A Jeri Review: Wolf, WY (Wolf #1) by A.F. Henley

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Wolf, WY CoverThere’s nothing like a fresh start, and for Randy, still nursing wounds left by a cheating ex and harboring a deep mistrust for all things corporate, Wolf, Wyoming seems like the perfect place to start over. Secluded, quiet, and self-sufficient, Wolf is bound to not only inspire, but to bring Randy the peace he needs. The view’s not bad, either.

Vaughn O’Connell and his family are Randy’s only neighbors for miles, and while Randy knows it’s somewhat unlikely that a man with three kids is gay, it doesn’t hurt to look. When a misunderstanding brings Randy face to face with both Vaughn and his eighteen year old son, Lyle, Randy’s not sure what to feel about either of them.

But things are not what they appear in Wolf, and the closer Randy gets, the stranger the O’Connell family seems…

Although I tend not to be a big fan of paranormal, I decided to give this one a go. Overall, I am glad I did.

The paranormal part of it (wolf shifters) really didn’t come to fruition until about ¾ of the way through the book. Before that we got to know the main character Randy, his potential love interest, Vaugh, and Vaughn’s three kids.

Randy moves to Wolf, WY to escape a life he wasn’t happy with. Working as a lawyer, he was defending people who were probably guilty and his conscience wouldn’t let him live with it any longer. Add to that an ex-fiance who not only dumped him, but was also cheating on him, made the move easy.

Vaughn and family are his closest neighbors by far. He tries to engage them with smiles and waves hello but is ignored. He does notice that Vaughn and his son are quite good looking, although he feels like the father is a jerk and the son is a bit too young for him.

This book is VERY descriptive as far as the scenery, what Randy is thinking and feeling and Wyoming in general. While it absolutely sounds beautiful, it could have been trimmed a bit. I would have enjoyed reading a bit more about Randy’s back story or even Vaughn’s back story. We actually get NONE of Vaughn’s story which disappointed me.

I did really enjoy the fact that Vaughn’s son was making a play at Randy. It added a dynamic that isn’t often seen in books like this. Vaughn’s youngest children were a delight and charming. They added to the story without unnecessarily upping the “cute” factor.

An enjoyable read with enough sex to make it steamy and enough imagery to take your mind to that house in Wyoming.

Terrific book cover.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 223 pages
Published October 21st 2015 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781620046180
edition languageEnglish
seriesWolf #1

A Wynter Review: Wolf, WY (Wolf #1) by A.F. Henley (A 2 Review Novel)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5      ★★★★★

Wolf, WY CoverThere’s nothing like a fresh start, and for Randy, still nursing wounds left by a cheating ex and harboring a deep mistrust for all things corporate, Wolf, Wyoming seems like the perfect place to start over. Secluded, quiet, and self-sufficient, Wolf is bound to not only inspire, but to bring Randy the peace he needs. The view’s not bad, either.

Vaughn O’Connell and his family are Randy’s only neighbors for miles, and while Randy knows it’s somewhat unlikely that a man with three kids is gay, it doesn’t hurt to look. When a misunderstanding brings Randy face to face with both Vaughn and his eighteen year old son, Lyle, Randy’s not sure what to feel about either of them.

But things are not what they appear in Wolf, and the closer Randy gets, the stranger the O’Connell family seems…

The beauty of this novel has two parts. The first was how easy it was to sink into the world of Wolf, WY. The second lies in the two story perspectives presented in every chapter. The first and most obvious perspective is Randy Connor through whose point-of-view we follow in the story. The second, less obvious one is of the wolves that the author shares at the beginning of every chapter in italics. It did such a beautiful job portraying the cold – emotionally and of-the-weather, as well as the loneliness and isolation of Wolf, WY and its inhabitants.

While I wished those italics parts were longer, Henley’s ability to convey so much in so little is, in and of itself, a thing of wonder. They are a very powerful depiction of, presumably, Vaughn – a man of few words but full of emotion from holding on and keeping in all the secrets that protected himself, his family, and his community. I can just imagine how he must’ve wrestled with the notion of sharing who and what he is (and Lyle) with Randy. For me, all of that made me ask many questions about Jackie (you’ll have to read to find out who that is, I’m afraid).

As much as I could ache (and cry) for the head of the O’Connell family, I couldn’t help laughing, groaning, and shaking my head at Randy Connor, an attorney who left all he knew behind in search of a fresh start. One of the best things about Henley’s stories is his knack for getting the main character’s introduction out of the way so the story could unfold without interruption. The prologue found (“stupid”) Randy buried in the middle of his dry and sarcastic introspection about life. The following chapters unfold the mystery of the O’Connell family and how Randy changes as a person – from an arrogant and egotistical city-brat to someone who realizes that there’s a lot more to being out in the country other than self-efficiency, and that running away can’t keep being the answer to his life’s problems.

As a lover of the winter season, I loved how Henley described Wolf, WY in the cold months: a rare and most beautiful place of a winter wonderland where snow danced and both the wolves and the winds howl in harmony with each other. There is ample warning though, and as Randy came to learn, the more beautiful winter became, the more likely it is to find fun ways of maiming a person, if it doesn’t succeed in killing you first.

I found the story predictable in some areas, but I think Henley did a good job in keeping the mystery going and left plenty of opportunity for some of the questions to be answered in a sequel. I like how several of the paranormal elements were kept simple while the author inserted his own creativity and kept the characters and the circumstances real. We didn’t have two characters who meet and immediately try to make things work. What seems like indecisiveness in Vaughn (along with his coldness and curt behavior) really drives home just how much the man struggles within himself – something that Randy didn’t, and couldn’t, understand. Many of us have been there ourselves, finding that one interesting and overly intriguing person who refuses to open up. In fact, such silence tends to annoy and frustrate some more than others, doesn’t it? It certainly frustrated Randy.

If nothing else, reading the book for the children is well worth it. Hannah and Isaac are positively adorable in this novel, so full of life and character, yet don’t let their young years deceive you. They can be quite the adults when the circumstance calls for it, much to Randy’s chagrin. It made me so proud and made my heart ache all in the same instance: children grow up entirely too fast. Faster in Wolf, WY, it would seem.

And per Henley’s usual arsenal, it does contain a couple of very hot, very erotic scenes.

This is the first time this author has published a book intended for a serial. I think the readers of this book are going to fall into two groups: the ones who absolutely love it (like me) and the ones who will absolutely hate it. I do recommend the book – highly, in fact – but if my personal experiences can be called upon to make a judgment about serials for those hesitant about this novel, sometimes reading Book 2 before Book 1 might be better. It’s worked for me before.

Thank you for reading! I hope you have yourselves a lovely Fall day! ❤

The cover artist for this novel is Raphael (Boys in Ink and Color), and I must say he did a splendid job. If I had been walking the aisle of a bookstore and strode right by a showcase with this novel on it, there would definitely be a pause in stride to pick it up. The wolf eyes just draws me in. On top of that is a snow covered landscape that suggests an adventure is about to happen, or is happening, and will involve at least a wolf.

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

Book Details:

  • Author: A. F. Henley
  • Length: ebook, 223 pages; kindle edition, 260 pages
  • Language: English
  • Series: Wolf, #1
  • Genre: Fantasy – Paranormal, M/M Fiction
  • Published: 1st edition October 21, 2015 by Less Than Three Press LLC
  • ISBN-13: 9781620046180
  • Digital ISBN: 9781620045398
  • Print ISBN: 9781620046197

A MelanieM Review: Hopelessly Devoted (The One That I Want #2) by R.J. Jones

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Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Hopelessly Devoted coverOne year on from Paul’s proposal, Jason is living a life he never dreamed of. As he fusses with his tie and readies to walk down the aisle, he reminisces about the previous twelve months. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the happy couple in the lead up to their wedding, with obstacles big and small thrown in their way.

Marrying one of New York’s most eligible bachelors has Jason’s stomach in knots. Expectations of their society wedding are high, but out of love for Paul, Jason goes along with the grand plans because he understands Paul’s family has a reputation to maintain. But Paul has a surprise up his sleeve that just may see Jason getting the wedding of his dreams.

Follow Jason on his journey as he prepares to marry one of the most eligible bachelors in New York and find out just how Dave got his name.

With Hopelessly Devoted, R.J. Jones merrily brings us back into the lives of faithful and true Jason and Paul who meet, romanced and fell forever in love in  The One That I Want (The One That I Want, #1).   With fingers snapping, hips a swaying, and melodies playing everywhere, its time for the boys to get hitched!  And the plans are for them to do it in grand style.  But we all know how that will play out.  From the old romantic comedies to the lovable musicals on stages,  we are right there as R. J. Jones smoothly moves Jason and Paul effortlessly from society’s expectations to love’s surprises in another short story just as charming and heartwarming as the first.

At 38 pages, it goes by even more quickly than the first story, more so because we want to get to the wedding along with Jason and Paul.  The light-hearted writing style, the plot and the characters all add up an appealing duo of romances, wonderful when you want that quick fun love story to read.  Leave the layering, the angst, the darkness to the other stories, and enjoy this for what it is, pure and simply sweet romance.  If that speaks to you, then Hopelessly Devoted and The One That I Want are just the stories for you.

Cover art is just as perfect for this story as the first cover was for it.

Sales Links:  Wayward Ink Publishing | ARe | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 38 pages
Published October 23rd 2015 by Wayward Ink
seriesThe One That I Want #2

A Free Dreamer Review: My Magical Palace by Kunal Mukherjee

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5     ★★★★★

My Magical PalaceHaunted by dreams of an unforgettable loss, Rahul, a young man of thirty living in San Francisco, suddenly becomes secretive and withdraws from his partner Andrew. When Andrew discovers that Rahul is still interviewing girls sent by his parents for an arranged marriage, he gives Rahul an ultimatum-stop living a lie, or give up their relationship. In response, Rahul tells Andrew a story. About a boy who lived in a palace. A boy named Rahul. Set in San Francisco today and in India in the early 1970s, My Magical Palace is a sensitive tale about a boy’s coming of age, and the many hurdles he must cross to heal and find himself.

I’ve been fascinated by India ever since I got my hands on an old copy of “Kim” by Rudyard Kipling when I was nine or ten. So when I read the blurb of “My Magical Palace”, I just had to have it.

First of all, this is not a love story. It’s a coming of age story, with just a tiny hint of romance. Of course there’s the first love and Rahul is in a relationship when he starts telling his story, but those are just two of many important details about Rahul’s story.

Rahul, a young man who grew up in India and now lives with his boyfriend in America. He isn’t out to his parents, so when they once again send him a woman that they think would make a great wife, he asks Andrew to leave the apartment for the evening. Andrew is understandably pissed and threatens to dump Rahul, if he doesn’t come out to his parents right now. So Rahul starts telling the story of the year that changed his life. How he slowly turned from the little boy who was afraid to go upstairs, because his older sister told him there were ghosts at the top of the stairs, to the mature teenager, who has to keep his sexuality hidden and who has lost so many things in such a short time that it changed him forever.

I absolutely loved every single second of this book. The descriptions were so vivid, I felt like I’d seen the palace with my own eyes. It sounds like such a beautiful place. The author managed to describe everything in great detail, without it ever getting boring or feeling like an info-dump.

The Indian setting was incredibly well written. If you aren’t very familiar with the Indian culture, you’ll be hitting Google a lot. The author doesn’t bother to explain things like food or clothes and even though I didn’t know a lot of those things, I loved that. Explanations like that tend to pull me out of a story and I don’t mind if I don’t just what they’re eating. The author grew up in Hyderabad and it’s obvious that he really knows what he’s writing about from personal experience and not just from research.

I was so engrossed in Rahul’s world that I felt a bit of a culture shock every time I was forced to surface from his story and found myself in cold, monotonous Europe.

Rahul was immediately likeable. It was very easy to relate to him, even though his life is nothing like my own. I felt strongly for pretty much every somewhat important character in this book. I was at times deliriously happy, utterly depressed, incredibly pressured and absolutely terrified. Once or twice I was even close to tears.

The plot was addicting and unpredictable. I wasn’t sure whether Rahul and Andrew would actually manage to rescue their relationship till the very last chapter. Rahul’s childhood was full of unexpected twists and turns and it never once got boring.

But “My Magical Palace” is so much more than just a deeply enjoyable novel. It has taught me a lot about the life of gay men in India. I’ve read plenty of books about women in India, but this is the first one with a gay protagonist.  It was very educating, but it never felt like the author was trying to force me to learn something.

I do have one very tiny niggle, however. Everybody gets their resolution in the end. Everybody but Rani. We never learn what happened to the grown up Rani. I would’ve loved to know if she managed to escape the strict expectations her family and tradition put on her.

Long story short, “My Magical Palace” is a hidden gem that deserves a huge audience. Read it and I’m sure you’ll agree with me.

And now I want a story about Rahul’s neighbour Colonel Uncle and his Italian lover. Colonel Uncle was my favourite character and his story needs to be told.

Cover: I love the cover. The bottom half shows Rahul’s childhood home, the Indian palace, and the top half shows the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rahul’s home as an adult.

Sales Links:  Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 236 pages
Published November 17th 2013 by Kunal Mukherjee, Inc. (first published 2012)
ASINB00GQOM2RS
edition languageEnglish
literary awardsBest Indian debut Writer December 2012 by The Tales Pensieve (2012)

A BJ Review: Heart (Spotless #4) by Bailey Bradford

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Rating:  2.5 stars out of 5

Heart coverRolly has waited ten years to claim his mate. Now the wait is over, and he’s coming home. When he first met Erdwin, the boy was still a child. Rolly felt nothing but compassion for him back then, but Erdwin came of age five years ago, and Rolly’s stayed out of his life in order to give Erdwin time to experience life.

Erdwin never fit right in his skin. He didn’t like what he saw in the mirror. It didn’t match how he felt inside. As a shifter, he was stuck with the body he had. Surgery wasn’t an option for him. But Erdwin found a way to accept himself—by embracing the part of herself that felt like her true nature. She struggled with it, but with her family’s support, she became Edie, the young lady she was meant to be. She stopped worrying about her parts, and concentrated on her heart.

When Rolly, a powerful shaman, moves back home to the pack, Edie is transfixed. He makes her nervous—and arouses her. But what would a man like him think of a woman liker her? Edie’s about to find out, and she will have to be stronger than ever to help fight off a threat to her pack, to her mate, and to her family.

I chose this book because of the trans* element among shifters and the kinky tags, hoping that although it was part of a series that I would still be able to enjoy it as a standalone. I based this hope on the fact the main characters did not appear to be love interests in any of the prior books. However, I could tell very early on that my experience of the story would have been different had I read the other books. It was obvious that I’d missed a lot of the background story by skipping ahead. That that was my bad and has no doubt tainted my view of the story. Please understand that before reading my review.

This is my first story by the author, so I had no idea of what to expect. The first third of this book read slow and a bit tedious for me. Erdwin, now Edie, was prim and proper, hesitant and insecure, wanting acceptance but scared to show her true self to get it. Rolly was strong, self-sacrificing and noble. Neither were capturing my attention when apart, so it took me a while to get into the story. Once the two characters were finally united, both of them changed dramatically. Like almost a one-eighty.

Edie went from shy virgin to on fire aggressor within minutes, which was quite jarring. But I wrote it off as a shifter mates thing and read on. Then Rolly nearly right off mentions enjoying pain and the BDSM elements jumped in out of seemingly nowhere (may have been mentioned in another story, not sure?). The fisting scene also seemed to come out of nowhere and was unsettling to me. Because, well, the guy had been abstaining for fifteen years and this happened after he’d only with someone again just a few times. I had to remind myself again that they were shifters in order to accept that and move on.

The dynamic between the couple was not the usual and that part was refreshing. Rolly was older, larger, more experienced, a super powerful shaman and a wolf, yet he mostly a submissive bottom who enjoyed pain. Edie was smaller, MTF and she morphs from being very unsure of herself and just wanting to be accepted for who she is into a person secure with her physical equipment and willing and eager to take control. Once they’re together, it’s Rolly who often came across as insecure and in need of assurance from Edie. While I did find the dynamic of the relationship refreshing; the changes in did still came across as abrupt for me.

Besides the relationship, there is a more complex plot revolving around mysterious events that threaten the pack. As the story wore on, there were so many characters that I couldn’t always keep them straight, but again that was likely partly due to trying to read the story out of order.

I found the dialogue often felt stilted to me, or well, not natural sounding anyway. And the transitions from scene to scene didn’t always read smooth, in fact, sometimes they were quite abrupt. For example, most of the sex scenes are either interrupted or immediately followed by sudden crisis.

Overall, I recommend reading this book in order within the series rather than as a first book as I did. I firmly believe that had I done that, how I perceived the book would be somewhat different. So I can only rate based on what I read, but it will probably not be the same as the book experienced read in order.

The cover is quite lovely and drags my eyes to it. Definite eye candy. However, given that the trans* element among shifters is so unique and what drew me to the story, I think it could have been even better if it showed Erwdin/Edie.

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

Book Details:  

ebook, 154 pages
Published August 18th 2015 by Pride Publishing
ISBN139781784307257
edition languageEnglish

seriesSpotless #4