Saturday, July 29, 2017

ARC Reviews: The Bristol Collection by Josephine Myles

Junk (The Bristol Collection, #1)Blurb:

Letting go is the first step to healing…or bringing it all crashing down.

When an avalanche of books cuts off access to his living room, university librarian Jasper Richardson can no longer ignore the truth. His ever-growing piles of books, magazines and newspapers can no longer be classified as a “collection”. It’s a hoard, and he needs professional help.

Professional clutter clearer and counselor Lewis Miller thinks he’s seen it all, but even he has to admit he’s shocked. Not so much by the state of Jasper’s house, but by the level of attraction he still feels for the sexy bookworm he remembers from school.

What a shame that Lewis’s ethical code forbids relationships with clients. As Jasper makes slow but steady progress, though, the magnetic pull between them is so strong even Lewis is having trouble convincing himself it’s a temporary emotional attachment arising from the therapeutic process.

Jasper longs to prove to Lewis that this is the real deal. But first he’ll have to lay bare the root of his hoarding problem…and reveal the dark secret hidden behind his walls of books.

Product Warnings: Contains a level-headed counselor with a secret addiction, a bespectacled geek with a sweet tooth, a killer “to-be-read” pile, embarrassing parents, a van called Alice, and deliciously British slang.




My rating:





I can always count on Jo Myles to write a very British book, and this first one in the Bristol Collection has all the usual charm and style I expect from this author.

Jasper, he with the dull librarian job at the university and the unfashionable somewhat dowdy clothes, is a hoarder. Of books, magazine, newspapers, pamphlets - anything printed, really - and the immense collection in his house is preventing him from really living his life.

The book gave some great insights into what it must be like to live with this disorder (and it is a disorder, let's face it), and how it can impact a person so very detrimentally.

Intellectually, of course, Jasper realizes that he has a problem - unable to use most of the rooms in the house he inherited from his mother, he is cognizant that one day, and likely one day soon, one or more of the stacks of books and other printed materials will collapse and bury him. And yet, he cannot stop himself from bringing home ever more material, because he cannot allow books etc to be just thrown away. His home is a prison, more or less, but he just cannot stop. Even when he tries to remove a single book from his house, his mind simply shuts down and refuses to cooperate. Anxiety is trapping him, in more than just one way.

In a moment of clarity while in the clutches of an anxiety attack, Jasper reaches out to a brother-sister declutter/organizer team and soon meets Lewis and Carroll.

Lewis knows Jasper from long ago, when they were both in still in school, even though Lewis was a few years behind Jasper. Nursing a crush way back when, Lewis still feels the attraction when coming face to face with Jasper.

Jasper remembers Lewis too, and the admiration he had for the younger, but out and proud boy a few years below him.

At 30, Lewis still lives with his parents, dealing with unhappily falling in love with men he wants to change, and a bit of a shopping addiction, which explains his usual lack of funds and having to live with his somewhat eccentric mum and dad.

But attraction is burning brightly, and if it weren't for the dilemma of not dating a client, and Lewis' history of falling for men not good for him, he'd be climbing Jasper like a tree. As their relationship begins to change from a business transaction to friendship to lovers, some of Lewis' demons make him doubt and question his feelings and his motives, and he tries to set boundaries time and again, and breaches every single one himself.

Jasper is a complex and flawed character, full of shame for his hoarding, not willing to allow anyone into his home because of the hoarding, which has cost him what few friends he had, with occasional one-night-stands with his fuck-buddy Mas (he of book 2) the only real human contact he has. It is immediately clear how very lonely Jasper is, and how deeply he yearns for friendship and love. He's shy, but kind, and also has a bit of a backbone when pressed, and I really adored him. I wanted him to get help. I wanted to hug him.

It was fascinating to watch this story unfold. It's pretty quiet and sedate overall, and the romance between Jasper and Lewis grows ever so slowly, which made perfect sense within this plot, but you can see with every passing day how much stronger Jasper gets, how he and Lewis work not only on cleaning out the clutter but also on chasing away their respective demons.

A beautiful story, complex characters, a great supporting cast; this is a book definitely worth your time.


** I received a free copy of this book from Signal Boost Promotions as part of a re-release tour for this series. A positive review was not promised in return. **



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Stuff (The Bristol Collection, #2)Blurb:

When Mr. Glad Rags meets Mr. Riches, the result is flaming fun.

Tobias “Mas” Maslin doesn’t need much. A place of his own, weekends of clubbing, a rich boyfriend for love and support. Too bad his latest sugar daddy candidate turns out to be married with kids. Mas wants to be special, not someone’s dirty little secret.

When he loses his job and his flat on the same day, his worlds starts unraveling…until he stumbles across a vintage clothing shop. Now to convince the reclusive, eccentric owner he’s in dire need of a salesman.

Perry Cavendish-Fiennes set up Cabbages and Kinks solely to annoy his controlling father. Truth be told, he’d rather spend every spare moment on his true passion, art. When Mas comes flaming into his life talking nineteen to the dozen, he finds himself offering him a job and a place to live.

He should have listened to his instincts. The shop is already financially on the brink, and Mas’s flirting makes him feel things he’s never felt for a man. Yet Mas seems convinced they can make a go of it—in the shop, and together.

Warning: Contains an eccentric, bumbling Englishman, a gobby drama queen, fantastic retro clothing, scary fairies, exes springing out of the woodwork, and a well-aimed glass of bubbly. Written in brilliantly British English.



My rating:




In this second book from the Bristol Collection, we meet Mas (again, sort of) who was Jasper's sometime fuck-buddy, suddenly out of a job and suddenly homeless. And nevermind the nasty security dude following him and accosting him in the store about the bottles of perfume Mas might be smuggling out in his backpack.

But Mas runs fast, and then slips into a small store while trying to hide from the big bad security dude.

Fortuitously, Mas ends up in a Vintage shop owned by Perry, who's a bit (okay, a lot) more posh than Mas. And quite startled at the young man popping into his store.

With her typical Britishness and fabulous sense of humor, Jo Myles lets their story unfold one vintage garment at a time. Mas is a quirky and often exasperating character, and Perry, much more sedate, doesn't quite know what to do with the quivering and bouncing slip of a boy.

I adored them both so much! Perry doesn't know what hit him, never thought of himself as gay, but holy hot boysecks, there's not a single thing he lets stand in his way once he allows Mas to sex him up. Except maybe for his belief that he's not good enough for Mas.

All the while, Mas has a similar issue thinking that he's not good enough for the very posh Perry in his vintage vests and shirts.

Of course, neither one of them has the guts to talk about their self-doubts so they just dodder along until - well, you read this for yourself.

A fitting continuation of book one, we also get to revisit with Jasper and Lewis, and their oh so happy ever after.

Utterly charming and adorable, this book made me smile and giggle and awww a lot. Perry is wonderful, Mas is slightly crazy, but together they just fit perfectly.

Recommended.


** I received a free copy of this book from Signal Boost Promotions as part of the re-release of this series. A positive review was not promised in return. **




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Scrap (The Bristol Collection Book 3)Blurb:

When things come to a head, there’s nowhere to go but down…
On the surface, Derek “Call Me Dare” Nelson’s life is simple, doing up custom campervans while living in a slightly illegal caravan in his riverfront yard. When a handsome, smooth-talking developer offers to buy the land out from under his feet, Dare realizes it’s the same man he had to escort home from a party months ago for causing a drunken scene.

Grant Matravers lives a double life, attempting to adjust to weekends as a single, divorced gay man while staying closeted at work. The strain of keeping up the part-time pretense, missing his kids, and now a problematic attraction to the shave-headed, tattooed Dare, has worn his emotional barriers dangerously thin.

Dare blasts through those barriers in a way Grant isn’t prepared for, challenging everything he thought he knew about himself as a gay man. But as their chemistry heats up and the intimacy between them grows, Grant edges toward a decision that could blow up in his face. Exposing a hornet’s nest of complications that could destroy any chance for happily ever after.



My rating:




This third book in the Bristol Collection is about Grant (Mas' asshole cheating married ex) and Dare, who had a thing for Perry, but didn't succeed.



There's a scene in Stuff where Grant shows up at Perry's store in hopes of winning back Mas, a little on the drunker side, and gets doused with wine, courtesy of Perry, and then escorted out by Dare, who also attended the 'grand re-opening' of Perry's store.

You see, Grant was married with children when he carried on an affair with Mas, but he's come clean to his wife, divorced, and now doesn't know how to move forward. He's gay, he knows it, but still closeted. His boss, a sleazebag first class, sends him on a fact-finding mission, which brings Grant to Dare's scrap yard, where Dare rebuilds travel vans (and lives in his "office" trailer), while taking care of his junkie brother who lives in Dare's house.

Dare is out and proud, straight-forward, and doesn't take shit from anyone, especially not some real estate developer's minion who's rude and snobbish and looks down his nose at him.

Of course, to the wanna-be posh Grant, Dare's motor oil perfume isn't what he's looking for, but while he's busy looking down his nose, he cannot help but notice the other man's body and lust for what seems to be a sizable endowment.

Dare remembers Grant from the store reopening and feels kind of sorry for the guy. They get physically close quickly, but Grant is an idiot and selfish and scared, which nearly costs him the one good thing he's found since he fucked over Mas and his wife and kids.

With her typical charm and style, Jo Myles made me care even about someone like Grant, even though I usually cannot abide cheaters in my romance novels. I felt sorry for him, really. He sucked, sure, but I could see that he didn't really want to be a bad guy. He tried to do the right thing in the end, even if it cost him.

This book was probably the angstiest of the three in this series. Dare's situation with his brother's addiction does have a positive ending, even if it didn't look like it would, for a while there. I liked Dare a lot - his no-nonsense attitude combined with his deep love for his brother, and his steadfastness when it came to people he cared about made him a lovable character and a good guy in my book.

The author teases at the end that there might be another book forthcoming. Possibly a new character not yet introduced, or possibly a book that revisits all three couples in the future. I'd read it either way.


** I received a free copy of this book from Signal Boost Promotions as part of the re-release. A positive review was not promised in return. **





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