4 Stars, Genre Romance, Giveaways, Irene Preston, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review and Giveaway: You Can Leave Your Boots On by Irene Preston

You Can Leave Your Boots On

Amazon

Title: You Can Leave Your Boots On

Author: Irene Preston

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 92 Pages

At a Glance: You Can Leave Your Boots On is a short, sweet, and sexy little read.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: In the heart of Texas…

Liberal Austinite Travis Boyd recycles, shops local, and is partner in a successful green-building company. After his last disastrous relationship, he’ll never again date a man who’s not out. A little discretion while working for ultra-conservative clients in west Texas is hardly the same as being in the closet. Anyway, the only person he’s interested in being indiscreet with is the client’s macho son. Not happening, Trav.

Bo Vargas is a cowboy-boot-wearing, meat-eating, truck-driving ode to masculinity. He’s not gay. The men he picks up on business trips are just anonymous diversions. Travis isn’t anonymous. And there’s something about him that makes Bo want to expand his relationship options. Maybe.

When a popular dating app sends Bo and Travis on the same blind date, the night explodes in passion. One night isn’t a problem. But what will each man be willing to risk the morning after?

Dividers

Review: Ree Vargas has her friend Travis Boyd’s best interests in mind when she helps him fill out the questionnaire on Blindr, El Paso’s “by referral only” dating site. The blind dates are just that, anonymous—applicants don’t post their names or photos of themselves, so matches are made solely by finding complementing interests. The only problem with Travis’s application, though, is that Ree may have inadvertently set some complicated wheels in motion with her interference. She won’t allow Travis to fill in the blanks with his own truths, but instead, answers the questions the way she feels will land her friend the most interesting date.

And, lo and behold, that’s exactly what happens. And, I liked the synchronicity of it.

While Travis is out and proud at home in Austin, he doesn’t necessarily flaunt his sexuality in El Paso, where he’s working on a green project with Vargas Development. He’s gone the way of the closeted boyfriend before, and has no intention of or interest in repeating the same mistake twice. Not to mention the fact that the Vargas family are staunch conservatives with an anti-gay political leaning. Adding to that there’s also the fact that while Bo Vargas is hot, he’s also straight, so while Travis is without a doubt attracted to the man, there’s not much point in pursuing that line of thinking anyway. One would assume… Irene Preston sets everything up for the perfect storm of conflicting circumstances, then spends the rest of this short story making her men overcome every hurdle in front of them.

This story brings Travis and Bo together as the Blindr match-made-in-coincidence. Or, perhaps it was a subconscious accident on Ree’s part that she would end up answering the application questions in a way that would cause her own deeply closeted brother to become Travis’s perfect match. Whatever the case may be, the two men are surprised, to say the least, when they discover they’ve been matched up for a romantic evening—Travis more like in shock, when it comes right down to it—but the story moves ahead quickly to bring the two to a make-or-break point in their budding relationship, the point where Travis refuses to be any man’s dirty little secret ever again. And, the point where Bo has to both make and defend some serious decisions.

You Can Leave Your Boots On is a romantic novella, and while it’s easy enough to foresee where the storyline will go, there was also a keen little twist toward the end that I liked just as much as I did the nuts and bolts of the story the author has told. The secrets Bo keeps brings with them some tension which I felt added some much-needed heft to the plot—part an opposites attract tale, part a coming out story, and while it held no earthshattering surprises, I liked that when push came to shove, Bo didn’t back down from his commitment to make his relationship with Travis work, even if he made a few mistakes along the way.

The only question I felt was left unanswered and thus, the plot point somewhat disappointingly underdeveloped, had to do with Bo’s parents and their acceptance of Bo’s coming out and his relationship with Travis. Their about-face takes place off page, so as the Vargases were set up as both a deeply religious and politically and socially conservative family, my feeling is there needed to be some exposition of their acceptance of their son’s revelation, most certainly since they were the reason Bo had been in the closet his entire adult life in the first place. Apart from that one niggle, though, You Can Leave Your Boots On is a sweet and sexy read, an overall nice way to spend a few weekend hours with a steamy little story.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy You Can Leave Your Boots On here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Dividers

Excerpt: He checked his phone again, where the arrows were doing a happy dance pointing right to the phone on the table in front of Bo. Travis could see the same exuberantly animated arrows spinning on the screen of Bo’s phone.

Alfonso Vargas’s son and partner was his dinner date. His more than dinner date.

When Bo looked up, Travis caught a hint of something that might have been panic in his eyes. Then Bo quirked one perfect eyebrow, smiled slowly, and gestured toward the chair across from him.

“Well, well, well. Mr. Boyd. Won’t you join me?”

Travis sat down, grateful for the waiting chair. All these weeks of working next to Bo Vargas and—was this some kind of joke? He couldn’t make sense of it. He couldn’t possibly be sitting across from Bo, who was six feet of hard muscle and tan Latin skin, and, oh God, the cut of that suit did nothing to hide the lean shape of his thighs.

Travis tried to drag his mind out of the gutter and focus.

“I, uh. Is this real?” Well, wasn’t that smooth?

“Sure.” Bo gave him a wicked smile. “It’s as real as you want it to be.”

The husky undertones in his voice reached across the table and stroked a slow finger down Travis’s belly straight to his groin. Fuckfuckfuck.

He was in trouble.

Across from him sat the real reason El Paso was such a bitch.

Not being exactly out in El Paso shouldn’t have been a problem. He’d come here to work, not hook up. But lately his libido had made a comeback. Mr. Happy hadn’t woken up because it was “time” after his last breakup, or because he didn’t know how to take care of himself when he was alone at night, or because he was turned on by cowboy boots, which everyone in El Paso wore 24/7.

Nope, the cause of all that twitchiness could be summed up easily. Bo Vargas.

Dividers

Irene PrestonAbout Irene Preston: Irene Preston has to write romances, after all she is living one.  As a starving college student, she met her dream man who whisked her away on a romantic honeymoon across Europe.  Today they live in the beautiful hill country outside of Austin, Texas where Dream Man is still working hard to make sure she never has to take off her rose-colored glasses.

Where to find Irene: IrenePreston.com || Facebook || Twitter || Pinterest || Amazon || Goodreads

Dividers

THE GIVEAWAY

Welcome to Irene Preston’s Release Celebration Giveaway! Check out the great prize pack she’s offering to one lucky reader:

  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • Level Hands by Amy Jo Cousins
  • Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell
  • King Stud by Liv Rancourt
  • Fairy Tales by Kris Ripper

To enter for a chance to win, just click on the Rafflecopter widget and follow the instructions.

Good luck!

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Dividers

The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*Some residency restrictions may apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified
*Void where prohibited by law

Standard
5 Stars, Avery Cockburn, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review: Playing for Keeps and Playing to Win by Avery Cockburn

TNA Page Turner Resized

Avery Cockburn
Title: Playing for Keeps & Playing to Win (Glasgow Lads: Books One and Two)

Author: Avery Cockburn

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 325 Pages/360 Pages

At a Glance: I can conceive of no reason not to read these books!

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb Playing for Keeps: Rule One: No Drama!

Fergus Taylor is damaged goods. Reeling from a brutal breakup, he’s determined to captain his LGBT soccer team out of scandal and into a winning season. For that, he needs strict rules and careful plans. He does NOT need a brash, muscle-bound lad messing with his head and setting his body afire.

John Burns has a rule of his own: Don’t get attached. Boyfriends are for guys with nothing to hide. Nobody—not his university mates, not the men he beds—knows his family’s shame. Now his double life is starting to unravel, thanks to a certain Highlander whose storm-riddled eyes turn John inside out, who wears a kilt like he was born in it.

Fergus is the first man John wants to share his secret with—but he’s the last man who could handle it. John knows the truth would shatter Fergus’s still-fragile heart. But how can he live a lie when he’s falling in love?

Blurb Playing to Win: Colin MacDuff has nothing. Growing up in a Glasgow slum, he learned never to trust, never to cry—and never EVER to be at the mercy of anyone, especially rich men. So how did he end up half-naked at a rave with Scotland’s hottest young aristocrat?

Lord Andrew Sunderland has everything. From ancestral castle to posh prep school, he’s spent his life wrapping others around his wee finger. With a social circle full of celebrities and politicians, nothing can stop Andrew’s rise to the top. Nothing, that is, save his desire for a dirt-poor, wolf-eyed footballer whose scars and tattoos tell unbearable tales.

Colin and Andrew come from different worlds, believe in different worlds, want different worlds. Yet every time they touch, all worlds fall away.

Set amid the fiery Scottish-independence struggle, this searing gay romance tells the story of two men who must lose everything to win each other’s hearts.

Dividers

Review: So, stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Where has this author been all my life?

Have you read these books yet? If you haven’t, do it. I don’t know who Avery Cockburn is IRL, but one thing I do know is that this author has an immense talent for storytelling as well as for creating characters it’s utterly impossible not to fall in love with. I admit I picked up these books because Scottish men in kilts are Scottish. Men. In. Kilts. But then I began reading Fergus and John’s story and couldn’t put it down. The bonus is that when I got to Andrew and Colin’s novel, I loved it even more.

This series tells the story of an LGBT football league. For us Americans that’s soccer, and I’ll admit I don’t know the first thing about the sport, but I do know that the author hasn’t made the books as much about the football as they are about the team and its message—that the world of athletics is striving for change in a positive direction. That’s not to say, however, that these men and women don’t eat, sleep, breathe, live for and love their sport.

The theme of the series, at least so far, is one of opposites attract. These are storylines in which the deep sociopolitical divides of religion, as it is for John (a Protestant) and Fergus (a Catholic), and class, as it is for Colin (a low class commoner) and Lord Andrew (a wealthy aristocrat), introduces the two men in their respective books and then weaves the immense conflict in with secrets, lies, and flat out resentment about and of their differences. Cockburn weaves the angst into these books, not in a heavy handed or irritating way—as often happens in the angst-for-angst’s-sake novels we see in romance—but in a way that suits the climate of this country. The obstacles these men face are genuine, constructed by history and tradition, and the key to their finding a way to make a relationship work is in their willingness to cross those divides, sacrifice for the sake of the love that grows between them, and accept that their feelings for each other far outweigh the dogma of their ancestry.

Honestly, I can’t begin to do these books justice in words. I devoured them. Cockburn’s storytelling is rich, smooth and burns with the intensity of a good Scottish Whiskey. These characters, all of them, ooze an irresistible charm and draw the reader into not only their stories but their lives thanks to the author’s attention to detail, all the way down to the language of the country in which the series is set. Pure and unadulterated love is the only way to describe my feeling toward these books.

With each book Cockburn steers us toward the climactic arc with a deft and clever hand. By the time I got to the make-or-break point for the couples, I was so thoroughly invested in the relationships that their pain was my pain, and I don’t mind admitting I got a little choked up when everything seemed as though it was going to come crashing down around them. I don’t know about you, but I’ve become a little jaded over the years and after the thousands of books I’ve read and reviewed in that time, I have to give all the respect to an author who can make my gut churn and my heart hurt simply because they’ve made me love their characters. These books are a solid plus in the win column.

Sexy, steamy, erotic, whatever word you want to use to describe the way the author brings the characters together, they all fit. The lust is what brings them together. The love that grows between John and Fergus, and Colin and Andrew, is what keeps them together. And yes, they’re young (these are new adult novels), but there’s something there between them that makes you believe with all your heart that they’re together for the long haul.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy Playing for Keeps here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

You can buy Playing to Win here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Standard
4 Stars, Genre Romance, Jayden Brooks, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Release Day Review: Clique by Jayden Brooks

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Clique (Heartsville)

Author: Jayden Brooks

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 78 Pages

At a Glance: Funny, sweet, and sarcastic, Clique is a story about taking risks, hanging on, and fighting for something real.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Adam Locke’s youthful looks aren’t the blessing everyone seems to think. At twenty-eight, he’s a successful photographer with his own studio and respected by his peers—but that doesn’t seem to matter to the men who catch his eye. Instead, he’s brushed aside like an underage twink with a daddy fetish.

When a hot, bearded stranger stops him from accidentally walking into traffic, Adam looks up and finds the man of his dreams. Unfortunately, his first meeting with Brandon ends with him being dismissed as a kid. Again. Adam can’t help his annoyance. He also can’t help staring (and drooling) whenever he spots Brandon walking through the neighborhood with a different dog.

He watches from afar, wondering about Brandon’s story—until the day he’s dared to take another chance. It’s just the push Adam needs, and finally, he catches Brandon’s interest. Now if only he could figure out the key to getting taciturn Brandon to open up and let Adam in. But Adam knows sometimes all it takes is a little patience for the last piece to click into place.

Dividers

Review: When Piper Vaugh said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that sometimes you just need a bit of fluff reading mixed in with all the drama and angst we also love, she couldn’t have been speaking more of the truth for me. This sweet compilation of stories is set in the enchanting little gayborhood known as Heartsville, a place that simply oozes charm and feels ripe for two people meeting and falling madly in love.

The first thing that drew me in to Jayden Brooks’ Clique is the humor, and I fell for Adam Locke’s voice right from the outset of the book. This story is not only told in the first person, but Brooks also allows Adam to break the fourth wall, and I have to say I liked the conversational vibe of the story, which wouldn’t have worked at all if Adam hadn’t been so likeable. Adam speaks to us while he’s thinking out loud and telling his story, and I found myself smiling on more than one occasion as he drew me in with his self-deprecating ways.

Adam is a grown man who often passes for many years younger than his actual age, a frequent mistake which seems to be a factor in him honing a bit of a sarcastic streak. Which immediately endeared him to me because, really, who doesn’t love a little sarcasm? One of the things that I think gave Clique a little realism, although it’s still a total meet-cute, is that when Adam and Brandon do first meet—or, I should say, when Brandon knocks Adam off his feet. Literally—it’s not a magical “aaaah” angels singing, harps playing moment. And it also involves a pup, so bonus cute! Brandon is the prickly-prickly to Adam’s funny-prickly, and the contrast worked for me because it gave the author the chance to offer a slower build to the relationship; or, at least as slow as the word count would allow.

Add to that a hilariously awkward “meet the parents” moment, not to mention that mischievous pup, as well as an almost deal-breaker misunderstanding that an obstinate Brandon let get a little out of control, and I wasn’t sure Adam and Brandon were ever going to get to the point where they’d get to know each other, shall we say, more intimately? But, fitting into the sweet scenarios these books are meant to offer, Jayden Brooks ultimately gets down to the plucking of the sentimental heartstrings that leads this book to its happy ending.

Adam gives us a peek into his story through the lens of his narrative, a story about taking risks, hanging on, and fighting for something real, something more, and something everlasting. At its heart, that’s what Clique is all about.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy Clique here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard
4 Stars, Genre Romance, Nico Jaye, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Release Day Review: Unscripted by Nico Jaye

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Unscripted (Heartsville)

Author: Nico Jaye

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 80 Pages

At a Glance: Fun, sweet, adorable, charming—Unscripted is all that and a little more.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Theater manager Teddy Carbone’s life has gone pretty much according to script… until now.

To his surprise, Teddy finds himself co-owner of the Oasis Theater with Carter Monroe, a corporate shark who’s looking at him like he’s chum in the water. Being in charge of the theater is one thing, but having to deal with Carter and his demands is another. With Carter’s proposed plan to sell the Oasis looming, Teddy must convince Carter the theater is worth saving. When he introduces the bright, bold world of the stage to Carter’s cold, all-business lifestyle, though, Teddy soon comes to recognize that the Oasis might not be the only thing he has a chance to save.

Dividers

Review: I’ve said this publicly on any number of occasions, but it bears repeating here. I love short stories and novellas because sometimes I just want to get in, get happy, and get out. Get me to the HEA without all the angst and big misunderstandings, give me a fun and sweet short, maybe a little bit of the sexy too, and I’m your audience pretty much every single time.

Nico Jaye’s Unscripted was the perfect little read for a weekend afternoon. When we meet Teddy Carbone, he’s just received news that he’s now the partial owner of the theater that’s grown into such an important part of its community, this neighborhood called Heartsville. He’s also been informed he has a new partner, Carter Monroe, a successful businessman and the nephew of the former owner of the Oasis—a man who’s forgotten what the theater had once meant to him.

This story starts off with the sexy, moves on to the sweet, then ends with the fun (and more of the sexy, which, as an excellent bonus, was also fun!), perfectly paced as Teddy charms his way through his efforts to convince Carter not to sell the theater, lusting after him more than a little, and then Teddy proceeds to impress Carter not only with his love for the place and its people but with his knowledge of the running of the theater itself.

Teddy is adorable, Carter has a sexy sort of commanding charisma, and while we don’t get pages and pages of these two men falling in love, what Nico Jaye does give us is a convincing glimpse of their passionate and playful sides, and I totally bought into them as a couple. I also loved Teddy’s family—they give the story some feel-good moments that add to all the other warm feelings Unscripted delivers.

If you’re not a big fan of shorter stories but decide to give Unscripted a chance, the only thing I think you’ll find it doesn’t do is last long enough.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy Unscripted here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard
4 Stars, Bonnie Dee, Historical Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published, Summer Devon

Release Day Review: The Merchant and the Clergyman by Summer Devon and Bonnie Dee

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: The Merchant and the Clergyman

Author: Summer Devon and Bonnie Dee

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 186 Pages

At a Glance: If you’re looking for well written historical romance, you can’t go wrong with these two authors.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: A village clergyman

Curate James Fletcher is content shepherding his parishioners through the good and bad times of their lives. If he sometimes dreams of making a deeper connection with a man who truly knows everything about him, it is an impulse he ignores.

A devoted businessman

Declan Shaw solves problems at his family’s many business enterprises. Recently, he’s considered ceasing his travels to pursue a few desires of his own. He’d love to explore his secret love of cooking and perhaps have a relationship with a man that lasts longer than a night.

The event that brings them together

In town for his cousin’s wedding, Declan meets James just as he’s bested the annoying groom. Intrigued by the mild-mannered cleric’s surprising spirit, Declan asks James to help him discover if his aging aunt is being mistreated by her spouse.

As their paths repeatedly cross, the men reach an intersection of attraction they can’t ignore. Will they dare purse forbidden passion and continue to journey together into the future, or will their differences tear them apart?

Dividers

Review: One of the reasons I love historical romance is one of the reasons a lot of people don’t. Gay men and women had to settle for a very different sort of happy ending throughout history, often marrying for the sake of propriety while keeping their true natures a secret to all but those with whom they carried on their secret affairs. One of the reasons this book endeared itself to me is because Summer Devon and Bonnie Dee not only captured that romantic element but then, rather than allowing this story to rest on that tried and true trope alone, they added a bit of mystery and danger to the plot. That, as well as two charming characters in Declan Shaw and James Fletcher—our merchant and clergyman—drove this story along to an ending that was perfectly fitting for its historical setting, a resolution that fit the time and the characters, and allowed James to carry on in a calling he loved and was so obviously meant to do. To reiterate what Jennifer once summarized in another review of this writing duo’s work not long ago—if you’re looking for well written historical romance, you can’t go wrong with these two authors.

James’s rather limited, not to mention unfortunate, experience with men begins and ends with Kip Darnley. Kip is the prototype of the closeted bully, using James for sex then treating him horribly the remainder of the time. While James had tolerated Kip’s callous behavior in school for several reasons—not the least of which is that he’s a sexual submissive, and the way Kip commanded him turned him on more than a little—it’s clear when they come face to face again that Kip’s free pass to sex with James has long expired. When they meet again all these years later, Kip’s demands have nothing to do with scratching an itch (though he does try, which results in us seeing exactly the stuff James is made of) and everything to do with James officiating Kip’s marriage to a sweet and naïve young woman.

The authors thicken the plot when Declan Shaw is introduced…looking rather a lot like Kip, and pushing quite a few of James’s buttons. As it turns out, Declan is Kip’s handsome and far more interesting cousin, which sets the stage for their romance. But of course, as a relationship between two men was anathema in this story’s setting, especially when one of them is a man of the cloth, the getting together wasn’t easy. That doesn’t mean, however, that James isn’t wildly attracted to Declan while at the same time being a little turned off by him because of his familial connections.

As Devon and Dee move the plot forward, we’re treated to a story that endears James to us as we witness him questioning his beliefs while exhibiting an uncompromising devotion to his flock. We watch a subtle (then a not so subtle) flirtation unfold between him and Declan, all while James struggles with his sexual needs and how to confess them to the man. In short, James is human and, therefore, relatable on every level. As conflict is introduced alongside this romance, revealing that Kip’s impending marriage is a disaster waiting to happen, as well as an intrigue involving Declan’s aunt, Declan not only becomes James’s lover but also becomes this story’s hero.

The Merchant and the Clergyman is a tender romance that doesn’t struggle to give readers a happy ending unbefitting the time in which the story is set. Rather, the ending gives both James and Declan exactly what the time and setting demanded, allowing us to believe they loved long into the future, with none the wiser.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy The Merchant and the Clergyman here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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

Review: Stand and Deliver by Scarlet Blackwell

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Stand and Deliver

Author: Scarlet Blackwell

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 102 Pages

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

Reviewed By: Lisa

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

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

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

Dividers

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

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

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

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

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

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

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy Stand and Deliver here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Pride Publishing

Pride Publishing

Standard
4 Stars, AE Kendall, Historical Romance, Reviewed by Lisa

Review: The Quartermaster and the Marquis’ Son by AE Kendall

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: The Quartermaster and the Marquis’ Son

Author: AE Kendall

Publisher: Hermione Press

Pages/Word Count: 466 Pages

At a Glance: This is a fun, guilty pleasure, love and lust and danger on the high seas adventure.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: A gorgeous pirate, a handsome nobleman. A clash at sea.

Galen is the seasoned twenty-six year old Quartermaster of the Fair Wind and a fierce rover. Tall, dark and handsome with piercing green eyes. He cuts an imposing figure to any man foolish enough to get in his way. For the past seven years, he and the men of the Brethren of the Coast have scoured the Caribbean seas seeking the lone vessel traversing unawares, ready to steal her cargo. But he harbors a dark secret. He has spent the last three years haunted by the memory of a Spaniard named Obrigio who brutally assaulted him in Puerto Principe after a near disastrous raid. While setting his sights on Obrigio rumored to have since taken to the seas, Galen unleashes his fury on the unsuspecting merchant ships unfortunate enough to cross paths with him and his Brethren privateers.

Twenty year old Michel Laurent du Montbron is the third son of the Marquis d’ Sevigne-Chambord and harbors a secret. For as long as he can remember, he has been attracted to men. When his older brother is unexpectedly banished to Jamaica by their tyrannical father and made to oversee the building of a plantation, Michel decides to follow on his heels knowing the future holds nothing for him in France, though he is waylaid by illness. When he finally succeeds in leaving, just two days shy of Port Royal, his ship is besieged by buccaneers. Unwilling to stand idle while his ship is overrun, he takes up arms and encounters the stunningly handsome Fair Wind’s Quartermaster. He is ultimately disarmed and taken captive by the imposing figure and thrown into the hold. Michel must learn to fend for himself on a ship full of cutthroats and murderers while coming to grips with his predicament and his growing feelings for the man who took him captive.

While Michel is immediately smitten, Galen is slower to admit his true feelings, that he is equally enamored by his young prisoner. Together they embark on a saga of romance and self-discovery amidst the hardship and unforgiving conditions on a roving ship. Will their growing love survive and prevail on the high seas, or will the Quartermaster be proven correct that, despite their best efforts to stay together, rovers like Galen and men of Michel’s ilk just don’t mix.

Dividers

Review: Oh my lord. ::fans self:: I’ve just stepped into the wayback machine and returned to the days of my first swashbuckling bodice rippers—Valerie Sherwood’s Love series. With titles like Bold Breathless Love and Wild Willful Love and my wild and willful and bold hormones leaving me breathless for her pirate, van Ryker, I became a lifelong sucker for the bad boys who once sailed the seas, looting, pillaging and plundering the hearts of the ones who eventually became their willing captives.

AE Kendall’s The Quartermaster and the Marquis’ Son is very much the M/M version of a good old fashioned bodice ripper, and I ate it up rather gleefully. As the story opens, the author lays the foundation of plausibility for Michel Laurent du Montbron’s story, as we see the proverbial writing on the wall. The Marquis d’ Sevigne-Chambord has an heir who has been molded in his image to take over the reins of the family legacy. Michel and his older brother Alain, the boy’s only ally, are nothing but the disappointing spares who will never live up to their sire’s impossible standards. When the Marquis’ final and inflexible demand ends in an unseemly brawl between the brothers, it sets the foundation for the adventure this novel becomes and gives us the reason for Michel to set out on his own. Alain is exiled to Jamaica and Michel is determined to follow him, though his departure is delayed by a full two years when he comes down with the ague, which waylays his plans of escape.

But then, this is where the story truly begins.

As you might expect—since this is a seafaring romance, after all—Michel’s ship is attacked by pirates. And one pirate in particular, Galen, captures Michel because…reasons. Reasons such as Michel happens to be beautiful and fair, and Galen happens to be wildly attracted to him. Although, Galen’s nowhere near ready or willing to admit it to himself, let alone to Michel. Nor is Michel at all comfortable with admitting that he is far more attracted to men than women.

Michel is kept a prisoner in the hold of the ship, though he’s treated well, given the circumstances. Especially when his fever returns and he’s in need of near constant attention. And speaking of fever of a wholly different kind, Michel and Galen’s interactions are a slow burn of unresolved sexual tension, during which time we see that though Michel isn’t as full on alpha-male as Galen, far from it, he’s also far from the damsel in distress. He can hold his own when push comes to shove, though he does swoon a little bit. But, who wouldn’t when faced with a man like Galen, the dark and mysterious and beautiful hunk of a pirate. Michel isn’t immune to a little possessive jealousy.

Galen is hard edged and fierce, a man with a secret in his past that drives him to seek vengeance against the Spaniard who’d once brutalized him. Galen wants Obrigio dead at all costs. And the question eventually becomes whether or not the price of losing Michel is worth the pound of flesh that Galen has spent seven years honing a taste for. It all comes to an exciting climax, fraught with what I’d say was the inevitable make or break point in the story’s arc.

Let’s be honest here for a moment, shall we? Suspending belief is an absolute must when we’re talking about this particular brand of romance. Pirates who sailed the seas during the age of buccaneers likely suffered from all manner of unattractive hygiene issues and rotten teeth that would offend our modern sensibilities, but that’s part of the fun of this particular niche of historical romance—the fantasy of it. These were lawless men who fought and lived and died by their own particular codes of honor, and that’s what makes them sexy, the fact that they were beholden to none but themselves and their brethren. Until they found the one person they may have taken by hook or by crook, but would eventually come to lay down their lives for to keep them safe from harm.

And, while I’m busy being honest, let me also say here that this book could have used a bit more attention in the editing department, especially in what I felt was the over use of some period-appropriate words that were distracting in our modern usage of them, but didn’t detract too much from my overall enjoyment of the story. I also must say that if you’re not a fan of prose that has a tendency to run toward the purple, then proceed with the knowledge that both the narrative and dialogue ran a little florid at times, but it’s appropriate to both the genre and the story’s setting.

That said, Kendall tells a rousing tale of love and danger and revenge on the high seas. The action scenes were just that—filled with action. The love scenes were just that—filled with some pretty hot lovin’ and tempered by what seemed an impossible obstacle to overcome. Michel and Galen are two very different men who live in two very different worlds, and one question lies between them: will they find a way to be together, or are they merely ships passing in the night?

I can say with absolute certainty that the author accomplished her mission, at least for me: I was completely engaged by and invested in her two heroes. I wanted them to find their way to each other, and while there were plenty of stumbling blocks in their way, and their feelings seemed to grow more from lust than from a deeper exposition of their interests, I believed that they believed in the love they felt for each other, and that’s all that mattered in the end.

And speaking of the end, there’s a sequel on the horizon. It’s one I’ll read in a heartbeat.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy The Quartermaster and the Marquis’ Son here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Smashwords

Smashwords

Standard
5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jules, Reviewed by Lisa, S.A. McAuley

Buddy Review: Where Wishes Go by S.A. McAuley

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Where Wishes Go

Author: S.A. McAuley

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 246 Pages

At a Glance: We loved it. Check this one out, folks!

Reviewed By: Jules and Lisa

Blurb: Can you have a second chance at a first love?
Nick Paine is just starting to return to normal after he told his wife he’s gay and asked for a divorce. Despite a daughter he loves dearly and a job he believes in, part of him is stuck in the past. He’s never forgotten the first love he let fade away fifteen years ago.
Adam “Izz” Azzi has settled into a happy rhythm. His daughter is healthy, he’s found a mosque that accepts him, and his work as a modern artist is gaining international attention. While his past is fraught with mistakes and what-ifs, his life now is good, and he doesn’t want to upset any of the balance he’s worked so hard to achieve.

When Nick and Izz are reunited by luck and fate, their attraction is just as undeniable, but what was left unsaid haunts them. They have hope for a future together, but wishing may not be enough.

Dividers

Review: Jules: Sometimes you simply need a swoony, well-written, easygoing contemporary romance in your life. It’s a fact; you just do. Next time you find yourself in that position, reach immediately for Where Wishes Go by S.A. McAuley. This is not just an easy-breezy contemporary romance, though…No, no…This book has sexy dads. That’s right – DADS, with an ‘s’. Whether or not there are sexy dads is ALWAYS a good baseline for judging if a book is going to be worth your time. And, this one definitely is.

Lisa: At its core, Where Wishes Go is a story of second chances—at love, at life. Nick Paine and Adam Azzi get the ultimate do-over after a fifteen year separation; after their failed relationships with women gifted them each with a daughter; after myriad hardships and recoveries. And after they each are able to reconcile their pasts, to understand and forgive their teenage selves and put behind them all the mistakes they made at the moment they said goodbye at graduation all those years before, these two men rediscover each other, rekindle a love that never really burned out, and suffer the ultimate trial a parent can face. And, in the end, Nick and Adam came together and built a family.

Adam realized that Nick and he were kindred spirits in a way that time or distance couldn’t diminish.

Jules: I loved how this story unfolded, how we get to know them each individually and where they are in their lives, and then watch them reconnect and grow together. The perfect way their worlds mesh and meld together, from their daughters’ fast friendship to the seamless blending of Adam and Nick’s friends. It’s all so well done.

Speaking of the friends…this cannot go unsaid. They. Were. Fabulous. Every last one of them. Adam’s best friend and business partner, Charlie, Nick’s best friends Roban, the restauranteur, and Daniel, the boutique owner, all fit together like a puzzle, and were perfect as the guys’ chosen family. The girls not only had doting fathers, but three doting uncles wrapped around their fingers as well. This crew starred in many scenes ranging from heartwarming to hysterical, and I want them all to have their own books immediately. :D

Lisa: I loved all the characters in this book, even when I thought I may not necessarily like Nick’s ex-wife Shelly. Adam isn’t as fragile as he believes, finding strength and peace in his faith and in the love of his daughter; Nick is tenacious and loyal and patient as both a father and lover—they carry the story along, but without their daughters, Katie and Miriam; without their mothers; without their close group of friends there to lift them up and support them every step of the way, Adam and Nick might have had a much longer and more arduous journey to their happy ending than they’d already had to endure. Daniel, Charlie, Roban—the guys who bring a little lightness to some of the heavier moments in the story—were stellar. I loved them to bits because they brought the humor right along with the impenetrable wall of support when Nick and Adam needed it, and them, the most.

Jules: McAuley’s writing style feels so effortless and smooth, the entire book is a joy to read. The scene setting is fabulous, the character building was so thorough, the interactions so perfectly executed, and the romance…is like butter. There is a bit of tension/angst/drama, to give just the right amount of extra depth to the story. But, overall this is a good feels book.

Lisa: Where Wishes Go is so happy-making. It’s romantic to the extreme, a little angsty, a lot embraceable. It grabs you by the sentimental short-hairs and doesn’t let go until the final sentence, unashamedly plucks at your heartstrings, and delivers a few chuckles along the way for good measure. The next time you’re in the mood for a feel-good read, this book fulfills that wish.

We loved it. Check this one out, folks!

Buddy Signature

 

 

 

You can buy Where Wishes Go here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard
4 Stars, Annabelle Jacobs, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review: The Altered 3 by Annabelle Jacobs

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: The Altered 3

Author: Annabelle Jacobs

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 166 Pages

At a Glance: The Altered 3 is a suspenseful and romantic end to this series.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Matt is a single shifter living in a house full of couples. It’s not that he begrudges his friends their happiness—especially after everything they’ve been through—but he wants someone for himself. He wants a mate. Living out in the Cornish countryside there seems little chance of him finding one.

Thomas’s life has recently been changed forever. Newly altered, he finds himself in danger as his mother, a prominent politician, works to put a stop to the mistreatment of altereds and bring those responsible to justice.

To keep him safe, Thomas is sent to Cornwall where Matt and his friends offer him refuge until he can return to his home in London. Despite the circumstances surrounding his arrival, Thomas and Matt bond in a way neither of them were expecting. They struggle to come to terms with what this might mean for their future once the threat is eliminated.

Dividers

Review: I’ve so enjoyed The Altered series and some of the fresh concepts Annabelle Jacobs has brought to the paranormal world her characters reside in. The shifters in the series aren’t the product of supernatural mysticism or the result of being bitten by another infected. The shifters in this series are the product of a bit of science fiction and government corruption, which adds a layer of intrigue and danger to the storyline, as the altered are stigmatized and ostracized by society’s prejudices and irrational fears, forcing them to hide their shifter status.

While shifter families aren’t designated as packs, nor are the more dominant members of those families technically considered the alphas, there is definitely the inference that Jordan and Daniel, Keira and Charlie, Sam and Ash—the mated pairs—and the lone single, Matt, are at least pack-like. They fight for each other, protect each other and, while Keira is definitely a dominant personality and a force to be reckoned with, there’s little doubt that Jordan would be the alpha if such a thing existed. What is also prevalent, though it’s never specifically called a fated mate bond, is the serum triggering the mating instinct in these human/shifter hybrids. It may not be fated, it may have nothing to do with magick, but there’s no doubt it’s potent and, from what we see, it’s an impulse that must be obeyed.

This series begins with the world-building and fulfills our romance needs at the same time in the relationship that evolves between Jordan and Daniel in book one. Their story is a great blend of action set against their resistance to the idea that there’s something calling them at a soul-deep level to be together. As the story arc progresses in book two, the overtones become decidedly more romantic as Ash and Sam resolve not only their feelings for each other but the challenges from Sam’s past, as well as the difficult transition for Ash to his status as a newly turned altered.

The end of this trilogy brings all the action and political intrigue and danger to a head, with Matt’s story and the disheartening reality that he is the lone partial shifter in a family of mated pairs—five full shifters and Daniel, a seer. His status as what he sees as the weakest link in the altered chain, not to mention the odd man out as the only one who doesn’t have a significant other to share his life with, started the story off with me immediately wanting to wrap him up in hugs and reassuring him everything would be okay. In other words, the author plays on our empathy, and it works. At least, it did for me. The surprise isn’t that Matt finally meets his mate, but the surprise for Matt is that his mate turns out to be a man, Thomas Knight, the son of a prominent government official—who also happens to be the woman determined to blow a plot to create a shifter army wide open.

In retaliation of his mother’s interference, Thomas is kidnapped and infected, forcing him into hiding not only to escape danger but to protect him until Teresa Knight can ensure a safer world for all altereds. The horrible miscalculation on the part of the villains in this story is that their plan to subdue Ms. Knight served only to infuriate and give her more motivation. Never underestimate the power of a mother when her child is being threatened. Lesson. Learned.

The building of Matt and Thomas’s relationship happens quickly, as is the norm in this sub-genre of romance, and even though Matt had never explored his attraction to men, his attraction to Thomas was handled well. I believed they were meant for each other, and in the end, that’s what all good stories do—make us believe in the impossible, the improbable, and the great mystery that is the chemistry of a physical, mental, and emotional attraction between two people.

While there may not have been any great twists or surprises leading up to the climax of the story, or in the way Annabelle Jacobs wound things down to the book’s happy ending, it moves along at a brisk pace with some really good suspense thrown in as the danger ratchets up toward the end. This series is a fun way to escape reality for a while and spend some time with hot, sexy shifters.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy The Altered 3 here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard
5 Stars, Eric Arvin, Horror, Reviewed by Lisa, Wilde City Press

Release Day Review: The Rascal by Eric Arvin

TNA Page Turner Resized

TheRascalCover200x314Title: The Rascal

Author: Eric Arvin

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count: 61500 Words

At a Glance: For fans of horror, The Rascal is a must read.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Lana is a faded movie star who lives alone in a big house on a hill that overlooks the sea. She has lived this way since the death of her daughter and the disappearance of her husband.

Jeff and Chloe are a couple who live in a cabin below the big house. It was Chloe’s idea to strengthen their marriage; but she sees now that it isn’t working. Jeff has become obsessed with the cabin and the old water well. Chloe only sees strangeness around her.

One night while talking on the computer with Ethan, Jeff’s brother, a feeling of dread comes to the fore. When Ethan sees a figure behind Chloe, he leaves his boyfriend and baby and sets out to save Jeff.

Chloe, Ethan and Lana come together to fight an evil that would destroy Jeff. Will they succeed or will all of them fall to the taste of a young cannibalistic ghost?

Dividers

Review: As you would do with any review, bringing your personal preferences into account, I’m going to start out by asking you to take into consideration that when other girls were reading Forever and Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, I was under the covers and sleeping with the lights on, reading The Exorcist and The Amityville Horror and every single Stephen King book I could get my hands on while watching movies like The Other and The Omen on late-night television. In other words, the horror fiction genre has been a staple of my avaricious reading habits almost from the time I started devouring chapter books. So when I say Eric Arvin’s The Rascal is a brilliant book, it comes from the perspective of someone who is perhaps a little more demanding in what constitutes a chilling mindfreak of a horror story. The kind of story that when the writing leaves off, the imagination takes over, which is all the fun of reading horror.

The Rascal, in fact, reminds me a lot of the earlier days of Stephen King: Salem’s Lot, The Shining, Pet Sematary, The Dead Zone. Arvin offers us, from the outset of this novel, a macabre glimpse of what’s to come, then eases back, eases us into a placid sense of menace. Do you remember the scene in It, when the little boy is sailing his paper boat in the rain swollen gutter? It’s this innocence juxtaposed with the utter certainty that evil isn’t far away which informs every great horror novel—it’s the loss of innocence that terrifies us. Not even youthful innocence lost, specifically, but the absolute stripping away of everything that means safety and security to us. The Rascal is a book that takes any shred of hope we may have for its characters and grinds it under its heel.

There is a certain foreboding wrapped up in the rather uneventful, small town of Wicker when we visit with Jeff and Chloe Cane, the place they intend to make their new home, to try to craft a new beginning from the wreckage of their marriage. Wicker is much like any little burg on the map—insular, friendly on its surface. But deep down, you know there are secrets… With names like Bad Luck Hill and No Hope Creek, we know the calm idyll is nothing more than an illusion and that the danger is only going to grow as the story progresses.

It does.

The little cottage on Bad Luck Hill is the place that should signal a fresh start but quickly becomes a harbinger of ill omen. It’s the place where peace and hope are nothing but dead and bloated corpses, suffocated by dread and misery. It’s the place that can make even the most jaded cry out to a god they don’t believe in. This is where we find Jeff and Chloe and the former actress, Lana Pruitt, who sold them the little cottage situated between the deadly cliffs and the dark woods—even knowing there was a resident evil lurking there.

If you’ve ever read Woke Up In a Strange Place, The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men, or Wave Goodbye to Charlie, you’ll know the hallmark of Eric Arvin’s writing is his ability to turn a phrase just so, so that you suddenly see everything you thought you knew from a different angle. “Possession is nine-tenths of the law” – it does not mean what you think it means. For Jeff and Chloe, who are adventure tour guides, it’s the greatest irony that Death is the one journey for which they could never have prepared. Life is the one adventure they may not survive.

In the end, when love has been tested, faith has been broken, hatred has been simmering so close to the surface that one need only stare into the abyss to see that misery stares back, it’s how much one is willing to sacrifice for the sake of an estranged husband, and, for Ethan, an estranged brother, which brings this story’s evil to its conclusion. I love this book. I yelled at it, cursed at it, I shuddered at every single visual Arvin paints into an atmosphere that’s permeated by dread. There are things that go bump in the night. Then there are things that want you to suffer unimaginable horrors. That’s the rascal. He is the symbol of lost innocence, of evil, of insanity, of retribution. The rascal wants his pound of flesh in a most literal and chilling way.

And Eric Arvin delivers.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

The Rascal is available for purchase here (watch for other e-tailer purchase links soon):

Wilde City Press

Wilde City Press

Amazon Pre-Order Here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Standard
4 Stars, Genta Sebastian, Reviewed by Lisa, Shadoe Publishing, Young Adult

Review: A Man’s Man by Genta Sebastian

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: A Man’s Man

Author: Genta Sebastian

Publisher: Shadoe Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 152 Pages

At a Glance: With a narrator who isn’t always easy to like, let alone love, A Man’s Man gives its young narrator the room to discover what being a man’s man truly means.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: “It’s like this, see. My dad’s a fag, his boyfriend’s a queer, and I think I might be gay. I mean, I think it’s catching or something.”

When thirteen year old R.J. decides to turn his dad straight, unintended consequences mess everything up. To make things right he will have to figure out for himself what it means to be A Man’s Man.

(For YA readers age 12-16)

Dividers

Review: The narrator of A Man’s Man, R.J. Davis, is a boy carrying around a lot of hurt and anger. Our evidence? The opening paragraph of the book, which you’ll notice is also the opening paragraph of the blurb.

Written with her intended audience in mind, Sebastian does a fantastic job of keeping things simple and straightforward in this narrative, as well as making these characters and their story relatable to her YA readers. As adults, we often reflect upon how brutal kids can be to one another, but sometimes we have to acknowledge how horrific adults can be too. In snide remarks masked as jokes and extremism masquerading as religion, we’re forced to recognize that hatred, bigotry, and discrimination can be found any and everywhere—even as close as our schools and communities—and this book relays that without sugarcoating it in the slightest.

The author presents these scenarios through R.J.’s narration, and as an adult reader, I don’t mind admitting I cringed at every disparaging remark and nasty epithet flung so carelessly, especially by R.J. himself. This isn’t a comfortable read for those of us who think of ourselves as being politically correct, but this book and its subject aren’t meant to be comfortable, nor is A Man’s Man intended to show anything but the ways R.J.’s relationship with his father is colored by the boy’s perceptions. In that goal, the author succeeds.

After his parents divorced, R.J.’s father moved to Minnesota while R.J. and his mother remained behind in San Diego—a divorce that was instigated by his father finally acknowledging the truth of his own sexuality. Establishing plausibility for R.J.’s bitterness is achieved by tapping into the reader’s empathy for the boy whose parents’ best intentions had left him feeling abandoned by his father; feeling displaced by his father’s partner Stephen (whom R.J. introduces to people as his uncle); feeling betrayed by a father who obviously (in R.J.’s opinion) never loved the mother R.J. adores—a mother who has died too soon. Which leaves the boy feeling abandoned once again, even as he’s exiled to Minnesota to live with a father who not only seems somewhat like a stranger to R.J. but is also the object of the boy’s intense scorn.

We witness R.J.’s grief present as the actions of a boy who is sometimes difficult to like, I don’t mind saying. His attitude certainly makes him an unreliable narrator where Robert and Stephen’s relationship is concerned, a relationship that’s anathema to the boy and, were their community to discover the true nature of the men’s living arrangements, it would open them up to the sort of ridicule they have been disinclined to test. That is, until R.J. makes it his mission to break up Robert and Stephen so his father will be straight again.

As I was reading this book, I found myself wondering how many of the events I should take as dramatic license and how much should be acknowledged as the believable actions of a teenage boy who didn’t grow up with two dads but was introduced to it more or less at a time when he’s only just becoming aware of what sexuality even is—his own included. How much should be acknowledged as the actions of a boy who needed to have his father to himself, weighed against the actions of a boy who equated his father’s being gay as being the direct result of R.J.’s feeling abandoned—when in truth, Robert’s embracing his homosexuality, the subsequent divorce, his moving away and distancing himself from his son were merely the byproducts of two parents whose love for their child and respect for each other was all misinterpreted by a boy who was too young to understand. R.J.’s naïveté rang absolutely true to me in his belief that his dad would quit being gay if only the temptation of the man he loves could be removed from the equation. R.J.’s anger rang true as well, and served to make Robert and Stephen our sympathetic protagonists in the story. Does that make R.J. the antagonist? Yes, absolutely. But this is also a story of redemption and an opportunity for R.J. to grow into his feelings once he learns what being a man’s man truly means.

Although Genta Sebastian’s A Man’s Man is labeled as a Young Adult novella suitable for ages 12 to 16, I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciated this story from the perspective of an adult. With no action or fantasy in the plot, I’m not sure how well kids will relate to the story, but it’s certainly a lesson that life isn’t always easy, that losing a parent is hard (at any age), that being a teenager sometimes feels impossible, and finding the courage to finally speak up and right a wrong is everything this novella’s title is about.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy A Man’s Man here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Standard
5 Stars, Bey Deckard, Horror, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Release Day Review: Better the Devil You Know by Bey Deckard

TNA Page Turner Resized

Better the Devil You KnowTitle: Better the Devil You Know

Author: Bey Deckard

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 39000 Words

At a Glance: Sick, twisted, brutal, filled with the unexpected, and I loved it.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Byron is tall, handsome, well spoken, wealthy, and has outstanding taste in wine and food. You’ll be impressed by his impeccable attire and eloquence in conversation, ranging from Baroque art to the newest advances in pharmacology. With his charming smile and elegant manners, Byron truly is the perfect date… and who doesn’t love a man who appreciates opera?

What’s the catch, you ask?

Just this: if Byron finds you suitable, he will subject you to utterly depraved forms of torture.

No, I’m not talking about S&M.

Byron will mutilate, rape, and then kill you. Don’t think that you will survive the encounter, because you won’t. He has a perfect record.

Intrigued? Would you like me to arrange a rendezvous? It has to be in the next few days because he’s leaving on a trip south to much warmer climes, and his calendar will be completely full.

Yes? Very good. I will make a reservation for two under the name of Smith.

Who am I? I’m Gloria, his personal assistant.

Dividers

Review: First off, let me say that one of the things I will never do is read a book that’s dark and twisted (a lot twisted), or one that contains material which some may consider triggers—or, situations that may just plain offend a person’s sensibilities—and then say, unequivocally, “You have got to read this book!” We all have comfort zones and boundaries, and pushing those boundaries doesn’t make anyone braver or more intellectual or more open-minded than someone who chooses not to do so. Having said that, I personally have been waiting a long time for this book in the M/M genre.

Okay, not this book, specifically (I’m still waiting for someone to write an M/M Jack the Ripper novel), but rather, a no-holds-barred psychological horror story along the lines of “I ate his liver with some Fava beans and a nice chianti,” only more graphic in detail and agitating in its horrifying displays of insanity. What I’ve been waiting for is a novel that would engage and repulse, all at the same time, and Bey Deckard has delivered in a big way with Better the Devil You Know, a perfectly twisted tale that looks at evil through the eyes of a serial killer, the devil, and questions a psychopath’s ability to be redeemed at the hands of Lucifer himself.

Byron Danielsen, former doctor and this story’s antagonist, is a sick son of a bitch (if you’ll pardon my français). John Wayne Gacy? Ted Bundy? Jeffrey Dahmer? Pfft. Byron makes their crimes seem uninspired and amateurish by comparison, and I’m in awe of Deckard’s imagination—which is one of the reasons I love this niche of fiction. No, I’m not living vicariously in any way through the genre, I’m not at all titillated by the extremes of perversion herein, but I am fascinated by the abnormal psychology of the depraved and irredeemable. When they say “truth is stranger than fiction” (in an ironic bit of perfection, a quote attributed to Lord Byron), they aren’t talking about books like Better the Devil You Know. It’s difficult enough to comprehend when we see crimes of a particularly brutal and aberrant nature on the news, but when we read a story such as this, all we can do is feel grateful the author’s imagination isn’t one born of experience…or fruitful as inspiration.

Byron is… what is Byron? He is repugnant yet is possessed of a certain charm and refinement, which is what makes him such a dangerous beast—what makes so many serial killers dangerous, in fact—their ability to blend in and to attract victims by preying on our inability to see what lurks behind the veil of normalcy. He has the advantage of luring his victims to him, masquerading as a human, if a little odd, when, in fact, there is a monster lurking beneath a hotbed of psychosis. That is what makes this book, and those like it, so terrifying—we know without question that human monsters exist. And his crimes against these innocents are of a nature so foul—if we can really measure murder by degrees of obscenity—that I was left with no other choice but to keep turning pages to see how the author would bring this story to a conclusion. And, I persevered gladly.

In an interesting genre-jump, the plot soon merges with the metaphysical when Byron must give the devil his due. Literally. The Prince of Darkness aims to make Byron pay for his depravity, sending him to Hell, where Byron must endure the ultimate in karmic payback in an effort to harvest even the smallest seeds of regret for his crimes. In an even more interesting twist, Lucifer becomes a sympathetic character when pitted against Byron, which was a fantastic juxtaposition in the flipping of roles, but remember, he is Lucifer, so even in our seeing him from a softer angle, he’s still Satan, still the Lord of Flies who is determined to make Byron remember the one victim he seems to have erased from his memories.

There is no doubt this book is compelling. There is no doubt this story is well written, never once sugarcoating Byron’s crimes or insanity. There is also no doubt whatsoever that this book is not a romance in any way. Nor is this a book that will appeal to anyone but the reader who loves a chilling and macabre and thoroughly bent antagonist.

Does Byron redeem himself in the end? Mmm… I shan’t even attempt to weigh out an opinion on that one. But, to quote another famous author, “Please, sir, I want some more.”

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy Better the Devil You Know here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

payhip.com

payhip.com

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

Review: Blue Paramour by Ligon and Maine

Amazon US

Amazon US

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

Author: Ligon and Maine

Publisher: Voir Media Publishing Group

Pages/Word Count: 344 Pages

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

Reviewed By: Lisa

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

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

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

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

But everything comes at a price.

Dividers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy Blue Paramour here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

Standard
4.5 Stars, Bey Deckard, Genre Romance, Literary Fiction, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review: The Last Nights of the Frangipani Hotel by Bey Deckard

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: The Last Nights of the Frangipani Hotel (The Actor’s Circle: Book Two)

Author: Bey Deckard

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 78 Pages

At a Glance: Yet another lovely read from Bey Deckard

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: All James wanted was a little solitude at his favourite resort: bright sunshine overhead, soft, white sand underfoot, and a hammock to read in while the warm breeze rustles through the coconut palms and almond trees. However, when an old acquaintance shows up, and James is obliged to share “his” beach, a profound exchange over a bottle of rum leads to a lust-fuelled encounter in the dark.

Reeling from the intensity of the drunken tryst, James decides to cut his vacation short rather than face what he’s kept hidden under mountains of denial.

However, his escape is thwarted when Rudie, handsome and plainspoken, calls him out on his behaviour and makes him see that life needn’t be spent running away from his desires.

Set at a rundown old resort on a small Caribbean island, The Last Nights of The Frangipani Hotel is a story about letting go of fear and learning that passion and love can be found in the most unexpected of places.

Dividers

Review: In The Last Nights of the Frangipani Hotel, the second (standalone) novella in Bey Deckard’s The Actor’s Circle series, the author once again explores sexuality through his narrator, James Talbot, an actor who’s found his own corner of paradise in a shabby little hotel on a tropical island. The Frangipani Hotel is James’s escape when the pressures of Hollywood and his own fame begin to hem him in, and it’s here that James learns he’s also been running away from his own reality. That river in Egypt everyone’s always talking about? James has been treading its waters his whole life.

Rudie Brauer is a fellow actor who shows up at the Frangipani in search of a bit of solitude. We know that Rudie is beautiful because James tells us so every single time his eyes wander to the next perfect spot on Rudie’s body—which happens rather frequently. And it’s at that point that we, the readers, know what James doesn’t seem to get—or, at least what he’s not willing to admit to. That he’s not altogether straight.

Watching through James’s somewhat skewed lens of self-awareness, we see him struggle with his lust for Rudie, his using Rudie’s body to satisfy a need James doesn’t fully understand, and we see in Rudie a man who doesn’t mind being used for a little bit of rough, so long as they both get off on it. What Rudie does seem to mind, though, is James’s obtuseness with respect to what his desire for Rudie truly means.

Deckard uses his gift for scene setting to its fullest effect in this novella—ocean waves breaking on the shoreline; the sun shining on the soft white sand; the palm trees swaying languorously on tropical breezes; and the warm, humid nights spent in a rundown hotel room—each add to the sensuality of the story, creating a dreamy backdrop and underscoring the steamy scenes between these two men.

The Last Nights of the Frangipani Hotel isn’t a traditional romance, but there is a romanticism to the story in the sentimentality James feels towards his island hideaway, especially when it becomes clear the hotel is about to be swallowed up in the all-inclusive resort machine. Part of those sentimental feelings become wrapped up in and around Rudie, who, in their short time together, appears will become something more than just a vacation affair for James, which leads James to some decisions about his future and their little slice of heaven on earth.

I don’t know that I’d call this a coming out story. Perhaps it’s more of an awakening for James, as his story isn’t about what he’s willing to show the world but what he’s willing to admit to himself and, now, to Rudie.

This is yet another lovely read from Bey Deckard.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy The Last Nights of the Frangipani Hotel here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Smashwords

Smashwords

Standard
4.5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 4.5 Stars, Reviewed by Lisa, Tara Lain

Audio Review: Knight of Ocean Avenue by Tara Lain – Narrated by K.C. Kelly

Audio Gem

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Knight of Ocean Avenue (A Love in Laguna Novel)

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator:: K.C. Kelly

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 9 Hours and 33 Minutes

At a Glance: K.C. Kelly delivers a knock-out performance of Knight of Ocean Avenue.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: How can you be twenty-five and not know you’re gay? Billy Ballew runs from that question. A high school dropout, barely able to read until he taught himself, Billy’s life is driven by his need to help support his parents as a construction worker, put his sisters through college, coach his Little League team, and not think about being a three-time loser in the engagement department. Being terrified of taking tests keeps Billy from getting the contractor’s license he so desires, and fear of his mother’s judgment blinds Billy to what could make him truly happy.

Then, in preparation for his sister’s big wedding, Billy meets Shaz—Chase Phillips—a rising-star celebrity stylist who defines the word gay. To Shaz, Billy embodies everything he’s ever wanted—stalwart, honest, brave—but even if Billy turns out to be gay, he could never endure the censure he’d get for being with a queen like Shaz. How can two men with so little in common find a way to be together? Can the Stylist of the Year end up with the Knight of Ocean Avenue?

Dividers

Review: As a general rule, I don’t listen to audiobooks, and I think each of us, to a reader, will acknowledge that we can read just fine all by ourselves, so when I choose to listen to a book, the last thing I want is to be read to. I want to be performed for—I want the narrator to use inflection and to vary his cadence and to show his acting prowess by bringing each character to life through the vocal gymnastics it takes to make every role player unique and distinct.

Well, let me just say that K.C. Kelly mastered Tara Lain’s Knight of Ocean Avenue, elevating this novel to something so much more than a simple romance.

First off, I believe it helps that this story is so damn lovely that it’d have been a complete shame to hand this performance off to someone with lesser talents than Kelly so obviously possesses. Can a twenty-five year old man not know he’s gay? I don’t know if I can give that an unequivocal yes, but Ms. Lain and Mr. Kelly sure made me believe it was possible. First of all, Billy Ballew (whose last name, I must confess, did, unfortunately, go through a couple of different pronunciations throughout the narration) is a great big loveable, beautiful man. Billy may be a blue collar diamond-in-the-rough, but the guy’s got a heart of gold as well as a sterling reputation with the men he supervises on his construction crew. K.C. Kelly endears Billy to us by helping us understand, through the author’s prose, what an upstanding good guy our romantic hero is—in spite of the fact he also will be the first to point out all of his own failings, the biggest of which plays part in his not taking the test to get his contractor’s license. And, as we continue to listen to Billy’s inner dialogue, we witness the slow realization that his relationships with women haven’t failed for lack of good intentions but have failed in a lack of enthusiasm for being with a woman. Billy, simply put, is so busy trying to live up to his mother’s expectations of him as a straight man that he’s only succeeding in living down to all that wasted potential.

That all changes, however, as Billy’s going through his latest breakup, and, just as his bruised and battered self-esteem is busy warring with his confusion over why he can’t keep a woman, he ends up coming to the rescue of Chase “Shaz” Phillips. And, comes face-to-face with his destiny.

As a flamboyant designer, K.C. Kelly brings Shaz to life in all his fabulous fabulousness, and he’s the perfect foil to Billy’s physical masculinity. Shaz is out and proud and shines in all his gay glory, while Billy can’t figure out why the hell he’s drawn to the gorgeous Shaz like a magnet to steel. Once it dawns on him that he’s actually attracted to Shaz in a sexual way, and we see that Shaz is equally enamored of the fashionally challenged and straight Billy, we watch (or listen, rather) as Billy wars with the knowledge that Shaz’s flamboyance may be an obstacle to any sort of relationship—even a friendship—because Billy can’t see himself in any sort of scenario in which he’d fit into Shaz’s world or Shaz would fit into his. Which goes a long way to grabbing us by the heart and gives the story its emotional punch.

Filled with a great cast of supporting characters, from Ru, Shaz’s best friend and business partner (who sounds like a cross between Truman Capote and Droopy Dog, which made me smile), to Billy’s sisters (who I loved), to Billy’s co-workers, Knight of Ocean Avenue is such a pleasure to listen to. Even the urge to dislike Billy’s mom is tempered by our understanding that she truly only wants what’s best for her boy, and thought she was bulldozing him toward happiness when in truth she was making him miserable. But, where the rubber meets the road, she proves that what’s best for her son is her unconditional love for and support of him.

There’s nothing sweeter than a well written romance, unless it’s a sweet and well written romance being narrated by a talented voice actor. Which K.C. Kelly is, in abundance. He delivers this story to his listeners with such a deft voice, bringing Billy and Shaz to life, helping us feel how grateful these two men are to have found each other, that he almost makes us forget he’s reading Tara Lain’s words.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy Knight of Ocean Avenue here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Audible.com

Audible.com

Standard
4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Joe Cosentino, Reviewed by Lisa

Review: A Shooting Star by Joe Cosentino

Title: A Shooting Star (An In My Heart Novella )

Author: Joe Cosentino

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 98 Pages

At a Glance: This novella deliberately mines a deeper, darker, more emotional vein than book one in the “In My Heart” series.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: On the eve of the best night of his life, winning an Academy Award, Jonathan Bello thinks back to his one great love, David Star.

Flipping back the pages of time, Jonathan recalls his handsome, muscular, and charismatic college roommate. Since Jonathan was a freshman and David a senior in the Theatre Department, David took Jonathan under his wing and molded him, not only as an actor but as a lover. With every wonderful new adventure, David left his joyful mark on anyone with whom they came in contact, but Jonathan soon uncovered David’s dark past, leading to a shocking event. Undaunted, Jonathan celebrates the captivating man who will always hold a special place in his heart.

A Bittersweet Dreams title: It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.

Dividers

Review: As in his novella An Infatuation, book one in the “In My Heart” series, author Joe Cosentino once again takes a brief and bittersweet look at love in A Shooting Star, the story of a love unrequited—or, rather, a love resisted by a young man who thought himself undeserving of the gift.

Once again taking place in the world of theater, a profession of which the author writes with no small amount of authority and personal experience, A Shooting Star contains all of the emotional drama but perhaps a bit less of the levity of its predecessor in this series. This novella deliberately mines a deeper, darker, more emotional vein as we watch college senior and theater major David Star take freshman Johnny Falabella under his wing, transform him into Jonathan Bello, and then proceed to keep Jonathan at an emotional arm’s length while also gathering the young and virginal Johnny into the irresistible orbit that is David Star.

David himself is a contrast, seeming at once a one-dimensional stereotype, when in reality, David is a student of life who possesses a deft hand at not only reading people but relating to them on a personal level. Every encounter David wades into, luring Johnny along with him—whether it’s hitchhiking with strangers, chatting up a teenage throwaway in a nightclub, or charming the girl at the movie theater box office—David uses these moments as a means of counselling and showing the reader a more layered look into his character. But, he also uses those moments as a teaching tool to help Johnny tap into a deeper well of method acting. In the end, we also learn that David’s life isn’t at all as shiny and golden as it might seem on the surface, notching our empathy level up along with those revelations.

There is a recurring theme in this series, it being that first love isn’t always a lasting love, and that even a tragic end doesn’t necessarily mean the end of happiness; it simply means these characters–in this case, Johnny–followed a bit of a different path to find a love that was right there in front of him all along. A love that was built upon friendship. This theme is delivered with charm and an undeniable truth that resonates with anyone who has loved and lost, and then, has gone on to love again.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy A Shooting Star here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard
5 Stars, Holiday Romance, Jordan L. Hawk, Paranormal, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Release Day Review: Dangerous Spirits by Jordan L. Hawk

TNA Page Turner Resized

Title: Dangerous Spirits (Spirits: Book Two)

Author: Jordan L. Hawk

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 157 Pages

At a Glance: Dangerous Spirits is everything a good ghost story should be.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: After the events of Reyhome Castle, Henry Strauss expected the Psychical Society to embrace his application of science to the study of hauntings. Instead, the society humiliates and blacklists him. His confidence shaken, he can’t bring himself to admit the truth to his lover, the handsome medium Vincent Night.

Vincent’s new life in Baltimore with Henry is disrupted when a friend from the past asks for help with a haunting. In the remote town of Devil’s Walk, old ties and new lies threaten to tear the lovers apart, if a fiery spirit bent on vengeance doesn’t put an end to them first.

Dividers

Review: I’ve probably uttered the words, “Oh my god, this is my favorite Jordan L. Hawk book. Evarrrr!” every single time I’ve finished reading a Jordan L. Hawk book. That sort of redundancy is an occupational hazard of which I never tire. And, once again, it’s entirely true.

Putting my finger on the pulse of my love for Dangerous Spirits is simple—the paranormal plot elements in this story are exceptional. How exceptional are they? I was so frustrated by my inability to read fast enough that I kept skipping down the page to see what would happen next, and then going back to read the parts I’d skipped just so I wouldn’t bust a vein from the tension and suspense woven into those scenes. If you’re a fan of horror—the vivid prose and chilling metaphysical story elements that not only get the adrenaline pumping but the goose bumps popping at the deadly visitations from beyond the grave—then this book will scratch every single one of your horror-loving itches. Those scenes are written with a skill, attention to detail, and an inspired celebration of the supernatural, which not only had my imagining working overtime but immediately took me back to the earliest days of my first sleep-with-the-lights-on reads, the books that made me fall in love with this genre in the first place. Though, in a bit of a twist, the author also makes our resident ghost an entirely sympathetic character, not to mention made me glad I, for one, am a 21st century woman.

Lest you aren’t as huge a fan of the macabre as I, though, rest assured that there’s plenty of relationship tension in this story too, not only between Henry Strauss and Vincent Knight, our endearing heroes and earnest lovers, but between Henry and Lizzie, Henry and Jo, and Henry and Sylvester Ortensi, a man from Vincent and Lizzie’s past who comes calling—and brings more than a little danger for the trouble.

Poor Henry, you might see a pattern here. He has a rough go of things in this installment of the Spirits series, and his failure to impress the Psychical Society with his scientific approach to the spirit world culminates in a blow to his already somewhat fragile confidence, especially where Vincent is concerned. Henry and Vincent both are a bit of a study in frustration in this novel, their strife is the epicenter of the story, and yet it’s impossible not to understand their decisions and actions and inactions where each other is concerned because their relationship is still untried by the challenges they each bring to the table, let alone that they have to hide what they mean to each other from the whole of society. There are outright lies and then there are lies by omission; what they share to their core is that the wounds to the conscience can be every bit as painful as telling the truth can be to the heart. Both Henry and Vincent are fortunate to have people in their lives—Jo and Lizzy—who love and want the best for them, are the voices of reason, and who help to make up what many would call a bit of a misfit family.

And, where there’s love, it seems there’s always a way.

Dangerous Spirits is crackin’ good spec fic, fraught with emotion, tautly paced, packed with danger and chills, and—simple as this—it’s what we’ve come to expect from the author. This is an effortless read—unless you take into account the spikes in blood pressure—so light a candle, lay your salt lines, say your prayers, and dig into the fun.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy Dangerous Spirits here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard
4 Stars, Historical Romance, JL Merrow, Reviewed by Lisa, Samhain Publishing

Review: To Love a Traitor by JL Merrow

Title: To Love a Traitor

Author: JL Merrow

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 202 Pages

At a Glance: I think fans of historical romance will find plenty to love about To Love a Traitor.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Wounds of the heart take the longest to heal.

When solicitor’s clerk George Johnson moves into a rented London room in the winter of 1920, it’s with a secret goal: to find out if his fellow lodger, Matthew Connaught, is the wartime traitor who cost George’s adored older brother his life.

Yet as he gets to know Matthew—an irrepressibly cheerful ad man whose missing arm hasn’t dimmed his smile—George begins to lose sight of his mission.

As Matthew’s advances become ever harder to resist, George tries to convince himself his brother’s death was just the luck of the draw, and to forget he’s hiding a secret of his own. His true identity—and an act of conscience that shamed his family.

But as their mutual attraction grows, so does George’s desperation to know the truth about what happened that day in Ypres. If only to prove Matthew innocent—even if it means losing the man he’s come to love.

Warning: Contains larks in the snow, stiff upper lips, shadows of the Great War, and one man working undercover while another tries to lure him under the covers.

Dividers

Review: JL Merrow and a Historical Romance are an irresistible combination for me. Not only do I love her characters, but I love her writing voice—which probably goes a long way towards explaining why I love her characters.

In To Love a Traitor we get two of the better examples of this author’s gift for creating men who immediately endear themselves to us. George Johnson is on an undercover mission, assuming an alternate identity in order to find the traitor who’d betrayed his brother and cost Hugh his life in 1917. It’s effortless to feel compassion for George’s need to get answers to the questions that haunt him, as the loss of his brother only serves to underscore the overall consequences of him standing by his decisions during the war.

Meanwhile, Matthew Connaught is the man suspected of treason—of giving up England’s secrets to the Germans while Matthew himself avoided being sent on the mission that ended in the ambush where his fellow officers perished. Guilty? Well, JL Merrow makes it all but impossible for us to believe it from the moment Matthew makes his first appearance on the page, which creates a nice contrast to our empathy for George. As the story progresses, though, the question remains in the back of our minds whether Matthew’s charm is all smoke and mirrors, or, if he’s really just that lovely a man?

As the author lays out George and Matthew’s story for the reader, we want George to both succeed and fail—to succeed in his goal of finding closure for himself and Hugh’s fiancé, Mabel, but also to fail in proving that Matthew is the man who would commit such a foul and underhanded deed against his country and his fellow countrymen. Why? Because Matthew is one of the most charming and luminous characters this author has ever created. Matthew shines in every scene, our veteran who came back from the war physically less than whole, and because of this, we can’t help but root against George even as we watch the man fall victim himself to Matthew’s many charms.

To Love a Traitor is a sweet romance tempered by George’s subterfuge, his secrets and motives, and the story’s 1920’s setting, which, in itself, adds the built-in challenge of two men beginning a relationship and finding love in a less than accepting time. George and Matthew and the simple pleasures they find in spending time together elevate this story from one that might have offered us a standard-fare historical romance into a love story that speaks to the optimist in us all, and that hopeful part of us that wants to believe love truly does overcome every obstacle, while this novel’s climactic moment does nothing but reinforce what is felt from the beginning—that Matthew is utterly irresistible and that George never stood a chance against him. And, in the end, the only traitor in this story would have been the man who would betray what his heart knew long before his head.

I think fans of historical romance will find plenty to love about To Love a Traitor.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy To Love a Traitor here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard
4 Stars, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Inkstained Succubus Press, Reviewed by Lisa, S. Zanne, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: 1KRV5 by S. Zanne

Title: 1KRV5

Author: S. Zanne

Publisher: Inkstained Succubus Press

Pages/Word Count: 67 Pages

At a Glance: The next time you’re in the mood for a short story that offers a little something outside the norm, something a bit different, I’d recommend giving this one a go.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: The world of genetic experimentation is highly regulated. Mikkel’s beautiful creations are as illegal as they are magnificent, and none so miraculous as Icarus, his perfect lover and companion. But love and good intent may not be enough to protect their little enclave. A new child may just tip the scales…and place Icarus and his Master at risk.

Dividers

Review: When da Vinci sketched Vitruvian Man, it was meant to depict the artist’s vision of the perfectly formed male, a blend of artistry and anatomy. 1KRV5, known in this story as Icarus, is author S. Zanne’s blend of mythology and art set in a sort of cyberpunk alternate universe, where human tissue is harvested illegally to create a new species. Icarus is Mikkel’s greatest creation, beauty in both form and feature, an earthbound angel—wings and all.

Reading this short and haunting story, one can’t help but make comparisons to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein: Or, the Modern Prometheus. There are similar moral questions involved, those that examine mere mortals playing gods in the creation of life; though, unlike Victor Frankenstein, Mikkel is not the human monster who plays his version of God and then abandons his creation. Rather, harkening to another character in mythology, we see a Pygmalion-esque relationship formed between Mikkel and Icarus, in that Mikkel has fallen deeply in love with the life that sprang from his experimentation.

1KRV5 is bleak in both tone and storyline, but at the same time there is a poetry to its telling. There is love, there is the frailty of human life paired with the beauty of the artificial life form, and there is a bitter irony, the mockery of a man given wings but not the ability to fly. Icarus is the caged bird who longs to take to the sky but must remain locked away, admired, even worshiped, by his Master, but still a possession in the end. And, when Mikkel’s hubris catches up with him in the form of a dysfunctional child he created, we are left at the end to wonder if we’ve witnessed a tragedy or merely an inevitable outcome of his arrogance.

1KRV5 is a different sort of love story, not romantic in content yet there is a romanticism among its darker elements. The next time you’re in the mood for a short story that offers a little something outside the norm, something a bit different, I’d recommend giving this one a go.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy 1KRV5 here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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

Review: Lord Loxley’s Lover by Katherine Marlowe

Title: Lord Loxley’s Lover

Author: Katherine Marlowe

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 91 Pages

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

Reviewed By: Lisa

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

Dividers

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

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

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

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

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

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

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy Lord Loxley’s Lover here:

Amazon UK

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Amazon CA

Amazon AU

Amazon AU

Standard
4 Stars, Genre Romance, Jay Northcote, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Release Day Review: Like a Lover by Jay Northcote

Title: Like a Lover (Housemates: Book Two)

Author: Jay Northcote

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 143 Pages

At a Glance: Like a Lover is a sweet and sexy addition to the Housemates series.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Josh has a plan: get through uni with a good degree and no debts. Focused on his goals, he’s working as an escort to pay his way. He enjoys the no-strings sex and doesn’t have the time or inclination for a relationship. Falling in love definitely isn’t part of the deal—especially not with a client.

When Rupert meets Josh in a bar, he’s smitten on sight. He’s never paid for sex before, but when Josh propositions him, he can’t resist. He should have known one night would never be enough. Luckily for him, he has an inheritance to support his addiction to Josh, because his job in IT wouldn’t cover the cost.

With each appointment the lines get increasingly blurred. Something is developing between them that feels more like a relationship than a business transaction, but they come from different worlds and to go from client-and-escort to lovers seems impossible. If they want a future together, Josh and Rupert have a lot to overcome.

Dividers

Review: When Josh Morley was introduced in Helping Hand, book one in the Housemates series, the picture we got of him as the bar hopping party boy is more than a little different from the reality we see in Like a Lover. Josh is guarding a secret that only one of his housemates knows—that he’s been paying his way through school by selling sex. Life as a rent boy is his way of guaranteeing he’ll graduate free of debt. It’s the choice he’s made, it’s the choice he’s happy with, and it’s the choice that’s worked from him. Right up until he meets Rupert Blanchard, who charms his way under Josh’s skin, makes him feel things he ought not to feel for a client, and makes Josh start to wonder how long the motions of sex can remain separate from the emotions of it.

Googling “student sex workers,” because I’m curious like that, scored 18.6 million hits on the subject, so Josh’s story is not only a relevant one but might even be somewhat more prevalent than any of us imagined. Like a Lover is reality meets fiction, and in it, Jay Northcote explores many of the complications we’d anticipate when a paid escort happens to come across that one person who makes them begin to question everything: the issues that are inherent to Josh’s line of work when it becomes complicated by the growing bond with Rupert, finally coming to that point when being paid for sex begins to feel less like a business transaction and more like an insult, and then fearing there can be no compromise for a relationship to grow from what began in such a compromising proposition. The thing that elevates Like a Lover isn’t that it’s full of twists and the unexpected but that its heart and soul resides in the two men I loved spending time with while they themselves were busy falling in love with each other.

Josh and Rupert transcend their story because their thoughts and feelings are so honest, and the two of them are just so completely endearing I couldn’t help but want them to be together. But how can a relationship work if sex with paying clients is still on the table? That’s the proverbial elephant in the room, and we empathize with everything that’s stirring and growing between them, and understand how complex it all is, to the point of asking ourselves if we could share someone we love with anyone else, let alone a string of random anyones, which is the very question Josh and Rupert have to find the answer to before they can move forward—or decide to end what had barely had the chance to begin.

As much as I liked Mac and Jez in Helping Hand, I must say I liked Josh and Rupert and Like a Lover even more. It’s sweet and sexy and I found it impossible not to root for these guys to find their way to a happy beginning.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy Like a Lover here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard
5 Stars, Literary Fiction, Nicole Castle, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review: The Result of a Straight Razor by Nicole Castle

TNA Page Turner Resized

Title: The Result of a Straight Razor (The Mako Shark: Book Two)

Author: Nicole Castle

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 168 Pages

At a Glance: Three cheers for the morally complicated!

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Miko is in mourning. He is plotting. Miko is thinking about death and vengeance. About forgiveness. And love. Miko is getting some new tattoos.

Dividers

Review: There’s one thing author Nicole Castle will never be accused of: writing sane characters. Or, at least what might be considered sane by most people. Not up to this point, anyhow. Ms. Castle writes about a group of assassins, after all, and their lives revolve around murder and mayhem, something they pursue quite passionately, I might add. Sometimes with a glee that can only be called disarming and charming in a disturbing sort of way.

These people make me happy.

The Result of a Straight Razor picks up where The Consequence of High Caliber left off, so it’s an absolute must to read these books in order. Miko, our sweet and broken man-child, returns to his would-be lover Toby—would-be if Toby didn’t give Miko a sense of normalcy that only serves to make Miko realize how not-normal he really is, and how dangerous it is for him to be in Toby’s life.

Relationship Status: It’s complicated.

We get a bit more of Miko’s backstory in this installment of the series, through flashbacks that show us how he came to be where he is; not exactly the best assassin in the bunch but having been nursed on a steady diet of violent and murderous bedtime stories about people who became his heroes, it’s given him a lot to strive for. But poor Miko. ::sighs:: He just seems to have a big Murphy’s Law target tattooed on the business end of his best intentions.

Plus, he needs to stop pointing his gun at the wrong people.

The linchpin of The Result of a Straight Razor’s plot is a carry-over from book one, and the death of Miko’s best friend Ophelia—a death everyone but Miko believes was suicide. Miko is determined to prove there’s murder afoot!, even as every one of his efforts to do so seem bent upon proving him wrong.

The murder business is so fickle.

And it also distances him from Toby, not only geographically but mentally and emotionally too.

It’s also hard on relationships.

Razor-sharp wit and a skillfully honed sense of pace and timing have been the hallmark of not only these books but those in the Chance Assassins series too (several characters from that series make brief cameos in “Straight Razor”). Bella, as usual, steals every scene she’s in, and every single nuance, from the overt to the subtlest, adds to its charm. These are not your typical heroes and heroines, nor are they strictly antiheroes—they’re far too loveable for that. Maybe they’re just demiheroes. Because, really, are any of our favorite characters all good or all bad?

Three cheers for the morally complicated!

I love this book. I love this author for being just a little demented. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this, or any of Nicole Castle’s books, for that matter. They’re disturbingly comical and comically disturbed novels.

They’re disturmical in the very best way.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy The Result of a Straight Razor exclusively at:

Standard
5 Stars, Bey Deckard, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published, Transgender Romance

Review: The Complications of T by Bey Deckard

Small Gems

Title: The Complications of T

Author: Bey Deckard

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 15800 Words

At a Glance: The Complications of T is a timely story that had me cheering because Stuart Leandro, our narrator, raises the questions so many of us have contemplated but are, perhaps, afraid to ask.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: A bite-sized trans* love story:

Stuart Leandro knows he’s washed up, both on the big screen, and in his marriage. Then, when things take an even bigger turn for the worse one night, he winds up blind drunk and lost in a foreign city.

Thankfully, someone’s there to rescue him before his face ends up plastered all over the tabloids.

Wary of the motives of the reclusive stranger who brings the fading star into the quiet shelter of a hip but isolated loft, Stuart nonetheless can’t deny his curiosity… Or his attraction. Tim is unlike anyone the actor has ever met, but underneath the mystery and quiet attempts at invisibility, Stuart discovers someone whose life has been intertwined with his own for years.

Neither could have predicted that Tim’s act of kindness would lead to one of the most intense encounters of their lives—but, are they willing to weather the media storm their extraordinary relationship will cause?

Dividers

Review: It’s no great secret by now that I’m a fan of Bey Deckard’s work, not for the least of the reasons that his characters are always compelling, whether they be pirates or soldiers. This novelette, however, is yet another departure for the author, not a story set in a past or future alternate universe but a very real, compelling, and timely story that had me cheering because Stuart Leandro, our narrator, raises the questions so many of us have contemplated but are, perhaps, afraid to ask.

Beginning with the title, which has a meaning significant to the plot in a dual way, this story presents what, on the surface, seems as though it’s going to be a simple tale of a man and woman meeting and falling into a whirlwind love affair. It’s not until Stuart, who is not only going through the breakup of his marriage but is publicly very drunk, is taken home by his rescuer—someone he believes to be a woman who’s just saved him from the paparazzi, not to mention a sure social media and PR nightmare—and we are presented with an altogether different complication.

Tim White, movie critic and Stuart’s would-be nemesis, is a trans* man and a fantastically sympathetic character—not because we feel a sense of pity or despair for him but because we admire him for his courage and the strength to live life on his terms and to be the man he was born to be. Tim’s forthright answers to Stuart’s question about his biological anatomy and sexual preferences are not only questions I’ve had myself, but are also questions my kids have asked as well, sparked by Caitlin Jenner’s forthright and public transition. The end result of those discussions boils down to sexuality not being something that can be analyzed and deconstructed and then tucked into neat little boxes of conformity. Human sexuality is simply something we accept in others, and that’s the result of Stuart’s relationship with Tim. It’s not about being gay, bi, male, female and all the various permutations, but Stuart simply accepts Tim for who he is and embraces his feelings so honestly to the point that Tim has to play the voice of reason, and does so in a way that prevents this story from falling into the predictable.

I loved The Complications of T, beginning to end. Its characters are relevant, the topic important, and I would recommend it wholeheartedly as a story whose time has come.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy The Complications of T here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard
5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, S.A. McAuley, SJD Peterson

Review: Ruin Porn by S.A. McAuley and SJD Peterson

Title: Ruin Porn

Authors: S.A. McAuley and SJD Peterson

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 252 Pages

At a Glance: I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Ruin Porn the next time you’re in the mood for a beautiful disaster.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: There is underlying beauty in destruction….

Miah Thade, Finn Reese, and Ritchie Meyer are Resonator, an indie rock band with an edge—best friends turned rock stars, known as the Detroit 3. When Evin Rene appears in their life, none of them can deny he belongs with Rez.

They may have named their first album Ruin Porn because people get off on seeing how Detroit went from deeply loved to thoroughly forsaken, but they’re determined to prove that blight isn’t the entire story and blight isn’t always ugly.

Ritchie, Miah, Finn, and Evin take Resonator to a level no one anticipates. But no prosperity comes without sacrifice, and no secret stays hidden without a trail of lies. As Rez’s fame grows, so does the intensity between two of its members… as well as their potential for destruction.

Evin and Finn are about to discover the underlying beauty in their ruin porn.

Dividers

Review: So, when I’m offered a book written by S.A. McAuley or SJD Peterson, what are some of the first things that come to mind? First of all, I know there’s probably going to be some angst involved (there is). I know there’s probably going to be at least one character I want to sucker-punch just once (there is). I know I’m not going to get a standard-template romance (this isn’t). I know there’s going to be some pretty amazing emotional and sexual chemistry (there is). And, finally, I know that by the end I’ll be completely invested in the couple’s happy beginning (I am).

Now, you throw these two authors together, and what do you have? A match made in Ruin Porn, and I’m already salivating to get my paws on the next book because that character I want to sucker-punch? Seriously, if this book was angsty… Gird your reading loins, people.

I’d never heard the term ruin porn before, though I now know how apropos it is not only to this book but to all the angst-laden books we love to devour. Ruin porn is about getting off on the decay and destruction of something that was once beautiful. Welcome to the Ruin Porn Club, kiddies, because that’s exactly what these two authors initiate us into as we’re hazed by the growing lust and love between Finn and Evin. And then we get to watch as it all comes to ruin because of lies and fear and homophobia, and the all too intrusive camera-in-a-fish-bowl lives their fame became. And, I reveled in every single word of it. I’m not sure what the repair that begins after the devastation is called, though. Maybe that’s just what we romantics call hope. Finn and Ev give us hope that love will be enough to rebuild on.

The Detroit 3—Miah, Ritchie, and Finn—get a plus one when guitarist Kevin Rene accepts the invite to join Resonator as their bass player, becomes Evin, and spends the next year on a meteoric rise to stardom, while also sneaking in intimate moments with Ritchie and Finn. Let me first say I adore Ritchie—truly, madly, deeply, irrevocably—and while I know threesomes aren’t everyone’s cuppa, there was never a single moment where I felt that the time he spent with Finn and Ev was an intrusion on something deeper growing between the two men. In fact, I’d go so far as to say Ritchie made Finn and Ev possible because he was like the rudder that kept their ship on course. Or he tried to, at least, before the shitstorm hit.

I loved Evin and his quiet strength (and the one line he uttered near the end of the book that made me gasp at its naked and painful truth), loved Finn and the snark and barriers that crumbled when he simply looked at Ev, and I even looo…okay, I didn’t love Miah—not by a long shot. He’s a complete git ::sorrynotsorry:: who’s driven by his ambition, but by the end of this story I understood him a bit better. And a little understanding can go a long way toward seeing beneath the veneer and vanity, and I maybe felt a mild twinge of guilt for wanting to punch him.

Maybe.

No I didn’t.

Ruin Porn is a novel that complicates the already complicated business of falling in love by taking what should be private public, and made me appreciate my mundane nobody existence. It’s super sexy, made me more than a little heart-sore, and kept me glued to my Kindle from beginning to end. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this one the next time you’re in the mood for a beautiful disaster you can see coming a mile away, and have no intention of avoiding until you see it through to its finish.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy Ruin Porn here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard