I’ve spent last week rereading Nora Phoenix’s No Shame series. I had already read them all around New Year’s, but I had a break between #3 and #4 because the last one wasn’t published yet, and since its a series, I wanted the full experience of reading them in succession.
I absolutely love this series! I was a little unsure with the first two books, as you’ll also read in my reviews, but they touched something in me, so I kept going. And they just got better and better!
I highly recommend this series! Here are my reviews:
Blurb: Indy will do anything to prevent his mobster ex from finding him. Their last encounter left Indy recovering for months in the hospital, and ever since he’s become an expert at hiding in plain sight. Determined to stay under the radar, he takes on a new identity and moves from place to place. His life has no room for friendships, let alone love, so he keeps his heart firmly closed. After all, he has nothing to offer but a damaged body and a broken soul. Plus, he’s so done with men. Until he meets the man who breaks through all his defenses. Former Army Medic Noah came back damaged from his last tour—in more than one way. Between supporting his best friend-with-benefits Josh who’s struggling with PTSD, dealing with his own issues, and the stress of his job as a physician assistant, rebuilding his life seems impossible. There's little time for what Noah needs, let alone for what he wants. When he meets Indy, Noah discovers what he wants more than anything: for Indy to stay. But how will a relationship with Indy work when Noah needs Josh as well? Indy never expected the strong, confident Noah to be as damaged and broken as himself. But what will happen if he starts letting Noah in? Indy knows he should run to protect Noah and Josh. Noah needs Indy to stay more than anything. But will what little he has to offer be enough to make Indy trust him and stay?
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
*Update: After having finished the series and having reread this (and the whole series), I’m upgrading it to five stars, because I liked it a lot more once I knew the entire story, and I predict many rereads in the future.*
I’m not really sure what I thought about this book. It was very different from what I expected it to be where Indy, Noah, and Josh would be in a loving relationship, but it turned out to just be between Indy and Noah with Josh on the sidelines for sex. I found it a little hard to relate to as a believer in monogamy, but it worked really well for them.
There’s lots of hurt/comfort here which warmed my heart. Knowing that there was baggage for the characters, but not knowing what, kept me intrigued.
There’s definitely kind of a cliffhanger here, but I don’t mind ‘having to’ read book two (No Limits), because it is Josh’s story, and he is such a sweet character.
Blurb: Josh is convinced he’ll never find someone who’ll love him the way he is. He’s not exactly a catch with his PTSD, which has transformed him into a homebody most of the times. Sweet, maybe, but also boring as hell. Plus, there’s that submissive tendency he recently discovered and is dying to explore. His complicated relationship with Noah and Indy don’t make it easy, either. When Connor shows interest in him, he can’t believe the sexy cop would look at him twice, let alone make an effort to get to know him. When he does, Josh discovers they have more in common than he’d ever thought possible. Connor had survived the ordeal that left his best friend and fellow Marine dead, but that survival came at a price. He’s a robot, going through the motions, but barely alive. Until fate intervenes when he meets Josh. The vulnerable man triggers all kinds of protective and dominant urges in Connor, but what would a cute guy like Josh want with an inexperienced, closed-off, bossy steamroller like him? When Connor discovers his past endangers Indy, all hope for a future between him and Josh seems lost. After all, there’s no way Josh will ever choose Connor over Indy’s safety and Noah’s lifelong friendship. When a crisis hits, can Connor prove he’s strong enough to deal with everything that’s thrown his way?
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
*Update: After having finished the series and having reread this (and the whole series), I’m upgrading it to 4.5 stars, because I liked it a lot more once I knew the entire story, and I predict many rereads in the future.*
Josh is the sweetest, so seeing most of the story from his POV was definitely a plus. Also, seeing him finding his happiness with Connor both in love and in dom/sub sex made me happy inside.
That being said, there is A LOT of sex in this one. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I am really liking the plot of this series, so the sex scenes are a little too frequent for my liking when I’d just like to see them solve their obstacles and find their HEA.
Blurb: Aaron is drowning. After coming out as gay, he lost his parents’ approval, his job, and his sense of identity. He feels like a freak who doesn’t fit in anywhere. His last hope was his brother Josh, but Josh can’t seem to forgive him for how Aaron treated him when they were teens. Not that Aaron can blame him, because he did treat Josh like crap. All Aaron wants is for someone to accept him, guide him, because he doesn’t have a clue. When sexy jiujitsu teacher Blake takes him in and starts mentoring him, Aaron has hope for the first time, even though he can’t understand what Blake sees in him. Blake doesn’t do relationships. At all. He’s more than willing to help Aaron find solid ground under his feet, but that’s it. Until insecure, vulnerable, and surprisingly sexy Aaron gets under his skin, triggering all kinds of protective instincts that make Blake long for more. He wants to take care of Aaron, give him what he needs, but how can he convince Aaron of that? When Josh’s friend-with-benefits Indy’s past finally catches up with him, it endangers them all—and leads to heartbreaking decisions for everyone involved.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was left on the edge of my seat in the last half of this. There was a new couple in this one, and naturally the sexual relationship that we know from No Filter and No Limits, but the focus was more on tying loose ends in the plot. Since you become super invested in the characters throughout three book, it was nice to hear about all of them and not just the new couple.
Aaron’s progress is interesting, and his relationship with Blake seems good, but it isn’t the transgressive relationship I think it was supposed to be, because all relationships in the series sorta push the borders of a vanilla, monogamous relationship.
While there are still some minor loose ends for the final book in the series, the big conflict has its climax in this book.
Blurb: Brad feels nothing but shame about himself. Shame about his sexual needs, about his reputation, about his medical problem no one knows about. No one, except his best friend Charlie, but no matter what feelings Brad may have for him, he’s not going there. Charlie deserves so much better, and Brad desperately needs something not even Charlie can provide. Charlie has loved Brad forever, but he’s never acted on his feelings, unsure of where he stood. Plus, there was the complication of his boyfriend. But when his boyfriend’s abuse gets too much for Charlie, it’s Brad who helps him escape and recover. Miles ends up severely wounded in the line of duty as an FBI agent. He’s floored when the man he was protecting, Indy, opens his home to him so he can recover. Indy also sets him up with Brad, who turns out to be a perfect solution for Miles’ sexual issues…until Miles wants more than sex from him, and a developing friendship between Miles and Charlie complicates things even more. Bit by bit Charlie and Miles break through Brad’s defenses, until they come crumbling down. Miles will have to prove he can provide what Brad needs, and Charlie’s sweet love will be put to the test. But when Brad finally finds the courage to break free of his shame, will the fragile love that has blossomed between the three of them survive?
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A great ending to a great series about a group of great guys.
While this is more or less and extended HEA, there was still plenty of story to tell, and when you’re as invested in a couple (which in Nora Phoenix’s case rarely consists of just two people) as I was with this series, you will read anything about them.
I was more interested in Indy, Noah, Josh and Connor’s story than the threesome’s, so that’s what makes it a 4-star instead of a 5-star.
By the end, they’d create their own little commune that I enjoyed reading about, and I went through all the emotions throughout this.
Nora Phoenix has an amazing writing style that makes you feel all the MCs emotions – good or bad -, and she makes unconventional romance work. I highly recommend her books!