Lenni Reviews: “The Firebird and Other Stories” (Being(s) in Love #5) by R. Cooper

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

This book is a collection of short stories set in the same universe as the other Beings in Love books.

The first one is “The Firebird” set in France in 1934, where a firebird, Kazimir, becomes enamored with a writer named Jacob. Kazimir is used to being the center of attention and having admirers begging to be inspired by him. But Jacob sees Kazimir as more than just an object. It’s a sweet story about finding someone who really values you.

Next is “The Warrior’s Sacrifice” set in Mexico in 1947. Mateo is a “muxe” a person assigned one gender at birth but behaves associated with the opposite gender and he gets beat up for this and left as an offering to the jaguar who protects the town; named Carmelo. Carmelo is home from WWII and keeps Mateo safe, revealing he has been watching Mateo for some time. This is a really touching story with low angst.

Next is “Hyacinth on the Air” featuring a fairy named Hyacinth, who loves to push the boundaries of what he’s allowed to say on air. Seeing as this is set in 1961, there are some pretty strict standards so he causes no end of trouble for Walter, a human who’s in charge of cleaning up after the messes Hyacinth makes. Being a fairy, Hyacinth doesn’t understand why humans are so uptight and why Walter would resist their obvious attraction. This one’s cute but out of all of them this one I found the least impactful.

The next story is “A Giant Among Men.” Set in 1982, Vietnam veteran, former police officer, and troll, Tank, is determined to make sure his friend Simon, an elf, gets home safe after the bar where Simon works is vandalized by people who hate Beings. Simon resists the help because he doesn’t want to be seen as weak but comes to realize Tank sees him as much more than a pretty elf bartender. Pretty enjoyable for what it is.

Next up is “The Imp for Mr. Sunshine.” Set in 2005, Rennet – an imp – has a crush on John, the deputy mayor. Since things tend to go wrong when an imp is present, Rennet believes this bad reputation will keep him from this crush developing into anything more. Little does he know that John has been protecting him for more than just friendly reasons. The parts where Rennet is dealing with his nature and what that means to the people around him are the best in this story.

Next, we have “A Wolf in the Garden.” Miki is a human who loves to work with exotic pants so his job in a greenhouse that’s also in a magic shop is where he’s most comfortable. One day a werewolf named Diego comes into the shop and Miki is smitten, but he knows Diego had a mate, and she tragically died of cancer. Miki does see Diego wants him but believes a wolf only gets one mate in their lives and that a man like him who’s been abandoned by his family and has strange hobbies. These two make an adorable couple and I really enjoyed this story and it was cool to see previous characters like Kazimir reappear. It makes the world feel so much bigger.

Lastly, “The Dragon’s Egg” featuring Arthur and Bertie from “A Boy and his Dragon”. Here Bertie discovers an egg that is their child and Arthur goes into full nesting mode.

This is a pretty decent collection but I have to say “A Wolf in the Garden” and “The Warriors Sacrifice” are my favorite. The others just didn’t grab me as much and made the book feel SO much longer. To get the full experience, you really have to make sure you read the previous four books so don’t just hop into this one. 3 out of 5.

 

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Lenni Reviews: “I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up” by Naoko Kodama

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Morimoto Machi is not interested in marriage. All she wants is to succeed in her career and live on her own. But as the pressure from her parents to find a husband mounts, Morimoto’s friend, Agaya Hanna, offers to marry Morimoto to keep her parents from complaining. It also helps Agaya since she’s in the market for a new apartment. While the arrangement is inconvenient for Morimoto at first, she soon finds having Agaya around may not be so bad after all.

This is so cute! I love how Agaya stands up for herself against Morimoto’s parents and refuses to be labeled a freak. The pair make an adorable couple. I wouldn’t have minded if this was a little longer and went into some more detail in dealing with Morimoto’s parents. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Bound for the Forest” by Kay Berrisford

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

When Brien returns to his childhood home to scrounge up something he can sell to settle his debts, he doesn’t expect to find a thief named Scarlet attempting to burn the place down. Scarlet considers Brien to be a traitor to the forest as he as abandoned his birthright. But all the legends Brien has shunned or dismissed as heathen tales are suddenly very real and very dangerous, much like his attraction to Scarlet.

This book takes the heavy kink of something like Take it All and ads a hefty dose of faerie lore. Brien and Scarlet’s will they/won’t they does go on a tad too long but they develop good chemistry so they may have been thrown together but they work. It’s when the book gets DEEP into its lore that could turn some people off. I personally loved the detailed world building around our main character’s sexual relationship.

And that relationship is intense, graphic, BDSM and some dubious consent. Not for the faint of heart.

This isn’t insta-love but it is insta-lust that becomes love later. If that’s your jam and you enjoy historical fantasy, this is a great outing! 3.9 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: “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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Lenni Reviews: “True Colors” by Anyta Sunday

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

Once childhood best friends Marco and Oscar are now back in the same town after Oscar fled years ago. Not knowing exactly why they had a falling out, it seems friends and families of both men are determined to get them to reconcile. But Marco’s emotional and physical scars run deep and his broken heart will not allow him forgiveness so easily.

The good: This book is a HOT second chance romance with great characters. I was on board the whole time; hoping Marco and Oscar would hash everything out and get their happy ending. I smiled, I blushed, I cheered for them.

The bad: I didn’t like how Marco was almost presented as the villain for being pissed off. Spoiler-ish talk here but Marco was horribly burned and scarred as a child in the same car accident that killed his mother and the same best friend who stood by his side through that mocked his scars and didn’t help when bullies held Marco down, forced his shirt off to expose those scars, then mocked him further. I mean, I get that they were kids when that happened and it is likely nobody else knows all those details now that Marco is an adult; but Oscar really hurt him and Marco is entitled to that pain. He shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for it; especially since he never got any closure for many years. That bugged me enough to feel the need to mention it.

This didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story otherwise so this book gets a satisfied 3.7 out of 5 out of me.

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Lenni Reviews: “Thorns of the Past” by Gun Brooke

 

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

Former police detective turned private investigator and security guard Darch Flynn is hired to protect Sabrina Hawk, an accountant who has a starker demanding information from her and threatening her. A past assault has left Sabrina with a poor opinion of law enforcement and Darcy has to hide the fact she left the force in disgrace all while Sabrina’s stalkers close in on them.

This book wasn’t bad. The romance between Darcy and Sabrina is good but it is SUPER sappy and had me cringing at the dialogue sometimes. I did enjoy how a relationship of necessity became something more as the story went on. I did, however, have the ‘mystery’ pegged pretty early on so I was sat there waiting for the characters to catch up. It’s all written well enough that I wasn’t annoyed or bored on the way to the climax but overall this book is just ok. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Librarian’s Rake” by Z. Allora

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

Philip and Tristan are polar opposites; Philip a risk-taking hairdresser and Tristan a quiet librarian. But when their matchmaking grandfathers get them to meet, neither can deny an attraction is there. However, Philip has always preferred quick trysts and worries he my not be the type of man Tristan would want for more than one night. Tristan wants to test his wilder side but lacks the courage and is more suited to longer relationships. Each man must step out of their comfort zones for a chance at happiness.

This is about a librarian so I had to grab it and thus I may be biased since I AM a librarian. Tristan is so adorably awkward and Philip may be more brave and flippant, but he’s not dangerous or irresponsible. And the side characters are hilarious. About 81% in, this line made me crack up:

“I swear, the smartest thing to ever come out of your mouth is that librarian’s cock.”

I had to put the kindle down and catch my breath. Again, I’m probably biased because I’m a librarian but in that moment, that was the funniest thing in the world. What a descriptive way to vent your frustrations to your friend.

After that murder mystery on the brink of a terrible war, this was a bit of much needed levity. It’s a cute read that made me laugh and made me blush. If you want a quick and dirty read while curled up with some cocoa, you could do far worse than this sharply written story. 3.9 out of 5.

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