A Mika Review: Redeeming Hope (Home for Hope #1) by Shell Taylor

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Redeeming Hope coverFifteen years ago Elijah Langley’s world came to an abrupt halt with the death of his high school boyfriend. He keeps his past—and his sexual orientation—hidden until he attends a fundraiser for The Center for HOPE, an LGBT youth center, where he meets Adam Lancaster, HOPE’s infuriatingly stubborn and sexy founder.

A survivor of a turbulent childhood, Adam understands better than most the challenges his youth face. He’s drawn to Elijah’s baby blues and devilish smile but refuses to compromise his values and climb back into the closet for anyone—not even the man showering time and money on HOPE. Months of constant flirting wear down Adam’s resolve until he surrenders to his desires, but Elijah can’t shake his demons.

When a youth from the center is brutally assaulted, Elijah must find a way to confront the fears and memories that are starting to ruin his life, so he can stand strong for those he loves.

I’m surprised at how much I liked this story. A first for me by this author and I think she did a great job with the character development; she did a good job with them feeling like adults and talking things out. They actually sat like adults and worked situations out. I liked how they were able to see where they were at and decided on where to go from there.  I’m not usually one for the slow burn books, but I liked that they became friends, fought like most friends do, broke up as friends and talked things through to become involved with each other.

Elijah is a good character with all these caring traits about himself, but he’s closeted. I think his being in the closet more had to deal with the unresolved grief that he’s suffered for the past 17 years. I get it, and I loved that he owned up to his mistakes. I liked that he did not make everything “woe is me”, that he had to learn something’s about himself before he could be anything to Adam. One thing I like about Adam was his patience. He made a good speech almost towards the end about being patient enough to wait on Elijah.

I like that both of these complimented each other at the best and worst of times. I really enjoyed Kollin’s point of view as well, and I think he showed Elijah another side of himself that he didn’t even know existed. I’m so looking forward to book two, and I hope that these guys can continue to talk. Communication is the most important thing to me, and I’m happy to finally read about some ADULTS. I’d recommend to everyone.

 

Cover Art by L. C. Chase I enjoyed the cover. I thought it was spot on with what went on with the story. Good looking Elijah as well.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 205 pages
Published October 5th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
original title Redeeming Hope
ISBN  1634763777 (ISBN13: 9781634763776)
edition language English

A Free Dreamer Review: Hemovore by Jordan Castillo Price

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Can art imitate death? Oh no, girlfriend. Don’t even go there…

Hemovore coverTen years ago, the Human Hemovore Virus blazed through the world, and left the few victims who survived unable to eat, allergic to sunlight and craving the taste of blood.

Mark Jensen used to think V-positives were incredibly sexy with their pale, flawless skin and taut, lean bodies. Not anymore. Not since he’s been stuck procuring under-the-counter feline blood for his control-freak boss, Jonathan Varga. Why cat blood? Mark has never dared to ask.

It’s not as if he’s usually at a loss for words. He can dish an insult and follow it with a snap as quick as you can say “Miss Thang”. But one look at Jonathan’s black-as-sin gypsy eyes, and Mark’s objections drain away.

So he endures their strange, endless routine: Jonathan hiding in his studio, painting solid black canvases. Mark hurling insults as he buffs the office to a shine with antiviral wipes and maps out the mysterious “routes” he’s required to drive.

Then a blurb in Art in America unleashes a chain of events neither of them saw coming. As secrets of Jonathan’s past come to light, it becomes clear all his precautions weren’t nearly enough.

I picked up Hemovore by Jordan Castillo Price in the hopes of a creepy Halloween read. Sadly, I was very, very disappointed.

The premise sounds intriguing: Vampires aren’t some sort of mythical creatures. Vampirism is an illness that can’t be cured. Either you die or you turn into a vampire. That’s definitely a unique idea I haven’t come across before. But that’s pretty much the only positive thing I have to say about this book.

First of all, I simply hated Mark. He was a whiny snob and was convinced everybody around him was either a homophobe, a vampire hater or both. When he’s forced into hiding, he whines about the cheap clothes he’s forced to wear. No more hand tailored suits for poor, poor Mark. Imagine the horror! It was comments like that that made me instantly dislike him. He was a bit of a homophobe himself. His constant obsession with looking like a “sissy” or a “drama queen” or an “overly dramatic queer” got annoying very fast.

He’s also one hell of a lousy friend. He forgot to give his new number to his best friend. Whoops. Oh well, everything’s right as rain once he calls him for the first time in two years. Yay for friendship! The best friend was annoying too, but he didn’t get much screen time, so it was okay.

At one point, Mark complains that Jonathan didn’t tell him he’s gay and that he doesn’t behave the way a gay man is supposed to. It’s totally unfair of Jonathan to keep Mark guessing about his sexuality. Now, with a comment like that, I’d expected Mark to be out and proud. But apparently he’s not. Eventually we learn he hasn’t even told his family. So what right does he have to complain about Jonathan not being out and proud?

Mark is supposed to be forty. He doesn’t act like it. If we didn’t get the constant reminder that being forty meant getting fat and unfit and wrinkles and generally being ugly, I would’ve said he’s a teenager. Early twenties, at the most.

Then there’s a romance part. I totally get that Mark has a crush on the mysterious, sexy artist guy. Who wouldn’t? But where do Jonathan’s feelings suddenly come from? I’m supposed to believe he’s been secretly in love with Mark all these years? But he’s a poor, tortured artist, so he could never act on those feelings. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget that vampirism is highly contagious. So no sex for those two!

What I really didn’t understand was why Mark worked for Jonathan in the first place. I mean, he’s incredibly paranoid about becoming v-positive himself. I would be, too, considering 85% of the infected die before they turn into vampires. But if it is so incredibly contagious, I have a hard time believing Mark didn’t catch it before now. Hell, I wonder how ANYBODY was still v-negative in this world. We never get an explanation as to how and why Mark started working for Jonathan. It seems like an unusual job for me. Maybe he just needed money to buy made-to-measure suits. Who knows?

There wasn’t much of a plot either. First, we get Mark pining and drooling over Jonathan. Then, stuff happens and they’re constantly running and hiding. We also get some more of Mark pining and drooling and whining. And doing absolutely mundane things like eating pizza (and whining because he’s used to better things) and pitying the people who aren’t filthy rich like him. Those poor people can only afford two small fridges! The horror!

There were a few big “mysteries” that weren’t very mysterious after a couple of pages. Only Jonathan and Mark were too dumb to figure it all out.

The ending was too easy for me. Everything just kind of smoothed out naturally and the two of them get their cheesy HEA. The friend from the beginning of the book is forgotten once more and the famous Aunt Trixie doesn’t get a call that her favourite nephew is doing fine. Mark is too busy being all lovey-dovey with Jonathan, so that’s understandable.

To sum it up, I really, really didn’t like this book. It earned more than a few eye rolls and annoyed sighs. I hated Mark, the plot was boring and the romance didn’t make much sense. The potential of the world made me tack on a second star. To be fair, it might just be me being weird again, since every other reviewer I’ve come across seems to have loved this book. I absolutely can’t relate.

 The cover by Kanaxa is well done and conveys a bit of the mystery that was missing in the book itself.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 1st Edition, 197 pages
Published July 28th 2009 by Samhain Publishing (first published July 2009)
original title Hemovore
ISBN 1605046345 (ISBN13: 9781605046341)
edition language English

A Jeri Review: Triple Play (Homeruns #3) by Sloan Johnson

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Triple PlayDrew Jackson seemed to have it all. He has a family who loves and supports him, a tight circle of friends, and is a rising star with the Milwaukee Mavericks. Then, it all begins to unravel. Cam, the only man he’s ever loved, falls head over heels for Drew’s teammate. He makes a critical mistake in the playoffs that he’s not sure he’ll be able to recover from. And then, his world really crashes around him…

Eric Sapp may no longer play for the Mavericks, but he’s still one of the guys. No one could have imagined how much his life would change when he agreed to help his former teammates mourn the end of their run for the pennant. After stopping a brutal attack, Eric is forced to face the feelings that’ve been growing for his roommate, Drew. That’d be much easier if Drew wasn’t hell-bent on pushing everyone away as he recovers.

Neither of them were counting on Bryce Shaw. He and Drew enjoyed the one night they spent together, but knew it was unlikely they’d be anything more since they lived in different parts of the country. After Bryce is relocated to help a failing LGBT homeless outreach, he wants to explore something more with the Mavericks’ short stop.

As much as Eric wishes he could be the one to help his friend, he knows Bryce holds the key to Drew’s recovery. Will pushing the two back together be the biggest mistake of his life or will they all learn there is strength in numbers?

Baseball players are right up there on my list of guys to read about. And Sloan Johnson knows how to write baseball players. She began with Wild Pitch, continued with Curveball and now the third in the series Triple Play.

The Maverick’s baseball season just ended and Drew is licking his wounds, convinced that he ruined their playoff chances. The guys convince him to go out for a beer anyway, but on his way to the bar he is the victim of a hate crime. He is rescued- barely in time- by a former team mate and sometimes roommate Eric. Keeping the attack on the down low and the fact that his attacker isn’t caught, turns Drew into a bit of a recluse.

Bryce is a friend of Drew’s team mate and a man he had barely gotten to know before he was attacked. Bryce wheedles his way into Drew’s life and Drew is caught with being attracted to both men, Eric and Bryce. Each are willing to walk away for the other, but that might not be necessary.

I have read quite a few MMM stories, and while most of them were pretty good, this one was REALLY good. Usually it is the man that can’t decide between his two lovers that introduces the idea, but this time it is one of the lovers who introduces it. And while all three seem a little surprised by the suggestion, all are willing to give it a try.

I felt like the author really treated not only the 3-way relationship with respect and love, but also the three men individually with respect and love. Of course there are some misunderstandings along the way, but because they all went into it with their eyes open and communication as key, it really blossoms into something beautiful.

All three men are equals in the relationship, but Bryce really comes out as the alpha. And a hot alpha he is! Drew and Eric, while not “alpha” are certainly not quiet and submissive in the relationship. Which just makes it all the more sizzling.

I’ve heard that there will be a fourth in this series and I really hope so. Not only because I enjoyed the first book and then this one (I somehow missed the second in the series), but also because I would like to see these three navigate through spring training.
I liked the cover art and it would have drawn me in to at least read the blurb because of the baseball on the front (did I mention I love baseball?), but it would have been nice to see the other two men represented as well.

Sales LinksAmazon • Nook • Kobo • iBooks

Book Details:

eBook, 222 pages
Published October 13th 2015

Love Gets Into the Game with Sloan Johnson’s Triple Play (giveaway)

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TriplePlayBlogTour

Triple Play
by Sloan Johnson
Publication Date: September 29, 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Romance, Sports

Triple Play

AmazonNookKoboiBooks

Drew Jackson seemed to have it all. He has a family who loves and supports him, a tight circle of friends, and is a rising star with the Milwaukee Mavericks. Then, it all begins to unravel. Cam, the only man he’s ever loved, falls head over heels for Drew’s teammate. He makes a critical mistake in the playoffs that he’s not sure he’ll be able to recover from. And then, his world really crashes around him…

Eric Sapp may no longer play for the Mavericks, but he’s still one of the guys. No one could have imagined how much his life would change when he agreed to help his former teammates mourn the end of their run for the pennant. After stopping a brutal attack, Eric is forced to face the feelings that’ve been growing for his roommate, Drew. That’d be much easier if Drew wasn’t hell-bent on pushing everyone away as he recovers.

Neither of them were counting on Bryce Shaw. He and Drew enjoyed the one night they spent together, but knew it was unlikely they’d be anything more since they lived in different parts of the country. After Bryce is relocated to help a failing LGBT homeless outreach, he wants to explore something more with the Mavericks’ short stop.

As much as Eric wishes he could be the one to help his friend, he knows Bryce holds the key to Drew’s recovery. Will pushing the two back together be the biggest mistake of his life or will they all learn there is strength in numbers?

Add to Goodreads

Also in the Series

Wild Pitch Curve Ball

About Sloan Johnson

Sloan Johnson

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.

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Greek Mythology Comes to Life with MINOTAUR by J.A. Rock (guest post and giveaway)

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MINOTAUR by J.A. Rock

Published by Riptide Publishing
Cover Art by  Imaliea

Buy it at Riptide Publishing

Hi! I’m J.A. Rock, and I’m touring the internet with my new release, MINOTAUR, a queer fantasy/horror reimagining of the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur. And there’s a giveaway involved! I’m giving one reader a chance to win Lost in a Jigsaw, the puzzle that nearly destroyed my sanity a few years ago (but provided hours of fun, I swear), as well as a $15 Riptide voucher.


Thanks so much to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for having me here today, and to everyone following the tour.  Here’s today’s look at MINOTAUR.

The Legend of the Minotaur

There are many versions of the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur. The basic story is that King Minos of Crete’s wife, Queen Pasiphae, was cursed by Poseidon to fall in love with a bull. She slept with the bull and gave birth to a monster that was half-man, half-bull, which King Minos then had shut up in a labyrinth so complicated, no one could get out of it alive.

Every year, seven Athenian men and seven Athenian women were sent to the labyrinth as tributes to keep the Minotaur satisfied. Theseus eventually decided to go into the labyrinth as one of the tributes and kill the Minotaur. To ensure he could find his way out, Princess Ariadne, Minos’s daughter, gave Theseus a ball of thread, so that he could tie one end to the labyrinth’s door and follow the thread back to the entrance.

I didn’t actually know the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur terribly well when I started Minotaur. My mom had a book of Greek myths she read to me from when I was a kid, and I liked the story of the labyrinth because I was obsessed with mazes. Loving mazes is a thing. I reacquainted myself with the legend by reading it over a couple of times before I started writing, but I wasn’t looking to do a blow-by-blow retelling of the myth. Nor was I looking to do anything specific and agenda-driven, like “a feminist retelling of the Minotaur story.”

What I did want to do was explore themes of heroism, sacrifice, self-discovery, and what makes a monster. Minotaur takes place in an unspecified time based very loosely on the 1930s, and centers on an angry orphan, Thera, whose fascination with a legendary beast comes in part from the wickedness she perceives in herself. Years before Thera was born, a young woman gave birth to a baby she couldn’t care for, and the baby grew into the Minotaur, a half-woman, half-bull who terrorized the town of Rock Hill before she was trapped in a labyrinth. Now the town feeds her tributes in the form of orphans and criminals in order to keep her satisfied in her prison.

There are characters in Minotaur who have counterparts in the legend—though Thera is almost an anti-Theseus, drawn to the labyrinth for selfish reasons, and frustrated by society’s willingness to deem grand acts “heroic” while failing to recognize more subtle, honest displays of loyalty and courage as anything other than recklessness and stupidity.

What I love about the original myth is the way you just kind of have to roll with it. Pasiphae was cursed to fall in love with a bull? Okay, why not. The king had Daedalus build a massive labyrinth to contain the Minotaur? Sure. Myths are stories where so much seems to be going on below the surface, and yet they’ve been reduced to easily digestible two or three paragraph tales.

I didn’t care so much about being true to the legend as I did about showing what might lie under the surface in a story like Theseus’s, or Thera’s. Minotaur is not a tale about a monster and a hero, but rather about the way the two coexist in all of us.

Minotuar_TourBanner

Giveaway

Thanks for being part of the tour! To celebrate this release, I’m giving one commenter Lost in a Jigsaw, the award winning maze puzzle—all the pieces fit together, so the only way to know if you’ve put it together correctly is to solve the maze. If this sounds too much like torture, rest assured that you also get a $15 Riptide voucher. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with a way to contact you.  Please leave your email address so we can get in touch with you if chosen. On October 26th, I’ll draw a winner from all eligible comments. Contest is not limited to US entries. If you’d like,follow the whole tour—the more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win!

Blurb

Minotaur_600x900GreekKnow this: I am not a warrior. I am a disease.

When I was six, my parents died.

When I was sixteen, I was locked away in Rock Point Girls’ Home. Nobody wants to deal with a liar. An addict. A thief.

Nobody except Alle. She is pure, and she’s my friend in spite of all the rotten things I am. 

There was once another girl like me—long ago. A cast-off daughter. A lying little beast who left a red stain across the land with her terrible magic. She’s imprisoned now in a maze high up on the cliffs. They say she’s half woman, half bull. They say she dines on human tributes and guards a vast treasure. They say she was born wicked.

But I know her better than the history books or stories do. She and I dream together. Our destinies are twisted up like vines.

Except I’m not going to turn out wicked like she is. I can save myself by destroying her. I’m going to break out of this place, and I’m going to enter the labyrinth and take her heart.

And once I’m redeemed, maybe Alle will love me.

http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/minotaur

About The Author

J.A. Rock is the author of queer romance and suspense novels, including By His Rules, Take the Long Way Home, and, with Lisa Henry, The Good Boy and When All the World Sleeps. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Alabama and a BA in theater from Case Western Reserve University. J.A. also writes queer fiction and essays under the name Jill Smith. Raised in Ohio and West Virginia, she now lives in Chicago with her dog, Professor Anne Studebaker.