5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Mary Calmes, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Jules

Audio Review: Where You Lead by Mary Calmes – Narrated by Greg Tremblay

Audio Gem

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Where You Lead

Author: Mary Calmes

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Narrator: Greg Tremblay

Run Time: 1 hour and 41 minutes

At a Glance: You should definitely add this one to your collection of holiday feel-good romances!

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: ATF agent Peter Lomax isn’t a hearts and flowers kind of guy, but he can be possessive, and it caused problems until Carver Fleming. Carver may be part of the art world, but he gets Peter, loves belonging to the man, and Peter treasures the way Carver understands them together.

Carver loves Peter, but he’s fully aware that six months doth not a commitment make. Carver wants to make the relationship last forever, but he’ll have to leave their life in Chicago to take care of the family he loves. He wants to do it with Peter by his side, but going from the city of Chicago to tiny Colt, Kentucky is a big change.

Carver has only one Christmas wish: Please, oh please, let Peter fall enough in love with Carver’s family to follow Carver home.

Dividers

Review: Listening to this audio was such a treat; I had forgotten how much I loved this little Christmas story. Coming in at under two hours – just 68 pages for the novella – it’s not a huge time investment but packs a lot of punch. To create a good short story, the author must hook the reader almost immediately, and Mary Calmes is a master at this. In Where You Lead the opening sequence is hilarious and is instrumental in getting you invested in the characters.

Pete is your typical “man’s man”. As an ATF agent who isn’t afraid of throwing himself in front of a gun to save a hostage, some might find his pairing with mild-mannered gallery owner Carver Fleming unlikely. Six months into the relationship, however, things definitely seem like they are for real – at least, that’s what Carver is counting on, Pete also feeling this way as they head to his family’s home in rural Kentucky for the holidays.

The story is fabulous and the narration is equally so. Greg Tremblay’s performance is perfect in its simplicity. His voice is so rich and has such a great tone, I could honestly listen to him for hours! He does an incredible job at keeping the voices distinct, and with the dialogue. The whole thing is just so understated and classy and flows so well. I loved it!!! You should definitely add this one to your collection of holiday feel-good romances!

TNA_Signature_Jules

 

 

 

 

You can buy Where You Lead here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Audible.com

Audible.com

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Mary Calmes, Self-Published, Short Story

Hannah’s Big Night (A Jory and Sam Thanksgiving Ficlet) by Mary Calmes

Hannah's Big Night

Hannah’s Big Night

© Mary Calmes 2015

“Where are you going?” I asked my older brother as I walked into his room.

“You’re not supposed to just come in here,” he snapped at me.

“Yeah—yeah,” I said dismissively. “Where are you going?”

He sighed irritably, which was my cue to leave it alone, leave him alone, but he was climbing out his bedroom window onto the roof above the porch, so I had to know.

“Go to sleep.”

I scowled at him. “It’s ten o’clock at night; in what realm of your dodgy imagination am I going to bed this early?”

“Stop,” he groaned. “You’re not British.”

“Are you sure, guvnor?”

He rolled his eyes. “You’re especially not Eliza Doolittle. Being her in one play does not make it so.”

I shot him a look, one he knew, and took a deep breath. I was tired of the run around from my brother, Kola Kage, so I filled my lungs to make sure the yell would carry when I let it out.

“No—no—no,” he gasped, darting across the room, grabbing my hand and pulling me down beside him on his bed. “C’mon, B, you gotta let me go out and check on Anthony.”

“Who?”

“Anthony Mascaro.”

“Oh, that’s your friend who borrows your bike.”

His scowl was back. “What?”

“Ugh, really? This is me you’re talking to.”

He considered his audience for a moment, but come on…

“How do you know he borrows my bike?”

“’Cause every morning at around four, he parks your bike behind the house so you have it to ride to school with me and Pa.”

He grunted.

“And last night it wasn’t there, and that was a whopper of a lie you told Pa about leaving it at the park last night.”

Kola squirmed. “I feel bad.”

“You should feel bad ‘cause Pa’s not getting you a new one ‘til after Christmas, and now you look like a scrub walking while we’re both riding.”

His face scrunched up. “A scrub?”

“Just—that’s what Melody Thompson said.”

He thought a second. “How come Melody Thompson already wears make-up?”

“I wear make-up,” I said, sticking up for my friend.

“Only when you’re in a show,” he reminded me.

I nodded. “She wants to be pretty.”

“Well, you don’t have to worry about that.”

I dropped my chin and then looked at him because really, we both knew he was full of poop. “Really?”

He groaned.

“Just tell me what happened already,” I pressed him. He was my brother, he couldn’t keep anything from me, I could always get it out of him. “The bike’s gone and you think something happened to Anthony?”

“Yeah.”

“Then tell Daddy,” I told him.

“No,” he said, looking scared. “Anthony said if he gets in trouble, he’ll get taken away from his Mom and she’ll have to go back to where she lived before and he’ll have to go to Foster Care.”

“What’s that?”

“If you don’t have any family, that’s where you go?”

“Who doesn’t have a family?”

“Lots of people.”

“Yeah but,” I was trying to figure it out. “If you don’t have a family, where do you go on Thanksgiving?”

“Anthony says they eat at a shelter.”

“Oh,” I said, nodding, finally something I understood. Last Thanksgiving, me and Kola, Daddy and Pa had all gone to a shelter and served food for the homeless people. “I didn’t know they let kids go to the shelter.”

He nodded. “They do.”

I took a breath. “Yeah, but how come this is about your bike?”

“Well, at night Anthony rides around his neighborhood on my bike and watches for police cars. If he sees one, he makes a call on his cell phone.”

“He has a cell phone?” I was so jealous. “How come?”

My brother shrugged.

“How come he doesn’t use his own bike?”

“It got stolen.”

“Oh, that’s sad.”

“Yeah so now they told him if he doesn’t watch out for police, he has to deliver stuff to people.”

“That doesn’t sound so bad. It’s better than riding a bike in the middle of the night.”

“Yeah, but he’ll have to make his deliveries during the day.”

“And then he’d miss school.” I said, putting it all together. “I see.”

“So, could you please help me?”

“How?”

“Just stay here and if Riley comes upstairs, you––”

“Nuh-uh,” I said, shooting him down. “I go with you.”

“But I gotta find Anthony and the bike.”

“I can help you; I’m good at finding stuff.”

“B––”

I took a deep breath again.

He shoved me over on the bed. “Fine, whatever, just don’t yell.”

“Okay,” I said, so happy he was letting me help him. “Where does he live?”

He made a face. “Kinda far.”

“How far?”

“Like we need to take Pa’s bike.”

“Okay,” I agreed. “Just let me change.”

“B,” he whined. “Come on, we gotta go before Daddy and Pa get home from dinner.”

I snorted. “They went to that awful place with the real napkins; they’ll be gone for hours.”

“But you don’t need to––”

“Silence,” I commanded before telling him to go downstairs and tell our cousin Riley that we were going to watch a movie. Not that she cared; she’d be talking to her boyfriend all night, but it was always better just to say something. Misdirection was key. Daddy said that’s what you did when you were undercover, which, technically, we were.

“Oh God,” Kola groaned when I got back to his room.

“What?”

“Why are you wearing that?”

“Why wouldn’t I wear this?”

“We’re not stealing the bike from anyone.”

“How do you know? Maybe somebody stole it and we’ll have to steal it back.”

“Yeah, but you know that cat burglars don’t actually wear cat ears,” he said snidely. “And there’s still glitter on them from Halloween.”

“Shhhh,” I ordered before climbing out the window.

He was right behind me. “Be careful,” he said, and his voice went up high because it was crackling lately.

Downstairs, we darted around the house, got Pa’s beach cruiser out of the garage—it had fat wheels but still wouldn’t make it too much longer with the snow—and Kola got on before I got on the handlebars. We weren’t supposed to ride like that, Pa didn’t like it, and I couldn’t wear my helmet because of the cat ears, and Kola’s had reflectors on his that he didn’t want to attract attention… so we were both without them. We were double in trouble if we got caught but if Pa caught us, the helmet situation was the least of our problems.

We rode down Harlem Avenue for a while, and then Kola turned off on one side street, and then another, and another, until the street lights weren’t bright white anymore and instead, a sort of dull yellow. There was a ginormous vacant lot we had to go around, and then dark alleys that were creepy that we rode by, and finally Kola announced that we’d reached Anthony’s building. It took more than an hour to get there, and it was really cold. My nose felt like it was going to freeze off.

“Where are you gonna hide Pa’s bike?” I asked my brother.

We looked around for a few minutes, and Kola found a tarp in one of the alleys, and we put it behind a dumpster. Inside the building, we found Anthony’s last name and went up three flights to his apartment.

It was loud inside and a lot of people were arguing in the halls, and there was graffiti but not the pretty kind I liked. When we got to where Anthony lived, the door was open, which wasn’t safe, and Kola called his name.

“Now who the hell is that?!”

We both peered around the corner and there was a lady on the floor, bleeding from her nose and lip, and a man was holding her hair in his fist. There was blood on his other hand, probably from where he’d hit her—it was easy to tell, I watched a lot of TV, so I knew these things—and she was crying.

“Please, Luis,” she begged him.

“What are you doing?!” I shrieked at him.

He let her hair go when he reached for me, and she scrambled to her feet, grabbed me and Kola, and ran us into a bedroom and locked the door.

“Kola?”

We both turned and there was Anthony, on the bed. When he sat up, I saw that one of his eyes was big and puffy and couldn’t open, and he was bleeding like the lady.

“Is she your Mommy?” I asked him.

He nodded and then looked back at my brother. “You guys gotta get outta here before Luis hits you too.”

“Help me!” Mrs. Mascaro rasped, trying to push a really heavy chest of drawers in front of the door.

Me, Kola and Anthony all rushed to help her, and then once we moved it, we all got on Anthony’s bed. His mom stared at me and my brother, touching both our faces.

“He would’ve…he was going to…and then Anthony… and now I don’t have a choice and…who are you?”

She was kind of out of it, and crying, but she was bleeding and she had a really big bump on her head, so it made sense.

“This is Kola and his sister B,” Anthony told his mom, crawling over to sit by her, and taking her hand.

“Where’s your phone,” I asked him. “Kola said you have a cell phone.”

He reached under the mattress and passed it to me as somebody started banging on the door.

Mrs. Mascaro screamed, which scared me, but I only dialed faster. After a second, he answered.

“Who’s this?”

He sounded growly but that was because he didn’t know it was me yet. “Daddy!”

“B?” He sounded confused which made sense since this wasn’t our phone at home. “Who’s phone is this?”

He had Riley’s phone number programmed into his so again, the question made sense. “Daddy, there’s a man trying to hurt Anthony and his mom, and we’re in their house, and he’s trying to break into the room.”

Anthony’s mom screamed again.

“B,” he said, and it was like he didn’t have any air. “Where are you?”

I passed the phone to Kola because I didn’t know, and he gave Daddy the address as he listened a moment before moving the phone away from his ear and putting it on speakerphone.

“Keep the phone on,” he directed us. “And talk to Pa.”

“Pa,” I whimpered.

“Hi, B,” he said, his voice shaking. “Tell me what’s happening now?”

“The bad man is trying to get in, but the dresser is super heavy.”

“Okay,” he said as there was a huge bang and the chest of drawers moved a little.

“Pa, it’s moving,” I said, getting really scared.

“Don’t worry, B,” Kola told me, and then he got off the bed, and even though Mrs. Mascaro yelled at him to get back, he walked over to the door at the same time it sort of blew up.

The dresser got thrown sideways and the door flew open, and there wasn’t just Luis anymore, there were two other guys with him, standing there. Kola was so brave, facing them, and even when one of the men made like he was going to hit him, he didn’t move.

“You better leave us alone,” he told them. “My Daddy’s coming and he’s a marshal.”

“He’ll kill you if you hurt us,” I screamed at them.

Luis grabbed Kola by the throat, and I got up and ran to him. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I didn’t want him to hit my brother like he hit Anthony and his mom. But when I reached them something weird happened, and he looked at me and then he looked again like I surprised him. I lifted the phone to my ear to tell Pa what was happening, but he took it from me, hurling it into a wall, then shoved Kola down and grabbed me.

I tried to use my Tae Kwon Do moves on him, but I was only a yellow belt, Kola was blue, but one of the men had a gun. Daddy had told us not to try and hit someone if they had a gun.

One of the men picked me up and carried me out of the room, and when Kola tried to run after me, Luis slammed the door in his face.

I got slung over the guy’s shoulder and when I tried kicking and punching, he put me down on one of the landings, I wasn’t sure which one, and Luis slapped me really hard across the face. It hurt bad and I started crying, even though I knew it was weenie. Luis grabbed my arm tight and dragged me down the stairs and outside, and then he put me in the backseat of a car. Luis got in the back with me, and the other two got in the front and the tires made the whiny noise when we drove away.

It was weird to be in a car with strangers, and I tried to think of how long I was going to be grounded when I got home.

“I need you to call your Daddy,” Luis told me, shoving a phone at me.

I was confused. “I already called my Daddy, he was coming.”

He shook his head. “Don’t play dumb with me, I know who you are little girl, I’ve seen your picture in the paper.”

I wasn’t sure what he meant.

“You’re Aaron Sutter’s kid.”

What? “Nuh-uh.”

“Yes, you are,” he snarled at me like a dog, “I saw you in the paper just this morning.”

And I got it. “Oh, that’s because I went to the Aquarium with him last night,” I explained. “My Uncle Duncan had to work, so I went with Uncle Aaron to the fundraiser gala.” I loved going with him, and sometimes I even got to go when Uncle Duncan was there. But I always got a new dress, and I had a white princess coat I got to wear that had crystals for buttons that I wore with my white gloves. Sometimes I even got new shoes, but Pa told Uncle Aaron I couldn’t have new ones every time. But last night was special because I even wore my tiara. “But he’s not my Daddy, he’s my Uncle.”

“Uncle my ass—that’s your father, so you better get him on the phone because if he wants you back in one piece, he’s going to pay.”

He had the guy in the passenger seat pass him a phone from the glove compartment and it was really old, one of the flippy kind that I knew was a burner because Daddy said that’s the kind crooks used, and he shoved it into my hands and told me to call my Dad.

It was lucky for me that I had four numbers memorized and they were Daddy’s, Pa’s, Auntie Aja’s, and Uncle Aaron’s. So I dialed and it rang a lot of times before he answered.

“Who is this and how did you get this number?”

“Uncle Aaron,” I said and sniffled a little ‘cause I was a bit scared. “I need some money.”

“What?”

Maybe he couldn’t hear me. “I’m in trouble and I need some money.”

The phone was muffled for a minute. “B?”

“Yeah.”

“You need money?”

“Uh-huh.”

He chuckled. “Honey, does your father know you’re calling me?”

“No.”

“And why not?”

“Because I got taken.”

“Wait, what?” He said, and now he sounded like he couldn’t breathe just like had happened to Daddy. “Honey, where are you?”

“A man has me.”

“What man?”

I put the phone on my chest. “Can I tell him who you are?”

Luis shook his head and I put the phone back to my ear. “He said I can’t tell you.”

He took a breath. “Ask him how much money he needs to bring you to me.”

I looked up at the Luis. “How much money do you want?”

He snatched the phone from me. “Sutter, if you ever want to see your little girl again, you need to deliver ten million dollars to Navy Pier by midnight.” He listened then. “I’ll call you back with the details.”

Ten million dollars was a lot of money. I wasn’t sure I was worth that much. “Can I talk to him?” I asked Luis.

“No,” he snapped and hit the END button.

I started to cry because I really wanted to talk to Uncle Aaron, but then I remembered what Pa said about getting kidnapped. He said that you had to always try and get away. You never had to stop. And Pa knew a lot about being kidnapped—he was kind of an expert since it happened to him more than once. Daddy always said it was ‘cause he was a trouble magnet, but Pa said that was nonsense. My Uncle Dane said the magnet stuff was true too, but Uncle Dane thought I was one too, and that was just bananas. So I wiped my face on my sleeve—which Pa didn’t like, but I didn’t see me asking Luis for a Kleenex—and I checked to see if the door was locked.

Our van at home locked automatically. As soon as Pa moved the stick thing to the D, you could hear the doors lock, but this car was old, there weren’t even shoulder seatbelts in the backseat where I was, and so the door wasn’t locked since I could see the button thing was up.

When we stopped at a light, I pretended like I was gonna barf, and Luis told me to roll the window down. But I pulled the door handle and opened it instead.

“Kid!”

I fell into the street, and there were a lot of cars, but I ran fast and they missed me, and when I got to the sidewalk, I ran some more.

I got kinda turned around, but then I saw The Flamingo and I knew where I was. Sometimes I got mixed up—did Daddy work in the U.S. Courthouse building or the Federal building?—but last time we went there, Kola said it was the thirty story one and not the forty-two story one, so I ran to the right one and pounded on the door a second before I saw the two men walking up the street. Both of them had the same star as Daddy hanging around their necks, so I got to them as quick as I could. As soon as I reached them, one of them knelt down to talk to me.

“Sweetheart, what are you doing out here so late?”

It was kind of hard to breathe because I ran so far. “I’m––”

“You’re Hannah, aren’t you?” The other man said. “I’ve seen your picture.”

It was neat how big the man’s eyes got. “You’re Sam Kage’s daughter?”

I nodded.

He picked me up, which normally, since I was ten now, I didn’t like, but I was tired and getting cold, so it was okay.

“What happened, honey,” the marshal who wasn’t holding me asked. “Why’re you here?”

So I told him about Anthony and his Mom and Kola, and me and Pa’s bike—because that was important—and Kola being brave, and Luis hitting me, and the other two men and how I had to call Uncle Aaron, and how much ten million was, and how come Luis thought I was Uncle Aaron’s daughter, and how silly that was, and how far I’d run.

“Okay,” he said as he used his card to make the door open, and pulled his gun out at the same time.

Once the three of us were inside, he put his gun back in the holster before we all went up in the elevator.

“You can call me B,” I told the man who was holding me.

He smiled at me. “Well, you can call me Ian, and this is Miro.”

They were nice, and I wasn’t scared one bit, and when we got to the office, they took me to the breakroom and put ice on my face and gave me a juice box to drink. I didn’t really like grape, apple was my favorite, but I didn’t want to make them think I wasn’t appreciative. Pa always said you had to be nice even if you didn’t get exactly what you wanted.

After a few minutes, Miro passed me his phone.

“Hello?”

“B?” Daddy sounded funny, like he’d run far too.

“Hi, Daddy, are you mad at me?”

He coughed. “No, baby, I’m not mad at you.”

“Is Kola okay?”

“Yes, love, Kola’s fine.”

“Is Anthony okay?”

“Yes.”

“And his mommy?”

“Everybody’s fine, sweetie. What’d—did those men hurt you?”

“Luis hit me on the face,” I told him. “Miro gave me ice to put on my cheek.”

He coughed again. “But that’s all?”

“Mmmmm-hmmm.”

I heard him take a breath. “

“Daddy, you can’t let Anthony get taken away from his Mommy, okay?”

“I won’t.”

“Promise?”

“I promise.”

“Do they have to go back to his Mommy’s country?”

“No, B.”

“You promise?”

“I promise.”

“And could they come and have Thanksgiving with us at Nana’s?”

“They’re not going to be here tomorrow, B, so no.”

I knew Daddy made people safe by moving them far away and giving them new names. I didn’t know how he did that, but Pa had explained that much to me. “Okay, so long as they’re together that’s all that matters, right?”

“That’s right.”

“Oh, Dad, did you get Pa’s bike?”

“Kola made sure I got it, yes.”

Such a relief. “Are you coming to get me now?”

“Yes, honey, I’m on my way.”

“Will you call Uncle Aaron and tell him I don’t need the money?”

There was a long silence before he said, “I’m sorry, what?”

So I told him about calling Uncle Aaron, and then he had to get off the phone and I gave Miro back his. “I wonder why Daddy didn’t want to talk to me anymore.”

“It ain’t like that,” the other marshal, Ian, told me. “He wants to talk to you, but he’s gotta call your uncle and tell him everything’s all right, and then he’s gonna go pick that guy up and feed him his teeth.”

“Ian,” Miro whispered.

“What?” He gave Miro the look Kola gave me when he thought I said something dumb. “He is.”

“It’s okay,” I told Miro, patting his hand. “Daddy always says that if anybody hurts me or Pa or Kola that he’ll kill them, so, you know, he might shoot Luis in the head.”

They were both staring at me like I was an alien or something.

“What?”

Miro cleared his throat and took my hand in his. “Sweetie, your Daddy doesn’t go around shooting people, but that man that took you is in a lot of trouble. Your Daddy has to alert Chicago PD and tell them that he kidnapped you and asked for a ransom. Before, we weren’t sure why he took you or even if he did it on accident, but now we know he had a plan. That changes things. That’s a federal offense.”

“Does that mean super in trouble?”

“That’s exactly what that means,” Ian said, smiling at me.

I smiled back because sitting at the table with them, I knew nothing else bad was going to happen to me.

A while later, I was sitting at Miro’s desk helping him look for his mouse that other people liked to take, and watching Ian smell a mango that he took out of the fruit basket.

“That’s a huge basket,” I told him.

He grunted.

“A nice lady sends it to us once a month,” Miro told me. “We helped her kids out when we were in Phoenix.”

“May I have one of the apples?”

“Go for it.”

I was picking one when I heard my Daddy.

“B!”

When I turned around there he was, and I ran to him as fast as I could.  It didn’t take long since he was running too, and when he reached me, he scooped me up and hugged me.

He held me super tight, and I wiggled so I could get my arms around his neck. I kissed his cheek and held on and even though I was okay, I started to cry.

“It’s okay, B, I’ll always find you.”

“I know,” I told him.

He gave me one last squeeze, and then there was a noise by the elevator and there were more marshals, and Luis and the two other guys all in handcuffs.

Luis looked like Anthony and his mom now, all bloody and bruised. I watched him walk by and he almost stopped to look at me. His mouth dropped open, and I was going to say, “See, I told you,” but it was bad manners to gloat. Uncle Dane always said so.

“Daddy,” I whispered up at him. “Did you feed Luis his teeth?”

He glanced over at Ian, who only smiled before he knelt down next to me. “I just had a quick word with him about taking children who don’t belong to him.”

I nodded. “I understand, it’s ‘cause you love me.”

“I do indeed.”

As Daddy and I went down in the elevator, I asked him how come Pa and Kola didn’t come up.

“I didn’t want Luis or those guys to see Kola again, and I didn’t want them to see Pa.”

“In case they come back for revenge,” I said, getting it. “Good call.”

He squinted at me. “You know what’s going on, right, because you watch a lot of television?”

I nodded.

“Of course you do,” he sighed. “We’re going to the emergency room after this, you know.”

“Ugh.”

“You and Pa sure do like that place.”

“We don’t like it,” I promised him. “Sometimes it just happens.”

He made a noise like I was full of it.

“You know,” I said, squeezing his hand as he looked at my cheek. “I know what I’m gonna say this year when we go around the table and say what we’re thankful for.”

“Oh?”

“Uh-huh.”

“And what is that?”

“My family and Miro and Ian.”

“Miro and Ian, huh?”

“Yeah.” And then I thought of something. “Maybe you should invite them to Thanksgiving dinner at Nana’s.”

“They’re good,” he said in that way he had where it sounded like the sound was coming out of his chest.

He picked me up as the elevator doors whooshed open, and I saw Pa and Kola on the other side of the room by the doors. They both came running.

“I can’t wait to get home,” I told Daddy before they reached me.

“That’s good,” he said, “because you and your brother are going to be grounded until the end of time.”

I really didn’t mind. It was home after all.

 

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3.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mary Calmes, Reviewed by Sammy, Short Story

Review: Easy Evenings by Mary Calmes

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Amazon

Title: Easy Evenings (Mangrove: Book Four)

Author: Mary Calmes

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 77 Pages

At a Glance: Several huge plot holes turned this novella from a sweet little romance into a rather confusing story.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Lazlo Maguire doesn’t do relationships—he does transactions. Six months of the year, he’s an expensive rent boy in Manhattan, and he moves so fast that settling down could not, would not, ever enter his mind… except for once. Britton Lassiter he meets man to man, not as hustler and mark, and it’s too good to be true when the lawyer wants to keep Lazlo even if he has to share him with the job.

But Lazlo has his reasons to walk away from the man he’s grown to love. The other six months of the year, he is laid-back Laz, a shopkeeper in the sleepy coastal town of Mangrove, Florida, where the artist he never allows himself to be in the Big Apple shines through. He lives for his time by the ocean, the place he hides his secrets and nurses his broken heart.

Then fate intervenes, and Laz gets the surprise of his life when he spies Britton in Mangrove—but it’s not meant to be… not until Britton sees the change in him and wants to be a part of Laz’s new life so that every evening can be easy… together. Hopefully the secrets that tore them apart won’t come back to haunt them.

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Review: Let me begin by saying that author Mary Calmes writes very sweet and lovely romance stories. This is an author I go to when I really want a bit of escapism. Her stories are most notable in that any great conflict is usually quickly resolved, her people are beautiful, angst is minimal, and there is always a swift and loving happy ever after. So, it’s safe for me to say that when I choose to review one of her stories, I look at them in this light, with an eye more toward fantasy than realistic m/m relationships. Her latest installment in the Mangrove series, Easy Evenings, is no exception.

Lazlo Maguire is a rent boy. He divides his year between time in Manhattan, where he provides sexual hookups for a variety of clientele, to the quiet town of Mangrove, Florida, leading a quiet life as a shop keeper and creating sculpted wind chimes and various other things out of metals. When he meets Britton Lassiter, his world is turned upside down. Britton makes him want things that he can’t possibly have, and feel things that he’s never felt before. For the first time, here is someone who could possibly make Laz walk away from his rent boy existence. But Lazlo’s life is not his own and despite how much he would like to have that happy ever after with Britton, the responsibilities he has will never allow him to give up the empty life that holds him prisoner.

The story picks up when Laz return for his six month stint at home in Mangrove, and discovers that Britton has moved his law practice to the same town. Without much of a clue as to the why and how, we discover Britton has taken out a restraining order against Laz, and one can only assume that is because Laz has been attempting to reestablish their relationship. This would be the same relationship that Laz walked away from after realizing that Britton was worthy of much more than a rent boy for a life partner. All of this is done in flashback style, narrated by Laz himself—so it is sketchy at best. Then there is a sudden twist in the story when a little three-year-old girl is unceremoniously dumped on Lazlo’s front porch, and he is informed that he is the father. Suddenly everything changes, including his relationship with Britton.

Laz is one of the sweetest characters I’ve ever read about. The reasons behind his being a rent boy almost broke my heart. The sweet little girl that he is left with is quite precocious. While she seems a bit too old in her outlook for the age of three, and her dialogue is way too sophisticated for that age as well, I was able to overlook that as the way in which she was written made her truly delightful. These two really captured my heart in a big way—I wanted them to be happy in every way possible.

Britton was a real study in contrasts. Needing to submit to Laz in the bedroom while, at the same time, so fiercely eager to take care of Laz outside of it, I felt I knew so little about him. This was really Laz’s story from beginning to end, and I felt that Britton was a bit underdeveloped as a main character. However, the two made a fiery match and were very well suited to each other. Unfortunately, this was a swiftly moving story and as a result, I felt like major chunks of the story were left untold. For instance the reasons for the restraining order were never really discussed. And just as quickly as it was mentioned, Britton was dropping it in order to be with Laz.

Also, the declaration that he had never had unprotected sex other than with Britton was a blatant lie, particularly since earlier in the story he relates how one evening he had sex with a trick’s wife which apparently produced the little girl Katie. Then again, we are told in the story that he never gives out his real name while turning tricks in Manhattan, except to Britton, yet three years after that one evening, the stepfather currently stuck with Katie after her mother had died is able to track Laz down without knowing his real name. There is a hint that Lazlo knew more about Katie’s mother, but it was never explained so it left me unsure as to how Katie even came to exist.

Ultimately, it was these huge plot holes that turned this novella from a sweet little romance into a rather confusing story. Every time one of these inconsistencies ripped me from the pages, I had to make a concerted effort to put my head back in the game and continue the story. I have read other short stories by this author and found them to be quite lovely. Unfortunately, Easy Evenings had too many troublesome and conflicting details to make this a romance I could recommend.

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You can buy Easy Evenings here:

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mary Calmes, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Kim

Audio Review: Just Desserts by Mary Calmes — Narrated by Greg Tremblay

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Title: Just Desserts

Author: Mary Calmes

Narrator:: Greg Tremblay

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 2 hours and 54 minutes

At a Glance: What made Just Desserts such an enjoyable listen, and maybe just a bit more emotional, was how well Greg Tremblay narrated the story.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Boone Walton has tried hard to create some distance between himself and his past. He’s invested in his new life, his New Orleans art gallery, and his friendship with Scott Wren. Things finally seem to be settling down to normal, and Boone couldn’t be happier.

Chef Scott Wren wants much more than normal with Boone. He wants to raise things to the next level, but Boone is terrified—and not because of the ghost in Scott’s apartment or Scott’s relatives. No, Boone’s past is about to pay him a visit, and the only thing that can get between Boone, Scott, and a hinky recipe for chocolate mousse found in a curious cookbook is the river of pain Boone had to swim across to get to this side of The Big Easy. There’s a secret behind the ingredients, though—one that might reveal the trust and love that have been missing from Boone’s life.

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Review: Boone didn’t see Scott coming when he entered his gallery, not until it was too late to run from his heart’s destiny. Scott just wasn’t afraid of Boone and his boorish ways! And it didn’t take long for the two to become very good friends. Even though Boone would love to bed Scott, it’s just something Boone would rather not risk if it means the possibility of losing Scott as a friend.

It took moving a dinosaur of a stove with a couple of friends, who ganged up on Boone afterwards, to tell him how much he was in love with Scott. But by the time Boone worked up the nerve to do something about it…someone else had made a move on his man. It then took a recipe from Granny B’s cookbook to bring these two together and oh, how much fun was that? I loved it when Scott finally made his feelings clear.

And it was a bit of a tearjerker when Boone had to finally face his tragic past. He finally let go of it. Old loves are like that, though.

What made Just Desserts such an enjoyable listen, and maybe just a bit more emotional, was how well Greg Tremblay narrated the story. As usual, this man turns in an awesome performance! Tremblay keeps my commute a safe one because there’s no chance of me falling asleep behind the wheel when I’m listening to him narrate a story. Big hugs to Mary Calmes for finding such a great narrator for her stories! I’d also like to mention that our lovely Jules wrote a fantastic review of the ebook version of Just Desserts, if you need a little extra to convince you to give this one a try.

TNA_Signature_Kim

 

 

 

You can buy Just Desserts here:

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4 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mary Calmes, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Sadonna

Audio Review: Sultry Sunset by Mary Calmes – Narrated by Greg Tremblay

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Title: Sultry Sunset

Author: Mary Calmes

Narrator: Greg Tremblay

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 1 hour and 57 minutes

At a Glance: My favorite installment of the Mangrove stories so far, which the narrator perfectly brought to life – a sweet and poignant story on many levels.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Hutch Crowley is well-liked in the small resort town of Mangrove—he’s got friends in his new neighbors, he’s the owner of the town grocery, and he’s building a community center—but he’s still unlucky at love. Every man he’s attracted to is either taken or simply not interested, including his best friend, Mike Rojas.

When Mike came to Mangrove two years ago, Hutch gave him a job and a place to stay in his guesthouse, where Mike has remained ever since. Despite the rumors circulating about them, Hutch knows Mike is straight and looking for the right woman. But his friends disagree, and after some hints to the contrary, even Hutch finally has to admit that maybe the rest of the town sees something he’s been missing. If Hutch wants to spend each sultry sunset with the man of his dreams, it might be time to figure out what’s going on with his best friend’s heart.

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Review: Hutch has been my favorite character in this series. I loved him in Blue Days, when he gets owned by Takeo and called off Dwyer. I loved him in Quiet Nights, with his almost date with Cosimo and his conversation/confrontation with Kelly. But I am so happy he gets his own story in Sultry Sunset. :)

Hutch Crowley is the owner of a local grocery – but it’s not your average grocery. He’s not your average guy either. One morning he wakes to hear someone crying on the porch of the house next door. He discovers it’s a young girl (his new neighbor, Ivy Dodd), and she is dejectedly sitting on the porch, locked out of her house by a thoughtless relative who has taken off and left her alone—with her father out of the town, her mother recently deceased, and, oh yeah, she’s just gotten her first period. To quote Eugene Levy from Splashed!, her reaction should have been “What a day I’m having!”

Luckily, Hutch is a very easy going guy, who was raised with lots of sisters, so he is in the know about what to do for Ivy and her issues. He helps her get back in her house, takes her to his store to get supplies, introduces her to Mike Rojas, his best friend and assistant manager, buys her a coffee, takes her to the local Wiccan store, and gets her lunch. Then, her dad calls. Seems her dad is the new Fire Chief, and he’s moving from Miami to Mangrove. He’s quite upset that his young daughter is running around town with a stranger, but once he hears her laugh, he’s okay with Hutch looking after her.

Hutch and Mike are best friends, but lot of people assume they are a couple since they are always together. We get the backstory on Mike’s up-to-now hetero life and the loss of his wife, his subsequent depression, and Takeo’s plotting to get him to stay in Mangrove by enlisting Hutch’s cooperation. I loved this part of the story – the “how they got to be such good friends” story.

There are so many perfect little moments in Sultry Sunset that really give the flavor of small town living. My mom grew up in a town of about 700 people, and my grandma continued to live there the rest of her life. She never lived more than 15 miles from the place she was born, and this is what it was like. I would love to visit this place. :)

Ivy’s father, Essien, returns to Mangrove and becomes friends with Hutch and Mike. He’s a good guy and he’s a good fit for the town. There is, however, some drama over Hutch’s pet project, the community center. This leads to a confrontation, and Hutch is briefly in a bit of hot water with the local constabulary. But, of course, Mike comes to his rescue – at the police station and beyond.

I seriously loved this story – just everything about it. There are appearances by characters from the previous books as well as some new characters that will hopefully be fodder for further stories in this world. I thoroughly enjoyed the narration of this story and look forward to more from this talented voice artist. I thought Mr. Tremblay did a perfect job of bringing this story to life.

Note: While this is the third in a series, it’s not absolutely necessary to have read the other stories, but it might add some context.

 

 

 

You can buy Sultry Sunset here:

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mary Calmes, Narration Rating - 4.5 Stars, Reviewed by Karen

Audio Review: Mine by Mary Calmes – Narrated by Caleb Dickinson

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Title:  Mine

Author:  Mary Calmes

Narrator: Caleb Dickinson

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Run Time:  7 hours and 8 minutes

At a Glance: I love when a good narration is able to bring a story I already love to life, making me love it that much more.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb: Trevan Bean has a job that’s going from illegal to frightening, a boyfriend who may not be in his right mind, and a guardian angel who might actually be evil incarnate. Add to that the reappearance of his boyfriend’s estranged family, death threats, kidnapping, and the struggle of saving money to realize a dream, and Trevan has a lot on his plate. But Trevan is up to the challenge: he promised Landry a happily ever after, and Landry’s going to have it if it kills him! It just might. Landry Carter was a broken doll when they met two years ago but has grown into a partner who can stand at Trevan’s side… most of the time. Now that Trevan’s life just got scary – and Landry just got himself kidnapped – Trevan has to hope Landry’s love stays strong through this newest challenge, because the happily ever after won’t happen if Trevan has to go it alone.

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Review: I have so much love for this story, it is absolutely one of my favorites by Mary Calmes. Mine is the first narration I have listed to by Caleb Dickinson, and I really enjoyed it. Well, for the most part.  There were certain parts where Landry’s voice made me cringe and pulled me right out of the story.  I get the crazy and dramatic way Landry is, and that the narrator was really trying to get that to come across, but I think Landry’s voice was maybe just a little overdone, dramatic and crazy in some parts. It seemed to happen more in the beginning of the audiobook, and I was a little concerned, but as it the story went on, it got better for me. Though, I’m honestly not sure if the over-the-top narration didn’t happen later in the story, or if I was just so into it by that point that I didn’t notice. I am glad I stuck with it, though.

On the other hand, Trevan was spot on and exactly how I’d heard him in my head when I first read the book. The secondary character voices were also distinct enough to let me know when one character was speaking as opposed to another.

I love when a good narration is able to bring a story I already love to life, making me love it that much more.

TNA_Signature_Karen

 

 

 

You can buy Mine here:

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E-book review from March 7, 2012 can be found HERE

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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mary Calmes, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Jules

Release Day Review: Fit to Be Tied by Mary Calmes

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Title: Fit to Be Tied (Marshals: Book Two)

Author: Mary Calmes

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 244 Pages

At a Glance: OMG YOU GUYS!! THIS BOOOOOOK!!

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: Deputy US Marshals Miro Jones and Ian Doyle are now partners on and off the job: Miro’s calm professionalism provides an ideal balance to Ian’s passion and quick temper. In a job where one misstep can be the difference between life and death, trust means everything. But every relationship has growing pains, and sometimes Miro stews about where he stands with his fiery lover. Could the heartstrings that so recently tied them together be in danger of unraveling?

Those new bonds are constantly challenged by family intrusions, well-intentioned friends, their personal insecurities, and their dangerous careers—including a trial by fire when an old case of Miro’s comes back to haunt them. It might just be enough to make Ian rethink his decision to let himself be tied down, and Miro can only hope the links they’ve forged will be strong enough to hold.

Dividers

Review: I fell HARD for Miro Jones (still the coolest damn name ever) and Ian Doyle in Mary Calmes’s first Marshals book, so when I found out about Fit to be Tied, I was ridiculously excited. More Miro and Ian could be nothing but Win, right?? Well, of course the answer was ‘Right’. I absolutely loved this book. BUT, instead of doing my usual Mary Calmes book flail – you know the one I mean…OMG YOU GUYS!! THIS BOOOOOOK!! – I wanted to keep it reeled in. So, I’m doing organized gushing (it’s a thing) instead. :) In three parts: Miro My Hero; Dr. Hartley, I presume?; and, The Evolution of Ian (and Miro).

Here we go!

Miro My Hero:

Miro’s heroism in this book knows no bounds. Sort of like my love for him. Ha! Seriously, though, he is beyond strong. Beyond brave. I love the fact that he is ALWAYS thinking about everyone else, and about doing the right thing. And, I love that he knows what he wants, and isn’t afraid to ask for it. There are many places in Fit to be Tied where Miro is different levels of heroic, but there were three standout scenes for me: First, at Ian’s father’s birthday party, he takes care of Ian, making him feel centered and loved after he is completely disregarded by his stepsiblings and stepmother during a video presentation to their father. He then angrily dresses down the stepsister and stepbrother, again showing Ian how important he is.

Next, there is in incident where Miro and Ian save a couple of kids that desperately need help. Miro doesn’t do this singlehandedly – Ian is indispensable as his backup, as usual – but, if it weren’t for Miro giving the little boy attention and treating him like he mattered, while everyone else ignored him, the kids would not have been saved. And, finally, there is a pivotal scene where he has to dig deeper than he has ever dug before, where he shows what it truly means to be a survivor, which will fully blow you away.

Dr. Hartley, I presume?

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to mention Dr. Hartley. I think anyone who has read All Kinds of Tied Down, as well as this book’s blurb, knows that he is going to be somehow involved in the story. Now, I’m obviously not going to tell you how he is involved in the story, but I do want to talk about him. You guys won’t believe how creeptastic this guy is. Mary has KILLED it with this storyline. The things that go on in his head…the things he puts Miro through – as well as anyone in his path, really – are just…*shudders* If she wants to write more of this type of stuff, I fully approve, because WOW.

The Evolution of Ian (and Miro):

I love where Ian ends up in this book. His growth, and really their growth together, is fantastic. He never backs down from anything, as we know; he has to be that way for his job, both as a marshal, and a Green Beret. As this story progresses, though, his eyes begin to open to what it truly means to be with someone, in every sense, not just as partners on the job. This line during an argument with Miro is everything:

“No!” he roared. “Before anything else you’re my life you stupid prick!”

He evolves sexually as well as emotionally, also learning to ask for, and take, what he needs in bed. Their chemistry is just as explosive as it was in the first book, perhaps even more so as Ian becomes a little more…adventurous.

So, yeah, I loved this book. The ongoing disagreement regarding their relationship status was a wee bit repetitive for me a couple of times, but that was just a tiny ripple on a sea of awesome. Run as fast as you can to read this book.

In closing, I’ll leave you with one final two-word reason…Sam Kage.

TNA_Signature_Jules

 

 

 

You can buy Fit to Be Tied here:

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4 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mary Calmes, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Kathie

Audio Review: Heart of the Race by Mary Calmes – Narrated by Greg Tremblay

Title: Heart of the Race

Author: Mary Calmes

Narrator:: Greg Tremblay

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 2 Hours and 5 Minutes

At a Glance: I have to give *high fives* to Greg Trembly. The accents he was able to come up with, and the names he was able to pronounce, were unbelievable.

Reviewed By: Kathie

Blurb: Varro Dacien spends his life riding toward the next adventure. Brian Christie, his best friend and touchstone, the one person who’s always truly seen him, plays sidekick on these madcap adventures and subsequent trips to the hospital until he can’t take it anymore. While Brian can see Varro, Varro has never caught on that he’s breaking his best friend’s heart.

Without Varro, Brian builds himself a life that’s all about just getting by, doing his best to ignore the hole in his heart and his life. Without Brian to balance him, Varro pushes harder and takes more risks to reach that ultimate high. His job racing high-octane bikes on suicide-level courses makes it easy to get that rush…until it’s no longer enough, and Varro realizes it’s not the race but who’s waiting at the finish line that truly matters. Now he just has to convince Brian to be there.

Dividers

Review: Who can resist a Mary Calmes audiobook, especially one narrated by Greg Tremblay? Not I, that’s for sure. But, I don’t like short stories in any form—too short and not enough depth is my main reasoning. But…it’s a Mary Calmes story, so again, there was no resisting.

Brian Christie and Varro Dacien… Brian has been described by others in reviews as sweet and laid back. I would describe Brian as a sarcastic fool, and Varro Dacien as a superficial, narcissistic fool—the fool description for both of them—Brian for being in love with Varro for so many years and not telling him, and Varro continuing to race after being put back together too many times, and for denying his attraction to Brian behind a trail of females.

The racing descriptions in Heart of the Race were crazy. One benefit to reading is learning about different realities, and this was sure a reality that I had never been exposed to. And I have to give *high fives* to Greg Trembly. The accents he was able to come up with, and the names he was able to pronounce, were unbelievable. No, they were very believable. Such a great job! Tremblay has a talent for storytelling and for developing a voice for each character that adds another dimension to the story.

Mary Calmes is always worth taking a chance on, even if it’s a short story, e-book or audio. Her writing is colorful and characters deep, always an adventure. Heart of the Race is worth a listen.

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You can buy Heart of the Race here:

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mary Calmes, Reviewed by Jules

Release Day Review: Piece of Cake by Mary Calmes

PieceofCakeTitle: Piece of Cake (A Matter of Time Story)

Author: Mary Calmes

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 69 Pages

At a Glance: We’ve all met the hot mess that is Jory Harcourt. Smooth sailing isn’t usually on the menu, but the adventure is unforgettable.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: After years of domestic partnership, Jory Harcourt and Sam Kage are finally going to make it official in their home state of Illinois. It’s been a long and rocky road, and nothing—not disasters at work, not the weather, not a possible stalker, not even getting beat up and having to attend the ceremony looking like he just got mugged—will make Jory wait one more day to make an honest man of the love of his life.

Should be a piece of cake, right?

Dividers

Review: Man, I love these guys, all of Mary’s guys, but Sam and Jory? Yeah… *sigh*

It was so good to be back in Jory’s head for this little peek into the chaotic perfection that is their lives, and, of course, their wedding. The blurb killed me…Should be a piece of cake, right? Ha! We’ve all met the hot mess that is Jory Harcourt. Smooth sailing isn’t usually on the menu, but the adventure is unforgettable.

Mary Calmes has gifted us with a fabulous little wedding novella for our heroes. A Piece of Cake takes us from the wedding planning, through to the ceremony, with no shortage of shenanigans along the way. Jory, as usual, finds himself in the midst of some drama, and it takes Sam and a parade of our favorite characters from the series to get things sorted out. I loved all of the cameos in the story – Duncan and Aaron, Dane and Aja, etc. – but, my favorite was the hilarious little scene with Miro and Ian. I want the next Marshals book, like, now!

I was cracking up on page one:

“We’re still getting married, right?”

Swooning at the end:

“’You’re it,’ he whispered. ‘My love. You have my heart.’”

And, loved every page in between.

Now, I want to go back and start their story all over again!

TNA_Signature_Jules

 

 

 

You can download Piece of Cake FREE here:

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mary Calmes, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: Quiet Nights by Mary Calmes – Narrated by Greg Tremblay

Title: Quiet Nights (Mangrove Stories)

Author: Mary Calmes

Narrator:: Greg Tremblay

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 2 Hours and 11 Minutes

At a Glance: I have listened to Greg many times, and no matter how many times I hear his narrations, it always sounds like a fresh and new story with a new voice.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: It’s a lovely little life Kelly Seaton leads. He’s got his own landscaping business, a nice little house, and his best friend, Cosimo Renaldi, and Coz’s goofball family who have adopted Kelly as their own. Sure, it’s a little lonely at night, but it’s a sweet deal, and Kelly can’t chance ruining it by letting on that he wants more – has always wanted more – with Coz.

Then Kelly’s past comes to town, bringing bad memories and hurt feelings that start to break Kelly down, and Coz just doesn’t understand why Kelly won’t let him be the support and strength that Kelly’s always been for him. They’ve already been through war, Coz’s devastating injury, and starting new careers in Mangrove, Florida. Why shouldn’t they face their chaotic pasts and build their future of quiet nights… together?

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Review: As soon as I saw a Mary Calmes book on the review list, I snatched it up. I have read every one of her books, and here is why she moves me so much: Mary writes real people. She doesn’t just create a great love between two characters. She creates a universe of loveable characters that I couldn’t live without. Her books never lack in depth, even in a shorter story.

Coz’s family was one of my favorite parts of this story. They made me laugh and cry and wish for this book to never finish. The scene when Coz’s mother introduces her kids to her new boyfriend had me crying I was laughing so hard. Coz and Kelly’s relationship was the driving force of this story, and it was fun to see them realize that they belonged together. I did want the Britton situation to conclude earlier, but that is just a personal preference. I hope I get to visit Mangrove again soon.

Narration: Greg Tremblay. I mean, there is really nothing else to say. This seasoned narrator does what he does best: he gives life to a wonderfully told story with his brilliant performance. I have listened to Greg many times, and no matter how many times I hear his narrations, it always sounds like a fresh and new story with a new voice. He is one of the most talented in the bunch.

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You can buy Quiet Nights here:

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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Mary Calmes, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Karen

Review: Forging the Future by Mary Calmes

Title:  Forging the Future (A Change of Heart Novel)

Author:  Mary Calmes

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Page/Word Count:  200 Pages

At a Glance:  This book was a fantastic ending to an awesome series!

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb:  Jin Church is back where he started, alone, wandering, and uncertain of his path. It’s not by choice but by circumstance, as he remembers he’s a werepanther… but not much else. He knows one thing for sure—he needs to find the beautiful blond man who haunts his dreams.

Logan Church is trapped in a living hell. His mate is missing, his tribe is falling apart, and he’s estranged from the son he loves with all his heart. His world is unraveling without his mate by his side, and he has no one to blame but himself.

If Jin can regain his memory and Logan can overcome the threats to his leadership, then perhaps they can resume their lives. The question is: Is that what they want? Back to the same house, the same tribe, the same troubles? They can choose from various roads leading to their future… or they can forge their own path.

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Review:  As soon as I saw this book come up for review, I immediately started rereading the first four books in the series. It had been awhile since I had read them, and I wanted to make sure that all the backstory was fresh in my mind.  I had forgotten how much I had loved these books, how much I love Jin and Logan and all those around them.

When the story started, right from the beginning the whirlwind of emotions started for me.  How could Logan and Jim possibly be separated again?!? Thankfully for my heart, they were reunited quickly and, of course, I just knew Jin would see Logan and immediately remember it all, but that wasn’t the case, and I was glad I was wrong. The way it played out was so much better.

One of my favorite things about most shifter type stories is the love and loyalty that forms between members of the groups, and it is shown beautifully throughout this entire series. Even those who have moved on from the day-to-day life with Logan and Jin still all look at each other as family and are only a phone call away.  I went back and forth on my rating for this one. I really wanted to give it the full 5 stars, and I think the way that the story comes together—even though in the end it is all for the best—I think that my heart was just a little too broken watching the betrayal of Logan’s family and the tribe that they had protected and loved just turn their backs on them. It crushed me.  But, in the end, Logan, Jin and their group ended up stronger, safer, happier and more content than they had been previously, so I was happy to say goodbye.

This book was a fantastic ending to an awesome series!

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4.5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Mary Calmes, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Paranormal Romance, Poppy Dennison, Reviewed by Pia

Audio Review: Creature Feature by Poppy Dennison and Mary Calmes – Narrated by Jeff Gelder

Audio Gem

Title: Creature Feature

Authors: Poppy Dennison and Mary Calmes

Narrator:: Jeff Gelder

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 6 Hours and 29 Minutes

At a Glance: Both Poppy Dennison and Mary Calmes give us well rounded, sexy paranormal stories, and I think Jeff Gelder did a great job with the narration.

Reviewed By: Pia

Blurb: Diagnosis: Wolf by Poppy Dennison

Thanks to his good-for-nothing brother, Andrew Hughes is up to his eyeballs in debt and needs a job fast. When a nursing position opens up in Myerson, Arizona, Andrew has no choice but to take it, despite a warning about how difficult a patient Caleb DiMartino can be. Andrew can deal with a little trouble—but Caleb’s strange family, the armed guards, and the unknown cause of Caleb’s mysterious illness may be beyond his skill set.

Landslide by Mary Calmes

For three years, paranormal courier Frank Corrigan has been working for incubus demon Cael Berith. Cael knows Frank is his mate, but Frank is pretty sure Cael doesn’t even like him, never mind want to spend the rest of his life with him, so their personal relationship is at an impasse. When Frank’s sister, Lindsey, gets bitten by a werewolf she’s sleeping with—and possibly witnesses a murder—Frank rides to her rescue. If he’s lucky, he might just save his love life too.

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Review: Diagnosis: Wolf

In Poppy Dennison’s Diagnosis Wolf we meet Andrew, a nurse who is drowning in debt and bad credit thanks to his good for nothing twin Danny, who is constantly getting himself into trouble. Unable to turn down any work that comes his way, Andrew takes a temp job with a client who has run off all other nurses sent his way.

His patient, Caleb, is a man struck down with a mystery illness, and neither Caleb’s bodyguards nor his powerful father seem willing to share any information that might help Andrew care for Caleb. Andrew, unable to turn down good money, or deny the strange pull he feels to the sick man, stays and looks after him anyway. When Andrew learns Caleb’s true nature, and his brother comes back in to his life (in trouble yet again), both men must help each other defeat the new and unexpected threat to their lives.

Poppy Dennison does a great shifter book, and I love that she has managed to give our couple a nice slow build up and didn’t jump straight into the ‘mate claiming’ like a lot of other paranormal shifter books do. It was a pleasure listening to this book.

Landslide

In Mary Calmes’s Landslide we meet Frank, a human courier for the paranormal who works for sexy incubus demon Cael. Cael believes Frank is his mate but Frank, who is a husky guy with no self confidence, doesn’t believe a word Cael says, and is determined not to give in to his feeling for fear of once again being rejected or deemed not good enough.

When Frank’s younger sister gets herself into trouble by sleeping with a werewolf and witnessing a body being dumped, Frank asks Cael to go home with him to help him figure things out. While in Frank’s small hometown, trying to deal with the situation, Cael starts chipping away at Frank’s resistance and starts proving the he wants his mate for the long haul.

Once again Mary Calmes gives us a great story with different paranormals peppered throughout, hot sex, and keeps us wanting to come back for more.

I don’t usually enjoy anthologies because more often than not I’m left wanting more, but this one was really good. Both Poppy Dennison and Mary Calmes give us well rounded, sexy paranormal stories, and I think Jeff Gelder did a great job with the narration. If you’re looking for a shortish audiobook with get characters, then you should check out Creature Feature!

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You can buy Creature Feature here:

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Dreamspinner Press, Giveaways, Mary Calmes

Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway: Forging the Future by Mary Calmes

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The Novel Approach welcomes author Mary Calmes today to chat a bit about how Forging the Future, the final chapters in the Change of Heart series, came to fruition.

Enjoy the exclusive excerpt she’s brought along to tease you with, then be sure to leave a comment right here for the chance to win an e-copy of the book on its release day, Monday, June 29, 2015 (to be delivered right to your Dreamspinner Press bookshelf).

THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED

Good luck!

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I Meant To Do Something Else but the Muse Was Uncooperative

When the idea came about to write the last Change of Heart book, my plan was to continue on and write about a new couple after the fourth book, which was about Domin Thorne. I had ended Jin and Logan’s storyline with Honored Vow, and that was supposed to be it. Like, completely it. No more of the semel and his reah, my werepanther leader and his mate, it was over and done. I was ready to go with the new guys, I had them all picked out, Wick and Dov, and even introduced them at the end of Crucible of Fate. We were a go for a big splashy ending that would still be fun because there would be a new love in the mix. All was good.

And then I tried to start.

I tried for a year. A whole year, and then I tried the year after that. I was doing other things too, but I wanted to wrap up the werepanthers, so it was always on my mind. I don’t even know how many times I started that book. Twenty? At least twenty but every time I got to the middle of chapter two, I ended up deleting it all. It just didn’t feel right.

For me, the first chapter always feels sort of stilted anyway. In everything I’ve read and been told, (like helpful writing tips), you’re supposed to make the first chapter the best. That’s where you grab people, that’s where the hook is. But mine always sort of fizzle, and I think that’s because, unless I’ve written the characters before, I’m like that engine trying to get up over the hill to see what the men I’m writing about can become. I have friends who start in the middle if a book, others who begin at the end and write backwards, and still others who write events in the story and then connect them with word bridges. I just can’t do that. I have to write sequentially, starting at the beginning and moving forward, like I’m living the life of my character. That’s not to say that I can’t go back with a nice juicy flashback, but there has to be that same forward progression. This is what comes of being a pantser and not a plotter, because I seriously never know where something is going until I get there. I have a general idea of what I want to say and why, but that’s about all. So the fact that in this instance I couldn’t even just go, told me something.

When I need my head cleared, need to be put back on track, I talk to my editor. So when I told her the problem, explained that the story didn’t seem intimate enough, that there was one last thing I wanted to say about the semel-reah bond, and that I was having trouble seeing how the new guys would get what I wanted them to, she asked me a simple question: “Why not just write it from Jin’s perspective?”

But I finished Jin and Logan, it was three books, done, wrapped up with a bow. It was supposed to be new. I had a plan. There was a plan…

Clearly, my muse does not give a damn about what I think I should be writing. When I’m supposed to be writing marshals, I think about warders. When I’m supposed to be writing fun novellas set in Florida, I think about hitmen. So really, planning just doesn’t work for me. I try. It’s futile. So I said to my editor, do you think it would be okay if I wrote it from Jin’s perspective? Would it be weird, switching to Domin and then back to Jin? She thought the best thing for me to do was try and write it from Jin’s perspective and see if it came out any better. I was in chapter four before I knew it, and I called her and said, “Yeah, uhm, I think this is better.”

Writing Jin is like visiting an old friend, and while this is thee absolute end to the series, (I even wrote an Epilogue. I never did that before), it really couldn’t have ended any other way.

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ForgingtheFutureFSBlurb: Jin Church is back where he started, alone, wandering, and uncertain of his path. It’s not by choice but by circumstance, as he remembers he’s a werepanther… but not much else. He knows one thing for sure—he needs to find the beautiful blond man who haunts his dreams.

Logan Church is trapped in a living hell. His mate is missing, his tribe is falling apart, and he’s estranged from the son he loves with all his heart. His world is unraveling without his mate by his side, and he has no one to blame but himself.

If Jin can regain his memory and Logan can overcome the threats to his leadership, then perhaps they can resume their lives. The question is: Is that what they want? Back to the same house, the same tribe, the same troubles? They can choose from various roads leading to their future… or they can forge their own path.

Pre-Order Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | All Romance eBooks

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Excerpt: I was hungry, so we stopped at Mr. B’s Bistro on Royal Street and had lunch. Even though I didn’t know them, Crane and the others, I felt safe. Their laughter wasn’t forced, they didn’t care that I was a reah. They cared about me, about Jin, because for better or worse, we were family.

“It’s so odd,” Artem sighed, gazing at me.

“What is?”

“You don’t smell like you,” he answered softly.

I regarded Crane. “What do I normally smell like?”

He squinted. “You smell like burning wood and the forest at night and rain… and a little like vanilla.”

“All that?” I laughed softly.

“All that,” he confirmed. “And when you’re using your power, the smells change.”

“My power?”

“Your nekhene power,” he explained.

Yusuke took hold of my hand, and I winced.

“Oh!” She let go quickly. “Are you hurt?”

“No, I—” I leaned back. “I’m sorry. I want to be close, and it’s a bit better when I touch you instead of you touching me, but there’s no getting around the fact that it hurts.”

“What hurts?”

“The touching.”

“Touching hurts?” Crane asked, concerned. “When you hugged us, it hurt?”

I nodded.

He smiled wide, and I was simply dumbfounded. He was the oddest, most interesting man.

“Why in the world is that a good thing?”

His half laugh, half cough was funny. “It hurts Logan too.”

I jolted involuntarily. “It hurts him to touch people?”

“Yep. He says it feels like thousands of needles.”

“Exactly,” I whispered.

“Everyone but his son hurts him, and we all figured it was because Ilia has some of you in him, and now we just confirmed it.”

“What is he like?”

“Logan?” Crane asked.

“Yes.”

He turned to his wife. “What’s Logan like?”

Her smile was beautiful as she focused on me. “He is the kind of man you pray to be able to serve—he’s like a great king from olden times.”

“Who always does what’s right,” Andrian chimed in.

“Yes,” Artem agreed. “He can always be counted on to make the best choice.”

“And he normally does it, except where you’re concerned.” Crane cackled. “With you, he has no idea what the hell he’s doing.”

Artem laughed. “No, he does not.”

Yusuke joined in. “You get under his skin, Jin, and it’s wonderful.”

“You make him so happy,” Andrian said, chuckling, “and crazed.”

“Why?”

“He’s very contained normally,” Yusuke sighed happily. “He’s unflappable, and then you get near him and he’s sputtering and cursing and growling, and the joy you bring him is just… magical.”

Crane nodded. “God, I’ve missed hearing him laugh.”

“Yes,” Artem agreed. “I’ve forgotten what that sounds like.”

Andrian reached toward me, probably to squeeze my hand in shared affection, but he stopped himself in midmotion.

“I’m sorry,” I said automatically. “I shouldn’t have mentioned anything.”

“Of course you should have, my reah,” Andrian soothed. “I just wanted to tell you that it will be really good to see Logan smile again. The scowl has been etched on his face so long, I was beginning to worry that it might be all we’d ever see.”

“You have to understand,” Yusuke said urgently, leaning forward. “Your semel is golden. His hair, his eyes, his skin—all of him is gold, and when the light is gone from him, he doesn’t even look like himself. He’s not Logan Church anymore.”

“No,” Crane muttered. “He’s not him. His joy’s gone, and with it his warmth and kindness and that strength that we all count on… it’s just not there.”

“Make no mistake,” Yusuke murmured, “he’s still a powerful, fearsome semel, but unfortunately, right now, that’s all there is. Even if he had a yareah, that person could soothe him a bit.”

“But because he has a reah, because he has you,” Crane explained, “the void you left is deeper and darker.”

It was so sad, and it was all because of me, because of whatever choice I’d made. I’d left him missing me and powerless to do anything about it, and more than anything, as lonely and lost as I was. I’d reduced a good, kind, strong man to a shell of his former self. All I wanted was to see him and touch him and repair the hole in his heart. I prayed he’d allow me to try.

“He works very hard not to show us all how angry and desolate and wounded he is, but he’s not the man he was,” Andrian made clear.

“It’s funny,” Crane said with a grin, “but everyone who meets Logan Church falls in love with him just a little. He’s bigger than life. He’s strong and honest, and you know he’ll protect you with everything in him, and it’s like he’s royal, you know? He’s like a king, as Yusuke said: you see him and want to serve. You want to be whatever he needs, if only for a moment.”

“Normally,” Yusuke apprised me, “he spreads warmth wherever he goes. But without you… Jin… that’s gone. He’s cold now.”

And what if, because of that, I’d broken him? Maybe, with my leaving, I’d doused Logan Church’s light forever. Or worse, perhaps he was slowly rebuilding his life in secret and me returning, not knowing him, broke his heart irrevocably so that he was useless to both his son and his tribe? How could I, in good conscience, even see him?

“Stop,” Crane said out of the blue, and all of us at the table regarded him. “Did you hear me?”

“Oh, you were talking to me?”

“Of course I was talking to you, doofus,” he affirmed, squinting at me. “You’re the only one who just slipped down the rabbit hole.”

“I don’t—”

“Logan,” he began, “needs you back. It’s not one of those things where maybe he’d be better off if you never returned. True-mates don’t work like that. Logan is not himself anymore. He’s simply not there. You’re the only one who can fix things.”

“He will be”—Artem choked out—“so pleased to see you.”

“Yes,” Yusuke pledged, her voice bottoming out. “He will be restored.”

But again, what if he wasn’t? What if me not remembering him was the killing stroke to his soul? How could I be responsible for that?

We were all silent for a few moments, and then I broke the quiet with a litany of fears.

“What if I can’t touch him either? What if he doesn’t recognize me as his mate anymore and I—”

“I wouldn’t worry about any of that,” Crane said, reaching across the table for my hand and squeezing it tight, instinctively knowing I needed the closeness at that moment more than I cared about the pain. “You’re his reah, he’s your semel. Nothing changes that, nothing matters but that. Have faith.”

It was all I had to believe in.

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Mary CalmesMary Calmes loves writing, becoming immersed in the process, and believes without question in happily every afters. She can be found at:

Mary Calmes Books | Mary Calmes Author | Facebook

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Sneak Peek

Hi, everyone, and thanks for stopping by for a peek at what we have coming up for you in the week ahead. Fortunately there’s lots of activity to report, and we’re also gearing up to kick off the GayRomLit Featured Blogger tour in our countdown to October in San Diego.

Here’s what’s on tap!

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Monday – Kicking off our week, we first welcome Mary Calmes, who’s stopping by with a guest post and giveaway of her upcoming novel Forging the Future, Jin and Logan’s final chapter in the Change of Heart series

We’ll also have author Jaime Samms with us today, as she drops in with a giveaway and to chat a bit about her newest novel from Dreamspinner Press, Bound to Fall

Tuesday – We’ll have author L.A. Witt stopping in today on the Tide of War book tour with Riptide Publishing

Brita Addams is also here today with a guest blog about Caitlyn Jenner and her transition

Wednesday – Author Lissa Kasey will be dropping by today with a guest post about her upcoming novel Model Citizen

We’ll also be here to welcome author EM Lynley and the 24-Karat Conspiracy blog tour

Thursday – We’ve got a busy day today, starting off with the cover reveal of Piper Vaughn & Kenzie Cade’s new collaboration, Prickly Business

Next up will be author Annabelle Jacobs, who’ll be here to chat about her contribution to Blanket Fort Press’s Secrets Collection, Toy with Me

And we’ll also be kicking off the GayRomLit Featured Blogger tour today with our first guest, Devon Rhodes

Friday – Dropping by today on the Charlie’s Hero blog tour, we’ll have author Nic Starr with us

Saturday – And to close out the week, we’ll have a few of the participating authors in the Indigent charity anthology with us to talk about their participation in this special project

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And that’s that for this week. Until next time, happy reading!

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mary Calmes, Reviewed By Carrie

Release Day Review: Sultry Sunset by Mary Calmes

Title: Sultry Sunset (Mangrove Stories)

Author: Mary Calmes

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 78 Pages

At a Glance: I loved this book – I love this series.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Hutch Crowley is well-liked in the small resort town of Mangrove—he’s got friends in his new neighbors, he’s the owner of the town grocery, and he’s building a community center—but he’s still unlucky at love. Every man he’s attracted to is either taken or simply not interested, including his best friend, Mike Rojas.

When Mike came to Mangrove two years ago, Hutch gave him a job and a place to stay in his guesthouse, where Mike has remained ever since. Despite the rumors circulating about them, Hutch knows Mike is straight and looking for the right woman. But his friends disagree, and after some hints to the contrary, even Hutch finally has to admit that maybe the rest of the town sees something he’s been missing. If Hutch wants to spend each sultry sunset with the man of his dreams, it might be time to figure out what’s going on with his best friend’s heart.

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Review: First let me say I am a huge fan of Mary Calmes – she is one of my go-to authors whenever I need to read a real good story – like this one! This is a best friends-to-lovers tale, but when the switch is flipped, it feels like a natural progression of their friendship, not a whiplash moment. Mary Calmes has created a community with this series, so her characters are friends and neighbors, and recur throughout the Mangrove books.“It was always beautiful in Mangrove. Even on gray, overcast days when it rained cats and dogs, even when the wind whipped through the trees and you could hear chimes ringing up and down the street, and even when nothing moved or stirred and it was simply a hot, sticky, humid mess, no one could look around and say the view wasn’t stunning.”

We meet Hutch Crowley for the first time in book one of this series, Blue Days, where he is so enamored of his small town he refuses to sell his house to developers. Hutch shows up again in book two, Quiet Nights, where he goes on a date with the MC, Coz. We learn from Book Two that he should value himself more, that he is rather self-deprecating and doesn’t realize the positive effect he has on others. Because of this, we have already met Hutch, we know he’s the blonde haired, blue eyed handsome town grocer. He’s confident to the world but has issues with self-worth; he is giving and generous and has an incredibly quick wit.

Mike Rojas is broken when he lands in Mangrove. Mike lost his wife, a woman he loved dearly, to cancer, and he leaves his life and job behind, gets in his car and eventually ends up in Mangrove.“Mike was stunning, drop-dead gorgeous, but that wasn’t what I noticed first – instead it was the pain etched on every part of his face.” It is Hutch’s generosity and care, giving Mike a job and place to live in his guesthouse, that allows Mike to heal and move forward with his life. This book catches Hutch and Mike two years after their first meeting, and they have become best friends, living in each other’s pockets. Mary Calmes hits us with the little things – the smallest of touches – to let us know how they already feel about each other. “’Okay.’ Mike grinned, his thumb sliding back and forth over the underside of my wrist.” References like this happen throughout the book as Hutch and Mike slowly reach that “aha” moment when they give in and reach for each other as more than friends. “He knew me so well, all those nights together, the endless conversations, the constant banter, and the complete, unconditional support. We’d been in the middle of our relationship before either of us even knew we’d begun.”

I loved this book – I love this series – and realize, this is a standalone story. A community is made up of a lot different personalities, and as such, each of these books stands alone. But, I can guarantee you, if you read this third installment in the series, you will probably go back and buy books one and two. Just sayin’.

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You can buy Sultry Sunset here:

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4 Stars, Audio Book, Cardeno C., Dreamspinner Press, Mary Calmes, Narration Rating, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Karen, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Audio Review: Control by Cardeno C. and Mary Calmes – Narrated by Greg Tremblay

Title: Control

Author: Cardeno C. and Mary Calmes

Narrator: Greg Tremblay

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours, 44 Minutes

At a Glance: It still amazes me, listening to these audiobooks, that it is one person doing all the voices. Greg is a master at it!

Reviewed By: Karen

Blurb: Vy Aleknos is the leader of a hawk shifter flock. Openly gay since he was a teen, Vy is proud and self-assured on the outside, while secretly worrying he’ll be forced to spend his life alone because two males can’t be mates. When bear shifter Robert Cimino appears in Vy’s small town, Vy realizes his concerns were unfounded — he has a male mate, and a sexy, dominant one to boot.

Robert is a bear shifter who refuses to shift. Immediately attracted to Vy, he deviates from his normal pattern and seeks more than a one off with the powerful, bristly hawk. But Robert’s affections are rooted in his human form, and when Vy discovers Robert doesn’t recognize him as his mate, he pulls away. If Robert wants to stay with Vy, he must convince a man deeply ruled by his animal instincts to give their relationship as humans a chance.

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Review: I have to be honest, when I read the ebook of Control, it wasn’t my favorite. I didn’t hate it but I just didn’t really care for Vy. He came across as arrogant and kind of whiny. A couple times while reading it, I literally sat here saying out loud, “Yes, we know, you are the kuar of the ket…I get it!” When I saw this available for review, at first I didn’t even consider requesting it, but then I saw who narrated it and had to give it a chance. Greg Tremblay has quickly become a favorite narrator for me, and even more so after listening to Control. He took a character I didn’t particularly like and made me see him differently.

When I read Vy, he was arrogant and whiny; listening to GregTremblay read Vy, though, he came across more as vulnerable and uncertain, which made me connect with him a little more and be able to enjoy the story better. It still had the “okay, we get it” moments, but I was much more connected with the characters while listening to the audio than I was when reading the book. Now, Robert I liked when I read the book, and fell for him even more in the audio. He is the more calm and rational of the two of them, and just wants Vy to want him for him…so sweet! I said it in a previous review, but it applies here also, and deserves to be said again, Greg Tremblay does an amazing job making the voices of the characters unique and individual. In this story, with the different POVs, you always can tell who it is that is speaking just by their voice. The accents are awesome and Vy’s second in command, Lou, might be one of my favorite female voices I have heard done by a male narrator. It still amazes me, listening to these audiobooks, that it is one person doing all the voices. Greg Tremblay is a master at it!

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You can buy Control here:

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mary Calmes, Reviewed by Jules

Release Day Review: Just Desserts by Mary Calmes

Title: Just Desserts (Tales of the Curious Cookbook)

Author: Mary Calmes

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 102 Pages

At a Glance: This novella is another winner from one of my absolute favorite authors.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: Boone Walton has tried hard to create some distance between himself and his past. He’s invested in his new life, his New Orleans art gallery, and his friendship with Scott Wren. Things finally seem to be settling down to normal, and Boone couldn’t be happier.

Chef Scott Wren wants much more than normal with Boone. He wants to raise things to the next level, but Boone is terrified—and not because of the ghost in Scott’s apartment or Scott’s relatives. No, Boone’s past is about to pay him a visit, and the only thing that can get between Boone, Scott, and a hinky recipe for chocolate mousse found in a curious cookbook is the river of pain Boone had to swim across to get to this side of The Big Easy. There’s a secret behind the ingredients, though—one that might reveal the trust and love that have been missing from Boone’s life.

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Review: Even though I’m greedy, and I ALWAYS want more of her words, I have to concede what a knack Mary Calmes has for writing novellas. Even with the limited space, she is incredibly good at fleshing out the characters and covering all the bases in the storyline. I fall completely in love with her guys every time, and always wish their story would continue beyond the last page; Boone and Scott in Just Desserts are no exception.

Mary’s fabulous descriptions of her characters always allow me to see them so clearly in my mind. Here, we get to see Scott through Boone’s eyes:

When Scott Wren smiled, he went from being just another guy you’d pass on the street to a movie star. He stood shorter than me, five nine to my six two, leaner with long sleek muscles under golden skin. His eyes glittered a gorgeous shade of silver-flecked gray, his lips curled wickedly, his dimples popped, his nose scrunched up – and you noticed not only was he adorable, but breathtaking as well. All the beauty was topped off with a husky chuckle that made everyone who ever heard it want to follow him home.

And, five pages later, we get a little glimpse of Boone, via some dialogue with Scott:

”What?” I asked, stilling as I frowned slightly.

“How do you mean, you made it like me?”

“Bright, cheerful, warm,” I explained. “Like you.”

His smile was brilliant. “You say the nicest things, Boone.”

I groaned, stepping around him.

“And, for the record, if I had your dimples or your ridiculous jawline or your gorgeous shoulders, I would get all the pretty boys.”

I processed his words, “Ridiculous?” I asked, not sure if I should take offense.

“Only superheroes have your bone structure, buddy.”

I love how those little snippets tell us so much about how they feel about each other – even though they’re too stubborn to admit it – and help set the tone of their relationship.

There was so much to love in Just Desserts. The setting, for one thing – I mean, who doesn’t love New Orleans? No amount of opulence or decadence is too much in a story set there. You’ll especially love it if you’ve been to NOLA, and can even more easily picture the rich culture and vibrancy of the city. Also, New Orleans lends itself perfectly to my next favorite thing about the book, which was the super-fun magical, paranormal aspect. We’ve got a magical cookbook here, folks! And, a persnickety ghost! It really was tons of fun.

Granny B’s magical mousse recipe may have been enough to push the guys together, but Boone’s past life, and love, in Japan have always had a bit of a hold on him, and need to be dealt with before he can fully commit to Scott. I adored this part of the book. Boone is an amazing character, and the tidbits from his life in Japan were so intriguing, and also gave the story the perfect amount of drama. Mary Calmes did a really wonderful job telling his story.

As you can see, this novella is another winner from one of my absolute favorite authors. Do not hesitate to pick this one up!! :)

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You can buy Just Desserts here:

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Mary Calmes, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: Fighting Instinct by Mary Calmes – Narrated by Tristan James

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Title: Fighting Instinct (L’Ange: Book Two)

Author: Mary Calmes

Narrator: Tristan James

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours, 25 Minutes

At a Glance: What can I say about Tristan James? I have heard this narrator before, and my expectations were high. As usual he didn’t disappoint me.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: Only a privileged few know L’Ange’s head of security Arman de Soto is a shifter, and even fewer know he’s been systematically killing off a pack of werewolves. The reason for this vengeance is a secret Arman trusts with no one, quite the opposite of his obvious longtime pursuit of the château’s overseer, Linus Hobbes. Despite Arman’s reputation as a loner, the only thing he needs to complete his life is Linus. Predator and prey just don’t mix—but Arman won’t give him up.

Linus has lived alone for more than seven years, sheltered at L’Ange under an assumed name and hiding secrets of his own, including his terrifying attraction to the most dangerous man he’s ever met. Arman knows Linus should be afraid of the predator stalking him, but Linus is still drawn to him like a moth to a flame, no matter how much he tries to deny his instincts. It’s not until Linus’s past and Arman’s crusade exposes their secrets and opens L’Ange to attack that Arman realizes waiting any longer is a risk he just can’t take. So he’ll have to take his quest to the source of the threat in a gamble to protect L’Ange, Linus, and any future they might have together.

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Review: Mary Calmes is my favorite author in this genre, and Fighting Instinct just reaffirms this. She has a way of writing characters you fall in love with and cannot forget, and she shows us how sometimes family can be created and not born into. Mary Calmes creates an entire world of eclectic people of all shapes and sizes. These lost souls find sanctuary and create a family in a small town in Maine.

It is very hard to surprise me with a book. After reading the first book in the L’Ange series, I thought this book would be about Tucker Flynn and Arman de Soto. I think all of the readers of this series were surprised when it turned out, instead, to focus on Arman and Linus Hobbes. This was a most pleasant surprise.

I am an absolute sucker for the good/bad guy. One of the lines in this book that really resonated with me was, “You are the good guy of my story but the bad guy of another.” Calmes gives a master class in how to write a character that inspires every single emotion possible. Arman is a stone cold killer, and throughout this book he never deviates from this. He is also a kind, giving, and possessive man who takes care of those who he calls his. I adore Arman and loved listening to his interactions with Linus and his team.

Linus starts off as a somewhat aloof character. I heard Linus bloom before my ears. A somewhat skittish, broken man, Linus transforms not only in spirit but in tangible ways throughout this story, as a result of the constant love and devotion Arman shows him over a seven year period. Linus and Arman fit together wonderfully, and the journey they take is perfectly sculpted.

Narration: What can I say about Tristan James? I have heard this narrator before, and my expectations were high. As usual he didn’t disappoint me. His sexy-as-sin voice and acting ability brings Mary Calmes’s world to life. He has just the right pacing, and I am never in doubt of who is speaking. I was excited to get in my car before and after work for my commute so I could keep listening. Now, I am going through withdrawals. Now, I wait with anticipation for the next installment.

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Dreamspinner Press, Giveaways, Mary Calmes

Guest Post and Giveaway: Just Desserts by Mary Calmes

Just Desserts

The Novel Approach welcomes Mary Calmes today to chat about her new contemporary romance novella with a bit of a paranormal twist, Just Desserts. Mary’s also giving the chance for one lucky reader to win an e-copy of Just Desserts, to be delivered right to your Dreamspinner Press bookshelf on release day, April 29, 2015.

To enter for the chance to win, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below.

Good luck!

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Inspiration and Pinterest and the second trip to NOLA

First off I’d like to thank Lisa for having me here on The Novel Approach, thank you so much. J

Last year’s RT was in New Orleans, and it was my first trip to the amazing city, the Quarter, and that fast, I was hooked. I mean, I get it; the allure, the magic, all of it, the whole shebang. From the food to the music to the gothic vibe of the dark streets at night, the place is just steeped in history and magic. So when Marie Sexton and Amber Kell invited me to work on a cookbook anthology, along with RJ Scott and Amy Lane, I immediately thought of placing my story there.

NOLA

Once I got home, I did what I always do after I visit somewhere: I bought a map. I love MapEasy maps the most because they are Guidemaps, so you get locations and a guidebook all in one. Plus, it’s all drawn, the words look like somebody’s handwriting, and I don’t feel the pressure like reading a regular map. I grew up in Hawaii, so the whole directional thing (travel Northeast for 2 miles and then turn West) is lost on me. Everything was either Mauka (toward the mountains), or Makai (towards the ocean), and there was no way to get lost. I love maps that are easy to read. So I got one for NOLA, and I’m writing the story, and I realize that there were things, details, I wanted to include. So I said to my hubby, “I need to go back to New Orleans,” and because who can say no to that, we packed up the kids and took the second trip.

NOLA Doors

We walked all over, hit all the places I didn’t get to see the first time, and the whole time I’m standing in the middle of streets, taking pictures, shooting video and talking to myself so I could remember landmarks, food, what I had, where it was the best, figuring out where Scott’s restaurant would be, and Boone’s gallery, and everything in between. In the past I was not as detailed, but I realized that was because I never wanted to be wrong. You don’t want to say that a shop or bar is on one corner when it’s on a different one, but if you’ve actually been there, it makes things so much easier, and if you have a place to put all your pictures up, that’s even better.

e0ad99afa3fa1ac9ec06a4bece21d465[1]I discovered Pinterest when I was writing Old Loyalty, New Love. Roman’s house had to have a lot of antiques in it, and there had to be mention of the structure itself because the house has to be able to hold a crapton of shifters, and be built before the Revolutionary War. I had about a billion links saved and was clicking them all, keeping things straight, and I clicked on one link that led to Pinterest. And then I was there, looking around, and I could put my links up, and pictures, and my own that I took, and the sky parted, and the light came down…all right, I wasn’t on the road to Damascus or anything, but you get the idea. And so now there is a pic for everything, and I have character boards and location boards, and it all stays in order. I check the boards as I write so I don’t forget something and, well, it’s just fantastic. So when it was time to write about New Orleans, places I didn’t take pics of I found from other boards, and pics I did take, I can reference easily so when Boone is at Acme Oyster House in New Orleans (which is amazing, btw), I can say what he drank and what he ordered, or didn’t, and I can see it all in my head AND in front of me. Now I can be inspired, have a board to remind me, which all makes the trip worthwhile. Hopefully.

And now for a little bit from the book that was set in my new favorite city:

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Excerpt: When he was at the sink moments later, flushed, drinking water, still chuckling between gulps, I wandered in.

“So you want my kitchen, my bedroom, and you probably have designs on my bathroom with the double showerheads too.”

He nodded. “The slate marble makes me hard.”

I grunted. “Good to know.”

“But you know, Boone,” he said, grinning wickedly as he crossed the room to me, to slide his hands up my chest. “Do you know what I want most of all?”

“No,” I rumbled, pushing the hair out of those beautiful charcoal eyes of his. “What?”

“You,” he husked, lifting for my kiss. “I want you.”

I leaned close. “Are you sure? This is really fuckin’ fast.”

“The only one who thinks two years is fast is you.”

“But you liked Daniel.”

“I was trying. I even got new clothes.” He chuckled. “But for the record, I didn’t sleep with him.”

“What?” I was startled.

He jumped up and I instinctively grabbed hold of him, my hands cupping his ass and squeezing. “I just couldn’t. I haven’t slept with anyone in over six months. That’s why I basically attacked you.”

“I liked being attacked,” I said before I bent and kissed him.

His hands were all over me, my hair, my back, as he gorged himself on my mouth, sucking on my tongue, one kiss seamlessly becoming another and another until I shoved him up against the wall and began grinding my groin against his.

Reaching between us, he rucked my open jeans just enough for my already stiff cock to bounce free.

“This is like holding a club in my hand,” he murmured as he squeezed tight.

“Scott,” I moaned into his mouth, yanking at the front of his shorts, jerking them down so his own leaking erection could shove up against mine, rubbing, dragging, the friction igniting the thirst for him all over again.

When he broke the kiss to gulp for air, my name came out guttural and edged in gravel as his semen spilled over my cock and abdomen.

“Jesus, Boone, what’re you doing to me?” he gasped, breathless and broken.

My dick trapped between us, between the heat and the sweaty slide, I climaxed moments later, spurting over his belly. His laughter was a surprise.

“I should beat you for making me wait so long to be this fuckin’ happy,” he rushed out, arms wrapped around my neck again as he mauled my bruised and swollen lips.

“Yeah?” I asked as I carried him to the bathroom. “You’re happy?”

“Oh baby, I’m so happy,” he said, laying his head on my shoulder for a moment before lifting his gaze to meet mine. “And I can’t wait for you to meet my family so everyone will know you’re mine.”

I had no idea I’d fallen so hard until I had him looking at me how I’d always dreamed—possessively, lovingly, like I was the whole thing, right there.

“I want you, I want all of you. Don’t doubt me. I swear I’m already in this for the whole ride, okay?”

“Okay,” I agreed and took that as a vow.

“Finally,” he sighed, wrapping tight around me.

It took a while for me to put him down.

*~*

We ate in bed, where he told me how hot it was that I’d held him before our frottage in the kitchen, during, and then all the way to the bathroom.

“You’re so strong,” he breathed, and the way he said it made me hard all over again. There was something very primal about the guy I had just made love to telling me the power in my body turned him on. I had the ridiculous urge to flex my muscles for him.

We fell asleep with dishes stacked on the edge of the bed, both of us naked and him curled into my side. I could not remember being happier—even with Haru—because none of our moments were ever ours, every one of them stolen. With Scott, there was no rush, no worry, no fear for our lives. I drifted off with his body curled around mine, his lips on my skin and my arms locked around him. I couldn’t imagine sleeping without him ever.

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JustDessertsFSBlurb: Boone Walton has tried hard to create some distance between himself and his past. He’s invested in his new life, his New Orleans art gallery, and in his friendship with Scott Wren. Things finally seem to be settling down to normal, and Boone couldn’t be happier.

Chef Scott Wren wants much more than normal with Boone. He wants to raise things to the next level, but Boone is terrified—and not because of the ghost in Scott’s apartment or Scott’s relatives. No, Boone’s past is about to pay him a visit, and the only thing that can get between Boone, Scott, and a hinky recipe for chocolate mousse found in a curious cookbook is the river of pain Boone had to swim to get to this side of The Big Easy. There’s a secret behind the ingredients, though—one that might reveal the trust and love that have been missing from Boone’s life.

Pre-Order Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | All Romance eBooks

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Mary CalmesAuthor Bio: Mary Calmes lives in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband and two children and loves all the seasons except summer. She graduated from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, with a bachelor’s degree in English literature. Due to the fact that it is English lit and not English grammar, do not ask her to point out a clause for you, as it will so not happen. She loves writing, becoming immersed in the process, and falling into the work.

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mary Calmes, Reviewed by Karen

Audio Review: After the Sunset by Mary Calmes – Narrated by Sean Crisden

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Title:  After the Sunset

Author:  Mary Calmes

Narrator: Sean Crisden

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Run Time:  4 Hours, 57 Minutes

At a Glance:  I found this audio so fun and cute that it had me sitting here listening to it with a smile on my face.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb:  Two years after riding off into the sunset with ranch owner Rand Holloway, Stefan Joss has made a tentative peace with his new life, teaching at a community college. But the course of true love never does run smooth. Rand wants him home on the ranch; Stef wants an exit strategy in case Rand ever decides to throw him out. Finally, after recognizing how unfair he’s being, Stef makes a commitment, and Rand is over the moon.

When Stef gets the chance to prove his devotion, he doesn’t hesitate – despite the risk to his health – and Rand takes the opportunity to show everyone that sometimes life’s best surprises come after the sunset.

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Review:  About the story, well…it’s a Mary Calmes book.  One character is all alpha and grumbly and the other is fun and sweet, and, of course, you love them both and love them together, because really…how can you not?

Timing, the first book in this series, is one of the first audiobooks I ever bought, and I loved it.   It is one of my go to audiobooks when I’m looking for something to listen to and I can’t get something new, so I have listened to it multiple times. After the Sunset will now be another go to.

I think Sean Crisden did an awesome job narrating this book!  For the most part, the voices of the different characters were distinct and even if I wasn’t closely following, I could, in most cases, tell one character from the other.  For me, since I do most of my audiobook listening while I am at work, if I am distracted for a minute this can make things difficult for me to follow, but I had no issues with this audio.  Rand’s voice and emotions I thought were done even better in this audio than in Timing.

Then there is Stefan…I love him!  I loved him when I read the books, I loved him when I listed to the audio of Timing, and in After the Sunset I loved him even more.  The audio of Stef’s character I think made him even more likable than he was when I read the book, and it was because of his character I think that I found this audio so fun and cute that it had me sitting here listening to it with a smile on my face. :)

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4.5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mary Calmes, Reviewed by Kim

Audio Review: Blue Days by Mary Calmes – Narrated by Greg Tremblay

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Title: Blue Days

Author: Mary Calmes

Narrator: Greg Tremblay

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 2 Hours, 49 Minutes

At a Glance: I’m definitely recommending Blue Days in audio!

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Falling for a coworker is rarely a good idea, especially for a man getting a last chance at salvaging his career. But from the moment Dwyer Knolls sees the beautiful but socially awkward Takeo Hiroyuki, he seems destined to make bad decisions.
Takeo’s life is a string of failed attempts to please his traditional Japanese father. Unfortunately, succeeding in business turns out to be just as difficult for Takeo as changing from gay to straight. In fact, the only thing Takeo seems to truly excel at is taking notice of Dwyer Knolls.

When Dwyer and Takeo head to Mangrove, Florida on a real estate buying trip, their tentative friendship combusts and becomes much more. Is their sudden connection real enough to bank their futures on, or should they chalk the whole thing up to the daze inspired by the blue ocean breeze?

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Review: I skipped buying Blue Days, the e-book, once I saw who the narrator of the audiobook was. Greg Tremblay is one of my absolute favorite narrators, and I have yet to hesitate to listen to any of his audio performances. I know that if I’d tried to read the e-book first, I would have taken my time with it, but once I heard Greg start his narration, my ears stayed well in tune to the story as it was being told. The man is a genius when it comes to bringing his characters to life, and Dwyer and Takeo took shape with Greg’s very talented voice.

The reason Blue Days is a book I would have taken my time reading was because the story started off a bit slow for me. But, once the business Dwyer was working for finished with all the layoffs and introductions to the new people hired, it really picked up. The two MCs begin their slow building friendship, which eventually ripens into something more than just friends. There’s no insta-love here for these two.

I know not many people liked Takeo in the story, but seeing him through Dwyer’s eyes, and Greg’s narration, he just grew on me to the point I wanted to hug him and squeeze him and take him home with me. Once again, Mary Calmes has succeeded in giving me that warm fuzzy feeling in my chest, not to mention a few laugh out loud moments too.

I’m definitely recommending Blue Days in audio!






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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mary Calmes, Reviewed by Janet

Review: Quiet Nights by Mary Calmes

Title: Quiet Nights: Mangrove Stories

Author: Mary Calmes

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 80 Pages

At a Glance: I loved Quiet Nights; it was an adventure and I enjoyed the way the plot unfolded.

Reviewed By: Janet

Blurb: It’s a lovely little life Kelly Seaton leads. He’s got his own landscaping business, a nice little house, and his best friend, Cosimo Renaldi, and Coz’s goofball family who have adopted Kelly as their own. Sure, it’s a little lonely at night, but it’s a sweet deal, and Kelly can’t chance ruining it by letting on that he wants more—has always wanted more—with Coz.

Then Kelly’s past comes to town, bringing bad memories and hurt feelings that start to break Kelly down, and Coz just doesn’t understand why Kelly won’t let him be the support and strength that Kelly’s always been for him. They’ve already been through war, Coz’s devastating injury, and starting new careers in Mangrove, Florida. Why shouldn’t they face their chaotic pasts and build their future of quiet nights… together?

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Review: This is the second offering from Mary Calmes in the Mangrove series, and all I can say is keep them coming.

I expect brilliance from Calmes and yet I am awed by her ability to create the deep connections I feel towards her characters in so few pages. Usually in a novella we can see and relate to the MCs, but somehow Mary Calmes creates living, breathing secondary characters throughout this book who are equally as vivid as the MCs. The scene in Annalise’s kitchen is absolutely hilarious, but it is also a carefully crafted scene that allows the family dynamics and the core values of the characters to be revealed. This kind of depth added to the characters, with humour and clever conversations, is an example of the talent and skill that is a trademark of Mary Calmes. Her characters do not exist in a vacuum, but are surrounded by family and friends who are as real to us as the MCs are, and with this ability she has given the reader a story that can be enjoyed over and over again.

The plot is simple, the pace is quick, and the story was typically humorous. What elevates this book to awesome entertainment is the quality of world building that occurs, and the character development that rolls off the pages so smoothly and fills our minds with glorious colors, sounds and even textures. We are a part of the story and are fully invested in reaching the HEA with the guys. There is absolutely nothing better than reading a book that carries you away into its world and fills you with so very many emotions as well.

Even though this is a novella in a series, and we get to see a glimpse of the characters from Blue Days, this is still a standalone story. I loved Quiet Nights; it was an adventure and I enjoyed the way the plot unfolded. I also think it cemented the series as being full of possibilities, with a sneaky little plot monkey in the background. I really can’t wait for the next installment in the Mangrove series; I can only hope there are lots more stories to be told. If you haven’t read Blue Days, grab it along with Quiet Nights. You will not be disappointed.






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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Mary Calmes, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Kim

Audio Review: Old Loyalty, New Love by Mary Calmes – Narrated by Tristan James

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Title: Old Loyalty, New Love (L’Ange: Book One)

Author: Mary Calmes

Narrator:: Tristan James

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 8 Hours

At a Glance: Old Loyalty, New Love is another winner well worth the listen.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: When jackal shifter Quade Danas was banished from his pack for being gay, he spent years in the military escaping his father’s prejudice before returning to civilian life as a bodyguard for Roman Howell, the teenage son of a very rich man. After Roman is in an accident that leaves him physically scarred and emotionally distant, Quade is the only one who can get through to him. As Roman becomes a man, he realizes what he wants—his bodyguard by his side and in his bed. Unfortunately, Quade can’t seem to see past the kid Roman once was to the man he has become, certain Roman’s feelings are merely misplaced gratitude. But Roman knows a lot more than Quade realizes, and he’s used to persevering, no matter how many impediments life throws his way. He wants the chance to prove to Quade that he’s strong enough for a jackal alpha to call mate.

Despite the decades Quade has been away, and the heartache of his father’s rejection, his inborn loyalty to the pack remains, and his abrupt departure left the jackal shifters without an alpha heir. As a psychopath shifter staking claim as alpha draws Quade back home, and Quade feels compelled to heed the call, he may be forced to make a choice he never anticipated. But doing so means he must leave Roman behind… unless somehow they find a way to make loyalty and love work together.

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Review: Since Jackie did another great review of the e-book version of Old Loyalty, New Love, I’m going to just give the review of the audio version.

If you love audiobooks and you love Mary Calmes, then Old Loyalty, New Love is another winner well worth the listen. I picked it up just because 1.) Mary Calmes wrote it, and 2.) Tristan James is one of my top favorites in narrators. I just loved how the story was told and BONUS!, once I saw there was another audiobook in the same series, I quickly picked that one up also and was able to segue into the next book without missing a beat.

Quade may be a tough Alpha, but he’s fast becomes a big old pushover when it comes to Roman’s charms. I’m a softie myself when it comes to stories that involve an MC who has been physically damaged and overcomes his disfigurement, and moves on with his life.

I love how Tristan narrates by giving each character their own voice, with no confusion on who’s speaking, as I’ve experience with other narrators, as well as building the tension in the more suspenseful parts of the story. And damn, Tristan has one sexy sultry voice worth listening too.

Mary Calmes, I hoping you’re working hard on the third book in the L’Ange series. I’m waiting patiently, but I’m not getting any younger!






You can buy Old Loyalty, New Love here:

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4.5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mary Calmes, Reviewed by Kim

Audio Review: Floodgates by Mary Calmes – Narrated by Michael Anthony

Title: Floodgates

Author: Mary Calmes

Narrator:: Michael Anthony

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours, 53 Minutes

At a Glance: Michal Anthony did an excellent job narrating Floodgates

Blurb: Tracy Brandt considers himself a lucky man. He has a wonderful family, good friends, and a dependable job. His love life, however, features a cheating ex who, though out of the house, is not yet out of the picture—with a past that just might get Tracy killed.

Homicide inspector Cord Nolan wants nothing more than to show his best friend’s little brother that he’s a reliable man, but to do that he’ll have to get Tracy to look past the player he used to be. It’ll be a tough sell; reputation is everything, and Cord’s is tarnished by his past indiscretions.

Tracy and Cord have spent five years trying to suffocate their fiery attraction under a blanket of grudging antagonism. When Tracy finds himself with a target on his back, Cord finally has the chance to ride to the rescue and break through the dam of Tracy’s reserve. But he’d better be careful: if Cord is breaking the floodgates to wash away the past, he’s going to have to hold tight to Tracy to make sure they’re still standing when the tumult recedes.

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Review: Reviewers Note: Since Jackie has already done an awesome review of Floodgates, the e-book, this review will focus only on the audio narration.

Michael Anthony is a new to me narrator and I’ve got to say that after listening to his performance, I took a look on Audible.com to see what other stories he’s narrated. He did an excellent job on Floodgates, offering both a nice sound and visual to the characters he’s portraying. The story didn’t sound rushed, stilted, or even close to drone-like, and I really enjoy an audiobook when I get sucked into the storyline, emotionally. There was a point during the narration that I felt kind of sad, when Tracy and Breckin were finally breaking up. When Breckin was pleading with Tracy to give him another chance, there was that moment when you know it’s over. What can I say? I liked Breckin when I met him for the first time at the car accident scene. I just wish he hadn’t done what he did, and I understood perfectly why Tracy had to do what he did. It was also sweet when Cord realizes that Tracy is finally available. Woohoo!

Since there’s no movie version of Floodgates, the next best thing to do is listen to the audio version of this book. I really enjoyed it and would highly recommend Floodgates to Mary Calmes’s fans or to anyone who hasn’t tried her work yet.






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