A MelanieM Review: The Marine by John Simpson and Robert Cummings


Rating: 3 stars out of 5

The MarineDavid Stauffer, 18, joins the Marines as an escape from his drunken, abusive father and a dead end life.  David had no where to go and no financial support so joining the Marines was his only option. Matthew Kendricks, 18, joins because it is expected of him as a sort of family legacy handed down from father to son.  It didn’t matter that being a Marine was the last thing that Matthew wanted, he did what was expected to keep from disappointing his loving family.   Two such dissimilar young men from opposite ends of the social spectrum and familial backgrounds. Yet meeting in line for boot camp will change their lives forever.

The Marine by John Simpson and Robert Cummings is a story that feels shorter than its actual 101 pages.  While the first few chapters shows us the history and family situation of David and Matthew, the majority of the story takes place in boot camp at Parris Island.  David Stauffer is by far the more compelling of the two main characters.  A “bantam” of a man, David is short, intense, aggressive as only a young man with his background can be.  His ability to fight and persevere through each and every training exercise sees David rise through his section, even with the fact that he is almost defiantly gay.  Matthew, a quiet young man with almost no aptitude for military service other than his family legacy, is a harder sell.  Why?  Mostly because he doesn’t want to be a Marine (instead he wants to be an artist), isn’t physically fit as the others and really has not reason to be there other than he couldn’t stand up to his loving parents.  Unlike the other recruits, Matthew doesn’t have to be there and so our sympathy with his situation is not as  strong.

As with most typical John Simpson stories, romance is in short supply while the sexy scenes are not, which is logical given their situation and barracks living conditions.  David clearly pursues Matthew to Matthew’s dismay for the first part of the story.  Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is over but only recently, too recently to have changed the attitudes and actions of some of the Marine officers and other soldiers so David’s attraction to Matthew puts them both in vulnerable positions.  And only David is able to handle himself when it comes to fights.  So Matthew’s reservations are honest ones yet David doesn’t seem to get that.

I had several issues with this story, the largest of which is that Parris Island and David and Matthew’s boot camp experience comes off as less intense and transformative as it is reported to be.  One of the objectives of boot camp is to tear the man down so he can be rebuilt in the form of a Marine. That didn’t come across in the scenes or descriptions of their training.  Yes, David has some arduous trials to go through but there is never any question that he will make it through. Yes, you have your grizzled sergeants, the constant “in your face” yelling and river of insults and pejorative terms, but those scenes are lacking in  immediacy or believability.  In fact,heat, intensity, or any type of emotional impact is lacking in a story that should be filled to the brim with exhaustion, pain, deep emotional introspection, you name it, these two men should have gone through it and I never got that here, not once.

My other issue here?  That this story feels more like a bunch of chapters in a much larger story, the first half of a much larger book at that.  The reader is given David and Matthew’s background, we get their training experience at Parris Island and their graduation.  And then…nothing.  It just ends on what felt like a lovely, but forced ending.  I kept waiting for the rest of the story, their deployment, and everything that comes next.  Those missing chapters and part of David and Matthew’s story would have made this book a far more realistic read and have given it a completeness that this story is lacking.

So do I recommend this story?  Only as a type of adult military fairy tale.  If you want a quick, lovely, story with a happy feel good ending, than you will enjoy this.  However, if you have higher expectations for a story with Marines and authenticity, complete with sweat, dirt, angst, and pain, then I suggest you look elsewhere.  Both John Simpson and Robert Cummings have deep military backgrounds so my expectations for this story were high, perhaps too much so.  You might find yourself feeling differently about The Marines.  Pick it up and decide for yourself.

Cover artist: A.J. Corza.  I like the cover but the model for David should be much shorter and Matthew?  He’s a ginger.

Sales Links:      All Romance (ARe)          amazon           buy it here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 101 pages
Published September 20th 2014 by Cool Beans Publishing & Editing
edition languageEnglish

A Mika Review: My Mate Jack (A Heated Beat Story #1) by Garrett Leigh


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

My Mate JackWill Barter’s has loved his best mate Jack for as long as he can remember. They’ve shared everything: love, life, laughs, even Will’s first kiss. But Jack’s straight, and Will’s long-buried infatuation means nothing until their last summer together draws to a close.

Then one night, everything changes, but with Will bound for university in Leeds, and Jack for his dream DJ job in Ibiza, there’s no time to explore their blurred lines. Before long, all that’s left are secrets, lies, and misunderstandings.

 In the months that follow, anger and hurt overshadow fifteen years of friendship, and Will must dig deep to remember Jack is his mate… his best mate, and nothing matters more than that, right?

A new Garrett Leigh series, sure I’ll take it. Garrett Leigh is dubbed Queen of Angst in my mind palace. She produces the angst like no other. I was on pins and needles throughout Will and Jack’s separation the entire time. I was angry at both of them for not being angry themselves at the long bouts of time between communications. Why couldn’t Will get a better bloody phone? G.L. had me fussing using proper English words. I think I called my husband a wanker four or five times while reading this. You men don’t get it, someone step up and say something; now back to the story at hand, lol.

Will and Jack have been best mates since they were seven years old. Things changed the summer year before graduating high school. We can all guess since it’s a friend to lover’s thing. I automatically thought when things changed we’ll see them at college doing what all new couple do, try to maintain their relationship. Well no, that didn’t happen. Will went to uni, and Jack went to Ibiza to d.j. I didn’t think it would be so hard for two guys who spent most of their lives together to have communication issues once they leave home.  Lots and lots of communication issues. I was livid, I wanted one of these guys to grow up and throw out the first line, but of course we got the run around. In between them we had family issues, resolved issues, jealous boyfriends,and much, much more. Not in those orders but they could have the catalyst for an entire different ending. I was happy with the ending, I don’t know if Will & Jack were but I am. Maybe they are happy but not happy with their journey to romance. I hope we find out.

I would recommend this to fans of Garrett Leigh it’s her typical angst filled novels. I would recommend to new readers who are interested in realistic fiction, and or new to angst, and enjoy friends to lovers themes. I enjoyed reading it, I wish it was more, but I’m okay because it’s book 1 in a series. I look forward to reading about the Will & Jack next time.

Book Cover: G.D. Leigh.  I thought it was just alright.

Sales:      Dreamspinner Press eBook                                              All Romance (ARe)         amazon            buy it here

Book Details:

ebook, 104 pages
Expected publication: December 10th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
edition languageEnglish

A PaulB Review: The Alpha King (Passion’s Hero #1) by Vicktor Alexander


Rating 5 stars out of 5 

The Alpha King Cover PhotoTalon Versuthion cannot catch a break. His parents die when he was young. During a transport mission with his adoptive sister, they crash into Tumaro, a planet of wolf shifters. Upon regaining consciousness after the crash, his sister is missing and he comes face to face with Blazell, the king of Tumaro. To make matters worse for Talon, the king claims they are mates, something Talon never wanted.

Growing up, Blazell and Buck, princes of Tamuro, a member of the Galaxy Peace Allegiance, hear of an ancient prophecy that a member of the Versuthion family will bring about the reemergence of the humanoid race. Buck is kidnapped and tortured for information about the location of this family. Blazell, the older brother, blames himself for not protecting Buck. After his father dies and Blazell becomes king, he makes a vow to find the missing Versuthion family.

Talon Versuthion’s  parents were murdered. Later adopted by an Edifican couple, he grows up with his Edifican sister who is also adopted. Just getting by in life, Talon takes a job as an intergalactic cargo transporter with his sister. One day, they take off for Strawxig, a planet of snake shifters. As they begin their approach to the planet, their shuttle is blown off course by a space storm. They are sent thousands of light years off course and crash land into Tamuro.

The Alpha King Blazell arrives just as the male regains consciousness and declares that the man is his mate. Talon, upon hearing thus slips back into the dark. Blazell then goes about the process of making Talon his consort and vows to find the other members of his family. Talon meanwhile must adjust to life as the spouse of the King of Tumaro. With the help of his sister and Blazell’s assistant, Talon must navigate the court and those who seek to overthrow both him as consort and Blazell as king.

This is the first book in Vicktor Alexander’s Passion’s Hero series. One of the most important things a writer must do when writing science fiction is to build his world. The author does an excellent job of this. To start his book, he provides readers with what he calls a “cheat sheet.” In it, he describes the various planets and the people, plants and animals that abound on them. He also defines some terms which come up later in the book. I found this to be very helpful while reading.

The author also elaborates on the wolf shifter culture as he sees it. As with most shifter books, you find your alphas, betas, omegas and elders. He also includes other ranks of wolves and sets out the various functions of those ranks. On top of this, he adds royalty to the wolf hierarchy. Thus, we have Alpha Kings, Alpha Princes (the next in line to the throne) and Beta Princes which is essentially the Spare Heir.

While there is the usual instant attraction that is involved in shifter mate romances, the author shows that this is a real relationship where the couple gets upset at each other, doubts in the mind of the non shifter about the relationship and the need to please your mate. Also, Talon bristles every time he is addressed by his royal title as he sees it as antiquated.

I would highly recommend this engaging first book in Passion’s Hero series and I look forward to its follow-ups.

The cover art by the author depicts Blazell and Talon in the foreground with a landscape of the area around the castle of Tumaro.

Sales Links:  Rooster & Pig          All Romance (ARe)            amazon         buy it here with us
Book Details:
Ebook, 285 pages
ISBN: 9780692325610
Edition: English
Published November 30, 2014 by Rooster & Pig Published, 2nd edition
Series: Passion’s Hero
The Alpha King (Passion’s Hero #1)

On Tour with Lauren Gallagher and her release Razor Wire (book tour and contest)




Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/Lauren Gallagher blog tour for Razor Wire!

Contest:  Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of two eBooks off my backlist (as L.A. Witt or Lauren Gallagher; excludes Razor Wire) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 28th, and winners will be announced on December 29th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

RazorWire_400x600RAZOR WIRE Blurb:

Two women. One terrible crime. Zero allies.

After being raped by a superior officer, MA3 Kim Lockhoff wants to leave the whole thing in the past. A cop herself, she knows all too well that it’s her word—and slutty reputation—against that of a respected Navy officer.

MA2 Reese Marion, a tough cop hiding her own trauma behind a hard-as-nails exterior, has no patience for pretty little princesses who use their cleavage to win favor with the guys. But when Reese is partnered with Kim, she slowly realizes that reputations can lie. Kim is whip-smart, ambitious—and scared. The man who attacked her won’t let anything damage his career, least of all Kim . . . or the baby she’s carrying as a result.

Isolated on Okinawa, thousands of miles away from home, the two women lean hard on each other. But when Kim confides in Reese, she unwittingly puts her new lover—and both of their careers—in the line of fire. Now her attacker just might have the leverage he needs to keep her quiet for good.
Razor Wire is available December 22nd from Riptide Publishing.

Book Details:

Author: Lauren Gallagher
eBook ISBN: 978-1-62649-187-8
eBook release: Dec 22, 2014
eBook Formats: pdf, mobi, html, epub
Print ISBN: 978-1-62649-188-5
Print release: Dec 22, 2014
Word count: 52,900,Page count: 215
Type: Standalone
Cover by: L.C. Chase
– See more at: http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/razor-wire#sthash.y1fztIC5.dpuf


Buy It Here! 
About Lauren Gallagher

Lauren Gallagher is an abnormal romance writer currently living in the wilds of Omaha, Nebraska. She and her husband, along with a coyote-iguana hybrid and two and a half cats, are thought to be in hiding from the Polynesian Mafia and a debt collector in search of a fine for an overdue book from the Library of Alexandria. Lauren continues to skillfully, if somewhat clumsily, elude them, but continues to have run-ins with her arch nemesis, M/M erotic romance author L. A. Witt. The implementation of Operation: I Don’t Think So is expected to resolve that problem soon enough.

Lauren’s backlist is available on her website, and updates (as well as random thoughts and the odd snarky comment) can be found on her blog or on Twitter (@GallagherWitt).