4 Stars, Audio Book, Ethan Stone, Genre Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Narration Rating - 3.5 Stars, Reviewed by Maryann, Self-Published

Audio Review: Bartender, P.I. by Ethan Stone – Narrated by John Solo

Title: Bartender, P.I.

Author: Ethan Stone

Narrator:: John Solo

Publisher: Self-Published

Run Time: 2 Hours and 32 Minutes

At a Glance: What great P.I.s Linc and Brady made in solving the big mystery! Just be prepared to snicker!

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: When hockey star Linc Carpenter is banned from playing his beloved sport, he starts over, slinging drinks in Tampa. He’s inept as a bartender, so when the opportunity arises to train as a private investigator he takes it. He’s not very good at that either, but he still manages to get hired to follow fashion mogul Quentin Faulkner.

Linc’s incompetence is a hindrance, but Brady Williams, Faulkner’s studly bodyguard, may prove to be his undoing. Brady is drawn to Linc despite his bungling, and Linc’s stupidity may be just what’s needed to solve the case and save their lives.

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Review: Bartender, P.I. is a little different from the novels I have read by Ethan Stone. He created that difference with comedy and some mystery melded together. He also gave the two MCs a soft side, but nothing overly dramatic or serious.

Linc and Brady’s relationships with their fathers were different. Linc is more carefree with his lifestyle, and Brady more conservative, but they make a cute couple. It was nice to see Linc willing to change some of his preferences. And, what great P.I.s they made in solving the big mystery! Just be prepared to snicker!

Narration: I have heard other audios by John Solo. He did a fairly good job performing, and gave each character their own voice and personality. His portrayal of Linc as the comedic character was really good, though I did have a mental block with Linc’s voice. Because I’ve listened to this narrator before, I noticed Linc’s voice was very similar to a character from another story, which I struggled to get past because the other character was a businessman, smart, and didn’t lead a carefree life like Linc.

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4.5 Stars, Barbara Elsborg, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Karen, Samhain Publishing

Review: Breaking by Barbara Elsborg

Title: Breaking (Fall or Break: Book Two)

Author: Barbara Elsborg

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Page/Word Count: 321 Pages

At a Glance: Breaking pretty much had everything I look for in books that I love.

Reviewed By: Karen

Blurb: Archer Hart, former SIS assassin, has just completed a freelance hit job when he finds himself in a sniper’s scope. The bullet whizzing past his ear is a clear message: someone wants him dead. Retirement will have to wait, as his only choice is to assume a new identity—and keep running.
Conrad Black is a broken man. The injured barrister has come to the beach to recover from a hit-and-run “accident”, with plenty of time to wonder who might be wishing he’d been left dead instead of partially paralyzed. When he spots a surfer in trouble, he throws his crutches aside to pull the man to safety.

One glance at Archer takes Conrad’s breath away. And Archer finds himself envying the hands Conrad is using to pet his dog. But as the net tightens, both men can feel the targets on their backs heating up. The only thing that will save them is the truth…before death snatches away their one chance at love.

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Review: Alright…so, I read the book and got ready to write the review and looked up the book to get the blurb, and what do I see…? A super-hot cover that has Archer on it, exactly how I had pictured him while reading the book.

Breaking pretty much had everything I look for in books that I love. I love stories with law enforcement, military, hit men, that kind of thing, and this book had Archer! Archer was trying to get out of the business; he was closed off from any emotion, had nobody; didn’t want anybody, or more correctly, didn’t think he deserved anybody. And, due to a screwed up childhood and all those little steps along the way, didn’t know what it was like to love or be loved… He was broken.

Another thing I love in my books is alpha-type guys, and this book had not only one but two! Where Archer is out breaking the law, Conrad is on the side of the law—he’s a barrister. He may have grown up different than Archer but ended up just as lost and broken. I’ll admit that after reading the first book in this series, I wasn’t looking so forward to Conrad’s story. I didn’t like him all that much in Falling. I was wrong! Once you learn more about him, and why he acted the way he did, and watch as him and Archer start to mend each other, you can’t help but fall for these guys. The back and forth sarcasm between the two of them had me smiling, and when these two get together, the sex scenes are crazy hot!

I love a good drama. I love reading through and trying to figure out who the bad guy is. Sometimes it can get frustrating when you get it figured out right from the beginning, but that wasn’t the case here. I had a hard time putting the book down because I couldn’t wait to figure out who was after the guys.

The only issue I had as that the pace seemed to drag a little through the middle. There was just a little too much reading where I thought, didn’t we already do this? But, overall, I really loved the book and look forward to reading more by this author.

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Jay Northcote, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed By Carrie

Audio Review: Nothing Ventured by Jay Northcote – Narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies

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Title: Nothing Ventured

Author: Jay Northcote

Narrator:: Matthew Lloyd Davies

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 4 Hours and 39 Minutes

At a Glance: This was a great audiobook and I really enjoyed listening to it.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: When Aiden agrees to run the Mad Mucker—a twelve-mile muddy slog over an obstacle course—he’s expecting it to be a bit of a laugh. The training will be tough, but Aiden could use the motivation to regain some fitness.

Matt is the sexy cousin of one of Aiden’s coworkers and a last-minute addition to the team. When he agrees to train with Aiden, Aiden suddenly finds the prospect of regular workouts a lot more appealing.

Soon attraction flares, and they embark on an intense physical relationship. Matt doesn’t want to fall in love with a man, and Aiden doesn’t want to fall in love at all, but despite their insistence on no strings, they grow closer. As the day of the race approaches, time is running out for them to work out how they feel about each other.

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Review: Aiden is in trouble. Too much tequila and all of a sudden he is committed to creating a team and running the Mad Mucker race with his friends. Fitness for Aiden has taken a backseat in recent months, as his life has reached a turning point and running the race is the last thing he truly wants to participate in. To add insult to injury, he further backs himself into a corner and has to agree to training with Matt – another member of the team and a fitness guru. Yea, him! Aiden doesn’t do relationships, but the more he tries to fight his attraction to Matt, the harder he falls.

Matt has just moved back to England from Australia and is trying to start a new life. Fitness is his life, and he really enjoys a good fifteen-mile run. Maybe if he runs fast enough, he can outrun his attraction to his new training partner. Maybe.

This is another addition to the Nothing series from Jay Northcote, and it is a worthy addition. The story is a light, easy read, and is even better when it is read to you. There is not a lot of angst in this book, just two guys with an incredible attraction to one another, and how they work toward a HEA. I love the way Jay Northcote writes her characters; you see them, they are real men with real feelings and problems, and come alive on the page. By the end of one of her books, you’ve become intimate enough with her characters you would know them on the street or would love to have a pint with them.

Matthew Lloyd Davies does a great job with the narration of this book. I was never confused which character was talking, and his accent really put me in a positive frame of mind to listen to a story. Mr. Davies’ narration flowed, it was not stilted or awkward, and that, along with a good story, made it an incredibly wonderful experience for a quiet afternoon.

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5 Stars, J.K. Hogan, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Kathie, Wilde City Press

Review: Shadows Fall by JK Hogan

Title: Shadows Fall

Author: JK Hogan

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count: 293 Pages

At a Glance: One thing that really stood out for me is that JK Hogan puts a lot into developing her secondary characters.

Reviewed By: Kathie

Blurb: A gift—or curse—gives Titus McGinty the unwanted ability to talk to ghosts. When he starts seeing the same few apparitions repeatedly, appearing with similar gruesome injuries, he begins to wonder what they want from him.

Detective Charlie Hale has a serial killer on his hands. On the loose for weeks, the Queen City Slayer has left the police nothing to go on, no forensic evidence other than what he wants found. The city is running out of time.

The crisis brings Titus and Charlie together—Titus stumbles upon a body and finds himself a suspect. Their budding romance is tested as they are sucked into a web of underground laboratories, restive spirits, and religious fanaticism. They’ll have to work together to find the identity of the killer before he takes his next victim…Titus

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Review: Shadows Fall by JK Hogan is packed full of magic, hot sex, and my favorite—a happy ending for two hot guys!

Titus Finnbar McGinty is very fast to proclaim that he can see dead people. He owns a coffee shop and employs some crazy characters that Hogan brings to life with great detail. Up until now he has been managing the dead people with an iPod and professional-grade Sennheisers. They keep the voices at bay, he says. Most of the ghosts or mules, as Titus calls them, are attached to a geographical area. Never have they followed him home or to the coffee shop. That is, until four mules become very persistent and follow him wherever he goes. Titus decides he needs help and sends a letter to his Granny Hester Faa, asking for help with controlling the mules. Granny is a powerful Chovihani (she can also see dead people), and Titus has not seen her since he was cast out of his tribe for being gay. Hester Faa is a colorful character, tough as nails. Granny comes to the rescue with her Airstream trailer in tow! When Titus told her she needed to move her trailer or she would get a ticket, her response was “Who cares what they think? They give me tickets, I wallpaper my trailer with them.” Great character development!

Detective Charles Hayes is a homicide police officer and a patron of the coffee shop, who happens to be working on the case, which Titus figures out is the ghosts that have attached themselves to him. When the serial killer strikes again, and a ghost of the victim leads Titus to his body, Titus calls Charlie for help. Charlie and Titus become very close as Charlie is helping Titus through the trauma. As Titus puts it, “I see the dead all the time, but I’d never actually seen a dead body before.”

One thing that really stood out for me is that JK Hogan puts a lot into developing her secondary characters. They aren’t just extras; they actually helped move the story along and played important roles in supporting both Titus and Charlie. Shadows Fall is not a fast read. It’s a well thought out story with lots of twists and turns. I highly recommend it, and I am really hoping she continues the story!

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Dreamspinner Press, Giveaways, Santino Hassell

Guest Post and Giveaway: Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell

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The Novel Approach welcomes author Santino Hassell today, on his Sutphin Boulevard blog tour. Enjoy his guest post, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

Good luck!

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Is it ever “just sex”?

As I write each book in the Five Boroughs series, I realize there are common themes between a few of the novels. Particularly people who go from friends to lovers. People who think they can do the casual thing and be satisfied with “just sex” only to realize it’s not possible for them. They always want more because they end up consumed by feelings of affection and possessiveness that have no place in a casual arrangement.

I probably write about this type of romance so frequently because I’ve experienced it several times in my own life. Several of my lovers have started as friends and several of my fuck buddies inevitably turned into lovers (or ended disastrously because one of us couldn’t maintain the casual aspect). If you’re like me—someone who doesn’t always click with people or who rarely latches on when attempting to date strangers—it’s not hard to imagine why you might catch feelings for those rare individuals who get you.

When you find someone who accepts the real you, someone who doesn’t expect you to be “on” all the time, it’s a special thing. And if you happen to be attracted to that person… well then that’s when things get complicated. And that’s where things got complicated for Michael and Nunzio in SUTPHIN BOULEVARD.

Michael and Nunzio have known each other for twenty years and they’ve been best friends every step of the way. They had each other’s backs while growing up in Jamaica, Queens, were family to each other when their own parents were too broken to function, and have never made a life-changing decision without consulting each other. Suffice to say, they’re the most important people in each other’s lives.

And that’s before the first time they have sex. Which happens in chapter one.

After writing the first draft of SUTPHIN BOULEVARD, I had some conversations about why I chose to put such an intense sex scene in the first chapter. There’s a possibility it would turn readers off and there’s also a possibility that it would imply the book has a hedonistic/light tone when that’s far from the truth. The book tackles some heavy themes and contains serious subject matter, but sex is important to Michael and Nunzio’s evolving relationship and that’s why the book starts with them being intimate for the first time.

It happens after a night of partying (after Michael tries to get over a recent breakup), and it unveils a new aspect to their relationship that neither man can ignore.

So, what do you think, readers? Does casual sex ever work? Can it ever be “just sex”? Let me know in the comments!

© 2015 Santino Hassell.

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Blurb: Michael Rodriguez and Nunzio Medici have been friends for two decades. From escaping their dysfunctional families in the working-class neighborhood of South Jamaica, Queens to teaching in one of the city’s most queer friendly schools in Brooklyn, the two men have shared everything. Or so they thought until a sweltering night of dancing leads to an unexpected encounter that forever changes their friendship.

Now, casual touches and lingering looks are packed with sexual tension, and Michael can’t forget the feel of his best friend’s hands on him. Once problems rear up at work and home, Michael finds himself seeking constant escape in the effortless intimacy and mind-blowing sex he has with Nunzio. But things don’t stay easy for long.

When Michael’s world begins to crumble in a sea of tragedy and complications, he knows he has to make a choice: find solace in a path of self-destruction or accept the love of the man who has been by his side for twenty years.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | All Romance eBooks

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SH Author PicAbout the Author: Santino is a dedicated gamer, a former fanfic writer, an ASoIaF mega nerd, a Grindr enthusiast, but most of all he is a writer of queer fiction that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

Find Santino At: Website | Facebook | Newsletter | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

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THE GIVEAWAY

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4.5 Stars, Audio Book, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Dreamspinner Press, K.C. Burn, Narration Rating - 4.5 Stars, Reviewed By JJ

Audio Review: A Dance with Domination by K.C. Wells – Narrated by Nick J. Russo

Audio Gem

Title: A Dance with Domination (Collars and Cuffs: Book Four)

Author: K.C. Wells

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Narrator: Nick J. Russo

Run Time: 7 Hours and 12 Minutes

At a Glance: I really enjoyed the audio performance on this book. Nick J. Russo is very talented when it comes to making a separate voice for each character.

Reviewed By: Johanis

Blurb: Recently returned to the UK after living in the States since he was eleven, Andrew Barrett is determined to keep busy and make a new life for himself. He works full time as a copywriter and strips at a club on Canal Street on weekends. But it still leaves him too much time to think. Then he finds the BDSM club, Collars & Cuffs, where at twenty-nine, he is their youngest Dom. Young doesn’t mean inexperienced, however. All this activity keeps him focused with no time to dwell on the past. But the past has a way of intruding on the present.

It’s been four long years since Gareth Michaels last set foot inside Collars & Cuffs. But when he finally summons his courage and steps back into his former world, he finds the man who drove him away is still a member, and what’s more, he wants Gareth back. Two men in pain need the freedom they find in each other, but it takes another man’s horrific plans to make them see it.

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Review: A Dance with Domination is definitely one of my favorites in the Collars and Cuffs series. Andrew works as a stripper, but he’s also a Dom and he ends up joining the Collars & Cuffs BDSM club. Since he suffers from losing someone he loved, he distances himself, avoiding intimate contact with subs in order to guard against the possibility of becoming attached. Andrew befriends a fellow stripper, Gareth, and later discovers that Gareth is a former sub at Collars & Cuffs. When Andrew realizes Gareth wants him, they hit it off, but their union is short lived. Jealousy and misunderstandings tear them apart, but when others get involved, they are able to sit down and resolve their differences. In addition to coming together as a couple, they’re able to share scenes at the club.

Andrew’s character was the thing I loved the most about this book. Andrew was introduced to the BDSM world at a young age, so though he is young, he has a lot of experience. Unlike the older alpha type Doms at Collars and Cuffs, Andrew is coveted for his beauty, grace, and skill as a Dom. I loved seeing Andrew in his role as a stripper. It was so exciting to see a tough Dom doing a lap dance for alpha type customers. The role reversal was quite sexy. At one point Andrew has to be saved from a drunk man who holds him down and attempts to assault him.

Though I don’t think this book was as emotional as some of the previous books in this series, it was certainly hot, and I loved the happy ending. I recommend A Dance with Domination to anyone who loves erotic romance, BDSM, and kink.

Narration: I really enjoyed the audio performance on this book. Nick J. Russo is very talented when it comes to making a separate voice for each character. The only thing that threw me off was that I didn’t like the breathy voice the reader gives Leo. It wasn’t how I imagined Leo to sound. However, since Leo only played a small roll in this book, it didn’t make much difference.

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3.5 Stars, Caitlin Ricci, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Sammy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: To the Highest Bidder by Caitlin Ricci

Title: To the Highest Bidder

Author: Caitlin Ricci

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: Even though there were some questionable moments in To the Highest Bidder, I could see the strength of this author’s ability to weave a fascinating story.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: The Intergalactic Star Pilot Academy has accepted Thierry Leroux into the elite class of sky year 2231. But the academy comes with a hefty price tag, and there’s no way he, a poor Sythe orphan, has the credits the academy requires. Thierry’s brother, Corbin, a high-class companion, suggests Thierry sell his virginity for the cost of tuition. It seems like a ridiculous idea, but it may be Thierry’s only shot, so Thierry asks Corbin to arrange a meeting on the pleasure planet of Wish.

On Wish, Thierry meets Corbin’s boss, Monroe, and they agree to auction off Thierry’s virginity. Thierry is grateful to the masked buyer he knows only as “Dragonfly,” and Dragonfly is gentle, making Thierry’s first time a good memory. When Dragonfly requests to see him again, and pay for the pleasure, Thierry returns to Wish. But in this game, falling in love is dangerous for the heart, and Thierry might not like the man behind the mask.

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Review: Caitlin Ricci is a new author for me, and while I felt that her novel To the Highest Bidder had some questionable moments, her writing voice was so strong I truly felt compelled to read this one to the end. Was it as fully developed plot wise as I may have liked? No, but still the bones of this story were very strong, and after reading it, I knew I would be checking out other work from this author.

Corbin and Thierry are brothers and, essentially, orphans. Losing their parents many years before, the two brothers now live a spartan life, relying on Corbin’s work as an aspasian—effectively a high-class paid companion. Thierry has one dream—to become a pilot—but the money it will cost is far beyond any Corbin or Thierry ever hope to earn; until Corbin comes up with an idea. He suggests to Thierry that he sell his virginity—and since Monroe, Corbin’s boss, is able to set up the bidding, Thierry finds himself auctioned off to a masked man for one night of sex. At least, that was the idea. Before long, Thierry finds himself falling in love with the man he has nicknamed, “Dragonfly,” and it seems as though the gentleman is smitten as well. However, in a moment of passion, Thierry decides to remove the mask hiding his lover’s face and is shocked and angered to see just who his lover really is.

There were moments in this novel where I was absolutely hooked. For instance, the interactions between Dragonfly and Thierry were terribly intimate despite the fact that the older man never spoke. Then the letters back and forth between them while Thierry was at the academy really gave the story cohesion and allowed the reader to see the developing relationship. Thierry was so young—younger than his age of twenty—and I felt that was always present and clear, which made room for certain allowances when it came to his naïveté and his childish emotions.

Unfortunately, there were also some major gaps in this story. Why didn’t Corbin, who was already working in the brothel, prepare Thierry more for his first encounter? Why didn’t Thierry have a job as well? It didn’t make sense that Corbin did all the work to keep them fed. Corbin and Thierry were a special race called Sythe, and many times we read about how they possess a heightened awareness sexually. In fact, many of the students at the academy Thierry attends will not spar with him in the training classes for fear he’ll become some raving sexpot. Based on that, I really thought the rare times Thierry “opened “ himself up to feel all the emotions and physical pleasure he had with Dragonfly would have been amazing—intense, even out of control. Instead, while there was some passion, those scenes were more about the growing relationship rather than the heights of passion Sythe were supposedly capable of having. Why, then, refer to this special gift as often as the author did if there was not going to be a realization of it somewhere in the novel?

Perhaps the real nugget that left me a bit disappointed was the ending. Set several years in the future, Thierry finally gets the man he has loved all along, but their reunion was so abrupt that I was left wondering how the two of them remained in touch all those years. I felt the novel needed more meat to it—more explanation or perhaps a few scenes that took place during that decade or so that showed how these two remained involved and in love with each other. Sweeping past those years with a page or two of backstory did not really do the love story element justice.

To the Highest Bidder seemed like a partially formed story to me with serious need of further development. The author established her world so effectively and clearly and infused her novel with the makings of a wonderful love story. Even though there were some questionable moments, I could see the strength of this author’s ability to weave a fascinating story, and that is why I can assuredly say I will be checking out more of her work in the future.

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Neil Plakcy, Reviewed by Taz

Review: Love on the Web by Neil Plakcy

Title: Love on the Web

Author: Neil Plakcy

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count:  211 Pages

At a Glance: Love on the Web is a very satisfying read!

Reviewed By: Taz

Blurb: Larry Leavis is too smart and geeky for his family, too gangly and awkward among other gay guys. He’s never felt like he fits anywhere until he meets handsome entrepreneur Julian Argento and agrees to help him build a website for his fledgling web translation company.

Julian isn’t the only guy with his eye on Larry, though. Sexy client Victor Kunin has plans for Larry that go way beyond developing an app for his modeling agency. All this attention has Larry confused. Is Julian using him for his awesome coding skills, or is there something more between them – something that could be destroyed if Julian finds out about some very kinky trysts at Victor’s place?

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Review: Whew! This was a book I couldn’t put down. In fact, I woke up this morning with my Kindle resting on my chest after having lost the battle to stay awake late into the wee hours. Of course, I simply picked the book right up and continued on the journey. What I enjoyed about the book was how all the elements I love about stories were present. The main character had a clear talent for coding of computer apps (well, anything techie really), and the pages were filled with descriptions of the work he needed to do and how his work made him the cream that rose to the top. Along with that, the author included a cadre of weird family members, co-workers and roommates who fleshed out the main character. And, of course, Larry had not one but two extremely hot men who were both pursuing him. One of those men was sweet as sugar, while the other was vile. Don’t you just love when there’s a villain you can hate?

Mostly, this was a story about a guy who didn’t see in himself what everyone else saw in him. He was tall, awkward, and geeky, with a poor self-image. When we first meet Victor and Julian (the two successful and handsome men who pursue Larry), he thinks they are way out of his league. And that was the storyline I loved the most. As the events unfold, we watch Larry learn to see himself the way others see him. As one man treats Larry like scum, he learns to stand up for himself and prioritize what’s important to him. While he’d been afraid to come out to his family at the beginning of the book, we watch him own himself unapologetically. And, best of all, we get to enjoy the slow and awkward romance of two sweet men who complement each other in wonderful ways.

All in all, Love on the Web is a very satisfying read!

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5 Stars, Drama, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jules, Reviewed by Lisa, Santino Hassell

Buddy Review: Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell

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I try not to hoard all the books submitted to us for review. Truly, I do try. But sometimes a book comes along that I want to read and review really, really bad. The problem is that sometimes someone else wants that book really, really bad too. That happened with Sutphin Boulevard. Jules and I read this book–not so much together, because we’re separated geographically by a three hour time zone difference, but we burned up the texting apps on our phones along the way in our virtual love-fest of it.

You won’t find a Point-Counterpoint aspect to our reviews. We love this book the same, so the only thing you’ll find different here is our writing and reviewing styles. Suffice it to say, though, that we’re still talking about Mikey and Nunzio, even now.

And when you read as much as we do, that sort of book is a rare beast, indeed.

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Title: Sutphin Boulevard (Five Burroughs: Book One)

Author: Santino Hassell

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 264 Pages

At a Glance: Go. Buy. Now.

Reviewed By: Jules and Lisa

Blurb: Michael Rodriguez and Nunzio Medici have been friends for two decades. From escaping their dysfunctional families in the working-class neighborhood of South Jamaica, Queens to teaching in one of the city’s most queer friendly schools in Brooklyn, the two men have shared everything. Or so they thought until a sweltering night of dancing leads to an unexpected encounter that forever changes their friendship.

Now, casual touches and lingering looks are packed with sexual tension, and Michael can’t forget the feel of his best friend’s hands on him. Once problems rear up at work and home, Michael finds himself seeking constant escape in the effortless intimacy and mind-blowing sex he has with Nunzio. But things don’t stay easy for long.

When Michael’s world begins to crumble in a sea of tragedy and complications, he knows he has to make a choice: find solace in a path of self-destruction or accept the love of the man who has been by his side for twenty years.

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Jules’ Review: Santino Hassell’s writing has been described as ‘gritty’. And it is that, no doubt. But, it’s also full of beauty and heart and wit. And romance. I swooned HARD for these guys. The writing feels authentic, not researched. Santino Hassell is simply a great storyteller, and great storytelling begins with great characters. Lisa and I couldn’t stop talking about this book for weeks after we finished it. One of the things we both kept coming back to was that final scene, and how utterly perfect and gorgeous the writing was. Another thing that was repeated numerous times, though, in varying degrees of flail, depending on the scene being discussed, was how much we just fucking LOVED these characters. They are so real, and there is so much meat to them…we honestly just couldn’t get enough.

Sutphin Boulevard is Michael’s story…Michael’s journey…but I have to start with Nunzio. Gahhhhh, you guys. This man is so far beyond sexy there isn’t even a word for it. Some of the descriptions of him in the book are perfection – made even more perfect by the fact that they are views of him through Mikey’s eyes…

Nunzio’s pale blue eyes flashed the way they did when he was ready to light the fire on his Sicilian temper and go explosive on someone who had pushed him – or someone he cared about – a little too far.

Nunzio had always been the charming one of our duo. The one who could get an allegedly straight frat boy to drop his pants with no more than a suggestive comment and a raised brow.

Aside from being sexy, and fiery, and beautiful, though – even more importantly – he’s also the best person Michael has ever known.

I have so much love for Nunzio – for both of them – but, Nunzio is the tortured hero. The one holding everything together, until it becomes too much even for him. This line…

“I wish I knew what to do to help you. Both of you.”

Heart-wrenching. I loved every single minute he was on the page, and would have loved to be even more inside his head…but to feel his hurt directly through him, instead of just through Michael’s observations, may have put the angst level over the top.

Okay, let’s talk about Michael. As I said above, this is his journey, and I’m not gonna lie, it’s a rough one. Things haven’t been right since leaving his life in Manhattan, and moving back to his childhood home in Queens after his mother passes away. His brother Ray, who, at twenty-five, still can’t get his act together, also lives there and is a constant source of frustration and stress for Michael. We get hints throughout the book that Michael can’t handle his life, at least the turn it has taken in the last year, very well. The way he leans on Nunzio for support, and his constant need to escape, are evident from the beginning. But, once his father shows up out of the blue and announces that he’s moving back in, and that he’s dying, the shit truly hits the fan.

Born of his feeling trapped by his situation at home, Michael’s downward spiral is so tough to read. Clearly on the path to self-destruction, but feeling powerless to stop it, his apathy at times was maddening. How could he not care that he was about to lose his job? How could he put everyone through all of this agony, when even he admitted he knew full well what he was doing? How was he so blind to the rightness of his relationship with Nunzio, when he himself had observed so many times how centered Nunzio made him feel, and how he was the only one who could make him feel that way? Addiction, folks. That’s how.

Santino Hassell nailed the alcoholism/addiction aspect of this story – and, it was a huge part of the story. The emotions, the excuses, the denial, the apathy – not to mention Nunzio’s (and Ray’s) struggle and helplessness at watching it all go down – was soooo realistically and beautifully written.

Michael’s inability to handle the changes in his life, the biggest one, of course, being the shift in his and Nunzio’s relationship, leads him to heavier substance abuse. The heavier substance abuse causes him to withdraw and refuse to face what’s going on with them. His crippling fear of ruining their friendship almost takes everything away from him. Michael knows that he can’t live without Nunzio. He knows deep down that Nunzio is everything – that their relationship is everything – but, he can’t piece it all together because there is so much other ‘clutter’ in his life. He does finally have a moment of clarity in rehab, however, and we get this unforgettable line:

My thoughts had rerouted to an option I’d never even considered before: my best friend, my one-and-only, my fucking soul mate, Nunzio.

Where their friendship is the stuff of legends – completely rock solid, honest, and unbreakable – their romance is even more so. When I tell you these guys are ON FIRE, I mean their chemistry will melt your brain. The sex scenes in this book are BE-YOND hot.

Before wrapping up, I want to quickly touch on a few other important things…

A bit more about Michael: He’s so much more than the angst train he’s on throughout much of this book. He’s passionate, he’s sexy, he’s smart, he’s a fabulous teacher who is great with his students (the classroom/teaching scenes in this book are completely fantastic), and in the moments when he allows himself to be happy with Nunzio, we see how free and alive he can be.

David: Such a complex character. I can’t wait to get to know him better in the next book. Michael refers to him as a “poor, confused baby gay,” and I think that’s him through most of this story. Trying to fit in at McCleary. Trying to work through his mixed attraction and hero-worship of Michael and Nunzio. And, making bad decisions and poorly-handling his current relationship. The author does a good job of keeping him just this side of endearing, while also using him as a source of conflict in the book – but, we don’t truly get to see David, I don’t think, until the brilliant rehab scene when he and Ray go to visit Michael. That scene showed his potential as a friend, and how he could be a positive in Michael’s life. Fabulous stuff.

This book is amazing. Go forth and 1-Click!! You’ll be so glad you did! And now, I’ll leave you with this final thought:

That cover, tho…

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Lisa’s Review: This book… I have no idea how to express how much I love this book. Not loved. I’ve said, “I loved this book!” more times than I can count, but there is no past tense going on here. I am actively, right now, in love with this book in an obsessive way. Sutphin Boulevard is not a novel that ends at its final words. It’s a book that makes you want to read it over and over again, and I’ve read its final pivotal and epiphanous scene so many times I almost know it word for word now. That single scene is written so beautifully, is so subtly nuanced with need and emotion and hope, and resonates so deeply within the metaphor of Nunzio and the role he will play in Michael’s recovery from his addiction that I still can’t stop reading it even weeks later.

Sutphin Boulevard is so much more than a simple story of lifelong friends who fall in love. It’s a story of family dysfunction and all the ways in which the burden of becoming his father’s pawn and his adult brother’s keeper pushes Michael Rodriguez to the brink; then, eventually, sends him headlong over the edge into self-destruction. This is the story of a man who is connected so irrevocably to his best friend that his own emotional insight is obscured by the depth of intimacy they share, never imagining it as anything more than friendship. But most of all, this is the story of the crippling weight of problems Michael cannot solve, which leads him to the only solution he can live with, the one solution that could very well kill him. And, tear Nunzio Medici out of his life forever—which could very well produce the same result.

Santino Hassell has introduced subjects both simple and complex in Sutphin Boulevard and then penned a gorgeous novel around them, the story of one man hell bent on self-sabotage, and another whose love for that man is so profound that giving in to his feelings is the only option; giving up is his last—and unacceptable—resort. Hassell sketches an outline of Mikey and Nunzio at the outset of this novel in a blistering scene that would begin the altering of their friendship; then spends the rest of the word count shading and filling the story in, layer by layer, so we understand on a visceral level how deep their bond is, even as Michael is frustratingly unaware of all of Nunzio’s cues. Michael is our unreliable narrator when it comes to his and Nunzio’s relationship, and, in some ways, he is his own antihero while he is everything to everyone else—teacher, son, brother, mentor, friend… He’s so busy being everyone else’s someone that he forgets how to be the hero of his own life.

As the disease of addiction becomes Mikey’s self-fulfilling prophecy, and the only legacy his father left the one son who was supposed to fall far from that family tree, we are plunged along with him into the abyss created by alcoholism and drug abuse, watching while Michael begins to crave the abyss and the oblivion it provides, sinks deeper into the bottle where Nunzio can no longer reach him; nor is Nunzio’s love enough to light Mikey’s way through the darkness of his resentment and despair, his grief and anger, his need to escape his own life and the affliction it’s become.

Santino Hassell makes no clichés of his characters, nor does he shrink from the ugliness of Michael’s downward spiral. We watch as it affects his relationships, his job, and his interactions with David Butler, the man who could have become nothing more than a pastiche of every tedious and predictable stereotype we’ve seen in fiction, but in yet another show of finesse, David’s role extends beyond the predictable to the point that I loved him, much to my surprise; so much so that I’m at Defcon 1 maximum readiness for his book and the exploration of his friendship with Michael’s brother Raymond.

Sutphin Boulevard is a novel that explores the human condition at its best and worst: from hope to heartache, from wreckage to redemption, from family drama to relationship trauma, this story draws you in from the first to the last scenes. Its characters are real, and most of all, they are human, with the inherent frailties and faults that befall us all. Watching Michael’s personal life crumble even as he continues to mentor his students in the job he loves and was meant to do is a testament to the strength and wisdom he gifted to everyone but himself.

I’ll say here what I wanted to say in the first sentence of the first paragraph of this review. Read this book. Just…read it. Ironically, in the best possible way, it is itself deliciously addictive.

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Joe Cosentino

Guest Post: Drama Queen Audio Release by Joe Cosentino

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I was always a ham as a kid, forcing my unsuspecting parents and neighbors to watch my lavish musicals in the garage. After college I became a professional actor, working in film, television, and theatre opposite stars like Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Bruce Willis, Charles Keating, Jason Robards, and Holland Taylor. Moving on to playwriting and ultimately writing novels seemed like an obvious next step. My novels have received mostly good reviews, and many readers comment on how theatrical they are, including a great deal of dialogue, humor, plot twists, unusual characters, and drama. Everyone tells me they would make great audiobooks, television series, and/or movies.

As a theatre college professor I realized theatre departments at colleges are little communities of romance, drama, comedy, mystery, and surprises. They make great fodder for novels. So I created the Nicky and Noah mystery series published by Lethe Press. In Drama Queen, Nicky and Noah have to uncover why college theatre professors are dropping like stage curtains while Nicky directs the college play production—a murder mystery. In Drama Muscle (not yet released), Nicky and Noah have to find out why musclemen are dropping like weights in the Physical Education department while Nicky directs the Student Bodybuilding Competition. In Drama Cruise (not yet released), Nicky and Noah go on a cruise to Alaska, and discover why college theatre professors are going overboard like lifeboats while Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship.

The first novel, Drama Queen, frequently has been in the top #18 in its category on Amazon Kindle’s bestseller list since its release, and the paperback is also doing well. Again everyone told me it should be made into an audiobook and/or television series. So I was thrilled when Steve Berman told me Lethe Press was producing an audio version of the book. With twenty-four characters of all ages/races/genders/sexualities/personalities (one bipolar), as well as Nicky and Noah using their theatre skills to impersonate other people during their investigation, it was important to find the right narrator, Michael Gilboe. Not only is Michael a gifted actor, character voice artist, and hardworking professional, he is a college theatre professor and director just like Nicky Abbondanza, my leading character. Michael also has a dry wit in his reading, which fits the wacky humor of the series. It was great fun working with him on this audiobook. He did an amazing job bringing the characters to life.

The audiobook was just released on Audible and Amazon, available for download on any audio device or computer. I think listeners will enjoy Michael’s performance, and be captivated by the clues, red herrings, reversals, and surprise ending of the story. Hopefully listeners will embrace Nicky and Noah, and look forward to their next adventure. I want to play Martin Anderson, the department head, in the television series!

~Joe Cosentino

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Drama Queen AudioBlurb: It could be curtains for college theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza. With dead bodies popping up all over campus, Nicky must use his drama skills to figure out who is playing the role of murderer before it is lights out for Nicky and his colleagues. Complicating matters is Nicky’s huge crush on Noah Oliver, a gorgeous assistant professor in his department, who may or may not be involved with a cocky graduate assistant…and is also the top suspect for the murders! You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat, delightfully entertaining novel. Curtain up!

Buy Links: Amazon | Audible.com

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About the Author: Joe Cosentino is the author of Drama Queen the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), An Infatuation (Dreamspinner Press), Paper Doll the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are Drama Muscle the second Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), A Shooting Star (Dreamspinner Press novella), A Home for the Holidays (Dreamspinner Press holiday novella),The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press fairytale novella), and Porcelain Doll the second Jana Lane mystery (Wild Rose Press).

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

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GayRomLit, Katey Hawthorne

Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway: The Countdown to GayRomLit 2015 with Katey Hawthorne

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We’re so please to welcome back Katey Hawthorne on the GRL Celebration blog tour today. Enjoy Katey’s guest post, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win an e-copy of a book in her Superpowered Love series, winner’s choice.

Good luck!

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Riot BoyHello, hello, and thanks to TNA for letting me drop in and squee about this year’s GRL. People who are going: have you decided what to wear to the Hooray for Hollywood costume party yet? I’m debating a Jedi knight, personally. Oh, what, like everyone didn’t already know I’m a huge nerd.

Speaking of, how ‘bout them superpowered books, right? Last year I had so much fun doing a reading from my Riot Boy, aka my Superpowered Love series, that I signed up for another one this year. To go dirty again, or not to, that is the question? Here’s last year’s, more-or-less:

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What passed for a dressing room was more like a large walk-in closet or perhaps a dorm room. Not much but a ragged couch passed down from the seventies puking up its own guts, a vanity groaning under the weight of ancient makeup, a bunch of overstuffed clothing racks, a changing screen in the corner, and a long, cluttered counter along one wall. There must have been a door at one time, but not even the hinges remained.

He fell back into the couch and started taking off his boots. I noticed his little stuffed fox and scooped it up, then hugged it in the crook of my arm.

He said, “Behold the secret life of a suburban rock star.”

“What happened to the door?”

“Dunno, never seen it.” He nodded at the fox. “That’s George.”

I squeezed George once more before respectfully returning him to his perch.

“Think your sister liked the show?”

“Yeah. I think she liked you.”

“In spite of my shirt.” He stuck the tip of his tongue through his teeth.

“Lucy liked the shirt. Not as much as me, but she liked it.”

He’d kicked off his boots by that time. The moment he stood, I kissed him, then backed him up against the counter. As usual, he acquiesced to perfection, licking at my teeth and pulling me against him hard.

I said, “Can’t be a real groupie till you’ve made out in the dressing room, right?”

He replied by hopping up onto the counter so he could wrap his legs around me. I assisted, then laid one hand on his thigh and brought the other up to his face; our mouths found each other again quickly. At first it was just kissing, kind of slow and hot, like usual. His fingertips, artificially cold, toyed with the hair at the nape of my neck and slipped downward to tickle my spine. His ass scooted forward until he was wrapped around me tight, his bare feet hooked behind my back. I was just thinking how lonely it would be that night—tasting his tongue and knowing I’d miss it later—when his fingers started pulling at the button of my fly.

I laughed into his lips and moved off just enough to say, “The door doesn’t even exist, let alone lock.”

“Fuck it. I need this.” In case I was wondering what, exactly, his hand snaked down the front of my jeans and rubbed my swelling cock.

“Ah.” I leaned into him, knees going weak. “Oh my God.”

“Come on, Etienne,” he whispered. “I made the shirt and everything.”

I chuckled. “We can’t do it here.”

“Aww.” He reluctantly pulled his hand out of my pants.

“It’s got to be somewhere I can do the job thoroughly.” I took his face in both hands and kissed him, long and openmouthed, until he melted against me again. “Somewhere you can swear as loud as you want.”

He grinned and squirmed against me. “Handcuffs?”

“Anything you want.”

“Promise?”

“Promise. Anything.”

“That’s worth waiting for. But while we’re here anyway…” He slipped off the counter, wedging himself between it and me and rubbing off on me at the same time. “Come on, I’ll be fast. Almost came in my pants just now.”

I laughed again, which he took for agreement. He wasted no time dragging me behind the changing screen in the corner. A quick glance over the top to check for passersby, and then I undid his belt and yanked it free in one quick motion. I went for the zipper.

No underwear.

“Jesus Christ, Brady.”

“Ah, I thought you’d like that.”

More laughter. “You planned for this?”

“Of course I fucking did. You gonna give it to me, or what?”

I turned him around to face the wall in reply and dragged his jeans down over his ass.

He wriggled out of them and leaned forward, palms against the wall, leaving me staring at him—still in his FUCK ME, ETIENNE T-shirt but bare-assed and waiting.

My fly was still undone, and I couldn’t resist kicking off my jeans and leaning against him, arranging my dick—straining through my shorts—in the split of that remarkable ass. I kissed the back of his neck and wound my arms around him. His response was to rub up on me, opening up a little farther. I took his stiff cock in one hand and started out slow; he squirmed on my dick and voiced a little moan, then, “Unh, yeah.”

I stroked him, kissed him, and he angled his ass to give me a thrill with every jerk, until my cock was so hot I could’ve come just like that. But no, I didn’t make that mistake anymore—it was all about him. I pulled back a little, spit on my fingers, and rubbed them in a tight circle around his asshole.

He shuddered, his hands curling into fists against the wall, and arched his back sharply. “Yeah, ah fuck…”

I picked up speed, pressing my still-thickening cock into the back of his thigh as I went. His whole body caught my rhythm. I milked it from both ends, pushed every button I knew at once to get it out of him, fast and hard.

“Oh, yeah, mmmnnnn…” He hit the wall with one fist and came with a sigh.

I held him tight, kissing him while he finished and recovered. When I finally let him go, he shook himself a little. I rearranged myself against him, laughing as I looked down over his shoulder. “So much for the wall.”

“It’s probably seen worse.” He laughed too, breathless. “Your turn.”

Before I could respond, he was on his knees, ripping down my shorts. He pushed me back against the opposite wall and went straight for my cock, swallowed it. Jesus, had to be halfway down his throat.

I groaned at the white-hot thrill and let my head fall back, eyelids fluttering. God, he was incredible. He was magnificent. He was—

“Brady?” said an alien voice.

My eyes snapped open; I tried to pull away.

His fingers bored into my hips as he went down again, causing tiny stars to explode behind my eyes. Then up, then down. Never broke his rhythm.

I peeked over the screen to see Tyler at the dressing room entrance. He had one eyebrow cocked but didn’t seem too concerned to find me alone where I had no business being. He asked, “Have you seen Brady around? Bass player, jacked-up hair, tattoos?”

“Um, he—”

Brady chose that precise moment to start stroking my balls, still sucking me off fast and hard.

“Uh…” I blinked, trying to clear my head, face on fire, but Jesus, he was—

Tyler took an inquisitive step into the room. “You okay, man?”

I had no idea what I was trying to say. “He…uh…”

A wave of heat burned through me. His mouth was so hot, and he was so, so good at that, and—

Brady backed off, leaving my dick standing there, dripping and pink. He looked up, making the most hilariously annoyed face, and said, “Goddammit, Tyler, I got a cock down my throat here. Can it wait?”

Tyler closed his eyes. “You must be Etienne.”

“Um…” I would’ve had an answer, but Brady licked me at the strategic moment, so all I got was, “Unh—yeah. Hi.”

I was going to die of embarrassment. As soon as I had a little blood in my brain, anyhow.

“Yeah, nice to meet you.” Tyler turned his back, but before he escaped into the hall, he shouted back at us, “Hey slut-bag, when you’re done choking on a dick, we have a meeting.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Brady went down on me again, shoving me straight back into his throat.

I laughed and burned and groaned, clawing at the wall behind me. Rational thought or trying to sort out the appropriate emotion for the situation had to wait until I finally came down his throat. My knees shaking and my body thrumming, I practically slid down the wall when he let me go.

Following which event we both laughed so hard we ended up in a half-naked, well-spent pile on the floor.

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Of course, I also had the t-shirts last year, so that was part of the choice, I confess. Still, what do y’all think? Go sexy, or just silly? Or both like last year? It can’t be serious. I will laugh and ruin it. My srsface is terrible.

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THE GIVEAWAY

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2 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Paranormal Romance, Petra Lynn, Reviewed by Lana

Review: Shifting Gears by Petra Lynn

Title: Shifting Gears

Author: Petra Lynn

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 98 Pages

At a Glance: Shifting Gears is a shifter story that missed the mark for me.

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: One rainy night, bike-shop owner Kenton Palmer finds an injured dog on the road and takes him to the nearest vet clinic, only to discover he’s actually a wolf. Undeterred, he wants to nurse the injured animal following a necessary surgery. The handsome Dr. Will Barclay’s interest and his own brand of animal attraction overwhelm Kenton, who’s been doubting himself after a failed romance.

Gray Fowler is a wolf-shifter and pack alpha. After Kenton rescues him and takes him home to heal, he’s forced to remain in wolf form. But that doesn’t prevent him from falling hard for Kenton. It begins as jealousy, but Gray soon discovers Will, Kenton’s new admirer, is caught up in something sinister. However, he’s forced to wait until he’s healthy before he can shift and enter Kenton’s life as a man. Then Gray must discover how Will’s shady activities are linked to the men who ran him down and expose the scheme before Kenton gets too involved with Will.

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Review: Shifting Gears is a formulaic paranormal romance. This story was mildly entertaining. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t have that extra something to make it great.

I’ve read this plot type before, and I do find it interesting because I love shifter stories, but this one wasn’t fleshed out properly. A man rescues a wolf that’s hit by a car, thinking it’s a dog but it’s really a shifter, and the human takes him home to heal. Because he’s hurt, the shifter can’t change and must stay as a wolf. The shifter, Gray, falls in lust with the human, Kenton. Kenton loves having his new pet wolf around, but then develops feeling for Gray in human form. There is also a crooked vet involved with selling animals on the black market, who Kenton falls for too. It was convoluted and confusing

What didn’t work for me was the storytelling. To me it was a bit amateurish. The whole relationship between Kenton and Will, the villain veterinarian, was blah. The vet’s shady dealings were just that—shady—there was no suspense or emotion. Even in the resolution, there wasn’t any tension. Gray was the alpha of his pack and two of his pack mates went missing, but their whereabouts was never resolved, and Gray just didn’t seem to care.

The whole pack interaction didn’t get me interested in the pack. I liked Kenton and Gray together. They were entertaining but still, something was missing for me. I also felt the scenes did not flow together. There needed to be more continuity and explanation of what was happening.

Shifting Gears is a shifter story that missed the mark for me.

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5 Stars, Carina Press, Jenn Burke, Kelly Jensen, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Lonely Shore by Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen

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Title: Lonely Shore (Chaos Station: Book Two)

Author: Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages/Word Count: 187 Pages

At a Glance: A lot of emotions packed into this book, and so worth every tear.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: All they can do is live day to day…

Felix Ingesson has returned to his duties as the Chaos’s engineer with Zander Anatolius, his ex-boyfriend-turned-broken-super-soldier, at his side. Hope means something again. But there’s nothing Felix can do to battle the alien poison flowing through Zander’s veins, or his imminent mental decline. With each passing day, the side effects of Zander’s experimental training are becoming more difficult to ignore.

When the ruthless Agrius Cartel seeks their revenge—including an ambush and an attempt to kidnap the Chaos’s crew—Zander is pushed over the edge. He can no longer hide his symptoms, nor does he want to. But hurting Felix when he’s not in control of himself is Zander’s worst nightmare—when it nearly happens, he agrees to seek help. Even if that means trusting the unknown.

As Zander places his life in alien hands, Felix appoints himself his lover’s keeper. And though he tries to be strong, he can’t ignore the fact that he might lose Zander…forever this time.

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Review: If book one in this series was intense, book two punches you in the gut on page one and keeps going until the end. I mean honestly, the authors do not let up, and even though you want the pain to stop, you need to know what happens, so you keep reading. I whimpered from page one on, and full out cried from chapter ten through sixteen, and I’m not exaggerating either.

If you haven’t read book one, Chaos Station, you really need to go back and read it. You will be completely lost if you don’t have that information, as what happens in book two is a progression of events from book one.

That said, this book follows the Chaos crew as Zed’s side effects grow increasingly unstable, and Flick attempts to both cope with the changes in his best friend and lover, and the possibility of losing him. Meanwhile, the Agrius cartel is still after them, and when a possible solution is presented for Zed’s problem, it could mean losing Qek.

Every character in this book is developed even more, which I loved. While I love Zed and Flick, Qek shines yet again. Zed and Flick made me cry often, but Qek brought her brand of humor and understanding to the pages. Getting to explore her culture more in this book and seeing her home world was a treat, even if being there is dangerous for Qek. For readers who wanted more of the Ashushk culture, this is your chance!

If you read book one, you must read this book. If you like science fiction, I highly recommend this series. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series, Skip Trace, which I’m sure will be another fantastic installment!

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5 Stars, Charlie Cochrane, Historical Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed By Carrie, Riptide Publishing

Review: Lessons for Idle Tongues by Charlie Cochrane

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Title: Lessons for Idle Tongues

Author: Charlie Cochrane

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 247 Pages

At a Glance: Just when you think you might have it all figured out… That would be a no. I love it!

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Cambridge, 1910

Amateur detectives Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith seem to have nothing more taxing on their plate than locating a missing wooden cat and solving the dilemma of seating thirteen for dinner. But one of the guests brings a conundrum: a young woman has been found dead, and her boyfriend is convinced she was murdered. The trouble is, nobody else agrees.

Investigation reveals that several young people in the local area have died in strange circumstances, and rumours abound of poisonings at the hands of Lord Toothill, a local mysterious recluse. Toothill’s angry, gun-toting gamekeeper isn’t doing anything to quell suspicions, either.

But even with a gun to his head, Jonty can tell there’s more going on in this surprisingly treacherous village than meets the eye. And even Orlando’s vaunted logic is stymied by the baffling inconsistencies they uncover. Together, the Cambridge Fellows must pick their way through gossip and misdirection to discover the truth.

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Review: How does she do it? How does Charlie Cochrane’s mind come up with this stuff? Just when you think you might have it all figured out… That would be a no. I love it!

Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith are amateur detectives who are gaining quite a reputation for themselves and their ability to solve crimes. Lessons for Idle Tongues is book 11 in the Cambridge Fellows mystery series, and in my opinion, they keep getting better and better. Charlie Cochrane is a master at writing period appropriate stories. Everything about her characters, from dress to speech, is spot on to the time period. How Jonty and Orlando have to work to solve the conundrums they are presented with is totally believable—they don’t make leaps of faith or accomplish feats only someone in a later time period would know how to do. Cochrane’s stories are about the mysteries, the search for clues, the people you meet, the delicious bits you find along the way.

Each of the installments in the Cambridge Fellows series is a standalone book; however, you do really get a continuity of characters if you read them from the beginning. Many of her main characters, Jonty and Orlando and their friends and family – even the servants – all have their places in the timeline.

There’s a wooden cat, and the problem of having 13 to dinner – which is just not done – and rumors of a dead girl. There is lots of gossip, layers of misdirection, and could there even be more dead bodies? Of course, the answer always lies close to home. The next installment is due out October 12th and that is just too far away for the next mystery to arrive… I cannot wait for Lessons for Sleeping Dogs!

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Cardeno C., Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Amy, Self-Published

Audio Review: Johnnie by Cardeno C. – Narrated by Greg Tremblay

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Title: Johnnie (Siphon: Book One)

Author: Cardeno C.

Narrator: Greg Tremblay

Publisher: Self-Published

Run Time: 5 hours and 50 minutes

At a glance: Lions and Siphons and Tremblay… Oh my!

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: A Premier lion shifter, Hugh Landry dedicates his life to leading the Berk pride with strength and confidence. Hundreds of people depend on Hugh for safety, success, and happiness. And at over a century old, with more power than can be contained in one body, Hugh relies on a Siphon lion shifter to carry his excess force.

When the Siphon endangers himself and therefore the pride, Hugh must pay attention to the man who has been his silent shadow for a decade. What he learns surprises him, but what he feels astounds him even more.

Two lions, each born to serve, rely on one another to survive. After years by each other’s side, they’ll finally realize the depth of their potential, the joy in their passion, and a connection their kind has never known.

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Review: The only book I have ever read by Cardeno C. was Control, which was a co-written with Mary Calmes, so I was extremely interested in reading something from Cardeno alone. From the first word I was sucked into this unique and amazing story. Johnnie is such a fast and enjoyable read, with very little angst but enough heart and depth for me to fall in love.

To me, it is extremely hard to come up with something that makes a shifter story different from the others. I am jealous of Cardeno C.’s talent and imagination. I started this audio on Monday and listened straight through till Tuesday because I was so sucked in. I wanted to learn more and more about the rules of this group, and the gruff and tough Premier, Hugh, and the sensitive, abused Johnnie. I was taken on an adventure of discovery and love as Hugh and Johnnie find their way through the uncharted waters of this new and unconventional relationship in a Lion pride. I will say the end got a little sweet for my personal tastes…funny thing about that, though; Cardeno C. built the relationship so well that it didn’t bother me a whole lot. The only question I really wanted answered was the spines with the Premier. Once you listen to or read this story you will understand that question.

Narration: Lions and Siphons and Tremblay… Oh my. Oh sweet, sexy voiced Greg Tremblay, could you read every book to me? PLEASE! Your stinkin’ voice is so sexy, and you make me lose myself in your narrations. You read a sex scene like nobody’s business, and with very little fluctuation in your voice, tell me who is talking. Normally narrators make an attempt to sound extremely different depending on who is speaking. Your ability to distinguish a character with a subtle difference is intoxicating. Please keep on reading these wonderful M/M stories.

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You can buy Johnnie here:

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J. Scott Coatsworth, Less Than Three Press

Guest Post: The Homecoming by J. Scott Coatsworth

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My latest novella, The Homecoming, is out today, and I thought I’d share an exclusive excerpt with the readers of The Novel Approach.

I jokingly call this story my “wolfman meets spaceman” story, and while it’s sci-fi driven, it has elements of the paranormal, including shifters.

I chose this scene for your readers because it encapsulates the primal nature of the new Earth to which Aldiss, our spaceman, returns. It’s the moment when he awakens to the danger he’s put himself in, and is pivotal for Hari, our wolfman, too.

To set the scene, Alvin and his fellow crew member, Xandra, are trudging through a snowstorm hauling a third member of their team to safety when they find the body of the fourth member of the crew lying frozen in the snow.

Thanks for including me on your site for my blog tour. :)

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TH CoverPublisher: Less Than Three Press

Cover Artist: London Burden

Length: 20,000 Words

Buy Links: LT3 Press Book Market | Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Kobo

Blurb: When his own world is destroyed, Aldiss and his crew barely manage to escape, leaving friends and lovers behind. What was meant to be an exploratory trip back to the home world turns into a mad dash for survival.

When they awaken from stasis on Earth, which was abandoned by humanity five centuries before, they must quickly learn about their new home. While exploring the region around the ship, Aldiss meets Hari, a shape-changer, whose people harbor secrets that might cost the crew their lives.

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Excerpt: The nausea passed after a few minutes. Aldiss sat up and wiped off his lips, his hands shaking. He couldn’t speak, but he pointed to another pile of snow next to Rober. He didn’t want to look.

Xandra went over to it, brushing the snow away. It was a wolf, a black one.

For some reason, he breathed a little easier at that. He had been afraid, deep down in his gut, that its fur would be white.

Maybe it was the wolf that had attacked him earlier in the day. The cutter had slashed a nasty wound across the creature’s back. “Looks like they killed each other,” he said. He searched the tree-line around them, as if expecting to see wolves at every turn.

Xandra nodded grimly. She went to check on Cat, her hand gently touching the other woman’s forehead, pointedly not looking at Rober’s corpse. Cat looked like she was still asleep. He hoped it was just sleep.

Aldiss looked around the clearing for any trace of Rober’s cutter. Obviously the man had used it here. He paced around the bodies, using his boot to scuffle up the snow, but there was nothing metallic hidden under the covering blanket.

The trees loomed over them in the half light like giants.

“We should get going,” Xandra said, eyeing the forest warily. “There might be more of them.”

Aldiss neglected to mention that he knew there was at least one more.

He washed the blood from his hands in the ice-cold water of the stream. They were still shaking a little, but not too badly scraped up. He wished they had antibiotics, but he’d have to make do with a good washing.

He turned to say something to Xandra, and saw the wolf crouched at the far edge of the clearing. Deja vu of the worst kind.

Aldiss reached for the cutter at his side as the snow began once again to drift down lazily from the darkening sky. “Xandra.” He pointed in the direction of the wolf.

Her eyes went wide as she saw the beast. She was reaching for her own cutter as another wolf bounded out of the trees next to them, smashing into her and knocking her to the ground.

Aldiss freed his cutter, bringing it up and activating the laser blade as he stood. He swung it madly at the hindquarters of the wolf that was pinning Xandra to the ground, grazing it and sending it running back toward the cover of the trees.

The second wolf joined the action, lunging for Aldiss’s throat. Xandra just managed to bring her cutter up to slice off the wolf’s ear. The wolf yelped and jumped away, uttering a low growl.

Suddenly the small clearing was full of wolves.

Aldiss sliced the blade back-and-forth, the laser-sharp edge nipping animals left and right. Then something bit him in the leg, hard, and he fell to the ground with a scream, still swinging the deadly blade, yelling through the pain.

The snow fell more heavily, and the clearing grew darker and darker. His headlamp shone a crazy light through the falling patterns of snow as he looked around wildly for the next threat, revealing a furry tail here and bared teeth there.

In the gathering darkness, someone else screamed, a horrible guttural sound, and then went silent. “Xandra,” he shouted, feeling his way through the storm toward where he had heard the sound.

The snow and darkness now blocked almost all of his vision. Aldiss turned down his headlamp as low as it would go. He struggled forward on his hands and knees, the wound in his leg pulsing angrily, moving forward foot by foot. He prayed that the weather hid him from his enemies.

He found Xandra at last. She lay motionless, staring into the sky, her mouth agape in a silent scream. Her neck was ripped out in a jagged wound, just like Rober.

Aldiss felt sick again. He looked down at his own leg to see the wound, where sharp teeth had torn through the leg of his ASEA coveralls. He was losing blood, and fast, and who knew what kind of bacteria these wolves carried?

His vision faded in and out as he waved the cutter around in the darkness, his reflexes slowing.

I’m going to die out here, all alone.

He heard sounds of fighting continuing around him, and looked up, perplexed. Xandra was dead, and Cat… he didn’t know where he’d left Cat, lying by herself in the madness. But she’d been in no shape to stand, let alone fight.

The sounds of a struggle came closer, wolves howling in pain. He sat up as best as he was able, staring into the swirling snow.

A naked man stepped out of the darkness into the dim light of his headlamp, holding a cutter, dripping with blood.

Everything faded to black.

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j-scott-coatsworthAuthor Bio: Scott has been writing since elementary school, when he and won a University of Arizona writing contest in 4th grade for his first sci fi story (with illustrations!). He finished his first novel in his mid twenties, but after seeing it rejected by ten publishers, he gave up on writing for a while.

Over the ensuing years, he came back to it periodically, but it never stuck. Then one day, he was complaining to Mark, his husband, early last year about how he had been derailed yet again by the death of a family member, and Mark said to him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”

Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi site, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.

Website | Facebook

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Cardeno C., Giveaways

Audiobook Excerpt and Giveaway: Johnnie by Cardeno C.

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The Novel Approach welcomes Cardeno C.’s Johnnie (Siphon: Book One) audiobook blog tour today, along with its narrator Greg Tremblay.

Enjoy the audio clip, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win an audio copy of the book.

Good luck!

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JohnnieBlurb: A Premier lion shifter, Hugh Landry dedicates his life to leading the Berk pride with strength and confidence. Hundreds of people depend on Hugh for safety, success, and happiness. And at over a century old, with more power than can be contained in one body, Hugh relies on a Siphon lion shifter to carry his excess force.

When the Siphon endangers himself and therefore the pride, Hugh must pay attention to the man who has been his silent shadow for a decade. What he learns surprises him, but what he feels astounds him even more.

Two lions, each born to serve, rely on one another to survive. After years by each other’s side, they’ll finally realize the depth of their potential, the joy in their passion, and a connection their kind has never known.

Run Time: 5 Hours and 50 Minutes
Buy Links: Amazon | Audible

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Audio Excerpt:

 

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Ten Random Trivia Facts About Greg Tremblay:

1) I actually studied acting in college, along with opera, but got a degree in Computer Science.
2) My recording booth itself is only 3′ x 5′ x 6’…so when I read MM romance, I go INTO the closet. Ironic, no?
3) It takes between 5 and 7 hours of total production time with the finished manuscript to create 1 hour of final audio. Fiction Audio reads at about 9800 words per hour.
4) In addition to voice acting, I have been a Whale Watching guide, a Paramedic, and a Farrier (shoeing horses)
5) I rarely, if ever, listen to a complete book again once the production is finished. By the time I am done, I’ve read the book to myself, read it aloud, and listened to it for editing… and I’m on to the next story.
6) Anguish is the easiest emotion for me to portray, because a well-written script pulls you in, and it’s a completely one-person emotion – but it’s draining. I have cried in the booth more than a few times. Comic passages are the trickiest, because the proper timing and reaction between characters are essential.
7) I drink an average of 1.5 liters of water per hour while recording. Average recording sessions are 2-4 hours long between breaks.
8) As a kid, I lived with my family on a sailboat for a year.
9) My personal record for most distinct voices in a single book is 73
10) Coffee, Dairy and Alcohol are all bad for the voice. ..which means I have to moderate some of life’s greatest pleasures (not eliminate tho, I’m not crazy.).

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Cardeno C.About the Author: Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever-after sunset.

Cardeno’s Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/M Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, “You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day.”

Find Cardeno C. At: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Cafe Risque – Shared Blog | Pinterest | Google+ | YouTube Channel

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THE GIVEAWAY

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5 Stars, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Loose Id, Madeleine Ribbon, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Death by Dragon by Madeleine Ribbon

Title: Death by Dragon

Author: Madeleine Ribbon

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 283 Pages

At a Glance: A little bit of fairy tale and a heaping helping of fantasy with a side of action and danger kept this clever and fast paced story moving along.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Fell Harwick, half-incubus and witch extraordinaire, knows how he’ll die. Ever since he was a child, he’s had visions of a dragon tearing him to pieces. Since he’s not terribly fond of the idea–and the power-hungry vampire that killed his mother is now after him for his unprecedented healing abilities–he’s gone into hiding. But when a pair of shifters get shot in front of his cabin in the woods, he feels obligated to keep them safe.

Jett and Theodore are members of the local resistance, fighting against the same vamp that wants Fell. Theodore is a beautiful, tragic mess, and Jett hates all incubi on principle–something Fell finds out as he tries to take energy to power his healing magic.

Jett and Fell might have been able to work around one paranormal prejudice. Jett even encourages Fell into sex with Theodore when he needs energy. But then Fell discovers that his future killer has been sleeping on his couch.

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Review: If you’ve ever finished a book and thought, Dear gods of all fiction, please let there be a sequel, then you’ve been exactly where I am after reading Madeleine Ribbon’s Death by Dragon. Not because the storyline necessarily needs one but because the characters and the world they live in need one. And me. I need one too.

Being a shameless Buy-Now-With-1-Click impulse shopping addict, there were two reasons I bought this book, author unknown to me. First, the title. The second reason, the cover (Fell’s definitely an “I licked him, therefore he is mine” sort of a guy). Why I loved this book, however, has much to do with the narrator of the story, Fell (short for Raphael) Harwick. Fell is a witch with extraordinary healing abilities. He’s also become a bit of a recluse since there’s a vampire who aims to kidnap him and make Fell his mindless meat-puppet in an attempt to reign supreme over the kingdom of “others” with which Ribbon has populated this novel. Witch: check. Vampires: check. Shifters: check. Dragon: check-check. What makes Fell an outcast even more than being a witch, though, is the other half of his biology, courtesy of his father. Fell’s also part incubus, and we all know what sort of shenanigans the incubi are capable of.

But wait, there’s more…

There’s also a great plot to Fell’s story, one that’s a little bit fairy tale and a heaping helping of fantasy with a side of action and danger that kept this clever and fast paced story moving along. Fell is a nerdy guy who has a wicked sense of humor and a sharp tongue he’s not afraid to hone on anyone who gets in his way. There were plenty of times I found myself grinning, if not outright laughing, while reading Death by Dragon, but there was also a good balance between that and the political drama in which Fell is involuntarily embroiled when it becomes clear someone’s broken the laws of Silence—which, in short, means there’ve been supernaturals exposing their existence to humans.

When a group of shifter-hunting men trespass on Fell’s lawn and bring danger to his doorstep, he’s forced into involuntary cohabitation with two of the injured survivors—Theodore and Jett. Being more or less a hermit for the past year, and trusting no one, let alone a grieving shifter and his incubus-loathing brother, Fell’s forced into some major adjustments to his routine; though, there are some fringe benefits to having Theodore and Jett in his house. Namely, Fell needs a soul’s energy to power his magic—whether through kissing or sex—and Jett’s happy to pimp Theodore out for the job, and Theodore’s more than willing to supply all the lip-smacking nookie Fell needs to keep his wards up and healing powers at maximum capacity.

The building of the relationship between Fell and Theodore, and the somewhat grudging (at least on Jett’s side) friendship between Fell and Jett is handled more as an aside to the core plot, which is keeping the vampire, Jamison, from getting his hands on Fell, so I wouldn’t strictly categorize this book as a romance, even with its grand sacrifice and perfect fairy tale ending. The beauty is in the buildup of the alliances, the evidence of betrayal, and the fallout from it all, which impacts Fell, Theodore, and Jett, all three, in a thoroughly heart-tugging way. And there’s even quite a touching reunion between Fell and his absentee incubus father, which I loved for its warmth and support of Fell.

Does Jett ever overcome his prejudice of Fell’s soul-sucker lineage? Does Fell’s vision of death-by-dragon come to fruition? Well, the blurb gives you a few clues to the riddle, but I’ll not give the rest because that would spoil the story. Suffice it to say, though, that finding the answers to these questions was an absolute treat, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you discover them on your own.

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You can buy Death by Dragon here:

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5 Stars, Brandon Shire, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, TPG Books

Review: The Love of Wicked Men by Brandon Shire

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Title: The Love of Wicked Men

Author: Brandon Shire

Publisher: TPG Books

Pages/Word Count: 428 Pages

At a Glance: Season one of The Love of Wicked Men is undeniably one of the best novels I have ever read. I highly recommend it to you.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Power, lust, legal intrigue. This is where sex and injustice meet.

Sid Rivers and Jack Brown are two sides of the same coin. One is a lawyer with his own firm and dreams of money and power; the other is a criminal with a lengthy record and a quest for vengeance. When they meet, sparks fly. But was their meeting an accident? Or, was it planned by the billionaires who want to control their destiny?

The Love of Wicked Men is an erotic journey into the underbelly of the legal profession, the corporate culture of profit-at-any-cost, and the secret world of industrial espionage.

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Review: Begun as serial installments, where fans help shape the trajectory of each part, The Love Of Wicked Men is now published as Season One: Parts 1-6, in a gloriously long novel guaranteed to make your head spin at the sheer volume of players and the multi-layered plot. However, at the heart of this tour de force are two men, both superior at dispensing their own brand of justice, rather cavalierly cutthroat in their business dealings, and yet deeply loyal to somehow rectifying what they see as the greatest failure in their pasts. Both, you see, lost someone dear to them and are determined to either bring the culprit to justice or eradicate the memory altogether.

Sid Rivers has been reinventing himself for so long even he is unsure how to reach the real Self inside. A hungry lawyer bent on making money and forgetting his rather tawdry past, he will stop at nothing to feed his immense ego and bury the pain he carries inside. Jack Brown wants nothing more than to see his sister’s death avenged, and if that means risking the team who has been by his side for years, helping him fleece corporate America, then so be it. Somehow, whoever has contacted Sid with the latest way to rape another law firm, and make big money in the process, holds the key to unraveling the mystery Jack has been trying to crack for years.

No one and nothing is at it seems, and trust is nowhere to be found when these two men meet, but there is something there—something indefinable sparks between them, and a hunger neither has ever known before rears its head and locks Sid and Jack together. This goes deeper than simple lust. The feelings that develop as these two men play a dangerous game of cat and mouse with unseen enemies run much deeper than easing a sexual itch. Espionage, abductions, near death experiences all combine to create a ticking clock that pushes Sid and Jack further down a rabbit hole, where the only escape may be someone’s death.

My brain is buzzing. There was so much to this novel, and it was all written with rapier-sharp clarity, intriguing drama, and the hottest coupling of two admitted foes ever seen. I have enjoyed many pieces of work by author Brandon Shire, but this boxed set of six episodic stories was beyond anything he has ever written. The vast array of characters, the interweaving of two strangers, whose lives have such similar back stories, and the twisted and cleverly drawn plotlines makes this massive novel an absolute masterpiece.

There appears to be so little redeemable about Sid; from his over inflated ego to his nasty way of dismissing those he deems beneath him, I truly wondered how I could ever bring myself to care about whether this guy lived or died—in fact, I was rooting for the latter. Then Jack came on the scene and he knew—he saw all the vulnerability, the stains from a past that brought Sid to be who he was, and Jack felt something for the man despite his smarmy exterior. And, slowly but surely, we did too. To say these two had chemistry is to compare a nuclear reactor to a third grade science kit. Explosive does not begin to describe these men and every encounter they have.

I cannot pinpoint one thing that should make you read this book. I can only tell you that this novel is so compelling that I devoured it in record time, and may have whimpered at the end when I read that a second season may be planned. Season one of The Love of Wicked Men is undeniably one of the best novels I have ever read. I highly recommend it to you.

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You can buy The Love of Wicked Men here:

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5 Stars, BL Morticia, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Remmy Duchene, Reviewed by Maryann

Review: Wounded Hearts by Remmy Duchene and BL Morticia

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Title: Wounded Hearts

Authors: Remmy Duchene and BL Morticia

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 256 Pages

At a Glance: What a terrific start to a new series.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Zane Ashford’s stint in the NYPD comes to an abrupt halt when he is injured in the line of duty. After waking up partially blind in one eye, all he wants to do is crawl into a hole, but his friends and family won’t leave him alone. Reluctantly, he lets his best friend talk him into time away on a ranch in Montana. But the moment he gets there and meets Cyrus Abrams, Zane begins to contemplate murder.

Cyrus Abrams is vulgar, ornery, stuck in his ways, and not about to change for anyone, no matter how good Zane Ashford looks in those jeans. The more they lock horns, the more Cyrus begins to see Zane in a whole new light. But Cyrus has a past, one that left him in big trouble and more broken than he cares to admit—a past no one told Zane about. Cyrus fears that when Zane finds out, everything will come to a screeching halt.

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Review: What a terrific start to a new series. Wounded Hearts is such a great collaboration by Remmy Duchene and BL Morticia. I really loved this story; lots of humor, sexy talk, ranching, a cop, and a cowboy. And watch out for the mud wrestling! There’s no mysterious plot or outrageous secrets, just a young, beautiful man from the city, and a crazy, gorgeous, older cowboy, who get so wound up in each other they just keep putting those important conversations on hold. And that certainly leads to some head-butting.

Cyrus Abrams is such a wonderful character; older, grumpy but not vulgar. I just don’t like that word for him, though. Unrefined is more like it. He just says what he feels, and he is very funny at times. He is definitely from another decade, as his previous lover was a gangster, who took Cyrus from bouncer to shady businessman. Even though all that is in his past, Cyrus still carries a lot of grief and guilt about his lost love, and he thinks no one can replace him. When things start to heat up with him and Zane, that guilt becomes a big weight on his shoulders.

Zane is African-American and was adopted by a Caucasian family. After almost facing death, his good friend Renford (Renford is a district attorney, best friend to Cyrus, and like a brother to Zane. He spends some time at the ranch too, and I hope he’s going to get his own story as there seems to be something going on with him) talks him into going to the Montana ranch owned by Cyrus to recuperate. Zane is also very talented with his art, music and photography. He’s not without his issues: can he be a cop again? He feels like he’s not a whole man because of his his injury, and he really wants to find someone special to be in his life.

Brian Daystar is a Native American, younger, and adds a lot of sexy fun to the story. He works for Cyrus on the ranch, and has really bad timing! We also get to meet Cecily, Zane’s older sister, and who could resist Zelda and Woofer? They bring the sweetness to this story!

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You can buy Wounded Hearts here:

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5 Stars, Elle Kennedy, Genre Romance, Rennie Road Publishing, Reviewed by Jules, Sarina Bowen

Release Day Review: Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

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Title: Him

Authors: Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Publisher: Rennie Roads Books

Pages/Word Count: 276 Pages

At a Glance: I could go on and on with things I loved about this book…

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—
can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend…and a big one to learn about himself.

Warning: contains sexual situations, hotties on hockey skates, skinnydipping, shenanigans in an SUV and proof that coming out to your family on social media is a dicey proposition.

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Review: Seriously hot. Seriously swoony. Seriously good.

When I first started reading Him, I was just coming off of a couple of really fantastic reads, both of which were completely different types of books from what I expected this one to be. I worried that I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to do adrenaline-fueled, high testosterone, alpha males. Him blew my expectations out of the water. I quickly realized that I was putting it in a certain box in my head, which also ended up getting blown to smithereens. I absolutely loved this book.

Aside from the guys – who I ADORED – the first thing I didn’t know I would love so much was the hockey! The writing team of Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy has made a hockey fan out of me. No joke. These ladies obviously know their stuff, which made the reading experience that much more fantastic and exciting. During the Frozen Four bit in the beginning, I felt like I was there. And, I loved the hockey metaphors and jokes used throughout the book. The main characters’ love of the game, particularly Wes’s, was so evident it made me love the game.

This book can be classified as so many things: Friends-to-lovers; Second Chances; Coming Out; and GFY being chief among them. But, I have to say I appreciate that the authors didn’t make it a full on GFY cliché. While Jamie has not – aside from the one experience with Wes at hockey camp when they were seniors in high school – ever been attracted to guys, and truly does love women, he does explore his feelings (Okay – he spends an afternoon watching gay porn. Same thing.) enough to know that he IS attracted to other men, not just Wes. I’m glad that the authors went the direction they did with it. It felt much more authentic and true to Jamie’s character.

I could go on and on with things I loved about this book…The friendship between these two, the strength and beauty of Wes, the humor, Jamie’s family, the HOT AS HELL SEX… Seriously – on and on and on. But you need to just go and experience it all for yourselves. Never having previously read either author, I honestly had no idea what to expect. What I got was an extremely tight, well-written, FUNNY, friends-to-lovers story that I whole-heartedly recommend, and am sure I will reread myself more than once. Don’t miss out on this one, guys!

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You can buy Him here:

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Giveaways, Havan Fellows

Excerpt and Giveaway: The Synchronous Seductions Blog Tour with Havan Fellows

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We’re happy to welcome author Havan Fellows to The Novel Approach today, on her Synchronous Seductions blog tour. Enjoy the excerpt from the book she’s chosen to share with you, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win a $20 All Romance eBooks Gift Card.

Good luck!

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Synchronous SeductionsBlurb: Seven years ago one of them made a mistake.

That mistake will change six lives forever.

Today.

Ryder made a mistake Harlan can’t forgive. Will Ryder cross a line no man should cross to obtain a second chance?

Ritchie won’t admit he’s heartbroken. Emery won’t accept less than all of Ritchie’s affection. How will arrogant Emery win snarky Ritchie for his own?

Fuzzy is an unsatisfied ladies’ man. Geoff’s a bear-loving man who satisfies. Problem? Convincing a straight man that satisfaction might be just around the bend.

Warning: This book is chocked full of domineering men who don’t like to take no for an answer. If arrogant alpha men make your heart beat faster and other places tingle, this is the book for you.

Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Smashwords

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Excerpt: Attempting to display a calm that he didn’t feel, he opened up the portfolio to the proposal that he had slaved over when Emery didn’t fill his daydreams up. The click of the door closing and footsteps approaching notified him that his appointment indeed had arrived. He gestured to the seat in front of him without raising his head.

“Please allow me a moment, Mr.—” Oh shit! He’d forgotten the guy’s name. He straightened his glasses and sorted quickly through the papers in the portfolio, positive it was there somewhere. Ah! Found it! Odd, no first name, only, “Mr. Hutchins? As in…Hutchins Hauls Logistics?” A meeting with the owner? And why did that name sound so damn familiar to Ritchie?

The chuckle that floated from the chair, over the desk, and caressed his skin immediately engorged his cock. He slowly raised his face to stare Emery in the eyes. “Mr. Emery Hutchins.” He ground out each word through clenched teeth.

“At your service. Now, I’m here to fully explain to you how I can rock your world. I’ve been told recently that I tend to age myself with that phrase. But I like it and am good with that.”

Ritchie seethed. “This is my job. My livelihood. How dare you appear here and play with it like you don’t give a damn. Or is that it precisely, Emery? You just don’t give a damn. You played with me at the coffee shop knowing damn good and well who I was. You played with me at your house enjoying every single time I stuck my foot into my mouth. Now you want a piece of me on my turf? Will that prove that you’re bigger and badder than me? I get it, okay! I’m not all that, thank you for sharing that important tidbit of information with me. You succeeded in your job here. To put my career on the line for your antics, well, that’s low even for you.”

He fumed as Emery leaned back in the plush chair, crossed his legs, and steepled his hands under his chin. “That’s what you believe I’m doing here? Proving my alpha-ness to you? I’m here for a business meeting. After we conduct our logistics business appropriately, then we can address our personal business.” Emery winked at him then slid his hand into his briefcase and tossed a set of bound papers onto Ritchie’s desk.

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Author BioAbout the Author: I annoy, love, respect, scare, seduce, hurt, anger, infatuate, frustrate, flatter, envy, amuse and tolerate everyone. I just do it better in writing thanks to a little thing called…edits.

Okay no, seriously…I’m a simpleminded person who enjoys the escape from real life through a book. I write with the group Story Orgy and hope to continue doing so for a long time. I also am privileged to be with the Pulp Friction writers, creating intermingling books in a world all our own.

I recently took the drastic step of quitting my EDJ (evil day job) and am now living in the gorgeous desert in Arizona making a go at this writing stuff full time…and I can’t see me regretting this decision ever.

Just like every other red-blooded human—I get a little bouncy when I get mail (any kind too…email, comments, private messages…you wanna do it, do it with me *winks*). So feel free to drop me a line—whether it’s on my blog, twitter, PInterest, or you track me down on FaceBook or Google +…it’s easy to catch someone who wants to be caught.

I specialize in writing boyxboy though I read almost everything…and I fancy myself as slightly funny every once in a while. :)

Where to find the author: Facebook Author Page | Facebook Group | Pulp Friction Love FB Group | Twitter | Pinterest | Blog | Wattpad

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THE GIVEAWAY

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Chris T. Kat, Dreamspinner Press, Giveaways

Interview and Giveaway: The Breeding Stations Blog Tour with Chris T. Kat

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We’re so pleased to have author Chris T. Kat with us today on her Breeding Stations blog tour. Enjoy our short chat and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card.

Good luck!

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TNA: Hi, Chris, I’m glad to have you back for your Breeding Station blog tour.

CTK: Thank you, Lisa, I’m very glad to be back on The Novel Approach. :)

TNA: What are a few of your favorite things about writing Sci-Fi?

CTK: Breeding Stations is the first sci-fi book I’ve written. I wanted to try my hand at writing in this genre for a long time, but always balked. There’s so much to consider when writing sci-fi—the characters (humans, aliens), setting, plot, etc. I feared I’d tie myself into knots trying to create a world and plot that would come across as believable. In the end, I absolutely loved writing Breeding Stations and its sequel, Final Battle. It’s also the first time I wrote both books in a series one after another. It made everything much easier, and the books flowed. There were often times in which I could barely keep up with the story. Normally, I write about 1500 to 2000 words on a writing day. During the writing of Breeding Stations, I wrote 4000 to 6000 words in each session. Says something about my excitement, right?

But to get back to your question: my favorite thing about writing sci-fi is the creation of new worlds and a different take on society and social rules. I love to play with gender roles, and certain expectations, and did so freely in Breeding Stations.

TNA: Do you remember the book you read, or movie/TV show you saw, that first sparked your love of Science Fiction? What book/movie/show was it, and what are some of the things you loved about it?

CTK: My father and my grandmother were both big fans of science fiction and horror movies. I grew up watching Star Trek, the original series. I remember that I regularly visited my grandmother on Saturdays. Whenever a new episode of Star Trek came on, no one was allowed to speak a single word, and I got to sit on my grandmother’s lap. Unfortunately, my grandmother died at a young age.

My father kept my interest in all things sci-fi, though. We still watched Star Trek and later on Star Wars—much to the dislike of my mother, who doesn’t like sci-fi or paranormal. Later on, I discovered the paranormal genre in books and devoured whatever I could get my hands on.

What I loved about Star Trek? Hmm, the first thing I remember is Mr. Spock, the way he behaved and spoke. Second thing is his interaction with Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy. I absolutely loved their relationships. When it comes to Stark Trek: Next Generation, I adored Mr. Data and loved all the technology introduced throughout the series.

TNA: What are some of the futuristic inventions (i.e. teleportation, food replicators, etc.) that you wish were a reality you could see in your lifetime?

CTK: Teleportation is something I’d love to see in reality. It would allow me to see my best friend who lives in the USA (I live in Germany) more often. Having thousands of miles between you and your best friend really sucks…

I’d also love to see the changes in medicine and medical treatments in my lifetime. How much suffering could be stopped with new technologies and better understanding of the human body? That would be awesome, in my opinion.

TNA: If a habitable planet were discovered in a distant galaxy, and the United Nations decided to band together to attempt to populate it with volunteers from all corners of the world, would you consider being a pioneer in that movement? Why or why not?

CTK: That’s a difficult question. While I’d definitely be interested in being a pioneer, I probably wouldn’t do it in my current position. The kids are still young and I wouldn’t want to pull them out of their normal environment. A few years ago, we actually thought about relocating to the US, but didn’t go through with it because of our children. There’s a lot to think about before making a life-altering decision.

TNA: Finally, if you had to pick a favorite USS Enterprise captain, given the choices of Kirk or Picard, who do you think was the better captain and why?

CTK: I never thought I’d say this but—Picard. For a long time I didn’t want to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation, because I didn’t believe they could hold a candle to the original Star Trek team. However, I realized later on that I didn’t watch the show or the movies for Captain Kirk, rather Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy. Even when I was a kid, William Shatner’s acting skills never really convinced me. Captain Picard felt more layered to me. He was more serious, more in command, but he always took good care of his crew. Well, at least that’s how I feel about these two captains—other opinions will most likely differ. :)

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Breeding StationsBlurb: Spunky commander Berit Turner is known for two things: his huge libido and his lack of a filter—he says what he thinks. Berit sets his mind on being part of the mission to Ligador, to make sure the planet is habitable for humans. He’s ecstatic when his team is assigned to the task force. A delegation of Nadisc, a humanoid alien race, accompanies them, and passion ignites between Berit and their commanding officer, Tom. But Berit is determined that Tom is just another notch on his bedpost, as he doesn’t do relationships.

The excursion to Ligador goes wrong from the beginning, when they discover Ligador has been established as a breeding station by their worst enemy: the Tash’Ba. Dinosaur-like creatures become the team’s worst nightmare, and staying alive is going to take everything they’ve got… and then some.

You can find Breeding Stations in Paperback and E-Book at Dreamspinner Press and Amazon, or in all E-formats at All Romance eBooks.

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Chris T. KatAbout the Author: Chris T. Kat lives in the middle of Europe, where she shares a house with her husband of many years and their two children. She stumbled upon the M/M genre by luck and was swiftly drawn into it. She divides her time between work, her family—which includes chasing after escaping horses and lugging around huge instruments such as a harp—and writing. She enjoys a variety of genres, such as mystery/suspense, paranormal, and romance. If there’s any spare time, she happily reads for hours, listens to audiobooks or does cross stitch.

Where to find the author: Facebook | Twitter

Other: GoodReads | Blog | Amazon Author Page

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THE GIVEAWAY

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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Karen, Sean Kennedy

Review: Tigers on the Run by Sean Kennedy

Title:  Tigers on the Run (Sequel to Tigerland)

Author:  Sean Kennedy

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Page/Word Count:  260 Pages

At a Glance:  Tigers on the Run took the couple that we grew to love as we watched them grow to love each other, and showed us how to keep that love going.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb:  Young Australian Micah Johnson is the first AFL player to be out at the beginning of his career. Retired professional football player Declan Tyler mentors Micah, but he finds it difficult, as Micah is prone to making poor life choices that land him in trouble. Nothing Dec can’t handle. He’s been there, done that, more times than he’d like to admit. Being Simon Murray’s partner all these years has Dec quite experienced in long-suffering and mishaps.

As usual, Simon thinks everything is going along just fine until his assistant, Coby, tells him a secret involving an old nemesis. Simon and Dec’s problems mash together, and to solve them, they must undertake a thousand-kilometer round trip in which issues will have to be sorted out, apologies are finally given, and a runaway kid is retrieved and returned to his worried parents.

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Review:  The first book in this series was on sale, and I hadn’t heard about it before, but it sounded alright so I figured I would give it a shot… I am so glad I did! As soon as I finished the first book I moved on to the second and then, luckily for me, Tigers on the Run was just about to be released, which was good because I would not have been happy having to wait to get more of Simon and Declan!

Tigers on the Run takes the couple that we grew to love as we watched them grow to love each other, and showed us how to keep that love going. Did they always get along and everything was perfect? Nope. As a matter of fact, it seemed as though there was one thing after another testing them, but they always came back to each other.

I have to say that I really loved Jasper throughout this series.  Although he was the cause of a lot of the turmoil in the story, the interaction either with Simon and Jasper, or just Simon in reference to Jasper, had me cracking up. You have to love a story that makes you laugh out loud, and I did numerous times throughout this one.  But, Jasper isn’t the only one. Sean Kennedy not only has you loving Simon and Declan but the entire supporting cast as well.

I have read many books that are set outside of the US, and of course, have come across a few terms that I had no idea what they meant. After a while it can get a little frustrating, but with this one I happily had my phone at hand, ready to Google anything I wasn’t sure about, so while an enjoyable, fun and relaxing read, I even learned a little bit too!

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You can buy Tigers on the Run here:

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