A MelanieM Review: Melting Into You (Give Me a Taste #5) by Cassandra Carr

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Melting Into YOu coverSeth Mason’s life as a macaroni and cheese food truck owner in Austin, Texas, is pretty good.  His food truck is popular, business is good enough to consider branching out and the program he helped start to deliver left over restaurant food to the hungry has take off.  One of the stops Seth’s makes at the end of the day is to the Austin City Mission.  There Seth meets the one person who just might complete his life, Ben, the new case manager at the shelter.

Ben’s just moved to Austin from Connecticut to take a job as a case manager at the Austin City Mission, the first time he’s left home and family.  He has a new apartment, long hours and not much else.  Until he meets the hot food truck owner delivering the left over food of the day.

The attraction between them is instantaneous and hot. And both Seth and Ben are looking for something permanent and lasting.   As they grow closer, both must decide if they have the necessary ingredients for lasting love, or if the relationship will go up in smoke.

Melting Into You by Cassandra Carr was a very cute and sweet story, full of promising elements, not all of which came to fruition.  The very best part of this story resides in Seth Mason and his food truck,  which sells hot macaroni in all variations. This is where Cassandra Carr and this story excels.  Seth, his love for cooking, his passion for his life and food truck, complete with recipes, adorable employees, and home kitchen all come across in vivid descriptions, nuanced character portraits and authentic references to the Austin food scene. Particularly the life of a food truck operator in general.  Seth was real, his food offerings came across as mouthwatering and irresistible.  I wanted a Mr. Romance (macaroni and seafood selection) just like everyone else standing in line in section of this story…it felt that real.

Unfortunately, the other elements don’t rise up to the same thoroughness and depth of characterization.  Ben, naive and starting out in his first job, remains throughout the story a bit of a puzzle.  There really is no depth to his character or to their relationship which is along the lines of Hello-I love you. And the city mission where he works is given short shrift when compared to the well-researched descriptions of the food truck/food service industry.  Really, Carr should have continued to concentrate on the food trucks because the complex problems and issues that come with a city shelter are so varied and numerous that this story had not the length to do it justice or was described too superficially for it to be a powerful element here.  That shallowness was really highlighted by an event that happens toward the end of the story.  It felt as though it came out of  nowhere as the author never bothered to lay any foundation for such an event.  It felt out of place, and frankly just created because the  author needed a sense of drama.

Melting Into You is part of a series but the only story of that series I have read.  I think it works as a stand alone and as a quick sweet romance.  Based on the recipes alone I am going to be checking into the other books in this series which was written by multiple authors (see note below). I will let you know what I find.

Cover artist Scott Carpenter cover actually works because it’s just sweet, simple and only the addition of the food truck saves it from being generic.

Sales Links:    Fated Desires Publishing    All Romance (ARe)        Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 104 pages
Expected publication: March 31st 2015
ISBN139781623221997
seriesGive Me a Taste #5, Savor #1

Give Me a Taste series

5 works, 5 primary works, 5 authors

The Give Me a Taste Line is a delectable line where the main plot is centered on food and everything that comes with it. We’re serving up authentic and delicious ideas and plots where the heat is not only in the kitchen but out of it. Our characters are immersed in foods and the mouthwatering plots make us want to dig in.

Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Winter’s Wolf (Tales of the Harker Pack #3) by Tara Lain

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Winter's Wolf coverWinter Thane and his father Damon come down from northern Canada ostensibly so that Winter can learn about pack life. His dad has been a loner for over 25 years and even though he got custody of Winter when he was born 20 years ago, he remained a lone wolf. Winter quickly finds out that there’s more to the story than he originally thought. Apparently his father broke one of the cardinal rules of werewolves—no sex with humans—and fled the area after one night with the love of his life, a human.

Another thing Winter quickly learns is that he is not the only gay werewolf and though his father has constantly berated him about his sexual desires, when they rejoin the Marketo pack, they find out about Cole Harker and Lindsey Vanessen, both gay werewolves, both now married and accepted into the pack. One is married to a werepanther and one to a human. So Winter’s father is shocked, and Winter is thrilled by the new information.

Winter also learns that he most definitely is attracted to a male—and a human one, at that. Matt Partridge is the FBI agent investigating a drug ring that seems to be centered in the area of the Harker and Marketo packs and when Winter spots him talking to Cole Harker and the local sheriff, between his scent and his looks, Winter can barely walk as he moves away from him. Later that night, behind the bar, he finds out just how much Matt is also attracted to him.

Winter becomes involved in the investigation into the drug ring when he accidentally uncovers some of what is going on. Sharing those secrets with Matt and convincing him to allow Winter to help makes a good reason for the two to keep meeting, but the course of true love (or lust) never runs smoothly and between the investigation, Winter’s involvement with some of the younger pack members in what’s turning out to be a coup attempt in the Marketo pack, Damon’s meeting with the woman who fathered his other son, <spoiler> who turns out to be Lindsey Vanessen</spoiler> and a complication in Matt’s personal life, the two will be lucky to live—never mind find time to love each other.

Nothing is as it first seems, however, and the complexity eventually boils down to an outright fight for their lives. Will they get their HEA? Of course, Tara Lain doesn’t disappoint, but it’s not easy to get there.

I liked the story overall, as I’ve liked the others in the series. However, there were some minor discrepancies which bugged me in addition to the fairly easy resolution of the problems. I was more strongly attached to Lindsey and Seth in their story (A Wolf in Gucci Loafers) than I was to Winter and Matt in this one, perhaps because of Damon’s side love story with Elizabeth. I think there were a few too many plot lines and love stories all going on at once. But, lovers of Tara Lain stories will like this one, and it is a nice fit to the Pack & the Panther series so shifter lovers should like it as well. Overall, I liked it a bit more than average, but not enough for a 4 star rating.
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Cover Art by Aaron Anderson depicts half of the face of a man superimposed on a background of a wolf howling at a full moon. Although this does represent the story, the MC in the story has “a mane” of hair that’s so pale it’s like silver. The MC on the cover has short, blond hair. I would have liked the cover so much more if it truly represented the MC.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages, also available in paperback
Published February 27th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632165442
edition languageEnglish
seriesTales of the Harker Pack

Tales of the Harker Pack Series:

  • The Pack or the Panther (Tales of the Harker Pack, #1)
  • Wolf in Gucci Loafers (Tales of the Harker Pack #2)
  • Winter’s Wolf (Tales of the Harker Pack, #3)

 

A Mika Review: This Other Country (More Heat Than the Sun #4) by John Wiltshire

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5 

This Other CountryNikolas is the sanest, straightest, person he knows, so can anyone tell him, why he’s on a gay therapy course?

Nikolas Mikkelsen could make a very long list of unpleasant things he’s endured in his life. Then order it from ‘nearly killed me’ to ‘extremely horrific and don’t want to do again’. And what did it say about his forty-five years that being hit by a tsunami would be a considerable way down this list? But nothing, not torture, imprisonment, nor starvation has prepared him for what he now has to endure for Ben Rider’s sake-attendance on a residential, gay therapy course. At least he has a new contender for the top spot on his ‘my awful life’ list.

This Other Country starts off right where The Bridge of Silver Wings ends. Right from the start, I was worried. I mean I wasn’t use to this side of either guys. My heart was beating fast because of all the ideas that were running through my mind based on what I was reading. After a while, I was relieved. No worries from me now on, because I know John Wiltshire would never break my heart like that. I thoroughly enjoyed the circumstances pertaining to Nikolas and Ben ending up in couple’s therapy. Never worry, folks, this is the same vulnerable, difficult, and loving Nik and Ben we are used to. This installment lacked the natural disasters, and attempted assassinations but it never digressed from it’s usual level of emotions and dedicated plot.

I found myself at times sitting back and thinking of all the things that Nikolas has done over the last 8 years and I wouldn’t change a thing. This road that they have found themselves on is their destiny and journey. No matter how things turned out for the better or worst this Ben and Nikolas are the only ones that matter. This book we got a lot of “I’m not gay” responses. I didn’t know how I felt like that, and because I’m not a gay man I can’t say what I should feel like. I can say I liked how each one’s reasoning. Maybe they aren’t gay but for each other. Either way I loved that instead of the action we had to actually deal with “real life” things like how they are perceived. It was a scary reaction for both but I was confident enough that they would come out winning on some accounts.

(Spoiler Links)

I love guiltless Nikolas but damn I wanted cut throat Nikolas out in an instance involving Kate, I can’t talk about the deed but it shows the amount of growth he had by not putting her head on a spike. I was so angry and blood thirsty because of her betrayal that I expected actions to be taken. What do we know; Nikolas has turned over a new leaf.

Wiltshire continues to impress me with his growth of Ben. Just when we think Ben has lost his marbles literally he does the unexpected. I was smiling through tears at that point because it took a lot for him to do that. This goes to show that Ben is still that pure angel in my mind. While this one is somber than the last 3 it might have been the most impactful to me. The message of accepting one’s voice is bright and powerful in itself. I really do enjoy reading these books, and can’t wait to see what John Wiltshire has in store for us next.

Cover Art by Deanna Jamroz. Definitely goes hand in hand with the battling of others and yourself. I truly do like these covers.

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

Book Details:

ebook
Published November 22nd 2014 by MLR Press (first published November 21st 2014)
edition languageEnglish
seriesMore Heat Than the Sun #

More Heat Than The Sun Series in the order they were written and should be read:

In the Spotlight: Tricia Owens and her Master of No One (author interview and contest)

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STRW In The Spotlight Header

Book Name: Master of No One by Tricia Owens
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Goodreads Link

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Tricia Owens is here with the first book in a new series, Master of No One.  We have a author interview for all of you, excerpt and a contest to enter as well.  Check it all out below:

And Now a Q and A with Tricia Owens…

Q. Why categorize such an interesting story as urban fantasy? Why not science fiction?

Well, I wouldn’t categorize this story as sci-fi because in my opinion it doesn’t contain what I consider to be science fiction elements. The ‘otherworldly’ element is inspired by fantasy mythology: the shape shifting chimera. The setting is modern day Portugal. Hence urban fantasy seems appropriate to describe it.

Q. Where did you get your inspiration for the plot and characters?

Originally, way back when, I had envisioned Aleksander as a vampire. But vampires are a bit played out, and I’ve never been fond of the blood aspect. So I switched gears and found another creature he could be, one that I didn’t feel was too corny or was an excuse to make him appear sexy in a sneaky way. He needed to be a genuine threat. The appeal for me was a brooding character who was powerful yet broken. That morphed into the idea of a modern gothic romance. Sort of a beauty and the beast thing. To put a spin on it, I created two characters who would be trapped in his lair with him, afraid of the monster yet intrigued by him.

Q. Why add the element of menage, specifically a menage with a female third?

Only recently have I written menages (A Pirates Life for Me) and I enjoyed the experience a lot. I thought it was time to try it again. Of course to challenge myself, I told myself this one needed to be different. I’ve never written a straight m/f romance, at least not for public consumption, and I’m not sure I’ll ever write one for publication. But I was drawn to a dynamic in which a male is allowed to dominate a woman yet be put in his place, so to speak, by another male. This would bring out two sides of him that I think are extremely sexy: his power as both the conqueror and the conquered. The third, bottom character needed to be a woman because in order for Aleksander to change, he needed to be forced out of his comfort zone. He can’t be rough with a woman. Especially not while he possesses superhuman strength. Constance being female adds another shackle to Aleksander. He’s handcuffed by her vulnerability just as surely as he’s physically bound by Kirk. So in some ways, even though he’s in the middle, he’s the one submitting most to outside forces. That submission is highly appealing to me.

Q. Which of your major elements came first? The menage? The bdsm aspect? The fantasy? Or did it all come together at once?

The D/s elements always come first. I begin by thinking of what dynamic turns me on at the time and then create the characters that will fulfill that scenario. Everything follows after that. I believe if the characters aren’t interesting enough, it won’t matter what the plot is. The reader simply won’t be invested.

Q. Readers will want to know…how much het sex can they expect?

My heart will always be with m/m. I think that bias is evident in Master of No One. Yes, there is some het. Constance isn’t in there as window dressing. She serves a purpose. She brings out Aleksander’s vulnerable side, which provides Kirk with the opportunity to move in. Without her, Kirk and Aleksander would never come together. And I tried to make her the kind of sub I prefer reading about, which is one who finds pleasure in serving, not one who demands to be pleasured by her master. This places the focus back on the male in this instance, which I think m/m readers will appreciate.

Q What audience do you hope your book finds? The fantasy lovers? The lovers of erotic fiction? Lovers of M/M Romance? Or all of the above?

This book will probably skew more towards m/m readers, but I think regular romance or erotica readers will enjoy it very much as well. I do my best to write books that are not driven by sex, but serve them as a reward. Sex scenes featuring characters you don’t care about feel empty. Sex scenes which aren’t built up through anticipation and good plotting feel cheap. I’ve written Master of No One to be an enjoyable story, first and foremost, with scenes to titillate readers in search of something spicy.

Q. What genres do you enjoy reading? And do you read what you love to write?

I may write romance, but I most enjoy reading horror! Supernatural horror, not so much slasher stories. I also am addicted to technothrillers and spy thrillers. I would write thrillers but they require too much research. I’m lazy. I am, however, in the middle of writing my first horror novel, called It Haunts Us, set in the mountains of Bhutan.

Q. What’s next for Tricia Owens?

There are several projects in the works for me. I tend to work on multiple books at once and bounce between them, a carryover from my website days where I would update a new series every week for my subscribers. Currently I’m working on the horror novel I mentioned, editing the fourth book of an m/m series called Juxtapose City about sexy psypaths and cops in the future, and I’ll begin plotting the sequel to Master of No One, which will feature an m/m couple in addition to Kirk, Aleksander and Constance. And who knows what other books may jump in there as well. I never do!

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

Author Tricia Owens…

Tricia has been writing m/m fiction since 2002 when she opened her fiction website JuxtaposeFantasy to great success. She later partnered to create Joyboy Island. After a decade of writing for the sites, Tricia decided business demands were distracting her from producing novels, so she closed the sites and now writes at her leisure. An avid traveler, Tricia has visited over 60 countries and tries to include aspects of her global experience in her books.

Where to find the author:
Facebook Author Page
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JuxtaposeFantsy
Website: http://www.triciaowensbooks.com

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Publisher: Loose ID
Cover Artist: Valerie Tibbs

Sales Links:  Loose id  Amazon

STRW Author BookSynopsis

Aleksander is short-tempered, antisocial and though he’s unaware of it, wildly sexy. He’s also a naturally dominant shape-shifting monster who’s sliding into madness. He needs a human ‘grounder’ to submit to him and draw forth his protective human side. Instead he is given two humans: Constance, a fledgling sub with a reckless streak whose intense desire to serve has brought her nothing but heartache, and Kirk, a former NYPD cop who’s trying to subdue his own alpha instincts and play submissive in order to fulfill a family debt.

But once these grounders meet their new master, they quickly discover that in order to save Aleksander from himself, they must alter their assigned roles and form a unique triad of domination and submission that goes against Aleksander’s very nature. Constance needs to convince Aleksander he can be gentle and protective, while Kirk wants to show him there is freedom in surrendering to another dominant. The task isn’t easy, though: Aleksander fights them every step of the way, and a conspiracy surfaces which not even a creature as powerful as Aleksander may be able to overcome.

Categories: BDSM, Bisexual, Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Menage/Poly, Mystery, Paranormal, Romance, Thriller, Urban Fantasy

TORC

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

Aleksander huffed. “That’s right. You told Michel you’re my grounder. Interesting strategy putting yourself in an immediate position of inferiority against him.”

“Is it inferior? I got the impression a grounder is the only thing that’s going to keep you from falling apart.” Kirk smiled as the other male clenched his jaw. “Seems like a pretty important role, if you ask me.”

“And how do you expect to fulfill your role?”

Kirk idly adjusted the fit of his jeans, hoping Aleksander hadn’t noticed that they’d begun to grow tight in the crotch. Something about Aleksander got him going. Maybe it was the attitude, which seemed to be a prerequisite amongst chimera. It made Kirk want to take him down a peg and stand over him after he’d fallen.

Nothing like some homoerotic imagery there, he chided himself.

“I’m here to help,” he said.

Aleksander traced his tongue across his bottom lip. “As Constance ‘helps’?”

Kirk resisted the impulse to laugh and play it off. It would be a nervous tell and he wasn’t about to give Aleksander the satisfaction. “I was thinking more along the lines of being a friend who helps you let off steam. Physically.” When the chimera’s lips twitched, he quickly added, “I mean like boxing. Or sports. Whatever it is you do to keep in shape.” He motioned vaguely at the other male’s body. “Do you run, or workout or—”

“You couldn’t last with or against me, little human. You’re no use to me in that way.”

Aleksander panned down Kirk’s body. “Though you’re fit and…large for your kind.” A crease appeared in his forehead and he resumed staring into his glass.

Fit and large? If you only knew, buddy.
Pages or Words: 74,000 words

 STRW Spotlight Contest Header

Contest:  Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘Master of No One’. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Rafflecopter link and prizes provided by Pride Promotions.

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