A MelanieM Review: Life, Some Assembly Required (The Rebuilding Year #2) by Kaje Harper


Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Finding love in the ashes was easy. Building a life together? Don’t make Fate laugh.

Life, Some Assembly required covrAfter spending the first part of his life chasing pretty girls, love has finally come to Ryan in the form of John, a tall, lanky, red-headed landscape architect with wide shoulders and a five-o’clock shadow.

For the first time in his life, love feels easy. Hell, he even ran into a burning building for John and his son, and he’d do it again if he had to. But telling his father and brothers “I’m gay. I’ve met a man”? That’s a bumpy ride he’s not looking forward to.

For John, loving Ryan is as natural as breathing. Now if only the rest of his life would fall into place. Dealing with his teen son is complicated enough, but with his ex-wife causing trouble and his daughter wanting to move in, John’s house—and his relationship with Ryan—threaten to split at the seams.

Would one month without a new surprise knocking him upside the heart be asking too much? If the sound of Fate’s laughter is any indication, the answer must be yes…

Kaje Harper’s The Rebuilding Year was one of my favorite books of 2012.  It was the story of two seemingly “straight” men at an unsettled point in their lives, a time where they are discarding their past and trying to rebuild a future for themselves, and in John’s case, hopefully for his children as well.  That novel told the story of ex-firefighter Ryan Ward, disabled on the job and now going back to school for a medical degree.  He’s still dealing with the loss of his beloved profession, having nightmares over the fire that damaged his leg, and dealing with an unsettled vision of his future.  On the college campus, Ryan meets John Barrett, a man as familiar with loss as Ryan is.  John lost his marriage and kids when his wife cheated on him.  And when the divorce was final, he watched his wife move the kids to California in search of a new life with a new man.    Two men whose lives were shattered by events out of their control.  Two men who thought they were straight but whose strong attraction to each other has them rethinking their lives and future.

Now comes the sequel, Life, Some Assembly Required (The Rebuilding Year #2) and, with this story, I found myself falling back in love with John and Ryan, and their relationship.  Never quite the fan of  the “gay for you” trope, Harper made a serious argument for John and Ryan’s feelings in the first book.  While John had married and Ryan was considered a “hounddog” with women, both men had had attractions to men in the past, while not quite acting on them.  So the story became more one of old desires rekindled and recognized then a purely straight man falling for another. We watched them work through many emotional issues as well as acceptance by John’s children.  And that first story ended with Ryan telling his father that he was finally serious about someone for the first time in his life, and its with a man.  A wonderful ending that packed a huge emotional punch.

Life, Some Assembly Required picks up directly after the events in The Rebuilding Year.  I won’t go into detail because that is simply a book to be savored and a must read for this novel.  One (of many) of the things I appreciate so about Kaje Harper’s writing is her ability to make her stories feel so real.  Her characters and their lives aren’t enveloped in some softly glowing light where everything works out smoothly and with relative ease.  That’s better left for the fairytale romances.  No, Harper’s characters and their lives reflect the grittiness and intimacy of people living every day realistically and authentically.   It involves boredom, obstacles little and big, schedules that get too busy and the hiccups and burps that relationships go through.  Its the work the couple needs to do in order to have the partnership they want.  And that includes two men who love each other deeply such as John and Ryan do.

This book is full of life’s pebbles and boulders that get scattered in the way of their happiness and much of the joy in this story is watching them deal with those problems together (and figuring out that they need to come at these issues as a couple).  That doesn’t always make for easy reading, just throughly rewarding and satisfactory one, at least in my opinion.   Why?  Because life isn’t lived in a bubble. For John and Ryan, the relationship they are building together includes John’s children (who I adored and who went through some surprising emotional turmoil of their own), an ex wife’s determined to have their own way albeit one that is understandable from her point of view, and Ryan’s family with expectations of their own for Ryan which doesn’t include another man.

Throughout the story, its one of constant adjustments…in plans of every sort from dinner to vacations. It’s the ever deepening joy of a daily life together along with the typical hurt feelings, and occasional miscommunication that involves. On an intimate level, we watch the men deal with all the  repercussions of their love for each other and their decision to move in together. And how that effects their professional lives, families and the community around them.  I love how Harper lets us see into their decision making process and relationship dynamics through their conversations, actions and lovemaking.  Harper allows her characters the strength and depth that lets them act responsibility and respectfully towards themselves and those around them.  Yes, this is a book about grownups in a thoughtful adult relationship.  How I appreciated that tone and type of character as well.

Sometimes the issues are raw with emotion and the painful aftermath of the disappointments that can occur when hopes and family collide.   Yes, there were times I was so frustrated with the events that happen, both with John’s ex wife (again not a villain but a woman doing  what she thinks is necessary to survive) and again with Ryan’s family.  But their reactions and actions towards John and Ryan are pretty realistic and believable in their own way.  I appreciated that too.  And it makes the ending that much sweeter for all the hardship both men endured to get there.

I hope this isn’t the end of the story for John and Ryan.  I want to see them married now that Ryan has finished his degree.  I want to know what happens next to their mixed families and their future together.  If you are listening, Kaje, pretty please, can we have another?  Until I have an answer, I will try and  be content with Life, Some Assembly Required. It’s a perfect sequel to The Rebuilding Year, and a new favorite of mine.  I highly recommend them both.  Please read them in the order they were written, its the best way to understand John and Ryan’s journey to love and a relationship that feels so wonderful and real.

Cover art by Angela Waters.  I like this cover, although I have to say I prefer the cover models in the first cover, they better fit my own idea of John and Ryan.  But its warm, and real, just like the story within.

Sales Links: Samhain Publishing  – All Romance (ARe)Amazon Buy It Here

Book Details:

Expected publication: June 9th 2015 by Samhain Publishing
original title Life, Some Assembly Required
edition languageEnglish
series The Rebuilding Year #2

Books in the Series to Date:

  • The Rebuilding Year (The Rebuilding Year #1)
  • Life, Some Assembly Required (The Rebuilding Year, #2)


A Paul B Review: The Exiled Omega (The Exiled Omega #1) by Alex Ashmore


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Exiled Omega coverAfter being shunned by his home pack, all Caleb wants to do is raise his son and get away from his abusive alpha. Derek, the alpha from the rival pack offers sanctuary until Caleb is well enough to travel again. Will Derek be able to convince Caleb that there might be a future in his pack?

Derek is the young alpha of the Hawkthorn pack. He and his best friend and beta Nate have the general support of the pack. However the former alpha’s cronies have been pushing Derek to find himself a mate and produce the next generation of alphas. To complicate matters, there have been rumors of border encroachment from the neighbor rival Yesterfront pack. While on patrol on the pack border, Nate sees the rival pack shunned what appears to be an omega wolf and his pup.

Caleb is the omega from the Yesterfront pack. He had a relationship with the alpha and had a son as a result of the relationship. Caleb is isolated in the pack as the alpha has decided to take a female as a mate. She decides that Caleb is a threat to her relationship to the alpha and decides that Caleb has to go. She gets the alpha to have Caleb and his son shunned and run out of Yesterfront territory. They end up wandering onto Hawkthorn territory trying to escape.

When Derek and a border patrol find Caleb, Derek decides to take in the omega and his son. Although they agree that it would only be long enough for Caleb to recuperate from the shunning, the two quickly grow close. Caleb’s son Matthew and Derek take a liking to each other. This surprises Caleb as Matthew’s father did his best to avoid his son whenever possible. Caleb hopes that Derek’s interest in both him and his son will mean a future at the Hawkthorn pack and not a homeless shelter for rejected shifters. These dreams seem to be dashed when Nate is found severely injured while doing a border patrol. Seeing this as a message, Caleb must decide whether to put his happiness in front of the safety of the pack that has taken him in. It appears his former alpha does not want Caleb to find happiness and will do what is necessary to prevent it.

I really enjoyed this book. This story is told from three different points of view. This allows readers to have more insight as to what each characters thoughts are. The romance between Derek and Caleb is slow and well done. Derek knows that Caleb must put his son first and does what he can to help protect him. It is Derek’s affection for Matthew that actually provides a counterpoint for Caleb to his former alpha. Derek sees Caleb as a person and not just an omega for use.

Derek also sees in Matthew as a potential alpha heir through his actions with the other pups in the pack. When Caleb decides to leave, Derek is heartbroken but is determined to get the pair to their next destination safely. While facing off with the rival alpha, Derek is determined that no harm fall upon the two guys that have his heart.

Sales Link:   Amazon    Buy It Here

Book Details:
Ebook, 172 pages
Edition: English
Published: February 13, 2015 by Northstar Alpha Press
Series: The Exiled Omega
The Exiled Omega (Exiled Omega #1)
Full Moon Heat (Exiled Omega #2)
A Purrfect Match (Exiled Omega #3)

A BJ Review: The Heracian Affair (Space Files R #1) by Liv Olteano


Rating:  4 stars out of 5

The Heracian Affair coverRizzo Berg is tormented by memories of his lost lover and Dom who died in combat years before. After yet another in a string of really disappointing dates, Rizzo goes to sleep in his apartment and wakes up on a spaceship with an alien Captain Conrad D’Ollet of Heracia, a man so dominant Rizzo’s knees turn to jelly. The Heracians need help, and Rizzo is a humanitarian, and the perk of spending more time around Conrad isn’t one of the reasons he offers that help, right? They seem made for each other. But Conrad has his own past and neither man is willing to risk his heart, let go of the past, and believe in a future together.

This is an unusual and well-written erotic space romance with angst, BDSM, aliens, and action. It begins as insta-lust based on both physical attraction and dominance, but morphed into more quite rapidly.

The world building was enough to give me a good feel for it without getting bogged down in description as some fantasy/sci-fi can do. For the most part, the author did an excellent job of giving just enough to paint a picture while not letting the details interfere with the flow of the story. A few things that I would have really enjoyed though are a bit more physical description of Heracians, and some background on how their AI/biological combo had come about.

Speaking of the flow, this is a quick-paced story that kept my attention and made me smile a lot. I completely enjoyed Riz’s snarky, abrasive personality. He was so fun! Adored the scene that resulted in them becoming bonded due to Riz’s error in cultural understanding. OMGosh, that was just hilarious. Then there are the cute nicknames Riz tends to use, his irreverence, brazen sexuality, and ballsiness are a perfect next to Conrad’s calm determination. Overall, a very fun read.

I’m not a huge fan of the cover by Brooke Albrecht, mostly because I’m not really sure what it is or how it relates to the story. The concept just doesn’t come across to me.

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

Book Details:  

ebook, 131 pages
Published March 20th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press (first published March 19th 2013)
ISBN13 9781623804350
edition language English

In the Book Spotlight: Songbook: Paulo and Preston Shorts by Lee Benoit (excerpt and giveaway)



 Songbook: Paulo and Preston Shorts by Lee Benoit

Release Date: May 20, 2015

STRW In The Spotlight Header

Goodreads Link:
Publisher: Torquere Press
Cover Artist: BSClay

Sales Links: Torquere Books


Lee Benoit has collected all the Paulo and Preston stories into one volume.  Love a little kink with your romance?  Check out Songbook:  Paulo and Preston Shorts by Lee Benoit below and don’t forget to enter the contest at the end.

STRW Author BookSynopsis

Cue the music! SONGBOOK collects, for the first time ever, all of the stories in the Paulo and Preston series!

PRESTON is a lifestyle Dominant, recently retired from a career on stage at an exclusive BDSM club. When the series begins, he’s single and looking forward to a quieter life. All that changes on the night of Preston’s last performance when PAULO, a complete novice, takes the place of Preston’s usual stage submissive. By day Paulo does odd jobs and sings in the Sister City Gay Men’s Chorus. After that first night with Preston, however, he wants more. He wants everything. Can a newbie sub and a gracefully aging Dom learn to harmonize?

Each story chronicles a new phase in Paulo and Preston’s relationship and features song lyrics mangled in deliciously naughty ways by Paulo.
Pages or Words: 59,300 words

Categories: BDSM, Contemporary, Erotica, Fiction, Gay Fiction, Humor, M/M Romance, Romance, Multicultural, May/December, Disability

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

He was flying from my flogger, and I knew I could break him with the whip. I shouldn’t — he was too new — he’d imprint on me like an orphan nestling. I decided once more on this mad, unexpected night, to trust myself. I would whip Paulo, not break him, and let him down gently once our performance ended.

I examined my control for a split second as I drew back my arm. No uncertainty, no sense of wrongness intruded. I was flying, too, and as much I trusted myself, I found I trusted my surprise sub too. This was right.

He screamed around the gag at the whip’s kisses anyway, though mine were not blows that would shatter him unless I’d read him very, very wrong.

I dropped the whip and removed the obscene gag, kissed the swollen lips, swallowed the last notes of his strange, wild song just as our finale music burgeoned around us. A choir of boys sang John the Beloved’s hymn “Shine on Me,” the perfect song for my last Epiphany on this stage and, I knew now, my first on a new path.


STRW Author Bio and Contacts

Before dawn and after dark, Lee Benoit is a writer of queer fiction, some contemporary, some speculative, some historical. During the daylight hours she is a professor of sociology & anthropology. In the old days, Lee traveled the world doing field research. Now she lives in the middle of a New England hayfield where being a single parent provides more than enough excitement. Proudly pansexual, whenever she gets itchy feet and misses the world of research and advocacy, Lee invents a new world in her head and takes notes on what happens there.

Discover more about Lee at http://www.leebenoittales.com


Tour Dates & Stops: May 19, 2015
Parker Williams, Molly Lolly, Bayou Book Junkie, Inked Rainbow Reads, Charley Descoteaux, Happily Ever Chapter, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Chris McHart, MM Good Book Reviews, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, 3 Chicks After Dark, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Velvet Panic, Up All Night, Read All Day,
My Fiction Nook, Rainbow Gold Reviews

STRW Spotlight Contest Header

Contest:  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions. Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-book of Songbook: Paulo and Preston Shorts.

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