This is Not a Horror Movie by Sara Dobie Bauer

Emory Jones loves two things: horror movies and Connor Nichols.
For the past four years, Emory, Connor, and their families have vacationed side by side on Longboat Key, Florida. Eighteen-year-old Emory has pined for his neighbor from behind the covers of Stephen King books, but college boy Connor has never noticed him. Probably because Emory looks like Jack Skellington with good hair.
Emory anticipates another predictable summer of sunburn and disappointment. Instead, he ends up with a mystery on his hands when a beloved beach bum goes missing, and Connor volunteers to help with the search. Turns out it’s not just scary movie cops who are worthless, so the boys start an investigation of their own—leading them straight to an abandoned beach resort.
Despite the danger, Emory and Connor grow closer, but as Emory’s gay dreams start coming true, so do the horror movie tropes he so loves. Even though he knows that sex equals death in slasher flicks, Emory can’t keep his hands off the guy of his teenage dreams.
This is Not a Horror Movie is a 78,000-word new adult gay rom-com… with a monster.

There was so much to love about This is Not a Horror Movie. It was a grand mix of a sweet young romance, laced with humor and a touch of B-Movie campiness.

Emory was adorable. He was a little geeky and totally clueless about his growth-spurt turning into someone both girls and guys were staring at for reasons he didn’t quite understand. He had admired Connor from somewhat of a distance for years. His family knew all about his attraction to their yearly vacation neighbor, but since Connor was way out of his league, most likely straight and too reminiscent of the jocks at his school – Emory kept his feelings to himself. This was destined to be a summer of change though.

Both Emory and Connor were the kind of teenage boys that were refreshing to read about. They were far from perfect, but they were good, thoughtful, caring kids. The kind of kids who walked an older woman’s dog, or went in search of a homeless Vet – and put themselves on the line when they could have just turned away.

I also loved the family connections in This is Not a Horror Movie. They had their moments, like all families do, but both Connor and Emory’s families were super supportive. I also adored the twin connection between Liz and Emory.

Basically, This is Not a Horror Movie is the perfect vacation read, especially if you’re headed to the beach. 😉

Abstract Love by Sara Robie Bauer

Sam never expected to move back to Cleveland.
Donovan never expected to be attracted to a man.
Well, shit happens.
After high school, Sam Shelby moved to New York. Eight years later, he returns to Cleveland and lands a job at the best ad firm in town. It would be the perfect gig, if his boss weren’t such an ass.
After his wife leaves, Donovan Cooper questions everything. The arrival of a young, arrogant, gifted graphic designer at Donovan’s firm is the last straw.
Tempers flare over office gossip, and following a nasty argument and scathing kiss, Donovan flails away from heterosexuality while Sam struggles to keep his “no relationship” rule intact.
Despite ugly socks, fiery fights, and their best intentions to not fall in love, these bullheaded coworkers can’t deny their chemistry. Donovan seeks happiness while Sam seeks success, but is there room for more?

I’m really not sure how to write a review that would do this book justice. There were moments in Abstract Love that I wanted to scream. Moments that I wanted to cry (and yes there were tears.) Moments that I wanted to dole out hugs and moments that I wanted to stand up and cheer… To say that this book was emotional would be an understatement. But it was also a book that made me laugh more than once. It made me want to fix wrongs that had been done to both Sam and Donovan and even though their story came to a satisfying end in this stand alone book, it made me want to get to know them even better.

Basically, I fell in love with Sam immediately and Donovan eventually. Once you read their story, it’s easy to understand why that’s my initial reaction to this unlikely couple. Sam was one of those “bigger than life” characters. He was talented, charismatic and liked by pretty much everyone. There was so much more to him though. He didn’t exactly hide the pain of his past as much as he shoved it aside. It couldn’t help but define him though and as much as he didn’t want it to, that past was part of what brought him back to Cleveland.

Donovan was the polar opposite. He was feared in his workplace and for the most part given wide berth. Until Sam came along. In his defense, he did have good reason to be the jerk that we first meet at the beginning of their story. The more I got to know him, the more obvious it became that Sam needed Donovan as much as Donovan needed Sam. He wasn’t happy with his life and Sam wasn’t necessarily the answer to that happiness as he was the catalyst that helped him reach it for himself.

The supporting characters In Abstract Love were so much more than extra people thrown into the mix. Sam’s best friend Zen was amazing. And Monica not only kept Donovan straight at the office she caught on to the tension between Sam and Donovan before anyone else – regardless of how hard they tried to hide their attraction. Of course, there were also a few choice characters that were easy to hate although a couple came close to redeeming themselves near the end…

This is a story that I adored. Although it didn’t pack quite the emotional punch that We Still Live (another one of my Sara Dobie Bauer favorites) did for me, it was still a beautiful story of love, strength and hope… my favorite kind of love story. ❤

Handsome Death by Sara Dobie Bauer

I’m not hunting him; I’m protecting him.
At least, that’s what I tell myself.
In New York City, a beautiful creature like Tristan Clement should not be walking the streets alone, and I’m the perfect vampire to watch his back.
But what if keeping him safe isn’t enough anymore? What if I want to touch? And taste?
I need him. But I’ve never needed anyone.

In a world where paranormal creatures live amongst us and must follow certain laws, living life as a dangerous loner works for vampire Ethan. Inhabiting his gleaming apartment, wearing his designer suits, jetting around the world as a fanged killer-for-hire, Ethan does it all alone.
That is, until he literally runs into Tristan. Tristan, who is clearly trouble wrapped in skinny jeans and an oversized sweater. Tristan, with his shock of angelic blond curls. Tristan, who plays piano more beautifully than the old masters– and Ethan would know; he saw Beethoven.
Tristan is gorgeous, a little sassy, and irresistible. Also, Ethan is horrified to note, Tristan has no idea how incredibly tempting he is to things that go bump in the night.
Overcome by the urge to keep Tristan safe, Ethan begins to… well, stalk is such a strong word. What starts as an obsession quickly becomes something more, something that Ethan needs. And to his surprise, Tristan seems to need him, too…
This darkly romantic tale delivers steamy passion and a happily ever after. Be advised that Handsome Death includes explicit m/m content, stalking, mentions of past abuse, and graphic violence.

Honestly, Handsome Death wasn’t nearly as “dark” as I expected. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just that after reading Sara Dobie Bauer’s other vampire series, the Escape Trilogy (Escaping Exile, Escaping Solitude, Escaping Mortality) I was expecting a little more edge? Not that Ethan didn’t have some edge to him, because he did. It’s just that Tristan had a way of softening Ethan, which is mostly what Handsome Death is all about.

This book was told totally from Ethan’s POV. At first I wasn’t sure about him, or the story, but once he gave into his desire for Tristan, both his attitude and the story started to even out. I know that makes little sense, but it’s the best I can describe it. Ethan alone didn’t draw me into this story, but Ethan and Tristan together made it hard to put down. Ethan described Tristan as “cute” more than once, but the transformation that came over Ethan was even cuter at times. It was something that he didn’t even notice at first, but Tristan made him want to be a person/vampire.

The supporting characters were great, even though most of them came from those who were close to Tristan. His parents were adorable and his friends were just as loyal and protective as Ethan came to be. Tristan did a lot of growing in Handsome Death as well, mostly thanks to Ethan. They made each other see the best in each other and their devotion to each other was apparent to everyone who cared about them.

I seem to always walk away from a Sara Dobie Bauer book surprised in some way and Handsome Death was no exception. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for readers next.

We Still Live by Sara Dobie Bauer

Running from a scandal that ruined his life, Isaac Twain accepts a teaching position at Hambden University where, three months prior, Professor John Conlon stopped a campus nightmare by stepping in front of an active shooter.
When John and Isaac become faculty advisors for the school’s literary magazine, their professional relationship evolves. Despite the strict code of conduct forbidding faculty fraternization, they delve into a secret affair—until Simon arrives.
Isaac’s violent ex threatens not only their careers, but also John’s life. His PTSD triggered, John must come to terms with that bloody day on College Green while Isaac must accept the heartbreak his secrets have wrought.

This is one of those books that you walk away from wanting to delve right back into. *sigh*

Both John and Isaac had a history they were trying desperately to forget. They both had secrets. Isaac ran from his past and the destruction he felt responsible for. John couldn’t run from his past, but he tried to forget the day that changed everything. Not an easy thing to do when even total strangers consider you a hero. His close friends tried to shield him from most of it, but they couldn’t shield him from what was going on inside his own head.

This isn’t my first Sara Dobie Bauer read, but I’ve gotta say, it was definitely the most emotional. I felt so much for both of these men. They were both victims. Isaac did cause his own drama, but the fallout wasn’t his fault. John wasn’t at fault at all for the shooting that changed everything, but he was racked with guilt over everything he couldn’t do.

John and Isaac were the main focus of We Still Live, but there was so much more to this book. John obviously wasn’t the only one deeply affected by the events that took place on campus that day. Students, faculty, parents, family, even community members were left grieving. There’s no “right way” to grieve, but some obviously handled it better than others. There were some great characters and some not so great ones. Each one added to the story and their reactions made them even more real in a sense.

There are a lot of emotional triggers in We Still Live, but it’s also a story full of hope. It takes a stark look into some really tough issues and the reality is that not everything can be “fixed”, but things can get better with time – and most importantly, with support. This is definitely a book that I’ll be reading again.

A Lord to Love by Sara Dobie Bauer

During negotiations for a truce between the feuding Price and Morgan families, Lord John Morgan makes a shocking offer: he will give the Price family their land, in exchange for Harrison Price’s hand in marriage.
John has long been enamored with Harrison, the beautiful son of his late rival. Harrison is nineteen, inexperienced, and known for being cold and bitingly brilliant. The union seems impossible, but John is determined to win the affections of his young obsession.
Will the frigid Harrison concede, or will the object of John’s adoration leave him alone at the altar?

Short and sweet (under 50 pages), which made it a perfect in-between book.

It wasn’t exactly lacking, but I definitely wanted more when I was done. John and Harrison were kind of adorable, in stuffy, Lord-like way. It took a while, but John finally broke Harrison out of his wariness… as for the rest of the family?

Historical romance is not my go-to, but did enjoy spending time with John and Harrison. 😉

Escaping Mortality (Escape Trilogy #3) by Sara Dobie Bauer (Bout-of-Books Review)

Their ocean journey was successful, and Andrew and Edmund found an Elder just in time. As they wished, Edmund is now a vampire like Andrew. They have eternity together, but first, they must visit Edmund’s ailing mother in the English countryside with their flock of immortals, including the Elder, who has taken an ominous liking to his new creation.
When they arrive at Edmund’s family estate, his sick mother and her loathsome best friend await them. While ducking religious curses, Edmund struggles to harness an unexpected power gifted him by the Elder. Andrew fears for his beloved as Edmund becomes more and more monstrous—but vampires have always been monsters, haven’t they?
A battle is coming, for Edmund’s heart and his soul, and Andrew will lose neither. He escaped island exile and a near tragedy at sea to be with Edmund, the beautiful young sailor he loves. Andrew will do anything to keep Edmund by his side, but his most dangerous adversary may be Edmund himself.

I’ve loved this trilogy made up of novellas. Escaping Mortality was about 127 pages, but it wasn’t lacking at all. Although these short stories could have been contained in one volume, each one adds another layer to their relationship. Escaping Exile is the beginning for Andrew and Edmund. Escaping Solitude is their journey together toward an uncertain future and Escaping Mortality is the perfect ending (or continuation) of that journey. Each one, except for Escaping Mortality, ends in a bit of a cliff hanger, which adds to the suspense.

There’s a price to pay for Edmund’s immortality and although that’s kind of expected, it turns out to be much more than they bargained for. Neither Edmund or Andrew are angels by any stretch of the imagination, but their love for each other has kept most of their demons at bay. Since Edmund was turned, there’s a force that’s bringing out the worst in both of them and the Elder seems to know more than he’s willing to share. Unfortunately, the mysterious Elder isn’t the only danger the vampires and those they love have to worry about once they reach Edmund’s home. Needless to say, there was more than enough to keep the pages turning.

It’s always sad to say goodbye to characters that you’ve grown to like so much when a series ends, but the epilogue in Escaping Mortality more than made up for it. Enjoy!

 

Escaping Solitude (Escape Trilogy #2) by Sara Dobie Bauer

Ancient vampire Andrew escaped his tropical island exile with his beloved human sailor, Edmund. They’ve now returned to Andrew’s home in nineteenth-century New Orleans and must navigate not only their developing relationship—and equally haunted pasts—but also a hungry coven of vampires Andrew used to call friends.
Desperate to stay by Andrew’s side forever, Edmund examines the impressive coven library in search of an Elder, the only creature capable of turning Edmund. Although missing for centuries, Andrew believes an Elder must still survive somewhere; they just have to find him.
The search is put on hold when Edmund receives word that his mother is ill in London, and the lovers set off on an oceanic journey surrounded by new friends and old enemies. When things go terribly wrong, Edmund’s fragile human life hangs in the balance, and an Elder must be found or Andrew will be alone forever.

Escaping Solitude starts pretty much where Escaping Exile left off. Escaping Solitude is also just a little bit longer, but not by much. Regardless of it’s length, the story isn’t lacking… The jury’s still out though on whether or not I’d rather just have one long book than these fairly short stories though… can you say cliff hanger?!?

The setting was a lot different in Escaping Solitude, which should mean that Edmund is safe, but Andrew still considers him vulnerable – and will until he’s turned. Having Edmund spend time with other vampires isn’t ideal, but the coven holds important resources that they need to find an Elder.

Readers learn more about Andrew and his “family” in Escaping Solitude. We also learn about Edmund’s family and even though Andrew doesn’t understand Edmund’s loyalty to his mother, he finds a way to get him to his mother when she falls ill.

The book description pretty much covers the rest… Did I mention that this book ends in a cliff hanger? Trust me, it’s worth mentioning again. I should probably suggest that you just wait until all three books are released before starting the Escape Trilogy, but if you’re like me and just can’t wait… consider yourself warned…

Escaping Exile (Escape Trilogy #1) by Sara Dobie Bauer

Andrew is a vampire from New Orleans, exiled to a tropical island in the 1800s as punishment for his human bloodlust. During a storm, a ship crashes off shore. After rescuing a sailor from the cannibals native to the land, Andrew becomes fascinated with his brilliant, beautiful new companion, Edmund.
Edmund is a British naturalist who has sailed the world seeking new species. Intrigued by creatures that might kill him, immortal Andrew is this scientist’s dream—but so is making his way back home. Edmund will fight to survive, even while wrapped in the arms of a monster.
As light touches and laughter turn to something much more passionate, the cannibals creep ever closer to Edmund. Can the ancient vampire keep his human alive long enough to escape exile and explore their newfound love, or will Andrew’s bloodlust seal his own doom?

You know the story’s gonna be a good one when the lesser of two evils is a blood thirsty vampire. Escaping Exile wasn’t a very long story at less than 100 pages, but it wasn’t lacking.

If anyone was meant to be stranded on a deserted island with a vampire and a village of cannibals, it would be thrill seeker Edmund. He was totally intrigued by Andrew, who was finding it harder and harder to resist Edmund – but not in the way he expected.

Escaping Exile had plenty of danger, action and suspense as well as heat between Edmund and Andrew. Things took an interesting turn by the end of this story, and since this is the beginning of a trilogy, I’m hoping that their adventures continue with the next two books.