Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Release Day Reviews: Mixed Signals by Cooper West (Giveaway)

Title: Mixed Signals
Author: Cooper West
Release Date: February 26, 2019
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 228

Devastatingly handsome pilot Frank Sheldon is doing his best to avoid his inheritance of money, charm, and good looks by rebuilding his life on his own terms after being discharged from the Air Force just before the repeal of DADT. When he unexpectedly meets the eccentric geek Benjamin Kaplan, sparks don’t quite fly, despite Benjamin’s obvious interest. Frank is not one to back down from a challenge, but what does any of that have to do with his sister’s campaign for governor, or the muckraking political website attacking her opponent, who just happens to be Frank’s unlamented, very closeted ex-boyfriend? It’s hard to fall in love when all you are getting is mixed signals.

First Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, July 2011.

4 Stars! 

Intelligent, contemporary writing, which was refreshing. But, there's a LOT (maybe a bit too much) happening in the story...

... which made me stop-start after a while. It was worth persisting with, however, as it's one of those tales where bad guys get what they're due and you can do a satisfying fist pump.

This was a good intro to this author, and I was impressed by how 'happening right now', how fresh and sort-of-relevant her writing is. OK, the characters are fictional and moneyed, but I suspect they have a lot of similarities with politicians and rich people in the US. At least this lot were a decent bunch, lol, unlike those in a certain house that's white and who seem to be making the news for all the wrong reasons in the last couple of years.

I thought the quality of the writing made it sexy, but I didn't love the leads. Frank (utterly boring name) was more than a brain and good looks, but at 34yo, and with independent wealth and a career, he still felt far too much under his family's thumb and far too manipulated by more than one of them. I admired how he loved and was ready to support his family, but he didn't have any conviction about their needs/wants/desires and yet he still went along with it for an easy life. He got forced into things it was clear he'd rather not do, but he did see that everyone did want what was best for him, so when a baddie from his past, who might have gone ahead and done not-so-good things politically and ethically, ended up in a situation where he might get his comeuppance, Frank went along with it. That bit sort of had me cheering, as too many times the moneyed bad guys get away with it, but I think Frank was very, very conflicted about things and about the morals of what he was doing.

Benjamin (utterly brilliant name, borrowed from my son!) was a surprise. I expected introverted, penniless, unsocial nerd but got super-brain guy who had a heart, though his social skills were really lacking. But, the author didn't go with any tropes and make him a loud mouth without filter. No, she had him put that super-brain to work to do good, even if he didn't get to directly benefit from his... endeavours. He was a kind of social justice warrior, but not a la Wikileaks, and he seemed to have his own sort of integrity. He scored points for me because of what and who he was to his sister, Rachel, who'd had a troubled past and life, and most of it through no fault of her own. For an older brother who was also her guardian, he listened to her, loved her, supported her dreams and he protected her and didn't knock her when she messed up, which had happened more than once. And, he protected others who could have gone on to suffer her fate, and some who had, unfortunately. And good on him for not being scared of the guys with all the power and social standing. I wish I had his brain and IT skills!

However, I didn't believe in the guys as a couple, but I did enjoy the slightly tongue-in-cheek/deliberately mocking/faux-cutthroat glimpse into US politics. OMG, you have to be obsessed and obsessive to want to be in that arena, but I think the author did well to give her characters some balance. Also, I found Frank's father to be a wonderful surprise. I won't spoil it for you, but to find someone older who's so with it, so supportive of his gay/bi (it was kind of hinted at that Frank was bi, but the author didn't really go there with it) son, and when daddy dearest had the chance for a bit of revenge on the bad guy who hurt his youngest, boy did he embrace the plan. Actually, he masterminded it!!

The ending seemed a bit rushed for me, as I'd been enjoying the machinations, the dastardly plotting and for once, outing someone didn't quite seem the evil thing it normally would be; it was in context and the 'outee' deserved it. So, so much. The guys end up in a great place for them, but I didn't quite see, read or believe in them as a couple, as they barely spent any time together in the tale as a couple and there was a betrayal that one struggled with in terms of his conscience, and yet the one 'betrayed' (by omission, not by lie) got over said betrayal too easily. I didn't feel as if it was a betrayal and it seemed as if the guys weren't really portrayed as being convinced it was a betrayal, either, but still, the word was used.

Still, it was a clever tale, made sexy by its cleverness and contemporary feel. I'd certainly read more from this author.

ARC courtesy of Bayou Book Junkie and Dreamspinner Press for my reading pleasure.

4 stars

I enjoyed this opposites-attract story! Benjamin and Frank were completely different but they just worked. While I love sexy abs and toned butts in my character descriptions, I really love when I can read a romance where one of the characters is not your typical perfectly put-together and in-shape MC.

There were many references to Frank basically being the most attractive man in town so I liked that he was paired with someone on the more 'normal' scale. Benjamin was exactly how I imagined a computer nerd to be with his messy hair, plain clothes and softer bod and I appreciated that!! He was also unapologetically himself and was a bit of a firecracker when he needed to be.

Both MCs were very authentic and it was easy to connect to them because of how well we got to know them. The side story gave the book just a little bit of angst but it was not over the top and I liked how everything panned out. The side characters were also great and just as interesting as Benjamin and Frank. This was a first-time author for me and I will definitely be reading more from them in the future!

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by Dreamspinner Press for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***

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  1. The most recent and quite memorable would be A Way with You by Lane Hayes

  2. For the short or long story debate it'll depend on my mood, the story and writing, especially the latter if I'm not familiar with the author. There has been many instances when, because of the amazing story and writing, a 200+ paged book felt like a short story.

  3. Hmm the most recent I read is Taxes and Tardis by N.R. Walker and Logan was super cute and Finn from Victoria Sue's Enhanced Series

  4. Some of my favourite books featuring nerdy characters are "Why I Love Greeks by TA Chase and "If I Must" by Amy Lane.

  5. Piper Scott and Virginia Kelly's dragon shifter series has the most adorably nerdy character with Harry.

  6. I’d say CS Poe’s Snow and Winter series and Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne & Griffin are among them. Seb always struck me as rather nerdy, Whyborne too for all his magical power. Lol.

  7. Here's my short list.
    Smoking Hot(Geeks and Dragons 2)by Fel Fern
    Save the Date by Annabeth Albert & Wendy Qualls
    #gaymers series by Annabeth Albert
    My Boyfriend's Back by Elliot Cooper
    Comfort Food by Sierra Riley
    How to Be a Normal Person by T.J. Klune
    The Lifeguard and the Geek by Jamie Urban
    Nothing Casual by Ana J. Phoenix
    Love for the Cold-Blooded Or: The Part-Time Evil Minion's Guide to Accidentally Dating a Superhero by Alex Gabriel