March Recent Reads

Hi Everyone!

It’s been a few months since I did a book review post. Sorry for the silence, but life has been pretty busy since Christmas and New Year. That hasn’t slowed down my recreational reading though! Here are a few books I have read recently and what I thought about them. Enjoy!

“Handled” by Romilly King

From The Blurb:

Serial killers think if it all goes south and they finally get caught that their swan song is a day in court, making the families relive the agony while they get off on that delicious pain, all over again. Not happening. Not anymore. We’re not making celebrities out of monsters.  We’re not giving them a stage to strut on.

Now they get an audience of two. One to Handle the problem, one to Witness it. I’m a Witness. I trained for six years to do my duty, to manage my contracted killer, and to watch justice be done.

I knew it would be hard, the first time, to watch the eye for an eye moment. I expected to feel a lot of things – fear, disgust, guilt. I didn’t expect to feel turned on. And I didn’t expect my contracted killer to look quite so pretty with blood on his hands.

HANDLED is a dark gay romance with themes of justice, retribution, and unsuitable love. It is not for the faint of heart and contains graphic scenes intended for an adult audience.  Further trigger warnings inside. 

My Thoughts:

When this book describes itself as a “Dark Gay Romance,” it’s a massive understatement. Despite offering the above disclaimer and suggesting the reader check out the page of trigger warnings within, I was still utterly unprepared for some of the more extreme scenes described in “Handled.”

I’m not sure how much ‘romance’ was in this self proclaimed ‘Dark Gay Romance’ – none by any normal definition. I won’t get too graphic with the details, but let’s just say if you don’t like the idea of using the still-warm blood of a man you just killed (right in front of your sexual partner) as an ad-hoc substitute for personal lubricant to pleasure said sexual partner – this might not be the book for you. (Yes, this actually happens in this book!)

It’s a shame really, as King has actually come up with a genuinely intriguing storyline and two main characters with surprising chemistry. But the whole thing was spoiled for me by liberally coating it all in blood, gore and disturbing imagery. Maybe I’m not the target audience for this book series. But I stand by my earlier statement – a “Dark Gay Romance” is a gross understatement.

My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

“Rule Breaker” by Lily Morton

From The Blurb:

Is it really wrong to want to murder your boss?

Dylan has worked for Gabe for two years. Two long years of sarcastic comments. Two long years of insults, and having to redo the coffee pot four times in the mornings to meet his exacting standards. Not surprisingly he has devoted a lot of time to increasingly inventive ways to murder Gabe. From stabbing him with a cake fork, to garrotting him with his expensive tie, Dylan has thought of everything.

However, a chance encounter opens his eyes to the attraction that has always lain between them, concealed by the layers of antipathy. There are only two problems – Gabe is still a bastard, and he makes wedding planners look like hardened pessimists. But what happens when Dylan starts to see the real Gabe? What happens when he starts to fall in love with the warm, wary man that he sees glimpses of as the days pass? 

Because Gabe is still the same commitment shy, cold man that he’s always been, or is he? Has Dylan had the same effect on Gabe, and has his solid gold rule of no commitment finally been broken? With his heart taken Dylan desperately needs to know, but will he get hurt trying to find the answers?

From the author of ‘The Summer of Us’ comes another scorchingly hot romantic comedy, showing what happens between two men when rules get broken. This is the first book in the Mixed Messages series but it can be read as a standalone.

My Thoughts:

If you love the Boss / Assistant trope, or even just a good old fashioned office romance mixed with a healthy dose of snark, you’ll love Rule Breaker. The sharp-witted, fast paced interplay between the two main characters is a joy to behold, and the brilliantly snarky email excepts that begin each chapter had me crying with laughter.

I especially loved how each of the main characters are slowly explored over the course of the book. The layers are peeled back, gradually revealing the reasons for their feelings and motivations. These characters felt real, making them all the more enjoyable to unravel.

As the first book in the series, some time is dedicated to setting up characters and settings for later books, while giving them little to do in this one. When read as a standalone title, this does make the book drag ever so slightly in places, but the sparkling dialogue and the steamy love scenes more than make up for it. I look forward to starting on Book 2.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“Safe Harbor” by HJ Welch

From The Blurb:

Robin Coal wonders if asking his straight housemate Dair to be his fake boyfriend for his high school reunion will be the worst thing he’s ever done… or the best. But there’s no way he’s going home to face his abusive ex alone, and former Marine Dair is just the protection he needs. So long as he doesn’t find out about Robin’s secret crush, everything will be fine. 

Mechanic Dair Epping never expected to spend a week sharing a bed with his adorkable friend, however pretending to be bi is easier than he imagined. He knows he’ll do anything to keep Robin safe from his ex-boyfriend, but as the chemistry between them grows, the line between fake and reality begins to blur. 

Could Dair actually be bi? Even if he was, would an ex-Marine really be interested in a computer geek like Robin? When his ex’s intentions turn dangerous, how far will Dair go to protect the man he’s falling for? 

Book One in Pine Cove. Safe Harbor is a steamy, standalone MM romance novel with a guaranteed HEA and absolutely no cliffhanger. 

My Thoughts:

On first look, this seems like your standard roommates to lovers / hot jock and gay nerd/ supposedly straight guy and gay friend pairing- type of book. But there is something wonderfully sweet and endearing about this story.

The two main characters manage to have enough differences to balance each other out, and the storyline of going back to the old home town to attend a high school reunion serves as the perfect backdrop for a genuine and enjoyable romance. Mix in a little danger, care of an abusive ex-boyfriend, and you have yourself a great weekend read.

All in all, highly enjoyable and highly recommended.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Employee of the Month:

Nemesis – for multi-level support 🙂

Well, that’s all from me for this month. I hope you find something awesome to read, and if you have any reading recommendations – please feel free to leave them in the comments below or on my social media!

Until next month, stay safe and Happy Reading!

Lots of Love

Alex Leslie

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