A Jeri Review: Theoden: A New Haven Series Prequel by Nicholas Bella


Rating: 3 stars out of 5

This is the prequel to a series that I haven’t read. It has just never been on my radar. But this looked interesting and being that it was a prequel, I was basically starting at the beginning. Vampires, dragons and werewolves oh my!

Lots of prequels (I have found) are not very long. Not so with this book. It was loooooonng. It follows the life of Theoden- starting as a young boy up until he is quite old. Being quite old as a vampire is relative though.
The first half of the book really sucked me in. (Sucked me in, vampires. Get it?) The world that is built was really interesting. The lives of the vampires, dragons who aren’t necessarily in animal form and werewolves that are used as toys.
And while the first half was interesting and I enjoyed it- there was this thing that bothered me a bit. As the youngest vampire, Theoden has to submit sexually to his brothers whenever he wants. He hates one of his brothers, but all three are rather rough with him. But he has to just submit. Seemed kind of rape-y to me. It could really turn people off.
Anyway…. after the first half being rather detailed and covering a rather short amount of time, the second half jumps centuries at a time. There is a story going on, but really it is mostly filled with sex. The whole book is filled with sex. Hate filled sex, loving sex, rape-y sex, voyeuristic sex. I think if you cut 90% of the sex scenes, this book wouldn’t even be 100 pages long.
And I get it- the author warns you that it is filled with sex. But I felt like there was a decent story there that was just overshadowed by…sex.
This was a tough one for me, but ultimately I can only give it 3 stars
Cover art: Jay Aheer.  The cover art works for the character and draws your attention. Striking.

Sales Link: 



Book Details:
The New Haven Series Prequel
Dark Paranormal Erotica/GLBT/BDSM
Kindle Edition, 346 pages
Published March 21st 2018 by Dark Desires Publishing, LLC
Price: $4.99 Ebook/$ Paperback $13.50

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Ginger Snaps (Belladonna Arms #5) by John Inman


Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Though I normally love John Inman’s stories and I’ve salivated over the Belladonna Arms books, alternating between laughing and smiling over the sweet, sappy MM romances, this one just didn’t reach the bar set by the other four. 

Usually, the stories are about a very nice young man who’s down on his luck and finds his way to the Belladonna Arms where the world’s biggest (and largest) drag queen, Arthur, takes him under his (considerable) wing and then the love pollen that seems to saturate the former hotel works its magic.  And lo and behold, after some starts and stops, he falls in love with another very nice young man.

And that’s the case here at the beginning of the book: Reed has left his wife, having realized that he can’t push his homosexuality any further inside than he’s been doing for years.  Gideon has broken up with his boyfriend, who very cruelly took all of Gideon’s possessions and donated them to Salvation Army.  He only saved his laptop because it happened to be in the trunk of his car.  Arthur has put both young men in apartments next to one another and is simply waiting for the love pollen to sprinkle their way.  The Belladonna Arms seems to be infested with love pollen that has worked to bring other couples together in the past.  The only issue with these two is that both young men are redheads and neither wants to fall in love with a redhead. 

Soooo, of course, that’s what happens.  They bond over the sorry state of their apartments, so Reed pulls out hammer and tools and sets about repairing both his and Gideon’s apartments, both having been sorely neglected in the past.  For several weeks, all is well and then Reed’s ex-wife throws a wrench in the works just before Arthur’s wedding.  Coinciding with all the usual craziness associated with wedding preparations, the San Diego area is experiencing tremors and small earthquakes—all of which send Arthur into screaming and hiding mode. The stress takes its toll on him and he ends up in the hospital—but not without visits from all the residents of the Arms. The big guy is a sweetheart and everyone secretly loves him.   

Then Reed breaks Gideon’s heart…and leaves pieces all over the floor.  He totally goes against all the promises he’s made to Gideon and leaves him in tatters.  To be honest, this reader would not have taken him back.  He pulled a really stupid, IMHO, stunt and should have been cut from the book, never mind from Gideon’s life.  But love is blind, and this is fiction, so the two end up back together in time for the grand wedding event.

As I said earlier, this story just didn’t cut it for me.  I don’t think my sense of humor has changed drastically over the years, but the Arthur earthquake and wedding scenes were too OTT for me. And Reed’s wife?  Not even worth the pages she occupied in the book.  Then there’s the chapter devoted to Reed and Gideon babysitting little Artie—the baby Sylvia and Raymond adopted—which I suppose to many may have been funny, but not to me.  I had no interest in it or patience for it at all, and in fact, I’d have preferred the chapter be cut from the story. 

I can stretch this to a 3 star rating, though if we all rated in half scales, I’d likely give it 2.5—mostly due to Reed’s ex-wife who is still irritating me, days after I finished reading the book.  For those who have read other books in the series, I’d recommend reading this one and would be interested in other reviewers’ opinions. For those who haven’t read the series, this can’t stand alone and needs to be read after the others.  Start with Serenading Stanley, which to me was the best, and work your way through.  It’s a nice series of MM romances and worth taking the time to read.


Cover art by Aaron Anderson depicts a ginger young man at work welding, with open shirt, low-rise jeans, and with a darkly shaded apartment building in the background.  Nicely done, it depicts Reed and the Belladonna Arms.   

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 240 pages
Published April 24th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleGinger Snaps
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series The Belladonna Arms #5

An Alisa Release Day Review: As I Am by Melissa Collins


Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Chase Hansen. Broke. College drop out. Male stripper.

My life wasn’t at all what I imagined it would be. I should have been finishing up college, interning with a well-respected business, partying with my friends. But instead, I was raising my seventeen year old brother, struggling to make ends meet. Love wasn’t even on my radar. Besides, what did I have to offer? A few crumpled singles pulled from my G-string? Defeated and exhausted, I knew I had zero chance of finding someone to love me just as I am.

Noah Carpenter. Angry. Betrayed. Doctor.

Just when I thought my life was going exactly as it should, everything turned upside down. With my final rotation in medical school complete, I finally achieved my lifelong dream of becoming a doctor. What I never expected was to catch the man of my dreams in our bed with the man of his. Beyond infuriated, I struggled to piece together the remnants of my life. Just when I’d decided to give up on love altogether, I found a man who loved me just as I am.

Oh man, both of these guys and everything they have been through, they totally deserved to find love and that it’s together is even better!  Chase had to make some hard decisions after his parents died and hasn’t really had any support or help.  Noah has given himself over to being a doctor and after his last relationship ended he doesn’t really see the point in trying again.

Chase is at the point where he is just trying to survive and in his own mind he knows that no one would want him if they really knew everything he had going on.  Noah has a great group of friends around him but is quick to think the worst after catching his ex cheating.

I couldn’t help but feel for these guys.  I was easy to relate to Chase because I know what it’s like to feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders even if I couldn’t in other ways and I loved watching Noah just take care of and support him when he needed it, it was just what his fragile heart needs.  I still couldn’t really like his friend Gavin though, even if at times he thought he was helping he didn’t do much and thought about himself first.  Noah is very cynical in his assumptions but I loved that he was willing to apologize and accept when he was wrong and the unconditional support from Chase was just what he needed.  I loved these guys so much and the only reason it’s not 5 stars is that there were just too many points that I felt the characters didn’t fully resolve what they were talking about or doing.

The cover art by Sommer Stein is great and I love the picture of these characters together.

Sales Links:

Google Play

Book Details:

ebook, 320 pages

Published: April 25, 2018 by Melissa Collins

Edition Language: English

Jane Darius on Characters, Writing, and her new release This Must Be the Place (Nick and Ben #2) (author guest blog)


This Must Be the Place (Nick and Ben #2) by Jane Darius
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Jennifer Vance
Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Jane Darius here today talking about writing, and her latest story This Must Be the Place. Welcome, Jane.



Hi, I’m Jane Darius, and I’m the author of This Must Be the Place. You can preorder a copy of the book here. I wrote a short story that has the same characters in 2014, which you can buy here. I’m really excited to hear what people think of the new book. It is kind of like an origin story of how Nick and Ben get together Here’s a summary just to give you an idea of what the book is about.

A Nick and Ben Story

Having explosive sex is easy for Nick and Ben—getting past their hang-ups and opening up to each other won’t be.

Handsome New York City bartender Nick might’ve left life—and his abusive, homophobic father—in West Virginia far behind, but even though he was a star quarterback in high school, he can’t outrun the effect those years had on him. He’s still not comfortable as a gay man, and he keeps his relationships short… as in a single night.

Hotel reviewer Ben is a hopeless romantic, but he can’t seem to find a guy who feels the same. After being cheated on again, he doesn’t expect to spend forever with Nick, but even their one-nighter doesn’t go off without a hitch. Ben falls asleep on Nick’s couch, and in the morning, they have to face their hookup that wasn’t…and the fact that there’s a connection between them whether they’re looking for one or not.

I’ve also answered the interview questions, which I had so much fun with! If you want to know more about me (or upcoming books), you can follow me at janedarius.tumblr.com or on Instagram @janedariuswrites.

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Jane Darius

How much of yourself goes into a character?

I feel like at least a little piece of me goes into every character. I know that sounds weird, but it’s definitely how I view it. I feel like there’s a part of me in every story, and that’s why I get so attached to everything I write. And I feel like it makes characters, stories, and everything you can write more genuine if you’re willing to share some of yourself with others.

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?

The whole idea of a Mary Sue is really steeped in sexism in fiction to me. No one considered James Bond to be a Mary Sue/Gary Stu (although he could have easy been considered one), and guys are constantly writing themselves into stories every day. I feel like this didn’t become an issue until women got more attention for writing blatant self-insert fantasies (even though men are just as guilty of the same). That said, I think what will always be disappointing about reading a story with a character that is an obvious Mary Sue is that they usually aren’t well-rounded. Many times, they have all the strengths and none of the flaws. And, honestly, that’s always going to be boring to read except to the person who wrote it.

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

I like to do a bit of both. Sometimes, I go down the rabbit hole of looking up how far one destination is from the other and which fruits are in season during the time of my story. Sometimes, I just throw in something I like or build a new world altogether because the current one we live in can tend to suck.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Absolutely. I loved stories that were dialogue heavy and funny. I hope my writing provides people with the same things.

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

Totally. As far as This Must Be the Place goes, I wrote the first draft in 2014, and when I first tried to get it published, it wasn’t good enough. I worked on it for a long time, and it’s finally ready to be published. I have also put things aside because of time, emotional stress, intimidation. Sometimes I think you just have to be ready and sometimes you have to plow ahead. (Lots of conflicting viewpoints, I know!)

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I really do love both, but I think which one you use should depend on the story and where the characters are at in the end. It’s not necessary to force an HEA when an HFN is more organic.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

Yes. I also love romantic movies.

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

I’ve had a lot of influences in my life, and I feel like I can see them more now that I’m older. Neil Gaiman and Joss Whedon definitely affected my ability to write dialogue and I’m grateful to both of them for that. Everybody says it, but I do think it’s true that you start out by imitating the people you admire and then you begin to create new, original work that starts to look like yours.

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

I think it’s a great option. Though I don’t ever think it will or should completely replace paper books, I think it’s gotten people to read more and try out more genres or stories, which is always a good thing. I recently got my first Kindle, and I love it. I got it for work, and it’s so handy and helpful.

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

I worked with Dreamspinner who set me up with a cover designer named Jennifer Vance. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook. She’s really great! We went through so many pictures together to find some guys who really gave me a sexy, Nick-and-Ben-y vibe. 

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

Currently, Nick and Ben are my first published lead characters, and I think I’ll always have a special place in my heart for them because of that reason. I love writing, and I love all my stories for different reasons, though. I am always so excited to share them with people.

What’s next for you as an author?

I have an idea for a sequel to This Must Be the Place. I would love to be able to write it, and I want to focus on that next. I just wish the days were longer sometimes! 

If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

I don’t think anyone is too flawed for love, although sometimes, it’s nice to see people work through their flaws in a way that doesn’t require the love of someone else or happen because of someone’s love. I like to see people change because they want to, not because someone else changes them. But you definitely don’t want to load up a character with flaws just to make them seem more real. People have good and bad in them just like everything else in life.


What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

Yes, I’ve been known to notice character traits in myself, friends, and family members and put them into a character, although I would never mine for them on purpose. I think there’s realism in seeing who people are and what makes them tick, and I like noticing character traits in others who are very different from me. I think you also have to turn that scrutiny inward though.


Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work?  Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it?  Is there a title we would recognize if that happened?

Yes, I have, and I’m hoping to have it happen more often, haha!


Have you ever had an issue in RL and worked it through by writing it out in a story?  Maybe how you thought you’d feel in a situation?

Yes. Sometimes, it feels good to write things down when I’m sad or not sure what to do. In some instances, it can help solve the problem, but at the least, I usually feel a little better.


Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

Lol! Yes, but in my early twenties, I learned from experience that, at least for me, there’s a fine line between coherent, insightful drunk writing and misspelled, unintelligible drunk writing.


If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

In a bed and breakfast or hotel by the sea or in the mountains. I think it would be a place that is beautiful, secluded, and serene (and hopefully pet friendly so I can bring my cat!). I’m working on a solo writing retreat for the summer that would offer me this chance.


With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away?  To move past?  To widen our knowledge?  Why do you write?

I write because it’s fun, which is harder now because making my living through writing has made it a little less fun lol. But I keep on writing because I can’t imagine doing anything else. And I definitely write to simultaneously escape and to understand not only myself but the world around me. I feel like one of the most difficult things to explain about why I write is that I want to always be saying something important and writing crazy-fun emo shit simultaneously. My constant goal is to be able to do a little of both at the same time.


What’s next for you as a writer?

I am a freelancer working from home, so I’m always writing. I have had a goal of publishing a novel for a long, long time, and now that it’s finally happened, I’m ecstatic. However, when I finally reached that goal, I realized it wasn’t like, “Okay, now I’m done!” The desire to publish more and write more doesn’t go away (there was recently a Jane the Virgin episode that I think captured this feeling well). Next, I want to publish something else, pay my bills, and keep working on writing what I love.

About the Author

Jane Darius is a writer and dreamer who wants to travel the world. If you try to talk to Jane when she’s writing, she will probably get scared like you just snuck up on her, as she sometimes gets lost in the world of her characters. Someone once told her that writing is like being alone in a dark room. She understands the sentiment but prefers to think of it as sitting by a warm fire while her characters tell her their stories. When she’s not writing fiction, Jane blogs and writes featured articles for a number of websites. In her spare time, she loves to watch movies, drink various beverages, and yell at her favorite TV shows. Writing makes her smile like nothing else does. You can follow Jane at http://janedarius.tumblr.com.

Release Blitz for The Sinner & The Saint (Ellery Mountain #8) by RJ Scott (excerpt and giveaway)



Universal Buy Link
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
Length: 40,000 words approx.
Ellery Mountain Series

Army medic Ben Rockwell is in Ellery to work with the Veterans Center creating a new specialist unit for post trauma care. Desperate to make amends for battlefield decisions he regrets, he is focused on the unit and nothing else. Until some stranger moves in next door and throws him a curveball. He’s no hero, even though everyone says he is, and the lies burn inside him.

Leaving drama and chaos in his wake, Nicholas Merrick fled London and is hiding out in his friend Jason’s house, until everything back home dies a death. The choices he made in his life were to keep his best friend safe, but as a result everyone sees him as the bad guy.

When these two meet, the attraction is instant. Can they ever be their true selves, and find love as a result?


Chapter 1

Loud banging, with added yelling, pulled Nick out of a nightmare. After a restless, irritable, crunchy-messy night of tossing and turning, he had finally fallen asleep some time before dawn, and now at fuck o’clock in the morning there was knocking at the front door. And some asshole shouting words that he couldn’t make out. Was this part of his dream? He couldn’t tell.

For the longest time he lay flat on his back, unwilling to move. The sheets were wrapped around him like a mummy, the quilt on the floor, and he was still in that half world between nightmare and reality. Even closing his eyes didn’t help dispel the vivid images of him walking up to the Oscar podium completely naked and with the Queen pointing and laughing at him.

Naked as the day he was born, hanging loose and free, and no one saying a thing. Apart from the laughing that was. Like it was okay that one of the Oscar nominees was walking up the steps free of any and all clothing.

Not to mention no one commented on the Queen throwing popcorn at him.

Yep, it had been that kind of nightmare, and it wasn’t the first time he’d had it. And where the Oscar fear came from he didn’t know. There would never be a chance of an Oscar for. Not for the guy whose acting career had happened by accident and formed only because of a personal rebellion against his straight laced family. His resume included two sequels to the highly profitable, but formulaic, shit-bad, Angels of Bedlam franchise, with his entire fee going charity because he didn’t need the money.

Nick hadn’t been in the first UK funded Bedlam film. Said film had been praised for its ingenious twist on a dark horror romance. No, he was the handy British villain in the next two, the studio cashing in on any money that was left out there in a saturated market by ticking all the boxes. Explosions, tick. Strong, but mostly naked, female lead, tick. Sexy down on his luck, in te wrong place at the wrong time, male lead, tick.

And him, the ubiquitous bad guy with the English accent.

The follow up were certainly not Oscar material, and once Nick pulled his fragmented sleep-addled thoughts into line, he focused on the statistical likelihood of even being nominated for an Oscar in the first place, let alone accepting it naked.

“Fuck me,” he muttered to the empty room and rolled onto his front. The banging had stopped and no one actually knew he was here, so, he wasn’t going to answer the door in a place that wasn’t even his.

Jason McInnery and his husband, Kieran, lived in this stunning home, in the small town of Ellery, Tennessee. Glass floor to ceiling, wide open rooms, a pool in the garden, and the most comprehensive jungle gym he’d ever seen for Jason and Kieran’s son, Jonas. Even the damn guest room was beautiful, a huge wood carving took up nearly one wall, and the view from the window out to the mountain was stunning. At least that was the adjective he was supposed to use for what he could see. Objectively, he could see it was spectacular, but was too lost in confusion since he got here to think about it too much. A quick glance at the clock showed him it was five am, like midnight or something back in London, and still dark in the shadow of the mountain, so he rolled over and pulled the covers up to his neck.

Even in the middle of the chaotic remnants of his nightmare he welcomed the heat that cocooned him and willed the knocking to stop. Which it did. The mess of dreams forgotten, he drifted on as many good thoughts as he could muster and was very nearly asleep when the banging started up again. He groaned and hid his face under the pillow, willing the person creating the noise to go away. Then it ceased again, and he closed his eyes, but didn’t remove the pillow. Dawn was too close now and the room would fill with light because he hadn’t even taken the time to pull the drapes.

Unfortunately, his bladder had other ideas about what he needed to do, and cursing, he grabbed the sheets and untwisted himself. Feet planted on the floor he scrubbed a hand over his face, the untamed beard was just another reminder of everything that was horribly wrong about his life right now. Normally he would have just the right amount of stubble, but the last instalment of Angels of Bedlam, cunningly entitled, Bedlam Adrift, called for him to be a castaway, hence the beard, which he’d left to tangle.

No point in worrying about it anyway. He’d left London to get away from paparazzi, and their incessant need for more, and he was in unofficial hiding. Therefore, no one would see his beard, or his bloodshot eyes.

He caught sight of himself in the mirror.

“Jesus, you look fucked.”

Bedhead. Bags under his eyes. Beard. It was a whole cacophony of B-shit. Yawning widely, he padded across the bedroom to the half bath, emptying his bladder and washing his hands. He’d gone to bed as nature intended. Well, warm nature anyway, completely naked, which probably led to nightmare. Packing back home had been done in less than five minutes, his priority was money, passport, his phone, his laptop and associated chargers. It seemed like his messed-up head hadn’t thought any kind of pajamas were needed, or indeed underwear.

The next choice was shower or bed, and the exhaustion of the past few days, the media attention, making sure Heather was okay, fleeing the UK, ending up here in the middle of rural Tennessee, it was all too much and he sighed.

“Bed it is,” he muttered to his reflection. As soon as he woke up he was going online to order everything he’d forgot to pack. Jason had said to help himself to anything he needed but helping himself to his friend’s clothes didn’t feel right.

He yawned again, and stepped out into the cooler bedroom, eyes only half open.

“Hands where I can see them,” someone shouted, and Nick, startled, his heart pounding, fell backwards into the bathroom, catching himself on the jamb as best he could. He blinked to focus on the man in front of him.

The cop.

The gun.

The cop holding a gun on him. Immediately he raised his hands, and then lowered them to cover his junk, and then raised them again when the cop didn’t move.

RJ’s goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

RJ is the author of the over one hundred novels and discovered romance in books at a very young age. She realized that if there wasn’t romance on the page, she could create it in her head, and is a lifelong writer.

She lives and works out of her home in the beautiful English countryside, spends her spare time reading, watching films, and enjoying time with her family.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit and has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

She’s always thrilled to hear from readers, bloggers and other writers. Please contact via the following links below:

Email RJ (rj@rjscott.co.uk)
Goodreads Page
RJ’s Blog
RJ on Twitter
Library Thing Page
Tumblr (some NSFW (not safe for work) photos)


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Release Blitz and Giveaway for As I Am by Melissa Collins


As I Am by Melissa Collins is LIVE!
Grab your copy:
Google Play

Chase Hansen. Broke. College drop out. Male stripper.

My life wasn’t at all what I imagined it would be. I should have been finishing up college, interning with a well-respected business, partying with my friends. But instead, I was raising my seventeen year old brother, struggling to make ends meet. Love wasn’t even on my radar. Besides, what did I have to offer? A few crumpled singles pulled from my G-string? Defeated and exhausted, I knew I had zero chance of finding someone to love me just as I am.

Noah Carpenter. Angry. Betrayed. Doctor.

Just when I thought my life was going exactly as it should, everything turned upside down. With my final rotation in medical school complete, I finally achieved my lifelong dream of becoming a doctor. What I never expected was to catch the man of my dreams in our bed with the man of his. Beyond infuriated, I struggled to piece together the remnants of my life. Just when I’d decided to give up on love altogether, I found a man who loved me just as I am.

Cover design: Sommer Stein at Perfect Pear Creative Covers

Photography: Christopher John at CJC Photography

Models: Sam Wiles and Aaron Michael Bell

Join me on Facebook for a $50 Amazon gift card giveaway!
Melissa Collins Author Page


Melissa Collins has always been a book worm. Studying Literature in college ensured that her nose was always stuck in a book. She followed her passion for reading to the most logical career choice: English teacher. Her hope was to share her passion for reading and the escapism of books to her students. Having spent more than a decade in front of a classroom, she can easily say that it’s been a dream.
Her passion for writing didn’t start until more recently. When she was home on maternity leave in early 2012, she read her first romance novel and her head filled with the passion, angst and laughter of the characters who she read about it. It wasn’t long before characters of her own took shape in her mind. Their lives took over Melissa’s brain and The Love Series was born.

Website | Amazon | Facebook | FB Reader Group | BookBub | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

Also, now and leading up to release day, Melissa has put On Solid Ground (http://mybook.to/osg) on sale for FREE

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Ginger Snaps (Belladonna Arms #5) by John Inman


Rating: 5 stars out of 5


Even with a string of earthquakes jarring the tenants of the Belladonna Arms, rattling nerves and smashing dishes, life still manages to plod along as usual. Love pollen continues to fall, romances continue to flourish, and Arthur, the grand Pooh-bah in residence, continues to plan his upcoming wedding extravaganza.

In the midst of all this drama fall Gideon Chase and Reed Kelly, two redheaded losers at love who find themselves regrouping under the auspices of the most incorrigible matchmaker in heels.

Arthur sees hope for the two right away. He leases them adjoining apartments, then continually tweaks their budding friendship in the hope it will slip into love. Just as Arthur’s plans are coming along nicely, Reed’s past shows up to toss a monkey wrench into his and Gideon’s blossoming romance.

With Arthur’s wedding ceremony nigh, and Reed and Gideon on the verge of heartache yet again, Arthur faces one inescapable conclusion.

It will take more than love pollen to sort this mess out.

There’s is absolutely nothing better than to be home again in that faded six-story apartment building called The Belladonna Arms high atop a hill overlooking the ocean, a fabulous view of the city,  and new possibilities for love for all who arrive there.  For you see, it’s full of  love pollen  as each book has proved time and again.  Love pollen and cats.  Both figure large in each story.

John Inman has written so many incredible stories in many genres from contemporary romance to humor to the supernatural and horror.  But none has so captured my heart and left me wheezing from laughter or yes, sniffly from tears as his Belladonna Arms series and the oddball family that has sprung up in each apartment on every floor.  I thank John Inman every time each one/or couple makes an appearance in his stories.  And they do. In every one because they are a family that supports each other, no matter the occasion, in this case Arthur and Tom’s wedding (omg…the wedding dress).  The earth itself is having conniption fits over Arthur’s upcoming wedding as earthquakes galore are running through the area.  Through Inman’s vivid descriptions and our in depth knowledge and love or these characters we feel every quake and shimmy as if we were there.

The author really makes us a part of this family too.

From the moment heart hurt, homeless ginger haired Gideon Chase walks to see The Belladonna Arms because Ben  has told him he can get him a room there, we know Gideon is on a special journey.  One that starts with Arthur in all his drag  splendor waiting at the entrance, shifting boobs made of quinoa bags and all,  of The Belladonna Arms.  Then we move to red-haired Reed, his marriage, his decision not to live a lie, and again his arrival at The Belladonna Arms.  Two gingers, both hurting, now side by side neighbors.  Let the love pollen flow.

Lacking the necessities, all of the couples of the apartment building gather round Gideon to help him furbish his new home.  By chapter three, I’ve wrapped this book around my heart like a favorite comforter, so happy I feel to be back in their midst.  Then Gideon opens his door to two of my favorite kleptos, married couple Charlie and Bruce,  And it happens.  I’ll say the words.  Internet ballet lessons.

Ok, now I’m starting to wheeze here and the tears are streaming down my face.  I’m laughing so  hard that typing is a fail.

Brilliance.  The humor here will just grab at you when you least expect it.    This is just the first of many such scenes.

Of course, there’s plenty of poignancy too.  Reed has some powerful issues to work through and he’s not always as successful as one would hope at  first in finding his way.  Nothing here is ever easy.  But The Belladonna Arms family comes through again and again in the most amazing ways.  Inman finds paths that lifts everyone up, not just the main characters, but the secondary ones, that in other hands might have come out looking somewhat villainous, and that would have been   such a shame as well as unnecessary.

No one leaves The Belladonna Arms feeling unloved or a Belladonna Arms story feeling less that a bit dusted by love pollen yourself. I can’t help but wonder if a certain half naked flower boy will be featured in the next story.  Here’s hoping!

But until then I’m keeping myself warm with the laughter and love I find within the pages of Ginger Snaps (Belladonna Arms #5) by John Inman.     I know I will see Reed and Gideon again so this is but a seeya later.  And I keep bursting into giggles and outright laughter over the thoughts of Gorilla tape and cowboys hats and plie’s.  Truly my stomach hurts.  But not my heart.  John Inman has left that in excellent shape.

Now to wait for my next visit.  Until then I highly recommend you take a trip  to the Belladonna Arms yourself.  Meet everyone and fall in love.  Start at the beginning and work your way here.  Join in on the family fun.

Cover art: Aaron Anderson.  Normally I love Aaron Anderson’s work but I think this is a miss.  You have a story about gingers and you cut the top off the model so you miss out on the color of the hair?  Nope.  Plus the bandana really belongs to Charlie.  Fail all around.  Except that its done in the style that brands the series.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 240 pages
Published April 24th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleGinger Snaps
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series The Belladonna Arms #5

A Stella Review: Out Of The Ocean by Lynn Michaels


RATING 1,5 out of 5 stars

Cal Bigsby spent his life working the fishing boats and ignoring who he really is and what he needs to be happy.

Prescott ‘Scott’ Vandenburton is being primed to take over Daddy’s company, but he craves a life of his own. His only escape is sailing his yacht.

When a freak storm hits, both are forced to think about life from a whole new perspective.

Shipwrecked, fighting for their lives, and finding unexpected love.

Let’s start this review saying I was very enthusiastic about having this new story in my hands. I am always curious to read new to me authors and I saw how well loved Lynn Michaels is, so I wanted to give her new release a chance. Plus the blurb sounded interesting and I’m a fan of characters with important age difference.

So, yes the premises were all positive and perfect, but Out of the Ocean revealed to be a huge disappointment to me. A truly disaster. Not a single element worked.

Of course having read the blurb I knew what was going to happen, I knew the MCs were going to be in the middle of the ocean on a lifeboat. I knew this but the story was so badly developed, it was a pain to me to finish it, and I did it just because I had to write a review, otherwise I would have simply DFN.

The first thing that shocked me was how the author decided the MCs should met, I was thinking they were both on the same boat when the storm hit them. It was absurd they were on different boats and later they, each on his own lifeboat, after the storm, met in the ocean. I found it so unbelievable, but it’s romance so I went on with the reading.  Should have been better if I stopped there because it was a succession of implausibilities. Starting with, how two people, alone in the middle of the ocean (I know I tell you “middle of the ocean” two thousand times but it’s the focus point), with no way of asking for help, how neither of them, not even once, showed some fear, a little bit of panic. Nothing. They were like almost dying with nothing to eat, the heat unbearable, but wait for the worst part. They had sex. How was it possible I have no clue.

From that moment, I realized how “nonsense” this book was and I just went into the motion of finish it and put an end to my suffering.

I’m sorry, I don’t feel to recommend Out of the Ocean at all.

Cover art is great with wonderful detailed look to the character.

SALE LINKS:   Amazon


Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition

Published March 15th 2018

ISBN13 9781386999409

Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady audiobook Review: Changing Plans Trilogy by L.A. Witt and Charlie David (Narrator)


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

This audiobook release contains all three books in the Changing Plans series: Getting Off the Ground, Infinity Pools, and On the List.   Charlie David does a nice job on the narration, however, he did not make the two MCs voices very distinctive so one has to listen to the content to be able to determine who is speaking when there are no dialogue tags.  This makes for a bit of confusion, though the stories are each short and not terribly complex, so they are easy to follow. 

In Getting Off the Ground, Elliot Chandler meets a sexy fellow traveler as they await their flight in what seems as if it’s going to be a snowed-in airport.  Elliot is heading to Hawaii to go on his honeymoon—alone.  Having been stood up at the altar, he decides to follow-through on his vacation plans—plans being the operative word.  Elliot is a compulsive over-planner, always planning everything in his life out to the nth degree.  So when his fiancé decides not to show at the altar, Elliot is going to take advantage of all the planning he did.  Unfortunately, he didn’t plan for the snowstorm. 

When the cute guy across the aisle, clad only in a Hawaiian-print shirt and no coat, engages him in conversation, the two hit it off immediately.  By the time the flight is canceled, Elliot offers to share his hotel room with the stranger, Derek.  Of course, Elliot has a room booked. As soon as he realized the flight might be canceled, he planned ahead and booked a room.  The two fall into bed, literally and frequently, and Derek eventually convinces Elliot he should change his plans to tour Oahu and come with Derek to Maui instead.  What looked to be an impossible feat happens and we end book one and begin book two, Infinity Pools—something Derek has at his home.  Derek made his money in the dot com days and he and his partners are still involved in buying and selling IT businesses, app development, etc.   

Book two is pretty much all sex with a bit of sightseeing thrown in.  Honestly, it’s original LA Witt at her finest, but I’m pretty much past the point where sex is interesting for 75% of the book, so I was happy to see book two end, with the two lovebirds committed to each other, even though they’ve only known one another for a few weeks.   So as book three opens, we find out that their long-distance relationship is still strong, and in fact, they have plans to get married. 

The last book, On the List, involves some family-of-origin issues, mostly on Derek’s part, and the two men committing to each other no matter what life brings.  Bottom line, this is an eight-hour audiobook that has a sweet romance, a lot of sex, and some nice Hawaiian scenery.  It would be a great book to listen to while lying on a beach or passing time on any vacation, including a flight to Hawaii. 


The cover features a beach scene in the lower panel with two men holding hands, and the upper panel features an airliner in a bright blue sky.  The cover is bright and colorful and attention-getting.

Sales Links:

Audio Buy Links: Audible US | Audible UK

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 8 hours and 2 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Lori Witt
Audible.com Release Date: November 24, 2016
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English
ASIN: B01N981306

An Alisa Release Day Review: Set Ablaze by KC Burn


Rating:  3.5 stars out of 5

California firefighter Hayden Hurst is starting to realize there’s more to life than fighting fires and drinking with his buddies. He has room in his home and his life for someone special, but no one has stood out among his hookups. And while he’s out at work, admitting he’s gay is very different from showing up at social functions with a man. He’s afraid that’ll be too much for his less-than-accepting “friends.”

Broadway dancer Jez Bouchet hasn’t been mistaken for straight since he was gay-bashed at seventeen. After getting a lucrative job offer in Hollywood, he uproots his life in New York and drives to Los Angeles. His brother, who is Hayden’s best friend, arranges for him to crash at Hayden’s place.

The attraction between Hayden and Jez is unexpected but fiery, and they succumb before they’re even sure they like each other. But Jez hates Hayden’s homophobic friends, and Hayden knows Jez is too flamboyant for him to fly under the radar. Then there’s the complication of Jez’s brother.

Despite those hurdles, they fling themselves into a relationship. But Jez has secrets: a tiny spoiled dog and a determined stalker. If he doesn’t come clean, he might torch their burgeoning relationship before it has a chance to bloom.

This was a good story that touched on some hard topics.  Hayden is out but doesn’t “throw” his gayness in his friends’ faces and just tries to ignore the comments, when Jez comes into his life it gives him a different perspective on how they have been treating him.  Jez has dealt with a lot and most of it without anyone around to help him and he’s afraid to accept the safety that Hayden’s presence seems to give him.

Watching Hayden interact with his “friends” was rough, he would internally wince but not acknowledge anything they said.  It really took Jez opening his eyes for him to see what was going on.  I loved the heart to heart that Jez and Hayden had with Jez’s brother that really cleared the air about a lot of things for all of them, they all let so many assumptions be made it was unbelievable.

I really liked getting to know these characters but they had a really rough time getting their relationship going and then it was mostly smooth sailing.  Seeing Hayden second guess everything was hard, he has never been in a relationship on top of never really being open with someone and he didn’t know what to do.  Jez is more of an “I won’t accept any less” kind of guy but is able to bend a little once he knows what’s going on.  I didn’t really feel like I connected with these characters but still enjoyed reading about them.

The cover art by Jennifer Vance is nice and gives us a great visual of Hayden but doesn’t really connect with the story to me.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages

Published: April 24, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-616-0

Edition Language: English