4 Stars, B.G. Thomas, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Kim

Review: The Beary Best Holiday Party Ever by B.G. Thomas

Amazon

Amazon

Title: The Beary Best Holiday Party Ever (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015)

Author: B.G. Thomas

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 76 Pages

At a Glance: I think The Beary Best Holiday Party Ever is a cute and sexy holiday read.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Before he discovered the Heartland Bear Clan, Ron Corbin figured no one could ever love a “fatass” like him. But the big group of big men accepts him, and likes him just the way he is. Having finally found a place he belongs, he works hard to get elected president of the club—and wins. He’s the happiest he’s ever been.

But Paddy Brennan, a sexy bear cub who blew into town and became Mr. Popular overnight, is elected vice-president. Ron doesn’t think Paddy has earned the honor, and now he’ll have to work shoulder to shoulder (and belly to belly) with the guy for a year.

Ron will do what’s best for the club even if that means setting his personal feeling—that Paddy is a jerk—aside. But then as the two men get to know each other, Ron reluctantly finds he not only likes the guy, but is growing more and more attracted to him.

Deep down, Ron still worries he isn’t good enough, but maybe Paddy can show him there’s a beary happy ending waiting for them after all.

Christmas Dividers

Review: I don’t care what a person looks like, it’s what inside that shows who you are, and it takes Ron a while to see that he is one sexy man. Oh la la! I really liked Ron. Even with all of his insecurities about his weight, he comes off as someone I’d like to know in real life. I liked how, when he joined Heartland Bear Clan, he grew to be more comfortable with himself. And it was just too bad that Ron let a comment made by Paddy bring back all those insecurities his parents instilled in him as he was growing up. I really dislike people who fat shame! And I more than empathize with Ron about being picked on for being overweight.

As for Paddy, he’s a really nice guy, so when you hear the comment that he made when he first met Ron…well, it’s just hard to believe that he would say something that vindictive. Despite everything, though, Ron is willing to put his negative feelings and conflicting attraction towards Paddy aside as they work together to make the very best holiday party ever for the Heartland Bear Clan.

There is one thing I really enjoy about B.G. Thomas’s writing, and what makes him an auto-buy author for me, and it’s that I know I’m always going to finish his stories with an “aaaaaah” feeling.

I think The Beary Best Holiday Party Ever is a cute and sexy holiday read.

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4 Stars, Loose Id, Madeleine Ribbon, Reviewed by Kim, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Faire Diviner by Madeleine Ribbon

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Amazon

Title: Faire Diviner

Author: Madeleine Ribbon

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 234 Pages

At a GlanceI must say that I’m quite taken with the author’s storytelling.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Rosewood, the magical Renaissance Faire’s psychic and one of the business partners, has been single for over ten years—ever since he accidentally revealed his psychic abilities to the love of his life and lost him. He has devoted himself to the Faire and the magic within ever since. The last thing he expects when hiring a new business manager is for Oscar—the “one who got away”—to walk back into his life as the most qualified applicant.

While Rosewood tries to deal with Oscar as his new business partner, his abilities start going haywire. He senses danger coming, and it’s somehow tied to Oscar’s dark past. They will have to work together to recover Rosewood’s abilities, help Oscar heal, and save the Faire itself.

And if they can do that, then maybe, possibly, the “one who got away” will become his greatest catch.

Dividers

Review: Faire Diviner is the second book I’ve read by Madeleine Ribbon, Death by Dragon being the first, and I must say that I’m quite taken with the author’s storytelling.

Basically, Faire Diviner starts out with Rosewood using his psychic abilities to look for a potential replacement to fill his Uncle Jorvik’s job as head Manager of the Faire. He’s shocked to discover that the interviewee with the most potential is his first love, Oscar Moreno—The One the Faire wants for the job.

Now, after reading both sides of the story about how these two didn’t stay together when they were younger, I wouldn’t exactly call this a story about “the one who got away” as much as it’s that they both bolted from each other and went their separate ways. And, it would seem they were both at fault for what happened. Youth and inexperience strikes again!

I liked Anthony Rosewood. His character came off as somewhat lonely because of his isolated life from others outside the Faire, and his sensitivity caused by feeling others’ emotions. There’s an innocence about him that is quite charming in itself. As a teen, his mother hurt him deeply when, after his father died, she wanted to commit him to a mental institution because of his abilities. Running away before she could carry out that deed, he ended up at the Faire and under the protection of his Uncle Jorvik.

Vin is someone who Rosewood considers a friend-with-benefits, someone he turns to when he needs a cuddle, which I thought was kind of cute. Oscar is also someone I liked as a character, but he did come with a bunch of his own emotional baggage. He’d just escaped from an abusive long-term relationship. But there was one episode that I thought him quite the AH after he and Rosewood hooked-up. Again, I have to give him a little leeway since both men seem to have a communication problem with each other.

Now that I’ve read Faire Diviner, I went out and purchased the two books that preceded this one. I’m sure I’ll get more perspective on how the Faire operates, but Faire Diviner can be read as a standalone. It just made me want to read more about this alternate universe, and I’m looking forward to reading future stories by Madeleine Ribbon. I think I’ve found a new author to enjoy!

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5 Stars, Astrid Amara, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Reviewed by Kim

Review: Crash Plus Expenses by Astrid Amara

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Crash Plus Expenses

Author: Astrid Amara

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 94 Pages

At a GlanceI love these types of romances!

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Dan Lewinski would follow his subject Connor Katz to the ends of the earth. It’s what he’s paid to do. Apparently this also includes following his subject Connor Katz as they plummet to earth, because their plane is going down. And Dan likes living so that’s a problem.

It’s also a problem because he knows there’s a secret behind Connor Katz’s past, a reason the man’s sister is paying beaucoup bucks to have him followed, a reason Connor appears so quiet on the outside, yet seems lit like a fire from within. Dan needs to know Connor’s secret.

But if they survive the crash, how on earth can Dan get to know the mysteries of a man he’s been in love with from afar without admitting he’s a private eye who’s watched his every move?

Dividers

Review: I’m a big fan of Astrid Amara’s contemporaries. I love her brand of humor and the way her MCs are thrown together so that they have no choice but to get to know each other. Crash Plus Expenses doesn’t waste any time, starting as the plane is about to crash. This part was kind of intense and reinforced the very reason why I avoid flying in planes. But, as the plane prepares for its quick downward landing, there’s a brief summary as to why Dan is on this particular flight. He’s also got a bit of a crush on the man he’s been paid to follow for the last year.

I’m going to spoil things by saying, “Yes, they both survived the crash,” buuuuut now comes the fun part—surviving the wilds of Alaska as they wait for rescue.

I love these types of romances! I loved Dan’s character and how human he was when he let the cat out of the bag about things he shouldn’t know about Connor (oops). Dan really has it bad for him, and the letter he eventually writes to Connor had me giving it a great big aaaaaaah, how sweet.

As for Connor, Dan is his hero…until he learns more about Dan and why he was on that flight (that was an interesting fall out). Connor did have some pretty good secrets from his past, and it’s quite understandable why he was suspicious in nature.

I had trouble putting Crash Plus Expenses down. It just hit all the right buttons for me, and I made the mistake of starting this one before bedtime, then ended up going to work the next day, tired! I will add, if you’re one who doesn’t believe in coincidences (because there are some things that are a little unbelievable that occur throughout the story), this may not be your cup of tea.

I definitely see a sequel…and, lo and behold, as I was getting ready to start this review, I found out there is one (Hanukkah on Retainer)! Guess who went to ARe and bought it without hesitation?

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Kim, Tara Lain

Review: Sinders and Ash by Tara Lain

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Amazon

Title: Sinders and Ash (A Pennymaker Tale)

Author: Tara Lain

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 145 Pages

At a Glance: I’ll have no problem reading more of this series since this book kept my interest throughout.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Housekeeper Mark Sintorella (Sinders) works diligently at a resort hotel while designing clothes anonymously, hoping to get into fashion school. Then his carefully planned life is upended with the arrival of Ashton Armitage, son of the fifth richest man in America—and the most beautiful guy Mark has ever seen. Ash must find a wife or he’ll lose his grandfather’s inheritance, and he settles on Bitsy Fanderel. But secretly Ash is gay, and the guy who cleans the fireplaces sets his heart ablaze.

Further stirring the pot is the little elf of a man, Carstairs Pennymaker, who has Mark wearing his own designs and masquerading as a girl to impress the fashion investors in the hotel. When the clock strikes twelve, two beautiful princesses line up for the wedding—but one isn’t a woman. Will the slipper fit? Only Mr. Pennymaker knows for sure.

First Edition published by Amber Quill Press, LLC, 2012.

Dividers

Review: When Mark’s mother died, his family kicked him out because he’s gay. Living on the streets, he eventually gets a job working in housekeeping at a luxury hotel. The hotel staff have nicknamed him Sinders because he works so hard at his job to save enough money to attend fashion designer school. When a guest of the hotel notices one of the shirts Mark has designed, that guest, Mr. Pennymaker, insists Mark wear more of his designs in front of his fashion investor friends. The biggest problem is that the only other thing Mark has made from his designs is a dress.

Ashford Armitage, known to most as a rich playboy, arrives at the hotel in order to find a wife before he turns twenty-five. Otherwise, according to his grandfather’s will, he stands to lose an inheritance worth millions of dollars. Unbeknownst to most, however, including his parents, Ashford is gay. So Ash kind of figures that Bitsy is the one for him, and when he proposes a business arrangement between the two of them, well, Bitsy balks because she’s not sure that she wants to give up her life for a life of luxury, and Bitsy has her own little secret. But the amount of the money involved is tempting…

Mark and Ash finally meet when Ash saves Mark from a sexual assault by one of the hotel workers, and Mark is so overcome by Ash’s good looks that he kisses him then runs away. I found that I really enjoyed Sinders and Ash, it followed an old fairytale favorite of mine, Cinderella, so I expected after I read the blurb that Ash would be chasing Mark when Mark was dress-up as a women. Not so! But it did put a smile on my face when Ash couldn’t figure out why he was attracted to Mr. Pennymaker’s neice.

Sinders and Ash is different, and it really had me laughing out loud at some of the antics and what male parts could be made to do (sorry, you just have to know how my weird imagination works, and I’m not surprised that these brief bits caught my attention). Some of Sinders and Ash is gooey fluffy, some of it kind of had a point, and I’ll have no problem reading more of this series since this book kept my interest throughout.

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4 Stars, Amber Kell, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Kim, Self-Published

Review: His Beautiful Beast by Amber Kell

Amazon

Amazon

Title: His Beautiful Beast

Author: Amber Kell

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 92 Pages

At a Glance: His Beautiful Beast kept me interested throughout, and I thought the two MCs were cute and sexy together.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Sammy Dunn had always dreamed of being a musician. When his mother’s employer offers to pay for his music school in exchange for Sammy to return he agrees.

Jonah Croft had longed for someone like his boyfriend Sammy his entire life. When Sammy disappears Jonah refuses to let his vanishing go unremarked but what he discovers when he finds him changes his entire world view.

Will love prevail or will evil tear the lovers apart?

Dividers

Review: As a child, Sammy made a promise to return and visit Mr. Strassford (his mother’s employer) on his twenty-first birthday, in exchange for an education in music. Eight years later, leaving his boyfriend behind, Sammy makes the trip to fulfill his promise. Just as he’s about to get to his destination, though, his rental car breaks down on a lonely road. He tries his cell phone to call for help, but finds out there’s no signal, and then along comes a mysterious stranger who gives him a ride…and warns Sammy to stay away from the mansion and its occupant. But, Sammy is on a mission to keep his promise to Mr. Strassford.

Once Sammy finally arrives at the mansion and is greeted by Mr. Strassford, he quickly discovers that the man’s not well intentioned—Mr. Strassford has a curse of the furry kind that he’d like to pass on to Sammy. Meanwhile, Jonah is freaking out that his boyfriend, Sammy, seems to have disappeared…

For me, His Beautiful Beast made for a fun Halloween read, mainly because of the curses, witches, brownies, a big hairy beast, and a boyfriend who’s determined to save his man. I liked that just when I thought I had things figured out towards the end, Amber Kell managed to surprise me with the ending. I also enjoyed her quirky sense of humor.

His Beautiful Beast kept me interested throughout, and I thought the two MCs were cute and sexy together. I definitely would read more by this author.

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5 Stars, Amy Lane, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Kim

Audio Review: Truth in the Dark by Amy Lane – Narrated by Nick J. Russo

Audio Gem

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Truth in the Dark

Author: Amy Lane

Narrator:: Nick J. Russo

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 4 Hours and 40 Minutes

At a Glance: Truth in the Dark is a fantastic fairy tale, and I loved how this one ended.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: “I am not beautiful…”

Knife’s entire existence has been as twisted as his flesh and his face. The only thing beautiful in his life is his sister. When Gwennie is obliged to turn a suitor down because she fears to leave her brother to the brutality of their village, Knife is desperate for anything to ensure her happiness.

Her suitor’s cousin offers him a way out, but it won’t be easy. Aerie-Smith has been cursed to walk upright in the form of a beast, and his beloved village suffers from the same spell. Aerie-Smith offers Gwen a trousseau and some hope, if only Knife will keep him company on his island for the span of a year and perform one “regrettable task” at year’s end.

Knife is unprepared for the form the island’s curse takes on his own misshapen body. In one moment of magic, he is given the body of his dreams—and he discovers that where flesh meets spirit and appearance meet reality; sometimes the only place to find truth is in the darkness of a lover’s arms.

Dividers

Review: Truth in the Dark was actually the very first book I ever read by Amy Lane. I started off with a sample and before I knew it, I was downloading the rest of the story on my Kindle, and I haven’t missed one of her stories since, so when I saw that the book had finally made it to audio, my reaction was…MINE! And wow! It did more than meet my expectations as one of my all time favorite stories.

Nick J. Russo is a fairly new-to-me narrator, but Dreamspinner Press and Amy Lane picked a winner for narrating this novel. Russo did an amazing job of bringing Naef (aka Knife) to life. I could actually close my eyes and picture everything in my mind’s eyes as Russo narrated the story. I could feel Naef’s bitterness for the curveball life had thrown at him; yet knowing that deep down in his soul lay a beautiful person that only a beast could see. I could also sense the burden that Aerie-Smith carried inside him over one selfish act that affected not only him but his people as well.

Truth in the Dark is a fantastic fairy tale, and I loved how this one ended. And, it’s a highly recommended listen, a novel I would gladly listen to again and again. If you can’t listen to it, read it!

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You can buy Truth in the Dark here:

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4 Stars, B. Snow, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Kim, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Short Story

Review: Emily’s Magical Bejeweled Codpiece by B. Snow

Small Gems

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Emily’s Magical Bejeweled Codpiece

Author: B. Snow

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 48 Pages

At a Glance: I’m giving this short story a high recommendation for those who have a quirky sense of humor.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Tom, museum curator and expert in Renaissance jewelry, doesn’t think his boyfriend Peter is “The One.” Peter is perfectly happy with Tom, but Tom is obsessed with the artist Benedetto Emilio Nesci—exciting, passionate, extraordinarily talented… and dead for over 400 years.
Tasked with researching a bejeweled codpiece, Tom abandons his professional ethics—and his sanity—to try on the codpiece and is transported halfway around the world and back in time, right into Florence, Italy and Nesci’s workroom.
After his initial panic subsides, Tom seizes the opportunity to allow Nesci to seduce him, but Tom discovers not everything about the sixteenth century is as romantic as he’d imagined. Getting back to the modern world and Peter becomes Tom’s only wish, but desire and reality are two completely different things, and Tom might not get what he wants this time around.

Dividers

Review: First off, I have to say both the title and the cover of Emily’s Magical Bejeweled Codpiece caught my attention. But, to be honest, I made the mistake of reading other’s initial reviews and wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to read it. Still, I’m one who always likes to walk on the wild side and give new authors a chance.

OMG! I’m so glad I gave this book a chance. I started off grinning and then had some serious LOL moments when Tom made his trip back into time to meet his obsession, Emilio.

See, this is what I love about time travel stories that actually take the romance out of the time period and put a little something like reality into it. I actually know someone like Emilio, and damn if I didn’t have the same reaction that Tom had. I especially enjoyed how sweet it was when Tom got over his OCD with Peter.

Sorry…I’ve been known to have a quirky sense of humor, and I guess that’s why I loved Emily’s Magical Bejeweled Codpiece. There are two authors that I know of who share this sense of humor—Ethan Day and John Inman. I’m giving this short story a high recommendation for those who also enjoy that quirky humor too.

I’m so looking forward to reading more from B. Snow!

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

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

Amazon US

Amazon US

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

Author: A.B. Gayle

Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 180 Pages

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

Reviewed By: Kim

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

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

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

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

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

Dividers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mary Calmes, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Kim

Audio Review: Just Desserts by Mary Calmes — Narrated by Greg Tremblay

Audio Gem

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Just Desserts

Author: Mary Calmes

Narrator:: Greg Tremblay

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 2 hours and 54 minutes

At a Glance: What made Just Desserts such an enjoyable listen, and maybe just a bit more emotional, was how well Greg Tremblay narrated the story.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Boone Walton has tried hard to create some distance between himself and his past. He’s invested in his new life, his New Orleans art gallery, and his friendship with Scott Wren. Things finally seem to be settling down to normal, and Boone couldn’t be happier.

Chef Scott Wren wants much more than normal with Boone. He wants to raise things to the next level, but Boone is terrified—and not because of the ghost in Scott’s apartment or Scott’s relatives. No, Boone’s past is about to pay him a visit, and the only thing that can get between Boone, Scott, and a hinky recipe for chocolate mousse found in a curious cookbook is the river of pain Boone had to swim across to get to this side of The Big Easy. There’s a secret behind the ingredients, though—one that might reveal the trust and love that have been missing from Boone’s life.

Dividers

Review: Boone didn’t see Scott coming when he entered his gallery, not until it was too late to run from his heart’s destiny. Scott just wasn’t afraid of Boone and his boorish ways! And it didn’t take long for the two to become very good friends. Even though Boone would love to bed Scott, it’s just something Boone would rather not risk if it means the possibility of losing Scott as a friend.

It took moving a dinosaur of a stove with a couple of friends, who ganged up on Boone afterwards, to tell him how much he was in love with Scott. But by the time Boone worked up the nerve to do something about it…someone else had made a move on his man. It then took a recipe from Granny B’s cookbook to bring these two together and oh, how much fun was that? I loved it when Scott finally made his feelings clear.

And it was a bit of a tearjerker when Boone had to finally face his tragic past. He finally let go of it. Old loves are like that, though.

What made Just Desserts such an enjoyable listen, and maybe just a bit more emotional, was how well Greg Tremblay narrated the story. As usual, this man turns in an awesome performance! Tremblay keeps my commute a safe one because there’s no chance of me falling asleep behind the wheel when I’m listening to him narrate a story. Big hugs to Mary Calmes for finding such a great narrator for her stories! I’d also like to mention that our lovely Jules wrote a fantastic review of the ebook version of Just Desserts, if you need a little extra to convince you to give this one a try.

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4.5 Stars, Ally Blue, Reviewed by Kim, Samhain Publishing, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Myth Adventures by Ally Blue

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Myth Adventures (Mojo Mysteries: Book Three)

Author: Ally Blue

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 192 Pages

At a Glance: Ally Blue knows how to throw in just the right amount of spooky angst to keep me motivated to turn pages.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Something evil is going down in Atlanta…

Adrian Broussard and Greg Woodhall are attending OutlantaCon, Atlanta’s annual gay geek conference, and are looking forward to a weekend of cosplay and general nerdy fun. As they mingle with other conference goers, though, Adrian feels a strange, cold energy emanating from a man dressed as a satyr.

Encounters with storybook creatures roaming the streets only increase the chilly tendrils teasing Adrian’s sixth sense—strong enough to cause disturbing visions of Greg’s existence being erased.

When a girl at the conference goes missing, then turns up dead, clues literally drop in their laps as Adrian begins to fear the cold, alien energy is engulfing the whole city. And in danger of swallowing up his lover.

To Adrian’s horror, his worst nightmare is realized. Now both he and Greg must call on reserves of strength and resourcefulness they never knew they possessed to save Atlanta, and each other.

Dividers

Review: Ally Blue is one of the first M/M authors I ever read, and she lured me into the world of M/M romance. She knows how to throw in just the right amount of spooky angst to keep me motivated to turn pages and see what’s going to happen next in her stories. And, ever since I read Oleander House, I’ve been hooked on the Bay City Paranormal Investigation series. Now its spinoff, the Mojo Mysteries series, has me hooked too, and so far, I think Myth Adventures is the best of the Mojo books.

I was immediately drawn into the storyline when Adrian saw the satyr and sensed that something was off. When Greg disappeared, like their friends, it especially piqued my interest—to the point I had to restrain myself from rushing through the pages. The portals have returned with a vengeance! And I like the fact that Adrian and Greg’s relationship is so solid throughout the story.

My only problem with Myth Adventures was that I was left guessing what happened to a couple of the characters, though I can kind of guess, but still, I wanted to know! Maybe I’ll find out for sure what happened to them in the next adventure.

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Maggie Kavanagh, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Kim

Review: Inner Sanctum by Maggie Kavanagh

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Inner Sanctum (The Stonebridge Mysteries: Book Two)

Author: Maggie Kavanagh

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 204 Pages

At a Glance: Inner Sanctum is just as good as the first story, Double Indemnity!

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Six months into a relationship, things have heated up between political blogger Sam Flynn and FBI Special Agent Nathan Walker. Though Sam is happy with Nathan and proud of his own sobriety, he’s anxious about what their future holds. Things are heating up in Stonebridge, Connecticut, as a series of deadly fires puts the community on edge and eventually threatens Sam’s comatose brother. As Halloween approaches, fears rise that the arsonist will strike again.

When Sam encounters the main suspect, seventeen-year-old orphan Damon Blake, he’s not sure what to do. Obstruction might land him in jail, but he is increasingly skeptical of Damon’s guilt. He takes matters into his own hands and investigates, but doing so means keeping Damon’s whereabouts a secret from Nathan and the police. Meanwhile, Nathan wonders what Sam is hiding and grapples with insecurities of his own. Sam wants to confide in Nathan, and Nathan wants to trust Sam, but they discover that negotiating new love can be as dangerous as solving crime.

Dividers

Review: It’s been six months and Sam and Nathan are still dancing around each other when it comes to using the “L” word. And even though Sam has quit drinking, there are times when he is still struggling with the temptation. Even struggling with the fact that things are going well between the two of them. Sam still worries that Nathan will realize Sam is not worth it, which is why Sam is reluctant to move in with Nathan. Sam is also especially shy about talking to Nathan about exploring the kinkier side of himself. But, Nathan himself is struggling with his own insecurities when it seems a teaching post with the FBI is on the table rather than a field job.

When the call comes in that there’s been a fire at the Shady Brook, resulting in the death of one their staff, Sam starts to look into the series of arson fires that have started to escalate with deadly intent. And Damon Blake, the main suspect in the fires, puts Sam in an awkward position when he contacts Sam and pleads his innocence. Not to mention, Yuri, one of Sam’s friends (and a one-time lover), kisses Sam at a party and basically let’s Sam know that he still has feelings for him. Even though Yuri is about to move in with his new lover, Michael…

Maggie Kavanagh’s Inner Sanctum is just as good as the first story, Double Indemnity! The writing flows smoothly and the main characters, as well as the secondary ones, are definitely interesting enough that you want to get to know them more. The author does an excellent job of writing a mystery that leaves one guessing who the real culprit is. I love that I couldn’t figure it out, and yet it all made sense when the great reveal happened. I’m really looking forward to the next installment of the series.

I really want to know what is going to happen to Timmy!

TNA_Signature_Kim

 

 

 

You can buy Inner Sanctum here:

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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Renae Kaye, Reviewed by Kim

Audio Review: Safe in His Arms by Renae Kaye – Narrated by Randy Fuller

Audio Gem

Title: Safe in His Arms

Author: Renae Kaye

Narrator:: Randy Fuller

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours and 6 Minutes

At a Glance: Kudos to both Renae Kaye and Randy Fuller for delivering a story worth listening to during a long commute to work.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: In the late-night quiet of the caravan park shower room, Lon Taylor washes away the filth of the Western Australian mines. He’s not looking for anyone, but when Casey offers, Lon doesn’t turn him down.

Welcoming the young man in his big, hairy arms, Lon provides a safety to Casey that he has never known, and Casey wants to stay forever. Still reeling from the breakup of his family years ago, Lon’s not sure he’s ready for the responsibility of the comfort and security Casey craves.

Perhaps Lon can risk opening his heart again and hoping for a brighter future. Casey has some pretty big skeletons in his past to deal with. Lon wonders what Casey will do when he finds out how badly Lon failed at protecting the ones he loved eight years ago.

Dividers

Review: I’m fast becoming a fan of Renae Kaye, especially since I’ve started listening to her work. I love how Randy Fuller’s voice characterizations immediately pulled me into this story. You definitely get the image that Lon is a big guy. But even though Lon looks like someone you wouldn’t want to mess with, he’s such a big teddy bear at heart. Casey sees this and is immediately drawn to Lon. And though he’s a bit young for Lon, there’s something about Casey that brings out Lon’s protective side, especially when he learns what Casey’s father had done to him as a teen.

I loved how these two men interacted with each other. Except for the one moment when Lon got extremely upset with Casey for not telling him about a chance meeting with someone. Lon was so secretive about his past, how was Casey to know? Shame on Lon for thinking that Casey was a mind reader, and for yelling at Casey the way he did. Well… it made me want to slap Lon alongside his head for the sudden outburst of temper! See…Casey even brought out the protectiveness in me. But, I was extremely glad when Lon did the right thing by groveling for forgiveness.

Randy Fuller has been added to the list of narrators I’d be willing to listen to again and again. Kudos to both Renae Kaye and Randy Fuller for delivering a story worth listening to during a long commute to work.

TNA_Signature_Kim

 

 

 

You can buy Safe in His Arms here:

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Kim Fielding, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Kim

Audio Review: The Tin Box by Kim Fielding – Narrated by K.C. Kelly

Audio Gem

Title: The Tin Box

Author: Kim Fielding

Narrator:: K.C. Kelly

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours and 26 Minutes

At a Glance: Kim Fielding has delivered an outstanding story well worth reading, and K.C. Kelly delivers an excellent performance of The Tin Box!

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: William Lyon’s past forced him to become someone he isn’t. Conflicted and unable to maintain the charade, he separates from his wife and takes a job as caretaker at a former mental hospital. Jelley’s Valley State Insane Asylum was the largest mental hospital in California for well over a century, but it now stands empty. William thinks the decrepit institution is the perfect place to finish his dissertation and wait for his divorce to become final. In town, William meets Colby Anderson, who minds the local store and post office. Unlike William, Colby is cute, upbeat, and flamboyantly out. Although initially put off by Colby’s mannerisms, William comes to value their new friendship, and even accepts Colby’s offer to ease him into the world of gay sex.

William’s self-image begins to change when he discovers a tin box, hidden in an asylum wall since the 1940s. It contains letters secretly written by Bill, a patient who was sent to the asylum for being homosexual. The letters hit close to home, and William comes to care about Bill and his fate. With Colby’s help, he hopes the words written seventy years ago will give him courage to be his true self.

Dividers

Review: Lynn wrote such a lovely review of The Tin Box two years ago that I knew eventually I would have to break down and read it. It’s been sitting on my TBR shelf forever, but lo and behold, it came out in audiobook too! For me, it’s so much better when a story is read to me. Especially if it has content in it that might disturb me, angst filled parts that I would normally skim over and miss something important because I can’t take it anymore. Audiobooks force me to slow down and really get the full impact of a story.

I’m a bit biased when it comes to mental asylums, since I’ve had a family member who’s been in and out of them since he was seventeen. He’s now sixty-two and is residing in one, in their dementia and brain trauma unit. Mental hospitals have come a long way since I first visited him in one when I was eleven years old, and yes, there are some abuses that still occur with patients if family or advocates are not on their toes and looking out for them.

I was so impressed by the way William used Bill’s letters to motivate him into leaving his comfort zone and become more confidant as a gay man. Colby was such a tease as he flirted with William, and I loved how these two interacted with each other. I felt the emotion in Bill’s voice as K.C. Kelly read Bill’s letters and related all the abuses he’ suffered through. Some, but not all, of the description of the asylum brought back some pretty painful and sad memories as a kid visiting one of those places. As you can probably tell, Bill kind of holds a special spot in my heart, as well as all the others who have been placed voluntarily, or involuntarily, in mental hospitals. So many are left in these places and then forgotten.

Kim Fielding has delivered an outstanding story well worth reading, and K.C. Kelly delivers an excellent performance of The Tin Box! Once again he did a wonderful job with all the characters’ voices.

TNA_Signature_Kim

 

 

 

You can buy The Tin Box here:

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Kim, SJD Peterson

Audio Review: Splintered by SJD Peterson – Narrated by Rusty Topsfield

Audio Gem

Title: Splintered

Author: SJD Peterson

Narrator:: Rusty Topsfield

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours

At a Glance: I must say that Rusty Topsfield’s performance was excellent and brought Splintered to life.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: A string of murders targeting effeminate gay men has the GLBTQ community of Chicago on alert, but budget cuts have left many precincts understaffed and overworked. Not to mention, homophobia is alive and well within the law enforcement community and little has been done to solve the mystery. When the FBI calls in Special Agent Todd Hutchinson and his team, the locals are glad to hand the case off. But Hutch finds a bigger mystery than anyone originally realized—seventeen linked murders committed in several different jurisdictions. Hutch’s clues lead him to Noah Walker.

Working on his PhD in forensic psychology, Noah has been obsessed with serial murders since he was a child. But coming to Hutch’s attention as a suspect isn’t a good way to start a relationship. Noah finds himself hunted, striking him off Hutch’s suspect list, but not off his radar. To catch the killer before anyone else falls victim, they’ll have to work together, and quickly, to bring him to justice.

Dividers

Review: I wasn’t so sure about SJD Peterson when I first started reading her work. I loved her writing style, but there were a couple of her stories I just didn’t like. But damn! I’m so glad that I didn’t give up on this author, because she has become an auto-buy for me.

Her latest audiobook, Splintered, had me riveted on page one, and even though the MCs don’t meet until a few chapters in, I could tell there was a lot of forensics research done, which kept the storyline interesting. I was totally surprised by who the perpetrator was, but a little disappointed that the romance between Todd and Noah wasn’t more developed. I think a sequel should be considered. ::hinthint::

Since I’ve read the book and listened to the audio, I must say that Rusty Topsfield’s performance was excellent and brought Splintered to life. I love a narrator who can match the voices to the characters, as well as throw in some appropriate emotion when narrating. I’m just tickled pink when a story I’ve previously read and enjoyed comes out in audio, and its interpretation by the narrator is better than what my mind came up with while reading.

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You can buy Splintered here:

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Kim, SJD Peterson

Audio Review: Beyond Duty by SJD Peterson – Narrated by Jonathan Young

Audio Gem

Title: Beyond Duty

Author: SJD Peterson

Narrator:: Johnathan Young

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours and 6 Minutes

At a Glance: SJD Peterson’s writing and Jonathon Young’s voice together make Beyond Duty an experience worth repeating again and again.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell didn’t come soon enough for Gunther “Gunny” Duchene and Macalister “Mac” Jones, career US Marines who met at boot camp in the 1990s. They’ve been somewhere between best friends and lovers in peacetime and wartime both, but as the clock ticks toward Mac’s and Gunny’s retirements, the guys have much more to worry about than coming out.

Whether their relationship will survive outside of the closet they’ve had to shove it into for over two decades is a big question mark. After all, Gunny questions why a hot military man like Mac–who could get any guy he wanted, including a younger, sexier one–would want him. But as Gunny and Mac navigate emotional waters as choppy as any they saw on duty, they just might learn Semper Fi applies to more than their careers.

Dividers

Review: I fell in love with Gunny and Mac when I first read about them in a collection of short stories, Love is Always Write, published by the Goodreads M/M Romance Group. I definitely, wanted more of these two sexy marines, so when I spotted an extended version of the book from Dreamspinner Press, I knew that I was going to own it!

And better yet, it’s become available on audio! Double woohoo!

Jonathon Young did an awesome job of bringing Gunny and Mac to life. His performance of both characters was age appropriate. I don’t know if anyone has experienced this when listening to audiobooks, but it’s kind of freaky when older characters are narrated as though a teenager is reading the story.

I loved how Young brought out Gunny’s insecurities about Mac, and Mac’s final say about Gunny’s quirks about them. For me, Mac left no doubt about his feelings or his intentions towards Gunny. Mac may be a tough Marine, but his vulnerable side came out when it came time to tell his family he was gay. There’s nothing like giving the ones we love the power to hurt us, and there was one member of Mac’s family who did manage to devastate him with the reaction to the news.

As for Gunny’s family, his mom really needed a wakeup call! It broke my heart that she was acting like a fool. And even though what happened to Gunny’s sister was tragic, it was a time to hang on to her remaining children instead of pushing them away. Gunny’s letter to his parents kind of choked me up because this was a letter with a lot of hurt and feeling put into it.

SJD Peterson’s writing and Jonathon Young’s voice together make Beyond Duty an experience worth repeating again and again.

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You can buy Beyond Duty here:

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3.5 Stars, Genre Romance, L.A. Witt, M/M/M and More, Reviewed by Kim, Samhain Publishing

Review: What He Left Behind by L.A. Witt

Title: What He Left Behind

Author: L.A. Witt

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 238 Pages

At a Glance: I had mixed feelings about What He Left Behind, because no matter how good the intentions, something bad always seems to rear its ugly little head.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Can you ever have a second first time?

Josh Carver thinks it’s just another lunch with his best friend, Michael—until Michael confesses he just turned down a date with his hot veterinarian crush. It seems Michael’s abusive ex left him more scarred than Josh realized.

Josh and his husband, Ian, have done their best to help Michael leave his horrific past behind, but even Josh is stunned when Ian suggests that Josh help Michael with his fear of physical intimacy. After all, it isn’t like it would be the first time—Josh and Michael were once each other’s firsts.

A hesitant first kiss, and Josh and Michael’s natural attraction eases the way. But with Michael still balking at the prospect of sex with someone new, Ian steps into the breach.

Everything is fine and dandy until emotions become so entangled, their friendship—and a marriage—could be at risk.

Warning: Contains three guys who will do anything for each other, a hot tub that’s always the right temperature, and a cat with an attitude problem.

Dividers

Review: What He Left Behind left me feeling 50/50. From the first page my interest was caught, as Michael is telling Josh about his inability to trust in an intimate relationship with anyone after his abusive ex did a number on him. Now, from what I gathered, Josh and Michael were each other’s firsts in everything, but it never really says why these two never became a couple, just that when Josh is telling his husband Ian that Michael is having problems becoming intimate with others because of Steve, Ian suggests that maybe Josh can help out with that problem.

My distrustful nature at this suggestion had me asking myself, “Now, who are you sleeping with, Ian?” Nobody is that good of a friend to suggest his husband sleep with someone without a reason. But Ian’s reasoning is that he cares about Michael as a friend, and that everything should be done to help him out. And, since Josh was once Michael’s lover, who else could be a better candidate to help Michael?

Needless to say, Josh does agree to help Michael out with his intimacy problems, at which point most of the story then becomes an erotic therapeutic journey. Since Michael is doing so well with overcoming his fears about sex, it is then suggested that it’s time to try it out with someone who Michael knows but hasn’t slept with yet.

Ian is then elected for the job.

Like I said before, I had mixed feelings about What He Left Behind, because no matter how good the intentions, something bad always seems to rear its ugly little head. Ian and Josh, not being professionals, really took a chance that they could have done more harm than good with Michael. And, it did cause some problems with their marriage along the way.

There’s a happy ending, but in real life, messing with someone like Michael, who has been traumatized, could have been a disaster, and I can’t help but feel that the ending was resolved too quickly. I think all three of them needed to visit Dr. Hamilton.

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You can buy What He Left Behind here:

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Marie Sexton, Reviewed by Kim

Review: Lost Along the Way by Marie Sexton

Title: Lost Along the Way (A Tale of the Curious Cookbook)

Author: Marie Sexton

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 126 Pages

At a Glance: All in all, I would recommend Lost Along the Way. It’s an excellent read.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Three months after losing his parents in a car crash, Denver weatherman Daniel Whitaker returns to Laramie, Wyoming. It’s bad enough dealing with the death of his parents and his failing relationship of fifteen years, but when he finds his childhood home full of clutter, Daniel is at a loss. He enlists Landon, his parents’ sexy neighbor, to help him sort through the mess. Landon Kushner is a study in contradictions. He builds wind sculptures out of scrap metal and loves the outdoors, but he also rides a mint-green Vespa and has an affinity for knitting and fortune-telling. He’s been friends with Daniel’s parents for years, and he’s more than willing to lend a hand.

Their plan is simple: clean the house so Daniel can sell it and get back to his life in Denver. But when a strange cookbook comes into Landon’s possession, Daniel begins to realize that the universe – and Granny B – may have other plans.

Dividers

Review: Dang it, Marie Sexton! This is the toughest review I have ever done. In fact, it took me more than a couple of days to think about how I was going to write it.

Daniel has been in a relationship for over fifteen years. Even though Daniel and Chase never married, because it was illegal, they still called each other husband. Estranged from his parents because Daniel chose Chase rather than living a lie, Daniel learns they’ve been killed in an automobile accident just as they are about to meet again after all those years apart. It’s a sad tale when there are regrets on both sides, between parents and son, and that things happened the way they did.

As Daniel makes the weekend trips to his parents’ home, without Chase, to clean out their house, he gets to know the neighbor, Landon, as a pretty good guy who knew his parents well. It’s not long before a copy of a cookbook shows up in the mail addressed to Landon, with Daniel’s parents’ address on it. And this is where things start to get interesting, as Landon makes the banana bread recipe that he had no intention of sharing with Daniel. After a shower scene that sends Daniel racing home to his significant other, Daniel makes a meatloaf from the Granny B cookbook that did more than open his eyes about his relationship with Chase.

God! At this point, I was badly triggered, as Daniel began to wake up to the dawning horror that his significant other is a total stranger to him. I found myself crying at that remembered pain, which is why it was so hard to write this review. I’m not all that fond of reading about infidelity, but I do read it to desensitize myself to my own experience with it. In a way, it’s helped me let go of the anger it’d caused. I did have a bit of a problem with Daniel’s way of dealing with it. But, I’m giving Lost Along the Way some slack because it’s part of an anthology and is made to be short.

All in all, I would recommend Lost Along the Way. It’s an excellent read. It may have some magical qualities about it, but it also has a very human touch. I got something out of this story, even though the subject matter broke my heart.

Meatloaf anyone?

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5 Stars, Chris Owen, M/M/M and More, Reviewed by Kim, Torquere Press, Tory Temple

Review: Never too Early: Finding Their Way by Chris Owen and Tory Temple

Title: Finding Their Way

Author: Chris Owen and Tory Temple

Publisher: Torquere Press

Pages/Word Count: 153 Pages

At a Glance: Chris Owen and Tory Temple are making the relationships between these four men work.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Continuing from the first book in the series (Never Too Early: The Beginning), Chance and Tucker and Jake and Tor find themselves involved in a friendship that goes much deeper than any of them initially suspected.

Jake has been released from the hospital following his fall from the roof, and Chance and Tucker agree to stay in Arkansas for several days to help Tor with Jake’s care. Chance, however, spends much of his time trying to resist the growing attraction he has for Jake. The confusion between the love he has for Tucker and the new feelings for Jake play tricks with Chance’s mind. Is any of this a good idea, or are all of them headed for disaster?

For his part, Jake has to reconcile not only his growing feelings and physical attraction to Chance, but also the promises he and Tor made to each other. They rebuilt their own relationship in the wake of mistakes neither one of them wishes to repeat. How much communication and longing can one — or two — relationships take?

Dividers

Review: Oh, my poor Jake! He really hurt himself when he fell off the roof of his place. His head and ribs are a big hurting mess, but luckily he has not only Tor to look out for him, but Chance and Tucker as well.

Jake, as he’s recovering, realizes he’s becoming more and more attracted to Chance. Now, I know in Bareback both Jake and Tor agreed to “no more playing” around, especially after the trouble they went through during the second half of that book. But, this is different from what happened then. Both he and Tor are finding that there’s enough love to share with Chance and Tucker without risking their own relationship.

How did I feel about all this?

I loved it!

I fell in love with all four characters way back when I first read about them, especially Jake! And now I got the added bonus of finding out a bit more about his youth and time in prison.

Chris Owen and Tory Temple are making the relationships between these four men work without worrying that there could be problems ahead. They’ve stepped out of the box, broke with traditional relationships, and have made it a foursome that works for me.

Being that it’s the first time Chance and Tucker have ventured into this unknown territory, I’m curious to see how they’ll handle the shift in their relationship. But, I can tell that Jake and Chance are the mature ones who will handle anything that may lead to a problem, and there were a few moments that I held my breath while reading Finding Their Way, as everything was worked through when something did came up.

I will warn you that if you’re not into an established couple swapping with another established couple, then Finding Their Way is a book to avoid. There is a third installment in this series which I’m eager to read when it comes out. What can I say? I’m hooked on the outcome!

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4.5 Stars, Daisy Harris, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Kim, Samhain Publishing

Review: Ghost in the Flames by Daisy Harris

Title: Ghost in the Flames (Fire and Rain: Book Five)

Author: Daisy Harris

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count:

At a Glance: I don’t want to give too much away about how these two managed their relationship, but it sure held my interest throughout the story.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Seventeen years ago, firefighter Rick Turner kissed a boy, and he liked it—then he paid a horrible price. Now he spends his days running from who he is and what he wants, his nights hooking up with a man who doesn’t fill the aching hole in his soul.

Until one night, newly dumped, he gets into a fistfight and is picked up by a cop-and-counselor team…and the counselor is none other than the guy who gave him that fateful first kiss.

Stan Gable relishes serving people who actually want his help. When he encounters grown-up Rick—and oh my, how he’s grown—Stan’s first instinct is to step in and use his counseling skills to ease Rick out of his fears and out of the closet.

But Rick’s prickly temper and lack of self-acceptance make him his own worst enemy. Before Stan can help Rick overcome those obstacles, he’ll have to take a look deep inside…and heal his own guilt before he can heal the man he still loves.

Warning: Contains a blustering, angry, and very closeted firefighter, and a counselor who doesn’t know how to mind his own business. Flashbacks of a gay bashing could be upsetting to some readers.

Dividers

Review: As the blurb for Ghost in the Flames reveals, seventeen years ago, Rick Turner kissed a boy and then paid a high price for that kiss—he was caught by a gang of teenagers who beat the snot out of him. While in the hospital recovering from the bashing, Rick starts to distance himself from both his gay tendencies, and, from Stan.

In the present, after breaking up with his f**k buddy, who was also in the closet, Rick finds himself drunk and in another type of fistfight outside a bar. The police are called and it’s here that Rick meets up again with the boy he’d shared his first kiss with. Stan Gable barely recognizes Rick because the man is totally beefed up, and Rick only remembers that Stan was the one who ran away when the bashing started. Woo-eee…does Rick have some issues with that one!

As it turns out, no charges are pressed, but Stan offers to take Rick home since he’s still a bit sauced. It didn’t help on the drive home that Stan starts up with the counseling questions (I’ve never heard of the police teaming up with a counselor, but it sure sounds like a damn good idea, considering the situations they find themselves in), but Rick sidetracks with a subtle pass while still denying he’s gay. In fact, Rick comes off as a bit of a homophobic jerk, but once I learned his story, my opinion of him changed. The plot then thickens, and this is how the two again start up a tentative friendship.

I don’t want to give too much away about how these two managed their relationship, but it sure held my interest throughout the story. I liked getting to know both Rick and Stan, with all their quirks. As much as I enjoyed From the Ashes, Ghost in the Flames makes me want to read the rest of the Fire and Rain series to see what I missed out on. The books are officially on my TBR shelf. I also loved the fact that Ghost in the Flames is set in the Northwest. Hey, what can I say? I love reading stories about my home state! There’s also the added bonus that Rick is a firefighter, something that I find hard to resist reading about—a man in uniform.

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3 Stars, Derek Adams, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Kim

Review: Prisoner of Silence by Derek Adams

Title: Prisoner of Silence

Author: Derek Adams

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 85 Pages

At a Glance: All in all, Prisoner of Silence was an okay read for me.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: On a cold February evening, Robert Chambers gives a panhandler a significant amount of cash. That gift allows Matt Cosgrove to turn his life around. When the men meet again, Matt, now employed at a local home improvement center, offers to build a shelving unit for Robert as a thank you. They become friends, and soon the chemistry between them cannot be denied. Robert, once betrayed by a faithless lover, believes he can finally build a relationship based on mutual trust and honesty. Then Robert discovers the dark secret that left Matt begging on a street corner. Their relationship appears doomed unless the walls of the prison of silence Matt has erected around his past can be breached.

Dividers

Review: When Robert first meets Matt on the streets, he makes a pretty generous offering. For Matt, then, to do with the money what he did was truly inspirational. I wish more panhandlers were like him.

When Robert then goes to a home improvement store to buy more materials for a job he’s badly messing up, he runs into Matt again, and I wasn’t too surprised that Robert hired Matt to build his shelving unit. And even though Robert is just recovering from a bad relationship and breakup, he can’t help but feel an attraction for Matt. Who Robert thinks is straight. Yikes!

As it turned out, I really liked Matt. He was sweet, funny and loyal. I wish I could find a handyman as dependable as he turned out to be, and I was more than curious as to why Matt ended up on the streets begging for money, what with his talent for fixing things.

I was sorely disappointed in Robert when he found out Matt’s secret. I’d thought Robert was a bit more mature than to act like a judgmental ass without the benefit of letting Matt explain. When you say you love someone, you don’t turn on them without the benefit of a proper explanation. I felt this part of the story was a bit rushed and the situation could have been better fleshed out.

All in all, Prisoner of Silence was an okay read for me, but I’m at an age where I really like a plot and the relationship building to stand out over the sex. It wasn’t all sex as Robert and Matt got to know each other, but there is a lot of erotica…lots of erotica. Although, it would be unfair of me not to add that the sex scenes were well written and hot.

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3.5 Stars, A.J. Llewellyn, DJ Manly, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Kim

Review: Mirrors by A.J. Llewellyn and D.J. Manly

Title: Mirrors

Author: A.J. Llewellyn and D.J. Manly

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 210 Pages

At a Glance: There are some parts of Mirrors that will reflect kindly in my memories.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Troy and Aaron Mayer, identical twins separated at the age of two, lived wildly different lives. Aaron struggled to take care of their alcoholic, gambling-addicted mother, while Troy, raised by their father, experienced a life of luxury. After years of silence, Troy asks to see Aaron. When Aaron arrives at his brother’s boat, he finds his twin dead by suicide. In his farewell note, Troy offers Aaron his car, his money, and his life of riches.

On the run from loan sharks, Aaron slips easily into this mirrored life. But everywhere he turns he discovers somebody Troy devastated, including his handsome husband, Dave Alvarez. Pulled into his brother’s life of crime, Aaron is set up for a fall, but he’s too strong to shatter.

Dividers

Review: I’m not too sure how I feel about A.J. Llewellyn and D.J. Manly’s Mirrors, so I’ll start with what I did like about this book:

The writing was smooth—not choppy or overly dramatic—and the plot was interesting enough that I felt compelled to continue reading to see what would happen next. Aaron was likable and I really felt for him, growing up with an alcoholic mother. This woman was a real sleaze when it came to parenting—stealing your kid’s identity is a real low.

I liked Dave too, but the guy was a glutton for punishment. How many times did he catch Troy cheating on him? And still stuck around because he loved the guy! I must say that Aaron was a vast improvement over Troy, although it must have been devastating for Dave to find out he wasn’t sleeping with his husband, that he’d unintentionally cheated too. It’s that moment where one perfectly understands the why someone is soooo POd!

As for the things I didn’t like about Mirrors:

Troy! Yes, the guy gave new meaning to sludge-bottom thinking and actions. What happened to him was karma hitting back. Still, I kind of wished that there had been more interaction between the twins, Troy and Aaron. It’s a shame the parents kept them apart growing up, something that would leave Troy thinking, “Things could have been different,” rather than what eventually did happen. Way to go, Daddy! He wasn’t much better than the mother when it came to nurturing his children.

I also felt the storyline was a bit rushed when Aaron and Dave reunited, and I wish there’d been more written about that, but all in all, there are some parts of Mirrors that will reflect kindly in my memories when I come across it again in my vast library.

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4.5 Stars, Draven St. James, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Reviewed by Kim

Review: Driven by Fire by Draven St. James

Title: Driven by Fire (Firehouse Six: Book Four)

Author: Draven St. James

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 141 Pages

At a Glance: I can’t get enough of these sexy firemen!

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Taber Delane is lucky to be alive, but his career as a firefighter ended the day a beam snapped, resulting in a crushing spinal injury. Most of his friends are willing to give him space, everyone except paramedic, Deacon Hall.

Deacon hasn’t met a challenge he couldn’t tackle and he knows Taber needs someone in his corner who isn’t afraid to stand up to the big bad fireman. The longer he’s around Taber, the more the sexy vulnerability of the man comes through. Deacon finds he doesn’t just want to be Taber’s live-in caregiver, he wants a chance at the passionate man beneath the stubborn shell.

A shell that is cracking, no matter how Taber tries to hold it together. Deacon being in his home starts to open him up–and open his eyes to the man Deacon hides from the rest of the world. Without seeing it coming, Taber soon craves more. A lot more.

Now if only Deacon can get Taber to see that it isn’t so bad having him there to assist. Even if and maybe especially when Taber is naked, dripping wet, and angry as hell.

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Review: Driven by Fire is the story of how Taber is managing his life after his career as a firefighter has ended with a crippling spinal injury, as well as the fact that he’s a closeted gay man. As the story begins, Taber has yet again chased away a caregiver, and Deacon has volunteered for the job. Someone has to help Taber with the cooking, cleaning, and making sure he doesn’t overdo it with the physical therapy, and Deacon seems to be the perfect man for the job since he’s currently between living arrangements. He’s broken up with his cheating boyfriend and doesn’t mind helping the sometimes-frustrated and cranky and very sexy Taber, and I thought it was rather cute how Stephen, Taber’s physical therapist, got him to agree to have Deacon come help out.

What I really enjoyed about Driven by Fire was that Taber didn’t let his injury destroy the person he was before his accident. In other words, there’s no major pity party going on in this story. But, Taber does have a problem with having too much time on his hands, and his thoughts about his future are not helping. I had a laugh out loud moment when Deacon was out doing something, and Taber decided to snoop through his bags. What he pulled out…well…let’s just say he deserved to be embarrassed.

Even though Taber hates the thought of needing a caregiver, he likes Deacon, and he was a positive distraction when Taber was in the hospital—something he came to appreciate while he was recuperating. I also liked Deacon and loved his brand of humor and how, when it looked like Taber might consider throwing himself into a pity party, he just wouldn’t let him. It’s kind of sweet how these two finally get together, when Taber reveals that he’s not into women.

Thank you, Draven St. James, for writing Taber’s story. I’m looking forward to reading more about Firehouse Six. I can’t get enough of these sexy firemen!

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5 Stars, Alex Kidwell, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Kim, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Gumption & Gumshoes by Alex Kidwell

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Title: Gumption & Gumshoes

Author: Alex Kidwell

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 207 Pages

At a Glance: Alex Kidwell, you now have a new fan, and I’m looking forward to reading more of your work.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: August Adahy Mendez would rather be buried in the world of his detective novels or a good film noir movie than in real life. He’s overweight, undermotivated, and stuck in a dead-end job. As a Chincha, he’s part of a long line of chinchilla shifters, but the greatest accomplishment in his life so far has been moving an hour away from his close-knit herd. That all changes when August’s grandfather leaves him enough cash to pursue his dream: becoming a detective himself.

Sam Ewing is a bitter divorcé who enjoys watching football and being alone. It’s easier when his only interaction with people is when he collects rent from his office building tenants. Then August rents space from him to set up his new detective agency, and Sam is drawn to him despite his misgivings.

Sam soon finds himself involved with one of August’s cases, and the men join forces to catch their criminal. The greater challenges they face, however, are how August makes Sam want to give love a second try and how Sam makes August believe that real life might be even better than fiction.

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Review: Have you ever had something on your TBR shelf that’s just been sitting there gathering dust, figuring you’ll get to it sooner or later? Well, I’ve challenged myself to finally read that backlog of books this year as part of a personal challenge, and dang, I came across this cute little jewel that has been out and circulating for awhile.

Apart from being a chinchilla shifter, August is basically an ordinary person, and I easily fell in love with the character. With the help of his grandfather’s inheritance, August is finally following his dream of becoming a detective. Unfortunately, the reality of being a detective is not what he expected. The job is mostly about chasing down cheating spouses, and the pay sucks. It doesn’t take long before the inheritance is almost gone, and the office August is renting becomes just a tad difficult to pay for on time.

Rent day… Sam figured when he bought an office building, he’d have a nice little nest egg for his retirement. What he didn’t count on was that when rent was due he’d have to chase down some of his tenants to get his money. Sam does start off as a bit of a jerk, but once you get to know about his history, and realize that he’s built this wall of gruffness to protect himself from hurt, it doesn’t take long to really like him. Sam turns out to be a romantic marshmallow when it comes to August, and Sam sees August as one hell of a sexy man.

Of course, August finally gets a real mystery to solve, and the rent is due, which brings these two together. The fact that August is a chinchilla shifter makes the plot even more interesting as well as cute. I loved how Sam found out about August being a shifter.

Breaking down the main obstacles these two characters have: Sam sees himself as too old for August, and August considers Sam to be one of the beautiful people who would hardly give him a second glance, what with his belly rolls. His own self-image screws with him. It’s the relationship building between these two MCs, and how they both overcome their self-image issues to find their HEA, that made me fall in love with Gumption & Gumshoes.

Alex Kidwell, you now have a new fan, and I’m looking forward to reading more of your work. I also would love to listen to Gumption & Gumshoes in audio. It’s a reread for me.

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Kim Fielding, Reviewed by Kim

Review: Grown-up by Kim Fielding

Title: Grown-up

Author: Kim Fielding

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 97 Pages

At a Glance: I found Grown-up to be a nice, sweet story about what happens when someone finds their missing piece.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: It’s time for Austin Beier to grow up. His car is falling apart, his roommates are less than ideal, and he’s just been fired for the umpteenth time. His love life hasn’t evolved past bathroom hookups at his favorite clubs. Forced to borrow money from his father yet again, Austin is walloped by an epiphany—he needs someone to mentor him into maturity. And who better to teach him how to be an adult than Ben, his father’s office manager? Cute in a nerdy sort of way and only a few years older than Austin, Ben is a master of organization and responsibility. But as he gets to know Ben better, Austin learns that whether you’re eight or twenty-eight, growing up is never easy.

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Review: Kim Fielding is an auto-buy for me. I have enjoyed a majority of her stories, and Grown-up is no exception, though at first, I wasn’t sure I was going to like Austin. He basically is nothing more than an overgrown teen who likes to party…a lot! But, Austin also has a sweetness about him that you just can’t help but fall in love with, and I couldn’t help but smile at this overgrown teenager because he reminds me of a few people I know who had the same problem with the business of growing up.

And, as with them, all it took was for Austin to meet the right person.

I found Grown-up to be a nice, sweet story about what happens when someone finds their missing piece. It’s the kind of story that gives you that “aaaaw” feeling. Ben is Austin’s complete opposite, and once I found out why he was this super-responsible person, I just wanted to give him a great big hug for all that he’d been through at such a young age.

My only problem with the story is that some of it felt a bit rushed, especially the ending. But, then again, when I’m enjoying a story, I really hate it when I reach the final page. I’m just a greedy reader who wanted to read more about this couple.

If you’re like me and sometimes need a book to help you calm down after a book loaded with angst, then Grown-up is a highly recommended novella for that, to help gentle and soothe the nerves.

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