Review: Sinner’s Gin by Rhys Ford

Sinner's GinTitleSinner’s Gin
Author: Rhys Ford
Series: Sinner’s #1
Release Date: December 24, 2012
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 260
Listened: March 8-12, 2014

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):

There’s a dead man in Miki St. John’s vintage Pontiac GTO, and he has no idea how it got there.

After Miki survives the tragic accident that killed his best friend and the other members of their band, Sinner’s Gin, all he wants is to hide from the world in the refurbished warehouse he bought before their last tour. But when the man who sexually abused him as a boy is killed and his remains are dumped in Miki’s car, Miki fears Death isn’t done with him yet.

Kane Morgan, the SFPD inspector renting space in the art co-op next door, initially suspects Miki had a hand in the man’s murder, but Kane soon realizes Miki is as much a victim as the man splattered inside the GTO. As the murderer’s body count rises, the attraction between Miki and Kane heats up. Neither man knows if they can make a relationship work, but despite Miki’s emotional damage, Kane is determined to teach him how to love and be loved — provided, of course, Kane can catch the killer before Miki becomes the murderer’s final victim.

My Thoughts:

Ever since I was a kid in elementary school, I’ve never liked, nor appreciated, a story being read to me. Why? Well, I guess it’s because too many aspects had been decided for me. The speed in which the story was read, the way words were pronounced, the characters voices, the way the emotions were read . . .  And the list goes on. I hated it when I had to endure, yes endure, a story being read to me during class. And Dear God help me, if the teacher decided to play “Popcorn” and let everybody read a section.

So, as one may guess, I never even thought about listening to a book on audio.

Until recently.

Why?

I was feeling lazy. Really lazy. I wanted to read, but I didn’t want to turn a page, push a button, or even move my eyes. <— Hardcore laziness there, people. Hard. Core.

So, what’s a reader to do?

Only one thing a reader in my position can do: Audio.

Well, I decided, if I’m going to listen to an audio, it better be a damn good one. Obviously, I didn’t know what a good one would be, so I did a little research, and whilst I was doing my said research, it was unanimously decided that Sinner’s Gin, a book that I had seen around and knew that people seemed to love, but I had yet to pick up (mostly because of the cover), was the book that I needed to look into.

And so to audible.com I went to, searched for Sinner’s Gin, and clicked sample.

Immediately, I experienced this:

Tristan. Fucking. James.

(Middle name, may or may not be ‘fucking’. If it’s not, however, it really should be.)

I love voices. When it comes to remembering people, I’m apt to remember the sound of their voice more than their face or their name, and does Tristan James have a voice. Immediately, I one clicked. I didn’t even finish the sample, so this was me when I heard him do Kane Morgan’s Irish accent:

I died.

And I was happy.

Because guys . . . I’m telling you, Tristan James Irish accent is one of the most beautiful, exotic, and erotic thing I’ve ever heard.

I was done for.

So, obviously, I have never been more happy to plug my earphones into my phone, sit back, and listen to a story being read to me. And does Tristan James know how to read a story.

There is no doubt that I would have thoroughly enjoyed this story if I hadn’t been suffering through some hardcore laziness because Rhys Ford wrote a really awesome story, in my opinion. And since I was so enraptured by Tristan James’s voice, I really listened to the story (the few times that his voice lulled me to sleep doesn’t count. I always started over.) and never once was I bored by it. However, I do wonder if I would have enjoyed it as much as I did. I’m curious to know because not long after I read it, a friend on Goodreads read it (Hi, Xing!), but didn’t love it as much as I did. His biggest issue with the story? Miki. In his opinion, the relationship between Kane and Miki wasn’t as well-balanced as he would have liked it to be with Kane doing a lot of the giving and Miki doing a lot of the taking.

I didn’t have any issues with Miki.

But would I have if I had read and not listened?

*Shrugs* Who knows.

In any case, for my first audio book in which I willingly chose to listen to, this story was a five star read . . . I mean, listen. And if you’ve never listened to an audiobook, if you’re like I was and think that audiobooks are a form of cruel and unusual punishment, my advice is to give Sinner’s Gin, and Tristan James, a go.

Besides, if listening to Tristan James read about two men falling in love, in which one of the men sport an Irish accent, is torture, I only have one thing to say: Where do I sign up?

 

Quotable Quotes:

“Sometimes, Miki, you’ve got to stop building sand castles just to watch the ocean take them away,” Kane murmured against his cheek. “Sometimes, you just need to find someone to sit on the beach with you.”

My Rating:

1 Smooch1 Smooch1 Smooch1 Smooch1 Smooch

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Speed Dating Bibliophile Style: April (Runell)

Book slumps fucking suck.

1. Mark Cooper versus America by Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock: This was bloody damn good. [4.5 smooches]
2. Frog by Mary Calmes: I get what people are saying about “the classic Mary Calmes” now. [3.5 smooches]
3. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira: This was so, so, soooo good; ugh, my heart still gets fluttery when I think about just how good this was. [4.5 smooches*]
4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: I really liked this one, and I can see why people fangirl (see what I did there) about it so much; Rainbow Rowell is a really fantastic author. [4 smooches*]
5. Only Love by Garrett Leigh: Yeah, it hurt. [4 smooches*]
6. Collide by Riley Hart: A huge difference between Broken Pieces, but still good. [3.5 smooches]
7. Wood, Screws & Nails by Piper Vaughn and Kade Boheme: Sooo much better than I thought it was going to be (and I already thought it was going to be awesome). [4 smooches]

Review: The Backup Boyfriend by River Jaymes

Backup CoverTitle & Author: The Backup Boyfriend by River Jaymes
Series: The Boyfriend Chronicles (#1)
Release Date: November 28, 2013
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: 225 pages

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):
Professionally, Dr. Alec Johnson has almost reached his goals. As this year’s recipient of a humanitarian award with his ex, Dr. Tyler Hall, Alec’s work with the homeless is about to be recognized. Unfortunately, his personal life sucks because now he has to attend several events alongside Tyler—with his ex’s new boyfriend in tow. In an attempt to lift his mood and break out of his rut, Alec purchases a motorcycle he has no idea how to start. 

Dylan Booth doesn’t have time for Dr. Clueless and his fickle 1964 Harley, but the cocky mechanic can’t say no to the request for help. Having spent his teen years on the streets, and losing his best friend to HIV, Dylan decides teaching the do-gooder how to ride is the least he can do. But watching Alec flounder in his ex’s company throws Dylan into protector mode, and the confirmed hetero introduces himself as Alec’s new boyfriend. 

The ex suspects Dylan is lying. 

Alec claims Dylan’s plan is insane. 

And Dylan’s not sure he can fake being gay. 

But he’s a master bullshitter, and the phony PDA soon turns ultra-hot. Alec can’t afford to get attached, and Dylan’s learned everyone eventually leaves. Unfortunately, playing the backup boyfriend is starting to feel way too real… 

My Thoughts:

After I got over the heartbreaking angst that came before the HEA, and reveled in the syrupy sweetness of the epilogue, I only had one major complaint with River Jaymes’ The Backup Boyfriend: it was over. Every other thing about this book was a study in pure perfection – perfect characters, perfect plot, perfect pacing, perfect dialogue, and a perfectly believable gay-for-you romance that left me wanting more. 

The Backup Boyfriend is set two months after Dr. Alec Johnson finds himself on the wrong side of one of the most awkward “it’s not you, it’s me” conversations in history. His ex-boyfriend and business partner, Dr. Tyler Hall, has moved on with a sexy new guy, but Alec still remains lonely and alone, mourning the loss of the man he thought he’d spend the rest of his life with. In an attempt to shake things up a bit, Alec impulsively decides to buy himself a motorcycle he doesn’t know how to ride or care for. It’s not the smartest decision he’s ever made. 

Within a few hours of battling a testy carburetor and a fickle kick starter, Alec admits defeat and limps into Adams’ Vintage Motors for help. There, he meets Dylan Booth, the shop’s rough-and-tumble and oh-so-hetero owner. Despite Dylan’s initial reluctance, an unlikely friendship starts to develop between the mechanic and the humanitarian. And, when Dylan masterminds a plan to attend a party masquerading as Alec’s new boyfriend in order to help him save face with Tyler, Alec has no choice but to go along with the charade. Only, it turns out that not all those longing glances and casual touches are just for show…

Anyone who read my status updates while I was reading this book knows that I fell hard for both of these endearing and incredibly sexy characters. Dylan’s hard body and big-mouth hooked me immediately; I fell in lust with him over that first handshake (who knew rough hands and motor oil could be such a turn on?!), and slid headlong into love with him when he uttered the words, “sex swing.” But his appeal wasn’t just his spectacular muscles and mouthy comebacks. Dylan had a surprisingly sensitive soul and a protective streak that extended not only to those he cares about, but to complete strangers as well. I also loved that Dylan was so comfortable in his own skin and took his changing understanding of himself (mostly) in stride. It was some majorly sexy stuff.

As much as I loved Dylan’s darker past and blue-collar appeal, Alec’s intelligence, humility, wry humour, and easy domesticity was just as hard to resist. You add in the fact that the man’s a doctor who gave up dozens of more prestigious specialties to work with the homeless and my heart didn’t stand a chance. Also, Alec can talk nerdy to me any day of the week – I will probably never think of Da Vinci and the Vitruvian Man the same way ever again (and I am A-okay with that)!

Together, Alec and Dylan had the most amazing chemistry. When they meet for the first time, something just… clicked (despite the fact that both men were determined to keep things platonic). And then there was The Look. It was like one of those perfectly written Hollywood moments where everything stops and the music recedes, and all that’s left is Dylan and Alec looking into each other’s eyes and feeling those first fluttering of lust and confusion. My god. It was electric. 

I understand that gay-for-you romances aren’t every reader’s cup of MM tea because the plotlines can often border on the ludicrous or the gay character can come across a bit like a predator, but I thought Ms. Jaymes hit exactly the right note with The Backup Boyfriend. There was something about the ease with which Dylan accepted the physical aspects of the relationship but fought the more emotional ties, and the way that Alec was determined to suppress any romantic feelings for Dylan in order to preserve the friendship, that washed away these traditional criticisms. I loved the raw intensity of their reactions to one another, as well as their struggles to communicate, and thought that their relationship missteps felt entirely natural to their characters. So bravo, Ms. Jaymes!

I also thought that both Noah and Tyler were strong secondary characters. For obvious reasons, readers are made to dislike Tyler at the beginning of The Backup Boyfriend (let’s be real, friends always pick sides in a breakup and bringing his new boy toy to Alec’s house to pick up his stuff was a Grade A douche move on Tyler’s part). However, Tyler’s character started to redeem himself a little at the end, and the hints about a greater motivation for the breakup has me intrigued. Still, Noah was hands down my favourite of the two. He was consistently hilarious, a little over-the-top, and plenty dramatic, but Ms. Jaymes never let him become a caricature. I appreciated that he (metaphorically) bitch-slapped his best friends with tough love when it was needed, and that he held reservations about Dylan’s sudden fluid sexuality. Given the circumstances, his reactions always felt organic and true to his character. Even though I know it’s going to make me ugly cry over his and Rick’s relationship, I can’t wait to read about Noah’s happily ever after.

As one of the best books I’ve read all year, it’s hard to believe that The Backup Boyfriend is Ms. Jaymes’ first full-length novel. I gave this book 5 very enthusiastic stars and am left wondering what the heck I will do when her next work surpasses its awesomeness. Do you think if I ask really, really nicely Goodreads will loan me a 6th star?! 

Verdict: I highly recommend this book for anyone with a romantic soul and an appreciation for perfectly plotted gay-for-you arcs. My advice, though, is to read it slowly – you’ll want to savour every last adorable, butterfly-inducing, tear-jerking moment it had to offer. 

PS: This book gave me my new favourite term: “oh-holy-shit-gasm.” Epic.

Note: This review was originally published on Goodreads on December 4, 2013.

Quotable Quotes:

“I wouldn’t miss this fake-homo show for all the Gucci Shoes on Rodeo Drive.” 

***

“Jesus had two Dads and he turned out okay.”
My Rating:
2 Smooch3 Smooch

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