3.5 Stars, Extasy Books, Kazy Reed, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Taz

Review: Remember Him by Kazy Reed

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Title: Remember Him (The Amsel Clan: Book One)

Author: Kazy Reed

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 162 Pages

At a Glance: As a first book, this was a commendable contribution to vampiric storylore.

Reviewed By: Taz

Blurb: While sketching the Temple of Dendur, graduate student Carter Denwright meets—and is seduced by—a powerful vampire by the name of Alder. Though they were once kept secret from the human world, now everyone knows of their existence. Blinded by mistaken feelings for Alder, Carter allows himself to be drawn into his life. Too late, he realizes two things: one, Alder is vicious and cruel, and two, Carter’s true love is Alder’s brother, Freyr.

The attraction between Carter and Freyr is strong, but they must fight this feeling or face the wrath of Alder. Despite their best efforts, Alder discovers the truth, and punishes Carter, hiding him from Freyr in a cruel game of cat and mouse.

Freyr is not as strong as his brother, but he vows that he will find Carter again and will stop at nothing to get him back. Carter, caught in Alder’s cruel grip, commits an act of desperation that will change all their lives forever. The question is: can Freyr find Carter, and is the bond between him and Carter enough to break Alder’s hold and spoil his plans to ruin them both?

Dividers

Review: I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Kazy at two of the GRL Retreats. I remember several things about her, including her awesome hair, her friendliness, and later, her heartfelt posts on Facebook about her family. Her personality rings of coolness and good energy…which was evident in her book.

Carter and Freyr are wonderfully lovable characters. Their emotions and love for one another are strong and grip the reader, forcing us to root for their happy ending. Alder is a magnificent villain, made even more so when a small piece of his emotions are revealed towards the end of the book. His motivation for throwing the proverbial wrench into the beautiful lives of our protagonists were self-serving, yes, but also driven out of respect for Carter.

It did not take long for the story to fall into motion. With a prologue that begins to do some world-building, followed by a leap to the present where we see how the history of the two main characters bleeds into the lives of the support cast, I was drawn in. The sex scenes were vivid and plentiful, always an enjoyable aspect to reading.

As a first book, this was a commendable contribution to vampiric storylore. Told in the first person and shifting points of view from chapter to chapter, we are taken on not one but two emotional journeys. As the action revs up, those points of view draw closer and closer together until we reach the climatic finale.

A couple of things which would have helped me to enjoy the book without any distraction at all would be in the finer details of revision and editing. I’ve heard from many authors who look back at their first work and note how much they’ve grown since they began writing. The traps Ms. Reed skimmed are common and, given the strength of the story, minor distractions. There were a few times when Ms. Reed told the reader the characters’ feelings rather than showing us through description and actions. Also, the initial chapters required me to suspend my view of how things might naturally occur. For instance, the love interest sparked instantly with proclamations of love happening without a getting-to-know-you phase. If we’d had some time to explore Freyr and Carter’s attraction and love in the face of the threat of Alder finding out and retaliating, the tension would have been amplified on two levels. First, we would have rooted for the protagonists even more (although I was rooting for them the whole time). Also, the ugliness of Alder’s character could have been an even greater obstacle because we’d be able to really hate him on a personal level rather than seeing him as an abuser of power who needed to be taken down.

Other than these two elements, the story gripped me and kept my attention right to the very end. I’m now invested and am looking forward to reading the next installment when it releases.

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3.5 Stars, Andi Van, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Jules

Review: A Certain Kind of Holiday by Andi Van

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Title: A Certain Kind of Holiday (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015)

Author: Andi Van

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 28 Pages

At a Glance: This one was cute, guys!

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: When Elliot Knapp took a business trip over the holidays last year, he didn’t expect to run into the professor his first serious boyfriend cheated on him with. The man was handsome, certainly, but Elliot has better things to do than deal with drama from a decade ago.

Luckily for him, Howard Wise wasn’t going to let him get away without an explanation. A year after meeting again, the couple is making their first holiday trip to celebrate Christmas. Everything is fantastic, but Howard is obviously keeping secrets, and Elliot can’t help but wonder what his silver fox has up his sleeve.

Christmas Dividers

Review: Elliot and Howard, who haven’t been in contact in ten years, run into each other unexpectedly on a train ride from Seattle. Their reunion is, of course, soured by the fact that Elliot’s last memory of Howard is him kissing Elliot’s college boyfriend. Howard manages to talk Elliot into letting him explain, however, which turns out to be a very good thing, as things are not always what they seem. I really liked Howard – sexy professor, twinkly eyes, playful demeanor – and I loved that he remembered Elliot right away. Obviously their connection all those years ago wasn’t just one-sided.

A Certain Kind of Holiday is short and sweet. Via three consecutive Christmas vignettes, Andi Van takes us on Howard and Elliot’s journey, allowing us to get to know them and showing us how good they are together.  Again, Howard’s character was the main part of the appeal for me, but I definitely liked Elliot as well. It’s hard to cover much ground in just twenty-eight pages, but Van did a good job of engaging me. This one was cute, guys!

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3.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, M.J. O'Shea, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed By Carrie

Review: X Marks the Spot by M.J. O’Shea

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Title: X Marks the Spot

Author: M.J. O’Shea

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: Send reality packing and just enjoy the ride.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Jack Hunter is always on a quest for lost art, ancient manuscripts, and anything else that’ll romance the millions of viewers who watch his show each week. He hasn’t always hit pay dirt in his searches though, and a string of empty global treasure hunts has left his show on the brink of cancellation. Jack needs a white whale, a holy grail, nothing less than a miracle to revive his career.

Aloysius “Alo” Green likes his ivory towers. He’s content to study from the comfort of a university library and publish papers nobody other than academics will ever read. But coded letters pointing to hidden Nazi treasure fall into his hands, and while colleagues warn him to keep them to himself, Alo can’t stop obsessing. He makes a huge mistake and publishes a paper on his find, ignoring the danger doing so will bring.

Jack is sure he’s struck gold when his assistant brings Alo’s paper to him. Alo wants nothing to do with Jack or his televised treasure hunt. But after Alo is threatened, it appears Jack is his best bet to silence those who seek to use him to find the vast wealth first.

By trusting Jack, Alo might’ve saved himself… or made his worst decision yet.

Dividers

Review: Alo is an academic—if he has his way he will stay in college forever, living at home and publishing papers on medieval history that no one but other academics will ever read. Working on his PhD, he longs for a job in some university’s ivory tower as far from everyday life as he can possibly get. Then his grandfather moves into an assisted living facility, and leaves Alo a stack of letters which hold a mystery no one has ever been able to solve. Alo’s life is tossed upside down when he publishes a paper on the letters, and all of a sudden, his life is in danger and apparently, there is stolen Nazi treasures to find. Alo may be a nerd, but he is a clever nerd and puzzles are a specialty of his.

Jack Hunter is an adventure seeking TV personality on a once popular show on the History Channel. If he doesn’t come up with a hook for a new show soon, its lights out for his onscreen persona. A quest for Nazi treasures is just what his career needs, and if it comes with the quirky Alo, more the better. Convincing Alo to search for the treasures is a whole different matter, but when Alo is confronted with bullets from the people who want to steal his letters, he decides finding the artifacts may be the only way to keep his family safe.

And this is where you send reality packing and just enjoy the ride, much as you do in an Indiana Jones film. Creative license is used in its entirety in X Marks the Spot, as the quest for the treasures takes you to country after country filled with iconic landmarks and old world charm. The treasure hunt is by far the most enjoyable part of this book, as I felt Alo could have been a bit more mature and embrace the opportunities and excitement around him. Instead, Alo went to all these wonderful places and experienced the thrill of the quest, all the while wishing he wasn’t there.

I didn’t really connect Alo and Jack Hunter together – the chemistry just wasn’t there for me. Take out the romance and you have a nice little adventure book. I generally love M.J. O’Shea’s work, but this book just fell a little flat for me. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing a follow up of these characters, with Jack forcing Alo more out of his shell, and Alo uncovering more mysteries out there that need to be solved.

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3.5 Stars, Eli Easton, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Jules, Self-Published

Review: Midwinter Night’s Dream by Eli Easton

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Title: Midwinter Night’s Dream

Author: Eli Easton

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 121 Pages

At a GlanceI’m a massive Eli Easton fangirl, she knocks so many things out of the park, but this one left me wanting.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: Micah is the hippest, most chill guy on campus. But when he gets the hottest kiss of his life from a cute guy during a game of ‘spin the bottle’, Micah’s cool turns into a puddle of anxious goo. Sure, Micah’s always been a little bi-curious, but he never thought he’d pursue a guy, much less a guy who doesn’t seem to be interested in getting caught.

Leo is passionate about two things: gay rights activism and acting. He stays focused and in control, and he never, ever, dates straight guys. When a chance spin of a bottle at a party has him locking lips with Micah Springfield, president of the Delts, dread-headed, serial-dating, straight Micah, Leo is determined to forget about it, no matter how incendiary the sparks or how gorgeous Micah may be.

Leo has bigger problems. His senior project is directing Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream just before the Christmas break. When his venue cancels at the last minute, Micah offers the use of his parent’s barn in rural Pennsylvania. Leo’s play may be saved, but what about his heart? Between Micah’s sweet lips, his family’s welcoming arms, and a devious bulldog who is determined to play Puck, Leo may find himself falling under the spell of Christmas magic.

Dividers

Review: Eli Easton’s Midwinter Night’s Dream was one of my most anticipated holiday reads this year. After falling in love with the Springfields in last year’s Unwrapping Hank, I couldn’t wait for Micah’s story. Smooth, mellow, cooler than the other side of the pillow Micah. Who would he be paired with? How would it all play out? Would we get to see much of Hank and Sloan? For the most part I was happy with the story, but I have to admit that this one had a few misses for me also.

The characters were a hit. I really do love Micah. I actually had a very dear friend in school who was (and still is) just like Micah. Got along with everyone, great to hang out with, gorgeous – the whole package. And, I thought Leo was a good match for Micah. The early spin-the-bottle scene, where the guys kiss for the first time, was super fun and smokin’ hot. These guys definitely had great chemistry! In fact, I loved Micah’s whole overall reaction to Leo. His fondness and admiration for him felt so genuine and really shone through. He was completely smitten with Leo; it was adorable.

The setting was another hit.  I love reading NA books, and always think the college settings are fun…but, in this case I’m talking about when the storyline takes us to Micah’s parents’ home. The Springfield farm at Christmas is so magical in my mind. I absolutely ate up Eli Easton’s descriptions of the barn, and the snowy fields, trees, etc., during the snow shoeing scene. I can so clearly picture the beauty. I also thought all of the play stuff was fun – the idea for Leo’s senior project was fantastic, and it was the perfect catalyst for bringing everything together.

There were absolutely many things to be enjoyed in this book, but, unfortunately, it’s time to talk about the misses, the biggest one being the ‘extra’ storyline with Leo’s best friend, Helen, and Micah’s almost-girlfriend, Yasmine. First of all, I have no issue whatsoever with F/F stories. If the addition of this bit into the book was a device for Eli to introduce Helen and Yas because she intends to write a lesbian story, that’s fine. I could see that intention. Furthermore, this has NOTHING to do with “not wanting girl-bits in my M/M books.” I simply thought it didn’t work here. It felt forced, or thrown in. Yas gave me whiplash with how quickly she goes from not quite getting that Micah doesn’t like her like that, to making out with Helen.

And, directly related to the above is the fact that I would have much rather had more page time with Micah and Leo. We simply just didn’t have enough of them together. The times that they were together were fantastic – Spin-the-bottle…fabulous snow-shoeing scene…hot barn sex – I wish there had been more. There were also two quick mentions of Micah having a possible submissive streak – when he melted into their first kiss, and then Leo later muses about it as well – that I SOOO wish would have been further explored.

I’m a massive Eli Easton fangirl, she knocks so many things out of the park, but this one left me wanting. Wanting more Micah and Leo time…more holiday time…definitely more out of the epilogue. It just felt like it wrapped up too darn quickly for how long it took them to get together. Do I still recommend it? Of course. I mean, Christmas novella! Awesome glimpses of Sloane and Hank! There’s still plenty of charm – it just wasn’t my favorite one of her stories.

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3.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mary Calmes, Reviewed by Sammy, Short Story

Review: Easy Evenings by Mary Calmes

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Title: Easy Evenings (Mangrove: Book Four)

Author: Mary Calmes

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 77 Pages

At a Glance: Several huge plot holes turned this novella from a sweet little romance into a rather confusing story.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Lazlo Maguire doesn’t do relationships—he does transactions. Six months of the year, he’s an expensive rent boy in Manhattan, and he moves so fast that settling down could not, would not, ever enter his mind… except for once. Britton Lassiter he meets man to man, not as hustler and mark, and it’s too good to be true when the lawyer wants to keep Lazlo even if he has to share him with the job.

But Lazlo has his reasons to walk away from the man he’s grown to love. The other six months of the year, he is laid-back Laz, a shopkeeper in the sleepy coastal town of Mangrove, Florida, where the artist he never allows himself to be in the Big Apple shines through. He lives for his time by the ocean, the place he hides his secrets and nurses his broken heart.

Then fate intervenes, and Laz gets the surprise of his life when he spies Britton in Mangrove—but it’s not meant to be… not until Britton sees the change in him and wants to be a part of Laz’s new life so that every evening can be easy… together. Hopefully the secrets that tore them apart won’t come back to haunt them.

Dividers

Review: Let me begin by saying that author Mary Calmes writes very sweet and lovely romance stories. This is an author I go to when I really want a bit of escapism. Her stories are most notable in that any great conflict is usually quickly resolved, her people are beautiful, angst is minimal, and there is always a swift and loving happy ever after. So, it’s safe for me to say that when I choose to review one of her stories, I look at them in this light, with an eye more toward fantasy than realistic m/m relationships. Her latest installment in the Mangrove series, Easy Evenings, is no exception.

Lazlo Maguire is a rent boy. He divides his year between time in Manhattan, where he provides sexual hookups for a variety of clientele, to the quiet town of Mangrove, Florida, leading a quiet life as a shop keeper and creating sculpted wind chimes and various other things out of metals. When he meets Britton Lassiter, his world is turned upside down. Britton makes him want things that he can’t possibly have, and feel things that he’s never felt before. For the first time, here is someone who could possibly make Laz walk away from his rent boy existence. But Lazlo’s life is not his own and despite how much he would like to have that happy ever after with Britton, the responsibilities he has will never allow him to give up the empty life that holds him prisoner.

The story picks up when Laz return for his six month stint at home in Mangrove, and discovers that Britton has moved his law practice to the same town. Without much of a clue as to the why and how, we discover Britton has taken out a restraining order against Laz, and one can only assume that is because Laz has been attempting to reestablish their relationship. This would be the same relationship that Laz walked away from after realizing that Britton was worthy of much more than a rent boy for a life partner. All of this is done in flashback style, narrated by Laz himself—so it is sketchy at best. Then there is a sudden twist in the story when a little three-year-old girl is unceremoniously dumped on Lazlo’s front porch, and he is informed that he is the father. Suddenly everything changes, including his relationship with Britton.

Laz is one of the sweetest characters I’ve ever read about. The reasons behind his being a rent boy almost broke my heart. The sweet little girl that he is left with is quite precocious. While she seems a bit too old in her outlook for the age of three, and her dialogue is way too sophisticated for that age as well, I was able to overlook that as the way in which she was written made her truly delightful. These two really captured my heart in a big way—I wanted them to be happy in every way possible.

Britton was a real study in contrasts. Needing to submit to Laz in the bedroom while, at the same time, so fiercely eager to take care of Laz outside of it, I felt I knew so little about him. This was really Laz’s story from beginning to end, and I felt that Britton was a bit underdeveloped as a main character. However, the two made a fiery match and were very well suited to each other. Unfortunately, this was a swiftly moving story and as a result, I felt like major chunks of the story were left untold. For instance the reasons for the restraining order were never really discussed. And just as quickly as it was mentioned, Britton was dropping it in order to be with Laz.

Also, the declaration that he had never had unprotected sex other than with Britton was a blatant lie, particularly since earlier in the story he relates how one evening he had sex with a trick’s wife which apparently produced the little girl Katie. Then again, we are told in the story that he never gives out his real name while turning tricks in Manhattan, except to Britton, yet three years after that one evening, the stepfather currently stuck with Katie after her mother had died is able to track Laz down without knowing his real name. There is a hint that Lazlo knew more about Katie’s mother, but it was never explained so it left me unsure as to how Katie even came to exist.

Ultimately, it was these huge plot holes that turned this novella from a sweet little romance into a rather confusing story. Every time one of these inconsistencies ripped me from the pages, I had to make a concerted effort to put my head back in the game and continue the story. I have read other short stories by this author and found them to be quite lovely. Unfortunately, Easy Evenings had too many troublesome and conflicting details to make this a romance I could recommend.

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3.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Angel, Tempeste O'Riley

Review: Whiskers of a Chance by Tempeste O’Riley

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Title: Whiskers of a Chance

Author: Tempeste O’Riley

PublisherDreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 204 Pages

At a Glance: Overall, this book was really sweet and kept my interest.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Jason Grant runs his own IT business from home, owns his own home, and has the best friend he could imagine. What he doesn’t have, or believe he will ever have, is love. When Jason catches a glimpse of his new neighbor on moving day, his libido ignites and his fascination in piqued. He even manages to concoct an excuse to go over and meet the man who makes him hope and want for more than he has in years.

Keith Skyler is a shifter in a world where his kind is known to only a few, but they don’t often mix and they never mate. Keith has been hoping for a mate since before he can remember, but gay lynx don’t have true mates. As far as he knows, they don’t have mates at all. However, while moving his little family across Seattle—and away from their tribe—his reality tips and spins more than he thought possible.

When these two men meet over a dish of five-cheese broccoli-noodle casserole, sparks fly. Who knew a welcome to the neighborhood gift could give both of them their chance at love?

Dividers

Review:  Tempeste O’Riley is a new-to-me author, and I enjoyed her writing style. However, the story itself was a bit disjointed for me.

There was some excellent world building and a unique take on the world of shifters, which I really enjoyed. Keith and Jason were utterly adorable, and I really liked Keith’s nephew and sister. There was some telling that glossed over issues I would have rather seen, and a repeating of various happenings from different points of view, which slowed the story for me.

Overall, this book was really sweet and kept my interest with some of the other characters in addition to the MCs. It wraps up neatly with an HEA for all.

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3.5 Stars, Kari Gregg, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published, Short Story

Review: Sightings by Kari Gregg

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Title: Sightings

Author: Kari Gregg

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 42 Pages

At a Glance: Sightings is a sweet romance with a nice little twist.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Quinn Laramie moved to Mill Valley to care for his sick Aunt Betsy. After her recovery, he invested hours once spent in hospitals hiking and exploring the surrounding hills rather than returning to an empty apartment in the city.

Patrick, a photographer and self-proclaimed paranormal expert, saved Quinn from tumbling into a flooded creek where a bridge had washed away years ago, taking a pair of doomed lovers with it. Quinn and Patrick meet for other creepy jaunts thereafter: a derelict one-room schoolhouse, an abandoned cemetery, the burned-out shell of a home… Quinn hasn’t seen any ghosts yet, but Patrick’s shy kisses haunt him after each paranormal adventure ends.

Quinn wants more, and with their next spooky tour set to begin, Patrick is finally ready to give in. But what surprises wait them in the eerie manse atop Warner Hill?

Dividers

Review: Kari Gregg’s Sightings is a romantic and sexy paranormal story, with a bit of a twist to keep things interesting. The story is so short that summarizing the plot even a bit would risk giving away too much, the blurb serves just fine for that, so I’ll just say that I really liked the way Gregg brought Quinn and Patrick together. Patrick’s shy hesitance and Quinn’s longing for something more with the man who’d become a friend, and who’d even saved his life once, kept me wondering what the conflict was.

I also liked the role Margaret Warner plays in the story. She was a bit mysterious and I couldn’t help but be curious about what her significance was in helping Quinn to understand Patrick, which then plays right into the nice plot twist. While it’s no big secret something supernatural is at play in this story, I still liked the “what” of it, and once all was revealed, I thought it was a sweet resolution to the romance between these two men.

If you’re looking for a quick little ghost story that will tug at your heartstrings a bit too, Sightings will fill that need.

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3.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Karen, Skylar M. Cates

Review: A Guy’s Thanksgiving by Skylar M. Cates

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Title: A Guy’s Thanksgiving (The Guy Series)

Author: Skylar M. Cates

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Page/Word Count: 126 Pages

At a Glance: I have mixed feeling about A Guy’s Thanksgiving, but I did enjoy the story for what it was.

Reviewed By: Karen

Blurb:  Two proposals. One giant dog. Reunited lovers.

Welcome to Glamour, Arizona, where the holidays are never dull. Glamour may be a small town, but the surprises keep coming.

Everybody’s looking forward to Thanksgiving. Only Mac Sharma is a reluctant guest. Even as Anthony and Dean make him feel welcome at the Carrino table, Mac feels awkward among the close-knit group of friends. Life gets even more complicated when Conor Harvey shows up in town.

Mac has been in love with Conor since his university days. Too bad Conor broke his heart—right before he fled to his hometown in Ireland without explanation. Conor’s still a wild artist and as sexy as Mac remembers. But they’re no longer kids. This Thanksgiving, Mac must decide if he can give Conor a second chance.

Dividers

Review: When I read the blurb for A Guy’s Thanksgiving, my first reaction was, “Awesome! We’re getting Mac’s story!” I really have enjoyed this series and was thrilled for whatever was next.  So, as soon as I received the book I jumped right in…and then my mixed feelings about the book started.

While we get Mac and Conor’s story, we also get follow ups and continuations of the relationships from the previous couples in the series. Now, I as did say that I really do enjoy this series, what is my issue, you may ask? The problem is I felt that the split focus took something away from Mac and Conor’s story and that they got cut short, so we missed out. I enjoyed what we did get with this book, but I just felt we could have gotten so much more if the storyline hadn’t been divided up among the other couples.

I was happy to get to see the proposal and the previous couples living their happily ever afters, though, and am not wishing we didn’t get those updates, because I do love a good follow up, but I wish it would have been separate from Mac and Conor’s book, as I felt the story bounce around a bit, and I couldn’t really focus on what was going on with the new relationship, not with so much else going on.

So, as much as I like this series and Skylar M. Cates’ writing, and I did enjoy the story for what it was, I was also left feeling a little disappointed in the end.

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3.5 Stars, Erotica, Historical Romance, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Lisa, Scarlet Blackwell

Review: Stand and Deliver by Scarlet Blackwell

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Title: Stand and Deliver

Author: Scarlet Blackwell

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 102 Pages

At a Glance: A lusty and erotic guilty pleasure read.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: A tale of dark, dangerous highwaymen and the man they take captive.

When Lucien Mayer, 14th Earl of Ravensberry is taken hostage by a gang of highwaymen, he is drawn to the damaged, reclusive Ambrosius and the dangerous, brooding Dante. Torn between escaping and satisfying his body’s needs, his life will never be the same again.

Publisher’s Note: This book has previously been published under the same title. It has been expanded, revised and re-edited for re-release with Pride Publishing.

Dividers

Review: Scarlet Blackwell’s Stand and Deliver was originally published back in 2009 by Total-e-Bound, before they were Totally Bound, before they were Pride Publishing. I read the book in its original incarnation way back when, when I was still a relative newbie to the gay romance genre but was more than familiar by then with Blackwell’s work. And to that I’ll add that my experiences with this author’s work over the years have been both hit and miss. If you’re familiar, then you know she has a formula. She has a tendency to write at least one of her protagonists as a bit of…dare I say…I’ll whisper it…an arse? But, there’s usually a good enough reason for his behavior, and then, of course, she sets about making him fall in love—at which point he usually redeems himself, if not entirely endears himself, to readers by the end of the book.

I wanted to get my hands on this reworked version of Stand and Deliver because I remember liking it the first time around, and I wanted to see what had changed, or whether the book had changed enough, that I’d recommend it to readers who’d already read and liked it in its original format. More on that in a moment, though.

First off I’ll say this novella is Erotic Fantasy—no apologies, no denying it. Not fantasy in a supernatural way but fantasy of the sort where one imagines themselves as the hero/heroine of a story, being kidnapped and ravished by a handsome marauder who falls madly in love with us (see: my pirate fetish), helpless against his charms. This fantasy, in particular, involves a band of land-bound pirates–highwaymen, to be more precise–who travel under cover of darkness, chasing down horse-drawn carriages, preying upon the wealthy with demands of, “Stand and deliver! Your money or your life!” If one was lucky, one surrendered a few baubles and coins, then was set free, virtue intact.

Lucien Mayer, 14th Earl of Ravensberry, the robbery and kidnapping victim in the story, is hardly a damsel in distress, nor is he hardly concerned about his virtue, as he is instantly drawn to and insanely in lust with two of his captors—one he could potentially love, the other he despises in spite of the fact he shares his body with Dante time and time again—with Ambrosius in the bed and without.

Though there isn’t much plot woven in with the erotic content of Stand and Deliver, there is a certain poignancy to the story which plucks at our empathy and helps to perhaps soothe a few of our qualms about accepting that Lucien falls so quickly for Ambrosius, with little supporting reason behind it. Lucien lives a lonely and seemingly aimless existence, Ambrosius is in deep mourning, Dante’s hiding a rather explosive secret, and both Ambrosius and Dante are warring with their emotions—Ambrosius with grief and guilt, Dante with grief and anger and bitterness and regret. Lucien doesn’t make it easy on himself either, being drawn to these two men, one emotionally and the other in a purely physical way. But, that’s Lucien’s story and he’s sticking to it, come hell or highwaymen.

Now, back to the story’s revisions. Has Stand and Deliver changed enough to purchase and read it again, if you’ve already read it in its original format? No, I don’t think so. Other than perhaps some polishing of the prose, which I noticed as I skimmed through my original copy of the book, this story is the same. If you haven’t read the book, would I recommend it? Well, as always, that depends upon the individual: do you like a little plot with your sex, or a little sex with your plot? Do you fancy historical erotica? Do you like threesomes? And snarling and sexy, slightly difficult to like men, two of whom do get their happy ending, with the third looking as though he may get his own sequel? If you don’t mind a little plot with your sex, among all those other things, then Stand and Deliver is a guilty pleasure read that stands and delivers.

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3.5 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Loose Id, Lyn Gala, Reviewed by Sammy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Without a Net by Lyn Gala

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Title: Without a Net

Author: Lyn Gala

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 266 Pages

At a Glance: Without a Net just needed a bit more attention to details in order to work out a few inconsistencies in the story.

Blurb: Oliver Robertson has been assigned to go undercover in one of the shade clubs that litter the seedier parts of town. He has never engaged in the sort of edge play found in those places, preferring the BDSM in the more mainstream control clubs. However, to find the criminals behind a series of kidnappings, he must go in undercover as a shade sub. The mission becomes more complicated when his captain asks him to collect evidence against a lieutenant who might be a dirty cop.

The case quickly gets out of hand, and Ollie finds himself caught between wanting to do his job and not knowing who to trust. That confusion grows worse when a number of sexy and dominant men challenge his assumption that he prefers safe, contractually negotiated sex. It turns out he has more of a wild side than he expected, and given that he’s surrounded by dangerous men, and he can’t distinguish the good guys from the bad, that’s terrifying.

When Ollie gives his trust to Travis Goode, a dominant who appears to be a federal agent, he might be making the connection of a lifetime or dooming himself forever.

Publisher’s Note: Contains dark BDSM elements.

Dividers

Review: This is my first Lyn Gala novel, and I will say that I knew in advance that she writes about BDSM—her work being edgier and often allowing for a good deal of introspection on the part of her characters. In Without a Net, the author uses the vehicle of a mystery/police sting operation to explore a cop’s awakening realization that he likes to walk the edge of consensual D/s experience. In fact, Ollie Robertson will discover that he has a much darker side to him then he has ever fully explored before, while trying to remain an active participant in the center of a sting operation to bring down corrupt law enforcement officials–namely his own captain.

Ollie is supposed to pose as a submissive seeking employment in one of the rougher shade BDSM clubs in the city. Along with a whole heap of scenarios where submissives are losing themselves in dangerous and dubious consent relationships with abusive Doms, the shade club in question also has been noted for a series of disturbing kidnappings. When the game shifts and Ollie is asked by his captain to continue his undercover work in the club, but also to expand it by allowing himself to be backed up by fellow officers who may indeed be dirty cops on the take, he reluctantly agrees to continue. Then, Ollie falls into the hands of a man who has decided to break him and remold him into a shade submissive, all in order to achieve his own revenge against the captain.

Suddenly, Ollie finds himself bound and being brutally trained, his entire fix on who he is sexually and professionally is thrown into a tailspin, and whom he can trust is murky at best. When a former neighbor visits the compound where Ollie is being held, it is hard for our hero to decide if Travis is one of the good guys or another corrupt agent. Not knowing whom to trust, and rapidly realizing he is not the controlled sub he supposed himself to be, Ollie’s life is spinning out of control…and Agent Travis Goode may be the only true anchor Ollie can trust.

There were many layers to this story of corruption and greed. First and foremost this was a story revolving around the corruption and shake down practices of a law enforcement agency. Ollie had already gone on record calling out fellow officers who were biased or bigoted against the gay community within the force; therefore, the story line that had him being the eyes and ears of what seemed a genuinely concerned captain over potentially racist officers was very realistic and valid.

The tensions created between he and other officers were very well written and gave Ollie’s fears over a lack of support from his back-up team credibility. When Ollie was finally taken into captivity by a seeming bad guy, the flow of this mystery novel deepened, and the plot twists and subsequent “breaking’ of Ollie’s resistance and spirit was on target. However, there were several elements in this story that were muddled and left unclear; for instance, the time frame of the story. There was talk of life on Mars about three quarters into the story that made me really jerk in surprise. At the onset of the novel, I got the feel that the setting was a bit different or other worldly, given some of the technology the cops were using, but I never got the idea it was definitely a world set in the future. It was a shock to me that I was now also reading a futuristic novel with possible sci-fi leanings.

Secondly, Ollie’s near constant internal dialogue, which had him self-doubting all that happened, was sketchy and stretched the bounds of believability.  His accepting the fact that he was brutally handled and involved in several non-consensual scenarios just because his captor was seeking revenge on those who had allowed his lover to be brutally treated, left me shaking my head in disbelief. I feel the guilt that Travis felt would have been a bit more justified if there had been even the slightest anger on Ollie’s part against his captors.

All in all, Without a Net seemed unfinished. I am not sure if I ever fully understood who was doing the kidnapping and where those people ended up in the story. If it was explained, I must have missed it while trying to get a handle on Ollie’s evolving reactions to being forced into submission to a man who mocked and used him repeatedly.

I will definitely be visiting this author’s backlist. I believe she writes in depth characters and exciting stories. Without a Net just needed a bit more attention to details in order to work out a few inconsistencies in the story.

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3.5 Stars, A.B. Gayle, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Kim, Wayward Ink Publishing

Review: Tyler Knoll’s Just For Fun: Books One thru Four by A.B. Gayle

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Title: Tyler Knoll’s Just For Fun: Books One-Four

Author: A.B. Gayle

Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 180 Pages

At a Glance: What can I say about Tyler Knoll’s Just for Fun? It’s an interesting take on a romance from the writer’s point of view.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Tyler Knoll was born one wild, stormy night in April 2013.

Of course, Tyler might tell you he was born twenty years earlier, but should we believe anything he says? That’s for you to decide.

In Tyler’s first adventure—like many a gay man before him—he was SNARED by gay porn, wallowing in tales of bigger, stronger, harder….

Then his fickle mind was seduced and SHREDDED by the prospect of BDSM and slavery.
When a Big Misunderstanding SLASHED at Tyler’s sanity, almost costing him his life, he turned to another genre for his salvation. But even this encounter proved potentially hazardous—not from freezing temperatures, but at the hands of irate fans.

Finally, tired and SCREWED by his all his trials and tribulations, he discovers—like many storybook heroes before him—that sometimes Mr. Right is closer than we think.

Dividers

Review: I’ve enjoyed a majority of what I’ve read by A.B. Gayle, but Tyler Knoll’s Just for Fun proved to be a little different than what I’m used to reading by her.

Tyler claims (at the beginning) that he’s nothing but a red blooded American twenty-year-old male who’d like nothing better than to get laid. So when a group of his friends go clubbing where all the suits hang out, and they decide to invite Tyler along…well…things start to happen that end up way out of his league.

In Book One, it was the humor that hooked me into the story. I loved how Tyler described his sexual activities, co-workers and friends. Especially when Tyler meets up with Gareth Harrison, and things kind of turn a little bit bizarre during that hook-up. But getting laid and getting a possible promotion is all kinds of worth it for this young man…right?

Wrong! In Book Two, not only does Tyler not get a promotion, he’s sent to the basement of his building to shred paper. It’s here that Tyler starts to hear “the voice” because as he’s writing his story down, he continues to breach the fourth wall by talking to his readers, asking questions. Okay, it’s Twilight Zone time! Also, it’s about this time he meets up with Mr. Document Disposal, Gareth Evans, who has a sexual proposition for Tyler.

All right, in Book Three, I started to get a little lost. In fact, there’s not much in the book that I followed, except for that Tyler was being used and abused by Seven Huge-Dick Dwarfs when he managed to get away. It’s here that I’m not sure that things are real for Tyler. I had a few moments where I was trying to figure out what was going on. Especially when his Hero showed up to save him. Poor kid sounds like he’s in shock.

That leaves Book Four, which kind of leaves the Twilight Zone behind and returns to somewhat normal. But it’s here that I’ll stop and say no more except that it has a surprise and a HEA that made me glad I read it through and didn’t quit when I got just a tad lost in Book Three.

What can I say about Tyler Knoll’s Just for Fun? It’s an interesting take on a romance from the writer’s point of view.

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3.5 Stars, CJane Elliott, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, New Adult, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Sex, Love, and Videogames by CJane Elliott

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Title: Sex, Love, and Videogames

Author: CJane Elliott

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 264 Pages

At a Glance: The story was a bit of a ramble for me, but there were definitely some winning elements to this installment.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Shy guy Jed Carter has always felt invisible next to his charismatic older brother, Kent. Kent’s master plan for Jed is simple: University of Virginia, fraternity, business, sports, and ladies’ man. None of it is Jed, except for playing on the rugby team, which he joins in defiance of soccer-loving Kent. Jed comes out in his sophomore year and starts seeing Pete, an attractive junior, who uses him for sex and videogames. Jed wants more—in life and in love—and starts making his own plans. First on the list: getting to know Charlie, the handsome guy working at the local videogame arcade.

Charlie Ambrose has always felt like an oddball, and not just for his tendency to stutter. Being gay sets him apart from his African-American community, and as a “townie,” he doesn’t fit in with the college crowd. Charlie’s inspiration is his cousin, Morocco, who’s transgender and doesn’t give a fig about fitting in. Art is Charlie’s passion, and when a local videogame designer discovers him, Charlie’s living a dream. The only thing he’s missing is love. But the last person Charlie expects to find it with is a cute, white U.Va. rugby player named Jed.

Dividers

Review: Author CJane Elliott has released the third in her Serpentine series, Sex, Love, and Videogames. Interestingly, this one could be read as a standalone and does not hinge on the first two having been read to lend it continuity. Having read the others, the setting (University of Virginia) was once again represented well, and the college atmosphere was spot on. The story was a bit of a ramble for me, but there were definitely some winning elements to this installment.

Jed has followed, reluctantly, in his big brother Kent’s footsteps most of his life. The “plan” now is for the two of them to be in an on campus frat together, along with Kent’s best buddy, Tucker. Unfortunately, as Jed’s freshman year gets underway, the stress of hiding his sexuality from his brother and the realization that he really doesn’t want to follow in Kent’s footsteps comes crashing down on Jed. When he accidentally outs himself to the frat, things seem to ease up a bit, albeit slowly. Unfortunately for Jed, finding a boyfriend is not as easy as he is assured it should be by his best friend, Myesha. The one boy he does like seems to treat him as a dirty little secret despite being openly out himself. For Jed, life is not the dream he had hoped it would be, and his self-esteem plummets more and more as he moves through the year into his second; unattached, lonely, and questioning whether he will ever find someone to love.

In town, Charlie Ambrose wiles away the hours wishing for so much more in his life. Occasional clandestine meetings with a school friend leave him wanting more than hurried and secretive blowjobs. He wishes he could be like his cousin, Morocco, a transgender whirlwind who constantly pushes at Charlie to come out, pursue his talent for art, and live the life he so desperately wants. But Charlie’s fears as a half white/half black man in the African American community, along with his sexuality, make him so very fearful that he will never fit in. Stuck with a painful stutter when he is stressed, Charlie prefers to hide and not make waves.

When these two boys meet, life seems to continually pull them apart until a rally for the LGBT community finds them working together, and then sparks begin to fly. But can two young men who see themselves as only inferior and lost find the courage to be together?

Sex, Love, and Videogames had many good elements. CJane Elliott excels at painting her characters with a realistic brush and allowing us to get inside their heads to see what makes them tick. I felt I really understood the fears both of these guys faced and how similar their struggles were with fitting into a world that seemed poised to condemn them. I also appreciated how the boys were just that—boys who still needed their friends and family to help them as they grappled with their futures, their career paths and their coming out. I loved the fact that there were strong female characters and not the typical screeching harridans we so often see in m/m novels. The fact that Morocco was a transitioning/questioning transgender leant depth to the story in many ways, and allowed us to see a bit of the way families sometimes accept their child’s struggle often by not addressing it.

The story itself seemed to languish at times, and once again I was struck by this author’s tendency to tell us the story rather than putting us in the moment and allowing us to experience it along with her characters. There were huge leaps in time and place so often that I had to stop at times to get my bearings. Major life events were often glossed over—in particular, Morocco’s attack. It was presented as severe enough to cause her to leave school and nearly revert back to being a boy. Yet, there was next to no mention of how she grappled with this horrible attack. One moment she was battered and bruised in the hospital, then she was wearing boys clothing, then suddenly Charlie managed to convince her to come help with the community rally and she was headed back to school the next fall. Yes, there was mention of therapy, but we never saw even a glimpse of the healing process she was undergoing. It’s as if her attack was placed in the story to solidify Charlie’s fears that he would never be accepted. So, that begs the question, why wasn’t Charlie the one attacked? There was certainly enough potential for that plot point to happen since the old school friend Charlie hooked up with sexually was trying to be pulled into a gang—that hates gays. I really felt the story skimmed the life events surrounding Jed and Charlie rather than developing them and using them as a means to mature the two boys. This, coupled with the fact that every roadblock facing them was neatly and conveniently tied up in the last three chapters of the book, made for an unbelievable ending and a lackluster story overall.

With the story being told in alternating points of view, I thought we would get more ‘in the moment action’ rather than a heap of emotional angst and regret each boy seemed to have after nearly every life event and little more than a description of that event from their understanding of what had occurred. Again, the biggest concern with this novel was the author’s way of talking at us—describing what had taken place as an afterthought rather than placing us in the action and allowing us to live there and enjoy the moment.

All in all, Sex, Love, and Videogames had some wonderful characters whose potential was lost in the wake of a sprawling storyline that lacked enough development to make the story as gripping as it could have possibly been.

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3.5 Stars, Bailey Bradford, Paranormal Romance, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Karen

Review: A Subtle Breeze by Bailey Bradford

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Title:  A Subtle Breeze

Author:  Bailey Bradford

Publisher:  Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count:  94 Pages

At a Glance: For me, there just wasn’t a whole lot that stood out one way or the other in this book.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb: Ezekiel Matthers and Brendon Shanahan are about to find out that sometimes all it takes is a subtle breeze to shift the winds of fate.

Ezekiel Matthers is a reclusive man, forcing himself into the exile of his ranch after a violent assault left him wounded. While the scars on the outside have faded, the damage inside is much harder to conquer. Zeke resigns himself to a solitary existence, aside from his sister Enessa and, of course, his mama’s occasional visits.

Brendon Shanahan has a very meddling cousin, Gloria, who is best buds with Enessa Matthers. When the two women convince Brendon that he should hook-up with the reclusive Zeke, a plan is hatched that sets a series of events into motion – with potentially deadly consequences.

Can Ezekiel conquer his fears and accept what Brendon is offering? Or will Brendon walk away, giving up on the love he has waited for? And will the visits from Zeke’s mama – deceased for four years now – help the two men find their way to each other?

Only time will tell, and that may be the one thing the lovers don’t have, because someone is out to destroy everything Zeke and Brendon hold dear – and this time, the bad guy just might succeed.

Dividers

Review:  Alright…so, this book wasn’t great for me. It was good, it was alright, I was entertained, and now, this is me struggling a little with the review because for me, there just wasn’t a whole lot that stood out one way or the other in this book. I finished it and was just kind of like, “Eh, okay, it was alright.”

If you don’t like the whole insta-love thing (that doesn’t really bother me much, so no issue there for me), then this book will definitely not be for you.  There is a lot of sex, like from two-and-a-half minutes after they meet, through the rest of the book…again not really an issue for me. Sometimes that’s exactly what I am looking for, and the sex was good.  The issue was that I don’t think we got enough background on the characters, especially Brendon, so I never really felt like I got to know him.

There were also a couple of things that came up that we don’t get answers for – like Zeke’s sister. She’s married to the preacher and is crazy. Okay, that works for me, but then her harassing the other sister her whole life, to the point she had to leave town…but harassing her about what? Was this to just point out that the sister has always been crazy and evil? It just left me confused.  And then there is the spirit, I thought it was done well, it isn’t crazy and over the top, but I guess I just expected that to be a bigger part of the story than it was.

With all that said, will I continue reading the series? I’ll probably give the second book a shot and see if it does a little more for me, but, unfortunately, I am just not as excited about it as I was before going into A Subtle Breeze.

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3.5 Stars, Kathryn Sparrow, Loose Id, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Karen

Review: Alpha Coder by Kathryn Sparrow

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Title:  Alpha Coder (Geek Pack: Book One) 

Author:  Kathryn Sparrow

Publisher:  Loose Id

Page/Word Count:  251 Pages

At a Glance:  A lot of side-stories happening alongside the main plot were a bit too much.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb: As the second son, Liam Reed never expected to be a werewolf Alpha. He preferred to develop software for Soft Corp, but when his brother Jason died in a car accident, their father forced Liam to assume leadership of the pack. Liam plans to govern with compassion, instead of ruling through fear, but pack member Bradley Karr undermines Liam’s leadership, biding his time before challenging for Alpha. Tired of pack politics, all Liam wants is to program and find his mate, but he fears that neither is in his future.

When his mate, werewolf Cody Jones, starts working at Soft Corp as Liam’s intern, sparks fly. However, a relationship with Cody could get them both fired for fraternization. And, that’s not the worst problem. Cody doesn’t seem to accept Liam as his mate.

Liam’s only chance at happiness is to win Cody over while keeping their relationship a secret. But really, Cody would never stay with an introverted geek like him, an ineffectual Alpha failing to live up to his brother’s legacy. Would he?

Dividers

Review: Alpha Coder was a pretty good story. I got through it quickly, and it held my interest from beginning to end. I thought Liam was great, definitely not what I would have thought of when they mention that he is a geek—with the exception that he does coding, he didn’t come off as all that geeky to me, but regardless, I liked him. I liked him even more once he got together with Cody, who was so sweet.  I think the two complemented each other, and I liked how the relationship between the two developed.

The issue I had with the book was that there were so many things happening as side-stories.  There was Alice, and there was Julie; there was Bradley and issues with Liam’s dad and brother; and, of course, the Tiger HR guy.  I thought it was all just a bit too much. I find this is has been happening more and more lately with the books I’ve been reading, though, so it is possible it’s just me and that I’m happier with a simpler story.

Alpha Coder was good, and I will definitely read more from this author, but it just wasn’t great for me.

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3.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mel Bossa, Reviewed by Sadonna

Review: Where You’ll Find Him by Mel Bossa

Title: Where You’ll Find Him

Author: Mel Bossa

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 206 Pages

At a Glance: A compelling May/December story that has a lot going on, from an author who can write multiple generations and complex stories convincingly.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: During Pride week in Montreal, Wolfe learns the board is threatening to shut down the YBR queer community center. He can’t let this happen, not while he’s the director and responsible for everyone there. They tell him he’s just a kid, too young to handle these responsibilities, but Wolfe is determined to prove to everyone, including the rich family he left behind, that he’s strong enough to do the job, even if it leaves him with little time for love.

But then devastatingly handsome Gaspard walks up to the YBR stand on Pride community day. Freshly divorced and father to two grown children, Gaspard is finally out of the closet as bisexual, and single for the first time in thirty years. Gaspard falls for Wolfe in a way he’s not prepared for. But as relationships unravel, Gaspard resists his passion for a man young enough to be his son.

Wolfe has spent his life fighting for what he wants. And what he wants is Gaspard.

Dividers

Review: I was first introduced to Mel Bossa several years ago by my friend Laura, who convinced me to read a book called In His Secret Life. That book was compelling and tragic and convinced me that this was an author to watch. I have a few more of her books in my TBR pile, and they will be coming up very soon. :)

I really like that this story had both gay and bi characters. Both Gaspard and his ex-wife are bisexual, and they had negotiated a relationship that allowed them to explore their sexuality with same-sex partners within the context of their marriage – until his wife fell in love with another woman. Gaspard is devastated because his had been a happy marriage, and he has two children, Malena and Curtis, who deal with this revelation in very different ways – and for very specific reasons. Gaspard’s daughter lives with him. She worries that he isn’t happy and that he won’t allow himself to find anyone to be happy with. His son has a whole host of issues that have Gaspard tearing himself up with guilt.

On Pride day, Gaspard and Wolfe meet when Gaspard stops by the booth Wolfe is manning, and something about Wolfe sparks Gaspard’s interest. Wolfe is having a tough day, though, and he kind of blows Gaspard off even though he is definitely attracted. He’s got a lot going on in his head – from difficulties with his job, a troubling encounter with a coworker. Some old issues with his family, a relationship, and other bad experiences are plaguing him.

Malena gets a job in her field, and, lo and behold, Wolfe is her boss. So Gaspard and Wolfe “meet” again. She also begins to build relationships with her co-workers, including Zach, who has more than enough on his plate. But Malena also works on getting Wolfe and her father together. Finally, Wolfe accepts an invitation for dinner from Gaspard, and they have a great time.

As their relationship develops, they are both dealing with pretty big issues. Wolfe is trying to come to terms with an event in his past and trying to keep the YBR centre open, against all kinds of funding cuts and difficulties with the staff. Gaspard is working on his book and dealing with a myriad of issues with his wayward son, who doesn’t seem to want to grow up or tell the truth about much. As the story progresses, it seems that while Gaspard feels tremendous guilt, Curtis is a master manipulator who uses the situation to his advantage. Needless to say, I did not like Curtis at all in this story.

Things go from bad to worse with Wolfe’s job situation, his family, and then with Gaspard as well. The wayward son returns and completely throws a monkey wrench into everyone’s life. He really is a completely unlikeable character. While he does have some history, at 25, it’s a bit much to take, but I digress. The secret eventually comes out and we understand (though, don’t necessarily agree with) Gaspard’s guilt and Curtis’s borderline abusive behavior. Patterns are repeated – running away, sacrificing happiness, caving to manipulation. Finally, Wolfe and Gaspard get to a breaking point. But the question is whether or not the breaking point will separate them forever or bring them together for good.

In reading this book, I once again appreciated the author’s ability to let us empathize with characters who feel tremendous guilt for wanting to pursue their own happiness. For some reason, these characters feel that sacrificing themselves and their potential for fulfillment is somehow a betrayal of someone else – whether it’s a lover or a child – and somehow their own happiness is undeserved anyway. Personally, I’ve also struggled with this issue throughout my life, so maybe that’s why it resonates so much with me. Bossa also is able to write manipulators in a very convincing way. Having dealt with this personality type forever, I can feel it coming from miles away. Those characters are very distasteful to me – and that is certainly true about the son in this story. While some behaviors I might forgive in a child, once adulthood is reached, my patience runs out, and that was the case here. Maybe because I was old when I was 12, I have a very hard time with those characters who don’t take responsibility for their own lives. To me, it’s the sign of a good author and storyteller when I have visceral reactions – be they positive or negative – to characters.

That being said, there is a LOT going on in this story. There are many secondary characters that contribute to the mix, and I’m not sure that all of that additional background was necessary to the underlying story of Gaspard and Wolfe. I think I would have enjoyed it even more had it been tightened up a little, editorially, in the middle. Where You’ll Find Him is definitely recommended for Mel Bossa fans, and for those who like a character driven story with some angst.

 

 

 

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3.5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Elizah J. Davis, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: Making Nice by Elizah J. Davis – Narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo

Title: Making Nice

Author: Elizah J. Davis

Narrator: Michael Ferraiuolo

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 10 hours and 31 minutes

At a Glance: A great story that could have been about five hours shorter.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: Twins Blake and Bianca Dunlap have always been there for each other, ready to lend support and make sacrifices. Blake can’t imagine a bigger sacrifice than getting along with Bianca’s fiancé, Matt. However, Matt turns out to be more than the meathead Blake had dismissed him as, but Matt’s best friend, Ryan Everett, is a different story. Ryan seems intent on being an insufferable jerk as often as possible. The fact that Blake is undeniably attracted to Ryan only makes the whole situation more annoying.

Since they’ll all be stuck together for the long haul, Blake is determined to make nice. Unfortunately he overshoots, and he and Ryan end up on much friendlier terms than Blake intended. While he and Ryan agree there’s no harm in having a strings-free fling that changes when Matt and Bianca find out about it. As more complications arise, Blake and Ryan become more determined to do what it takes to avoid letting them down. But the only way to ensure getting through a joyous wedding and avoid the questions neither of them want to answer is to convince everyone it’s something more.

Dividers

Review: I had a hard time with this book. The guts of this book are solid. I was intrigued and loved every character. I love the dynamic of Blake and Bianca in conjunction with Matt and Ryan. I enjoyed Blake and Ryan falling in love. The hate you/love you was well done. I even enjoyed them trying to hide the relationship from Bianca and Matt. In theory, everything about this book works. Unfortunately, though, there is a point where the book stops working. A book with this content could easily have been half its length. Outside of these characters doing some silly lying and push/pull in their relationship, I felt that there was no real story. Any plot outside of their relationship was forced and things were added to make the story longer. For example, the situation where Ryan was fixing up his basement and then Blake misunderstanding, thinking he was cheating. After the argument and then, surprisingly, Ryan breaking things off, nothing drastic changed for Ryan to take Blake back. Growth was implied but not shown.

Narration: Michael Ferraiuolo did a great job of narrating. I hadn’t listened to him previously, and was pleasantly surprised by his work, but after about five hours, his voice could no longer hold the story up. I would definitely listen to Michael Ferraiuolo again.

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3.5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Reviewed By JJ, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Shira Anthony

Review: Stealing the Wind by Shira Anthony – Narrated by Michael Stellman

Title: Stealing the Wind (Mermen of Ea Trilogy: Book One)

Author: Shira Anthony

Narrator: Michael Stellman

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours and 31 Minutes

At a Glance: Shira Anthony has a way of making a world come alive, which made me feel like I was on the ship and under the sea with the characters.

Reviewed By: JJ

Blurb: Taren Laxley has never known anything but life as a slave. When a lusty pirate kidnaps him and holds him prisoner on his ship, Taren embraces the chance to realize his dream of a seagoing life. Not only does the pirate captain offer him freedom in exchange for three years of labor and sexual servitude, but the pleasures Taren finds when he joins the captain and first mate in bed far surpass his greatest fantasies.

Then, during a storm, Taren dives overboard to save another sailor and is lost at sea. He’s rescued by Ian Dunaidh, the enigmatic and seemingly ageless captain of a rival ship, the Phantom, and Taren feels an overwhelming attraction to Ian that Ian appears to share. Soon Taren learns a secret that will change his life forever: Ian and his people are Ea, shape-shifting merfolk… and Taren is one of them too. Bound to each other by a fierce passion neither can explain or deny, Taren and Ian are soon embroiled in a war and forced to fight for a future—not only for themselves but for all their kind.

Dividers

Review: Stealing the Wind is the first Mermen book I’ve ever read. I wasn’t sure at first how mermen could be sexy, but the author makes them very appealing. The story starts out when Taren, an indentured slave, is captured by a pirate. The pirate agrees to let him have his freedom in exchange for sexual servitude. Since Taren is attracted to the pirate, he agrees. However, before he can earn his freedom, he is in an accident, which results in him being rescued by a man named Ian. Taren is drawn to Ian, and when he learns that Ian is of the Ea people and shifts into a merman, his world is transformed.

I was initially drawn to Taren, but his time on the ship with the pirates was narrated so much that I lost a certain degree of interest. However, when Taren was rescued by Ian, things became interesting. Though Taren’s heart was at first split between Ian and the pirates, Ian is extremely drawn to Taren. I could really feel Ian’s pain over his love for him, which made their unions very erotic. The only part I didn’t really like about the book was the ending, since it kind of left me hanging. Also, I didn’t really connect with the twist, but despite disliking the end, I was entertained by the book as a whole. Shira Anthony has a way of making a world come alive, which made me feel like I was on the ship and under the sea with the characters.

Narration: Michael Stellman’s narration was perfect. I especially loved the voice he used for Taren, which was extremely erotic at times. Stellman used different voices for each character and was very expressive.

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3.5 Stars, Audio Book, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mickie B. Ashling, Narration Rating - 3.5 Stars, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: Cutting Cords by Mickie B. Ashling – Narrated by John Solo

Title: Cutting Cords

Author: Mickie B. Ashling

Narrator: John Solo

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 6 hours 44 minutes

At a Glance:  I enjoyed this for its narration more than for its core story.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: When Sloan Driscoll and Cole Fujiwara become reluctant roommates, neither man is willing to share too much. Sloan is instantly attracted to Cole but knows it’s a hopeless cause; Cole has a steady girlfriend. But one night they share a joint, and Cole opens a window neither anticipated.

A relationship may be impossible—both men are living with heart-breaking secrets. While Sloan is smart, sassy, and a brilliant graphic artist, he’s also a pothead with severe body image problems. Cole, a former major league pitcher, has his own personal crisis: he’s going blind. Sloan and Cole are suffering on so many levels, they might not realize that the ultimate salvation could be within each other’s arms.

Dividers

Review:  There was truly a love/hate relationship for me with this story and its main characters. Sloan Driscoll was a loveable and damaged man you couldn’t help but want to wrap up and take care of, but I didn’t necessary like Cole Fujiwara that much… I sympathized with his plight but didn’t quite understand his insistence to not share his blindness. Mickie B. Ashling did a great job of making me understand, and in general I really enjoyed her writing, but what I didn’t enjoy was simple: the love story never progressed. Sloan and Cole had sex, and then they argued. Then Cole was almost abusive. Then this pattern cycled over and over, and you never actually witness the two characters falling in love.

I didn’t hate this book, really, I just wish there was more relationship development. The other thing that threw me off was that BDSM was introduced almost as an afterthought, and there was no lead up or anything. Sloan hooks up with a photographer, and suddenly, he is in this world and I felt it had no relationship to the story.

Narration: John Solo is a new narrator to me. He had kind of a weird rasp to his voice that I could take or leave. He did a wonderful job with the narration, though. His voice is just not my cuppa. He did make an average read better, though, and I would listen to his narration again.

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3.5 Stars, Paranormal Romance, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Maryann, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, T.A. Chase

Review: Bulls & Blood by T.A. Chase

Title: Bulls & Blood (Blood and Thorn Ranch: Book One)

Author: T.A. Chase

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 101 Pages

At a Glance: I do think this particular story could have been a bit more polished, as you do have to read between the lines a bit, and, of course, not take it at all too seriously.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Breaking the rules has never been Wesley’s way…until he meets Mino.

Rule Number Two that the Thorn brothers live by is that employees of the ranch are off-limits. Wesley has always followed that rule, never stepping out of his comfort zone to do more than talk to one of the cowhands that help run his family’s ranch. Being a vampire makes it easier, since he doesn’t go out during the day.

Mino’s been interested in the youngest Thorn brother since he began working at The Blood & Thorn Ranch. It’s those stupid rules that hold him back from making the first move. Well, those and the fact that Wesley could kill him in a blink of his eye. Being human in a world of supernatural creatures makes living difficult, since he’s considered prey.

These two males, from different species and societies, must find a way to meet in the middle of their worlds if they have a chance at love.

Dividers

Review: Bulls & Blood introduces us to modern day, business minded, ranch running vampires, where we meet the five Thorn (not blood related) brothers—Wesley, Phineas, Loman, Amadeus, and Reginald—who own the Blood & Thorn Ranch, and also happen to be the most powerful of all the vampires, or of any species, for that matter.

Wesley is the youngest (though still hundreds of years old) of the brothers. He keeps track of all the ranch’s finances, and tries to keep his brothers in line. Wesley is the enforcer whenever punishments need to be handed out, and he doesn’t blink an eye when doing what’s necessary. He also doesn’t like to break the rules that are in place, but here is where I found there to be a slight contradiction. Wesley thinks being involved with a human is not worth it because they don’t live as long as vampires; however, he’s hot for Mino…who is a human and a pretty good guy. He gets along with everyone.

Now, some might say that Wesley and Mino fall into bed just a little too fast, but Mino’s been a cowhand on the ranch for five years, so I assumed they’ve been skirting around the idea of being together for a while. Wesley and Mino do have some friction between them, Mino knows how dangerous Wesley can be, and I got the idea he had some uncomfortable feelings about that.

It’s been a long while since I’ve read a vampire/shifter/human story, and T.A. Chase used some ideas in this book that worked okay for me. The brothers get their blood from a bottle—no feeding from humans because of a parasite that could end a vampire. All the ranch employees are protected—whether human, shifter, or a different species. And, besides dealing in cattle, there are contracted hunts that take place on the ranch, for those vampires who want to pursue their prey and feed the old way; though the prey are not forced. In fact, they’re paid to participate in these hunts, but none are killed or turned. Then, there’s also the big, bad Council that would like more power over the Thorns.

If you are a big vampire/human/shifter fan, Bulls & Blood is probably something you’ll want to check out. There are enough brothers and ideas to get some decent mileage out of the Blood & Thorn Ranch series, but I do think this particular story could have been a bit more polished, as you do have to read between the lines a bit, and, of course, not take it at all too seriously.

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3.5 Stars, G.B. Gordon, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Janet, Riptide Publishing

Review: When to Hold Them by G.B. Gordon

Title: When to Hold Them (A Bluewater Bay Novel)

Author: G.B. Gordon

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 213 Pages

At a Glance: There is a complicated bit of character building that is skillfully done by the author, though I did have some issues with the time jumping around, and days passing with the POV changes.

Reviewed By: Janet

Blurb: Doran Callaghan doesn’t know when to fold ’em. His gambling has landed him in debt and in jail, and now it’s got him stuck in the sticks in a reintegration program. He wants to turn his life around, but old habits come knocking, and some creditors are harder to shake than others.

Xavier Wagner cares more about the National Park he works in than the people around it, until a stranger awakens desires he didn’t know he had. Doran’s natural submissiveness turns Xavier’s ideas of how to treat a lover upside down. But Doran doesn’t seem to know about boundaries—or even to have any—and Xavier’s not sure that Doran will say no if he needs to. Which means someone’s going to get hurt.

While Xavier struggles with his principles, Doran’s past comes calling. Trusting each other is suddenly a matter of life or death, but Doran has to decide whether counting on Xavier—or himself—is a gamble he’s willing to take.

Dividers

Review: When to Hold Them is another great story in the Bluewater Bay universe. Gordon is not a writer that I am very familiar with, and I can only hope there are more books coming from this author soon. This book grabbed my interest very quickly, and kept surprising me along the way. I loved that the focus was not pretty, and clearly showed the physical surroundings and glorious nature of this fictitious town.

The concept of a youthful (former) gambler, who is struggling so hard to get ahead, is unique. We really have to work to see his value, as he doesn’t see his own worth very well. Actually, we see both Doran and Xavier through the other’s eyes so much clearer than how they perceive themselves, and that is a complicated bit of character building that is skillfully done by the author. I didn’t mind the alternating POV, as it was clear who was speaking at all times. The problem for me was time jumping around, and days passing with the POV changes. I had to concentrate more on the individual paragraphs of the story to ensure that the flow was not interrupted.

The mystery based plot kept me enthralled as it unfolded with lots of conflicts and twists and turns. Events were explained very well, and the relationship between the MCs progresses in such a way that the reader is rooting for them long before they’re a couple, because we can see that they would work and could be happy before they can see it themselves. I enjoy being given that assurance by an author, as I feel it draws us into the story and keeps us invested in the outcome.

I think that one of the hardest things to do as a writer is to keep the continuity of tone in a multi-authored universe, while having set points of interest, or previously described characters appear in the current story, and stay believable. This is a strong draw for me personally, and was successfully accomplished while presenting a unique book in the universe for our enjoyment. Kudos to the author for a welcome addition to this particular universe. I look forward to trying more of G.B. Gordon’s work in the future.

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3.5 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mickie B. Ashling, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Forged in Trust by Mickie B. Ashling

Title: Forged in Trust

Author: Mickie B. Ashling

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 215 Pages

At a Glance: For me, this may be the weakest story to date, but even that does not detract from the fact that the Bay City Professional series is definitely a great one to invest some time in.

Blurb: Dr. Ethan Marshall is the young medical student on call the night Tessa Duran murders her husband for abusing her twelve-year-old-son, Rino. Ethan stays in the cubicle while the rape kit is performed and is surprised when the boy resorts to prayers instead of tears.

Despite compelling evidence, Tessa is sent to jail for life. To avoid placing Rino in foster care, their parish priest agrees to raise him. Ethan is touched by Rino’s plight and visits whenever possible, but the connection is broken when the priest and young boy leave the area months later.

Raised by the Dominicans in California, Rino considers joining the order until a romance blossoms with a fellow student. After much soul-searching, he turns his back on everything familiar, and chooses his orientation over his perceived vocation. Upon graduating dental hygiene school, Rino takes a job at the office of Scott Gregory and Robin Kennedy.

Seventeen years have passed since that horrible night in the emergency room. Forty-three-year-old Ethan is now a Dominant in search of a full-time submissive. Twenty-nine-year-old Rino is adrift, longing for someone or something to help him find the serenity he’s lost along the way. As they rekindle their friendship, they realize they might be perfect for each other.

Dividers

Review: Forged In Trust is the fourth installment of Mickie B. Ashling’s Bay City Professionals series. While this novel does have some returning characters, it definitely could be read as a standalone, given that the two main guys are new to the storyline. I have read the others in this series and really enjoyed them. This one, however, left me shaking my head just a bit. Also, just a note for those who may need to be careful, while the scenes are minor in terms of time on the page, and handled very well by the author, the two instances of rape, one of which was a case of child molestation, may be potential triggers for some. I feel these were handled with great enough care as to not dwell on the subject matter, but still make the reader aware of the horrors that occurred in Rino’s past, and set up his introduction to Ethan.

The story begins with a woman and her young son seeking to leave their country when the U.S. forces begin their troop withdrawal. Having been much the company “whore” for various servicemen, she finally manages to find a man who will declare her as his fiancée and take care of her and her boy, Rino, when they get stateside. However, the man has a dark side to him and before long, both she and Rino are barely surviving his angry outbursts. To make matters worse, he is not satisfied just using Rino’s mother for sex; he wants the boy as well. After Rino experiences a particularly violent rape, which was dealt with off page, Rino’s mother fulfills the promise she made to herself and kills her husband. She then rushes her twelve-year-old son to the ER, where a young resident helps take Rino through the awful rape case examination. A special bond is created between the young doctor, Ethan, and Rino that night. Months later, when Rino is now in the foster care of a Dominican priest, due to his mother being incarcerated, Ethan attempts to keep in contact with the boy until the priest is relocated from Texas to California and they lose contact with each other.

Fast forward many years, and Rino is now a dental hygienist just finding work with some old familiar faces from this series. By luck, Rino decides to check out a club, not knowing it is a private BDSM establishment, and stumbles upon the very place where Ethan has invested his time and money, socially. Now the two men are thrown together again but much has changed for each of them. Ethan is a Dominant who has had little luck finding a sub to fulfill his rather stringent standards, leaving him unsatisfied and lonely. Rino is a tangled mess of conflicting beliefs and emotions, stemming from his rigid catholic upbringing and his realization that being gay means he will never be welcomed in his beloved church. The two meet and all the past trust and tenderness they had for each other bubbles rapidly to the surface. But can a fast and furious lust actually translate into a love that can last for the long haul?

Fast and furious is a good way to describe the passionate relationship that erupts between Rino and Ethan. In fact, for two men who’d been described as mostly unable to trust others and do more than one night encounters that were solely sex-driven, the speed with which these two fell for each other was stunning. Unfortunately, I felt the author gave up precious story time dwelling on both the “how to” be a submissive and the rather complex exposition about the career field that Ethan ended up pursuing. First, there were several pages dedicated to explaining just what a BDSM relationship could look like—giving us rudimentary explanations as to what was and was not standard fare.

Alongside that, we had extensive details on Ethan’s chosen field of urology as it specifically focused on sexual re-orientation surgery. As a third side story, we also had quite a lengthy subplot concerning faith, specifically as regards catholic beliefs. While all these elements were good for the story, overall, I felt they tended to go on and on, pushing me out of the story and making it difficult to really grasp and believe this near instant attraction and sexual intensity that Rino and Ethan experienced. There was too much discussion and not enough action. Further, Rino had an actual negative physical reaction as well as genuine emotional turmoil over the whipping scene he witnessed at the BDSM club. Given that, and the fact that it was Ethan administering the whipping, it was quite a stretch to swallow that he would fall into a D/s situation with Ethan so very easily. Here was a man who was raped—twice—and yet it took just two or three days of being together for him to allow for anal sex with Ethan? I just didn’t buy it.

I have really enjoyed other installments in this series, but Forged In Trust had too much explanation and set up, and not enough interaction and relationship building to make it palatable. For me, this may be the weakest story to date, but even that does not detract from the fact that the Bay City Professional series is definitely a great one to invest some time in.

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3.5 Stars, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Willa Okati

Review: Best Laid Plans by Willa Okati

Title: Best Laid Plans

Author: Willa Okati

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 209 Pages

At a Glance: A free-wheeling rom-com that has dueling, convoluted love stories, conniving best friends, and a resolution that leaves a smile.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Teddy and Jefferson get along like a house on fire. Literally. Jefferson’s a serious-natured soccer star, and Teddy was born to party till the wheels come off. Oh, they might have jerked it a few times thinking about each other, but they’ll burn this mother to the ground before they ever get along. The only thing they have in common are their friends–Jefferson’s buddy Emmett, and Teddy’s BFF Noelani. Emmett’s just blown all his savings on a house near campus, and he needs tenants to help make the monthly payments. That’s where Teddy and Jefferson come in. Hey, anything’s better than the dorms.

So far so good. Until Noelani’s former fiancé Beau–also Emmett’s former best friend–rolls back into town. Panicked over the return of their old feelings for the rough-riding badass, Noelani and Emmett decide the only sensible ‘save’ is to get married. Of course. Teddy and Jefferson both know that’s a bad idea, and that those two are going to need their friends more than ever. That means only one thing: no choice but to raise the white flag and join forces.

Pros: free rein for sexual hijinks in the name of ‘getting along’. Cons: Easier said than done.

Despite it all, Teddy and Jefferson are also discovering that they have more fun fighting with each other than they would kissing anyone else. Maybe–maybe–they’re falling in love. But when Beau reveals the real reason for his return and everything turns topsy-turvy for everyone involved, is their new alliance strong enough to save the day?

Dividers

Review: I am a fan of Willa Okati’s writing and have read several of her stories in vastly different genres. This is the first romantic comedy I have read by her, and I really enjoyed it.

Jefferson and Teddy are about as different as two guys can be. Teddy is a flame-haired, flamboyant party boy. Jefferson is a serious student and soccer player. They have two things in common – their friends (and romantic couple) Noelani and Emmett, and they are both into guys. When there are two rooms available to rent in the off-campus house that Emmett has just purchased, they also end up being housemates.

They definitely get on each other’s nerves. No matter what Jefferson says, Teddy takes it as an insult or a dig at his sexuality and self-expression. Jefferson can’t for the life of him understand why Teddy is ALWAYS mad at him. But they both like the living quarters and want to support their friends.

Noelani has had a rocky road and a really tough time after her former fiancé took off and left her. She and Teddy are a team, and they definitely have each other’s backs. When Emmett, Noalani’s ex’s best friend, woos her, she returns to old herself and is once again happy. Teddy wants to make sure she stays that way, and Jefferson wants to make sure that Emmett is happy as well.

Just when things are starting to get into a pretty smooth rhythm, the ex, Beau, returns. This throws Noelani into a panic and sets off a chain of events that might lead to the breakup of Noelani and Emmett, and sends Teddy into an absolute rage. In order to thwart any ideas Beau has of coming between their friends, Jefferson and Teddy make a pact to stop him. And hey, if there’s a friends with benefits kind of arrangement to go with it, then so much the better. Turns out there is a lot of stress that needs relieving. ;)

I don’t want to get too spoilery, but Jefferson and Teddy try to work their way through the mess that seems to be stirred up with Beau’s return. Nobody is quite sure what his motivations are or what his real goal is in making his unexpected return. Let’s just say that there is definitely a surprise in store for every single one of these characters. And, it seems that there have been a lot of plots and machinations going on behind the scenes that many of the characters are oblivious to throughout the book.

This is a really cute story, and Jefferson and Teddy are fun characters. We feel for Jefferson as he really struggles with trying to figure Teddy out. We empathize with Teddy’s prickly demeanor since he’s definitely been on the receiving end of some pretty unfair assumptions and certain biases. Noelani and Emmett are good supporting characters that definitely provide a different layer to the story. And Beau is an enigma that we don’t really understand until well into the story. I definitely recommend Best Laid Plans for those looking for an entertaining and funny story with some tension thrown in for good measure.

 

 

 

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3.5 Stars, Andrew Grey, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 3.5 Stars, Reviewed by Karen

Audio Review: Fire and Ice by Andrew Grey – Narrated by Randy Fuller

Title:  Fire and Ice (Carlisle Cops: Book Two) 

Author:  Andrew Grey

Narrator:  Randy Fuller

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Run Time:  7 hours and 14 minutes

At a Glance:  Listening to the audio, I felt disconnected from the story, and it just fell a little flat for me.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb:  Carter Schunk is a dedicated police officer with a difficult past and a big heart. When he’s called to a domestic disturbance, he finds a fatally injured woman, and a child, Alex, who is in desperate need of care. Child Services is called, and the last man on earth Carter wants to see walks through the door. Carter had a fling with Donald a year ago and found him as cold as ice since it ended.
Donald (Ice) Ickle has had a hard life he shares with no one, and he’s closed his heart to all. It’s partly to keep himself from getting hurt and partly the way he deals with a job he’s good at, because he does what needs to be done without getting emotionally involved. When he meets Carter again, he maintains his usual distance, but Carter gets under his skin, and against his better judgment, Donald lets Carter guilt him into taking Alex when there isn’t other foster care available. Carter even offers to help care for the boy.
Donald has a past he doesn’t want to discuss with anyone, least of all Carter, who has his own past he’d just as soon keep to himself. But it’s Alex’s secrets that could either pull them together or rip them apart—secrets the boy isn’t able to tell them and yet could be the key to happiness for all of them.

Dividers

Review:   About a month or so ago I read and reviewed the ebook of Fire and Ice by Andrew Grey,  and really enjoyed the story, so when the audiobook came up for review, I jumped at the chance to listen to it. Since it is the second in the series I also listened to Fire and Water prior to listening to Fire and Ice.

In most cases, I think reading a book then listening to the audio adds another layer of depth and emotion to a story for me. Unfortunately, in Fire and Ice that wasn’t the case. I felt connected to the characters when I read the story, and although predictable, I was cheering the guys on. Listening to the audiobook, on the other hand, I felt disconnected from the story, and it just fell a little flat for me.

I didn’t think in some cases that there was a whole lot of distinction between the voices for some of the characters, which made things a little difficult to follow in spots.  Where in the book I was enveloped in the emotion of the story, due to the inflection of the voices of the character, that emotion was lost to me throughout a lot of the narration.  Although the audio wasn’t my favorite, I do really enjoy the series, and I am looking forward to reading more as it continues.

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3.5 Stars, Genre Romance, Lourdes Skye, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Maryann, Wilde City Press

Review: Hunted by Lourdes Skye

Title: Hunted

Author: Lourdes Skye

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count: 169 Pages

At a Glance: Hunted is a first-time read from Lourdes Skye, and I was thoroughly entertained.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Upon a dastardly escape from his sadistically abusive husband, Jace Vanderhuff embarks on a journey that’ll lead him into a dangerous realm of trafficking, murder, and unsuspecting love.

However, Jace has no choice but take the chance, for going back would be a fate worse than death. Hiding in plain sight brings Jace face to face with a cop who is sexy as sin.

Detective Cobra Stallone, while investigating a teen trafficking ring, stumbles upon a sweet, shy, blonde-haired guy who invades his thoughts and dreams. But there’s something there. Something that Jace is guarding. When the truth is revealed, can he melt past Jace’s defenses and fears and show him that love can be better the second time around?

With his husband and a crazed killer-for-hire hot on his trail, will the jungle known as New York City become ground zero, where the hidden has now become the hunted.

Dividers

Review: Movie Trivia: In 1986, Sylvester Stallone made a movie called Cobra, in which he played Police Lieutenant Marion “Cobra” Cobretti. The movie wasn’t a big hit, but it was action packed and featured Stallone’s personal 1950 Mercury. In Hunted, Lourdes Skye has created a character by the name of Cobretti “Cobra” Stallone, and that’s what piqued my curiosity about this story. If you have ever seen the movie, Hunted is really nothing like it, but I have to say it is fast paced, action packed, violent, with instances of child trafficking and some really descriptive fight scenes. While Hunted is somewhat predictable, it’s also suspenseful, even if you can sort of figure out what may happen. I enjoyed the non-stop action and the movie nostalgia that Skye brought to this story.

Jace Vanderhuff goes on the run from Octorian, his insanely evil husband, and gets a job at the Silver Bullet pub. Here he meets some really fun characters in Lydia, Mickey, Jetson and Leroy. Cobra spies Jace at the pub, and it leads to some shameless flirting on Cobra’s part, but there’s no quick hook-up because Jace is a little shy and trying not to be noticeable. When things get a little heated, Jace stays honest and tells Cobra why he can’t get involved, which I felt made Jace’s situation more logical, since he still fears his husband’s wrath.

Cobra’s cool and he gives Jace support as they get help to try and win Jace his freedom. I liked Cobra’s character; he’s caring, laid back yet tough when he needs to be. He’s honest about his feelings for Jace too, as he’s not without his own family tragedy, which is what steered him toward being a cop, and he’s still seeking some type of closure.

With Cobra going undercover for the child trafficking case, and Octorian and Rock Mercer coming on the scene, things get tense, but Barney, Cobra’s partner (there are some really corny jokes about snakes and dinosaurs), has Cobra’s back, especially when things go haywire while Cobra’s undercover.

There were two other characters who piqued my interest—Ruslin and Aiden, whom I’d hoped would get their own story, but all good things must come to an end. Hunted is a first-time read from Lourdes Skye, and I was thoroughly entertained.

TNA_Signature_Maryann

 

 

 

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