Tag Archives: Contemporary

Series Review: Portland Heat by Annabeth Albert

Served Hot (Portland Heat, #1)  Baked Fresh (Portland Heat, #2)  Delivered Fast (Portland Heat, #3)
Note: This review is for the first three books in the series (spoiler-free)!

Portland Heat by Annabeth Albert
Served Hot: 3 of 5 stars
Baked Fresh: 3 of 5 stars
Delivered Fast: 4 of 5 stars

Series Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Since David had come into my life I’d learned a lot more about hope. It looks like ivory sheets and stacks of paint cans and two pairs of shoes next to the bed. It sounds like rustling bedcovers and murmured endearments. Hope tastes like skin and soap and victory and coffee. And I can say now with absolute certainty that hope does come in a paper cup and smells an awful lot like a vanilla latte to go. – Served Hot

This series is full of quick, sweet contemporary M/M romance novellas. Each installment features its own main couple, with their own romance, and while the other characters make an appearance, it’s only in passing. One upside of this is that the stories can basically be read in any order, and there’s no need for recap between them.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series so far. It helps that stories like this are candy for my brain – I’m a serious sucker for romance, the novellas are short enough that they progress quickly with a limited amount of drama, and they require very little mental focus on my part. I’ll definitely keep reading more from Annabeth Albert when I’m in need of a guilty pleasure read.

Recommendation: Read this if you are a fan of lighthearted M/M romance with lots of sexy times, or if you’re a pacific-northwesterner looking for a delightfully familiar setting.

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Minute Review: Love Me Tenor by Annabeth Albert

Love Me Tenor (Perfect Harmony, #2)
Love Me Tenor by Annabeth Albert (Perfect Harmony, Book 2)
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Release Date: 2/16/2016

He cuddled into Jalen, burrowing against him until they were both under the blankets, Trevor’s head on Jalen’s chest, Jalen’s arms around him.

Not touching. Um. Yeah. That was going to work out well.

I read this in the middle of an Annabeth Albert binge, and I’m so glad I did. Set with the reality TV backdrop of a boy band competition, the writing style is conversational and the contemporary plot of singing and romance will suck you in. It’s a perfect guilty pleasure book that can be read as a standalone or as part of its companion series.

Recommendation: Read this if you love M/M contemporary romance and the goofiness of reality TV talent competitions. Oh, and LOTS of steamy adult scenes…

***

(This ARC was generously provided through Net Galley for an honest review.)

Minute Review: Treble Maker by Annabeth Albert

Treble Maker (Perfect Harmony, #1)Treble Maker by Annabeth Albert (Perfect Harmony, Book 1)
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

The timbre of his voice was like the sea salt caramel sauce Lucas had sampled in Chicago last summer–velvety and smooth caramel, with a classic timeless flavor, but then the pow of the salt–raw, gritty, and one of a kind.

This was such a guilty pleasure read for me! The writing was so-so and there were some formatting issues with the Kindle copy, but the story was upbeat, compelling, and full of steamy, very adult scenes. Overall, I enjoyed it immensely and immediately set out to find more books by Albert.

Recommendation: Definitely read this if you’re a fan of adult M/M contemporary romance, especially if you enjoy reality TV antics and a capella!

Minute Review: Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Boy Meets BoyBy Meets Boy by David Levithan
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

We all need a place. I have mine–this topsy-turvy collection of friends, tunes, afterschool activities, and dreams. I want him to have a place, too. When he says, “I like it here,” I don’t want there to be a sad undertone. I want to be able to say. So stay.

This is a sweet, sad, quirky, and whimsical tale about a boy named Paul and his many friends. Being set in a world that reminds me of a carnival-mirror version of our own, it explores a lot of serious issues while wrapping them in humor and whimsy. I know some reviewers didn’t appreciate the seemingly unrealistic community of characters, but I thought they framed the story beautifully, allowing me to imagine a world, not too different from our own, in which acceptance can come a little easier.

Recommendation: Read this if you are craving a wacky, whimsical world in which the high school’s top drag queen can also be the star quarterback.

Minute Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Attachments
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The next night, Lincoln parked his Corolla right next to The Courier’s front door.

“I’m here,” he thought. “Find me. Follow me. Make this inevitable.”

This quirky, socially awkward, and seemingly doomed romance packs a punch of reflection and nostalgia. I loved the quirky characters, the vivid 1990s imagery, and the creativity of the story. While it hasn’t usurped Carry On as my favorite of Rowell’s novels, it definitely made my overall favorites list.

Recommendation: Read this if you’re a fan of Rainbow Rowell, are craving some serious Y2K nostalgia, or love socially awkward nerdy folks.

Review: Love in the Light by Laura Kaye

Love in the Light (Hearts in Darkness, #2)
Love in the Light by Laura Kaye (Hearts in Darkness, Book 2)
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Release Date: 1/12/16

Note: This review is for the much anticipated sequel to my favorite novella. To learn more about book 1, check out my review of Hearts in Darkness.

“I love you so much it feels like a part of me is gone when we’re not together. I love you because you’re beautiful and kind and smart and funny. Because you accepted me when I didn’t even accept myself.”

I have to admit, I had mixed feelings when I learned that there would be a sequel to Hearts in Darkness. I think that stems from the fact that I loved it so much as it was – not every great story needs another installment, and some things are perfect just as they are. That being said, I’ve loved everything I’ve read from Kaye, so I knew I had to get my hands on this as soon as possible. If anyone could do justice to an extension of Makenna and Caden’s story, it would be her.

While I didn’t love this one as much as its predecessor, I wasn’t disappointed in the least.

Love in the Light is really Caden’s story as he confronts the demons of his past and learns to hold on to the future he could have with Makenna. This makes for a more somber story than Hearts in Darkness, but it’s also more realistic, with real human struggles and emotions. One thing I love about Kaye’s work is that she’s not afraid to confront dark issues like depression, PTSD, and thoughts of suicide. When she writes about heroes who’ve known tragedy, they face many of the aftereffects that real humans experience in those circumstances.

In this story, Caden is forced to confront those aftereffects and find a way to move on with his life. Thankfully, he has friends, mentors, and Makenna to help him fight his demons.

All in all, Hearts in Darkness remains my favorite novella, and I’m glad to know what happens with Makenna and Caden down the road. I got the best of both worlds with this – a pleasing sequel that adds to the story without detracting from the appeal of Hearts in Darkness as a standalone.

***

(This ARC was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Minute Review: The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

20500616The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Love’s more than holding hands and going to dances. It’s two people who struggle to live, even when they should maybe both be dead. When maybe one of them would be better off dead.”

Andrew Brawley’s story is beautiful and tragic in so many ways, full of grief, guilt, friendship, family, and love.

Recommendation: Read this if you are looking for a somber, but deeply moving story. I also recommend a box of tissues.