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 Guys4Guys.com, 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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Spotlight: Loser Takes All by Kora Knight

Loser Takes All Part 1Title & Author: Loser Takes All by Kora Knight
Series: Up-Ending Tad: A Journey of Erotic Discovery #1
Release Date: September 5, 2014

Publisher: Self-published
Length: 63 pages

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):

Tad’s weekend started out like any other; hitting a college frat party with a handful of buddies. But just as the evening hits its peak, things get up-ended fast. Ditched by his drunken, trolling friends, Tad winds up getting hustled by three jocks playing poker. Now he’s forced to pay his dues in the most outlandish of ways; accepting a couple broken bones or spending an hour with his victors’ favorite flogger, Scott. But the guy’s tantalizing torture quickly proves to be the least of Tad’s worries… and the kickoff to a night of raw, shocking lust.

Experience the graphic, minute-by-minute account of that hour spent at the hands of Tad’s insatiable tormentor. Addicting chemistry lights the stage as Scott ignites Tad’s reluctant desires into a frenzy of forbidden need.

My Thoughts:

“You’re a fucking perv.”

Scott laughed. “You have no idea. But don’t worry. I’m a fun perv. You’ll like what I do to you.”

Boy, did I ever!

Okay, so the novella’s premise is a little ludicrous – I’ll give you that – but I’m going to overlook that fact (and you should too!), because this book was HOT. Like, have your honey or your favourite battery-operated boyfriend on standby levels of hot. 😉

I absolutely can’t wait to get my hands on Volume 2, which is set to be released October 8, 2014.

My Rating:

1 Smooch3 SmoochHalf

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About the Author:

Kora Knight is a woman of mystery. No, really. A new author, Kora is too busy writing sexy morsels of porny perfection to write an “About the Author” blurb for social media or her books, so I’ve got nothin’. But if you want to connect with her (read: gush about all the dirty things her book has you fantasizing about happening to Grey Shirt Guy), check out the links below:

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8529860.Kora_Knight 
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/authorkoraknight/timeline

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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