Tag Archives: m/m romance

Haru to aiden banner

Review: Haru to Aiden, by Alexia X.

Last night I read Haru to Aiden. I see that since I picked the book up in December of 2019, it’s gotten a new cover (several, it seems) and the author, Alexia X., is now going by Alexia Praks. However, I’m going to stick with the cover I have because that means I read an X-authored book for my yearly Author Alphabet Challenge. I would normally call this cheating, except that I honestly didn’t know about the name change until I went to download the cover to write this post. So, I legit thought this was an X-book when I decided to read it. I’m running with it.

Eighteen-year-old Haru Ono has been in love with his stepbrother Aiden Davis since he was in middle school. Trying to keep his feelings under wraps is annoyingly hard when they’re living under the same roof in such close proximity, more so since Aiden is so caring and selflessly showers him with kindness.

Haru knows that family is important to Aiden, who has been shouldering the burden of raising five younger siblings, and it’s best Haru never reveals his feelings to Aiden. Then again, an eighteen-year-old boy with raging hormones can only bottle up so much until everything starts to burst.



I think this book will have a very select and limited audience, but that audience will likely love it. I found myself not hating it, but not loving it either. There was a time I was very into Yaoi (and if you don’t know what that is, probably don’t blindly pick up this book) but maybe I’ve outgrown it. I think being an existing fan of the manga style/genre is probably a prerequisite to enjoying this light novel, which is essentially a Yaoi manga in literary format. And here starts my issue.

I don’t think it works as well as a novel as a visual media. I just don’t. So, there’s that. I also thought the whole thing read like it was written by a 15-year-old fujoshi, especially the sex scenes, which were exceptionally cringy. It was surprisingly well-edited. Not perfect, but not the hot mess you’d expect if Alexia X. really was a 15-year-old otaku.

I did appreciate Haru and Aiden’s struggles, though the plot progression has been lifted from a million other similarly themed manga. Plus, the support of all the other brothers and friends was lovely. I did have to wonder how the two kept it a secret from each other when so many other people seemed to know. All in all, I’m not regretful to have read it (especially since it means I can mark an X-authored book of my yearly author alphabet challenge) but I’m not in any rush to read any more of the series either.

It’s also worth noting, in case anyone uses this as a gateway to further Yaoi that, while this book is very careful to ensure we know Haru is 18 (the Western age of consent), many of the manga written originally for non-western audiences don’t make this consideration. So, the whole genre could be considered super problematic by American standards. Just know that going in, so you’re not shocked.

Lore and Lust

Review: Lore and Lust, by Karla Nikole

I purchased a paperback copy of Lore & Lust directly from the author, Karla Nikole, after seeing an Instagram post about having some for sale.

            
The slow burn vampire romance you didn’t know you needed…

Haruka Hirano is alive, but not quite living. Surviving but not thriving. As an elite purebred vampire in the twenty-first century, he is broken. Content in his subpar existence.

He is done with life. But life is not finished with him.

When he receives a formal request to oversee an antiquated vampire ritual at Hertsmonceux Castle, Haruka grudgingly leaves his home to meet another purebred. The vampire is not what he expects. Truly, he is unlike any vampire Haruka has ever encountered: cautious, innocent and with the warmth and gravitational pull of the sun.

Lore and Lust is an exploration of cultures, contemporary society and romance. It puts a whimsical spin on traditional vampire lore, while also creating a vivid new world where love is love. No questions asked.

I’m not sure how to rate this one. It’s a perfectly fine book. If I had to choose one adjective, I’d say it’s nice. It’s a nice book about nice people (vampires) getting together to form a nice, supportive relationship amongst their nice families/friends. The only thing missing is the inclusion of nice little babies.

And there is nothing wrong with any of that. It is a lovely, squishy, feel-good, slow-burn romance that was actually great as an election night distraction. The problem with all that nice, squishy, feel-goodness though, is that it leaves little room for tension, which combined with the third person present tense writing leaves the reader feeling distant and slightly bored. But more importantly, it isn’t what that absolutely stunning, but honestly dark and brooding cover led me to expect. In fact, I don’t feel it represents the tone of the book at all, as much as I love it. And I do; I bought the book on the strength of my love for it alone. So, how do you rate a book that’s perfectly lovely, but misrepresents itself? I don’t know. Right down the middle, I guess.

Outside of the mismatched tone and cover I only had one real complaint, the lack of significant female characters. There are only three females in the book, all relatively minor side characters. Two of them are grasping and manipulative and the third is dangerously close to being the cliched sassy, Black BFF (and I’d bet the love interest/heroine of a future book). Though Nino‘s Italian, so maybe that stereotype is somewhat ameliorated.

The editing is clean. There’s one point when Hau is sitting on the Tatami but gets up from the couch. But other than that, which might have been a misunderstanding on my part, I didn’t notice anything about the editing. Which is what you want in editing, right? And the mythos around vampires is a fresh one, which isn’t easy in a genre as well-trod as sexy vampires.

All in all, the book wasn’t what I expected, but also pointedly wasn’t bad. I’d certainly read more of Nikole’s writing and of the Lore & Lust series.

Life after love banner

Spotlight and review of Life After Love, by Imogen Markwell-Tweed

I’m trying something new, scary right? I’ve joined a blog tour. If all goes well I might do it again. So, things might look a little different on occasion. But the reviews are still written in the same manner, nothing is changing there. It’s just that now I get to include a lot of fun graphics and even a GIVEAWAY at the bottom. I’m super excited about that. Plus, I get to start a local-to-me author, and reading local authors is a special thrill for me. So, without further ado, let me introduce you to Adam and Danny in Life After Love.

Life After Love
by Imogen Markwell-Tweed
Genre: Paranormal LGBTQ Romance

 

 

Adam and Danny are your average couple. Sure, Adam is a ghost — and then he’s not — and then he is again. And, yes, in between crafting lattes, Danny sometimes crafts spells. But other than that, they’re your typical couple — plus or minus a few grimoires. From ghostly best friends to husbands, Adam and Danny find a way to work through all of their troubles … even death.
Danny loves his new apartment, its stainless steel appliances, low crime rating, and proximity to his job that keeps him from having to take the bus. The only downside? The ghost that haunts it. When Danny reluctantly offers to share the space with Adam the Ghost, he thinks he’s signing up for an awkward roommate situation. Instead, Danny is faced with the very real possibility that Adam might be the love of his life — and that, at any moment, he might lose him forever.
**Only .99 cents!! **

Life After Love puts paid to the dictum of the “show, don’t tell.” The book is written in almost 100% tell, but it works. I mean really works. If you like Alexis Hall‘s use of feels or TJ Klune’s chanty-repetitiveness you will like Imogen Markwell-Tweed’s writing. 

Granted, it covers a lifetime in just over a hundred pages. So, it’s on the spare side. And I wasn’t surprised to learn, after reading it, that it was written in parts (maybe as a serial) before being compiled into this book. You feel it a little in the way some things are needlessly recapped. But the whole this is just so sweet (without being artificially saccharine) that it’s all forgivable. Well worth picking up.

Imogen Markwell-Tweed is a queer romance writer and editor based in St. Louis. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her dog, IMT can be found putting her media degrees to use by binge-watching trashy television. All of her stories promise queer protagonists, healthy relationships, and happily ever afters.

 

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
 
IMT Goodie Bag including: 
personalized note, Life After Love limited edition button,
 bonus short story, $10 Amazon gift card, and more!