A MelanieM Review: Tigers on the Run (Tigers and Devils #3) by Sean Kennedy

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Rating:  5 out of 5 stars  ★★★★★

Tigers on the Run coverYoung Australian Micah Johnson is the first AFL player to be out at the beginning of his career. Retired professional football player Declan Tyler mentors Micah, but he finds it difficult, as Micah is prone to making poor life choices that land him in trouble. Nothing Dec can’t handle. He’s been there, done that, more times than he’d like to admit. Being Simon Murray’s partner all these years has Dec quite experienced in long-suffering and mishaps.

As usual, Simon thinks everything is going along just fine until his assistant, Coby, tells him a secret involving an old nemesis. Simon and Dec’s problems mash together, and to solve them, they must undertake a thousand-kilometer round trip in which issues will have to be sorted out, apologies are finally given, and a runaway kid is retrieved and returned to his worried parents.

Tigers on the Run by Sean Kennedy is the book I have been waiting for since I first read Tigers and Devils back in 2012.  Ever have a book just suck you in? One that kept you superglued to the story and the characters? That was Tigers and Devils. There I fell passionately, madly in love with Simon,  and Dec, plus their close friends Fran and Roger, Nyssa,  even, dare I say it  Jasper Brunswick (ok, more like a case of disgust with Jasper).   Sean Kennedy created a cast of funny, fallible, and plain out irresistible characters who moved through a story that was full of angst, humor, and the pain and rewards that come with taking risks to become the person you want to be and to be with the person who is your HEA.

Sean Kennedy followed that up with Tigerland (Tigers and Devils #2), a book I really liked (4 stars) but that was missing some indefinable spark, an element found in the original story.  Yes, the characters resolved some issues between them, Fran and Roger’s personal quest to have children was gripping and real, and all  showed growth as people and/or as a couple.  It’s a wonderful book but still…..

Now comes Tigers on the Run (Tigers and Devils #3) , a book I’ve already read twice!  And I can happily say, the magic is back!  I laughed, and cried, and laughed some more.  I marveled over the crispness and intelligence of the dialog,  nodded in recognition at certain events and the emotional fallout that enveloped everyone, and in general, had the time of my life.  I intend to read it again…soon.

Kennedy has used the structure of an Australian football game as the format for his narrative.  We open on Coin Toss, which takes us back years BD, or Before Declan as Simon calls it.  It functions as a small sketch of Simon’s start towards a larger family of friends and his relationship with Dec.  First chapter?  That’s First Quarter and it finds our snarky, irresistible narrator, Simon, now in his “gay golden years” as he calls it, also known as his thirties!  Simon and Dec are babysitting Roger and Fran’s twins and its prompting a ton of introspection in both, but mainly in Simon.  Dec wants kids.  Simon?  He’s just not sure.  That’s just one of the issues that plays out here in layers, parent/child relationships at all levels, including  if one of those children is a teenager  and not the most lovable one at that.

This is also a story of letting go, of putting  old issues to rest and finding a way to move forward, even if part of you stubbornly wants to resist the change that’s coming.  How human is that?  Needing to  hold onto old grudges, finding a way to forgive? Kennedy acknowledges these truths, makes it a vital, believable element of this story as well.  So many layers and all so beautifully woven into Tigers on the Run.  I love Sean Kennedy’s writing.  It’s fluid, it feels so natural and easy, two things hard to accomplish, and it pulls your heart and mind into the story from the beginning.

That’s important too.  The reader’s heart and mind.  I found myself appreciating how gorgeous some of the sentences and structure of Kennedy’s writing even as I was laughing until I was bent over as Simon, or Roger or even Fran was embarked on some shenanigans.  I could actually have just  quoted sentence after sentence but as good as those lines are separated from the narrative, they get stronger and smarter in context.  What a joy lies in discovering them as you go.

Old standing betrayals are reexamined, surprising new relationships are formed, and their “family” circle enlarges once more. And while that’s happening all  the characters are growing emotionally,  and intellectually.  Kennedy understands people and relationship dynamics, whether its between lovers or friends or even colleagues.  Most importantly, Kennedy knows how to write those relationships and changing dynamics in a way that brings these people to life.  We believe in them, we feel for them.   My connection to Simon, Dec, Colby, Roger and Fran (I adore these two), even Jasper is both deep and solid.   By the end of the story (yes, a terrific ending too), I never wanted to let go.  I’m hoping that the last paragraph is indicative of the fact that more is to come.  Fingers crossed, bribes being prepared.

I just went back to look for a quote to end this one and now I’m laughing again, caught up once more in the story.  Got to go, I have a story to reread.  Need a new book or three to love?  Pick up Tigers and Devils series from Sean Kennedy.  Start at the beginning of Simon and Dec’s relationship and then work your way through their lives, mishaps and love until you reach Tigers on the Run.  Its one of my Best of 2015.  After you have read it, you will understand why.

Cover art by Catt Ford.   It’s a cute cover but only partially reflective of the outstanding story within.

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

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published July 13th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB011061AKG
edition languageEnglish
seriesTigers and Devils #3
characters: Simon Murray, Declan Tyler

Tigers and Devils Series stories in the order they were written and should be read:

 

A Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: What He Left Behind by L.A. Witt

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5:

Can you ever have a second first time?

What He Left Behind coverOver lunch one day with his best friend, Michael, Josh finds out that the reason Michael is still not dating, five years after he broke up with his abusive ex, is because he’s scared to death to even touch someone, never mind possibly have sex again. Josh is shocked by the confession. Though he knew Steve had been both physically and emotionally abusive to Michael, he just didn’t realize that so many of the things he takes for granted with his husband, Ian, are denied to Michael by fear of intimacy.

Josh and Michael have been friends ever since their early teens, and it was Michael with whom Josh first had sex when he came out in his senior year of high school. In fact, they were lovers off and on all through college while remaining best friends. And it was Michael who helped get Josh and Ian back together when they broke up early in their relationship. The trio has been friends ever since, and it killed Josh and Ian to see how very abusive Steve was to Michael, but they were there to love and support him when he was finally able to break away.

Over the past few years, Josh and Michael have seen each other at lunchtime, and the trio gets together every Sunday night to talk and drink wine in Josh and Ian’s hot tub. And it’s because of this close friendship that Ian suggests that Josh help Michael get over his fear of intimacy by having sex with him. After all, they’ve done it before and were each other’s firsts, so why not help him get back to where he can be intimate with a man again. Shocked by Ian’s idea, Josh nonetheless follows through and, though it takes time to break down many of Michael’s barriers, it eventually works. Then one Sunday night in the hot tub, Michael tells Josh that he’s ready to do it with someone else, and the two decide to approach Ian.

Ian’s involvement with Michael then leads to all three having sex and eventually Josh and Ian realize that they need to take time for themselves or they will lose what they have together. But when Michael starts to date again, a whole new world of hurt opens up for Josh, and he doesn’t know whether his marriage to Ian will survive the turmoil created by his obviously engaged heart.

Content advisory: Get your personal fans out before you read this story! The sex is sizzling hot, the characters endearing, the relationships—all of them, from the pairs of Josh and Ian and Josh with Michael and Michael with Ian to all three together—are amazingly well-developed and realistic. As a reader, I could feel the deep bond of friendship and love that existed between Josh and Michael, as well as the oneness of the Josh-Ian marriage relationship. In fact, although I can’t tolerate cheating, I didn’t feel that there was any hint of that in this story. There was emotional support for each other every step of the way. Everything that happened made sense as the men slowly bonded, and all of the relationship dynamics developed.

This was the best example of ménage I’ve read in a long time. In fact, it may be the best ever because it made so much sense for the three to be together that it was like watching all the pieces of a puzzle click into place. I can’t recommend this one highly enough. If you like M/M/M, this is a must buy.
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Cover Art by Angela Waters depicts three men representing the MCs—One is wearing glasses and a suit (Ian), one is wearing jeans and is shirtless (Josh) and one is depicted off in the distance (Michael). This is a clear representation of the story with the one character being somewhat distant from the married couple at the start of the book.

Preorder it July 19th at Samhain Publishing,  read it on August 18!

All Sales Links Coming In September

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: September 2015 by Samhain Publishing
(first published August 18th 2015)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.gallagherwitt.com

A BJ Review: Ghost in the Mythe (Guardians of the Pattern #3) by Jaye McKenna

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5 ★★★★★

Ghost in the Mythe coverAs a child, Miko Asada was the only survivor of a jump drive accident on a space transport, and the event altered him forever. Beautiful and unable to speak Miko is a bit of an enigma even to those who know him best. Cameron, the man who rescued him from a life of being shared him as a sexual slave, doesn’t even understand or quite believe him when he speaks (voice synth) of dragons and the Mythe. Alone and misunderstood, Miko is losing his desire to remain a part of the human world… until he meets someone who understands and knows all about the dragons and touches the mythe.

Tarrin Rhivana was an Ajhani Guardian, one charged to protect his clan and its artifacts, but was exiled when he used the mythe to kill a thief and save his closest friend, Vaya. Even his mother, a Dragon Speaker, cannot save him from his fate after breaking one of the clan’s strictest laws. When Tarrin attempts to leave his world aboard a ship belonging to the Sky People, he doesn’t realize that in order to get through jump space, he needs to be drugged. But a beautiful ghost comes to his rescue and Tarrin wakes to find himself on Aurora at the Institute for Psionic Research. And there he learns that the beautiful ghost who saved him is very real.

Tarrin learns that one of the Sky People has bonded to one of the ancient artifacts the Guardians are sworn to protect. Now it’s Tarrin’s duty to return to his clan and convince them of the danger the Sky People represent… even if that means he might be killed for violating his exile before he can deliver the warning.

This is book three (okay, four if you count the short Facing the Mirror) of the series and it’s my personal favorite so far. I’d give this book TEN stars if I could, but since I only have five to give, I wish I could make them all shiny and bright and drape them with tinsel.

First, I’ll touch on the characters because they are the heart of this story. You know how in a series, if you have a favorite character, then you wait with baited breath each novel to learn more about that character and then finally… finally there comes a point where it’s their time to shine and grow and find love. This was that book (well, for Miko… still waiting on my other fav, Draven). We met both of these guys in book 0.5. I was patient, and it does not disappoint. I cannot tell you how much I adored the resolution of Miko’s inner struggles (well, his main one I guess, as he does continue on to have important work in the series).

Miko is a bit of an enigma in the first stories, but that’s because they are from other’s POV and no one truly understand Miko. Which meant the we, the readers, were intrigued but didn’t totally either. In this book, we finally get to be inside Miko’s head. And omgosh was it ever worth the wait. Miko is stunning and every bit as broken as he’s been painted through the eyes of the other characters but he’s also strong and such a pivotal characters to the whole series. Love Miko.

As I was reading all the other books, I’m thinking, who in heck is ever going be able to get through to Miko? I needn’t have feared. Enter Tarrin. The man is a saint… okay, he’s not really. He has his flaws, but he’s just perfect for Miko. I loved them together, love the slow burn of their romance, and their tender, sweet sex scenes. And what brought them together initially? Finally someone could understand and relate to him rather than thinking he was a mysterious, broken, powerful psion who was also a nut job. Which he so is not. The way the author handled Miko and Tarrin’s love story was perfect, and given Miko’s background there was just no other way I could have seen it going. They were beautiful together.

Parts of this book had me in tears, because Miko’s journey toward the end, which I will not give away in spoilers on as you must read it for yourself… its that perfect. It’s about accepting all the parts of ourselves, and I absolutely freaking loved that. So yeah, it had me in tears, I admit it. And I am not a crier.

The plot of this series as a whole is fascinating and so complex. I, personally, think that this series is really best read in order as each builds on the other with a central plot woven throughout. None of them end in cliffhangers. Although we are sometimes left with a little tease after the main conflict is resolved, as in this book. And I eat that shit up.

I feel like I know all of these guys and in nearly each story I meet someone new and fascinating and find myself hoping that we will hear more about him. (In this story, that would be both Tarrin and Vaya… oh, I do love me a lost boys). But I am absolutely chomping at the bit for Draven and have to wait until book six. Huge groan.

Miko first appears in book 0.5 right at the beginning of the series and his journey so far is beautiful. I am so glad it’s not totally over; he does continue to appear in the series as he has a big role.

And the cover by Cinchbug… okay… this is me standing up and cheering because I love that image of Miko so much. Beautiful, alluring but innocent and you can even sort of see the sadness there. Love the colors and the fractals representing the mythe behind him. It’s damn close to perfect.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 331 pages
Published June 6th 2015 by Mythe Weaver Press (first published June 2015)
edition languageEnglish
seriesGuardians of the Pattern

Guardians of the Pattern series
4 authors, 4 primary works

Guardians of the Pattern is a science fiction series in which the line between science and magic blurs. In the galaxy-spanning Federation, psions are still fighting for basic human rights. Some worlds adopt a live-and-let-live policy, but on others, psions are hunted down and murdered because the public fears their psychic talents. When ancient weapons of mass destruction are unearthed on a planet populated by primitive nomads who still believe in magic, psions may be the Federation’s only hope for survival.

Can the people of these two very different cultures come together to prevent disaster? Or will the Federation’s hunger for power trigger a psionic chain-reaction that has the potential to threaten all of humanity?

Guardians of the Pattern Series:

Facing the Mirror (Guardians of the Pattern 0.5)
Psi Hunter (Guardians of the Pattern, #1)
Gremlin’s Last Run (Guardians of the Pattern #2.0)
Ghost in the Mythe (Guardians of the Pattern, #3.0)

Guardians of the Pattern Series in the order they were written and should be read.

 

 

A Paul B Review: Xavier (Gillham Pack #1) by Catherine Lievens

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Xavier coverXavier’s life has gone to hell. He has broken up with his boyfriend. A stalker after his ex has attacked him. Now people change into animals. It’s enough to make one pass out.

Xavier has ended his relationship with Andrew, who is dating someone new. However, a stalker who has taken an obsession with Andy does not know this and attacks Xavier. When friends of Andrew find a job for Xavier in the nearby town of GIllham, Xavier’s world is about to turn upside down. Xavier finds out that not only are Andrew’s friends shape shifters but also the men that he will be working for in Gillham.

Andy is a member of the Gillham pack of wolf shifters. When his alpha and best friend Kameron asks Andy to watch over a man sent by the local cat pride for his protection, Andy reluctantly agrees. When he meets Xavier, he recognizes the man as his mate. Making moves to confirm his suspicions, Andy scares Xavier worse than the stalker that is after his ex Andrew. Making matters worse for Andy is that Xavier wants to talk to his ex for some sort of explanation.

Once mates are explained to Xavier, he goes into a depression since he figures the only reason Andy would want an overweight accountant is because Fate had put them together. Andy assures him that despite the mat e pull that he could walk away if he wanted to do so.

Andy agrees to give Xavier time to settle into the world of the paranormal and mates.

As things begin to settle down for Andy and Xavier, outside forces start to put a strain on their building relationship. Some members of Andy’s family are not happy about him taking a human male as a mate. Also, news about some former pack members who were sold by the former alpha to scientists is brought to the pack’s attention. When Andy returns from the rescue mission, his and Xavier’s lives will be changed.

This is the first book in a new series by Catherine Lievens. The author has incorporated characters from her Whitedell pride series to help kick off this new series. While it would be helpful to have read the Whitedell series to understand some of the overall plotting between the two series, it is not essential. She has set up the scene for future books especially that of Kameron, the wolf pack alpha and Zach. I believe that Zach’s refusal to mate with Kam has something to do with the scientists or associates of the former alpha. I look forward to seeing how this series progresses, especially with Zach.

The cover art by Latrisha Waters shows a build man who I assume is Andy and his wolf. It is a good cover except that the man doesn’t quite match the description of Andy. It is noted that Andy is tattooed and pierced and those could be seen from his work clothes. The man on the cover has neither that I can see. It is a small quibble on my part.

Sales Links:  eXtasy Books  |  All Romance (ARe)  |  Amazon  |  Buy It Here

Book details
Ebook, 121 pages
Edition: English
Published: June 15, 2015 by Extasy Books
ISBN: 978- 1-4874-0301-0
Series: Gillham Pack
Xavier (Gillham Pack #1)

Winter In July? Check Out Snowman by Isabelle Rowan (tour and giveaway)

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Snowman cover

Snowman by Isabelle Rowan
Published by Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist:  Garrett Leigh

STRW In The Spotlight Header
Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press |  All Romance (ARe)  |  Amazon  |  Buy It Here

STRW Author BookSynopsis

We all find ways to run away. Some do it in seclusion, others in the arms of lovers. Since the death of his long-time partner, Caleb Maguire lives a quiet life in Australiaʼs Victorian high country with only his dog and horses for company. Each day is the same. There are no surprises—good or bad—until a major snowstorm hits his mountain and Caleb is called out to rescue a stranded tourist. The late night snow brings with it a lost soul who forces Caleb to reassess his solitary life. Paul Turner is a barista in the trendy Melbourne suburb of Carlton. He lives life totally in the moment, but a life of no commitments is about to change for this city boy. Three days is all it takes for Paul to fall hard for Caleb, and Paul returns to the city with a promise heʼll be back after turning his life around… but only when all the roads are clear.

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

A slinky cat for a witch may be a cliché, but add a whole bunch of tribal tattoos and an intolerance to garlic (seriously) and you have Isabelle Rowan.

Having moved to Australia from England (Gateshead) as a small child Isabelle now lives in a seaside suburb of Melbourne where she teaches film making and English. She is a movie addict who spends far too much money on traveling… but then again, life is to be lived.

Amazon Author page (http://www.amazon.com/Isabelle-Rowan/e/B002NA9G9Q/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0)

That sums things up!

If you want more information please check out my:

Twitter (https://www.twitter.com/aussie_izzy @aussie_Izzy),
Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/isabelle.rowan),
Blog (http://www.isabellerowan.com/blog)
Website (http://www.isabellerowan.com/)

Or drop me an email! (isabelle.rowan@gmail.com)

STRW Spotlight Contest Header

Enter to win a signed paperback copy of Snowman, an electronic copy Snowman, and Snowman plus your choice of a back title.  Must be 18 years of age or older.  Link and prizes provided by the author.

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Praise for ISABELLE ROWAN

“Through Rowan’s vivid descriptions you can feel the pull of the rocks, the vibrations that flutter through the soul that forever changes [the main characters].” —Scattered Hearts and Rogue Words

on “The Red Heart” Left absolutely breathless!! …This book was written with such an incredible depth of understanding, empathy and feeling from the author that is just draws the reader right in. If you haven’t read this book yet then you have definitely missed a true literary gem.” .

 

“I have always loved Isabelle Rowan’s writing since I read A Note in the Margin that was so original and deeply impactful I couldn’t believe she was a first-time published author.” —Jessewave ,

“The Red Heart is truly one of the best stories I have read in a long time.” Other titles by this author: —Sinfully…, on “A Note in the Margin” —Top 2 Bottom Reviews, on “The Red Heart”