A Mika Review: Outcast Cowboys by Sarah Masters

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Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Outcast Cowboys coversYou can run but you cannot hide. Problems have a habit of following you, even if it’s only inside your head.

Ross decides to start a new life away from the grim belly of London, England, unable to stomach being a cop any longer. He tells himself he’s moving miles away to find himself a bed partner, but he’s lying. He has to. Facing up to the real reason he’s leaving isn’t something he can handle. His last undercover job proved too much—his life was at risk—and if he stays in London he’ll likely end up dead. Nightmares plague him, his subconscious unable to switch the past off. So he moves to a ranch in America, thinking the new surroundings and different lifestyle will help him to heal—and to forget. What he soon realizes is he’s jumping from the frying pan into the fire…

Joe’s passion—that of caring for the horses—is the only thing that keeps him sane. He’s a surly man, and for good reason—a reason he hasn’t told a soul. Folks think he’s mean and unapproachable and suspect him of committing murder. More than once. Locals assume that Joe got let off the hook. Nothing could be further from the truth, but Joe lets people think what they will. He’s done with their speculation and sly looks.

When Ross and Joe meet, tension is rife. The air between them prickles with animosity as well as sexual tension. Both have a past they can’t get over. Both have skeletons in their closets they wish would turn to dust. And both have to make a decision. Can they cast their fears aside and trust each other, or have the terrors they’ve experienced ruined them for love?

Outcast Cowboys by Sarah Masters more of a psychological drama and less of cowboy story, dealing with murder and mayhem. One characters past life was as a British police officer. We start with a past flashback where Ross was in London as an undercover cop. I do not know how realistic this is. I enjoy stories like those from time to time, but I guess I felt detached from the very beginning because of the dark feelings from the book.

It was somber for most of the plot and that kept me from connecting with any of the characters. I think that just to drop that career into another country, and  to up and become a cowboy in said country with no qualifications felt unrealistic. I could see if he was a wanderer, but he has no skill sets for this. Then meeting Joe, it is rocky start to say the least. There was immediate hostility between the two as well as a total lack of chemistry in my opinion.  I think it made getting together more of a booty call at best than an actual romance.

I do not know if I understand what Joe was going on about in the beginning, his attitude was horrid, then after one day, he completely changes his tune. He changed and I did not believe it at all. I couldn’t relate to either character. It felt very disjointed throughout most of the story. The tone seemed different from the beginning to the middle. Some things did not make sense to me, like talking about murdered horses, and burned down dorms. The drama aspect of the story did not make sense. Here I was thinking that this was going to be a straight CR m/m story with a foreigner and a cowboy falling in love over the horses. I did not like anything about this. I have picked it up 3 or 4 times just to get through the story. Sadly, at the end I was not happy with the plot or the characters.

 Cover Art by Posh Gosh. The cover was one reason I was interested. The cowboy boots makes me believe I’m going to get a happy, contemporary story. While it wasn’t that, I did think the cover was nice.

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

Book Details:

ebook
Published July 21st 2015 by Totally Bound
ISBN13 9781784306625
edition language English
 other editions None found

A Paul B Review: The Homecoming by J. Scott Coatsworth

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars   ★★★★★

The Homecoming - cover2Aldiss Harrison’s exploration voyage back to Earth became a mission of survival even before it began.  With no hope of returning back to the planet he calls home, will Aldiss and his crew survive the planet their ancestors left over 500 years ago?

The people of Antana had abandoned Earth over 500 years ago.  The ravages of mankind on its home planet had taken their toll.  They have settled on Antara building a new society.  Aldiss Harrison is scheduled on a mission to explore what has happened to earth since their departure.  Aldiss hopes he is more successful than his grandfather, who disappeared without a word on a similar mission.

However, their mission of exploration quickly becomes one of survival as a massive solar flare takes aim at Antara.  The crew of six becomes a crew of four as two of the crewmembers had not arrived in time to launch.  Left behind was Aldiss’ ex Lorin the team archaeologist.  As the team crash-lands into Earth, they realize that their team might be even smaller as one is having trouble coming out of stasis.

Hari is a member of the Blackthorn clan of wolves.  These wolves have two forms.   Their winter form is that of wolves.  Their summer form resembles the two-legged creatures of yore.  Hari is one of the few members of his clan to shift between forms at will.  When Hari sees a streak of light across the sky followed by a loud noise, he sets out to investigate.  When he arrives, he sees an object obviously made by the two legs and a pair of eyes coming from it.  Hari alerts the pack.  Most back off but one, Neru,  goes off alone.  Hari’s mother sends him to keep track of the troublemaker.  When Hari stops the attack on the two leg (Aldiss), Hari finds that he has found his errah, his chosen mate.  Aldiss and Hari must fight dissention among the clan of wolves and make sure the remaining crew members adapt to their new home world in order for them to enjoy their new relationship.

This book clicks on just about every level.  The heartbreak Aldiss feels at the loss of not only his home planet but his ex (even though he states there is nothing romantic between them anymore) is palpable.  The hope of a new home world is quickly set back first by the crash landing and the dangers that caused but also with the troubles of Cat’s illness coming out of stasis.  Add in the inter clan squabbles about what to do with their now returned ancestors and it spells trouble.  Hari is guided not only by his mother but the keh, the spirits of his ancestors.  The two “Law & Order” type twists near the end of the book complete the upheaval.  But the feeling of hope at the end of the book makes the ride worth taking.  This author is new to me and I look forward to reading more from him.

London Burden has come up with one of the most gorgeous covers I have seen this year.  It is drawing of a winter scape, with Hari in his white wolf form, standing on a hill overlooking the crash site that Aldiss’ ship landed.  This cover should make the list of top ten for the year.

Sales Links:   Less Than Three Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book details

Ebook, 71 pages
Edition:  English
Published:  July 29, 2015 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN:   9781620045831

A MelanieM Review: The Terms of Release (The Release Series #1) by B.A. Tortuga

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The Terms of Release coverThey say a man can always come home. So after doing hard time, Sage Redding heads to his family’s northeast Texas ranch to help his ailing daddy with the cutting horses.

Adam (Win) Winchester is a county deputy and the cousin of one of the men killed in the incident that sent Sage to prison for almost a decade. While Win’s uncles, Jim and Teddy, are determined to make Sage and the entire Redding family pay for their loss, Win just figures Sage has paid his dues and maybe needs a friend. Maybe he needs more than a friend. In fact, Win’s counting on it.

No one’s denying Sage is an ex-con who went to prison for manslaughter. Regardless of the love he has for his father, he’s returned knowing things will likely go badly for him. Maybe a man can always come home, but he may not be able to stay.

The Terms of Release is the first in a new series by BA Tortuga.  Its set in one of her favored locations, northeast Texas, where the regional twang of the Texas accent and cowboy colloquialisms is as prevalent as the searing summer heat.  These are used as the basis for a romance between two more basic characters found in BA Tortuga’s stories, a cowboy and a ex-soldier, each here with a twist.

Sage Redding, a pocket cowboy, coming off of hard time in a penitentiary for manslaughter, but the story behind his conviction points to something or someone else.  Adam (Win) Winchester, former soldier, now a county deputy, who uncles and family were instrumental in Sage’s conviction and length of time behind bars.  Sage has returned home because of his father’s ill health to help his parents run their ranch to the consternation and hate of the townfolk and local police department, except for Win that is.

Immediately the author sets the whirlwind of small town prejudice, poor economics and personal gain into play with Sage’s homecoming.  Its not just one issue plaguing Sage’s return but a multitude.  He’s a con, he’s a murderer, “they don’t need his kind here” sort of thing.  It should be cliche but that’s exactly the sort of mindset found in small communities and BA Tortuga gets it exactly right.  Never mind that his parents have been a fountain of support for many within town limits, that is easy to forget until Sage’s wonderful mother brings it up.  I adored his parents.  They are just two more reasons that I find this author’s stories so easy to sink into, her characters come across as perfectly earthy and human.  Snarly, wounded, stolid, and supportive.  Amazing how quickly I can take them into my heart.

Adam (Win) Winchester is another terrific character with roots in this community.  He’s wondering why he came back at all and finding that Sage maybe the best reason to stay.  I loved Adam but the real story is Sage.

Sage is tiny and he did hard time in a state penitentiary. That has left him with permanent scars, ones mentioned and ones left to the imagination…all horrific and life changing.  How BA Tortuga handles this aspect of her character and story deserves special mention and admiration.   Ever think about how someone who has been convicted of manslaughter handles prison time?  Especially if you think they might deserve it?  What if they were actually innocent as some are being found these days, after the fact,  in the Texas system?  How do they handle what happened to them inside? How do they handle being outside once more?  Tortuga has Sage go through all these things, from checking in with his parole officer, to missing out on simple cultural things we take for granted to things I will leave up to the story.  And we get some of the confusion we might feel present in Win who doesn’t always understand Sage’s state of mind.  That’s equally important for the story and for the reader.  Tortuga gives us two points of view and the time needed to develop them both to the degree that we understand and commit to both men and their relationship.

Sage maybe be a tiny pocket cowboy but by the end of the story  he had captured my heart, along with Win’s.  Theirs was a romance to root for and a journey to love that will captivate you. The Terms of Release doesn’t always flow evenly but it moves with heart, and courage and grit.   A wonderful story and I can’t wait to see where BA Tortuga takes this series next.

Cover art by Leah Kaye Suttle.  If the intent is to draw you in by the hot torso and hot landscape then done.  But if the job is to let you into some idea of the storyline? Fail.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 240 pages, also in paperback and audiobook from Dreamspinner
Published March 24th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press (first published March 23rd 2014)
original title The Terms of Release
ISBN 1627986146 (ISBN13: 9781627986144)
The Release Series:
The Terms of Release

 

A BJ Review: The Downs by Kim Fielding

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

This story was written as a part of the M/M Romance Group’s “Love is an Open Road” event. Group members were asked to write a story prompt inspired by a photo of their choice. Authors of the group selected a photo and prompt that spoke to them and wrote a short story.

The Downs coverPrompt: Dear Author,
He stood, head bowed, body tense, waiting. No matter what happened next, his life would never be the same…
Please give this man his life changing event, whatever that may be, as long as he ends up with his HEA/HFN by the end. Thank you, Aislinn

This story reads rather like a fable or a dark fairy tale. It’s set in a fascinating dystopian world where those convicted of a crime are taken from the city, across the Reach and pitched over a cliff into the Downs where they are told they are being given to the demons for their pleasure.

Nicely done world building. The story begins with a Entian, a criminal who has been wrongly judged then carted across the desert, brutalized and thrown down a cliff, supposedly to the demons. However, he wakes instead to tender care at the hands of the gentle, scarred giant named Rig. Both of the main characters were intriguing. Although he hadn’t deserved what he got, Entian hadn’t been at all an innocent saint in his previous life. And Rig with his sad past and big, sweet bear personality is lovely. Both of their backstories are very developed for a story of this length.

This story had many elements I enjoy: dark, dystopian, hurt/comfort, scarred/broken characters, and a sweet love story. There is action but for the most part it moves at a steady pace that lets us sink gently into the world and the relationship.

This isn’t only a romance, but a fable-like tale of betrayal, second chances, and vengeance. Little truths sneak out from its pages. Like for example how sometimes it’s the unfortunate events that brings us to the exact place where we find what it is we most needed all along. But Entian’s determined desire for revenge even after he’d created a life with Rig was the one sour note in the story for me. I did end up liking how it played out though. So overall a great story with a sweet and fitting end.

The cover is lovely and uses the actual prompt photograph from the m/m romance group which inspired the story!

Free Story which can be found here.

Book Details: 

book, 95 pages
Published June 10th 2015 by M/M Romance Group @ Goodreads
edition language English