4 Stars, Ava March, Carina Press, Historical Romance, Reviewed by Lisa

Release Day Review: Viscount’s Wager by Ava March

Title: Viscount’s Wager

Author: Ava March

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages/Word Count: 275 Pages

At a Glance: Another sexy and romantic and emotionally satisfying read from Ava March.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: London, 1822

You never forget your first love, but is a second chance worth the gamble?

Anthony, Viscount Rawling, knows exactly what he wants in life and he isn’t above having a look about London for it. When he spots recently widowed Gabriel Tilden at a ton function, he thinks he might have found love…again.

Gabriel is as gorgeous and reserved as he was when he broke Anthony’s heart seven years ago. But they were only adolescents then…surely Anthony won’t hold the incident against him. And especially not when the attraction between them is stronger than ever.

Gabriel came to London in search of distraction, and a teasing Anthony is impossible to resist. As Anthony introduces Gabriel to the pleasures that can be found in the city—and in his bedchamber—their bond deepens into something more. Yet both men are hiding secrets that could pull them apart forever…

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Review: Author Ava March writes lust and romance so well, and stays true to her own special brand of Regency Era erotica in Viscount’s Wager, book three in the Gambling on Love series. While it’s not strictly necessary to read the first two books in the series before reading this one, I loved both All in with the Duke and Sharp Love (especially Sharp Love) enough to recommend them, if for nothing else than to catch up on the characters who make their appearances in Anthony and Gabriel’s story.

From the outset, the author goes right for the emotional connection between reader and characters, as we see two teenage boys tentatively explore the possibilities of a young and forbidden love with a first kiss, only to watch the risk they take become all for naught when Gabriel’s fear and insecurities lead him into the arms of a woman he doesn’t love and a marriage to the woman that neither of them wanted—a scenario that, sadly, was more likely to happen than not in the 19th century.

Years later this novel evolves from its bittersweet beginning to a story of second chances, when Gabriel (now a widower) and Anthony meet again in London. We see Anthony reflect upon the heartbreak he felt at being treated so callously, as that insight is observed through both distance and a more mature and sophisticated eye, knowing the reality that there often was no happy ending for gay men at this time. Circumstance affords the opportunity for the two men to rekindle their acquaintance and, eventually, for Gabriel to finally admit to and explore the attraction he’s harbored for Anthony, even over the long seven years of his marriage.

These two men don’t float easily along into their romance, though. They have obstacles to overcome brought on by secrets and lies, both outright lies and ones by omission, and they must confront a danger brought to their doorstep due to Gabriel’s own guilt and self-loathing. We watch Gabriel struggle with a push me-pull you yearning for Anthony—one that begins to present as his using Anthony solely for sex, and Anthony allowing it because he’s willing to take as much or as little as Gabriel is able to give. As always, however, there is a payoff to the emotional roller coaster we gladly ride, knowing that our persistence will be rewarded in the end when we see love win against the odds.

Ava March is a connoisseur of erotic historical romance. Her formula is laced with the restraint of the laws and social underpinnings of the time, and I’ve yet to find an instance where it hasn’t worked for me. She writes characters we root for with the knowledge that a happy ending befitting the time period won’t always be traditional but will be believable, and for Anthony and Gabriel it’s no different. They discover they have allies, people who become their inner circle of friends, they themselves sharing the same secret, which adds to the romance of her stories.

Viscount’s Wager ends as though it’s a wrap up to this series. We see all three of the couples settled and happy, and this alone makes Ava March, as always, a go-to author for me when I’m ready to escape into a sexy and romantic and emotionally satisfying read.

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5 Stars, Carina Press, Jenn Burke, Kelly Jensen, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Lonely Shore by Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen

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Title: Lonely Shore (Chaos Station: Book Two)

Author: Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages/Word Count: 187 Pages

At a Glance: A lot of emotions packed into this book, and so worth every tear.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: All they can do is live day to day…

Felix Ingesson has returned to his duties as the Chaos’s engineer with Zander Anatolius, his ex-boyfriend-turned-broken-super-soldier, at his side. Hope means something again. But there’s nothing Felix can do to battle the alien poison flowing through Zander’s veins, or his imminent mental decline. With each passing day, the side effects of Zander’s experimental training are becoming more difficult to ignore.

When the ruthless Agrius Cartel seeks their revenge—including an ambush and an attempt to kidnap the Chaos’s crew—Zander is pushed over the edge. He can no longer hide his symptoms, nor does he want to. But hurting Felix when he’s not in control of himself is Zander’s worst nightmare—when it nearly happens, he agrees to seek help. Even if that means trusting the unknown.

As Zander places his life in alien hands, Felix appoints himself his lover’s keeper. And though he tries to be strong, he can’t ignore the fact that he might lose Zander…forever this time.

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Review: If book one in this series was intense, book two punches you in the gut on page one and keeps going until the end. I mean honestly, the authors do not let up, and even though you want the pain to stop, you need to know what happens, so you keep reading. I whimpered from page one on, and full out cried from chapter ten through sixteen, and I’m not exaggerating either.

If you haven’t read book one, Chaos Station, you really need to go back and read it. You will be completely lost if you don’t have that information, as what happens in book two is a progression of events from book one.

That said, this book follows the Chaos crew as Zed’s side effects grow increasingly unstable, and Flick attempts to both cope with the changes in his best friend and lover, and the possibility of losing him. Meanwhile, the Agrius cartel is still after them, and when a possible solution is presented for Zed’s problem, it could mean losing Qek.

Every character in this book is developed even more, which I loved. While I love Zed and Flick, Qek shines yet again. Zed and Flick made me cry often, but Qek brought her brand of humor and understanding to the pages. Getting to explore her culture more in this book and seeing her home world was a treat, even if being there is dangerous for Qek. For readers who wanted more of the Ashushk culture, this is your chance!

If you read book one, you must read this book. If you like science fiction, I highly recommend this series. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series, Skip Trace, which I’m sure will be another fantastic installment!

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5 Stars, A.M. Arthur, Carina Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jennifer

Review: Getting It Right by A.M. Arthur

Title: Getting It Right

Author: A.M. Arthur

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages/Word Count: 245 Pages

At a Glance: Tag from the Belonging series FINALLY gets his own story, and it couldn’t have been better.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Detective Nathan Wolf might just be a junior detective, but he tackles every case with the passion that he lacks in his personal life. A series of failed relationships with women has left him still single at thirty-four—because he’s too scared to admit to his longtime crush on his best friend James.

Dr. James Taggert likes to keep his profession as a psychiatrist separate from his party-animal persona. Known around the gay clubs as Tag, he’s the guy who screws them, leaves them, and never looks back. But James’s drinking is getting heavier, and when bad memories from the past resurface, he’s close to becoming the worst version of himself.

After a drunken blackout ends in a hot and heavy make-out session with his very straight best friend, James has no memory of the steamy affair. But Nathan isn’t sorry for the kisses that James can’t remember. Nathan finally musters the courage to tell James how he really feels, but a life-altering event might force them apart before they can ever be together.

Dividers

Review: Having read the entire Belonging trilogy, I kept seeing this recurring character in the background just begging to have his story told, and it finally is in this first book of a new trilogy by A.M. Arthur. Ever since he first graced the page, I loved Tag’s character. He’s an unashamed flirt and self-professed man-whore, and I loved him. Even when he got rough with Ezra, I felt for him. And when he helped out Romy, my heart offered itself on a plate to him.

This book gives a peek into his side of the story for both Ezra and Romy, though you don’t need to read that series before reading this one. It just makes many of the characters clear, as they’re all tied into each other’s lives in some way or another.

Tag—James to Nathan—is made so real in this book, and my heart ached for him. Readers will get an entirely different view of him than the previous bits of him hanging out at the bar, picking up the men and bringing them home. In this we get to meet the man he’s been pining after for fifteen years, the reason he won’t settle down with anyone else, and though fifteen years is a long time, it’s worth it.

Nathan, like James, is a fully developed character with his own hang-ups and insecurities. He’s only dated women before, but he’s attracted to James. Does that make him gay? Maybe, maybe not. It just means he loves who he loves, and that’s okay with him (after he accepts it, anyway). And I really liked that about the book. He loved James and that was what mattered to him. He didn’t care about the label. He just wanted the man he loved.

This is not an easy story to read because the men go through a lot to be together. I cried a few times and cursed the author for breaking my heart. Both men are scarred and it take a long time for them to not only heal, but to even accept that they’re damaged to begin with.

Hang in there, though. If you’re a fan of Tag, his story is worth every bit of heartbreak along the way.

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4.5 Stars, Carina Press, Genre Romance, J. Leigh Bailey, Reviewed by Jules

Review: Nobody’s Hero by J. Leigh Bailey

Title: Nobody’s Hero

Author: J. Leigh Bailey

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages/Word Count: 205 Pages

At a Glance: This is a very sweet romance, with a lovely group of characters that you’ll wish were your neighbors.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: Bradley Greene’s family all but discarded him when his brother caught him fooling around with another boy. Now Bradley has seventeen dollars and a gas card, and he’s sleeping in his car. He’s an emotional mess and if he doesn’t land a job soon, he’s up the proverbial creek.

Danny Ortega can take care of himself…most of the time. When what started as a date turns into sexual assault in a dark parking lot, he’s grateful for Brad’s help—and an instant admirer of Brad’s military school-honed muscles. He certainly doesn’t expect to see him again, and definitely not as the newest hire at Ortega Construction.

As Brad and Danny’s quiet attraction turns into more, things start to go sour before they’ve even started. Danny grows frustrated that Brad won’t open up emotionally. And Brad is terrified of being responsible for someone else’s feelings. When Brad’s family makes one last attempt to turn him into an “acceptable” son, all bets are off—he and Danny will need to decide if they’re in this together…or apart.

Dividers

Review: I enjoyed this one very much. Here’s a one-word reason why: ORTEGAS. This family is fantastic, but not unrealistically so. They are very real, and it makes you feel good to your core to know that there really are families out there doing it right—loving their kids unconditionally, supporting them, no matter what. Nobody’s Hero has a couple of dark moments…there is some underlying ugliness at work on a couple of fronts…but, at the heart of it, this is a very sweet romance, with a lovely group of characters that you’ll wish were your neighbors.

When we meet Brad Greene, we see that he is struggling right off the bat, sleeping in his truck, wishing with everything in him that his job interview the following day goes well and that he can finally breathe again—new town, scholarship for college, and, hopefully exactly the fresh start he desperately needs. Meeting Danny is not a part of Brad’s plan, but he’ll soon find out that Danny is a force to be reckoned with.

Danny Ortega is incredibly likeable and completely fabulous. I fell in love with him the first moment he was on page, and fell even harder as the book progressed. He’s every positive adjective you can think of – smart, sweet, thoughtful, nurturing, trusting, handsome, etc. – but he’s also sassy, spunky, and will take you out if you threaten him or his family. His patience with Brad is amazing. I loved how much time and space he gave him, even though it was hard, and that he didn’t push him for his story. There came a time, of course, where it became too much:

“Brad was pushing him back into the closet, a closet he’d never accepted in the first place. The closet may have been a garage apartment with used furniture and a sexy boyfriend, but it was still a closet.”

But, Danny is nothing if not loyal and forgiving, and when he finally does hear Brad’s story, he can’t do anything but put it all on the line and be there for him.

There are two conflicts in the storyline, both basically coming to a head at the same time. J. Leigh Bailey does a nice job of bringing everything together and wrapping it all up. Though bits of it were somewhat predictable, it didn’t take away from the reading experience at all. I liked how she resolved the issues with Danny’s brother Ray, and I can’t tell you how satisfying the showdown with Brad’s family was. So good.

According to the Goodreads listing, Nobody’s Hero is slated as the first book in a series. If the next book isn’t about Danny and Brad, I hope they at least make an appearance! Either way, I will definitely be on the lookout for more things from this author.

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4 Stars, Carina Press, Eileen Griffin, Genre Romance, Nikka Michaels, Reviewed by Chris

Review: In the Fire by Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin

Title:  In The Fire

Author: Eileen Griffin & Nikka Michaels

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages/Word Count: 223 Pages

At a Glance: I recommend this for anyone who loves a man who knows their way around the kitchen.

Reviewed By: Chris

Blurb: Because the way to a man’s heart…

Eight years ago, the world was their oyster. Until, that is, competing chefs Ethan Martin and James Lassiter’s hot and heavy relationship fizzled after Jamie left for an internship in Paris. Even though Jamie’s career has taken off since his return to the States, with his own television show and a lot of fame, his feelings for Ethan have never quite gone away.

Ethan’s culinary career has developed more slowly, but he’s almost saved enough to buy the restaurant where he works and re-open it as his dream spot, Bistro 30. If only he could get the sexy chef who loved him and left him out of his mind.

But when someone starts sabotaging the restaurant and a fire threatens to take away everything Ethan holds dear, his only option is to rely on Jamie for help. Back in close quarters, the two men will have to find a way to work through their past if they hope to save the restaurant and their future.

Dividers

Review: Eight years have passed since Jaime and Ethan were rivals and lovers. The strain of a long distance relationship, coupled with lack of communication and a jealous ‘friend’s’ meddling, tore them apart. Leaving both without closure as to just why things ended makes for an interesting meeting the first time they see each other again.

While Jaime has been over in Paris, with a career that has taken flight, Ethan’s taken longer to reach the dream of owning his own restaurant.  Now, that’s not to say either have regrets for what happened in the past. Nor does it mean that they are actually over each other, because they lacked that closure of really saying their relationship was finished eight years before. Now being tossed together again after all these years, both realize they have things left unsaid and unfinished. It actually throws them both for a loop they weren’t expecting. Along the way of figuring out what went wrong, they also figure out they really aren’t finished with their relationship. That doesn’t mean things are going to be easy, though, because there is still someone who is trying to come between them, and there is someone trying to sabotage Ethan’s new restaurant.

In the Fire is told in alternating points of view, which really gives you better perspective of both sides of the story. While you think the breakup would be relatively cut and dried, it really wasn’t, because there was major miscommunication and hurt feelings on both sides due to perceived faults. If they had only talked to each other and not let others direct their paths, they probably would have never split.

This was a good follow-up to In The Raw, which introduced these two characters. In the years that have passed, Ethan and Jaime have grown up in so many ways, but they do still have some of the same issues from the first book. Ethan still has a temper, hates to ask for help, and still worries about others before himself, which really puts him in a bind a few times in this book. The story was solid from start to finish and kept a good pace with both points of view.  This book did offer closure for Ethan and Jaime, which is ultimately what I’d wanted from both stories.

I recommend this for anyone who loves a man who knows their way around the kitchen, and is able to admit when he’s wrong, or didn’t pay attention to what was going on.

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5 Stars, Carina Press, Jenn Burke, Kelly Jensen, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Chaos Station by Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen

Title: Chaos Station

Author:  Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages/Word Count: 220 Pages

At a Glance: A fantastic start to a promising sci-fi series, with tortured heroes and awesome aliens.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: “You’re not real. Felix Ingesson is dead.”

The war with the alien stin is over, but Felix Ingesson has given up on seeing his lover, Zander Anatolius, ever again. Zander’s military file is sealed tighter than an airlock. A former prisoner of war, Felix is attempting a much quieter life keeping his ship, the Chaos, aloft. He almost succeeds, until Zander walks on board and insists that Felix isn’t real.

A retired, broken super soldier, Zander is reeling from the aftereffects of his experimental training and wants nothing more than to disappear and wait for insanity to claim him. Then he sees footage of a friend and ally—a super soldier like him—murdering an entire security squad with her bare hands and a cold, dead look in her eyes. He never expected to find Felix, the man he’d thought dead for years, on the ship he hired to track her down.

Working with Felix to rescue his teammate is a dream come true…and a nightmare. Zander has no exit strategy that will leave Felix unscathed—or his own heart unbroken.

Dividers

Review: This series is going to be so epic, you don’t even understand. This first novel in the Chaos Station series was an excellent adventure, and I really hope the sequels can live up to this first one.

The novel is written by two authors, Burke and Jensen, and it’s impossible to tell. The editing is well done and the writing is a cohesive whole. I’ve read books before where I could tell when another author picked up the storytelling, and it ended up being a mess. That is not the case with Chaos Station. Yes, Felix and Zander are very different characters with different speech patterns and thoughts, but that’s just the mark of good writing. I cannot tell if one author wrote from Zander’s perspective and the other from Felix’s, or if one wrote the first half of the book and the other wrote the second half, or if they truly did work together every step of the way.

That said, the characters are awesome. Both men are broken by war, and it shows. Felix (AKA Fixer or Flick, depending on who is talking to him) is a former soldier who has been damaged by the stin, the aggressive aliens humans have been in contact with. Zander (AKA Loop or Zed, depending on who is talking to him) is also a former soldier—one who has been trained in a covert program to defeat the stin, and as a result, suffers from debilitating pain whenever he goes into the ultimate fight mode. It’s like the fight or flight response on steroids without the flight response. Because of this, and the fact they’ve been out of touch and believed each other dead for years, the two are hesitant to start a relationship again, especially with each other. Both men have “off switches” that remind them of their hard past which completely shut them down during physical intimacy.

My heart. It hurt so badly.

The secondary characters were also really strong. Elias is a great captain of his ship and genuinely cares for his crew. Nessa is a tough doctor who isn’t afraid of doing what has to be done as the ship’s doctor. And Qek. I love Qek! She is one of the ashushk, the other aliens humans have been in contact with. Unlike the stin, they are a peaceful species more focused on advancing technology. She struggles to understand human idioms and constantly tries to fit them into conversations, with Felix praising her or correcting her as she goes. Her facial expressions are great as well. Instead of smiling like humans do, her face wrinkles and her eyes disappear when she is amused or pleased. I adored her. Also, adding another interesting element to the ashushk, if what I remember is correct, they are able to change their biology based on the needs of the species, so Qek is female because she chooses to be. Pretty awesome.

If you’re looking for the start of an engaging sci-fi series, look no further. You will quickly be sucked into the world of Felix, Zander, and the rest of the crew of the Chaos. And I know I cannot wait to read book two!

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4 Stars, Carina Press, Eileen Griffin, Genre Romance, Nikka Michaels, Reviewed by Chris

Review: In the Raw by Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin

Title:  In the Raw (In the Kitchen: Book One)

Author:  Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages/Word Count: 209 pages

At a Glance: A really solid, highly enjoyable story that I’d consider reading again

Blurb: If you can’t take the heat…

James Lassiter has had a crush on fellow culinary student Ethan Martin for three years, but has never had the guts to make a move. Putting himself out there is hard, especially when under the thumb–and wallet–of his overbearing parents. Now that bad boy chef Ethan–who is always vying with Jamie for best in class–is struggling with the pastry course, Jamie suddenly has a reason to reach out.

Ethan doesn’t mean to be an ass–okay, so mostly he does–but even though he’s secretly hot for Jamie, he sure as hell doesn’t want help with pastry. Ever since his dad walked out, Ethan has been the one to hold things together and he’s done fine on his own. Except that he can’t get his cake to rise.

Jamie could be the answer to what Ethan’s been missing his whole life–someone to depend on. But with the two competing for the same scholarship, things suddenly get too hot to handle. And if Jamie finds the strength to go for what he wants, he isn’t about to settle for what he needs.

Dividers

Review: There is something utterly HOT about a man who really knows his way around food, and not just by eating.

Jamie and Ethan are fellow culinary school classmates in the same year, competing for the same elite scholarship. While Ethan is phenomenal at crafting a savory meal, when it comes to the intricacies of pastry, well, he is at a major loss and needs help. His help comes in the form of Jamie, by way of Ethan’s sister, Claire. With Ethan struggling over the pastry class, Claire ends up partnered with Jamie. She deviously works with Jamie to get Ethan to accept his help with figuring out what he’s doing wrong with the delicate pastries.

There’s an instant reaction between Jamie and Ethan because both have noticed the other in both good and bad ways. Ethan is a bit of a bad boy, he’s got ink, and major attitude that annoys the ever living hell out of some of his Chefs, his sister, and definitely Jamie. Jamie is the well put together kind of guy that normally irritates the hell out of Ethan, but he’s attracted to him even if he doesn’t want to be attracted.

While the heat moves from simmer to burn for our sexy chefs, the competition between them for the scholarship in Paris heats up. I’ll share that the book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, which sets up the second book in the series.

This was the first book I’ve read by this writing team, and I’d definitely look for more from them. I really enjoyed Ethan and Jamie as characters, and the few secondary characters were well written. I’d have loved to see more interaction with Jamie and his family and maybe known a bit more about Ethan and Claire’s past. Otherwise, this was a really solid, highly enjoyable story that I’d consider reading again.

I’d recommend this for all those who love a man that knows how to cook, looks sexy in an apron, or sports a bit of the bad boy image with ink. Also, must love that bad boy and sexy chef attitude.

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4.5 Stars, A.M. Arthur, Carina Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Chris

Review: Stand By You by A.M. Arthur

Title:  Stand By You

Author:  A.M. Arthur

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages/Word Count: 189 pages

At a Glance: solid, well-written storyline with flawed but redeemable characters

Blurb: Three months after his rescue from an abusive boyfriend, twenty-two-year-old Romy Myers has landed his first legitimate job, bussing tables at his friend’s new coffee shop. The job has brought him some stability after years of abuse have left him feeling damaged and broken. He’s working hard on his panic and social anxiety, and those things are often tempered by the big, burly presence of Brendan Walker.

From the moment ex-football player Brendan helped rescue Romy from his ex’s abuse, he’s wanted to protect him. And he does, from a distance, with joking text messages, a new gym routine to toughen him up and a genuine friendship. So far it’s been easy, but Brendan’s feelings aren’t just friendly anymore…

When an argument spirals out of control, a hot and heavy make-out session causes Romy’s friendship with supposedly straight Brendan to reach a new level. The last thing Romy wants is to fall for another guy who could potentially shatter him, but Brendan also wakes up a part of him he thought had been destroyed by violence, his heart.

Dividers Review:  This is the third book in the Belonging series and because the stories are interconnected, it’s best to read them in order.

We met Remy briefly in the first book in the series, and saw his rescue from his ex’s traumatic abuse in the next book, Maybe This Time. Remy was lucky that he has friends who were brave enough to come help him escape from his ex and give him that second chance to find his way. That doesn’t mean Remy isn’t affected by what happened, though. In fact, he feels more lost than ever. Remy is suffering from serious anxiety, and even PTSD, but he’s determined to power through it. Starting work in the café helps him at first, but his friendship with Brendan is really what helps Remy.

Brendan is one of my favorite characters in this series, even though at first we really don’t know much about him other than he helps with Street Feed. He’s a solid, good guy, though, and that shows on the day they rescue Remy. His strength and even-tempered nature help Remy and eventually, they develop a solid friendship. Remy turns to Brendan and is able to talk to him more than any of his other friends. Brendan, in turn, is the only person who is able to calm Remy down when his anxiety or PTSD flares. Eventually their strong feelings develop into more than just friendship, and it causes them to examine themselves for what they really want next.

I have always liked Remy, even at the brief views of him in the first book, No Such Thing. He was snarky and hiding how alone he was, but he made you want to just wrap him up, take him home and cuddle with him. Brendan, though, was the one I was excited to see as one of the leads in this book. His solid strength and compassion really came through in the last book, even though he wasn’t on-scene much of the time. I was seriously cheering these two on by the time things got hot and heavy, because they both deserve to be happy and have someone that’s there for them.

Now, this isn’t necessarily an easy book to read because of the trauma and issues that Remy ends up going through, but to see the end result when you hit that final page is well worth it. This book fits well with the other two in the series, and I have to say is just as addictive as the other books.  That makes these books very easy to pick up and read over and over again.

A.M. Arthur has quickly become one of my go-to authors for that solid, well-written storyline with flawed but redeemable characters. Her characters really are the backbone of all of her stories. Their ability to overcome what life throws at them and find that happiness at the end of the storm is what keeps me coming back for more.

I recommend this book for those that love a good story with flawed characters who can pull through what life throws at them.

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Giveaways, The Year In Reviews

Simply the Best: 2014 – The Year in Reviews and a Giveaway

2014

It’s hard to believe we find ourselves at the end of another year. Time flies when your nose is buried in a book, doesn’t it? But what and where would The Novel Approach be without our love of reading? Each year at this time, we work hard to compile our lists of favorite books to share with you, which is never easy. Twelve months and hundreds of titles means whittling down to our favorite few, which also means some wonderful books get left off the list in our effort to recognize those that were the most memorable.
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Carina Press, Eileen Griffin, Nikka Michaels

Outtake and Excerpt: In the Fire by Eileen Griffin and Nikka Michaels

Thanks again to Lisa and the crew at The Novel Approach for having us here today to celebrate the release ofIn the Fire, Book Two of the In the Kitchen series from Carina Press.

We’d like to share with everyone a scene from In the Fire from Jamie’s POV that we loved but was ultimately cut from the final story. We hope you enjoy it.

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Title: In the Fire

Authors: Eileen Griffin and Nikka Michaels

Series: In the Kitchen

Genre: M/M, Foodie Romance

Length: 93,000 Words

Release Date: November 3, 2014

Publisher: Carina Press

Goodreads page

Blurb: Because the way to a man’s heart… Continue reading

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A.M. Arthur, Carina Press, Samhain Publishing

Interview and Giveaway: Stand by You and Foundation of Trust by A.M. Arthur

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TNA: Hi, A.M., welcome to The Novel Approach. I’m happy to have you here with us today. Why don’t we start by having you tell us a bit about yourself?

A.M.: Hello! I’m so happy to be here celebrating the releases of Stand By you and Foundation of Trust. Thank you for having me. As for telling you about me, I consider myself remarkably boring. Single mom to a very needy cat. I like to experiment in the kitchen, which can be at times fulfilling, and at other times disastrous. I have been writing fiction since I was a teenager, and I found my way into m/m romance through fanfiction (oh Kish). My goal is to be able to quit my day job in retail so that I can write full time, and one day retire to a quiet little cottage, on a lake, somewhere in the mountains of North Carolina. Continue reading

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Carina Press, Eileen Griffin, Nikka Michaels

Character Interview and Giveaway: In the Raw by Eileen Griffin and Nikka Michaels

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TNA is please to be hosting Eileen Griffin and Nikka Michaels today on their In the Raw Blog Tour. They’ve brought the book’s MCs, Ethan Martin and Jamie Lassiter, with them today to answer a few questions about themselves and about their story. THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED Continue reading

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Carina Press, Cover Reveal, Eileen Griffin, Nikka Michaels

Exclusive Cover Reveal and Excerpt: “In the Fire” by Eileen Griffin and Nikka Michaels

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Title: In the Fire

Authors: Eileen Griffin and Nikka Michaels

Genre: M/M, Foodie Romance

Length: 93,000 Words

Series: In the Kitchen

Release Date: November 3, 2014

Publisher: Carina Press

BLURB: Because the way to a man’s heart…

Eight years ago, the world was their oyster. Until, that is, competing chefs Ethan Martin and James Lassiter’s hot and heavy relationship fizzled after Jamie left for an internship in Paris. Even though Jamie’s career has taken off since his return to the States, with his own television show and a lot of fame, his feelings for Ethan have never quite gone away. Continue reading

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Carina Press, Cover Reveal, Eileen Griffin, Nikka Michaels

Exclusive: Cover Reveal and Excerpt – “In the Raw” by Eileen Griffin and Nikka Michaels

In the Raw

In the Raw

By Eileen Griffin and Nikka Michaels

Genre: M/M, Foodie Romance

Length: 85,000 Words

Series: In the Kitchen

Release Date: October 6, 2014

Publisher: Carina Press

Goodreads Page

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4.5 Stars, Carina Press, Diana Copland, G.B. Lindsey, Libby Drew, Reviewed by Lisa

G.B. Lindsey, Diana Copland, And Libby Drew Reveal The “Secrets of Neverwood”


“Because brothers don’t let each other wander in the dark alone.” ― Jolene Perry


Title: Secrets of Neverwood

Author: G.B. Lindsey, Diana Copland, Libby Drew

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages/Word Count: 431 Pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars Overall

Blurb: Three foster brothers are called home to Neverwood, the stately Pacific Northwest mansion of their youth. They have nothing in common but a promise to Audrey, the woman they all called mother—that upon her death, they would restore the house and preserve it as a home for troubled boys.

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Carina Press, Diana DeRicci, G.B. Lindsey, Libby Drew

Constructing A Family – “Secrets of Neverwood” by Libby Drew


The Secrets of NeverwoodI had the honor of crafting the Secrets of Neverwood universe with two wonderful authors, Diana Copland and G.B. Lindsey. From the beginning, we knew “Neverwood” would be more than a decrepit mansion. It would be a home. And within it would exist a beacon of love, acceptance and hope—a woman named Audrey Rasmussen. Our Audrey opened her home to strangers and dedicated her life to creating a family, nontraditional as it may have been.

Diana, G.B. and I met often while writing Secrets of Neverwood—sometimes every day. Before long, Neverwood took on a life of its own. It grew beyond its dozens of rooms, secret passageways, and dusty attic full of furniture. It became a symbol of safety. A fortress for those who were ostracized, thrown away, and abused for who they love.
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4.5 Stars, Carina Press, Reviewed by Lana, Vanessa North

A Man Is Done Keeping Secrets In Vanessa North’s “High and Tight”


“The single best thing about coming out of the closet is that nobody can insult you by telling you what you’ve just told them.” ― Rachel Maddow


Title: High and Tight

Author: Vanessa North

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages/Word Count: 81 Pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb: Pilot Adam Walker has had one great love in his life: Harris Kingston. But twelve years ago, when he accepted a scholarship and joined the Navy, he chose duty to his country over love. Their on-again off-again relationship was never more than private joy, a frustrating fact of military life.
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4.5 Stars, Carina Press, L.B. Gregg, Reviewed by Lisa

L.B. Gregg Delivers Lust And Laughs In “Men of Smithfield: Sam and Aaron”


“They didn’t just live with secrets. Secrecy surrounded their entire lives.” ― Anthony Horowitz


Title: Men of Smithfield: Sam and Aaron

Author: L.B. Gregg

Publisher: Carina Press (Available June 16, 2014)

Pages/Word Count: 126 Pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb: With our family’s legacy, Meyers B&B, in the flailing hands of me, Sam Meyers, and my sister Wynne, we’re determined to revive the place. We’ve started a series of blind-date cooking classes, and taken on our first boarder. Granddad is even now rolling in his grave.

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5 Stars, Ava March, Carina Press, Reviewed by Lisa

Two Friends Take A Gamble On Love In Ava March’s “Sharp Love”


“Love is hard to find, hard to keep, and hard to forget.” ― Alysha Speer


Title: Sharp Love (Gambling on Love #2)

Author: Ava March

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages/Word Count: 199 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: London, 1822

William Drake has lived among thieves, bastards and beggars all his life, doing what’s necessary to survive. As a young orphan, that included looking after his best friend, Jack Morgan. But as they grew older, Jack took the honest path, leaving Will behind to fend for himself the only ways he knows how.
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5 Stars, Carina Press, Harper Fox, Reviewed by Lisa

A Man Learns The Hard Way There’s “Life After Joe” – By Harper Fox


“To me our love was everything and you were my whole life. It is not very pleasant to realize that to you it was only an episode.” ― W. Somerset Maugham


Title: Life After Joe

Author: Harper Fox

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages/Word Count: 94 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: It’s not the breaking up that kills you, it’s the aftermath.
Ever since his longtime lover decided he’d seen the “heterosexual light,” Matt’s life has been in a nosedive. Six months of too many missed shifts at the hospital, too much booze, too many men. Matt knows he’s on the verge of losing everything, but he’s finding it hard to care.

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5 Stars, Carina Press, Josh Lanyon, Reviewed by Sammy

Josh Lanyon Bats Another One Out Of The Park With “Stranger on the Shore” – Reviewed by Sammy


“I didn’t approve of murder on general principles. Not even of people who seemed to go around begging for it.” – Josh Lanyon


Title: Stranger On The Shore

Author: Josh Lanyon

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages/Word Count: 226 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Twenty years ago, little Brian Arlington was kidnapped from his family’s Long Island estate and was never seen again.
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Carina Press, Diana Copland, G.B. Lindsey, Libby Drew

Cover Reveal And Giveaway: “Secrets of Neverwood: The Lost Year” by Libby Drew


The Secrets of Neverwood

The Lost Year

Secrets of Neverwood is a new M/M contemporary romance anthology by Libby Drew, Diana Copland, and G.B. Lindsey, available from Carina Press June 30th, 2014.

Blurb: Three foster brothers are called home to Neverwood, the stately Pacific Northwest mansion of their youth. They have nothing in common but a promise to Audrey, the woman they all called mother—that upon her death, they would restore the house and preserve it as a home for troubled boys.

But going home is never easy.

Cal struggles to recover from past heartbreak, while Danny fears his mistakes are too big to overcome. Devon believes he may never break down the barriers that separate him from honest emotion.

On the path to brotherhood, they discover the old mansion holds more than dusty furniture and secret passageways. Audrey’s spirit still walks its halls, intent on guiding “her boys” toward true love, and an old mystery stirs up a new danger—one that could cost the men far more than just the house.

Secrets of Neverwood includes:

One Door Closes by G.B. Lindsey
The Growing Season by Diana Copland
The Lost Year by Libby Drew

166,000 words

Stories also available for purchase separately.

Libby chats about Secrets of Neverwood:

Welcome to Neverwood, home to lost boys and playful spirits. When Diana, G.B. and I first conceived the Secrets of Neverwood series, our biggest challenge was narrowing our idea field to something manageable. Which story would come first? There were many we wanted to explore—countless men had called Neverwod their home, and many more would do so in the future. That list of potential stories only grew as the first three novellas took shape, and the mansion’s history unfolded.

We consider Nevewood the mansion to be as important to the series as any of our living, breathing characters. In a way, it’s alive as well, host to Audrey’s spirit, as well as others. And like any human being, it’s fickle—hoarding its secrets. Cal, Danny and Devon go far in uncovering some of what’s hidden within its walls, but many mysteries still await the curiosity of other lost boys, whose stories have yet to be told.

Until then, we offer three tales of love and romance, each peppered with ample doses of heartache and suspense. I feel honored to be in the writing company of Diana Copland and G.B. Lindsey, who have been professional acquaintances for years, and whom I’ve admired for just as long. Working with them on this project was truly rewarding.

My novella tells Devon’s story…

The Lost Year: Secrets of Neverwood: Book Three

Devon McCade is no stranger to adversity. As a photojournalist, he’s seen all manner of human struggle. And as a kid, it’s what brought him to Neverwood, to his foster mother Audrey. It’s what he’s facing now, as he and his foster brothers work to restore the once-stately mansion amidst surprising signs from Audrey herself.

But when another anguished soul arrives at Neverwood, Devon can’t hide behind his camera. Nicholas Hardy is certain he saw his runaway son, Robbie, in a photo Devon took of homeless children. Devon knows all too well that a young teenager on the streets doesn’t have many options—and Robbie has been missing for a full year.

Searching for Robbie with Nicholas stirs memories and passions Devon had thought long lost, yet knowing that Nicholas will leave as soon as Robbie is found keeps him from opening himself up to something permanent. Devon must learn to fight for what he wants to keep—his love, and his home.

Carina Press did a beautiful job with our covers, which we’re excited to reveal on today’s launch of our promotional tour. Many thanks to The Novel Approach for hosting me on this special occasion.

(For a look at the cover and blurb for One Door Closes by G.B. Lindsey, pop over to Prism Book Alliance. For a sneak peek at The Growing Season by Diana Copland, visit Mrs. Condit and Friends).

Libby’s Bio:

Libby glimpsed her true calling when her first story, an A.A. Milne /Shakespeare crossover, won the grand prize in her elementary school’s fiction contest. Her parents explained that writers were quirky, poor, and often talked to themselves in supermarket checkout lines. They implored her to be practical, a request she took to heart for twenty years, earning two degrees, a white-collar job, and an ulcer, before realizing that practical was absolutely no fun.

Today she lives with her husband and four children in an old, impractical house and writes stories about redemption, the supernatural, and love at first sight, all of which do exist. She happens to know from experience.

Libby’s State of Mind received rave reviews for being fast, clever, and relentless and was nominated for a Bookie Award for Best M/M Novel of 2011. 40 Souls to Keep, Libby’s third novel, has been described as intense and heart-poundingly good and was praised by Publishers Weekly for maintaining a high level of suspense.

An avid supporter of gay rights, Libby donates her time to the Trevor Project and organizations that work to support marriage equality.

More information about Libby’s books can be found on her Website

THE RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY:

An E-copy Of The Neverwood Anthology

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A.M. Arthur, Carina Press, Reviewed by Sammy

“No Such Thing” Makes Sammy A Believer In Young Love And Second Chances!


“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt


Title: No Such Thing

Author: A.M. Arthur

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages/Word Count: 221 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Twenty-two-year-old Alessandro Silva knows that returning to tiny Perch Creek to help his foster mother was the right thing to do.
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Carina Press, Libby Drew

Libby Drew’s “Paradox Lost” Is An Action Packed Sci-Fi Thriller


“It doesn’t have to conform to whatever is usual. It doesn’t have to be kismet at once, or rhapsody by the third date. It just has to be. In time. In place. In spirit. It just has to be.” ― David Levithan


Title: Paradox Lost

Author: Libby Drew

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages/Word Count: 228 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Time travel tour guide Reegan McNamara’s job—taking eager tourists whenever they want to go—is usually a breeze. A trip back to 2020 to watch a world-changing speech seems no different, until a woman runs away from his tour group before the jump home. Now her tycoon husband is demanding her safe return—or Reegan will lose more than just his job.
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