Lenni Reviews: “A Beginner’s Guide to Wooing Your Mate” (Being(s) in Love #3) by R. Cooper

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

When they were teenagers, Zeki had a crush on the most popular werewolf in high school, Theo Greenleaf but left town before anything could happen due to being bullied for being human in a werewolf school. Now returning to the werewolf sanctuary/tourist town of Wolf’s Paw as an adult, Zeki is an accomplished wizard looking to show his high school bullies how far he’s come but hears Theo is nearly broken from his mate rejecting him years ago. Now, Theo buries his emotions in baking and volunteering for the local fire department. Zeki unknowingly seeks to reconnect with Theo not knowing he was the mate who rejected him so long ago.

So far, this is the best of the series. I love how it goes into how weres don’t need words to make themselves understood and how frustrating it can be for a human to understand what any of them are feeling since we lack those senses. I think they took WAY too fucking long to finally let Zeki in on the idea; leaving him fumbling as to why everyone is mad at him. The chemistry between Zeki and Theo is fantastic and in place of the long back and forth of the previous book, there’s some real growth and understanding that needs to take place for our pair to finally come together. And in the end, I was happy with the ending. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “A Boy and His Dragon (Being(s) in Love #2) by R. Cooper

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

Arthur MacArthur is in dire need of a job, wanting to get out of debt and perhaps go back to school when his recovering alcoholic sister is in a better place. One of his former professors sets him up with a job being an assistant to Philbert Jones, a historian, and writer but also a dragon with a horde of books. Not fully understanding dragons, Arthur learns about his new boss and the pair have a connection but Arthur doesn’t want to ruin his chances at this job.

While the writing if this book in the series is improved over the first, this book spends WAY too much time on the will they/won’t they back and forth where I found wanted to jump into the book and just scream “UGH! Just kiss already!” Then once they get to the point, Arthur and Philbert have great chemistry and I enjoyed their journey! Then it screeches to a halt. It’s just done. I would have liked a more rounded conclusion but I enjoyed this overall. 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Some Kind of Magic” (Being(s) in Love #1) by R. Cooper

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

Detective Ray Branigan knows Cal is his mate but believes fairies (even half fairies like Cal Parker) are too flighty for a long term commitment like mating. So, when they’re paired together on a case involving some mysterious and vicious murders, Ray’s restraint is tested as Cal is too tempting to resist.

This had all the hallmarks of something I’d enjoy and it did me the honor of not dropping the mystery part (unlike the Isle of series did). The problem here is with the writing. I found myself often confused as to who was who and critical details that would have helped me understand things, people, and places better – and enjoy the book more – were missing. In the end, I was left feeling like I missed something. Cal and Ray were cute and all but I feel like I never got immersed and I was left wanting. 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Isle of Waves” by Sue Brown

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

In the third book of the Isle of series, (one and two here), a string of vandalism to their restaurant has Nibs thinking of closing up shop. But with a huge storm on the way and the death of a dear friend, the stress of being forced to close puts a strain on Nibs and Wig’s relationship.

I know the plot synopsis says it focusses on the stress of possibly having to move under homophobic pressure putting them out of business, but it doesn’t feel like it. This meanders through a bunch of slice-of-life scenes without going anywhere. Wig and Nibs should be the main focus but they are frequently put to the side, making me wonder when it was gonna get to the point already. And some plot points are left dangling so it was all unsatisfying. If you don’t read the previous two books, you’re gonna end up lost because those previous characters have prominent places in this book. 2.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Isle of Wishes” by Sue Brown

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

In the second book in the Isle of series (first one here), Liam goes missing so Paul Owens, Sam’s brother, heads to the US to find him. When a hit and run puts a John Doe in the hospital that could be Liam, Paul meets Olaf Skandik in his search, and the pair hit it off but can the flightly Paul convince the closeted Olaf to take a chance on love; even if it is long distance?

I thought the hit and run and a later shooting would lead up to something but it just got glossed over. I wasn’t expecting a romantic thriller but to have all that wrapped up in some throwaway sentences was severely disappointing. Even Olaf being closeted wasn’t that big a deal. It made me wonder why they were plot points at all. Unfortunately, all that disappointment did impact my enjoyment of the book. I felt a bit cheated. 2.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Isle of… Where?” by Sue Brown

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

As this is a bundle, I decided to review the books in separate blog posts so I don’t end up not posting for a while then dropping this block of text that I bet nobody will read. So, here we go with book one in the series.

Liam Marshall arrives on the Isle of Wight because as per his best friend’s last wish, he will scatter the ashes of his friend into the water. While fumbling with the box, Sam Owens approaches him to keep him from flinging the ashes in his face and the two become fast friends. And even faster, they become more. But Liam hasn’t been in a relationship since his friend was diagnosed with cancer and he became a caregiver; not to mention he lives in America and Sam lives in the UK. Even if Liam believed in love at first sight, could he take a chance on such a long-distance relationship when he is already so emotionally vulnerable?

This book is a bit rushed but ok. I think it was a good call to skip some of the sex scenes as they would have gotten boring and repetitive. The chemistry between our main leads is alright… But it’s all fluff. I didn’t feel too deeply connected to anything. It would have been nice to dig deeper into the caregiver aspect with Liam and how lost one can feel after being in that role for so long. But, I do enjoy a bit of fluff, though so I can forgive that omission. 3.5 out of 5.

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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 andย 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: “Being Fitz” by J.D. Walker

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

Lysander “Fitz” Fitzgibbon is a bus driver living a fairly uneventful life. In between work and television his sometimes bed partner, Jerry, pops by for a quickie; usually leaving Fitz feeling unsatisfied and used. So when Jerry falls in love with his neighbor, Henry, Fitz finds himself alone. One day on a walk in the park, Fitz comes across a body dumped in the bushes. While being questioned by the cops, he meets Detective Holland Simms; who seems intent on visiting Fitz as much as possible even when off the clock.

It would have been nice if Fitz and Simms had more time to build their chemistry other than Fitz getting annoyed with Simms’ brash attitude and punching him (which would have turned into a VERY different story if Fitz was African-American and not Simms). “Hey, I think you’re hot!” isn’t quite enough for me to get as invested as I thought I should have been.ย  The back matter of the book says Walker likes to keep things short but I feel it was to this story’s detriment. It’s so short, the whole thing is over before you can get to know the characters. This could have been on the level of C. S. Poe’s gay mystery novels if given time to grow. As it stands its around a 2.7 or 3 out of 5. I’m torn between the two.

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Lenni Reviews: “Art Medium: The Complete Collection” by E.J. Russell

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

This collection contains two books; The Artist’s Touch and Tested in Fire. I’ll split the two so it’s not confusing.

The Artist’s Touch: Stephen Cobbe is a painter riddled with debts and homeless after the death of his lover. But when a new patron offers him room and board in exchange for his paintings, Stephen jumps at the change. The catch is he blacks out while he paints and awakens to completely dry canvases and no memory of creating them. As these paintings gain attention, Luke Morganstern is sent to investigate where they are coming from as the art is exactly like a painter who died many years ago. But when he sees the possible forger is his ex-boyfriend, Stephen, he can’t believe Stephen’s claims until they become too real to deny.

While this is a cute paranormal second chance romance, Stephen and Luke’s romance comes off as too rushed to really get invested in since they go from some pretty deep mistrust to “ok, we’re in love now” too quickly to form a real connection with them. However, their personalities are clearly written and real enough to empathize with them as they uncover some pretty serious ghost activity. The supernatural elements don’t feel tacked on as a frame to bring our main characters together and held it all together to make the story as a whole pretty cool. There are some sexy scenes but they don’t makeup very much of the book. 3.7 out of 5.

Tested in Fire: Having rekindled their relationship; Stephen and Luke are now rising stars in the art world. But Stephen’s debts still haunt him and he is determined to pay them off without Luke’s help. He wants to be independent and debt free so Luke will never see him as a burden. But after one argument, Luke seems to be acting very strange and the elderly stroke victim in the same building as Stephen is suddenly convinced he desperately needs Stephen’s help.

Here’s where the paranormal elements really start to take center stage. We have an awesome badass former cop turned psychic named Peg and villains who are body snatchers. The stakes from the first book are substantially higher and more detailed, even giving our characters some actual abilities. I would love to see the series continue and see how they handle various supernatural threats while also trying to live a somewhat normal life (particularly since Luke will absolutely have some major real-life consequences because of events in the book that I won’t spoil). 4 out of 5.

Overall, I’m glad I read these back to back as they compliment each other perfectly.ย  The second, in my opinion, tops the first book in general so I’ll average the two as a 3.9 out of 5. If you like paranormal romance, these are pretty good!

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Lenni Reviews: “Beast” by Jamie Sullivan

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

Beau thinks he’s got a hot story when he gets a tip that rock star Gabriel Fletcher, who has been out of the limelight for a year, is hold up in a remote mansion. What he finds there seems inhuman.

As a parody of Beauty and the Beast, this book hits all the beats of the original fairy tale ok. But where this book misses the mark is the relationship between the two main characters. They jump from learning to tolerate one another right into boning and proclamations of love. I couldn’t get to know them well enough to buy them as a couple so it falls flat when they get together. Maybe if it had more time to develop, it would have been more enjoyable. 2.7 out of 5.

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