Review: Five Dates by Amy Jo Cousins

Five DatesTitle & Author: Five Dates by Amy Jo Cousins
Release Date: July 25, 2014
Publisher: Goodreads M/M Romance Group
Pages: 74

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):

Helping his sister Lucy raise her kid has put Devin’s love life on hold. When he loses a bet to her and the penalty is to go out on five dates with men she’s chosen from, he thinks that’s bad enough. Finding out she used a thirteen-year-old picture of him to score a date with a young guy who looks like a rock star? Epically bad.

Jay thought he wanted to fall for an older man. But his last boyfriend left him feeling humiliated and determined to stick to guys his own age. When he realizes he’s been conned into a date with exactly the kind of man he’s sworn to avoid, he’s ready to walk away on the spot. Only Devin’s swift apologies convince Jay to accept dinner to make up for the deception.

“The date doesn’t count for the bet unless you get a goodnight kiss.” After one not-a-date dinner with Jay, Devin isn’t worried about his sister’s rules. He just wishes he could convince Jay to go out with him for real. Jay wants no part of Devin, but Devin wants every part of Jay . . . so he asks Jay to help update his look for the rest of his dates. But once Jay’s made Devin over into the perfect date, will he be able to let him go?

My Thoughts:

Okay, I’m going to be honest with you: there wasn’t much in this story that I haven’t already seen in a thousand Hollywood rom coms. Seriously. There was a meddling sibling, an implausible scenario used to bring two unlikely people together, some snark, some laughs, lust at first sight, pining, someone getting drunk, denial of feelings due to past baggage, the Big Realization, and an even bigger Declaration of Feelings (which naturally leads to scorching hot sex and a sweet as can be happily ever after).

And yet.

And yet I don’t give a flying $%& that Five Dates isn’t uber original because I fell for Devin and Jay hard and fast. I swear, it only took about 5 pages to have me wrapped around Devin’s little finger and grinning like a fool. Both characters were incredibly sweet, average, and relatable. They were just good guys and, unlike a large portion of the female population, I LOVE the good guys. The whole thing was just pure cute, fluffy escapism that made me genuinely happy as I was reading it. In fact, I had to create an all new shelf on Goodreads – “Too Cute For Words” – just to contain this one. I can’t recommend it highly enough for someone looking for a total mood-booster.

Oh, and if you needed any added incentive to read this short story? It’s entirely FREE as part of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s Loves Landscapes event. Grab your free copy of Five Dates here.

My Rating:

3 Smooch1 Smooch Half

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Review: The Apothecary’s Garden by Julie Bozza

The Apothecary's GardenTitle: The Apothecary’s Garden
Author: Julie Bozza
Release Date: May 1, 2013
Pages: 204
Read: January 22-23, 2014

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):

Hilary Kent, a Londoner all his working life, retires to Wiltshire after an estranged cousin unexpectedly leaves him an inhabitable tower surrounded by an overgrown physic garden – and that’s when graduate student Tom Laurence suddenly erupts into his life, convincing him that together they can restore the ancient garden to its former glory. Tom’s cheerful friendship is the best thing that’s ever happened to Hilary and he’s perfectly content with that until, to his astonishment and confusion, it seems that Tom’s affection for him is beginning to grow into something more … something he feels he probably shouldn’t allow.

My Thoughts:

Once upon a time . . .  Those four little words have always — past, present, and future — evoked feelings of magicalism and a world where dreams — all dreams — have the ability to become truth; all you have to do is wish it so. And though those words suggest a world of fantasy, of make-believe, they also suggest the possibility that once upon a time the story actually occurred, that the events that are unraveled actually took place, and that the people that the once upon a time belong to actually breathed their story.

So while, yes, a world of fantasy are breathed into existence because of those four little words, a world of reality, of anyone’s reality, are brought forth into the light and made aware to everyone who has the time and inclination to find it.

I can only hope that once upon a time the story between Hilary and Tom actually took place because this slowly formed friendship that then unfolds into love . . . It’s just a love, that if it existed, made the world a little better of a place.

I know, I know, I know that this book pushes a lot of people’s comfort zones because no one can deny that the age gap between Hilary and Tom is huge. Saying that the age gap is just too big to get over though is like saying that love between two people have an age limit. Now, does that make sense? It sure doesn’t to me. As far as I’m concerned, as long as everyone is of legal age and no one is being hurt (physically, emotionally, or mentally), then you can love whomever you want to.

And while Tom and Hilary’s story revolves a lot around their age difference, it’s not their entirety. It’s not what defines their love, it’s just rather a small, minuscule part of it that helps make it whole and theirs.

This was my first book by Julie Bozza so I can’t compare this work to any of her others, and I don’t want to compare it to any other author’s work because that’s like comparing apples and oranges (cliché, I know, but it’s true). All I know is that if her other work is anything like The Apothecary’s Garden, I’ll give it a go. One thing I do have to say that truly says something about Bozza’s talent as a writer (at least to me) is that while they’re a lot of exclamation marks thrown about in this story, which is a huge pet peeve of mine, I felt that, for once, the exclamation marks helped define the characters. I didn’t feel like they made what the character was saying feel forced, or fake, which is how a story begins to feel when an author uses too many exclamation marks; instead, I saw it as a way that she used to help show the eagerness of both Tom and of Hilary.

Like I said, Bozza is good.

Apothecary’s Garden is an extremely underrated book, but it deserves to be so much more than that, so do yourself a favor and pick up the book, forget about the age difference, and just read for Tom and Hilary.

Read it for their once upon a time . . .

Quotable Quotes:

“Hey, thanks,” Tom said as he took the cup of tea.
“Thank you for making it,” Hilary countered.
“Oh, that’ all right. I hope you don’t mind–”
“Not at all,” Hilary smoothly lied. Or, rather, told what he wanted to be the truth. There should be a special term for that. It should have positive connotations . . .

“You’ve got great hands, you know… I love watching them make tea, and handle fine china. Carry a tray so perfectly steady. Or tug a weed out of the ground, and then grasp the wheelbarrow’s handgrips. They’re competent, and they’re strong… and they’ve seen life.”

My Rating:

1 Smooch1 Smooch1 Smooch1 Smooch1 Smooch

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Review: Unattainable by Madeline Sheehan

Author: Madeline Sheehan
SeriesUndeniable #3
Release Date: January 20, 2013
Pages: 306
Read: January 6-13, 2014

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):

Warning: This is not a virtuous and tender love story. It’s chaotic, ruthless, and tragic. This story takes love and kills its innocence, steals away the pure moments, and crushes the hearts of the broken. A story born in childhood, tying one girl to one boy, leads to a destructive path—that hurts more than it doesn’t, that shatters more than it heals—testing the love that binds the two through a lifetime.

Tegen Matthews is the daughter of Dorothy Kelley, a club whore in the Hell’s Horsemen. A plain little girl, Tegen falls into the gritty world of the motorcycle club. When she meets a sweet, caring boy, she embraces the warmth and affection he shows her. Cage West is the son of the president of the Hell’s Horsemen. Tall and blond with deep brown eyes, as he grows up Cage realizes the power of his dimpled smile and smooth drawl. With one chance encounter, Tegen becomes forever tied to Cage. Following is a wayward journey that is filled with regrets, mistakes, and heartache, pulling at the threads that hold them together. Cage and Tegen fight hard but love harder, and in the end, what matters is where the journey takes one girl and one boy, who have been twined with one another since the beginning.

This is Tegen and Cage’s story.

Love doesn’t erase a broken heart, and it sure doesn’t change people. But no matter how old, how flimsy, how frayed the rope of love is, it keeps you tethered to the people you love.

My Thoughts:

This series is fucked so fucked up. So. Very. Fucked. Up.

I know, I know, I sound like a broken record, but it’s true. This series is fucked up . . . and I love it.

As I’ve stated previously, this series is a big guilty pleasure for me, and I proudly admit it. I’m fascinated by this world of bikers who all have mouths that would make a sailor blush, love their women but have no problem calling them a bitch when they’re acting like it and even when they’re not (okay, actually, I’m not a fan of this, but then again the women don’t just sit there and take it, but rather tell them all how much of a bastard they really are), and put people to ground sometimes just because they feel like it. See? Fucked up.

In any case, I like this series so much, instead of putting months in between each book as I’m prone to doing (series marathoner I am not), I read each sequel not long after I had finished the previous book. And so, without having forgot any of the small details, it’s pretty easy for me to say while I liked Unattainable I still had some issues with it.

My main issue? Tegen. Oh. My. God. This girl annoyed the hell out of me. She made everyone’s life a living hell. I mean, I get why she did it, but damn, woman, can’t you just shut up for one minute and let someone else talk? Let them explain? You had no idea how much I wanted to bitch slap her.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked their story. It was just frustrating. So. Very. Frustrating. Cage’s story, in some ways, was a lot like his father, Deuce’s. By far, at least to me, Cage is the better man here, but still in a lot of ways . . . Father-like-son.

Also, about three-fourths of the book was just a mess. It was  a mess because, mostly, I was just always frustrated with Tegen and her temper tantrums and her refusal to just listen. I understand that she’d been hurt by Cage and that he had crushed a lot of her little-girl dreams by what he did, but damn it, sometimes little-girl dreams are “crushed” because when those pieces are put back together again, they make a much bigger, brighter dream; a dream that becomes reality. It wasn’t until almost the very end, after one of those one year time gap things happened, that I felt that Cage and Tegen’s story clicked and became not just tolerable but worth reading.

This book also told a story between two other characters who had been introduced in the previous books, Dirty and Danny’s friend, Ellie. Which brings me to my second issue: I wanted more of their story. It was Dirty and Ellie’s story that really had piqued my interest and made me continue on reading even when I became so frustrated with Cage and Tegen’s antics that I wanted to scream. Their story, for me, had much more meaning and could have been a full, satisfying book all on its own. It’s sad that it isn’t.

I’m going to have to wait a few months, whenever spring finally decides to rear its head and make its presence known, for the fourth book, Unbeloved. I’m really looking forward to this one because the story for these particular characters has been cooking since the first book, and I can’t wait to see where it goes and how it ends. It definitely won’t be any easy one and I’ll most likely lose my temper, but it won’t be anything new. Not when it comes to this series anyways.

Quotable Quotes:

My longtime broken heart was breaking again, shattering, falling to pieces and disintegrating. And in its place was a brand new heart. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes.

“Michael,” he heard her say, her voice soft. “Please look at me and let me show you what love is.”

My Rating:

1 Smooch1 Smooch1 SmoochHalf

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Review: Unbeautifully by Madeline Sheehan

Author: Madeline Sheehan
SeriesUndeniable #2
Release Date: May 13, 2013
Pages: 374
Read: January 5-6, 2014

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):

Warning: This is not a story about fate or destiny. This is a story about pain, sorrow, and suffering. This is an impulsive whirlwind romance between two lovers that are not meant to be together. Theirs is not a world with sunshine and roses. Instead, their love blossoms in a secret world full of crime, violence, and death. Their story is about what can be born from nightmares.

Danielle “Danny” West is the daughter of Deuce West, President of the Hell’s Horsemen Motorcycle Club. A sweet and beautiful girl, she loses her way, searching for things that are always out of her reach. Erik “Ripper” Jacobs is the Sergeant of Arms in the Hell’s Horsemen. Once a man who always had a smile on his face, his life takes a turn for the worst when a tragedy befalls him, leaving him scarred and broken. During a midsummer night, Danny and Ripper’s paths cross, forever changing their lives. Hastily, their lust turns to love until another tragedy forces them apart. On a journey that is marred with ugliness and chaos, Danny and Ripper must discover if their unforeseen connection can find the beauty in their world.

This is Danny and Ripper’s story.

Everything has beauty. Even the ugly. Especially the ugly.
Because without ugly, there would be no beauty.

My Thoughts:

Now this . . . this was much better than the first book, Undeniable. Whereas the first book didn’t seem to really have a point to me, Unbeautifully, which tells the story of Deuce’s oldest daughter and one of the guys in the gang, very much had one. The point? To be proud of who you are–no matter who you are, no matter what you look like. It’s a lesson that should be taught to and learned by everyone.

The story starts off with the prologue that takes off directly after the epilogue of Undeniable then proceeds to fill in the missing couple of years that were skipped in Undeniable and then near the end takes off from where the prologue ended . . . hopefully that didn’t confuse anyone. Despite the whole start, skip, back to start jumps that it had, Unbeautifully wasn’t hard to follow whereas Undeniable was (damn all those time gaps). Maybe it was because, while even though there was still that honest and blunt brutality that shocked the fucking hell out of me in Deuce and Eva’s story, in Danny and Ripper’s story it’s–while definitely not tamed–more . . . constrained. Yes, I think that would be a good word to describe the story. None of these guys in Hell’s Demons are tamed, not with all the fucks that they do and don’t give out–physically, mentally, or emotionally–and they never will be, but it seems as though Sheehan, while still giving everyone a chance to growl and bark and bite and territory to piss on to mark as theirs, had a more deft handle over her characters and the story was told and made its point in a neater fashion that just made sense.

Or maybe it’s because Danny and Ripper aren’t as fucked up as Deuce and Eva . . .

*Shrugs shoulder* Eh, in any case, I didn’t get nearly as big of a headache reading Unbeautifully as I did Undeniable so all in all, it was a win-win for me.

Whatever it was, I liked reading Danny and Ripper’s story. Their story made me laugh, roll my eyes, and actually made me awww a couples of times (and that’s saying something because Sheehan really doesn’t write awww scenes). Of course, that didn’t last forever because there was that inevitable fuck-up moment between them that sent Ripper riding off on the back of his bike because he wasn’t “good enough” for Danny which made Danny become annoying depressed female.

Then shit goes down (a lot of shit actually) that I didn’t see coming but really shouldn’t have been shocked by it because I knew something had to happen, the truth is finally told, and we have the happily-fucked up-ever after (which despite it all made me awww and smile because I couldn’t help it).

This is still definitely a guilty pleasure series for me, but I can’t say I’m too ashamed of it because I imagine that this series, these characters, the fuckery, is akin to what crack cocaine is like to addicts: Bad for your health and sanity, but y’know . . . addicting. And damn hard to break the habit of after that first hit.

Quotable Quotes:

“Baby,” he said, “listen to me. I ain’t beautiful, you are. You’re so damn beautiful you got it spillin’ out all over the place, blindin’ you into thinkin’ I’m beautiful when I ain’t. Farthest thing from it.”

My Rating:

1 Smooch1 Smooch1 Smooch1 Smooch

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Review: Undeniable by Madeline Sheehan

Author: Madeline Sheehan
Series: Undeniable #1
Release Date: October 7, 2012
Pages: 332
Read: December 28, 2013 to January 2, 2014

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):

Warning: This is not a “typical love story”. This is an all-consuming, soul-crushing, tear-your-heart-into-pieces story. It’s intense, gritty and raw, dark and disturbing, and it doesn’t happen overnight. This is an epic love story that knows no boundaries and has no time limits. It grows and develops—with hurt, sacrifice, and heartache—over the span of a lifetime.

Eva Fox is the princess of the Silver Demons Motorcycle Club. Growing up with bikers in the club lifestyle is all that she knows. When she’s a young girl, Eva meets the reason for her existence. Deuce West is the sexy, biker bad-ass of the Hell’s Horsemen Motorcycle Club. Like Eva, he was born and raised in the club—but that’s where the similarities end. Their first meeting is innocent, but as Eva matures into a woman, their chance reunions evolve into a fit of lust and love. Fate continues to bring them together time and time again, but their twisted journey is filled with pain, betrayal, and bloodshed that could tear them apart. Eva sees in Deuce what he cannot see in himself—a man worthy of love—and Eva spends her lifetime proving to him that her undeniable love is the one thing he can’t live without.

This is Eva and Deuce’s story.

It wasn’t easy.
Nothing worth doing ever is.
And love is worth everything.

My Thoughts:

Warning: This book is fucked up.

So very unbelievably fucked up.

It’s so fucked up, I don’t even know how to write this review.

I’m going to give it my all though. *Takes a deep breath*

First thing first, we have the two characters Eva Fox and Deuce West who are respectably in two different motorcycle clubs, Eva in Silver Demons and Deuce in the Hell’s Horseman. They first meet when they are both visiting their fathers in jail—Eva is five and Deuce is twenty-three. Eva immediately thinks Deuce is some kind of God and Deuce thinks that Eva is some cute little kid who has him the moment she slips her small little hand into his without preamble.

Skip about seven years when Eva is twelve (this is the first of many time gaps). Eva, developing at a young age, still hasn’t quite grown into her knees and elbows. She sees Deuce when the two gangs (who have come to a business agreement after being rivals for many years, I gathered) sees her and they talk. She thinks he’s still a blonde, ass kicking, fucking God who doesn’t give a fuck (and God do all of the characters in this book love to fuck, say fuck, and they don’t give a fuck if anyone else gives a fuck for their lack of fucking vocabulary for the word fuck).

Skip about four more years. Eva is sixteen and she’s definitely grown into those elbows and knees of hers, and when Deuce sees her at yet another party that both gangs are attending, his eyes and his dick takes notice and he’s a goner; Eva still thinks that Deuce is a God, but a God that she might be able to have her way with know that she’s older—and it doesn’t matter to either one of them that Deuce is married and has kids. Nope. That doesn’t stop Deuce from pushing Eva up against a wall, Eva from wrapping her legs around his waist, and them going at it. Not at all.

Eva’s father, however, does put a stop from Deuce doing anything with Eva again for about two more years by shooting him in both legs. He, apparently, has cameras everywhere (it was at Demon’s headquarters where the party was occurring). When they meet at a club in New York after Eva has snuck out with her best friend, Kami, they proceed to have sex in an alleyway for Eva’s first time.

Another time gap. Bullshit occurs. Another time gap. More bullshit occurs. Fucking occurs in between both time gaps and once again, no one gives a fuck. Oh, wait, I forgot another time gap and one more bullshit (though bullshit happens all the time).

Now, if you’ve gotten this far along, you might be thinking, okay, now what happens? And all I can say, yet again, is bullshit. This book is filled to the very brim of fucking over the top drama it puts afternoon soap operas to shame. Now you might be thinking, okay, well what’s the point to all of the drama? To which I would have to say, not a Goddamn thing. There is no point to this book. At all. Besides the fact that Deuce and Eva’s love is supposed to be this dirty, rawsoul consuming love, that’s it. Yet, with me saying that, I don’t really think that their love was even the point. At least, it didn’t feel that way to me because of the way too many time gaps, Deuce being a fucking idiot, Eva being a fucking idiot, and everyone cheating on everyone, men calling every woman they come across a bitch, and just plain crazy as fuck shit happening.

Oh, wait, I forgot. A lot of people get killed too.

Nothing else though. It feels as though the book was wrote just because the author felt like writing a book with nothing in mind besides writing some fucked up shit.

And did she ever succeed.

To the point where this is what I was doing 90% of the time:

Even Dean thought this story was fucked up . . . And that within itself is fucked up.

And yet, I must say that every last word, every last character (who I pray to God doesn’t exist because the world is already fucked up without adding them into the mix), every last name calling, every last temper tantrum, and every last sex scene . . . was addicting.

In short, I have found a new guilty pleasure.

And the fact that I liked this fucked up story scares the shit out of me and I think I should start seeking professional help. And fast.

While it may sound like that this book has basically nothing going for it besides its fuckery, it did have its moments. Deuce, while ninety percent of the time was an asshole, did make me awwww a few times and at one point made me just plain melt. And while Eva was so stupid sometimes, at least she was stupid on her own two feet—she didn’t need any man to help her with that, but also she was kind of kick ass in a way, stubborn as hell, and in the long run, I ended up liking her.

I liked all the characters . . . except the ones that you are clearly not supposed to like.

I’m looking up psychiatrists in my area as you’re reading this.

And this, I forgot to mention, is a series.  As of right now it appears to be a five book series. And you know what? I plan on reading every last one of them.

Oh, God, it’s too late for the psychiatrist . . .

Quotable Quote:

“Hey,” I said softly and cupped his cheek.
“What about your dream?”
His face went dimples. “I’m lookin’ at it, darlin’.”

My Rating:

3 Smooch

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