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* I didn't make it beyond the first 20 pages.
** I made it to the end, but I either skimmed or skipped large sections.
*** I might have skipped/skimmed, but I liked it and might read it again.
**** I read at least 95% of the book and it was good -- probably will be reread.
***** I read every word, and I loved it! A favorite and definite reread.
[An Unsettled Range, by Andrew Grey ***+ I enjoyed many aspects of this story. I liked the setting a lot (small, ranch town), and I liked the characters. I've read another by this author, and as sometimes happens with series, if you join in midway through, it can be hard to have a solid feel in this world. That kind of happened here -- many of the supporting characters clearly had some kind of backstory that I didn't know. On the one hand, I appreciated that we didn't get an info dump of those stories; on the other, I kind of wished I had a little stronger foundation for life at this ranch. Still, they were sympathetic, and although the relationship between the two MCs seemed to fly along (which I've noticed in other romance-style novels, as well), I liked how they interacted. I did have one minor complaint, however: I'm not a huge fan of painting one character as the 'bad' guy, and it bothered me that everyone was on Liam's side and they all seemed okay with putting Troy in the position of 'you should have known better.' I think the story would have been stronger if Troy's character had a little more understanding from the rest of the crew (and even himself). The story: Liam is forced to leave home by his father's constant abuse, and when he's eventually taken in by a gay couple and allowed to work on their ranch, he feels like he might have found a safe haven for the first time in his life. However, when he checks out a 'deserted' cabin near the ranch's land, he comes face to face with a desperate man. Troy didn't mean to frighten Liam, but he'd come to the cabin to avoid people, and meeting a good-looking guy when he was struggling with his sexuality didn't add to his peace of mind. Eventually, with the help of Liam's new friends, even Troy finds a way toward acceptance...and they all work together to help the town deal with water rights and what that means for all the ranches. (Adult contemporary romance, GLBTQ, released 1/12, publisher: Dreamspinner Press)]
[Moving in Rhythm, by Dev Bentham **** I really enjoyed this one, so you might wonder why it didn't get five stars? Well, it ended too soon! It's another of those books where everything is building wonderfully, and the rhythm is strong (ha, no pun intended), and then...it ends. Yeah, there was a resolution (of sorts), but really, it could have continued for another 20K words, at least, imo. Anyway, the characters are good, the story is good -- it's simply too short. :) I liked how Mark struggled so with his social phobias. I liked how he'd 'come out' to himself, but how that wasn't really the main problem. I also liked how everyone else around him figured out his orientation -- and it didn't make any difference to their relationships with him. I liked it all, so I suppose it's not surprising that I wanted it to be longer! The story: Mark comes to stay with his pregnant sister-in-law when his brother is sent to Afghanistan as an army doctor. His SIL drags him to a zumba class, where Mark is the only male -- except for the instructor. Mark is undeniably attracted, but his social phobia and panic attacks quickly come into play. He's tired of being alone, but whenever he tries to even talk to someone he likes, he freezes up and can't communicate at all. However, Seth is no dummy, and when he runs into Mark at a dog park, he figures out that a phone might help -- and the two slowly build a friendship sitting across a park and talking on the phone...but that can only last for so long, and when Mark's brother is sent to a more dangerous zone and his wife goes into early labor, Mark is forced to push past his phobia to find what he needs. (Adult contemporary romance, GLBTQ, released 3/12, publisher: Carina Press)]
Fever, by Lauren de Stefano ** Okay, disclaimer: I definitely enjoyed Wither, and I had high hopes for this one, as well. But I couldn't really get into it. I don't know if I wasn't in the right frame of mind, or what, but once I started reading it, I lost interest a few chapters in and skimmed ahead to see if I would get hooked again. Instead, it seemed like I'd missed nothing and the story appeared to pick up right where it left off...I know this isn't the case (as I've looked at other reviews), but nothing that happened in between seemed to impact the main story or the characters that much. I'm not a huge fan of long, searching tales, and unfortunately, that's kind of where this book ended up: Rhine searching for her twin brother. The ending was pretty intense, but I was confused about what was going on (I think this was deliberate -- Rhine was confused, so the reader had to be, as well), and it ended on a pretty huge cliffhanger. I'll pick up the third book, because I'm still invested in this world -- and because it's the last one, no? It should have the answers ;) The story: Rhine and Gabriel have escaped one prison only to find themselves in another. Unable to survive on their own, Rhine has to work in a weird carnival, of sorts, and she suspects her FIL is still after her [something which, I admit, confused me a bit -- but I think there's a reason why this man would chase after her with such ferocity]. Most of all, Rhine wants to find her twin brother, Rowan [though I was also unclear why she felt that could lead to true freedom], but before that happens, her past catches up with her. (YA dystopic, released 2/12, publisher: Simon & Schuster)
On Deck: Friends with Boys, Out of Sight, Out of Time (waiting for me at the library!!!)