The View Through the Looking Glass

I'm an avid reader and aspiring author with an unhealthy devotion to the written word. From the classics to guilty pleasures and all points in between...I just love to read.   My primary focus at the moment is male/male romance, usually with a paranormal element thrown in. This is a place for me to rave about books I loved and rant about those I didn't. 

Santos - Lynn Hagen

I have to confess Lonnie was my fave character from the last book so I was already a little pre-disposed towards liking this one.  That said, I really did enjoy this story and the push/pull between Lonnie and Santos.  There was just the right amount of angst and the way more characters are being introduced and more and more pieces of the overall series plot is being revealed has me hooked. 

Like a Sparrow Through the Heart (Like a Sparrow, #1) - Aggy Bird I gave it two stars b/c I could tell that the author had talent and I feel like if I were reading something else by them with their writing style I'd probably enjoy it a lot.

I only made it to the third chapter of this book before I threw in the towel. I'm weird and I acknowledge and embrace my weirdness. I'm a bit of an odd duck (bird reference ftw): I don't mind unhealthy, dysfunctional-even abusive-relationship dynamics in my romances. Especially if its compelling and well written. Sometimes I'll even seek out stories with a little cray cray in them. There's a very specific condition attached to my ability to enjoy those type of relationship dynamics though and that is that I need to get the sense that the author understands that what they're serving up is in fact dysfunctional, unhealthy, abusive, ect. It troubles when I get the impression that the author doesn't quite grasp that NO this is not okay. NO this is not acceptable. NO there is no justification for being violent/demeaning/verbally/physically/emotionally abusive to someone. Depending on the characterization and world building there may be EXPLANATIONS but there no JUSTIFICATIONS. It's an important distinction and I feel really uncomfortable when I'm reading something with clearly abusive/unhealthy/dysfunctional elements in the romantic or soon to be relationship and the author tries to sell it to me as UST or "conflict that will be overcome by the power of love". I can't tell you how hard that hits my nope button.

As talented as I could tell the author was, I couldn't finish this b/c Talon's behavior was past the point of "jerk" or even bully. It was flat out abusive and I didn't get the sense that it was going to be treated as if it was abusive and that's just not okay with me.

But For You (A Matter of Time #6) - Mary Calmes The rating is for the series as a whole. I liked the book but there was definite room for improvement. The plot could have been tightened up a bit and I really, really was not a fan of how much time apart there was with Sam and Jory. I also wish we'd gotten to see more of Jory's relationship with Dane.

This series is one of my favorites. There is something about these books that have just drawn me in and even though they are filled with things that normally would drive me INSANE (i.e. the first person pov - few things make me want to claw my face off like first person, a MC that's thisclose to a Mary Sue, and out of the blue retconning of previously established history) but somehow, in this series, it doesn't take away from my enjoyment.

I think I could probably be a character myself b/c of how much I love Jory. Jory is like Raymond; everybody loves him. He's a total wish fulfillment character (he's smart, he's stylish, he's so gorgeous it's like he was carved by the gods, he's luckier than ten four leaf clovers, he's witty, he's a great dancer...the list goes on and on and on) but there's something about him that makes me love him-flaws and all. And yes, Jory is flawed. He's impulsive, a lot of the time he's immature, he is the KING of dumb*ss decisions, he doesn't think things through, he's a bit of a commitment phobe, he shallow, at various points in the series I wanted to jump into the book and throttle him myself. But he's got a good heart and *most* of the time it's in the right place. He loves with everything he has and he's got an off beat sense of humor and kind of a unique way of looking at the world.

I love Sam and Jory together. They probably shouldn't work and that's probably why they do. I think at the end of the day Jory gives Sam a safe place to let it all go and Sam grounds Jory. As improbable as it is, as practical and controlled as Sam is and as impulsive and wild as Jory is, these two characters work together. I bought into their love story - flaws and all- and seeing them end up where they ended up gave me all the proud mama creys.

I know there's another book in the series, Parting Shot, but that's about another couple, not Sam and Jory so I don't know if I'm going to read that one. What made this series work for me was that I fell for the characters. I don't know if I'd be as willing to overlook some of the weaker points of Mary Calmes's writing if I'm reading about characters I'm not as invested in.
Rough Canvas - Joey W. Hill I'm not quite sure why but this book was a struggle for me to get through. It *should* have been right up my alley but there was something about the way it was written that made it really hard for me to connect to it. It wasn't a bad book, but for some reason I just had trouble fully appreciating it.
Most Likely To Succeed - Shawn Lane I liked this story for the most part. Clark and Thomas were both easy to like and engaging characters and they were both genuinely good guys. The being so short meant that things moved rather quickly but that wasn't in and of itself a bad thing; I just wished we could have had more of a build up and more time to go in depth and really get to know the characters.

My only real complaint is Thomas forgives Clark WAY too easily. I have a this really weird fondness for stories where one of the MC does the other a bad turn and messes up big and then has to woo them back and it always sort of irks me when the other MC gives in too quickly. Clark didn't even give Thomas a chance to explain and not only broke up with him without so much as a see you later, but FIRED him as well. I feel like Thomas should have been a lot less willing to just throw back in with Clark-especially after so much time with no contact.
A Matter of Time Book 1 - Mary Calmes I cannot express how much I loved this book.

I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to really enjoy it b/c it's written using first person pov and I HATE first person pov. First person makes me want to punch babies, kick puppies and drown kittens. I hate it. I HATE it. *kicks and screams and cries*

The other thing that had me concerned with reading this: I'm not a huge fan of "gay for you".

But but but...this book is so good that after a few pages it didn't even matter because I loved Jory. Which pretty much just makes me like every character in the book b/c pretty much everyone loves Jory. He's the type of character tailor made to pull me in and make me root for him: sad backstory, spunky, determined, independent, fun loving, gorgeous (I haz teh shallow s/times okay), sassy...he's actually thisclose to being a Mary Sue but I don't even care b/c like I said, I love him.

The relationship between Jory and Sam is a roller coaster. There's definite chemistry but between both of their issues (Sam is so far in the closet he's eating Turkish Delight with the White Witch and Jory has some definite moments of "too stupid to live" ) what should be simple gets pretty complicated.

I'm not quite sure what it is about this book that hooked me so. It honestly has a lot of elements in it that normally would drive me batty but for some reason they all work here.

A word of warning: don't read this book if you aren't prepared to read the next one immediately. It's definitely not a case of the start of a series being its own, self contained story. It ends on a cliffhanger and with pretty much nothing resolved.

The Mark Of The Dragon

The Mark Of The Dragon - Derek Adams As short as it is, I actually had to read it a couple of times to make everything gel. I don't think this is a read everyone will appreciate but it works well for me. I do wish it were a bit longer so I could get more of a feel for the characters but overall I did like it.
Edward Unconditionally - Lynn Lorenz I loved this book! This was definitely my favorite in the series. There were some moments of laugh out loud humor and some moments of heartbreaking angst and Edward and Jack had killer chemistry and made me really invest them getting together and having a HEA. And Winston-adorable dog is adorable.

My only complaint really is that I would have loved a "proper" epilogue so see how the other characters-especially Sammi-fared. I got really attached to him in the first book and desperately wanted to see ALL of his dreams come true. But really this was a delightful read that I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end.
Rapture - A.J. Llewellyn, D.J. Manly This is a two and a half star read for me. It would have been three stars as I enjoyed 3/4 of the book but there were some things in the last quarter of it that soured the overall reading experience for me. The fact that Rory basically led Jack to his death and had zero cares to give about it b/c he was so wrapped up in Carden's drama seriously rubbed me the wrong way. Especially since Rory had treated Jack so shabbily during their time together-sleeping with Carden behind his back and not having the decency to be a man and be honest about it. For him to drag Jack into danger, get him killed and then show zero remorse, care or concern for him really made my opinion of Rory go downhill. And I'm bummed that Suede and Silk were killed off.
Protecting a Wanted Mate - Anitra Lynn McLeod This started out pretty good and then just went downhill. I'm giving it two stars mostly for the beginning and because I've adored Billy since the beginning of the series and really enjoyed Cody, especially in the first few chapters. About midway through though this book came dangerously close to me not finishing.

I'm starting to realize that I enjoy the books in this series when the focus is less about the shifters and the lore surrounding them and more about the MC's and their relationship. Whenever a new element is introduced into the lore like the shadows in previous books or what happens with Cody in this one (was NOT a fan of that at all) the train goes off the track and I find it a struggle to finish reading and am pretty unsatisfied and frustrated at the end. By contrast when the story is character, rather than plot driven, I tend to enjoy the books much, much more.

Claiming A Betrayed Mate - Anitra Lynn McLeod I wasn't really a fan of the new twist introduced into the storyline with this book. I was really into it in the beginning and then towards the middle there was this really confusing and (imo) unnecessary addition to the lore that just muddied the waters. I feel like Nate and Jake had enough built in angst and conflict between them that they didn't need the bells and whistles of supernatural shenanigans. This is a story that really could have been told on the strength of the characters alone. For me personally, I didn't like where the story went after that point b/c I feel like it got seriously off track and stopped being about Jake and Nate and their mating and became about explaining the lore and world building. Plus...I just flat out don't like the "twist". I don't think the story ever really recovered from that detour and didn't live up to all the potential it had, there was so much time spent on it that the story was pretty much over by the time we got back to Jake and Nate and their issues were kind of handwaved away and it just wasn't satisfying. It wasn't a bad book, I wasn't never tempted not to finish but it didn't live up to my expectations or it's own potential.
Indulging a Kinky Mate - Anitra Lynn McLeod I feel like the series got back on track with this book. It was pretty much all about Micah and Dillon and while there were things that moved the overall plot along, it mostly a character driven story without the confusion of the added "twist" of the previous two books. I really enjoyed it and I felt like the two MC's had both an emotional connection and killer chemistry.
Trill to Me Sweetly (A Paranormal's Love) - Charlie Richards I've been waiting for Bobby to get a happily ever after since he was introduced so I was super happy to see him as one of the MC's for this story. This was a really good short and I liked the way it fit into the Wolves of Stone Ridge series but had enough of it's own plot and world building to stand alone.

This book DID hit a nerve for me though so incoming rant : The one thing about this book I did NOT like-actually flat out HATED-was the whitewash Seth got. I'm sorry but no, there were several references to his abusive, controlling behaviors in previous Wolves of Stone Ridge books to come out of left field and blame it all on his "friends" doesn't sit well with me. Add to that in THIS book he demonstrated abusive, controlling behavior (the things he said and did in the wake of their break up and the way Bobby described the way he'd treated him during their relationship)and "Seth the innocent" is a dog that just flat out don't hunt. He's supposed to somehow NOT be an abusive boyfriend b/c he "only" sat quietly by while his friends were beating the crap out of Bobby? Even IF (and that certainly is NOT the impression given in earlier books) he never physically assaulted Bobby, he WAS mentally and emotionally abusive. There's no splitting hairs about that. It's a legitimate "nope" button for me when authors decide to whitewash characters into redemption. Seth was an abusive boyfriend-period, end of. It's insulting and demeaning to victims of violence to present him as anything else.

That aside, I enjoyed the book and am glad to see Bobby and "Mal" get to HEA.
Polar Opposites - Lynn Hagen Pre Read Thoughts: I don’t really know what to expect from this book. Reese is sort of a mystery; all I know is dude likes to watch while his friends get their freak on. So I’m anxious to learn more about him. I’m also sort of cautiously optimistic about the book b/c it seems like with this series I either really like them (like Valentino’s Cowboy) or really dislike them (like Frisco James). There’s not a whole lot of in-between. I’m hoping I enjoy this one and Kiki is the kind of character tailor made to pull on my heartstrings.

Post Read Thoughts: That was a very…strange ride. There were things I liked (such as the friendship between Angelo and Kiki and the fact that there WASN’T instant love between Reese and Kiki) and some humorous bits and some moments that moved the overreaching plot (Kenyon and his misdeeds) forward but overall the book was strangely disappointing. I kind of feel like Kiki wasn’t quite as much of a spitfire as he was when he made his first appearance and I STILL feel like I don’t know Reese all that well. And the plot twist at the end of the book regarding Reece’s former handler is really thin and makes very little logical sense (am I really complaining about logical sense when this is a book about demons and fey and shifters and vampires…yes, yes I am LOL). It was an okay book but it didn’t really live up to expectations. I was also strangely disappointed in how things turned out with the "twink" that was stalking Reese after their one-off. Given that the guy had been a recurring character I expected him to have SOME sort of story or significance and he didn't. I think I’m disappointed b/c with two characters like Reese and Kiki, I expected a bit more.

Thoughts While Reading:

Kiki, love, you need a J-O-B. Chop chop, get to getting.

Okay Lauren I do not like you. Begone with your rude self.

Caleb you are such a nice guy

One table? Baby boy better hope for one heck of a tip.

Aww that is the cutest meet cute ever.

Whoa Reese! You don’t waste any time, do you? That is…wow. Zoom zoom SpeedRacer.

NOT IN THE HALLWAY REESE DANG! This is your mate, not some hookup you found on Grindr.

What is with this little dude? He’s in a few other books and I haven’t figured out if he’s supposed to be someone’s mate or what but he is bound and determined to hang out at the Lucky Clover.

Reese honey it’s not too hard to understand. Pump your brakes and chill out a bit. Stop offering to show the man that you can suck the chrome off a trailer hitch and you’ll be fine.

I’m laughing at Reese. Romantic comedy lol.

Kiki don’t fall for it! Dude is just trying to make trouble.

Holy whoa Reese, you got DID bro? You are switching personalities like Viki Buchanan up in here.

Frisco, I still don’t like you. I will probably never like you, but that was some good advice.
Okay well that was unpleasant :/

Lord not the “healing cock” trope. Sex is not therapy. Sex is not the benchmark for recovery.

Kiki and Reese to have a CONVERSATION before they even think about having sex. Bad advice Angelo, bad advice.

Oh well, I guess that’s one way to work out your issues boys.

kIki…take your crazypants. Insane is not a good look on you.

I hate the “I’m going to keep you in the dark to protect you” trope. That doesn’t protect anyone. It just makes them sitting ducks b/c they don’t know they’re in danger. RUN KIKI RUN that dude you’re waiting on is trying to kill Reese and he’ll probably kill you too if he can.

Oh thank goodness! I was so worried he was going to keep it a secret.

Aww that was hot and sweet and perfect (despite my dislike of the trope that love scene was very well done)

FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT…Maverick and Christian, you two go to your separate corners!


I am laughing so hard I’m crying. Not a pot of water and a stuffed bunny LOL

Oh my god the ONS from hell. Seriously dude, running people off the road? Rick you are insane in the membrane dude.

Holy whoa what the what? Crazy eyes is helping? What the WHAT?

Strangest. Plot. Twist. Ever.

Are we forgetting that Virgil is a freaking SOCIOPATH?! Why is Ceri acting like his mate is some innocent angel? He tried to force Shelby (I think it was Shelby) into a non-consensual BDSM scene and then kidnapped and tortured his own brother, nearly killing him. If ANYONE “deserves” a “monster” like Ceri, it’s Virgil. Dude is scum. Actually, calling him scum is an insult to scum.
A Very Holland Christmas (Holland Brothers) - Toni Griffin I really enjoyed the Holland Brothers series and this book was a nice little check in with all of the characters that I had come to care for. I know for some people the male pregnancy is a squick/turn off but it doesn't bother me a bit and honestly, I kind of have a soft spot for the trope. This was sweet and fluffy Christmas story and I really enjoyed reading it.
Unexpected Mate  - Toni Griffin I read the first edition of the book and I really liked it so when I found out it had been extended and re-released, I knew I had to get the revised second edition.

This isn't a case of just throwing in extra scenes to up the word count. Significant portions of the story have been changed and multiple scenes added to enrich the detail and overall plot of the original story. The pacing has been changed and the early interactions between Brian and Marcus have undergone major changes as well. I feel like it's a better story than the original-and I really liked the original!

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