conflicted.

The secondary characters were all quite entertaining. I especially liked Declan. And Joe's ex, Evan, interested me. What are the chances of getting their stories?

There really was a lot going on in too short of a time period. I did enjoy the action and drama that Mary wrote here, but the characters and story were not fleshed out enough for me. I can't help but feel that this book could have been SO much more.

Overall, this book was not what I was expecting. It was too short and very familiar. So while I liked it well enough, I just didn't love it.

A few final thoughts:
Someone snickered in the 2nd paragraph. That was quick.
Peacoat mention at 19%, so that took a while to show up.
Please stop calling him Joe. His name is NOT Joe. It's Miro.

My Rating: 3 Stars
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