4.5 Stars, Amber Kell, Love Lane Books, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Angel, RJ Scott

Review: End Street: Volume One by Amber Kell and RJ Scott

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Title: The Case of the Cupid Curse/The Case of the Wicked Wolf (End Street: Vol. One)

Author: Amber Kell & RJ Scott

Publisher: Love Lane Books

Pages/Word Count: 201 Pages

At a GlanceA fun and often sweet twist on the paranormal genre.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Dragons, vampires, werewolves, fae, witches and one very confused human.

Sam, 100% human (no, really) inherits a crumbling building and a private detective agency from his Uncle.

Bob, a brooding stubborn and ancient vampire turns up at his door and refuses to leave.

Before Sam can say ‘I only want human cases’ he’s knee deep in werewolves, dragons, vampires and witches.

Book 1 – The Case of The Cupid Curse

Sam Enderson is a human detective who inherits a building from where his Uncle used to run a detective agency. He finds himself working for paranormal creatures despite his resolve to stick with humans only. To supplement his income as a new PI Sam rents out rooms in the large house.

Bob is a vampire and turns up on Sam’s doorstep to rent a room. Sparks fly and Sam is attracted to the vampire despite himself.

Sam is cursed by a witch, and has two cases landing on his desk. Werewolves, annoying ghosts and a grumpy gargoyle are enough to drive Sam mad. But somehow in amongst all of this he has to find a missing fae and a missing shifter child.

Book 2 – The Case of the Wicked Wolf

Naiads, humans, sirens and a challenge for Alpha make up the intricate story in the race to rescue the missing children.

Sam and Bob have more than just the case of one lost child to handle. Not only is Shelby Hartman missing, but other paranormal children have disappeared. The race to rescue the children is hampered by naiads, humans, sirens and a challenge for Alpha.

Hartman Hunter is desperate to find his daughter. He turns to the demon Danjal Naamah for help. The problem is that Danjal is the only person Hartman has ever loved—the man he let go for the sake of the pack…

Dividers

Review:  I really enjoy both Amber Kell’s and RJ Scott’s individual works, so finding this book, where both are involved, thrilled me. They have a similar writing style, and this joint project reads seamlessly. I almost don’t want to know who wrote which chapter, or how they did it, because I just loved the world they created.

The paranormal really isn’t out of the ordinary in this verse created by these two authors, and I loved how it meshed with the reality of the world. It was not a big deal to have a werewolf dance club as well a human one right in the same town. I also really enjoyed that the prejudices between the species weren’t glossed over. A few had made it past the boundaries to mix well with others, but there was still the stigma found in associating with other paranormals or even humans. There is also a message of tolerance and acceptance, too.

I almost felt really bad for Sam as he tried so hard not to get involved in the paranormal aspect of being a P.I., but he’s drawn in because his uncle was a bit unscrupulous. He handles it with panache, though, and doggedly pursues his cases to the end while adjusting to life with a cranky ghost assistant and a persistent vampire suitor.

Looking forward to the next cases, ladies, and thank you for an enjoyable read.

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4 Stars, Ariel Tachna, Dreamspinner Press, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Angel

Review: The Partnership in Blood Bundle by Ariel Tachna

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Title: Partnership in Blood Bundle: Volume One

Author: Ariel Tachna

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count:  1285 Pages

At a GlanceA massive and interesting take on wizards and vampires.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Book One: Alliance in Blood. Can a desperate wizard and a bitter, disillusioned vampire find a way to build the partnership that could save their world? In a world rocked by magical war, vampires are seen by many as less than human, as the stereotypical creatures of the night who prey on others. But as the war intensifies, the wizards and the vampires forge an alliance based on blood and magic, hoping to turn the tide of the war against the dark wizards. As the war rages on and heartbreaking casualties mount on both sides, the dark wizards keep searching for clues to understand and counter the strength of the Alliance, while the blood-bound Alliance partners hunt through ancient prejudices and forgotten lore to find an edge that can turn the tide of the war once and for all.

Book Two: Covenant In Blood. The wizards and the vampires have forged an alliance based on blood and magic, hoping to turn the tide of the war against the dark wizards. A few wizard-vampire bonds are as successful as Alain Magnier’s and Orlando St. Clair’s, but some are much less so, leading to arguments, resentment, and outright fights between the allies despite their mutual goals. Following his best friend Alain’s example, Thierry Dumont determinedly forms a partnership with vampire Sebastien Noyer, despite the wizard’s discomfort with being so close to a vampire a man so soon after his wife’s death. But they find that desperation may be the key to forming a covenant that works: Thierry and Sebastien are almost immediately devoted to one another’s safety. With new strength behind it, the Alliance’s leaders move to announce its existence to the whole world, hoping to rally support against the dark wizards who threaten to destroy life as they know it. Struggling to find its way in the expanding war, the Alliance discovers that despite its advantages, the partnerships are affecting the balance of magical power in the world, which may be an even bigger threat than the war itself.

Book Three: Conflict in Blood. As the Alliance wizard-vampire partnerships grow stronger, the dark wizards feel the effects and become increasingly desperate to find enough information to counter them, unaware of the growing strain of the blood-magic bonds on the wizards and vampires alike.

The conflict is spreading. The strife of uncomfortable relationships, both personal and professional, is threatening to tear up the Alliance from the inside, despite the efforts of Alain Magnier and Orlando St. Clair, Thierry Dumont and Sebastien Noyer, and even Raymond Payet and Jean Bellaiche, leader of the Paris vampires, who is fighting to establish a stable covenant with his own partner so he might lead by example.

As the war rages on and heartbreaking casualties mount on both sides, the dark wizards keep searching for clues to understand and counter the strength of the Alliance, while the blood-bound Alliance partners hunt through ancient prejudices and forgotten lore to find an edge that can turn the tide of the war once and for all.

Book Four: Reparation in Blood. The war is at a fever pitch with both sides stretched to the limit, when the dark wizards score a shocking victory and capture Orlando St. Clair. Haggard with worry and grief at the separation from his lover, Alain fears that even if they find Orlando, the vampire’s heart and mind may be far too broken to save.

Knowing the Alliance teeters on the brink, Christophe Lombard, the oldest, most powerful vampire in Paris leaves his self-imposed seclusion to join the fight. Alain’s lost friend Eric Simonet, who betrayed him to join the dark wizards, is faced with a choice between revenge and redemption. And Jean, enraged by Orlando’s capture, faces the most agonizing decision in his unlife as the final battle looms: Will their actions lead to the shattering of the Alliance or the salvation of the world?

Dividers

Review: Partnership in Blood is an omnibus edition of four novels: Alliance in Blood, Covenant in Blood, Conflict in Blood and Reparation in Blood. In it, Ariel Tachna has created a massive world involving magic and the paranormal. The books are each rich in detail, and the world building is vastly impressive. There is also a fair bit of angst involved, and tolerance, acceptance, prejudices, sexual consent, and romance are themes throughout the series as well.

I enjoyed this take on the paranormal, and I like Tachna’s writing; however, there were so many characters introduced that I nearly got lost trying to keep all the relationships straight. Then I had a difficult time trying to remember the details of the war going on, too. I think if the author would have focused on one or two pairing per book, I wouldn’t have been so confused much of the time.

There are many pairings in this verse, not just the M/M, but also M/F and F/F couples. Each story adds more and more characters as the war progresses—this is one long story broken into very large and long chapters. If you enjoy detailed stories with a huge number of central characters, and you don’t mind f/f and m/f storylines and a good cry, you’ll find this series highly satisfying.

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Angel, Sean Michael

Review: Unto Us the Time Has Come by Sean Michael

Small Gems

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Title: Unto Us the Time Has Come (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015)

Author: Sean Michael

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 59 Pages

At a GlanceA wonderfully rounded, second chances story.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Last Christmas, Kenn Greyson gave husband Chris Martenson an ultimatum—spend more time with the family or we’re leaving. He never expected Chris’s reply would be “then leave,” but that’s exactly what happened, and Boxing Day took on a whole new meaning.

Separated for nearly a year now, both men are miserable apart and coping the best they can for the kids’ sake. With Christmas just around the corner, a new conflict arises: neither man is willing to forego Christmas morning with their children. Chris finally suggests they spend the holiday together at the house and, to his shock, Kenn agrees.

Armed with the knowledge that he’s been a stubborn idiot, but that perhaps he can change and begin to repair their relationship, Chris takes steps to win his husband back. He just hopes he can get Kenn on the same page before Santa comes down the chimney on Christmas Eve.

Dividers

Review:  I enjoy Sean Michael’s work, and this book was no exception. Michael didn’t skimp here on this story—despite the shortness, it packs a big punch. Both men are at fault as to the cause of their break-up, and both are doing what they can to remain friendly in spite of it, for their kids. It comes down to them both realizing that what they had could be saved if they would only communicate. Michael also shows the impact of adult decisions on children in a relationship, and once again, he doesn’t shy away from the hard emotions. I cried several times over the course of this short story, but I loved it all the more for the realness.

The ending was sweet and heartwarming. While the make-up was quickly resolved, it felt real to me and not tacked on to get a happy ending. Kenn and Chris had to work hard and learned their lessons, and I think both grew up a bit while they were apart. I would love to read about this couple again, in, say, a year later, just to see how they and the children are doing.

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5 Stars, Caitlin Ricci, Cari Z., Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Angel

Review: Worth the Wait by Caitlin Ricci and Cari Z

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Title: Worth the Wait (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015)

Author: Caitlin Ricci and Cari Z

PublisherDreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 32 Pages

At a GlanceWorth the Wait is a sweet coming together story for the holidays.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: When Tate promises his niece Addie he’ll get a book signed by her favorite author, he never expects to end up in a line four blocks long with sleet coming down around him. It’s three days until Christmas and he’s cold and miserable, but Addie will be devastated if he gives up.

A cute guy who offers him an umbrella is just the encouragement Tate needs to stick it out, especially when Brandon brings him something hot to drink. But the signing ends before Tate can get to the front of the line, and Tate is sure he’s ruined Christmas for his niece. Luckily Brandon gets him in to see the author, who happens to be his mother.

A simple thank you isn’t enough for Tate, and neither he nor Brandon wants to end things there. For two men unused to such an instant mutual attraction, the Christmas season just got a little more merry.

Dividers

Review:  I’ve read Cari Z before and loved the stories, but Caitlin Ricci was a new-to-me author. I’ll be looking into more of Ricci’s work now too, because I absolutely enjoyed this gentle coming together story.

I think I have said before that I love holiday stories, and Worth the Wait is no exception. I will be adding this one to my permanent re-read holiday list. The writing on this was seamless, and I couldn’t tell where the authors had switched off, if they had done so. Fantastic job on a short story and not one word wasted.

Tate seems like a loving and cool uncle to his niece, and I loved the way he and Brandon hit it off. Brandon reading to Addie melted my heart. I also really liked the fact that they had this attraction between them, but there was no insta-love or jumping right into bed. It wasn’t rushed, just some sweet kisses, coffee and dinner—two guys figuring out a way to be together for one another, and for the holidays, without the introduction of immediate sex. In fact, I’d let my teenage daughter read this one with no qualms whatsoever.

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Jess Roth, Reviewed by Angel

Review: Menorahs and Mistletoe by Jess Roth

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Title: Menorahs and Mistletoe (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015)

Author:  Jess Roth

PublisherDreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 61 Pages

At a GlanceAn excellent mix of romance, sweetness and a bit of sexiness for a wonderful holiday short story.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Hanukkah will be interesting. Single dad Martin’s daughter is determined to get him a new “friend.” But is he ready? If nothing else, Hanukkah this year will be interesting. Single dad Martin’s six-year-old daughter, Sara, is determined to get him a new “friend.” Martin isn’t even sure he wants to step back into the pool, much less go out with the mall elf they met while shopping for gifts. But he’s starting to get to know the cute receptionist at work, Tim, and thinking maybe the whole dating thing isn’t such a terrible idea. Too bad things are never that simple.

Dividers

Review:  Jess Roth is a new-to-me author, and I really enjoyed my first go round.

Martin was a bit absentminded and sweet, and little Sara was just darling. I adored Tim from the first meeting, and loved that Martin’s religious beliefs didn’t faze him one bit. Martin and Tim were sweetly awkward with one another. The mis-communication in the story between the two men had me frustrated, and I wanted to shake each of them so they would hurry to straighten themselves out. I was thrilled when they finally managed to work their issues out, and though the ending was wonderful, I wanted more from this author and tale.

I loved that this story didn’t revolve around the Christian celebration of the holiday, and while the celebration of Hanukkah explanations were short, I like the bit of culture we received in the story.

An excellent mix of romance, sweetness and a bit of sexiness for a wonderful holiday short story.

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5 Stars, Andrew Grey, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Angel

Review: Love Comes Unheard by Andrew Grey

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Title: Love Comes Unheard (Senses: Book Five)

Author: Andrew Grey

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a GlanceA sweet addition to a wonderfully rounded series.

Review By: Angel

Blurb: Garrett Bowman is shocked that fate has brought him to a family who can sign. He’s spent much of his life on the outside looking in, even within his biological family, and to be accepted and employed is more than he could have hoped for. With Connor, who’s included him in his family, Garrett has found a true friend, but with the distant Brit Wilson Haskins, Garrett may have found something more. In no time, Garrett gets under Wilson’s skin and finds his way into Wilson’s heart, and over shared turbulent family histories, Wilson and Garrett form a strong bond.

Wilson’s especially impressed with the way Garrett’s so helpful to Janey, Connor and Dan’s daughter, who is also deaf. When Wilson’s past shows up in the form of his brother Reggie, bringing unscrupulous people to whom Reggie owes money, life begins to unravel. These thugs don’t care how they get their money, what they have to do, or who they might hurt. Without the strength of love and the bonds of family and friends, Garrett and Wilson could pay the ultimate price.

Dividers

Review: Any Andrew Grey book is an instant read for me now, as I just love my feel good happy endings with a bit of reality. Love Comes Unheard is the fifth book in the Senses series. The Senses series involves many couples, several characters with disabilities, and how they go about their individual lives. The characters from previous books in the series make an appearance in the follow-ups, so I don’t think this can be read as a standalone. I really recommend that you start from the beginning with Love Comes Silently.

I really enjoyed seeing disabled characters as the stars, so to speak, in this series. Most times the MCs are often hale, whole and practically perfect, so it was a good change of pace. Each disability is treated with respect and understanding, and really made this series for me. Grey doesn’t disappoint with his happy endings either, in spite of the subject matter.

For this particular book, the disability is deafness, and while this has been touched on in a previous book, I liked that Grey went more in depth with these particular characters. Wilson and Garrett were fun to watch as they built their relationship. In addition to the disability aspect of the story, there was also an age disparity issue and one of homophobia, all of which was handled just as delicately as the disability.

I also loved seeing Connor, Dan, and their family again, and how this couple’s relationship had progressed. Garrett meshed so well with the family that it was hard to believe he hadn’t been there from the beginning. Getting Wilson’s background story was just fantastic for me, as I adored his character when he was introduced in the last book. Love Comes Unheard is a sweet and wonderful addition to this already delightful series of hope and love.

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

Review: Whiskers of a Chance by Tempeste O’Riley

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Title: Whiskers of a Chance

Author: Tempeste O’Riley

PublisherDreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 204 Pages

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

Reviewed By: Angel

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

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

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

Dividers

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

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

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

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3 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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4 Stars, Bailey Bradford, Paranormal Romance, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Angel

Release Day Review: Sunshine Is Overrated by Bailey Bradford

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Title: Sunshine is Overrated (The Vamp for Me Series #3)

Author: Bailey Bradford

PublisherPride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 112 Pages

At a GlanceAn excellent addition to a fun and sweet series.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Life with vamps is never easy.

Abernathy Meyers is already mated to a vamp, Zebulon. It’s just too bad that Zebulon doesn’t give a darn about him. Abbie’s stuck with the man for eternity—or until they die. Some days, Abbie thinks that can’t happen soon enough. He’s tired of being treated badly, yet he doesn’t really want to make his earthly exit yet.

Because he’s longed for another man—another vampire—for years. Forbidden love—is anything more compelling, or more heart-breaking?

There’s a twisted past, a hidden story linking Abbie, Zebulon and the coven leader, Claude.

Claude lives with a fear of turning to dust at any moment. It isn’t reasonable, but he can’t shake it. He’s let his own fears impede his potential happiness, and instead he puts the needs of his coven first, ignoring his own. But if he’s deliberately blind to one particular human’s needs because that human is a mate to another vampire, then is Claude truly leading to the best of his ability?

It’s a tough question for him to answer and soon, he’ll have to make a choice that will affect him and Abbie, forever.

Dividers

Review:  Bailey Bradford is a comfort author for me. I love reading her always happy, everyone is gay, and sometimes silly stories. The Vamp for Me series is classic Bradford, and I have loved seeing it evolve. I feel a bit guilty jumping on one particular author’s books when they come up for review on the site, and I try to give others a chance to try them first, but it’s like a guilty pleasure compulsion I can’t resist.

Sunshine Is Overrated is Abernathy Meyer’s and Claude’s story, and the blurb tells you everything you need to know without spoiling it for the reader. I was thoroughly intrigued by Abernathy from the beginning book, My Life Without Garlic, when he warned the protagonist about being mated to a vampire. I read and enjoyed the sequel, despite there being very little to do with Abernathy. Still, I waited, albeit a bit impatiently, for Abernathy’s tale, and finally it arrived. Can I just say I love being able to review books like this before they are out to the public and opinions and spoilers hit the internet?

Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed. I loved Abernathy and Claude’s story when I finally was able to get my greedy little hands on it. Oh, the pining and the drama! I live for Bradford’s version of it because it’s fun, and sometimes you just need that in a story. Not real fond of the nicknames used, but meh, it’s a minor thing for me, and it adds realism, I think, because almost everyone has a nickname they use with a loved one, whether they want to admit to it or not. And, Bradford’s vampires are real, to an extent, in this verse—not undead nightmare savages, but also they aren’t overly brooding, sparkling antiheroes either. Just regular ‘people’ who happen to need to drink blood to survive.

The backstory of these two men is riddled with longing, desire and miscommunication, and like typical men, these vampires know how to mess up a relationship good. Bradford is known for her happy endings, and I love how she winds up a tale. In Sunshine Is Overrated, she takes the typical tropes of men in romance and adds her own supernatural flair to them. I have mentioned before that Bradford twists the normal genre staples for her verses, and I really enjoyed that. She also has real consequences for her characters that normally aren’t hand-waved or brushed off to get their happily-ever-after, and I adore her all the more for this particular brand of writing.

Sunshine Is Overrated also expands the world Bradford has created by introducing other supernatural creatures to this verse. Vampires and their mates are a given in Bradford’s world, but demons, and zombies are added in this tale, both with Bradford’s individual spin on each. This book is a complete tale, with an explosive conclusion, and I highly recommend you read the other two books before starting this one just to get the full-on experience of the series. Bradford also leaves an opening for herself to continue this series, and I hope there will be more to come.

Thank you for sharing another sweet and fun tale!

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5 Stars, Amber Kell, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Angel, Steampunk

Review: Keys by Amber Kell

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Title: Keys (City of Keys: Book One)

Author: Amber Kell

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: Keys is an excellent steampunk/dystopian story, in the grand tradition of the Steampunk genre, but it is a world all of its own.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: My name is Octavius Septimus Stalk, but my friends call me Oss. I live in the City of Keys, a town of gears, keys, locks, and wonder. Our forefathers banished magic long ago, bolted the doors and locked everything up tight to keep people out and the town’s secrets in. Four Lock Lords control what information is left, and everyone else is left struggling to survive.

Despite what Thorne, my naïve lover, thinks, I was an orphan, but not a victim. When I walked the streets at the age of twelve, I learned fast where to steal the best food, how to use my daggers, and where to hide my would-be attackers’ bodies. No one suspected me of such violence. No one knew then or now that I have magic inside me.

Now, power hungry men intend to release the magic for their own benefit—at the expense of the rest of the city. We will stop them, even if Thorne must battle his own kin, even if I must reveal my hidden talents and the role I seem destined to play.

Dividers

Review: Keys is an excellent steampunk/dystopian story, in the grand tradition of the Steampunk genre, but it is a world all of its own. It isn’t classic or traditional Victorian era, more retro-futuristic, I suppose. Regardless of how it is classified, I couldn’t put it down.

Keys has several of the beloved tropes: steam-powered technology, magical/supernatural elements, and class systems, but it isn’t an alternate time-line to our reality like many of the genre. I loved Keys for its differences as well as its similarities to this genre.

Kell has created a fascinating world that is similar to our own with just a touch more. It grabs you with its metal arms, embracing you and taking you deep into the City of Keys where you get lost to the magic of this author’s brilliant creation. I am still suffering a bit of a book hangover because I didn’t want it to end. Never fear, though, as this is a complete story with promises for more adventures coming later. Thanks for that, Madame Author!

I loved the characters, all of them; human, magical and clockwork. They are full of life and passion, and that includes the bad guys as well. The city itself is a major character too, and I wanted to know more about the legends and prophesy that drove the story. Oss is a fantastic narrator and I loved him immediately. While I was a bit mistrustful of Thorne, he slowly won me over by the end of the book. Marbrey, the Duke Lear, and Affie round out a stunning cast. Amalia, too. She better make a reappearance, just saying.

I sped through the book because it was entirely engaging and a wonder to read. Longer than many of Kell’s previous stories, every word is economically used and valued. And with the promise of more to come, I eagerly await whatever treasures this author has coming from this verse.

Thank you for an awesome read, Amber Kell.

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5 Stars, Genre Romance, Love Lane Books, Reviewed by Angel, RJ Scott

Review: Texas Wedding by RJ Scott

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Title: Texas Wedding (Texas: Book Seven)

Author: RJ Scott

Publisher: Love Lane Books

Pages/Word Count: 216 Pages

At a Glance: A fantastic and emotional conclusion to Jack and Riley’s story.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Faced with the life changing prospect of a yes vote from SCOTUS on the issue of same sex marriage, Riley and Jack realise they have decisions to make. Add in some distressing family news and the very real possibility that old secrets may resurface, and this last book in the Texas series pulls together as many threads as the boys can manage to handle.

But through all the ups and the downs, children, family events, laughter, and tears, there is nothing as special as the forever love between these two men.

Dividers

Review:  When you want to learn to read, you start with the ABCs. When you want to learn to sing, you start off with Do, Re, and Mi. When you want to enjoy a fantastically well written, fully fleshed out story, then you read RJ Scott’s Texas Series.

I mainlined this series just to read this final book. It took me two days to read through all seven books, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of each and every story. Thank you, RJ Scott, for this series. I loved every word of it. I will miss Jack and Riley and all of their ever-growing family. Even with the teaser of another series set in this verse, Texas Wedding is the ending of Jack and Riley’s story, but that seems a short and sad way to say it. This book was so much more.

Jack and Riley’s story is a love affair that spans five years, and it has enough drama, romance, sex, love, realism and a happy ending in each book to appeal to everyone. I think that you can’t speak about one book without talking about them all, because they are that connected, but each is a standalone greatly enriched by each sequel.

The SCOTUS decision, which spurred this book’s creation, was just as emotional to read here as it was to see it in the newspaper headlines. I love that Scott had the characters react differently to the decision because, once again, realism in fiction is a wonderful thing.

Seven books and not once did I get tired or bored with Jack and Riley. I literally fell in love with just about everyone involved. I hated the bad guys with as much passion as I had love for the good guys. Each experience these two MCs had happen to them felt real to me, and the characters dealt with it realistically. The secondary and side characters were just as formed and detailed as the MCs.

This trend lasted throughout the series, and it was excellent to have the characters respond like real people. Because, in a way, Jack and Riley are real. They are every couple that deals with their jobs not being conducive with being a couple, but they make it work. They are parents that get frustrated with their children, but they do their damnedest to make certain those same children have everything they need. They have tragic things happen to them, in spite of having money, and they still work through their problems one day at a time.

Jack and Riley love just like everyone else, no matter their gender or orientation. Which I think is how it should be. Their relationship didn’t need the justification of the SCOTUS decision, but it was enhanced because of it.

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You can buy Texas Wedding here:

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5 Stars, Hank Edwards, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Angel, Wilde City Press

Review: Terror by Moonlight by Hank Edwards

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Title: Terror by Moonlight (Critter Catchers: Book One)

Author: Hank Edwards

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count: 150 Pages

At a Glance: A fun and funny romp with two best friends and the paranormal showing up in a small town.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Cody Bower and Demetrius Singleton have been friends for over twenty years even though they are polar opposites. Cody is tall, handsome, athletic, and straight, and Demetrius is average height, more of a thinker, and gay. They have started an animal control business together and have to figure out how to be business partners without letting it affect their friendship, but that’s the least of their problems. When one of their first clients ends up brutally murdered in what appears to be an animal attack, the two realize something big and dangerous is stalking their tiny town of Parson’s Hollow, and it’s up to them to catch it before it kills again.

Dividers

Review: Hank Edwards is a new to me author, and I loved my first go round with him. I opened up Terror by Moonlight and then couldn’t put it down, reading the entire novel in one sitting. The fast paced story revolves around two men, who are best friends, and the new business they have just started.

Cody Bowers is fun loving and out of control, and Demetrius is his gay best friend. I loved the snark between the two, and the UST (unresolved sexual tension) is so thick it permeated the pages. These two attract more trouble just trying to do their job than seems humanly possible. I loved how the supernatural was just accepted as if it was an everyday occurrence—very little disbelief among the characters, and it was great. I’ve never watched Supernatural, but I want to now because of the references made in the book.

Terror by Moonlight was fast and funny, incorporating puns and digs at popular culture and the beloved tropes of the paranormal genre. It went by so fast that I missed the characters when it ended, and wanted more.

Thank you, Hank Edwards, for a fantastically fun read! I look forward to reading more of your stories.

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You can buy Terror by Midnight here:

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5 Stars, Dirk Greyson, Dreamspinner Press, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Angel

Review: Challenge the Darkness by Dirk Greyson

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Title: Challenge the Darkness

Author: Dirk Greyson

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 234 Pages

At a Glance: An excellent twist on the shifter genre!

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: When alpha shifter Mikael Volokov is called to witness a challenge, he learns the evil and power-hungry Anton Gregor will stop at nothing to attain victory. Knowing he will need alliances to keep his pack together, Mikael requests a congress with the nearby Evergreen pack and meets Denton Arguson, Evergreen alpha, to ask for his help. Fate has a strange twist for both of them, though, and Mikael and Denton soon realize they’re destined mates.

Denton resists the pull between them—he has his own pack and his own responsibilities. But Mikael isn’t willing to give up. The Mother has promised Mikael his mate, told him he must fight for him, and that only together can they defeat the coming darkness. When Anton casts his sights on Denton’s pack, attacks and sabotage follow, pulling Denton and Mikael together to defeat a common enemy. But Anton’s threats sow seeds of destruction enough to break any bond, and the mates’ determination to challenge the darkness may be their only saving grace.

Dividers

Review: Dirk Greyson writes a hell of a story, no matter what name or genre he chooses. I enjoy the sweetness from an Andrew Grey story, as well as the grittiness of Dirk Greyson one, and this book has both. Once I began this novel, I couldn’t put it down and stayed up long past my bedtime to finish it.

Greyson has taken the tried and true tropes of the werewolf shifter genre and turned them on their ear. And it was fantastic! I loved seeing the clichés switched about and worked from a new angle, while still remaining recognizable. Greyson also added a rich backstory and history to his wolves, and this was just as interesting to me as the romance was.

I have read alpha/alpha pairings before, but none quite like this. Greyson’s alphas work hard for their romance and while not quite insta-love, it is insta-lust. And instant respect. I liked that Mikael and Denton have a chance to work things out between them on an equal standing. Mikael respected Denton as an alpha, without turning into a jerk about it, in spite of him being the super alpha type. Denton and Mikael learn to compromise for the good of their packs without either one overbearingly alpha or losing that alpha male quality.

Anton was an excellent villain, and I would love to have more on how he became the way he was. The side characters introduced were also just as mesmerizing as the MCs. Karl and Kiawa, Mikael and Denton’s betas, respectively, were interesting and supporting. Catherine, Mikeal’s sister and the pack enforcer, was portrayed as a strong, dominate women without turning her into the token bitch female in the story.

Challenge the Darkness is a complete story on its own, and I would love to have more. I also hope Greyson returns to this magical verse! Thank you for another fantastic tale!

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5 Stars, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, L.M. Brown, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Angel, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Tempestuous Tides by L.M. Brown

Title: Tempestuous Tides (Mermen and Magic: Book Two)

Author: L.M. Brown

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 270 Pages

At a Glance: An engaging sequel that furthers and enhances the amazing world L.M. Brown has created.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Bound by a curse, two mermen find the greatest love of their lives, but can they keep it?

Justin is a merman who has been raised on land. He hates his fins and wants nothing to do with his heritage.

Lucas is an ambitious merman who has lived his whole life in Atlantis. He has spent his adulthood hiding his sexuality because homosexual relationships are forbidden in the underwater city. Now he has been sent on a mission by King Nereus to locate his oldest son and bring him back to Atlantis to take his place as the heir to the throne.

Although his mission seems impossible, Lucas finds help from the Atlantean Goddess of Love, little knowing that she has her own reasons for bringing Lucas and Justin together.

Justin is no stranger to immortals, having been raised by two of them, but he has no idea of the consequences of angering the Goddess of Love. When he insults her, she curses him to find love only to lose it forever shortly after. As the love ‘em and leave ‘em type, Justin isn’t overly concerned, at least until Lucas enters his life and he sees how the curse will end.

Together they could have the greatest love of their lives, but only if they can appease the furious goddess before their time runs out.

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Review: I have read L.M. Brown before, and I really enjoyed the worlds created and the author’s writing style. Tempestuous Tides is another book that follows the same pattern.

Tempestuous Tides isn’t a standalone story, as this book picks up soon after the first one, Forbidden Waters. I loved this sequel that furthered the original story and introduced wonderful and new characters. Once I began, I was immediately sucked back into this underwater world of gods and mortals, and read it straight on through. Hopefully, this review will entice you to try this series without overly spoiling the fantastically created and wonderful details of the series.

Tempestuous Tides returns to the world of Atlantis and its mer citizens. There are ancient gods and goddesses at work here in Brown’s world, reminiscent of the legends of the Greek gods and the Fae. The rules of the Atlantean world and modern society mix with the tropes of the shifter genre with an interesting outcome. I really loved how Brown weaves the legends of our world into the society that she has created.

The story is rich with details about both mortal and mer society, and I couldn’t wait to read about the citizens of this verse again. I was thrilled that Brown had several return characters play a part in this new story. It was wonderful to see how they had progressed, but the story is completely about Lucas and Justin.

While book one set the stage and background of the mer society, book two is more about how the mer people continue on when they are slowly dying out. Mortals are encroaching on the oceans, even though Atlantis is hidden, and there are the other inherent dangers of the oceans. Ancient rules and laws are stifling the society, and there is dissension in the ranks of the people because nothing is changing.

The King sees this and begins to make changes, but he needs his heir to continue on. An heir that possibly doesn’t even know he is royal. Lucas is appointed to find the King’s heir with only select knowledge about where he is going to attempt his mission.

Justin knows he’s mer, and wants nothing to do with the society he believes abandoned him and his mother. Enter Lucas, and all sorts of sparks fly, changing both men to a surprising degree.

Lucas and Justin’s story is similar to the old tales where the Fae or Greek gods interfered in mortal lives for entertainment. Ultimately, this book and verse is about acceptance, tolerance and compromise. There’s give and take in both worlds, and the old gods are waking, and no one is pleased about it; mortals or immortals.

The happy ending is hard fought for and won, and I loved how things worked out for Justin and Lucas. There is still the undercurrent of the society falling apart, but things are changing. Whether it is for the good or bad remains to be seen. I hope that Brown continues this verse, as I am eagerly looking forward to finding out how the mortals and immortals work things out.

Thank you, L. M. Brown, for another fantastic read!

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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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4.5 Stars, Bailey Bradford, Paranormal Romance, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Angel

Release Day Review: Don’t Stake My Life on It by Bailey Bradford

Title: Don’t Stake My Life on It (Vamp for Me: Book Two)

Author: Bailey Bradford

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 113 Pages

At a Glance: A sweet and funny follow-up to My Life Without Garlic.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Stakes, kilts and holy water—Andrew Meyer is in for the time of his life!

Radney’s tired of being the coven oddball. He had his reasons for being the way he was, and he let those reasons rule his life for centuries. Another mistake—almost harming a human he’d been sent to keep an eye on—has sent Radney on a mission of self-improvement. He’s going to conquer his issues and be the best damned vamp ever!

Maybe.

Andrew Meyers has the term paper from hell to write. It needs to be original and intriguing. What could be more so than people with a vampire fetish?

But when that fetish turns out to be one he has, for a very sexy, kilt-wearing, neurotic vampire, the tables are turned. Andrew isn’t prepared to find out that vampires are real, but he learns it anyway. With help from his twin brother, Erin, he just might be able to find a happy ending—or an ecstatic beginning—for him and his hot as hell red-headed vamp. If he’s careful, and patient, he might even find the vamp for him.

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Review: This sequel, which takes place at the same time as Bradford’s novel My Life Without Garlic, is a sweet and funny addition to the Vamp for Me series. I enjoyed this tale, but was slightly disappointed that Bradford chose Radney to continue the series instead of one of the other vampires who had been more involved in the last book.

Stake begins with Claude, the coven leader, confronting Radney about his actions in the previous book, and reprimanding him. It is said that Radney is a bigot and not quite the brightest bulb in the bunch, and I think that rather does the vampire, who is supposed to be centuries old, an injustice. He is a bit immature and uncouth, but I wouldn’t say he is stupid. Radney changes greatly over the course of the book, especially after he meets Andrew, and it’s all for the better.

Andrew is a studious young man who, along with his hyper-sexual twin, Erin, manages to discover the common theme of this series: a vampire dating website and that vampires are real. Add in vampire hunters, some school boy humor and a bit of danger, and you have one entertaining and fun story.

I remember Radney from the first book, and while his story is cute and fun, his backstory isn’t. The book has touched on some issues about abuse and learning to let go, which are dealt with delicately in spite of the humor throughout this novel. Bradford also continues the quirkiness of twisting the vampire mythos with reality to an interesting degree, and I really like her take on the genre.

I am looking forward to more of her verse, hopefully with many more tales, especially Claude and Abernathy’s story. Thank you, Ms. Bradford, for an enjoyable read!

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You can buy Don’t Stake My Life on It here:

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4 Stars, Amber Allure, Genre Romance, Megan Slayer, Reviewed by Angel

Review: Ripples in Cedarwood by Megan Slayer

Title: Ripples in Cedarwood (Single Father Society: Book Two)

Author: Megan Slayer

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count:

At a Glance: A return story to Cedarwood that is entirely enjoyable.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Steve Moore wasn’t planning on being a dad. He envisioned a life of teaching and professional swimming. Fast forward a year and he’s the guardian of his ten-year-old sister. He wants love and passion, but who wants to date a guy with a family?

Farin Baker believed love wasn’t in his cards—until he takes his nephew to swimming lessons. One glance at the water-slicked hunk teaching the class has him thinking about jumping into the dating pool again. He’s ready for a fresh start with a hot guy for his bed.

Will they find heat between the sheets or will the guardianship situations cool their ardor?

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Review: An enjoyable go-round with Megan Slayer and the gay dads of Cedarwood! I really enjoyed my return to both Cedarwood and Slayer’s work. There is still a bit of telling going on in the series, but the story doesn’t disappoint. I don’t think this is a standalone, though, because characters from the previous book factor in heavily in this installment.

I loved seeing the return of Farin and getting his story. Though I was a bit disappointed by not seeing a character introduced in the last book, Steve and his sister Imogene, were a welcome addition to Cedarwood. Once again, Slayer introduces real world problems for her characters, and deals delicately with these same issues. I love the realism in the books. All the problems the characters face are ones that have been in the headlines, and it is easy to see that the fanaticism is there, but it isn’t overdone.

Steve steps up and takes on his young sister after a tragedy and shows a maturity that rings true with the character writing. Megan Slayer’s characters react like real people and respond with real emotions. The insta-love is heavy handed, but it fits with this author’s writing style that I am coming to enjoy.

Looking forward to the next installment of Cedarwood!

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4 Stars, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Megan Slayer, Reviewed by Angel

Review: Home to Cedarwood by Megan Slayer

Title: Home to Cedarwood (Single Father Society: Book One)

Author: Megan Slayer

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 80 Pages

At a Glance: A sweet and interesting look at life and love in a small town.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Colin Baker owns a book store and he’s back in Cedarwood with his son. He’s looking for a new start after a bad breakup, but he never expected that start to include his old crush, Officer Jordan Hargrove. Jordan hasn’t come out, but if he can score with Colin, then he’s all in. He’s dreamed of hot nights with the quiet man.

After a speeding ticket and some hurt feelings, sparks fly between the bookstore owner and the police officer, but Cedarwood is a small town with small town values, and a gay couple isn’t what the town expects. Colin’s created a support group for single gay fathers and he feels he’s making some difference in Cedarwood. Some folks in Cedarwood are fine with these two men reconnecting, but some aren’t.

Will the naysayers be enough to drive Colin and Jordan apart, or will they make their way together in this small town.

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Review: Megan Slayer is a new to me author, and I enjoyed my first go round with her. I love stories with kids in them, especially if they have some impact on the relationship and aren’t just cardboard characters. Slayer doesn’t disappoint in her characters or her capture of small town life, even if there was much more telling of the story than showing.

While I had other issues with the book, Slayer’s characters felt real and reacted humanly, if that makes any sort of sense. And it was this aspect that had me from the get-go. I was fully engrossed, within minutes of opening the book, in Colin and Gage’s life. There are real issues addressed in this story: homophobia, acceptance, relationships and sexuality, and they are well handled and developed.

There were a few gaps in the storytelling, but it all fell into place and was resolved somewhat realistically with a happy ending for all. I loved the support Jordan and Colin received from both their families and the outside community, barring a few homophobic townsfolk. The insta-love happens so quickly between Jordan and Colin, but care is taken when introducing the relationship to Gage. I really enjoyed this aspect as well as some of the other characters introduced in the book. I am looking forward to more from Megan Slayer and Cedarwood’s townsfolk.

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5 Stars, Cari Z., Reviewed by Angel, Riptide Publishing, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Where There’s Fire by Cari Z.

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Title: Where There’s Fire (Panopolis: Book Two)

Author: Cari Z.

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 119 pages

At a Glance: Cari Z delivers another excellent, action packed adventure from Panopolis!

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Making a name for myself as a Villain in Panopolis is hard work. Six months ago, my boyfriend broke me out of jail. Now he’s spending most of his time defending our turf against other Villains he accidentally freed along with me. And my new psychic powers are not only impossible to control, but they’re also giving me migraines.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. My skills are improving every day, and Raul—aka the Mad Bombardier—and I have never been happier. That is, until my first solo job is interrupted by a mysterious woman who tells me that Raul has been kidnapped by a ruthless new Villain. The only way to free him is to do a job for Maggot, a man with scary ideas and an even scarier superpower.
I can’t go to the cops or a Hero for help. Odds are they wouldn’t listen to me anyway. If I fail, Raul will be killed. If I succeed, we’ll both be bound to a man who’ll stop at nothing to put Panopolis on the path to civil war.
It looks like the only way to win is to take out the competition.

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Review: Cari Z. delivers another excellent, action packed adventure from Panopolis! I will never look at Heroes and Villains the same way again, and neither will you. This is a most excellent thing, indeed.

When I saw this title go up as one of our choices, I jumped on it. I could not get enough of the first book in the series, and though it was only a little over a month ago that I read Where There’s Smoke, it felt like forever. It was so well done, I hadn’t forgotten a thing about the plot, and Fire picks up shortly after where Smoke ended. It is still the gritty, realistic fantasy that packs a well-placed punch to the gut when all is revealed in this installment.

Cari Z., Panopolis, Raul, and Edward do not disappoint. Like the first story, I couldn’t put this one down when I began reading, and I was ecstatic with the outcome even as I was saddened by it ending. I can’t wait for more of this verse by the author.

The storyline moves the characters along at a fast pace, but you are right there with them as the action happens. I found myself cheering Edward on as he struggled to find his place and rescue Raul. I hissed at the big, bad Villain each time he appeared, and fell for the newest characters introduced in this book.

Don’t get me wrong; I am still totally in love with Raul and Edward and their story, but I think I just might change my stance on Freight Train. I really didn’t like him in the first novel, but Cari Z. made me care just a bit about this Hero, even though I am a strict Villain-type woman. I want his story!

So much happens in such a short time, and I won’t spoil you here, but not one word was wasted. The economy made me savor the story, even though it seemed to just speed on by, and I craved more when it ended. I love that the author has turned this genre on its nose, and gives nothing but the best in continuity, character development and story in this book. If you haven’t read the first one, I highly recommend you do because while you are given the backstory in Fire, the experience is richer for having read Smoke first.

I am so on my toes to find out just what is happening in Panopolis, wondering who exactly SuperTruther is, waiting for Freight Train’s tale, and how Edward and Raul are going to survive this next stage of their lives that it just leaves me breathless with anticipation.

All I can say is read it and enjoy! Thank you, again, Cari Z., for such a fantastic and engaging tale in your excellently crafted world!

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4.5 Stars, Ariel Tachna, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Angel

Review: Cherish the Land by Ariel Tachna

Title: Cherish the Land (Lang Downs #5)

Author:  Ariel Tachna

Publisher: 220 Pages

Pages/Word Count:  Dreamspinner Press

At a Glance:  A fantastic ending to a wonderfully written and heartfelt series.

Blurb: Seth Simms never wanted to be a cowboy, although to listen to his best friend, Jason Thompson, tell it, he isn’t one. He just happens to have lucked out in coming to live on Lang Downs with his brother ten years ago. He found enough stability to finish high school and go off to university, but he never really believed Lang Downs would be the same haven for him that it had become for so many others. He’s too messed up in the head. No one would accept someone with his issues.
All his life, Jason has had one goal: to come home to Lang Downs as resident veterinarian when they need his skills and jackaroo when they don’t. And it means he gets to spend time with Seth during his occasional visits, even though his dream of going from friends to lovers is hopeless since Seth is straight.
When Seth unexpectedly comes home to stay, Jason takes it as the boon it is. But juggling a relationship with another jackaroo and his friendship with Seth isn’t easy, and that’s before Jason realizes how deep Seth’s issues run and how dangerously Seth chooses to cope with them.

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Review:  Can I just say that I love Ariel Tachna’s writing? Because I most certainly do. I know when I see her name that I am in for a wonderful read.  Almost everything I’ve read by this author has been extremely well written and wonderfully engaging on all levels.

Cherish the Land is just that, too. I didn’t realize when I chose this book that it was the ending of the series, but I soon figured it out after reading the first few pages of the book. As such, I had to start back at the beginning. Although Tachna weaves the backstories of the rest of the books in with a deft hand, I don’t think this book could be read as a standalone.

Just a little background, which, I hope won’t spoil the series too badly. Lang Downs is a sheep station in the Southern Tablelands, New South Wales, Australia. Many people have come to work at Land Downs to find out that Lang Downs is a home that welcomes the right type of people. In this series, it is home to several men who just happen to have a troubled past, and are gay. But, there aren’t only gay couples on Lang Downs, and it is this mixture that adds richness and realism to not only this final chapter but the entire series overall.

Jason grows up on Lang Downs and is in love with his best friend, Seth. He leaves to go to school to become a vet. It is his desire to return to home to Lang Downs and be as happy as possible with or without Seth.

All Seth wants to do is escape—his past, his issues, and the feelings he’s harboring for his best friend. He’s good with machines and leaves Lang Downs after only living there for three years. He goes to Sydney to become an engineer, only to discover he really wants to be back on Lang Downs with Jason. Both boys, individually, decide to return to the sheep station, and their pining begins. With the help of a jilted lover, Jason and Seth come to realize their feelings for one another.

I really liked Jason when he was introduced in the first book of the series, and when Seth was introduced in book two, the boys became fast friends. I could see a love match in the making and was eagerly awaiting their story.  Though I really enjoyed how they came together, I felt a bit cheated that the story didn’t focus entirely on Jason and Seth. That isn’t to say I didn’t like the book, just that I felt there wasn’t enough about the two of them as adults in this book.

The other thing I liked about the book was how the issues and pasts of the characters fit with their age group. Seth and Jason are the youngest couple on Lang Downs, and the issues they face are normal for young gay couples, especially in a remote area where being gay isn’t always accepted. Once they are out, everything seems to happen very quickly with them. The fast, and permanent, relationship they make have Seth freaking out a bit, and he runs from both Jason and Lang Downs. Jason has no clue why this happens until we learn that despite Seth finding a home on Lang Downs, he still has issues he isn’t ready to face.

The issue kinda comes out of nowhere, but it is deftly explained by Tachna, and I could see how Seth’s characterization fit the issue. Trigger warning and a spoiler: the books all deal with some sort of real life issues, including but not limited to, homophobia, a bashing incident, PTSD, and rape, and this book’s specific issue is the subject of cutting. So, yes, hefty stuff, but all the issues are researched beautifully and wonderfully written so the reader gets both sides of the story with minimal confusion. I ran the gamut of emotions with this series, and this book especially, but I loved it all.

I adored how Jason stands by Seth even when he doesn’t fully understand why Seth does what he does. Seth eventually realizes that facing his problems, with the help of Jason and the family he’s made on Lang Downs, he can have his happily ever after with Jason. The story concludes with a roundup of all the couples on Lang Downs, bringing a happy ending to the series of this ragtag family.

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5 Stars, Genre Romance, Love Lane Books, Reviewed by Angel, RJ Scott

Review: Retrograde by RJ Scott

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 Title: Retrograde (Flight HA1710: Book One)

Author:  RJ Scott

Publisher: Love Lane Books

Pages/Word Count:  91 Pages

At a Glance:  Excellent beginning to a realistic and heartfelt multi-author series!

Blurb: Co-Pilot Lachlan Donaghue wakes up in hospital, a survivor of the crash of Flight HA1710, with memory loss and the suspicion that he could be at fault for the tragic accident. When everything becomes too much he is taken home to hide, back to the small Irish town he grew up in and to the home he once shared with Rory.

Rory Kendrick watches the news, sees every hour of the disaster unfold and somehow just knows that Lachlan was in the middle of it all. What he doesn’t know is that Lachlan will be forced to come back home to hide and to heal. Lachlan needs a friend, not a lover, but sometimes the lines are just too blurred to make any sense.

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Review:  RJ Scotts Retrograde is a standalone story that finishes the tale set out to be told, even though there are five more books in the series. The following stories, I hope, will only enhance the world as the additional authors continue the plotline, because RJ Scott did a bang-up job with the opening. And I am completely grateful and ever so thankful to Scott for making this a complete story within the series. Also, more kudos for not leaving the reader hanging on a half completed serial with a terrible cliffhanger and a request to buy the next story to finish the tale.

This is the best story I think I have read by RJ Scott so far. I really enjoyed the premise behind this story, and the fact that it has a realistic but tragic plotline really makes for a tough and very interesting read. This topic—a commercial airline crash—has been in the news several times as of late, and the story itself is a doozy. The reality of the crash, with most of the passengers surviving, was amazingly portrayed, because we so often hear all lives lost. I think Scott did a wonderful job in keeping the horror of the tragedy realistic, and showing the aftermath of the survivors. With a secondary plot of dwelling on the past and second chances, the story is well rounded and meaningful.

I love second chance stories, and that is exactly what this story is: a second chance at life and love. Lachlan’s pain and guilt over both the accident and his ending of the relationship with Rory felt real. Rory was steadfast, and though hurt by Lachlan’s actions, he stood by him in his time of need. The relationship between the two men was slow in relation to the action, but it felt good and right, considering their past.

Thanks to RJ Scott for a wonderful read, and I am looking forward to the rest of the series.

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4.5 Stars, Anthology, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Angel, Wilde City Press

Review: Butt Riders on the Range – An Anthology From Wilde City Press

Title: Butt Riders on the Range

Authors: Kage Alan, JP Barnaby, Ally Blue, TC Blue, Shae Conner, Jevocas Green, Kieran Kelly, and Eden Winters

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count: 448 Pages

At a Glance: An enjoyable and eclectic mix of cowboy stories from the mundane to the fantastic.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Do you imagine blazing gun battles, bandits, and saloons with watered-down drinks when you think of cowboys and the West? We don’t. Our minds go right to horse shifters, bull shifters, were-leopards, urban wannabes, an interrupted journey along Route 66, a man of mystery named Dr. Feel-Good, and high noon at the edge of the galaxy! The fourth time’s the charm as the Butt-Thology authors saddle up, ride their men hard, and put ‘em away wet.

Butt Riders on the Range…the bulls aren’t the only ones being grabbed by the horns!

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Review: Wait! Don’t let the title drive you away! LOL! I can imagine your first thought seeing it, because I am certain it was similar to my own. However, after a bit of searching I found out this anthology is one in a series of unconnected stories—except for the authors. These fabulous people gathered at a convention and came up with the idea of an anthology. They have since added to their numbers, as this is the fourth one in a not quite series for different takes on a genre. Did they ever deliver, especially with this anthology! I, for one, hope these talented authors continue their good work of providing us with awesome stories.

Short stories aren’t for everyone, but I can say this about them, they introduce you to new authors and give old favorites a chance to entice you again. That’s exactly what I have found here in this anthology. Here’s a short summary and review of each of the stories.

Hung Like A Horse by JP Barnaby: JP Barnaby is a new author for me, and I enjoyed my introduction to her work. My summary won’t do this short shifter story justice, but here goes. Riley Harper is a young man with a problem. He’s on the run and has decided to hide on a ranch where he’ll never be found. Not as a hand, though, as a horse. John North is a horse shifter who owns a ranch which houses abused horses. He knows his newest acquisition isn’t all he seems, so he is just biding his time until the day comes when he can confront the shifter hiding on his ranch.

Shifters aren’t out. In fact, if the government does find one, they are taken and imprisoned to be experimented on. It is one of these facilities that Riley has escaped from, and he isn’t willing to go back. He trusts no one, and after running himself to the limit, he’s forced back into his human form. North knows, and has known, that Riley was a shifter as he himself is a shifter. It’s been a long time since North has been around another shifter, and what he feels for the skittish young man isn’t something he’s felt in a long time, but it is going to take a gentle hand to settle Riley and rebuild his trust.

Barnaby has taken the tropes of shifters and turned it on its side. I loved the different take on this troupe and how distrustful Riley was. That John stood up for the young man and showed him there were still good people out there, people who would protect him regardless of his status, makes this story all the more intriguing. There is a background story on both North and Harper that the author barely touches on, and it caught my attention more so than the sexy scenes. I would love for the author to expand on this -verse if she ever decides to return to it.

Chinchilla Chimichangas by Kage Alan: Chris is an author, traveling on a bus, and he’s on a mission. He not only has to finish his next novel, but he’s making an homage trip with his father’s ashes. He’s having a bit of trouble doing both because the weather is wreaking havoc with his trip and the final destination. After a storm washes out the road, he’s stuck in a podunk little town. Here he meets Cameron, who offers him a little southern hospitality.

Alan is another new author for me, and I liked this story. I loved that Chris’s characters were real to him, enough so that he speaks to them in his head and also out loud. This was a hilarious take on how a writer lives with the voices in their head. Cameron is a down to earth guy just working his family farm. The relationship between the two characters seems a bit rushed as they try to cram all their life stories into a few select days before the roads are cleared. Both men have issues and while it isn’t exactly accepted to be gay in the little town, they make the promise to try to have a real relationship once Chris’s trip is over. The epilogue was bittersweet, in one way, but gave us the hope of a happily ever after.

Squatting with Spurs On by Kieran Kelly: Dooley McCallister finds himself the sudden owner of a ranch in Montana, bequeathed to him by an unknown man. Or, so he thinks. Once he arrives and takes possession of the ranch, he finds that it is rundown and in desperate need of repair, and that he has no way to unload the property. He also founds out that the place is haunted.

Kelly is a new author to me and while I enjoyed the writing style, I really don’t know what to say about this one without giving away the entire plot line, except to say I laughed some and cried a bit. It made me so sad in one way, but also there is a running theme of eternity and forever love throughout the story.

Faux Cowboy by Shae Conner: Jackson James is dressed to the nines in his cowboy regalia and has an image to uphold. Douglas Shaw is on vacation and visiting the Big Apple for the first time.

Shae Conner is another first time author for me, and I liked this one. It was a short, sweet and sexy romp. First time impressions can be deceiving, and this little story makes good use of that ideal. Jackson is hiding that he isn’t a real cowboy, and neither is Doug, for that matter. Not really, but they did enjoy one another.

Hooves and Horns by Eden Winters: Another shifter story with a bull shifter and a horse shifter, and the two classes just don’t mix. They are also rodeo men, and were building a life together until Armando’s family stepped in and Kerry felt betrayed. Each are the other’s nemesis on the circuit now too, and the chemistry between them is spark-worthy. I loved how Kerry, the horse shifter, and Armando, the bull shifter, traded out the dominance in their volatile relationship, both in and out of the rodeo ring. They had only ever allowed the other to ‘win’ against one another as their shifter selves while out on the circuit, so their final coming together and settling with one another was excellent after the disaster of their past.

The Boy from Battalion Bluff by Jevocas Greene: Unfortunately, this was my least favorite story in the book. I like sci-fi but this one was almost too much sci-fi for my taste, with an outer space succubus/incubus going at it almost in public, and a local boy getting caught up in the middle. The town waited with bated breath to see who was going to be chosen to experience Dr. Feel-Good’s wiles, but I just couldn’t connect with the story. The writing was easy to read, though I don’t think I’ll read more by this author.

The Five Hells War by Ally Blue: Ally Blue is new to me and I loved this story. It was a sci-fi tale of big corporation hustling the little guy on a backwater planet that has hidden resources. The BC lawyer is supposed to be a shark, but when he finds out what exactly is going on at the Five Hells Ranch, he puts aside his job and works to help out the very man he was sent to persuade to give up his ranch.

Rocky owns the Five Hells and came by it through his family. It was passed down and he owns the land fair and square, and he is not leaving without a fight. The romance that ensues between the two men was fun, and I liked seeing how the uncouth Rocky could unseat Balthazar, so much so that when they do win their suit, Balthazar decides to stay with Rocky on his farm.

And The Horse He Rode In On by TC Blue: I really liked this story, but it was so busy, and I think would have been better suited to a novella or longer version. Tyler is a horse shifter who runs a sheep farm, and something is killing his lambs. Turns out the something is a leopard shifter named Jason. Tyler takes Jason in after almost killing him while they were both in their alternate forms, and a romance begins. Personally, I loved Jason calling Ty the “attack pony,” and I laughed out loud when Tyler dumped a bunch of creamer packets and cat toys into Jason’s bed.

There is also an entire back-story going on at the same time as the romance, where we discover that predatory shifters usually don’t mix with prey shifters, and that there are severe consequences if it does happen. Jason was basically turned against this will, is without a Pard, and Tyler is a bit of a loner when it comes to his pack—or whatever it is you call a group of horses. He seems to have a good relationship with his sister Ari and her husband Blake, who is the horse shifters’ vet.

So, yes, I think I would have enjoyed this more if it were longer, but it does tell the tale well enough at its current length.

A huge thank you to all the authors for an enjoyable read!

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4.5 Stars, Bailey Bradford, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Angel, Totally Bound

Review: My Life Without Garlic by Bailey Bradford

Title: My Life Without Garlic

Author: Bailey Bradford

Publisher: Totally Bound

Pages/Word Count: 134 Pages

At a Glance: A funny and cute take on the vampire mythos.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Some things in life just might be worth giving up garlic for.

It was simple curiosity that led Augustin to the vampire dating site—he thought it must be a joke started up by a bunch of weirdos. Man, was he right—but it just so happens that those weirdos really are vampires, and when one shows up at his place, Augustin’s world is turned upside down.

First he’s got a psychotic vampire to deal with. Then he’s got one who is much more fun hanging around.

Except now that Augustin knows that vampires exist, he can’t be left alive. Or can he? When an alternative is offered up, Augustin doesn’t care for it, either. After all, he doesn’t want to be whisked off to some disgusting vampire den.

Tony’s the vampire next in line to lead the coven. He wants to be a fair man, and that means arguing against killing Augustin. If he’s also attracted to the sarcastic, adorable man, where’s the harm in that?

The attraction between Augustin and Tony is undeniable, but deny it is what they both try to do. Someone is going to have to bend or break.

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Review: Bailey Bradford is an author I have read and enjoyed before, and the blurb for My Life Without Garlic just spoke to me. I am always looking for new takes on the paranormal genre, and this was a fun one. My Life Without Garlic is cute, funny, and an insta-love story that I really enjoyed. There was snark and bad vampire puns and jokes, some even told by the vampires themselves, which made this short story all the more enjoyable as the characters poked fun at both the genre and themselves.

I liked how Bradford used some of the vampire tropes: the allergy to sun, sleeping in a coffin (ventilated ’cause you’d suffocate otherwise LOL!), and turning into bats. She also had the vampires laugh off some of the other well known things that were offensive, such as garlic and holy water. Though, Augustin’s idea of this might have just been a bit skewed since he ‘blessed’ the water himself. It is often said belief is the strongest defense against such things, and it was fun to see the vampire he tried to use this against find it humorous. It made the vampires seem all the more ‘human’ to see that living eternally wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, but there were some good things.

I would have liked more on Bradford’s version of vampires, especially in one instance where Augustin is speaking with another vampire’s companion, and he warns him to make certain he is fully prepared to be happy with his mate, Tony. I liked Augustin’s moxie, even if it was defensive, and he did eventually admit his feelings for Tony. I also enjoyed the fact that Augustin wasn’t the perfect male form. He’s overweight and sensitive about it, but the thing I liked most was that Tony didn’t care one bit about that. Tony defended Augustin against a fellow vampire many times, often to the other character’s misfortune.

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Liv Olteano, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Angel, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: A Counselor Among Wolves by Liv Olteano

Title: A Counselor Among Wolves (Leader Murders: Case Two)

Author: Liv Olteano

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 230 Pages

At a Glance: A worthy sequel that continues to draw the reader into a fantastically and realistically created shifter world.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Five dead leaders, their bodies arranged in a pentagram. Treason, lies, and backstabbing. A make-believe affair that turns into a real mating.

Timothy Sands is a PBI counselor, half-fey, half-elf, with a secret crush on Herman Weiss, PBI director. As a new chapter is added to the Leader Murders, it is Weiss’s responsibility to investigate what seems an impossible-to-solve case. The other problem? Weiss is suffering from rages, and his only salvation lies in Tim’s emotional-grid-balancing skills. They only have to pretend to be a couple for Tim to use his talents, and he owes Weiss a big favor. Piece of cake, right?

The fey might be involved in the Leader Murders. Someone on the Council might be their ally, and another prominent PBI figure looks more and more suspicious as they investigate. The stakes are upped when Timothy’s father, the Fey King, threatens to leave the Council destitute if they don’t hand Timothy over to him. Weiss’s brilliant solution? Mating Timothy and forcing the Council into protecting him.

There’s only one small hitch in that plan: instead of protecting one, the Council might decide to get rid of two.

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Review: I really enjoyed Liv Olteano’s return to this verse she has created. Olteano touches on the hard subjects: acceptance, consent, abuse, dominance and submission of the non-kinky sort, letting go, and standing up for one’s beliefs. The writing is easy to read and filled with emotions that make you not only feel what the characters do, but think about it as well.

Though this is Herman Weiss and Timothy Sands’ story, I loved that Rick and Travis made an appearance in this book. I also liked that Rick hasn’t changed his mind on the matters of dominance and abuse in the pack structure. The expanded story on Weiss, introduced in the first book as the Alpha of the werewolf pack, is interesting and kept me turning the pages.

This is where the shifter aspect of the book takes a turn. Once again, I love the fact that the author has tipped the genre on its side and still managed to include the beloved shifter tropes. Weiss has to have himself under control after his mate betrayed him, and he goes to his friend for that help. I liked Weiss a bit more in this book than I did the first, though I still felt the same irritation with his overly alpha tendencies. He received more of a comeuppance than I was expecting after reading the first book, and while I was glad to see him learn a bit of humility, it was a harsh lesson. Exactly what was needed in one way; I understand more now why they called Amanda insane in the first book, and this just enhances the story. The people trying to affect changes are going to drastic measures and really harming their case more than anything.

Enter Timothy Sands. He has had a crush on Weiss for several years, and knows just how much of an ass Weiss can be. He also understands the nature of the beast, so to speak, and yet deals with it accordingly, properly. Be that because he is a half-breed or from being a psychologist, I don’t know, but I loved his demeanor and his attitude. He has his own problems within the realm, and deals with them well. I think it shows just how strong of a character he is that he has fallen for Weiss and his domineering personality, though he himself is also a stubborn sort. I loved getting to know more about the Weiss’s son and the part he will play later in life.

Paranormal politics, as well as those of the PIB, are a big part of this book and bring up even more of the realistic issues people face today. The dynamics were dizzying, but understandable, and all too relevant to real world debates on similar topics.

The mystery here deepens and expands on the first book, and though this is, again, a complete story, you are still left with questions about who exactly is behind all the disruptions. Other characters that I adored in the first book made a return appearance, and I want to see their stories, too, no matter if they are straight or gay. In fact, I’d really like to see the author’s take on a good straight relationship in this world she has created. Regardless of my desires, I am really loving the series and hope the author continues to deliver an excellent tale.

Thanks for the excellent read!

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