Lenni Reviews: “Fourth Generation Head: Tatsuyuki Oyamato” by Scarlet Beriko

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

*This review is cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks.

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.

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Lenni Reviews: “Matters of the Heart” by Alli Reshi

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is suggested for mature readers.

Dimitri is an alien working as an investigator for crimes regarding other extraterrestrial beings. When a case comes across his desk about corpses being found with burn marks over their hearts, he must put aside his feelings for his newly reconnected friend Devin; who is in the hospital after being shot trying to assassinate the president.

I enjoyed this but this is another mystery with romance that left me wanting to know more about the mystery because it was wrapped up too fast and with too much simplicity. They don’t so much work out and chase down the serial killer as the killer (er… spoilers, I guess?) just shows up ready to be captured. It ruins any tension on the mystery side of a romance/mystery. The character of Devin is compelling enough on his own where he may have made a better antihero or redeemed villain. Feels like a missed opportunity. I’d give it a 3… Maybe closer to a 4 but not quite.

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Lenni Reviews: “Saving Hannah” by J.P. Barnaby

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

Thomas Aberthol has been searching desperately for a job after serving time in jail for hacking. His daughter, Hannah, is struggling with leukemia and Thomas is running out of time and options to save her. After making a public crowdfunding plea, his old college roommate Aleksander Sanna tracks Thomas down and offers him a deal: Marry him for the health insurance for Hannah in exchange for using his hacking skills to uncover the secrets behind Aleksander’s father’s murder.

This book went places I did not expect for one of those “fake marriage” books. I almost wish the thriller elements kept going beyond the end of the book; which I won’t spoil, but I can see why it ended the way it did.

Why I couldn’t quite give it 4 stars is because Thomas and Aleksander’s relationship jumps from hesitant to “I love you” way too fast. Practically within the turn of a page. It didn’t let me get invested in their relationship so I found my focus staying on the hacking plot which I enjoyed very much. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Two for the Show” by Megan Derr

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

For the sake of keeping the tabloids busy, retiring rockstar, Niko, grabs a public smooth from country music star, Jake; believing the scandal of kissing a straight guy will distract while Niko rescues custody of his niece and nephew from his abusive drunk of a brother. What he didn’t count on was Jake kissing him back. What begins as a ruse for the press may become something more if Jake and Niko are willing to take a chance.

About halfway through this, I really wondered what was taking so long because it seemed obvious the main pair had caught some feels. But the last half didn’t drag out the ‘will they/won’t they’ theme in a way that bores the reader. In fact, the main conflict between Niko and Jake isn’t their feelings. I won’t spoil it but it was an angle I appreciated the book addressing since it felt more in line with the main characters personalities and fit the story. A sweet story with a surprisingly natural progression! If you like m/m romance centering around music, this ain’t half bad. 3.8 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Otaare” by Alessandra Ebulu

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

Nigerian singer Bolarinwa “Blaze” Johnson has released a new song entitled “Otaare.” However, Nigerian writer Ukeme Collins accuses the singer of ripping off his work; igniting a Twitter war. In order to calm things down, Blaze offered Ukeme a chance to clear the air by appearing in public as friends. But the more often they spend time together in public for the press, the more they find themselves wanting something deeper.

Our main characters are interesting and the social media aspect of this could easily end up overused and cringy but this book manages to avoid that. It is also awesome to see a romance set in Nigeria and despite the story meeting every beat you would expect, I did enjoy a story with more diversity and some level-headed main leads. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Scorpio Hates Virgo” by Anyta Sunday

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

*This review is cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks.

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.

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Lenni Reviews: “Three Player Game” by Jaime Samms

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

Vince and Pete are in a relationship and are considering adding a third. Enter Lee, a surly grump who is staying with the couple while he heals from a back injury. Both Vince and Pete want Lee but past heartbreak and betrayal have left Lee with little trust and faith to be spared.

This book is number 20 in the Bluewater Bay series and boy, do you ever sense that if you haven’t read the others you are missing chunks of relevant information. I think I would have liked this book more if either the past was made more clear within this book or more focus was spent on the present story.

Overall, it’s not bad! A bit confusing but not bad. Our trip has particular needs and they all balance themselves out well and, despite an overall lack of connection to them for me (possibly because of needing to read the previous books in the series), I did get invested enough to want to see how it all shook out. And it’s good to see healthy depictions of BDSM. A decent story of three men coming together; 3.2 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Antisocial” by Heidi Cullinan

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

Xander Fairchild isn’t a fan of people in general but preppy frat boys in particular. So, when Skylar Stone asks Xander to be the subject of his school assignment, Xander would rather hide in his art and be left alone. But Skylar, smitten completely by Xander’s art, manages to break through that hard outer shell and the pair grow closer over the course of the summer.

Despite the initial enjoyment of our two main leads coming together, this story limped through to the conclusion. Halfway through, this book became work; including minute detail into side plots and endless fan worship of Japanese culture, manga, and anime. I wanted to like this; especially with the added exploration of “grey sexuality” or asexuality but yikes, the slog to get to the end was merciless. I give this book a 2 out of 5 for making me feel like I was doing homework.

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

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

*This review is cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks.

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.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Aftermath” by Kay Simone

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This is the full novel from the short story I reviewed; The Hustler. So, for the summary, head over there to read it.

While the premise and the short story were interesting and entertaining, the novel drags itself though the remainder of the story at a snail’s pace. In this magical world in which condoms are not needed and jail is not a threat (as per the author’s introduction), I had a lot of trouble justifying why this book is so long. There is all this time devoted to how much of an asshole Will is but I didn’t get that about him at all. Clearly self-depreciating, thoughtless perhaps, he consumes a troubling amount of alcohol, but I have seen “asshole” and he doesn’t quite qualify. We also get pages and PAGES of shopping for food and cooking it. Enough that I feel it should have been integral to the plot but it’s just minutia. The lulls in the story felt torturous and only kinda worth the overall payoff. Written well but WAY too long. 3 out of 5.

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