Cheers, friends, and welcome to a look at the books that gave us all the deep feels in the month of August. I love that we’ve got a little bit of everything on the list this month, from Sci-Fi to Historical to Urban Fantasy and more.
As always, there’s a chance to win a couple of the titles we loved, so be sure to check out the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.
And now, here they are, our July Books of the Month!
Ben – Dalí by E.M. Hamill – “Along with the drama, this story was packed with action. Dalí is one hell of a fighter, and I loved watching them kick serious ass. There were space battles, hand-to-hand fights, gruesome alien tournaments, and some pretty intensely sexual sparring matches. Despite the violence and thrills, the premise of the story struck me as something more akin to the nature of peace, and how we foster it. Dalí was on track to become a great peace-maker, but throughout the novel they find their place as one of the worlds’ great peace-keepers. In other words, using their physical nature to encourage openness and communication.
I loved the message, the depth of characters and the world-building. This is exactly the type of book I love to read. My only regret is that I felt Dalí’s happy ending was slightly out of reach; call it a happy-for-now ending. Luckily this is a series, and I’ll definitely be picking up the next one.”
Kim – New Orleans Second Lines by Lynn Lorenz – “What brought this all together and made it a favorite, and a reread, was Sebastian LaGrange. He may have started off as a secondary character in Pinky Swear, but he grew even more as a main character in Pioneers. I got to know his story of what it was like to be gay and young in New Orleans. His ups and downs, and the fear and sadness he went through when the AIDS epidemic was at its peak in the 80s. And even though he thinks that love ended when his soul mate, Frank, died, years later, along comes Raymond Chou to woo this sweet old man.
OMG, C’est La Vie, was so sweet! It’s very rare to read a story about a much older couple, and Lynn Lorenz told it so beautifully. I love how the courtship between these two developed, and knowing Sebastian’s insecurities just made him even more human to me. Sebastian LaGrange just didn’t know what a sexy man he was until Raymond came along and reminded him that he was still a young man at heart and deserved a second chance at love.”
Ky – Get a Grip by L.A. Witt – “A hook up that became the real deal. We’ve seen this trope many times, but when it’s done right it’s one of my favorite themes. In this book, it’s absolutely done right! There is no rush. Their deal is clear and at first it works just fine. When feelings come out to play, it happens in stages and not unexpectedly and out of the blue.
If I could have, I would have read this in one sitting. I kept wanting to find out if Shane was going to sow the wild oats that he wanted to so much. The fun part is that I couldn’t decide if I wanted him to succeed or not. I think I liked reading about his fantasies, but didn’t want to see him actually making them come true. I won’t tell you if he experienced everything he wanted to, because that’s one of the things that I wanted to keep reading and find out for myself. I will tell you, though, that he had Aaron with him for the ride…”
Jules – Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell – “I love, love, love these guys together. The tension is fabulous. And, when they finally break down and go for it…. Oh. My. God. They’re on fire. But, it’s not just that their sexual chemistry is off the charts…they’re also just so much fun together. The snark and attitude early on, and the fact that they’re both completely unapologetic about who they are. Like all of Santino Hassell’s characters, they are so real and relatable. Noah shows Gavin the fiery Queens boy beneath the Clark Kent exterior, and Gavin shows Noah his vulnerability and his capability for caring. And, no one can resist #DatBrawleySmile.
Do not miss this book, guys. The writing is so fantastic and engaging. It’s everything you would hope for and more. I’m still a 5B girl, I don’t know what it will take to unseat Sutphin Boulevard as my all-time fave, but Illegal Contact is definitely some of Santino Hassell’s best work. Go grab this one! It should absolutely be on your steamy summer reads list.”
Lindsey – Last Dance of the Sugar Plum by Claire Davis and Al Stewart – “Last Dance of the Sugar Plum is a spy thriller, but more so a psychological mindf**k from start to finish. Yes, there is romance (of a sort), but it takes a humongous backseat to everything else happening. I can’t say much more, because it would give something away. What I can write is what you know from the blurb. Jonathon has no memory, but deep in his subconscious he has important information. Anton is tasked with retrieving a code deep in Jonathon’s subconscious. Some bat-ish crazy stuff follows in a race against the clock which is going TICK-TOCK-TICK-TOCK.
This story is clever and unique and there is a lot going on, so go into it knowing you will be lost a good portion of the time. But when it all comes to an end, it was totally worth the ride. At least, for me it was. I don’t think it will be for everyone, but if you like well-written gritty and suspenseful stories that will mess with your mind, this is definitely something you should give a shot. I’m extremely glad I did.”
Cassie – The Deep of the Sound by Amy Lane – “Amy Lane is extremely skilled at writing you right into her characters’ brains. That talent is on clear display here with Cal. Even with the dual POV, this book was all about Cal for me. Probably because even when the book follows Avery’s POV, I was busy worrying about Cal. The poor guy is stretched thin and basically whittled down to the bone with fatigue and worry. His family’s medical situation is tenuous—a great uncle with Alzheimer’s and an adult younger brother with some fairly severe spectrum issues, both living at home. They not only eat up all of his monetary resources, but also his emotional ones. He has no familial support outside his two dependents and very little income, even after working two grueling jobs. When he’s injured on the job, all his spinning plates hit the floor in spectacular fashion. It’s a tough listen, because he’s so desperately worried and so precariously situated. It was particularly timely that I was going through this audio at this moment in our country’s discussion of healthcare reform. I actually struggled to finish because current events lent the story a too scary dose of realism. But I loved Avery and Cal together, and it felt so good to see Cal finally getting something just for him in his life.”
Maryann – Comes a Horseman by Anne Barwell – “Anne Barwell delivers such an emotional and intense ending to her Echoes Rising series. This WWII historical drama has danger, chaos, betrayal, bigotry, revenge, and suspenseful moments that will keep you on edge. It’s also a tale that offers camaraderie among different allies and the sadness of those who fought and lost their lives. The characters are so filled with hope and love, even at the worst of times, it just overwhelms your heart. With their friendships and heartbreak, their fears and their faults and relationships, these characters continue to grow. It was sad to have the series come to an end. It is so well written and told with so much heart; it grabs you from the very beginning with its in-depth characterizations and their fight to save humanity. I highly recommend reading the entire Echoes Rising series, beginning with Shadowboxing and Winter Duet.”
Carrie – A Penitent Pirate by Jules Radcliffe – “Jules Radcliffe has done it again. If anything, this book is even better than the first one in the series. Book one was full of political intrigue, the brutal realities of war, and the forging of Perry and Quinn’s relationship. Now, in book two, the political landscape is still constantly changing in a time full of uncertainty, but the story concentrates more on the posturing of men who are free to manipulate the winds of history and the grabbing of land and money for their individual kings. The Caribbean in 1664 is ruled by the Spanish, the Dutch, the English and the Brethren. The Brethren are the men who live there, they work there, and they sail the seas looking for bounty.
Yes, this is a swoon worthy pirate adventure, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Read book one first—you need to understand the journey these men take. You can start with this second book, but why when the story is so much better told from the beginning. Swamp Dog is the next story in the making, and then A Pirate’s Promise. I would really love it if one of these is Kit’s book. I think there is more to his and Raphe’s relationship than meets the eye! If you love different kinds of historicals, or just plain great love stories. then this series is for you. Highly recommend.”
Mike – Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford – “Dim Sum Asylum opens in the middle of a police chase, in an alt-world San Francisco where Asian magic, spell casting, and animated killer statuary are commonplace. Roku MacCormick is on the heels of his partner, who has stolen a clutch of dragon eggs. When that renegade partner kills a bystander, Roku has no choice but to kill him. This sets off a chain of events that the Arcane Crimes Division must recover from. So Roku, who is still grieving his own tragedies which are compounded by having to kill his partner, finds himself paired with Trent Leonard.
While both men have a past they would like to ignore, not talk about and generally avoid, they find themselves not just forced to work together but oddly attracted to one another. All this despite the fact that someone keeps trying to kill Roku, while Roku’s crime lord grandfather has pegged him to become the new head of the family, and Roku’s oldest friend has gone missing. And then there’s the trail of bodies left in the wake of the San Francisco Chinatown’s magical killing crime spree, all of which center around Roku and his family.”
Sammy – Dream of a Waking Man by John Goode – “Dream of a Waking Man, book ten in John Goode’s Foster High series, picks up after Brad completes his military service and returns home to surprise Kyle. We knew from the last installment that Kyle left his internship at the law firm to be with Brad, and it was just delightful how we got to relive that moment this time from Brad’s perspective. Now Brad and Kyle have a home of their own, Kyle has left the law firm and is on his own, working from home, and Brad is back in school studying to be an athletics coach. All is pretty hunky-dory, and a bit too safe, until Kyle gets an email from a fourteen-year old boy who has been denied the right to start a Gay/Straight Alliance in his high school in, you guessed it, a small town in Texas. At first Kyle is set on not responding, using the lame fact that the boy needs a more experienced trial lawyer, but Brad is smart and lets his boy stew while deliberately not applying any pressure and, of course, Kyle folds and takes the case.
Dream of a Waking Man takes us one step further in the lives of two boys who have somehow grown into the finest of men right before our eyes. Once again, John Goode does not spare us from the hate and bigotry that exists in this world, but he tempers it with love, friendship and a passion to do the right thing despite how flawed those attempting to right injustice may be. I love this series and I highly recommend this latest book to you.”
Lisa – Axios by Jaclyn Osborne – “Sometimes the difficulty in writing a review for a book you loved is rooted in the fact that all the superlatives have become so cliché. An Epic Saga, Best of the Year, Action Packed, Sweeping, Heartbreaking, A Love Story for the Ages… All of those apply to Axios: A Spartan Tale, and so many more. Spanning a thirty-year period, beginning to The End, Jaclyn Osborn weaves historical fact with romantic fiction and produces a whole cloth that envelopes readers in the life of a Spartan soldier.
Stripped down to the sum of its parts—a romance, historical fiction, or a hero’s journey, this book succeeds on all fronts. Every scene in this novel is crafted with an eloquence that in some ways is reminiscent of Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles. If you’ve never read that novel, it’s one of the highest compliments I can pay to Axios. If you have read that novel, then you’re more than familiar with the level of excellence this equates to. Trust me, I don’t compare books to Miller’s brilliance lightly. Some of the romantic passages Osborne crafted, however, evoke the same depth of love that Achilles and Patroclus shared, and when spoken by Eryx, a man not often given to emotion, those words resonate all the more.”
And that does it for the month of August. Until next month, happy reading!
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