Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Bundle Review: CalPac Crew by Christopher Koehler

Title: CalPac Crew
Series: CalPac Crew
Author: Christopher Koehler
Release Date: August 4, 2017
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 1009

Dreamspinner Press

The men of the CalPac rowing team might not be looking for love, but love never needed an invitation. In Rocking the Boat, Coach Nick Bedford is trying his best to ignore his attraction to rower Morgan Estrada, but Morgan isn’t afraid to push for what he wants… until an anonymous complaint could destroy everything. In Tipping the Balance, Drew St. Charles is juggling one too many jobs, and he finds help in contractor Brad Sundstrom, but Brad has to make a choice: come out and support Drew or stay hidden in the closet.

In Burning It Down, after an injury, fire battalion chief Owen Douglas joins the adaptive rowing program and meets veterinarian Adam Lennox. But when Owen’s abusive ex returns, Adam has to decide if he’s willing to leave Owen to protect him or risk their lives to stand with him. And in Settling the Score, Stuart Cochrane and Philip Sundstrom’s relationship seems perfect, until pressure threatens to make everything cave in. Can Philip help Stuart while dealing with his own problems?

Rocking the Boat 

4 Stars!

Nick and Morgan

What I Loved: I love a bit of angst while two MC's are trying to feel things out and get together. Luckily, though, it wasn't overly done and while this was by no means instalove, we do get a good amount of the story dedicated to Nick and Morgan's romance/relationship. I loved that they were very natural with each other and it was easy to look past the age gap and the fact that Nick was his coach.

What I Liked: I really enjoyed the secondary characters we were introduced to throughout the story. Drew, Nick's best friend, was funny and snarky and quite obviously a wonderful sounding board for Nick. Stuart was a bit of the same, he had a snarky attitude but he was fun and easy to love. Then we have the insufferable Brad. Brad is loud, obnoxious and a bit inappropriate. However, he isn't a villain and it was easy to just except his antagonistic attitude as par for the course.

What I Didn't Like: First let me just say that I find it kind of disrespectful on Morgan's part that he seemed to refuse to see that Nick was risking everything for him. If Morgan asked why one more time after Nick explained how much trouble he could get into for dating since Nick was a coach (a person of power) and Morgan was his student. If you can't understand this, then you aren't mature enough to be in the relationship. Add to that the fact that Morgan was a bit entitled (young, PFLAG parents, financially comfortable and out and proud) and I found myself getting more and more frustrated with him.

Tipping the Balance

3.5 Stars!

Drew and Brad

What I Loved: I'm not going to lie but I actually loved Brad. Yes he, was far from perfect and had a lot of growing up to do but he was sincere and real and endearing. I hurt for him, growing up how he did and having everyone thinking he wasn't worth much. How could he ever really excel when he was constantly being told he was a failure.

What I Liked: I liked that crew wasn't a major part of the story yet they were able to pull it into the story in a very natural way. I'm not very knowledgeable about rowing and (please don't hate me for saying this) not really entertained by it enough to read about it.

I mostly liked Drew but he lost a few points with the way he behaved in the last third of the book. I wanted to love him but in the end, I think I was on Brad's side more. Brad needs some good people in his corner.

What I Didn't Like: I hate when I feel embarrassed for a character and that happens a lot with Brad's character. He was like a big oaf sometimes and I hated that. I understood his character wasn't a genius but sometimes I felt like he was more of a caricature than a main character.

I've never been in the closet (I'm a heterosexual female) so I've never had to come out of the closet. My opinion on this may not be valid but I have to bring it up because it drove me crazy. When a gay MC decides he's going to pursue a man who by all accounts is straight, he has to realize there are going to be some hiccups. When he begins dating that man and knows the man is struggling with the idea that his sexuality is now not so cut and dry, he needs to have some patience. It's not fair to get angry at the person for not jumping up and down doing cartwheels screaming "hey world, I'm gay!" Doesn't everyone deserve the opportunity to come out at their own pace? More than that, though, why does it have to be all or nothing? Why has no one even mentioned the fact that maybe it's so hard because the character isn't gay but is in fact bisexual (guess what? It's a real thing)? Maybe he's having a difficult time with it all because he doesn't understand everything, maybe he's still feeling attraction towards females and it's confusing him. Or maybe, just maybe, he's scared. Scared that his whole life is going to change. Scared that the few friends he had will turn their backs on him, that the family he loves will shut him out (aren't there millions of people who experience this around the world?). Maybe he's scared to admit that his entire life he's believed one thing and all of the sudden something he considered fundamental about himself is not true, does that mean everything else about him might be wrong or questionable, too?

I can not stand this scenario in books. Now, I understand that all of this may get old and tiring, not to mention stifling after a long time but I am talking about this happening with a short timeframe, a few months at most and it's specific to when one of the characters has developed feeling towards a member of the same sex for the first time with the other MC.

Drew drove me insane about Brad coming out, about him going out and being demonstrative with his affections. Yes, it would have been great if it could've just happened but pressuring Brad knowing he was so messed up in his mindset, his thinking and frankly, his emotions seemed like a really crappy thing to do.

Burning It Down

2.75 Stars

Owen and Adam

Sorry, but this one did absolutely nothing for me. I tried to get into it but I just didn't care for either character. Owen turned me off in Tipping the Balance when he very unprofessionally engaged in a rendezvous with Brad while working a suspected arson. I found it ridiculous and unbelievable and those feelings carried over into this story.

I always have a soft spot for abuse victims and feel uncomfortable having to say I didn't care for them but unfortunately, that happened here. Adam never quite grabbed my attention.

Settling the Score

4 Stars!

Stuart and Phillip

What I Loved: I loved that Phillip seemed so comfortable and confident in his own skin. It didn't come off as if it had to do with money but more to do with just not caring what people outside of those he cared about thought. He was blunt when it was needed and tender and sincere when the time called for it. I didn't always like the way he spoke as if he were 70 instead of 30 but I loved him nonetheless. His character intrigued me from Tipping The Balance and I'm glad we got his story.

What I Liked: I Liked the epilogue. It was sweet to see Stuart and Phillip and their little rag tag family.

What I Didn't Like: the thing I disliked that jumped out the most in this story was the way Phillip spoke. Ugh! It didn't even come close to feeling natural. Using words like Beau and Strapping Fellow. It pushed me right out of the story and had me rolling my eyes.

Stuart got on my nerves a bit with his adamant dislike of people with money. He seems to act as if everyone who has money is out to humiliate him. He has a boyfriend with money who likes to do things like go out to nice restaurants and wear nice clothing. He doesn't rub his money in Stuart's face and he's not trying to "keep" Stuart. So Stuart needed to just relax a little.

***Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by Dreamspinner Press for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.***

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