Contemporary Romance

Review: Ruined by Shiloh Walker


Title: Ruined (Barnes Brothers #4)
Author: Shiloh Walker
Date of publication: 19 July 2016
Genre: Romance

Author's links:
Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads
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My rating: 2.5 stars


As one of the Barnes brothers, Sebastien has always felt blessed. Not only does he have an amazing family, but he’s become a Hollywood golden boy who has everything he’s ever wanted—with one exception. He’s had a thing for Marin since he was a kid, but when he finally summons the courage to ask her out, she turns him down. Marin is ready to settle down, she wants commitment and stability, and Sebastien is still too much of a playboy, caught up in the wild life of the spotlight.

Still reeling from the rejection, Sebastien’s luck runs out later that night when he saves a girl from an assault. The shining knight role fits him just fine, but his armor—and his perfect life—become tarnished when the near-deadly attack lands him in the hospital. Physically scarred, he gives up acting and retreats from everybody.

If anyone can pull Sebastien back from the abyss, it’s Marin. But first she has to convince him that beauty is not only skin deep...


I've been enjoying this series a lot and was excited to meet the next Barnes brother - Sebastian, the movie star. The story started very promising. He was rejected by the woman he'd been in love with since he was a child. The conflict seemed strong and yet possible the overcome, she was older and wanted stability and loyal partner, while he had the reputation of wild boy, too busy partying and enjoying the good life to settle down. And then tragedy struck and it changed things for everyone. 

So far so good - I liked both and Marin, felt close to them and could relate to their struggles, fears and hope. I found the way Seb's (failed) recovery was presented very touching and real. The way his family were all there for him, yet he couldn't bring himself to rely on them and take their help, it was a powerful moment in the story which made me feel very emotional. On the other hand we had Marin who stood invariably by him and the author really made me see how they could help and be good for each other. It seemed rather dramatic, yet real and heart-breaking. 

Warning: There are some plot spoilers in the review. I couldn't avoid them. If you don't want to see them, feel free to skip next paragraph.

Just when I though this story was going great and it could be the best in the series so far for me, it took a sudden turn that left me annoyed and displeased. A drunk sex scene made me feel uncomfortable and left me with doubts about dubcon. The resulting pregnancy and secret baby plot are my least favourite plot devices and felt forced and ill-fitting to the story. It all felt unrealistic and improbable, with a forced HEA that was far too sweet for my taste. 

A story which started great and held so much promised ended up a rather disappointing read. I still want to read the final book (Travis' story) and hopefully it will bring back my good feelings about this series.

Purchase links: Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | B&N

F/F romance

Review: The Butch and the Beautiful by Kris Ripper


Title: The Butch and the Beautiful (Queers of La Vista #2)
Author: Kris Ripper
Publication Date: 22 Aug 2016
Genres: Queer Romance, f/f

Author's links: WebsiteTwitterFacebook / FB Group • Goodreads
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My rating: 3.5 Stars


Jaq Cummings is a high school teacher who really wants a committed relationship—as long as it doesn’t keep her out late on school nights or interrupt Sunday mass with her dad. She is absolutely not about to fall for the hot-mess divorcĂ©e she hooks up with even if said hot mess pushes all her buttons. Jaq’s white knight days are over.

But one hookup with Hannah becomes two, then coffee, then more incredibly hot sex. And unlike most of Jaq’s exes, Hannah’s not looking for someone to come on strong. In fact, Hannah comes on plenty strong enough for both of them. But she’s just out of a disastrous marriage, she’s in the process of moving across the state, and Jaq can’t take a chance on yet another relationship where she defaults to being a caregiver instead of a partner.

Just when Jaq decides her relationship with Hannah is far too precarious, a crisis with a student reminds her of her priorities and makes it clear that sometimes, you have to take big risks to get what you really want.


This is the second book in the Queers of La Vista series and it's a f/f romance. I haven't read many of f/f stories so far and was curious to see how this one will work for me. I quite enjoyed it and think it's a worthy second instalment in the series though i have to admit I liked book 1 more.

This is a rich, multi-layered story covering different aspect of the lives of queer people and this diversity and complexity is the thing about the book which I liked the most. it did build on the community we started to see in thew first book and both the leading couple and the supporting characters felt like real people - they have their work and social circle, their families and friends/enemies. 

besides the sort of whirlwind romance between Jaq and Hannah, this story gave the readers insight in school/community life of the the queers in La Vista - issues queer kids face in school, issues of the queer community itself (being outed, being limited to interacting openly with the same small circle of people (who accept you and where you feel safe being yourself).

The story is told from Jaq's point of view and we get to see different sides of her personality and I loved them all. She is a great teacher who cares about her students. She has a very healthy and heart-warming relationship with her father. She has trusted and loyal friends (Zane is just as great as she was in the first book). I found her being lesbian and religious at the same time an interesting element in the story and I think the author presented this compacted relationship really well.

We see much less of Hannah and her inner musing remind a mystery for the reader. this is probably why I felt less connected with her. She is flighty and flamboyant, spontaneous and so very feminine to Jaq's butch nature. 

Both she and Jaq were grown women dealing with a lot of personal stuff and trying to navigate a relationship. There was no artificial drama, just a series of small challenges they had to overcome.

Kris Ripper gives us the already familiar smooth, leisurely writing style which I find very fitting to the stories in the series. If you are looking for real life stories queer stories of love, told engagingly, I strongly recommend that you give this series a try.

Purchase links: Amazon / Riptide 

M/M romance

Review: Fast Connection by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell


Title: Fast Connection (Cyberlove #2)
Authors: Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell
Genre/Themes: Contemporary mm romance / bi characters / ex-military
Release Date: 11 July 2016

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My rating: 4.5 Stars


After a decade of serving in the Army, everyone still expects me to be Dominic 'Nicky' Costigan--the skirt-chasing player. They don't know I've been spending my days trying to figure out my post-military life. Including how to pick up guys.

When I meet Luke on a hookup app, he makes it clear it's for one-night only. That's fine with me, because I'm down to see what this silver fox can do. But after I arrive at his doorstep, it doesn't take long to realize we have serious chemistry, and we end up meeting again.

He's got more walls around his heart than a military base, but I think he's as addicted to me as I am to him. He can't resist me for long. I mean, who can? Except Luke's rules exist for a reason, and when I test his limits, things get complicated. Maybe too complicated.


This is the second book in the Cyberlove series and I enjoyed it just as much as the first.

Santino Hassell and Megan Erickson once again show how well they work together as a writing team creating yet another engaging contemporary romantic story. It had everything I look for in a romance - great chemistry, hot sex, intimacy, humour, some drama, some real-life issues, memorable characters and at the heart of it, a love story, not a perfect, once-in-a-lifetime true love, but a real one with setbacks and fights and doubts and gradually making things work out for everyone. We get the dual POV of Dominic and Luke and I loved how it revealed their different takes on love, sex, relationships and life in general.

I found Dominic a really interesting character, not what I expected after meeting him in book 1. He was this complex mix of laid-back and easy going, seemingly confident and knowing about life, but inside he was insecure and directionless.

Dom's struggles with adjusting to life after leaving the army were presented in a way that made it easy (for me) to relate to him. His family situation, his lack of clear direction in life (both personal and professional) is something most people face at some point in their lives. It gave a certain NA feel to Dom's character but actually one can feel a little lost and ready to try new things at the same time at any age.

Luke was Dom's opposite in many ways but they also had a lot in common - the military past and they both had to face the tough decision what to do after leaving the army. What I liked especially is that with Luke the authors explored a set of very real issues but ones not often the subject of romance - teenage kids, divorce, relationship with the ex. Oh, I'm so glad the trope of the evil ex-wife/girlfriend which, unfortunately, is so common in m/m romance was not used here., What we get instead is ex-spouses who have a healthy, friendly relationship and do their best to care for their kids.

Both Dom and Luke are bisexual and I liked how their previous relationships with women were presented as part of who they are without judgement or contempt. I wish there was more of that portrayal of bisexuality in contemporary romance, both m/f and m/m.

Luke and Dom have scorching hot chemistry but they complemented each other outside the bedroom as well. Dom's easy going nature helped Luke loosen up and start enjoying life more. At the same time Luke gave Dom a much needed boost of confidence and support to make some important decisions about his future.

I loved that we saw both characters deeply involved in their families. I also loved how they progressed from from Grindr hook-up to just sex to having a real relationship. Their romance had its moments of doubts and insecurity and wild passion and domesticity and it all felt natural and believable.

The family dynamics were also very important in the story. The romance didn't exist on its own, it was very much entangled with the life of the those closest to Dom and Luke and this was yet another element that made it real and authentic to me.

Fans of Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell will definitely enjoy this book which can be read as a standalone, though I highly recommend to start the series with Strong Signal.

Purchase links: Amazon | ARe | BN | kobo | iBooks

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