A Stella Review: Thirty Things by Cate Ashwood

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Thirty Things coverAll their lives, Finn and Nate have been inseparable, sharing everything, and when a childhood accident left Finn broken, Nate stood by his side as all his other friends left. After all their years together, there’s one secret Finn still hasn’t revealed: he has been in love with Nate since they were eight years old. Hiding his feelings for twenty-one years—terrified of what might happen if Nate ever found out—has been difficult, but losing his best friend would be worse than living with a bad case of unrequited love.

Unfortunately for Finn, Nate doesn’t make it easy.

Nate believes there are some things that just have to be done before your thirtieth birthday. As a gift to Finn, he plans an adventure to check off a list of thirty things to experience before hitting that milestone. Starting in Crawfordsville, Indiana, they tour the country, trying new things and meeting interesting new people. Nate’s having the time of his life, but he can tell Finn is holding something back. As the days count down, navigating the back roads suddenly seems easier than figuring out where their relationship is heading.

One thing’s for certain. There will be no turning back.

Thirty Things by Cate Ashwood was a perfect reading, it caught me from the start. I simply loved it! I don’t have a lot to say about it. Do you ever have that feeling of satisfaction and completeness when you have just finished a book? When you have nothing to complain about, just good feelings? Thirty Things was like that to me. I’m a huge fan of Cate Ashwood works. I love how she writes and in particular Keeping Sweets is one of the first mm books I ever read. It stayed in my heart and I was so happy to found a little (very little) more about Evan and Bran in this book too.

There’s nothing special in this book, and when I say nothing special I mean there’s no drama, no angst, no mystery to solve, but this book is special. It was a joy to read. So peaceful, light, easy, hopeful, entertaining from page one till the end. I can’t find one little reason to give Thirty Things less than five stars.

Nate and Finn are best friends since kindergarten, they live together, Nate is a writer and Finn is an editor. Finn has been in love with Nate for twenty-one years, but Nate is straight. Just when he starts thinking it’s time to put a little space between them and maybe start looking for someone else, Nate treats him with a road trip for his thirtieth birthday, with a list of thirty things to do before he turns thirty. We’ll see them going through scary bungee jumping, spending an amazing night in a tree-houses, watching delusional rodeo shows, but most of all they will discover that the fear of losing a true friendship like the one they have has no real basis. Sometimes being with someone who knows you better than you know yourself is the most beautiful things that can happened in your life.

These two guys have a beautiful friendship. Nate in particular was the only one to stay by Finn side when Finn, only seven years old, had a bad accident that left him with a reduced mobility in the legs.

“I am so proud of you, every day, for doing what you do. I know you’re in pain, and you never show it. You are the strongest person I know, but sometimes strength means accepting help from other people. I have always been, and will always be here to support you. It’s not a sign of weakness to fall on me if you need me. I will always catch you. So let me catch you, Finn.”

I think it’s the first time I read a “friends to lovers” story in which the author decides to approach the switch from friends to lovers in a so easy way. It was a pleasure to read it. We get some glimpse of their life together, some important moments to remember, but the story isn’t made of them, it’s made of present events. Moreover I usually prefer to have an alternate POV between MCs so I can be able to know both of them better. In this book we get just Finn prospective and I didn’t need Nate’s one. It felt complete to me.

Highly recommended!

Cover art by Alexandria Corza. I loved the book and I loved the cover. It gave me the same peaceful feeling and it represents the story perfectly.

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

Book Details:

Published April 3rd 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ebook, 210 pages, also available in paperback
ISBN13 9781632169006
Edition language English

 

Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review – The Silence of the Stars by Kate McMurray ~ Audiobook narrated by Michael Ferraioulo

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5audiobook clipart bw

SilenceoftheStars[The]AUDSMEverett Blake is a successful concert violinist who holds a teaching position at Olcott School for talented young musicians in Manhattan and occasionally accepts a short stint with a local symphony since performing is a part of his life he truly loves. He’s recently been cast off by his long term partner, Pierre, a French Chef who landed his own cooking show. A perfectionist, Pierre never failed to let Everett know he wasn’t quite good enough.

Now, four months later, Everett has his own apartment in Manhattan and has hired a local contractor to remodel his kitchen. Sandy Sullivan is the principal contractor for the company in that area and when he arrives on Everett’s doorstep, the mutual attraction is immediately evident.

Sandy is sexy, fun, and an enjoyable companion as Everett discovers over drinks one night. He’s an Army vet who served multiple tours overseas but was injured in Afghanistan when a car bomb exploded and was medically discharged. Unknown to Everett, Sandy suffers from PTSD, the true reason he left the Army. His close friend was killed when that bomb exploded, and though he only suffers occasional flashbacks now, he does still suffer from vivid and frightening nightmares.

When he and Everett eventually have sex, Sandy always finds a reason to leave afterwards, making Everett think that perhaps Sandy isn’t looking for a relationship. Everett, handsome, wealthy and educated, has always chosen to be in a relationship with a man before having sex, and he thought that’s what he and Sandy had started so he’s disappointed each time Sandy goes. When Sandy finally does stay over one night, Everett learns why Sandy always leaves when Everett wakes Sandy in the middles of a nightmare and finds himself thrown to the floor.

Eventually, Sandy decides to seek the help of a psychologist who specializes in PTSD because he’s starting to care for Everett, and he realizes his PTSD and related nightmares are affecting their budding relationship. Sandy’s goal in life has always been to have a large, happy family in a nice home with a wonderful life partner, or husband now that same sex marriage is possible. However, he now believes it’s too late for him, and he faces a struggle to work through his PTSD issues and his thoughts and feelings about his life plans. In the meantime, he and Everett are growing closer and Everett surprises Sandy by standing up for him when they go to meet Everett’s snobby parents. But it’s the little things that Everett does for him, the quiet and strong support he shows in many ways, that eventually helps Sandy more than anything else.

This is a wonderful story about love and relationships, a hurt-comfort story in which both men learn and grow due to being with each other. Everett is not without his own revelations in this story as he re-examines his feelings about love and family and commitment. The narrator, Michael Ferraioulo, does an excellent job in vocalizations of the characters as well as in the overall narration. He has one of those voices that is a pleasure to listen to, and I found that I carried my iPhone around with me all day so that I could listen to this story no matter what I was doing—just like being unable to put down a good book.

Though it is second in a series, there’s no need to read the first one, but I have to admit that now that I’ve met a few characters from that story, I’ll likely go back and read (or listen to) that one too.

Cover by Aaron Anderson depicts a head shot of a man on a solid white background with the title and a music score superimposed over his face. This is a nice way to depict the importance of music in the life of MC Everett while picturing a man who I assume is MC Sandy.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press Audio Book          iTunes   Audible

Book Details:

Narrator Michael Ferraiuolo
Length 7 hours and 0 minutes
Categories:AudiobooksKate McMurrayStars that Tremble and Silence of the Stars by Kate McMurray
Book Type Audiobook
Other Formats: eBook, Paperback

In the Spotlight: Kjartan The Gentle; Tales of Forbidden Love From the Danelaw by Catherine L. Byrne (excerpt and contest)

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Kjartan the Gentle Series: Tales of Forbidden Love From the Danelaw #3

Author Catherine L. Byrne

Release Date: February 1, 2015

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Note:  This is the only M/M book of the trilogy and can be read as a standalone.

Goodreads Link
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Cover Artist: Carmen Waters

Sales Links: Amazon US  Amazon UK  eXtasy Books

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STRW Author BookSynopsis

916 A.D. East Anglia under the Danelaw.

In Dark Age Britain, you knew your place and if you didn’t keep to it, you faced the consequences…

Hot-blooded Kjartan, accidental hero, has settled down into married life, with a baby on the way. But when he meets handsome glass maker Lini, their unlawful relationship provokes angry and passionate reactions from their kinfolk.

They have to fight back against the prejudice of Norse culture, and find out who their real friends—and enemies—are. And this conflict leads to murder.

But who is the victim, and who the killer?

Pages or Words: 33,541 words

Categories: Bisexual, Historical, M/M Romance, Mystery, Romance

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

Lini then went to the kiln and put the glass blowing rod into it, collecting a blob of molten green glass. He wore gloves, but there were old burns on his arms above the glove cuff. He blew into the cloth mouthpiece of the iron rod carefully, and Kjartan gasped as the bubble expanded. Lini spun it round and held a tool to it, shaping it into a symmetrical bowl shape. When finished, he put it into the low-heated oven so it would cool down slowly and not crack. He then repeated the process a few more times.

By this time, Kjartan had completely forgotten what he was talking about and stood just gazing, mesmerised.

“It’s wholly different to fighting in a battle, yes?” Lini smiled and wiped the sweat from his brow with his arm. “Quite calming.”

Kjartan just nodded, staring at the sweat running down Lini’s tanned back.

“So, the fighting school? You got as far as saying what you were going to teach them.”

“Oh. Yes. I’ll think of something.” It was far too hot in the forge and stopped his mind from working properly.

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

Catherine L Byrne amused herself writing as a hobby for some years until she had her daughter, but becoming a mum made her realise she now had a purpose and time was limited, so she must get on with writing seriously.
The winter of 2009 was severe and as she and her family live in a small village, they were house bound by unusually deep snow for southern England. So she settled down in her office (i.e. the corner of her bedroom) and began her first book, which was published in 2010.
She hasn’t stopped writing since, generally on the theme of forbidden or unrequited love, and often including erotic scenes.

Where to find the author:

Facebook Author Page
Twitter: https://twitter.com/catherinelbyrne
Other (WordPress blog): https://catherinelbyrne.wordpress.com/


Tour Dates & Stops: April 17, 2015Parker Williams, BFD Book Blog, MM Good Book Reviews, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Inked Rainbow Reads, Bayou Book Junkie, Molly Lolly, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Cate Ashwood, Tara Lain, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Chris McHart, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, Andrew Q. Gordon, Kimi-Chan, Wake Up Your Wild Side, The Hat Party

 

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Contest: Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: PDF copy of Kjartan the Gentle. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

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Book Spotlight: Just The Way You Are (Just Life #4) by E E Montgomery

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 Just The Way You Are

Just The Way You Are (Just Life #4) by E E Montgomery

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Release Date: April 17, 2015

 

STRW Author BookSynopsis

After ten years in an abusive relationship and a near-fatal knife wound, Jonathan Watson is finally free. Unused to being able to make even the smallest decision and smothered by family and well-meaning neighbors, he’s floundering in the real world. Jonathan is afraid of falling into another relationship too quickly and realizes he needs time to rediscover who he is before he attaches himself to another man.

He never counted on meeting Ben Urquhart, though. Ben tempts Jonathan to forget everything and take a leap.  For Ben, it’s love at first sight, and he doesn’t want to take it slow. He wants to build a life with Jonathan, free from harm and full of laughter. But before they can take the next step, they must protect Jonathan from his possessive, threatening ex. Jonathan must find the courage to confront him and break the chains of his past before he can be truly free to build a future with Ben.

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Pages or Words: 70,000 words

  • Can be read as a standalone, but there are elements in the other stories that will add depth to this one
  • Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

Chapter ONE

JONATHAN SHIVERED in the early morning air but not from the chill. He wrapped his arms around himself and groaned as his wound tugged against the movement. He relaxed slowly as the pain eased. From where he stood, he could see between the two apartment blocks to where the sun glinted off the Brisbane River. Five years ago he used to watch the ferries puddle their way up and down the river, dropping passengers here at Hamilton and across the way at Bulimba. He’d missed that view for a long time. He wondered if he’d miss the house now that he was leaving it.

The house was gray—morning gray, Anthony had called it, but it had always looked like unwashed, neglected underwear to him. The lines of the house were precise and symmetrical, unlike the yard. The front lawn bore scars, just like his chest. They were from his Cruiser skidding to a stop the night Anthony had sent him to kill Mark. His eyes burned as he thought how close he’d come to doing what his boyfriend told him to.

At the time, he didn’t think he had any other choice. It was kill or be killed. Literally. By the end of that night, Mark had been the only one left uninjured. Liam’s leg had thankfully healed quickly where Anthony had stabbed him. Anthony was still in hospital with a self-inflicted knife wound to the stomach, and Jonathan…

Jonathan was done with that life. Anthony’s knife in his chest—so close to his heart it was clearly intended to be fatal—had cured him of whatever delusions he’d held onto that let him believe he was in love with the man. Even Anthony’s assertions that Jonathan was responsible for him being in a wheelchair since the car accident two years before wouldn’t get him to stay.

He was out of it now, or at least he would be as soon as the removalists came and took his stuff away. Then he could begin to heal. The first step had been to learn to breathe again after his lung collapsed when Anthony stabbed him. The next step… he didn’t know what the next step after this was. He wasn’t going to admit it to anyone, but he was just as terrified now, starting a life of his own—on his own—as he was when he thought he was going to die.

The trembling began again. Dizzy. Couldn’t catch his breath. He leaned beside the front door and forced himself to bring his mind back to the here and now and looked around again. There was a new section of fence now, and the Cruiser had been repaired and sat at the curb, waiting for him. His cousin must have had the damage repaired while Jonathan was in the hospital—learning how to make his lung work again after his boyfriend had tried to kill him. He shook the thoughts from his head. He had to stop thinking like this or he’d go mad.

Sleep last night had been impossible. The house had been cleaned, but nothing was going to completely remove the blood splattered on the white carpet. His blood.

A low rumble burbled through the air, and a truck turned onto the street. Jonathan’s heart raced. “You can do this,” he whispered, although he wasn’t quite sure which part of “this” he was talking about. It could be dealing with strangers on his own, or it could be leaving Anthony—finally. He pressed the heel of his hand over the dressing on his chest. Staying with Anthony was no longer an option.

The truck stopped and turned to reverse into the driveway. The high-pitched beeping made Jonathan jump and, to calm himself, he focused on the two men sitting in the cab. The driver looked young and blond, the passenger older and shriveled, his hair sticking out in unkempt tangles.

“Two people. Not Anthony. You’re outside, everything’s marked. You don’t need to go inside with them at all if you don’t want to. You can do this.” He counted his breaths in and out. The beeping stopped, the engine cut out, and the driver’s door opened.

Long, well-formed legs slipped from the cab, by-passing the step completely as a muscled body slid to the ground. Khaki cargo shorts bunched enticingly around a spectacular package before settling loosely around slim hips as the man’s boot-clad feet landed on the ground and he stood away from the truck. Jonathan moved his gaze up the body. The worn T-shirt did nothing to hide the trim stomach and prominent pecs and the sleeves framed the rounded deltoids perfectly. Jonathan sighed as he lifted his focus higher to see the man’s wide smile.

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Catt Ford

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Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook and Paperback

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

E E Montgomery wants the world to be a better place, with equality and acceptance for all. Her philosophy is: We can’t change the world but we can change our small part of it and, in that way, influence the whole. Writing stories that show people finding their own ‘better place’ is part of E E Montgomery’s own small contribution.

Thankfully, there’s never a shortage of inspiration for stories that show people growing in their acceptance and love of themselves and others. A dedicated people-watcher, E E finds stories everywhere. In a cafe, a cemetery, a book on space exploration or on the news, there’ll be a story of personal growth, love, and unconditional acceptance there somewhere.

Where to find the author:

You can contact E E Montgomery at eemontgomery11@gmail.com; on Facebook ; on Twitter: @EEMontgomery1; or at her website and blog.

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Tour Dates & Stops:

Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Parker Williams, Decadent Delights, Cate Ashwood, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Bayou Book Junkie, Inked Rainbow Reads, BFD Book Blog, Love Bytes, My Fiction Nook, Chris McHart, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, MM Good Book Reviews, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Velvet Panic, TTC Books and More, Charley Descoteaux, 

Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

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Contest: Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: One copy of the each of the first three books in the series. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

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Just Life Series Includes:

Just His Type (Just Life, #1)
Just Like A Date (Just Life, #2)
Just in Time (Just Life #3)
Just the Way You Are (Just Life, #4)