3.5 Stars, Andi Van, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Jules

Review: A Certain Kind of Holiday by Andi Van

Amazon

Amazon

Title: A Certain Kind of Holiday (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015)

Author: Andi Van

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 28 Pages

At a Glance: This one was cute, guys!

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: When Elliot Knapp took a business trip over the holidays last year, he didn’t expect to run into the professor his first serious boyfriend cheated on him with. The man was handsome, certainly, but Elliot has better things to do than deal with drama from a decade ago.

Luckily for him, Howard Wise wasn’t going to let him get away without an explanation. A year after meeting again, the couple is making their first holiday trip to celebrate Christmas. Everything is fantastic, but Howard is obviously keeping secrets, and Elliot can’t help but wonder what his silver fox has up his sleeve.

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Review: Elliot and Howard, who haven’t been in contact in ten years, run into each other unexpectedly on a train ride from Seattle. Their reunion is, of course, soured by the fact that Elliot’s last memory of Howard is him kissing Elliot’s college boyfriend. Howard manages to talk Elliot into letting him explain, however, which turns out to be a very good thing, as things are not always what they seem. I really liked Howard – sexy professor, twinkly eyes, playful demeanor – and I loved that he remembered Elliot right away. Obviously their connection all those years ago wasn’t just one-sided.

A Certain Kind of Holiday is short and sweet. Via three consecutive Christmas vignettes, Andi Van takes us on Howard and Elliot’s journey, allowing us to get to know them and showing us how good they are together.  Again, Howard’s character was the main part of the appeal for me, but I definitely liked Elliot as well. It’s hard to cover much ground in just twenty-eight pages, but Van did a good job of engaging me. This one was cute, guys!

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, M.A. Church, M/M/M and More, Narration Rating - 1 Star, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Karen

Audio Review: Trouble Comes in Threes by M.A. Church – Narrated by Ronald Ray Strickland

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Trouble Comes in Threes

Author:  M.A. Church

Narrator: Ronald Ray Strickland

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Run Time:  8 hours and 26 minutes

At a Glance: If you’re thinking about getting Trouble Comes in Threes—and I think you should—buy the book and read it. I would bypass the audio on this one.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb: A snowstorm in the South – on New Year’s Eve – is a perfect recipe for a catastrophe. After two soul-crushing bad breaks, Kirk’s waiting for disaster number three to strike when, naturally, two stray cats arrive on his doorstep during the storm and decide to make themselves at home. Tenderhearted Kirk lets them stay, even though there’s something decidedly odd about his overly friendly felines.

Out of the punishing weather and full of tuna, Dolf and Tal are happy to be snug in Kirk’s house. But then their human goes outside for firewood and suffers a nasty fall that leaves him unconscious. Now the two cats have no choice but to reveal themselves.

Kirk wakes up to find the two kitties are actually Dolf and Tal. They’re cat shifters – and his destined mates. Being part of a feline threesome is enough for Kirk to grapple with, but soon he learns they come from a clowder that doesn’t believe humans and shifters should mix. Kirk knew those two cats would be trouble. Little does he know the real trouble lies ahead.

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Review: I absolutely loved Trouble Comes in Threes when I read the book.  It’s sweet, funny and sexy, and I was so excited for the audiobook. Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t even come close to doing this story justice.

Throughout the narration there’s no real difference in the character voicing. There were actually a couple of points where, in the middle of a sentence, it sounded as if the audio had been edited and although the same character was speaking, the voice changed, so it was hard to follow. Parts of the narration really were not enunciated very well at all, and then others parts were the exact opposite–way over-enunciated. During a lot of the narration, there were awkward pauses, as if Mr. Strickland was reading individual words instead of reading a story that flows. I did listen to the entire audiobook because I really do like the story that much, but honestly, at that point it was actually more amusing to listen to the narration than enjoy the story.

So, if you are thinking about getting Trouble Comes in Threes—and I think you should—buy the book and read it. I would bypass the audio on this one.

For a review of the e-book, see Janet’s full review HERE

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You can buy Trouble Comes in Threes here:

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4 Stars, B.G. Thomas, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Kim

Review: The Beary Best Holiday Party Ever by B.G. Thomas

Amazon

Amazon

Title: The Beary Best Holiday Party Ever (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015)

Author: B.G. Thomas

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 76 Pages

At a Glance: I think The Beary Best Holiday Party Ever is a cute and sexy holiday read.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Before he discovered the Heartland Bear Clan, Ron Corbin figured no one could ever love a “fatass” like him. But the big group of big men accepts him, and likes him just the way he is. Having finally found a place he belongs, he works hard to get elected president of the club—and wins. He’s the happiest he’s ever been.

But Paddy Brennan, a sexy bear cub who blew into town and became Mr. Popular overnight, is elected vice-president. Ron doesn’t think Paddy has earned the honor, and now he’ll have to work shoulder to shoulder (and belly to belly) with the guy for a year.

Ron will do what’s best for the club even if that means setting his personal feeling—that Paddy is a jerk—aside. But then as the two men get to know each other, Ron reluctantly finds he not only likes the guy, but is growing more and more attracted to him.

Deep down, Ron still worries he isn’t good enough, but maybe Paddy can show him there’s a beary happy ending waiting for them after all.

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Review: I don’t care what a person looks like, it’s what inside that shows who you are, and it takes Ron a while to see that he is one sexy man. Oh la la! I really liked Ron. Even with all of his insecurities about his weight, he comes off as someone I’d like to know in real life. I liked how, when he joined Heartland Bear Clan, he grew to be more comfortable with himself. And it was just too bad that Ron let a comment made by Paddy bring back all those insecurities his parents instilled in him as he was growing up. I really dislike people who fat shame! And I more than empathize with Ron about being picked on for being overweight.

As for Paddy, he’s a really nice guy, so when you hear the comment that he made when he first met Ron…well, it’s just hard to believe that he would say something that vindictive. Despite everything, though, Ron is willing to put his negative feelings and conflicting attraction towards Paddy aside as they work together to make the very best holiday party ever for the Heartland Bear Clan.

There is one thing I really enjoy about B.G. Thomas’s writing, and what makes him an auto-buy author for me, and it’s that I know I’m always going to finish his stories with an “aaaaaah” feeling.

I think The Beary Best Holiday Party Ever is a cute and sexy holiday read.

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You can buy The Beary Best Holiday Party Ever here:

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Joe Cosentino, Reviewed By JJ

Review: A Home for the Holidays by Joe Cosentino

Amazon

Amazon

Title: A Home for the Holidays

Author: Joe Cosentino

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 60 Pages

At a Glance: I recommend A Home for the Holidays to anyone who loves travel adventures, Christmas themes, and m/m romance.

Reviewed By: JJ

Blurb: Bobby McGrath’s Christmas trip to the beautiful Italian island of Capri to meet his eccentric extended family offers stunning views—none more stunning than his third cousin, Paolo Mascobello, a real stocking stuffer. As the two young men embark on a relationship, Bobby, a driven law student, learns to relax and bask under the old Italian moon, and Paolo realizes there’s more to life than a frolic on the beach. For the two to find everlasting amore, Paulo must overcome his fear of commitment and learn to follow his dreams, and Bobby must get his wish for happily ever after.

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Review: This was such a sweet romance. The book begins when Bobby goes to visit his family in Italy for Christmas. He ends up spending a lot of time with his cousin, Paolo, who happens to be gay. While he picks his cousin’s mind about Italy, Bobby realizes that he is falling for him. Though the idea weirds him out at first, it doesn’t bother him too much since they are so far removed. They come together for a brief time, but the road ahead of them is not as clear as Bobby had hoped. When Bobby’s vacation comes to an end, he’s faced with the painful prospect of saying goodbye.

Home for the Holidays is an emotional and sweet holiday book. I loved how the author takes us to Italy, and I felt like I was actually there in Capri. The vivid descriptions ignited my wanderlust, making me want to travel to Italy. As for the characters, they are both very likeable. Paolo is a muscular, attractive young Italian man. He’s confident sexually, but when it comes to relationships, he doesn’t imagine he can have that. He’s grown up in a place where it’s okay to express his sexuality behind closed doors, but he doesn’t expect to have more. However, Bobby knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to reach for the stars when it comes to love.

Since the first book I read from Joe Cosentino ended in a tragedy, I was surprised and overjoyed with the ending of this book. I recommend A Home for the Holidays to anyone who loves travel adventures, Christmas themes, and m/m romance.

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You can buy A Home for the Holidays here:

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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Jacob Z. Flores, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Karen, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Soul Struck by Jacob Z. Flores

Amazon

Amazon

Title:  Soul Struck (The Warlock Brothers of Havenbridge: Book Three)

Author:  Jacob Z. Flores

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Page/Word Count:  224 Pages

At a Glance:  It really is a toss up which book I like best in this series.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb: Like the electricity he commands, Pierce Blackmoor streaks through life on raw power and pure sexual energy. His conquests on the battlefield and in the bedroom form his foundation, but that bedrock crumbles when his younger brothers’ abilities surpass his own. Pierce finds himself at an all-time low, and clawing his way back to the top becomes his only concern.

Pierce’s plan to reassert his dominance, however, takes a backseat when he wounds Kale Aquilo, an emissary of the Beast King, lord of all shifters.

Kale’s beguiling nature shoots like a lightning bolt straight to Pierce’s soul, and when the soft-spoken Kale relays that a virus is killing his people, Pierce abandons his quest for power to do something he has never done before—protect someone other than himself.

As Kale, Pierce, and his brothers struggle to find the root of the magical virus spreading plague across Aeaea, the shifter island, they face a gauntlet of old and new foes. Soul struck, Pierce and Kale must uncover the truth behind the conspiracy gathering in the shadows.

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Review: Before I’d started this book, I was pretty sure that this was the one in the series I was going to like the least, since Pierce was nowhere near a favorite character of mine.  I mean, come on, he kind of came off like he was a power hungry jerk in previous books, and really, not at all that likeable.

But I was so wrong. Which really shouldn’t surprise me since any thoughts I’d had regarding what I was going to think of the other books in this series were all wrong too. I should have known better at this point… When Pierce finds Kale, then seeing his reaction to him, completely changed how I viewed this character. All of a sudden, being the most powerful wasn’t what was most important to him, and the journey with these two was amazing. You see almost a complete shift in how Pierce looks at things and in what becomes important to him.

With each new book we see another aspect of this world come to life, and it really is a toss up, now that I have read Soul Struck, which book I like the best so far, because honestly, the series wasn’t something I thought I would enjoy at all to begin with. After reading the first book on a friend’s recommendation, though, I now can’t wait to see what will come next.

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You can buy Soul Struck here:

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5 Stars, Annabelle Jacobs, Dreamspinner Press, Freebie, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Short Story

Release Day Review: A Serious Thing by Annabelle Jacobs

Small Gems

Amazon

Amazon

Title: A Serious Thing (Will & Patrick: Book 1.5)

Author: Annabelle Jacobs

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 36 Pages

At a Glance: Annabelle Jacobs gives readers a sweet and FREE holiday treat.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Patrick has a plan, and he’ll go to great lengths to see it through.
After three weeks apart due to work and school commitments, he and Will are finally getting to spend some time together. Patrick is staying with Will over the Christmas holidays, and he intends to tell him how he feels on Christmas Day. It’s going to be perfect.
But of course, Patrick’s plans don’t always go smoothly….

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Review: For those of us who fell in love with Patrick and Will in Annabelle Jacobs’ A Curious Thing, this sweet little Christmas vignette, A Serious Thing, is the perfect follow up to the story that left us with their happy-for-now-ish ending.

Patrick is so near to completing school, and he and Will have had to make do with weekends together, but life in general and Will’s obligations have kept them apart for three weeks now, and Christmas is just around the corner. Patrick has plans to make this holiday a special one for both Will and himself, but there’s a trick to the timing of it that Will not understanding may make things tricky for Patrick to pull off. The chemistry between these two guys is still white hot, and Jacobs doesn’t bother to keep readers in suspense, waiting for the sparks to fly between them. That’s the beauty of the short story, though—the instant gratification—especially when we already know the characters, and let me tell you, Patrick and Will burn up these pages in such a delicious way.

Ben, the best brother ever to Patrick—not to mention, the best friend ever to Will—also shows up again to be supportive and generally awesome too. Bottom line here is that this short story is wonderful, beginning to end, but I wouldn’t recommend reading it as a standalone. Get to know these guys in A Curious Thing first, and while you’re at it, you can grab this freebie as a sweet bonus holiday treat.

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You can download A Serious Thing for FREE here:

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4 Stars, Comedy, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Lex Chase, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Loving and Loathing Vegas by Lex Chase

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Loving And Loathing Vegas (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015)

Author: Lex Chase

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 62 Pages

At a Glance: This little snippet is sure to delight and amuse you this holiday season.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Jackson has loved Vegas since God created Man—literally. As a demonic incubi hailing from the Seventh Circle of Hell, Jackson and Vegas have never been anything more than roommates. Now living among humans, they run Eaven, a TripAdvisor-recommended detour-worthy diner famous for its devilishly decadent pies. Business is dead on the holidays, and Jackson will gleefully stab himself with a spatula if he has to clean spotless pots and pans one more time.

For fun—or torture—Vegas makes him a bet that should Jackson win, they take a much-needed vacation. Should he lose, he’s doomed to clean out grease traps for all eternity. When the challenge is to fall in love with other people by Christmas, it proves Vegas isn’t the least bit interested. But when they find an abandoned baby in the trash, she could be the Christmas miracle to warm Jackson’s cynical heart.

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Review:   Author Lex Chase offers up a devilishly sweet story for the Sleigh Ride 2015 Dreamspinner Advent Calendar. Even demons, in this case incubi who feed off sex, deserve a holiday, and are determined to have it when they make a bet with each other to see who can fall in love by Christmas. The only hitch is Jackson is already in love—with his long time roommate and fellow demon, Vegas. The two have settled down and run a diner that is best known for its devilishly decadent pies, but Jackson is tired of cleaning the diner’s grease traps, and more than fed up with trying to hide his feelings for Vegas. To top off the whole crazy wager, a baby is left on their doorstep, and it is up to Jackson to make sure she is taken care of, especially since she can’t seem to stand the sight of poor Vegas.

Only Lex Chase could create such a crazy-hot and adorable Christmas story with a decidedly unique twist. The relationship and interchanges between Jackson and Vegas were sharp and humorous while also bordering on the frustrating—-all they had to do was admit how they felt, and yet the constant dance around those emotions made for a fun romp of a story. With more than a fair share of snark and sarcasm, the story flew along, fraught with sexual tension that you could cut with a knife. The resolution of that tension made for a very hot sex scene that left me breathless!

Loving and Loathing Vegas is an unusual and clever contribution to this year’s Advent calendar. While it would have been great to know a bit more about the baby’s origins and the backstory of the two incubi themselves, this little snippet is sure to delight and amuse you this holiday season.

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3.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, M.J. O'Shea, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed By Carrie

Review: X Marks the Spot by M.J. O’Shea

Amazon

Amazon

Title: X Marks the Spot

Author: M.J. O’Shea

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: Send reality packing and just enjoy the ride.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Jack Hunter is always on a quest for lost art, ancient manuscripts, and anything else that’ll romance the millions of viewers who watch his show each week. He hasn’t always hit pay dirt in his searches though, and a string of empty global treasure hunts has left his show on the brink of cancellation. Jack needs a white whale, a holy grail, nothing less than a miracle to revive his career.

Aloysius “Alo” Green likes his ivory towers. He’s content to study from the comfort of a university library and publish papers nobody other than academics will ever read. But coded letters pointing to hidden Nazi treasure fall into his hands, and while colleagues warn him to keep them to himself, Alo can’t stop obsessing. He makes a huge mistake and publishes a paper on his find, ignoring the danger doing so will bring.

Jack is sure he’s struck gold when his assistant brings Alo’s paper to him. Alo wants nothing to do with Jack or his televised treasure hunt. But after Alo is threatened, it appears Jack is his best bet to silence those who seek to use him to find the vast wealth first.

By trusting Jack, Alo might’ve saved himself… or made his worst decision yet.

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Review: Alo is an academic—if he has his way he will stay in college forever, living at home and publishing papers on medieval history that no one but other academics will ever read. Working on his PhD, he longs for a job in some university’s ivory tower as far from everyday life as he can possibly get. Then his grandfather moves into an assisted living facility, and leaves Alo a stack of letters which hold a mystery no one has ever been able to solve. Alo’s life is tossed upside down when he publishes a paper on the letters, and all of a sudden, his life is in danger and apparently, there is stolen Nazi treasures to find. Alo may be a nerd, but he is a clever nerd and puzzles are a specialty of his.

Jack Hunter is an adventure seeking TV personality on a once popular show on the History Channel. If he doesn’t come up with a hook for a new show soon, its lights out for his onscreen persona. A quest for Nazi treasures is just what his career needs, and if it comes with the quirky Alo, more the better. Convincing Alo to search for the treasures is a whole different matter, but when Alo is confronted with bullets from the people who want to steal his letters, he decides finding the artifacts may be the only way to keep his family safe.

And this is where you send reality packing and just enjoy the ride, much as you do in an Indiana Jones film. Creative license is used in its entirety in X Marks the Spot, as the quest for the treasures takes you to country after country filled with iconic landmarks and old world charm. The treasure hunt is by far the most enjoyable part of this book, as I felt Alo could have been a bit more mature and embrace the opportunities and excitement around him. Instead, Alo went to all these wonderful places and experienced the thrill of the quest, all the while wishing he wasn’t there.

I didn’t really connect Alo and Jack Hunter together – the chemistry just wasn’t there for me. Take out the romance and you have a nice little adventure book. I generally love M.J. O’Shea’s work, but this book just fell a little flat for me. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing a follow up of these characters, with Jack forcing Alo more out of his shell, and Alo uncovering more mysteries out there that need to be solved.

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Giveaways, Rhys Ford

Cover Reveal, Video Excerpt and Giveaway – Dirty Heart by Rhys Ford – Narrated by Greg Tremblay

STATE OF THE RHYS

In July 2011, my life changed.

Okay, to be fair, we’ll have to back that date up about six months when I opened an email from Elizabeth North, the Executive Director of Dreamspinner Press. It was an offer to contract a book I’d submitted. That book was Dirty Kiss. So, that was kind of a pinpoint spot in my life.

But in July 2011, I got another email from a blogger named Lisa Horan. I don’t exactly remember what it said. In retrospect I should have saved it but how do you know after the fact about things one should save? In that email, Lisa told me she liked Dirty Kiss and reached out to me to say she was having a good time reading it.

Little did I know, in July 2011, I would gain a sister. And I did because of a single book.

Dirty Kiss marked a turning point in my life. A divergence in my every day activities and my interactions with the world. It changed the way I saw myself and how I needed to see others. Most of my experiences have been great. Some…not so great but those are easily shoved aside because there are always new people to meet.

And so many people to thank.

I owe a fuck ton of people a hell of a lot of thank yous.

Long story short—very long six book story—we’ve now come to the end. What was started in July 2011 will come to an end in March 2016.

For you see, Cole McGinnis will finally learn why Ben shot him.

I knew all along there was an arc to this series. In little ways we were always taking steps to the last FIN. And Lisa has kept my secret the entire time. So, smooches, Pookie. I honestly couldn’t have gotten here without you. A huge thank you to everyone at Dreamspinner, especially my editor Grace. Poor Grace. She puts up with so much. The Crewe, Greg Tremblay for giving Cole his voice, my beta readers and of course, Mary Calmes who I apparently will be handing Cole over to in March. But most of all, a heartfelt thank you to everyone who’s read the books, enjoyed them and were with me for the ride.

Thank you.

Hopefully by the time you read this I’ll have sent off Absinthe of Malice to Dreamspinner. AoM is the transition book between the band forming and the final book in the series, Sin and Tonic. It’s a bit larger than I’d expected and should be out mid-next year.

After that, it’ll be Kai 2 which I’m really looking forward to writing and then I’m going back to Murder and Mayhem or Hellsingers. It’ll be a flip to either one then the other. Then Half Moon Bay. There’s other stuff on the horizon and seriously, I wish I had more time to write. And more coffee. One cannot have too much coffee.

But that’s the sketchy future…

So… in our first step towards that March horizon, I’ll drop a cover reveal and blurb for Dirty Heart at the end of this post along with something special from Greg Tremblay. I hope you enjoy the book. It’s an odd feeling putting a series to bed. I’ve promised to do Cole and Jae one-offs in the distant future but the series—this arc—has come to a close. So thank you. Again. Still.

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Dirty Heart: Former LAPD detective Cole McGinnis’s life nearly ended the day his police partner and best friend Ben Pirelli emptied his service weapon into Cole and his then-lover, Rick. Since Ben turned his gun on himself, Cole thought he’d never find out why Ben tried to destroy him.

Years later, Cole has stitched himself back together. Now a private investigator and in love with Jae-Min Kim, a Korean-American photographer he met on a previous case, Cole’s life is back on track—until he discovers Jeff Rollins, a disgraced cop and his first partner, has resurfaced and appears to be working on the wrong side of the law.

As much as Cole’s fought to put the past behind him, he’s soon tangled up in a web of lies, violence, and death. Jeff Rollins is not only trying to kill Cole’s loved ones, he is also scraping open old wounds and long-forgotten memories of the two men Cole loved and lost. Cole is sure Rollins knows why Ben ruined all their lives, but he isn’t looking for answers. Now Cole is caught in a cat-and-mouse game with a cold-blooded killer with the key to not only his past but his future.

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And now, a brief word from Greg Tremblay as well as an excerpt reading from Dirty Heart.

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!rhys_ford_headshotAbout Rhys Ford: Rhys Ford was born and raised in Hawai’i then wandered off to see the world. After chewing through a pile of books, a lot of odd food, and a stray boyfriend or two, Rhys eventually landed in San Diego, which is a very nice place but seriously needs more rain.

Rhys  admits to sharing the house with two cats of varying degrees of black fur, and a ginger cairn terrorist. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a Toshiba laptop, and a red Hamilton Beach coffee maker.

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Charlie Cochet, Giveaways

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Loving Blitz Blog Tour with Charlie Cochet

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Hello all! Thank you so much for joining me on another stop of the Loving Blitz mini blog tour, celebrating the release of the fourth novella in my North Pole City Tales series. In this series, most of the stories take place in North Pole City where the majority of our elf heroes live. Even Jack Frost has a modest little palace in North Pole City.

This Christmas themed city is vast with all of its quaint little shops decorated with twinkling lights, shimmering tinsel, and glittering baubles. The scents of Christmas are in the air, cinnamon, roasted chestnuts, nutmeg, spiced apple, and more. You’ll find an array of tasty treats, sugar cookies, fudge, cakes, pies, puddings, buns, and a host of other delights.

The snow-filled streets are bustling with busy elves, and you’ll hear the jingling bells of horses pulling sleighs. In the center of town, you’ll find the White Hart, the Rein Dear Squadron’s favorite pub. After a hard day of building gingerbread houses for elves less fortunate, the handsome and dashing elf pilots gather to make merry, drinking their favorite holiday cocktails, or a hot cup of cocoa to the sounds of Christmas carols.

Meanwhile the King’s Toy Soldiers patrol the streets, keeping everyone safe. Their position is one of honor and justice. Many of the citizens they protect can be found working in Mayor Kringle’s prestigious companies, such as the Gift Packaging Plant or the Candy Mills.

Every year just before the Big Flight, the Frost monarchy hosts the Silver Bells Christmas Ball, a truly dazzling sight to behold. You’ll find sweeping waltzes, ball gowns of the finest silk, chandeliers that sparkle like diamonds, and champagne served frosty thanks to a certain prince.

North Pole City is home to thousands of Christmas elves, but you’ll find a few other magical inhabitants as well. I loved putting my own little twist on some festive favorites. Creating this magical world was so much fun, and on top of that, I get to throw these elves into whirlwind adventures as they find their way to love.

About-Baubles-

LovingBlitz200Loving Blitz
North Pole City Tales: Book 4

Genre: Gay Fantasy Romance, Holiday
Length: Novella
Published: Dec, 2015
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 9781623809492

From North Pole City to Winter Wonderland, preparations are underway after a royal announcement sweeps everyone into a frenzy of festivity. At the heart of the celebration are the city’s most beloved elf pilots, the Rein Dears. Once the Big Flight is behind them, the pilots prepare for the royal event. Assigned a special task of finding an Elska rose, Cupid and Blitzen are unaware of how their friendship is about to change forever.

Yet not all that glitters is gold. The sweet, angelic Cupid hides a dark secret, one that threatens to destroy his Rein Dear status, his friends, and the elf who’s captured his heart. It’s up to Blitzen to help Cupid see the light in the darkness and show him that together they can mend broken hearts.

Loving Blitz can be read on its own, but for maximum enjoyment, it’s recommended the series be read in order as characters from previous books make appearances and previous events are mentioned.

Links-Baubles

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Kobo| International Buy Links

Chapter One | Reviews

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Author-Baubles

Charlie_Cochet_by_madison_parker150Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters, to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

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3 Stars, Audio Book, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed By JJ, Tempeste O'Riley

Audio Review: Caged Sanctuary by Tempeste O’Riley – Narrated by Paul Morey

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Caged Sanctuary

Author: Tempeste O’Riley

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Narrator: Paul Morey

Run Time: 6 hours and 26 Minutes

At a Glance: Story: This book started out pleasant and enjoyable, but I lost interest after the first date, though I think Paul Morey did an excellent job with this reading.

Reviewed By: JJ

Blurb: Kaden Thorn, a dental surgeon who lives a quiet life, has no hope of finding the love he craves. A vicious gay bashing cost him the use of his legs and confined him to a wheelchair. He has given up hope of finding a Dom or even a nonkink partner to love him. When his best friend practically forces him to attend a dinner party, the last thing he expects is a strong Dom who can see beyond his wheels.

Deacon James is an architect and a demanding Dom, but he has spent the past couple of years without a sub or partner. When an employee invites him to a dinner party to meet his girlfriend, Deacon smells a setup but agrees anyway. He prides himself on being an excellent judge of character, and when he meets the younger dentist, he sees past the chair and finds a sweet submissive man who more than piques his interest.

Kade’s fears and demons continue to haunt him, challenging Deacon to use everything he’s learned as a Dom to earn Kade’s trust and submission. Deacon’s determined, though, willing to battle all of it to have Kade by his side and at his feet.

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Review: Caged Sanctuary begins at a dinner party, where Kaden, a wheelchair-bound dental surgeon, meets his future Dom, Deacon, who is an architect. The two men are attracted to each other right away, and end up setting up a date for a BDSM scene. After entering into a D/s relationship, things get more serious between them. Since Deacon is very sensitive to Kaden’s insecurity over his mobility issues and does his best to make him feel comfortable, Kaden eventually learns to trust more and gains more self-confidence. Their relationship eventually progresses into something more than a Dom/sub relationship.

This book started out pleasant and enjoyable, but I lost interest after the first date, and realized the story was not for me. I think one of the issues was that the relationship moved a little too quickly. I also thought it was a bit odd that Kaden asks Deacon if he is a Dom on the first day they meet. This struck me as unbelievable, considering they were introduced by friends who had nothing to do with the lifestyle, and neither man was wearing anything to indicate they were into BDSM. Then, after their first date, they were practically a done deal. I thought Kaden was sweet, but his lack of self-confidence made it difficult for me to imagine him as a full grown adult. In addition to not liking the characters and pacing, I was hoping there would be some kind of conflict in the book. However, after they meet, they fall in love, move in together, and soon have their happily-ever-after. Despite these issues, the sex scenes were hot, and I enjoyed the sweet moments when they were cuddling.

Narration: I think Paul Morey did an excellent job with this reading. Most of the time when I listen to an audiobook, the narration pulls me out of the book multiple times throughout. However, I was able to listen to Morey without thinking of the narration even once. Each voice was distinct and seemed to match the personality of the characters.

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You can buy Caged Sanctuary here:

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5 Stars, Charlie Cochet, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Jules

Release Day Review: Loving Blitz by Charlie Cochet

Small Gems

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Loving Blitz (North Pole City Tales: Book Four)

Author: Charlie Cochet

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 94 Pages

At a Glance: Go forth and enjoy Loving Blitz!!! It’s a Christmas reading list must.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: From North Pole City to Winter Wonderland, preparations are underway after a royal announcement sweeps everyone into a frenzy of festivity. At the heart of the celebration are the city’s most beloved elf pilots, the Rein Dears. Once the Big Flight is behind them, the pilots prepare for the royal event. Assigned a special task of finding an Elska rose, Cupid and Blitzen are unaware of how their friendship is about to change forever.

Yet not all that glitters is gold. The sweet, angelic Cupid hides a dark secret, one that threatens to destroy his Rein Dear status, his friends, and the elf who’s captured his heart. It’s up to Blitzen to help Cupid see the light in the darkness and show him that together they can mend broken hearts.

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Review: I guess I have to quit pouting about having to wait another whole year for the next book, and get this review written…*grumble* Heh, heh.  I really AM pouting about having to wait for next year’s book – this series is neverending, right? – but, I’m happy to write the review for this charming story!

Loving Blitz, this year’s addition to the North Pole City Tales series by Charlie Cochet, opens at the Silver Bells Christmas Ball – held this time at the King of Frost’s palace – where Jack Frost and Rudy share some exciting news. I was immediately mesmerized, as I always am in this series, by the descriptions and the language in the book. The places, the creatures, the events, the magic and history: Cochet has created a world here that is so vibrant and so delightful, I can’t wait to immerse myself in it every year.

Best friends for centuries, Cupid and Blitzen are perfect for each other. They have always been close, but when they dance together at the ball, they both begin to having stirrings of feelings that are more than friendly. I really did love this pairing; the romance felt effortless, and had the perfect amount of heat. And, speaking of pairings…I have my guesses as to next year’s potential couple, and can’t wait to find out who it will be!

The drama is relatively low in this one as compared to the other books in the series, but the story still has plenty of substance. The angle with Cupid’s secret is very intriguing and well done, and I loved the subplots here also. Dasher provides some tension and comic relief – just what is he up to with the King of Frost??? – which was fantastic, and it looks like one of Cupid’s brothers will be back in the future as well!

Ok. That’s three mentions of next year’s book. I think I’ve established that I loved this installment, and that I can’t wait for MORE. My work here is done. Go forth and enjoy Loving Blitz!!! It’s a Christmas reading list must.

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You can buy Loving Blitz here:

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Amazon US

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5 Stars, Comedy, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, John Inman, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Scrudge & Barley, Inc. by John Inman

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Amazon

Title: Scrudge & Barley, Inc.

Author: John Inman

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: I found this story to be just brilliant.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: A classic tale takes off in sexy new directions! Poor Mr. Dickens must be twirling in his grave.

When E.B. Scrudge, putz extraordinaire and all-around numbnuts, is visited by his dead ex on Christmas Eve, he can’t imagine how his life could sink any lower. But the three ghostly spirits that come along after are even worse! Good lord, a dyke, a drag queen, and rounding out the trio, a big, hunky bear with nipple rings and a butt plug! What’s next?

What’s next is a good deal of soul-searching and some hard lessons learned with a dash of redemption thrown in for good measure.

And love too, believe it or not. Love that had been simmering all along at the heart of Scrudge’s miserable existence, although he was too selfish to see it—until a trio of holiday beasties pointed his sorry ass in the right direction.

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Review: Such a well-known story—that of Scrooge and his miserly life, which is interrupted by three ghostly apparitions one lonely Christmas eve. It’s a classic tale that is performed and read every holiday season. Imagine my delight when I heard that author John Inman had re-imagined the old tale and given it new life, a clever twist that morphed into an amazing story called Scrudge & Barley, Inc.

E.B. Scrudge is a nasty man. Having learned from his predecessor, Barley, Ebbie has taken to the love of money and the glee of inflicting misery on others with gusto. He has no regard for his fellow man and unashamedly uses his faithful secretary, Willie, for occasional physical release. This Christmas Eve finds Ebbie handing out his special brand of Christmas cheer in the guise of termination notices delivered by poor Willie. Once done, he ignores the small gift his secretary has for him, uses him for sex and then sends him on his way without a backward glance. After attending the ballet, Ebbie returns home to his penthouse apartment, and a night of terror, revelation and soul searching begins. By morning, E.B. Scrudge will be a changed man—but will it be too late to undo all the harm he has done and prove to Willie he does have a heart after all?

If you have never read Dickens’ version of Scrooge, then this brilliant and campy version may not mean quite as much to you, dear reader, but trust me when I tell you this piece of work was so cleverly done. Not only are the three “ghosts” who visit Ebbie simultaneously terrifying and amusing, the build up to the visits, the eerie setup with lights going off and noises rattling the night, are rather scary to read. But it is the transformation in Ebbie himself that is so genuinely played out as the hours race by—this is the real beauty of the story. Far beyond a truly delightful retelling of an old classic, Scrudge & Barley, Inc. explores the place in each of us that allows for that bit of selfishness to grow. How many times have we passed the homeless and thought they could find work if they truly tried? Or perhaps remarked that it is not “our responsibility” to save everyone? Just these few scenes—and the uncanny voice of the narrator reminding us that we too may see a bit of “Scrudge” in the mirror is enough to realize that lurking behind this simple Christmas fare is a deeper message: hold on to your humanity at all costs lest you find yourself a scrooge as well.

I found this story to be just brilliant. I enjoyed the careful way this author reworked a somewhat tired and overused story and made it relevant and entertaining again. Not only that, I loved that Willie was not a carpet for Ebbie to walk over but more a compassionate and loving man who faced his difficult life head on and knew his own mind. Scrudge & Barley, Inc. is a fantasy wrapped in love and a touch of whimsy. If you are looking for a fresh and well-written holiday story, Scrudge & Barley, Inc. will fill that ticket nicely. I highly recommend this one to you!

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You can buy Scrudge & Barley, Inc. here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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Giveaways, Wade Kelly

Guest Post and Giveaway: No! Jocks Don’t Date Guys by Wade Kelly

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Please join us in welcoming author Wade Kelly today, on the tour for her latest novel No! Jocks Don’t Date Guys. Enjoy Wade’s guest post and then don’t forget to check out the giveaway details for you below.

Good luck!

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Writing From My Own Experiences

Hello Again. Thank you for stopping by on the next hop in the Blog Tour for JOCK 2 No! Jocks Don’t Date Guys. I’m so happy for this novel; you have no idea! There have been many commenters so far who have posted something like “I’m so excited for you! I loved the first Jock novel and I have been waiting for a sequel.” Well, here’s the thing—I’m slow. I’m slow to write, I’m slow to catch on, and I’m slow to realize when you have a best selling novel like JOCK 1 My Roommate’s a Jock? Well, Crap!, then you NEED to write a sequel for it!! I’m sorry it too me so long to pull this together, but I am happy so many of you have been waiting patiently for it.

I give you—JOCK 2! No! Jocks Don’t Date Guys

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On my previous blog tour hops, I’ve talked about Writing What I Know. I posted about writing Emotion on Rainbow Gold Reviews, and on Jeff Adams’ blog I spoke about where I get inspiration for writing and find my MUSE. I also talked about how hard it is to make a cover on my post for Scott at GGR. You may comment on that post too for more entries into the giveaway. :)

On The Novel Approach I want to talk about how I write from my own experiences.

Do I have the same experiences as a gay man? Um, no, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have experiences that connect me to my characters because they are from human experiences. We are ALL HUMAN, gay or not, man or not. So these are typically what I mean when I say I am writing from my own experiences.

In the blurb, you’ll notice I reference Gummy Bears. (I’ll just add the blurb in here)

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What is a sexy soccer stud supposed to do when “following family tradition” falls 180 degrees opposite his closeted ideal?

From birth, Chris Jackson has been schooled on how to land a cheerleader. After all, his father married one, and his father’s father before him. Heck, even his older brother married a stereotypical cheerleader the summer before Chris went off to college. For two years, Chris dodges invasive questions about relationships by blaming his lack of female companionship on grueling practices and heavy coarse loads. But his lack of interest in girls should’ve given his family a clue. It isn’t until Chris mentions meeting a boy that his father’s synapses short-circuit.

Alonzo Martin is anything but a buxom blond. From his black hair, combat boots, and trench coat to his nail polish and guyliner, the mysterious introvert isn’t easily persuaded to date. Alonzo’s insecurities keep Chris at arm’s length, but Alonzo’s painful past might meet its match in the charismatic jock’s winning smile and sense of humor.

When opposites attract, only cheerleaders and gummy bears can help overcome fear and family tradition.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press || Amazon

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I added info about gummy bears because my son and his friend used to eat a LOT of gummy bears. They were actually the Haribo Gold-Bears, but when writing a book it is easier NOT to reference things that are trademarked, copyrighted, etc. You even have to look up gummy or gummi to know if it is capitalized and stuff as a registered trademark. So, keep in mind when you read the book, all references to gummy bears refer to actual Haribo Gold-Bears! My son determined they were the best tasting in all his gummy bear taste tests. In one scene, the lead character Chris refers to the smudge marks on his television and explains they were from a time when he and his best friend Doug threw gummy bears at the screen while playing Xbox. This happened in real life! My son did that and made a huge mess on his TV screen! He also had little bear bodies all over the carpet! So YES, whatever you do or say MAY end up in my novel! I also taste-tested them myself to determine the flavor I liked best! When you get to that scene, you’ll know. What Alonzo says is ME all the way!

Chris’s ability to toss gummy bears with accuracy is the same as what my son does with mini marshmallows!

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In the original JOCK, My Roommate’s a Jock? Well, Crap!, I had a self-indulgent moment when I wrote the one chapter from the mom’s POV. Some readers have said they don’t like it and don’t see the point of why it is even in the book, but you know what? –That’s me! I wrote my feelings of inadequacy into Ellis’s mom. She feels like a failure, and that she’s no longer needed in her son’s life. (Keep in mind I wrote this in 2012) I think it is a real and valid feeling when you have children to feel empty and excluded when they grow up and move on. My son was not Ellis’s age when I wrote the book, but the feelings were there. So I wrote how I felt.

Another scene from that book that came straight out of my life was Ellis’s broken leg. My son had the EXACT thing happen—the goalkeeper landed on his leg! AND the doctor moved it back and forth as if assessing it when it was clear as day it was broken. Just like Ellis, the bone was sticking up very obviously in two pieces. And just like Cole, I wanted to punch the doctor for touching my son! And the loopiness Ellis experiences in the hospital, yeah, that happened too, exactly!

In Misplaced Affection, Keith gets into a car accident. (Hopefully that doesn’t spoil too much.) I got the idea from an accident I witnessed, and I combined it with a description of an accident my husband was in. (Note: my husband never got hurt.)

Also, I have the exact tattoo Flynn gets in Misplaced Affection. I have a pride feather on my right ring finger. I described it from the feeling I had when getting another tattoo. The one on my leg felt like the electric turkey carver shaving off my muscles. My finger tattoo was not as bad as Flynn describes his. And the tattoo artist Tee, was my person J (Not named Tee. Her name began with a T.)

In the book The Cost of Loving I wrote my experiences with the church into his character. The way his mother lost all her friends—that happened to me. The way the pastor told Matt’s father to learn how to control his son—that happened to my husband. (“Learn how to control your wife”) Getting caught kissing another boy—Matt, not me—happened to a friend of mine who went to the same church way back then. He was spotted kissing another boy and WOW the things that got said.

Also in The Cost of Loving, Matt got into the EXACT car accident as I did. I described it exactly how I remember it happening. The tractor-trailer totaled my husband’s blue truck! I was only glad I wasn’t driving the Prius!

Darian Weston was a character in The Cost of Loving and When Love is Not Enough. The cutting scenes I wrote for him, I tried doing just that. Experimentally, not for real with self-harm in mind, but I DID put a razor to my skin and cut it to feel what it feels like. I wrote the experience into Darian in The Cost of Loving.

Nick and RC from Names Can Never Hurt Me went camping in the exact place I did! I also described the very BEST reptile show I’ve ever been to when I wrote the two of them going to Hamburg, PA. The Hamburg Reptile Show is a wonderful experience, even if you don’t buy reptiles. You see more on display there than ay zoo!

RC’s experience going to Knoebels Amusement park in Names Can Never Hurt Me was the exact experience I had when I went on that same ride. I wrote that scene as a memory of my father who died in 2011.

And Nick Jones from Names Can Never Hurt Me lived the life I had as a child/ young adult. I lived the Life of Riley. My parents spoiled me and I never needed anything. Not that they were rich, but they managed the money well and gave my brother and me everything they could. They were loving and supportive parents.

My dad LOVED James Bond. And when RC gets choked up listening to Nick sing “Nobody Does It Better, that is my mom singing it to my dad. It was HIS song! –Names Can Never Hurt Me

For the sake of talking forever, I think I’ll stop here. I think you get my point. I take scenes out of my own life experience. Not “gay” experiences, but LIFE experiences. This is what we have in common!

If you are around on TWITTER today, I will be taking over Dreamspinner’s account from 4:00pm-6:00pm EST. @dreamspinners  My regular handle is @WriterWadeKelly

Ta-Ta for Now,

~ Wade

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Giveaways

P.S. As a thank you I have several giveaways. Leave a comment on this blog for a chance to win an Amazon gift certificate. I am going to take all the names from all the comments from all the blog stops and put them in a drawing. I have 8 stops including this one. The more comments you make then higher your chances of winning. I will have 3 winners of a $10 Amazon gift certificate, and for those who comment on ALL 8 STOPS, I will enter each of them into a grand prize drawing good for:

  • An eBook from my backlist of your choice,
  • A $10 Amazon gift certificate,
  • A Wade Kelly Spoon in the colors of your choice :), and
  • One autographed paperback copy of the novel of their choice (Includes all the books in my back list, as well as JOCK 2 AND Bankers’ Hours coming up in March)

Note: I am willing to mail things to other countries so don’t let that stop you!

The links to the previous stop is BELOW:

Rainbow Gold Reviews

Jeff Adams

GGR for my cover reveal,

AND… and…. I did an interview with Jeff Adams for his and Will’s Pod Cast. You may like to check that out!

Again, Thank you for stopping by!

~Wade Kelly

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Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 8.31.09 AMAuthor Bio: Wade Kelly lives and writes in conservative, small-town America on the east coast where it’s not easy to live free and open in one’s beliefs. Wade writes passionately about controversial issues and strives to make a difference by making people think. Wade does not have a background in writing or philosophy, but still draws from personal experience to ponder contentious subjects on paper. There is a lot of pain in the world and people need hope. When not writing, she is thinking about writing, and more than likely scribbling ideas on sticky notes in the car while playing “taxi driver” for her three children. She likes snakes, can’t spell, and has a tendency to make people cry.

Social LinksWeb || Facebook || Blog || Twitter || Dreamspinner Press

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify

*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)

*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified

*Void where prohibited by law

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Santino Hassell

Release Day Review: Sunset Park by Santino Hassell

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Amazon

Amazon

Title: Sunset Park (A Five Boroughs Story)

Author: Santino Hassell

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 230 Pages

At a Glance: Think Sunset Park can’t possibly live up to the beauty of Sutphin Boulevard? Think again…

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Raymond Rodriguez’s days of shoving responsibility to the wayside are over. His older brother wants to live with his boyfriend, so Raymond has to get his act together and find a place of his own. But when out-and-proud David Butler offers to be his roommate, Raymond agrees for reasons other than needing a place to crash.

David is Raymond’s opposite in almost every way—he’s Connecticut prim and proper while Raymond is a sarcastic longshoreman from Queens—but their friendship is solid. Their closeness surprises everyone as does their not-so-playful flirtation, since Raymond has always kept his bicurious side a secret.

Once they’re under the same roof, flirting turns physical, and soon their easy camaraderie is in danger of being lost to frustrating sexual tension and the stark cultural differences that set them apart. Now Raymond not only has to commit to his new independence—he has to commit to his feelings for David or risk losing him for good.

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Review: Sunset Park is a book that had a lot to live up to. At least, it did for me. Santino Hassell set the bar in this series pretty damn high with Sutphin Boulevard, and I can’t lie: I was worried that Raymond and David would pale in comparison to Mikey and Nunzio. I shouldn’t have worried, though. While “Sunset” does have a different vibe to it (it’s lighter without being fluff), it’s a fantastic opposites attracts story in its own right, and what’s become true to form with this series, now I can’t wait for book three, First and First.

The differences between the two novels in this series begin with not only the fact that Raymond and David are night and day to each other, but that the drama in Sunset Park is different from that in Sutphin Boulevard. It’s also all kinds of good. Where Mikey and Nunzio went through hell apart and together, they went through it on equal footing, their lives so deeply intertwined, and they knew each other so well. But who saw Raymond and David’s friendship coming? Hassell explores some interesting cultural divides in Sunset Park through these two men—David, the privileged white guy; Raymond, the Puerto Rican man from the blue collar neighborhood. Watching their worlds converge and their friendship coalesce was sometimes a study in frustration (I wanted to thump both their melons on more than one occasion), but the emotional and physical affection between these two is off-the-charts. And eventually, as we watch their relationship grow and change, we see this night and day contrast is actually more Yin/Yang—opposites that complement each other—and it’s kinda gorgeous.

There’s a palpable undercurrent of tension that flows between Raymond and David in the way they feel about each other—David’s out, while Raymond isn’t sure of much of anything where his feelings for David are concerned. Ray’s trying to figure out what to do with his attraction to David, and all the while, the friendship and the frisson of UST that’s always right there on the surface is crazy-making and crazy hot when they touch and wrap themselves around each other. And then, when they finally start to resolve some of that tension… holy hell. I don’t talk much about sex in my reviews, but I have to say there aren’t many authors I’ve read who can write a sex scene like Santino Hassell does. Just sayin’.

There’s a lot more to the conflict between Raymond and David than just their attraction to each other, though; it goes way beyond sex and has a lot to do with not knowing how to ask the questions that need to be asked, let alone how to answer one of the biggest: how to deal with exactly what it is they want from each other. Hassell teases these problem out through the entire book, until it comes down to make-or-break time, and they each are forced to figure out how to deal with what’s going on between them. The one thing I can respect about these books is that they’re layered with so much realism. There are family and friendship issues, work issues—this book doesn’t read like an angst for angst’s sake story, it reads like a story about real people with real problems, and what it all comes down to in the end is that Raymond doesn’t want to stop being Raymond, nor does David want him to. Raymond just wants to be a better version of himself—and that better version of himself is the man David already sees. It’s kind of gorgeous in its complicated simplicity, really.

This author has such a great voice, which bleeds into his characters feeling raw and real and sweet and sincere, and since “Sunset” is narrated by both Raymond and David, we also get to see the author flexing his writing skills to their best effect by making both characters so completely individual. Some books you read with your head, some you read with your heart. This series is one I can’t seem to help throwing myself into, full immersion, and I can’t recommend it enough. Sutphin Boulevard is simply stellar, and Sunset Park finds its own place to shine just as brightly alongside it.

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You can buy Sunset Park here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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All Romance eBooks

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Dreamspun Desires, M.J. O'Shea, Poppy Dennison, Shira Anthony

Interviews, Excerpts, and Giveaway: Poppy Dennison, MJ O’Shea, Shira Anthony, and Dreamspun Desires

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I’m so pleased to welcome Poppy Dennison, MJ O’Shea, and Shira Anthony today to chat about Dreamspun Desires, the newest line of genre romance from Dreamspinner Press. These three ladies were kind enough to sit down and answer a few questions about the line and, for MJ and Shira, their books.

After the interviews, there’s also a giveaway with a couple of chances to win some great prizes:

Grand Prize: A 6 month e-book subscription to Dreamspun Desires
Runner Up: MJ O’Shea’s entire ebook backlist

Just click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.

Good luck!

And now, here are Poppy, MJ, and Shira.

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PoppyDennisonLisa: We’re so pleased to welcome Poppy Dennison to The Novel Approach today, not as an author but to chat with us about Dreamspinner Press’s new line, Dreamspun Desires.

Poppy, why don’t we start off by having you share with us what exactly it is you’re in charge of at Dreamspinner Press?

Poppy: Thanks so much, Lisa! I’m so excited to be here. I’m Dreamspinner Press’s Marketing Director. Basically, it’s my job to do lots of math. No really. There are spreadsheets of my spreadsheets! But it’s basically my job to create new ideas for Dreamspinner’s authors and turn them into reality.

Lisa: Let’s chat a little bit about this new line of genre romances coming in 2016 from Dreamspinner. First of all, how did the idea come about?

Poppy: It all started at lunch, as these things often do. In May of 2015, I attended the Romantic Times Convention and had an opportunity to have lunch with several Dreamspinner authors. We started reminiscing on the first romances we’d ever read and discovered a trend: we’d all started by reading category romances! I realized how much I missed that type of story so I basically sweet-talked the authors at the table into writing a category style romance for me. By the end of the day, word had spread and I had eighteen authors signed up to write one for me. Talk about a good day. *g*

Lisa: Would you like to tell readers what they can expect from the new line, what makes these romances different from the usual Dreamspinner publications?

Poppy: Readers can expect stories that take them back to the Harlequins they devoured in days gone by. These stories are sweet and angst free and happy endings are guaranteed! We want these books to leave a smile on your face! The difference between these titles and the regular romances Dreamspinner publishes is in their focus on the romance. These stories are a little shorter than our typical novel, and as a result, they don’t have room for any of the normal soul searching and man pain we normally see in romances. They’re sweet and focus entirely on the developing relationship.

Lisa: What advantages are there to purchasing a monthly subscription to the Dreamspun Desires line versus purchasing each book individually?

Poppy:  First, I have to say that the fact that we were able to offer these titles as part of a subscription makes me so darn happy! I remember getting those boxes of books when I was younger. Well, okay, my mom technically got them, but when she was done, I’d get to read them too! There was something about that box arriving that got me so excited! I hope our readers feel the same way about receiving their Dreamspun Desires subscription.

There are two subscription services available. I’ll start with the paperback service, as it’s the one most like the way category romances used to arrive. Each month, we’re releasing two Dreamspun Desires novels. Readers who purchase the paperback subscription will receive both paperbacks in one delivery! Basically, they’ll receive one of the titles two weeks before it’s available in ebook format! That’s not all though. Because Dreamspinner always provides our customers with a free ebook whenever they purchase a paperback, Dreamspun Desires paperback subscribers will also receive ebook copies of the titles on their release date. Talk about a great deal!

The second subscription service is ebook only. Subscribers will pay one discounted price and receive both ebooks on their release dates! Super simple!

Lisa: Will you give us a quick rundown of your contributing authors so far—at least those you’re allowed to announce publicly, and when we can expect their publications to hit the shelves?

Poppy:  Absolutely! Here is the lineup of authors through April of 2016:

January 1: The Millionaire Upstairs by M.J. O’Shea

January 15: First Comes Marriage by Shira Anthony

February 1: The Stolen Suitor by Eli Easton

February 15: The Lone Rancher by Andrew Grey

March 1: Taylor Maid by Tara Lain

March 15: Trial by Fire by B.A. Tortuga

April 1:  Forgive and Forget by Charlie Cochet

April 15: Unstable Stud by Ariel Tachna

We also have upcoming releases from Nikki Bennett, Jacob Z. Flores, Ava Drake, Kate McMurray, and many, many more!

Lisa: What sort of feedback have you received from both authors and readers about the launch of the new line?

Poppy:  Honestly, this experience has been a dream come true for me. When I first approached Dreamspinner’s Executive Director Elizabeth North with the idea, I was worried she’d think I’d lost my noodle. But along with Elizabeth, everyone has been so enthusiastic about the idea! From our authors, who jumped on board to write books to our readers who have reminisced with us about how they started by reading category… everyone has been so excited! I’m giddy and can’t wait for everyone to be able to hold these books in their hands!

Lisa: What’s been the most exciting part of this process for you so far?

Poppy: Oh gosh. I’ve been so excited at every step of the process… but I think the most exciting so far has been the day the subscription service launched on our website and we were able to share all the details with our readers. Everyone was so enthusiastic and I just couldn’t stop smiling! I’m still grinning, actually.

Lisa: Let’s chat a bit about the cover art for the line. I know you and I both remember sneaking a peek at our mothers’ Harlequin Romances back in the day. How important has the cover art been in the process of maintaining a distinct look and feel for the Dreamspun Desires line? Who’s been in charge of creating most of the covers thus far?

Poppy: The cover art design was such a fun and challenging process! I knew I wanted the covers for the Dreamspun Desires books to have the same look and feel as other category romance lines, but they needed to have the Dreamspinner twist! We enlisted Paul Richmond to design the covers and he’s done a fantastic job of capturing the essence of category romance.

Lisa: One of the other things we’ve chatted about is how the Gay Romance genre’s time has really come—time for it to become a part of the mainstream lexicon of romantic fiction. How do you foresee, or at least hope, the Dreamspun Desires line might further pave the way toward that goal?

Poppy: I think, in a way, category romances are a really safe place to start for romance readers who haven’t tried gay romance before. The vast majority of romance readers have read category romances from other publishers so they know what to expect. These titles capture those classic elements but add a modern take with a gay romance twist. No matter the genre, category romances are familiar and comforting. I want for readers who have never given gay romance a try to feel inspired to give these titles a try. After all, Love Always Finds A Way! :)

Lisa: On a final note, if you were to come up with a few selling points to convince us readers that the Dreamspun Desires line are the new Must Read books of 2016, what would those be?

Poppy: I think the biggest selling point to Dreamspun Desires is that these are true romances by authors who know how to tell a great story! If you’re a fan of category romance, these titles will be perfect for you. And if you’re new to the gay romance genre, you won’t be disappointed!

Lisa: Thanks so much for taking the time to be here with us today, Poppy!

Readers, for more information on the Dreamspun Desires line, including how to order your subscription, check out the Dreamspinner Press Page today (**Deadline for January subscription is December 15, 2015**)!

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MJ O'SheaLisa: Hi, MJ, and welcome. We’re so pleased to have you here for a visit today to chat about your new book in the Dreamspun Desires line, The Millionaire Upstairs.

MJ: HI!!

Let’s start with what feels like a good first question: why did you want to be involved in this new line of genre romance? Was there a nostalgia factor there for you at all?

MJ: Honestly, they just looked like they’d be so much fun to write. I loved the idea of writing characters in a world I’d never come close to living in (my book takes place in the Hamptons among the mega-wealthy and at a New York fashion label) and focusing on the pure romance element of it – the setting, the characters, and everything else. I think everyone needs a bit of escape.

Lisa: Tell us a bit about how writing this book differed from writing your other books. Did you approach it with a different mindset than you would, say, a book that required more conflict and angst in the storyline before your couple gets their happy ending?

MJ: Yes and no! haha. There were a few things I did differently. Since these books are, by nature, shorter than the typical novel, I got to focus almost completely on the relationship between the two main characters, rather than spending a lot of time on an extended cast. That’s not to say there isn’t a cast to back them up, I couldn’t resist, but they won’t have as big of a role as they usually would in one of my books.

I also got to play a bit with the r. I’ve written rock stars and vampires before, but most of my characters have been regular guys. Somehow plunking my MC in this castle in the Hamptons with a multi-millionaire, and then on Lake Como, and at celeb filled events, it was just that one extra bit of fantasy.

Lisa: What has been the most enjoyable part of participating in the Dreamspun Desire launch for you? Do you plan on contributing more books to the line?

MJ: The whole thing so far, honestly! It’s been really cool to be a part of something both old but new to our genre, talking about it with bloggers, readers, and other authors. I love seeing how excited (and yes, nostalgic) people get when they find out about the subscription service. It’s a huge honor to be the first one out of the gate, and while I’m a little nervous (okay, a lot lol) I still can’t wait to see what people think of the first few books!

And yes, I definitely will (and have!) – I’ve already written another called Duke in Hiding which I believe will be out in the late spring/early summer with Dreamspun Desires.

Lisa: What sort of feedback are you getting from your readers in particular about the collection? Have you noticed a lot of buzz and excitement in the community about it?

MJ: People have in general seemed really excited about it!  I’ve seen a lot of people reminiscing about reading their mom and grandmother’s category romances when they were kids (I remember my grandmother keeping hers in a cloth cover that had her initials stitched on it :) ) so it’s kind of like marrying the old with the new and from what I’ve seen the readers like that.

Lisa: Let’s talk a bit more specifically about The Millionaire Upstairs. Tell us a little something about your characters and what you feel their chemistry is.

MJ: I really wanted to play with a few elements, the forbidden aspect of getting involved with the boss, the fantasy of a “normal” guy getting swept up in the world of the rich and famous, and of course one of my favorite things which is a sassy, mouthy character and the “straight” man so to speak.

Sasha is sarcastic and quippy, both in awe of the people he works with and around every day, and still not ready to take any attitude from them. Harrison is cold at first and a bit standoffish, but somehow can’t manage not to let Sasha behind his huge walls.

Lisa: Would you care to share a short excerpt with us?

MJ: Sure! I’ll put part of the first scene in here, which takes place two years before the rest of the book. Sasha is about to interview for the job he’s always wanted – working for Joanne Kingsley co-owner and Harrison Kingsley’s older sister :

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Excerpt: You’re definitely not in Kansas anymore, Sasha Sobieski.

He most assuredly wasn’t. Sasha had been in New York for a couple of years, and some days he still wasn’t used to it, but nothing hammered in the fact that he was far, far away from home like standing in the place he’d been dreaming of since he was twenty-two. The place he’d decided was his destiny.

Harrison Kingsley—only ten years old and already a force to be reckoned with in global fashion. The label was fashion forward, timeless, and unique. Gorgeous. Notoriously exclusive. Even more notorious for being hard to land a position at. There had been whispers back at school about how impossible it was to impress the hiring personnel at Harrison Kingsley, how you might as well just pack it in if that was your goal. He’d decided years ago not to listen.

Sasha hadn’t wanted anything so badly in his entire life.

Harrison Kingsley Headquarters was jaw-drop gorgeous. The 34th Street offices were everything an exclusive fashion label’s offices should be—chic, classic not trendy, and intimidating but somehow welcoming at the same time. It was light and airy but somehow colorful. Like he’d entered the mind of a fashion genius, which in a way he had.

Sasha knew he’d found his home.

He sank down onto a pale apple-green upholstered chair in the waiting area in front of a large copper reception desk. He wasn’t nervous about the interview, although by all rights he should’ve been. If Sasha thought about it for more than a few moments, about who he was there to see, then he’d probably start palpitating.

Joanne Kingsley was a big deal in the fashion industry. Big. The biggest of big. Working for her was exactly the opportunity he needed. If he got the job—no, when he got it. No negative thoughts. Working for Joanne Kingsley somehow seemed inevitable. Sasha Sobieski of Hawk’s Prairie, Kansas, and brand-new Parsons graduate, belonged with her. He felt it in his bones.

Inner pep talk aside, Sasha’s nerves kicked in when he was called into Joanne Kingsley’s office. His stomach bubbled a bit as he followed the receptionist down a hallway lined with photographs of runway shows all over the world. He clutched his ancient leather satchel and prayed to the fashion gods that he was exactly what the lovely and powerful Ms. Kingsley was looking for.

I got past all of the preliminary interviews, Sasha reminded himself. Not just anyone got to interview with Joanne Kingsley herself. He was one of probably five at most. Just that was an honor. Sasha crossed his fingers and sent the best vibes he knew how to send out into the atmosphere. I’m the right fit for the job. Joanne Kingsley will adore me. Sasha had always been a believer in good vibes. He hoped they did him proud this time.

He didn’t know exactly what to expect from the esteemed Ms. Kingsley. Sasha had seen the society pages just like everyone else, the shots of her in the front row at other designers’ shows all over the world—McQueen, Saint Laurent, Lhuillier, Elie Saab. She always looked fabulous and powerful, fashionable and just a bit unapproachable. They reached her office door. Sasha took a deep breath and made one more fervent wish before the door swished open silently.

Joanne Kingsley was perched on the corner of a large white antique desk. Her office was, for lack of another word, perfect—champagne-colored woodwork, dark teak floors, luxurious rugs, expensive antique furniture, prints of their own designers’ drawings displayed in thick gold-leafed frames on the walls. She stood and walked across the room to greet him by the door. Which was already not at all what Sasha had expected from someone like her. He nearly swallowed his tongue.

Is this actually happening?

Joanne was a good four inches taller than his own five feet six inches, her body all sexy curves and long limbs. Her face was beyond gorgeous, with high cheekbones, pale skin, and long-lashed gray eyes that tilted up on the outside. Her signature mane of fiery red hair was down for once, instead of in a chic but intimidating updo. Held from her forehead with only a gold headband, it cascaded in coppery waves across her shoulders and back. She wore one of their label’s dresses, current season, of course. It was sleeveless and rich, vibrant emerald green, nipped under her full breasts, and it flowed to the ground in casual silky rivulets. The green made her pale skin glow, and the red of her hair shimmered jewellike against it.

Joanne Kingsley looked like she belonged lounging on top of Mt. Olympus with a goblet of wine instead of among mere mortals on earth. Sasha couldn’t believe he was in the same room with her.

“Welcome. Sasha, correct?” And then she smiled, friendly and disarming.

How am I supposed to react to that?

“Yes. Sasha.” He reached out and shook her hand. He was rather shocked that his vocal chords even worked.

“You came very highly recommended from one of my favorite old professors. I’m excited to get to know you.”

Joanne walked around to her desk seat and sank gracefully into it. “Sit, please.” She gestured at the plush seat across from her. It was the same exact model as her own. None of those games of making the guest feel smaller with a shorter, less throne-like seat. Sasha liked her already.

“Thank you for having me here today. I just wanted to say I’ve been following Harrison Kingsley for years. It’s an honor to even meet you.”

Joanne Kingsley giggled. Giggled. “You know, it’s still surprising to hear people say things like that, Sasha. Thank you.”

Sasha grinned in return.

The interview went smoothly after that. Perfectly, even. “Call me Jo, please” was charming and talkative, wanted to know everything about Sasha, and was exactly the person Sasha wanted to be in ten years. Harrison Kingsley’s name might be on the clothing’s labels, he might be the one in his Hamptons castle with drawing boards, swathes of fabric, and a bunch of designer minions, but it was Joanne Kingsley who made the real decisions. Sasha wanted to do anything he could to help her with that process.

Creative director of a major fashion label. Just thinking the title made chills run up and down Sasha’s spine. It was what he wanted more than anything… someday. A boy could dream. For the time being, he’d be honored if he could merely assist one.

Joanne skimmed over his resume one more time and then let it fall shut. “One quick question. Just curious. This says you recently finished Parsons, but you’re twenty-eight. Career change?”

Sasha shook his head. “I’ve wanted to do this since I was a little kid. It took me a lot of hours waiting tables back home in Kansas to save enough to move to New York and enroll in school. It’s not a cheap city. I’m sure you know that.” Not that it had ever been a problem for the Kingsleys. According to their bio, they grew up in Harrison Kingsley’s insane castle of a house in the Hamptons, and Joanne had bought her nearly as palatial apartment on Park Avenue not long after their label took off.

“It’s not.” Joanne took a deep breath. “Listen. I probably shouldn’t do this, but I’m going to anyway. When can you start?”

“Start?” Sasha was confused for a second. And then he got it. He choked on his own breath. “Start. Hol—I mean, I can start whenever you want me to. I don’t have any prior commitments.”

Ohgodohgodohgod. She just hired me. Joanne Kingsley had just hired him. Sasha thought he might faint.

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MJ: And that’s the beginning of Sasha’s new life working for Joanne Kingsley…and eventually her brother;)

Lisa: What can we expect coming up from you next? Would you like to share some info on your current WIPs and upcoming releases?

MJ: After this book, I have one called Pawsitively in Love which features a pet salon owner and a host of furry friends (and takes place in my neighborhood, which I’ve never done before!) And then after that, my second Dreamspun book Duke in Hiding will be out…I think you can guess what that one will be about by the title.

Right now I’m working on a buddy road trip story. I can’t seem to stay away from the best friends to lovers theme…I just love it so much <3.  This one doesn’t have a definite schedule yet, but I’d assume summer/early autumn.

Lisa: Thanks so much for being here with us today, MJ. It’s been great to chat with you.

MJ: Thanks for having me stop by! I hope you enjoy the books J

Xoxo

MJ

Lisa: Find MJ O’Shea on Facebook, her Website, and sign up for her Monthly Newsletter

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MillionaireUpstairs[The]BlurbHe might be hard to work for, but he’s impossible to resist.

Sasha Sobieski has the perfect job working at legendary American fashion house Harrison Kingsley—or at least he used to. He just never thought he’d have to work for Harrison Kingsley himself. Harrison is exacting, difficult, cold, and hands-down the sexiest man Sasha has ever seen.

After years at the top, Harrison Kingsley knows what he wants, when he wants it, and exactly how he’d like it to be delivered to him. What he wants most right now? His new assistant. Sasha is mouthy, opinionated, and he drives Harrison mad. Problem is, Harrison can never tell if it’s with anger… or desire.

Buy Link: Dreamspinner Press

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Shira AnthonyLisa: Hi, Shira, and welcome. We’re so pleased to have you here for a visit today to chat about your new book in the Dreamspun Desires line, First Comes Marriage.

Let’s start with what feels like a good first question: why did you want to be involved in this new line of genre romance? Was there a nostalgia factor there for you at all?

Shira:  OMG, yes! I used to gobble up Harlequins and Silhouette romances when I was in college. And although I hated the pat endings (even worse when the heroine gave up her career to “get married”), I love the warm and fuzzy way they made me feel. So when Poppy and I were chatting at RT (Romantic Times conference) in Dallas this past spring and I mentioned that there were times I wished I could write a sweet romance instead of an angsty one, she asked me why I didn’t write one. And then she proceeded to tell me about an idea she had for a new line of category romances. I guess you could say that was the birth of Dreamspun Desires.

Lisa: Tell us a bit about how writing this book differed from writing your other books. Did you approach it with a different mindset than you would, say, a book that required more conflict and angst in the storyline before your couple gets their happy ending?

Shira:  It did take a bit of a re-set for me. I tend to write angsty romances or complex romantic fantasy stories, so the idea of a simple, sweet story was a little frightening! Before I started writing, I read an old Harlequin to remind myself of the feel of those tropey romances. There’s a real rhythm to those classic romance novels, a completely different pace than for the books I was used to writing. I tried to distill the essence of the category romance and then when I was imagining the story I wanted to write, I kept that framework in mind.

So for example, the story starts off with the two MCs “meeting cute” in the first chapter. From there, the story and the sexual tension builds and builds until finally neither MC can resist the other. Of course there are challenges in the relationship and misunderstandings. There is also character growth from both characters. But there’s no knock-down, drag-out angst of the kind readers might find in some of my other books.

Lisa: What has been the most enjoyable part of participating in the Dreamspun Desire launch for you? Do you plan on contributing more books to the line?

Shira: It’s been exciting seeing it all come together, from the early conversations to seeing the art concept for the covers (I think I squeaked when I saw it!). Then seeing how it all came together, with the subscriptions, the taglines on the books, the cute blurbs that end with a question—all of these things were so much fun!

Yes, I’m planning on submitting at least another book to the line. I’m working on a very sweet, second chance at love story that will probably be released as a Dreamspun Desires title. Writing First Comes Marriage was just so fun, I had to write another.

Lisa: What sort of feedback are you getting from your readers in particular about the collection? Have you noticed a lot of buzz and excitement in the community about it?

Shira: The feedback has been AMAZING. Truly. So many of our readers came to gay romance from heterosexual category romance that I think they’re as excited as we, the authors, are. I think many feel, as I do, that category romance has a special place in the general romance genre and that gay romance can embrace those sweet, romance-forward stories in a way that’s authentic and Twenty-First Century.

It’s funny, but for me, these books represent the kind of romance I wanted to read way back when, but couldn’t find. I really believe that while romance readers are looking for fantasy components in romance, they still want stories still grounded in some semblance of reality. But they don’t always want that reality to hit them over the head either. Sometimes we just need the warmth and hope that we take from a classic romance story.

Lisa: Let’s talk a bit more specifically about First Comes Marriage. Tell us a little something about your characters and what you feel their chemistry is.

Shira:  Jesse Donovan is a billionaire businessman who has to get married or he’ll lose control of his family’s company under the terms of his grandfather’s will. Chris Valentine is a struggling novelist who works as a barista in New York City. Theirs is a marriage of convenience, and it’s supposed to be just business. Both men genuinely enjoy each other’s company, but Jesse is New York’s most eligible “straight” bachelor and Chris is perfectly happy being single after his parent’s disastrous marriage.

For me, the friendship was first and foremost in my mind as the two men get to know each other. I wanted their sexual chemistry to grow out of that friendship and take them by surprise. Each has his own motivations for getting married, and neither expects the marriage will be anything but business. There’s lots of push and pull for the first half of the book, as each fights his attraction to the other. And when they finally do give in to their desires, it’s a revelation for both.

Lisa: Would you care to share a short excerpt with us?

Shira: Sure! This is an excerpt from Chapter Six:

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Excerpt: Now, standing in the conference room of Windview Enterprises’ corporate headquarters near South Ferry in Manhattan, one of the matching platinum bands Jesse had bought for them in his pants pocket, Chris wondered if he’d wake up from the dream. The floor-to-ceiling windows looked out over Wall Street and the East River through the forest of high-rise buildings.

“Do you, Jesse Chase Donovan, take Christopher James Valentine to be your husband, in love and in friendship, until you are parted by death?” the judge asked.

“I do.” As Jesse slipped the ring on Chris’s finger, he met Chris’s gaze with such intensity that for an instant, Chris could almost forget the entire ceremony was a ruse to ensure the future of Windview remained firmly in Jesse’s control. Damn the man for being so attractive. Damn him for being a nice guy, because that was the worst part of it. And the part that had you agreeing.

“And do you, Christopher James Valentine, take Jesse Chase Donovan to be your husband, in love and in friendship, until you are parted by death?”

Chris swallowed hard and prayed he didn’t look as incredibly nervous as he felt. “I do.” His hand shook as he took Jesse’s hand and put the ring on his finger.

“Congratulations, Chris and Jesse,” the judge said.

Chris caught Val’s eye for a split second, and he half expected her to urge him to kiss Jesse. But it was Jesse who took charge and blindsided Chris with a kiss.

It started sweetly enough, just Jesse’s lips against his, but instead of releasing Chris, Jesse pulled him tighter against him and pressed his tongue into his mouth. Jesse tasted fucking amazing. Chris didn’t hesitate—their tongues tangled and danced. This close, Jesse smelled good and felt even better. Chris was barely aware of slipping his hands around Jesse’s back before resting them on lean hips. He didn’t think twice as his body and Jesse’s responded in kind.

Someone giggled—Chris recognized Val’s voice—and Jesse pulled abruptly away. Their eyes met for a split second, and Chris thought he saw a mixture of desire and surprise in Jesse’s deep blue eyes. The next thing Chris knew, Val had thrown her arms around him and only his racing heart and tingling lips told him he hadn’t imagined the entire thing.

“Oh, Chris,” Val cooed. “You really did it!”

“Yeah” was the only response Chris could manage. He was still thinking about Jesse’s mouth.

“I guess I was wrong about him being straight,” she whispered mischievously.

Chris was thrilled when Terry grabbed him in a bear hug, because he had no idea how to respond to Val’s comment. He also wasn’t sure if he should be pissed off with Jesse for the show. He supposed if this was going to work, Jesse needed to make the marriage look real. Still, how difficult would it have been to warn Chris that he had that up his sleeve?

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Lisa: What can we expect coming up from you next? Would you like to share some info on your current WIPs and upcoming releases?

Shira:  I’m working on another tropey romance, this one about second chances at love. The working title is A Class Act, and it’s the story of a history professor and a Hollywood action star whose ten year marriage is about to end in divorce. I’m also working on the final installment in the Blood Trilogy, my time-traveling French vampires, entitled Blood and Eternity. I’ve also got a possible spinoff story or series based on secondary characters from my Mermen of Ea Trilogy that’s in the works.

Lisa: Thanks so much for being here with us today, Shira. It’s been great to chat with you.

Shira: Thanks so much for having me! It was a pleasure.

Lisa: Connect with Shira on Facebook, her Facebook Author Page, Twitter, and her Website

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DreamspunDesires_FirstComesMarriageFS4Blurb: When struggling novelist Chris Valentine meets Jesse Donovan, he’s interested in a book contract, or possibly a date. The last thing Chris expects is a marriage proposal from New York City’s most eligible bachelor!

Jesse’s in a pinch. To keep control of his company, he has to marry. So he has valid reasons for offering Chris this business deal: in exchange for living in a gorgeous mansion for a year, playing the doting husband, Chris gets all the writing time he wants and walks away with a million-dollar payoff. Surely Chris can handle that. He can handle living with the most handsome and endearing man he’s ever met, a man he immediately knows he wants in the worst way and can’t have. Or can he?

Watch for Buy Links Coming Soon to Dreamspinner Press

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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The Fine Print:

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

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Giveaways, Santino Hassell

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Sunset Park Blog Tour with Santino Hassell

Sunset Park Banner

Hey, everyone, are you ready to have some fun??? Today we’re so pleased to have author Santino Hassell stopping by on the release day of Sunset Park, book two in The Five Boroughs series. As a special bonus, he’s also brought Raymond Rodriguez and David Butler along to play a little game. Check it out, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card.

Good luck!

And now, here’s the host of our show, Santino Hassell!

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The M/M Newlywed Game with Raymond and David

At the start of SUNSET PARK, Raymond and David have known each other for about six months. They met at the end of book 1 of the Five Boroughs series, and became fast friends. But just how well do they know each other? Let’s find out!

Host: I’d like to thank everyone for coming to the first M/M Newlywed Game! Today I’m hosting Raymond Rodriguez and David Butler, the stars of Santino Hassell’s upcoming book SUNSET PARK.

David: We were also in SUTPHIN BOULEVARD!

Raymond: I don’t understand why we’re playing this stupid game.

David: Because it’s fun! And Santino created us, so we have to do what he wants.

Raymond: Yeah, we’ll see about that.

David: *rolls eyes* Just be nice.

Host: Okayyy. So, how long have you been together? Let’s start with that.

Raymond: Together?

David: Oh, we’re not! Sorry, Santino should have explained.  Ray is straight. We’re just friends.

Raymond: Does this mean I don’t have to play?

David: No. We already answered all the questions!

Host: Let me explain how this works to the audience. Traditionally, I ask spouses the same set of questions while the other is out of the room, and matching answers get points. They have to get at least fifty points to “win”. It’s a way to see how well newlyweds know each other. Or in this case how well these two friends know each other.

Raymond: Don’t put weird emphasis on words.

Host: *ignoring Raymond* On this round of the M/M Newlywed Game—

David: Newlyfriended Game.

Host: —we’ll see how well David knows Raymond. We’ll test Raymond on Tuesday, December 15th, at Charlie Cochet’s Purple Rose Teahouse.

Raymond: Holy shit, can you stop pimping Santino’s tour and ask the fucking questions? I have things to do.

David: *kicks Raymond*

Host: Okay David, first question—who is Raymond’s favorite singer?

David: Nooo, that is super hard! Bah. *bites lip and squints at Raymond* Ummm. I’m going to go with Big Pun? I’m probably wrong, but he always gets super excited and turns up the radio whenever a Big Pun or Terror Squad song comes on the radio.

Raymond: *flips up card saying ‘Big Pun/Terror Squad’* You’re lucky. I almost changed it.

David: *fist pumps*

Host: Okay, next up—What is Raymond’s favorite comfort food?

David: Pastelles! He always asks me to bring him some from the restaurant near my job.

Raymond: *flips up card that says ‘pastelles’* They make them good there, and my Boricua food resources are tapped out unless I go to visit my friend’s mother.

Host: What is Raymond’s favorite article of clothing?

David: Pssh. That’s easy. His Yankees cap. It gets all sweaty and gross after he plays handball too.

Raymond: So stop wearing my shit! *holds up card that says ‘fitted Yankees cap’*

Host: You two are adorable.

Raymond: *sneer*

David: You’re right. I am.

Host: Okay David—what’s Raymond’s most used curse word?

David: Fuck.

Raymond: *holds up card without comment*

Host: These are a little more challenging. Who are Raymond’s closest friends?

David: Oh! That’s easy. Chris, Sharky, Tonya, and Stephanie.

Raymond: *smirks and holds up card that says Chris, Sharky, Tonya, Steph, and David*

Host: Ohhhh.

David: Oh, wow I didn’t—

Raymond: Dumbass.

David: *scoots closer to Raymond on the couch until they’re pressed together* I knew you loved me.

Raymond: Oh, shut up.

Host: *grinning* Who would Raymond say takes longer to get ready—you or him.

David: Oh God. Totally him. His hair takes like fifty hours to comb or wash.

Raymond: That is some bullshit. *holds up card saying ‘David’* You and your seventy two pairs of shoes. He be paying like almost five hundred bucks for some ugly ass—

David: Don’t insult my shoes or I’ll get started on your assortment of hoodies and sweats. Who needs that many pairs of sweatpants or hoodies?

Raymond: Again—then don’t wear them when you come over!

David: Your clothes are more comfy.

Host: Riiight. So, David, what is one thing you do that Raymond claims to not like, but you do it anyway?

David: I cuddle him nonstop. And jump tackle hug him. He’s tall, okay? It’s fun.

Raymond: *holds up sign that says ‘stage five clinger hugs’*

David: He likes it. He’s such a liar.

Raymond: Whatever.

Host:  Who would Raymond say is the better catch out of the two of you?

David: He’d say me because he’s ridiculous and judges himself way too harshly.

Raymond: *holds up sign that says ‘David. He has a solid job + better social skills + is prettier’*

David: *blushing* The last one is a lie, and he knows it. When we walk down the street people stop to ogle Raymond. Eyes literally follow him wherever he goes.

Raymond: They fall out of people’s faces?

David: They’re going to fall out of mine if I keep rolling them at you.

Host: What’s the first body part Raymond notices when he’s attracted to someone? 

David: Umm. I don’t know. He never talks about being attracted to anyone! I guess… if I go by the stunningly gorgeous women he’s slept with in the past, I’d say their face?

Raymond: *holds up sign that says ‘smile’*

David: I totally get points for that! I am not missing another question.

Host: Close enough. Let’s hope you get this last question then: What would Raymond say is the moment when he first realized he cared about you? As a friend. 

David: *stares at Raymond and gnaws on lower lip again* I think… the only thing that makes sense is the first time I came over to the house in Queens. It was while his brother was in rehab, after the death of their father, and Raymond was there all alone. He was talking about… having no parents and how it felt to be alone in that house after everything that had happened, and—

Raymond: *puts an arm around David*

David: *presses into his side* Anyway, we um, I hugged him. And he let me. I thought he’d push me away, but he didn’t. After that, we talked to each other every day.

Raymond: *flips up card that says ‘the night we talked about my parents’*

Host: Well done, David!

David: Do we win?

Raymond: What happens if we win? Do I get money?

David: No, we do not get money.

Host: We won’t know if you win until Raymond finishes his round. Tune in next time for round two of the M/M Newlywed Game with Raymond and David!

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SunsetParkFSBlurbSunset Park

A Five Boroughs Story 

Raymond Rodriguez’s days of shoving responsibility to the wayside are over. His older brother wants to live with his boyfriend, so Raymond has to get his act together and find a place of his own. But when out-and-proud David Butler offers to be his roommate, Raymond agrees for reasons other than needing a place to crash.

David is Raymond’s opposite in almost every way—he’s Connecticut prim and proper while Raymond is a sarcastic longshoreman from Queens—but their friendship is solid. Their closeness surprises everyone as does their not-so-playful flirtation, since Raymond has always kept his bicurious side a secret.

Once they’re under the same roof, flirting turns physical, and soon their easy camaraderie is in danger of being lost to frustrating sexual tension and the stark cultural differences that set them apart. Now Raymond not only has to commit to his new independence—he has to commit to his feelings for David or risk losing him for good.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press || Amazon || Barnes & Noble || All Romance eBooks

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Santino Hassell imageAbout the Author: Santino is a writer of queer romance heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

Find Santino: Website || Facebook || Newsletter || Twitter || Goodreads || Amazon

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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The Fine Print:

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

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Cate Ashwood, Giveaways

Release Day Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway: A Forced Silence by Cate Ashwood

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We’re so pleased to welcome author Cate Ashwood today, on the tour for her new novel A Forced Silence. Enjoy the sneak peek from the book, and also be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win an e-book from Cate’s backlist and a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

Good luck!

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I am so excited to be here at The Novel Approach today. Thank you so much for having me!

Today is release day and I want to tell you a story about my cousin (no, really, it was my cousin). When he was a kid, his family decided they were going to take him to Disneyland. For a kid, nothing is a bigger deal than Disneyland, right? So they drive to the park, and everyone is super excited to get inside. They park the car, everyone gets out, and my cousin is so excited, he promptly vomits in the parking lot (he’s now 40 and still hasn’t lived this down).

Release day is a little bit like that for me. I am not one of those authors who forgets they have a book coming out. It’s marked on my calendar (unnecessarily, because the dates are seared into my brain) and I have butterflies in my stomach the whole day. When it gets to be close to 9:00 (midnight on the east coast), I sit at my laptop and refresh the new releases page over and over until I see my book pop into view. And then I feel like I am going to puke.

It’s totally the best.

There’s really nothing like seeing my book released into the world. It’s terrifying and exhilarating, and I am addicted to the rush. I can’t imagine a time when it won’t be just as thrilling.

So here’s to celebrating release day for Adam and Sam! Happy Birthday, Boys!

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ForcedSilence[A]FSBlurb: For paramedic Adam Carson, his world is lights and sirens and saving lives. Pressures at work keep him firmly in the closet, and life is too busy to contend with the complications that come with dating and relationships. When a familiar face from his past turns up where he least expects it, Adam starts to question whether or not there is room in his life for those complications.

The last person forensic pathologist Sam McKenna expects to see at pub night is Adam, the guy who made his life hell in high school. The attraction is instant, but Adam isn’t gay and Sam has no interest in pursuing him. Still, the leftover animosity from their teenage years isn’t enough to extinguish the lust growing between them. After both are called to the scene of a horrific murder, Adam admits he’s not as straight as he led Sam to believe and they seek comfort and distraction in each other’s arms. One night becomes many as the murder investigation intensifies, but when Adam is faced with losing Sam, he is forced to make a choice: to break his silence, or to give up everything for the job he loves.

Buy LinksAmazon || Dreamspinner Press || All Romance eBooks

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Excerpt: “Adam, John, this is Sam. Sam, these are two of the city’s ugliest heroes, John and Adam.” Ford made the introductions as John slid into a chair across from him, lifting his head in greeting.

Sam swallowed hard, barely registering anything other than the man still standing in front of him. Adam Carson. He watched as recognition dawned in Adam’s eyes and a slow smirk appeared on his face. It was the same familiar cocky expression he wore when Sam knew him a billion years earlier.

“You sure have grown up, Dexter,” Adam said, exercising the nickname he had used for him all through school.

Sam lifted one eyebrow. “It seems you haven’t.”

“You two know each other?” Ford asked, eyebrows lifted in question.

“Oh, me and Dex go way back,” Adam supplied, never taking his eyes off Sam.

“Dex?”

Sam rolled his eyes. Ford was his friend, but that didn’t mean he wanted to rehash the shit that happened back in high school. That name was one that haunted him right through the twelfth grade. When he moved, he tucked it safely away, but tonight, it seemed, it had followed him.

“Long story,” Adam said. “It’s good to see you. It’s been a long time.”

Sam nodded politely and tried to turn his attention away. He’d known Adam a lifetime ago. Sam wasn’t the same person he had been in his fragile teen years. Long gone was the shell of brittle aloofness that covered the core of deep insecurity. He had learned to be proud of who he was, and he owned it in every way.

But he’d be fucked if the familiar feelings of self-doubt didn’t set in the moment he realized it was Adam Carson strutting across the room toward them. He was always good looking, but since Sam had seen him last—graduation day—he’d definitely matured, physically at least. The handsome teenager had transformed into the type of man who oozed masculinity, his laid-back confidence potent enough that Sam could practically taste it from where he was sitting. The jeans Adam wore fit low and snug around his hips, and his soft gray T-shirt was tight enough for him to make out the well-toned muscles beneath it. Sam’s stomach fluttered as he felt Adam’s gaze bore into him.

Agreeing to let Ford drag him out was quickly becoming the worst move he’d made in a very long time.

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Cate AshwoodAbout the Author: Cate Ashwood wrote her very first story in a hot pink binder when she was in the second grade and found her passion for writing. Her first successful foray into romance writing came five years later when she wrote her best friend, who was experiencing a case of unrequited love, her own happily ever after.

Cate’s life has taken a number of different and adventurous roads. She now lives a stone’s throw from the ocean, just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia with her husband, son, and two cats. Her life is filled with family and friends, travel, and, of course, books.

Where you can find CateWebsite || Facebook || Twitter

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THE GIVEWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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The Fine Print:

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

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4 Stars, Comedy, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Rob Rosen, Short Story

Review: Best Laid Trap by Rob Rosen

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Best Laid Trap (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015)

Author: Rob Rosen

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 24 Pages

At a Glance: Fans of Rob Rosen will immediately latch on to his wickedly humorous writing style and slightly crazed characters.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Roy has a crush on Steve, so when a work-related ski weekend is offered, Roy jumps at the chance to finally lay a trap for his hunky coworker. An abandoned cabin nearby is perfect for his scheme, and Roy stocks it with champagne, rubbers, and lube. But fate intervenes, and it’s not Steve, but Ranger Josh, who ends up trapped in the cabin with Roy during an avalanche. Roy’s plan might be ruined, but there’s still a chance for a very happy New Year indeed.

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Review: It’s holiday time and Rob Rosen offers up Best Laid Trap, another offering form the Dreamspinner Advent Calendar: Sleigh Ride. I must admit I am a huge fan of Rosen’s acerbic wit and snarky repartee, and this little short starts out in typical Rosen style, replete with a near stream of consciousness from the narrator and star of the story, Roy.

The plot is a simple one: Roy has been crushing on a coworker and accidentally finds an abandoned cabin right off the bunny trail at the ski resort they are both staying. With seduction on his mind, Roy sets the trap for his amour and sits back to wait. Little did he know that Mother Nature, a randy forest ranger, and some karma would change his whole night–and perhaps his future as well.

Be forewarned, this short story is about as insta-lust as you can get, but with lots of humor and a fairly hot, lengthy sex scene to boot. This is a mere snippet, so if you are looking for a great deal of character development, or much past a short rendezvous with a hint of a happy-ever-after, then this might not be the selection for you. However, fans of Rob Rosen will immediately latch on to his wickedly humorous writing style and slightly crazed characters.

Roy is sweet and funny as he lays out his night of seduction for a coworker. When he finds that he is going to be left high and dry, he barely has time to be disappointed before the ranger of his dreams appears and he grabs opportunity with both hands! Barely a short story, Rosen still manages to pack this gem with soppy moments filled with inner dialogue from Roy’s head that will have you laughing. All in all, this was a fun romp that will leave you wanting just a little more!

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You can buy Best Laid Trap here:

Amazon US

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4 Stars, Ariel Tachna, Dreamspinner Press, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Angel

Review: The Partnership in Blood Bundle by Ariel Tachna

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Partnership in Blood Bundle: Volume One

Author: Ariel Tachna

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count:  1285 Pages

At a GlanceA massive and interesting take on wizards and vampires.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Book One: Alliance in Blood. Can a desperate wizard and a bitter, disillusioned vampire find a way to build the partnership that could save their world? In a world rocked by magical war, vampires are seen by many as less than human, as the stereotypical creatures of the night who prey on others. But as the war intensifies, the wizards and the vampires forge an alliance based on blood and magic, hoping to turn the tide of the war against the dark wizards. As the war rages on and heartbreaking casualties mount on both sides, the dark wizards keep searching for clues to understand and counter the strength of the Alliance, while the blood-bound Alliance partners hunt through ancient prejudices and forgotten lore to find an edge that can turn the tide of the war once and for all.

Book Two: Covenant In Blood. The wizards and the vampires have forged an alliance based on blood and magic, hoping to turn the tide of the war against the dark wizards. A few wizard-vampire bonds are as successful as Alain Magnier’s and Orlando St. Clair’s, but some are much less so, leading to arguments, resentment, and outright fights between the allies despite their mutual goals. Following his best friend Alain’s example, Thierry Dumont determinedly forms a partnership with vampire Sebastien Noyer, despite the wizard’s discomfort with being so close to a vampire a man so soon after his wife’s death. But they find that desperation may be the key to forming a covenant that works: Thierry and Sebastien are almost immediately devoted to one another’s safety. With new strength behind it, the Alliance’s leaders move to announce its existence to the whole world, hoping to rally support against the dark wizards who threaten to destroy life as they know it. Struggling to find its way in the expanding war, the Alliance discovers that despite its advantages, the partnerships are affecting the balance of magical power in the world, which may be an even bigger threat than the war itself.

Book Three: Conflict in Blood. As the Alliance wizard-vampire partnerships grow stronger, the dark wizards feel the effects and become increasingly desperate to find enough information to counter them, unaware of the growing strain of the blood-magic bonds on the wizards and vampires alike.

The conflict is spreading. The strife of uncomfortable relationships, both personal and professional, is threatening to tear up the Alliance from the inside, despite the efforts of Alain Magnier and Orlando St. Clair, Thierry Dumont and Sebastien Noyer, and even Raymond Payet and Jean Bellaiche, leader of the Paris vampires, who is fighting to establish a stable covenant with his own partner so he might lead by example.

As the war rages on and heartbreaking casualties mount on both sides, the dark wizards keep searching for clues to understand and counter the strength of the Alliance, while the blood-bound Alliance partners hunt through ancient prejudices and forgotten lore to find an edge that can turn the tide of the war once and for all.

Book Four: Reparation in Blood. The war is at a fever pitch with both sides stretched to the limit, when the dark wizards score a shocking victory and capture Orlando St. Clair. Haggard with worry and grief at the separation from his lover, Alain fears that even if they find Orlando, the vampire’s heart and mind may be far too broken to save.

Knowing the Alliance teeters on the brink, Christophe Lombard, the oldest, most powerful vampire in Paris leaves his self-imposed seclusion to join the fight. Alain’s lost friend Eric Simonet, who betrayed him to join the dark wizards, is faced with a choice between revenge and redemption. And Jean, enraged by Orlando’s capture, faces the most agonizing decision in his unlife as the final battle looms: Will their actions lead to the shattering of the Alliance or the salvation of the world?

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Review: Partnership in Blood is an omnibus edition of four novels: Alliance in Blood, Covenant in Blood, Conflict in Blood and Reparation in Blood. In it, Ariel Tachna has created a massive world involving magic and the paranormal. The books are each rich in detail, and the world building is vastly impressive. There is also a fair bit of angst involved, and tolerance, acceptance, prejudices, sexual consent, and romance are themes throughout the series as well.

I enjoyed this take on the paranormal, and I like Tachna’s writing; however, there were so many characters introduced that I nearly got lost trying to keep all the relationships straight. Then I had a difficult time trying to remember the details of the war going on, too. I think if the author would have focused on one or two pairing per book, I wouldn’t have been so confused much of the time.

There are many pairings in this verse, not just the M/M, but also M/F and F/F couples. Each story adds more and more characters as the war progresses—this is one long story broken into very large and long chapters. If you enjoy detailed stories with a huge number of central characters, and you don’t mind f/f and m/f storylines and a good cry, you’ll find this series highly satisfying.

TNA_Signature_Angel

 

 

 

 

You can buy Partnership in Blood here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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Joe Cosentino

Guest Post: A Home for the Holidays by Joe Cosentino

A Home for the Holidays Banner

Hello, the Novel Approach Readers! I’m visiting here today to tell you a bit about how I came to write my brand new holiday short novella, A Home for the Holidays from Dreamspinner Press, which takes place in gorgeous, romantic, and magical Capri, Italy!

After writing two Bittersweet Dreams novellas, An Infatuation and A Shooting Star (In My Heart Series) published by Dreamspinner Press, and a comedy mystery, Drama Queen the first Nicky and Noah mystery published by Lethe Press, I needed a vacation. So like Kunta Kinte charting his roots, my spouse and I dipped into our savings—and dipped into the Dramamine, and booked a flight and bus tour from the US to Rome, Naples, Venice, Assisi, Lake Como, Milan, Florence, the Amalphi Coast, Pompeii, Tuscany, and Lake Maggiore. We were exhausted, but we had the vacation of a lifetime seeing the most gorgeous architecture, natural resources, and views of any of our trip. We also ate delicious food and reveled in the art, history, and beauty (noticing all the statues were of very muscular, naked men). The people were warm and friendly as was the weather. However, there was no site more gorgeous, magical, and romantic than the Island of Capri.

While on the boat ride to the Marina Grande, the sight of the enormous cliffs sitting majestically on the water literally took our breath away. From the funiculare (cable car) we marveled at the stunning views of the island below and Mt. Vesuvius in the distance. At the Piazetta (main plaza) we boarded an island bus that zoomed around harrowing, tight corners like a car in a Fun House. We travelled to Via Krupp in the southern part of the island, and we walked through what Italians call “the villas of the rich and famous,” underscored by the sparkling turquoise sea below. We swam in gorgeous white sand beaches surrounded by artistic white stone formations like Marina Piccola. When we arrived at Mt. Solaro, our guide told us it was highest point on the Isle of Capri, five hundred and eighty-nine meters above sea level. As we looked out at the fog, the sun came up and the wind blew the vapors of fog upwards, crowning the clouds, and revealing stunning views of the Bay of Naples, the Amalfi Coast, and the mountains of Calabria in the distance. As we looked out over the turquoise water, white mountains, and azure sky, I felt like I was in heaven. However, the most magical of all was the Grotta Azzurra (the Blue Grotto). As our boat went through the tiny portal of the expansive cave, my breath was taken away by the water’s brilliant shades of iridescent sapphire and emerald from the sun’s reflection on the water in the cove. Capri also had the most amazing restaurants and shops on the water’s edge. And the people somehow all seemed beautiful and sensuous.

Upon arriving back in the US, I realized I had to write a romantic story taking place in Capri.

In my story, Bobby, a young, Italian American law student, travels to Capri to meet his quaint Italian relatives. Though they get off to a rocky start, he falls in love with his handsome, muscular, sexy Italian third cousin, Paolo. Their relationship with highs and lows and some captivating surprises is the core of the short novella. Since I come from a long line of funny Italian Americans, I included a good deal of humor in the story as well with Bobby’s mother, who is loosely based on my mother, and Paolo’s eccentric family. Paolo’s grandmother is really a riot. She is loosely based on my grandmother who said, “A boy leaves home with a wife or in a coffin.”

Like Harold in An Infatuation and Jonathan in A Shooting Star, Bobby is sweet, sensitive, and smart. As a law student, he has buried his head in his books. As the novella begins, he is ready for an adventure—and ready for first love. Like Mario in An Infatuation and David in A Shooting Star, Paolo is handsome, muscular, charismatic, and like many people in Italy, much more interested in love than in work. He is also a gifted artist. Unlike Bobby, Paolo is very experienced in matters of the heart. Paolo loves the finer things in life, but doesn’t want to work for them. He is quite concerned about his body, clothing, and social life. That is a foreign (no pun intended) concept to me. He is loosely based on my cousin’s cousin who lives in Italy.

After reading A Home for the Holidays, people have said they’ve taken a little trip to Capri and had the romance of a lifetime. I hope readers will pick up this short novella. It’s a lot cheaper than a trip to Italy, and is bursting with the sights, scents, sounds, tastes, and romance of the magnificent island of Capri!

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HomeFortheHolidayscoverBlurb: Bobby McGrath’s Christmas trip to the beautiful Italian Island of Capri to meet his eccentric, extended family offers stunning views—none more stunning than his third cousin, Paolo Mascobello, a real stocking stuffer. As the two young men embark on a relationship, Bobby, a driven law student, learns to relax and bask under the old Italian moon, and Paolo realizes there’s more to life than a frolic on the beach. For the two to find everlasting amore, Paulo must overcome his fear of commitment and learn to follow his dreams, and Bobby must get his wish for happily ever after.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press || Amazon || All Romance eBooks || Barnes & Noble

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Excerpt: “Bobby, every Christmas your father and I buy you a nice gift and you return it. So this year before we go shopping, I’m asking you. What do you want for Christmas, exactly?”

I was tempted to answer, “How about the new Zeb Atlas DVD, Mom?” No longer reading my law textbook, I pressed the cell phone against my ear and responded, “My red sweater is getting frayed. I guess I could use a new one, Mom.”

“I don’t like red on you. I’ll get you a green sweater. It will go nicely with your eyes. You’ll be twenty-four in June. Nobody ever caught a husband wearing red clothes, except for Mrs. Klaus, and then look how overweight he was.”

I adjusted the heavy book on my knees and leaned back against the headboard of my narrow dorm room bed. Since fall semester of my third year of law school was over, my roommate had already gone back to Utah to be with his father and three mothers. Normally I would go home for the holidays.

As far back as I can remember, every December twenty-third through the twenty-fifth my mother works herself to exhaustion while forbidding anyone to help her. Since I am not married, I am seated at the kiddy table, where I dodge meatball and manicotti grenades courtesy of my little nieces and nephews. Then the gifts are bestowed with price tags on them so we all know “How many hours your father and I had to work to be able to buy our children such beautiful things.” This is followed by “oohs” and “ahhs” for every gift except the presents from me, which garner comments from my parents and two sisters like, “Oh well, I can wear that for dress-down day at work… if I keep on my coat.” After the extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins arrive for dessert (cannoli grenades at the kiddy table), my mother’s side (the Mascobellos) eat the pastries, and my father’s side (the McGraths) drink the liqueurs, while I sit upstairs in my old bedroom reading law case decisions on the Internet.

This Christmas is going to be different. Throughout my childhood I heard stories about my mother’s now deceased father who had a first cousin in Capri, Italy. Mom, “too exhausted from taking care of all of you to survive such a journey,” had recently spoken on the phone to her deceased father’s cousin’s daughter-in-law (got that?), and the two women had arranged for me to spend this Christmas with my Italian relatives. This led to my Christmas in Italy with my Italian cousin, Paolo Mascobello.

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Author BioAbout the Author: Amazon Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote An Infatuation, A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays (Dreamspinner Press), Drama Queen the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), Paper Doll the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), 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, Charles Keating, 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 releases in 2016 are The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press short stories novella), Porcelain Doll the second Jana Lane mystery (Wild Rose Press), and Drama Muscle the second Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press).

Website || Facebook || Twitter || Goodreads || Amazon

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

Review: Veiled Loyalties by Scotty Cade

Amazon

Amazon

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

Author: Scotty Cade

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 148 Pages

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

Reviewed By: Maryann

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

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

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

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

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

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

TNA_Signature_Maryann

 

 

 

 

You can buy Veiled Loyalties here:

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3 Stars, Audio Book, BA Tortuga, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: Ever the Same by BA Tortuga – Narrated by Paul Morey

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Ever the Same

Author: BA Tortuga

Narrator: Paul Morey

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 hours and 32 minutes

At a Glance: Overall, I liked this story but felt it was missing something.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: Audie Barrack is in it up to his elbows with a sick calf when his son’s school calls. Seems Grainger has gotten into yet another fight. When he walks into the principal’s office, he’s shocked to find his son has been fighting with a little girl named Randi.

A little girl with one blind dad and one dad who recently passed away.

Goddammit.

Dixon has lost his sight, his career, and his husband. Thank God for his brothers, Momma and Daddy, and his little girl, or he would simply give up. The last thing he needs is for Randi to start trouble at school, especially trouble that puts him in contact with another dad who might expect him to be a functional human being.

Dixon is struggling to live as a blind man, Audie is terrified someone might see he has a closet to come out of, and everyone from the school to both men’s families is worried for the men and their children. Unless they get themselves together and commit to change, neither of them stands a chance.

Dividers

Review:  I’m a big fan of BA Tortuga’s writing, and own several print copies of her books. I was excited to listen to this story—I’m definitely drawn to stories that are unconventional. Dixon was a great character, and he was put through some really trying times. When we are introduced to him and Audie, they meet because their children get into a fight at school. From then on, you meet a whole slew of characters—from Randi and Granger (the kids), to their respective families, and finally, the animals. The animals played an awesome part in the story.

The children really brought this story home for me. They are the glue holding it together, and without them, I feel this book wouldn’t have been successful. They were what was right about this story. But unfortunately, I felt that there were a lot of inconsistencies in the plot, and I had a hard time with Audie and Dixon’s families. These two men are not your conventional twenty-year-old guys. These are grown men facing very serious issues, yet they acted like they were very young, and they let their parents walk all over them.

Dixon was a great character whose growth is visible throughout the story. However, I really wanted to see him flourish as a blind person. Overall, I liked this story but felt it was missing something. The thing I think it’s missing is the actual romance. I felt like I didn’t get to see Dixon and Audie fall in love. It just was.

Narration: Ever the Same is performed by Paul Morey. That’s all that needs to be said. Morey is a consummate professional who does an excellent job narrating this book. He did a great job speaking for the children, which I always feel is a difficult thing to do as a narrator. He is absolutely fabulous.

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You can buy Ever the Same here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Audible.com

Audible.com

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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Pat Henshaw, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Blame It on the Fruitcake by Pat Henshaw

Small Gems

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Blame It On The Fruitcake (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015

Author: Pat Henshaw

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 36 Pages

At a Glance: Blame It on the Fruitcake is a sweet and funny love story. A perfect morsel of yummy goodness for this holiday season!

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Fruitcake is the laughingstock of the holiday season. But can it be an aphrodisiac instead? Motorcycle mechanic Sam McGuire is surprised to find a gaily wrapped box on his doorstep with a piece of fruitcake accompanying an invitation to a holiday party.

Wondering if he’ll fit in, Sam attends the party—mostly to get more of the fruitcake he falls in love with—and meets Jay Merriweather, his new neighbor. The lure of Jay’s big family and its holiday tradition of enjoying Grandma’s fruitcake hook Sam, as does the sexy man himself.

But Sam can’t imagine why handsome, college-educated Jay would want someone like him, who was raised in a children’s home and barely graduated high school. Maybe the magic of the holiday season can help two men who seem so different come together like the ingredients in a well-made fruitcake.

Dividers

Review: Blame It on the Fruitcake by Pat Henshaw is another delightful story from the Dreamspinner Advent Calendar Package entitled Sleigh Ride, a swiftly moving short story that brings together what seems like polar opposites and solidifies the idea that the heart knows what it wants despite what seems like insurmountable differences.

Sam McGuire has lived most of his life knowing that he is not the kind of guy anyone would choose to love. For years, as an orphan, he watched others be snatched up into middle class happiness by beautiful people who barely gave him a second glance. Now, as a successful mechanic and shop owner, he still believes that he is hardly a catch for some well-educated college boy who cleans up way better than he ever would.

Very much a loner, he is shocked when a small package appears on his doorstep containing an amazing piece of fruitcake and an invite to his neighbor’s party. After suspiciously and grudgingly tasting the cake–after all, everyone knows fruitcake is literally scraping the bottom of the holiday treat barrel–Sam decides to attend the party…in order to get more cake! Little does he know he is about to meet a guy who will challenge all his tightly held low opinions of himself, and of his certainty that he will never be worthy of being loved.

Author Pat Henshaw is a new author for me and I can honestly say, based on this little gem of a story, I will be looking up her backlist ASAP. Sam is such a sweet guy under his gruff exterior. Everything about him, from the way in which he dresses to his rough dialogue, was just so right and realistic. I honestly felt both these main characters were the perfect example of guys I’d be likely to meet in real life. There was such a genuine air about this author’s writing that made this instant attraction between Sam and Jay so understandable and believable.

Sam’s past created such a deep well of loneliness within him that it lent credibility to his automatic decisions that he would never be good enough for Jay. Jay’s admissions of feeling like he was pretending to be something he’s not allowed Sam to understand that appearance really is not all it’s cracked up to be, and it’s what lies beneath the exterior that really counts.

Blame It on the Fruitcake is a sweet and funny love story. A perfect morsel of yummy goodness for this holiday season!

TNA_Signature_Sammy

 

 

 

 

You can buy Blame It on the Fruitcake here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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