5 Stars, Brynn Stein, Dreamspinner Press, Literary Fiction, Reviewed by Taz

Review: What No One Else Can Hear by Brynn Stein

Title: What No One Else Can Hear

Author: Brynn Stein

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count:  220 Pages

At a Glance: Though there’s no romantic plotline in this book, it is an excellent story and well worth your time to read.

Reviewed By: Taz

Blurb: Young Stevie Liston is diagnosed with autism, but is really an overwhelmed empath who mentally called out for help. Jesse McKinnon heard him in a dream from clear across the country, and that dream sent him on a six-year search to find Stevie. Once they meet, they think everything will work out and Jesse will help Stevie cope.

Stevie does improve immensely, but a disgruntled coworker of Jesse’s conspires with Stevie’s estranged but politically powerful father to keep Stevie and Jesse apart with trumped-up legal charges claiming Jesse sexually abused the boy. Jesse must watch helplessly as Stevie loses all the advances he’s made.

If it wasn’t for his growing relationship with his coworker Drew Ferguson, Jesse knows he wouldn’t have the strength to fight for his rights and Stevie’s future. Drew just might be the real thing, but with the very real possibility of serving jail time for a crime he didn’t commit, Jesse’s hopes for a future with Drew might be doomed.

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Review: What No One Else Can Hear is a heartwarming and sometimes disturbing story about a man and a boy who share a deep connection. Stevie is an autistic boy who lives in a trancelike state, not talking or interacting except through his drawings. Through an empathic connection, he draws Jerry to him at an institution for other children with autism. When Jerry arrives, Stevie awakens and begins to speak and interact with others. But, he can’t filter out the emotional noise of others around him. This is fine if the emotions are warm and fuzzy, but living in a place filled with children who often have emotional meltdowns, Stevie has a long way to go to learn how to manage the input he receives from everyone around him.

Before I provide the review, I want to mention that this book was not what I’d expected from a Dreamspinner Press title. There was little to no erotic romance in this story. While there was a love interest, there were only a few erotic scenes, and none of them were full out descriptions of sweaty man-sex. Since this is what I was expecting, I found myself getting frustrated as I tried to figure out who the love interest was and why it was taking so long to get to the love story. Had there been a warning, or if the title had been published under DSPP, this pitfall would have been avoided and I would have enjoyed the book for what it was: an excellent story about a boy and a man who shared a connection no one else could understand.

While there were several disturbing events in the book, the action and pace remained tight. Stevie had severe breakdowns when he was receiving too much input from those around him. This would cause him to tear at his clothes, scratch himself, beat his head against solid objects, and basically shut down. Jerry was the only person who was able to get through to Stevie, and slowly helped him to learn how to handle emotionally wrought situations.

Add to the mix several side stories, and the plot kept on spinning with problem after problem. Between the disgruntled colleague at the institute, who hated Jerry from the first day, to Stevie’s political figurehead of a father, who was basically just a sperm donor, trouble just kept piling up, pitting obstacle after obstacle in Jerry’s path as he tried to help Stevie come out of the world he’d secluded himself in. The interactions with these two antagonists resulted in some truly ugly things happening which made me cringe as I read, but that’s good writing if the author can get me to squirm.

As I said, the love interest was a secondary plotline. There were some sex scenes, but none were described in detail. Once I realized this was not an erotic romance, but more of a paranormal story with a romantic side-story, I was able to get on board with the experience of reading the book. What I liked about Drew, Jerry’s love interest, was how he complimented Jerry perfectly, serving as the alpha for Stevie while Jerry provided the nurturing support Stevie needed.

But by far, the star of the book is Stevie. The author absolutely rocked getting inside this kid’s head, clearly did her research about autism, and painted a picture of a boy everyone fell in love with, including me, the reader.

So, if you are interested in reading a story that definitely provides a HEA, but that does not contain a strong erotic plot line, this is a book well worth your time.

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You can buy What No One Else Can Hear here:

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3 Stars, Brynn Stein, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Pia

Review: For Mac by Brynn Stein

Title: For Mac

Author: Brynn Stein

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 246 Pages

At a Glance: Overall this was a good book, with a slow build and slow burn romance.

Reviewed By: Pia

Blurb: Branson Farrell lost his parents when he was thirteen, and for the last ten years his brother, Mac, eight years his senior, has taken care of him. But Mac’s love came at a price. Both brothers were raised to believe being gay was completely unacceptable, and Branson has almost convinced himself he can be what Mac expects. When he looks at a man in a bar and Mac notices, Mac drags him off in horror.

Mac’s distress and disgust leads to a car accident that leaves Branson injured and Mac in a coma. Branson heals and stays at Mac’s bedside, but when Mac doesn’t recover, he is moved to a long-term care facility. There, Branson meets openly gay, confident, and attractive Liam Sullivan. Liam stirs feelings Branson thought he’d rid himself of, and to honor his brother, Branson fights tooth and nail against his attraction. When the cost of denying who he is becomes too high, Branson must battle a lifetime of hatred that’s been beaten into his body and mind to try for something of his own.

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Review: In Brynn Stein’s For Mac, we meet a young man named Branson Farrell, who is not only healing from a car accident but is coming to terms with the fact that Mac, his older brother and only family he has left, may never recover from his injuries. We also meet Mac’s nurse Liam, a young easy going, openly gay man who stirs feelings in Branson that he would rather be left un-stirred.

Let me start out by saying I liked this book. To me it was about overcoming struggles and other people perceptions of how you should live your life, realizing that families can be made in not just the biological way, and I think a lot of research must have been done for the story, which was good because it gave it a realistic feel. However, I kept getting frustrated with Branson. I wanted him to do something, to be brave and make a move and stick to it, not retreat any time anything happened. Liam must have the patience of a saint to take things so slowly and not get frustrated too. I also found the book a little bit repetitive. Most of the story happened at the care facility or Branson’s house; I guess I wanted to see more of their lives.

Overall this was a good book, with a slow build and slow burn romance. I would recommend having the tissues handy, though, as parts are sad.

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You can buy For Mac here:

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Brynn Stein, Dreamspinner Press, Giveaways

Guest Post and Giveaway: The For Mac Blog Tour With Brynn Stein

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The Novel Approach welcomes author Brynn Stein today on the For Mac blog tour. Brynn talks a bit about the theme of sacrifice in the novel, answers a few questions for us, and is also offering multiple chances to win some great prizes, including an autographed paperback copy of For Mac, an e-copy of the book, or the chance for THREE winners to receive an e-copy of any book from Brynn’s backlist titles. Just click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.

Good luck!

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On Sacrifice: I think, when a child is totally dependent on one person, or feels they are, it sets up a situation where they feel they owe that person everything. I’ve seen this happen in real life over and over. It’s dangerous in some respects because it can set up situations like Branson’s, though, thank goodness, most usually aren’t that severe. When a person feels they owe another everything, they deny who they are and what they need, and that’s never good. I’ve lost (and almost lost) loved ones to situations like this.

Don’t get me wrong, I think there is such a thing as healthy self-sacrifice. Mothers give up their own desires to put their children first. Missionaries give up better paying jobs to help others. Strangers give up money, time, and/or energy to help those in need. Those are healthy ways to sacrifice for others. But in all those cases, that’s a choice. Those people choose to give up something in order to help others. They don’t feel they owe the other group. They don’t feel they have to give up those things. They don’t feel they have to give up everything.

It’s when motivations cross from choice to obligation (at least in the person’s mind) that sacrifice becomes unhealthy, and that’s where Branson is when we meet him. That kind of mindset doesn’t just go away, even when he can finally admit that it doesn’t make logical sense. He’s going to need help to get over that. Fortunately, he finds that help. Not everyone does.

TNA: Was there ever a time during the writing of the book that you became frustrated with Branson for denying himself? And if so, was it difficult for you to slow down the pace of the story on the way to the resolution in order to fully explore and do justice to him as a character?

Brynn: All of the above having been said, though, it was frustrating at times to see Branson stuck in that never-ending cycle. Sometimes I wanted to just slap him and tell him to get over himself. But if I wrote a quick fix to that kind of anguish, it would not have been true to life and I wouldn’t have been happy with the overall outcome. Emotional healing takes time.

TNA: What do you find are some of the more satisfying things about giving a character like Branson a happy ending?

Brynn: Emotional healing takes time and hard work, but it’s possible, and that was rewarding. To help Branson reach that. I’ve seen people in my real life struggle through situations like this. Some have had happy endings. Some haven’t. It was nice to be able to write a happy ending.

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ForMacFSBlurb: Branson Farrell lost his parents when he was thirteen, and for the last ten years his brother, Mac, eight years his senior, has taken care of him. But Mac’s love came at a price. Both brothers were raised to believe being gay was completely unacceptable, and Branson has almost convinced himself he can be what Mac expects. When he looks at a man in a bar and Mac notices, Mac drags him off in horror.

Mac’s distress and disgust leads to a car accident that leaves Branson injured and Mac in a coma. Branson heals and stays at Mac’s bedside, but when Mac doesn’t recover, he is moved to a long-term care facility. There, Branson meets openly gay, confident, and attractive Liam Sullivan. Liam stirs feelings Branson thought he’d rid himself of, and to honor his brother, Branson fights tooth and nail against his attraction. When the cost of denying who he is becomes too high, Branson must battle a lifetime of hatred that’s been beaten into his body and mind to try for something of his own.

Buy Link: Dreamspinner Press

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Author BioAbout the Author: I’ve always loved to write and wrote fan fiction before I even knew what it was called. When computers came along, with online communities and places to publish fan fiction, I wrote even more. Then a friend convinced me to try to have an altered version of an AU (alternate universe, meaning all but original) published. My manuscript was accepted and now I’m a ‘published author’.

Where to Find Brynn: Website | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Twitter

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THE GIVEAWAY:

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

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Cheers, everyone, and greetings from the Big Apple! Many thanks to you for dropping by to see what we have in store for you in the week ahead. It promises to be a busy week of guests, giveaways and reviews, so here’s what’s on tap.

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Monday – Author Ashley John kicks our week off for us on the Sink or Swim blog tour

We’ll also have author J. James with us on the Denial, Deceit, Discovery tour

TuesdayKeira Andrews drops in today to chat about her newest novel Kick at the Darkness

Jordan Castillo Price also joins us today with an audiobook giveaway of Camp Hell, book five in the PsyCop series

Wednesday – We’ll welcome author Brynn Stein on the For Mac blog tour

Author Michael Kudo will also join us to chat about his new book Sequestered Hearts

ThursdayChris T. Kat will be stopping by today on her Despite the Odds blog tour

We’ll also have Author Maris Black here to discuss her new book Kage

FridayRhys Ford drops by today to spread a little Murder and Mayhem around

Sue Brown also joins us on the Hidden Wolf blog tour

Saturday – And to close out the week, we’ll welcome author James Comins on the Fool School blog tour

We’ll also be helping author Joe Cosentino celebrate the release of his latest novel Drama Queen

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And that does it for the week ahead. Until next time, happy reading!

 

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3.5 Stars, Brynn Stein, Drama, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jackie

There Are Obstacles To Overcome In Brynn Stein’s “Living Again”

Title: Living Again

Author: Brynn Stein

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Blurb: Daniel Larson has walled himself off from any possibility of romance since his lover died violently five years ago in Afghanistan. The same bomb that ended his partner’s life took the lower part of Daniel’s left leg. The only support Daniel has, his Uncle Lawrence, is dead-set against anything homosexual, including Daniel. Continue reading

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