5 Stars, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Meg Amor, Reviewed by Lana

Review: Hawaiian Orchid by Meg Amor

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Title: Hawaiian Orchid (The Hawaiians: Book Two)

Author: Meg Amor

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 302 Pages

At a Glance: Love does conquer all, and Hawaiian Orchid will tug at your heart and make you believe.

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: Kulani Mahikoa is “The Orchid,” a young, insecure, pro surfer from a rough background on the Big Island of Hawai’i. He’s Beau Toyama’s cousin from Hawaiian Lei and a healer with a heart as deep as the ocean he’s part of. Like many of the great Hawaiians, Kulani epitomizes the spirit of aloha and love. Kulani’s healing his own wounds, and “The Lost Boys”–young, homeless abandoned and abused gay boys he cares for.

He meets the lone and lonely New Zealand widower, Rob Masterson–a wounded psychologist who’s trying to come to terms with his husband’s death. When he died, they were separated but still living together. Rob needs to reconcile all the pieces of guilt and love to heal before he can fall in love again.

The age difference raises one barrier, and besides that, Kulani has more layers than Rob–with his own New Zealand heritage and tangled knot of emotion–ever bargained for. Traveling between the South Sea Islands of beautiful New Zealand and the exotic Hawaiian Islands, they forge a bond–two wounded men find a home for their shrapnel-laced souls.

Dividers

Review: Hawaiian Orchid is the follow-up book to Hawaiian Lei, and for me, it hit all the marks! It has complex characters, a solid storyline, and Hawaii, an island that I have to visit. And, like its predecessor, it was all about the feels.

Hawaiian Orchid is not exactly a sequel, but it follows Kulani, who is Beau’s cousin from the first book, and Rob, another Kiwi. Rob is in Hawaii to recover from personal tragedy. He is a fifty-something who’s finally ready to move on with his life after the death of his husband.

Kulani is a troubled young man, with a tragic past. Because of his difficult childhood he has taken it upon himself to take in homeless gay youth. In his own way, he’s trying to erase his past wounds. He also happens to be a famous pro surfer, who is known as “The Orchid”.

Rob is not interested in an unstable man, but there’s something about Kulani that he just can’t resist. It’s not all about the sex, they connect on a very emotional level, and it just pours off the page! Rob and Kulani’s relationship has a rocky start, but their connection keeps them coming back for more. Their chemistry is off the charts! There is also a whole bunch of secondary characters that were just great, and added another level to the story.

Again, the island of Hawaii and its people play a major role in this book. There is so much rich multi-layering to Hawaii this book brings out that I just don’t have the words to describe it. As with the first book, Hawaiian Orchid is a very emotional story, so keep the tissues handy. There was a couple times where I teared up.

Hawaiian Orchid is a story about two men who overcome emotional obstacles to be together. Love does conquer all, and Hawaiian Orchid will tug at your heart and make you believe. A story full of emotions that will stay with you long after you are finished.

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

Release Day Review: Bloom Box by Cate Ashwood

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Title: Bloom Box (Heartsville)

Author: Cate Ashwood

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 61 Pages

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

Reviewed By: Sammy

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

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

Dividers

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

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

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

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5 Stars, Cardeno C., Genre Romance, Reviewed by Lynn, Self-Published

Review: Jesse’s Diner by Cardeno C.

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Title: Jesse’s Diner (Hope Collection)

Author: Cardeno C.

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 112 Pages

At a Glance: What I loved most about this story was its simplicity. Right to the point, no angst, no miscommunication. Just two people finding love and companionship for all the right reasons.

Reviewed By: Lynn

Blurb: Two men with a shared history and a mutual attraction must be honest with themselves and each other so both their dreams come true.

Quiet, unassuming Tanner Sellers spends his time running a diner in Hope, Arizona. Not particularly social, twenty-two-year-old Tanner keeps to himself and enjoys his simple life, but he longs for someone to call his own. In his most secret fantasy, that someone is sexy Steve Faus. But Steve is his friend’s father and mentor’s widower and therefore off-limits.

Despite some challenges, thirty-nine-year-old Steve Faus has had a good life. He’s extremely successful at work, has a great relationship with his college-age son, and lives in a wonderful town. Eighteen months after losing his partner, the one thing Steve lacks is someone to share his life. If Steve is honest with himself, that someone is the young man he has known and cared about for years. Steve and Tanner want one another, all they need is a little push in the right direction to make both their dreams come true.

Dividers

Review: I’ve loved everything I’ve read by this author and Jesse’s Diner was no exception. What a great story.

After reading the blurb I wasn’t too sure I wanted to read this. With the age difference and the love interest being the main character’s best friend’s dad, I didn’t think it would be something that interested me. I found myself coming back to it, rereading the blurb. Because I’ve loved reading this author in the past, I decided what the hell. I’m so happy I did.

What I loved most about this story was its simplicity. Right to the point, no angst, no miscommunication. Just two people finding love and companionship for all the right reasons. I thought I would have a problem with the age difference between the characters, but the author did such a great job with making them equals that age was never an issue.

Being in Tanner’s head throughout the entire story was a real treat. His humor, insecurities and overall amazement about actually being in a relationship with Steve was hilarious, especially when they are intimate for the first time. Tanner’s inner ramblings will stay with me for a long time. Too funny! And since there was so much dialogue between the two characters, I never felt as though I was missing the other person’s perspective.

Along with the lightness and humor, there were some somber moments. Steve’s late partner, Jesse, is part of the story even though he’s not there physically. We get a little insight into their relationship and see how Tanner first came into their lives. We’re also thrown for a loop, at least I was, with Steve’s big reveal. I’m not one to give away spoilers, so I won’t start now, but I thought the subject was handled amazingly well. I liked how the author touched on the issue a little bit then moved on. To me, it felt like a very realistic scenario in today’s world.

As I’m reading this story and loving everything about it, there’s a huge announcement at the end that made my heart melt. It made me love this story even more. Again, no spoilers. You’ll just have to read it yourself and find out. I can promise you, you won’t be disappointed.

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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, K.C. Wells, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: First by K.C. Wells

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Title: First

Author: K.C. Wells

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 296 Pages

At a Glance: In spite of some flaws, this was a gorgeously written love story.

Blurb: It’s taken Tommy Newsome a while to get his head around being gay. Growing up in a small town in Georgia, hasn’t prepared him for the more liberal life of a student at the university in Athens. Add to that the teachings of his parents and his church, and you have one shy young man who feels out of his depth. Working on his daddy’s farm hasn’t given him any chance of a social life, certainly not one like the clubs of Atlanta have on offer. Not that Tommy feels comfortable when he gets to sample it—Momma’s lectures still ring loudly inside his head.

All that changes when he goes to his first gay bar and sets eyes on Mike Scott.

When Mike’s not behind the bar at Woofs, he’s busy with his life as adult entertainer Scott Masters. Twenty years in the industry and the times, they are a-changing. Mike’s not had much luck in the relationship department, but as his mom is fond of telling him, you keep fishing in the same pond, you’re gonna reel in the same kind of fish. Maybe it’s time for a change.

And then a beautiful young man asks Mike to be his first….

Dividers

Review: Tommy was raised in an ultra-conservative farming community where “god-fearing” men and women did not discuss sex, nor did they deviate from the bible subscribed man/woman pairing or even allow impure thoughts to occupy space in their minds. Now, in college, all the worries Tommy has had over the last few years have come home to roost, and for the first time, he is fairly sure he may be gay. Added to that, his roommate is definitely bisexual and a bit of a slut to boot, and is constantly encouraging Tommy to pop his “cherry” and find someone to date.

In short time, Tommy begins to undo all the untruths and close-minded bigotry he has grown up with over the years, beginning with a trip to his very first gay bar. Once there, Tommy finds himself drawn to the older bartender who seems to be the very embodiment of someone Tommy could not only trust but might actually be the one man Tommy could give himself to sexually for the first time. Mike Scott is a weekend bartender at the gay sports bar that Tommy visits every weekend. While he has definitely spotted the handsome young man who sits at the end of the bar nursing his cherry coke, Mike also knows the kid is way too young for him. Besides that, once Tommy got wind of Mike’s real occupation, he would no doubt run far away…just like so many others had done in Mike’s life. However, Mike hasn’t pegged Tommy correctly—he is a determined, if awkward and painfully shy, young man. Tommy knows one thing with great certainty—he wants Mike to be his first and he won’t take no for an answer.

First is an incredibly beautiful coming-out story, featuring a tender first love trope and two gorgeously written leading men. I’m not sure how anyone could read this novel and not fall head over heals in love with both Mike and Tommy. Tommy’s shy and innocent demeanor was so well crafted that he made even the hardest of hearts melt in his wake, and no doubt readers with any maternal instincts will want to scoop this boy up and keep him safe from harm. Tommy’s journey to self-discovery and sexual awakening was one major story line in this long novel.  The way in which the author kept tightly to Tommy’s journey, making it both realistic and compelling to read, was sheer genius. Such depth and clarity was given to creating both men in this story—making it a real delight to read such well-formed and realistic characters despite how incredibly innocent and unschooled Tommy appeared to be during the bulk of the novel.

Mike Scott’s journey was the second major plot point to this story. Mike was an incredibly conflicted man. Wounded by past failed relationships and growing ever more weary in an industry that seemed to be steadily embracing more and more risky decisions regarding unprotected sex, Mike is at a real crossroad when young Tommy Newsome steps into his life. Every person who Mike had grown to care for outside the porn industry has left him. Either they could not accept his participating in sex with multiple partners, or they balked at the idea of being in a relationship with him after finally discovering he had no intentions of walking away from the job. Either way, Mike had no one to share his life with in a time when he was so desperate to have that kind of intimacy in his life. Not only did Tommy’s age give him pause, the idea that Tommy would run straight for the hills should he find out Mike’s real job was a constant worry for the handsome bartender.

I fear this review is not really doing justice to the subtlety of this author’s expertise at striking the careful balance she achieved when writing such an innocent character as Tommy. It takes a very deft and skilled hand to create such an innocent young man, who is on the cusp of both sexual and mental awakening. On the other hand, it also takes immense patience to not go the easy route and make an older, world traveled porn star into a stereotypically callous and sexually preoccupied character, but that was not the case in this novel. Tommy and Mike were depicted as real men grappling with honest emotions and fears, and who bravely struggle to live their lives on their terms. In short, I was awed by the realism that infused every page of this story.

For a good portion of First, we watch these two cautious men dance around each other, each giving up bits of themselves in a slow building pas de deux that is as mesmerizing as it is beautiful. The tenderness, the romance, the gradual sharing of confidences and the sweet tendrils of growing love between Tommy and Mike create such a delicate bond that is constantly overshadowed by Mike’s secret. It was the fear of that ax falling, that secret being revealed, that also lent a hand at making this a gripping tale.

Unfortunately, there were also two minor plot points that left me a bit confused and ultimately pulled me from this sweet romance, which temporarily left make me a bit uncomfortable with the trajectory the plot took as a result. The first was the idea of “cuddling up” to a porn buddy that was casually tossed into the storyline. Mike seemed to fully embrace this practice despite being in serious relationships both in the past and presently with Tommy. Since the storyline doesn’t put parameters around Mike’s “cuddling,” which I assumed was a euphemism for casual sex or comforting holding and kissing when the need got to be too great, I was led to believe by Mike’s inner musings that he did not consider this cheating. Even though while involved with Tommy Mike does resists actual sex with a former lover, he still kisses and holds the man in bed. Perhaps it’s my narrow view of relationships, but I felt that was crossing a big line from a hug and kiss on the cheek to comforting a friend. Plus, considering Mike was already lying to Tommy about his porn job, it felt doubly wrong and smacked of cheating. I felt Mike was fully aware of how much Tommy trusted him, therefore in any reading of this discussion on cuddling, I felt fairly certain Mike had crossed a line.

The second had to do with the ending—which, given Tommy’s difficult time with accepting Mike’s job and the fact that he lied to him, seemed way too easy a fix. Please don’t get me wrong, this was a gorgeously written love story and despite the age difference, I was fully on board with this partnering and with their genuine love for each other. I simply thought that the same amount of time spent in building this loving dynamic should have also been spent on the rebuilding of trust that needed to take place once Mike’s lying had been revealed. No other place in this novel did I feel that the author was trying to veil some form of ignorance on Tommy’s part as just virginal and relational naïveté. But the ending and Tommy’s quick capitulation after being blindsided by the discovery of Mike’s occupation was just a bit too out of character. Wisely, K.C. Wells created Tommy to be a pragmatic and thinking young man—this too rapid acceptance and reestablishment of a trusting relationship thrust all that into suspect for me.

However, nothing can negate the fact that K.C. Wells has risen to an all new level of storytelling with this latest offering. This author continues to hone her craft and plum depths of excellence in creating outstanding stories time and again.

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3 Stars, A.V. Sanders, Genre Romance, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Jules, Short Story

Review: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion by A.V. Sanders

Title: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion

Author: A.V. Sanders

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 11000 Words

At a Glance: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion is a cute story with lots of potential.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: Beckett works at a coffee shop to make ends meet while attending a prestigious university. It’s not the most exciting job, but he’s done it long enough he’s good at it—and can avoid the tedium by spinning sexy little daydreams of things he doubts will ever happen.

Daydreams that soon include Simon, the hot, handsome, and older freelance writer who stops in one day. But then Simon becomes a regular, a bright spot more interesting than the inside of Beckett’s head, and daydreams start to seem like they could be something far more tangible—if reality doesn’t get in the way first.

Dividers

Review: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion is charming at times, especially in the beginning, and Beckett and Simon really are pretty adorable, but it was also frustrating at times because I felt like, as a story, it had so much potential that was just not able to be fulfilled due to the length. I’m not sure if this was a submission call from the publisher that only allowed for so many words, but I truly wish that A.V. Sanders had been able to give Beckett and Simon more time.

This story ticked several of my boxes…college student, southern boy, May/December romance, etc., and, as I said above, the main characters were pretty adorable. Beckett lets Simon know, via subtle, or sometimes not-so-subtle, interactions at the coffee shop that he is interested. And when Simon is free to act on those advances – he does go through a breakup in the story – he asks Beckett out on a date. I really enjoyed the date scene; it was imaginative and lovely to read. We don’t get to see much in the way of ‘spark’ between the guys, but we see enough to know they have an attraction and a nice connection.

Things start to go awry when it becomes clear that there just isn’t going to be enough backstory to have everything make sense. There is a fight where Simon becomes extremely jealous and angry at Beckett because he is meeting his professor for dinner. Simon’s reaction seems out-of-character; however, we don’t know enough about his story with his ex, and we don’t know enough about Beckett’s professor or his intentions, to truly make everything click. The couple goes to New Orleans, Beckett’s home town, to see his family, but the scene is quite awkward because it’s just not fleshed out enough. That whole bit was so rushed, as was the entire end.

Percolation, Poetry, and Passion is a cute story with lots of potential. Unfortunately it simply felt too rushed and too short. Perhaps the author can show them some more love in an expanded novella? I bet many readers would love to see Beckett and Simon get the shot they deserve.

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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Nora Roth, Reviewed by Maryann

Review: Aiding and Abetting by Nora Roth

Title: Aiding and Abetting (A Daily Dose Story)

Author: Nora Roth

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 59 Pages

At a Glance: A well written, exciting and tension filled mystery.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: When cynical forty-three-year-old police officer Evan Andrews finds his home broken into, he quickly learns there’s more to Beau Toliver than meets the eye. Injured and afraid, Beau mistrusts Evan and the police every bit as much as Evan mistrusts Beau. As affection slowly grows between them, Evan discovers the real threat might come from the colleagues he’s considered friends for over two decades. When the truth comes out, Evan races to save Beau’s life at the risk of his own. His actions could mean the end of his career, but he might finally realize there are more important things in life.

Dividers

Review: Aiding and Abetting is a really well written, exciting and tension filled mystery from Nora Roth. I would definitely have liked a longer version, but it was still good. Evan and Beau develop into really great characters. Love conquers all, no matter what age you are!

Evan Andrews is a forty-three year old police officer, living in the solitude of the woods and nature, away from the city. He arrives home one night to find Beau Toliver in his home, bleeding from a severe stab wound. Evan knows of Beau, as he has seen him being hauled into the police station by Mike Holt, on charges that just don’t add up.

Beau Toliver stood before Evan, scared and bleeding from his arm. Someone meant to do serious harm to Beau, but why? With Beau’s refusal to go to the ER, Evan takes on the task of sewing him up. Evan wants answers: “Why didn’t you go to the police?” is one of them. Beau tells Evan he doesn’t trust the police, he only trust Evan because he didn’t treat him the way the others did, but he still refuses to tell Evan why he doesn’t trust the police.

Evan is caught in a dilemma. Beau is only twenty-two and has been in trouble before, so he’s not sure if Beau can be trusted. But, he decides to try and earn Beau’s trust and learn the secret that he’s keeping. As they start to cohabitate with each other, Beau has an interest in Evan, and Evan tries to fight his interest in Beau, but he fails.

There’s humor as well in this suspenseful tale, and we find out how to not eat a muffin. I loved all the baking they do!

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2 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Tia Fielding

Review: Up to Boil by Tia Fielding

Title: Up to Boil (A Daily Dose Story)

Author: Tia Fielding

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 36 Pages

At a Glance: Up to Boil doesn’t live up to Tia Fielding’s usual standards.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: When plumber and builder Jordan Novotny goes to take a look at the home of the town’s openly gay, recently dumped librarian, he doesn’t expect to find anything other than a falling-apart old house and a water heater in need of repair.

Instead, he finds an older man in need of some TLC and a new circle of friends after his ex tossed him aside for a newer model. Stephen might be attracted to Jordan, but he thinks the young man is exactly that—too young. It takes Jordan’s family interfering and a bit of a mishap to make them see that it’s never too late to find a new love, and that age is just a number. All that matters is compatibility and the courage to take a chance.

Dividers

Review: I just do not know where to begin on this one. Tia Fielding has written some wonderful novels. I have really enjoyed her work, but this short story, Up To Boil, was so out of character for this writer I am just dumbfounded.

The story is built on the May/December trope; in other words, one fairly older man falling for a much younger one. In this case the town librarian, Stephen, is fifty-one, and the town plumber, Jordon, is twenty-two…I think. I mean, the age twenty-two was mentioned and then it disappeared. In fact, this entire nuance to the story seemed to be hit on and then tossed quickly aside, as did most of the highlights of their courtship. And that is the key issue I have with this story. We were told what happened in a pseudo outline fashion, with very little detail, and then expected to swallow that these two fell in love.

Let me give you a quick synopsis. Stephen lost his partner of many years to a younger man, so how funny is it that when the bisexual/possibly gay plumber Jordan Novotny comes to fix his pipes, both men are instantly attracted to one another? The very thing that Stephen hates his former partner for doing, he, in turn, does. As Jordon comes to terms with his attraction to the much older man, Jordon’s family begins this strange courtship of their own—inviting Stephen over for meals, fixing up his house for just the cost of supplies, etc. In fact, Jordon’s parents seem to have no issue with the fact that their twenty-two year old son is attracted to a man their age; actually, they seem to encourage it. That left me a little nonplussed.

From there the story goes at lightning speed, showing us snippets of Stephen and Jordon’s interactions. Next to none of these moments were done in real time; rather, they were mentioned as having had occurred, and we were to take it on faith that the guys were falling in love. I cannot express to you how disappointing this was. The lack of chemistry, of action, and of intimacy leaves the reader with little more than a retelling of events in fast forward speed.

Finally the story ended abruptly, and at 66% on my kindle. This means that roughly 34% of the document was given over to Ms. Fielding’s past novels. To be frank, I felt cheated. Surely more time could have been dedicated to evolving this story? All in all, Up To Boil was not the story I have come to expect from this author. I know how exciting Tia Fielding’s stories can be, but this was not up to her normal standard.

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Maryann, Richard May, Short Story

Review: Because of Roses by Richard May

Title: Because of Roses (A Daily Dose 2015 Story)

Author: Richard May

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 26 Pages

At a Glance: This is my first read by Richard May, and I have to say it was a very good story, well put together.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: After the death of his longtime partner, American attorney Dan Evans is reassigned to his firm’s London office. It’s a change his life sorely needs. While admiring roses in a small village in the Cotswolds, Dan meets Martin Saint John. Martin, still fit and attractive at seventy, has also lost his partner, and now spends his time growing roses, meeting friends in the pub, and going to church on Sundays, content with his quiet life. Roses and tea progress to spending weekends together exploring the countryside, but the differences between Dan and Martin go beyond the fifteen year age gap. If they can open their hearts and accept love—instead of accepting its absence—they might find a second chance at happiness. All because of roses.

Dividers

Review: Daniel Evans has worked in the New York Office of Patents for nearly forty years, but when he is offered a position in London, he takes it without hesitation. After three months of living in one of the firm’s temporary apartments, Daniel finds a permanent place to live.

Daniel and Bob, his partner of twenty-seven years, had planned to live in a small town once they were retired, but those plans changed when Bob passed away almost two years before, and now Daniel is making this move alone. His real estate agent has found him a cottage in the village of Little Helms. It’s close enough to the commuter line to London, but he has his doubts about the cottage: the front yard needs work, and his six-feet-two-inch height isn’t really compatible with the low doorways. But, he fell in love with the kitchen.

As he and the real estate agent leave to discuss the purchase of the cottage, Daniel hears a snipping sound and notices a man across the way clipping roses. As Daniel calls “hello,” the man turns around and waves. Martin Sinjin lives in the cottage across from Daniel’s, a man who is, by Daniel’s estimation, somewhere in his seventies. Martin is a special man. He puts a lot of time and love into caring for his roses, and he and Daniel have something in common—Martin also lost his partner Tom to cancer.

Martin offers a wonderful friendship to Daniel; they go furniture shopping together, go out to dinner, Daniel cooks for Martin. Martin even offers to pick Daniel up at the commuter station. He is just there for Daniel at every turn. Daniel would like more with Martin, but is a friendship all he’ll ever have?

Because of Roses is a nurturing story. Just as Martin took care of his roses, he took the same care with Daniel, and sometimes things just need time and attention to make them blossom. I liked the fact that age was not a factor in Daniel and Martin’s relationship, and the message that love can happen at any time in our lives. This is my first read by Richard May, and I have to say it was a very good story, well put together.

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3.5 Stars, CM Corett, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jules

Review: Bindings and Books by CM Corett

Title: Bindings and Books (A Daily Dose 2015 Story)

Author: CM Corett

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 71 Pages

At a Glance: This one was a bit hit and miss, but there was definitely some promise here.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: James Connell is adamant—he’s not getting involved. The forty-two-year-old bookstore owner’s life is governed by respectability, order, and a dash of OCD—just the way he likes it. There is absolutely no place in his life for a way-too-young, sexy, carefree guy like Ash. What would people think?

Ash Bradley-Mills is determined—he wants James. Traveling the world testing snowboards and sports equipment has been great fun for Ash, but he’s ready for something more. He wants an adrenaline rush of a different kind, and tall, dark, handsome, and older James fits the criteria perfectly. Now all Ash needs to do is break through James’s defenses and lifelong fear of judgment. Easy! He’s got the perfect plan to push James out of his comfort zone and into his arms.

Dividers

Review: Bindings and Books is a cute little novella about a sexy bookstore owner in his mid-forties, and the equally sexy and spunky younger man who falls for him. James, our bookstore owner, is dead set against having anything to do with Ash, the hunk he meets out on the slopes, but Ash immediately feels a spark with James, and refuses to back down.

There were a few things I really liked, James being the main one. He came across as such a real, interesting character. I loved the OCD element – I totally dig atypical characters, or characters with quirks. I’m also a big fan of romances with a more significant age difference, so this anthology is a gold mine for those who love that trope. I also liked what CM Corett did with the story behind James’s reticence. Sure, there was the cliché of ‘I’m worried what people will think’, but what held the most weight for him was a much more unique reason.

The story started out strong, but there were a couple of things I didn’t like as well – the main one, unfortunately, being a major plot point. I can’t give away what happens, but, sadly, I definitely didn’t love the direction the author decided to go. It didn’t completely ruin the story for me…but it was a pretty big downer.

So, this one was a bit hit and miss, but there was definitely some promise here. Still an enjoyable short read. The hilarious opening scene on the ski slopes is worth checking it out all on its own!

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4 Stars, Brooke Edwards, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Maryann, Short Story

Review: Mens Rea by Brooke Edwards

Title: Mens Rea (A Daily Dose 2015 Story)

Author: Brooke Edwards

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 25 Pages

At a Glance: Brooke Edwards has written a good May/December romance filled with courtroom drama and relationship tension.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: James Carter is forty-five and has been a police officer most of his life. He married young, lost her young, and his life revolved around his work and his son. Young is a recurring theme in his life, he thinks, when he meets the considerably younger AUSA Derek Moore on a case and finds himself ruled by the whims of his heart.

The road to love between a hotshot lawyer and a veteran cop was never going to be smooth, not in the real world, but there are criminals, misunderstandings, and a lack of communication standing in their way too. Both are so stubborn and convinced their interest is one-sided that it takes a murder case, exhaustion, and an adjournment for them to get their act together. They move fast after that, but they both know there’s no guarantee for tomorrow.

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Review: Chief James Carter has taken notice of Derek Moore, Assistant US Attorney. He has watched Derek in the court room, seen him at his precinct. And has met Derek over and over again…but only in his mind. The second time, he actually meets Derek is at the precinct, working on a case with Daniel Callahan, James’s partner. The third time, James responds to a 911 call and finds Derek has been beaten up. James asks Derek if he knows who attacked him, and he hints at someone he’d sent to prison. But then Ben, Derek’s future brother-in-law, speaks up and says he can give a description of the men, and that James could probably get the names from Daniel Callahan. When James calls Daniel and explains what’s going on, he can hear the concern in Daniel’s voice for Derek, and within just a few days, both men who’d attacked Derek are arrested, one by James and one by Daniel.

Brooke Edwards has written a very good May/December romance filled with courtroom drama and relationship tension. Though James spends a lot of time hoping his feelings for Derek will fade away—because he’s seen how Derek and Daniel react to each other—it’s not likely when a murder case lands in James’s lap, and he’s forced to spend long hours with Daniel and Derek, piecing together clues. All that time together, however, eventually leads to a single moment of eye contact between James and Derek, a moment where neither man seems willing or able to look away, and it opens up the door for so much more.

James and Derek are really good together, and I absolutely wanted more when Mens Rea ended. There are enough characters in this novellette for there to be another longer story, or even a series.

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Kade Boehme, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Piper Vaughn, Reviewed By Carrie

Audio Review: Wood, Screws & Nails by Piper Vaughn and Kade Boehme – Narrated by Paul Morey

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Title: Wood, Screws & Nails (Hard Hats: Book One)

Author: Piper Vaughn and Kade Boehme

Narrator:: Paul Morey

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 4 Hours and 30 Minutes

At a Glance: This was my first audiobook, and I thoroughly enjoyed having Paul Morey tell me a story – especially such a hot one!

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Aaron Costa’s summer was all planned. Despite having to remodel the family lake house, it would be a vacation of sorts, and he had every intention of enjoying it—until the friend who was supposed to help him got injured and left him in a lurch. He decides to take the opportunity to bond with his son and hires Julian and his roommate, Malachi, to assist.

As a broke college student, Malachi could use the money, and spending the summer with Aaron for eye candy sounds like a dream. “Look but don’t touch” becomes his motto. But when Julian starts flaking on his responsibilities and Malachi and Aaron are forced to spend long hours alone together, their mutual attraction is impossible to resist.

Aaron can’t fight the temptation sexy Malachi presents. But more than their age difference stands in their way, not the least of which is Aaron’s semi-closeted status and the fact that he’s never openly discussed his sexuality with his son. He has no idea how Julian will react when he learns his father is not only gay, he’s also dating his best friend.

Dividers

Review: This is an audio review of Wood, Screws & Nails, narrated by Paul Morey. I loved Aaron and Malachi! This is a May/December romance and while I generally shy away from books where one of the MCs is only twenty-one, this romance was nicely done. A happy-ever-after is not promised, but we get a real satisfying happy-for-now with the propensity toward more, and I was pleased with that.

Aaron became a father right after high school, experimenting with his best friend Carrie. This part of the story was well written, and I really liked how they handled the backstory for Aaron’s son Julian. Admittedly Aaron and Carrie spoiled Julian, together not wanting him to experience the hardships they faced as young parents. Aaron has a hard time letting that go and realizing a little tough love can be a good thing. When Julian and his best friend Malachi agree to help Aaron renovate his parents’ lake house, we get to see the relationship develop between the two MCs as Julian becomes more of a slacker and spends more time away from the house than helping with the renovations. The relationship goes from a mutual physical attraction to appreciation of each other’s talents and work ethic as regards the construction they have to accomplish in the old house.

Malachi is totally believable. Yes, there are some college boys out there who have their head on straight, and Malachi is one of them. We have a precedent for him liking older men, but even he will tell you he does not have a “daddy” complex. Malachi comes from a delightfully normal, accepting family, and he is well adjusted because of it. It is Malachi’s steadfastness and honorable work ethic that wins Aaron over little by little. These two do not just jump into a relationship; they build it like they are building the lake house, a little at the time. And what an incredibly hot journey! Who wouldn’t love two incredible men working construction, with the sexual tension being off the charts?

I would highly recommend this book – especially in audio! Paul Morey does a fantastic job with the narration and vocal inflections of the characters. I always knew which character was speaking from the tone of voice Paul used. This was my first audiobook, and I thoroughly enjoyed having Paul Morey tell me a story – especially such a hot one!

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You can buy Wood, Screws & Nails here:

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2 Stars, Genre Romance, Kay Ellis, Reviewed by Pia, Wayward Ink Publishing

Review: Young at Heart by Kay Ellis

Title: Young at Heart

Author: Kay Ellis

Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 129 Pages

At a Glance: I really wanted to like this story, but it just wasn’t for me.

Reviewed By: Pia

Blurb: Devon Alexander is a wealthy successful businessman. The world is his oyster. In his work life he is decisive and in control.
His private life is another matter.
There, he doesn’t know if he’s coming or going in his on-off relationship with Jesse Young, an unemployed aspiring model half his age.
Can Devon and Jesse overcome the obstacles and outside influences standing in their way? Can they leave behind their own fear and mistrust? Or will they be their own worst enemies?

Dividers

Review: In Kay Ellis’s Young at Heart, we meet Devon Alexander, older, wealthy business man; and his much younger boyfriend, aspiring model Jesse Young. I love May/December romances and think they’re wonderful when done right. Unfortunately, in my opinion, this book didn’t quite pull it off.

I always get nervous when our MCs are an established couple at the beginning of a book, because you kind of hold your breath waiting for something bad to come along and break them up. In Young at Heart we don’t have to wait long at all, and the whole book felt a little rushed, the characters all over the place. At times I wanted to shake both Devon and Jesse; they should have either been sticking together and helping each other, or just staying away from each other. I think that if the pace was slowed down and we had more backstory and depth in the characters this book could have been a real winner. They were supposed to be together but hardly ever actually speak to each other.

I was also concerned about how nobody thought to get Jesse any kind of help after everything that had happened to him. Don’t get me wrong, Jesse is no angel, but it broke my heart that nobody helped when he clearly needed it.

I really wanted to like this story, but it just wasn’t for me.

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4.5 Stars, Daisy Harris, Genre Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Lana, Samhain Publishing

Review: November Rain by Daisy Harris

Title: November Rain

Author: Daisy Harris

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 140 Pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb: A single bullet could take them both down.

Fire and Rain, Book 4

Detective Joe Klamath is used to guys falling on their backs at the arch of his commanding eyebrow. Yet he can’t seem to get a read on a cute, department-store sales guy. The vagrant who just walked in, though? He’s easy to read. He’s dangerous. Continue reading

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2.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mari Evans, Reviewed by Taz

It’s A May/December Romance At The Heart of Mari Evans’ “Trusting Love”

Title: Trusting Love

Author: Mari Evans

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Blurb: Laurie Stallon isn’t like other high schoolers. After suffering years of abuse at his father’s hands, he now lives in a foster care facility and finds solace volunteering at the local animal shelter. Laurie’s had to grow up fast, and even though his eighteenth birthday is still weeks away, he’s more adult than most adults he knows. When he meets Dr. Sam Davies, the new shelter veterinarian, the attraction is instant. They become friends at work, but Laurie knows Sam will never go for someone like him. No matter how Laurie tries to prove his maturity to Sam, Sam continues to reject him as too young. Continue reading

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Dreamspinner Press, Mari Evans

Writing A May/December Romance: Mari Evans’ “Trusting Love” Blog Tour and Giveaway

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Hi, I’m Mari Evans, and I’m here today to talk about my first novel Trusting Love. I’m doing this blog tour thing for the first time, so bear with me guys.

The story is about Sam and Laurie, who have quite an age difference between them. Sam is twent- seven and Laurie turns eighteen in the book. I didn’t start out writing this story and thought, ‘I’m going to give them an age gap to overcome.” Continue reading

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5 Stars, Con Riley, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Jackie

A Man Must Face The Truth On The Long Road To “Recovery” – by Con Riley


“Sometimes the most horrendous thing a person can see is all the hidden things inside them, the things they’ve covered, the things they choose not to look at. – C. JoyBell C.


Title: Recovery (Salvage Stories: Book Two)

Author: Con Riley

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 220 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: San Diego is a city of second chances for Jamie Carlson. His new career as a photographer is taking off, and with the support of a loving surrogate family, he’s finally putting his party years behind him. The Bailey family helped him solve his drinking problem, but there’s no easy solution to staying sober now that Belle Bailey’s dying. Her last wish is a challenge Jamie can’t overcome without help.
Continue reading

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Kade Boehme, Piper Vaughn, Reviewed by Jackie

Piper Vaugh and Kade Boehme’s “Wood, Screws, & Nails” Builds A Little Secret Into A Big Reveal – Reviewed by Jackie


Is there a word for that moment when two parties are so equally shocked to see each other, given the circumstances, that all they can do is stare at each other, open mouthed?” ― August Westman


Title: Wood, Screws, & Nails

Author: Piper Vaughn & Kade Boehme

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 176 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Aaron Costa’s summer was all planned. Despite having to remodel the family lake house, it would be a vacation of sorts, and he had every intention of enjoying it—until the friend who was supposed to help him got injured and left him in a lurch. He decides to take the opportunity to bond with his son and hires Julian and his roommate, Malachi, to assist.
Continue reading

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Dominique Frost, Self-Published

Dominique Frost’s “In the Blaze of His Hungers” Is Just Plain Old Sexy


“It’s just sexual tension. Hardcore, animalistic, lick his body all over, sexual tension.” ― Angela Richardson


Title: In the Blaze of His Hungers

Author: Dominique Frost

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 76

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Blurb: Ryan doesn’t mean to sleep with his best friend’s hot dad. It just happens.
Continue reading

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N.R. Walker, Totally Bound

“Clarity of Lines” Is Perfectly Drawn


“I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me.” ― Elizabeth Barrett Browning



Title: Clarity of Lines (Thomas Elkin: Book 2)

Author: N.R. Walker

Publisher: Totally Bound

Pages/Word Count: 103

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: When some lines blur, others become crystal clear.
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Cardeno C., Dreamspinner Press

Cardeno C.’s “Strong Enough” Is A Don’t-Miss Read



“Just like there’s always time for pain, there’s always time for healing.” ― Jennifer Brown


I don’t think I have ever read a book by Cardeno C. that hasn’t tugged at my heartstrings. Cardeno has a way of writing MCs that just pulls me in and makes me fall in love with them immediately. This book was no different.

We first meet Spencer Derdinger in his office talking to his friend and co-worker. It seems he has been spending an inordinate amount of time watching one of the super sexy construction workers from his office window for a while now. His friend can’t get the identity of said construction worker out of Spencer, but she does encourage him to go for it. It seems that Spencer doesn’t have the best track record with men and his latest ex has done a number on his self esteem. Spencer is thirty-eight and doesn’t believe for a second that the buff, handsome and much younger man would give him the time of day. Also, Spencer doesn’t even know if this solid wall of perfection is even gay. No, he will just continue to admire him from the safety of his office window. Which was working out fine for Spencer until the day the object of his fantasies barges into his reality.

Emilio Sanchez has been tied up in knots for weeks. After seeing that handsome math professor walking by his construction site he has found every excuse in the book to stay on the site his family’s construction company has on the local campus. Now Emilio knows he is handsome, tall and built. Normally that would be enough, but does he have what it takes to earn the attention of an older and admittedly smarter man? Well, only one way to find out!

One Friday when Spencer is leaving work, he comes face to face with Emilio outside the math building. It takes a few minutes for Spencer to realize he isn’t going to be pummeled for ogling the hot construction worker. He is being asked out and he just can’t believe it. Thankfully, Emilio’s brain is working just right and he somehow convinces Spencer to let him follow him home.

From the very start, Emilio realizes that Spencer is not just socially awkward, he is scarred emotionally, and when Emilio slowly finds out the reasons for this he is determined to help heal this man. Emilio isn’t just here for the night; no, he wants to be there for the long haul. Now just to convince Spencer that they are meant for each other.

This book touched me so deeply for many different reasons. First, Spencer is a very attractive man, and I mean really, thirty-eight isn’t old by any stretch of the imagination. It is so sweet to witness Emilio demonstrate the reasons he can’t resist Spencer and even more wonderful to watch Spencer start to believe he is handsome. I love how Emilio helps Spencer get over a past trauma that is still causing side effects even now.

One of the best parts of the story was the love and acceptance Spencer finally finds, not only from Emilio, but from his entire family. Emilio’s uber-tough brothers, his loving sister and his parents all took Spencer in and adopted him into the Sanchez family. Spencer has never had that kind of acceptance from his own family and this makes him more grateful than he knows how to say. These two men do have some obstacles to overcome though. Between some of Spencer’s history, their age difference and a completely obnoxious ex-boyfriend their fledgling romance is tested.

As I said at the beginning, I love Cardeno’s books and this one is no exception. Watching Spencer come out of his shell and seeing that there is more to Emilio than his great body was a fun ride, and it is one I plan on taking as many times as possible. Seriously, you will miss a wonderfully sweet romance if you miss this one!

Reviewed by: Jackie

You can buy Strong Enough here:

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