A MelanieM Review: A Wedding to Die For (Brandt and Donnelly Caper #3) by Xavier Mayne


Rating: 3 stars out of 5

A Wedding To Die ForJustin Capella, son and baker at his family’s up scale bakery, and Roman Montgomery, floral scion, haven’t seen each other since that fateful day in third grade when a single kiss shocked Justin and sent Roman to boarding school.  But fate, a gay celebrity wedding combined with their bigoted fathers conspire to bring them back together once more.

When a high-profile gay celebrity couple, a TV news anchor and a famous lawyer, decide that they want the two most popular and well established vendors, Montgomery Floral and Cakes by Capella, to provide their wedding cake and flowers , they are not prepared for the owners of those firms to refuse because they are a gay couple.   In the aftermath of the bad publicity and promise of multiple lawsuits , a resulting boycott threatens to shut down both companies.  With their fathers stepping aside, its up to their sons to save both family businesses. And while they are struggling to do so,  Justin and Roman rediscover love while working on the wedding.

Law Enforcement Officers Brandt and Donnelly are working with a statewide task force for the rights of LGBT citizens even as they search out their own wedding planner.  As guests at the celebrity wedding, they are present when things start to go wrong.  There’s something more sinister than bigotry afoot at the wedding.  When someone dies, its up to fellow cops and soon to be married partners,  to save the day, save the date and help another young couple find their own HEA.

A Wedding to Die For is not only my first Brandt and Donnelly story, but its also the first book I’ve read by Xavier Mayne.  I found it to be fun, mostly lighthearted, with some serious truths buried beneath the fondant and icing.  The author and story assumes you have  read the previous novels that introduces fellow state law officers and lovers, Ethan Brandt and Gabriel Donnelly, along with assorted friends that include the flaming, over-the-top Bryce and  his buddy/lover? Nestor.  A Wedding To Die For picks up with Ethan and Gabriel already engaged and looking to make arrangements for their own wedding.  Immediately their flamboyant, enthusiastic besties get involved and perhaps a third of the book involves the various sundry and quite awful wedding planners Brandt and Donnelly are sent to by their friends.  This section of the book is shear comedy and would work well on its own as such.  But when folded into more serious elements it acts as more of a distraction than a meaningful plot thread.

Another section, the best part of this story actually, is told from the perspectives of both Justin and Roman, two boyhood friends separated by trauma and their fathers.  I actually wished this had been a separate book.  Justin and Roman’s story has a poignancy and realism missing from the rest of this novel.  We meet them as they reunite over the disasters their fathers have made of their family businesses and reputations, and then slowly through conversations and recalled memories does their own pasts start to reveal itself.  The anguish and pain comes through beautifully as does the hope and possibility of healing their wounds.  I adored both characters of Justin and Roman, they feel believable and their actions as young men growing up in their family companies comes across as authentic.  I found myself actually flipping past sections just to get back to this pair and their problems.

The rest of the book is told by Brandt and Donnelly, who I just couldn’t take seriously as any type of  law enforcement officers.  Whether it was their behavior in front of the captain or out as representatives of the task force, their dialog, and actions tended to veer towards camp instead of that of believable cops.  I felt that was a shame as there is some very serious issues playing out here, and not just the companies that refuse to cater towards the LGBTQ public when doing business.  Plot threads also address what happens when married gay couples visit states that don’t recognize them as married, especially when tragedy strikes.  To have all these very serious issues surrounded by froth and lighthearted fun takes away the gravity and pain that occurs as part of the consequences of a patchwork quilt of LGBTQ equality.

A Wedding To Die For has multiple points of view, a myriad of voices, and almost too many storylines.  Truthfully, I really committed to one, that of Justin and Roman and found the rest to be just too silly, especially when stacked up against the other.  But Justin and Roman are so memorable and sympathetic that I wished for more of these two and their relationship down the line.   But not everyone will feel that way.  Others may feel the silliness and froth is just the thing to take the sting off the reality of some of the meanness and bigotry still so much a part of our lives and this story.  I will leave it up to you to decide.

If you like light and frothy fun, you will love this story.  If you want a heartfelt romance, then read it for Justin and Roman.  It’s a short, quick read with entertaining or moving elements for just about everyone.

Cover Artist L.C. Chase did a nice job here.  I think that’s Justin and Roman on the cover, and the wedding elements are a great addition.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press         All Romance (ARe)     Amazon    Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Published December 15th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
original titleA Wedding to Die For
edition languageEnglish
seriesBrandt and Donnelly Caper #3


Case File One: Frat House Troopers
Case File Two: Wrestling Demons
Case File Three: A Wedding to Die For

A Sammy Review: Ethan in Gold (Johnnies #3) by Amy Lane


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

And they cried, all of them, for the family they’d never really had and the thing they were losing without realizing, until now, how so very badly they all needed it.

Ethan in gold coverEthan, like many of the others at Johnnies, has a dark past. Being sexually abused as a child and then denied the affection every child deserves, he craves touch in a way that most people hunger for food. Johnnies has provided that for him, a promise of affection and closeness, a way to feed his need.

When he meets Jonah, he’s not looking for a boyfriend, but Jonah’s persistent and buries himself underneath Ethan’s skin. But can Ethan risk giving up the consistent touch for the possibility of something more?

That feeling of connection, of being a part of another human being’s heart—he was starting to see how Ethan could treasure that above his dignity, above his self-worth, above everything he’d ever been taught about a moral code.

So here’s the thing, I love the this series. It grabs my heart and doesn’t let it go. I think because I loved the first two books so much, this one just didn’t measure up to the sheer awesomeness that was them, and that’s why I’m left feeling a bit deflated after finishing it.

The beginning felt a bit schizophrenic to me. It was hard to follow at times and I was beginning to wonder if maybe it was just being profound in a way that I couldn’t quite grasp, or it was trying to be and I wasn’t connecting on that level. It just didn’t flow as well as I would’ve liked.

It also took me a bit to adjust to the fact that what was going on in this book was almost all of what we’d seen from another perspective in the other books. It threw me off at first, as I was expecting to see more of the story, but we didn’t get much of that. Instead, we got the same events from Ethan’s point of view, which was fine, just a bit odd at first.

My favorite part of this story was actually Amelia. I’ve been through a situation of seeing someone dying and having to face it, and becoming so tired, and I resonated with that in this book. I also felt that the part about not being a fighter, and how that’s okay, was incredibly beautiful. It wasn’t something I had thought of before, but it hit me right in the chest.

Overall, a good book, but it didn’t measure up to the first two for me.

The cover art by Reese Dante is nice, and again works well with the others in the series. Unfortunately, I still have the same problem with the font as I did previously. It’s so blocky and doesn’t fit the feeling of the stories. Also, while the guy on the cover could very well be Ethan, I just don’t know beyond that how much personality it has that fits with the story itself. So a nice general cover, but maybe not the best fit for this particular story.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press* All Romance (ARe)   Amazon Buy it here

*available in paperback and audiobook

Book Details:

ebook, 350 pages
Published October 4th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press (first published October 3rd 2013)
ISBN 162798318X (ISBN13: 9781627983181)
edition languageEnglish, seriesJohnnies #3
charactersDavid “Dex” Worral, Carlos “Kane” Ramirez, Tommy “Tango” Halloran, Evan “Ethan” Costa

The Johnnies Series:

  • Super Sock Man (Granby Knitting, #2)
  • Chase in Shadow (Johnnies, #1)
  • Dex in Blue (Johnnies, #2)
  • Ethan in Gold (Johnnies, #3)
  • Black John (Johnnies, #4)

A Stella Review: Rabbit Season (Lost Shifters #2) by Megan Derr


Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars

Rabbit Season CoverSidney has quietly loved twin brothers Brook and Colby for years, watching and pining as they came to his house for the summer every year. Painfully aware that they have each other, and that they have no reason to notice the unremarkable duck they grew up babysitting. 

Then the twins and their mother are attacked days before an important meeting that will change the shifter world forever. When the twins come to stay with Sidney’s family until the attackers are caught, Sidney learns that all things have their season, and even violent protests will not keep two rabbits from the man for whom they’ve been patiently waiting…

Warning: Story contains incest

Just a short premise. Even if this is a very light book, if you are uneasy to read about incest, I think this book it’s not for you. Usually I don’t feel so comfortable reading about this theme but I found out that it’s really important how the author showes it to us. In this case, it wasn’t so hard to me to read the incesty threesome (how Brook called it), maybe cause it’s a paranormal story, or perhaps cause it’s not uncommon in the shifters’ world Megan created, in general it’s allowed. In fact, if you’ll read the book, you’ll discover Sidney’s parent are the first to welcome his relationship. No drama at all.

Sidney is a duck shifter and the heir of the kingdom; he has two dads, Troy, human and James, the flock leader. He’s in love with the Hot Twinks (Brook and Colby), the rabbit shifters, since forever. he has tried (not so) hard to forget them, until one morning, still wearing Spiderman pajama pants, he finds them in his kitchen. Just like that, after being ignored all these years, they start flirting with him. Are they making fun of him?

Colby and Brook have feelings for Sidney since he was sixteen, but they stayed away because he was too young. Now he’s twenty and they are ready to take what they want.

The flock is not welcoming this new relationship, they want Sidney to be with a duck, not a rabbit, even less two of them. So Sidney needs to understand if the rabbits are just looking for some fun time or something more. Are the Hot Twins worthy losing the flock leading?

The author created a great shifters world with a DPRS (Department for the Protection and Regulation of Shifters) and a Lost Shifters Foundation, who rescue feral shifters and find them a home. Being a short book, I understand it wasn’t possible to develop all the conflicts and mysteries we read about them, but I think it has penalized the success of the story.

Rabbit Season is cute and there are some funny dialogues that lighten the story, but I missed the sweetness of Backwoods Asylum. In my opinion it’s due to the choice of adding the sexual aspect. In fact, while in the first book the physical relationship between the two Mcs started at the end of the story and there were no sex scenes, in this second one Sidney and the Hot Twinks are together and having hot sex almost from the start. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading steamy sex scenes, really love, just not in this story. Maybe it’s cause I’m still playing with Hansel and Gretel (if you read Brady and Skylar’s story, you know what I’m talking about). I thought I was going to read something on the same line. I simply didn’t get the same emotions from this book, even if I enjoyed a lot and I devoured it.

So far, I want to recommend the Lost Shifters series, it’s a funny, sweet and light reading.

The COVER DESIGNED by London Burden is not ethereal as the Backwoods Asylum one. It misses one thing: the clothes Brook and Colby stole to Sidney in the scene at the pond. It would have fitted the story perfectly.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press  All Romance (ARe)  Amazon   Buy It Here

Book Details:

Expected publication: February 18th 2015 by Less Than Three Press
original titleRabbit Season
edition languageEnglish
seriesLost Shifters #2

Books In the Lost Shifters series:

  • Backwoods Asylum (Lost Shifters #1)
  • Rabbit Season  (Lost Shifters #2)

Page and McGuinness Are Back in The Merchant of Death by Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock! (contest)



Our Focus is On…



Page and McGuinness,  two of our favorites are back in another Playing the Fool novel!  For details about the story, Lisa Henry (one of our Down Under authors) and J. A. Rock are here to fill you  in.  It’s also a Barb the Zany Old Lady Highly Recommended Reads.  Find her review here!  Now onto The Merchant of Death!




Hi! We’re Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock, the authors of THE MERCHANT OF DEATH. We’re touring the web taking about our influences, our processes, anything we can think about actually, and even giving you guys a sneak peak or two! And what would a blog tour be without a contest? Check out the details at the bottom of the post to see what you can win!

Today’s post is all about merchandising!

One of the most fun things about Henry Page is that he is constantly coming up with crazy ideas. Or are they genius ideas? One of his ideas in THE MERCHANT OF DEATH is to create a TV and/or movie franchise based on himself and Ryan “Mac” McGuinness. It would be kind of an Odd Couple cop buddy bromance rom com crime caper. A lot like their lives, actually.

Henry’s not just relying on his “Mac and Cheese” script to pay for his private island in the Bahamas though. No, Henry’s a realist. He knows that it’s all going to come from merchandising. And while it might just start with the basics like lunchboxes and Pez dispensers, the sky’s the limit with merchandising. You can also go pretty damn low.

Yes, as low as Edward Cullen on your underpants. Actually, the scariest thing about these is probably that they sold really, really well.
You know what I really find difficult though? Sometimes when I’m baking and have to take hot things out of the oven, there’s no way to do it while at the same time expressing my love of the post-punk movement of the late 1970s. Until now:

But the ultimate in merchandising has to be these Royal Wedding condoms. One can only assume they were not authorised by the palace.
So really, there’s no crazy merchandising idea that Henry can possibly come up with that would be any more bizarre than anything that already exists in the real world.


All’s fair in love and war.

There’s something rotten in the state of Indiana. When con man Henry Page takes it upon himself to investigate the death of an elderly patient at a care facility, he does so in true Shakespearean tradition: dressed as a girl.

FBI Agent Ryan “Mac” McGuinness has more to worry about than Henry’s latest crazy idea. Someone is trying to send him a message—via a corpse with a couple of bullets in it. He needs to figure out who’s trying to set him up before he gets arrested, and he really doesn’t have time for Henry’s shenanigans. Then again, he’d probably be able to focus better if Henry didn’t look so damn distracting in a babydoll dress and a wig.

But when Mac discovers that Henry has been keeping a secret that connects the cases, he has to find a way to live on the right side of the law when he just might be in love with the wrong sort of man.

You can check out THE MERCHANT OF DEATH at Riptide.
The Giveaway: Thanks for following our tour! To celebrate our release, we’re giving away an awesome prize – an ebook copy of a novel of your choice from either of our back catalogs. We’re also giving away a $20 Riptide gift voucher, and Mac’s favorite coffee mug. What? It’s not like he’s supposed to be drinking coffee.

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with a way for us to contact you, be it your email, your twitter, or a link to your facebook or goodreads account. Please put your email in the body of the comment, not just in email section of the comment form, because we won’t be able to see it otherwise! On February 12, 2015, we’ll draw a winner from all eligible comments! Be sure to follow the whole tour, because the more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win the prize!

In The Book Spotlight: Alpha,Delta by R.J. Scott


magnifying glass and book

Officer Finn Hallan has never run from a fight. With Niall’s life and love at stake, he’s not about to start now…




New from R.J. Scott, Alpha, Delta- Part of the All Romance Alpha series

alpha delta

Finn Hallan is a member of the elite Norwegian Emergency Response Unit, code name Delta. When the team is sent to respond to a hostage situation on a Oil Platform in the Norwegian Sea, he has to face demons he thought he had buried a long time ago.

Scottish engineer Niall Faulkner’s skills in oil platform decommissioning takes him to the Forseti platform at the worst possible time. When he’s captured by terrorists, his only thought is that he will never get to tell his lover how he really feels.

Can Finn keep Niall alive? Or will they both die at the hands of hijackers in the frigid waters of the Norwegian sea?

Buy Link:  All Romance (ARe)

 Author Bio

About RJ

RJ Scott has been writing since age six, when she was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies. She was told to write a story and two sides of paper about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born.

As an avid reader herself, she can be found reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror. However, her first real true love will always be the world of romance where she takes cowboys, bodyguards, firemen and billionaires (to name a few) and writes dramatic and romantic stories of love and passion between these men.

With over sixty titles to her name and counting, she is the author of the award winning book, The Christmas Throwaway. She is also known for the Texas series charting the lives of Riley and Jack, and the Sanctuary series following the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and the people it protects.

Her 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.

Author Contacts:

www.tumblr.com/blog/rjscott (some NSFW (not safe for work) photos)

Alpha, Delta Excerpt:


Chapter 1

“This is the second fucking time we’ve had to do this and I’m telling you now I’m not staying for the whole thing.”

Finn Hallan glanced over at his teammate and wondered if he should check him for any visible weapons. Erik was one of those guys who was never happy about sitting still, let alone in a meeting as seminar dealing with health and safety.

“Cap’s not going to like you backing out of this,” Finn warned. He was just as restless, too used to action and getting on with things instead of sitting here in a briefing room listening to changes in policy. Thing is, this shit was statutory and Cap had made Finn and Erik attend, in case there was anything important about oil platform safety. Finn was certainly not going up against Cap, and he knew Erik needed to keep his ass in the chair if he wanted to stay on the team.

Delta was a highly sought after group of people to join and if you made it you didn’t refuse to sit in meetings that you’d been ordered into.

“We need a serious emergency,” Erik groused. “A hostage negotiation or at the very least a terrorist threat.”

The woman in front of him turned and frowned at the words, but she took one look at both Erik and Finn and turned back to face the front. Finn knew they looked out of place. Both in the dark dress colours of the Delta uniform, not long off duty, they probably gave the impression of some kind of hardass security detail. Certainly not the kind of guys you told to shut up. She would know who they were, members of the ERU, codenamed Delta, and the ones who policed for terrorist activities in Norway and out into the Norwegian sea. Which, incidentally, was where most of these NorsDev employees in the briefing worked.

Erik grinned and raised his eyebrows suggestively before cupping his groin and looking pointedly at the back of the blonde’s head. Finn shook his head. She was a NorsDev exec and everyone knew the high-ups at the energy company had nothing to say to the ranks. If only she knew how much Finn and Erik could do for her if she was in trouble, if only she was aware of the kind of men they really were—ones who never sat still—then maybe she’d be a little more understanding of the boredom factor.

The presentation on the large screen at the front of the room switched to a new slide with a name in block capitals. NIALL FAULKNER. Not a name that Finn recognized and he couldn’t help the groan when he saw the line under the name. Platform Decommissioning Engineer.
“Oh Jesus fuck. Save me from nerds with clipboards and PowerPoints. I think my last brain cell up and died,” Erik muttered.

The speaker indicated the slide, “And now I’d like to hand it over to Niall Faulkner. Some of you will recall Niall was responsible for the X220 additions.” A ripple of murmurs around the room indicated that at least some knew what the hell that meant. Evidently this Faulkner guy was someone with a name at NorsDev. A man stood in the front row of the lecture theatre and made his way up the four steps to the stage, tripping on the last step and grabbing at the retreating previous speaker as he left. Luckily the new guy, Niall, Finn assumed, didn’t fall flat on his face, but he couldn’t help the smile on his face. It was funny shit seeing someone fall over.

Niall made his way to the lectern, looking down at his notes and shuffling them into some kind of order. The main spotlight flickered then focused directly on him and Finn had an instant gut reaction to the man on the stage.

Short and slim, with dark hair and glasses, he was the hottest safety officer Finn had ever seen.

“Woo boy,” Erik said under his breath. “You thinking he’s way to pretty to be a man?”

Finn didn’t dignify the comment with a response. Erik was the only member of the Delta team who knew Finn was gay and that comment was directly aimed at Finn and the fact Erik kept trying to get Finn hooked up with someone. Anyone.

“Not my type,” Finn lied very quietly. Actually, this Niall guy was pretty much the epitome of Finn’s type. Preppy with a side order of nerdy was just exactly what Finn liked under him, or over him, or hell, anyway which around him. And the glasses? Hell, glasses got him every time.

“You think he’s batting on your team?” Erik asked.

“Absolutely,” Finn deadpanned.