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Review: Muscling Through by J.L. Merrow

Muscling Through - J.L. Merrow



I absolutely loved this story! It was so heart-warming and sweet. There were moments when I just stared at my Kindle with the most besotted look on my face. It’s a rare story, I think, that makes you happy just because you’re reading it.


The story is told from Al’s point of view. His narration is funny, sweet, and unfiltered. People make a lot of assumptions about Al because of his size, his tattoos, and his lack of a higher education. His simple, honest way of viewing the world is refreshing and in stark contrast to the world Larry moves in.


Larry, as Al often says, is posh. His family are very class-conscious and snobbish. His colleagues at Cambridge aren’t much better. There is a running theme in the story about people making assumptions about Al, but I think people make just as many about Larry. Because he’s intelligent and clever, people think he should be with someone more like him. They think he’s slumming by being with Al. So many people in Larry’s life seem false, as if they are putting on a face for the world.


Al isn’t like that. He’s so open, so simple. Al knows Larry, takes the time to know him and accepts him. And Larry does the same for Al. He looks past what others think they see and just loves Al unconditionally.


This is a story that says it doesn’t matter how smart you are, how rich you are. It doesn’t matter how others see you. What matters is how you love someone and how they love you. So, if you’re looking for a feel-good read that will leave you with a smile on your face, try this one. I don’t think you’ll be sorry.


Review: Sacrifice (His Golden Cuffs #1) by Flora Dare

Sacrifice - Flora Dare



I picked this up because I wanted something quick to read while my son was down for a nap. I didn’t realize at the time that it was the start of a serialized series. I kept reading and glancing at the page numbers on my Kindle, thinking “How is this going to resolve itself? I’m almost to the end!” When I got to the last page, I realized I would have to buy two more books to find out what happens next. Oops!


A year ago, Anya’s mother died and her boyfriend, Leo, left her. Since then, she’s struggled to stay one step ahead of her scheming father in order to keep her younger sister in school and away from his illegal activities. When her father forges her signature on some financial papers, implicating her in his schemes, she feels trapped. Leo, her ex-lover, takes advantage of the situation in order to blackmail Anya into marrying him. Anya, feeling that she has no choice and fearing what will happen to her sister, agrees to marry Leo – but on her own terms. I liked that Anya didn’t just roll over and give in to Leo or her father. I think she saw her situation for what it was and sought to get the most she could out of it by demanding a few things for herself – mainly protection for her sister, and a way to keep her father from further ruining the business and the family name.


The beginning of the story is quite a bit stronger than the rest of it. There is more action and reaction, more things going on that further the story. But once Anya leaves her father’s house and goes to Leo’s, things get a bit bogged down. There are quite a few pages dedicated to meeting her personal assistant and a lot of (in my opinion) useless chatter and noise about clothes, schedules, makeup, charity balls, and such. I understand what the author was trying to do (acquaint Anya and me, the reader, with all the changes that Anya is going to face as Leo’s wife), but I feel it wasn’t executed very well. I found myself bored because it really slowed down the momentum of the story – and for a read that is only 34 pages long, that’s a critical error. Just as things begin to heat up again (wink-wink), the story ends.


Not much is said about Anya and Leo’s past relationship, but it seems they did have a very good and satisfying sex life before he left her, one that dominance and submission weren’t a part of. I’m not sure if that was because it never came up or if Leo was hiding that part of himself from Anya. But having it come up only as a part of their new relationship – one based on manipulation, blackmail, and lies – makes it seem as if Leo is using it as a form of punishment for Anya’s perceived wrong-doing.

Review: The Only Gold by Tamara Allen

The Only Gold - Tamara Allen



This was a beautifully realized and romantic story. The backdrop of turn of the century New York, the details of everyday life, the way Jonah and Reid danced around each other and then finally got together. It was all wonderfully done and a very satisfying read. I loved it! I loved the contrast between Jonah and Reid. Jonah always so conscious of everything, so cautious and anxious, but inside he’s quite passionate and full of feeling. And then there’s Reid who is so outgoing and charming, who can so easily make people like him, but when alone with Jonah he can be vulnerable. They are two very well-drawn characters with a real depth to them. I really enjoyed their romance.

Reread: The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks by Josh Lanyon

The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks - Josh Lanyon



I read this for the first time in 2009 and decided to revisit it today. Instead of picking up my ebook or paperback copy of it, I decided to finally listen to the audiobook version. The story was just as good as it was the first time. Sometimes stories we enjoy don’t hold up over time, but this one did. The characters were just as engaging, the mystery just as well executed. I loved the way Nick and Perry slowly, but surely came together over the course of their investigation. I loved Perry’s determination and Nick’s protectiveness. I loved the “cozy mystery” feel to the story, all the eccentric minor characters.