5 Stars, A.J. Thomas, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Maryann

Audio Review: The Way Things Are by A.J. Thomas – Narrated by Ron Herczig

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Title: The Way Things Are

Author: A.J. Thomas

Narrator: Ron Herczig

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 9 hours and 20 minutes

At a GlanceA.J. Thomas has created a realism and vibrant characters in such an entertaining story.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: A night of drunken confusion at nineteen resulted in Patrick Connelly fathering a child. Determined to be there for his son, Patrick walked away from a sport he loved and forever hid his sexuality. After Patrick’s brutal divorce and a vicious hate crime, his son, Jay, has become obsessed with graffiti. Hoping for a fresh start, Patrick moves Jay to his childhood home in Seattle. Within two weeks, Jay is arrested again. On his way to pick Jay up, Patrick stops an assault, then finds himself in handcuffs too. Thinking things can’t get any worse, he’s confronted by the sexiest man he’s ever seen—his son’s new probation officer, Ken Atkins.

The hardest part of Ken’s job is working with difficult parents, and the undeniably handsome Patrick Connelly is going to be a difficult parent. A chance encounter and steamy hookup with Patrick leave Ken blindsided. As they work together to try to keep Jay on the right path, the passion between them proves impossible to resist. When the assault Patrick prevented comes back to haunt them and Jay gets into trouble again, Ken must convince Patrick that ensuring his son’s happiness doesn’t have to mean sacrificing his own.

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Review: I just loved Ron Herczig’s narration of The Way Things Are. His voice has that touch of deep and gravely with a bit of a lazy drawl, and even though there wasn’t a big distinction between characters’ voices, the different levels of tone and pronunciations he used worked perfectly for each character. I really loved his portrayal of Jay. It makes you imagine a fourteen-year-old boy’s expressions. And he took Patrick and Ken, and made them come alive with their compassion and nurturing.

The story itself contains different kinds of love, that between Patrick and Ken, and tender father/son moments between Patrick and Jay. This is also a suspenseful story mixed with the drama of human trafficking, murder, and abuse. Both the e-book and the audio are well done and will not disappoint.

There is a very good review for the book written by Janet here at TNA, and I couldn’t agree with her more—A.J. Thomas has created a realism and vibrant characters in such an entertaining story.

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You can buy The Way Things Are here:

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5 Stars, A.J. Thomas, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Narration Rating - 2 Stars, Reviewed by Maryann

Audio Review: Holding Out for a Fairy Tale by A.J. Thomas – Narrated by Jeff Gelder

Title: Holding Out for a Fairy Tale (Least Likely Partnership: Book Two)

Author: A.J. Thomas

Narrator:: Jeff Gelder

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 8 Hours and 33 Minutes

At a Glance: I wanted the audiobook to be as exciting as the book itself, but this performance left me wanting.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: When his vicious cousin Alejandro makes a violent late-night visit, San Diego homicide detective Ray Delgado gets a brutal reminder of why he left his family behind. Alejandro wants Ray to find his sister, Sophia, who disappeared from the UC San Diego campus, before the FBI digs too deep into his business.

Special Agent Elliot Belkamp spent his entire life jumping from one place to another, but his new assignment assisting a FBI task force offers him a chance to settle down. When Elliot catches a missing person’s case as his first assignment, the last person he expects to find poking around the victim’s dorm room is Ray, a one-time hookup he’s more inclined to punch in the face than kiss hello. After discovering Sophia’s disappearance is linked to a massive computer-based theft that has two powerful crime families ready to declare war, Elliot focuses on his investigation and tries to ignore Ray. As the search for Sophia turns dangerous, Elliot and Ray discover that tackling organized crime might be easier than resisting the urge to tackle each other.

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Review: Holding Out for a Fairytale is the second story in the Least Likely Partnership series by A.J. Thomas. This story picks up right after book one, A Casual Weekend Thing (a must read). A.J. Thomas continues the series, bringing us Elliott Belkamp and Raymond Delgado in another fast paced, action packed, thriller mystery filled with tension, humor, sadness and passion. I’m glad I own the series because I read it again.

Ray’s a prankster among his fellow cops: smart, into computers, sci-fi, and guns. He’s definitely a good cop and has his partners and fellow cops’ backs. He deals with some serious family issues: Alejandro Munoz, his cousin, is connected to the cartel, and, being “dead” to his Hispanic family, the only two people he still has a connection with are his sister Carmen and niece Sophia. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he’s also sitting on the fence over his sexuality, and he doesn’t believe in a HEA. It took me a while to like Ray, until I learned more about his insecurities.

I liked Elliott from the moment he was introduced in book one. He’s a straight-laced FBI agent, gay and has no problem admitting it. He finally thinks he has a place where he can settle down and maybe find that special someone to build a life with. Though, he has a couple little quirks: his reasoning on Pop Tarts and fighting. When Elliott and Ray meet up again, Elliott has to put his hostility aside and work with Ray to solve the case involving Sophia. As they frantically work to try and stop a war between cartels, they discover they’re better together than apart.

Narration: I have to say I was disappointed in Jeff Gelder’s narration and the presentation of the characters. I wanted more energy and emotion from the two MCs and in the telling of the story, and I felt that Gelder’s vocal choice for Elliott was too high pitched and too childlike. In short, I wanted the audiobook to be as exciting as the book itself, but this performance left me wanting.

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You can buy Holding Out for a Fairy Tale here:

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5 Stars, A.J. Thomas, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Janet

Review: The Intersection of Purgatory and Paradise by A.J. Thomas

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Title: The Intersection of Purgatory and Paradise (Least Likely Partnership: Book Three)

Author: A.J. Thomas

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 204 Pages

At a Glance: I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I loved it.

Reviewed By: Janet

Blurb: Life in small-town Montana has become hell for former San Diego homicide detective Christopher Hayes. No one will hire him, he has made the seething racism his lover Doug Heavy Runner faces at work worse by adding homophobia to the mix, and his most recent jog through town ends when two gay-bashing teenagers hit him in the head with a rock. Deputy Sheriff Doug Heavy Runner has never overcome the abusive relationship that traumatized and shattered him as a young adult. The memories, the lingering shame, and the fear he has never acknowledged have left him resigned to endure the discrimination he faces in Elkin. But he can’t stand it when Christopher becomes a target for that same hatred.

When the mutilated body of one of the boys who assaulted Christopher is found in Doug’s garage, Christopher and Doug return from a vacation in San Diego and uncover a tangle of secrets, lies, and tragedy lurking beneath Elkin’s small-town façade. With their relationship at a crossroads, they’ll have to work together to catch the killer and maybe find a paradise of their own.

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Review: My life is now complete. AJ Thomas has fulfilled the promise she created with A Casual Weekend Thing, the HFN, and that she alluded to in Holding Out For A Fairy Tale, and she has given us our HEA. But OMG! I loved the drama and the lengths she went to in order to prove to her characters they were it for each other. We knew this from the first book, but they needed to have it proven without a doubt, and Thomas dragged us right into the story again as witnesses to the tale unfolding. I think it is harder to pick up a couple and recreate the bonds we had felt before, to expose the weaknesses they have and yet have us fully invested in them all over again. Sincere kudos to the author for accomplishing this. Very well done.

As this book is the third now in the series, we are blessed with another visit with Ray and Elliot, and I won’t say more…but, wow. Constantly surprising us with details and ideas seems to work very well for this author; presentation is everything is true. The book is full of accurate details which simply resonate with us; they give us a surety of location and the policing aspects of the book. The plot is extremely well crafted and flows smoothly from one scene to another. There is so much going on in the book that the pages just fly by, but we are never left hanging. The MCs are developed to a higher degree as their relationship is dissected and patched up by each of them. What we get is a true and balanced appreciation of just how much they have grown up and also how well they have grown together. The HEA they get at the end of this story is so deserved. The sense of elation I felt for them is usually reserved for real life couples.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I loved it. Certainly read the first two books in the series if you haven’t already, but do read this book. If you enjoy a mystery; if you enjoy a sexy romance; if you like to see the best man win; then read this book and be prepared to be wowed by this author. She is one of my all-time favorite authors, and this book has only served to strengthen my belief in her work.

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You can buy The Intersection of Purgatory and Paradise here:

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5 Stars, A.J. Thomas, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Janet

Review: The Way Things Are by A.J. Thomas

Title: The Way Things Are

Author: A.J. Thomas

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 266 Pages

At a Glance: I really can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed this book.

Reviewed By: Janet

Blurb: A night of drunken confusion at nineteen resulted in Patrick Connelly fathering a child. Determined to be there for his son, Patrick walked away from a sport he loved and forever hid his sexuality. After Patrick’s brutal divorce and a vicious hate crime, his son, Jay, has become obsessed with graffiti. Hoping for a fresh start, Patrick moves Jay to his childhood home in Seattle. Within two weeks, Jay is arrested again. On his way to pick Jay up, Patrick stops an assault, then finds himself in handcuffs too. Thinking things can’t get any worse, he’s confronted by the sexiest man he’s ever seen—his son’s new probation officer, Ken Atkins.

The hardest part of Ken’s job is working with difficult parents, and the undeniably handsome Patrick Connelly is going to be a difficult parent. A chance encounter and steamy hookup with Patrick leave Ken blindsided. As they work together to try to keep Jay on the right path, the passion between them proves impossible to resist. When the assault Patrick prevented comes back to haunt them and Jay gets into trouble again, Ken must convince Patrick that ensuring his son’s happiness doesn’t have to mean sacrificing his own.

Dividers

Review: The Way Things Are is A.J. Thomas’s fourth book, and it was eagerly anticipated. Although a relatively new author, Thomas has already become very well known for her vibrant characters and the realism of her stories. She also has a knack for adding a twist to her mysteries that couch the love stories she writes.

In The Way Things Are we meet Patrick Connelly, who is a gay single father of a 14 year old boy. Patrick is a longshoreman, operating a crane in the opening scene, and WOW, I was sucked right into the story. So many plot lines and characters are introduced in the first two chapters, and it is so fresh and new that the reader just absorbs it all, intrigued and amused at the same time. The pace is very quick although there is a timeline laid out to buffer the speed of the story so it does not overwhelm the reader at all. We are simply on board for the journey.

Patrick’s son Jay is a pivotal part of the story, and he is a colorful character in his own right, with a quirk that is rooted in misery but feels so humorous to the reader. Ken Atkens is the Juvenile Probation Counselor who is assigned to Jay upon his arrest for vandalism. Ken has a permanent leg injury that has prevented him from being a cop like the rest of his family, but he is comfortable working in this related field. So we have two damaged men, plus a troubled teenager; throw in a few dead bodies and a possible human trafficking scheme, and we have our story. We so don’t! Ms. Thomas teases us with the passion between the two men, flirts with the danger surrounding them, and in the process has us totally invested in her story.

Her character building is so good we can fully picture the entire cast of the novel; the secondary characters are as vivid as the primary ones, and this adds a depth and richness to the entire book. Her mystery is carefully crafted, she drops hints and red herrings equally throughout the chapters, and the reader is gifted with the knowledge of who the bad guy is, but only just before the resolution of the story.

The romance between the MCs is fun to watch happen; we can clearly see the attraction and desire between them. The sex is arousing because it is simply hot! But also because we are made to feel the strain of not being able to have the closeness they want, and instead resorting to the furtive moments they do enjoy.

I really can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed this book. It is a fresh, angst-y, humorous, well plotted mystery and a love story. The city of Seattle that A J Thomas shows us as the setting for this story is a working seaport city that I have never been shown before. I simply love the skill that this author has to present us with known entities and situations in a totally new way.

There is a HEA for these two men, they earned it, and that’s the way things are.






You can buy The Way Things Are here:

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4 Stars, A.J. Thomas, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Jackie

Crime And Romance Come Together In A.J. Thomas’ “Holding Out for a Fairy Tale” – Reviewed by Jackie


“The way to read a fairy tale is to throw yourself in.” ― W.H. Auden


Title: Holding Out for a Fairy Tale

Author: A.J. Thomas

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 243 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: When his vicious cousin Alejandro makes a violent late-night visit, San Diego homicide detective Ray Delgado gets a brutal reminder of why he left his family behind. Alejandro wants Ray to find his sister, Sophia, who disappeared from the UC San Diego campus, before the FBI digs too deep into his business.
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A.J. Thomas, Dreamspinner Press

No Matter How You Slice It, “Sex & Sourdough” Is A Win


“I can offer you my life, though it is a short life. I can offer you my heart, though I have no idea how many beats it shall sustain. But I love you enough to hope the rest of my life-whatever its length-happy, by spending it with you.” – Cassandra Clare


Title: Sex & Sourdough

Author: A.J. Thomas

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 266 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Anders Blankenship never intended to hike the Appalachian Trail alone, but when his boyfriend cancels, Anders steels his courage, leaving the abusive relationship to tackle the long-distance hike. Though a hiking virgin, he’s glad he made the decision when he receives threatening messages from his ex. Luckily, Kevin, an experienced backpacker, takes him under his wing.
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