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M/M Romance Reviews by Maybedog

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Honesty and Artifice
S.H. Allan
S.H. Allan
G.S. Wiley, Rowan McAllister, Dawn Douglas, Stephen Osborne, Anna Martin, Elizabella Gold, K. Lynn, Eva Clancy, Rhidian Brenig Jones, Anna Butler, Caitlin Ricci, S.H. Allan, Rob Rosen, River Clair, Nico Jaye, A.C. Valentine
Dealing With the Dead - Toni Griffin This review is a little random with good things mixed in with the not so good things.

Cute story, lots of one guy taking care of the other guy because of something happening to him. Liked the world and the fact that some pieces were just mentioned in passing (like vampire and witches) even though they weren't particularly relevent to the story. This made the world seem more fully fleshed out. They never explain why ghost raising has to be after dark, either, and there's a scene where something happens that raises ghosts that it's not clear it's dark, either.

I LOVE that this takes place in Australia and not in a huge well-known city, either. This was very refreshing.

I wasn't impressed with the women at all. Mom had no powers, and did the cooking, and had been a waitress. They referred to her as being the disciplinarian in a way but it was very traditional. "You're lucky your mother's not out here to hear this or there would be hell to pay." She was inside cooking when the rest of the family, 8 males, sat outside talking. Only the guest, Noah, offered to help. Two women at the beginning were rude and bitchy. At the very end was a powerful character that had a gender neutral name who could have been female but no pronouns were used. My sister lives in Australia, though, in a big city, and says that roles are much more traditional there and that there's a lot more sexism than anywhere she or I have lived in the US and Canada. Granted, we grew up in very liberal Seattle and I lived in New York and then in Canada was in grad school which tends to be liberal.

At one point Jayden has nightmares that are odd and never explained.

Yet again there was an unnecessary extreme age difference. Had Jayden been even a couple of years older, the story still would have worked and it would have been more reasonable to me.

The family was great and the brothers' reactions mostly believable. In fact, I think everyone was a little harsh on the brothers in the beginning when they were impolite to Jayden but there was a huge age difference, he was the youngest, and it felt like typical brother behavior. Not acceptable but not so horrific, either.

I liked that after Jayden was beyond exhausted at one point, before they had had sex, the author didn't make him suddenly fine enough to do so. I've seen other authors do this and it's really improbable.

The mating bond is described as feeling like electric currents running under the skin. That sounds like how a panic attack feels and doesn't sound remotely pleasant. The first time mates touch, it's like sticking your finger in an electric socket. Ow! I do like how different it is from the usual way fantasy does these things.

The book was quite sweet. I was worried at first because one of Noah's earliest thoughts was that Jayden would "look absolutely gorgeous underneath him" which doesn't sound romantic. But that was the only time. The rest was very sweet, if a bit fast and unbelievable and not a lot backing up anything but the physical attraction. I excused it with the idea of true mates.

The writing was a little stilted in the beginning, although that improved dramatically. I find that is often the case with books. It's hard to get a story started.

This was a sweet line I thought, although a bit on the controlling side:

"You need to live with me so I can hold you every night when we fall asleep and I can wake up every morning to your beautiful eyes."

There was a bit of telling not showing, like after an important scene Jayden tells Noah what he had been thinking, rather than having us feel it with him. At one point Jayden overhears a conversation (pretending to be asleep which is dishonest and bothers me) which would have worked just as well with our being in Noah's head and hearing his thoughts as he's talking.

I noticed that the author was good with being aware of the physical space. Like this minor spoiler: One person's arm was injured and he rolled onto his side to ask the other person to hold him. The person was holding his good hand. They never said what side the man who was hurt was laying on, but obviously he wouldn't roll onto his bad arm. So the healthy person walked around the bed to climb in with him. That's the kind of detail so many books get wrong.

Funny little irrelevant side: There is a character named Eric Benson. I once worked with and was friends with a fun gay guy with the same name.

My biggest issue was that this needed to be twice as long. There needed to be more development between the characters, a better feel for who Noah was as a person, why they loved each other so much. (You don't have to immediately fall in love with someone you're bonded with in this world.) I wanted the danger scene to be longer, I wanted to be in Noah's head during it, too.

This happens at the very end but you know it's coming from the first 25%: I wanted to see the bonding ceremony at the end.

Overall, it was a good enjoyable read.

3.5 rounded up to 4 because I think it would have been even higher if it had been twice the length.