Tag Archives: #DiverseRomanceBingo

Review of Concourse (Five Boroughs #5), by Santino Hassell

I received a copy of Santino Hassell‘s Concourse from Netgelley.

Description from Goodreads:
Ashton Townsend is the most famous celebutante of Manhattan’s glitterati. The black sheep of his wealthy family, he’s known for his club appearances, Instagram account, and sex tape. Most people can’t imagine him wanting for anything, but Ashton yearns for friendship, respect, and the love of his best friend—amateur boxer Valdrin Leka. 

Val’s relationship with Ashton is complicated. As the son of Ashton’s beloved nanny, Val has always bounced between resenting Ashton and regarding him as his best friend. And then there’s the sexual attraction between them that Val tries so hard to ignore.

When Ashton flees his glitzy lifestyle, he finds refuge with Val in the Bronx. Between Val’s training for an upcoming fight and dodging paparazzi, they succumb to their need for each other. But before they can figure out what it all means—and what they want to do about it—the world drags them out of their haven, revealing a secret Val has kept for years. Now, Ashton has to decide whether to once again envelop himself in his party-boy persona, or to trust in the only man who’s ever seen the real him.

Review:
I am sad. I have to say that this didn’t really work for me. I won’t go so far as to say I didn’t like it, I love Hassell’s writing too much for that. But this is my least favorite of his books so far. And considering my second least favorite is First and First, I have to think that I just don’t love his wealthy dramas as much as his working class boys.

I very much liked seeing a demisexual as a lead character, and I thought it was represented well (as far as I can tell). I liked that Val was from an Albanian culture and that Ashton played into his own androgyny, was open about his love of sex and fetish, and he spoke his mind.

As always the writing is good. But I felt like I’d been dropped into the middle of Ashton and Val’s relationship. What’s more, because Val was already trying to put distance between the two of them when the book started, and was constantly frustrated, if not angry for much of the book, I felt very much like he didn’t even like Ashton, despite everything else. I just never felt their chemistry outside of sex, because so much of it was supposed to be in the past. The sex was hot though.

Lastly, the whole plot line of two people loving each-other, but refusing to be together for whatever reason has never been one that works for me. This is a personal preference kind of thing. So, all in all, I just think this wasn’t a book that was ever going to light me up. I’m glad to have read it, because I want to read all the Hassell-books, but it wasn’t a big winner for me. Not a flop either, mind you. Just not one for the favorites list.

Review of Crying For The Moon, by Sarah Madison

I borrowed a copy of Crying for the Moon, by Sarah Madison from Hoopla, through my local library.

Description from Goodreads:
Vampire Alexei Novik may have the teeth and the coffin, but he’s given up the lifestyle for an old fixer-upper in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Weary of his past, Alex plans to keep to himself, but it seems his sexy, new neighbor, Tate, can’t take the hint—a good thing, since it turns out he’s handy for all kinds of things around the house. Tate even gets along with Alex’s werewolf friends, though one of them pointedly reminds Alex that their friendship is a bad idea. 

If a platonic relationship is a bad idea, the growing attraction between Tate and Alex is a disaster waiting to happen. Loving Tate will draw him into Alex’s dangerous world, and Alex is torn between having the relationship he’s always craved and keeping Tate safe. Tate won’t take no for an answer, however, and seems to handle everything Alex can throw at him without blinking. Just when he thinks things might turn out all right after all, Alex’s past catches up with him—forcing him to make a terrible choice.

Review:
So that was, um, well, that was….not very good, in my opinion. Look the writing is mechanically fine, but the story is flat and dull. There is almost no conflict. Only one bit pops up predictably (because the reader sees the obvious foreshadowing) out of nowhere (because it’s not there and then it is for no real reason) and then is defeated in no time at all (because of course it is). There are large chunks dedicated to unimportant things and, unless I was just misunderstanding what was supposed to be happening, I would advise the author to actually see an uncut penis before suggesting the things she seems to think could easily be done with a foreskin and maybe a penis in general if she imagines someone could blithely stick their tongue down a urethra. I’m just sayin’.

I did like the characters and the representation of werewolf pack behavior and the interesting lore around the vampire’s coffin. I didn’t really approve of the Alexi’s solution at the end, but that’s neither here nor there. I think this is a case of just not a good book for me. I’m sure others might love it.

Bonus side note: I especially cringed when I hit this sentence: “Her sculptured cheekbones and rich, café au lait coloring gave her an exotic look that made her stand out among women in general, but among Nick’s friends, she was clearly the diamond in the rough.” The author managed to use a food reference to describe a black woman (who was of course from New Orleans), squeeze the dreaded ‘exotic’ word in there to fetishize her, and then topped it with a cliche, all in one sentence. I’m a bit iffy about the ‘stand out among women in general’ too. So, that whole sentence left me agape.

Review of Finding His Feet, by Sandra Bard

I borrowed Sandra Bard‘s Finding His Feet from Hoopla, through my local library.

Description from Goodreads:
Kaden Pace, a soldier injured while on a mission, hides the extent of his damage by wearing his high-tech armor, desperate to prove his worth to his administrators and make himself useful in order to hold on to his independence. But during a simple assignment to escort two cadets across the country to retrieve the armor of a dead warrior, things start to fall apart.

They meet Shun, a young man with a secret, who steals the armor they were supposed to recover. Chasing Shun brings them to an abandoned town, where they encounter even more trouble. Stranded in the deserted city, Kaden finds himself relying more and more on Shun, the person he’d come to capture, while fighting off an invasion from the neighboring country.

But even when he returns to camp, Kaden’s problems are not over. Now he has to find a way to save Shun, whom he’s growing to care for, and keep his team alive as they make one last-ditch attempt to get back the armor Shun stole. Armor that is now in enemy hands, on an island in the middle of the sea, at Ground Zero where it all began. 

Review:
That was, oh man, you guys…I just didn’t think it was very good. It’s got a cool cover and the writing itself flowed fine (save a few telling-heavy passages), but there was just nothing about the story I found believable. An endless war that never really materialized. 15-year-old soldiers being sent out on missions. Soldiers who were unprofessional at every turn. Distrusted civilians being included in missions. Confidential information shared left, right and centre. A ‘romance’ that came out of nowhere. A totally predictable ‘twist’ at the end that was wholly unsupported. Questionable treatment and attitude towards amputees and disabilities. The male partner of the main character being presented as fulfilling the traditional wifely position. Hand-wavey science. A cliched happy ending. It wasn’t a bad book. But it sure didn’t work for me.