A Sammy Review: Corkscrewed by M.J. O’Shea

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

corkscrewed coverIsaac lived a life on the streets. With little memory of his childhood, he wandered for ages without knowing who he truly was. Being found by Roman was a gift, and soon the lifestyle of a grifter became all he knew. But Roman’s leaving, and he’s left him with one last big con… to pretend to be Isaac Shelley, missing heir to a huge trust fund and loving grandson of Marigold Shelley.

When he meets Cary, the “insurance man” there to check on Marigold’s beloved wine collection, there’s instant chemistry. What he doesn’t know is that Cary is a grifter as well, and he’s after very rare and very pricey wines, the Nine Sisters.

They each had their own elaborate con, but can do con artists work the same target without losing it all? Maybe, but when a wrench gets thrown in their plans, and items begin to disappear, there just may be another con going on, bigger than both of them.

Yeah, seduction was part of his act a lot of the time, and he’d always been very good at it with men and women, but he was breaking the first fucking rule he’d ever learned, the first rule he’d teach any student. Just the first damn rule, period. Never ever fall for your own con. Never.

I have some mixed emotions regarding this story. I loved the premise. Two con artists crossing paths, trying to out-con the other without even knowing the other is conning. Yes, lots of conning going on. It sounds great, and it had so much potential, but somehow, it fell a little flat.

It’s hard for me to explain, but there are some stories where when you stop you feel like you can’t wait to go back and read more. This wasn’t one of those stories. There were actually parts where I had to force myself to keep reading, and I wasn’t at all excited to come back and read it. Yes, I wanted to know what was going on, but it wasn’t really that built up need that I wish I had gotten.

As for the mystery, well, it had a lot of potential. I feel like the author thought a lot about different aspects, especially in the beginning regarding Cary and his plan to get the Nine Sisters. After that, it unraveled quite a bit. I had thoughts for who the Black Mamba was very early on, and I literally headdesked at some of the paths it took and conclusions characters came to. It seemed so obvious to me, and in the end, it was.

To top it all off, the ending was lackluster. There was no oomph to it. It just sort of happened and oh, okay, that’s it. Alrighty then.

This story wasn’t necessarily bad, but if you want a serious mystery with twists and turns, I’d suggest something else. If you want a more cozy, hokey kind of mystery, then this just might be for you.

The cover art by L.C. Chase is pretty much divine. It’s perfectly subtle and so fitting to the story from the very start. After all, it does take place on a vineyard.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published December 1st 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632165268
edition languageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Comfort and Joy Anthology by Joanna Chambers , Josh Lanyon , Harper Fox, and L.B. Gregg

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Comfort and Joy coverThe holidays are upon and so are the holiday story collections.  Comfort and Joy Anthology is brimming over with tales from Josh Lanyon, Joanna Chambers, L.B. Gregg, and Harper Fox.  Within the covers these authors bring tidings of joy, sorrow, humor, hope, and of course, comfort in extraordinary measure.

Readers must have been very good this year because never have our stockings been so full of marvelous collections of stories about Christmas and the holidays.  In my top 3 anthologies, resting easily is Comfort and Joy from four outstanding authors, each story with its own twist and tone to make it both heart wrenching as well as memorable.

What makes this anthology (as with all top three) so wonderful and heartwarming?  Depth for one thing, depth in emotion, characterization and tone.  Complexity in the plots and layering. Also poignancy, a little reflection and sadness that comes to all at this time of the year as well as the wish to be a better person, for yourself and for others.  These stories remind me more of Judy Garland singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and less Deck The Halls. Yes, the latter is lovely, lighthearted and whimsical but the truth in the meaning behind these holidays, our expectations and our memories go far deeper and that’s the feeling and dimension these stories bring.  They remind us that comfort is needed along with the joy, and that hope can follow on the heels of sadness and despair.

Rest and Be Thankful by Joanna Chambers:
Two stormy hearts find peace when feuding neighbors in the Scottish Highlands are trapped by a blizzard.

Things aren’t going well for Cam McMorrow since he moved to Inverbechie. His business is failing, his cottage is falling apart and following his very public argument with café owner Rob Armstrong, he’s become a social outcast.

Cam needs to get away from his troubles and when his sister buys him a ticket to the biggest Hogmanay party in Glasgow, he can’t leave Inverbechie quick enough. But when events conspire to strand him in the middle of nowhere in a snowstorm, not only is he liable to miss the party, he’ll also have to ask his nemesis, Rob, for help.

The synopsis doesn’t do this beautiful short story justice. At its heart is Cam McMorrow, a man who is his own worst enemy.  It’s his wonderful childhood memories and his inherited cottage from his grandparents that moved Cam to return to Inverbechie to start up his tourist based Adventure business. But nothing has gone as expected.  The seasonal fluctuations and the accompanying loss of income has put everything he has worked so hard for at risk and the depression and anger he feels has resulted in some poor choices made with the local folk.  But even though we (and Cam) recognize his part in the bad situation he finds himself in, we can’t help but sympathize and love him.  And it’s not all his fault, there have been some exceedingly poor judgement calls on parts of the local townspeople as well.  Cam is in the depths of despair when we meet him.  It his journey out to something better, more hopeful that is the wealth of this story.  I hope Joanna Chambers will revisit this Cam, Rob, and Inverbechie.  All three deserve a bigger story and a true HEA.

Out by Harper Fox
Can a stranger unlock the courage and passion in a young man’s captive heart?

It’s Christmas at Edinburgh’s magnificent Barlinney Hotel, and chief housekeeper Cosmo Grant is in charge of the festivities. He’s already got his hands full when handsome Ren Vaudrey checks in.

It soon turns out that Ren is an undercover cop. Cosmo wants to help him, but unless he can do it within the Barlinney’s walls, Cosmo is stuck. A victim of crippling agoraphobia, he’s been a prisoner in this gilded cage for over a year. Cosmo gathers all his courage to do the right thing by Ren and Sam—and as a glittering Christmas Eve descends on the city, finds himself confronting his very darkest fears.

If anyone had told me that an outstanding Christmas story centered around a traumatized, agoraphobic young man living in an expensive, first class hotel, I might have scoffed…aloud.  Except that it’s Harper Fox telling the tale, bringing to life Cosmo Grant, a vulnerable, warm hearted and superbly efficient chief housekeeper at Edinburgh’s Barlinney Hotel.  It was Cosmo’s bad luck to be held hostage during a robbery gone bad and the trauma has left Cosmo extremely agoraphobic, unable to leave the Barlinney at any cost.  Within its gorgeous confines, Cosmo works, eats, lives…marginally, his fear keeping him inside where he is terrorized by the hotel’s toady of a manager.  Then in sweeps police inspector Ren Vaudrey undercover and Cosmo’s life starts to enlarge once more.  There is a mystery, crooks galore, and romance.

I love Harper Fox and everything her pen touches turns to gold and in this case, to red and green with a tang of pine and something floral that Cosmo has fixed for the lobby.  Could I tell Harper Fox wrote this story?  Why, yes I could.

Waiting for Winter by LB Gregg:

Some mistakes are worth repeating.

Luke always thought he and Winter were the perfect couple—until the day Winter announced he was taking a new job and they were uprooting and headed for Germany. No discussion. No debate. For the first time in his life, Winter miscalculated. Badly. Now Luke is trying his best to move on with his life, but Winter is back in town and he’s set on digging their relationship out of the deep freeze.

A wealth of assumptions and misunderstandings can derail even the most loving relationships as Luke and Winter find out.  Now its the holidays and a time for reconciliation and second chances.  I love how L.B. Gregg writes relationships!   They feel so real, that when something goes wrong between the people involved, the reader feels just as unsettled and sad as the couple. In Waiting for Winter, Gregg portrays the relationship that was like an artist uses negative space in a painting, its defined by what Luke and Winter no longer have, whether its the joys of their intertwined families, houses and experiences.  That Winter and their “coupleness” is missed is accentuated by the places and people Luke visits, all of whom knew them as a couple.  We pine for the loss of Winter and hope that this reunion will take.  I loved the ending, that was perfect.

Baby, It’s Cold by Josh Lanyon:
Or maybe it’s the flu. Breaking up is hard to do — especially around the holidays.

Talk about Kitchen Nightmares! TV Chef Rocky and Foodie blogger Jesse have been pals forever, so it should have been the most natural thing in the world to move their relationship to the next level. Instead, it turned out to be a disaster. But Christmas is the season of love, and someone’s cooking up a sweet surprise…

From sadness and comfort to happiness and celebration, it’s fitting that this anthology  end with heartfelt humor and joy which it does with Baby, It’s Cold by Josh Lanyon.  Two old friends, chef Rocky and food blogger Jesse have tried in the past to have a relationship but it didn’t work out.  Now Jesse figures a blizzard and a surprise dinner is just the way to find out if he and Rocky can salvage not only their friendship but perhaps try again for something more.    What could go wrong?

Considering it’s Josh Lanyon at the helm, just about everything, from misunderstandings, kitchen disasters, and a unexpected visitor, Rocky and Jesse have many obstacles in their path before they can move forward to a future together they both want.  I love the dialog and the past histories Lanyon has detailed for both main characters are as fascinating as they are.  There is always a certain tartness about a Josh Lanyon story, a little wryness to go with the sweet,   a little savory for balance and that keeps the characters and their situations feeling believable and human without being saccharine.  Yes, our history often dictates our present behavior, whether we want it to or not.  Lanyon gets that and folds it into his people and their relationships.  So that when the pop of the champagne cork sounds the arrival of a happy ending, we and Rocky and Jesse have earned it.    Just a wonderful tale,  I loved it.

Love holiday stories?  Are these authors on your automatic buy list?  No matter the reason, pick up this anthology and have yourself a merry little Christmas, or Chanukah, or whatever holiday you may celebrate.  These are stories to read no matter the season.  Comfort and Joy is on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Best of 2014 List!  And now I will leave you with the incomparable Judy Garland singing Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas!

Cover Art by Johanna Ollila. Cover is nice if a little bland, a little too generic for my tastes.

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

Book Details:

ebook
Published December 6th 2014 by JustJoshin Publishing, Inc.
(first published December 5th 2014)
ISBN139781937909758
edition languageEnglish

A Mika Review:  Tangled Mind by Posy Roberts

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

TangledMindFSFor years, Beck Lund has taken care of his volatile boyfriend, Brady, always putting Brady’s needs above his own and walking on eggshells to keep the peace. After Brady overdoses on heroin, his death devastates Beck.  Thankfully, Beck’s best friend, Timothy Kallis, finds him the help he needs. Beck slowly starts to recover and moves in with Timothy to get back on his feet, but he’s oblivious that Timothy is secretly nursing romantic affection for him.

Beck focuses on his own healing for the first time in his life. After months of challenging his codependent tendencies and learning how to stand up for himself, Beck finally starts to trust his gut and hopes to one-day love again. Timothy is patient throughout, taking care of Beck in ways no one ever has. But if Beck can’t recognize Timothy’s affection for him, it might be too late for them to move beyond friendship.

I loved this book. Wow, I am thoroughly impressed with this book. Posy Roberts definitely brings the emotions out of you. I love her Northern Spark series too. That was such an realistic fiction series, and I truly adored it. This book was such an easy read as it was the right pace for me. Not too fast, or slow but just right  It was easy to fall in love with Timothy. He was this perfect guy. I mean he did not once push boundaries, he was there for Beck, he did not judge him.

Beck was such an amazing guy. How did he put up with being in a relationship for 11 years and it all being about the other guy? I applaud his strength, his will, and his heart. This book touched on a lot about grief, guilt, and death. The beginning of the story was hard to read since it was from Beck’s point of view, it was everything he had to endure. I could not imagine being in love, or dedicating myself for so long to one person who is not in love with you first. I mean it is almost like Beck having to sacrifice him in order to be in a relationship. Throughout all grief he endured was Timothy standing in the background willing to help, listen or just be a friend to Beck.

I would recommend this book to anyone. I truly loved it, I found myself crying at some parts but it was elation for Beck mostly. He had to learn how to be about Beck. He should growth from the beginning towards the end. Why 4.5 stars instead of 5? I loved it for sure, but I did feel like I need an epilogue at the ending. While I was happy with ending, I just didn’t want it to end, but it is classic Posy for her to cut it off. Crosses fingers we at least get a novella about these two.

Cover Artist:  Maria Fanning did a lovely job, poignant and perfect.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press     All Romance (ARe)       amazon              Buy It Here
Book Details:

eBook, pages

to be Published December 24, 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632164667
Edition Language: English

In the Book Spotlight: My Mate Jack by Garrett Leigh (book tour and contest)

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Book Name: My Mate, Jack
Goodreads Link: My Mate Jack
Author Name: Garrett Leigh

Author Bio:

Rainbow Award winner Garrett Leigh is a British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Black Jazz Press. Her protagonists will always always be tortured, crippled, broken, and deeply flawed. Throw in a tale of enduring true love, some stubbly facial hair, and a bunch of tattoos, and you’ve got yourself a Garrett special.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible. That, and dreaming up new ways to torture her characters. Garrett believes in happy endings; she just likes to make her boys work for it.

Garrett also works as a freelance cover artist for various publishing houses and independent authors under the pseudonym G.D. Leigh. For cover art info, please visit blackjazzpress.com

Where to find the author:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/garrettleighbooks
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Garrett-Leigh/484336074987986
Twitter:      https://twitter.com/Garrett_Leigh

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: G.D. LeighMy Mate Jack

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press           amazon

Blurb:

Will Barter’s been in love with 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?

Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

Excerpt:

“So, are you game, or what?”

Will blinked. “Eh?”

Jack laughed. He lay back on Will’s bed and folded his arms behind his head, all dark eyes and shaggy hair. “You’re such a dreamer. No wonder you don’t notice any blokes. I was saying we could practice kissing if you want. You know, so you’re not nervous next time the bottle lands on you.”

This time Will couldn’t stop the beer going down the wrong way. He coughed. “Next time? What are you going to do? Out me to the whole school by snogging my face off? I’d rather smooch the girls.”

“Liar.” But Jack looked sheepish all the same. “Okay, maybe we shouldn’t mess around in front of other people, but I still reckon you should try your techniques out on me. Ginny says I’m the best kisser in the whole school, and she should know.” Jack swooned and pitched into a fit of weed-fueled giggles.

Will dove at him and pushed him off the other side of the bed. “It’s not funny, arsehole. I’m the only gay in the whole bloody town. I’m going to die a virgin at this rate.”

Jack hit the floor with a thump. He lay there a moment, still laughing, then hauled himself back onto the bed. “Chill out, mate. No one said anything about bonking.”

Will tried to grin. Chill out. Yeah, right. Jack had been taking the piss since that stupid bloody bottle had put the idea of them kissing in his daft head. “You’re not funny.”

Jack sobered and stared with an expression Will couldn’t decipher. “I wasn’t joking, at least not about the kissing part. We’re friends, right? Ginny and Meg snog all the time.”

He had a point. The girls were always messing around with each other, and Will had often watched them and maligned the fact that girls had it easy… from his point of view, at least. They could do whatever they wanted and no one cared. It would be a different story if Will jumped on Jack in the middle of the park. Snogged his face off and squeezed his arse.

So why not do it here? No one will ever know.

Pages or Words: 104 pages

MMJBadgeTour Dates: December 23, 2014

Tour Stops: 

Parker Williams, Velvet Panic, Havan Fellows, Lee Brazil, Bayou Book Junkie, Love Bytes, EE Montgomery, 3 Chicks After Dark, LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Molly Lolly, BFD Book Blog, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Carly’s Book Reviews, Charley Descoteaux, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Sinfully Sexy, Fallen Angel Reviews, Dawn’s Reading Nook, MM Good Book Reviews, Up All Night, Read All Day, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-book Copy of ‘My Mate, Jack’. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Use the link provided to enter and for all additional contest details.

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Tina Blenke’s Shifters are Back in Shifting Gears (book tour and contest)

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Book Name: Shifting Gears – Shifting Paradigm Book Two
Author Name: Tina Blenke

Author Bio:

Tina is a retired Air Force brat and has lived in several states as well as a handful of countries. She has always had a soft spot for literature and is a voracious reader. When she isn’t writing, she can be found cuddled up with a good book. Though Tina adores a thrilling novel with sappy lovesick heroes, she is terrified of things that go bump in the night. This makes for quite a complicated relationship with zombies, something that she just can’t get enough of.

Where to find the author:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tina-Blenke-Author/487878157926041?ref=hl
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tinablenke
LinkedIn: Tina Blenke
Instagram: tinablenke
WordPress: http://tinablenke.wordpress.com/
Website: http://tinablenke.wix.com/author
Tumblr: tinablenke

Publisher: eXtasy Books
Cover Artist: Latrisha Watersshiftinggears72

Sales Links: eXtasy Books

Shifting Gears Blurb:

Justin has graduated high school and feels the pull to find his destined mate away from the sanctuary of his Shifter family. He makes the decision to leave the sacred Pack Lands to enter the world of the Changeless humans. Only one other Shifter has ever left the sacred homelands searching for his mate and Justin is hopeful that he’ll be just as successful but the threat of violence against Shifters is ever threatening as conflict escalates.

Connor has worked hard to make a name for himself. He is an influential member of society with contacts with the business and political leaders of Whitewater. He owns and manages a successful nightclub that is soon branching off into additional prospects that will open even more red carpet opportunities for him. Everything is falling into place for him financially but he has no one with whom to share his accomplishments.

Justin makes the decision to move to the city and meets his mate when Connor hits him with his car. Connor’s initial reaction is to push Justin away because of his young age but the draw to the young Shifter is too much for Connor to resist. Justin struggles with finding his own way and fights for the chance to prove himself to Connor.

Justin is faced with making the right decisions so he doesn’t push Connor away while fighting with his own wolf to maintain control of his mind and his body. He fights with his own self-doubt in the hopes of proving to Connor that he doesn’t need the man’s success he only needs the man.

Categories: Alternate Universe, Erotica, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance, Paranormal

Shifting Gears Excerpt:

The hospital room was easy enough to find once Jason let the central desk know who he was looking for. At the end of the long white hall was a bay of rooms, set in a circular pattern around the nurses’ station and Justin’s room was on the far right.

Glass doors allowed Jason to see into the room and see his cousin’s smiling face talking to a doctor in a long white lab coat. The room was filled with a half dozen vases filled with colorful flowers ranging from wild flowers to orchids and even roses. Odd considering Justin only knew Jason and Eric in the city and Justin’s family hadn’t been contacted about the accident.

Justin beamed when Jason entered the room holding his own bouquet of daisies and a get well card purchased from the downstairs gift shop. Justin lay propped upright with his left leg in a cast and elevated on a stack of pillows. An IV was hooked to his arm and a few scratches covered his forearms and left cheek but other than that he looked good. The benefits of youth had been on his side when the accident occurred.

Pages or Words: 93 pages, 19,009 words

SGBadgeTour Dates: December 23, 2014

Tour Stops: 

Parker Williams, The Hat Party, Molly Lolly, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, My Fiction Nook, Bayou Book Junkie, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, BFD Book Blog, MM Good Book Reviews, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Crystal’s Many Reviewers, Carly’s Book Reviews, Velvet Panic, Queer Town Abbey, The Fuzzy, Fluffy World of Chris T. Kat, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Fallen Angel Reviews, Andrew Q. Gordon

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘Shifting Gears’. Use the link below for all additional contest details and the entry form. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

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