4 Stars, Amber Allure, DJ Manly, Genre Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Maryann

Review: On Bryson by DJ Manly

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Amazon

Title: On Bryson

Author: DJ Manly

Publisher: Amber Allure

Pages/Word Count: 39k Words

At a Glance: On Bryson makes for a fast paced, action packed, murders and secrets crime story.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: A few years ago, Soren became involved with the wrong man, and all he wanted to do was get away from a life connected to the mob. But now, here he is yet again, right back in that world, running a nightclub called The Sand Dune for the Gambini crime family. Never does he expect to meet the love of his life there, let alone that the man who comes into his nightclub is a cop on a rampage trying to discover who shot his cousin.

But now that Sergeant Bryson Accurso’s at The Sand Dune investigating, Soren’s been given orders to “be on him” at all times. And after one look at the sexy lawman, Soren immediately realizes his orders will be far too easy for him to follow…and he intends to follow those instructions to the letter.

Dividers

Review: Sgt. Bryson Accurso is like a dog with a bone. He just can’t leave Sidney Gambini, drug lord, alone. His cousin Rickie was shot at his place of business, owned by Gambini’s godson, and Bryson is sure Sidney Gambini’s behind a lot of the events going on. Even though the shooter has been caught, Bryson finds it all suspicious and takes time off to strike out on his own to solve the crime. Bryson is very dedicated to his Italian/Irish family. With the loss of his mother, he has close ties with his father, Aunt and Uncle, and I loved the caring and rhetoric between Bryson and his father, who thinks everything is unnatural.

Soren’s character is sort of sad in a way. He came from a strict family environment, and was kicked out by his father at a young age. Soren was swept off his feet by Marco Gambini, which became yet another downfall for Soren. Soren is hot on Bryson’s heels, at Sidney Gambini’s orders. But Soren is hiding a secret from both Gambini and Bryson.

Bryson and Soren are just the best characters, they seemed destined to be a couple, though there are some snags along the way that kept them apart. I really liked Bryson’s character. DJ Manly gave him a really fun sense of humor.

On Bryson makes for a fast paced, action packed, murders and secrets crime story, with a touch of humor. For being a short story, it had a good plot and enough going on to hold my interest.

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4.5 Stars, BA Tortuga, Genre Romance, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Maryann

Review: Blind Ride by BA Tortuga

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Amazon

Title: Blind Ride (Roughstock: Vol. One)

Author: BA Tortuga

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 234 Pages

At a Glance: Blind Ride is a story about the love and caring of family, good friends, and the love between two special men.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Jason Scott has everything a bull rider wants—success, money and traveling partner Andy Baxter. When he loses his sight in an accident, he stands to lose it all. Jason Scott is at the top of the bull riding game, on his way to a winning season. Along with his traveling partner, Andy Baxter, he’s riding hard on the circuit, working around the country with all of the other bull riders and bullfighters, living the good life. The only thing he wishes he had is Bax, but he’s afraid to take the step that would make them more than friends, worried that it will ruin everything. When a terrible accident leaves Jason unable to see, his whole life goes south. Jason decides to chuck it all, determined to go home and hide at his momma’s ranch. Bax has other ideas. He wants to make sure his best friend doesn’t give up, and he hatches a plan that stuns Jason and makes their friends and family think he’s crazy. With the help of the other bull riders and a very persistent bull fighter named Coke, Bax convinces Jason to give life one more try. With Jason cautiously learning to hope, and his relationship with Bax going to the next level, life gets pretty complicated. Everyone gets in on the project, from Jason’s strong-willed mother to an entire ranch full of children, all of them working to help Jason do what he loves.

Dividers

Review: I am such a fan of BA Tortuga. She has added another series to my collection of cowboy stories, and has created more than just a story about bull riders and rodeos; it’s about the love and caring of family, good friends, and the love between two special men. Blind Ride also takes us behind the rodeo scene with the hard work and life threatening injuries that bull riders face.

Andy “Bax” Baxter and Jason “Mini” Scott are just two wonderful cowboys who love the rodeo. They have been friends for six years but have never taken the step to become more than friends. They spend their days traveling the rodeo circuit and even compete against each other, but they hold no grudges.

When Jason is hurt, there’s so much worry. Living in darkness, never riding again, losing out on a career that he loves, and maybe losing Bax, he even thinks of taking his life. But Bax is there for him and he doesn’t let Jason fail. When Bax goes back on the circuit he gets hurt and is done for the season, but he’s back with Jason and starts a plan to get him back on the circuit as well. It was really heartrending to watch Jason struggle with losing his sight—I can’t even begin to imagine how that would feel. He also has to deal with overbearing help, and to try to do things on his own.  Bax and Jason have a great support system besides Jason’s family.  We meet Coke Pharras, Dillon Walsh, Nate, AJ, Missy, and a sweet little boy named Benji.

The only issue readers may find in Blind Ride is in the narrative and dialogue, but BA Tortuga chose to leave things a little unpolished (see: the Author’s Note).  As for me, I didn’t see this as a problem. It just made the story more down to earth.

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5 Stars, BA Tortuga, Genre Romance, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Maryann

Review: And a Smile by BA Tortuga

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Amazon

Title: And a Smile (Roughstock: Book Two)

Author: BA Tortuga

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 197 Page

At a GlanceI just loved Dillon’s character–he made this my favorite story in the Roughstock series, so far.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: All Coke Pharris wants is for his cowboys to be safe—all of them. When rodeo clown, Dillon, sets to prove that there’s more to the bullfighter, people could get hurt.

It’s Coke Pharris’ job to save bull riders from bulls, and he takes his work very seriously. Which is why he’s devastated when one of his favorite riders gets hurt, and he’s determined to help the young man ride again. Dillon Walsh is the arena entertainer for the bull riding tour, and he wants to help. He also wants Coke, has been admiring the man for a long time. He hasn’t made a move on Coke for fear of messing up their friendship, but when he finds out Coke might feel the same way, Dillon has to try to win Coke over.

Coke thinks he’s too old for Dillon, too beat up and scarred, but he can’t resist when Dillon finally makes a play for him. Dillon is like a wet dream for Coke, and the two of them have a great time getting to know each other better, at least until the danger of their job threatens to come between them. Will Dillon and Coke be able to help their friend and weather the problems that blow their way?

Publisher’s Note: This book was previously released elsewhere. It has been re-edited for re-release with Pride Publishing.

Dividers

Review: BA Tortuga takes us back on the rodeo circuit with the Roughstock series in And a Smile. Coke Pharras, Dillon Walsh, and the bullfighters give us rodeo action packed with dangerous bulls, the bullfighters taking risks to keep the riders safe–and it seems like the bulls are winning.

With Jason “Mini” Scott and Andy “Bax” Baxter’s injuries weighing on his mind, Coke is keeping watch over his bullfighters. Coke is a good man, and takes on the role of the senior protector, father, advisor. He perceives himself as being old and worn out, since he’s been on the circuit forever, and he thinks his days of meeting that special someone have passed him by. The funny thing is, Coke really isn’t that old, and Dillon Walsh doesn’t want Coke calling him son.

Dillon, the rodeo clown, has his eye on Coke. He’s been curious about Coke for a long time, but he’s just not sure when to make his move.  He even has doubts about Coke being gay. Dillon picks up on something not being right when Coke makes mention of Bax and Jason in rehab. As Coke and Dillon get closer, Coke confides in Dillion about Jason’s blindness, and how Bax has come up with a plan to get Jason back on the rodeo circuit.  Dillon also has a special connection with Jason and his situation.

I just loved Dillon’s character–he made this my favorite story in the Roughstock series, so far. I love his interaction with Coke and his attentiveness towards Jason. I found it strange that his fellow bullfighters think he’s odd and that they seem to want to protect Coke from Dillon. It definitely causes drama between Dillon and Coke. I saw Dillon as a ball of nervous energy and just a fun-loving character, always moving, dancing and making the rodeo crowd enjoy themselves.  But I also saw his vulnerability and confidence wane every so often. There’s not a lot about his life growing up in And a Smile, and I hope at some point BA Tortuga shares more about him.

** Note: A Sip: The New Guy and Cowboy Christmas are a couple of quickie stories featuring Dillon and Coke, if you want a sweet and fast read**

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Maryann, Scotty Cade

Review: Veiled Loyalties by Scotty Cade

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Veiled Loyalties (Bissonet & Cruz Investigations: Book Two)

Author: Scotty Cade

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 148 Pages

At a Glance: Veiled Loyalties is a great sequel to The Royal Street Heist!

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Halloween is Beau Bissonet’s favorite holiday, from carving pumpkins to decorating his yard to donning a costume and scaring the neighborhood kids. But this year his Halloween is about to take a different turn, one that will challenge his skills as a detective and his commitment to his partner in work and love.

A year since Beau and Tollison solved The Royal Street Heist, found love, and formed Bissonet & Cruz Investigations, they are thriving personally and professionally. That is until Tollison’s ex, Bastien Andros, shows up out of the blue. Naturally, Beau’s suspicious, but two days after Bastien’s arrival, he goes missing, and Tollison worries his past may catch up to him.

A mysterious package makes clear who has Bastien and what’s at stake. With both Bastien and Beau’s lives now at risk, Tollison has only one option: travel to Zurich, Switzerland, secure and deliver the ransom, keep both men safe, and stay true to himself at the same time.

Dividers

Review: Montgomery Beaumont Bissonet, former Detective of the New Orleans PD, and Tollison Eduardo Braga Cruz, former art thief and Lloyds of London insurance investigator, have now opened their business—Bissonet & Cruz Investigations in New Orleans. Tollison’s thieving past comes back to haunt him when his ex, Bastien, shows up, and Heinrich Fussli DeMatteo contacts Tollison.  DeMatteo has threatened Beau’s life and is holding Bastien hostage for the return of a historical painting. Tollison feels a heavy responsibility to protect Beau and save his ex. Along with Tollison and Beau, Auggie and Bruce are off to Zurich with a plan to steal the Titania erwacht, von aufwartenden Fairies.

Scotty Cade takes us on a whirlwind adventure to Zurich, and into the intricate planning of the theft of the artwork.  Cade provides us with historical facts about the painting, and we see Tollison’s brilliance and expertise as a former thief, along with the support he gets from Beau, Auggie and Bruce. There are some very emotional moments from Beau and Tollison as their views of trust, lies, and past decisions threaten their relationship. Cade also gave Beau a “big kid” persona, as it’s his favorite time of year, and Tollison is just confused and amazed at Beau’s excitement. Iona Ball is back too, as assistant to Beau and Tollison. She is quite the character!

Veiled Loyalties is a great sequel to The Royal Street Heist!

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5 Stars, Aisling Mancy, Drama, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Maryann, Shira Anthony

Review: A Solitary Man by Shira Anthony and Aisling Mancy

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Amazon

Title: A Solitary Man

Authors: Shira Anthony and Aisling Mancy

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 304 Pages

At a Glance: Solitary Man is action packed, suspenseful, has lots of dangerous moments, and it deals with important subject matter as well.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Sparks fly when Chance meets tall, sexy Xav at a Wilmington bar and they have the hottest one-nighter of their lives. But Chance doesn’t do repeats, Xav seems detached, and they go their separate ways without a word. Later, when closeted Assistant District Attorney C. Evan “Chance” Fairchild meets Dare’s Landing’s newest deputy sheriff, Xavier “Xav” Constantine, Evan isn’t only wary. He’s irritated as hell.

Xavier is a former FBI agent turned deputy sheriff who is hot on the trail of a South American child prostitution ring. Evan is fighting to put an end to rampant cocaine trafficking and chafing under the thumb of an election-hungry boss. When someone tries to kill the eleven-year-old witness who holds the key to both their investigations, they’re forced to work together as they put their lives on the line to protect him. As Chance and Xav collide in the heat of a sweltering North Carolina summer, dodging bullets and chasing bad guys isn’t the only action going on.

Dividers

Review: After the DEA causes the death of two young boys, Xavier Constantine makes a career change, from FBI agent to Deputy Sheriff.  He heads up the Crimes Against Children Task Force in Dare’s Landing. While dealing with the loss, he finds himself educating his team about child sex rings and drug trafficking.

Chance Evan Fairchild, Assistant District Attorney, is still dealing with dark issues from his youth. He’s a loner and doesn’t let anyone get close to him, and is more than satisfied being closeted. He doesn’t like that drug trafficking has come to his corner of the world, and he vows to get to the bottom of it.  He’s not real happy about Xavier, the new deputy sheriff, though. But after a heartbreaking end to a stakeout, Chance’s eyes are opened, and he finds himself teaming up with Xavier to protect a young boy and help to put an end to trafficking.

I think Xavier is a great character. Even though he’s out, he still has to face some intolerance, but he wasn’t portrayed as the “tough guy” character. He’s just a man standing up for what he believes in. I liked the banter with his mother and siblings, even though it was brief. He also shows patience and understanding with Chance, and never put pressure on him to reveal his issues. Sadly, I didn’t get the feeling that this is the beginning of a series, so I would have liked this story to end a little differently.

A Solitary Man has a solid group of characters, including John Carson, Twyla Faye, Sheriff Winston, Ridley, and Billy, who become a top notch team. The story is action packed, suspenseful, has lots of dangerous moments, and it deals with important subject matter as well: child and drug trafficking, and psychological damage that is caused by confinement. Greed plays a big part of this story too, and what sick and perverted people will do for money. Anthony and Mancy did an exceptional job of bringing these issues to the forefront.

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5 Stars, Genre Romance, Jocelyn Drake, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Maryann, Rinda Elliott, Self-Published

Review: Shiver by Jocelyn Drake and Rinda Elliott

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Amazon

Amazon

Title: Shiver (Unbreakable Bonds: Book One)

Authors: Jocelyn Drake and Rinda Elliott

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 301 Pages

At a Glance: I seriously think this will be an exciting series. It left me hungry for more!

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Lucas Vallois is always in control. He’s building an empire in the glittering city of Cincinnati and created his own family from his three close friends. The self-made millionaire has everything he wants within his tight grasp. But his world starts to crumble after he’s jumped by a trio of thugs late one night after leaving a club. The warning is clear—give up his new property venture or end up dead.

Caving to the demands of his friends, Lucas accepts the help of bodyguard, Andrei Hadeon, as he hunts for the source of this new threat. But as Lucas gets closer to uncovering the danger, he realizes the sexy Romanian bodyguard poses an even bigger risk to his carefully constructed world. Trapped by a need he never expected, Lucas must find a way to deny the shiver of longing he cannot control.

His brother. His warrior. His heart. Four friends. Unbreakable bonds.

Dividers

Review: In Shiver, we meet four interesting and somewhat mysterious men:  Lucas Vallois, businessman; Dr. Ashton “Snow” Frost; Ian Pierce, chef; and Rowe, security. Lucas and these men have a very unique bond, and they are all the family he has. We find that Lucas is the strength and the glue that holds them all together, and with these men he can let his guard down. He also has a dark dangerous side that no one can control.  Lucas is willing to invest his money in giving back to the run down parts of Cincinnati, but someone is making a great effort to stop him.

Rowe steps in and demands Lucas have a bodyguard, Andrei Hadeon, former professional martial arts fighter. Lucas is by no means happy with the bodyguard situation, or with Andrei. He doesn’t do dating, repeats, or straight men, but he does know that he wants Andrei. Andrei has some things to figure out about himself, and I thought the conversation that he and Ian had made him look at things more clearly. The chemistry between Lucas and Andrei leaps off the pages, not just physically but emotionally. They both struggle with whether they are right for each other. Their story doesn’t seem to end with a HEA, but they do agree to work on it.

And I can’t forget to mention Detective Hollis Banner. He’s a thorn in everyone’s side, especially Lucas’. He’s going to be one character who will rock the boat.

Shiver was a surprise, a fast paced page turner filled with danger, suspense, wild fight scenes, and a crazy descriptive car chase. And, was not without humor. Oh, and the passion will tug at your heart strings. Jocelyn Drake and Rinda Elliott are just amazing with the written word. I seriously think this will be an exciting series. It left me hungry for more!

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4 Stars, Edward Kendrick, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Maryann

Review: Reaper by Edward Kendrick

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Amazon

Title: Reaper

Author: Edward Kendrick

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 208 Pages

At a Glance: Reaper has action, suspense, and two very likable MCs.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Leading a double life can be challenging, as Reaper well knows.

Take one self-styled vigilante—Reaper. Add his alter ego, successful forty-one-year-old, investment counselor, Zack Ward. Then throw in Dallas Comstock, thirty-two, a beat cop, Zack’s lover and the only person who knows Zack is Reaper. The result is men on a mission. They protect homeless kids living on the streets while trying to find a new building for a soon-to-be demolished shelter belonging to Zack’s mentor, Brian Foster—the man who helped Zack get off the streets.

Someone seems to be kidnapping streetwise young girls. Reaper pulls together a team of street kids—Zip and his boyfriend, Colly, Raven and Sway—to stop the predator. At the same time Zack, with the help of his business clients, sets up a charity ball to raise money for the new shelter, Off-the-Street.

What happens next may strengthen Zack’s and Dallas’ love—or destroy it.

Dividers

Review: Edward Kendrick’s Reaper is a unique story that I could see as a graphic novel that would appeal to young adults, with a few minor changes. Reaper and Wrath are definitely the superhero types, and the setting seems to take us to another place and time, even though the Rockies are mentioned. This story has action, suspense, and a sense of safety and empowerment.

There are two very likable MCs, Zack Ward and Dallas Comstock, and there’s lots of warmth, humor and love shared between them.  Zack is an investment counselor during the day, and has a very comfortable life, but growing up wasn’t anything like it is now. He lived on the streets as a young teen, and did what he had to do to survive. With the help and encouragement of Brian, he got his life together, and now strikes out to help others who are less fortunate.

Dallas comes from a different family lifestyle.  He’s a police officer and is dedicated to his job. He worries but also understands Zack and his plight to take care of the homeless and the young people who have to survive on the street. There are very few people that know that Dallas and Zack are partners in more ways than one.

There are a lot of supporting characters in this story, especially all the young teens who befriend Reaper and Wrath.  We get to meet these colorful characters:  Zip, Colly, Raven, Sway and many others. Our superheroes also have a special friend in Brian, who runs “Off-the-Street” a shelter for homeless youth, where Reaper recruits Nate Brown to teach self-defense to the young people and helps to empower them to also be protectors for others.

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4 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Elizabeth Noble, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Paranormal, Reviewed by Maryann

Audio Review: Electric Candle by Elizabeth Noble – Narrated by Faust Kells

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Amazon

Title: Electric Candle (The Sleepless City: Book Two)

Author: Elizabeth Noble

Narrator: Faust Kells

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 6 hours and 49 minutes

At a GlanceEven though this series is written by two different authors and performed by different narrators, it’s worth the read or the listen, whatever you prefer.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: When a vampire finds his soul mate, the bond is forever. It’s love at first sight. Or is it?

Flint, Ohio, Homicide Detective Jonas Forge has been a vampire for nearly two hundred years. He’s fought wars, seen life go from the simple but hard colonial days to the modern, high-tech world. He’s evolved with the times, adapting with each new era, blending into each new life. The one constant is his best friend and lover, Declan.

Until Forge’s soul mate tumbles, literally, into his life.

Even though they’re not fated to be together forever, Forge and Declan are perfectly happy. Despite the pheromone attracting him to his soul mate, Forge isn’t thrilled with the guy, and the feeling seems mutual. While trying to adjust to his clumsy soul mate and equally awkward feelings, Forge is on the hunt for the serial killer who’s leaving a trail of bodies, and who witnesses can’t identify. But Forge better watch out. When his work collides with his love life, things really heat up.

Dividers

Review: Electric Candle is book two in The Sleepless City series, which takes us back to Bogg’s Castle, where Simon, Ben, Lucas, Bogg, and Forge live.  Oh, and we can’t forget Moose!  Elizabeth Noble takes us on the second paranormal adventure, where Forge and Blair are our focus.

Oh my, Faust Kells brought so much expression and emotion to this audio, especially the humor.  I loved what he did with Blair. He brought youth, a little innocence and moments of maturity to this character. Lots of humor too when he and Forge first meet.

Lucas’s tone is more gravely and goes along with his persona of being a werewolf. The only voice I was disappointed with was Bogg’s, I wanted him to still have that southern gentlemen drawl portrayed in the audio Shades of Sepia, but he didn’t.

Even though this series is written by two different authors and performed by different narrators, it’s worth the read or the listen, whatever you prefer.  I was not disappointed.

(*Jackie, also did a great review of the e-book of Electric Candle in April 2015.)

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

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

Audio Gem

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Amazon

Title: The Way Things Are

Author: A.J. Thomas

Narrator: Ron Herczig

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 9 hours and 20 minutes

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

Reviewed By: Maryann

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

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

Dividers

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

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

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

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4.5 Stars, Anne Barwell, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Narration Rating - 4.5 Stars, Reviewed by Maryann

Audio Review: Shades of Sepia by Anne Barwell – Narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo

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Amazon

Title: Shades of Sepia (The Sleepless City: Book One)

Author: Anne Barwell

Narrator: Michael Ferraiuolo

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours and 59 Minutes

At a Glance: I have now read the book and listened to the audio, so whichever you choose, I think you will be pleasantly entertained.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: A serial killer stalks the streets of Flint, Ohio. The victims are always found in pairs, one human and one vampire.

Simon Hawthorne has been a vampire for nearly a hundred years, and he has never seen anything like it. Neither have the other supernaturals he works with to keep the streets safe for both their kind and the humans.

One meeting with Simon finds Ben Leyton falling for a man he knows is keeping secrets, but he can’t ignore the growing attraction between them. A recent arrival in Flint, Ben finds it very different from his native New Zealand, but something about Simon makes Ben feel as though he’s found a new home.

After a close friend falls victim to the killer, Simon is torn between revealing his true nature to Ben, and walking away to avoid the reaction he fears. But with the body count rising and the murders becoming more frequent, either, or both of them, could be the killer’s next target.

Dividers

Review: Shades of Sepia is a novel set in modern times, where we meet Ben Leyton in Flint, Ohio. He meets Professor of History, Simon Hawthorne, which leads us to the introduction to Boggs Castle. The castle is home to Detective Jonas Forge, Coroner Lucas Coate, and Boggs, an old southern gentleman. There they live and try to coexist with each other, which is humorous and serious at times, but they all remain friends, no matter what.

This audiobook is narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo, and I thought he did a really good job with the different emotions and voices for each of these characters. I liked his English accent for Simon, and the slight New Zealand accent for Ben. I also felt he did great with Boggs and the old southern gentleman’s drawl. He did a fantastic job with John’s vocals too, as you can just feel the evil dripping off this character. I felt Ferraiuolo narrated the story at a good pace and with the creativeness inspired by Anne Barwell’s storytelling. He really brought the story and characters to life. I have listened to other narrations by Michael Ferraiuolo, and I am becoming a fan.

Jackie’s review of this e-book was posted at TNA in March of 2014, and I think it’s right on the nose, outstanding and a series worth following. I have now read the book and listened to the audio, so whichever you choose, I think you will be pleasantly entertained.

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4 Stars, Amber Allure, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Maryann, Sean Michael

Review: A Cowboy Out of Texas by Sean Michael

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Amazon

Title: A Cowboy Out of Texas

Author: Sean Michael

Publisher: Amber Allure

Pages/Word Count: 13000 Words

At a GlanceA Cowboy Out of Texas is a sweet, heartwarming little story, well written and keeps you interested in its characters.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Sam Hawker’s fall off a bucking bronc at an event in Canada has left him both physically broken and financially broke and in a hospital with his leg in traction. Between worrying about how he’ll pay his medical bills and not being able to move, he’s going more than a little stir crazy.

Easy on the eyes, Pat Bouchard is the nurse assigned to Sam for his stay at the hospital, and the two men get to know each other as Pat cares for and entertains Sam. They grow even closer when Pat offers Sam a place to stay while he recovers.

What are they going to do when Sam’s all better and doesn’t have a reason to stay in Canada any longer?

Dividers

Review: Poor Sam Hawker. I think you’ll find Sam to be a really nice guy…who worries constantly about getting better. Sam is a rough and tough rodeo cowboy, but all he’s riding at the moment is a hospital bed. With a broken leg, Sam’s hurting, restless and worried, and then he spies that cute little nurse, Pat.

Pat Bouchard is such a wonderful, nurturing character, and he likes the cowboy. Besides taking care of Sam at the hospital, Pat spends personal time with him. So when Sam becomes anxious and wants out of the hospital but has nowhere to go, Pat offers to take Sam in until he heals up and can get back on the rodeo circuit. Which then makes Sam worry about taking advantage of Pat.

Sam and Pat are really great guys, and this story takes us into their everyday lives: shows us how they meet, who they are, and their feelings for each other. A Cowboy Out of Texas is a sweet, heartwarming little story, well written and keeps you interested in its characters.

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You can buy A Cowboy Out of Texas here:

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4 Stars, Genre Romance, Jenna Byrnes, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Maryann

Review: VanDoren’s Vice by Jenna Byrnes

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: VanDorens Vice (Kansas City Heat: Book Seven)

Author: Jenna Byrnes

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 115 Pages

At a Glance: Murder, Danger, and lots of suspects makes for a fast-paced read.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: A detective and the head of security at a casino have something in common, don’t they? Perhaps more than one thing.

Detective Mike VanDoren isn’t much of a gambler, but the ongoing embezzlement at Kansas City’s newest casino definitely has his interest. So does handsome Cole McKinney, the head of security at the Time and Tides. Mike dives head first into the case and a relationship with Cole, who can’t believe that any of his trusted employees and friends could be guilty. Mike knows differently, and it’s up to him and his team to figure out who’s behind the elaborate scheme. When a casino employee turns up dead, the case takes a bizarre twist, leaving Mike scrambling to save the people he cares about most.

Dividers

Review: VanDorens Vice is the seventh book in the Kansas City Heat series by Jenna Byrnes, where the author takes us into the interesting and fast-paced world of the casino and security operation. Murder, danger and lots of suspects, along with the creative use of the looping technique from Speed, are all built into an embezzlement scheme.

The two MCs, Detective Mike VanDoren and Cole McKinney, hit it off quickly and the attraction between them is powerful. They both have strong feelings about the jobs that they have to do, and hit some bumps along the way as the embezzlement scheme becomes entangled with murder. Cole’s character is trusting of certain staff members and believes no one would commit such crimes, but Mike has to consider everyone a suspect, even Cole. Eventually, doubt and suspicion start to take a toll on their relationship.

As supporting characters go, Ms. Byrnes developed a great partner for Mike in Lisa Chen. She’s not only smart but has a really fun sense of humor. There is an abundance of characters in this story, as many of the characters from the Kansas City Heat series are brought back, which I really enjoy.

VanDorens Vice can be read as a standalone, but the author does give enough tidbits about the other characters that it may tempt you to read the previous books in the series.

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You can buy VanDorens Vice here:

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5 Stars, Carol Lynne, Genre Romance, Horror, Paranormal, Reviewed by Maryann, Wilde City Press

Review: The Claiming of Patrick Donnelly by Carol Lynne

Amazon

Amazon

Title: The Claiming of Patrick Donnelly

Author: Carol Lynne

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count: 99 Pages

At a Glance: Carol Lynne creates another well done horror/paranormal story here, with dangerous spirits, satanic worship, possession and old tales of horror.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: After taming the Ghosts of Alcatraz, Fisher Marx left his position as head of the World Police Unit to take a job in the small town of Toblerville. He’d hoped to live out his life in quiet splendor while still using his skills to protect the Hickory County residents, but everything changed when he heard rumors of a young man who claimed to be the victim of regular attacks by a ghost.

Unable to put the young man out of his mind, Fisher decided to investigate the situation. What he discovered in the run down house outside of town would change his life forever.

Dividers

Review: The Claiming of Patrick Donnelly is the sequel to Ghost of Alcatraz, where we first meet Fisher Marx. Carol Lynne creates another well done horror/paranormal story here, with dangerous spirits, satanic worship, possession and old tales of horror. These are two excellent stories, but a word of warning: this book does include sexual abuse and violence.

This story picks-up with Fisher starting a new life, but he’s not at peace yet. He’d seen a lot of crazy things during his ordeal at Alcatraz prison, with Jensen Black and Brian Phipps. He hears things being said about a young man, Patrick Donnelly, which are treated as a joke by his fellow officers. He just can’t let it go, so he seeks out Patrick with every intention of helping him. What he finds is a young man who is being sexually abused and tormented by his father’s spirit.

Fisher witnesses the abuse that Patrick is going through, and rescues him, but the “living spirit” follows Patrick to Fisher’s house.  Fisher decides to take Patrick to Pont-Aven, France, and put as much distance as possible between Patrick and the spirit.  But nothing can stop the evil. Fisher has been seeking advice from his friend, Brian Phipps, an ex-parapsychologist, and Brian and Jensen arrive in France to help Fisher and Patrick figure out why Patrick is plagued by the spirit.

Both Fisher and Patrick are searching for something: Fisher wants someone to make life worth living, and Patrick needs real love and peace in his life. Even though there is an age difference between them, I believe it’s a spirit that unites them together. I thought the same about Brian and Jensen when they met in Ghost of Alcatraz. Carol Lynne also introduces some new characters—Gavin, Ian, and Sal—who add an odd twist to this story.

I was really surprised and glad to see this series is continuing. It has been a long time since Ghost of Alcatraz was released (2011), the story that takes us to the year 2020 and a new Alcatraz prison where we meet Jensen, Brian and Fisher for the first time. I liked that she brought Jensen and Brian back for Fisher’s story and am hoping she will continue to bring us more eerie adventures in this paranormal world.

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You can buy The Claiming of Patrick Donnelly here:

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5 Stars, DSP Publications, Ethan Stone, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Maryann

Review: Closing Ranks by Ethan Stone

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Closing Ranks (Flesh: Book Four)

Author: Ethan Stone

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 244 Pages

At a Glance: Closing Ranks is an extremely well written mystery/romance story.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Internal Affairs investigator Jeremy Ranklin is looking into corruption within the Reno Police Department when he’s ordered to examine the suspicious death of the Chief of Police. The assignment partners Jeremy with Detective Cristian Flesh. Though they spar at first, Jeremy earns Cristian’s trust, and they work well together.

Deeply closeted, Jeremy fights an attraction to fellow cop Kipp Mosely. The investigation brings Jeremy and Kipp together, but lies and secrets prevent things from going any further. Jeremy will need both Kipp’s and Cristian’s help to discover how deep the corruption runs—and to stay alive when the danger hits close to home.

Dividers

Review: Suspense, danger, murder and so many suspects, Closing Ranks is another wild ride from Ethan Stone, fast paced and full of so much information that it keeps you turning the pages from beginning to end. Yes, Cristian Flesh is back and has teamed up with Jeremy Ranklin, of Internal Affairs, to investigate the suspicious suicide of a mentor, as well as corruption inside the Reno police force.

Besides the twists and turns of the suicide and corruption, we also get to know Jeremy. He has to deal with personal issues, with being gay and closeted, with a young man who has a crush on him, an ex’s return, and an uncontrollable attraction to Officer Kipp Moseley. I really felt bad for him. He carries guilt about being gay and over what would happen if he came out to his parents and sister-in-law. He believes it would kill his father if his secret were to be found out.  He also has a six-year-old nephew he loves dearly, and is afraid of never seeing him again.

Jeremy is trying hard to keep his mind on the case, but no matter what, he keeps coming in contact with Officer Moseley. Kipp is out and doesn’t hide his sexuality. He’s not sure if he’s willing to get involved with Jeremy because he’s not about to be anyone’s “dirty little secret”. There is no insta-love between Jeremy and Kipp. In fact, they have to work at it because neither one wants to have to change who they are. But when danger arises, Kipp has Jeremy’s back.

Flesh play’s a big part in this story, and he’s all business and snarky, as usual. Colby only has a brief part, and Reg, Flesh’s partner, is also back. There are also two newbies, Leif and Rafe…hmmm, very interesting!

I have to say, Closing Ranks is an extremely well written mystery/romance story. It’s hard to choose which book in the Flesh series I liked best, but this one is a favorite.

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You can buy Closing Ranks here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

OmniLit/ARe

OmniLit/ARe

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4 Stars, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Maryann, Self-Published, Thianna Durston

Review: Discovery by Thianna Durston

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Discovery (Drakyl Ranch: Book One)

Author: Thianna Durston

Publisher: NQWYE Press

Pages/Word Count: 154 Pages

At a Glance: Discovery is a good beginning to the Drakyl Ranch series.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Living in Montana and working the ranch is all Aaron wants to do for the rest of his life. Diagnosed as allergic to the sun thirteen years previous, every day is a struggle to get out of bed. Having to wear long-sleeved shirts, gloves, and even material to cover his face from the effects of the sun, just makes it all worse. Now, in his thirty-second year, he is sure this will be his last summer. While he hates it, he knows he needs to come to terms with the truth and put things in order for his younger cousins. Before he does so, he heads out for one night of pleasure before facing what’s coming.

Jaret loves excitement and new adventures. For over five hundred years, he has sought them out. In Montana on a whim, he comes across someone he doesn’t expect, someone who makes him feel things he does not understand and does not want to give up. In no time at all, he feels like he cannot live without Aaron. The only problem is Aaron doesn’t know who he is, what he is, nor that he isn’t going to die. Not on Jaret’s watch. With a plan to help the other man discover who he is in place, he only has one thing to worry about: whether an ancient enemy will come and destroy everything he now holds dear.

Dividers Review: Discovery is the first book in the new Drakyl Ranch series by Thianna Durston. The lore and mythology of this story is a different concept for me in regards to drakyl versus vampyre. The word “vampire” has a totally different meaning in this –verse, and no relationship to what this story is all about. We find that the vampyre are smelly and just plain evil all around, and that drakyl are a genetic link between vampyre and drakyl. Ms. Durston provides a scientific theory on how they came about.

Drakyl is actually the last name of the family that lives on the Montana ranch. We find cousins Aaron, Adam, Stephan, Jeffery, and Conner working the Drakyl Ranch with their elderly uncle, Davis. Everyone gets along great, but Uncle Davis and the boys worry about Aaron. He is the oldest and is suffering from an illness. He has come to realize he doesn’t have long to live, so he decides to go into town and have one last fling. There he meets up with Jaret, the mysterious stranger who has been a drakyl for many years.  Once Aaron and Jaret start learning about each other, we find that they don’t necessarily agree on everything.

I thought it odd that Uncle Davis hadn’t shared his knowledge with Aaron sooner, as Aaron was suffering. The reaction of the cousins when they find out what their destiny is, is without fear and they accept it calmly. Maybe they had that reaction because they were sort of abandoned by their families and sent to live with their uncle because they were considered different. There is also an abundance of past history about the drakyl that Aaron and Jaret will be discovering as the series progresses. They also have to face danger as they take up the battle against the vampyre.

Discovery is a good beginning to the Drakyl Ranch series. Ms. Durston has created enough characters and history to keep me curious. Since we get a little glimpse of the second book, I’m looking forward to this new paranormal adventure.

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You can buy Discovery here:

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Smashwords

Smashwords

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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Maryann, Victor J. Banis

Review: A Prayer for the Dead by Victor J. Banis

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: A Prayer for the Dead (A Tom and Stanley Novel)

Author: Victor J. Banis

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: I was entertained by the entire series, and I look forward to the next mystery from Mr. Banis to see what he has in store for Tom and Stanley.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Does murder follow Tom and Stanley around, or do they follow the murders?
After a hospital stay, Stanley is invited by Father Brighton to convalesce at St. Marywood, an isolated monastery on the ocean cliffs of Big Sur. Upon arrival, Stanley finds Father Brighton dead. The order’s doctor writes it up as a death by natural causes, but those seem to be quite prevalent at the monastery. The recent demise of a young brother who fell from the cliffs is described as an accident, but Stanley’s nose is twitching. Plus the order’s finances have taken a sudden, mysterious turn for the better. Is something rotten at St. Marywood?
Stanley and Tom can’t resist digging around even if it means testing their tumultuous relationship against a gaggle of handsome, young, virginal, and—they are told—gay men.

Dividers

Review: Before I could begin A Prayer for the Dead, book seven in the Tom and Stanley Mystery series, I dug into the vault of and read the first six books. Each of the books are page turners, with danger, humor, a variety of murder suspects, and unique plots. If you really like murder mysteries, this series offers everything from drag queens to friars in monasteries, and a lot more in between. Even the first book, Deadly Nightshade (which suffered from horrible editing), held my attention to the very last word (but don’t worry, the editing has gotten better).

But the reason I mention the previous six books in the series is because this isn’t only a continuing series about Tom Danzel and Stanley Korski. Stanley’s best friend Christopher Rafferty, and Carl Hunter from a previous book(s), finally get to meet in A Prayer for the Dead. In this book, we find Stanley and Chris making a trip to St. Marywood at the invitation of Father Brighton, a friend of Christopher’s. This in itself is different because Stanley and Chris do some investigating of their own when they discover Father Brighton dead. I was impressed by how well Stanley and Chris did as a team. When Stanley finally gets to fill Tom in on all his findings, they put their heads together about the murders and find themselves on a road trip to Mexico. They come up with several possibilities, but are really surprised by the outcome, just as I was.

What I find extremely interesting in this series is Tom and Stanley.  Even though they are really good at solving mysteries, they really haven’t solved the mystery of their relationship. Tom still considers himself straight, but he loves Stanley. Stanley has been the only man that Tom has been attracted to, and he has a great need to protect Stanley, but he’s really “not interested in anything gay,” and the temptation for women still crops up at times. Stanley is gay and proud of it, but he always has his doubts that Tom will leave him for the straight life. Tom doesn’t want to go to gay clubs or hang with Stanley’s friends–Chris is the only one Tom has made a friend of–and both have walked the fine line of temptation.

Even though Tom has made some changes, I really like Stanley’s character best.  He has really grown throughout the series. Out of his love for Tom, he has come up against some hard decisions, and sometimes I question whether or not they will make it as a couple.

I was entertained by the entire series, and I look forward to the next mystery from Mr. Banis to see what he has in store for Tom and Stanley.

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You can buy A Prayer for the Dead here:

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4 Stars, BL Morticia, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Maryann

Review: Under the Gun by BL Morticia

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Under the Gun (Hardy and Day: Book One)

Author: BL Morticia

Publisher: Entice by Booktrope

Pages/Word Count: 55 Pages

At a Glance: Under the Gun is really well written and has a good pace to it.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Jaded by his lover leaving him for a woman, Camdyn Hardy is looking for love and partnership. When he goes to the local shooting range, he only wants to let off a little steam, but meeting Malik Day, a discharged army serviceman is a welcome surprise.

Malik’s issues go farther than just a lack of love. Discharged for defending a fellow gay soldier got him kicked out of the Army and back at home with his bible thumping parents. When Malik meets Camdyn, the sparks are there, but both of them are too afraid to make their desires known to each other.

After several conversations and dates, Camdyn and Malik are hot for one another and ready to take the next step. When they do, they discover they have a lot more in common than just a need for a committed relationship.

Dividers

Review: Under the Gun is the beginning of a new series by BL Morticia. It’s a short story, but it’s written as an introduction to our two MCs, each telling their own story.

Camden Hardy is a PI and owns Camdyn & Associates. He loves having the freedom of owning his own business.  He’s a confident character and a little snarky, but all he wants is a partner who’s “one hundred percent queer” and would be able to work and play beside him.

Malik Day is gay and just got booted out of the military for sticking up for one of his fellow soldiers. This really hurt his plans for a career in the military, but he has an interest in law enforcement.  Without the funds to get his own place right away, he has to move back home with his parents. He really beats the pavement to find a job and get out from under their roof. Malik is a great guy: he’s proud, a little shy and nervous around Camdyn.

When Malik and Camdyn meet, there’s a definite spark between them. Camdyn isn’t afraid to say what he feels (he refers to Malik as a “Hershey’s Chocolate Bar”), but he does hold back some, as he doesn’t want to scare Malik. I liked the idea of them going on numerous dates and really getting to know each other; they don’t fall into bed at first sight. Even though they both want the same things, they skirt around those important issues, until Malik has finally had enough of being at his parents.

Under the Gun is really well written and has a good pace to it. I liked both Camdyn and Malik, and I think it’s going to be fun to see where BL Morticia takes them. I also feel I should warn readers that there is some real kinky gun play, and I don’t just mean target shooting.  They both really love their guns!

I’m hoping the next story will have some private investigating and Camdyn and Malik getting into a whole lot of trouble.

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You can buy Under the Gun here:

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5 Stars, Historical Romance, M. Keedwell, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Maryann, Samhain Publishing

Review: Dark Economy by M. Keedwell

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Dark Economy

Author: M. Keedwell

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 287 Pages

At a Glance: Dark Economy is a jolly good story. This is my first time reading this author, and I was very impressed.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Love can’t stay buried.

Medical student Cadell Meredith has been known to acquire “volunteers” from the occasional pauper’s grave in order to improve his surgical skills. While the legality of this practice is a bit murky, he wouldn’t go so far as to call it out and out robbery.

His latest acquisition, however, is different. The body on his table was obviously healthy, wealthy—and murdered. Cadell feels compelled to seek justice for the dead man, but while dissection comes naturally to him, crime investigation is unfamiliar territory.

Furthermore, he’s caught the attention of one of those new police officers, Blaine Breton. A handsome, sentimental fool who insists Cadell is a criminal. A criminal! Cadell is the first to admit he’s no saint, but he’s no killer.

A marvelous game of cat and mouse ensues as Cadell seeks to expose the truth while hiding his own secrets. A task that grows ever more difficult as his desire for Breton grows…and the danger deepens.

Dividers

Review: Dark Economy is set in London, in 1829, and the author has really brought this time period to life. The writing style, settings, and the old English accent give the book its historical feel. We find that it’s also a time of indecision in the medical field, as well as intolerance toward gay men. It’s quite the page turner, full of suspense, danger and humor.

As Cadell Meredith is a medical student, you will find an abundance of medical terms (you may find yourself checking the dictionary—I know I did) and an autopsy or two, so if you’re a little squeamish, you have been warned. Cadell is a fascinating character, and we find his emotions in a whirlwind over not only Blaine Breton but an old acquaintance, a new acquaintance, his medical studies, and sleuthing! He’s a brilliant medical student and artist who has connections to the burial sites of paupers. He does a little grave robbing in order to get hands-on practice, which, of course, is against the law, but he feels justified because his passion is medicine, and he strives to be the best. He uses his artistic talent to draw diagrams for his professor to use at lectures. When he acquires a particular body, and discovers a murder, though, he sets out to find justice for the individual.

Blaine Breton is a policeman, staunch in his belief that Cadell is grave-robbing criminal. They both have different opinions on grave robbing, and of each other, which causes hostility between the two. At almost every turn, Blaine is there to just make Cadell as miserable as possible. In fact, they are driving each other crazy! But, Blaine also has a soft side, and even though he tries to be tough, there’s also a shy side to him. Blaine is still a little bit of a mystery to me.

When tragedy strikes, the first person Blaine runs to is Cadell. That’s when the emotions and respect between them start to come through. After Cadell spends some time with Blaine, he decides to share information he has about the possible crimes and murders that have been happening. Blaine and Cadell team up with other fellow policemen to go after the suspects and try to solve this complicated murder mystery.

M. Keedwell’s Dark Economy is a jolly good story. This is my first time reading this author, and I was very impressed.

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You can buy Dark Economy here:

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4 Stars, Jack Bumgardner, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Maryann, Wilde City Press

Review: Underneath It All by Jack Bumgardner

Underneath It All

Underneath It All

Title: Underneath It All

Author: Jack Bumgardner

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count: 53 Pages

At a Glance: I found Underneath It All to be a good short story for a new mystery series, full of action and danger, fast paced and suspenseful.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: When Crosby Comeaux, the owner of the only gay detective agency in New Cypress can’t even pay his light bill he decides that it’s time to close up shop. But, Armin Bleu, a cute blond with evidence of a double murder, convinces him to take on one last case. As Crosby investigates the murder it becomes clear that the motive was not just kinky sex gone wrong but something much more sinister. His journey takes him into a circle of men who have devised a plot that could literally destroy New Cypress and everything he loves—including his memories.

Dividers

Review: Author Jack Bumgardner is a first time author for me. I found Underneath It All to be a good short story for a new mystery series, full of action and danger, fast paced and suspenseful—it was a page turner for me— and full of surprises too, from a sad relationship between a father and a son to the motives for the murders, which were not what I expected.

The MC is Crosby Comeaux, who used to be a cop but now is a PI, with a failing business in New Cypress. He takes a chance on Armin Bleu, who has evidence of a murder. Crosby finds himself facing continuing harassment from an old co-worker, along with betrayal, and suspects who are greedy to the point they would destroy New Cypress.

Crosby’s character isn’t unique, he’s just a man trying to do his job and survive from day to day, but he’s sympathetic and his heart is still hanging on to a loss that may never be replaced. I didn’t want this story to end because there is a still a lot to learn about Crosby Comeaux.

As I am such a big fan of mysteries, I would really be interested to see what cases Jack Bumgardner creates for Crosby Comeaux next.

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You can buy Underneath It All here:

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Amazon US

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

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5 Stars, BA Tortuga, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Maryann

Review: The Articles of Release by BA Tortuga

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: The Articles of Release (The Release Series: Book Two)

Author: BA Tortuga

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 220 Pages

At a Glance: Highly recommended.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Just released from the military, wounded warrior Eric Tremaine is trying to put his life back together like the doctors reassembled his shattered leg. He’s a man with no home, since his Louisiana family rejected him, so Eric winds up in Texas with his old Army buddy, Adam Winchester, and his lover, Sage.

When Eric decides to stop sitting on his ass feeling sorry for himself, he is introduced to trainer Troy Daniels, who lost both his legs in a teenage accident. Troy knows what it’s like to feel as if your body is your enemy. While Eric and Troy have a bumpy start, they soon find enough common ground to make a friendship, if not more. But taking it to the next level means finding out what they have to offer each other, and the world, before they can trust that the love they find together won’t cause more pain than pleasure.

Dividers

Review: BA Tortuga brings humor, caring, love and a special friendship between all the characters to The Articles of Release. I love this author’s writing style, and this book, with its simple truths, is relaxed and really gives a nice feel to the Release series.

Eric Tremaine is feeling sorry for himself: he’s frustrated, angry and just feels like all is lost, including himself. He was severely wounded in Afghanistan, and now has lost his dream of a twenty year career in the military. His family wants nothing to do with him, and he has no home to go to, so he calls on Adam “Win” Winchester—who doesn’t hesitate to help.

Troy Daniels is a personal trainer and a good friend to Sage Redding. At a young age Troy had an accident which left him disabled, but nothing in life can stop Troy from getting the next rush. I often found myself wondering if he was trying to prove something. Had he really faced his own situation, or did he have a death wish?

When Eric and Troy meet, fireworks happen but not the good kind. They are two very different men, from their disabilities to their families’ acceptance. Tortuga’s portrayal of them as two strong men, as well as our view of them being heroes, makes this a heartwarming story. The Articles of Release takes us through Eric and Troy’s days and how they both deal with their life challenges, and how they love and care for each other. One of the best moments of the story is when Eric starts taking care of Troy. Wrong words or decisions might destroy the good thing they have.

It was such a pleasure to have Win and Sage from The Terms of Release included in this installment of the series. They play a big part in Eric and Troy’s story and bring a nice camaraderie to it. I thought they gave Eric a real eye opener, especially Sage. There is nobody like Sage; he’s just so down to earth. I hope that BA Tortuga continues with the Release series and shares more of Troy and Eric’s life with us, along with Win and Sage’s.

Highly recommended.

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You can buy The Articles of Release here:

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4 Stars, Historical Romance, Reviewed by Maryann, Taylin Clavelli, Wayward Ink Publishing

Review: Dakota Skies by Taylin Clavelli

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Dakota Skies

Author: Taylin Clavelli

Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 350 Pages

At a Glance: Dakota Skies is an Old Western saga, an entertaining story with plenty of action.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Born in the wrong time…

In 1875 Dakota, Sheriff Jamie Carter has to hide his interest in men, even from his gutsy twin sister, Anna. On a good day, the truth can mean a bullet between the eyes, and on a bad, one in the back.

A man on a mission…

Jamie leaves Anna in charge of Blackrock and he hits the bounty hunting trail, along with his faithful equine companion, Houston. Five territories, scores of ‘Wanted’ posters, and many bullets later, his path unexpectedly converges with that of enigmatic loner, Kit Brooks.

Two men with one soul…

Will the smoldering fire between them rage into an inferno and break down protective barriers, allowing them to find love? Or will it separate and kill them?

Beneath Dakota skies…

Jamie and Kit’s story is a sweeping saga of cowboys, Indians, persistent broads, and vengeful villains, where the cowboys aren’t always the good guys, and love can’t be taken for granted.

Dividers

Review: Jamie Carter shares the title of Sheriff with his twin sister Anna. Anna can shoot, fight and ride better than any man. We learn a lot about how Jamie and Anna followed in their father’s footsteps.

Kit Brooks has a story of his own to share, which is much different than Jamie’s. Mason Lee Anderson, the gambler, card player and sharpshooter, will be a big part of Kit’s story. Mason has a very special connection to Kit, Kate, and the Sioux tribe.

Anna befriends Hayley, who teaches her how to cook, as well as the fine art of being a lady. Anna teaches Hayley the fine art of shooting. Poor Morgan Haynes, Jamie’s best friend and saloon owner… Anna has a plan for him!

We meet members of the Sioux tribe, who are a very important part of this story. Chief Wahchinsapa, Tala, Howahkan (the medicine man), Takoda and others, and learn the beliefs and ways of the Sioux, taken into the spirit world along with Jamie and Kit, where we meet Chenoa.

And, last but not least, there’s Houston, Jamie’s faithful companion, his horse. Not just any old horse, a very talented one. He will have you chuckling!

I think the cover of this book deserves a mention, it really reflects the story behind it, as well as the map inside the book, which gives us an idea of the places Jamie and Kit traveled. Dakota Skies is an Old Western saga, an entertaining story with plenty of action, good guys, bad guys, working girls, heartbreak, hijinks, love, and the mystery of the spirit world. The story centers on Jamie and Kit, but the other interesting characters and their stories deserved a mentioned.

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2.5 Stars, Genre Romance, L.J. Hamlin, Reviewed by Maryann, Torquere Press

Review: The Dusty Hat Bar by L.J. Hamlin

Title: The Dusty Hat Bar

Author: L.J. Hamlin

Publisher: Torquere Press

Pages/Word Count: 96 Pages

At a Glance: I liked Noah and Lennie, but the author’s writing style made the reading difficult at times.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Noah Kimberly walks into his usual bar, same as he does most Friday nights. It’s surprisingly busy for this time of night, even for a Friday.

Tonight things are different. Tonight Noah will meet Lennie Boyce, the son of Earl Boyce the biggest ranch owner in the area and Noah’s ex boss. His friend and bar owner Dusty might warn him away from the other man, but Noah’s just not sure he can resist this cowboy.

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Review: L.J. Hamlin’s The Dusty Hat Bar begins with Noah Kimberly at the bar, having thoughts of revenge against Earl Boyce, Lennie Boyce’s father. Noah knows revenge isn’t the way to handle things, though, and I was glad he changed his mind because he’s not a bad guy. When Noah actually meets Lennie that same night, they hit it off pretty well and mutually agree to have sex right away. I liked Noah and Lennie, but I sort of wish that hadn’t happened so fast.

Lennie has just turned twenty-one and wants to be a teacher. He has no interest in his family ranch. He is also the youngest of five, the only boy, and I liked the relationship he had with his sisters, who are very supportive of him and Noah. I also liked Dusty and Richard Draper, as they give support and advice to Noah.

I really want to give The Dusty Hat Bar a fair review. With that in mind, I have to say that, at times, the writing was like reading a list of instructions, which made the relationship between the MCs feel unreal, and I caught myself trying to reconstruct some of the wording to make it read in a more relaxed way. Which, unfortunately, took away some of the enjoyment of the reading.

For me, The Dusty Hat Bar boiled down to being about the father and son relationship, and Earl trying to protect Lennie but going about it the wrong way. Earl worries about how others will react towards Lennie being gay, fearing his son could be attacked or killed by intolerant people—things Earl knows about from his past. I must say I didn’t care for some of the things Earl does to his son and Noah.

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4 Stars, Amber Allure, Dierdre O'Dare, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Maryann

Review: A Cop and a Con by Dierdre O’Dare

Title: A Cop and a Con

Author: Diedre O’Dare

Publisher: Amber Allure

Pages/Word Count: 23000 Words

At a Glance: A Cop and a Con is well worth the read.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: When a cop and a newly released convict cross paths, few cons can expect anything but a cold shoulder and mistrust. Struggling back to the home he knows no longer exists, Ike Hernandez meets a cop who seems to be different. He isn’t sure he can believe the kindness he receives will continue. Still, he wants to learn to trust again and regain his lost self-respect.

Perry Parker became a law enforcement officer because he wanted to help people. He’d seen first-hand the results of poverty, alcohol and drug abuse, a crumbling economy and the insidious effects of peer pressure and bad examples on the youth. He’d watched hardship trickle down to crush the youngest and weakest. He found there was not a lot he could do, but now and then he discovered someone he could help. Would the lost man with the little dog that he picked up one bitter cold and stormy night be one of them?

Pursuing tales about a new drug dealer in his county, Perry starts to doubt the man he’s befriended, but he still feels Ike is a decent person. When the real dealers seek to take advantage of the convict’s past, it takes Perry and his unofficial canine partner and the little stray Ike had adopted to save the day. Can a cop, a con, and two dogs make an unorthodox family?

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Review: Deirdre O’Dare has created a story with some danger, action, and a special warmth between, yes, a cop and a con. I was impressed with the development of the two MCs, Perry Parker and Ike Hernandez, and if Ms. O’Dare ever decided to make a series starring these two wonderful guys, and their faithful companions, I would definitely be a fan.

Perry, being a Deputy in Alamo County, likes his job and life in this small town. He opens his home and heart to Ike, without question, but Ike by no means takes advantage of Perry. He immediately seeks employment and strives to do good. There’s just something special between Perry and Ike when they first meet, and you can tell they belong together. I like that the relationship between them progresses slowly, and that they get to know each other.

It was heartbreaking when Perry took Ike to Esperanza, returning home after such a long time, only to find it no longer exists, leaving in its place poverty and drug trafficking. While Perry and Ike try to figure out their life, they are faced with doubt, tension and danger from an unknown drug dealer who starts causing problems.

I liked the supporting characters in this story as well, especially Dot and Sheriff Ben Harper. Even though they have short appearances, you immediately pick up on the feelings of comfort and support they share with Perry and Ike. And Badger and Rojo are two unlikely heroes, little creatures with personality!

I also found Deirdre O’Dare’s dedication at the beginning of the book heartwarming, and the Author’s Note explains her creative ideas for the town of Alamo County, Esperanza, and Riata, and how they came to be. A Cop and a Con is well worth the read!

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3.5 Stars, Paranormal Romance, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Maryann, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, T.A. Chase

Review: Bulls & Blood by T.A. Chase

Title: Bulls & Blood (Blood and Thorn Ranch: Book One)

Author: T.A. Chase

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 101 Pages

At a Glance: I do think this particular story could have been a bit more polished, as you do have to read between the lines a bit, and, of course, not take it at all too seriously.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Breaking the rules has never been Wesley’s way…until he meets Mino.

Rule Number Two that the Thorn brothers live by is that employees of the ranch are off-limits. Wesley has always followed that rule, never stepping out of his comfort zone to do more than talk to one of the cowhands that help run his family’s ranch. Being a vampire makes it easier, since he doesn’t go out during the day.

Mino’s been interested in the youngest Thorn brother since he began working at The Blood & Thorn Ranch. It’s those stupid rules that hold him back from making the first move. Well, those and the fact that Wesley could kill him in a blink of his eye. Being human in a world of supernatural creatures makes living difficult, since he’s considered prey.

These two males, from different species and societies, must find a way to meet in the middle of their worlds if they have a chance at love.

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Review: Bulls & Blood introduces us to modern day, business minded, ranch running vampires, where we meet the five Thorn (not blood related) brothers—Wesley, Phineas, Loman, Amadeus, and Reginald—who own the Blood & Thorn Ranch, and also happen to be the most powerful of all the vampires, or of any species, for that matter.

Wesley is the youngest (though still hundreds of years old) of the brothers. He keeps track of all the ranch’s finances, and tries to keep his brothers in line. Wesley is the enforcer whenever punishments need to be handed out, and he doesn’t blink an eye when doing what’s necessary. He also doesn’t like to break the rules that are in place, but here is where I found there to be a slight contradiction. Wesley thinks being involved with a human is not worth it because they don’t live as long as vampires; however, he’s hot for Mino…who is a human and a pretty good guy. He gets along with everyone.

Now, some might say that Wesley and Mino fall into bed just a little too fast, but Mino’s been a cowhand on the ranch for five years, so I assumed they’ve been skirting around the idea of being together for a while. Wesley and Mino do have some friction between them, Mino knows how dangerous Wesley can be, and I got the idea he had some uncomfortable feelings about that.

It’s been a long while since I’ve read a vampire/shifter/human story, and T.A. Chase used some ideas in this book that worked okay for me. The brothers get their blood from a bottle—no feeding from humans because of a parasite that could end a vampire. All the ranch employees are protected—whether human, shifter, or a different species. And, besides dealing in cattle, there are contracted hunts that take place on the ranch, for those vampires who want to pursue their prey and feed the old way; though the prey are not forced. In fact, they’re paid to participate in these hunts, but none are killed or turned. Then, there’s also the big, bad Council that would like more power over the Thorns.

If you are a big vampire/human/shifter fan, Bulls & Blood is probably something you’ll want to check out. There are enough brothers and ideas to get some decent mileage out of the Blood & Thorn Ranch series, but I do think this particular story could have been a bit more polished, as you do have to read between the lines a bit, and, of course, not take it at all too seriously.

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