A MelanieM Recent Release Review: Treading Water (Forgotten Soldier #2) by Jessie G.

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

After devoting eighteen years of his life to the US Navy, Petty Officer First Class Shane Parker is struggling with the very real possibility of becoming unnecessary. If he doesn’t make Chief Petty Officer before his twenty—and it doesn’t seem likely that he will—he’ll be retired from active service and placed on the Fleet Reserve list until his mooring lines are officially cut forever. While it would all be very honorable and ceremonial, he simply wasn’t civilian material.

Before even swearing-in, Julian Brand knew he wasn’t cut out to be a soldier, but refusing wasn’t an option. Generations of Brand man made careers in the military and the expectation of every Brand son was to follow in those prestigious footsteps. Though the prospect of being rolled back hindered his every step, he survived Battle Stations and did his time. Six years out of uniform and Julian still struggles to find familial acceptance as he fights to live life on his terms.

On the surface, they couldn’t be more different, but when Jared Ramos calls, neither are capable of refusing. If they can find a way to work together, they might be able to save a friend and each other in the process.

After some initial confusion about the opening, I found Treading Water (Forgotten Soldier #2) by Jessie G to be a heartwarming and wonderful story about love, recovery and family.  I haven’t read the first story so the beginning pages about Jared, Aiden and The Ramos Foundation threw me.  At first I thought I’d fallen into the wrong story and had to read the blurb again to remember who I was supposed to be reading about.  But once that initial setup about the foundation was laid, I settled into the story of Julian Brand, Petty Officer First Class Shane Parker and Julian’s cousin Sean, who’s been severely injured in a naval carrier accident.  Sean, who is het btw, is a huge part of this story.  He is the glue that brings the two men together in the first place and his love for them as his brothers and family as well as theirs for him makes such an incredible foundation for this story that everything else that follows seems right and happily complete.

Told from multiple perspectives (Shane, Julian, and Sean’s) Treading Water progresses as each man works through the different issues holding them back in life, each man’s fears, issues from the pasts, or in Sean’s case, his injuries and fears about what they mean to him as a man.  Their interactions with each other is funny, tender, realistic and loving.  The care that this author has written into the story flows off the page and into your heart.  And finally, when each man makes that breakthrough, whether it’s  Sean in the  barbershop (bring out the tissues), or Shane and Julian realizing their love for each other and making that final step towards HEA, you’ll be cheering them on.

Now I suppose I’ll have to go back and pick up that first story.

And honestly, Jessie G has me intrigued about Jared and Aiden as well.

Until then I absolutely recommend  Treading Water.  It’s well-written, heartwarming and oh so wonderful.  Pick it up and get started today.

Cover art is ok.  I like the model but would have wished for more about the storyline.  I mean it takes place in Key West!!!!

Sales Link

Book Details

Kindle Edition, 168 pages
Published July 17th 2017
ASINB073ZQ4T5P
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesForgotten Soldier #2

An Alisa Review: Rescued by Dakota Storm

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

Dean Montgomery loves his ranch and his family, but something is missing. When he sets out on a road trip to purchase land to expand his ranch, he finds himself stranded in a snowstorm.

 

When the sexy and gruff Colt James, a tracker and rescue worker, rescues Dean, both of their lives are turned upside down. Attraction sizzles, and hearts race. But then trouble brews, and Dean is needed back home. Can these two make their new relationship work?

 

This was an interesting and sweet story.  Dean is rescued by Colt when he is stranded during a snowstorm and Colt brings him home to wait it out.  Their attraction and the intense situation help them get to know each other quickly.

 

Most of this story is told from Dean’s point of view which makes it easy to understand his thoughts and doubts he can easily read between the lines when it come to Colt and get past his gruff exterior.  Colt’s nephew Coop understands their relationship and quickly knows the new family dynamic he thinks they should have and he is a wonderful and helpful kid.  Dean supports Colt when he has to put himself in danger to rescue Colts friends and, after a little pushing, Colt knows he wants to help Dean when his brother is in trouble.  I really liked the loving relationship these two build and how much they understand the others quirks.

 

The cover art by Written Ink Designs is nice and works well for this story.

 

Sales Links: JMS Books | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 132 pages

Published: June 17, 2017 by JMS Books

ISBN: 9781634864039

Edition Language: English

 

An Ali Audiobook Review: A Day Makes by Mary Calmes and Greg Tremblay (Narrator)

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Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Mob enforcer Ceaton Mercer has killed a lot of people in a lot of different ways – he stashed the last two bodies in a toolshed belonging to a sweetheart marine researcher in an idyllic island community – but he’s really not such a bad guy. Over time he’s found a home of sorts, and he even learns he’s found a place in the hearts of the people he works with…at least enough so that they won’t put a bullet in his head because he’s outlived his usefulness to the boss.

But he never thought he’d find one day could change his life, and he’s about to discover how wrong he is.

Because in a single day, he meets the man who looks to be the one, the love of his life. It’s an improbable idea – a man who deals in death finding love – but it’s like it’s meant to be. That single day gets weirder and troubles pile up, forcing Ceaton to take a hard look at his dreary life and accept that one day can change everything, especially himself. His future might be brighter than he expects – if he can stay alive long enough to find out.
 
Lot’s of my friends love this author.  I always see her books with 5 star reviews all over Goodreads.  So about every two years I feel like I’m missing something so I try one, thinking that this will be the one I connect with.  It never works out for me.  It’s time I admit defeat.  This writer’s story telling style just does not work for me.
This story begins with Ceaton meeting a mob boss and going to work for him.  This was where I first had to suspend belief.  Ceaton’s character was discharged from the military for not following orders and he did that because he was so full of integrity that he couldn’t follow an order that would kill people, but now we’re supposed to believe he’s thrown all those morals away to work for the mob and kill people?  The suspension of belief needed to follow this plot was just too much for me.
The story was slow and repetitive.  Lot’s of killings and mob related things.  Ceaton doesn’t meet the other MC until the later part of the book and then it is an insta-love thing.  I found the ending to be even more far-fetched than the beginning.
The narration was done by Greg Tremblay and I thought he did a very good job.  There are a number of different characters and a number of different accents that needed to be done for this story.  Some of the accents were Serbian and Russian and I do not know if they were accurate but they did sound different and distinct and I enjoyed the narration a lot.
I rated this based on my enjoyment of the book which isn’t completely fair.  I disliked the story itself a great deal but on the flip side I feel like the narration was probably a 5 star.  If you typically enjoy this author then I definitely recommend this on audio.  I think you will enjoy it.
 
This cover was done by Reese Dante and I think it’s a great cover.  I really like it alot and it was part of the reason I chose to try this book.
Book Details:
Audible Audio
Published June 19th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published April 19th 2017)
ASINB0721R5PTF
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: A Place for Dreams by Deja Black

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Rating:  2 stars out of 5

Raksha has arrived from Nepal, along with his people, to reclaim his mate, but Cole Brightside is a young man afraid of a past he doesn’t fully remember. The two have only connected in Cole’s dreams, where Raksha is both beast and man. Now, Raksha wants them together again in the real world.
Can Cole make it past his own fears to become the man Raksha needs him to be? Can Raksha accept who Cole has become?
Can they find a place for dreams?

A Place for Dreams by Deja Black is a story that has a neat promise, a yeti as one of the main characters and what could have been a sweet, lovely lovers reunited romance.  And it is for some of it, but it is also a confused tale where too much mythology gets squished together along with a back history that it turns garbled and the ending is just plain confusing.

I read it twice and still went ‘huh’ in places.

Cole is a well drawn character with a history that brings the mystery as well as the mythology (a voice in his head and nightmares from childhood).  Then the person from his dreams actually appears in front of him and I just didn’t buy into the story at all.  I love these books but the  author wasn’t able to pull me into their world enough to connect me to their relationship or myth building.  So it just didn’t work at all from there on out.

I liked the idea that Cole wasn’t just prepared to drop everything just because Raksha showed up and said he was someone else.  That alone made sense.  I wish most of the  rest of the story  had done the same.

Cover art has none of the mystical elements you would expect for this story.  I consider it a miss.

Sales Links: eXtasy Books |  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 69 pages
Published July 7th 2017 by Extasy Books
ISBN 1487412118 (ISBN13: 9781487412111)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Luca Domani on Writing, Books and ‘An American in Venice’ (author interview and guest blog)

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An American in Venice (World of Love) by Luca Domani
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Bree Archer
Available for Purchase at Dreamspinner Press

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Luca Domani here today talking about books, writing and his latest release, An American in Venice.  Welcome, Luca!

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An Interview with Luca Domani

How much of yourself goes into a character?

I think that there is always a bit of myself in each of my characters. In An American in Venice, Tom resembles me in that he also is a shy engineer. Like Tom, I also spent a lot of my younger years in school. Giovanni resembles me as well, since he is in the family business; I come from a family of scientists and engineers. He also feels that he is obligated to put aside his dream of becoming an international chef to keep his grandparent’s pizzeria going. In a similar way, I put aside my writing to focus on engineering. When it comes to matters of the heart, I am more like Giovanni – both of us are passionate and stubborn.

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

This question feeds back into the first one. I do use my own experiences – sometimes directly, and other times for inspiration and starting points. In this story, I also draw heavily on my own time in Venice to create the setting.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

When it comes to romance, my preference is for a happy ending in some form or another. I have been fortunate in love in my own life, and I enjoy reading stories where characters are similarly lucky. I suppose I am a bit of a sap; I wish that everyone could find their special person, including fictional characters.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

When I was growing up, I tended to write only fantasy stories, so my inspirations included Piers Antony, David Eddings and J.R.R. Tolkien. Later on, I wrote mostly technical papers. Now that I am back to writing fiction, I find myself influenced by my time in graduate school. I prefer to be succinct, and I dislike flowery terms for genitalia and sexual acts. I admire spare prose: The Road by Cormac McCarthy is one of my favorite works. I still enjoy fantasy and science fiction as well; one of my favorite authors is Brandon Sanderson.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I think ebooks are here to stay. To be honest, I prefer holding a copy of a book in my hands and giving my eyes a break from the screen. There is something about the smell of a book, the feel and weight of the paper between my finger tips: these are all things that an ebook cannot duplicate. On the flipside, there is the convenience and the thriftiness of ebooks. There is something so wonderful about being able to carry a book in your pocket, or even a whole shelf of books. My hope is that ebooks and paper books can both exist in harmony, although it seems that electronic media is quickly edging out printed media. If there is a future where bookstores and libraries are obsolete, I don’t want to see it.

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

Well, I have only published two books to date, but I do enjoy An American in Venice, because it also reads as a travelogue. It was fun taking a trip back to Venice through my writing and reliving many of the special memories during my time there.

What’s next for you as an author?

I have another M/M romance in the works. Hopefully I can get over my current case of writer’s block and get it finished! And eventually, I hope to finish my zombie apocalypse novel.

Blurb: 
Tom has always been steady and predictable—a formula he’s sure will lead him to success in his career. When his method fails him and he loses his job, he throws caution to the wind for the first time in his life and books a European holiday.

Maybe Tom shouldn’t be surprised that Cupid’s arrow finds him in one of the most romantic cities in the world: Venice, Italy. When he encounters Giovanni working in the family pizzeria, it’s lust at first sight. Their time together touring the city is so magical it feels like a dream. But Tom is shy while Giovanni is charming and flirtatious. Tom has a newfound freedom with his unemployment, while family burdens weigh heavily on Giovanni. Add culture differences and miscommunication into the mix, and their brief romance might fade as quickly as the beautiful dream it resembles.

About the Author
 
Luca Domani has been writing stories since childhood. Although he has a doctorate in engineering, he has never given up on his dream of being a writer. He adores science fiction and is partial to postapocalyptic epics with zombie hordes, but at heart, he is a hopeless romantic. Luca is married to his high school sweetheart, who is his muse and the love of his life. They reside in Massachusetts with their dog and cat. An American in Venice is his second publication outside of a technical journal.

Check Out The New Release Treading Water (Forgotten Soldier) by Jessie G (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Treading Water
Series: Forgotten Soldier #2
Author: Jessie G
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: July 18, 2017
After devoting eighteen years of his life to the US Navy, Petty Officer First Class Shane Parker is struggling with the very real possibility of becoming unnecessary. If he doesn’t make Chief Petty Officer before his twenty—and it doesn’t seem likely that he will—he’ll be retired from active service and placed on the Fleet Reserve list until his mooring lines are officially cut forever. While it would all be very honorable and ceremonial, he simply wasn’t civilian material.
Before even swearing-in, Julian Brand knew he wasn’t cut out to be a soldier, but refusing wasn’t an option. Generations of Brand man made careers in the military and the expectation of every Brand son was to follow in those prestigious footsteps. Though the prospect of being rolled back dodged his every step, somehow he made it through boot camp and did his time. Six years after not reenlisting, Julian still struggles to find familial acceptance as he fights to live life on his terms.
On the surface, they couldn’t be more different, but when Jared Ramos calls, neither are capable of refusing. If they can find a way to work together, they might be able to save a wounded warrior and each other in the process.

NOTE: The first story in this series is a 6K word short story originally written for an anthology. While it’s a different couple, I’m happy to provide that to reviewers as they have a brief appearance in the new book and are central characters to this benefit series.

Happily Ever Chapter – “Well-written story, strong characters.”


Bookobsessed – “Wonderful read”




10% of royalties earned from this and future books in the Forgotten Soldier series will benefit the Gary Sinise Foundation, but I’m not content to stop there. I’ve set up a fundraising page directly on the Foundation’s website and I’m asking for your help in reaching (and maybe surpassing) my goal. Every donation of $10 equals 1 entry to win signed books. If you donate more than that, every multiple of 10 will be an additional entry (so $20 = 2 entries and so forth).

1 Grand Prize Winner will receive all my paperbacks signed (8 books) 
4 Runner Up Winners will win a signed copy of Treading Water

 

Seeing Sean fall apart was something Shane wasn’t likely to forget. Never could he have imagined a single scenario that included this big, strong, strapping sailor curled up in his blankets sobbing. As Julian climbed back onto the bed, absorbing that pain as if it were his own, Shane feared he was the wrong man to help them. He was barely treading water and the overwhelming emotions coming off both men were like a rip tide threatening to pull him away.
Over the years, he heard Sean worry over his cousin’s emotional stability enough that he thought he was doing the right thing by offering Julian a safe place to vent. It wasn’t like his own emotions were in danger of getting involved—he only had a couple and none of them were tied up in a man he didn’t know. The same couldn’t be said for Sean. They were more than friends, more than the honorary brothers, and this breakdown had his own eyes itching in an alarming way.
Were those tears? It had been decades. For sure, never in his adult life. Not since…no, it was best not to think about that now. Talk about being useless. If he went down that path, Sean and Julian would be taking care of him.
A warm hand slid along his and the ease in which their fingers twined gave him pause. Cautiously, he looked over and found brown eyes filled with understanding and invitation. He had promised Julian he wouldn’t be alone and the quiet reciprocation had been nice, but nothing he expected to count on. Without consciously thinking about it, Shane found himself sitting on the edge of the bed. Though it wasn’t built for three grown men, he was able to wrap his arm around his little unit and was surprised how right it felt.
“We’re going to get through this, Sean. Will you let us take care of you?” Julian was still speaking when Shane felt Sean nodding against them.
For better or worse, they were in it together now and Shane refused to let them down no matter how uncomfortable it might get for him.

 

Like many readers, the dream of being a writer has been with me a long time. After three decades of trying, I’d begun to doubt. Thanks to social media, I followed my favorite authors hoping to glean some words of wisdom as I pounded out half-formed ideas with alarming regularity. Two repetitive themes emerged: to be a great writer you must read a lot and your butt must be in the chair every day like it’s a job. The more you write, the easier it will be to write and the better you will be at writing. I took that advice to heart and write every day. With three series in the works and a full schedule of releases planned for the next two years, it’s been amazing to have made this dream my reality.

I am a firm believer in marriage equality, love at first sight, power dynamics, and happily ever after. I’m a lover of strong secondary characters, and series filled with families—biological or chosen. All are themes you’ll find throughout my books.


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Blog Tour for Death by Starlight by Alexis Duran (excerpt and giveaway)

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DBSbanner

Title: Death By Starlight
Author: Alexis Duran
Series: Edge of Night #2
Release Date: July 19th 2017
Genre: Paranormal MM Romance/Fantasy

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In Betwixt and Between, Ian and Zeke fought a battle against the queen of the dark realm in order to be together. Now, just when they think they might settle into as normal a life as elves living among humans might be able to expect, a new enemy threatens to tear them apart. While Zeke helps the shaman Alistair in his hunt for an elusive mermaid, Ian is called to confront a wicked nymph preying on tourists along Seattle’s waterfront. Zeke and Ian soon discover that the defeated Queen Ysolde has spread her evil into the sea realms, and danger lurks beneath every wave. But it’s too late to stop an escalating series of confrontations that lead to disappearances, death and the possible end of light in this world.

As Ysolde plots revenge and a mysterious prince seeks to win Ian for himself, the ancient war between light and dark sweeps Ian and Zeke into its maelstrom of hate, testing their trust for each other to the utmost.

Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Loose ID

Add to Goodreads

EXCERPT

“Someone has to restore the balance between light and dark energy. I’m one of the last of my kind. I might be the only one who can do it.” Ian slid his hands off the table and rested them on his thighs. He expected derisive laughter from Zeke or a gentle clucking accompanied by a sad shake of the head. Sure, Ian Evers, nobody reporter for a gossip rag, half-breed elf, was going to save the world and fix what Ysolde spent centuries destroying.

Zeke’s face remained impassive, but a storm brewed in his eyes. “You’re not the last of the liosa. Others escaped.”

“I might as well be. They’re all gone, run off to hide out beyond…” Ian waved a hand in the air, signifying that remote world he sometimes glimpsed when they made love.

Glaring out the windows into their backyard, Zeke breathed deeply but said nothing. Ian continued.

“If I start with some miniscule adjustments, push back against the places the dark realm has encroached on this world, maybe some liosa will come out of hiding.”

“They won’t like you being with a svarta,” Zeke said.

“That’s their problem. I know I might never be buddies with other liosa, but we could use their help, right? If Ysolde is plotting to retake her throne like you say, and the svarta are behind her—”

“Only some of them. We don’t need anyone’s help.”

“Yes, we do. We never would’ve defeated Ysolde without Alistair’s and Cleona’s help.”

Zeke leaned forward, his gaze now focused intently on Ian. “We’re stronger now. We need to concentrate on solidifying our connection and making sure no one can break it.”

“You think someone could?” Ian asked. Surprised by the fear he saw lurking behind his lover’s composure, he instinctively put his hands on the table and reached for Zeke’s. Zeke allowed his hands to be held without reacting.

“You couldn’t track me in the dark realm,” Zeke said. “I’m afraid the same would be true if you ever go off into the realm of light. I’ll lose you.”

BOOK ONE

Title: Betwixt and Between
Release Date: June 29th 2015
Genre: Paranormal MM Romance, Fantasy

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Reporter Ian Evers, obsessed with magical creatures since childhood, never experiences satisfying proof that the magical realm actually exists until he falls into an entrapment spell set by a handsome but dangerous elf. Barely escaping with his soul intact, Ian is able to undo the hex, but he can’t escape the very real infatuation he’s developed for the fierce, alluring elf.

Ezekiel Stormshadow is a svarta, a dark elf who serves the queen of the dark realm. The realm of darkness needs the power of light to survive, and while hunting the last few magical beings on earth, Ezekiel discovers Ian, a light elf who’s unaware of his true nature and ripe for the plucking. Their brief encounter awakens a great hunger in Ezekiel, and he’s determined to feast on the light elf’s power and body before the queen intervenes and claims Ian for herself.

Ian knows only he can save Ezekiel from the grasp of the dark queen. Driven apart by the ancient imbalance between the dark and light realms, an evil queen starved for power, and their fear of each other, Ian and Ezekiel are relentlessly drawn together even though their union might destroy them both.

Find Betwixt and Between on Goodreads

Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Loose ID

GIVEAWAY: Win a $10 Amazon Gift Card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

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Alexis Duran was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. At the University of Oregon, her fascination with people and relationships led her to major in Sociology, but her main love has always been creative writing. She has worked in museums, in fashion, in finance and film production. Her favorite job so far was Administrative Assistant in a haunted Victorian Mansion. She’s had several short stories published in the mystery, horror and literary genres, and one contemporary fantasy novel. Her fiction has won several awards including the Rupert Hughes Award from the Maui Writers Conference. She’s thrilled to enter the realm of erotic romance with the publication of her novels Touch of Salar, Blood of Salar and To Catch A Threeve. She’s is currently working on the next in the Masters and Mages series and several other m/m erotic novellas.

Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Pinterest

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A Kai Audiobook Review: Summer Heat by Jay Northcote and Mark Steadman (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

When Adam is dumped by his boyfriend, a week away at a beach resort seems like a great opportunity to get over his ex. Sun, sea, and no-strings sex will be just the boost he needs to move on with his life.
Adam’s best friend, Finn, agrees to accompany him at short notice. Finn’s had a crush on Adam for years but is determined to put his feelings aside and be the perfect wingman in Adam’s time of crisis.
A spontaneous threesome with another guy forces Adam and Finn to confront their attraction to each other. Having a holiday fling together wasn’t part of the plan, and as their trip heats up, they soon realize that one night of fun won’t be enough for either of them.
The passion might be scorching, but their hearts and friendship are on the line. If their romance is going to survive the flight home, they have to be honest about what they want.

This story was a delight! A perfect hot summer read. And although I am in winter right now (sadly), this was just what I needed. It was a light, lown-angst and hot friends to lovers.

Jay Northcote brought two great characters to live and with a really simple plot put me smiling almost the entire narrative. It was well written and fluid: fast paced but not rushed.

I loved the scenario where the story took place and I have to confess I was so envious of Adam and Finn. I want so much go to a resort in a sunny Spain right now. (Thanks Jay for putting it in my dreams travels plans)

Finn and Adam were remarkable. They were sweet, real, HOT (yes, yes!) and simply perfect for each other. I was just so glad they gave it a try even with the fear of ruining their long time friendship.

This would be a perfect book for a holiday at the beach or at the pool or, just like was for me, to make you smile and remember the summer always come back. Lol

Mark Steadman did a great job narrating this novel. I just loved so much his voice and interpretation. Oh, and the accent was just lovely and sexy.

Highly recommend this audiobook!

The cover art by Garrett Leigh is hot and perfect for the book.

 

Sales Links

Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Summer-Heat-Audiobook/B073HJHFQR

 

 

Audiobook Details:

 

Published July 3rd, 2017 by Jaybird Press (first published June 9th, 2017)

Written by: Jay Northcote

Narrated by: Mark Steadman

Length: 4 hrs and 43 mins.

A MelanieM Review: Force of Nature (Coming About #4) by J.K. Hogan

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

2 stars for the characters and disaster in the middle
4 stars out of 5 for the survival and nature parts

(really I wavered here, at points it was 2 for inconsistencies, others 4 for accuracy=what a strange story)

 

Everyone knows that bonds formed under extreme circumstances never last.

Harbor Patrol officer Neal Hesse has had his life turned upside down by a sudden break-up with his partner of ten years. After sleeping his way through Seattle failed to take his mind off his broken heart, he decides to take a leave of absence from work to find himself again. He hires a professional wilderness guide to take him up into the mountains, so he can get away from everything and live off the grid for a few days.

Travis “Rock” McCreary, ex-Army Ranger turned survivalist, hates doing guided excursions, but it’s his primary source of income while he’s working towards getting his own survival show. Working in such a testosterone-fueled profession has forced him so deep into the closet, he feels like he might never see the light of day again, which makes it even harder to put on a friendly face for his happy, normal clients.

When Rock is hired by clumsy city-boy Neal to take him up into the North Cascades for a survival adventure, his patience and his resolve are tested at every turn. He has to teach Neal to survive in the wilderness while fighting an attraction he can’t allow himself to act on. When their trip doesn’t go as planned, Neal’s getaway turns into a true survival situation, and he and Rock are forced to rely on each other to stay alive. If they make it out of the wilderness, can their newfound connection survive in the real world?

*Possible trigger warning: situations where consent may appear dubious.

Force of Nature (Coming About #4) by J.K. Hogan was such a strange and potentially upsetting book to read.  On one side, the author did a tremendous job of portraying the wilderness survival trip and the beauty of the woods and mountains.  It conveyed with a realness and immediacy that this retired Park Ranger could see and believe in.  So too the drama with with a calm hike could turn with a shocking swiftness into a fight for your life.  Totally authentic.

Then I have to get into the characters.

There is a larger cast of characters here that apparently belongs to the series. That would be the group of close friends of Neal Hesse, one of the main characters. This is, however, the first book that I have read in the Coming About series and I didn’t feel that I was lacking in any real information here. This absolutely can be read as a standalone novel.

I was into both characters.  Neal Hesse, the Harbor Patrol officer that’s coming off several bad events in his life.  His long term relationship of 10 years has ended badly, showing him exactly how shallow and meaningless  it really was and he and his Harbor Patrol partner are coming off a hostage situation that was personal.  Neal is depressed, questioning himself, and looking to see how to go forward.  A hike with his group of friends and accidental meeting with Travis “Rock” McCreary, a survivalist, YouTube star and guide changes everything.  Especially when Neal decides that a survival expedition is just what he needs to evaluate himself and his current situation and his guide turns out to be McCreary.

Travis is an ex-Army Ranger with an rigid conservative church background and family who would never accept a gay son.  Into the closet he went while in the Army and there he has stayed until meeting Neal makes him want more than he think he can ever have. I got Travis, this is a fearless man in the wild but in his personal life?  He’s bound by fear, beaten into him by his past and outside expectations as well as his own.  Their dynamics on the trail, and both men’s inner discourse on their attractions to each other, the wariness etc. delivers, again a nice dose of realism.  Then the author completely derails her story.

That’s where the “possible trigger warning” note comes in.  I was truly into these characters right up until the author took an unimaginable left turn into “what the hell did the author just do” land.   What the author does to her own characters is so completely bonkers in my opinion because it’s completely out of the character’s  personalities she’s laid down for them that not only is it shocking but deplorable.  In order to get back to the point that I liked and was able to enjoy this story again, I almost had to believe that those scenes didn’t take place. Because pages later, they all return to normal.

What was the author thinking?

Another iffy aspect here?  One that’s sort of folded into that mess above?  It’s where Neal decides to pull Travis out of his closet because, hey, it, totally shouldn’t be his decision. Shakes head.  Then there is a switch back to where Neal decides it is Travis’ decision to where he wants to stay in the closet or not.  I mean…this author had two great characters and one job to do….

Yes, I liked the ending.  I thought that was lovely.  And without that deplorable mess in the middle which granted wasn’t long, this rating would have been very different.  But it’s there and I keep feeling the rating should have been lower.  I just don’t know.  So much of the book is well done but I just can’t recommend it.

Cover art is lovely.  That part I recommend.

Sales Links:  Amazon  

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1, 276 pages
Published July 4th 2017 by Euphoria Press
ASINB073FKY2QB
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesComing About #4

 

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Devotion (Forbes Mates #1) by Grace R. Duncan and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

When Finley Cooper met his true-mate while he was still underage, he thought nothing of what that might mean for their future together.  Handsome, alpha-to-be, Tanner Pearce was everything a young gay werewolf might want in a man, but he gets a shock when Tanner refuses to claim him until he’s “of age.”  So when Finley turns eighteen, and Tanner still refuses to claim him, he assumes the worst—the man of his dreams doesn’t love him.

In reality, Tanner is afraid that finalizing their bond when Finley is still young and inexperienced may lead to Finley changing his mind later. Tanner wants to be absolutely sure before he goes forward. After all, didn’t that happen to his childhood friend? He wouldn’t survive if Finley left him after they were bonded. 

I really enjoyed this story, and to be honest, I believe that a major part of that enjoyment was the life Joel Leslie infused into the characters in this audiobook version. They became real to me and I got caught up in the adventure when Finley felt so lost that he headed out west to visit his grandparents, rather than face a future in his hometown without Tanner.  I also appreciated the author’s infusion of new twists into the werewolf story, including their difficulty in being “trapped” in a plane or train while traveling. 

And the drama and chase that ensued when Finley thought Tanner was hurt created the perfect amount of adventure to keep the story moving and keep the excitement up.  The second half of the story was pretty darn hot, I must say.  Personal fan warning: the amount and level of heat that occurs when these young wolves get together is pretty darn high, never mind the excitement generated by vocalizations from a quality voice artist like Joel Leslie. 

This one should definitely go on your list of audio listens.  I’m looking forward to the next in the series that will feature Jamie, the secondary character from this one—the guy who almost got to have sex with Finley in his bid for independence.  Lovers of MM paranormal-shifter romance, fated mates, knotting (!), age gap, and audiobooks will all benefit from adding this to their TBR. 

The very attractive cover by Reese Dante features both two wolves and head shots of two young men kissing—all against a background of mountain scenery.  It’s perfect for this story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible| iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio
Published June 23rd 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published September 11th 2015)
ASINB072YHRPWH
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesForbes Mates #1