Random Reads: July 2021

Here are some quickie reviews of books I read this month that just didn’t hit that sweet spot for me.

Detour to Love by Amanda Radley

Romance is in the air on this detour to love.

High-flying executive Celia Scott is on her way to Tokyo to accept a prestigious award heavy with emotional baggage. She’ll make the trip, but she doesn’t have to like it, and she certainly doesn’t have to make nice with a stranger on a plane.

Artist Lily Andersen is excited to finally meet her online crush, the only person in the world who truly gets her. She just needs to survive the eleven-hour flight from London to Japan with a testy seatmate who by turns annoys and fascinates her.

Fate, upgrades, and a troupe of travelling clowns bring them together for a journey memorable for all the wrong reasons. Not only do they have nothing in common, they really can’t stand each other. But people are not always as they seem, and Celia and Lily are about to realise, there’s more than one path to love.

My thoughts

I cannot really explain why I do not care for Detour to Love. I am not a huge fan of age-gap romances where one person is in an extremely vulnerable position. I think for me this is the issue along with the speed of the romance for a novel. I am sorry to say that I did not connect with the characters in this book. You might, so please do not take my opinion as anything other than a reader who did not make a connection. (pp.248, Bold Strokes Books, 2021) Goodreads. Kindle.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Golden Age by Eve Morton 

After seven years, Sebastian is going home. Will it be a great homecoming or a disaster?

Seven years ago, Sebastian Munro changed his life immensely by transitioning and starting a graduate degree at the University of Ottawa. Now that his degree—and his cash flow—has run its course, however, he finds himself on a Greyhound bus back to his suburban town outside of Toronto in early 2006. Though his high school friends are well aware of his transition, many have yet to see Sebastian face-to-face.

Instead of dreading the reunion, Sebastian looks forward to it—until his parents announce their divorce, his former best friend won’t speak to him, and he realizes he has become a stranger in a place that was once so familiar. Rather than returning to Ottawa, he is forced to stay in Durham Region when he witnesses a crime at the local restaurant run by a family friend. Until the trial finishes, and until an academic job comes through, Sebastian must learn to stay exactly where he is—whether he now wants to or not. When he reaches out to his former best friend’s older brother, Garrison, their budding relationship shapes and changes everything Sebastian thought he knew about his previous life, secret identities, and the power of home.

Now that Sebastian has found a way to survive in his hometown as the person he always knew himself to be, he realizes he faces a decision especially as an academic job opportunity emerges. Does he continue with his new fantasy life in his hometown, thereby leaving his former academic and trans community aside—or does he go back to the life that made him who he is now and leave his family and friends one more time?

Warning: Addiction, depression, transphobia, trauma (mention of), abuse, deceased family member

My thoughts

I really wanted to like this book. The Golden Age has lots of literary references, conversations about language, and rainbow diversity. Eve Morton brings lots of knowledge to the story and I think it weighs it down. 

I love the emotional journey of Sebastian. This book is more about his journey and lives than it is a romance. I loved the interconnection between language, memory, and the ghosts we carry. 

If it had been listed as a LGBT Fiction, I probably would not have read it, but I love romance. I think if it had just had Sebastian’s journey, I would have read it. I love the debates. It was just way too much information, even for a geek like me, and I kept getting frustrated because I had preconceptions of what this book would be. 

So with that said, don’t take my word for it. Read it and let me know what you think. (Read an excerpt here.) 

I received an ARC of this book and I am writing a review without prejudice and voluntarily.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Groovy Alpha by Susi Hawke 

Synopsis:

An omega raised as a wealthy human in the lap of luxury… A Harley riding alpha who rules a pack of pot-growing wolves in a commune… what was fate thinking?

Sky Blackwood is an omega wolf who’s only ever lived a fabulous, all-too-human existence in the wilds of… Beverly Hills. A place where your best friend will smile in your face while stabbing you in the back if there’s money or fame involved.

He’s heard about fated mates and the old-school shifters who still live in packs, but those were just stories. Until they aren’t. Sold by his family, Sky’s saved from the auctioneer’s block by Devon—a sexy alpha wolf who looks like surfer Thor, drives an even sexier Harley, and smells like everything Sky never knew he wanted.

If fated mates are real, what if all those other stories about pack life are as well?

Sky feels like he’s on the best adventure ever as he learns to live like a shifter. With Devon’s help, he’s ready to settle into the peaceful commune life. Only problem? Even paradise can be a camouflage for something darker.

Having grown up among people who hid their evil behind friendly smiles and designer clothes, Sky soon realizes Devon needs help if they’re to survive the unseen threat. He’s not worried, he was taught to “handle people” from the cradle, a few hippies with criminal intentions shouldn’t be too difficult, right?

The pack’s problems are easy to fix, but his real issue… not so much. What exactly is expected of an omega and how is he supposed to actually do it? Fortunately, his mate’s brothers know a few omegas who are all too happy to help.

The West Coast Wolves is an mpreg series about five alphas. A small pack of bikers who spent years riding the highways and helping those in need until fate gave them each a pack to lead. This full-length novel is Devon’s story. Prepare yourself for a dual pregnancy, an omega discovering his power, and more giggles than are appropriate during violent scenes. But then again, this is a Susi Hawke book, so what else can you expect?14

My thoughts

Susi Hawke drops you right into a rescue that has already happened. Now if you are like me and have not read any of the previous books, you are scratching your head. You do find out what happened, but later in the book as after-thought. 

I have read a lot of fated mates stories and this one just lacks that hunger and the why of it. I get that fated mates don’t get to pick…but I would have connected more with the characters if there was something more. Other characters are also fated immediately and once again you are left with an emptiness. 

I think my overall suggestion would be to read the whole series. Hawke might explain backstories and connections in a more cohesive way, if you read from book one. I also want to note that I didn’t really find the “more giggles…during violent scenes…” that is advertised in the synopsis. Very disappointing. Oh and the love scenes…they are okay. Read an exclusive excerpt here. Kindle. Goodreads

I received an ARC of this book and I am writing a review without prejudice and voluntarily.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Did It All Before by Cynthia Hamill

Award-winning photojournalist Scott Rowe is struggling with the physical injuries and emotional scars caused by the terrorist attack that killed his interpreter, Omran Saleh. A long succession of doctors and surgeons have put his body back together, but to Scott, his mind seems beyond repair. Panic attacks ambush his days, and nightmares haunt his fitful sleep. He can’t bring himself to touch his broken camera, let alone consider returning to work. His only sanctuary is the darkroom, where he can escape the secret he carries surrounding Omran’s death.

Dr Jason Andrews is determined to bring Scott back from the brink. His alternative healing methods are like nothing Scott has ever seen, and at first, Scott feels foolish lying on Jason’s table with hot rocks in his hands or acupuncture needles in his skin. But one thing keeps Scott coming back: the detailed visions that appear like movies in his mind, of himself in other times, cultures, and continents, and Jason himself, whose relentless hope steers them through the storms of Scott’s recovery.

As his health improves, Scott begins to wonder what his visions mean. Are they vivid daydreams, figments of his exhausted mind? And why does he only have these visions when he is with Jason?

Scott hopes the answers will give him a reason to make peace with Omran’s death and begin to truly live again, instead of merely surviving. But what if they also give him a reason to love?

My thoughts

Cynthia Hamill overloads Did It All Before with detail. We don’t really get to the acknowledgment of a romance until we are one-third of the way into the book. Hamill explains homeopathic remedies down to every stroke of the hand during a massage…multiple times. It was just too much for me and I kept getting bored. The past-life regression stories were okay, but once again it was just really detailed. I kept losing interest. I am sorry to say that I did not connect with the characters in this book. You might, so please do not take my opinion as anything other than a reader who did not make a connection. Read an excerpt here. (pp. 337, NineStar Press, 2021). Goodreads. Kindle.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
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