Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Angel

More Review Wrap-ups: Dreamspinner Press’s Advent 2014 Anthology “Celebrate!”

JourneyBack[The]Title:  The Journey Back

Author: Kristen Slater

Pages/Word Count: 35 Pages

At a Glance:  More tell than show, but a good story nonetheless

Blurb:  Having quit his job, Idris is trying to make it home to his partner of twelve years, Dan, in time for Christmas. Stuck on a train during a snowstorm, Idris has nothing to do but think back on how much he has missed by putting his career first. His job has been straining their partnership for years, and now Idris worries he’s damaged it beyond repair. He desperately wants to get back to the UK and salvage their relationship—if there’s even anything waiting for him when he gets home.

Review:  Kristen Slater is a new to me author and I enjoyed the style of this story. The flashbacks did become a bit much after the first few, but seeing as the story was told from Idris’ POV, it works. I would have rather seen the action as it was happening, so to speak, but as I said, these are Idris’ thoughts on the relationship, and if he has damaged it beyond repair.

While I liked the fact that Dan was so forgiving, he was very harsh to Idris in some of the flashbacks. I can also say that Idris was rather clueless, which I suppose can be chalked up to male stubbornness. The homecoming and climax of the story was sweet, but it made for an abrupt ending. All-in-all, enjoyable and I’ll most likely read works by this author again.


LastofSummerTitle:  Last Of Summer

Author:  Genna Donaghy

Pages/Word Count: 23 Pages

At a Glance:  A quick and enjoyable read

Blurb: Although Rowan Stormbringer was raised Wiccan, he’s never felt a connection to magic. That changes on the eve of Yule, when he encounters a magical creature, a phoenix, that needs his help getting to Stonehenge before the sun sets that day. Hiding a magical creature in the mortal world is tricky at best, but partnering with a good-looking, snarky taxi driver may be just the ticket Rowan needs. As they explore their instant attraction to each other, Rowan and Martin must learn to trust one another if they hope to deliver the phoenix home in time.

Review: Short story is short, and Donaghy is a new to me author. I kinda wanted more of this slowly fast story, if that makes any sort of sense. The potential for more was there, especially with a nice HFN. I also liked the fantasy aspect of this story, the second one in the anthology I have read that wasn’t contemporary. Well, not completely anyway.

Rowan, though a lapsed pagan, if one can be such a thing as a lapsed pagan, falls back on his roots and helps out one of nature’s fantastic creatures, a phoenix.  I really liked him and his banter with the phoenix. Martin was a bit annoying, but he was fairly open-minded about Rowan and his phoenix. While there was a hefty dose of insta-lust in this story, I liked the fact that there wasn’t insta-love. It was a short, sweet tale about hope and renewal, and just a plain enjoyable short tale. I’ll read more by this author if I find her work.


LoveLightTitle: Love Light

Author: Jane Darius

Pages/Word Count: 21 Pages

At a Glance:  Very detailed story and sexy to boot!

Blurb:  Nick, a bartender, and Ben, a hotel reviewer, have been together two years. Though he hates the paperwork involved, Nick agrees to accompany Ben to a beautiful lodge on the Mozambican side of Lake Malawi. Over a bottle of wine, they trade Christmas horror stories from their pasts. But memories of hurt and loss only serve to remind them how lucky they are to have found each other. It might be time to try out the showerhead built into the tree outside….

Review:  A lovely, sexy times tale about two lovers getting to know one another in a more intimate way than intercourse. Although there is sex in this story, I liked the fact that Ben and Nick sat down to talk to one another about their pasts. It’s the simple slice of life moments that need to be done just right to work in a tale, and I think this short story format was a good one. I’d like to see how Nick and Ben are in say… five years. I’ll revisit this author’s works regardless of whether she touches on Ben and Nick or not.


Minstrel'sSolsticeTitle: Minstrel’s Solstice

Author: Nicole Dennis

Pages/Word Count: 29 Pages

At a Glance:  Short, sweet and excellent world building!

Blurb: A wasting plague swept over the Four Quadrants, changing how folks view the traveling guilds. Most travelers now make permanent contracts and settle in villages instead of continuing on the road. Needing to alter his lifestyle, Kerryll MacGhylle rides deep into the Northern Quadrant in search of a place to belong.

The Northern Duke, Cullan Gryffyn D’Antuono, accepts the contract of the frozen minstrel arriving during a powerful ice blizzard. He nurses Kerryll through the ravages of the sickness. Though they live at opposite ends of society, they have more in common than they realize.

Review:  This was excellent! I wanted to read more about this realm that Dennis created. It was so richly detailed I felt like I was in this world and wanted to know more about the MCs as well as the side characters on the Duke’s estate.

Kerryll and Cullan had an instant attraction and while it wasn’t quite insta-love, it was close. Really close, as this takes place all within two days and Cullen asks Kerryll to stay with him for more than just his minstrel talents for a wonderful HFN. I loved that there was a promise of more to come for the MCs at the ending of this tale, as it was too short. I hope that the author will revisit this verse. It felt like the beginning of an adventure, one I would definitely love to read more of again and again. I will seek out more this author’s work.

Nicole Dennis, RainbowCon, Totally Bound

It’s Another RainbowCon Countdown Celebration Giveaway With Nicole Dennis!

Nicole Dennis is with us here today to introduce the first book in her new Southern Charm series from Totally Bound, Rules of the Chef. As part of the RainbowCon Celebration, Nicole would like to give one lucky reader the chance to win an e-copy of the book. Read on to see a yummy excerpt and the registration deadline!

The Mini-view:

1.) How did you come up with the idea for the Southern Charm series? Are you a southern girl yourself?

A. The book started as a project I tried with a fellow author, Rj Scott. It kept getting stalled thanks to other projects and timetables, so she gave it over to me. *nibbles on nails*
I’m a transplanted southern girl. I grew up in Northern NJ and moved to Florida with my folks.

2.) Does food play a role in the series? Would you consider yourself a foodie?

A. It plays a fairly decent role due to the B&B/Restaurant combo. The characters love to eat and hang out in the kitchen. I’m always adding food scenes in my books.

I’m a careful foodie since I’m on a strict regimen to control my belly illness – IBS. One wrong food and I’m in pain, so I’m always looking at recipes. Guess it influences what I write.

3.) This is a seven book series—do you have it plotted out all the way to the end? Did you find as you were writing “Rules of the Chef” that you had to alter your vision at all as the characters took shape?

A. The 7 book idea came from talking with my editor after turning in the first book. She suggested I pull it out several books and turn it in a series. All of the sudden, a few fellas from the book started yapping in my ear. They’re not plotted, but short synopses and ideas are there for each one.

Oh yes, I’m always altering things as I write. Even going back and filtering in a new line of the story because I figured out something about the character or adding in a new thread.

4.) What common traits would you say all your leading men share? What do you think makes for a great protagonist?

A. I try to keep them all compassionate and understanding of others. Sure they tease and play with one another, but there’s nothing hateful about their friends and loved ones.

A great protagonist is someone who intrigues you and you want to follow their story to the very end. You fall in love with them and want them to jump off the page and visit you in reality.

5.) Will each of the seven books feature a new couple? Will the books be able to be read as standalones, or should they be read in order?

A. Each book does feature a new couple, but due to how I structured the series the other couples are always around. I recommend reading them in order because of the integrated and continuous storylines. Plus the later couples are introduced in the earlier books so you get to know bits and pieces of them in anticipation (I hope) for their story.

6.) Would you like to share some information on your current WIPs?

A. I’m always working on more ideas than I have time to write. I’m slightly ADD when it comes to that.

A complete rework and massive expansion of a previous released book – Skylar’s Salvation – is coming. I’m hoping to re-edit/write and publish my previous released books throughout the next year.

Other than the rest of the Southern Charm series, I’m working on two new sets of 5-book serials. One will be about magical bound familiars. The other is about sentinels who watch and protect the seasons.

I have my M/M/F jaguars to continue.

Blurb: When hotelier Samuel Ashford arrives to change things, Southern Charm chef Dakota Mitchell fights against it and nothing will be the same.

Learning about the sale of his beloved home – The Southern Charm, chef and co-owner Dakota Mitchell is having a hard time with the potential changes. He wants nothing else to alter.

Chosen by his family’s company Ashford Hotels to re-create the Charm into the latest chain of boutique hotels, Samuel Ashford enters the Deep South. Inside the overgrown, run down appearance, he learns the Charm is run by people who care and love the building, the delicious food, and their guests.

Can these two put aside differences and arguments to save the Charm? Even if it means they find a little love along the way.


Dakota moved around the back hallway and the stairs to his private suite under the eaves. He needed to get dressed and return to his kitchen. At least he had some control in one part of his home.

I wouldn’t have a home if I lose my share. Shit, I would have to figure out where to create and supply a new restaurant, a place to live, and all kinds of other crap. I don’t need this pressure or stress. What a crock of horse shit! His thoughts were almost as chaotic as a smoke alarm in a quiet room. Shoving a hand through his wet hair, pushing the damp strands off his face, he used the towel to dry his hair at the back.

Climbing the stairs, he stared down at the floor while he rubbed the towel over his nape. On the top floor, Dakota went down the empty hall. He cursed in surprise when he banged into something hard. A body, it seemed, as he saw his bare feet tangled with pricey leather loafers. Feeling their combined mass go off balance, he wrapped his wet arms and towel around the other form, and twisted to take the brunt of the fall. His head rapped hard against the floor and wall after his ass hit the carpet.

“Holy hell!” There was a harsh biting ache in his hip and an answering throb in his skull.

Glancing up, his eyes a little dazed and blurry, he felt more than saw the shorter figure—a man—pressed against him. A noticeable erection ground against his lower belly and it wasn’t his. It sharpened his attention through the haze of pain and caused his cock to take notice. He groaned when their erections bumped together.

Their legs tangled—it had been one hell of a long time since he’d had the heavy weight of a guy pressing him to the floor. Unable to help himself, he breathed in the delicious cologne and soapy scent of the man before he admired the honey-highlighted brunet color of his hair. The weight of a suit and tie brushed against his skin.

“Why can’t you look out where you’re going?” the guy said. “I was clearly on one side, not even in your path.”

Dakota felt like retorting ‘Well, duh, had a freaking towel over my head’, but he didn’t. Instead he offered rational defense, “I didn’t expect anyone up on the staff and owners’ floor. I’m the one on the bottom here. You knocked me over.”

“You tangled our feet together and knocked us off balance. I had no other choice except to go down.”

Dakota forced the smaller man to roll onto the thin carpet and hardwood floor. He moved his aching erection to a different side to relive some pressure. He pressed a hand against the growing knot of pain on the back of his head. “Jeez. This isn’t what I need on top of everything else, a freaking bump and headache.”

“Are you all right?” Guest on the Wrong Floor said.

“I whacked the living hell out of my head. How do you think I am?” Dakota grinned as he looked across at Mr Uptight. “We can only blow out so much cold air to chill people off. You should lose a few layers.”

“I’m not here on vacation. This is a business visit. I’m here to oversee things and was assigned this room when I requested it. The lady at the front desk said this room wasn’t for guests.”

“Business? What kind of business? Florida businessmen are dressed in business casual. No tie required.”

“Should I presume you’re staff?”

“A little more than staff, I’m the chef and owner…co-owner of the Charm. I belong up here. Dakota Mitchell,” Dakota said. “You’re on the wrong floor.”

The man blinked caramel brown eyes. Dakota found an intense interest in the long brown lashes that surrounded them. “Samuel Ashford. I represent the new co-owner and I belong on this floor.”

“Ashford? You’re Samuel Ashford? You’re early, I wasn’t expecting you until later.”

Dakota scrambled and pushed himself well away from the gorgeous man. He backed against the wall. Sonofabitch, this is my nemesis? The guy who’s going to rip the guts out of the Charm?

“I am. Actually, I arrived a few minutes later than I expected since I couldn’t find…”

“Yeah, anyway, welcome to the Southern Charm.” He rose to his feet, twitched his shorts in place, then went to his room before the man could finish any explanations or issues with his home. At the door, he turned and stared at the slender man. Change a damn thing and I’ll wring your freaking neck. “I’ll get changed and be with you in the foyer in ten.” With that last message, he slammed the door in Samuel’s face. He could hear Samuel’s dry response even through the heavy door.

“Nice to meet you too.”


About the Author: Ever the quiet one growing up, Nicole Dennis often slid away from reality and curled up with a book to slip into the worlds of her favorite authors. Over the years, she’s created a personal library full of novels filled with dragons, fairies, vampires, shapeshifters of all kinds, and romance. Always she returned to romance. Still, there were these characters in her head, worlds wanting to be built on paper, and stories wanting to be told and she began writing them down whether during or after class. She continues to this day. Only recently has it begun to become fruitful, spreading out to let others read and enter her worlds, meet her characters, and see what she sees. No matter what she writes, her stories of romance with their twists of GLBT, paranormal, fantasy, and erotica will always have their Happily Ever Afters.

She currently works in a quiet office in Central Florida, where she also makes her home, and enjoys the down time to slip into her characters and worlds to escape reality from time to time. At home, she becomes human slave to a semi-demonic tortie calico.

Find Nicole on: Facebook | Pinterest | Blog | Twitter | Google + | Tumblr | Email

In person – I’ll be at RainbowCon in Tampa (with you and all the other wonderful authors). In October, I’ll be at GRL as a Reader, but you can still ‘attack’ me for autographs and info.

A.E. Via, A.J. Corza, Allison Cassatta, Angel Martinez, Cardeno C., Cat Grant, GayRomLit, GotYouCovrd, Hayden Thorne, Heidi Belleau, Heidi Cullinan, L.A. Witt, Mary Calmes, Nicole Dennis, Rebecca Cohen, S.A. Meade, Sneak Peek

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Hi, everyone, I hope you’ve all had an outstanding week, and are gearing up for another.

We’ve been busy as can be around here these days, booking more great authors and reading more great books, and we’re looking forward to more great fun in the months to come. We’re building up the GayRomLit Countdown Celebration roster of authors, which Rhys Ford kicked off for us last month. I’m sure we’ll be adding more as the months move along, but here’s a list of confirmed authors you can watch for here at TNA between now and October:

Charlie Cochet | Daisy Harris | Edmond Manning | Ethan Day | Jaime Samms | LE Franks | Lex Chase | RJ Scott | Sophie Bonaste | Z.A. Maxfield | Jordan L. Hawk | Katey Hawthorne | Jamie Lynn Miller | Brandon Witt | Zathyn Priest | J.K. Hogan

How about that for a lineup? We’ll keep you posted on additions as the tour continues. But, for now, here’s what’s on tap for the coming week.

MondayAllison Cassatta is our lead-off guest today with a RainbowCon Celebration and Giveaway

Riptide Publishing presents a Spotlight Stop on Heidi Belleau’s Straight Shooter tour today, and there’s a Giveaway

Pride Promotions presents the Not in the Stars Anthology Blog Tour. We’ll have Angel Martinez here to represent, and there’ll be a tour-wide giveaway

TuesdayHayden Thorne comes back for a visit to talk about her newest release Banshee, and she’ll be giving away an e-copy of the book

Rebecca Cohen is also with us today, with a Backlist Book Bump and an e-copy giveaway of her book Servitude

WednesdayNicole Dennis stops by to join in the RainbowCon Celebration fun, and she’s offering a giveaway

A.E. Via is also with us today on her Nothing Special Blog Tour, and she’s got a giveaway too

And A.J. Corza’s back with another great installment of Got You Covered

ThursdayHeidi Cullinan makes TNA a stop on her Tough Love Blog Tour and she’s offering a giveaway

FridayCat Grant and L.A. Witt pair up and come calling on the Guarded Blog Tour, and there’s a giveaway

SaturdayCardeno C. and Mary Calmes are here on their Control Blog Tour. They let me interview Robert and Vy, and they’re giving away an e-copy of the book

SundayS.A. Meade is our guest today with a guest post about her newest release, Tournament of Shadows, and she’s giving away an e-copy of the book

And that brings another week to a close. Until next time, happy reading!