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.

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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.

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You can buy A Shooting Star here:

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4 Stars, Becky Black, Dreamspinner Press, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Reviewed by Taz, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Immutable by Becky Black

Title: Immutable

Author: Becky Black

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 62 Pages

At a Glance: I read Immutable with an eye for what the author was trying to teach, and that lesson seems to fall somewhere between the importance of honesty and the perils of selfishness.

Reviewed By: Taz

Blurb: Every night, in the tiny cottage he shares with his dying mother, lonely young shepherd Callum dreams of having a lover by his side. A man to share his bed and his life. One day, as he gathers driftwood on the beach, he finds Breen, a beautiful, naked stranger. Breen makes love to him, leaving Callum certain he’s only a fantasy. But the stunning Breen is there again the next day—fulfilling Callum’s every wish. Then Callum’s hopes are shattered when he learns of Breen’s true nature. Panic and desperation drive Callum to commit a terrible betrayal to try to keep Breen from leaving him.

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.

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Review: Immutable has a fairy tale/folklore feel to it. Set on an island with old fashioned views, where everyone knows everyone, our main character, Callum, is unable to live his life fully and completely. He cares for his ailing mother until she dies, but in his time of darkness, he finds happiness in Breen, a stranger he found by the sea, who seems more than human.

I’m really glad the publisher provided a disclaimer that the story was bittersweet because it does not have a HEA or HFN. Since I was prepared for this, I wasn’t frustrated when the relationship between the two protagonists began to falter and ultimately failed. Instead, I read with an eye for what the author was trying to teach, and that lesson seems to fall somewhere between the importance of honesty and the perils of selfishness. As the story progressed, Callum was outright deceitful in an attempt to hold onto Breen. This made him rather unlikable, but since I knew the story was bittersweet, I was able to look past his selfish choices.

Breen too was less than forthcoming about who he was, but as the story unfolded, we learned that his behavior was part of his nature. As a mystical creature of the sea, he would one day leave and not return. When Callum discovered this, he took steps to prevent that from happening, which, in turn, created animosity and disappointment between the two of them. Only at the end did he realize the error of his choices.

Even though Callum did not end up with his love, he didn’t crumple to pieces and face an eternity of empty despair. The author leaves us with the idea that our central character, Callum, will go into the world a wiser person and, with some luck, will find the happiness he’d not found before. But we are also left with a sense of disappointment in him for having manipulated another person in order to suit his own needs. Even out of insecurity and longing for companionship, true love does not manifest itself in the form of trapping or compelling others to do things.

For me, this was a flaw in the story. Once Callum behaved selfishly, disregarding the needs of the man he loved, it became difficult for me to continue liking him and caring about the relationship. I was glad Breen left in the end, and hope Callum will remember the importance of honesty and the importance of giving rather than taking when in a relationship.

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5 Stars, DSP Publications, Literary Fiction, Reviewed by Jennifer, Yeyu

Review: Erasing Shame by Yeyu

Title: Erasing Shame

Author: Yeyu

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 350 Pages

At a Glance: This book will rip your heart out and stomp all over it.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: The son of a Han traitor who had let the Xianbei Mongols invade the borders, Jiang Shicai swears to restore his family’s honor, hoping to better the Hans’ lives through peaceful means. He believes violence is never the answer, but to gain respect, he finds himself fighting for the Xianbei.

Ten years later, an annoying but handsome playboy, DuguXuechi, arrives as the incompetent new military inspector of Shicai’s region. Shameless, irresponsible, and obnoxious, Xuechi tests Shicai’s patience almost every second. Despite their mutual dislike, Shicai finds himself drawn to the capricious man, especially when he sees the resemblance between Xuechi and his deceased best friend. Yet Xuechi’s self-destructive behavior and refusal to accept help require attention that distracts Shicai from his goal for peace–and it doesn’t help that Xuechi is Shicai’s strongest political opposition. Haunted by a childhood promise he never had the chance to fulfill, Shicai must choose between his feelings and his values.

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Review: YOU THERE. HALT. RIGHT THERE. If you, like me, are a person who absolutely MUST have a happy-ever-after, or at least a very strong happy-for-now, STOP. Seriously, think twice about this book. I am not saying you shouldn’t read it, because the book is phenomenal and beautiful, but really, think twice about the amount of pain you’re going to be in. I might never recover from this. I sobbed buckets of tears through this story, and my heart hurt so much I thought it was going to burst.

No, I’m not being dramatic.

And yes, I still loved it.

When I requested this book for review, I thought it sounded amazing. What I didn’t notice was the nice little Bittersweet Dreams notification. Yeah. You know what that means if you’ve read from Dreamspinner Press before. But no. I was a fool and didn’t notice that. So, I simultaneously regret reading this book, and do not regret it. How confusing is that? Bear with me.

Despite being seriously upset at Yeyu for stomping all over my heart, the author is incredible. The alternate history Chinese world she has written is so complex and detailed. It is clear how passionate she is about the story she has written, and she does the culture complete justice, even though it’s a combination of several dynasties. I read through the notes at the beginning, and there are even endnotes throughout the book that I was happy to click on with my Kindle Fire. That made the story that much more richly detailed for me. What can I say, I’m a footnote/endnote nerd. Despite having a difficult time with pronouncing names and things, I tried, but sometimes gave up. I think the only name I really got the hang of was Shicai.

Content wise, there is some dubious consent/rape later in the book, so be mindful of that if you have triggers. There are many aspects of the book that are painful to read, though, and that is just one, but I know some people have a big problem with it, so I thought it was fair warning. Though, given the world and time period, I wasn’t surprised when it popped up.

The characters in Erasing Shame are rich and fully developed. Both Xuechi and Shicai are headstrong and will stop at nothing to achieve their goals, and that is what is both their strong point and their downfall. Shicai made a promise when he was younger, and he failed to live up to the promise as most children do, though it’s not through any fault of his own. As a result, he is a driven young man who will do what is necessary to regain his family’s honor and fix his land. Meanwhile, there is Xuechi, who is at first completely irritating and abhorrent in his behavior to both readers and Shicai, but manages to worm his way into your heart. It is clear that he is damaged and wearing masks to hide from everyone, and all is not as it appears to be.

Unfortunately, love doesn’t always win. It’s just not realistic. Not every story has a happy ending, and this novel is a bitter reminder of that. As much as it pained me to read to the end, I appreciate the author for keeping the book so realistic. I know I demand happy endings in my books because life is often painful enough, but not all characters can have the fairy tale ending, especially in a world as torn as the one Yeyu has created. And for that reason, Shicai and Xuechi are perhaps more human than any characters I’ve ever read before. They strive to succeed and they fail, reminding readers that not everything will work out despite how hard we try, and we are not the only ones who have had it happen. Given the struggles these characters face, it really put my own problems in perspective, and for that I was grateful.

If you decide to read this book, you might want to keep some light, fluffy romances around to read immediately after. And you might want to stock up on a few boxes of tissues as well. Will I read another book by this author again? Absolutely. Because her beautiful writing is totally worth the pain.

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You can buy Erasing Shame here:

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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Joe Cosentino, Literary Fiction, Reviewed by Lisa

Review: An Infatuation by Joe Cosentino

Title: An Infatuation

Author: Joe Cosentino

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 103 Pages

At a Glance: An Infatuation is a sweet and simple tale with a nontraditional happy ending, one that will break your heart and make you smile in spite of it.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: With his ten-year high school reunion approaching, Harold wonders whether Mario will be as muscular, sexy, and tantalizing as he remembers. As a teenager, it was love at first sight for Harold while tutoring football star Mario, until homophobia and bullying drove Mario deep into the closet. Now they’re both married men. Mario, a model, is miserable with his producer wife, while Harold, a teacher, is perfectly content with his businessman husband, Stuart. When the two meet again, will the old flame reignite, setting Harold’s comfortable life ablaze? How can Harold be happy with Stuart when he is still infatuated with his Adonis, his first love, Mario? Harold faces this seemingly impossible situation with inimitable wit, tenderness, and humor as he attempts to reconcile the past and the future.

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.

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Review: Joe Cosentino proves there’s more than one way to a happy ending in An Infatuation, a story of first love and heartbreak delivered in a fresh and funny voice.

Harold High gets the chance of a teenage lifetime when he’s asked to tutor football hunk Mario Ginetti, but before you go about thinking this is yet another nerd/jock high school romance, let me assure you it’s not. Harold’s teaching methods and Mario’s endearing obtuseness add a layer of charm to this already humorous, if not unlikely relationship, and watching the equally unlikely friendship that grows between the two boys was poignant in its inevitable conclusion.

Told in flashbacks, Harold is now a happily married man, whose husband, Stuart, plays along in the telling of this tale, acting as sidekick to both Harold and the reader. The author’s method of delivering Stuart’s choicest lines was an original twist to the narrative, and I couldn’t help but love it because in only a few words, Cosentino brings Stuart to the fore of the plot in spite of his not appearing throughout much of the story, giving readers the opportunity to connect with him and sense not only the devotion he feels for his husband but the security of their marriage as well.

Where the author sets up the tragedy of An Infatuation is through Mario. Mario is the stereotype: he’s the loveable dumb jock with the overbearing father, who can’t be gay, who can’t possibly fall for a guy like Harold. He’s the boy who has to date the cheerleader and marry her and have the white picket fence and 2.2 kids in order to comply with the status quo. And it’s through Mario that we see the contrast between what his life becomes—a life of denial—and where Harold has ended up—living a fulfilled life with a wonderful man, even though he’s never forgotten his first love.

The anticipation builds toward Harold and Mario’s reunion, ten years after their high school graduation, and their meeting evolves in a will they/won’t they moment of truth. There is a sadness that plays out in the different paths their lives have taken, one that culminates in the unexpected and bittersweet ending this story’s blurb promises. Joe Cosentino delivers it at just the right moment and in the most touching of ways, proving sometimes there are no second chance at first love. And yes, there were tears, and yes, they were earned through skillful manipulation on the author’s part, making us care for these characters and investing in them and their story.

An Infatuation is a sweet and simple tale with a nontraditional happy ending, one that will break your heart and make you smile in spite of it.






You can buy An Infatuation here:

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Dreamspinner Press, Giveaways, Joe Cosentino

Interview, Excerpt, and Giveaway: An Infatuation by Joe Cosentino

An Infatuation

THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED

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Q: What inspired you to start writing, especially your novella AN INFATUATION?

Joe: As a kid I played make believe constantly. “Let’s put on a show!” was my motto. I played all the characters—male and female. Hm, that explains a lot. Thankfully my parents and teachers indulged me rather than committed me. I always enjoyed improvisation as an actor, and I see writing as an extension of that. It also keeps the mind sharp, which is much appreciated as I get older.

When I told my mother I wanted to be an actor, she said, “Take this knife and stick it through my heart.” I did it anyway, and acted on stage and screen with stars like Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Holland Taylor, Jason Robards, and Nathan Lane. As my students say, “You were cute when you were young!” Anyway, it occurred to me that acting is storytelling in the same way that writing is storytelling, so I decided to give playwriting a try. When I told my mother I wanted to write fiction, she said, “Don’t you have anything better to do?” I wonder if Shakespeare’s mother said that?

I knew my first novella would be a bit autobiographical, but have a universal theme. Hasn’t everyone been infatuated with someone? I was thinking back to my high school days, and how difficult it was back then for a gay teen before GLSEN, PFLAG, and Will and Grace. Lab partners, gym locker rooms, and club meetings where super important. At my high school reunion, I realized things weren’t what they seemed back then. A story was born. It began as a one-act play, which I expanded and morphed into a novella.

Q: Tell us about the characters in AN INFATUATION.

Joe: Harold is based on me. Actually, I really admire Harold’s resilience, honesty, intelligence, wit, and ability to keep going in trying situations. His heart may be broken, but his spirit always stays intact. Harold’s devotion to his spouse, Stuart, is admirable, as is his honesty about his teenage infatuation with Mario. I love that the story spans twenty years so we see Harold (and Mario) develop and mature.

Stuart was great fun to write, because he is based on my spouse who is totally organized and a real list maker, but also sweet, creative, and caring. He creates an itinerary for our trips in ten minute time blocks!

Mario is a combination of many supposedly straight, perfect guys who gay guys so easily become infatuated with every day. I love that Harold and Mario come full circle at their high school reunion.

It is always hard for me to write homophobic characters. How nonsensical is it for someone to spend his/her time, money, and energy trying to hurt, belittle, or take away the rights of someone else? In most cases, the homophobic person is gay him/herself, and due to internalized homophobia, is battling with him/herself via the gay target. That is the case with the two homophobic characters in my novel.

Q: How do you imagine the ideal reader of your book?

Joe: My ideal reader is a lover of a good story, someone who craves being swept away and becoming part of the novel. My reader enjoys humor, and being taken on a roller coaster ride. Finally, my reader relishes in captivating characters and earth-shattering romance, as she/he willingly enters the portal of my book. That’s why I love hearing from my readers!

Q: What tips would you give other writers, when creating comedy in their own writing?

Joe: When a reader finishes a book, he/she should be satisfied that the various parts equaled the whole, rather than the author pulling an ending out of the hat. I recommend not writing jokes to try to be funny. Let the humor come out of the situations and the characters naturally. People are funny, but only in real life, believable situations. And don’t forget the yang side of comedy is tragedy, and find the emotional core of your characters and story. As the old expression goes, “Make ‘em laugh then make ‘em cry.” That’s why I love Bittersweet Dreams books.

Q: What other books have you written? And what are you working on now?

Joe: My MF mystery/romance series, the Jana Lane mysteries, premieres March 18 with PAPER DOLL from Whiskey Creek Press. PORCELAIN DOLL will follow shortly. My MM mystery/romance/comedy series, the Nicky and Noah mysteries, premieres this summer with DRAMA QUEEN from Lethe Press. DRAMA MUSCLE will follow shortly. I just finished a new MM romance Bittersweet Dreams novella, A SHOOTING STAR, and am currently working on a new MM romance novella, A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS. I am also working on the third Nicky and Noah mystery book (DRAMA CRUISE), and the third Jana Lane mystery book (SATIN DOLL).

Q: Which roles do you want to play in the movie versions of your books?

Joe: I think my books would make terrific films! Here are the roles I would play:

AN INFATUATION: Mr. Ringwood, high school principal
PAPER DOLL: Simon Huckby, movie agent
DRAMA QUEEN: Martin Anderson, college professor/department head
A SHOOTING STAR: Professor Katzer, college professor
A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS: walk by in a cameo a la Alfred Hitchcock

So come on movie producers!

Q: What advice would you give to other writers in the M/M genre?

Joe: I love reading and writing stories with engaging characters who I want to spend time with. I recommend letting your characters talk to one another and seeing what happens. An outline is simply an outline. Don’t be afraid to deviate from it. Also, a romance story needs much more than romance. Don’t forget the humor, and the twists and turns in the story. Finally, until gays have equal civil rights, a little politicking never hurt.

Q: What would you like to say to your readers?

Joe: I know this story will touch your heart, because it’s everyone’s story. We’ve all had an infatuation, and this novel is a testament to that. Please email me via my web site and tell me about your experience with the book. I also love answering questions about the novella, so let them fly. My web site is: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com

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infat-coverphotoBlurb: With his ten-year high school reunion approaching, Harold wonders whether Mario will be as muscular, sexy, and tantalizing as he remembers. As a teenager, it was love at first sight for Harold while tutoring football star Mario, until homophobia and bullying drove Mario deep into the closet. Now they’re both married men. Mario, a model, is miserable with his producer wife, while Harold, a teacher, is perfectly content with his businessman husband, Stuart. When the two meet again, will the old flame reignite, setting Harold’s comfortable life ablaze? How can Harold be happy with Stuart when he is still infatuated with his Adonis, his first love, Mario? Harold faces this seemingly impossible situation with inimitable wit, tenderness, and humor as he attempts to reconcile the past and the future.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon US

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Excerpt: “Mario, we have a literature quiz tomorrow. You should stay and cram with me?” We can be Anne Frank and Peter Van Daan or Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

He turned around to face me. “It’s just a quiz. No sweat off my ass.”

What a way with words. “Mario, I can’t believe you don’t like books. I’d read all day if I could.” Next to you.

Putting his jacket and the football on my desk, he sat on the floor next to my bookcase. “Books don’t make sense to me, Harold.” He pulled out a book. “Like Romeo and Juliet. If I ever dated a girl whose old man hated my guts, I’d kick his ass. And another thing I don’t get about that book is if Romeo and Juliet were so head over heels in love, how come they don’t end up happily ever after?”

I rested my elbows on the desk. “I guess because sometimes things don’t work out the way we planned. That’s why if we love someone, we need to stay close to him, and commit ourselves to him, whether our family and friends like him or not. And we should never, ever let him go.”

“Will that be on the quiz, Harold?”

Yeah, the test of life. I nodded and hid my erection behind my desk. New tactic. “Mario, did you know that… originally… during Shakespeare’s time, all the roles on stage were played by male actors?”

“So?”

“So a male… a young male… played Juliet… in love with Romeo.”

“So how come Shakespeare didn’t call it, Romeo and Julio?”

With a book covering my lap, I sat next to Mario on the floor. “Let’s move on to Our Town.”

Mario grimaced like a kid facing a bowl of pea soup. “I hate Our Town. Who is that Stage Manager character anyway? If any guy came into my kitchen and started making comments and rearranging things, my mother would cut his balls off with a steak knife.”

I covered my lap with a second book. “It’s an amazing story, Mario. George and Emily were only… our age… but they were totally in love.

“I don’t get it.”

“That’s because you won’t give it a chance.” I looked into his dark, questioning eyes. Please give it a chance, Mario.

“Okay. Read it to me.” He leaned his back against my bed.

“Now?”

“No, when we’re forty years old in an old people’s home.”

I opened the book. Mario closed his eyes and rested his forearm against mine. Despite my cracking voice, I somehow read the section where George asks Emily if she will write to him if George goes away to agriculture college. After I finished, I asked, “Do you understand?”

Mario looked at me like a Rhodes Scholar. “What do you think I am, stupid?”

How did I not notice that cleft in your chin before this? “What does it mean?”

Mario cleared his throat like an orator. “George wants to keep Emily busy writing letters, so she won’t visit him at college and catch him rolling in the hay with the college babes.

His mouth was inches from mine. “No, Mario, George is testing Emily to see if she loves him.”

“Well, does she?”

“What do you think, Mario?”

“How the hell do I know what’s in some crazy broad’s head in some stupid book?”

I gave him a hint. “Emily marries George, doesn’t she?’

“My old lady married my old man, and no way they’re in love.”

“Trust me, Mario. George and Emily, like Romeo and Juliet, were star-crossed lovers. You should remember that for tomorrow’s literature quiz.” And make sure that we don’t share their fate. I reached over Mario’s muscular arms to take another book. “Let’s move on to A Separate Peace.”

“Another book I hate. Why do the two guys want to hurt each other?”

Here’s my chance. “Maybe because they don’t understand their feelings toward one another.” Our lips were so close they were nearly touching. “Maybe because of pressures from society, the two boys can’t express their… mutual admiration and… caring for one another, so their frustration turned into violence and tragedy.”

“What a bunch of bull. I’d never hurt someone I cared about.”

“You wouldn’t intentionally.”

He grabbed my arm. “I wouldn’t any way at all.”

Somehow, even at my tender young age, I knew that wasn’t true.

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Author BioAbout the Author: Joe Cosentino is the author of An Infatuation (Dreamspinner Press), Paper Doll, the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), Drama Queen, the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press-releasing this summer), and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are Porcelain Doll (the second Jana Lane mystery) and Drama Muscle (the second Nicky and Noah mystery).

Find Joe at his Website and on Goodreads

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GiveawaysThink back to your infatuation. When was it? Where were you? How did you feel? How did you react? How did it begin? How did it end? Write a paragraph about it and post it with your email address and preferred electronic reading format by Midnight Pacific time on Tuesday, February 17, 2015. The staff at The Novel Approach will select the one that tickles their libido the most and email the information to the author who will email the prize to the winner, on Wednesday, the 18th. Happy Infatuations!

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Dreamspinner Press, Marguerite Labbe

“Ghosts in the Wind” Is A Love Story Most Romantic



“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart” ― Helen Keller



Before I write the review I have to preface this by telling you all that I usually steer WAY clear of bittersweet titles. I am a total romantic and I want a HEA. If I wanted real life, I would just look at my own. :) I reluctantly accepted this book for review, and once I started reading I couldn’t put the darn thing down until I finished it! Marguerite Labbe is a new to me author and I think she now owns a piece of my heart forever.

The beginning of this book grabbed me by the heart and never let go. We get to meet Andrei Cuza and Dean Marshall at their most romantic. These two men have been best friends since high school and once they finally moved from friends to lovers, they never looked back.

Andrei Cuza was raised in a traditional Romany clan. When he was a small child his older sister died. Very soon after, he and his family realize Andrei has the sight. He can see and interact with ghosts. His clan does not approve of he and his dead sister interacting and when he is caught kissing a boy at fifteen, they have had enough. They basically drop him off at a church and turn their backs on him forever. With the help of a young man that he meets, Dean Marshall, and Dean’s family, Andrei ends up finishing high school and becoming a very successful private investigator.

Dean Marshall is a personal trainer and owner of a successful gym. His father is probably the person most responsible for helping Andrei when he was tossed out of his clan. Dean has loved Andrei since he was a teenager and he knows he will love him until his last breath. Unfortunately, that fact is proven right at the beginning of the book.

On the way home from closing a business deal, Dean stops to help a young mother on the side of the road with a flat tire. Unfortunately for Dean, her crazy ex-husband shows up and kills not only her but he guns down Dean right there on the side of the road. Of course, when Andrei hears about this he starts to lose his mind. Dean is very confused when he wakes up on the side of the road and everyone is ignoring him. It isn’t until a little girl starts to talk to him and explains he is dead that he starts to remember being shot. It turns out this little girl is Andrei’s sister, who died when he was a child. She stayed with Andrei and has now adopted Dean as her new brother also. She helps Dean navigate his new reality and teaches him about the dangers that exist on this side of the afterlife.

The story centers around Dean and Andrei having to let one another go. It isn’t easy for either man, but they also know they don’t have much choice in the matter. Dean wants to hold on long enough to see the children who were kidnapped when he was killed safe, and Andrei wants to know how he can go on without Dean.

Eventually the inevitable happens. Dean prepares to cross over and thanks to Andrei’s abilities, the two men are able to say goodbye, but at what cost to Andrei? The final scene before the epilogue was one of the most touching and romantic scenes I think I have ever read. Dean and Andrei were so in love you could just feel it with every word and smile they shared.

I loved the fact that Dean and Andrei got the chance to say all the things you would always want to say to your partner if you knew they were going to die. They didn’t part with what-ifs or should haves or could haves; they both got true closure. This book was packed with ghosts, action and romance. The three concepts blended so well together the story just flowed, and I didn’t stop until the story was over. This will definitely not be the last book I read by Marguerite Labbe. I am looking forward to exploring her worlds again and again, and I highly recommend you come along with me.

Reviewed by Jackie

You can buy Ghosts in the Wind here:

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