Reality Shattered: CUTIE AND THE BEAST-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a recently published M/M paranormal romance from EJ RUSSELL. I’ve reviewed CLICKBAIT, a contemporary romance, from this author before, but I first read and reviewed her ghosthunting romances on Joyfully Jay, so I was eager to check out her new Fae out of Water series, beginning with CUTIE AND THE BEAST. It’s a snarky Beauty and the Beast meets Fae legends, and I really enjoyed it.

About the book:
Temp worker David Evans has been dreaming of Dr. Alun Kendrick ever since that one transcription job for him, because holy cats, that voice. Swoon. So when his agency offers him a position as Dr. Kendrick’s temporary office manager, David neglects to mention that he’s been permanently banished from offices. Because, forgiveness? Way easier than permission.

Alun Kendrick, former Queen’s Champion of Faerie’s Seelie Court, takes his job as a psychologist for Portland’s supernatural population extremely seriously. Secrecy is paramount: no non-supe can know of their existence. So when a gods-bedamned human shows up to replace his office manager, he intends to send the man packing. It shouldn’t be difficult—in the two hundred years since he was cursed, no human has ever failed to run screaming from his hideous face.

But cheeky David isn’t intimidated, and despite himself, Alun is drawn to David in a way that can only spell disaster: when fae consort with humans, it never ends well. And if the human has secrets of his own? The disaster might be greater than either of them could ever imagine.

My Review:
David Evans is a nothing-special kind of guy who loves his dear aunt–the woman who raised him–and works as hard as he can to support her, especially as she is ill. Trouble is, though he’s a fantastic assistant and office keeper, he can’t seem to keep a position. He’s been doing off-site transcription, but it doesn’t pay all the bills, so he takes advantage of the one opportunity he’s given: temp work for Dr. Alun Kendrick. David heard Dr. Kendrick’s voice once, for a transcription, but it did seriously naughty things for David. He can’t wait to meet the man in person!

Alun Kendrick is a cursed Fae. Years ago his lover, a type of rare healing Fae, was murdered and he’s never forgiven himself. His punishment for not being there to save his beloved is a horrifying facial disfigurement that startles nearly everyone. Still, he works a a counselor to supernatural beings who find his grotesque appearance to be disarming enough to allow themselves to be vulnerable and accepting of treatment.

Alun isn’t prepared for his temp assistant to be human, and he’s outraged that the placement agency sent David, despite him being a sunny, beautiful, thoughtful young man and conscientious employee. Alun tries to find fault in David’s colorful adjustments to his office and solicitous treatment of his clients, but David’s seeming missteps actually result in inadvertent breakthroughs for several of the supers that come in for counseling. And, Alun’s not been tempted to find sexual pleasure since his last lover was killed, nearly two hundred years before. That David turns his crank to eleven? It cripples Alun.

Unfortunately, there’s unrest in the Fae realm and David’s help is needed to assist Alun to return and set things to rights–and that brings on a whole new series of problems. David, unknown even to himself, is harboring a secret of his true self and this results in worsening of the conflict. Not to mention David becoming a target for the worst elements of the Fae.

There’s really a lot going on here, and I’m only scratching the surface plot lines. It’s a sweet and engaging story with a tender romance that is born from David’s ability to see Alun’s true heart beneath the layers of emotional armor and his gruff and misshapen exterior. There’s the tiniest bit of heat, and a slow burn to reach it, but that was fine. I really enjoyed the mismatch of characters, and how David makes himself indispensable to Alun, and his clients. David’s got such a lovely and cheerful way about him, and yet he’s not a pushover. He stands up for so many people, and rolls with the waves of supernatural lore that he finds himself swimming within. There’s lots of comedic elements, and the pace was fantastic. I never felt like I was getting bored, because I constantly wondered: what’s coming next? From helping vampires survive their blood aversion, to teaching young dragons to hoard, David’s patient and caring attitude wins over everyone, including Alun, in time. Fun fact: Alun’s one of three brothers, and it looks like the other two will have their own love-story books in this new series. I’m looking forward to reading on!

Interested? You can find CUTIE AND THE BEAST on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
E.J. Russell writes romance in a rainbow of flavors — from M/F stories grounded in absurd contemporary reality to M/M tales splashed with the supernatural — but you can be sure that while the couple makes their way to HEA, they’ll never stray too far into the dark.

You can catch up with Ms. Russell on her website, Goodreads, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Authentic Love? Or, CLICKBAIT–Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M romance from EJ Russell. CLICKBAIT is an odd-couple interracial romance for two younger men who really need a strong connection.

clickbaitAbout the book:
After the disastrous ending of his first serious relationship, Gideon Wallace cultivated a protective — but fabulously shiny — outer shell to shield himself from Heartbreak 2.0. Besides, romance is so not a priority for him right now. All his web design prospects have inexplicably evaporated, and to save his fledgling business, he’s been compelled to take a hands-on hardware project — as in, his hands on screwdrivers, soldering irons, and needle-nosed pliers. God. Failure could actually be an option.

Journeyman electrician Alex Henning is ready to leave Gideon twisting in the wind after their run-ins both on and off the construction site. Except, like a fool, he takes pity on the guy and offers to help. Never mind that between coping with his dad’s dementia and clocking all the overtime he can finagle, he has zero room in his life for more complications.

Apparently, an office build-out can lay the foundation for a new relationship. Who knew? But before Alex can trust Gideon with the truth about his fragile family, he has to believe that Gideon’s capable of caring about more than appearances. And Gideon must learn that when it comes to the heart, it’s content — not presentation — that matters.

My Review:
I’m going to call this a redemption romance, because one of the main characters is a brilliant dope at Humans 1.0, and he learns how to interface well with others by the end.

Gideaon Wallace is a prima donna web content designer. He freelances web design, and has a knack for building tasteful, engaging content. Unfortunately, in his personal life he’s all about the flash, the appearance, and content isn’t always important. HE never dates a man more than twice, and most hardly get that much of his time. He’s cultivated close friendships with his two roomies, but one is moving out and the other’s really occupied with her family, of late, so he’s a bit lonely. And, when his freelance clients begin to delay on their contracts, Gideon’s in danger of not making his rent. He bids on a hardware install job, as a last-ditch effort to make a positive cash flow, and is almost disheartened to win it. Because it’s a bad job. And the contract is a rotten. If he doesn’t complete the installation in time for go-live in three weeks, he doesn’t get paid. And, he can only work certain hours of the day, due to access restrictions. Gideon is in big, big trouble.

Alex Henning. He’s a stand up man, who feels like he let his adoptive family down. While he was gallivanting around with a new beau instead of doing his assigned chores, his father fell off a ladder and had a severe head injury. No one has said that led to his dad’s early-onset dementia, but Alex is sure it played a big part. Though he’s thirty, Alex still lives at home. He’s a burly man, and is able to physically restrain his father when fits of rage take over. Being black, unlike his adoptive family, Alex’s father confuses Alex for a recollection of an old work mate named Hank. It’s a heartbreaking scenario, but they don’t want to commit him to an institution, because a good one is too expensive. And a bad one is too dismal. So Alex dedicates himself to earning as much money as he can to meet the family’s many bills.

Alex met Gideon a few years back at his younger sister’s, Lin’s, birthday party. Lin has spoken about her svelte roomie many times, and Alex has always been intrigued, but not in Gideon’s two-date policy. He wants a steady man, so he can build a family. But, when Gideon turns up on his jobsite, wholly unprepared for dealing with a fresh build-out, Alex strikes a bargain. Frazzled Gideon’s unable to refuse Alex’s help prepping and installing servers if he’s going to fulfill his ridiculous contract. Even if it means having THREE dates with the behemoth electrician. Gideon’s a bit of a priss, too, so dating a working class man is a hard blow for him. Especially when he finds the company boss so attractive.

I loved Alex, and all his overwhelming selflessness. He’s a good man, and he’s in a bad spot. The anguish of his home life is really severe, and I think readers who have ever had to manage care for a demetia patient will find his plight so relatable. Gideon, on the other hand, is arrogant, and snobby. He’s a self-involved hipster techgeek, but there’s substance behind that veneer, thank goodness. I really liked how he changed his tune, by working hard, and seeing Alex’s hard work. Plus, Alex is a surprising date. He’s not the rough-and-tumble man Gideon mistakes him for. And admitting his prejudices and took a lot of Gideon’s sharp edges off. I loved how he grew into being a stronger man, one who’s willing to invest deep relationships, and to be part of a family, even if it’s hard. Gideon hasn’t had the easiest life, and I loved how he reached out to his estranged father to cope–and got an even bigger surprise. While Gideon got an upgrade, Alex got a partner. And, unexpected help for his father–that made the whole family better. The ending is sweet, and there are some nice sexy moments, including jobsite shenanigans.

Interested? You can find CLICKBAIT on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and AllRomance. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

****GIVEAWAY****

Hop on over to my good friend Tammy at TTC Books and More who has some more deets about this book, and leave a comment there to be entered to win $25 in Riptide Books cash.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
E.J. Russell writes romance in a rainbow of flavors — from M/F stories grounded in absurd contemporary reality to M/M tales splashed with the supernatural — but you can be sure that while the couple makes their way to HEA, they’ll never stray too far into the dark.

You can catch up with Ms. Russell on her website, Goodreads, Facebook and twitter.