3 Stars, Genre Romance, Holiday Romance, J.D. Walker, JMS Books LLC, Reviewed By Carrie

Review: Grateful for You by J.D. Walker

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Title: Grateful for You

Author: J.D. Walker

Publisher: JMS Books LLC

Pages/Word Count: 33 Pages

At a Glance: If you enjoy those feel good kinda short stories, then this one is for you.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Jared Gillespie left the family farm five years ago because Walt Schneider cheated on him. With a woman. What he didn’t realize was that Walt, the man he still loves, was trying to tell him something, and it takes a trip home to figure it out.

After Jared’s mother convinces him to return for Thanksgiving, Jared discovers Walt is a daddy now, of all things. His daughter’s name is Casey — Jared’s middle name. When Jared and Walt confront each other, the resulting confrontation causes Jared to realize he may have pushed Walt to cheat because of his overbearing ways. But would Walt be interested in trying again, after all this time?

Because a man doesn’t name his daughter after his ex-lover if he’s over him, no matter what he pretends to the contrary. Maybe Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful: for second chances, and for love found, not lost.

Dividers

Review: Jared knows it’s time to go home. He’s been away for five years, ever since his childhood love, Walt, cheated on him.  Jared didn’t stick around after it happened, he just left, and he’s never been back. He doesn’t know why Walt did it, or what message he was trying to send, Jared just knew it hurt. But, now it is time to go home and put those ghosts to rest so he can move on and heal—finally.

This is a short story of forgiveness and an example of what love can overcome if we let it.  Being so short, we don’t get a lot of backstory here, but we do get a good sense of who these men are individually, and we get enough to know that the love they feel is real.  It takes forgiveness on both sides to heal, and both men to be willing to put themselves out there again for this HEA happen.

If you enjoy those feel good kinda short stories, then this one is for you.

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3 Stars, Daisy Harris, Genre Romance, New Adult, Reviewed by Sadonna, Samhain Publishing

Review: Twofer by Daisy Harris

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Title: Twofer

Author: Daisy Harris

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 176 Pages

At a Glance: Not my favorite book by this author, but an interesting take on two guys who want to play the same role.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Bottoms up!

If a college freshman can’t get laid in sun-drenched Miami, he’s doing something wrong. Frankie Perez is determined to help his roommate get some man action in any way possible.

When Frankie’s arsenal of dating apps, fashion advice, and playing-hard-to-get lessons doesn’t work, he realizes Jeremy needs remedial help. Except tutoring Jeremy in the art of sex gets steamier than Frankie expected—and it scares the hell out of him.

Jeremy’s not sure why he’s wasting his time hooking up when he’s only got eyes for the slinky, sexy roommate he comes home to at night. But the hotter their chemistry simmers, the quicker Frankie dances away.

In near desperation, Frankie suggests the two of them team up to find a third to top them both, forgetting that two bottoms aren’t immune from lusting after each other. In a world where every man is an option, choosing one to love can be the sexiest risk of all.

Warning: Contains questionable morals, copious immature hijinks, an X-rated photo shoot, and disastrous threesomes. Sex toys were misused (but not harmed) in the making of this book.

Dividers

Review: Twofer is the thirteenth book I’ve read by Daisy Harris. I just loved her Men of Holsum College series and her Ivory Tower series as well. Both of those series also featured college guys who are figuring things out for themselves and making their way in the world, so I thought I would enjoy this one too.

This story, however, was a bit different than the others. Frankie and Jeremy are about as different as two people can be—background, personality, you name it. The one thing it seems they do have in common is that they are both bottoms. Jeremy, however, is a pretty sheltered guy and has zero experience with any guys. Frankie is VERY out and has a very active sex life, but he’s not into relationships at all. He does feel bad that Jeremy seems to not be any closer to finding a boyfriend, though, so he decides to help.

This is a case of the road to hell being paved with good intentions. The advice that Frankie gives Jeremy and his “help” seems to cause even more problems than Jeremy had to start with. Things get a little steamy and then a lot awkward between them thanks to Frankie’s ill-advised “help.” Frankie also becomes aware that maybe he’s not that interested in finding somebody else for Jeremy.

There are a few things in this books that some people won’t like, including additional partners for Frankie and Jeremy that they sometimes like to include. For those who want only the primary couple in their books and no extracurricular playmates, then this book is not for you. Personally, I had no issue with the way they conducted themselves because there was total honesty and agreement in their pursuit of fulfillment in their relationship. I also thought that part of the story was handled well.

The only niggling issue that I had with the story was Jeremy’s character. I felt like we don’t get to know him as well as Frankie, and I would have liked to have seen more of his story. With Frankie we get his family and his jobs and his social life, and with Jeremy we pretty much get school and his time with Frankie and his attempts to find a toppy boyfriend.

Overall, while not the strongest work from this author, Twofer is still an enjoyable read, particularly for the adorable Frankie.

 

 

 

 

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3 Stars, Ceci Thornton, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Self-Published

Review: Saved by the Shifter by Ceci Thornton

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Title: Saved by the Shifter

Author: Ceci Thornton

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 212 Pages

At a Glance: In spite of some niggles here and there, the action sequences in Saved by the Shifter made for some suspenseful reading.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Nate Palmer is desperate enough to try anything to find his missing niece…

Nate has cared for his niece Beth since she was a baby, and now the sixteen-year old has disappeared without a word. The only clue he has is a letter she left behind from her birth mother. He’d do anything to find her, even if it means turning to a down-on-his-luck private investigator working out of a store front in a strip mall—one with the ability to sniff out more clues.

Dexter Armstrong is a lone wolf looking to use his tracking skills to do some good…

Dexter had a pack once, but left, disgusted by their lack of appreciation for their gift. But business is bad and his roof is leaking. He’s just about ready to throw in the towel on that lonely life when Nate walks in the door, looking helpless and smelling delectable.

Together they will travel to the seediest parts of LA

Even as he’s focused on finding his niece, Nate can’t help but be drawn to Dexter’s powerful dominance. And Dexter becomes more and more certain that Nate’s his fated mate. Can their attraction survive the reveal of Dexter’s true nature? And can they both survive the supernatural perils that they will face in their quest to find Beth—and to find the kind of love and family both have been dreaming of?

Dividers

Review: When Nate Palmer’s older brother, Craig, was busted for selling drugs to an off-duty cop and sent to prison, Nate became sole caretaker of his niece Beth. Beth’s mother isn’t in the picture any longer, having fled to parts unknown years before, so Nate truly is Beth’s only hope at a normal life—and they’d gotten along well, too, until Beth hit the terrible teens. Now Beth has gone missing, Nate is beside himself with worry and fear, and his one hope of finding his niece and getting her back home safely seems to be Private Investigator Dexter Armstrong.

That’s the quick setup for Ceci Thornton’s Saved by the Shifter, a novel that taps into the shifter bonding trope, albeit only shallowly, to bring Nate and Dexter together as partners in sex as well as in tracking down Nate’s niece. As I’ve said any number of times before, sometimes the device works for me, sometimes it doesn’t. A lot depends on how well the author convinces me, after that initial spark of lust has struck, that the two guys have what it takes to be a couple. I liked Dexter and Nate, and though I had some quibbles over their initial meeting and the lack of exploration in what they have in common other than lust, the fact they go through hell and back with each other did help to make the bond somewhat more believable. There’s something to be said for not only going into battle together but then surviving.

While Saved by the Shifter is categorized as a Mystery, I have to say I felt Dexter’s role as a PI was pretty well in title only, made so by the simple lack of a true mystery in this plot. We don’t have to wait long to discover what happened to Beth, and Dexter isn’t even the one who searched for the clues to track her down, so we don’t get to see him at work much in that role. The information on Beth’s whereabouts is effectively dumped in his lap, which I felt was a bit of a let-down as I’d prepped myself for a good missing person investigation, but once I understood the storyline was more Urban Fantasy than an all-out Mystery, the positive becomes the author’s ability to write a tense and suspenseful action scene. Of course, Dexter’s shifter half comes in handy along the way too, as he’s fairly certain of the danger Beth is in before it’s confirmed, so that added to the tension in the storyline and made for some excitement during the book’s climactic scene.

There are several things that, overall, I felt could have been explored in greater detail in this book, much of it revolving around Dexter as a character. I think the potential for him to be more interesting and layered was missed in the lack of background details about him—we get a few facts, but to make him more interesting, knowing where he came from, who he came from, what he came from, what shifter mythology inspired his character, would have gone a long way to building interest in him as a supernatural character for me. Essentially, we get no world-building to speak of (which left me with some distracting questions during Beth’s rescue), and even more confusing for me, was a group of shifters that materialized and disappeared from the story and left me scratching my head—one moment they appear threatening, the next, they were there to cover Dexter’s back. There’s a history there that most definitely was missing, and I’d have loved to know more of it—why they were antagonists one moment, saviors the next. And while I’m on the subject of characters, here, I will say I liked the sweet reunion between Nate and Beth, and felt the affection between them was genuine and well portrayed.

In the end, though I feel the book could have used some more exposition, I liked Saved by the Shifter for what it was—a vehicle to bring two likable men together to form their own little pack.

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3 Stars, Audio Book, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed By JJ, Tempeste O'Riley

Audio Review: Caged Sanctuary by Tempeste O’Riley – Narrated by Paul Morey

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Title: Caged Sanctuary

Author: Tempeste O’Riley

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Narrator: Paul Morey

Run Time: 6 hours and 26 Minutes

At a Glance: Story: This book started out pleasant and enjoyable, but I lost interest after the first date, though I think Paul Morey did an excellent job with this reading.

Reviewed By: JJ

Blurb: Kaden Thorn, a dental surgeon who lives a quiet life, has no hope of finding the love he craves. A vicious gay bashing cost him the use of his legs and confined him to a wheelchair. He has given up hope of finding a Dom or even a nonkink partner to love him. When his best friend practically forces him to attend a dinner party, the last thing he expects is a strong Dom who can see beyond his wheels.

Deacon James is an architect and a demanding Dom, but he has spent the past couple of years without a sub or partner. When an employee invites him to a dinner party to meet his girlfriend, Deacon smells a setup but agrees anyway. He prides himself on being an excellent judge of character, and when he meets the younger dentist, he sees past the chair and finds a sweet submissive man who more than piques his interest.

Kade’s fears and demons continue to haunt him, challenging Deacon to use everything he’s learned as a Dom to earn Kade’s trust and submission. Deacon’s determined, though, willing to battle all of it to have Kade by his side and at his feet.

Dividers

Review: Caged Sanctuary begins at a dinner party, where Kaden, a wheelchair-bound dental surgeon, meets his future Dom, Deacon, who is an architect. The two men are attracted to each other right away, and end up setting up a date for a BDSM scene. After entering into a D/s relationship, things get more serious between them. Since Deacon is very sensitive to Kaden’s insecurity over his mobility issues and does his best to make him feel comfortable, Kaden eventually learns to trust more and gains more self-confidence. Their relationship eventually progresses into something more than a Dom/sub relationship.

This book started out pleasant and enjoyable, but I lost interest after the first date, and realized the story was not for me. I think one of the issues was that the relationship moved a little too quickly. I also thought it was a bit odd that Kaden asks Deacon if he is a Dom on the first day they meet. This struck me as unbelievable, considering they were introduced by friends who had nothing to do with the lifestyle, and neither man was wearing anything to indicate they were into BDSM. Then, after their first date, they were practically a done deal. I thought Kaden was sweet, but his lack of self-confidence made it difficult for me to imagine him as a full grown adult. In addition to not liking the characters and pacing, I was hoping there would be some kind of conflict in the book. However, after they meet, they fall in love, move in together, and soon have their happily-ever-after. Despite these issues, the sex scenes were hot, and I enjoyed the sweet moments when they were cuddling.

Narration: I think Paul Morey did an excellent job with this reading. Most of the time when I listen to an audiobook, the narration pulls me out of the book multiple times throughout. However, I was able to listen to Morey without thinking of the narration even once. Each voice was distinct and seemed to match the personality of the characters.

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3 Stars, Audio Book, BA Tortuga, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: Ever the Same by BA Tortuga – Narrated by Paul Morey

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Title: Ever the Same

Author: BA Tortuga

Narrator: Paul Morey

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 hours and 32 minutes

At a Glance: Overall, I liked this story but felt it was missing something.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: Audie Barrack is in it up to his elbows with a sick calf when his son’s school calls. Seems Grainger has gotten into yet another fight. When he walks into the principal’s office, he’s shocked to find his son has been fighting with a little girl named Randi.

A little girl with one blind dad and one dad who recently passed away.

Goddammit.

Dixon has lost his sight, his career, and his husband. Thank God for his brothers, Momma and Daddy, and his little girl, or he would simply give up. The last thing he needs is for Randi to start trouble at school, especially trouble that puts him in contact with another dad who might expect him to be a functional human being.

Dixon is struggling to live as a blind man, Audie is terrified someone might see he has a closet to come out of, and everyone from the school to both men’s families is worried for the men and their children. Unless they get themselves together and commit to change, neither of them stands a chance.

Dividers

Review:  I’m a big fan of BA Tortuga’s writing, and own several print copies of her books. I was excited to listen to this story—I’m definitely drawn to stories that are unconventional. Dixon was a great character, and he was put through some really trying times. When we are introduced to him and Audie, they meet because their children get into a fight at school. From then on, you meet a whole slew of characters—from Randi and Granger (the kids), to their respective families, and finally, the animals. The animals played an awesome part in the story.

The children really brought this story home for me. They are the glue holding it together, and without them, I feel this book wouldn’t have been successful. They were what was right about this story. But unfortunately, I felt that there were a lot of inconsistencies in the plot, and I had a hard time with Audie and Dixon’s families. These two men are not your conventional twenty-year-old guys. These are grown men facing very serious issues, yet they acted like they were very young, and they let their parents walk all over them.

Dixon was a great character whose growth is visible throughout the story. However, I really wanted to see him flourish as a blind person. Overall, I liked this story but felt it was missing something. The thing I think it’s missing is the actual romance. I felt like I didn’t get to see Dixon and Audie fall in love. It just was.

Narration: Ever the Same is performed by Paul Morey. That’s all that needs to be said. Morey is a consummate professional who does an excellent job narrating this book. He did a great job speaking for the children, which I always feel is a difficult thing to do as a narrator. He is absolutely fabulous.

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3 Stars, Genre Romance, L.A. Witt, Reviewed By Carrie, Riptide Publishing

Review: Rain Shadow by L.A. Witt

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Title: Rain Shadow (A Bluewater Bay Novel)

Author: L.A. Witt

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

At a Glance: All in all, another solid addition to the Bluewater Bay series.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Jeremy Rose came to Bluewater Bay to work as Anna Maxwell’s bodyguard, not to escape his increasingly bitter relationship with his estranged kids. He just wants to focus on his job and be alone for a while. He’s done with love, especially now that three years after his long overdue divorce, he’s got a front-row seat to the rapid deterioration between Anna and her girlfriend. Cynical doesn’t even begin to describe him.

Then Anna and Leigh’s attempts to reconcile put him in the crosshairs of marriage counselor Scott Fletcher. Scott’s exactly what Jeremy needs right now: gorgeous, hot, horny, single, and 100% uninterested in a relationship. The problem is, too much no-strings-attached sex — and too much time in each other’s company — inevitably builds emotional connection.

Except Jeremy refuses to seek counseling for his broken family, and Scott refuses to get seriously involved with men who work dangerous jobs. They both need to realize they can only hide for so long from the pain they came here to escape. They must face their pasts before they lose their shot at a happy future.

Dividers

Review: Normally I love mature romances – give me two older men in love every time.  I like that older men have more of a backstory to tell and that they have established lives, aspects that are generally not a part of the storyline for younger characters. However, when the “start of life” storyline is taken away, then you have to come up with a reason why these men are still single and what their particular angst is going to be. For this story, it is the death of a previous partner for Scott, and a divorce for Jeremy. The storyline with Scott is heartbreaking, and you can totally understand his unwillingness to get close to another man.

For Jeremy, though, his divorce haunts him every day, and I think it took over the book. And, not in a good way.  Jeremy spends too much time blaming himself for the condition of his family, and his ex-wife and children are happy to let him have all the guilt and responsibility. When I finished the book I felt like I could go on and on with just how much was wrong with the way those relationships were written. This book was a bit of a dichotomy for me.  I loved aspects of it and I hated aspects of it.

However, I loved the romance between these two men. Jeremy and Scott have both loved and lost, and they approach their “just sex” agreement in a mature, seemingly rational way. Unfortunately, the heart is rarely rational, and the comfort and sense of belonging these men find in each other is amazing. Neither wants a relationship, but they cannot deny the ease with which they fit, like two adrift puzzle pieces that are finally placed home.

I really wanted to like this book as I have read all the Bluewater Bay stories, and thoroughly enjoyed them, not to mention I am usually a big fan of L.A. Witt, but this one is a fifty-fifty for me.

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

Review: Retrograde by Bailey Bradford

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TitleRetrograde (Southwestern Shifters: Book Eleven)

Author:  Bailey Bradford

Publisher:  Pride Publishing

Page/Word Count:  242 Pages

At a Glance:  I found myself skimming through some of the pages of Retrograde, and just couldn’t get into it for most of the story.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb: Letting go of the past to embrace the future…

Things are changing for Marcus and Nathan, in more ways than one. Nathan is still trying to deal with the action he took in order to save Marcus’ life. It isn’t easy to do, and sometimes he fears he’ll give in to all the doubts and fears plaguing him.

What they need is some time alone, without guards shadowing their every move, no one to interrupt. Because soon, they’ll be busier than ever.

A short vacation before the annual gathering of Alpha Anaxes at the compound, that’s what they decide to do. But their vacation isn’t so private when they discover a wild pack of young shifters barely surviving.

Changes are coming.

A strange young shifter with abilities neither Marcus nor Nathan have ever seen before. Alpha Anaxes and attitudes. An intruder in their midst. And with the help of Shania, the pack doctor, the most important event of Marcus and Nathan’s shared life is about to happen.

Changes are coming, and they’re coming fast.

Dividers

Review:  When I first found the Southwestern Shifters series (not that long ago), I read all eleven books back to back. I couldn’t get enough and was looking so forward to this one, but was somewhat disappointed. I love Marcus and Nathan, but as I was reading, I actually kept hoping for a little less of them. Retrograde isn’t my favorite book in this series. Actually, it’s probably my least favorite.

Things seemed so repetitive in this story, with a lot of details included from the previous book, and I found myself skimming through some of the pages and had a hard time getting into it.  Once we meet Asher and the other younger shifters, though, it got more interesting. But, then I found myself wishing they had been more of the focus instead of Marcus and Nathan.

Now, let me say that I enjoy sex in the books I read, and I have no issues, the majority of the time, if there is an abundance of sex, but as good as Bailey Bradford is at writing those scenes (each was awesome), there was a lot of Marcus and Nathan going at it. It was hot but there were just so many and I found myself wanting to skip them.

With it being close to the end of the series, there were some loose ends being tied up to set things up for what is coming in the final book, which I’m anxiously awaiting, but this one just didn’t do it for me.

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3 Stars, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Mae Hancock, Reviewed By Carrie

Review: Cotton Candy by Mae Hancock

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Title: Cotton Candy (Wyoming Lovers: Book Two)

Author: Mae Hancock

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 185 Pages

At a Glance: This one just didn’t do it for me.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Cowboy Cotton Reid is the laid-back type of guy who accepts people as they are, no matter how flawed. People think he’s fun, honest and crazy about his boss and friend the sexy rancher Bay Redman.

Living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is something that family man Bay has done his whole life. Bay can be like a bear with a sore head if the hay isn’t stored symmetrically or his fridge contains an odd number of jars.

When the two men begin a hot affair, Cotton keeps an important secret from Bay. If he can’t find the courage to tell him the truth before someone else does, Bay may never be able to let it go.

Dividers

Review: Cotton Reid fell in love with his boss—but the man is more than his boss, he is the father figure for Cotton’s daughter Kristen.

Cotton is very laid back, on the outside. On the inside, the man is just full of angst, and it colors everything he does in his job as ranch hand. He is young, he is a father, and he comes to the ranch to meet his daughter and be a part of her life. And remains there for eighteen months, doing nothing about it, before the events of this book take place. Have to admit, I had some trouble with that one, but once the author explained why, it made sense. I still may not have agreed with it, but I had a clearer view of where the author was going. Cotton is a confused character on the inside, and many of Bay’s personality traits appeal to this cowboy who needs help in an overwhelming situation. Cotton is a loving character, he wants to care for Bay and be everything the rancher needs, and in this respect the author hits it spot on.  I rooted for Cotton, he just needed the support.

Bay is a successful rancher and businessman.  If his personal life is not as together as his work one, well he’ll take what he can get.  Bay also has OCD. I really applaud the author for how she treats this disorder in her character.  The way that Bay copes – or doesn’t cope – with the OCD is addressed in compassionate and believable scenarios. Bay becomes an unlikely hero in this story, as his life trauma makes his disorder worse, to the point of taking over, and how he copes with this unique malady and moves forward with his life is admirable. Control over everything is how Bay keeps sane. This seeps into his relationship with Cotton, and Bay’s commanding persona in the bedroom is the perfect complement to Cotton’s submissive heart. But Bay is broken and he needs Cotton to help him heal. As the events in his life swirl out of control, the only peace Bay can find from his OCD is in the calm that Cotton brings whenever Bay is around him.

I have to say, I disliked the secondary figures in the story.  The daughter, Kristen, was spoiled and ungrateful, and her behavior kept getting justified to the point of Bay apologizing to his daughter for the way SHE acted.  Uhm. No. And the ex-wife was horrendous, but then, she was supposed to be, so excellent writing there! Grandma was a mixed bag for me; she was supportive of Bay’s relationships but felt that he could do more to control his disorder. Which, if you have OCD you know that may not be true.

There is a lot of angst flying around in this book, and for that it was a mixed bag for me.  The book is compelling; it is worth the read for those who love cowboys with issues.  This is book two in this series, and I will probably read the next installment just to see where the author will go next with this ranch.

I loved the cover art on this book, done by Dar Albert. The depiction of Cotton was exactly as I pictured him! Thank you for an amazing visual that enhances the story.

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3 Stars, Christine D'Abo, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Jules, Riptide Publishing

Review: Rebound Remedy by Christine d’Abo

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Title: Rebound Remedy

Author: Christine d’Abo

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 155 Pages

At a GlanceDespite the few misgivings I had about it, Rebound Remedy is a sweet holiday story that I think many will enjoy.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: The last thing Cole expects to get for the holidays is dumped. But there he is, in the airport on his way to Banff for a romantic getaway, helplessly watching as his boyfriend’s ex declares undying love, proposes—and is accepted. With a few weeks to go until Christmas, Cole’s mood dives from jolly to jaded. But instead of sitting at home alone and feeling sorry for himself, he goes to his favorite bar, McGregor’s, for a pint and some company.

The moment Owen McGregor sets eyes on Cole, he knows there’s something wrong. So he takes it upon himself to ensure that Cole has a happy holiday: twelve outings for the twelve days before Christmas. Even if he can’t quite think up twelve activities that don’t involve getting the forlorn hunk into his bed.

With each outing they take together, Cole realizes that the love he thought he’d shared with his ex was less than perfect. And that Owen might prove to be more than just his rebound remedy.

Dividers

Review: Cole is having a shitty start to his holidays. Suddenly finding himself single two weeks before Christmas, he heads down to his neighborhood pub – McGregor’s – to drown his sorrows a bit. But, things quickly start looking up when he ends up unexpectedly flirting with the attractive bartender/owner, Owen. The two guys connect over helping a drunk into a cab, and after getting together for breakfast the next morning, form a fast bond.

There are some sweet moments between Cole and Owen. I liked them each individually – Owen especially…he had a very interesting story, that I wish could have been explored more – and, for the most part, their chemistry with each other was pretty hot as well. I had an issue with the pacing of the story, however, which took away from the overall enjoyment for me.

There is a place in romance for insta-love; I’ve read several books where it absolutely worked. In Rebound Remedy it alllllllmost works – I did find myself rooting for them, in spite of the fact that their relationship wasn’t entirely believable – but, unfortunately, it’s just not enough. Though the book wasn’t really all that short at 155 pages, it simply didn’t give us enough of their story. It felt like a novella that needed much more fleshing out in order to get us to fall in love with the guys, and fully buy their romance. It had promise…and there were definitely bits that were good, but, for me, it did miss the mark, mainly due to all the relationship stuff just moving too darn fast.

Despite the few misgivings I had about it, Rebound Remedy is a sweet holiday story that I think many will enjoy. Especially those who love the love-at-first-sight or insta-love tropes. I liked the backdrop of Toronto, and all of the Christmas-y stuff, especially the scene where they get Cole’s tree! And, I’ll be saying my little Christmas prayers that Christine d’Abo decides to write a book for Xander (one of Owen’s friends), because he sounds ridiculously hot. I would definitely be all ‘grabby hands’ for that book! Ha!

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3 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Reviewed by Sammy, Sean Michael, Torquere Press

Review: Jack of All Trades by Sean Michael

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Title: Jack Of All Trades (Box Of Nails: Book Four)

Author: Sean Michael

Publisher: Torquere Press

Pages/Word Count: 137 Pages

At a Glance: Unfortunately, Jack of All Trades is not one of this author’s better works.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Brad is crashing in his cousin Stephen’s room while he tries to sort out his life. A perpetual student, he still hasn’t settled on a major after a half dozen years at University. He loves learning, but so far that’s the only thing that’s been a good fit.

Dill is a full-time Dom who hasn’t found the right sub yet. He’s not worried about it — he figures it’ll eventually happen and in the meantime, there’s plenty of boys at the Hammer Club who are eager to share a scene with an experienced master.

When Brad and Dill meet at a party at Barney and Devon’s house for subs, the attraction is immediate and undeniable and Master Dill feels that Brad is the perfect sub for him. He also believes that as his submissive, Brad will learn the focus he needs to fulfill his potential and find satisfaction with his life. Now he just needs to help jack-of-all-trades Brad see they belong together

Dividers

Review: Brad is adrift—more than just a perpetual student who floats by from one major to the next, he is barely surviving monetarily as well. Now couch surfing at a friend’s place, Brad meets Dill, a Dom in search of a submissive. When the two meet, Brad is still a virgin and certain that the kinky life of BDSM is not for him…or so he thinks. Dill recognizes in Brad a sub in need of direction and education, and sets out to be the impetus for both in Brad’s life.

After arranging for Brad to become his intern who will help research his many articles concerning the D/s world, Dill begins to wear down Brad’s resistance to trying out the lifestyle for himself. With much gentle reassurance and a heap of nudging, Brad seems ready to consider the idea he could be a submissive—but, will he be willing to explore that with Dill as his Master? Only time will tell.

If you know anything about Sean Michael’s work then you know it is filled with hot sex and varying degrees of BDSM, and Jack Of All Trades is no exception. Honestly, were this a piece of erotica and not a novel that should have a serious and steadily moving plot, I could have given this story five stars and called it a day. There is no doubt that this author can churn out one hot sexual scenario after another. In fact, the Doms that proliferate this author’s books are always kind, gentle and fully invested in their submissives, even when that means pushing them well beyond their comfort zone and exploring deeply ingrained painful memories that often seem to go hand in hand with being a submissive in one of Sean Michael’s stories.

Jack of All Trades delivers on this successful formula of needy sub and patient Dom quite nicely. However, what’s lacking here are the specifics surrounding Brad’s insecurities. I never really got to know Brad on any other level than he was a virgin and in need of being told it was okay to explore BDSM. He seemed to have no real family, there was no real meat or hidden reasons behind his inability to commit, and, to be frank, I was hard pressed to see his character’s growth throughout the novel. Other than his committing to a relationship with Dill, Brad remained one-dimensional and I am sorry to say, rather boring.

This novel fell short merely because it failed to establish what was really the root of Brad’s inability to commit to life—whether that be a college major or being Dill’s submissive. Instead, there was simply heaps of great sex and little else.  I found myself wanting this story to move on—to get to the point where Dill would dig deep enough to see why Brad was so adrift. Instead, he took the man into his home, gave him a rather contrived “internship” by becoming his “patron,” and introduced him to the world of BDSM. Other than Brad agreeing to becoming exclusive and willing to “try” the lifestyle, I failed to see any real change in either character. Hence, we had a series of sex scenes tied together with very little plot.

Sean Michael has turned out some very good and provocative novels where the characters develop and change, finally growing into a less wounded and more complete person. Unfortunately, Jack of All Trades is not one of this author’s better works and therefore, fell short of the kind of stories this author is capable of producing.

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3 Stars, Charlie Richards, Extasy Books, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sadonna

Review: Not a Line of Bull by Charlie Richards

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Title: Not a Line of Bull (A Loving Nip: Book Six)

Author: Charlie Richards

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 89 Pages

At a Glance: An interesting tale of a shifter that has been sequestered by an alpha who has very strange ideas about how to lead – and his rescue by his beloved.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Just a little love bite: The instinct to please your peers should never be stronger than your conscience.

Cassium Jones is closing in on his fourth century mark and over the years has held many roles, from farmer to soldier to vampire enforcer. Now, he’s ready to settle down in moderate relaxation…if working a cattle ranch can be considered relaxing. He loves the wide open spaces, the fresh clean air, and even tending the animals. Handling the maintenance and care for the Angus cows in the northern pastures offers plenty of solitude, and he should have been left pretty much alone. Instead, Cassium stumbles upon an injured Angus bull amongst the livestock, and realizes the bull is not only a shifter, but his beloved, his soul mate. Cassium learns Garth has been driven from his herd for disobeying a controlling alpha, leaving behind two young children. While Cassium is happy to help reunite the bull shifter with his kids, is he ready to take on the role of parent when all he wanted was to retire?

Dividers

Review: Note: Not a Line of Bull is book six in the A Loving Nip series, and while it’s helpful to have read the other stories in the series, this novella can easily be read as a standalone.

We met Cassium Jones in a previous installment of this series, when he becomes the unlikely hero in A Rose for Paul’s Protector and rescues the beloved of his cover master as he is going into “retirement” so that the humans don’t notice how he doesn’t seem to age.

As he’s repairing the fences in the pasture near his cabin, he sees and smells blood and recognizes it as not fully animal. He’s convinced it’s a shifter, and he locates the seriously wounded animal hiding in the herd. But, he knows he’s not a bull only, and he convinces the guy to shift, though he’s so injured that he can’t even remain conscious for the short trip back to Cassium’s cabin.

Cassium is somewhat adept at first aid, so he bandages up his guest as best he can. During bouts of consciousness, Cassium manages to get out of the bull shifter that his name is Garth, and he’s from a herd that is close by, but he’s obviously not in any shape to do much more than talk. It’s pretty apparent, really quickly, that Garth has been injured by his own herd’s enforcers, on orders from the alpha. Also, as Cassium gets to know Garth, he determines that he’s been very isolated from his herd and has some pretty farfetched ideas about not only shifters but other paranormals as well. He’s also very, very young compared to Cassium.

But the real surprise is that Garth has children, and he is extremely worried for them. Cassium explains to Garth a good deal about paranormals and the mate bond, and also confesses that he’s much older that Garth. Cassium decides he definitely needs backup, and contacts the head enforcer for his coven, and also their doctor since he’s still concerned about Garth’s injuries.

Of course, Garth’s herd is not content to just let him go, and once Cassium and his coven know children are involved, there is a concerted effort to make things right for Cassium and Garth.

These two are very sweet, and it was nice to see Cassium change as he realized what his life could be after all his years without his beloved. Garth is a sweet and naïve character who is a good man and a good father, and who knows a good thing when he sees it. :) Another enjoyable addition to this series.

 

 

 

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3 Stars, Elizabeth Coldwell, Paranormal Romance, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Into the Arena by Elizabeth Coldwell

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TitleInto the Arena (Lionhearts: Book Four)

Author:  Elizabeth Coldwell

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 146 Pages

At a Glance: The book starts off strong, but some parts were too much of a stretch.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: He will fight for the one he loves, no matter what it takes.
Cesare Bianco is a shifter without a pride. Exiled from his home town of Padua after losing a leadership fight to his corrupt, self-serving uncle, he travels to Rome in search of a new beginning. A chance meeting sees him taking a job on the catering crew of a Hollywood blockbuster. When he meets the movie’s handsome lead actor, Hayden, he knows he’s in the presence of his mate. But Hayden is human. Even though he offers the possibility of lasting love, Cesare must fight all his instincts to make it happen.
Hayden Skarz is on the verge of the big time. Landing the lead in sci-fi adventure Thrown to the Lions has put him on the road to stardom. Filming in Rome is a difficult new challenge for him, though being around Cesare, the hunk who works in the catering truck, makes his job much sweeter. Sex between them is passionate and wildly inventive. But Hayden has a stalker, who’s tired of being ignored in favor of other men. When what started as a crush turns into murderous obsession, can Cesare help Hayden make it off the film set alive?

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of violence and bondage.

Dividers

Review: So far I have really enjoyed the Lionhearts series by Elizabeth Coldwell, and I was looking forward to this next installment. And while it is a good book, it did not live up to the other books in the series. It started off strong, but by the time the big reveal came for Cesare, I was pretty incredulous.

You do not need to read the other books in the series to enjoy this book. They all work as standalones, even if other characters are briefly mentioned. The main character from Vintage Pride is mentioned in about two sentences in this book, and then never is brought up again. Cesare and Hayden are new, as is the location. When Cesare is forced to leave his pride after a failed attempt at taking over, he travels to Rome where he helps Gail feed actors on a movie set. When he meets Hayden, he knows he’s met his mate.

I enjoyed the characters and their interactions, for the most part, but there didn’t seem to be much at stake for them. Yes, if they got caught together they’d be the talk of the set, but Hayden is already out as an actor, so it’s really not that big a deal. And while he has a stalker, it doesn’t turn really dangerous until the end. I never felt the tension I did during the other books. What bothered me the most was Cesare’s reveal to Hayden that he’s a shifter. Hayden mentions in passing that he felt a connection to the lion that was on set (Cesare after a forced shift), and when Cesare reveals it was him, there’s a page, maybe two, of Hayden not believing him, and then he’s suddenly accepting and, “Hey, I guess it makes sense.” Reading that threw me off. It just didn’t feel right, and I even backtracked a bit to see if I had missed pages. Likewise, the danger at the end was over so quickly, and easily resolved. I never felt that Hayden and Cesare were really in danger.

As a final note, the publisher warns of violence and bondage. Is there violence? Yes, but I’ve read worse in books without a warning. Is there bondage? Yes, to a small extent, but with a warning on it, I was expecting much more. Do I honestly think it was necessary to put either there? No.

If you’re a fan of the series, I’d be interested in seeing what you think of the book after reading it. If you’re new to the series, I recommend reading one of the first three books prior to reading this one.

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3 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Angel, Sean Michael

Review: First Steps by Sean Michael

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Title: First Steps

Author:  Sean Michael

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 104 Pages

At a GlanceFirst Steps is a tooth-achingly sweet romance.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Abandoned by his partner in the wilds of Alaska, Peter is pretty much at the end of his rope. He has a cabin falling down around his ears, two young babies to care for, and too much alone time to think about his situation. It’s enough to make a man rethink wanting to be a dad.

Park Ranger Chad thinks Peter could use some help, especially when fire and weather warnings make him wonder if Peter’s little cabin is going to make it through the year. When he takes Peter and the babies in, he finds out that the attraction the two of them felt on their first meeting has the potential to be a lot more. Can he convince Peter that they can do more than keep each other warm?

Dividers

ReviewFirst Steps is simply a story about a man wanting to raise his children somewhere nice, and then met the love of his life while doing so. This is the second edition of the story, so I don’t know if anything was added or subtracted from the first publication back in 2007, but it was a tooth-achingly sweet romance/erotica with absolutely no conflict whatsoever.

Peter is the perfect domestic engineer, and with his smart, sexy manly-man park ranger partner, Chad, the two men raise Peter’s two twin babies out in the middle of Alaska’s wilderness. Perfect babies, multiple expressions of need, love and desire, and tons of sexy times between Peter and Chad make this an uncomplicated book.

If you are looking for the oblivion of cozy, warm, feel good sweetness, then you have found the perfect story.

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3 Stars, Genre Romance, Jay Northcote, Reviewed by Sadonna, Self-Published, Short Story

Review: All Man by Jay Northcote

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Title: All Man

Author: Jay Northcote

Publisher: Self-published

Pages/Word Count: 44 Pages

At a Glance: Another cute and flirty story of an opposites attract variety, with enough surprises thrown in to keep us guessing.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: “You’re the sleek little sports car to my Land Rover.”

From the moment Gareth walks through the door of the salon to fit some new sinks, Jules can’t take his eyes off him. Jules has always been attracted to men who are his polar opposite, so burly Gareth is Jules’s fantasy man.

At the weekend, Jules gets into a tough situation with another bloke in a gay club and Gareth comes to his aid. Gareth rejects Jules’s subsequent advances but leaves him with the hope that his attraction isn’t completely one-sided. Fantasy could become reality.

With Gareth’s work at the salon nearly done, he’ll soon disappear from Jules’s life for good. Time is running out. Jules needs to prove to Gareth that he’s tougher than he looks and that his feelings run deeper than gratitude.

Dividers

Review: This story is a spin-off of Top Me Maybe? (published a few months ago). Julian, or Jules, as he prefers, is a coworker in the salon with Tyler from the previous story. He is a little bit envious of Tyler’s hot butch policeman boyfriend. But then he is distracted by Gareth, the guy who has come to fix the sinks at the salon. He is everything that Jules likes: big, hairy, muscles, etc. He flirts a little with Gareth on a Friday and then offers to trim up Gareth’s buzz cut. When Gareth leaves, Jules sighs but looks forward to his weekend out dancing and clubbing with his roommate Sacha, and hey, he’ll get to see Gareth on Monday when he returns to the shop to finish the job.

But over the weekend, Jules happily runs into Gareth at the club he goes to with Sacha. While Gareth doesn’t dance with him, they do run into each other again at a very fortuitous time. Won’t spoil the surprise, but it turns out Gareth and Jules have more in common than they ever thought they would.

This is a really sweet (but not sappy) story of two guys who are attracted but may be a little bit apprehensive about the reaction they might get. Both are willing to be somewhat vulnerable and honest and, in this case, that is a good thing. Recommended for a short story with a happy ending. :)

 

 

 

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3 Stars, Ligon and Maine, Reviewed by Lisa, Voir Media Publishing

Review: Blue Paramour by Ligon and Maine

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Title: Blue Paramour (Blue Ridge Saga: Volume One)

Author: Ligon and Maine

Publisher: Voir Media Publishing Group

Pages/Word Count: 344 Pages

At a Glance: Blue Paramour is the perfect example of a fine book that unfortunately didn’t work for me.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: When Brayden, a devastatingly handsome heir to a prominent Southern family, is caught in a compromising position with his handsome male lover, Jackson, life as he knows it comes crashing down. Exiled from the only home he’s ever known and separated from his love, Brayden is ordered to live in Boston where he is expected to become a true man and a proper successor.

But life will show him that things don’t always go as planned…

When Brayden encounters the mysterious and powerful, Vincent Gallaud, he instead embarks on an unforgettable adventure with his newfound king in the tantalizing world of New York City, forsaking everything he has ever known. Taking him on an unexpected journey that teaches him lessons Daddy would never approve.

Back home, Jackson has no choice but to consent to marry Brayden’s greatest adversary and twin sister, Annabelle Steed. Consumed with greed and longing for revenge, Annabelle will stop at nothing to destroy Brayden’s life and rob him of his birthright, Blue Ridge.

But everything comes at a price.

Dividers

Review: Set in the time leading up to the Civil War, Ligon and Maine’s Blue Paramour introduces the story of two families, wealthy Southern plantation owners whose lives are intertwined by arranged marriages and the teenage love affair between Brayden Steed and Jackson Wilmington, heirs to their family legacies.

The mark of a good historical novel is its ability to ground readers in the time and place of its setting, something the novel does from the outset in its depiction of life in the south during this time in America’s history, a time when slave ownership was the way of life, when the wealthy lorded over their estates like royalty, and life for the privileged was spent in idyll as they reaped the riches gained from the blood and sweat of another man’s back. This is the life Brayden Steed has been bred to carry on and defend, though it’s not a legacy that particularly suits him.

This story begins at a languorous pace with the introduction of its principal players, slow enough that I had a difficult time becoming invested in and remaining engaged by what was unfolding on the page; though, the tempo does pick up eventually, as Brayden and Jackson’s relationship hits its dramatic and climactic arc. Along with our romantic couple, two key secondary role players are introduced in Annabelle Steed and Patricia Mae Wilmington, sisters to Brayden and Jackson and the intended brides who will join the Steed and Wilmington estates in marriage. Patricia Mae plays what might be considered the Melanie Hamilton standard–the ideal of the Southern woman–well bred and demure–while Annabelle takes on the characteristics of a Scarlett O’Hara–beautiful, shrewd, conniving–though Annabelle lacks any of that Southern belle’s charm, often portrayed as more a caricature than a person. But, this story needed an antagonist and Annabelle fills that role in her own melodramatic way, as both Judas and Cain rolled into one excessively avaricious and resentful woman.

In fact, to a great extent, Annabelle’s portrayal is the epitome of what this novel is built upon—a soap opera-esque level of drama which weaves its way through the inevitable and predictable discovery of Brayden and Jackson’s illicit teenage affair; Brayden’s forced exile; Jackson’s descent into the bottle as he sinks into the depths of depression over Brayden’s disappearance and the realization that he loved Brayden far more than Brayden ever loved him; and his impending marriage to Annabelle—much like a man facing a firing squad and then sort of hoping someone pulls the trigger and puts him out of his misery. The characters are all fairly well written to type, all but the one man who was most certainly the exception to the rule of a black man in the 19th Century.

In a departure from its rather seemly and staid beginning, Brayden’s banishment from Blue Ridge stirs the plot and livens it up a bit, landing our young hero on a train heading north, at which time he meets a wealthy businessman, Vincent Gallaud, a free black man who immediately intrigues Brayden and lights the eighteen-year-old’s senses on fire. So much so that Brayden defies his father’s orders and rather than carrying on to Boston, jumps ship (train) in New York City to follow Vincent to his place of business, where the two begin a cat and mouse relationship in which Brayden plays the prey to Vincent’s more experienced predator.

Vincent takes on the role of sexual mentor to Brayden, at which point the novel takes a decidedly erotic turn as Brayden becomes an enthusiastic and willing pupil of Vincent’s Svengali-like tutelage. Their relationship is built largely upon sex, with Vincent playing alpha, but it soon becomes complicated by feelings that remain unspoken and misspoken, lies, secrets, and then ends in an a way that lovers of such dramatic spectacle will eat up as long as one is able to suspend belief a little and accept the events that happen as part of the novel’s milieu. I personally never made a connection to these two men as a couple, based largely on the failure to see where they had anything in common apart from sex, though it did all come to a spectacular end, so the lack of engagement was fortunate. I did, however, like the juxtaposition of their role reversal as a white and black man in that time period.

Blue Paramour, Volume One in the Blue Ridge Saga, is the perfect example of a fine book that just didn’t appeal to me, owing in total to the manner in which the story is conveyed, which, of course, is entirely a personal preference and doesn’t at all make it a bad book (outside of it needing a much more thorough editing). None of the characters, apart from Vincent’s maid, Sara, held much appeal for me, but Sara was a breath of fresh air among a cast of rather cookie cutter archetypes.

Having cut my historical reading chops on books such as Gone with the Wind and John Jakes’ North and South Trilogy, among others, I’m shocked this story didn’t resonate deeper with me, and I can only owe that to the plot being staged in such a theatrical and over-the-top way, not bad, though, if that’s a delivery you love, in which case Ligon and Maine deliver with a deft and generous hand.

Blue Paramour ends on a to-be-continued, so if you don’t like loose ends, beware. Brayden’s transformation has only just begun, and this book leaves him at an all-important turning point—convincing readers he has feelings for Jacskon, or ever did, being a pretty big hurdle to clear from my perspective–but a clever way for the authors to keep their readers on the hook.

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3 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Genre Romance, Meredith O'Reilly, Reviewed By Carrie, Stormy Night Publications

Review: His Captive’s Heart by Meredith O’Reilly

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Title: His Captive’s Heart

Author: Meredith O’Reilly

Publisher: Stormy Night Publications

Pages/Word Count: 79 Pages

At a Glance: I would recommend this book if you’re looking for light BDSM and a sweet romance.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Twenty-nine-year-old lawyer Marcus Bradberry has fantasized for years about finding a firm-handed man who would not hesitate to provide both guidance and discipline while also bringing him the kind of fulfillment he’s only dreamed about. When he meets Dimitri Anderson, the owner of a local kink club, Marcus takes a chance and shares the wildest fantasy he’s ever had with him.

Though he confesses to Dimitri that nothing excites him more than the idea of a being overpowered, kidnapped, and mastered completely by a strong, handsome man, Marcus is nonetheless shocked when Dimitri takes it upon himself to bring this fantasy to life. When Dimitri surprises him after work on a Friday, Marcus soon finds himself blindfolded, handcuffed, and driven away to an unknown place.

It quickly becomes clear that Dimitri knows exactly what his captive sub needs and is more than ready to give it to him, but as the weekend progresses, Marcus realizes that trusting his new master is at times much harder than he expected. Will he surrender to his most secret desires or will his fears drive him away from his master’s loving arms?

Dividers

Review: Marcus is a twenty-nine-year-old lawyer who dreams of having a Dom who will meet all his fantasies, when he sees an ad for an opportunity to visit a local kink club for the night and see how the lifestyle plays out in real life.

Once at the club, he meets Dmitri Anderson and through the course of the night, confides his ultimate fantasy of being kidnapped and forced to submit for a weekend. Dmitri is the owner of the club and a little jaded as far as subs go…until he meets Marcus. Instant attraction flares between the two and Dmitri sets out to fulfill Marcus’ fantasy.

While this story is about a Dom/sub relationship, it is the connection between the two men and how they grow to fall in love over the weekend that is the real story. Marcus needs a Dom—he can be a bit of a brat, he questions everything. It’s what makes him such a good lawyer. Dmitri has the patience of a saint and is a loving but strict Dom, which is exactly what Marcus needs.

This was a really sweet love story at the core and an easy, light novella to read. I would recommend this book if you’re looking for light BDSM and a sweet romance.

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3 Stars, Evernight Publishing, Genre Romance, L.D. Blakeley, Reviewed by Karen

Review: Opportunity Knocks by L.D. Blakeley

Title: Opportunity Knocks (Laissez Faire: Book One)

Author: L.D. Blakeley

Publisher: Evernight Publishing

Page/Word Count: 149 Pages

At a Glance: It seemed that just when I was starting to get into Opportunity Knocks, and Gill and Tommy were finally getting together, it was over and I was left feeling that I’d missed out on something.

Reviewed By: Karen

Blurb:  Small-town security guard, Gill Martin, has lived in Mystique Pointe his entire life. His dating prospects are non-existent and he doesn’t particularly like his job, but at least it’s better than unemployment. Besides, he hasn’t got any better ideas.

Big-city artist, Tommy Hearne, knows exactly what he wants out of life: a successful art career and a successful relationship. He also knows that living in Liberty City is his best chance for pursuing both. Unfortunately, for him, neither of these pursuits seem to be panning out quite to his liking.

When Tommy and his misfit band of friends roll into town for the Laissez Faire, Mystique Pointe’s annual music & art festival, worlds definitely collide. A fiery tryst sparks more than just a lust connection, but what happens when the weekend is over?

Dividers

Review: When I read the blurb and picked up Opportunity Knocks for review, it sounded like something right up my alley, but unfortunately, I had a hard time getting into the book and connecting to the characters together.

I enjoyed the writing, and there were definitely parts of the book that I thought were great, but I really wanted more of Gill and Tommy actually together.  Now, when they were together things were sweet and super hot, but I felt there were too many other things going on. With a distance between them, on top of those other things, it was just a little too much for me, and I struggled to connect.

Then, it seemed that just when I was starting to get into the story, and Gill and Tommy were finally getting together, it was over and I was left feeling that I’d missed out on something.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked the characters, even the ones that I didn’t at first. By the end I was hoping to learn more about them. With this being the first in the series, I look forward to reading more from L.D. Blakeley, and learning more about Gill, Tommy, and this group of friends.

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3 Stars, Andrew Grey, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 3 Stars, Reviewed by Sadonna

Audio Review: Love Means… Patience by Andrew Grey – Narrated by Andrew McFarrin

Title: Love Means… Patience

Author: Andrew Grey

Narrator: Andrew McFerrin

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 5 Hours and 52 Minutes

At a Glance: Another in Andrew Grey’s beloved Love Means series, which introduces us to new former military characters and a new set of obstacles to overcome.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Years after his discharge from the Marines under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Cody Culver lives in a PTSD-induced world all his own. On a mission, under misconceptions that Geoff and Eli are the enemy, Cody breaks into their farmhouse but is quickly brought back to his senses by a frying pan to the head. After receiving much needed help in the hospital, Cody has nowhere to go. Luckily, kindhearted Eli knows just where to turn.

When Eli asks former Marine Brick Hunter to help, Brick isn’t sure he wants to get involved. But Brick has worked through his own PTSD, and like it or not, he owes Eli a favor. With Cody struggling to rejoin the real world and Brick agreeing to take him in, they discover they have more in common than either of them thought possible.

Though Cody tries to stay in the here and now, he sometimes flashes to unexplainable traumatic events—events that don’t fit his usual war zone delusions. As the “delusions” grow more frequent, it becomes apparent they might not be delusions at all. Cody may have actually witnessed a murder.

Dividers

Review: Note: This is book seven of a series, and while it’s not absolutely necessary to have read the previous books, it’s helpful for context of the setting and characters.

I have been addicted to this series since I discovered it over four years ago now. I read the first four books back to back, and have read each subsequent release. I love Geoff and Eli, and I’m always interested to see who will join the crew next.

Cody is a former Marine who has been discharged under DADT. He’s also suffering from a severe case of PTSD. He thinks Eli and Geoff are the enemy, and he’s on a mission. He’s cold and hungry and goes into the house to try to find food and defend against the enemy – but instead, he gets a frying pan to the head.

When he comes to, it’s obvious that he desperately needs both medical and psychological assistance, but as a homeless and rejected vet, he doesn’t have any resources. Eli, however, has a plan. He thinks Brick, a former military man himself, who has successfully dealt with his PTSD, may be able to help.

While Cody doesn’t have any real farm experience, Brick can certainly use help around his family farm, which he’s been able to keep running on his own – but just barely. Cody still has trouble discerning when he might be slipping out of reality, but Brick’s experience comes in handy. What Brick doesn’t tell Cody right away, though, is that he is also interested in guys. Brick is attracted to Cody but doesn’t want to take advantage of him in his current condition. He does want to help him get stronger, and if something else develops… well, that would be okay too.

Cody also keeps having flashbacks of something happening in an empty house that he’d bunked in sometime during the past winter, but with his PTSD and his inability to confirm a timeline, he’s uncertain if what he remembers is real or imagined. When it turns out to be real and there is danger for Cody, Brick, and their friends, it’s all hands on deck to the rescue.

I especially like the little details in this story that include a puppy, fun with Jakey, and nice cameos from the rest of the regulars in this series. This is a solid addition to the Love Means… series that fans should enjoy.

This is the first audiobook of this series that I’ve listened too, and I had previously read this book – although, it was over a year ago. I was pleasantly surprised by how the narrator brought out details that I had forgotten from when I’d read it. I especially liked his characterization of Brick. I wasn’t sure about his characterization of Geoff – he seemed a little bit too “Southern” to me, but truthfully, I don’t know too many people from that area, so he may be spot on and it’s just me.

 

 

 

You can buy Love Means… Patience here:

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3 Stars, Historical Romance, Katherine Marlowe, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review: Lord Loxley’s Lover by Katherine Marlowe

Title: Lord Loxley’s Lover

Author: Katherine Marlowe

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 91 Pages

At a Glance: In spite of a few niggles, I found Lord Loxley’s Lover to be a diverting read.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Lord Loxley is bewildered when his noble-born friend and former lover, Miles Rochester arrives on his doorstep and applies for a position as his valet. His friend has suffered a complete loss of status and finances, and has become bitter at the world, but Lord Loxley is determined to find a way to soothe his friend’s pain and restore their friendship and love.

Dividers

Review: Miles Rochester was once a young man of considerable means and social stature, despite his mixed-race heritage, now brought low by the loss of his family’s fortune. The downturn in financial circumstances translated to the abandonment of everyone he’d once considered a friend. Everyone, including Lord Fitzhenry Loxley.

When we’re introduced to Miles, he’s applying for the position of valet to Lord Loxley, and it’s here that we learn not only that Miles has fallen on difficult times but that he and Fitz were once lovers—not necessarily a surprise given we know from the title that this book is a romance—but the story doesn’t begin in a romantic way.

What the author introduces us to is a Miles who’s bitter and taciturn in nature, treating Fitz in a cold and distant way, clearly angered that his life has come down to one of servitude. What isn’t made altogether too clear is why Miles would stoop to applying for this particular position when it not only proves to be beneath his intellect and business acumen but also means humbling himself (though, he truly is less than humble) to someone from his past against whom he carries a grudge, a question that I felt was never answered in a meaningful way, but again, given that this is a romance we can make some educated guesses, and without the available position and Miles’ answering Fitz’s need, we wouldn’t have a story.

Lord Loxley’s Lover is a friends-to-lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers again story, though it’s Miles’ anger rather than Fitz’s lack of desire for the man that keeps them on opposing sides for much of this novella. Miles spends a good deal of the story’s word-count lusting after Fitz, then growing cold and distant, seemingly resentful, while Fitz remains ever hopeful, determined to do everything in his power to bridge the distance between them and mend what he’d unintentionally broken years before. Lord Loxley’s portrayal is close to that of the damsel in need of rescuing, definitely the more submissive of the two men, as Miles sets about the job of proving himself indispensable to Fitz and his family’s estate.

Katherine Marlowe knows her way around the Regency Era and a historical romance. The obligation of a man to marry for appearance’s sake, marriages of convenience that allowed gay men to avoid the questions and speculation they’d have otherwise been subjected to—there’s an authenticity to this story, with a tidy solution to Fitz’s marital issues, and then a bit of fancy thrown in to give it a sweet happily-ever-after.

The only thing I did feel deserved a bit more page time and dialogue paid to it, apart from the issue of why Miles applied for the position of Fitz’s valet in the first place, was Miles’ quick about-face at the end. Fitz’s final gesture to bring the man he loves some happiness was a kindness beyond measure, but one moment Miles was livid with Fitz, the next he was utterly forgiving, without much exposition of the turnabout in his feelings. In spite of those niggles, however, I found Lord Loxley’s Lover to be a pleasant diversion.

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You can buy Lord Loxley’s Lover here:

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3 Stars, Charley Descoteaux, Dreamspinner Press, Paranormal, Reviewed by Sadonna, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: The Pinch of the Game by Charley Descoteaux

Title: The Pinch of the Game

Author: Charley Descoteaux

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 98 Pages

At a Glance: A really interesting, if slightly confusing, paranormal mystery and love story that read like a combination road trip/hot pursuit/screwball comedy.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Being a witch doesn’t mean one can beat the devil forever.

Jeffrey Overton, unemployed IT professional turned poker player, pushes his luck once too often and runs afoul of the host of an illegal card club. The man sent to escort Jeffrey to a “meeting” about his supernatural winning streak arrives at Jeffrey’s crappy North Portland apartment, lock-picking tools in hand and a charm to block Jeffrey’s magick.

Head muscle for said host, Mike Wells, is a Daisy from Daisyville. He isn’t a witch. What he lacks in magickal talent he makes up for in brawn, so he doesn’t expect the guy he’s after to overpower him. But once Mike renders Jeffrey helpless, he’d rather seduce him than bring him in.

Jeffrey and Michael ditch the “meeting” and end up hunting some of the same people they ran from, trying to get Jeffrey back into his own body. And that’s only part of the adventure. The pair travel halfway across the country on the quietest road trip in history and find missing people, empire-building witches, and maybe even the families they’d both thought lost to them

Dividers

Review: This is a different story than the other stories I have read by this author, in that it’s really a paranormal mystery/romance. It’s kind of a combination road trip/one long chase scene/screwball comedy in some ways.

Jeffrey has gotten himself in trouble by using his magic to win at cards. The house does not like this and sends the muscle to bring him in. But, the muscle, Mike, flips all of Jeffrey’s switches, and he’d really rather spend time with Mike than anything else. When they end up on the run together, Jeffrey makes a terrible miscalculation that poses great risk to both himself and Mike.

While on the run and trying to figure out just how to fix the terrible situation they find themselves in, Jeff and Mike end up hiding out temporarily with Mike’s family. There is also the little issue of Jeffrey’s missing mother, more muscle on their tails, and a possible double-cross.

The chase leads halfway across the country, from the home ground of Portland, and draws a bunch of other bad guys (and bad magic) along with them. They aren’t sure who to trust, who is after them, or who is really calling the shots. There are a lot of near misses and some big surprises. Overall, things got a lot more confusing before they became very clear.
I really enjoyed this story, but I wish it had been longer, with additional blanks filled in. The relationship between Mike and Jeffrey is really the heart of the story, and their interaction and dialogue is always energetic. But, at times, I felt like I was missing a couple of chapters here and there. I don’t like a big info dump, but I did feel confused when various characters just “dropped in” to the action, and there wasn’t enough detail for me to figure out what they were doing there, or who they were tied to, or what their part of the game was. It was kind of like walking into a movie 15 minute after it started, where the action that occurs that kicks off the whole movie has taken place and you’ve missed it. I felt like I eventually caught up, but at times the ride wasn’t smooth.

I have enjoyed Charley Descoteaux’s writing in the past, so I welcomed the opportunity to read another longer story. I feel like the author has a unique voice and perspective, and also bases a lot of the stories in my favorite US city, Portland, Oreg0n. Overall, I’d recommend for those who enjoy a good mystery with some romance and magic on the side.

 

 

 

You can buy Pinch of the Game here:

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3 Stars, Amber Allure, K-lee Klein, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Angel

Review: Moonstone by K-lee Klein

Title: Moonstone (Stone Magic: Book One)

Author: K-lee Klein

Publisher: Amber Allure

Pages/Word Count: 239 Pages

At a Glance: A slow and different take on the shifter paranormal genre.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Ky’s a fighter, Blue’s an artist, but together they are truly magical.

Ky’s fought his way to the boxing championship for the third time, but now the fight of his life isn’t against an opponent in the ring. He’s battling a darkness within himself that he can’t ignore and can’t control. If he fails, everything he’s spent his life working for will be gone, and he can’t see a path to victory. Only a hunch sends him looking for help in the most unusual places.

Blue’s a quiet guy, living for his family and the art of his tattoos. He’s created his shop, Blue’s Dungeon, to be a place for the celebration of art on skin—simple, friendly, and mostly uncomplicated—and Blue likes it that way.

But when Ky shows up in Blue’s tattoo parlor, desperately searching for a lifeline, it’s the beginning of something magical for both men…

Dividers

Review: K-Lee Klein is a new to me author, and while I enjoyed this book and her writing, I did have a difficult time reading this story. It wasn’t so much the writing but the pacing, I think. Much of the story taking place happens just over two months, but it felt much slower while reading it. The story seemed, to me, to drag in places, especially when head-hopping from Blue to Ky.

Moonstone has an interesting concept and take on magic and on the shifter/paranormal genre. However, I didn’t feel that this story was all that paranormal/magical until nearly three-quarters of the way into the reading. There are very few clues to the paranormal until the reason Ky is searching for his lifeline has been explained. After this, the rest of the story happens quickly.

Ky’s problem, which I won’t give away here, wasn’t mentioned but once in the first of the story. It’s not even really explained, the reader is just given the fact that Ky is searching for something. Something he seems to find at Blue’s tattoo parlor. After an immediate bout of sex between Ky and Blue, the story is mostly taken up by Ky’s reaction to his not-quite-relationship with Blue, and vice versa.

Blue was an extraordinary individual from first introduction. I liked him immediately. He was an amazing artist, from Ky’s POV, and I, at first, thought he was an autistic savant. But no disabilities are discussed in this book. In fact, the reasons turn out to be quite magical. Literally.

Circumstances conspire to drive a wedge between Blue and Ky, and I was honestly confused for some time while the paranormal aspect of the story came to light. Then everything seemed to fall into place for our MCs, and they got their happy ending.

I liked the verse Klein created, and would love to have more background on some of the characters and situations introduced in Moonstone, Oli in particular. Perhaps Michael and Dart, as well, but it’s not an imperative need as Moonstone itself was a complete story.

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You can buy Moonstone here:

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3 Stars, Charlie Richards, Extasy Books, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sadonna

Review: Driving Borscht Batty by Charlie Richards

Title: Driving Borscht Batty

Author: Charlie Richards

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 103 Pages

At a Glance: A cute story of a vampire and a bat (I see what you did there, Charlie ::heh heh::) discovering they are mates, and another adventure rescuing more captive shifters.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Out of the Cage: Sometimes dealing with unexpected events can drive you crazy…but that isn’t always a bad thing.

Borscht Kuznetsov is the master of his vampire coven. He likes his donors silent, his people obedient, and his life orderly. When an alarm on the northern outskirts of his property alert him to intruders, he leads the charge to drive the humans from his land. To his surprise, Borscht discovers they were chasing an Egyptian fruit bat. Confused by his sudden onslaught of protectiveness, he realizes the little creature is a shifter…who refuses to shift.

With his only memories that of his time spent in captivity, Sekani doesn’t know much. He can’t even understand the words of the people around him after he escapes from his prison. Still, one of them smells really good…and the man saved him from the hunters. When the man finally says a few words in halting English, Sekani learns that his world is so much larger than he could ever have imagined.

Can Borscht handle his beloved’s overabundance of excitement, especially when he learns that Sekani has friends that need rescuing?

Dividers

Review: We first met Borscht Kustenov in The Vampire’s Geek, number twenty-six in the Wolves of Stone Ridge series. Borscht’s younger brother Tullion is the protagonist in that story, but we meet the whole Kustenov clan when Tullion turns to them for help. We know that Borscht is a good guy who is happy that Tullion has found his beloved – despite him being a human male. Not all of the family is so understanding, however.

In this story, Borscht goes out to confront a disturbance on his property, and he discovers men hunting. He finds a small bat is their intended quarry. He’s overwhelmed with wanting to protect the little guy, and as he returns to his home, he realizes that the bat is a shifter and that he is most likely his mate – his beloved. But Borscht doesn’t even know what kind of a bat he’s found, and his little bat won’t shift.

After trying to communicate with him in English rather than Russian, it appears that the bat is finally understanding him, and he shifts. Turns out he’s an Egyptian fruit bat named Sekani, who has basically spent his whole life in a cage and been the subject of the scientist’s experiments that entire time. His only friends are other shifters who were also captives. Even though he’s obviously a mature bat and human male, he has no concept of many things – like eating with utensils, a refrigerator, a bed, many foods, etc. He doesn’t like many clothes, and he is very nervous around people and Borscht’s family at first. Borscht’s brother and sisters are kind to him, offering to teach him about all the things he missed out on, but mostly he just wants to be with Borscht. He doesn’t understand his desire or his reaction to Borscht either, and has to have sex explained to him.

Borscht is so kind to Sekani, and he doesn’t want to push him in any way. He adores his little bat, and he desperately wants to protect him. Sekani is worried about his friends, who were being moved at the same time he escaped, and so Borscht calls in the Stone Ridge team and we get to see Jared (YAY!) and company come to the rescue. We also get cameos by some of the other Stone Ridge pack, including Raul, Lyle (the monitor lizard shifting human), and Dr. Carmichael. There are some really intense moments as the scientists and hunters try to get to Sekani, but you know if Jared’s on the case, they’ll never win.

Borscht and Sekani are cute together, and there is a lovely little surprise with Sekani’s taste in clothing. Borscht also puts up with no crap from his homophobic brother, and determines that he’ll do whatever is best for his mate. All in all an enjoyable, quick, cute and quirky read about our paranormals; and any story that has any Jared in it is full of win for me!

For fans of this series, this is a fun one.

 

 

 

You can buy Driving Borscht Batty here:

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3 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Kim Fielding, Reviewed by Sadonna

Review: Phoenix by Kim Fielding

Title: Phoenix

Author: Kim Fielding

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 44 Pages

At a Glance: A poignant and ultimately uplifting story of second chances and renewed courage to experience love.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: First a soldier and then a diplomat, Juberi now spends his solitary days on a single ambition: trying to resurrect the phoenix, which has been extinct for centuries. He’s not pleased when he is obligated to attend a public ceremony in memory of an elderly friend and former colleague. But at the ceremony, Juberi meets the friend’s beguiling son, Desen. Despite being from a markedly different culture, Desen has much to offer. But after decades of denying his own desires, Juberi fears there is no alchemy that will reopen him to love.

Dividers

Review: I have to say I am a big fan of Kim Fielding’s writing – regardless of whether it’s fantasy, contemporary, historical, dystopian, short story, novel, or novella. I am always surprised by something, and happy that I decided to spend my time with her words, and this story is no exception.

Juberi is a retired diplomat and former soldier who now spends his days in his home lab trying to reanimate a phoenix. He pretty much keeps to himself and his house staff, and doesn’t have much of a social life. But he is required to attend a ceremony honoring a former colleague from his diplomat days, so he begrudgingly goes. After the ceremony, he meets Desen, the son of the former colleague. He is intrigued by Desen but also a little apprehensive because of the cultural differences.

Desen has heard much about Juberi from his deceased father, and flatters Juberi with his remembrances. He asks to see Juberi privately after the ceremony and although he’s still a little nervous, Juberi agrees. Desen is interested in a more private audience with Juberi to ask him a favor, so invites him to his residence. While he feels he can’t do what Desen asks of him, all of this sets Juberi to remembering his time in Desen’s land. He feels he is too old and too set in his ways to be of any use to Desen, or anyone else, really. But that doesn’t mean that he might not still be convinced.

I so enjoyed the interplay between Desen and Juberi. Their conversations and interactions were sweet and filled with longing and desire. It seems that maybe this meeting was destined after all. I also enjoyed Juberi’s relationship with Saura, his longtime servant. She truly has Juberi’s best interest at heart and takes good care of him.

I recommend this story for those who enjoy a short hot and sweet story about mature characters getting a second chance at finding something good.

 

 

 

You can buy Phoenix here:

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3 Stars, A.V. Sanders, Genre Romance, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Jules, Short Story

Review: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion by A.V. Sanders

Title: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion

Author: A.V. Sanders

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 11000 Words

At a Glance: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion is a cute story with lots of potential.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: Beckett works at a coffee shop to make ends meet while attending a prestigious university. It’s not the most exciting job, but he’s done it long enough he’s good at it—and can avoid the tedium by spinning sexy little daydreams of things he doubts will ever happen.

Daydreams that soon include Simon, the hot, handsome, and older freelance writer who stops in one day. But then Simon becomes a regular, a bright spot more interesting than the inside of Beckett’s head, and daydreams start to seem like they could be something far more tangible—if reality doesn’t get in the way first.

Dividers

Review: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion is charming at times, especially in the beginning, and Beckett and Simon really are pretty adorable, but it was also frustrating at times because I felt like, as a story, it had so much potential that was just not able to be fulfilled due to the length. I’m not sure if this was a submission call from the publisher that only allowed for so many words, but I truly wish that A.V. Sanders had been able to give Beckett and Simon more time.

This story ticked several of my boxes…college student, southern boy, May/December romance, etc., and, as I said above, the main characters were pretty adorable. Beckett lets Simon know, via subtle, or sometimes not-so-subtle, interactions at the coffee shop that he is interested. And when Simon is free to act on those advances – he does go through a breakup in the story – he asks Beckett out on a date. I really enjoyed the date scene; it was imaginative and lovely to read. We don’t get to see much in the way of ‘spark’ between the guys, but we see enough to know they have an attraction and a nice connection.

Things start to go awry when it becomes clear that there just isn’t going to be enough backstory to have everything make sense. There is a fight where Simon becomes extremely jealous and angry at Beckett because he is meeting his professor for dinner. Simon’s reaction seems out-of-character; however, we don’t know enough about his story with his ex, and we don’t know enough about Beckett’s professor or his intentions, to truly make everything click. The couple goes to New Orleans, Beckett’s home town, to see his family, but the scene is quite awkward because it’s just not fleshed out enough. That whole bit was so rushed, as was the entire end.

Percolation, Poetry, and Passion is a cute story with lots of potential. Unfortunately it simply felt too rushed and too short. Perhaps the author can show them some more love in an expanded novella? I bet many readers would love to see Beckett and Simon get the shot they deserve.

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