2 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jennifer, Susan Laine

Review: Sauna Lover by Susan Laine

Title: Sauna Lover

Author: Susan Laine

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 94 Pages

At a Glance: The ending is tied up too quickly, too neatly, and with little conflict after the set up given

Blurb: When Shawn Wells learns a planned development project threatens the quaint gay neighborhood of Trickstown, he jumps into action. This is his home turf. Plus, his favorite hangout, bathhouse Hot Haven, is the heart of the community–along with its owner, Toby Macintyre, who has been a sort-of friend to Shawn for years.

Surprisingly, Toby seems opposed to Shawn’s community-wide campaign to save the uniqueness and unity of the area. Even so, an unexpected attraction sparks between them, further fanning the flames of change.

Shawn has to fight for the future of his community, his beloved bathhouse, and for Toby. The sauna lover quickly finds himself in some real hot water.

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Review: Seeing as my first review for The Novel Approach was a Susan Laine book, I jumped at the opportunity to review Sauna Lover. I had high hopes for the novella, but ultimately it was disappointing for me. There were some good moments and it did grow on me; however, the ending was too neatly resolved and it had me rolling my eyes.

Shawn is the narrator of this story, and a self-professed, unashamed slut. Given his title you’d expect to see more sex on the page, but there’s not much. A few hookups, not very detailed. I was fine with that. It was his personality that grated on me. He’s very energetic, over-the-top, and fits the description of a twink—given by himself and other characters—perfectly. He did grow on me, however, once he toned it down a bit and fixated on Toby, and that’s when I started to like him. At least a little bit.

Toby is a good character, though. I enjoyed reading about him, and honestly I would have loved this story more if it had been told from his perspective. Seeing the business owner quietly wanting his most valuable customer, and observing his interactions with others (read: sleeping with every male that walks into the business except him), would have added a deeper emotional layer to the story.

When things start to heat up between the businesses of Trickstown and the land developer, I settled in for a good battle. Shawn thought he had something figured out, made a call to talk to someone…and then suddenly everyone he knew was happily gathered and problem solved. I had wanted something more, wanted Shawn to use his wit and snarkiness to take someone down, but it didn’t happen.

I did learn quite a bit about sauna culture from this book, though. I had no idea there were so many different types and different techniques. In the cold weather I’m facing right now, it made me want to go take a steam bath of my own.

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You can buy Sauna Lover here:

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jennifer, Susan Laine

Review: The Sensualist & the Untouched by Susan Laine

Title: The Sensualist & the Untouched

Author: Susan Laine

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Page/Word Count: 324 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Being over thirty is not an issue for Corey Paige. Being frigid and a virgin, however, is a huge problem for the only son of a newspaper magnate. No matter the risk, Corey’s intent on resolving both problems in one go.

Enter Lucian Allard, a wealthy hedonist with a notorious reputation at club Boudoir—and an unconventional sexual mentoring program for those who suffer from dysfunctions. As the two men begin a sensual journey to awaken Corey’s libido, Corey’s frigid body isn’t all that begins to melt. His untouched feelings also spark to life.

Though a family emergency puts a halt to awakening Corey’s senses and desires, Corey and Lucian grow closer as friends. Then an unexpected kiss from Lucian in Corey’s most desperate hour changes everything. Now Corey must decide if the program is still an aid or an obstacle to two lonely men trying to maintain a professional detachment but falling hopelessly in love.

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Review: This book hit a number of firsts for me: my first review for The Novel Approach Reviews, my first book from the author, Susan Laine, and my first incredibly character driven novel. When I got this book to review, I pretty much hit the jackpot on those accounts, because this book took me for a serious ride.

As I said, this book is very much character driven. Corey and Lucian are complex characters that complement each other perfectly. As the title suggests, one is a hedonistic sensualist and the other is literally untouched – a self-professed frigid virgin. It might not sound like the perfect match, but believe me when I tell you it isn’t.

Told through both Corey and Lucian’s perspectives, the novel starts with Corey going to a psychologist for help with his frigidity. The help he gets is rather unconventional, as he is sent along to Lucian, who is a sexual mentor. Throughout the novel Lucian works hard at opening Corey up to the sensual side of life, and introduces him to all that is sensual: sounds, smells, taste, touch. Please note, I did say sensual and not sexual. Not everything is always about sex, though most of the time the end goal is getting Corey to reach that point.

If you’re looking for a fast paced story, this is not it. It is slow because of how character driven it is; however, I don’t think that takes away from the story. It actually enhances it. The detail to every setting is incredibly written. I was placed time and again in each room with Corey and Lucian, whether they were at Lucian’s penthouse, Corey’s apartment, Heather House, or Boudoir. I started to see, smell, and feel everything Corey felt. I even wanted to be there in person experiencing those things with him.

Susan Laine is a talented author. The level of detail is astounding and clearly researched. It makes me wonder if she knew all of these things beforehand, or if it was researched just for the book. If the latter, then this was an unbelievable undertaking.

I highly recommend this book. If you’re not a fan of character driven novels with a slower plot, give this one a chance. It might just win you over with the beautiful details and overall…sensuality.

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You can buy The Sensualist & the Untouched here:

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Dreamspinner Press, Susan Laine

“Sparks & Drops” Is A Little Bit Of Magical Romance



Title: Sparks & Drops (The Wheel Mysteries: Book One)

Author: Susan Laine

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 170

Rating: 4.25 Stars

Blurb: Magic is in the air when Gus Goodwin, a pagan shopkeeper and owner of the Four Corners’ occult shop, meets a Niall Valentine, a mysterious PI investigating the disappearance of a local witch named Joy. What starts out as harmless flirting and information gathering soon turns into a partnership, with both men determined to solve the case.
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Dreamspinner Press, Susan Laine

“Accidental Chemistry” Will Leave You Wanting More

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” ― C.G. Jung



This is a very humorous look at two very different men. I have never seen two people have so many problems just trying to hook up. It all starts with Zane being “up to here” with his boss. He doesn’t really have to work but his brother Zak thinks he needs to experience working a job to learn a good work ethic. After taking about all he can, he heads out to a club with one thing on his mind. Yeah you got it, getting laid. While checking out the scenery in his local club he is sent over a drink. When he checks out the guy that sent it, his first impression when the man looks up is “cute blond”. After talking to the guy he realizes the guy is nothing but a fake. Fake hair, caps on his teeth and very shallow. Luckily right at that moment the bartender lets him know this isn’t the guy that bought him the drink, that guy just left. Zane takes off after the guy and finds him. This starts a series of mishaps that just has to make Zane feel as if he is the unluckiest man in the world.

There are tears, an almost broken nose, a big mishap on the stairs that just sounds painful, and cat pee on the sheets. This couldn’t get any worse could it? Well, yeah, unfortunately it could! After Joshua takes care of Zane’s needs, well, Zane falls fast asleep, with no reciprocation. OUCH. When Zane wakes in the middle of the night to get a round two, he finds his bed empty and Joshua gone. Too bad he didn’t get a last name or a phone number, huh?

Now, Zane has only been in one relationship before and that lasted all of three weeks. So why does he feel so drawn to Joshua, and why does he feel this uncontrollable need to find him and make things right? So with the help of his roommates, Zane tracks Joshua down and tries to make him understand that he does want to get to know him, and I have to say he gives great apology!

The two men end up finally getting some MUTUAL satisfaction, and they make plans to spend more time together. Zane decides to cook for Joshua, but they end up doing it together and that makes it even better. There are some truly sweet moments between the two, and it seems to be the start to something special. Personally, I wish the author would have given us maybe another chapter or two to see this relationship blossom. However, Susan Laine did leave us with the impression that these two will work out, and I guess that will be enough for now, but I wouldn’t object to a second visit with these two. One added bonus to this story was the short visit we had from Zak, Zane’s brother, who was featured in the first book of the series “Twice By Chance”.

If you love a short sweet love story with some truly funny situations this story is for you! Truly entertaining and will leave you wanting more!

Reviewed by: Jackie

You can buy Accidental Chemistry here:

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Dreamspinner Press, Susan Laine

And Now, A Little Sage Advice From Susan Laine

Best friends are always best lovers. – Arushi Tanwar

Sage Advice is a short story that is included in Dreamspinner Press’s Daily Dose collection for June. It’s a good story, but didn’t work great for me as a short. I think it would have made a great novel or novella. I wanted to know more about these characters’ back story, their lives before page one of this story.

Sage was once an Olympic swimmer. His career ended when he slipped on a wet floor and suffered a head injury. His best friend Piper is a professional ballet dancer. Unbeknownst to everyone except Piper and his doctor, he recently suffered an injury. Piper has a stress induced injury to his knee and it is a career ending injury. He has been miserable to be around since he found out about the injury a month ago.

Sage and Piper have been best friends forever. They have also secretly been in love with each other forever. Ms. Laine creatively uses a game of “Truth or Dare” initiated by Sage to try and figure out what has been bothering Piper for the last month. Sage and Piper both secretly also want to use the game to find out how the other feels about him.

Ms. Laine does a good job using the game as a tool to get at the truth regarding Piper’s injury. Once that is revealed, Sage is able to comfort and commiserate with Piper because of his own career ending injury. In Piper’s haze of self-pity, he had forgotten about the support that Sage could offer.

While comforting Piper, Sage wants the game to continue. It is soon revealed that the men are deeply in love with one another. Ms. Laine writes really hot sex scenes between them since the final “dare” of the game is for Sage to take Piper to bed and “…make love to me all night… then cuddle me all morning.” A dare that Sage happily takes.

Over all, a good short, but I would have loved more. Recommended to those who enjoy short stories with bits of hot, steamy sex.

Reviewed by: Tina

You can buy Sage Advice here:

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2 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Susan Laine

Sounds of Love by Susan Laine

Good conversation is really important to me, but I never seem to realize how important it is until I feel its absence, so it makes sense, then, that well written, organic dialogue can either make or break a book for me. That also applies to the interior monologue of the first person narrative; the internal conversation of the narrator is every bit as integral a part of me liking a book as is the conversation between the characters, which is what sabotaged Sounds of Love for me; what the characters said and the way in which they said it, ultimately chafed away at my ability to enjoy this story.
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