Friday, August 10, 2018

Release Blitz: Cort—Unbreakable by Felice Stevens (Reviews, Excerpt + Giveaway)

Title: CortUnbreakable
Series: Man Up #4
Author: Felice Stevens
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance
Release Date: August 10, 2018


I spent years waiting for someone who never put me first.
He took my love, took me for granted.
Took my heart.
Now I’m on my own.
Living life my way.
The crowd only sees my smile.
Never my loneliness and pain.
I need someone to need me.
When I meet another lost soul my friends try to warn me.
He’s a liar.
A user.
He’s all that and more.
He’s everything I’ve ever wanted.

I’m king of my world.
Then it all comes crashing down.
My secrets are exposed.
I’m cut off from my family.
Unrecognizable from the man I used to be.
Barely surviving, living day-to-day and out of control.
Nothing to hold on to.
I let go and fall so far there's no way up.
Until a cowboy reaches into my darkness and brings me back to the light.
With him I can breathe.
I can be who I am. 
Who he needs.
He gives me hope
To find myself.
To find love.

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“How long have you lived in New York?”
“Over a year.”
“What made you come all the way out here?” In one of our earlier brief conversations he’d mentioned being from Texas. “Were you really a cowboy?”
A grin crossed his face as he tossed a few chips into his mouth. “Yep. I was a real cowboy. My daddy put me on a horse before I could walk. Rode my first bull when I was sixteen and got two broken ribs when he threw me. Mean fucker.” He snickered and took a drink.
“So,” I prodded. “What made you leave?” Part of Cort’s charm was his boyish innocence. His type helped little old ladies across the street and adopted abandoned puppies. I couldn’t imagine him angry, disillusioned, or hopeless.
The smile stretched thin. “I wanted to see what else there was outside of my small town.”
“And you picked so far away? Why not a big city in Texas, like Dallas or Houston?”
“I’m gonna get a beer. You want one?”
Oh, thank God. “Please.” Each day the need built up inside like a vicious beast, eating away at me, and I did whatever I could to soothe it. I’d become an expert at shoplifting from bodegas. The key was to always buy something, even if only a candy bar. Then they rarely suspected you had a bottle tucked into your underwear.
He handed me a beer from the six-pack he brought over, and I drank half of it down before he had a chance to sit. It spread through me, its beautiful coldness numbing the throb of emptiness. I finished it off and set it on the table. Cort had a strange expression on his face.
“Looks like you needed that.”
“I did.” One beer did very little for me now. I’d spent my entire twenties in a haze of vodka, fueled by cocaine and uppers, spending my trust fund as if the money was water. When the faucet turned off, the money dried up, I’d had to replace the Ketel One with Budweiser and wean myself off the drugs. Mostly.
“Want another?”
I nodded, trying like hell to keep my hands from trembling but failing as I snatched the can from him. It went down even easier than the first, and I knew I should stop and not guzzle it, but I couldn’t help myself. Sitting here with Cort in this tiny apartment, eating a sandwich off a paper plate, was a slap-in-the-face reminder of everything I’d lost. I needed this to forget.
The second beer hit me hard, a combination of nerves and little else in my stomach except that sandwich. I pushed aside the fear over what Cort might expect for giving me a place to stay tonight. I knew he’d want something. Everyone did. No one did anything for anyone out of the goodness of their heart.
The room spun, and I leaned back, the can slipping out of my hand.
Whoa. Maybe you better stop there.” The sofa dipped next to me under Cort’s weight as he put a knee down to catch the almost empty can before it fell to the floor. His hand touched mine, and it was warm. The warmest thing to touch me in years.
The last thing I remember was saying to him, “You’re a nice guy. Stay away from me.” Then all went dark.

4 Stars

I didn’t read Oren’s story, which is where we meet Harlan and witness his hateful ways, so while I didn’t see it first hand, I think still I got a good look at what life was like for the people Harlan tormented.

That being said, I’m not so sure Harlan was totally redeemed in my eyes. Did he see the error of his ways? Yes, eventually, but when we first meet Harlan here, he has been homeless for nearly a year, and all I saw in him was arrogance and greed. The streets, shelters and starvation didn't manage to humble him. It took meeting Cort for that to happen.

Harlan is also an alcoholic and a drug abuser and while he gets help, it’s mainly off page, so we don’t really see him struggle with that all too much. I thought maybe we could have delved a bit deeper into this portion of the storyline.

While, as you can see, I wasn’t crazy about Harlan, Cort was amazing. I loved him. He was sweet and caring. He sees the good in people that others miss and I loved that no matter how many people tried to warn him about Harlan’s intentions, myself included, he was never swayed. He stood up for what and who he believed in and that’s a trait I wish more people exhibited.

Cort and Harlan come from somewhat similar situations regarding their families, and while Cort left Texas and came to New York to live the life he wanted, on his terms, and to make something of himself, with all of Harlan’s money and education, the only thing he seemed to be able to make were excuses.

Together these two men set my iPad on fire. The chemistry between them was out of this world and the sex was hot, passionate and plentiful!

My biggest complaint about the story is, I’m not so sure that Harlan’s excuse for his past actions/ways worked for me. Frankly, and maybe this is a bit harsh, but I’m tired of stories with poor little rich boys, who have an Ivy League education, using their parents approval and money, or the fact that they’d lose it, as an excuse for bad behavior or hiding. Once you have the education, no one can take it from you, so I don’t know, maybe walk away and use that education to make a life YOU want for yourself and be true to yourself? But that’s just my opinion.

Still, even with all my complaints, this was an enjoyable read, filled with hurt-comfort, friendship, some redemption and love. Recommendable!
* Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. *

4.25 Stars! 

I loved Cort. He was an easy-going, sweet, supporting guy with an inner strength that others overlooked at times, thinking he was too naive or easy to take advantage of. And perhaps, in a sense, he was, but it was mostly because he was lonely, he wanted to believe there was good in others, including Harlan and while it could've blown up in his face, in this case, it worked out for him.

Now, Harlan. When I started this book and even while reading Frankie, I hadn't realized who Harlan was. In my defense, I read a lot of books, and since April 2017, I must have read over 400 books, when I realized who he was, I went to read my review of One Call Away and found this: "Now onto the villain, I absolutely hated Harlan with the fire of a thousand suns! He was awful and I would've liked to read more of the aftermath of his poor decisions." I guess I got my wish.

This might get a little long, but please, bear with me. I came into this book with some expectations, I thought homeless = vet or something along those lines. I didn't expect Harlan, ivy league lawyer/summa cum laude graduate from Princeton University and Yale Law School/trust fund brat/little rich boy extraordinaire to have fallen quite like that and really, that kind of bugged me more than a little, but I won't get into that. I wasn't sure if Felice Stevens will manage to redeem Harlan in my eyes like she did with Aaron from the previous book, who I adore, and she did and she didn't. She did, because I warmed up to him and ended up not hating him. He finally put some effort into getting sober, with Cort and James's help, and he was less of an ass, because, let's face it, before Cort started helping him he was the twatwaffle to end all twatwaffles. And she didn't, because his motives to start dulling his senses with alcohol and drugs and being a jerk to everyone and their mother, didn't quite work for me and neither did it work that he couldn't fall back onto his ivy league education when he needed it and instead ended up destitute and on the streets. Until Cort took him to his apartment and got him not one, but two jobs, he'd been unable to do anything for himself. Really? *shakes head*

Despite having gone through similar experiences in their love life, Cort and Harlan were a study in contrasts in how they dealt with it. Cort left everything behind and went to NYC, danced, had his streaming thing and helped Race at the bookstore, he made great friends and had a positive outlook in life. Harlan just wasted his life away, and as James told him, his parents ended up doing him a favor, because otherwise, he wouldn't have met Cort, who was his salvation.

Anyway, expectations aside, Cort and Harlan had chemistry and the sex scenes were hot. I felt like Cort kind of got short-changed because he deserved more, but that's neither here nor there and I guess all well that ends well.

I loved seeing Asher and Oren here and have some sort of closure in that sense. And I loved James, whose story I can't wait for, Rhoades and Aaron. I was more annoyed at Austin than Harlan, with his judgmental ways, which isn't new, so there's that, too. LOL

Overall, while there were several parts of the book that didn't quite work for me, it was an entertaining read and I'm still invested in the series and Ms. Stevens's stories.

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

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 Author Bio

I have always been a romantic at heart. I believe that while life is tough, there is always a happy ending around the corner, my characters have to work for it, however. Like life in NYC, nothing comes easy and that includes love.

I live in New York City with my husband and two children and hopefully soon a cat of my own. My day begins with a lot of caffeine and ends with a glass or two of red wine. I practice law but daydream of a time when I can sit by a beach somewhere and write beautiful stories of men falling in love. Although there is bound to be a few bumps along the way, a Happily Ever After is always guaranteed.

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