Friday, February 5, 2016

Foxhole Court (All for the Game #1)

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments
The Foxhole Courby Nora Sakavic

Age: Young Adult / Adult
Category: Contemporary, LGTQIA+
Rating: 5 stars

Rosie Thinks: To put this review in a little bit of context, I'm writing this after waiting two years for the final book in this series to come out, and that book has sky-rocketed this series into becoming one of my favourites of all time. Within the first few chapters of reading the third book, I knew I could reread it straight away after finishing it and still love it just as much (and let me tell you, I NEVER feel like that). But let's rewind to the first book!

These books revolve around the made-up sport of Exy - a mix of ice hockey and lacrosse - and focuses on Neil Josten. Neil has just been scouted for the Palmetto State University Foxes, an Exy team famous for signing players from broken homes. As the runaway son of a violent criminal, he knows he can't afford his face to be in the spotlight, but his obsession with Exy doesn't allow him to turn the opportunity down. Not only does he have to battle his own inner demons, but the other Foxes are straightaway suspicious and wary of him. A lot of the conflict comes from this, but one of the other strong plot lines is that of the Foxes being the underdogs of the Exy world, and their fierce and brutal rivalry with the top-ranked Ravens.

I went into these books thinking they'd be your everyday sports m/m romance that I've read a million times before, with the addition of traumatised characters (nothing gets me better than a bit of angst). But it was so much more! Despite me labelling this slash, there's no romance in the first book at all, and the character I thought would be the love interest wasn't (which, in hindsight, THANK GOD). Don't let that put you off! What you get instead is an incredible story with an insane cast of characters. I would be hard-pressed to think of another book with characterisation as individual and perfect as in this. Each of them had their own past and set of problems, no more so than the psychotic, insane Andrew. He is one of the most complex characters I've ever read about and even at the end of three books, I still shocked as to how Sakavic even created and wrote someone like him. I think it was a risk to write a character like him, that could so easily come off as unrealistic or too violent, but the risk paid off.

And Neil. Our darling MC with all the secrets and lies he tells not only to the other characters, but to reader themselves. He's smart and strong, but also so lost and terrified. These novels show his growth as he incrementally opens himself up to the Foxes and learns that there are other ways to live than being on the run. And it's not just him that develops and progresses as a character - a lot of the others do as well.

Even though this technically revolves around sport, I would recommend to everyone even if they didn't like sports stories. It doesn't get too technical and complex and bogged down in the theory of the sport. Instead, the sport scenes are used to further the plot and the character development. First and foremost, I found this to be a character-based story, with all their dark and twisted histories and personalities as they learnt to interact with each other. It was quite hard to write this review, as these books contain so much and my love for them is out of this world, but I hope I've done them justice!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Wife by Wednesday

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Adult
Category: Romance
Rating: 4 stars

Helen Thinks: Wife by Wednesday is the first instalment of Catherine Bybee’s Weekday Brides series. Blake Harrison needs a wife fast to meet the stipulations set in his father’s will and he’s given the card for Alliance – a dating agency owned by businessman Sam Elliot that specialises in matchmaking men with women that do not want love but someone to help them be financially secure. What Blake did not expect was that Sam was actually short for Samantha and not Samuel. Or that Samantha would be beautiful and exactly what he’s looking for. So Blake offers his contract to Sam. One year of marriage and he would pay her sister’s hospital fees.

It’s confession time. Marriage for convenience is one of my all time favourite clichés and Bybee delivers beautifully with ‘Wife by Wednesday’. It delivers two stunningly attractive characters that believe they are just in this relationship to get what they want – Blake his father’s estate and Sam can pay her family’s hospital fees – but they are also fighting the obvious chemistry that sizzles between the two of them. When they finally give into their desires, they are still fighting to believe that it isn’t love. It’s just a business contract that will be over in one year. Through Bybee’s fantastic writing, you can feel yourself as the reader vouching for these two characters to admit their feelings with each passing chapter.

Wife by Wednesday may follow a cliché pattern of romance writing but it’s a refreshing, captivating read that has left me wanting to read the remaining novels in this series.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Mara Dyer Trilogy

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Young Adult
Category: Romance, fantasy, mystery & crime
Rating: 5 stars

Brittany Thinks: I have read a lot of Young Adult series over the years and The Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin is absolutely one of the best. In fact, it may crack the top ten for one of the best series I've ever read in my life in any genre. As a lifelong reader and an English major, I've been well trained for years to figure out any story long before the big reveal, but these books kept me guessing until the final page. The plot was unique, refreshing, and kept me on the edge of my seat. I couldn't read fast enough.

It's difficult to give too much information about the plot of these books without spoiling them, but suffice it to say that you've never read anything like this before, even though what I can give away seems like it fits the mold of common YA tropes of late. When our story begins, Mara Dyer is a 17 year old girl beginning her first day at a new school a few months after experiencing a terrible tragedy. She is the sole survivor of an accident that killed her three best friends and she can't remember a moment of what happened - not that anyone believes her. Soon she finds that it's harder to escape her past than one might guess as her life unravels even more. In her "new" life she makes new friends - and meets a new guy - who might just be able to help her uncover the truth of what happened to her.

The characterization is phenomenal in these books. Though Mara is absolutely likable and interesting, I'd call her more of an antihero than a heroine. Her chemistry with Noah Shaw is off of the charts and he is probably one of my favorite male leads of the past few years. Rounded out with a supporting cast of funny, interesting, well-developed characters, the people in this story make the story.

Be prepared for a rollercoaster with this trilogy that will keep you lost and enthralled from the very first page. It's creepy, romantic, confusing, thrilling, and one of the best YA series around. Just make sure you have your hands on all three books before opening The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, because you will never want them to end!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Errant Prince

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Young Adult / Adult
Category: Romance, fantasy, LGBTQIA+
Rating: 3 stars

Rosie Thinks: Ever since Prince Tamsen ran away from the palace seven years ago, he's been living the secluded life of a hermit, surrounded by his herbs and his books. Guardsman Myron has been charged to find him and bring him home. No others have managed to force him back to the palace, so Myron tries a different tact: patience.

Myron is an easily loveable character, easy-going and mischievous, and stubborn enough to outlast Tamsen. Tamsen, on the other hand, isn't what Myron was expecting at all. Despite acting like a brat at times, Tamsen relishes his simplistic lifestyle and isn't keen on being dragged away from it. The book spent the first half in Myron's POV, then the second half in Tamsen's. I'm never usually a fan of alternating POVs, but the rigidity and consistency of this actually served to improve the storytelling, for once!

This isn't a long book - only 40 000 words - but Sasha L. Miller still manages to weave a unique and realistic story within that. It deals with a whole range of issues, including personal identity and acceptance, court politics, a transexual character, and the romance weaved into all of it. Despite it being a romance, there's nothing explicit, making it a story that can reach a wider age range.

If you're looking for an in-depth character study, you won't find it here. Instead, this story is a sweet romance that doesn't focus on the unnecessary drama that so many other romances seem to - in particular, I'm referring to the grand 'misunderstanding' that always seems to appear in love stories these days. Myron and Tamsen actually communicated, like the grown adults they are! That's not to say that they didn't have their troubles along the way - rather, the author was more creative in creating drama that was realistic and interesting.

This story was like a breath of fresh air, staying away from the usual stereotypes of a romance story that I'm sick of seeing. It's not overly complicated, but consistently remains a cute romance throughout, and one that I would recommend to anyone!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Star-Cross'd: Round XII

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 11:53 AM 0 comments

WinnerLocker Notes by TotoDaDog

WinnerOff My Feet by CapriChica

Other Entries

Friday, January 1, 2016

Three Strikes

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments
Derik says Quan would agree to anything. Quan begs to differ, so Derik makes his point. Two teenaged football players' path of self-discovery involving beer, rain, and some degree of exhibitionism.
Banner Credit: MajordlyFantastic

Melissa Thinks: "Three Strikes" is a one shot--first in a series of stories by Anihyr Moonstar about Derik and Quan. The first section of the story (there are three scenes) starts with the pair, both absolutely trashed, beginning to explore their feelings for each other. If you're big into the jock stereotype cliche, then this is the right one shot for you--both of the characters play football.

Though there are often athletic type male characters portrayed as bland ignorant jerks, Derik and Quan are unique in their personalities and development. You get a sense of them pretty quickly. It's this characterization which makes this one shot and its subsequent stories so appealing. Besides the shaky grammar, this story really impressed me. It's a short one shot, but I like how it builds a strong foundation for the two main characters and the rest of the series.Definitely worth a read if you're a m/m romance (and smut) fan!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Losing Ground

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Young Adult / Adult
Category: Romance, fantasy, LGBTQIA+
Rating: 3 stars

Rosie Thinks: This is only the second book I've read from Sasha L. Miller, but I'm really beginning to like her. Both books have been unique, including the storylines and the surroundings, and she's stayed away from the cliches of the m/m romance genre. HOORAY! Not much upsets me more than a story that I feel like I've read a thousand times before.

Losing Ground is set in a world like ours, yet different - it's modern, but it's broken up into territories which are owned by wizards or witches. There wasn't too much world-building past that, but since it wasn't an overly long or complicated story, it didn't need it. The magic is elemental, and the story is told from the POV of earth wizard Carter Bellwood. He is set to inherit the territory once his ailing mother passes, but his powers are comparatively quite weak and they are both struggling to rid their territory of the disease that is killing all plant life. When super-strong earth wizard Tai enters their territory, Carter thinks he's found the solution. But Tai is running from something and might not stick around, despite the friendship developing between the two men.

I guess you could class this as a 'slow romance', but I'd prefer to call it realistic. They become friends first, and it takes a while for Tai to lower his guard enough to let Carter in. It develops from there into a romance that was sweet and understated. The main action comes from the two men fighting the disease and Tai's past catching up to him, so it stayed interesting, suspenseful and intriguing throughout.

I felt like Miller did a great job at creating an urban fantasy world, but I would've liked to have seen a bit more romantic development between the two. It took a backseat to the action for most of it, and I think the story as a whole could've benefited from one or two extra scenes of just Tai and Carter, without the plot intruding. Other than that, it made for a lovely, easy read that didn't disappoint.


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