Lenni Reviews: "Fourth Generation Head: Tatsuyuki Oyamato" by Scarlet Beriko

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Tatsuyuki Oyamato may be 4th generation heir to a yakuza family but all he cares about is partying and getting girls. Until he finds himself attracted to a man. After a drunken hookup, he wakes up with someone who proves to be more than just a random dude as he knows Oyamato and his infamous family.

Hooooo boy, this is a dark one. The guy Oyamato sleeps with - mild spoilers - turns out to be Nozomi Koga; the son of a man who once owed money to the yakuza. When Koga was a kid, the yakuza came to collect and found his father had been sexually abusing him. Oyamato was also a child and thought Koga was a girl because of his long hair and the creepy way his dad dressed him.

This book is rife with sexual assault; which is offputting (of course) when it attempts to combine it with the romance forming between Koga and Oyamato. I don't want to spoil too much but yeah, major rape trigger warnings here. It feels almost wrong to say I like it. The art is well done and I adore the main pair. They make the hardest parts of this book worth it for me. 4 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Scorpio Hates Virgo" by Anyta Sunday

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+.

After his aunt passes away, Percy Friedman moves into her home. Even though she left it to him, Percy is intent on selling it not only because it makes him miss his aunt so much, but it is also located in the same cul-de-sac as his childhood nemesis, Callagahan Glover. But, As Percy settles back into the tight-knit community and gets to know Callagahan all over again, he wonders if running away is the best plan.

I enjoyed this "enemies" to lovers story. There is no real malice between Percy and Cal so when their relationship forms, it feels real and relatable. Their sarcastic barbs are funny, the main leads are charming, and even the side characters have plenty of personality without derailing the main focus. It's a nearly perfect bit of fluff but since there's no closure regarding Percy's relative, Frank, I felt as if that bit was incomplete. Other than that, a great sweet and sexy romance. 3.9 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Runner" by Parker Williams and Patrick Zeller (Narrator)

*This audio-book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18.

Matt Bowers has made every effort to isolate himself from the world after he was assaulted as a teenager. He lives on a large piece of land, has everything he needs delivered, and lives off of a sizable settlement account. All that changes when a man comes jogging across his property. Since the stranger isn't doing anything illegal, Matt cannot get his officer brother to do anything about the man encroaching on his safe space. Faced with no other option than to accept him, Matt gradually learns to tolerate the man's presence and even get to know him.

This is a sweet story about a traumatized guy learning to love again. It is a quintessential hurt/comfort story with realistic leads who follow a very natural progression as their relationship grows. Matt and Charlie do become an overtly saccharine couple, though Charlie seems almost too perfect in dealing with Matt's OCD and agoraphobia. Charlie is positively saint like in his acceptance of it and that made him seem less believable in his own right. I mean, he barely blinks at some of the limitations he suddenly has to deal with where as I believe any normal person would at least express some sort of resistance to their life taking a complete 180 in terms of their freedom to do as they please.

I did enjoy listening to this book. Zeller is a great narrator who has a great range to make each character distinct to your ears. While the story kept me entertained overall, I did struggle to remember a lot of things when I sat down to write this review. Cute and romantic but not much staying power. 3.5 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Jackass" vol 1 by Scarlet Beriko

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Keisuke lives with his sister boisterous sister, Akiko, and walks to school with his best friend Katsumi. Katsumi is openly gay and scandalously dating the school nurse and Keisuke finds this out when he accidentally stumbles upon them kissing in the nurses' office. Akiko's pantyhose had gotten tangled up in Keisuke's school uniform so Shinoda, Keisuke's best friend, offers to cover for him by taking him to the nurses' office but when Shinoda sees Keisuke's runner's legs in the pantyhose, he can't help but touch them. But what starts off as simple touching turns to more for Keisuke.

This is a very sexy friends to lovers story with asides to some other relationships; including a boy who bullies Katsumi for being gay who of course is doing so because he has a crush. All the conflicts are handled logically and nothing ever blows up into horrid dramatics; like the whole school turning on Katsumi because he's in a relationship with a staff member. And for an uke, Katsumi is a strong, assertive character. He may be young and sweet but when backed into a corner, Katsumi doesn't wait for a savior. Things play out in ways where you can see real people making these decisions.

The art is well done and all the sex scenes are so detailed you will blush while reading. And all the encounters are CONSENSUAL! So, you actually can connect with these pairings and want to see them happy. Great manga, despite being a little confusing when it starts out. 3.7 out of 5 and keep em coming!

This title is scheduled for release on October 10th, 2017 from SuBLime.

Lenni Reviews: "Conflict Management" by Rachel White

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

When Morgan's boss, Lawrence, makes a pass at him one too many time, Morgan tells him he will sue Law if he doesn't knock it off. Law obliges and Morgan can finally have normal workdays. That is until Law's brother ends up in the hospital after a suicide attempt, Morgan learns his boss is more than just a former creeper. As they get more friendly, Law's pet project - a merger with another company - has major problems and Morgan may have to be the whistle blower that costs Law his job.

Morgan and Law are so delightfully awkward, I found myself identifying with them right away. White doesn't make her characters overly perfect or overly evil; as evidenced my Morgan's ill-fated relationship with Harvey and the way Law's brother Christopher's schizophrenia is handled. Racism and mental illness can be tricky to include without being preachy or over-exaggerated to the point of ridiculousness. The realistic way the characters are presented made reading through this book enjoyable.

Since the romance takes its time, this is not a book peppered with sex scenes. The focus is more on Morgan and Law's feelings for each other and how the mess going on in the company impacts their professional and private relationships. The smut IS there so this book earns its 18+ status.

My only real gripe would be with Morgan's roommate, Anita. She's the only character who came off cartoonish to me. Luckily she isn't as distracting as a character like that can get. She says her spiel then the plot resumes.

Without blithering on further, I enjoyed the premise and the slow burn romance. I give it a solid 3.7 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Don't Be Cruel" vol 5 by Yonezou Nekota

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Maya and Nemugasa have grown since the first volume and now are at the point in their relationship where they even wear couples rings. But Maya is getting some interesting networking contacts and Nemugasa finds himself getting jealous. At the same time, Shimakawa, who knew Maya as a child, sees an opportunity to make a move on Nemugasa behind Maya's back.

Our main pair is a cute couple trying to figure out how their relationship is going now that they're in college and if you forget how they started out, they are a couple you root for and want to see happy. The art is soft and flowy and I have to admit they toned down the sex scenes as compared to the first volume. It's still explicit but more time is spent about their thoughts and search for jobs than boning. It's still an ok series, though! 3.7 .out of 5

 

 

Lenni Reviews: "Wounded Pride" by Remmy Duchene and B.L. Morticia

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Brian Daystar is celebrating the opening of his youth center for at-risk kids but notices a considerable lack of support from his country music star boyfriend, Corey. When Corey finally bothers to call Brian, he's drunk and not alone. Deciding to end it, Brian takes a vacation to New York to face Corey while staying with Renford Kline; a retired attorney considering becoming a law professor. Brian is attracted to Renford but Ren's experience with men has never gone beyond college experimenting. Both are attracted but Brian's past traumas and Ren's reluctance to get feelings involved may keep them from the happily ever after they have been wishing for.

First off? Ren, 39 isn't 'old man' territory. I could see if he was pushing 55 (seeing as he's retiring) but, no.

This is one of those romances where you think there would be more time spent on building the relationship between the main pair before they hop into bed but nope. Not really a criticism on my part; just saying the writing and tone made me expect that. As is, the flaw in this standard romance cycle is I feel some of the character elements could have been explored more; like Brian's pretty dark past and Redford's previous attraction to women. It doesn't make the book bad at all. In fact, I find it sweet and the smutty bits are written well. But those deep personal issues could have used more attention. A fun romp even if I was left a bit wanting; 3.7 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "More Things in Heaven and Earth" by Paul Comeau

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Danny Crawford's religious father decided to stop him from being gay by dumping the boy into conversion therapy. Desperate to escape the abuse in his home at the hands of his homophobic father, Danny is willing to die. While in the hospital recovering from his botched suicide attempt, his plight moves Damien; a vampire pretending to be a priest in order to feed on terminal patients. Damien decides to take the boy in but Danny's father is determined to fix the 'embarrassment' that is his son.

I had such high hopes for this given the premise but my overall impression is that of reading a textbook. The POV will switch, the prose seems to talk AT you, and the whole thing comes off as a methodical checklist of what a gay paranormal romance is supposed to contain without the heart other stories have. Damien switches back and forth between contemporary vampire and old world vampire in his language and that knocked me right out of the book. I couldn't get fully immersed.

This book feels like a missed opportunity. It could have been a really touching, beautiful story that brought up the very real horrors of conversion therapy but I feel like I got a particularly detailed wiki entry. It isn't even very smutty as the sex scenes are all fade to black. I have to give this a 2 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Leo Loves Aries" by Anyta Sunday

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Twins Theo and Leone have both lost their significant others to each other. Theo's girlfriend and Leone's boyfriend paired off and the twins decide to lick their wounds with school work and junk food; until their wedding invitation arrives in the mail. They both agree to show they've moved on by not only attending the wedding but choosing dates for each other. When Jamie Cooper applies to be their roommate, Theo thinks he's perfect for his sister but finds Jamie so infuriatingly amusing that their friendship deepens to something more.

As far as "gay for you" romances go, this one does it right. I've read too many of these where the straight guy has all these icky feelings about another man's naughty bits and has to get over that because he's attracted to a specific man. Here, Theo had dated only women in the past and considered himself hetero but Jamie as a person, sparks his interest. Theo doesn't stress about his orientation or how he can't understand being sexually attracted to another male; all he knows is he adores Jamie. This makes their pairing all the more genuine and it was easy to get invested in what's happening to them.

As for the rest of our cast of characters, they are all written very well so they feel real; flaws and all. The steamier scenes are placed perfectly within the narrative, despite the short courtship. You don't get the sense Theo and Jamie tumble around randomly just because there hasn't been a sex scene in a while. They make an adorable couple to follow on their journey and the ending is sweet and satisfying.

If I had a gripe, it would be some unexplored bits like Theo's fear of water and you don't get to know the ex's very well. I thought the water would come into play in the climax of the story and other than Theo's ex - Sam - being thoughtless, they don't get much back story. Those are VERY minor criticisms and didn't take away from my enjoyment of this book.

If "gay for you" is your thing and you want a fairly lighthearted M/M romance, I recommend this. Theo and Jamie are just all around fun to read. 4 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Cross My Heart" by Catt Ford

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated for 18+

Daniel Hunter sees Lana Renault pass him in the streets and is immediately smitten by this beautiful, elegant, and classy Parisian woman. But Lana is Roland Reynolds; who feels more comfortable living as Lana and wearing women's clothing without judgment. Having had painful and violent reactions in the past, Lana has resigned herself to a life of loneliness. Daniel's gentle and romantic pursuit of her is very tempting but Lana is terrified of how Daniel may react to the truth.

This book reminds me of those old black and white romance movies with some deliciously smutty bits thrown in. At times it does fall into the trap of being too perfect but this is a book for hopeless romantics who believe in happily ever after - which I am not. But, with Ford's writing, I almost believe it. Starting off a bit slow but touching my heart, I give this book a 3.7 out of 5. 

Lenni Reviews: "City of Dreams" by Sydney Blackburn

 

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Marcus Allegro travels to the City of Dreams to study art under Sebastian Moreaux; a master painter and well known to bed any willing student he comes across, shunning any sort of commitment. When he sets his sights on Marcus, Sebastian is baffled when the young man absolutely refuses to add his name to Sebastian's long list of forgotten conquests. This makes Sebastian want him even more but Marcus is looking for true love, which Sebastian takes great pains to avoid.

I feel if given more space to grow, this story would have more of an impact. I would have had a better understanding of how magic fits in this world, how artists have The Eye, how Sebastian came to be so guarded, how Marcus came to be such a romantic, and gotten to know them both more; I would be more invested in their romance and in their world. Coming in at a scant 59 pages as it is, this story is more like a sweet breeze; enjoyable but gone too fast. 3 out of 5.

 

 

Lenni Reviews: "Tartarus" by Eric Andrews-Katz

*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated for 18+

The Titan, Echidna, has escaped from her underworld prison and vows vengeance on the Olympians who put her there. But the power of the old gods now resides in their descendants. Twins Adrian and Annelise have been unaware of their godly lineage until Echidna attacks them and an artist named Zack reveals himself to be another descendant of the gods. They must defeat Echidna before she destroys them and takes back the world under her rule.

While an interesting concept, the beginning felt so slow, I had trouble getting into it. I also had issues believing these characters were in their late 40's. The way they speak, you would think they were in their late 20's or early 30's. And this applies to all three of our main characters. If you want a believable set of older characters, Deadlight Jack is a perfect example. When I am reminded of their age in this book, they all seem terribly immature.

The best parts of this book for me were how the mythology is intertwined with real life. I have always been a huge fan of Greek Mythology so seeing the legends brought to life was cool. As for the romance elements, they are an afterthought. Zack and Adrian have this love/hate relationship with these random moments of intimacy as if to say "B.T. Dubz, they're in love now."

All in all, it was cool to see the mythic creatures and characters again but the rest is oddly framed. 3 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Better with Bacon" by Matthew Lang

*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated for 18+

David, Patrick, and Li Ling have been a trio for years; with Patrick and Li Ling dating since high school. Two weeks before Valentine's Day, Li Ling dumps Patrick and ends up in David's bed. But Li Ling calls the next morning and she's pregnant. Assuming Patrick will go back to her, David takes a job assignment out of town to drown his sorrows in work and random hookups. Will these friends turned lovers come together or is all hope lost?

What's great about this book is having a collection of decent people. It is such a trope to have randomly bitchy or manipulative people in order to make the main characters look even better but here, the characters act SO rational, I almost didn't believe it at times. I think I have gotten too used to massive irrationality in my love stories...

It's also great to see a more multicultural cast. More stories need more non-white characters.

Now, I will freely admit I requested this title to review because, bacon. Bacon is amazing. So, my biggest gripe is that bacon wasn't shamelessly crammed into the plot as much as possible. But that's just because I'm silly. Other than that, my only other gripe is how some characters are too rational in some areas and not rational enough in others. David runs off without talking to Patrick AT ALL. He could have waited 10-20 minutes but then again, the rest of the book wouldn't have happened.

All in all, this was a cute read! I enjoyed it and give it a 3.5 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "The Haunting of Timber Manor" by F. E. Feeley Jr.

*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated for 18+.

Daniel Donnelly has sadly lost his parents in a terrible accident. He gets a phone call from his estranged aunt who tells him he is now heir to a fortune and a house called Timber Manor. On the way there, Daniel has to pull over in a huge storm and Sherriff Hale Davis - a native of the town near Timber Manor - helps him out. But the manor holds a dark and powerful secret that puts Daniel's life in great peril

While Daniel and Hale make a good couple and you're rooting for them, the novel makes a great ghost story. The tone is perfect for curling up in a blanket and reading this on a stormy night.It was good to have the story switch perspectives to get everyone's thoughts on what's happening but I feel the supernatural story development had more care put to it than the romantic development. Daniel and Hale have that insta-love thing going on that will bug you if that's an aspect of romances that bug you.

And can Francine get a spin-off series!? PLEASE!!

Giving this a 3.7 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Jackass Flats" by Julia Talbot

*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated for 18+

Tate is a 30 something cowboy who believes the best days of his life are behind him.He spends his nights getting hammered in bars and one night a young soldier named Dave helps Tate bumble back to his apartment. The two become close and form a relationship but Dave's military life poses a threat to their relationship.

Mild spoilers so skip this paragraph if you wanna avoid them but around 30% in, sudden gay married friend is sudden! I mean, geez what an asshole...

Anyway, other than the out of nowhere dickweed friend, the story felt well paced and very realistic. Dave and Tate take things slow at Tate's request and the patient way they come together is refreshing to see. Their chemistry goes beyond a 'hookup-turned- relationship,' their feelings come through the pages. Yes, of course there are some steamy scenes but just having Tate and Dave interact with each other left me with a happy feeling when the story was done and I wouldn't mind reading more in this series or by this author. 3.9 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Whiskey Business" by Avon Gale

*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated for 18+.

In order to get his hometown some much-needed money, Ryder Waites is selling his family's whiskey recipe to a company named Bluegrass Bourbon. To seal the deal, he has to convince a hard-assed representative from the company; Adam Keller. Keller is out to prove he can get by on his own merits and not rely on his rich family's money and reputation. As the stuffy Adam audits the distillery, their attraction grows. But Adam doesn't want to get attached as this is supposed to be a quick business trip and nothing more.

At 17% I had snorted laughter out loud at the sentence "That sort of dislike-to-lovers thing only happened in Harry/Draco fanfic." I have read way more of those than I care to admit before I grew out of that to... Well, books like these.

The story generally follows that formula, though. Couple meets, instant attraction, hot smexy times, misunderstanding, reunion and resolution. What sets this story apart is the setting. The town of Gallows Grove feels like the real star here with its fun residents and pun laden business names. The writing gives this place real heart and makes it come alive around our two very likable leads. A perfectly serviceable romance with a fun setting, I give this a 4 out of 5. 

Lenni Reviews: "Spell Cat" by Tara Lain

*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated for 18+

Professor Killian Barth teaches the history of witchcraft and has a unique perspective on the matter considering he is indeed a witch. He is the most powerful male witch to come along in generations.  Keeping his identity a secret from regular humans, he catches the eye of the quantum physics professor; Blane Genneau. Their attraction is instant but Killian is being forced to marry another witch, Lavender, in order to save the witch race by pumping out magical children. But not only is Killian gay, Lavender is in love with someone else, and Killian finds the magnetism between him and Blane is too strong to resist. There's also the added rub that if a witch sleeps with a human, it will drain the witch's power away. Can Killian find a way to not only be with the one he loves but overcome prejudice against humans, find a way to save his race, and convince a man of science to believe magic is real?

First off, I have to point out that Lain made Lavender a likable character. It's so easy to fall into that trope of one of the people in the forced marriage being a complete horror to make the main character look even more put upon. But Lavender is a kind, sweet person and even tries to help Killian whenever she can. That was very refreshing.

While this book was decently written and cute, sometimes it felt a little contrived. It has this fanfiction like quality to it where everyone is too perfect, too pretty, and sex literally tears the skies apart it's so good. I mean, geez, nobody even had an interesting mole or tattoo... I also would have liked to see the fantasy elements explored more. I know that they're technically supposed to take a back seat to the romance but there are some interesting concepts here that I felt were glossed over to get the couple where they needed to be. But I do give this book credit for turning a couple tropes on their heads, having some fun characters and steamy romance scenes. 3 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "A Kind of Honesty" by Lane Hayes

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated for 18+

Tim Chalmers is a drummer for an up and coming band named Spiral. The stress of his new fame and recent tabloid fodder breakup with a supermodel sends him to a dive bar for what he thinks is a one night stand. Turns out the man; Carter Hamilton-Temple, is a friend of a friend and Tim runs into him at a birthday party. As one night turns into three then four, both men find themselves wanting more but the stress of Tim's fame and Carter's painful past dealings with bisexual men keep them from taking the next step.

First the good stuff. The writing starts off strong and sets a great scene. Despite it being from Tim's perspective, you can glean a lot of what Carter's feelings are just from Tim's observations; as they are detailed and well written. Tim is just the right amount of sassy and Carter has this reserved strength and power that makes him likable and fun.

The "bad" stuff. The band is TOO good. Dropping little bombs like breaking The Beatles records felt kinda silly; like Bella being the most beautiful girl in the world. Spiral could have easily been a hugely popular band without making them seem overly perfect.

As for the relationship, this is another case of the conflict persisting because the plot demands that the characters don't offer any reasonable explanation. I think Carter gave up too easily after it was made clear to him that Tim's ex-was a manipulative liar. Yes, Tim has other issues but I feel Carter jumped the gun and could have been as understanding as he was presented at the beginning.

Overall, not terrible but not great either. The writing was OK, the setup was OK, and eve the sex scenes were OK... All of it just OK. Nothing stood out to me as being particularly memorable but I did enjoy it so I give this a 3.5 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Timing" by Mary Calmes

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+.

Stefan Joss has been invited to be in his best friend's wedding. Not only does his boss take this as a chance to take on a sales deal to the trip to Texas, Stefan has to deal with his friend's brother, Rand Holloway; who has made no effort to restrain his hatred of Stefan. With the chaos of the wedding and meeting with his client, Stefan learns there is more to Rand's feelings than hatred and his business deal ends up risking his life.

While meant as a romantic mystery kind of story like Mystery of Nevermore, the mystery in this book took far back seat to the romance. Not a criticism, just something I noticed. I can see either adding more of the mystery or taking it out entirely and just having the wedding be the backdrop that brings Stephan and Rand together.

Anyways, Rand as a hard-ass cowboy coming to terms with how he fucked up and will do his part to fix it and Stefan putting in effort too worked for me. I liked them both and I wanted to see them together. The smexy times are prevalent and positively indulgent so if you want a healthy dose of manluvin, this book is more than happy to dole it out along with some romantic sappiness.

When it came to the action/mystery parts, I kinda got whiplash. You're crusin along in this lovey dovey romance and WHAM! Rape! Murder! Guns!

"Well... That took an uncomfortable turn..."

"Well... That took an uncomfortable turn..."

Even so, I enjoyed this book. You can feel the love all over; even aside for our main pair. The details in describing ranch life (Rand owns a ranch) were written well enough to get a real feel for the setting and I ended this book with a cheesy grin because it was so damn sweet. 4 out of 5.