4 Stars, Abigail Roux, Audio Book, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Karen, Riptide Publishing

Audio Review: Cross & Crown by Abigail Roux – Narrated by Brock Thompson

Amazon

Amazon

TitleCross & Crown

Author:  Abigail Roux

Narrator: Brock Thompson

Publisher:  Riptide Publishing

Run Time:  6 hours and 50 minutes

At a Glance: I enjoyed this narration just as much as I did listening to the first book, but the story missed the mark for me a little bit.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb: When Nick O’Flaherty arrives at the scene of a double homicide to find he has a witness to the crime, he thinks it’s his lucky day. But when he realizes his witness is suffering from amnesia and can’t even remember his own name, Nick wishes he’d gone with his gut and put in for vacation time. Then Nick’s boyfriend and former Recon teammate, Kelly Abbott, joins him in Boston, and Nick finds his hands a little too full as the case and his personal life collide.

The witness he’s dubbed “JD” is being tailed by Julian Cross, a retired CIA hitman. To complicate matters further, JD forms an attachment to Nick that Nick struggles not to respond to as they search for the key to JD’s identity. Trying to determine whether JD is friend or foe as they investigate the crime puts them on the trail of a much older mystery. When multiple attempts are made on their lives, Nick is forced to turn to old enemies and new allies to solve a centuries-old crime before he and Kelly get added to the history books.

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Review: After listening to Shock & Awe, I jumped right in to Cross & Crown and was so excited to listen to it.  Maybe because I listened to them back to back, and because Shock & Awe is so focused on Nick and Kelly starting their relationship, I realized while listening to Cross & Crown that although they are together throughout the book and have some sexy times, it is definitely more mystery driven than Shock & Awe.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed and liked the mystery and treasure hunt aspect of the book, and trying to figure out if “JD” was a good guy or bad guy, but I love Nick and Kelly and wanted more of them than we got in this book.

As with Shock & Awe I think that Brock Thompson did a great job with the narration of the book. The dialog was clear, the voices were distinct, and for me, it fit with how I heard them in my head while reading the book.

So, overall, I enjoyed this narration just as much as I did listening to the first book, but the story missed the mark for me a little bit.

TNA_Signature_Karen

 

 

 

 

You can buy Cross & Crown here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Audible.com

Audible.com

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

Review: Soul Struck by Jacob Z. Flores

Amazon

Amazon

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

Author:  Jacob Z. Flores

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Page/Word Count:  224 Pages

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

Reviewed By:  Karen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TNA_Signature_Karen

 

 

 

 

You can buy Soul Struck here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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4.5 Stars, Amber Kell, Love Lane Books, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Angel, RJ Scott

Review: End Street: Volume One by Amber Kell and RJ Scott

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Amazon

Title: The Case of the Cupid Curse/The Case of the Wicked Wolf (End Street: Vol. One)

Author: Amber Kell & RJ Scott

Publisher: Love Lane Books

Pages/Word Count: 201 Pages

At a GlanceA fun and often sweet twist on the paranormal genre.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Dragons, vampires, werewolves, fae, witches and one very confused human.

Sam, 100% human (no, really) inherits a crumbling building and a private detective agency from his Uncle.

Bob, a brooding stubborn and ancient vampire turns up at his door and refuses to leave.

Before Sam can say ‘I only want human cases’ he’s knee deep in werewolves, dragons, vampires and witches.

Book 1 – The Case of The Cupid Curse

Sam Enderson is a human detective who inherits a building from where his Uncle used to run a detective agency. He finds himself working for paranormal creatures despite his resolve to stick with humans only. To supplement his income as a new PI Sam rents out rooms in the large house.

Bob is a vampire and turns up on Sam’s doorstep to rent a room. Sparks fly and Sam is attracted to the vampire despite himself.

Sam is cursed by a witch, and has two cases landing on his desk. Werewolves, annoying ghosts and a grumpy gargoyle are enough to drive Sam mad. But somehow in amongst all of this he has to find a missing fae and a missing shifter child.

Book 2 – The Case of the Wicked Wolf

Naiads, humans, sirens and a challenge for Alpha make up the intricate story in the race to rescue the missing children.

Sam and Bob have more than just the case of one lost child to handle. Not only is Shelby Hartman missing, but other paranormal children have disappeared. The race to rescue the children is hampered by naiads, humans, sirens and a challenge for Alpha.

Hartman Hunter is desperate to find his daughter. He turns to the demon Danjal Naamah for help. The problem is that Danjal is the only person Hartman has ever loved—the man he let go for the sake of the pack…

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Review:  I really enjoy both Amber Kell’s and RJ Scott’s individual works, so finding this book, where both are involved, thrilled me. They have a similar writing style, and this joint project reads seamlessly. I almost don’t want to know who wrote which chapter, or how they did it, because I just loved the world they created.

The paranormal really isn’t out of the ordinary in this verse created by these two authors, and I loved how it meshed with the reality of the world. It was not a big deal to have a werewolf dance club as well a human one right in the same town. I also really enjoyed that the prejudices between the species weren’t glossed over. A few had made it past the boundaries to mix well with others, but there was still the stigma found in associating with other paranormals or even humans. There is also a message of tolerance and acceptance, too.

I almost felt really bad for Sam as he tried so hard not to get involved in the paranormal aspect of being a P.I., but he’s drawn in because his uncle was a bit unscrupulous. He handles it with panache, though, and doggedly pursues his cases to the end while adjusting to life with a cranky ghost assistant and a persistent vampire suitor.

Looking forward to the next cases, ladies, and thank you for an enjoyable read.

TNA_Signature_Angel

 

 

 

 

You can buy End Street: Volume One here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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5 Stars, Historical Romance, Jordan L. Hawk, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Paranormal, Reviewed by Jules, Self-Published

Release Day Review: Maelstrom by Jordan L. Hawk

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Amazon

Amazon

Title: Maelstrom (Whyborne & Griffin: Book Seven)

Author: Jordan L. Hawk

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 268 Pages

At a Glance: Once again I am completely in awe of the talent and imaginative genius of Jordan L. Hawk.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: Between his father’s sudden—and rather suspicious—generosity, and his own rash promise to help Christine plan her wedding, Percival Endicott Whyborne has quite enough to worry about. But when the donation of a mysterious codex to the Ladysmith Museum draws the attention of a murderous cult, Whyborne finds himself in a race against time to unlock its secrets first.

Griffin has a case of his own: the disappearance of an historic map, which quickly escalates to murder. Someone is sacrificing men in dark rituals—and all the clues lead back to the museum.

With their friends Christine and Iskander, Whyborne and Griffin must discover the cult’s true goal before it’s too late. For dark forces are afoot at the very heart of the museum, and they want more than Whyborne’s codex.

They want his life.

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Review: “Widdershins knows its own.”

Trying to write this review in any kind of linear fashion is proving to be impossible. I’m trying to stick to some kind of organized format, but my brain keeps jumping to the brilliance, the sheer brilliance, of chapter fifty-seven. Once again I am completely in awe of the talent and imaginative genius of Jordan L. Hawk. The entire book is extraordinary and mind-blowing – but chapter fifty-seven is indescribable. One thing I do know is that I don’t want to come down from this high; I want to wallow in this one for a bit. I truly think Maelstrom is my favorite of the series to date.

In this seventh book of the series, Widdershins, with its maelstrom of energy lying beneath the earth, is a hotspot for cultists far and wide, and our heroes once again find themselves smack in the midst of the goings on. The latest batch of books donated to the museum has brought all the crazies to the yard, and Whyborne and Griffin must, of course, work together to foil them before all is lost.

It should come as no surprise that one of the things I love most about Maelstrom is the continually growing relationship between Ival and Griffin. They are as in tune to each other as ever, and must draw on that closeness throughout the story. In parts of Hoarfrost, Griffin was in a rough place, and needed Whyborne to keep him from breaking apart – here, however, it is Whyborne who largely needs grounding and clarity. I love that turnabout and all of the different ways we get to see their love for each other. The tender, poignant moments toward the end (*cough* chapter fifty-seven *cough*) are magnified a hundredfold because of their ever-strengthening bond.

So, of course the love story is amazing…but you better believe that all the other Jordan L. Hawk trademarks are there as well. Action, peril, creepy creatures from the Outside, humor, and a razor sharp wit. Not to mention perhaps the hottest sex scene in the series yet. I actually thought my brain was going to explode. No joke.

I already mentioned the humor, but want to touch on it a bit more specifically. The magic of these books is obviously in the world building and the storytelling – but a part of that magic also has to do with the delivery. And Hawk nails the delivery every time. Whyborne has tons of great one-liners. Griffin has a new motor car, which is an endless source of comic relief. The wedding prep and talk that is peppered throughout the book is fabulous. And, I absolutely had to share this gem, from our dear Christine:

“We’re going to be married, damn it, and Whyborne is going to walk me down the aisle…It’s going to be perfect, even if I have to kill every one of these bastards myself!”

In short, Maelstrom is fantastic. I don’t know how the hell Hawk keeps making each book better than the last, but she does. She’s kept the series fresh through seven books, and I can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeve for the eighth! Coolest. Books. Ever.

TNA_Signature_Jules

 

 

 

 

You can buy Maelstrom here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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

Review: Veiled Loyalties by Scotty Cade

Amazon

Amazon

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

Author: Scotty Cade

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 148 Pages

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

Reviewed By: Maryann

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

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

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

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

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

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

TNA_Signature_Maryann

 

 

 

 

You can buy Veiled Loyalties here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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5 Stars, L.B. Gregg, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Lisa, Riptide Publishing

Release Day Review: With This Bling by L.B. Gregg

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Amazon

Amazon

Title: With This Bling (Romano and Albright: Book Three)

Author: L.B. Gregg

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 264 Pages

At a Glance: Dan Albright and Caesar Romano are back and better than ever!

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Caesar Romano’s catering career is doing better than he’d ever dreamed. And so is his love life—even if his boyfriend’s house in Staten Island is way too far from civilization for his liking. But then in short order, Caesar is duped into helping his cousin propose, is tricked by his best friend and business partner into appearing on live television, and is harassed by a thug-like personal trainer and his far too beautiful wife. In fact, Caesar is almost too busy to notice that something is troubling his PI boyfriend, Dan Albright.

Almost.

Laid-back, open, charming—that’s the impression hunky former NYPD Detective Dan Albright gives everyone. Caesar can add sexually adventurous and a bit of an exhibitionist. But he also knows that Dan is hiding something—something dark and a little dangerous—and when Dan’s silence over his mysterious past threatens to harm them both, it’s Caesar’s turn to save the day.

But then again, a break-in, a gallery party, an heirloom ring, a new suit, and a stalker with bad BO are all just a typical week for Caesar Romano.

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Review: Oh, Caesar Romano, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

1.) ALL OF THEM

It feels like we’ve been waiting forever for Ce and his big ol’ sexy Private Investigator lover Dan Albright to return to an e-reader near us, doesn’t it? The humor, the sex in somewhat super conspicuous places (Dan and Ce are just a wee bit kinky that way), the mystery and danger—did I mention the hilarity?—they’re all back and then some in With This Bling, and I’m beyond ecstatic to say it was worth the wait. Okay, a little less waiting would’ve been nice, but who’s happy now? Me.

Ce is now out of the art business and contentedly ensconced at Posh Nosh with his pregnant BFF Poppy (my grumpy spirit animal), who happens to be carrying the offspring of Ce’s cousin Joey. Why is this significant? Because a seemingly cursed (and kinda gruesomely acquired) ring, an appearance on a schmaltzy New York morning show, and the single most hilarious cooking segment on television all leads up to what was supposed to be an epically romantic wedding proposal. Supposed to… The thing is, where Ce’s involved, what’s supposed to happen and what does happen rarely are one and the same—so much shenanigans ensue, I swear. Trust me when I say it always makes for great reading, though, and this installment of the Romano and Albright series is no exception.

Of course, then there’s the woman who keeps rubbing her girly junk all up against Dan’s fine-ass form. What the oh-hell-no is up with that? Well, she’s a nasty blast from Dan’s past, and her hygienically challenged husband is a tad on the stalkery side—though the smell, well, that may just be a second hand stench Ce was smelling. At any rate, the Lutzes are a couple of putzes, and one of them is making it awfully easy for a certain someone to try to get his hands on Dan. The interaction between Caesar and Blair, though, it’s priceless! On a scale of one to snark, it’s a total verbal bitch slap:

Blair: “Caspar. We meet again.”
Ce: “Blade. Are you enjoying the show?”

Okay, you had to be there, but oh my god, the only thing missing from this scene was shoulder pads and a catfight. No one should go up against Caesar Romano in a battle of snits, let me assure you, especially when that someone is trying to get with Ce’s man. But there’s so much more to the story than Blair Somerset-Lutz, skank extraordinaire, trying to sink her claws into one Dan Albright. I can’t tell you what it is, though, or it’d spoil all the fun. Just suffice it to say that L.B. Gregg is in top form here, and she did nothing but make me realize how much I missed her guys, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have Romano and Albright back on my e-reader. This book doesn’t start off with quite the bang of the other two in the series, but that’s okay because it doesn’t take long before all hell breaks loose, and this time Ce gets to be the hero in the uber-tight suit. That poor suit… God.

For us dedicated fans of this sexy couple, Gregg also gives us a pretty sweet payoff in the romance department, and I loved every minute of it. Listen, our heroes aren’t ones for the shmoops and candy conversation hearts, that’s definitely not their M.O., but still, they find themselves in uncharted waters by the end of the story, and it was completely fabulous, and now I can’t wait for book four, just on general principle alone, but also to see how this new development develops.

With This Bling may have been a long time coming, but have mercy, it was worth the wait. I’m still cackling over that cooking scene. Comedy gold.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

 

You can buy With This Bling here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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Giveaways, Rhys Ford

Good Eats and Good Reads… Mmmm… It’s the Fish Stick Fridays Tour with Rhys Ford

!FishStickFridays_banner

We’re so please to have author Rhys Ford with us today on the blog tour for her latest mystery novel Fish Stick Fridays. We’ve got a great recipe to share with you, and also a very special contest, so be sure to check out those details below.

And now, here’s Rhys.

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Skip to the recipe if you’ve already seen this part. *grins*

When I first thought about writing Fish Stick Fridays, it was a lot darker than it turned out. I know. I’ll let you have a moment to be shocked and amazed. But then I wrote it and its innards changed, softening a bit. A lot of that change had to do with building a relationship between Deacon and his niece, Zig, and then adding Lang into the mix.

I went round and round on the title. Nothing was working. They were decent titles. Hell, Mary Calmes even stole one of them for her own book but nothing was fitting the story. Then I said… why the hell aren’t I calling it what it is? Fish Stick Fridays.

That might seem a random, odd title and kind of off. But see, it’s not so much about the actual fish sticks or Fridays. It’s about what Fish Stick Fridays represents. For Zig and Deacon, it’s about being together, in a home. An actual home. Where Fridays means no vegetables, but cups of hot cocoa and maybe eating in front of the television. It means a place to come to and find a family—their family.

Of course, this doesn’t mean Deacon knows how to cook gourmet meals but he can cook. So for this blog tour, it’s all about cooking out of the pantry—cheap, relatively easy and cobbling together meals from fresh, canned, and jarred food.  So much of Deacon’s cooking on the fly really is about how to maximize time and using what’s in the pantry. We don’t have a lot of time in our lives. That’s a fact. But we can make do. Making do is so very much a kitchen life hack.

So for this tour, I am sharing some comfort food recipes even Deacon can make, and it took him a bit to get the fish sticks and blue box macaroni & cheese right.  Follow all of the blog tour stops and get a new comfort food recipe every day. Recipes include:

  • Fried Chicken
  • Beef Stew
  • Portuguese Watercress Soup
  • Nutty Mushroom Pasta
  • Fried Rice
  • Lasagna
  • Kalua Pig
  • Mac Salad / Loco Moco
  • Pad Thai
  • Shoyu Chicken

What’s the Giveaway? Because there is ALWAYS a giveaway… Leave a comment or enter the Rafflecopter, if the blog uses one, and hopefully win the right to tell me where to send a set of childrens’ books to a library or charity of your choice. Book sets will be randomly chosen from a list and cost between $20 and $50 USD and donated in your name.

Also, if you want a gluten free way to thicken soups and stews… and soupy potato salad, use instant mashed potato flakes. You’ll see me say that time and time again through the blog tour. It also adds a layer of flavour. I sometimes grab the garlic and herb instant potato packets and just keep them for when I need to thicken a stew.

And now, for what’s next in Deacon’s recipe book.

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10 shoyuchicken

Shoyu Chicken is a local staple in Hawai’i. There are thousands of versions. I like this one. It is very easy to make. Serves about four to five people or one very hungry local boy. Really good for lunch the next day if there are leftovers.

Shoyu Chicken

1/2 cup dried shiitake mushrooms. If you can get fresh like we can, use those

4 T grated ginger ( toss ginger in freezer, scrape with knife or potato peeler to use)

1/2 cup water

1 cup soy sauce (shoyu)

1 cup brown sugar

5 lbs chicken thighs

2 T sesame seeds

Sliced green onions for garnish

Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in hot water to soften. Cut off end of stems (they get woody) and slice mushrooms into strips.

In a large pot, put  mushrooms, ginger, water, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and brown sugar and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium then add chicken. Cook for one hour or until chicken is tender. Serve over rice. Top with green onions.

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Fish Stick FridaysFish Stick Fridays: Deacon Reid was born bad to the bone with no intention of changing. A lifetime of law-bending and living on the edge suited him just fine—until his baby sister died and he found himself raising her little girl.

Staring down a family history of bad decisions and reaped consequences, Deacon cashes in everything he owns, purchases an auto shop in Half Moon Bay, and takes his niece, Zig, far away from the drug dens and murderous streets they grew up on. Zig deserves a better life than what he had, and Deacon is determined to give it to her.

Lang Harris is stunned when Zig, a little girl in combat boots and a purple tutu blows into his bookstore, and then he’s left speechless when her uncle, Deacon Reid walks in, hot on her heels. Lang always played it safe but Deacon tempts him to step over the line… just a little bit.

More than a little bit. And Lang is willing to be tempted.

Unfortunately, Zig isn’t the only bit of chaos dropped into Half Moon Bay. Violence and death strikes leaving Deacon scrambling to fight off a killer before he loses not only Zig but Lang too.

Purchase Fish Stick Fridays atDreamspinner Press || Amazon || ARe || Barnes & Noble

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

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

My Blog || Facebook || Twitter

If you’ve actually read this, yay! I need coffee. We should have coffee.

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!book_kid_giveaway

The Contest

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Follow the Tour:

Nov 25 • It’s About the Book
Nov 26 • Joyfully Jay
Nov 27 • Sinfully Sexy
Nov 29 • Gay Guy Reading
Nov 30 • Boys In Our Books
Dec 1 • The Blogger Girls
Dec 2 • Love Bytes
Dec 3 • Prism Book Alliance
Dec 4 • Boy Meets Boy
Dec 5 • The Novel Approach

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4.5 Stars, JMS Books LLC, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, W.S. Long

Review: Love and Pain by W.S. Long

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Love and Pain

Author: WS Long

Publisher: JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 45000 Words

At a Glance: Overall, a well done mystery/romance!

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Sequel to Love and Murder

After their too-thrilling courtship that included capturing his former lover’s killer, Jake Chandler has started a new life for himself with FBI agent Xavier. Living together is wonderful, but moving to Washington D.C. has resulted in temporary jobs that don’t last long. When Jake finally lucks out on a too-good-to-be-true position with a big law firm, Xavier suspects Jake’s new boss is crooked.

With some sleuthing, snooping, and close calls, Jake gets deeper into trouble at work, and conflicts with Xavier make his world start to crumble. When a key witness is shot to death in front of Jake, they both begin to realize how high the stakes are. Can Jake and Xavier get through these threats and find happiness with each other?

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Review: Love and Pain picks up a few months after Love and Murder, when the main characters, Jake and Xavier, are starting their new life together. You don’t have to read the first book, but it would help a great deal as this book is tied to it and can be a tad confusing in the beginning if you do not know the backstory from the first novel. This book takes a while to get going, but is highly enjoyable once it does.

Xavier is an FBI agent, taken out of the field because of his last case (Love and Murder), and he practically itches to return to field work. Jake is a lawyer, taking short term assignments while looking for a permanent job in Washington, DC. When a law firm hires Jake and the offer seems too good to be true, Xavier gets suspicious and soon discovers that old cases for the both of them are coming back to haunt them. Above it all, though, this is a romance, and the mystery surrounding these men is there as a complement to their love story. How far are you willing to go to keep someone you love safe? Jake and Xavier each answer that question in this book, and it’s amazing. The way the mystery plays out is totally believable, and I give credit for that to the fact that the author is a lawyer. The way the pivotal characters are all linked together is credible and makes the story a believable crime drama played out on the page.

Love and Pain can be a little flat in places, like the author’s writing style is a work in progress: things are stated baldly, almost stilted in places where you wish he would use a few more words and make the imagery flow instead of stating facts. However, this is not the case for the entire novel, and the places where he allows more nuance of these characters makes them come alive and become real, and it is these incredible places that make the rough spots seem not so significant.

I am always on the lookout for really good crime/mystery stories, and I really enjoyed this book and will look for more from this author, as I think he holds great promise in this genre. Overall, well done!

TNA_Signature_Carrie

 

 

 

 

You can buy Love and Pain here:

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Karen, Rhys Ford

Release Day Review: Fish Stick Fridays by Rhys Ford

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Amazon

Amazon

TitleFish Stick Fridays (Half Moon Bay: Book One)

Author:  Rhys Ford

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Page/Word Count:  200 Pages

At a Glance:  As much as I love all of Rhys series, and I’m sad some are coming to an end, I’m thrilled at such an awesome beginning to a new one.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb: Deacon Reid was born bad to the bone with no intention of changing. A lifetime of law-bending and living on the edge suited him just fine—until his baby sister died and he found himself raising her little girl.

Staring down a family history of bad decisions and reaped consequences, Deacon cashes in everything he owns, purchases an auto shop in Half Moon Bay, and takes his niece, Zig, far away from the drug dens and murderous streets they grew up on. Zig deserves a better life than what he had, and Deacon is determined to give it to her.

Lang Harris is stunned when Zig, a little girl in combat boots and a purple tutu blows into his bookstore, and then he’s left speechless when her uncle, Deacon Reid walks in, hot on her heels. Lang always played it safe but Deacon tempts him to step over the line… just a little bit.

More than a little bit. And Lang is willing to be tempted.

Unfortunately, Zig isn’t the only bit of chaos dropped into Half Moon Bay. Violence and death strikes leaving Deacon scrambling to fight off a killer before he loses not only Zig but Lang too.

Dividers

Review: I always forget, until I read Rhys Ford, how much the little details in a book can help paint the picture and add to the experience of reading. And yes, reading one of Rhys Ford’s books is an experience.

In Fish Stick Fridays (along with every other book I’ve read by this author), she does an amazing job with the details. While reading, you can almost see, feel, smell, hear and touch what’s happening around the characters you’re reading about, and she does it without being wordy or drawn out. Such talent.  I’ve decided that I can no longer say every one of her books is my new favorite. I think they are all amazing, and this is another to add to the list.

I wasn’t even a quarter of the way into the book and was already head over heels for Deacon; how he is with Zig, still on edge, bad ass, protective, patient, and she pretty much has him wrapped around her little finger. I mean, really, how can you not love him when he is willing to put on a tutu for her? I loved it!

Zig was probably my favorite character in the book. If I were ever to have a kid, I would almost hope they would be as awesome as Zig. Well, no, but I wouldn’t mind having a niece or nephew that awesome.

The relationship between Deacon and Lang is sweet and chaotic, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching them figure it all out one day at a time, amongst all the craziness happening around them.  As much as I love all of Rhys Ford’s series, and I’m sad some are coming to an end, I’m thrilled at such an awesome beginning to a new one.

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You can buy Fish Stick Fridays here:

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4 Stars, Edward Kendrick, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Maryann

Review: Reaper by Edward Kendrick

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Amazon

Title: Reaper

Author: Edward Kendrick

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 208 Pages

At a Glance: Reaper has action, suspense, and two very likable MCs.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Leading a double life can be challenging, as Reaper well knows.

Take one self-styled vigilante—Reaper. Add his alter ego, successful forty-one-year-old, investment counselor, Zack Ward. Then throw in Dallas Comstock, thirty-two, a beat cop, Zack’s lover and the only person who knows Zack is Reaper. The result is men on a mission. They protect homeless kids living on the streets while trying to find a new building for a soon-to-be demolished shelter belonging to Zack’s mentor, Brian Foster—the man who helped Zack get off the streets.

Someone seems to be kidnapping streetwise young girls. Reaper pulls together a team of street kids—Zip and his boyfriend, Colly, Raven and Sway—to stop the predator. At the same time Zack, with the help of his business clients, sets up a charity ball to raise money for the new shelter, Off-the-Street.

What happens next may strengthen Zack’s and Dallas’ love—or destroy it.

Dividers

Review: Edward Kendrick’s Reaper is a unique story that I could see as a graphic novel that would appeal to young adults, with a few minor changes. Reaper and Wrath are definitely the superhero types, and the setting seems to take us to another place and time, even though the Rockies are mentioned. This story has action, suspense, and a sense of safety and empowerment.

There are two very likable MCs, Zack Ward and Dallas Comstock, and there’s lots of warmth, humor and love shared between them.  Zack is an investment counselor during the day, and has a very comfortable life, but growing up wasn’t anything like it is now. He lived on the streets as a young teen, and did what he had to do to survive. With the help and encouragement of Brian, he got his life together, and now strikes out to help others who are less fortunate.

Dallas comes from a different family lifestyle.  He’s a police officer and is dedicated to his job. He worries but also understands Zack and his plight to take care of the homeless and the young people who have to survive on the street. There are very few people that know that Dallas and Zack are partners in more ways than one.

There are a lot of supporting characters in this story, especially all the young teens who befriend Reaper and Wrath.  We get to meet these colorful characters:  Zip, Colly, Raven, Sway and many others. Our superheroes also have a special friend in Brian, who runs “Off-the-Street” a shelter for homeless youth, where Reaper recruits Nate Brown to teach self-defense to the young people and helps to empower them to also be protectors for others.

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You can buy Reaper here:

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5 Stars, Damon Suede, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Lynn

Release Day Review: Pent Up by Damon Suede

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Amazon

Title: Pent Up

Author: Damon Suede

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 290 Pages

At a GlanceI enjoyed the little twists and turns the story gave me. And the great reveal…well, I didn’t even see it coming. I loved it.

Reviewed By: Lynn

Blurb: PENT UP: Mix business with pleasure and take cover.

Ruben Oso moves to Manhattan to start his life over as a low-rent bodyguard and stumbles into a gig in a swanky Park Avenue penthouse. What begins as executive protection turns personal working for a debonair zillionaire who makes Ruben question everything about himself.

Watching over financial hotshot Andy Bauer puts Ruben in an impossible position. He knows zero about shady trading and his cocky boss lives barricaded in a glass tower with wall-to-wall secrets and hot-and-cold-running paranoia. Can the danger be real? Is Andy for real?

What’s a bullet catcher to do? Ruben knows his emotions are out of control even as he races to untangle a high-priced conspiracy and his crazy feelings before somebody gets dead. If his suspicions are right, Andy will pay a price neither can afford, and Ruben may discover there’s no way to guard a heart.

Dividers

Review: I literally threw myself at this book when I saw it up for review. Why? Well, it’s Damon Suede, duh. Having read everything by him, I was quite intrigued by the blurb and couldn’t wait to get reading. This story has a little something for everyone: action, mystery, a budding romance, and lots of soul searching. I loved it.

When we first meet Reuben, he’s down on his luck. A recovering alcoholic who’s recently divorced, he’s moved from Miami to live and work with his younger brother in New York City. Totally out of his element and having not quite come to grips with all that has happened, he finds himself taking a job as a bodyguard for uber rich Andrew Baur. Let the fun begin.

Even after reading this book and mulling over it for a few days, I’m not real sure how I feel about Reuben. My first impression was to feel sorry for him. Being in a new city, leaving all he knows behind, getting over his divorce, and on top of all that, trying to stay sober. That’s a lot for one person to handle. As the story progressed, I could see that Reuben can definitely hold his own. He’s not one to back down from anything. I loved being in his head as he questions what the hell is going on with Andy. I especially loved seeing him wonder why he’s fantasizing about Andy too. He’s straight for god’s sake, what is wrong with him?

Andy was even harder to figure out because we weren’t in his head; we can only go by his actions and Reuben’s impressions. To me, he came across as a spoiled brat who gets want he wants, no matter the cost. He’s got the money. He’s slippery, secretive and definitely hiding something. For most of the story I wasn’t impressed with him at all. As we get a little deeper into his situation, though, I felt he redeemed himself a little. Not to make me like him more, but I think I understood him a little better. And besides, Reuben has to live with him, I don’t.

I really liked the mystery aspect here. It wasn’t front and center, but was always lurking in the background. The further we get into the story the more layers are peeled away. With confessions, revelations, and a little snooping, it all comes to an action filled climax. I enjoyed the little twists and turns the story gave me. And the great reveal…well, I didn’t even see it coming. I loved it.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I would definitely call Pent Up a GFY story. I loved going on the journey with Reuben as he comes to realize that, yes, he is attracted to a man. His struggle to keep sober was real and, at times, heartbreaking. I really liked seeing two men at total opposite ends of the spectrum getting together and literally saving each other. It may be cliché, but it worked.

On a final note, my new favorite saying is “cock snot”. Thank you Damon.

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4.5 Stars, Anne Barwell, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Narration Rating - 4.5 Stars, Reviewed by Maryann

Audio Review: Shades of Sepia by Anne Barwell – Narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo

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Amazon

Title: Shades of Sepia (The Sleepless City: Book One)

Author: Anne Barwell

Narrator: Michael Ferraiuolo

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours and 59 Minutes

At a Glance: I have now read the book and listened to the audio, so whichever you choose, I think you will be pleasantly entertained.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: A serial killer stalks the streets of Flint, Ohio. The victims are always found in pairs, one human and one vampire.

Simon Hawthorne has been a vampire for nearly a hundred years, and he has never seen anything like it. Neither have the other supernaturals he works with to keep the streets safe for both their kind and the humans.

One meeting with Simon finds Ben Leyton falling for a man he knows is keeping secrets, but he can’t ignore the growing attraction between them. A recent arrival in Flint, Ben finds it very different from his native New Zealand, but something about Simon makes Ben feel as though he’s found a new home.

After a close friend falls victim to the killer, Simon is torn between revealing his true nature to Ben, and walking away to avoid the reaction he fears. But with the body count rising and the murders becoming more frequent, either, or both of them, could be the killer’s next target.

Dividers

Review: Shades of Sepia is a novel set in modern times, where we meet Ben Leyton in Flint, Ohio. He meets Professor of History, Simon Hawthorne, which leads us to the introduction to Boggs Castle. The castle is home to Detective Jonas Forge, Coroner Lucas Coate, and Boggs, an old southern gentleman. There they live and try to coexist with each other, which is humorous and serious at times, but they all remain friends, no matter what.

This audiobook is narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo, and I thought he did a really good job with the different emotions and voices for each of these characters. I liked his English accent for Simon, and the slight New Zealand accent for Ben. I also felt he did great with Boggs and the old southern gentleman’s drawl. He did a fantastic job with John’s vocals too, as you can just feel the evil dripping off this character. I felt Ferraiuolo narrated the story at a good pace and with the creativeness inspired by Anne Barwell’s storytelling. He really brought the story and characters to life. I have listened to other narrations by Michael Ferraiuolo, and I am becoming a fan.

Jackie’s review of this e-book was posted at TNA in March of 2014, and I think it’s right on the nose, outstanding and a series worth following. I have now read the book and listened to the audio, so whichever you choose, I think you will be pleasantly entertained.

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You can buy Shades of Sepia here:

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4 Stars, Genre Romance, Jenna Byrnes, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Maryann

Review: VanDoren’s Vice by Jenna Byrnes

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Amazon US

Title: VanDorens Vice (Kansas City Heat: Book Seven)

Author: Jenna Byrnes

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 115 Pages

At a Glance: Murder, Danger, and lots of suspects makes for a fast-paced read.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: A detective and the head of security at a casino have something in common, don’t they? Perhaps more than one thing.

Detective Mike VanDoren isn’t much of a gambler, but the ongoing embezzlement at Kansas City’s newest casino definitely has his interest. So does handsome Cole McKinney, the head of security at the Time and Tides. Mike dives head first into the case and a relationship with Cole, who can’t believe that any of his trusted employees and friends could be guilty. Mike knows differently, and it’s up to him and his team to figure out who’s behind the elaborate scheme. When a casino employee turns up dead, the case takes a bizarre twist, leaving Mike scrambling to save the people he cares about most.

Dividers

Review: VanDorens Vice is the seventh book in the Kansas City Heat series by Jenna Byrnes, where the author takes us into the interesting and fast-paced world of the casino and security operation. Murder, danger and lots of suspects, along with the creative use of the looping technique from Speed, are all built into an embezzlement scheme.

The two MCs, Detective Mike VanDoren and Cole McKinney, hit it off quickly and the attraction between them is powerful. They both have strong feelings about the jobs that they have to do, and hit some bumps along the way as the embezzlement scheme becomes entangled with murder. Cole’s character is trusting of certain staff members and believes no one would commit such crimes, but Mike has to consider everyone a suspect, even Cole. Eventually, doubt and suspicion start to take a toll on their relationship.

As supporting characters go, Ms. Byrnes developed a great partner for Mike in Lisa Chen. She’s not only smart but has a really fun sense of humor. There is an abundance of characters in this story, as many of the characters from the Kansas City Heat series are brought back, which I really enjoy.

VanDorens Vice can be read as a standalone, but the author does give enough tidbits about the other characters that it may tempt you to read the previous books in the series.

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You can buy VanDorens Vice here:

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Giveaways, Shira Anthony

Guest Post and Giveaway: A Solitary Man by Shira Anthony

SolitaryMan[A]FSThank you so much for hosting the book tour for A Solitary Man! Today is release day and I can’t tell you how excited Aisling Mancy and I are that it’s finally here! Be sure to read to the bottom of the post for a chance to win a cool A Solitary Man swag bag full of fun stuff.

A Solitary Man is set in the fictional Dare’s Landing, near the North Carolina coast, a small city on the Neuse River with a long and colorful history of fishing, pleasure boating, and even pirates. The hot and muggy North Carolina summer serves as a great backdrop to the steamy romance that underlies the mystery/thriller part of the story.

But even more important to the ambiance of the story are the colorful people and language of coastal North Carolina. Aisling and I wanted to make sure we portrayed the characters in the story in a loving and respectful way, and since neither of us grew up in the area, we reached out to people who did for their help. We also had a lot of fun exploring “southernisms,” the wonderful and vivid expressions that pepper conversations in the part of the United States where Dare’s Landing is located. 1de7b45f50f1a3d4659c6d4b99972174And oh what fun we had!

First off, I wanted to share a fabulous Pinterest board with some of the best southern expression memes I’ve seen, by the wonderful Mel Leach: Song of the South. I may be Northern born and raised, but I grew up with a lot of these expressions too! Here’s one of my favorite memes, which explains the quintessential of all southernisms: “ya’ll” or “y’all” (both spellings are correct!). And let’s face it, either is SO much more convenient. Short, sweet, and to the point.

Southern expressions are not one size fits all. The biggest mistake non-Southerners make is to assume there is one “Southerner.” Folks in Texas may share some expressions with folks in North Carolina, but only some. And the accent is entirely different. In fact, even in North Carolina there are a slew of different accents, from the slow drawl of the North Carolina mountains to the brogue of the Outer Banks.

bless your heartHighlighting the wonderful expressions you hear in Eastern North Carolina was a perfect fit for A Solitary Man, and a perfect balance for some of the darker moments in the story. Chance Fairchild is a southerner at heart, although he’s learned to disguise his accept after attending a “highfalutin” law school up north. Xav Constantine serves as a perfect foil for Chance and all the southerners in the story. Xav soon learns that “bless your heart” isn’t a compliment, and that some of the deputies he works with think Chance “has his nose so high in the air he could drown in a rainstorm” (what a northerner would call “stuck up”).

Aisling and I hope you’ll enjoy all the wonderful characters and colorful language that add to the ambiance of A Solitary Man. Southern charm is alive and well, and a heritage to be treasured! -Shira

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5 Stars, MLR Press, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Neil Plakcy, Reviewed by Lana

Review: Children of Noah by Neil Plakcy

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Title: Children of Noah (Mahu: Book Nine)

Author: Neil Plakcy

Publisher: MLR Press

Pages/Word Count: 250 Pages

At a Glance: A must read!

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: A few months after the birth of his twins, openly gay Honolulu homicide detective Kimo Kanapa’aka and begins a temporary assignment to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. Kimo and his HPD partner Ray Donne are quickly thrown into an investigation into threatening letters sent to a U.S. Senator. Are these screeds about racial purity related to an escalating series of attacks against mixed-race couples and families on Oahu?

When arson at a day care center on the Windward Coast brings Kimo’s partner, fire investigator Mike Riccardi, into the case, Kimo worries about the future of his and Mike’s newborn twins on an island falling prey to hate and a cult leader bent on death and destruction.

Dividers

Review: Kimo Kanapa’aka is back in Children of Noah, and I’m just beside myself! I can’t stress enough how much I loved this book. Fans of Neil Plakcy will not be disappointed. If you are new to the Mahu Investigation series, I highly recommend that you please read all the books before this one to get the breadth of Kimo’s world—because it’s big and colorful. You’ll probably guess from the above that I’m a huge fan. Reading Children of Noah just reinforced the fact that Mr. Plakcy can write a story that will totally draw you in and not let go.

I’m not going to go into the plot of the book, but I will say that all the strings get tied up nicely in the end. It’s a satisfying story that’s juicy and is in line with Kimo’s development as a character. We grow with him from the first book, where he’s kicked out of the closet, to this one, where he is in a committed relationship with Mike. And, by the way, I love Mike. Kimo is taking on a new assignment with the FBI, and most importantly, he is a father. It’s great to experience his expanding ohana, family. Reading this book felt like visiting with my favorite friends, seeing their success and feeling their insecurities. I just can’t say enough how much I loved this book.

I also have to mention that besides Kimo and Mike, another character is featured here, and that’s Hawai’i. The island just comes to life through the people, the landscape, the ocean and the spirit of the islands. In reading the Mahu books, I’m always surprised how diverse and multi-cultural Hawai’i’s population is. This diversity is always a major part of the plot, but there is always this dangerous undercurrent to the island. The contrast between the beautiful, pristine image and the ugly is striking.

Children of Noah is a great addition to the Mahu series. I hope it’s not the last because I want more Kimo adventures. A must read!

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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Maryann, Victor J. Banis

Review: A Prayer for the Dead by Victor J. Banis

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Title: A Prayer for the Dead (A Tom and Stanley Novel)

Author: Victor J. Banis

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: I was entertained by the entire series, and I look forward to the next mystery from Mr. Banis to see what he has in store for Tom and Stanley.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Does murder follow Tom and Stanley around, or do they follow the murders?
After a hospital stay, Stanley is invited by Father Brighton to convalesce at St. Marywood, an isolated monastery on the ocean cliffs of Big Sur. Upon arrival, Stanley finds Father Brighton dead. The order’s doctor writes it up as a death by natural causes, but those seem to be quite prevalent at the monastery. The recent demise of a young brother who fell from the cliffs is described as an accident, but Stanley’s nose is twitching. Plus the order’s finances have taken a sudden, mysterious turn for the better. Is something rotten at St. Marywood?
Stanley and Tom can’t resist digging around even if it means testing their tumultuous relationship against a gaggle of handsome, young, virginal, and—they are told—gay men.

Dividers

Review: Before I could begin A Prayer for the Dead, book seven in the Tom and Stanley Mystery series, I dug into the vault of and read the first six books. Each of the books are page turners, with danger, humor, a variety of murder suspects, and unique plots. If you really like murder mysteries, this series offers everything from drag queens to friars in monasteries, and a lot more in between. Even the first book, Deadly Nightshade (which suffered from horrible editing), held my attention to the very last word (but don’t worry, the editing has gotten better).

But the reason I mention the previous six books in the series is because this isn’t only a continuing series about Tom Danzel and Stanley Korski. Stanley’s best friend Christopher Rafferty, and Carl Hunter from a previous book(s), finally get to meet in A Prayer for the Dead. In this book, we find Stanley and Chris making a trip to St. Marywood at the invitation of Father Brighton, a friend of Christopher’s. This in itself is different because Stanley and Chris do some investigating of their own when they discover Father Brighton dead. I was impressed by how well Stanley and Chris did as a team. When Stanley finally gets to fill Tom in on all his findings, they put their heads together about the murders and find themselves on a road trip to Mexico. They come up with several possibilities, but are really surprised by the outcome, just as I was.

What I find extremely interesting in this series is Tom and Stanley.  Even though they are really good at solving mysteries, they really haven’t solved the mystery of their relationship. Tom still considers himself straight, but he loves Stanley. Stanley has been the only man that Tom has been attracted to, and he has a great need to protect Stanley, but he’s really “not interested in anything gay,” and the temptation for women still crops up at times. Stanley is gay and proud of it, but he always has his doubts that Tom will leave him for the straight life. Tom doesn’t want to go to gay clubs or hang with Stanley’s friends–Chris is the only one Tom has made a friend of–and both have walked the fine line of temptation.

Even though Tom has made some changes, I really like Stanley’s character best.  He has really grown throughout the series. Out of his love for Tom, he has come up against some hard decisions, and sometimes I question whether or not they will make it as a couple.

I was entertained by the entire series, and I look forward to the next mystery from Mr. Banis to see what he has in store for Tom and Stanley.

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5 Stars, Charlie Cochrane, Historical Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed By Carrie, Riptide Publishing

Review: Lessons for Sleeping Dogs by Charlie Cochrane

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Title: Lessons for Sleeping Dogs (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries)

Author: Charlie Cochrane

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 208 Pages

At a Glance: If you like period appropriate verbiage and staging, REALLY GOOD mysteries, and colorful and witty characters, then this series is for you.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Cambridge, 1921

When amateur sleuth Jonty Stewart comes home with a new case to investigate, his partner Orlando Coppersmith always feels his day has been made. Although, can there be anything to solve in the apparent mercy killing of a disabled man by a doctor who then kills himself, especially when everything takes place in a locked room?

But things are never straightforward where the Cambridge fellows are concerned, so when they discover that more than one person has a motive to kill the dead men—motives linked to another double death—their wits get stretched to the breaking point.

And when the case disinters long buried memories for Jonty, memories about a promise he made and hasn’t kept, their emotions get pulled apart as well. This time, Jonty and Orlando will have to separate fact from fiction—and truth from emotion—to get to the bottom of things.

Dividers

Review: It is now 1921. Jonty and Orlando are in their forties, and it has been awhile since that business with the wooden cat. While working at the University is challenging, Orlando is beginning to think they will never have another case to solve… But then Jonty goes to tea and a case is presented, along with a particularly good nosebag.

I knew from the opening salvo, “Inspired by the many mysteries in real life that defy solution.”, that I was in for a great mystery with this book, and it did not disappoint! How do you solve a mystery that isn’t really a mystery on the surface? A mercy killing by a doctor, who then takes his own life in regret, two suicide letters explaining it all, and the whole scenario happening behind a closed door which was locked from the inside. What’s left to know? Well, a lot it seems. What they find is a case that stretches them morally and emotionally, and the decision has to be made whether to publish their findings to the world, or just to let sleeping dogs lie.

Each of these books has not only a mystery which has to be solved but a personal battle which must be fought, and in this book the power is in Jonty’s hands to right an old wrong and to realize sometimes the truth can help old sleeping dogs to lie more comfortably. This book, while still being an intense mystery, was a little lighter than some of the others have been. Lessons for Sleeping Dogs is one of my favorites in the Cambridge Fellows Mystery Series. All of Charlie Cochranes books are amazing, but being historically accurate sometimes means the emotions of two men can be constrained. This book has a warmth to it between Jonty and Orlando reminiscent of some of the earlier books in the series when they were sorting through the beginnings of their relationship. The two men are celebrating the sixteenth year of their meeting, and in my opinion, the mysteries and the emotions just keep getting deeper and better. As the pair say,

“Happy Anniversary. May there be many more of them.”

“Amen to that. More anniversaries, more cases to solve, more mattresses to put through their paces.”

“I agree on all three counts. Especially the last.”

If you like period appropriate verbiage and staging, REALLY GOOD mysteries, and colorful and witty characters, then this series is for you. You do not have to read these mysteries in order, just pick one up – it will not disappoint – and then you will go back for more!

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5 Stars, Historical Romance, M. Keedwell, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Maryann, Samhain Publishing

Review: Dark Economy by M. Keedwell

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Dark Economy

Author: M. Keedwell

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 287 Pages

At a Glance: Dark Economy is a jolly good story. This is my first time reading this author, and I was very impressed.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Love can’t stay buried.

Medical student Cadell Meredith has been known to acquire “volunteers” from the occasional pauper’s grave in order to improve his surgical skills. While the legality of this practice is a bit murky, he wouldn’t go so far as to call it out and out robbery.

His latest acquisition, however, is different. The body on his table was obviously healthy, wealthy—and murdered. Cadell feels compelled to seek justice for the dead man, but while dissection comes naturally to him, crime investigation is unfamiliar territory.

Furthermore, he’s caught the attention of one of those new police officers, Blaine Breton. A handsome, sentimental fool who insists Cadell is a criminal. A criminal! Cadell is the first to admit he’s no saint, but he’s no killer.

A marvelous game of cat and mouse ensues as Cadell seeks to expose the truth while hiding his own secrets. A task that grows ever more difficult as his desire for Breton grows…and the danger deepens.

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Review: Dark Economy is set in London, in 1829, and the author has really brought this time period to life. The writing style, settings, and the old English accent give the book its historical feel. We find that it’s also a time of indecision in the medical field, as well as intolerance toward gay men. It’s quite the page turner, full of suspense, danger and humor.

As Cadell Meredith is a medical student, you will find an abundance of medical terms (you may find yourself checking the dictionary—I know I did) and an autopsy or two, so if you’re a little squeamish, you have been warned. Cadell is a fascinating character, and we find his emotions in a whirlwind over not only Blaine Breton but an old acquaintance, a new acquaintance, his medical studies, and sleuthing! He’s a brilliant medical student and artist who has connections to the burial sites of paupers. He does a little grave robbing in order to get hands-on practice, which, of course, is against the law, but he feels justified because his passion is medicine, and he strives to be the best. He uses his artistic talent to draw diagrams for his professor to use at lectures. When he acquires a particular body, and discovers a murder, though, he sets out to find justice for the individual.

Blaine Breton is a policeman, staunch in his belief that Cadell is grave-robbing criminal. They both have different opinions on grave robbing, and of each other, which causes hostility between the two. At almost every turn, Blaine is there to just make Cadell as miserable as possible. In fact, they are driving each other crazy! But, Blaine also has a soft side, and even though he tries to be tough, there’s also a shy side to him. Blaine is still a little bit of a mystery to me.

When tragedy strikes, the first person Blaine runs to is Cadell. That’s when the emotions and respect between them start to come through. After Cadell spends some time with Blaine, he decides to share information he has about the possible crimes and murders that have been happening. Blaine and Cadell team up with other fellow policemen to go after the suspects and try to solve this complicated murder mystery.

M. Keedwell’s Dark Economy is a jolly good story. This is my first time reading this author, and I was very impressed.

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You can buy Dark Economy here:

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5 Stars, Carter Quinn, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Lynn, Self-Published

Review: Vanished 2 by Carter Quinn

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Title: Vanished 2

Author: Carter Quinn

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 106 Pages

At a Glance: This is an amazing series that no one should miss.

Reviewed By: Lynn

Blurb: It’s only been three weeks since Henry woke up to discover his husband, Tom, had vanished. He’s still struggling to come to terms with his new reality when he receives a haunting phone call: “Henry. Help me.” It’s Tom’s voice, but Henry is afraid to believe. His world has already come crashing down around him twice in the last six months. Is Tom really alive, or is Henry losing his grip on reality again?

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Review: If you haven’t read Carter Quinn’s Vanished, stop right here, do not pass Go! and do not collect $200. Turn yourself back around and go read Vanished! You can’t read Book Two one unless you’ve read the first one. That’s just how it goes. The bigger question is, why haven’t you read Vanished yet? Go. Read. It. Now.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, OMG, this book. This is a gripping psychological thriller/mystery that takes a hold of you and doesn’t let go. An edge-of-your-seat read that makes you think you know what’s going on, then BAM, it takes another turn; a turn you never saw coming. A roller coaster ride that makes your stomach plummet, and, just as quickly, has your heart racing. Yes, it’s all that and more. As readers we have our own expectations of what we think should happen, and what we think will happen, but then at times the reality of what does happen is a letdown. With Vanished 2, it’s the total opposite. We never know what’s going to happen, so it exceeds any expectations we ever had.

I love the author’s writing, the smoothness of the storytelling. Each installment has included a beginning, middle, and end mystery, and I’m enjoying the overall story arc that ties them together. It’s brilliantly done. I’m not going to give spoilers away, but I will say this—poor Henry. I don’t know how he keeps it together… well, almost together. I felt as though he was moving underwater. Like he was in a fog with nowhere to go. I truly got the sense of his fear, sadness and frustration. I felt Henry’s emotions rolling off the page as if I were experiencing everything he was. I have to credit Mr. Quinn for letting me feel. Not many authors I read can actually do that, so kudos to you, dear sir.

I love how we are reacquainted with the same secondary characters who really play a big part in the story. I especially loved the revelation from Henry’s best friend Shaun. I didn’t see that coming. Henry’s assistant Trevor was also quite adorable, and I’m hoping we get to see more of him. I also loved the witty banter between the characters, which was put in at just the right moment, when things were getting a little too serious and heavy again. It was very much needed and appreciated.

On a final note, this is an amazing series that no one should miss. A highly recommended story.

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You can buy Vanished 2 here:

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Marie Sexton, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Kathie

Audio Review: Shotgun by Marie Sexton – Narrated by Paul Morey

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Title: Shotgun (Coda Series: Book Seven)

Author: Marie Sexton

Narrator:: Paul Morey

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 8 Hours and 31 Minutes

At a Glance: Paul Morey and the audiobook of Shotgun are like peas and carrots, state fairs and corn dogs, or, my favorite, baseball and peanuts—they are just meant to be together.

Reviewed By: Kathie

Blurb: As a young man, Dominic Jacobsen already suspects he’s gay, and he gets all the confirmation he needs when a rich boy from out of town climbs into the back seat of Dominic’s GTO. One night with Lamar Franklin is all it takes to convince Dominic he’s found the man of his dreams. Unfortunately, that one night is all he’ll get before Lamar returns to Tucson.

Fifteen years later Lamar returns to Coda, Colorado, after ending the latest in a string of bad relationships. He’s alone, depressed, and plagued by late-night phone calls from an unidentified caller. Lamar’s ready to give up when he comes face-to-face with his past.

Since he was 17, Dominic has dreamed of a reunion with Lamar, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready for it now. Facing small-town rumors and big-family drama is bad enough, but Dominic won’t risk losing custody of his teenage daughter, Naomi. The only solution is to make sure he and Lamar remain friends and nothing more. Clothes stay on, no matter what.

It seems simple enough. But for better or worse, Lamar has other ideas.

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Review: I love a good mystery! I love a HEA Male/Male romance! I love coming out stories! And, most of all, I love Marie Sexton and the stories she writes! What a surprise to learn that this was book seven in the Coda series. Not that I mean to be greedy, but can we please have a book eight and nine and ten? Why stop at seven?

Marie Sexton was able to tie in so many sub-plots and characters: Lamar and Jonas, Dominic and Elena, Dominic and his family, Dominic and his daughter, Naomi, and, I think the best one—Lamar, Dominic, Legos and happiness. It’s a great journey.

Paul Morey and the audiobook of Shotgun are like peas and carrots, state fairs and corn dogs, or, my favorite, baseball and peanuts—they are just meant to be together. Morey has such a smooth voice that just draws you in. He is able to capture all the voices and emotions of the characters. I can’t even imagine how hard it must be to sound like a thirteen-year-old girl who’s rolling her eyes over how dumb her dad is acting. He does a great job. Shotgun is five star great, and the narrator, Paul Morey, is five star great too Don’t miss this audiobook from two of the best in the business.

Oh, and “Clothes stay on, no matter what”… Don’t believe it. This is a happily-ever-after story, if you know what I mean. ;)

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You can buy Shotgun here:

Audible.com

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Giveaways, Maggie Kavanagh

Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway: The Inner Sanctum Blog Tour with Maggie Kavanagh

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Today we’re so pleased to have Maggie Kavanagh with us to introduce her new novel, Inner Sanctum, the sequel to Double Indemnity and book two of the Stonebridge Mysteries. Enjoy Maggie’s guest post and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win an e-copy of Double Indemnity or Inner Sanctum, winner’s choice.

Good luck!

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On Writing Sequels and Romance

(This post includes minor spoilers for the first book in the series, Double Indemnity.)

As a new author, especially in the romance genre, writing a series is not always advisable. People read romance mostly for the completion of the romance arc. Once a couple is together, whether it is HFN or HEA, there needs to be investment to keep the reader interested. When I finished writing Double Indemnity, however, I knew I wanted to continue with Sam and Nathan’s story. I knew this mainly because the characters kept talking to me. As every writer knows, you need to listen when this happens: otherwise they never shut up.

We leave Sam and Nathan at the end of Double Indemnity in a happy for now situation, and I wanted to continue to develop their relationship, which is very complex. There is of course the element of power dynamics both inside and outside of the bedroom. While Nathan might be read as the more dominant character, he is also an incredibly caring and attentive partner; Sam is independent and headstrong as well as submissive. I wanted to see how they would continue to negotiate their relationship as it deepened from attraction to love: how do these two men build trust and intimacy when they have both had difficulty with these things in the past?

Another thing I wanted to continue exploring was Sam’s personal development. In many ways, this series is Sam’s story first, since it is told through his point of view. Though he has come a long way by the start of Inner Sanctum from where he began in Double Indemnity, he still has many hurdles to face. In the first book, he is learning to be an investigative journalist while battling with some pretty heavy personal demons; in this book, he takes a much more proactive role as he becomes more serious about his political blog. The mystery (and his handling of it) forces him to confront some things about himself he doesn’t particularly want to admit, but the crisis is itself an opportunity for growth. He becomes a better person, writer, and partner.

Still, we’re not quite done yet! There will be one last installation in Sam and Nathan’s story, Blind Spot, which will be out this winter. I hope you enjoy Inner Sanctum and stay tuned for the final chapter in their story.

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InnerSanctumCoverTitle: Inner Sanctum

Author: Maggie Kavanagh

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pub date: September 14, 2015

Pages: 204

Blurb: Six months into a relationship, things have heated up between political blogger Sam Flynn and FBI special agent Nathan Walker. Though Sam is happy with Nathan and proud of his own sobriety, he’s anxious about what their future holds. Things are also heating up in Stonebridge, Connecticut, as a series of deadly fires puts the community on edge and eventually threatens Sam’s comatose brother. As Halloween approaches, fears rise that the arsonist will strike again.

When Sam encounters the main suspect, seventeen-year-old orphan Damon Blake, Sam’s not sure what to do. He knows obstruction might land him in jail, but he finds himself increasingly skeptical of Damon’s guilt. He takes matters into his own hands and investigates, but doing so means keeping Damon’s whereabouts a secret from Nathan and the police. Meanwhile, Nathan wonders what Sam is hiding and grapples with insecurities of his own. Sam wants to confide in Nathan, and Nathan wants to trust Sam, but they discover negotiating new love can be as dangerous as solving crime.

Buy Links: Amazon || Dreamspinner Press || All Romance eBooks

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Excerpt: Nathan rested his head in Sam’s lap, and Sam dragged his hands through Nathan’s soft, almost black hair, which was subtly peppered with premature gray. Nathan closed his eyes and nearly purred when Sam rubbed his scalp. Sam chuckled.

“What’s so funny?” Nathan murmured.

“I was thinking. It’s no wonder you like cats so much. You practically are one.”

Nathan opened one eye. “Then I hope you like cats more than you pretend to.”

“I like this one.” He scritched again, and Nathan sighed and nestled closer. His long body took up the entire sofa.

After a few minutes, Nathan said, “My mother used to massage my scalp when I was sick.” The show they’d been half watching ended, and Sam flicked off the TV. It was nice being alone and quiet with Nathan. He could smell Nathan’s aftershave and his sandalwood-scented shampoo as he scratched.

“Were you sick a lot?”

“Not really. But some of my favorite memories are of being sick. Like the time I had chicken pox, and I had to stay home from school for a week. I don’t remember how awful it felt, but I do remember my mother singing to me in Italian and stroking my hair. Isn’t that strange?”

Sam held his breath. Nathan rarely spoke about his childhood. “No. I don’t think it’s strange. You never told me you were Italian.” He had often suspected it, though, in spite of Nathan’s English-sounding last name.

Nathan nodded. “My mother is Italian and Lebanese. She lived in Rome until she was fifteen.”

“That’s awesome. Have you ever been?”

“A few times. My grandmother lives in Switzerland, but she has a house in Rome.” Nathan wrinkled his nose like he expected Sam to chastise him for coming from a wealthy family. Sam’s family hadn’t exactly been poor, but there was no denying the difference in their backgrounds. And Nathan wasn’t one to flaunt his money—much.

“Any time you want to whisk me away to a sunny Roman villa, I’m A-OK with it,” Sam joked.

Nathan turned to look up at him. His content expression softened his patrician features, making him seem vulnerable. Sam’s heart swelled again, thinking how lucky he was that Nathan trusted him. He figured he might as well ask another question while he had the chance.

“What was it like growing up in California? I’ve never been.”

Nathan seemed to weigh his answer. A line formed between his dark eyebrows. “It was always perfect. The weather, the people. At least on the outside. I grew up thinking everyone had a comfortable life.”

Sam remembered the boy with the sad eyes in the few photographs Nathan kept from the country house he shared with Emma. There was definitely more to his story than he’d admitted.

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Maggie KavanaghAuthor Bio: Maggie Kavanagh writes gay romances that explore flawed, human characters finding love. She went to graduate school for English literature and reads and writes voraciously, whenever she can get a moment alone. You can find her in the wee morning hours typing away with coffee at hand and cat in lap, happily embodying the romance writer cliché.

While she focuses mainly on contemporary romance, don’t be surprised if a historical or supernatural tale slips into the mix, as she’s always eager to discover different genres. More fiction is forthcoming soon, so stay tuned!

Author Social Media Links: Twitter || Facebook || Goodreads 

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Join Maggie during her Inner Sanctum Blog Tour at the following stops:

Carly’s Book Reviews—Monday, September 14

The Novel Approach—Wednesday, September 16

Diverse Reader—Friday, September 18

Prism Book Alliance—Monday, September 21

MM Good Book Reviews—Tuesday, September 22

Keysmash Blog—Wednesday, September 23

Joyfully Jay—Thursday, September 24

Sinfully Sexy—Friday, September 25

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3.5 Stars, Genre Romance, Lourdes Skye, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Maryann, Wilde City Press

Review: Hunted by Lourdes Skye

Title: Hunted

Author: Lourdes Skye

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count: 169 Pages

At a Glance: Hunted is a first-time read from Lourdes Skye, and I was thoroughly entertained.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Upon a dastardly escape from his sadistically abusive husband, Jace Vanderhuff embarks on a journey that’ll lead him into a dangerous realm of trafficking, murder, and unsuspecting love.

However, Jace has no choice but take the chance, for going back would be a fate worse than death. Hiding in plain sight brings Jace face to face with a cop who is sexy as sin.

Detective Cobra Stallone, while investigating a teen trafficking ring, stumbles upon a sweet, shy, blonde-haired guy who invades his thoughts and dreams. But there’s something there. Something that Jace is guarding. When the truth is revealed, can he melt past Jace’s defenses and fears and show him that love can be better the second time around?

With his husband and a crazed killer-for-hire hot on his trail, will the jungle known as New York City become ground zero, where the hidden has now become the hunted.

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Review: Movie Trivia: In 1986, Sylvester Stallone made a movie called Cobra, in which he played Police Lieutenant Marion “Cobra” Cobretti. The movie wasn’t a big hit, but it was action packed and featured Stallone’s personal 1950 Mercury. In Hunted, Lourdes Skye has created a character by the name of Cobretti “Cobra” Stallone, and that’s what piqued my curiosity about this story. If you have ever seen the movie, Hunted is really nothing like it, but I have to say it is fast paced, action packed, violent, with instances of child trafficking and some really descriptive fight scenes. While Hunted is somewhat predictable, it’s also suspenseful, even if you can sort of figure out what may happen. I enjoyed the non-stop action and the movie nostalgia that Skye brought to this story.

Jace Vanderhuff goes on the run from Octorian, his insanely evil husband, and gets a job at the Silver Bullet pub. Here he meets some really fun characters in Lydia, Mickey, Jetson and Leroy. Cobra spies Jace at the pub, and it leads to some shameless flirting on Cobra’s part, but there’s no quick hook-up because Jace is a little shy and trying not to be noticeable. When things get a little heated, Jace stays honest and tells Cobra why he can’t get involved, which I felt made Jace’s situation more logical, since he still fears his husband’s wrath.

Cobra’s cool and he gives Jace support as they get help to try and win Jace his freedom. I liked Cobra’s character; he’s caring, laid back yet tough when he needs to be. He’s honest about his feelings for Jace too, as he’s not without his own family tragedy, which is what steered him toward being a cop, and he’s still seeking some type of closure.

With Cobra going undercover for the child trafficking case, and Octorian and Rock Mercer coming on the scene, things get tense, but Barney, Cobra’s partner (there are some really corny jokes about snakes and dinosaurs), has Cobra’s back, especially when things go haywire while Cobra’s undercover.

There were two other characters who piqued my interest—Ruslin and Aiden, whom I’d hoped would get their own story, but all good things must come to an end. Hunted is a first-time read from Lourdes Skye, and I was thoroughly entertained.

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You can buy Hunted here:

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5 Stars, A.J. Thomas, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Narration Rating - 2 Stars, Reviewed by Maryann

Audio Review: Holding Out for a Fairy Tale by A.J. Thomas – Narrated by Jeff Gelder

Title: Holding Out for a Fairy Tale (Least Likely Partnership: Book Two)

Author: A.J. Thomas

Narrator:: Jeff Gelder

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 8 Hours and 33 Minutes

At a Glance: I wanted the audiobook to be as exciting as the book itself, but this performance left me wanting.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: When his vicious cousin Alejandro makes a violent late-night visit, San Diego homicide detective Ray Delgado gets a brutal reminder of why he left his family behind. Alejandro wants Ray to find his sister, Sophia, who disappeared from the UC San Diego campus, before the FBI digs too deep into his business.

Special Agent Elliot Belkamp spent his entire life jumping from one place to another, but his new assignment assisting a FBI task force offers him a chance to settle down. When Elliot catches a missing person’s case as his first assignment, the last person he expects to find poking around the victim’s dorm room is Ray, a one-time hookup he’s more inclined to punch in the face than kiss hello. After discovering Sophia’s disappearance is linked to a massive computer-based theft that has two powerful crime families ready to declare war, Elliot focuses on his investigation and tries to ignore Ray. As the search for Sophia turns dangerous, Elliot and Ray discover that tackling organized crime might be easier than resisting the urge to tackle each other.

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Review: Holding Out for a Fairytale is the second story in the Least Likely Partnership series by A.J. Thomas. This story picks up right after book one, A Casual Weekend Thing (a must read). A.J. Thomas continues the series, bringing us Elliott Belkamp and Raymond Delgado in another fast paced, action packed, thriller mystery filled with tension, humor, sadness and passion. I’m glad I own the series because I read it again.

Ray’s a prankster among his fellow cops: smart, into computers, sci-fi, and guns. He’s definitely a good cop and has his partners and fellow cops’ backs. He deals with some serious family issues: Alejandro Munoz, his cousin, is connected to the cartel, and, being “dead” to his Hispanic family, the only two people he still has a connection with are his sister Carmen and niece Sophia. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he’s also sitting on the fence over his sexuality, and he doesn’t believe in a HEA. It took me a while to like Ray, until I learned more about his insecurities.

I liked Elliott from the moment he was introduced in book one. He’s a straight-laced FBI agent, gay and has no problem admitting it. He finally thinks he has a place where he can settle down and maybe find that special someone to build a life with. Though, he has a couple little quirks: his reasoning on Pop Tarts and fighting. When Elliott and Ray meet up again, Elliott has to put his hostility aside and work with Ray to solve the case involving Sophia. As they frantically work to try and stop a war between cartels, they discover they’re better together than apart.

Narration: I have to say I was disappointed in Jeff Gelder’s narration and the presentation of the characters. I wanted more energy and emotion from the two MCs and in the telling of the story, and I felt that Gelder’s vocal choice for Elliott was too high pitched and too childlike. In short, I wanted the audiobook to be as exciting as the book itself, but this performance left me wanting.

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You can buy Holding Out for a Fairy Tale here:

Audible.com

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4 Stars, Dark Hollows Press, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed By Carrie, Shannon West

Review: Double Cross by Shannon West

Title: Double Cross

Author: Shannon West

Publisher: Dark Hollows Press

Pages/Word Count: 107 Pages

At a Glance: Double Cross is a little different from West’s usual work, subject-wise, but still follows her writing style, which is always spot on.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: When F.B.I. agent Ryan Tucker gets the job of escorting a federal witness to court in D.C., he thinks it’s just another boring case on his downhill slide from the top. And then the fireworks start.

In Miami, the alcoholic and mediocre F.B.I. agent is assigned to bring the witness Jackson O’Malley from Miami to Atlanta for what promises to be a minor federal trial. Tucker travels there to find that Jackson is an intelligent, belligerent and gorgeous young man who tells him the odds are against his ever showing up in court alive. Tucker learns Jackson will actually be testifying against a Colombian drug cartel, but there’s one serious problem. It’s his twin brother Dylan who saw the murder and Jackson never saw anything. After a serious and almost successful attempt on their lives at the airport in Miami, Tucker learns that someone in the F.B.I. doesn’t care who Jackson is. They simply want him dead, and think that Tucker is expendable as well. Not knowing who they can trust, Tucker and Jackson find a car and start driving toward Georgia and the federal judge familiar with the case.

Somewhere during that long, dangerous drive, they both learn face the truth about themselves and those they trust, as well as their own inner strengths. With everyone out to get them, they’re forced to rely on instinct and ingenuity if they are going to make it to out of this thing alive.

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Review: What would you do for a twin? A twin you have been covering for your whole life? Jackson will do anything for Dylan – even go to jail for him. Dylan witnesses a hit on a Columbian drug lord, and the FBI needs him to testify to what he saw, but he panics and calls Jackson, afraid if he comes out of hiding the cartel will kill him. So, Jackson sits in jail in protective custody until the FBI can get someone there to assure his safety on the way to the Federal judge.

Ryan Tucker is a mess – as an agent and as a human being – and he stopped caring a long time ago. Tall, good looking, he keeps his demons on the inside. When he steps into the holding cell to meet Jackson for the first time, instant sparks ignite.

Double Cross is a great crime drama from Shannon West. It’s a little different from her usual work, subject-wise, but still follows her writing style, which is always spot on. Ryan is our wounded alpha, and Jackson is our lighthearted, almost brat, who is the perfect complement to the hero.

As with all good crime dramas, there are hot men on the run, SWAT teams with bullets, and car chases. The twist at the end is fantastic, and really elevates this one to a solid read. I recommend all Shannon West books, but if this is your first one, you will not be disappointed.

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You can buy Double Cross here:

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