Camp by L.C. Rosen

I want to begin this review by saying that I have been looking forward to this book since it was announced because I’ve spent seven summers at camp as a camper/counselor and now my oldest goes away to camp too. With summer camp being cancelled for the year, I was looking forward to a camp story even more.

Randy has been going to Camp Outland for queer teens for years, but he wants things to be different: Randy wants to catch the attention of Hudson, a fellow camper, but Hudson only likes straight-acting guys, and that’s not Randy. But it could be, right? Randy spent the entire school year formulating a plan, and he shows up at camp as “Del”, who is totally not into nail polish and musicals and all the things that Randy likes.

And the plan works! Hudson notices Del right away and he doesn’t even realize that Del is the same kid he’s been going to camp with for four years, but as the summer progresses, Randy is spending all his time playing sports and doing ropes course challenges instead of being in the musical with his friends, and he begins to wonder if all the sacrifices he’s making are worth it.

As a veteran camper, I remember the intensity of summer romances, so I can empathize with Randy’s pining for Hudson, but he’s changing his entire personality for another boy and missing out on all the things that he loves—and more importantly, by doing this, he’s not being true to himself. That said, I truly understand why he would want to do something that drastic.

Camp provides an interesting retrospective on masc4masc culture, and how the attitude is already evident among 16-year-old kids. The campers might all have a place on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, but there’s already a division among the returning campers; they choose to live in separate bunks, they sit at different dining tables, and they don’t even interact at group activities. However, Randy chooses to live in the “drama cabin” with this theatre friends, so some of the sporty kids end up sitting with the drama kids, and this leads to new friendships.

In Rosen’s book Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts), he used the advice column medium to impart a lot of useful sex-ed information to the readers. In Camp, he uses a weekly camp program to share queer history with the readers. I love the way that both of these devices were blended seamlessly into the narrative.

I would absolutely recommend Camp. It captures the magic of camp perfectly. Randy is such a sweetheart, and he certainly learns a lot over the course of the book. I am already looking forward to Rosen’s next book.

To Catch an Earl by Kate Bateman

Alex and Emmy first met at a masquerade ball several years prior to the main events of the book, and Alex has been thinking about the mysterious young woman with the unique scent ever since that night.

Now, Alex is working as a Bow Street Runner, along with his friends, and Emmy is the elusive jewel thief that he’s trying to catch, so a romance between these two personalities seems impossible.  

The irony of the situation is that Alex and Emmy encounter each other socially in addition to the cat-and-mouse game they’ve been playing. Naturally, the lines between these two worlds begins to blur as the stakes increase.

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Finding Joy by Adriana Herrera

Dominican-American Desta Walker has finally returned to Ethiopia, where his family lived for a few years when he was a small boy, and later, where his father died.

He meets Elias through his job, and the two hit it off right away. But being gay is still criminalized, so any sort of relationship has to be clandestine.

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Just Like That by Cole McCade

Book Info:

Title: Just Like That

Author: Cole McCade

Series: Albin Academy, #1

Length: 320 pages

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Imprint: Carina Press (Carina Adores)

On-Sale: June 30, 2020

Format: Trade Paperback *ebook and audio formats also available!

Price: $14.99 U.S. 

ISBN: 9781335146458

Book Description: Summer Hemlock never meant to come back to Omen, Massachusetts.

But with his mother in need of help, Summer has no choice but to return to his hometown, take up a teaching residency at the Albin Academy boarding school—and work directly under the man who made his teenage years miserable.

Professor Fox Iseya

Forbidding, aloof, commanding: psychology instructor Iseya is a cipher who’s always fascinated and intimidated shy, anxious Summer. But that fascination turns into something more when the older man challenges Summer to be brave. What starts as a daily game to reward Summer with a kiss for every obstacle overcome turns passionate, and a professional relationship turns quickly personal.

Yet Iseya’s walls of grief may be too high for someone like Summer to climb…until Summer’s infectious warmth shows Fox everything he’s been missing in life.

Now both men must be brave enough to trust each other, to take that leap.

To find the love they’ve always needed…

Just like that.

In Just Like That, critically acclaimed author Cole McCade introduces us to Albin Academy: a private boys’ school where some of the world’s richest families send their problem children to learn discipline and maturity, out of the public eye.

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Axel’s Pup by Kim Dare

I first heard about Axel’s Pup when my Twitter friend Holly mentioned it, rather fittingly, in a tweet about Best Books No One Knows About. I looked it up, saw that it was available via Audible Escape, and downloaded it immediately.

Almost as soon as I finished listening to all 20 hours and 40 minutes, I went back and purchased the Kindle edition of Axel’s Pup and my own copy of the audiobook.

Axel is the leader of the Black Dragons Motorcycle Club and he also owns the Dragon’s Lair pub where he and his friends spend most of their time. The Dragon’s Lair also serves as a BDSM for the queer community.

Needless to say, Axel is surprised when clean-cut young Bayden shows up on an expensive motorcycle. He dismisses the boy as a rich kid. But of course, appearances are deceiving.

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The Tutor by Bonnie Dee

I’ve had The Tutor on my list for a long time, and I finally listened to the Audible edition a couple of months ago. Once again, I am woefully behind with my non-ARC reviews, so I only now getting around to writing down my thoughts.

Graham has scammed his way into a tutoring job at a manor house, and he can tell that something is “off” from the moment he arrives. His two pupils, twin boys, run wild, and one of them doesn’t speak anymore.

Graham certainly has his work cut out for himself, and then there’s the issue of the enigmatic Sir Richard, the boy’s father, who is haunted by the past and reluctant to let anyone get close to him, especially not another man.

And what would a good gothic romance be without a ghost?

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Seven Summer Nights by Harper Fox

A couple of months ago, I ended doing a joint reading of Seven Summer Nights with my Twitter friend Vicky because the book was on both of our TBR lists.

Rufus was once a promising archaeologist, but he has returned to England in relative disgrace, and is obligated to take a commission examining a church in Droyton Parva, a small village in Sussex.

Archie is the local vicar, and he’s surprised to see such a prominent archaeologist assigned to his little project, but he’s even more surprised by Rufus.

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Two Rogues Make a Right by Cat Sebastian

I have been waiting for this book ever since hints were dropped at the end of A Gentleman Never Keeps Score almost two years, but I can assure you that it was 100% worth the wait.

Will Sedgwick and Martin Easterbrook have been friends for their entire lives. Their paths diverged at some point, but as the story begins, Will has essentially kidnapped Martin and brought him to recuperate in an abandoned gamekeeper’s cottage. At first, Martin is quite ill, but Will manages to bring him back to good—well, decent—health.

So, there they are, living together in a small cottage. There is plenty of time to reacquaint themselves with the men they have become, and of course, to acknowledge the feelings that have always been there.

Did I mention that there’s only one bed?

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Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

I have always loved watching Olympic gymnastics, so I was excited about this book. It’s a little bittersweet, in that the Tokyo Olympics actually take place in 2020 as scheduled, but with the way publishing works, I’m sure this isn’t the only book set in 2020 that makes no mention of the pandemic and/or the postponement of the Games.

Avery Abrams spent most of her life training to be an Olympic gymnast, but a poor showing at the 2012 Trials ended that goal. The next decade was a series of ups and downs that ends with her football player boyfriend (think TB12 circa 2004) dumping her.

Avery moves back to her small town in Massachusetts and gets a job at her hometown gym, working alongside Ryan Nicholson, who she totally had a crush on back in the day. They’re both training Hallie, a sixteen year old gymnast who has Olympic dreams of her own.

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Her Lady’s Honor by Renée Dahlia

Lady Eleanor “Nell” St. George has returned to England from France after The Great War, but before she returns home, she needs to stop in Wales to return Tommy—her captain’s horse—to his home. She does not receive the warm welcome she expected; the competent captain she worked alongside in her veterinary duties has become callous and bitter. Nell intended to drop Tommy off and return to her own home, but she feels compelled to stay.

Beatrice Hughes is the captain’s oldest daughter, and her family has experienced unspeakable tragedy—their three oldest sons died during the war, and while the family patriarch has always been harsh, he is even worse now that he has come home. Bea is drawn to the elegant Nell, and doesn’t understand why she insists on staying at the farm now that Tommy has been returned.

The romance, however, is shadowed by another tragedy: the disappearance of Bea’s mother. I thought this mystery part was very well done, and while the resolution was not unexpected, it still came as a shock when the details finally fell into place.  

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