3 Stars, Bold Strokes Books, Erotica, Reviewed by Rena, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Simon Hawk

Review: Blackthorn by Simon Hawk

Title: Blackthorn

Author: Simon Hawk

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Pages/Word Count: 240 Pages

At a Glance: While I hesitate to recommend this book to romance fans, I’ll gladly do so to fans of erotic gay fiction.

Reviewed By: Rena

Blurb: Rian Blackthorn’s Gypsy and Elven heritage have earned him the title Master of the Hall of Swords in the realm of Brystyn. There, eighteen-year-old Rian has been training boys in the Ways of the Blade. However, his most promising student, Prince Corin, has fallen deeply in love with him. Already pledged to an Elven Prince of the Vale of Seven Rivers, Rian has managed to keep Corey at bay for the past two years. But when the prince’s journal of erotic writings is delivered to Rian, he discovers a conspiracy that may result in Corey’s death. And when Corey is abducted by Will the Wizard of Winterwood, a sexual deviant, Rian’s love for Corey is slowly awakened. And if by life or death, he can save him, he most certainly will.

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Review: The premise of Simon Hawk’s fantasy novel certainly has a lot of promise – that it’s an erotic fantasy can be a plus, depending on the reader’s preferences. Once I started reading it, I quickly understood what kind of erotic fiction it is, i.e., that it’s more along the lines of a James Lear novel, for instance, than what gay erotic romance readers might be familiar with. That’s not a bad thing by any stretch. I’ve read a few erotic gay novels before and found some to be either cheeky or campy fun, depending on the writers. With Blackthorn, the fantasy setting caught my attention, and I wanted to see how plot and erotic elements worked together.

To an extent, they complement each other in that in a fantasy world, it’s quite liberating seeing different characters enjoy each other in scenes that run the gamut – from wildly erotic to bizarre (the mad prince’s sex romps) to touching, at least after the fact (Tannen’s erotic dream spell on Rian). The sexual traditions within certain races, and the open relationships everyone has with each other, make logical sense within the context of the world Hawk has created, even with certain groups harboring extreme prejudice against homosexuality.

Unfortunately, that’s really where the erotic elements end insofar as their effect on the overall story’s concerned. The difficulty I had with the book was the way the sex seemed to override the plot itself. I reckon the rate of sex scenes would be around 1-2 per chapter, and they tended to make the story come to a full stop every time, to the point where I ended up forgetting who’s who, what’s what, and where I was once the story picked up again at the beginning of the next chapter.

There’s certainly a great deal more attention placed on the sex scenes, as far as details go, from what I’ve seen. The setting and characters overall, both major and minor, are very vaguely drawn, and readers are left to depend on more generic physical descriptions (everyone has long hair) of people and places, which, to me, doesn’t work very well in grounding the story to its world and giving it its unique edge. The language used, particularly during sex, is inconsistent in that characters speak anachronistically modern phrases – I remember one character crying out, “Oh, my God!” – while in non-sexual scenes, the dialogue tends to be a little more fantasy-like with its slightly formal sentence structure.

And the plot is pretty complex, which could’ve benefitted from that extra attention. As it stands, I often found myself confused about different races or tribes coming together against a common enemy – and especially the reasons behind certain animosities. A number of the characters also go by nicknames, some of which are close enough for me to completely lose track of which name refers to whom (Shadow vs. Sparrow, for instance). And as noted, it doesn’t help that sex scenes cut off the action abruptly and go on for a number of pages, and I’m forced to skip forward in order to catch up.

It’s because of this generalized treatment of individual characters that relationships also don’t materialize as I’d hoped. There’s a romantic relationship between Tannen and Rian, for instance, but we don’t really see that because they spend most of the book apart from each other, and when they’re together, they have lots of sex that really echoes every other character’s sex scenes. If Rian realizes he’s in love with Corin (or Corey), it’s also not terribly convincing as he has lots of sex with Corin in addition to everyone else. As far as I could see, anyway, there’s really nothing setting any of those intimate moments (between Rian and Corin) apart from everyone else that indicates a deeper connection between them. I can say the same thing regarding any regular interaction between the two, besides Rian protecting or saving Corin from Will’s lusty clutches.

So anyone who hopes to enjoy some sense of romance might find him/herself disappointed in this regard.

There are quite a few shadows of Tolkien throughout the book that I found to be rather cheeky touches. Helm’s Deep comes to mind as well as Bilbo’s line about not seeing dragons during his birthday party. Whether or not they were intentional, I still found myself chuckling and nodding when I read those passages.

In the end, while I hesitate to recommend this book to romance fans, I’ll gladly do so to fans of erotic gay fiction. Even though the erotic elements don’t merge smoothly enough with the book’s plot, there’s still some fun to be had, seeing certain fantasy tropes – such as those mystical, dignified elves – turned on their heads with a great deal of winking and nudging.






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4.5 Stars, DSP Publications, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Sadonna, Rick R. Reed

Review: IM by Rick R. Reed

Title: IM

Author: Rick R. Reed

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 280 Pages

At a Glance: IM is action packed, horrifying in its detail, and full of the most delicious twists and turns that will make your skin crawl and your heart race.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: The Internet is the new meat market for gay men. Now a killer is turning the meat market into a meat wagon.

One by one, he’s killing them. Lurking in the digital underworld of Men4HookUpNow.com, he lures, seduces, and charms, reaching out through instant messages to the unwary. When the first body surfaces, openly gay Chicago Police Department detective Ed Comparetto is called in to investigate. At the scene, the young man who discovered the body tells him the story of how he found his friend. But did this witness play a bigger role in the murder than he’s letting on?

For Comparetto, this encounter is the beginning of a nightmare—because this witness did more than just show up at the scene of the crime; he set the scene.

Comparetto is on a journey to discover the truth—before he loses his career, his boyfriend, his sanity… his life. Because in this killer’s world, IM doesn’t stand for instant message… it stands for instant murder.

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Review: IM is a creepy story, there is no doubt about that. The horror of the murders, coupled with the driven, near panicked state of the unrightfully maligned and swiftly made ex-police officer, Ed Comparetto, was perhaps one of the most riveting storylines I have read in a long time. And then there was the serial killer, the cold-blooded monster who brutally destroyed one lonely man after another while pretending to be their answer to cyber dating. All in all, Rick R. Reed’s IM was a gruesome, compelling, and terrifying murder mystery, with copious twists and turns that made for a truly exciting and nail biting, roller coaster of a read.

When Detective Ed Comparetto catches the call to a bloodcurdling murder crime scene, little does he know the witness who found the body would turn out to be a potential suspect. The elfin young man gave detail after detail about finding his friend lying in his own blood, dismembered, in his bathtub. Ed dutifully questioned the witness and filed the man’s sworn affidavit. Only problem was the witness, Timothy Bright, wasn’t exactly who he said he was. Now Ed, who had recently come out to his police force as gay, had to not only find this “witness” but he had to do so on his own, without his badge or gun, after having been fired for allegedly falsifying the same witness statement.

Along the way, Ed will question his own sanity, and stumble upon a man who just may be the answer to his own unending loneliness. But, catching a serial killer as hideous and blindingly intelligent as this one is no easy task. As Ed uncovers secret after secret surrounding the murderer, the horror that is this killer comes to life, and no one is safe.

Why was this novel so very, very good? It is because you alternately hated the serial killer—were sickened and horrified by him, and then mourned for him—then empathized with him for his innocence lost, his life so twisted and strange, his rape at the hands of a man who was sworn to heal those in need. You wanted to hate this man but you saw the reasons for his anger, his insanity, and suddenly, you pitied the very man who viciously destroyed without compunction.

Rick R. Reed takes us deep into the rabbit hole, where so very little makes sense until a dedicated and determined police detective cracks wide open the identity of a killer who somehow managed to escape capture, one murder after another. He does so by sheer grit, and with a new-found love at his side, he pursues the killer relentlessly, even at the cost of his own sanity and, perhaps, his own life.

IM is action packed, horrifying in its detail, and full of the most delicious twists and turns that will make your skin crawl and your heart race. This one is a nail biter from beginning to end, and well worth every moment you will spend reading it.






You can buy IM here:

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5 Stars, Drama, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, R.E. Nelson, Reviewed by Sadonna

Review: Palace Dog by R.E. Nelson

Title: Palace Dog

Author: R.E. Nelson

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 206 Pages

At a Glance: A moving and romantic story that brings to life, in an atypical way, a time and place that many would rather forget.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: In April 1975, as the government in Saigon is falling, Michael Andrews prepares to make his way back to Vietnam to find the love he was forced to leave.

But Michael’s journey begins four years earlier. He joins the Air Force to keep out of the Army and out of Vietnam, but his first assignment is teaching English in Saigon to members of the Vietnamese military in an Army program called Palace Dog.

As an artist, and a man, before his time in Vietnam, Michael found life lonely and unsatisfying. In the midst of war, Michael searches for direction and meaning. He ultimately finds love and hope with Thao, a young Vietnamese art student, only to have their already uncertain future wrenched from them when he is pulled out of the country.

For Michael, his return in 1975 is inevitable and without question, though the outcome he hopes for is anything but assured.:

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Review: I really hope that younger people will read this, although I worry that they won’t. As a student of history and, in particular, the war in Vietnam, I was immediately intrigued by this book. I’ve made it to SE Asia but only to Thailand, with tiny forays into Laos and Myanmar, and I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t do the Cambodia extension.

One of my favorite courses in college was America in the 60s. I was a kid then, and I never really appreciated how demoralized and depressed and disappointed young people must have been in their government and the older generation until I took that course. The Kennedy assassination, the Civil Rights fight, the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., and the war in Vietnam all contributed to the complete disillusionment of a generation. I’ve read a LOT of 1960s/70s Vietnam narratives by different types of writers and participants in this war. This book also stood out as a story nearly as much about the people of Vietnam as the American protagonist.

Southeast Asia is a very different place for Michael Andrews. The weather alone takes time to get used to. The crowds of people, the black market, the traffic, the constant noise – all are very different from his American life. He’s also dealing with keeping his sexuality under wraps. We get to see how his fellow teachers are dealing with being in the country as well. As we see this story from Michael’s point of view, our perspective is that of the outsider – observing the very different world around him. One of the things I particularly appreciated was that this story focused not so much on the military aspects of Michael’s journey but more on the personal relationship side. We see Richard and Danny and Randy, who are fellow Air Force guys, and each of them represents different experiences: the guy who is fighting everything and staying drunk/stoned to make it through; the guy who meets a Vietnamese woman and fathers a child; the closeted guy just trying to serve his time and get out. We even have friendly fire.

Michael is definitely on a different path and this book ultimately shows us his growth and development and acceptance – both in himself and how he wants to interact with the world. His rushing out to get things doesn’t seem to work well for him. As he comes to accept himself and what it is he really needs and wants, he learns to just back off and wait and take what is offered. His tentative relationship with Thao, the brother of one of his Vietnamese students, is, of course, the heart of this story and the romance. It’s not a steamy romance, per se, but it’s a solid love story of two characters caught up in a world where they have very little control.

Of course, the end of the story coincides with essentially the fall of Saigon. I was twelve years old when that occurred, and I still remember it. It was so strange to think that was truly the end of the Vietnam War. And, of course, if you happened to still be in Vietnam, it was far from the end of a lot of things – including execution, reeducation, hard labor and other dire circumstances. It’s clear the fear and desperation from those wanting to escape was fully warranted. I read the second half of the book dreading what might happen to Michael and Thao.

The author covered a lot of ground in this book, and I for one really enjoyed the journey. This is a beautifully written personal history type of a romance that I definitely recommend to anyone who is interested in reading about the time period, coming of age, or cross cultural relationships.

TNA_Signature_Sadonna






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5 Stars, Abigail Roux, Genre Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Jules, Riptide Publishing

Review: Crash & Burn (Cut & Run…The Final) by Abigail Roux

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Title: Crash & Burn

Author: Abigail Roux

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 419 Pages

At a Glance: Perfect ending was perfect.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: It’s been five years since Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett first worked together to solve the Tri-State murders, and time has been both harsh and kind. Engaged now, they face the challenge of planning a deeply uncertain future together. Zane is at the pinnacle of his career with one last mystery to solve, while Ty is at sea in a world where he’s no longer the tip of a spear.

There’s just one more hurdle in the way of their happy ever after: a traitor from their inner circle who threatens to burn their world to the ground.

Squeezed between the Vega cartel, an unknown mole, and too many alphabet agencies to count, Ty and Zane must gather all their strength and resources to beat the longest odds they’ve ever faced. To make it out alive, they’ll need help from every friend they’ve got. Even the friends who might betray their trust.

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Review: How do you write a review for the final book of an iconic series that completely changed your life?? Well, I’m going to begin mine as a love letter of sorts…

My story is no different than many others, I’m sure…Two years ago, at the urging of some good friends, I read a book called Cut & Run, and I’m not kidding when I tell you that it changed my life. It introduced me to a genre that I had no idea existed, and a community I can’t imagine not being a part of. Ty and Zane will forever top my list of book boyfriends. And, I know I’m not alone. With this series, Abigail Roux has given us characters we will never forget and a ride that, without a doubt, I will want to keep getting on again and again. Thank you, Abi. <3

On to Crash & Burn

I’m not even gonna pussyfoot around. I loved this book. It goes almost immediately to full throttle, in chapter one, and never stops. It read like an action film: heart-racing, blood-pumping, mind-reeling. But along with the adrenaline, there is also plenty of swoonage, sexytimes, and that laugh-out-loud, eye-rolling humor we’ve all grown to expect from Ty and Zane and Sidewinder. If you’re looking for hilarious banter, you’ve come to the right place.

Now, I want to preface this next part by saying that I know how sensitive people are about spoilers. I am, too. But, I DON’T think it’s a spoiler to talk about Ty and Zane getting married; I mean, is there really anyone on the planet that didn’t think they were going to get married in this book? I have to talk about it, though, because it was one of my favorite things about the book. So, here it is: I loved that the wedding was in the beginning. It would have been so easy to take the predictable route of Action-Drama-Peril—>Victory—>HEA-with-a-wedding – but, Abigail Roux didn’t do that. We get to see them fight this last battle, truly together, knowing that no matter what happens, they got their HEA moment. Fabulous.

Other highlights? As always, all the Gradys. Chester has some moves we did not previously know about, and oh-my-goodness. Watch out, bad guys. Liam Bell. Still the guy we love to hate. Sidewinder. Thank goodness we have more Nick and Kelly and the boys on the way. Zane. His level of Badass knows no bounds. And, finally, Nick and Ty. So many emotions. So much love. Their scenes are written so beautifully; I loved everything about them and their bond.

Crash & Burn constantly kept me guessing. From first seeing the title – ‘Noooooo. What the hell does it mean?!?’ – to those last moments in Miami, you never really knew what was happening. Everyone was a suspect. The gasps kept coming. And, though I hoped I knew what the outcome would be, nothing was really certain. It was a fantastic read.

I was reading with a couple of friends – I think it’s a law that all C&R books must be buddy-read – and when we got to chapter 13 it was like, ‘Moment of silence’. LOL. I wrote in the message window, “The final chapter. Of the final book,” and typing that actually made me cry. Sappy as hell, I know. I went into the final chapter with my feels in Abi’s hands, and she did not let me down. She did so right by these guys.

Perfect ending was perfect.






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Abigail Roux, Giveaways

A Cut Scene and a Giveaway: The Cut & Run Farewell Tour With Abigail Roux

CrashBurn_TourBannerHello and thank you for joining me as I bid a fond farewell to Ty and Zane on the Crash & Burn virtual tour! For the next five days, join me on my virtual stops to help me say goodbye to the Cut & Run series with cut scenes, playlists, behind the scenes looks at the process of writing this last book, and a peek at the original plan for the series and the twists and turns it took on its journey to the end. 

Did I mention the prizes? I have incredible prizes for two winners; a go-bag put together by one B. Tyler Grady. Each bag has over $370 worth of goodies in it. For more detail on the contents, you can click the link at the end of this post! Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing to win one of these bags. Entries close at midnight, Eastern Time, on April 4, and winners will be announced on April 6th. Contest is valid worldwide.

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Today I come bearing a cut scene from Crash & Burn:  

He was bundled up in his heaviest coat, two scarves, some fluffy Philadelphia Eagles ear muffs Deuce had sent him as a joke for Christmas, and a pair of work gloves missing the thumbs. He had one of Zane’s coffee mugs clutched to his chest, steam rising from it. It wasn’t coffee inside, though, but a mug of chocolate milk he’d tossed in the microwave for two minutes to make it into some discount hot chocolate. He was fucking freezing. He refused to go inside, though. He felt violated inside.

He’d found, in the last couple of weeks, that he couldn’t think inside. He couldn’t function. Just knowing someone was monitoring him, listening to every sound he made, it made him twitchy. Claustrophobic. He’d started talking to himself, like he was narrating for the eavesdroppers. Got to go shower, I’m dirty. Hungry, going to go fix a sandwich.

He was literally going crazy.

He took a sip of his hot chocolate and muttered to the car. “Must be nice, just sitting here. All you got to do is roll around, gas up, look awesome. Asshole.”

The car didn’t respond, thank God, but Ty did hear something. He cocked his head, scowling as he strained his ears. It came again, a distant knocking.

Ty pushed himself to his feet and hustled into the house. “Coming!” he called out, and he set his mug on the counter as he jogged toward the front door.

He had no idea who to expect, since people rarely showed up at his door in the middle of the day, but when he opened it up he was still shocked.

John English was dressed impeccably. Designer sunglasses, wool overcoat, and sheepskin gloves. He grinned when he saw Ty. “Grady,” he said, taking off his sunglasses. “You sure do go all out for guests.”

Ty looked down at his gray sweatpants and puffy down coat and fur-lined moccasins.

“I . . . whatever, dude, I’m retired,” he said with a shrug. He offered his hand to English, then pulled him in for a hug. “What the hell are you doing here, man?”

“I was passing through town, thought I’d come see you and Garrett, see how you are.”

Ty glanced into the house, ever mindful of the listening devices looking over his shoulders all the time. “Uh. Garrett’s, umm . . . Garrett’s gone for a while. You got a few hours? We’ll go get a beer.”

“Sure, yeah. I’m buying.”

Ty had him come in as he went upstairs and changed. He threw on some jeans and a T-shirt, digging out his favorite leather coat and a plain knit beanie that wouldn’t get him killed by a Ravens fan when they walked into a bar like his earmuffs would.

English was wandering around the living room, looking at Ty’s pictures when Ty thumped back down the stairs.

“Garrett out of town?” he asked, jutting his thumb toward one of the black and white photographs of Ty and Zane on the wall.

“No,” Ty answered, barely choking out the word. “I’ll tell you about it over lunch.”

English didn’t ask more questions, but he frowned the entire time as Ty locked up the house. As soon as they reached the sidewalk, Ty glanced over his shoulder at the front door. “The house is bugged.”

“What?”

“My house. Someone’s bugged it. Zane and I faked a nasty fight to get him out of the house without raising suspicion.”

“Oh thank God, man!” English said, putting his hand to his heart. “Those ear muffs . . . I thought you were going through some massive relationship ordeal and I don’t know you well enough to deal with that shit.”

Ty laughed heartily as they headed toward Fell’s Point. They’d met John English in Scotland at Deuce’s wedding, and though Ty’d had suspicions about the massive Snake Eater and his crew at first, English had proved himself to be a trustworthy companion. Ty had kept in touch with him over the last year, much to Zane’s chagrin.

“What are you doing in Baltimore?” Ty asked again.

“I was actually up at Cumberland,” English said, losing the bounce to his voice.

“The prison or the mountain range?”

“Prison. Frost is up there.”

Ty nodded in understanding. Frost had been part of English’s team. He’d killed a lot of people in Scotland. Ty couldn’t imagine what it must feel like to find out one of your teammates could do such a thing.

“What’d he have to say?” Ty asked carefully.

“A year later and he still swears he didn’t kill the FBI guy.”

“Richard Burns.”

“Yeah. He admits to everything else that went down on that island, but he swears on his mother’s grave he didn’t kill Burns.”

Ty clucked his tongue, glancing at English as a light snow began to fall. “You believe him?”

“I do, yeah. That’s why I’m here.”

Ty frowned and they stopped walking when they came to an intersection.

“I don’t think Frost killed the man,” English said with a heavy sigh. “And that leaves the question I came here to ask you.”

“And what’s that?”

“Do you trust all your people?”

“What?” Ty asked, laughing even though English was dead serious. “Of course I do.”

“So did I,” English said grimly.

Ty was speechless. Was English saying he thought one of Ty’s friends or family could have killed Burns? “No,” he said with a wave of his hand.

English winced. “Understand me, I’m not here to make accusations on the people you care about, I’m here to help you. And since you got a bug in that place of yours, I’m even more glad I came here. I think you need to clean your own house, Grady. Take a good hard look at it and decide who you can trust. I don’t want you to get hurt.”

Ty looked away, staring off toward the harbor and the quaint little shops and taverns of Fell’s Point. His breath came out in a puff in the freezing air. “Yeah, okay,” he finally said. “Come on, man, I’ll buy you some crab cakes.”

English didn’t bring up the matter again as they ate and drank. He seemed to realize Ty had taken his words to heart, that he didn’t need to harp on it.

By the end of their lunch, Ty had English convinced to help him with a plan he’d been pondering the last twenty-four hours. They headed back for the row house, neither of them quite sober anymore, but that worked well for what Ty needed.

“So you want to pick up your bed,” English said as they strolled down the sidewalk, “and toss it into your listening points to get rid of them.”

“Yeah. Accidental bug destruction because me and my buddy were too drunk to be moving a bed!”

“How long has that plan made sense to you?”

“Long enough, let’s do this,” Ty said with a clap of his hands.

“So your wedding present is basically making sure your home is clear of people eavesdropping on you when you have sex.”

Ty smacked the big man on the shoulder, grinning. “I knew you’d understand.”

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Follow this link to find detailed info on the go-bag prizes, but make sure you comment here to enter

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Thanks for stopping by! You can follow the entire tour by going to Riptide Publishing. If you care to follow me more closely, you can find me on TwitterFacebook, and Tumblr.

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???????????????????????????????????????Blurb: It’s been five years since Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett first worked together to solve the Tri-State murders, and time has been both harsh and kind. Engaged now, they face the challenge of planning a deeply uncertain future together. Zane is at the pinnacle of his career with one last mystery to solve, while Ty is at sea in a world where he’s no longer the tip of a spear.

There’s just one more hurdle in the way of their happy ever after: a traitor from their inner circle who threatens to burn their world to the ground.

Squeezed between the Vega cartel, an unknown mole, and too many alphabet agencies to count, Ty and Zane must gather all their strength and resources to beat the longest odds they’ve ever faced. To make it out alive, they’ll need help from every friend they’ve got. Even the friends who might betray their trust.

Buy Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon US | All Romance eBooks

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4 Stars, Andrew Grey, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Maryann

Review: Eastern Cowboy by Andrew Grey

Title: Eastern Cowboy

Author: Andrew Grey

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: Andrew Grey has created another wonderful story in Eastern Cowboy.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Brighton McKenzie inherited one of the last pieces of farmland in suburban Baltimore. It has been in his family since Maryland was a colony, though it has lain fallow for years. Selling it for development would be easy, but Brighton wants to honor his grandfather’s wishes and work it again. Unfortunately, an accident left him relying on a cane, so he’ll need help. Tanner Houghton used to work on a ranch in Montana until a vengeful ex got him fired because of his sexuality. He comes to Maryland at the invitation of his cousin and is thrilled to have a chance to get back to the kind of work he loves.

Brighton is instantly drawn to the intensely handsome and huge Tanner—he’s everything Brighton likes in a man, though he holds back because Tanner is an employee, and because he can’t understand why a man as virile as Tanner would be interested in him. But that isn’t the worst of their problems. They have to face the machinations of Brighton’s aunt, Tanner’s ex suddenly wanting him back, and the need to find a way to make the farm financially viable before they lose Brighton’s family legacy.

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Review: With the passing of his Grandpa Edward, Brighton McKenzie inherits his farm, located in Maryland. The farm has been in the family since Colonial times and is now surrounded by condominiums, a shopping mall, and a subdivision.

At the reading of the will, Brighton and his sister Brianne face a very jealous Aunt Vera, daughter of their Grandpa. Of course, Aunt Vera feels she should inherit the farm and then sell it for more money than she got in the will. She tries guilting both Brighton and Brianne because as children, they were taken in by her after their parents’ death. But, we find that Brighton really was the one who took care of himself and his sister.

Brighton already has his doubts about the farm, and finds himself wavering at times, thinking it might be easier to sell it. He questions his own ability to work the farm because he has a severe leg injury from a past accident. Brianne, who is a strong presence in his life, encourages him to keep the farm. Arthur Granger, his Grandpa’s attorney, also helps by suggesting his cousin Tanner Houghton help with the farm.

Tanner Houghton is a good, strong, caring man, especially with children and animals. He returned from a ranch in Montana after an incident with the ranch owner’s son. Tanner also has a stutter, which makes him shy away from people and not say much. Tanner struggles too, with doubts about himself.

Brighton and Tanner meet and learn to work together to keep the farm up and running. They both still have obstacles to overcome, a leg injury, Aunt Vera, the city, and an ex-lover.

Andrew Grey has created another wonderful story in Eastern Cowboy. His characters are well developed and the story has an easy flow to it. I have never been disappointed by Andrew Grey’s stories and am hoping this is the beginning of a new series.






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4.5 Stars, Genre Romance, Mercy Celeste, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Pia, Self-Published

Review: Light From the Dark by Mercy Celeste

Title: Light From the Dark

Author: Mercy Celeste

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 301 Pages

At a Glance: I love Mercy Celeste and this is a great read.

Reviewed By: Pia

Blurb: After a year of picking up the pieces of his shattered life, former US Marshal Micah Beasley takes a job as bodyguard for a spoiled rich kid who can’t leave his house. It’s supposed to be a cupcake assignment. He just needs to get back in the game. What could possibly go wrong?

Brilliant and incredibly talented, Christopher (Kit) Auberon wears tragedy as a second skin. Kit is all that’s left of a powerful family. Seemingly forgotten, he’s spent his entire life in seclusion at the family estate, and he likes it that way. He’s free to play his games and create worlds without ever having to set foot in the real one.

Kit’s past is anything but forgotten. When death threats become real threats, Micah and Kit are forced to put their differences aside to discover who wants Kit dead.

But there are monsters in Kit’s closet that should never be disturbed.

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Review: Hmm… this book is a hard one to review because it sucked me in so fast, with all of its drama and mystery. Christopher “Kit” Auberons’ life has been tragic. At the tender age of eight, his life is ripped apart in one night. His parents and nanny are killed; kit is kidnapped and ends up scarred, both mentally and physically. When we meet him, Kit is in his twenties and too afraid to leave his room for fear someone is out to get him.

Enter Micah Beasley, ex-soldier and ex-US Marshal, who has basically shut down and checked out after his last case as a Marshal. Micah is hired by Kit’s uncle because there have been death threats and break-ins at the mansion. He takes the job for the money, and because he thinks it going to be an easy babysitting gig. Boy…is he wrong.

I loved watching Micah and Kit’s relationship bloom from strained to sexual to loving. I haven’t read many books with MCs like Kit before, and it was a nice change of pace. I liked how both men, so emotionally and physically damaged, could find a little comfort in each other.

For the most part, the mystery surrounding the past and the suspense over what was happening in the present was great, but the story kind of fell apart in the last few chapters and turned into a soap opera. We went from strong story to Days of Our Lives, and I kind of wanted to skim (I didn’t) and find out what was happening to the guys in the bedroom instead of reading how everything came together.

Having said that, though, I love Mercy Celeste and this is a great read.






You can buy Light From the Dark here:

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4 Stars, Anna Martin, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, New Adult, Reviewed by Jules

Review: Signs by Anna Martin

Title: Signs

Author: Anna Martin

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: I continue to be a big fan of Anna Martin – an absolutely fantastic storyteller.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: After spending most of his life in special schools, Caleb Stone now faces public high school in his senior year, a prospect that both excites him and threatens to overwhelm his social anxiety. As a deaf teenager, he’s closed himself off to the world. He speaks a shorthand with his parents and even finds it hard to use American Sign Language with people in his local deaf community. But Caleb finds comfort in his love of photography. Everything he can’t express in real life, he posts on his Tumblr.

Struggling to reconcile his resentment for his father’s cruelty with the grief of losing a parent, Luc Le Bautillier scrolls through Tumblr searching for someone who might understand his goth look and effeminate nature. When Luc reblogs a photo by Caleb, sparking a conversation, they both find it easier to make friends online than in person.

Luc and Caleb confront their fears about the opinions of the outside world to meet in New York City. Despite Caleb’s increasing confidence, his parents worry he’s not ready for the trials ahead. But communication comes in many forms—when you learn the signs.

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Review: There is a lot to love about Anna Martin’s newest release, Signs. At the top of the list are Caleb and Luc. I adored these guys. They were refreshing and real, and just had a really lovely innocence about them. The more I’ve thought about this story in the last few days since finishing it, the more I realize how much I liked it, and how much of that has to do with them.

Caleb is an eighteen-year-old high school senior who is passionate about photography, and starts a Tumblr account to share some of his pics. He also happens to be deaf. I liked that he wasn’t a ‘typical’ deaf kid. He isn’t a superstar at sign language, and only begrudgingly attends meetings of a local Boston chapter of Deaf Youth to appease his parents, who want him to try to interact more. Being deaf isn’t the only issue keeping him from having a more normal teen life; unfortunately, he also suffers from social anxiety, making it even more difficult to make and keep friends. He gains a few followers on Tumblr, though, including catching the eye of a teen boy from New York City named Luc.

Luc is a goth kid who doesn’t really relate to his family, and though he does have a few friends at his new school in the city, he’s also a bit of a loner. Luc lives with his sister, Ilse, and his mother, who is never home. She stays out drinking and hanging out with her socialite friends, leaving Ilse to do most of the parenting for Luc. But, something about Caleb’s work speaks to Luc, and he ends up sharing and commenting on a couple of his posts, sparking conversation between the two.

The story mostly consists of watching Caleb and Luc become closer, and grow and mature together. The only drama coming from a bit of push-back against the parents – typical kids testing boundaries and exerting their independence – and also when Caleb applies to be in a trial for a new type of cochlear implant. But, sweet was the exact right feel for this story. They didn’t need a ton of angst or drama, it was simply enough to enjoy watching them fall in love, and decide what direction they want their lives to go.

Things get a little off track in the middle of the book. It definitely started out strong, but I felt like it wandered a bit through the midsection. There were a couple of awkward scenes, some unanswered questions – one being what happened to Jay? Luc had a best friend who disappeared, seemingly for no reason, which begged the question, why even include him in the story at all? And I think the cochlear implant stuff was maybe a bit drawn out.

That being said, however, there were even more things I loved: Luc helping Caleb work on his speech techniques (swooooon), the letter Luc wrote to the people in charge of the implant trial (amaaaaazing), the fact that even with all the communication barriers, these two were better at communicating than most adults I know. So much good stuff. We never learned what Luc’s aspirations were, but in the post-book story in my head, he studies to become a speech therapist. :)

From Tattoos & Teacups to Cricket and Jurassic Heart, and now a wonderful NA book about two fantastic young men in Signs, I continue to be a big fan of Anna Martin – an absolutely fantastic storyteller. I can’t wait to see what she gives us next!






You can buy Signs here:

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Reviewed by Amy

Another Welcome To Two New Team TNA Members!

TNA BadgeHi, everyone! I just want to take a minute to welcome another two reviewers to The Novel Approach team.

The review business is not only a time consuming one but is a cyclical thing as well, and as such, I’ve got a few folks who’ve gone on hiatus recently–Tina, Taz, Lynn and Rena–although, both Lynn and Rena will still be around to do guest reviews from time to time, so they’re not gone forever.

Today’s welcome is to Maryann and Amy, so I’ll shut up now and let them tell you a bit about themselves. :)

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TNA_Signature_MaryannAbout Maryann:

Hi I’m Maryann. I am retired and have lived in West Palm Beach, Florida for 5 years. I can say I have come full circle. I started in New York , spent a few years in New Hampshire and was uprooted again and lived in California for a very long time. Now I am back on the east coast again!

I’ve always liked to read, I remember going to the library and reading the Doctor Dolittle books by Hugh Lofting. Much later on became a big fan of Stephen King.

When I came to Florida, I started riding shotgun with my niece to Tampa. She was an RN and was working on getting her degree for Nurse Practitioner. I would read her medical books and review notes to her while we traveled. We also got hooked on Game of Thrones and listened to it on audio CDs. The medical book reading came in handy because the first M/M book I read in 2011 was Zero to the Bone by Jane Seville. The doctor had to repair a gun shot wound and I actually understood the medical terms. This was the book that got me started on M/M genre.

Seen a lot of Florida since I’ve been here, of course Tampa, Orlando, Naples, Miami and the Keys. Took my first cruise in December to the Caribbean. It was great!

I love my Kindle and Audible! Have both apps on my ipod, ipad, and MAC. So there is never an excuse not to be listening or reading.

I was interested in editing books but when I saw Lisa’s request for reviewing books, I thought I would give it a shot. I have hopes to do a good job for The Novel Approach. Happy reviewing everyone!

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TNA_Signature_AmyAbout Amy:

Hey All! My name is Amy Di Martino and I am a New York transplant living in Florida…… I am a Coffee addict and a complete extrovert.

I am a fiction lover from way back, my all-time favorites are very diverse, from Jane Austin’s sweet love stories to Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart to Shakespeare’s Sonnets’, I love all types of fiction. In the early 90’s I was introduced to Laurel K. Hamilton and found a passion for Mystery, Romance, and Paranormal.

For a while in the early 2000s I lost my literal way. I stopped reading for almost five years, letting my corporate job make me forget my love of literature. I know a lot of people will think this is silly, but I attribute my road back to fiction all to Twilight. I moved to Florida and met a lovely lady by the name of Jennifer who introduced me to that series, and that, folks, is all she wrote. My love of fiction rekindled, and I became a voracious reader again. I discovered M/M in 2008 after J.R. Ward opened my eyes with Blay and Quinn, and haven’t looked back since.

I do love all types of stories but do tend to love Mysteries, Gritty love stories, and beautiful tragedies the most. The things I dislike are recycled ideas and super sweet fluff.

I have been commuting 12 hours a week for over a year, and the only thing that has kept me sane was MULTIPLE audiobooks.

What better way to combine my love of M/M and Audiobooks than to review for The Novel Approach?

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Welcome, Maryann and Amy!

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Dreamspinner Press, Giveaways, M.A. Church

Q&A and Giveaway: To Touch the Sky by M.A. Church

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The Novel Approach welcomes author M.A. Church today on the To Touch the Sky blog tour. Enjoy our little question and answer session, and then be sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for the chance to win an e-copy of both books in the series.

Good luck!

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Q: M.A., what is it you find most romantic about the idea of “fated mates”?

MA: I love the idea that somewhere out there is the perfect person. *Shrug* But my pairings don’t get off the hook just because they’re fated. If anything, mine tend to *not* fall all over themselves for their mate, lol.

Q: When writing To Touch the Sky, what types of new twists did you want to breathe into your shifter world? And did you find you also followed some tried and true genre archetypes? What do you love most about your shifters?

MA: In this, my shifters are American Indian. The Great Spirit, called Wha-tay, created Mother Earth, an untouched land filled with beauty and life. Then her children, The People, were allowed to inhabit the land. The People settled at The Tree of Life—the soul of Mother Earth. The People believed the universe was bound together by the spirits within all natural life—from plants, animals, humans, water, and even the earth itself. When a child was born to The People, that child was joined with a spirit, a totem, which could be a land spirit, a water spirit, a plant spirit, or an animal spirit. And once bound, that person had the ability to use the gifts the spirit had.

I did follow the fated mate concept. And the human mated also can shift after the mating. One of the reasons I like this world is because my shifters share their body with the totem. So you have two totally different personalities in one body, lol. It makes for some interesting conversations between the shifter and the totem.

Q: As an author and a reader, what’s your idea of a great leading man? Do you have a “type” you find super sexy, and if so, what makes him get your motor running?

MA: I’d say someone not perfect is my ideal leading man, and boy, mine tend to be flawed, lol. They screw up, don’t always listen, and can be hardheaded. Perfecting is a concept I don’t follow with my men. Not long ago one of my betas, Jody, pointed out I have a lot of characters with long hair. I never noticed until he said something, lol! And while I am attracted to long hair on a man, I find bald men sexy too.

Q: There’s a showbiz adage that theorizes it’s easier to make people cry than laugh. A.) do you think that’s true, and B.) how would you describe your sense of humor? What makes you laugh?

MA: Hmm, I’d have to say I don’t agree. For me, it’s easier to make folks laugh. My stories often have humor in them, and yeah, my characters are pretty good with the one-liners. *snickers* But then, that’s part of my personality too. My humor ends up more on the dry side.

I’m not really one to try for tearjerkers. Some writers really excel at that, but I’m not one of them, lol.

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ToTouchTheSkyBlurb: He can run, but he can’t hide…

Centuries ago, Hawk made a terrible mistake which has haunted him since. Fear of responsibility and feelings of unworthiness leads him to denying the mate Wha-tay showed him in a vision. So now Hawk runs his bar, has casual sex, and never, ever dates men with blond hair and brown eyes. But then Simon walks into his bar, and the future he’s feared is about to end up in a brawl if Hawk doesn’t do something—fast.

Simon Carter has a smart mouth and a bulldog temperament. So when Hawk runs, Simon pursues the sexy man, only to be rejected. Just as Simon decides to give up, someone—or something—visits him to change his mind… and scares him to death. Now Simon is backpedaling, and Hawk is in pursuit.

Desperate to reassure Simon, and keep him safe, Hawk is forced to reveal his secrets before he’s ready. Can Simon learn to accept things aren’t always as they seem? Is the connection between them strong enough to help Hawk overcome centuries of pain? The only way the two men will move beyond Hawk’s past is for both of them to take a leap of faith.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | All Romance eBooks

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11041799_829583447134231_159217408363555340_nAuthor Bio: M.A. Church is a true Southern belle who spent many years in the elementary education sector. Now she spends her days lost in fantasy worlds, arguing with hardheaded aliens on far-off planets, herding her numerous shifters, or trying to tempt her country boys away from their fishing poles. It’s a full time job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it!

When not writing, she’s exploring the latest M/M novel to hit the market, watching her beloved Steelers, or sitting glued to HGTV. That’s if she’s not on the back porch tending to the demanding wildlife around the pond in the backyard. The ducks are very outspoken. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two children.
She was a finalist in the Rainbow awards for 2013.

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THE GIVEAWAY: An e-copy of Shadows in the Night and To Touch the Sky

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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5 Stars, Cooper West, Dreamspinner Press, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lana

Review: The Protector by Cooper West

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Title: The Protector

Author: Cooper West

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 250 Pages

At a Glance: I absolutely loved it!

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: Guardsmen are always matched in a bonded pair. The Protector can shift into a weredog, and the human partner is his Handler. They are incredibly rare and highly valued, but people also fear them for their mystical abilities. No Protector in living memory has outlived his Handler—until Alex Taylor.

Now a widower, Alex lives a lonely half-life and faces day after day of grief with no hope for happiness in the future. When he unexpectedly bonds with the young and vibrant Handler Marcus Stephanek, Alex is angry and unwilling to leave the memory of his former Handler behind. He pushes Marcus away and tries to distance himself from their bond. But then a mysterious villain who has been secretly shadowing Alex for years sets his plan in motion. Alex and Marcus must learn to trust their bond and love each other, or risk not only their own lives but the lives of those closest to them.

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Review: The Protector is not your typical shifter story. It was something new that brought a fresh spin on shifters and I enjoyed every word of it. And you know I love my shifters!

The story is set in an alternate reality where dog shifters are common and have been around since the beginning of the human race. The shifters are known as Protectors, and their bonded mates are the Handlers. Both manifest their traits at puberty and then are nurtured and valued by society. The world building with a shifter twist, and references to our history, was very cleverly done.

Here we have two Guardsmen, as they are called: Alex Taylor, a Protector, and Marcus Stephanek, a Handler. Both are special for two very different reasons. Alex survived the murder of his Handler and bonded mate. He’s the boy that lived. Marcus, at 27, is the oldest unbound Handler and is still looking for his mate. Alex wasn’t supposed to live, and Marcus was supposed to have found his mate and settled down.

When they find themselves in close proximity to each other, Alex scents his mate and both of their worlds are tipped upside down. Scent is the most primal of senses, and with shifters it’s everything! I absolutely loved Alex and Marcus, but I have to say that at times I wanted to smack Alex for acting like an ass. Both have issues, to say the least, and see themselves as half a man because one lost his mate and one hasn’t found his yet. When they do finally break through each other’s barriers, it’s hot and heavy yet sweet and heartwarming. They are both a bit alpha but know when to give in to the other. I absolutely loved it!

The story is not only about Alex and Marcus’s mating. There is a subplot of unsolved murders, a mad scientist, a latent Protector manifestation, and another bonding. I’m not going to spoil it because this book is a must read. It was pretty ingenious and fun, and I hope this is not the end of Alex and Marcus because I want to read more about their adventures together.






You can buy The Protector here:

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3 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Nico Jaye, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Karen

Review: He’s Just Knot That Into You by Nico Jaye

Title:  He’s Just Knot That Into You

Author:  Nico Jaye

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Page/Word Count:  127 Pages

At a Glance:  The story was cute and I loved the characters, but there just seemed to be so much that wasn’t explained or that didn’t seem to fit in.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb:  When Tanner moves to Chicago for a new job, he experiences his First Shift, a revelation that signifies he’s met his mate since the last full moon. The only problem? He doesn’t know who it is. To find his mate, he enlists his new assistant Jon to arrange a series of dates, but each one turns out more disastrous than the last.

With the next full moon quickly approaching, Tanner finally determines the identity of his true mate. Unfortunately, Jon has since disappeared, and Tanner must now begin a new search. Is it really Jon’s family crisis pulling him away, or is Jon just not that into him?

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Review:  Tanner is an alpha wolf; although, alpha wolf in this story, as far as I could tell, is just the more dominant of the wolves. There doesn’t seem to be packs or anything, you’re just either an alpha or an omega, but this wasn’t really explained clearly.

The concept that you don’t shift until the first full moon after you come in contact with your mate was also different, and kind of an interesting idea. Although I liked the idea of this, I still was confused because, based on conversations Tanner had with his mother, or him recalling things said by other family members, when you meet your mate you would know, but that isn’t how the story played out. Tanner had come in contact with his mate, but it took almost a month of seeing Jon every day, and going on “dates” with others, for him to realize Jon really was his mate. I did love the interactions between Tanner and Jon; they were so cute and sweet. Yup, they were adorable!

Without giving too much away, the other conflicts that popped up more toward the end of the book, with the magic and curses, was just a little too out there for me and pulled me out of the book, especially since there isn’t really any backstory or anything related to it.  I just didn’t find the additional twist necessary, and, in my opinion, it kind of took away from the story.

He’s Just Knot That Into You is cute and I loved the characters, and even the twist on words in the title, but there just seemed to be so much that wasn’t explained, or didn’t seem to fit in, that it left me confused and feeling unconnected to parts of the story.  There were a few times I laughed out loud and at one point, I was even a little embarrassed for one of the characters. I can tell you this: I am pretty sure I will NEVER look at mashed potatoes the same way again!

TNA_Signature_Karen






You can buy He’s Just Knot That Into You here:

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

A Welcome To New Reviewers And A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

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Cheers, everyone, and thanks for dropping by to see what we have coming up for you in the week ahead!

First, though, I’m so thrilled to introduce two new reviewers to the TNA team: one comes to us brand new to the reviewing biz, the other is a long time veteran reviewer in the M/M genre.

Welcome to Karen and Sadonna! Now, here’s a bit about them:

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TNA_Signature_KarenAbout Karen:

Well, Hi, I’m Karen! I am a 36 year old from Michigan. I have a great husband who’s only complaint is that I am addicted to reading (still trying to figure out why this is a problem…I don’t get it) but, he’s right, I know I’m addicted (hey! at least I admit it, well to you, not to him!). For about the last 2 years or so I have read pretty much exclusively MM. Reading is an escape for me, it is what i use to get out of my head and just relax, which is why you can usually find me on my breaks at work sitting with my Kindle, who am I kidding any free moment I have is usually spent with my Kindle. I am looking forward to trying out doing reviews and I am really happy to be here! Alright…enough about me…back to my book :o)

TNA_Signature_SadonnaAbout Sadonna:

Hi I’m Sadonna. Just like Madonna, but with an S ;) Yes, that’s my actual legal name. I used to hate it when I was a kid, but then I learned to embrace it! I’m 52 (when the heck did that happen??) and I work in downtown Chicago as a corporate type in HRIT – but I have a 60 mile commute each way, so I have a LOT of time to read and watch the world go by from my express Coach that has wifi. :)

I’m a long time voracious reader who read nearly every book in my grammar school library and left the public library with stacks of books each week. My sister was always mad that I wouldn’t play with her because I was reading. As an adult, for years I read pretty much historical and literary fiction (history major in college) and nonfiction. I was introduced to m/m in 2010 when I saw one of my friends had Special Forces on her Goodreads feed. Now 2300+ books and counting later, I still blame her and Aleks Voinov (and I have told him so :D). I currently have over 9000 books in my Calibre library as well as over 1000 physical books in my house. So I guess you could say I have a problem. ;)

Besides reading, I love to travel all over the US and the world – 15 countries and counting. I’m a big art lover and I spend a lot of time in art museums whenever I travel. I used to say I could live in bookstores and art museums, but it seems bookstores are practically becoming museums now! I also love the opera both live and at the movie theaters and have seen some gorgeous productions in Chicago, the Met and Covent Garden. I dream of Vienna and La Scala someday! I also like to go to the theater and see live music whenever possible. I also have my own art in the form of tattoos – two so far, with plans for lots more. :P

Now, here’s what we have on tap this week! 

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MondayMA Church kicks off our week on the To Touch the Sky blog tour

Tuesday – The Cut & Run farewell tour stops by with Crash & Burn by Abigail Roux

WednesdayFaith Ashlin is our guest today on the To Stand Close blog tour

ThursdayLilah Suzanne drops in on the Spice blog tour

FridaySkylar M. Cates joins us today with a guest post to celebrate the countdown to Rainbow Con

Saturday – To close out the week, we’ll have Bey Deckard with us today—or, I should say Captain Baltsaros, Tom, and Jon join us with a character interview that just might shiver yer timbers and make you anxious for Fated: Blood and Redemption, book three in the Baal’s Heart series

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And that does it for this week. Until next time, happy reading!

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Melanie Hansen, Reviewed by Jackie

Review: Everything Changes by Melanie Hansen

Title: Everything Changes

Author: Melanie Hansen

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: Melanie Hansen has done a great job with this book.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: What happens when friendship catches fire?

Former Marine and lower-leg amputee Carey Everett keeps a grueling schedule of counseling fellow war veterans and their families. The injury he received in Afghanistan forces him to rely on a reserve of strength he didn’t even know he had. A much deserved vacation will let him reconnect with his best friend, who saved his life and has been there for him through devastating injury and painful recovery.

Part-time EMT and aspiring singer Jase DeSantis has been in love with Carey for years, but he’s come to accept that his straight friend will never be able to offer more. Jase fills his days with band rehearsals, ambulance shifts, and willing groupies, all while trying to cope with debilitating PTSD.

A week of sun, fun, and music in San Diego changes Jase and Carey’s lives forever when their relationship takes an unexpected turn. Jase has been longing for that change, but it leaves Carey reeling with confusion. As Jase fights to hold things together, Carey deals with doubts, fears, and his own preconceived notions about labels and the true nature of love.

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Review: I am not always a huge fan of the “gay-for-you” story. Now, having said that, I can enjoy a well written love story, and this was definitely a well written love story.

Carey Everett and Jase DeSantis have been the best of friends for years. Jase is most definitely an out and proud gay man. Carey Everett is a self-proclaimed straight man. Even though this information has been on the table since the beginning of their friendship, Jase has been in love with Carey for years. He has done his best to accept the fact there may never be a love story for the two of them, and he doesn’t want to lose his best friend, so he takes what he can get from Carey and is as happy as he can be about it.

A long overdue visit to San Diego brings Carey into Jace’s world, and things begin to change between them. Carey is having feelings he hasn’t wanted to put a name to for a while, and this throws him for a loop. Jase is leery of doing anything romantic with Carey because he doesn’t want to ruin the dynamic they have shared for years, but he also doesn’t want to miss what could be his only chance for love with the man of his dreams.

These two men begin a journey together, some of it smooth sailing, and some of it hits some pretty rough seas. Not only is Carey trying to adjust to being in a relationship with a man for the first time, but both men suffer from different forms of PTSD.

This is not an easy road for either man, and it isn’t always sunshine and roses, but there is a well-earned HEA. I have to say, that makes a book a great read for me. I like the fact Carey doesn’t just accept all of his feelings and move full steam ahead with Jase. I like that fact Jase lets Carey have time to wrap his head around things. It just makes the story feel more realistic.

Melanie Hansen has done a great job with this book, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store from her next.






You can buy Everything Changes here:

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Garrett Leigh, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jules

Review: Lucky Man by Garrett Leigh

Title: Lucky Man (A Heated Beat Story)

Author: Garrett Leigh

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 132 Pages

At a Glance: Garrett Leigh’s Heated Beat series is not to be missed.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: A Heated Beat Story

As a diehard music fan, a dirty, smoky gig is Vice Squad Detective Danny Jones’s idea of heaven. While watching one of the most popular bands in Northern England, the sight of gorgeous rock star Finn McGovern changes his life forever.

Beneath the tattoos and leather jacket, Finn is kind and sweet, but when he confesses a dark secret to Danny, it tests their fledgling bond. Danny digs deep to accept Finn, but before long, a terrifying trail of death threatens to tear them apart before they’ve even got started.

A monster is killing prostitutes on Danny’s patch, and when a dead girl turns up too close to home, Danny discovers a heartbreaking link between the girl and his bright new life with Finn, a life he’ll do anything to protect.

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Review:

“…no man was immune to the anticipation lacing the air, the kind of anticipation that came with real music…the kind of music that dug out your soul on a Friday night and gave it back to you on Saturday afternoon with the mother of all hangovers.”

Ok. At the risk of sounding like a broken record…I’m here to sing the praises of another of Garrett Leigh’s books. Lucky Man, the second in her Heated Beat series, is maybe even better than the first book. My Mate, Jack was great, and it was wonderful to see Jack and Will again here – but, Lucky Man will win you over based solely on Danny and Finn, and the strength of the author’s storytelling.

Once again Leigh pulls no punches. The prologue drops us right into the heart of a rock concert, where you can almost feel the bass along with Danny as he gets drawn in by the music, and by Finn McGovern, the lead singer of The Lamps. You can picture the packed house, you can feel the energy of the crowd, and you can definitely appreciate the raw, sex appeal of the moment. It’s fantastic. I’ve loved the musical aspect of both stories. The many different songs that are sprinkled in along the way, and styles of music…all lend to the awesome vibe of the books, and they do have a really cool and different vibe from her other stories.

Danny and Finn are fantastic together. They are both crazy-sexy individually – but together? Smoldering. Unfortunately, Danny’s job as a Vice Detective, and the intensity of the case he’s working, keep him away for stretches of time. Which, coupled with Finn’s mental health issues, leads to a lot of stress and second-guessing for poor Finn. They definitely have to work hard to figure out how to make things work between them.

The case itself is creepily fascinating, and Leigh does a great job of dividing the story between the particulars of the case and Danny’s involvement, and his and Finn’s romance, and then bringing it all full circle. There are several intense, heart-pumping moments that keep the flow of the book going perfectly.

Garrett Leigh’s Heated Beat series is not to be missed. If you’re a fan of the author, it’s an absolute must read. If you’re new to her work, then it’s a great place to start.






You can buy Lucky Man here:

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5 Stars, Amy Jo Cousins, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Janet, Samhain Publishing

Review: Nothing Like Paris by Amy Jo Cousins

Title: Nothing Like Paris (Bend or Break: Book Two)

Author: Amy Jo Cousins

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 249 Pages

At a Glance: One of the strengths of this author is her character development skills; the guys are real, I could relate to them, and I loved joining them in this story.

Reviewed By: Janet

Blurb: Humble pie wasn’t supposed to taste this sweet.

Jack Tarkington’s life is in the toilet. He was supposed to be spending his junior year studying someplace cool like Paris or Rome. Instead, after taking out his anger on the campus “golden boy”, whose dad ripped off his parents, Jack is facing possible expulsion.

Sure, it’s all his own fault, but coming back to the small Iowa town he thought he’d escaped, after crowing about his admission to a prestigious school, has been a humbling experience.

When he runs into Miguel, Jack braces for backlash over the way he lorded it over his old friend and flame. Instead, Miguel offers him friendship—and a job at his growing farm-to-table store and café.

Against the odds, both guys bond over broken dreams and find common ground in music. But when Jack’s college gives him a second chance, he’s torn between achieving a dream that will take him far from home, and a love that strikes a chord he’ll never find anywhere else.

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Review: This is the second story in the Bend or Break universe, written by a fairly new author. It delivered quite the punch, and Amy Jo Cousins should be very proud of her work, as I found the book to be gripping from start to finish, and couldn’t put it down. I had the good fortune to not have read the first book which meant that I had another book to dive into as soon as I finished this one, because I just had to see for myself the wrong that Jack had done.

What a novel concept to have an MC I was sure I shouldn’t like or feel sorry for, but liking him anyway. Really! I don’t usually have only one side of a story, as I am pretty careful to read related stories in order, so this was a totally new experience for me. Jack is quite the character too, and totally worth the mixed emotions I felt as I read this book. I also loved the fact that although these are college age guys, they are not boys fresh out of high school, so there was no squick factor for me as I read. The ritual of being a grown up and owning your actions is given a fresh look with these MCs. Jack and Mike are each from difficult families, difficult for very different reasons, and the way they achieve their independence is a powerful plot of the story. The relationship that was theirs all through high school, and where it will go in the future, is another. The steps they take in their dance towards a relationship again are equal parts sweet and tentative, with a good dash of hot thrown in.

I really enjoyed the pace and flow of this story. There were many storylines going on all the time, but nothing felt jumbled or off track. The love story and hope for the future built up throughout the story and really kept my focus for the entire book. The sex scenes were hot but not gratuitous, and really helped the reader to be more invested in the MCs’ lives. I really liked the humor the author has in her tone of voice while narrating this story; it invites the reader in as a sympathetic witness to the MCs’ struggles, while letting us giggle at some of the shenanigans they get up to.

This story is a standalone novel, even though it is based on events from the prior book. I had no issues with a lack of understanding, as the POVs are totally separate and the link between the novels is simply the college and crossover characters. One of the strengths of this author is her character development skills; the guys are real, I could relate to them, and I loved joining them in this story. The HEA the MCs earned, as well as the hope and excitement for their future, means this book will be a favorite reread for me – although I hope it won’t be too long of a wait for another book from this author. I really enjoy her work.






You can buy Nothing Like Paris here:

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4 Stars, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Pia, Totally Bound, Willa Okati

Review: Give Chase by Willa Okati

Title: Give Chase

Author: Willa Okati

Publisher: Totally Bound

Pages/Word Count: 32000 Words

At a Glance: If you’re looking for a quick read that’s a bit sexy, with smart and stubborn men, then this book is for you.

Reviewed By: Pia

Blurb: Declan’s always been careful to guard his heart, but Isaac’s catching up at last. Some things are worth fighting for, even when they’re running fast.

Dr. Isaac Paliades has never been much for letting sleeping dogs lie, and he’s been intrigued by his colleague Dr. Declan Day from the moment they met. Declan’s a hard man to get a read on, one minute cool as snow and the next minute hot-blooded enough to give Isaac a run for his money. Though they work together, play together—and occasionally sleep together—Isaac has yet to get a good look at the man Declan is behind the carefully constructed masks he shows to the world.

But when the pair of physicians rescue an abandoned baby discovered while they’re out for a jog, Isaac sees cracks start to appear in Declan’s façade. He’s taking the care of their foundling more seriously than anyone imagined he would, and bringing Isaac along for the ride. He’s asking for dominance in bed, and a deeper friendship at St. Hawk’s.

Isaac thinks he’s finally found the key to unlocking Declan’s guarded heart. But even when the walls come down, can Declan find the courage and will to let Isaac in?

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Review: That feeling you get when you find a new author and want to read all of their books as soon as you can? That’s how I feel about Willa Okati. Yay!!!

In Giving Chase we meet Dr. Isaac Paliades and Dr. Declan Day. Both are doctors working at St. Hawk’s hospital. I have to admit it took me a bit to get into this book, not because it was bad but because for me, the characters took a bit to warm up to. Declan is a man who held his feelings close to the vest for most of this book, which is understandable when you find out why, but I would have loved to have had more of an insight into his background. As for Dr. Isaac, I love a man who won’t take no for an answer and am glad he kept pushing Declan to open up and share, when most people wouldn’t have taken the time to look beneath the surface to find out what was living underneath.

This is what happens when both doctors are out jogging and find an abandoned baby, who tugs at the heartstrings of everybody who gets involved with her. I’m not sure about anybody else but I love a grumpy, misunderstood guy who gets emotional over a tiny little baby.

While I loved this book, it left me with so many un-answered questions, such as what kind of home life did Isaac grow up in, where are his parents, and where did his sense of curiosity come from? How did both men come to work at St. Hawk’s, and how did being together change their lives? Those kinds of every day questions.

If you’re looking for a quick read that’s a bit sexy, with smart and stubborn men, then this book is for you.






You can buy Give Chase here:

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4 Stars, Loose Id, Lyn Gala, Reviewed by Lisa, Steampunk

Review: Clockwork Pirate by Lyn Gala

Title: Clockwork Pirate

Author: Lyn Gala

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 278 Pages

At a Glance: As alt-history steampunk adventures go, I’d say Clockwork Pirate is a fun one. As romances go, though, I’d say this one relied too much on telling rather than showing.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Alex hid his unnatural attraction to men for many years. That changes when the pirate Beche takes Alex after capturing his ship. At first Alex believes his fate is death and the only question a matter of how he might die. However, the longer he is on the ship, the more he realizes that Beche hates the world because it is unfair in ways Alex never understood. As Alex begins to respect this strong, independent man, Alex’s dormant desires begin to reassert themselves.

Beche hates the titled classes and their government enforcers. They might have outlawed slavery on paper, but they never came to the islands to free him or his family. Since his skin is black, society has little respect for him. Beche expects no more of this latest captive, but soon Beche begins to realize that Alex is a naïve and beautiful man who values family and struggles with his own place in society. That poses an even larger problem because Beche does not want to send Alex back to a world that will mistreat him, but he has no place for a lord on a ship full of pirates.

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Review: Lyn Gala’s Clockwork Pirate is a difficult novel to pinpoint exactly where my feelings about it landed when all was said and done. On the one hand, it’s a rollicking good, high seas adventure through an alternate history where airships rule the skies and sailing ships still run the seas. The story is not heavy on steampunk details, but offers just enough for readers to understand this is a world of invention and mechanical advancement that didn’t exist in its 1890s setting.

I love a good swashbuckling pirate story, and Beche and his motley crew of seamen give a good show of living up to the reputation of the anarchists of the aristocracy. They are hard men who have been wronged and beaten down by the nobility who once enslaved them. They live by their own set of rules and mete out justice as they see fit—and it usually doesn’t bode well for those they believe are due no mercy. In this, Lyn Gala’s writing was evocative and excelled at bringing to life the harsh climes and sometimes vicious existence these men lived in, and the danger they faced if caught and brought to justice by the society against which they rebelled.

Beche is an interesting character, a former slave who’s become captain of the Yemaja and of his own destiny now he’s freed himself from his owner. As a pirate, Beche is everything you might want—fearsome but also fair, as he proves when he overtakes the ship Meili and captures not only some of its valuables but Alexander, the Margrave of Mergau, as well. His brethren, those who share a history and are closest to him, are even more formidable at times than their captain, as Beche shows mercy to his prisoner on a number of occasions, where others simply want to see Alex die a slow and painful death. What this element served to do, and do well, was contrast these men and the gentle and confused soul that is Alex.

Also serving as a contrast to Alex were his sisters, whom I liked a lot, for as much as we get to know them. Brilliant and independent women stuck in a society that has no use for them, they both served as another reminder that Alex truly was out of his element as the head of his family. One of their purposes, as well, goes hand in hand with Beche’s somewhat interesting ideas of an urning—this novel’s label for gay men—and exactly what the gender roles entail for a man who loves men. Those ideas were…thought provoking, to say the least, and I empathized with Alex’s affront each time Beche reminded him he had a woman’s soul.

Where this novel wasn’t up to snuff, in my opinion, was in the building of the relationship between Beche and Alex. It happens slowly, as it should have, given how deeply Alex had been forced to bury his natural desires and how well he mentally flogged himself for them. He had first to overcome the disgust he felt for himself and the fact he was attracted to Beche; then, once that happened, he was free to tentatively explore those burgeoning feelings. The problem is the connection built between the two men happens somewhere off page. One moment Alex was denying, the next it seemed he was giving in to Beche, and that gap wasn’t spanned by developing the relationship out loud so we readers had the opportunity to become invested in it. In the end, it was a jump that left me feeling only lukewarm feelings toward Alex and Beche as a couple in spite of how well I enjoyed them as individuals.

One of the things you’d expect from a good pirate novel is a grand climax, and Clockwork Pirate delivers in a capture that requires the staging of a well planned and exciting rescue, one that, dare I say, runs like clockwork? I’d have to say this was my favorite part of the book, as it brings together Aster and Philla (Alex’s sisters) and Beche’s brothers-in-arms, working together with Alex to help Beche and his ship’s contriver, Fabrice, escape certain death.

As alt-history steampunk adventures go, I’d say Clockwork Pirate is a fun one. As romances go, though, I’d say this one relied too much on telling rather than showing, and lacked enough exposition to draw the reader in and make us feel invested in Alex and Beche’s happy ending.






You can buy Clockwork Pirate here:

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Angel, SJD Peterson

Review: Splintered by SJD Peterson

Title: Splintered

Author:  SJD Peterson

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 220 Pages

At a Glance:  An excellent psycho-thriller mystery story, with a bit of romance thrown in.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: A string of murders targeting effeminate gay men has the GLBTQ community of Chicago on alert, but budget cuts have left many precincts understaffed and overworked. Not to mention, homophobia is alive and well within the law enforcement community and little has been done to solve the mystery. When the FBI calls in Special Agent Todd Hutchinson and his team, the locals are glad to hand the case off. But Hutch finds a bigger mystery than anyone originally realized—seventeen linked murders committed in several different jurisdictions. Hutch’s clues lead him to Noah Walker.

Working on his PhD in forensic psychology, Noah has been obsessed with serial murders since he was a child. But coming to Hutch’s attention as a suspect isn’t a good way to start a relationship. Noah finds himself hunted, striking him off Hutch’s suspect list, but not off his radar. To catch the killer before anyone else falls victim, they’ll have to work together, and quickly, to bring him to justice

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Review:  Just when I thought I was left to Nora Roberts’ Eve Dallas to provide me with a good and sexy mystery, especially after Josh Lanyon decided to end Mr. English’s career, I find SJD Peterson. And yes, I am ranking this new-to-me author right up there with two on my all time favorites list. I really enjoyed this mystery and hope the clues the author left indicate there will be more from this series, and soon.

As the blurb says, Hutch and his team are out to find a killer. And it was one I didn’t even expect. The clues to the killer were almost nonexistent, which was a change. Normally I get some inkling about the bad guy but when he was revealed, I was like, oh… wow, okay, and I went with it.

The details of both the mystery and the police work felt real to me, down to the homophobia of the police departments working the murders, and the fear of the gay community. Hutch is jaded and intense, and I love how he saw into the mind of the killer, though he never actually saw him. Noah was just too cute for words, and intelligent to boot. I love that his past is what pushed him into his chosen field. His backstory makes me wonder if the mystery will be solved, and I hope for further sequels in this series.

Granite and Byte round out the team of investigators, and I would also enjoy more from them and their stories in the future. All the characters worked well together and once I began reading, it was hard to put the book down. I finished Splintered in just one night.

SJD Peterson focuses on the mystery here, and the romance between the protagonists is secondary. I liked that, and creepily, the reasons behind it made sense in context despite there being few clues to the mystery and murders. I also enjoyed the chemistry Hutch and Noah had. There isn’t much shown about their relationship, though, other than a one-night stand before Hutch’s guilt forces him to refocus on the case.

I found out, after reading, there are some outtakes from the book, and I would love to read them as well. Definitely looking forward to more of this series, and I will be on the lookout for more of the author’s works.

TNA_Signature_Angel






You can buy Splintered here:

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Giveaways, Love Lane Books, RJ Scott

Interview and Giveaway: Max and the Prince by RJ Scott

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TNA: Hi, RJ, I’m so glad to have you back with us today at The Novel Approach. For those who may be newer to the gay romance genre and don’t know you quite as well as others of us, why don’t we start by having you tell us a bit about yourself?

RJ: Hi, guys, thank you for having me. My name is RJ Scott and I am the author of over seventy-five published stories of MM gay romance. I am a full time writer and have been writing five years. I’m probably best known for the Texas series, Sanctuary, Ellery Mountain, and probably The Christmas Throwaway.

TNA: I remember the very first of your books I ever read and reviewed way back in 2010, Oracle. Was that your first published novel? I know you’ve since re-released it in 2013 via Love Lane Books. What was it like for you to revisit the book? Did you find yourself doing some revisions to it, using the experience you’ve gained over the years to polish it up a bit?

RJ: I remember you reviewing Oracle. It was singularly the most wonderful and terrifying thing that has ever happened to me. I recall you liked it and I was blown away! I did rewrite the book when I got it back, just to extend the romance more, and up the action scenes. I also had it re-edited which was a good thing. It was an amazing experience to revisit the book, then to write the sequel, Book Of Secrets. I adore Alex and Luke, in fact Alex is one of my all time favorite characters I have written.

TNA: I’ve been ordered to ask you this, so I’m going to do it for Lana before I forget. It seems some readers aren’t quite ready to be done with Zach and Ben. Will there ever be a sequel to The Christmas Throwaway, or is their story pretty well all said and done?

RJ: I get three questions all the time. Will there be a Sanctuary 8 (yes, later this year), will there be any more Texas (yes, Texas Wedding will happen when Texas recognizes gay marriage), and last but by no means least, will there be a sequel to The Christmas Throwaway.

Alongside The Heart Of Texas, Throwaway is my best selling book. I could write a sequel but it wouldn’t be right. I know, stop shouting at me, I said I would try and I even have a story for them… but… it just isn’t happening. Every time I start considering a sequel it just doesn’t seem right. So, my answer is maybe, one day, possibly, I might do… maybe.

TNA: Let’s talk a bit about your newest release, Max and the Prince. This is the third book in your Bodyguards Inc., series. What is it you find particularly romantic, sexy, appealing in general, about the relationships in these novels?

RJ: Oh, where do I start, sexy muscly bodyguards, all clever and tough and sighs… do you need me to go on… willing to take a bullet (or a knife!) for the men they are guarding. *Goes weak at the knees*. In the Ex-Factor I wrote an incredibly vulnerable character who needed a special kind of bodyguard, someone who would guard his body, but look after his heart as well. I’m sorry, but that is a win/win to me. :)

TNA: Tell us about Max and Prince Lucien. By virtue of Lucien’s royal status, would you call this an opposites attract story, or is it more the fairy tale of the royal falling for a commoner? What makes them work so well together as a couple?

RJ: Max is a down to earth guy, ex military, and often mistaken for being younger than he is, which means he’s ideal for the kind of *Jump Street* type assignment for younger charges. Lucien is only twenty two and he’s scared. He wanted the freedom of being at University without anyone knowing who he was, without an entourage, and for two years it’s been fine. Then the threats arrive. I suppose this is an opposites attract story, but yes, there is an element of a royal and a commoner… Lucien isn’t like a real royal, he doesn’t want the trappings, or the weight of responsibility, he just wants to be happy. We’ll have to see if Max can help out.

TNA: Would you like to share an excerpt from the book with us?

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RJ: UNEDITED!!!!!

“Okay, let me understand this. You’re a Prince, royalty,  but you imagined you could hide away and no one in the age of twitter and Facebook would put two and two together.”

“Prince is a title that’s all. My family doesn’t have the money one would think was attached to that. I’m maybe eightieth in line to the throne in the UK through my father’s side, but we’re not rich, in fact you could say we’re property rich, but cash poor.”

Max couldn’t get any of that to make sense. Why was someone blackmailing a family with no money, and wait, none of that answered his original question. “So why do you need a bodyguard.”

Lucien bit his lip. “I don’t think I do.” He held up a hand to stop Max talking at the very much to the point statement. “The threats,” he said. He passed over another envelope and this time Max pulled out everything. Eight separate letters in individual plastic wrappers with the stamp of Cardiff police on three of them and a familiar country name on the other. So that is where Prince Lucien comes from. “They’re in order,” he said. “The first five sent to my home before I moved here.”

Max read the first one, a love letter, albeit a short one. Nothing much that would ping his radar. The second was a little more insistent, suggesting Lucien maybe hadn’t received the first. The third was angry, the fourth was where it got interesting. Abruptly the writer was threatening to release photos if Lucien didn’t respond to the letters.

“The same photos I assume,” Max summarised as he turned to the next letter and answered his own question. Crudely stapled to the missive was a black and white print of the blurred image Max had just looked at. With the words, ‘you think I didn’t know, whore?’ written in block capitals.

Lucien pointed at the writing. “We had checks done on handwriting as soon as this one came in and the threat was more real. All of the letters are a match for the sloping t’s or r’s or something.”

The fifth and sixth letters were more of the same, and from the Cardiff stamp Max assumed Lucien had received the letter at University and not home. So, the threat had followed the Prince to his school in a completely different country. Not good.

Letter seven rambled on for two pages, all in capitals, talking of betrayal and forever and love and desire. Max put it to one side to examine it later in more detail. Maybe he could garner something useful from the seemingly incoherent rambling. And he knew he would look. Something about this whole job put him on edge and he would be telling Kyle that he’d take the job. The last letter was on different paper, a cheap stock from the weight of it, a threat and a demand.

Love me or die.

Just that. A simple sentence, four words that were stone cold in their finality and intent.

“So?” Lucien began. “My parents want me home, I’m in my last year, I want to stay and the deal is that I have security. They sent Teddy over—he’s the head of security at home. But, you’ve seen him with his best impression of a hairless Hagrid and if he’s with me, nothing will be the same. I need someone who will just be with me. Can you help me? Will you?”

Max glanced up from the letters to see the resignation on Lucien’s face. It was like he was expecting Max to say no. Vulnerability shadowed his eyes and he grasped his hands together so tight the skin was white. Max’s heart won out over his head. Lucien wasn’t arrogant or expecting Max to say yes, he was defenceless and scared.

“I’ll help you.”

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TNA: If you were casting the roles of Max and Lucien for the movie version of Max and the Prince, whom would you choose to play them in the film?

RJ: Oh wow, that is a hard one… I don’t think I can even think of that one today as this is still a WIP as I write the answers here. Max is five nine with blond hair and blue eyes. Lucien is six foot with dark hair and really dark brown eyes… They both look around 22… so… maybe anyone reading this can suggest some names!

TNA: I mentioned Love Lane Books earlier. What was it that drew you into the publishing side of the business? How long has Love Lane existed, and how many authors do you currently publish?

RJ: Love Lane was created when I wrote my YA self published stories. Love Lane was the name of the road my first school was in, and it made sense as I write love stories. When *^&%”^% Publishing went tits up (English’ism) I decided to self publish all of my books from them (apart from Moments and Back Home which went to TB). Then, I had a few other authors who I loved and wanted to publish. Love Lane isn’t taking on authors, but we are slowly expanding with my writing and with existing authors. It’s been an exciting and daunting ride!

TNA: Would you like to share some information on what’s upcoming from both you and Love Lane in the near future?

RJ: I have SO MANY things happening this year. I have Undercover Lovers (Bodyguards 4, Ross and Kyle’s story), Deacons Law (Heroes 3), The Summer House which is the first in a new series of books set in the beautiful Cotswolds in England, Sanctuary 8, Sapphire Cay 6… see… a HUGE LIST… I’m also a featured speaker at the Euro Pride Con in Munich (meep), and am also attending GRL in San Diego and UK meet in Bristol. I have books coming out in Audio (April, Guarding Morgan) and translations (April, Guarding Morgan, French and Italian). See, a very busy year!

TNA: Many thanks for taking the time to be here with us today, RJ. Will you tell us where we can find you on the internet?

RJ: Of course… my website is www.rjscott.co.uk and my email is rj@rjscott.co.uk . Thank you so much for having me.

And Lisa, I have just one thing to say to you. Cheese.

RJ XXXXXXX

TNA: LOL! Okay, full disclosure, guys. RJ threatened at one point to answer all my questions with the word Cheese. Now I can’t stop thinking about which cheeses she’d cast as Max and Lucien in the movie version of the book. ;-)

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Max and the Prince 400x600Max and The Prince – Bodyguards Inc, book 3

Book 1 – Bodyguard To A Sex God
Book 2 – The Ex Factor

Bodyguard Max Connery is used to being mistaken for being younger than he is.

Being carded every time he buys a beer is usual. Even though he’s just turned twenty eight and has two tours in Afghanistan as a pilot under his belt.

When a threat is made on the life of a prince attending University in the UK, Max is the perfect choice to blend in with students and to keep Prince Lucien safe. Even if it means joining the swim team to be by his side.

But, when death visits the University, abruptly this job is a long way past keeping the prince happy and safe. Instead Max has to keep Lucien alive.

Buy Links HERE

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THE GIVEAWAY: A $15 Amazon or ARe Gift Card, Readers Choice!

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3.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Paranormal Romance, R. Cooper, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: A Beginner’s Guide to Wooing Your Mate by R. Cooper

Title: A Beginner’s Guide to Wooing Your Mate

Author: R. Cooper

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: It is with great caution I tell you that some of this novel worked so beautifully and some…well, some did not.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: A Being(s) in Love Story

Zeki Janowitz has returned to his hometown of Wolf’s Paw to start his wizarding career. Unfortunately, Wolf’s Paw, a werewolf refuge, follows centuries of tradition and shuns human magic and a very human Zeki. He knows he’s in for a struggle, but a part of him has always belonged in the mountain town, or rather belonged to Theo Greenleaf. Years away at school haven’t lessened Zeki’s crush on the quiet werewolf. When town gossip informs him Theo still suffers from his mate’s rejection and does not date, it does little to ease Zeki’s embarrassing feelings. He decides now’s the time to get the man he’s always wanted.

Werewolves usually don’t recover from losing their mates, and Theo barely pulled through by focusing on his love of baking. It’s a daily struggle, and Zeki’s return to Wolf’s Paw shatters his peace. Theo doesn’t know what to think when Zeki attempts to woo him, talking about his wizarding business and settling in town for good. It’s like Zeki doesn’t have a clue how his words years before left Theo a shell of a werewolf.

Beginners in love, Theo and Zeki must seduce each other with a bit of heavenly baking and magic.

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Review: I need to begin this review by stating unequivocally that I have thoroughly enjoyed this author’s past work. I find the writing style to be very clever, with a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek humor that is both witty and sharp. So, it is with great caution I tell you that some of this novel worked so beautifully and some…well, some did not. There were times when the dearth of backstory, and the process of creating the community of Weres and their customs/practices, really became confusing. I was initially so pleased that we didn’t get this huge information dump, as most paranormal books tend to do when establishing the world and describing the nuances of pack life. Instead, R. Cooper spread out the dissemination of these important ideas over almost the entire novel. However, in doing so, we came to understand the mating process of Weres and humans very slowly—so slowly I felt it detracted from the growing closeness between Theo and Zeki. Coupled with the stuttering way in which the last third of the book spoke about their courtship process, coming in a series of flashbacks,I was hard pressed to enjoy the tension filled ending of the novel where we would find out their future as potential mates.

Let me step back and give you a brief synopsis of the story and go from there. Teen life for Zeki Jankowitz was rather awful. Moving to the almost exclusive Were town of Wolf’s Paw at the age of thirteen, with his father, Zeki never really fit in to the community. Bullied by two Weres who made it their mission in life to remind him of how unimportant and inferior he was, Zeki spent his high school years crushing on Theo Greenleaf.

Theo was quiet, not your typical Were, and seemingly unaware of Zeki until he interrupts a heated confrontation between Zeki and his tormentors. Zeki is so emotionally angered that he lets the two boys, and, unwittingly, Theo, see his true self, a human who will wield great magical power one day. When Theo realizes who Zeki is, he commits a cardinal sin by approaching him and asking him to go to the upcoming town celebration—an absolute no-no in the Were rulebook. You see, if a Were recognizes his mate as a human, it is then up to the human to make the first move toward courtship. Because Theo was such a young wolf, he overstepped the boundaries and Zeki, who had just been told that Theo could never want a relationship with the likes of him, blurts out a harsh and final “no” to Theo’s request.

Now, Theo is a rejected mate, and the crushing blow to his fragile wolf pushes him to run away, leaving his community and his potential mate far behind for several months. Zeki graduates and leaves Wolf’s Paw to pursue a degree in magic. And that seems to be the end…until Zeki returns and unknowingly seems to be the only person in town who does not realize his hastily spoken “no” has left Theo with such sorrow he has been unable to date or mate ever since.

The interactions between the townspeople and Zeki were nothing short of hilarious. The poor man was clueless as to what others perceived as his rejection of Theo, and seeing the grown firefighting Were once again stirred up all the old feelings Zeki still carried for him. This was the most tender of courtships, stumbling and confused, with old hurts holding the two men back from admitting their burgeoning love for each other. I so wish this could have remained the focus of this novel. Instead, it seemed to ramble, attempting to establish the setting, the silly rules, introducing numerous side characters, and introducing two key figures that will receive their own novel later this year.

I felt there were definite plot holes that needed to be plugged. For instance, while I understood Zeki was not back in Wolf’s Paw for revenge on his bullies, the casual statement of where the two had ended up left us knowing that one of them still lived there in town. In fact, Theo muses aloud about how Zeki was bound to run into him at some point. And then, that plot line dropped. No meet up, no closure—and yet, these two boys really set up both Theo and Zeki for years of hurt and misguided sorrow. Then there was the introduction of the startlingly handsome and charismatic sheriff (also pack leader), and a love interest that obviously has a shady, mysterious past and is in hiding. I gather that the next novel will focus on those two, and yet even the attempt to establish their story seemed sketchy at best and simply served to take more focus away from the main characters and their journey together.

By novel’s end I was strongly hoping we would see a definitive path for Zeki and Theo, and a resolution to the waiting game they were playing due to Theo’s poor self-esteem in thinking he was not good enough for Zeki. Instead, I was left with questions and doubts, and more of a happy for now ending that set the way for the next novel in this series.

A Beginner’s Guide To Wooing Your Mate has all the makings of a really sweet love story, and is a deliciously humorous glimpse into a new world in which Weres and humans coexist. I will be on the lookout for the next novel in this series and hope that it clears up some of the confusing plot points this story left hanging.

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2.5 Stars, Genre Romance, JMS Books LLC, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sam Singer, Short Story

Review: Unspoken by Sam Singer

Title: Unspoken

Author:  Sam Singer

Publisher: JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 10 Pages

At a Glance: Super short story that felt a bit forced.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Kenneth and David from the best-selling stories Broken and Envy are back for another sensual glimpse into their D/s relationship.

Kenneth prides himself on being the best trained sub he can for his Dom. David returns home after a hard day of work and lavishes Kenneth with attention but does not allow Kenneth to serve him. Honored to receive his Dom’s attentions, he longs to speak the words of love overflowing within him, but without permission to speak, Kenneth must instead rely on a soundtrack of power ballads to say what he cannot as David brings him to the peak of sexual satisfaction.

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Review: I feel like I say this a lot, but full disclosure, I didn’t read the first two book with these characters, and while I think it may have been good to see the progression of Kenneth and David’s relationship, I understood what was happening just fine. Kenneth is a likeable sub, though he hardly talks during the story, and David seems like a good Dom. But given how short the story is—it’s pretty much a step above flash fiction—there isn’t too much development.

The story is told in the present tense, which for some readers might be jarring. I felt like I was in the scene with Kenneth and David, and it worked well enough for what the author was trying to portray. I’m not the biggest fan of third person present, but that’s just me.

That said, I did have one major issue with the story, aside from the perspective. Since it is so short, every single word should count, and it should be edited neatly for continuity. In longer novels, a change of clothing mid-scene might be missed by some readers, but when you’re only playing with 2,000 words, pointing out that David is wearing leather pants, and he only wears leather when he and Kenneth are about the play, sets the reader up. Then, in the next paragraph Kenneth fixates on how soft the denim feels against his bare skin…Well, it takes the reader out of the scene. I had to go back and check to see if he really had been wearing leather or not, and when I saw that he had been, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought I would see a heavier BDSM scene, but that wasn’t the case.

While the story wasn’t bad, these are characters I will not likely visit again.

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5 Stars, Genre Romance, Kaje Harper, Reviewed by Chris, Self-Published

Review: The Family We Make by Kaje Harper

Title:  The Family We Make

Author:  Kaje Harper

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 461 Pages

At A Glance: I recommend this book for all of us who’ve ever struggled to feel accepted.

Reviewed By: Chris

Blurb: At seventeen, Rick Albright left his home, his parents and even his old name, rather than pretend to be straight. But being on his own was hard. When his big brother Sam found him, and insisted on giving him a place to stay, he didn’t resist too long. Living with Sam is better than fighting just to survive, but it’s not easy to find his balance in a simple, small-town life, after his time on the streets.

Travis Brinkerhoff finally managed to come out in college, his second year anyway. It was the one bright side to losing his baseball scholarship and jock status. But without money for tuition, second year came to an abrupt end. He’s back in his small Minnesota hometown, and back in the closet. Travis feels like he’s trying to fit into a life he’s outgrown. If he’s going to survive, he has to figure out a way to be his own man, maybe even have his own man, without losing the family he loves.

When he left the Marines, Sam Albright wanted nothing more than to find his missing younger brother. Mission accomplished. Now he’s got an independent, possibly traumatized, openly gay young man on his hands, a girlfriend in a war zone overseas, and parents he has to lie to in order to keep the peace. Keeping it all together won’t be easy, but Sam has never backed away from a challenge.

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Review:  The Family We Make is the follow up to Kaje Harper’s novella The Family We’re Born With. While it’s not necessary it to understand the story in The Family We Make, The Family We’re Born With does give background on Sam’s family and where they’re staying at the moment.

The Family We Make is mostly about Sam’s youngest brother Rick, who ran away from home before Sam left the Marines. While Sam is visiting his biological mother for the first time, he finally gets a call from Rick. Sam ends up tearing off after him and brings him back to Minnesota, where he’s staying for the time being.

Rick is scared and angry but wants the comfort of his big brother after being on his own for so many months. This doesn’t mean he’s going to make things easy on Sam, though, mostly because he’s scared that he’ll end up acting like their parents and turning on him because he’s gay. Eventually Sam cracks through the walls Rick has built, and they start to regrow their bond, along with the mechanic, Jeff, who Sam starts to work with. Eventually, then, we meet Travis. Travis and Rick form a bond while working on the road crews shoveling snow, and doing tasks for the elderly in the area.

The new bond between Rick and Travis is sweet and adorably sexy at the same time, as they’re finding their way with each other and growing into themselves. Unfortunately their road isn’t as smooth and easy as it should be, but it shows them what is important in their lives and what it means to be a family.

While the basis of this story is Rick and Travis’s, it’s not strictly a NA love story. There are a lot of characters and storylines intermingled to create this really deep and thoughtful story about what family truly means to us. It’s not always the family you’re born into that is there for you. It’s the family you create through friendships, relationships, and love that gives us the strength we need to grow into who we’re meant to be.

I really fell in love with Rick and Travis as they were finding their way, and when the last thing hit them, well, it even got me sniffling. It was like, “just how much more can these boys handle at their age?” but handle it they did, and with the grace and strength of someone twice their ages might. Sam and all the secondary characters really filled out the storyline, giving that extra depth and support to Rick and Travis. It also showed how building their new family affected all of them individually, as well as together as a whole.

I recommend this book for all of us who’ve ever struggled to feel accepted, and those who’ve had to forge their own bonds of family. Kaje Harper really got everything in this book perfectly right, at least for this reader.

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Giveaways, Heidi Cullinan

Guest Post and Giveaway: Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan

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The Novel Approach welcomes Heidi Cullinan today on the Carry the Ocean blog tour. Enjoy Heidi’s guest post, then be sure to check out the ways you can win some great prizes, including a tour wide Grand Prize. You’ll find details below.

And now, here’s Heidi!

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This Used to Be My Playground

Roosevelt Park

In Carry the Ocean, the characters go several times into the playground behind The Roosevelt, to play, to sit under trees, to get away from a world too much with them. It will feature more in books two and three. What it will never be, however, is something you can visit. Many things in Carry the Ocean exist in Ames, the town I live in, including The Roosevelt as a renovated elementary school. The playground, alas, is with us no more.

Part of the reason I used The Roosevelt as a setting and feature in the story—and kept the playground—is for my daughter. Though it shuttered before she went to school, she grew up playing on the wooden structure. It was where she learned to ride her bike. It was the place close enough for her to bike to and be on her own. It felt familiar and comfortable because of the school building beside it, but it could be enjoyed at any hour of any day because the school wasn’t operational. Even bathrooms weren’t an issue, because home wasn’t so terribly far away.

When The Roosevelt was sold, the playground was razed. It was considered too unsafe, and in any event, the people turning the building into condominiums wanted somewhere to build a parking garage and community area. It made logistical sense. My daughter, however, was heartbroken.

The renovations on the building are nearly finished, almost all the units sold. We were given, as neighborhood residents, the option to tour it, but my daughter wouldn’t let us go. She still resents the tearing down of her childhood haunt, even though she hadn’t been there in years when it finally vanished. It’s a raw wound to have the Roosevelt playground gone forever. They could cure cancer and achieve world peace there, and she’d still mourn the loss of her wooden castle.

I put the playground back in my novel for my daughter. I have no idea if she’ll ever read Carry the Ocean, or that doing so would make her feel less upset about the loss even a little. I hope, of course, someday both those things happen. When you read the book, though, I hope when you read the playground scenes you see the ghost of the little girl taking her first brave steps across the “shaky bridge,” daring the twisty slide and the “fast slide,” making friends while navigating the tire maze. Swinging on the tire swing. Never quite finding the bravery for the tunnels. Riding her bike for the first time confidently down the parking lot—even if she had to jump off for the dismount since she didn’t have enough strength to use the brakes on her big bike.

In Carry the Ocean and all the Roosevelt books, the playground will forever stay. I can’t keep my daughter’s heart from breaking even most of the time, but I can put this one precious thing in a place where it will be safe forever. And always, always loved.

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CarryTheOcean300Blurb: The Roosevelt, Book 1

Normal is just a setting on the dryer.

High school graduate Jeremey Samson is looking forward to burying his head under the covers and sleeping until it’s time to leave for college. Then a tornado named Emmet Washington enters his life. The double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he’s autistic.

But Jeremey doesn’t judge him for that. He’s too busy judging himself, as are his parents, who don’t believe in things like clinical depression. When his untreated illness reaches a critical breaking point, Emmet is the white knight who rescues him and brings him along as a roommate to The Roosevelt, a quirky new assisted living facility nearby.

As Jeremey finds his feet at The Roosevelt, Emmet slowly begins to believe he can be loved for the man he is behind the autism. But before he can trust enough to fall head over heels, he must trust his own conviction that friendship is a healing force, and love can overcome any obstacle.

Warning: Contains characters obsessed with trains and counting, positive representations of autism and mental illness, a very dark moment, and Elwood Blues.

Buy Links: Samhain | All Romance eBooks | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble

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Heidi Cullinan head shotAbout the Author: Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren’t enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and teenaged daughter. Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights and is proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality. Find out more about Heidi, including her social networks, at www.heidicullinan.com.

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Giveaways

Heidi Cullinan is offering two ways to win on her Carry the Ocean tour.

Prize #1 is an e-copy of the book, and all you need to do to enter for a chance to win is leave a comment right here.

THE COMMENT-TO-ENTER CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

Prize #2 is a tour wide Rafflecopter event, which includes a swag pack filled with goodies tied into the book (image below). Just click on the widget to enter.

Good luck!

Rafflecopter Giveaway

THE SWAG

THE SWAG

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