Cross-Atlantic relations

Red, White & Royal BlueRed, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“‘Archnemesis’ implies he’s actually a rival to me on any level and not, you know, a stuck-up product of inbreeding who probably jerks off to photos of himself.”

Soooo, we don‘t like each other. I can see where this is going…

Unfortunately we are going in the third person present tense. Not my favourite in a novel. It‘s weird. But I got over it. Because this is a very good romance novel. It has a thinking hat on, with a pigeon on top…

“The woman in front of him is wearing a hat with an entire taxidermied pigeon on it. High school lacrosse did not prepare him for this kind of sporting event.“

Pretty entertaining! I read into the wee hours of the morning twice. Just a shame that the sex scenes are so PG-rated…

Good sense of humour, believable and not cringe-worthy amounts of drama and angst, blessed lack of the most stupid romance tropes.

Wow, I am actually impressed and will definitely look up more books by the author. Recommended.

PS: Just for the record, old German dudes don‘t regularly wear lederhosen… 😉

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Birds of New Zealand

Made for You (Love and Family, #2)Made for You by Anyta Sunday
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First person present tense, alternating between two POVs. Not my favourite.

Weird Fanta fixation (the bubbly yellow stuff).

Ben comes across as very immature. On purpose, I am sure. But how much can you really fail at life at that age, with a job and a child to look after? He gets a little better eventually, thanks to Jack…

Friends to lovers, family. Very, very slow burn. No drama, minimal angst, mostly fluff.

Easy to read, although the alternating POV was a little distracting and I had trouble at times to tell the boys apart. I learned a lot about the birdlife of New Zealand!

Low brain power, simple plot, nothing taxing. Comfortable. I would read more by the author.

3.5 stars, rounded up.

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Magical almost-steampunk

Witchmark (The Kingston Cycle, #1)Witchmark by C.L. Polk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This made me think of World War I, Pat Barker‘s Regeneration Trilogy (on a much shallower level), Sherlock Holmes (blond), Steampunk (with aether instead of steam engines) and the M M Romance of KJ Charles (without the hanky-panky).

It took me a little to warm up to the main character, it was not love a first sight. The bad guy was a bit one-dimensional. A deeper look at him would have been nice. I hope that some of my favourite side characters from this will show up in the second book. And I really, really wanted to see Grace burn in a fire for a long time.

Good world-building, nice plot, not terribly complex. Overall I liked the story, but wasn‘t glued to the page. I could have done with a trickier mystery and a little more suspense. The bicycle chase was fun. I loved the reveal at the end—I had my suspicions, but guessed wrong and had a wow-moment.

I am pretty sure that I will pick up the sequel at some point.

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Convenient motorcyle mechanic…

The Backup Boyfriend (The Boyfriend Chronicles, #1)The Backup Boyfriend by River Jaymes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

„Dylan hoped the good Dr. Johnson excelled at his work, cuz he sucked at starting motorcycles and picking up the pieces after a failed relationship.“

My favourite romance trope, a pretend-relationship/marriage of convenience/friends-to-lovers set-up. Alec Johnson is invited to an awards ceremony. So is his ex with the new boyfriend. And his motorcycle mechanic Dylan volunters to go along as his pretend boyfriend, because the ex pissed him off. Say hello to a lot of complications of the emotional kind.

I went into this with very low expectations. Based on that it was very entertaining, with a minimal amount of annoying drama. Even the usual romance predicament of sane grown-ups not talking to each other was at a bearable level. Lots of pretty explicit sex—a bit much at times, actually. The usual HFN ending. But all in all I liked this and might even get the next one in this series of loosely related m-m romances. Which seems to involve the ex…

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Not so pretty

Pretty ManPretty Man by Ryan Field
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

A gay retelling of Pretty Woman. I picked it up, because I am a fan of the marriage-of-convenience trope. Fake relationship, close enough. It turned out to be mostly porn with little plot.

Could have done with the use of a good editor or beta reader to iron out all the inconsistencies and continuity errors.

The porn was ok, I guess. Not terribly erotic. Halfway through this was pretty much PWP. Some BDSM. Forget informed consent though (aka the group sex scene, the sex shop, etc.).

I was looking for a romance novel, when I picked this up. Which this is most definitely not. There was no emotional connection between Roland and Josh or any real intimacy.

Josh sounded like an imbecile. Do people really talk like that? Generally there was plenty of bad dialogue. Corny, repetitive. I did a lot of eye rolling.

And the book was full of stereotypes, which is funny considering that the author writes in the opening words about lacking positive role models growing up and wanting to change that.

If you are looking for m/m erotica without much of a plot and some kink, this might be for you. For me it was a DNF at 65%. I was ready to quit sooner, but I wanted to give it a chance.

I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you! P.S.: You would probably have a better target audience, if you categorized this as erotica.

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Shamans, warlocks and scary rats

A Case of Possession (A Charm of Magpies, #2)A Case of Possession by K.J. Charles
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Main story, Case of Possession:
Brain candy with magic, mentions of exotic locations, some fairly graphic m/m sex and a simple murder/revenge plot with shamans and scary rats, historical setting. Has a Regency Victorian feel to it (timing, not tone), I am not sure when exactly it takes place.

The plot is nothing too twisty or deep, this is a quick and entertaining read. The ending was a bit rushed. I was pretty surprised to stumble into the dramatic climax all of a sudden, also because I wasn’t aware that there was another story at the end. Best read in chronological order of the series, including the short stories.

Additional short story at the end, Case of Spirits:
I read this before, but now, in correct chronological order, the hints at previous events make more sense. Separate comments will follow.

3.5 mildly entertained, fluttery stars.

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