4 Stars, Cate Ashwood, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Self-Published

Release Day Review: Bloom Box by Cate Ashwood

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Bloom Box (Heartsville)

Author: Cate Ashwood

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 61 Pages

At a Glance: Bloom Box is a delightful addition to this collection.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: If there’s one thing William Sullivan knows less about than how to run a business, it’s flowers. When Will is left carrying responsibility for the flower shop he’d leased for his cheating ex-boyfriend, he is sure it will lead him into financial ruin.

Just when he’s about to abandon all hope, in walks Milo Hart—young, overflowing with energy, and perhaps best of all, a genius when it comes to flowers. Will hires him on the spot and they begin a working partnership that might be Will’s only saving grace. The more time they spend together, the more Will’s feelings for Milo evolve and Will must choose between keeping things strictly business, or taking a chance to let love bloom.

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Review: Will is adrift in more ways than one. He has lost a man he thought would be his forever in a heartbreaking revelation of cheating and lies. Left behind with a building in desperate need of a facelift, a floral business that he knew nothing about, and was now somehow expected to launch, and a heart that needed some serious mending, Will is not sure which way to turn next. Then Milo arrives and with more than a little flower know-how, and heaps of infectious good will, he slowly transforms both the shop and Will. Despite the age difference this rose was bound to bloom, and Will could only hold on tight as the spark between him and Milo grew and grew.

Cate Ashwood delivers another sweet romance direct from Heartsville. With Bloom Box, this author solidifies the idea that this imaginary town is the place to visit if one is looking for romance. More than a little healing also takes place in this story as Will begins to come back from a horrid breakup and realizes that, just maybe, a May/December affair is not too shabby a thing to let happen in his life. Milo is like a giant puppy dog at first glance. However, before long the author adds dimensions to both characters that make them more realistic and terribly appealing.

Bloom Box is a delightful addition to this collection. With just a hint of angst, we are drawn into a world where love can happen only if we allow it. Will resists as best as he can, but Milo is determined to have his man. When these two finally embrace their feelings for each other, this story takes flight and offers up a tender love affair between two lovely men.

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You can buy Bloom Box here:

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4 Stars, Genre Romance, Jayden Brooks, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Release Day Review: Clique by Jayden Brooks

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Clique (Heartsville)

Author: Jayden Brooks

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 78 Pages

At a Glance: Funny, sweet, and sarcastic, Clique is a story about taking risks, hanging on, and fighting for something real.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Adam Locke’s youthful looks aren’t the blessing everyone seems to think. At twenty-eight, he’s a successful photographer with his own studio and respected by his peers—but that doesn’t seem to matter to the men who catch his eye. Instead, he’s brushed aside like an underage twink with a daddy fetish.

When a hot, bearded stranger stops him from accidentally walking into traffic, Adam looks up and finds the man of his dreams. Unfortunately, his first meeting with Brandon ends with him being dismissed as a kid. Again. Adam can’t help his annoyance. He also can’t help staring (and drooling) whenever he spots Brandon walking through the neighborhood with a different dog.

He watches from afar, wondering about Brandon’s story—until the day he’s dared to take another chance. It’s just the push Adam needs, and finally, he catches Brandon’s interest. Now if only he could figure out the key to getting taciturn Brandon to open up and let Adam in. But Adam knows sometimes all it takes is a little patience for the last piece to click into place.

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Review: When Piper Vaugh said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that sometimes you just need a bit of fluff reading mixed in with all the drama and angst we also love, she couldn’t have been speaking more of the truth for me. This sweet compilation of stories is set in the enchanting little gayborhood known as Heartsville, a place that simply oozes charm and feels ripe for two people meeting and falling madly in love.

The first thing that drew me in to Jayden Brooks’ Clique is the humor, and I fell for Adam Locke’s voice right from the outset of the book. This story is not only told in the first person, but Brooks also allows Adam to break the fourth wall, and I have to say I liked the conversational vibe of the story, which wouldn’t have worked at all if Adam hadn’t been so likeable. Adam speaks to us while he’s thinking out loud and telling his story, and I found myself smiling on more than one occasion as he drew me in with his self-deprecating ways.

Adam is a grown man who often passes for many years younger than his actual age, a frequent mistake which seems to be a factor in him honing a bit of a sarcastic streak. Which immediately endeared him to me because, really, who doesn’t love a little sarcasm? One of the things that I think gave Clique a little realism, although it’s still a total meet-cute, is that when Adam and Brandon do first meet—or, I should say, when Brandon knocks Adam off his feet. Literally—it’s not a magical “aaaah” angels singing, harps playing moment. And it also involves a pup, so bonus cute! Brandon is the prickly-prickly to Adam’s funny-prickly, and the contrast worked for me because it gave the author the chance to offer a slower build to the relationship; or, at least as slow as the word count would allow.

Add to that a hilariously awkward “meet the parents” moment, not to mention that mischievous pup, as well as an almost deal-breaker misunderstanding that an obstinate Brandon let get a little out of control, and I wasn’t sure Adam and Brandon were ever going to get to the point where they’d get to know each other, shall we say, more intimately? But, fitting into the sweet scenarios these books are meant to offer, Jayden Brooks ultimately gets down to the plucking of the sentimental heartstrings that leads this book to its happy ending.

Adam gives us a peek into his story through the lens of his narrative, a story about taking risks, hanging on, and fighting for something real, something more, and something everlasting. At its heart, that’s what Clique is all about.

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You can buy Clique here:

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4 Stars, Genre Romance, J.H. Knight, Reviewed by Sadonna, Self-Published

Release Day Review: Another Shot by J.H. Knight

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Another Shot (Heartsville)

Author: J.H. Knight

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 74 Pages

At a Glance: Definitely recommended for fans of shorter works with some angsty moments and a happy ending.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: The town of Heartsville means something different to everyone who lives there. For Aaron Forester, it’s a gay-friendly buffer between himself and the rest of the world. After being outed in high school and bullied to the point of violence, his family uprooted their lives and relocated to the small hamlet. He’s moved on from all that and now owns a popular café in the bustling shopping district. But after twenty years of happy living, Aaron’s past creeps up on him in the most unexpected way.

Brad Collins only has one regret and he’s carried it with him since he was a teenager. When he moves to Heartsville and gets set up on a blind date with the most adorable, engaging man he’s met in a long time, he couldn’t be happier. But Brad didn’t expect the guy to be the person he outed in high school—whom he’s now falling in love with.

Aaron and Brad hit it off instantly—in and out of the bedroom. But after a long overdue apology and a small serving of resentment, is their fledgling relationship worth another shot?

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Review: Another Shot is another winner for author J.H. Knight. I had the pleasure of meeting her at GRL a couple of weeks ago and slightly gushed over The Last Thing He Needs. On the strength of that initial offering, I jumped at the chance to review another story.

Aaron is pretty happy in his life. Despite being outed as a teenager, which resulted in bullying so harsh his family moved, he’s made a good life in his adopted hometown. He has a loving family – mom and dad and sister Mandy. He has a profitable business. What he doesn’t have is a partner, but he’s been relatively okay with that. But now his BFF Justin is settling down, and Aaron thinks maybe he’s missing something.

His sister Mandy wants to fix him up, and while reluctant, he agrees. When he meets Brad, he thinks he’s died and gone to heaven. Brad is just his type and appears to be a good guy. He even likes children! They begin dating and Aaron is happier than he’s ever been. You know that means a shoe will have to fall. ;)

When Aaron’s parents are cleaning out their house, requiring their children to get their old belongings, Aaron stumbles on the thing that cost him his happy high school life. After Aaron and Brad spend the night together, we eventually discover that Brad is connected to this incident. When Brad confesses that he was there, Aaron does not react well.

I don’t want to be spoilery, so I will just say that there are some nice twists and turns in this story that lead to a very satisfying resolution. In a slightly unexpected way. There is an HEA, but both men have to work for it. It’s not necessarily about forgiveness, but it is about letting go and acknowledging the past without forgetting its impact.

Definitely recommended for fans of shorter works with some angsty moments and a happy ending.

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You can buy Another Shot here:

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4 Stars, Genre Romance, Nico Jaye, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Release Day Review: Unscripted by Nico Jaye

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Unscripted (Heartsville)

Author: Nico Jaye

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 80 Pages

At a Glance: Fun, sweet, adorable, charming—Unscripted is all that and a little more.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Theater manager Teddy Carbone’s life has gone pretty much according to script… until now.

To his surprise, Teddy finds himself co-owner of the Oasis Theater with Carter Monroe, a corporate shark who’s looking at him like he’s chum in the water. Being in charge of the theater is one thing, but having to deal with Carter and his demands is another. With Carter’s proposed plan to sell the Oasis looming, Teddy must convince Carter the theater is worth saving. When he introduces the bright, bold world of the stage to Carter’s cold, all-business lifestyle, though, Teddy soon comes to recognize that the Oasis might not be the only thing he has a chance to save.

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Review: I’ve said this publicly on any number of occasions, but it bears repeating here. I love short stories and novellas because sometimes I just want to get in, get happy, and get out. Get me to the HEA without all the angst and big misunderstandings, give me a fun and sweet short, maybe a little bit of the sexy too, and I’m your audience pretty much every single time.

Nico Jaye’s Unscripted was the perfect little read for a weekend afternoon. When we meet Teddy Carbone, he’s just received news that he’s now the partial owner of the theater that’s grown into such an important part of its community, this neighborhood called Heartsville. He’s also been informed he has a new partner, Carter Monroe, a successful businessman and the nephew of the former owner of the Oasis—a man who’s forgotten what the theater had once meant to him.

This story starts off with the sexy, moves on to the sweet, then ends with the fun (and more of the sexy, which, as an excellent bonus, was also fun!), perfectly paced as Teddy charms his way through his efforts to convince Carter not to sell the theater, lusting after him more than a little, and then Teddy proceeds to impress Carter not only with his love for the place and its people but with his knowledge of the running of the theater itself.

Teddy is adorable, Carter has a sexy sort of commanding charisma, and while we don’t get pages and pages of these two men falling in love, what Nico Jaye does give us is a convincing glimpse of their passionate and playful sides, and I totally bought into them as a couple. I also loved Teddy’s family—they give the story some feel-good moments that add to all the other warm feelings Unscripted delivers.

If you’re not a big fan of shorter stories but decide to give Unscripted a chance, the only thing I think you’ll find it doesn’t do is last long enough.

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You can buy Unscripted here:

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4 Stars, Genre Romance, Piper Vaughn, Reviewed by Jules, Self-Published

Release Day Review: Bookmarked by Piper Vaughn

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Bookmarked (Heartsville)

Author: Piper Vaughn

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 82 Pages

At a GlanceThe writing is tight, the pacing is great, the dialogue sharp, and I really enjoyed the characters.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: To save his bookstore from closing, Mark Werner realizes it’s going to take a miracle—like getting reclusive, best-selling author Shepherd Knight to agree to appear for a signing.

After their disastrous last encounter, Mark doesn’t hold up much hope Shepherd will agree. Shepherd’s never made a single public appearance. In fact, Mark wouldn’t even know what he looks like had he not accidentally discovered the sexy stranger he’d been flirting with for months, aka “Tall-Dark-and-Grumpy,” was also his fanboy obsession.

But desperate times call for desperate measures. If Mark can convince Shepherd, it’ll be a major coup in the book world and might just save Bookmarked from sinking. Too bad Shepherd won’t reply to his e-mails. Yet Mark didn’t earn the reputation of having a “sunshine-and-rainbow-fart” personality for nothing. He’ll do whatever it takes to get his man… and hopefully not make a fool of himself in the process.

Dividers

Review: Welcome to the gayborhood! Haha I love it. Bookmarked, by Piper Vaughn, is the first release in the Heartsville series – a group of five short stories by five lovely authors – and was a very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. Honestly, I could spend a couple of hours just looking at this cover. How cute is the storefront? And, how adorable is Mark? All five covers are fun, but this one gets an A-plus!

The story is fairly simple…Mark’s bookstore is in trouble, and he needs to pull out the big guns to save it. Namely, swallowing his pride and contacting a hugely famous author who is also a local, and with whom Mark had an embarrassing encounter some time ago, to ask him to do a book signing at the store. Shepherd Knight, the aforementioned author, is not the jerk Mark originally took him for, though it takes a bit of time to warm up to him and learn why he acted the way he did initially. I liked both Mark and Shep, and really enjoyed the setting of the bookstore as well as all of the writing references and nods to being an author. Especially this bit from a little speech Shep gives to a group gathered at the store for a NaNoWriMo event:

“Even if I never got paid for it, I’d feel compelled to do it. And, that’s what makes a true writer. It’s not how many readers you have or how many publishing contracts. Do you love to write? Then you’re an author. No one can take that from you.”

Though it’s not a complicated plotline, it was very well executed. The writing is tight, the pacing is great, the dialogue sharp, and I really enjoyed the characters. Also, we were introduced to the guys who we’ll get to know better in the other books, which is fun. Bookmarked was a good little romance, with lots of charm, very little drama, and the perfect amount of sex. I have a feeling I’ll be enjoying the other books in this series as well! Go check it out, folks!

I’ll leave you with my favorite line from the book…

Not only had he screwed around in his bookstore, which was unprecedented, he’d come while sniffing a Stephen King novel and being dry-humped by his favorite author. There had to be a joke in there, something about loving his books but not loving his books.

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You can buy Bookmarked here:

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Piper Vaughn

Guest Post: Welcome to Our Gayborhood by Piper Vaughn

Gayborhood Banner

Thanks so much to The Novel Approach for having me today! Since I’m kicking off our mini blog tour, I thought I’d talk about the Heartsville series and how it came into fruition.

As a reader, I love to read a range of book lengths—everything from 9-page short stories to epic fantasy tomes. At the end of the day it’s really dependent on my mood. Sometimes I want something quick that I can breeze through in a spare half hour, and sometimes I’m willing to invest a bunch of hours (or days) into my reading experience.

As an author, I enjoy writing this way as well. I’ve written everything from 1000-word flash fics to novels that are nearly 100K long, but I think my happy place when writing novellas is somewhere between 15-40K.

I’d been wanting to create a collaborative city/neighborhood with other authors for quite some time. Finally, a few months back, I approached Nico Jaye to ask if she might want to be involved—since we’d already discussed potentially co-writing in the future. For this project, I wanted us each to write our own stories but set in the same town and with some of the characters from the other books making cameos. Nico agreed, and between the two of us, we approached a few other authors to gauge interest.

We had the idea that it’d be fun to release one story a day over the span of a workweek, so we decided five authors total would be a good number, and that’s how Jayden Brooks, J.H. Knight, and Cate Ashwood joined us.

Our goal with this series is what I like to call fluff-and-smut. (Nico would say “smuff,” which I also love.) Basically, we aimed for sweet, light, and sexy. We wanted to make people smile, and maybe laugh, and hopefully create enough chemistry between our menfolk to have readers fanning themselves. ;) We hope we accomplished that goal. In my (admittedly biased) opinion, having read the other stories, I think we hit our mark. :D And if readers enjoy these novellas, we’re also planning to do a summer set, so keep an eye out for those!

All the stories in the Heartsville series fall between the 19-23K range. They can all be read as standalones, and the order isn’t important, but for a more enjoyable reading experience, we’d recommend reading them all.

It’s a beautiful day in the gayborhood, friends.

Lots of love!

~Piper

DividersHeartsville

Welcome to the gayborhood! In the cozy town of Heartsville, the streets are lined with trees, the shops are full of friendly faces, and happily ever after is just around the corner. Come get to know the boys next door—naughty, nice, and everything in between. 

Bookmarked- 500x750Bookmarked

To save his bookstore from closing, Mark Werner realizes it’s going to take a miracle—like getting reclusive, best-selling author Shepherd Knight to agree to appear for a signing. 

After their disastrous last encounter, Mark doesn’t hold up much hope Shepherd will agree. Shepherd’s never made a single public appearance. In fact, Mark wouldn’t even know what he looks like had he not accidentally discovered the sexy stranger he’d been flirting with for months, aka “Tall-Dark-and-Grumpy,” was also his fanboy obsession. 

But desperate times call for desperate measures. If Mark can convince Shepherd, it’ll be a major coup in the book world and might just save Bookmarked from sinking. Too bad Shepherd won’t reply to his e-mails. Yet Mark didn’t earn the reputation of having a “sunshine-and-rainbow-fart” personality for nothing. He’ll do whatever it takes to get his man… and hopefully not make a fool of himself in the process. 

 hearstville sale

Order now for $0.99 each – limited time only! As of next week, the prices will go up to their normal $2.99 each.

Bookmarked by Piper Vaughn – Oct. 26

Buy links: Amazon, ARe, Kobo

Unscripted by Nico Jaye – Oct. 27

Buy links: Amazon, ARe

Another Shot by J.H. Knight – Oct. 28

Buy links: Amazon, ARe

Clique by Jayden Brooks – Oct. 29

Buy links: Amazon, ARe, Kobo

Bloom Box by Cate Ashwood – Oct. 30

Buy links: Amazon, ARe

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Author BioBio: Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she’s known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, she loves them all (and has a two-thousand-book library to prove it!). She grew up in Chicago, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood, and loves to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life… even if it’s only in a book. 

Visit Piper at: Website || Facebook || Twitter || Google+

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