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  • Sweet romance - with dogs!

    Trigger warnings: casual homophobia, casual racism After Worth Waiting For, I was prepared to read this book, the second in the series, with a box of tissues. Thankfully, it was a lot less emotionally wrenching than the first, though it was still delightfully angsty. “’It’s different here.’ Painfully so. The not-rightness was hard to explain, but Lito tried anyway. ‘I’m the only man at work. Also the only non-white person, the only non-straight one, and the only one who’s ever lived within reasonable shopping distance of an IKEA. Everyone’s been nothing but nice, but it keeps feeling like the old ‘bless his heart’ kind of Southern nice, you know? Like they’re not sure what to make of the strange gay decorator so they’re just faking it.'” Lito is out of the closet but struggling to find his place in rural Black Lake, Alabama after a promotion that required him to move from Atlanta. He’s worked his way from night clerk to head of design at a family chain of hotels, and as part of his promotion, he’s refreshing the chain’s Alabama location with local flavor. Dave is, well, just plain adorable. He’s the kind of person who signs his texts as if they were from him and his dogs. He’s lived in Black Lake all his life – except for his military tours, and works for the town doing maintenance, as well as helping run the local volunteer search and rescue team. When they meet for the first time, they’re both initially attracted to each other, so Dave invites Lito a practice for the SAR team he’s a part of. It takes time for them to realize the other is interested, and decide to pursue a relationship. “Figured for my first time seeing your house it’d probably be a bit much for me to just show up at the door and be like ‘Wow, like your place, I brought a bottle of wine and another of lube, what’s for dinner?’” At first, their relationship seemed more of the “only other single gay guy in the entire town”-type, but as they spend more time with each other, the chemistry built up. Unlike the previous book, both Lito and Dave are out, though they’ve both had vastly different experiences as gay men in the south. Lito’s family kicked him out as a teen when they found out he was gay, and part of the impetus behind his initial move from Miami to Atlanta was to get away from those memories. Dave’s family is much more supportive, the sort of big boisterous happy closeness that Lito remembers with regret and wishes he could have from his family. Lito’s also got some of that stereotypical gay fabulousness – the first time he meets Dave at a pet store, he’s wearing a tight pink shirt and rainbow earring. Dave, on the other hand, as a built, white ex-Army guy, easily passes as straight, to the point where some of his acquaintances forget he’s gay. If you can’t guess, it’s these differences, and their inability to reconcile them, that cause a rift in their relationship. I especially enjoyed the volunteer search and rescue part. I have a soft spot for romance books with dogs, so this was right up my alley. I loved reading about the various training aspects – for both the people and dogs! – and also got a kick out of the school talk that Dave and Lito gave at Dave’s nephew’s school. Overall, I enjoyed the book, and I’ll definitely be picking up the next in the series! If you’re interested in a sweet dog-filled romance, this book is for you! I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Contemporary Romance

    Worth Searching For by Wendy Qualls Heart of the South #2 Misfit –doubtless Happy in his skin – definitely Looking for love – debatable Carlos “Lito” Apaza moves from Atlanta to small town Alabama with a pay raise and increased responsibility BUT he has no idea how or when he will make friends. As he walks through a pet shop in Black Lake he meets a tall manly drool-worthy male. They chat a bit and Dave Schmidt ends up asking Lito and his dog Spot to join the dog-rescue practice happening that week. Both men are attracted to one another but are not sure whether or not that attraction is reciprocated. There is a slow build to their relationship that is sweet and at times steamy. Their experiences with family, friends and colleagues have varied but neither is “in the closet” and they really begin to care for one another. Well, as with all good romances, there is a problem that causes a rift and yet neither can get the other out of his mind. How they get back together is a delight to read that left me quite happy they managed to work things out. The supporting characters – human and canine – made me wonder who might show up in a future romance in this series and there was more than one that I would like to know more about, that’s for sure! This is my first book by this author but I will gladly read more as they are available. Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books – Lyrical Shine for the ARC – this is my honest review 4-5 Stars

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