Sometimes They Come Back – Review of There’s Something About Ari

cover56244-mediumThere’s Something About Ari by L.B. Gregg

Thanks to NetGalley and Riptide Publishing for the review copy.

There’s Something About Ari is the second installment in the Bluewater Bay series. This one revolves around Buck Ellis, former golden boy turned career barista and his childhood crush/best friend turned TV star Ari Valentine. Buck Ellis is having a hard enough time raising his teenage brother when his former best friend, Ari god-damned Valentine, newest hottie on local hit show Wolf’s Landing moves next door.

In high school, Buck was the high achiever, and Ari might as well have been voted ‘least likely to graduate,’ especially since he didn’t. He ran away instead. Leaving Buck to deal with his mother’s death, the responsibility of raising his brother, and the anti-climax of spending his adult life working at the same coffee shop since he was 16.

By the time Ari rolls back to town with the media hot on his heels, Buck’s hard feelings for him are more of the angry variety than the hot, but when Ari suggests they relive the glory days in a way neither of them had the balls to do in school, Buck wants to know if it’s real, or just nostalgia.

Something is short and sweet, and priced to match. At $3.99 for Kindle users, it fits for a story that can be read cover to cover in a single night.

As usual, Riptide produces a superior product.

4.5 stars out of 5

Reaching Out – Review of Stand By You

cover51538-mediumStand By You
by A.M. Arthur

Thanks to NetGalley and Carina Press for the review copy.

This is the third installment of The Belonging Series. Reviews for books one and two can be found here.

We met Brendan and Romy in book two, when Donner called in former football star best friend Brendan to help rescue his boyfriend Ezra’s ex-trick Romy from a seriously fucked abuse situation. It was pretty obvious right then that book three was going to be about these guys.

After literally breaking free from his dom turned kidnapper, Romy is shattered and experiencing a lot of social anxiety. Closeted, shy Brendan becomes the friend Romy needs, but he wants more than that. Can they overcome their own personal issues in order to build the kind of life together that neither of them had ever dared to hope for? With the help of their friends, the answer looks like it could be yes.

You may recall that I took some issue with the way trauma and anxiety was portrayed in the last book, Maybe This Time, and there still is a little bit of that for me. For example, in my limited experience, the first thing to do about an abuse survivor having a panic attack is to give them space. Certainly don’t touch them, and really really don’t touch their neck. My teeth itched through what was supposed to be a touching scene where Romy is having a panic attack in a bar and his future therapist, at that point a relative stranger, reaches out and casually palms the back of his neck. This is intended to show how they’re a really great therapist and can calm down panicking people, but it just freaked me out by osmosis. It’s really likely that I’m insinuating my own personal issues in here, and not being a medical professional, I’m just talking out my ass, but for future reference, if I’m having a panic-attack, don’t touch me. You might get kicked. Or puked on. Just saying.

Anyway, aside from that small incident that’s probably more about me than the book, I really enjoyed Stand By You. Romy and Brendan felt real to me. I could know guys like Romy. Given a different set of circumstances, I could have been someone like Romy. Mainly, if I was just a little bit less of an asshole.

One of the things I really like about Arthur’s books is that no one is saving anyone else. Her protagonists are flawed, amazing, uniquely human characters that come together on their own terms, not for a perfect love, but for a real love. The kind of love that can offer a little redemption, if we just reach for it.

As usual, the sub-five dollar price point looks damn good.

4.5 stars out of 5

I am the Vassal of Fuck Review of Icebound

cover52909-mediumIcebound by Corinna Rogers

Thanks to Net Galley and HarperImpulse for the review copy.

This was a page turner. Set in a world where magic is a new development, where fae creatures actively meddle in the lives of mortals, Drake and Shane are former lovers turned enemies by the very bond they shared. Faced with a choice ten years before, Shane enslaved himself to the Ice King rather than watch Drake die, but what should have turned him in to an unfeeling automaton only seems to make him a sharper warrior. So why can’t Drake see that?

Drake is tormented by the empty husk of his first and only love, unable to turn him away, unable to take him back, the last thing he wants is for them to work together, but when they learn about an opportunity to save the world… and Shane, how can he refuse?

I admit, I was bugged by the fact that the entire book was written in first person present. It’s exhausting to read for long periods of time, and it’s more than a little disorienting. Other reviewers have pointed out the lack of character development, the terrible dialog, that the author tends to show and not tell. Considering that this looks like it was Rogers’ first foray into full-length monographs, I’m not as scandalized by the lack of proper world-building as others have been.

She has something that kept me turning page after page, bad one-liners and everything. Her sense of narrative urgency is superb, and her sex scenes are the exact right kind of depraved. All the sweet love-making I’ve been reading about lately is nice, but this is the good stuff. The kind of rough and tumble assfucking that warms the cockles of one’s cock. This is not a skill to be easily dismissed.

It’s all well and good to have relatable characters, but if it isn’t hot, why take the time to write erotica? The other skills can be developed. Writing an impactful sex scene is a talent that even the majority of porn writers seem scared to embrace.

2.5 stars out of 5, but I will be keeping my eye on this author.