A MelanieM Review: Two Hearts One Voice (Mending the Rift #3) by Valentina Heart

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Two Hearts One Voice coverThey are at war, fearing for each other, both carrying the upbringing of their children and the survival of their country. They are kings.

With the future of the throne secured, Rin and Merin still have little time to rejoice for their children or the unity of their kingdoms. Stuck in the middle of a battlefield, their lives prove to be once again at risk, Rin heads out on a long journey home with his heirs, leaving Merin to lead their army.

Rin receives his rightful title of a king from the Kari council and for once feels as if he belongs on the throne without Merin there to guide him. Missing his husband, he raises their children the best he can, but there’s no end to the war in sight and, after months of futile conflicts, Rin sees Merin cut down in battle.

Distraught and with no patience for his council, Rin threatens the Riki, making even his own men fear him.

Can Rin cope alone and still win the war, or will his sorrow mark the end of his reign?

I fell in love with Valentina Heart’s Merin and Rin in the first two stories in the Mending the Rift series.  Two kingdoms, torn by constant warfare, turn to royal marriage to stop the conflict and losses from battle.   Prince Rinin, heir to the throne of Kari Kingdom, has been demanded as a war conquest by King Merinej of Jede.  Rinin is an innocent, sheltered and lovely.  King Merin, a warrior,experienced and bold.  As part of their marriage contract, Rinin demands that Merin be faithful and in return Rinin will  provide the heir Merin needs.  And yes, this is a male pregnancy series.

The first two stories had an interesting format that brought y0u intimately into the thoughts of the main characters.  The first book is narrated by Rinin, the second by Merin and I loved that.  It was even more powerful when the traumatic events of the second story came close to shattering the characters and our hearts.  So I was thrilled to see that the last story in the trilogy was out.  How would it all end?  Who would be the narrator of this final story?

Two Hearts, One Voice by Valentina Heart brings the trilogy to a close with a tale that, while it supplies a satisfactory happy ending, is missing the impact and drama of the first two stories.  And that has to do to the manner in which it is told.  We lose the powerful single person narration to a narrative of multiple points of view and a time frame that goes from immediate events unfolding to years down the line.  Unfortunately, this change up in style brings about a loss of energy and power to the story.  Two Hearts, One Voice fluctuates between powerful scenes of battle to the intrigue of the court, and then back again.  These transitions don’t feel as smooth as they should and the momentum of Merin and Rin’s story gets lost along the way.

Another element that lessens the impact of the finale is that the power of Owner of My Heart (Mending the Rift #2) was so strong and that story so full of pain and loss, that any finale would be hard put to equal its effect upon the reader.  Plus the children grow at such a speed here that its hard to connect with any of them emotionally as we do their parents.  For those readers not fond of mpreg, other than the mention of the children and Rin’s after-childbirth body, this element takes a back-burner to the battles still going on and the mechanisms found at court.

So, while I was not completely satisfied with the story, I still found many wonderful scenes to throw my heart into.  Merin’s segments at the front, Rin’s anger and pain….that made this story sing with life and energy.  That and their love for each other that Valentina Heart made so real and gripping.  I loved their love story most of all and here they get the ending they both deserved and wanted.  I will have to be content with that.

Two Hearts, Once Voice is not a standalone story. As part of a series, the books must be read in the order they were written.  None are long and that works if you want to read them together in one sitting as I did the first two.  I recommend this series. The love story is moving, the mpreg aspect well done, and you get a HEA you want for them both.

Cover art is ok but nothing that really captures your imagination like it should.

Sales Links:  Totally Bound BooksAmazon   Buy It Here

Book Details:

Note: This book and series contains scenes of and references to Mpreg.

book, 95 pages
Expected publication: June 2nd 2015 by Totally Bound Publishing
original titleTwo Hearts One Voice
ISBN 1784305731 (ISBN13: 9781784305734)
edition languageEnglish
seriesMending the Rift #3

Books in the Mending the Rift series:

  • King’s Conquest (Mending the Rift, #1)
  • Owner of My Heart (Mending the Rift, #2)
  • Two Hearts One Voice (Mending the Rift #3)

 

Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review : Sultry Sunset (Mangrove Stories #3) by Mary Calmes

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5:

Sultry Sunset coverHutch Crowley is well-liked in the small resort town of Mangrove—he’s got friends in his new neighbors, he’s the owner of the town grocery, and he’s building a community center—but he’s still unlucky at love. Every man he’s attracted to is either taken or simply not interested, including his best friend, Mike Rojas.

When Mike came to Mangrove two years ago, Hutch gave him a job and a place to stay in his guesthouse, where Mike has remained ever since. Despite the rumors circulating about them, Hutch knows Mike is straight and looking for the right woman. But his friends disagree, and after some hints to the contrary, even Hutch finally has to admit that maybe the rest of the town sees something he’s been missing. If Hutch wants to spend each sultry sunset with the man of his dreams, it might be time to figure out what’s going on with his best friend’s heart.

This was a sweet gay-for-you story in the world of the friends we met in “Blue Days” and “Quiet Nights”. Hutch Crowley, a businessman and town leader, was the guy dating Coz in “Quiet Nights” when Kelly finally realized he had to act quickly or Coz would be gone. It’s nice to see that Hutch got his own story.

It takes Hutch a while to realize that the reason he’s so upset at seeing the parade of women tiptoeing the walk of shame away from his guest house at dawn each morning is that he’s jealous of them. His guest house is occupied by Mike Rojas, his best friend and the co-manager of Heath’s grocery store. Mike is a widower who came to Mangrove two years ago after wandering the country in a state of restlessness when his wife died.

Finally ready to move on with his life, he’s looking better, and obviously feeling better as evidenced by the increase in his dating. Heath can’t quite cope with his new feelings for Mike, but believes he’s hiding them well. However, all of their friends are just wondering when they are going to see the light. It’s obvious to them that these guys care for each other, but it isn’t until Heath lands in jail that the situation comes to a head.

This story was too short to form a deep attachment to the characters and to build up the sexual tension. However, it was sweet and a good pick-me-up for those days when you need to feel good. A few new characters were introduced in this story as well, and I’ll be surprised if we don’t see Mike’s new neighbor, Essien, in his own story someday soon.

I’d recommend this to fans of Mary Calmes, those who like a GFY short story to brighten their day, and to all lovers of M/M romance. You can never go wrong with a little Mary Calmes in your life.

Cover Art by Reese Dante is a photo of a man standing alone on a beach at sunset— a gloriously, beautiful sunset. This is one of the most attractive covers I’ve seen this year.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 62 pages
Published May 15th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
ISBN139781634761512
edition languageEnglish
seriesMangrove Stories #3

Mangrove Series Stories include:

  • Blue Days (Mangrove Stories, #1)
  • Quiet Nights (Mangrove Stories, #2)
  • Sultry Sunset (Mangrove Stories #3)

A BJ Review: Manbot by Scarlet Blackwell

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Rating:  4.25 stars out of 5

If a robot is programmed to obey your every need, wouldn’t you take advantage? 



Manbot cover 2In a future where most families can afford to own their own robot (either a manbot or fembot), that question would definitely come up for those who live a lonely, solitary lifestyle. Especially since the robots are quite lovely and designed to obey their owner’s every command. So if you had one, what would you do? Really?

Gray Benedict is lonely teacher who owns Kavan, a six-foot-three gorgeous manbot just ready to do his bidding. When his friend Mitchell mentions that he’s been getting it on with his own manbot, George, Gray can’t help but begin to look at Kavin in a different light. Unlike his friend, Mitchell the letch, Gray has scruples and a heart. He’s concerned about taking advantage and maybe even damaging Kavan. It becomes clear that Kavan is eager to serve, but Gray is a nice guy and rather than order his robot around, he finds himself falling for his ever more humanlike manbot.

This is an enjoyable and well-written novella. Kavan is equipped with software that allows him to learn from his experiences as well as his manuals. As Gray gets closer and opens up to him emotionally as well as physically, Kavan becomes more and more human. He blossoms and its so fun to follow along this process. The way Kavan so much wanted to be a real man for Gray made me think of Pinnochio wanting to be a real boy. I loved it. And Gray was so sweet in his concerns that he’d damage Kavan. He was considerate of him at all times, never treating him as an object or something he owned except when his scumwad friend Mitchel gets him to agree to loan Kavan to him for an hour.

The bond between Gray and Kavan grows on both sides, because despite being a robot, it soon becomes obvious from Kavan’s actions that he is not just obeying his owner anymore. Its interesting to see the relationship of Mitchell and George juxtaposed to that of Gray and Kavan because it shows so vividly the two sides of a coin. How some humans treat anything or anyone they believe to be lesser than them (animals, other races, religions, etc.) with cruelty. The story explores a little of what makes someone human and worthy of love and respect.

The sex scenes are hot and so fun, the way Kavan’s operating system fritzes out when he’s overcome with pleasure/orgasm is just adorable.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and the main reasons I didn’t give it five stars is not what was there, but what I wish had been! I’d have loved it if this were longer with more in-depth world building, because I think it had so much more that could have been explored such as the friendship of the two manbots and the relationship of George/Mitchell. The process of Kavan’s developing emotions would have come across much more if we could have been given more than the small snippets of his POV snippets near the end. I’d have loved to get a peek into the doors of the Tuesday programmer meetings and explore more on how and why the bots were able to develop feelings. And finally, I totally wanted to follow along with the couple a bit on their journey. A sweet HFN ending that left me hopeful but nervous for them and definitely wanting more. I would LOVE it if this book had a sequel.

Cover art bu Unknown. Beautiful cover! Love how it gives the feel of what’s inside Kavan, the little city at the bottom marking it as urban, and the warm vs cool colors.

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

Book Details:

CONTENT ADVISORY: This titles has a HFN ending. (less)
ebook, 82 pages
Published November 21st 2014 by Totally Bound (first published August 3rd 2012)
ISBN139781784302931
edition languageEnglish

Cover Reveal Time for Sloan Johnson’s Wild Pitch -Love Among the Boys of Summer! (excerpt and giveaway)

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WildPitch

Homeruns Series #1
Wild Pitch
by Sloan Johnson

Coming June 18, 2015

Wild Pitch by Sloan Johnson

Synopsis:

There’s never been any question in Sean Tucker’s mind that he’d do whatever it took to make it to the major leagues and be one of the best pitchers of his time. The day he acknowledged to himself that he was gay was also the day he vowed to stay in the closet in order to chase his dreams. The problem is, he never counted on Mason Atley.

Sean showed rookie short stop Mason Atley the ropes, both on the field and off. The two forged a friendship which continued as both of them moved through the ranks of the farm system and into the majors. Unfortunately, there’s always been one secret Mason never felt he could share with Sean. Until now.

For seven years, Sean lived with the fact that he loved a man who would never reciprocate. When Mason admits that he’s always known he’s bisexual but has never allowed himself to pursue a relationship with a man, will Sean be able to put aside his reservations about starting a relationship with the friend he’d always assumed was straight? And more importantly, will they be able to find a way to stay together when their careers keep them apart more than they can be together?

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Excerpt:

I waited until we’d polished off the entire pizza and the dishes were rinsed in the sink before confronting Sean about what I assumed was weighing on his mind.

“So, are you still going to tell me you and Eric were just friends?” I asked, handing him a second beer. I’d switched to soda, on the off chance that he wanted to head back to the hotel. The only thing that’d make today worse was a DUI.

“We were. We are,” he protested. His gaze bounced around the room, but never in my direction.

“Bullshit. Trades are part of the game. We both know that, and yet Eric leaving managed to get into your head and throw off your game today. You can tell yourself whatever you want, but I know you better than that,” I reminded him. We’d lived together for the better part of a year, and not once was he able to pull the wool over my eyes.

“Fine,” he grumbled, taking a long draw off his beer. I thought that was the closest I’d get to an admission from him as he rubbed the back of his neck. Then he crooked a finger against the side of his chin, twisting to the left, then the right, then the left again to crack his neck. As I watched him go through his nervous routine, I regretted pushing him when he obviously wasn’t ready. Something inside of him clicked and he started to talk again. “There may have been benefits included, but really, it wasn’t more than that. Neither of us are stupid enough to get involved with a teammate, so we settled for getting cozy in the closet when the urge struck. We figured it worked pretty damn well that the two gay guys wound up in the same room. What we did was no different from the shit the rest of the guys were doing, except we didn’t have to go out and find a new trick in each town.”

“So you fucked and you were close enough that his leaving got to you, but you’re going to tell me you weren’t involved?” I shouldn’t push the issue, but I was pissed. I hated the fact that he was obviously in denial about what they meant to one another.

“Yes, Mason, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Look, just because I don’t want a relationship doesn’t mean I don’t want to get laid every once in a while,” he argued. “And not wanting a commitment doesn’t mean I want a random stranger. Eric understood that and respected it. He’s in the same boat as me and we did what needed to be done.”

“Then why the head trip? Ever since I’ve known you, you’ve sworn you’d never do anything that fucked with your game. What’s so special about him that he was worth it?” As I ranted, I thought I sounded like the scorned friend who’d never be what Sean needed. And how could I be when he had no clue that he was so much more than my just my best friend?

Sean jumped off the couch and started pacing around the room, squeezing the back of his neck. “Because other than you, he’s the only person who’s come close to understanding how much baseball means to me,” he admitted. “I knew he wasn’t cut out for no-strings sex but he was willing to settle for that for me. He’s a good guy and yeah, I’m going to miss him. There, are you happy now?”

About the Author

Sloan Johnson is a big city girl trapped in a country girl’s life. While she longs for the hustle and bustle of New York City or Las Vegas, she hasn’t yet figured out how to sit on the deck with her morning coffee, watching the deer and wild turkeys in the fields while surrounded by concrete and glass.

When she was three, her parents received their first call from the principal asking them to pick her up from school. Apparently, if you aren’t enrolled, you can’t attend classes, even in Kindergarten. The next week, she was in preschool and started plotting her first story soon after.

Later in life, her parents needed to do something to help their socially awkward, uncoordinated child come out of her shell and figured there was no better place than a bar on Wednesday nights. It’s a good thing they did because this is where she found her love of reading and writing. Who needs socialization when you can sit alone in your bedroom with a good book?

Now, Sloan is a tattooed mom with a mohawk and two kids. She’s been kicked out of the PTA in two school districts and is no longer asked to help with fundraisers because she’s been known to lose herself with a good book and forget she has somewhere to be.

wild pitch teaser 1

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Enter to win a eBook of Wild Pitch. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author.

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