A MelanieM Review: The Devil’s Brew (Sinners #2.5) by Rhys Ford


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A Sinners Series Novella

The Devil's Brew CoverMiki St. John’s life has been turned upside down but it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

His best friend, Damien Mitchell, is back from the dead. He has a dog named Dude. And more importantly, he and his lover, SFPD Inspector Kane Morgan, now share Miki’s converted warehouse.

For the first time ever, Miki’s living a happy and normal-ish life but when Valentine’s Day rolls around, Miki realizes he knows next to nothing about being domestic or domesticated. Nothing about the traditional lover’s holiday makes sense to him but Miki wants to give Kane a Valentine’s Day the man will never forget.

Can he pull off a day of wine and roses? Or will his screwed up childhood come back and bite Miki in the ass?

Rhys Ford’s The Devil’s Brew is a novella that slides in between Whiskey and Wry (Sinners, #2) and Tequila Mockingbird (Sinners #3), both full scale continuations of the Sinners series.  At 70 pages, it concentrates on Mika and a singular crisis in his life.  Valentine’s Day.  For other’s it’s merely stressful or happy occasion but for the near feral Miki, with his heinous foster life, its a completely unknown element.

One of the benefits of bringing Damien back to life is that it gives Rhys the ability to compare and contrast these two characters.  Brothers in everything but blood and background, Damien is a social being,  He gets holidays and loves Valentine’s Day.  He’s expects presents and gives them. Damien and Sionn are on the same extravagant page.

On the flip side,  Mike is shocked to find out that’s its a holiday.  He has to be clued in. That happens only to be told that he has to find a present for Kane, that Kane probably always has a present for him, and that its all a very big deal and he’s panicking because he’s has no idea.  He  was raised outside of any culture, other than that of abandonment and abuse.

Damien and Sionn appear briefly to set Miki into shock and motion.  Its then that Rhys Ford’s quick-fire descriptions and ability to deliver the power of a character’s emotions, however inarticulate they maybe, within a scene comes to life.  The reader feels Miki’s inability to understand what’s going on, his lack of emotional foundation for the holiday.  We also get that Mike feels especially shaky because his relationship with Kane and the Morgan family is still so new.

I have always loved that as the intensity builds, Fords uses humor the level it a bit, whether its Dude, the irrepressible terrier or in this case “a chunk of forest leftovers”…that “a blind gypsy dropped off a tribute to Herne in your living room.” That last  bit was courtesy of one of my favorite other characters in the series, the Morgan clan father, Donal Morgan, who has a special relationship with Miki.  The part he plays here will bring tears to your eyes.  At least it did to mine.  And some laughs as well.

It all ends on a hot, sexy note as all great Valentine’s Day’s should, making it one to remember.  With The Devil’s Brew, Rhys Ford made 70 pages seem full and rich, a terrific thing for a novella. I highly  recommend this story, this series and this author.

Cover art by Reece Notley is nice but has little to do with the subject of the  story other than the main character.  Still does a good job of branding the series.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 70 pages
Published May 21st 2014 by Dreamspinner Press (first published May 20th 2014)

A BJ Review: Linhart’s Beautiful Beast by Mel Bossa


Rating:  3.75 stars out of 5

Linhart's Beautiful Beast coverIn 1934 Quebec, Joseph Vega has been locked up in Linhart Prison for three years for an assault committed on a man who’d been in process of robbing his mother’s home. He’s lost track of himself and nearly forgotten how to feel in the cold, dark place.

When a beautiful ginger-head man named Christophe Dubois is led into his cell, Joe knows he’s in trouble. From the moment Joe lays eyes on the disowned son of an affluent politician, his life begins to change. Christophe is spoiled but also bold, curious, and feisty, and his presence opens up feelings that Joe has tried to bury and deny down for years. Eventually, Joe can’t resist the temptation of climbing into the man’s bunk. But he’s not the only one drawn by Dubois and soon Joe must fight to keep Christophe safe.

Inside they were thrown together in a cruel and barren place, but is the flame that burns between Joe and Chris enough to keep them together when they are released from the confining walls and face an even tougher world?

I have always been drawn to prison stories, and when I saw the cover and blurb this one called out to me. This one isn’t your typical prison story though, but a historical story with an interesting location and time period placing it during the Great Depression era during events leading up to World War II. Although much of the story takes place within the walls of Linhart, the plot touches on events both leading up to the two men’s incarceration and events after their release.

Those inside the prison pretty much lived up to my ideas of what had to be, but I found myself struggling with Joe’s mother’s reactions after his release, but kept reminding myself of the timeframe and that it was to be expected even if disappointing.

Both main characters were interesting and well-drawn. Watching Joe struggle to accept himself as his feelings for Chris emerged, as he slowly broke through the walls he’d built inside himself was the highlight of the story for me. I truly felt these two guy’s connection, their heat, and their pain.

However, the story’s pacing was uneven for me. It was slow to engage me, taking until the eleven percent mark on my kindle for me to really get invested enough to have the story begin to carry me along. Beyond that, some parts held me captivated and had me turning pages late into the night while others seemed to drag. There were some editing errors and a few places where I was left a bit confused.

Overall, this is a thought-provoking and touching story with some deeply poignant moments and an interesting setting and period.

The cover is quite fitting for this story showing the prison, the hot guy and the barren landscape with trees below.

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

Book Details:  

Kindle Edition, 217 pages
Published July 19th 2015 by JMS Books LLC (first published July 12th 2015)
edition languageEnglish

A Paul B Review: Condor and the Shifting Sands (Condor One #7) by John Simpson


Book Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars
Series Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Condor and the Shifting Sands cover

The first eBook that I ever read was John Simpson’s Condor One. This would hook me into the mm romance genre. I have followed the series over the last several years and have enjoyed it very much. Now, the series comes to an end as Mr. Simpson has published Condor and the Shifting Sands.

David Windsor, the former President of the United States and current US Ambassador to the Court of St. James (in other words, US Ambassador to the United Kingdom), where his cousin King William sits on the throne. He receives a call from the Duke of Somerset, also know as Darren Wilson the son of the current US President. He tells his David that his mother would like him to call him as soon as possible. Knowing something must be wrong if the President was not using official channels to contact him, David places the call.

President Victoria Wilson asks David and his husband Shane Thompson-Windsor to stop by Washington on the pretense of visiting Shane’s ailing father. However, she has other plans for the men. There are two world problems that are growing quickly and there are no other options than to send David and Shane to try to diffuse the situations. It appears that ISIS is about to take over and destroy a key dam in Iraq that if destroyed will flood a lot of the country. Also, Vladimir Putin is doing some sabre rattling around the border of Ukraine. She would like the pair to fly over there to find solutions to both problems without starting World War III. It is up to David to find diplomatic solutions while Shane once again protects his backside and gives his own unique opinion of the situation.

Shifting Sands is a good send off for the series but there was something missing from it to make it an excellent one. First, readers are used to books in the series being about twice as long as this one and the story felt a bit rushed. While most of the supporting characters make an appearance in the book, I felt that they should have been featured more during this book, especially their son Jack. But Sands does give you the romance and action from David and Shane that you have come to expect from this series.

The cover art by Maria Fanning has been consistent throughout the series. The same models for David and Shane have been featured on most of the covers. This cover has the pair standing in front of a window presumably at Winfield House. Above this, a picture of a swirling sand dune take the to third of the cover. It is a solid cover for the book.

The Condor One series started with David Windsor running for election for President while being guarded by Secret Service Agent Shane Thompson and their budding romance. The first three books deal with the election and David’s term as president and being the first openly gay president. Then next four books deal with the time immediately after David’s presidency and building a family with Shane and their adopted son Jack.

In the series, Mr. Simpson tackled marriage equality, the war in Iraq, the military industrial complex, don’t ask-don’t tell, energy policy, radical Islam, sleeper cells, Al Qaeda, ISIS, Ukraine, homelessness, gay teens and more. Mr. Simpson has tried to keep the series relevant but real life current events can sometimes get in the way of that. (Osama bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi were still alive in his books after both were killed due to the lag in publication.) The only small quibble I had with the series is some continuity issues through the books. It seemed that the ages of Brandon Wilson and Jack Thompson-Windsor seem to bounce around. Also, David and Shane were first going to retire to Palm Springs but wound up in New Jersey. But these do not take away in the enjoyment of the series. Here is hoping that David and Shane have a fulfilling retirement away from their political stage.

Sales Links:   Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

EBook, 82 pages
Edition: English
Published: August 16, 2015 by John Simpson
ISBN: 978-1-1516905089

Series: Condor One
Condor One (Condor One #1)
Talons of the Condor (Condor One #2)
Condor and Falcon (Condor One #3)
Out of the Gilded Cage (Condor One #4)
Condor and the Crown (Condor One #5)
Royal Love (Condor One #6)
Condor and the Shifting Sands (Condor One #7 FINALE)

Love a Friends to Lovers Story? Check Out Lodestones by Naomi MacKenzie (excerpt and giveaway)


Lodestones 1600px COVER-Front

Lodestones by Naomi MacKenzie
Release Date: September 8, 2015
Goodreads Link

Publisher: Duet Books, the YA imprint of Interlude Press
Cover Artist: Cover Design by Buckeyegrrl Designs
Cover and Interior Illustrations by Abby Hellstrom


Buy the book:  Interlude Press |Amazon   |Smashwords  | Indiebound


On the eve of a new school year, several groups of college students cross paths as they seek out a secret end-of-summer lake party—including Robin and Charlie, two inseparable friends who discover of the course of the twenty-four hours that their relationship is something much deeper than simple friendship.

Pages or Words: 226 pages
Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance, Young Adult


Larry holds up the flyer to study the map Florence drew. Barry is leaning to look at it, too, when it’s ripped from between Larry’s fingers.

A greasy man in a campus security uniform stands over them with a pinched expression. His faded nametag reads: Ron Anderchuk. “Another one,” he all but growls. “Where in heck did you get this, boys?”

Barry tries his best to look innocent. Which isn’t all that hard, since he knows nothing.

“Found it on the ground,” Larry lies.

“Uh-huh, uh-huh,” the security guy says. “Extra trouble for littering.” He glares hard at the paper for nearly a minute before looking back at them. “You do know parties like this are illegal, don’t ya, boys? And frowned upon by this here establishment.” He raps his knuckles on the table. “I think it best you stick around here this weekend. That would be best, don’t ya agree?” He widens his beady eyes while he waits for their assent.

Barry looks to Larry. Seeing him nodding, he mimics the gesture.

The security officer’s answering grunt sounds disbelieving. He mutters as he walks away; the flyer with their map is gripped in his fist.

“What are we—”

Larry holds up his hand, stopping Barry’s question in its tracks. “Not to worry; I have a photographic memory. I’ve got the map in here.” He taps a fingertip against his temple.

“Even after all of that? And we do have another problem, if Florence is to be believed.”

Larry hums and strokes his chin. He picks up Barry’s tray and they walk to the windows. The orientation officers are indeed spread across the entire expanse outside, handing out pamphlets and organizing games of lawn bowling and oversized croquet. The entrance to the student parking lot is completely blocked.

Barry should throw in the towel, admit defeat and convince Larry to do the same. And he would, if not for one thing. The one detail that has roped him into the excitement over the lake festivities fully and completely is Kate Zimmermann, captain of the Dicaroon Seadogs field hockey team. Barry was looking through the school’s website while Larry was plotting behind him and he caught sight of her picture. He informed Barry that she was one of the girls who was carrying the van’s bench seat into her dorm room and invited him to the party early that morning.

Barry is in love with Kate Zimmermann. He has been since seeing her on the Dicaroon University website the previous summer. Well, he’s in love with the image of her and her red hair and blue eyes and adorable freckles that are so voluminous that they connect on her face. He has dreamed of red-haired kids calling him Daddy and hitting balls with sticks. Possibly. And she’s throwing the party, so even if Barry will never get up the nerve to speak to her should he live for a thousand years, he has to go. For his future dream-wife.

“Well, then,” Larry says. He sets Barry’s lunch tray down on the bussing station and rubs his hands together. “I guess we are in need of a foolproof plan.”

“A stratagem,” Barry says. He feels immediately foolish for being such a huge dork.

But then Larry grins at him. “Ooh, yes, I like that. A stratagem.”



About the Author

Naomi MacKenzie is a writer and photographer from the eastern coast of Canada. She considers herself a Maritimer first and a Canadian second, or so she told the standardized testing people in essay form during the eleventh grade. She enjoys vegan baking, walks in the woods and, contrarily, hiding from the sun. Lodestones is her first novel.

Where to find the author:

Connect with Naomi MacKenzie at http://naomimackenzie.com/; on Twitter at @_naomimackenzie and on Facebook at Naomi MacKenzie.




Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: 1 – $25 Interlude Press Gift Card, 5 e-copies of ‘Lodestones’. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

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Coffee Sip and Book Break Spotlight: Emerald Eyes (Bloodrose #9) by Julia Talbot (excerpt and giveaway)



Emerald Eyes (Bloodrose #9) by Julia Talbot
Release Date: September 23, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Torquere Press
Cover Artist: Kris Norris


Buy the book:   Torquere Press


When Jonny, the owner of club Bloodrose finds out his shifter mate Luc has a twin brother, he decides Yves needs protection from the bad guys who have tried to kill Luc. He sends Reuben, a werewolf security agent, to keep Yves safe from the killers. And from Yves himself.

Reuben has never met someone as determined to find trouble as Yves. The guy has this obsession with a set of emeralds, a dead younger brother, and some kind of demon ritual. All of this should make panther shifter Yves a bad bet as a mate, but that doesn’t keep Reuben from falling hard. Can he and team Bloodrose keep everyone alive long enough to convince Yves they’re made for each other?

Pages or Words: 23,000 words
Categories: BDSM, M/M Romance, Paranormal


Jonny glanced up from his stack of surveys and geological reports, frowning. Kasey rarely sounded so serious these days, which for a broody older vampire was quite a feat. Hooking up with a werewolf had been the best thing for the fellow, really.
“What’s wrong?”
Kasey’s black brows drew together in what looked to be a puzzled scowl. “We have a situation.”
He barely held back his eye roll. “Goody.”
“Yeah, yeah. Deke got these today. Came in from our monitoring entry into the country.” Kasey handed him a stack of printed photos. Of what looked like his lover, Luc. No, not just looked like. This was Luc, except that his slinky werekitty was asleep in cat form four feet above him on the top of his armoire.
He let one eyebrow raise and pinned Kasey with a look. “Explain.”
“Yeah, somehow I think we might have to ask Luc to do that.” Kasey walked over and pulled that fuzzy black tail hanging down like a lamp chain.
He did enjoy his lover’s speed, the wild yowl, the flash of claws. Good thing Kasey had a vamp’s reflexes.
“Hey, furball. I need you to be human for a minute,” Kasey said.
Luc muttered, calling Kasey a wild assortment of things, including a few insults about Kasey’s mother, as he crawled down the armoire.
“It’s not as if he can see the photo, Kasey,” Jonny reminded gently. “He’s blind.”
“Oh. Right.” Kasey grinned over at him. “He’s so good at everything, I forgot.”
Jonny did glare at his mate, however. “Tell me, sweet, do you have family I don’t know about?”
Luc stretched, totally unconcerned with hurrying to console him in the least. Possibly. Which one in particular?
“One who looks just like you?” It was uncanny, really.
Ah. My twin. Yves. So casual. Ah yes, my twin — as if it were nothing.
Jonny glared, knowing Luc would feel his disapproval. “This didn’t seem important?”
“Children, we need to share the information with the investigator,” Kasey reminded them.
“He has a twin, apparently.” Jonny nudged Luc with the toe of this shoe. “Come speak to Kasey.”
Luc sighed, a sound that came out as a cough for a kitty, before shifting to his human form, which always made Jonny’s ears pop.
“I thought you knew,” Luc murmured.
“How could we know?”
Luc shrugged. “He’s never in the States. He’s always in South America bonding with the natives and hunting precious gemstones. He’s an addict. Has to hunt. I haven’t talked to him in…”
Luc stopped and frowned, and Jonny didn’t like this. Not at all.
“…in a bit.”
“How long?” Kasey asked, tone sharp. Someone else felt the weird vibes, too.
“Right before I met my mate, I think. I spoke to him then.”
Jonny exchanged a glance with Kasey, who scowled. “What did you talk about?”
“Emeralds. He had asked me to acquire a certain pair, I did the job, put them in a safety deposit box, and let him know.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake. Who else knew about these emeralds?” Now Kasey was growling as though he was the werewolf instead of his lover, Deke.
“I have no idea. I had an address, a window. That was it.”
Jonny nodded slowly. “Okay. Kasey, you and Deke find out who else had an interest and if Silvia has anything to do with this. Luc, you need to get ahold of your brother. I want a detail on him.”
“What does that mean?” Luc scribbled down an address, a safety deposit box number. “He’ll go here. I mean, I’ll put an ad in the paper, see if he hollers. He’s… slippery.”
“That means if we thought he looked like you, someone else might think he’s you,” Kasey said. “I’m on it, Boss.”
Jonny sat back with a sigh, drew his mate into his lap. “You are a very great deal of trouble, sweet.”
“I’m worth it.” Luc kissed him. “Yves is… not like me.”
“Tell me about him?” Jonny stroked Luc’s hair, curious as hell.
“He’s addicted to gemstones, to the stories behind them. It’s like a sickness, worse than the jobs I used to work, I think, because I was at least collecting funds for it.” Luc leaned in, snuggling close. “There was another of us. He died fighting insurgents in the desert, long before there were troops on the ground. Yves went a little crazy when we lost Girard.”
“I’m sorry, sweet.” His family had been gone so long that he barely remembered them fondly.
“It was a long time ago; he’ll get over it.”
The sudden stiffness in Luc’s body said perhaps that was a bit of a fib. Jonny didn’t remark upon it; he simply touched and kissed until Luc relaxed.
“Love you, Mate.” And that was that, yes? What they had together, it was love.
“And I you, Luc.” He kissed Luc’s jaw. In fact, he loved his kit enough to want to finish off whoever had hurt him and to protect this unknown brother Yves.
Good thing Kasey and Deke knew what to do from here.
Someone needed to have a clear head in all this. He hoped his friends could do that for him.


Meet the Author

Julia Talbot lives in the great Southwest, where there is hot and cold running rodeo, cowboys, and everything from meat and potatoes to the best Tex-Mex. A full time author, Julia has been published by Torquere Press, Dreamspinner and Changeling Press. She believes that everyone deserves a happy ending, so she writes about love without limits, where boys love boys, girls love girls, and boys and girls get together to get wild, especially when her crazy paranormal characters are involved. Find Julia at @juliatalbot on Twitter, or at http://www.juliatalbot.com.
Where to find the author:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/juliatalbotauthor
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/juliatalbotwriterpage
Twitter: https://twitter.com/juliatalbot
Website: http://www.juliatalbot.com

Tour Dates & Stops: September 17, 2015

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