A MelanieM Review: A Home For The Holidays by Joe Cosentino

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

HomeFortheHolidayscoverBobby McGrath’s Christmas trip to the beautiful Italian island of Capri to meet his eccentric extended family offers stunning views—none more stunning than his third cousin, Paolo Mascobello, a real stocking stuffer. As the two young men embark on a relationship, Bobby, a driven law student, learns to relax and bask under the old Italian moon, and Paolo realizes there’s more to life than a frolic on the beach. For the two to find everlasting amore, Paulo must overcome his fear of commitment and learn to follow his dreams, and Bobby must get his wish for happily ever after.

Joe Cosentino’s A Home For The Holidays reads like a loving tribute to his family Italian background and the gorgeous island of Capri.   From the moment we meet Bobby McGrath, an overly serious young law student, whose life consists of family and college, Cosentino brings us deep into the arms of a family (Irish and Italian) who embraces the best and what most annoys about each other.  Its funny, lighthearted and will remind most of us of our own holidays and families.  What this family wants for Bobby is for him to have some fun, so his mother arranges for him to meet his Italian relatives in Capri for a vacation, one he will never forget.  It all starts with a conversation with his mother, president of her local PFLAG:

“Bobby, every Christmas your father and I buy you a nice gift and you return it. So this year before we go shopping, I’m asking you. What do you want for Christmas, exactly?”

I was tempted to answer, “How about the new Zeb Atlas DVD, Mom?” No longer reading my law textbook, I pressed the cell phone against my ear and responded, “My red sweater is getting frayed. I guess I could use a new one, Mom.”

“I don’t like red on you. I’ll get you a green sweater. It will go nicely with your eyes. You’ll be twenty-four in June. Nobody ever caught a husband wearing red clothes, except for Mrs. Klaus, and then look how overweight he was.”

I loved this bit of dialog.  The loving but exasperated tone,  the almost rote answers that said they both had had this conversation many times before.  Perfect.  The author obviously is channeling well known family dynamics and it works so well to make us care not only about Bobby but his family too.  What do they give him?  A trip to Italy and another family to love.

Off to Italy Bobby goes, luckily speaking Italian (thank you high school and college courses) and winds up happily in the middle of another large upscale Italian family and sometimes unhappy family dynamics.  His cousins own a large company that is a green energy corporation, live in a villa on Capri and is full of cousins of various ages and matrimonial status, uncles, aunts and the heads of the family, ‘Nonno’ and ‘Nonna’ Mascobello. Bobby also meets the gorgeous and uninhibited Paolo, his third cousin, who is everything a young serious American virgin has dreamed of.  Yes, virgin meets unrepentant island slut. Trouble indeed.

I adore the character of Bobby, nose in his books, the rest of him, heart and body belongs to his family.  So he definitely gets a shock to the system when he awakes to see a Italian god bending over him to wake him from his nap at the villa after arriving. Yes, that would be cousin Paolo and their first introduction.  Paolo been ordered to throw his partying aside to show his newly arrived American cousin around and Paolo’s being a bit sullen however lovely.  Too bad, Bobby’s smitten and the damage done.

The author does turn the character of Paolo around and gives him a foundation for his behavior that works.  However, the reader has to commit to the idea of a instant love here for Bobby and  Paolo.  I could see it for Bobby only if it faded into real friendship by the end of the visit with the promise of something more realistic for them both.  Bobby is a smart young man but hey, he is a virgin on a magical island and a young god who loves sex just happens to be right in front of him.  Who wouldn’t fall right over the edge?  How you stand on their relationship and romance, whether you believe fully in it or not, might make this book for you.

What really works for me here, aside from all the heartwarming family moments?  The vivid and almost lyrical descriptions that Joe Cosentino uses when Bobby is arriving on Capri or sightseeing all over the island with Paolo.  Air fragrant with aroma from the flowers blooming everywhere, the noises and sounds are conveyed along with the vibrancy of the people and the brightness of the sky and the sheer beauty to be found everywhere you look…the love the author has for Capri and the people there flows off the page in every word he has written.

“When we arrived at Piazza Vittoria in Via Caposcuro, Paolo took a bag from the scooter’s compartment and led me to a chairlift, which hoisted us into the sky. With my legs dangling over the dark Tyrrhenian Sea, I felt as if I were flying through a black hole. I waved to Paolo in the seat behind me, and he smiled like a proud parent at an amusement park.

When we arrived at Mt. Solaro, we stepped off the chairlifts. Paolo looked down at the homes nestled on layers of rocks. “This is the highest point on the Isle of Capri, five hundred and eighty-nine meters above sea level.”

“All I see in front of me is a thick blanket of fog. Is that because it’s been warm for winter?”

“Wait and watch.”

Paolo sat me down next to him on a flat section of the mountain, then nudged my side with his elbow and pointed to the fog. As if he was Moses parting the Red Sea, Paolo looked triumphant as the sun came up and the wind blew the vapors of fog upward, crowning the clouds and revealing stunning views of the Bay of Naples, the Amalfi Coast, and the mountains of Calabria in the distance. As we looked out over the turquoise water, white mountains, and azure sky, I felt like I was in heaven.

I pressed my shoulder against his. “It’s sheer magic, Paolo! And pretty amazing science.”

“We call it Acchiappanuvole, the cloud catcher.”

Trust me, when you finish reading this story, you will want to book your own flight to Italy and boat to Capri.   Maybe see your own or be your own version of Bobby and Paolo, you never know.  Adult fairy tales do come true they tell me, why shouldn’t Bobby have his?  Tis the season for the holiday stories to start arriving, pick up Joe Cosentino’s A Home For The Holiday’s and get started on your holiday reading today~

 

Cover artist Paul Richmond does a cute job with the characters and a wonderful job with the location.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon not yet available | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: December 2nd 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781634765367
edition languageEnglish
other editions
None found

A Mika Review: The Winter Spirit by Indra Vaughn

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars 

The Winter Spirit coverNathaniel O’Donnelly likes his life quiet, his guests happy, and his ghosts well-behaved.

Although a boyfriend wouldn’t go amiss. Someone to share his beautiful B&B with, even if it is in the middle of nowhere and he’s long past the wrong side of thirty. Problem is, Nathaniel’s living with a ghost who thinks he’s cupid, and whose arrows fly a little too straight.

Gabriel Wickfield had the unfortunate luck of dying before his time, and now he’s stuck trying to make romance happen to earn his right to move along. Not that he’s bored in the meantime–Nathaniel is just too easy to tease. And also a little bit scrumptious…

With the curse reaching its expiration date, Gabriel needs to make this final match this Christmas. Without it, nothing but darkness awaits.

Love can conquer all, but can it beat death?

I thought the The Winter Spirit by Indra Vaughn was an okay holiday novella. This author did a pretty good job with the character of Gabriel. I liked him, but I wish we would have had more information on him. I didn’t understand Owen’s involvement in the story at all. I felt like if we were going to focus on Nathaniel and Gabriel’s “relationship”, then the Owen parts could have been cut and we have more viable information on those two. I have so many questions; it’s a couple of holes in the plot. I see where she was trying to go, but I don’t understand how it was executed without any explanations.

Nathaniel’s character is someone who I’m on the fence about. I can’t tell if I like him or dislike him. On one hand he did really good things with his guest, Elisa, as well as Gabriel. On the other hand, how he handled and reacted towards Owen left a lot to be determined for me. They speak of a past knowing each other, but from the little that is given I’m kind of lost on what actually happened. I wish we would have had a few more chapters of this story. I was really getting into it at the end. I really do like the author’s writing style; it’s very easy to read and flows nicely.

Cover Art by: Wicked Smart Designs, This was a nice cover. It fits with the title, and I love the colors that were used in the design.

Sales Links:  All Romance (ARe) | Amazon

Book Details:

eBook, 125 pages,
November 18, 2015, 2015 by Indra Ink Publishing

Review Redux: A MelanieM Review: Winter Wonderland (Minnesota Christmas #3) by Heidi Cullinan

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

Finding Mr. Right can be a snow lot of fun.

Winter Wonderland coverPaul Jansen was the only one of his friends who wanted a relationship. Naturally, he’s the last single man standing. No gay man within a fifty-mile radius wants more than casual sex.
No one, that is, except too-young, too-twinky Kyle Parks, who sends him suggestive texts and leaves X-rated snow sculptures on his front porch.

Kyle is tired of being the town’s resident Peter Pan. He’s twenty-five, not ten, and despite his effeminate appearance, he’s nothing but the boss in bed. He’s loved Paul since forever, and this Christmas, since they’re both working on the Winter Wonderland festival, he might finally get his chance for a holiday romance.

But Paul comes with baggage. His ultra-conservative family wants him paired up with a woman, not a man with Logan’s rainbow connection. When their anti-LGBT crusade spills beyond managing Paul’s love life and threatens the holiday festival, Kyle and Paul must fight for everyone’s happily ever after, including their own.

I have always found the writings of Heidi Cullinan to be something special but in her Minnesota Christmas series with its generous helping of warmhearted bears, human bears that is, and their unique, loving counterparts, she has conjured up stories not only distinctive but that contain sparks I like to think of as narrative magic.  In Winter Wonderland, that mojo is working overtime with characters like Paul and Kyle.  What charms this story has in store for the reader!  And snow sculptures shaped like penises too.  Let’s get to the particulars.

Paul is one of those characters  Cullinan  does so well.  Paul is a man whose mean-hearted, conservative family’s constant belittling and derision has lead Paul to a poor self image and inability to imagine a happy future for himself.  But little of that is shown to others in their small town.  Only to Paul’s small circle of friends (see the other stories) is his unhappy family dynamics known as well as his  penchant for Hallmark movies, especially Hallmark’s Christmas movies.  The author brings in such well known movies like Hallmark’s  “The Christmas Card” and uses them to make a point about Paul, the damage done to him by his family, and makes it and the other Christmas movies provide a way to heal Paul’s pain.  Its a beautiful touch, one among many, and it feels believably so as a panacea that others may have found.

I love the character of Kyle as well.  He too contains so many truths of his own.  Kyle is the town “man child”, the one people remember so well as a charming adolescent that they can’t see the man he’s become.  Kyle is tired of fighting his past image because he never seems to overcome it.  Especially with the one person he’s  been crushing on for most of his life.  Paul.   Kyle wants to capture Paul’s attention and desperate times calls for desperate measures.  Or in this case, anatomically correct snow sculptures.  I have a vivid imagination and Heidi Cullinan’s descriptions cracked me up.  Even if you don’t, you won’t need them, because her words and the pictures they paint will be more than enough to leave you with the giggles. But Kyle is not all fun and snow.  He has his own depth of character and responsibilities, one of which is his sister.

One of the things I love best about the Minnesota Christmas series is that the town of Logan is populated by characters who are so real, so darn human that they too captured my heart.  Some have reading disabilities, others face other physical challenges,  some have their own hot, unexpected sexual kinks, and some with family issues so profoundly wounding that it almost costs them a future. Nothing is really “normal”.  Perfection has no role here.  But authentic happiness? Small town joys, long term loves  and relationships? Yes, they most certainly do.  With Logan you get the best as well as the worst of small town mentality, Cullinan is blunt about that.  I liked that as well.

We’ve had 3 stories so far.  The 3 bears of Logan and each has found their own Mr. Right for Christmas.  Paul was the baby bear.  Will there be more Christmas stories for us coming out of Minnesota?  I can only hope so.  What I’ve read so far has had that winter white glitter sparkle that speaks of joy, and hope, and love.  And Christmas is coming.  What a wonderful present it would be to have Minnesota  Christmas story number four!

I highly recommend  Heidi Cullinan and her Minnesota Christmas series, including this very special story, Winter Wonderland.   Pick this and all of them up as a early holiday present for yourself.

Cover art by Angela Waters.  I love this cover.  I think the artist has the men and the landscape exactly right.

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

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: November 10th 2015 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
original titleWinter Wonderland
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.heidicullinan.com/WinterWonderland
Series: Minnesota Christmas

Let It Snow (Minnesota Christmas, #1)
Sleigh Ride (Minnesota Christmas, #2)
Winter Wonderland (Minnesota Christmas, #3)

 

A Holiday Must Read for the Heart: Winter Wonderland (Minnesota Christmas #3) by Heidi Cullinan (giveaway)

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Winter Wonderland cover

Winter Wonderland (Minnesota Christmas #3) by Heidi Cullinan
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Series: Minnesota Christmas, 
Characters: Paul Jansen, Kyle Parks

Buy links

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BLURB:

Finding Mr. Right can be a snow lot of fun.

Paul Jansen was the only one of his friends who wanted a relationship. Naturally, he’s the last single man standing. No gay man within a fifty-mile radius wants more than casual sex. No one, that is, except too-young, too-twinky Kyle Parks, who sends him suggestive texts and leaves X-rated snow sculptures on his front porch.

Kyle is tired of being the town’s resident Peter Pan. He’s twenty-five, not ten, and despite his effeminate appearance, he’s nothing but the boss in bed. He’s loved Paul since forever, and this Christmas, since they’re both working on the Winter Wonderland festival, he might finally get his chance for a holiday romance.

But Paul comes with baggage. His ultra-conservative family wants him paired up with a woman, not a man with Logan’s rainbow connection. When their anti-LGBT crusade spills beyond managing Paul’s love life and threatens the holiday festival, Kyle and Paul must fight for everyone’s happily ever after, including their own.

Warning: Contains erotic snow art, toppy twinks, and super-sweet holiday moments. Best savored with a mug of hot chocolate with a dash of spice

Ebook ISBN: 978-1-61923-011-8
Print ISBN: coming soon
Format: Novel • Genre: Contemporary/Holiday • Length: 70,000 words

Excerpt 1 (first chapter) • Excerpt 2Excerpt 3

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WINTER WONDERLAND SPOTIFY PLAYLIST • HEIDI’S PROFILE ON SPOTIFY

Heidi Cullinan head shot

About the Author

Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, playing with her cats, and watching television with her family. Find out more about Heidi at http://www.heidicullinan.com.

Follow/contact Heidi Cullinan at Twitter, Facebook-Author Profile, Goodreads as well as her website listed above.

Giveaway

Grand prize giveaway open from November 1-30. Includes paperback copies of Let It Snow, Sleigh Ride, and Winter Wonderland, and a Logan-themed mug.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Prizes and link provided by the author. Good luck and happy reading!

Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/bc7416c220/?

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Minnesota Christmas series.   What happens when the three bears of a little Minnesota town go looking for love? Find out with the Minnesota Christmas series from Heidi Cullinan.

Let It Snow (Minnesota Christmas, #1)
Sleigh Ride (Minnesota Christmas, #2)
Winter Wonderland (Minnesota Christmas, #3)

Contemporary Book Spotlight: ‘959 Brenton Street’ by Thianna Durston (excerpt and giveaway)

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 959 Brenton Street (Men of Falcon Pointe #1) by Thianna Durston
Release Date: November 20, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Catt Ford

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Blurb

Trent Farnsworth moves to Falcon Pointe to get as far away from his controlling family and religion as he can. While his conservative upbringing makes it hard for Trent to admit he’s gay, he accidentally outs himself in front of his four new roommates. None of the men living at 959 Brenton Street are what the world would consider normal, but all four accept him for who he is. And when Trent falls for his much older landlord, Dr. Cory Venerin, he’s as surprised as anyone, but discovering Cory feels the same makes Trent realize he’s truly in the right place at the right time.

Until he tells his family he’s gay. His father uses any resource at his disposal to destroy him, including Trent’s love for Cory. As his father schemes to send Trent to a hospital whose sole purpose is to rip the gay out of him, Cory battles to save not only Trent—but also the possibility of a future together.

 

Pages or Words: 200 pages
Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

Excerpt

Cory stood up and left the room, his footfalls a staccato beat on the stairs.

“Damn,” David said, grimacing. “I was kind of hoping to let you know about this later on. I mean, hell, you’ve just come out today. That should be enough of a shock.”

“What?” he asked nervously, beginning to wonder what they hadn’t told him. What the hell could they be covering up?

“Uh, this house is….” Alan said.

“Discipline based,” Greg filled in, handing him another muffin.

“What does that mean?” he asked. He took the sweet confection and nibbled on the corner.

“It means we keep to the rules or we come to a meeting with a very hard paddle,” David said wryly as Cory came down the stairs carrying in his hand what looked like a small breadboard. “Meet the enemy.”

They couldn’t possibly mean what he thought they meant. They were all grown men. Surely nobody paddled anyone else. That was… barbaric. He widened his eyes as he crossed one leg over the other. And a turn-on apparently. What kind of freak was he, anyway?

Buy the book: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

 

 

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Meet the Author

Thianna likes to say she’s eclectic, fun, and just a bit naughty. She can also add, subtract, multiply, and divide in her head, but if people ask her to do it at parties, she isn’t impressed. While she would love to say there wasn’t a genre she had read that she didn’t enjoy, it would be a lie. For some reason, she keeps skipping to the ends of mystery books to find out who done it.

The creator and acquisition editor for the Corbin’s Bend Romance series, she wants to know: Who else wants to be safe, secure, and spanked in Colorado?

Where to find the author:


Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, Decadent Delights, Full Moon Dreaming, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Jessie G. Books, Bayou Book Junkie, Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My, Inked Rainbow Reads, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, The Jena Wade, Havan Fellows, Happily Ever Chapter, Up All Night, Read All Day, Iyana Jenna, BFD Book Blog, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, MM Good Book Reviews, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, Butterfly-O-Meter, Ogitchida Book Blog, The Hat Party, Nephy Hart, Divine Magazine, Velvet Panic, My Fiction Nook, Three Books Over The Rainbow

Final

Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: $5.00 Amazon gift card.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prize provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

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The Heroes of Sanctuary are Back in Accidental Hero (Sanctuary #8) by RJ Scott (excerpt and giveaway)

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Sanctuary 8

Accidental Hero (Sanctuary #8) by RJ Scott
Sanctuary (Volume 2 – The Chicago arc) series
Expected publication: November 20th 2015
Publisher: Love Lane Books

Artist:  Meredith Russell
Buy links will be here:  RJ Scott Author

Blurb

Chicago Cop Simon Grant and Sanctuary operative Cain Brodie, have to be the heroes of their own stories, just to stay alive.

Everyone wants Chicago cop, Simon Grant, dead. Armed with an address, he is on the run and heading for Sanctuary, only to end up at the wrong end of a gun. Is it possible the tall amber-eyed man holding the gun is actually going to be able to help him?

Cain Brodie is in charge of Sanctuary’s new Chicago office, C-Tower. His well organised administration day takes an unexpected turn when he has a man wanted for murder right in his gun sights. Thrust into a situation he has no control over suddenly he needs to be the one in control.

Accidental or not, Simon and Cain have to be the heroes of their own stories, just to stay alive.

Excerpt

Cain couldn’t believe this was happening.

Project-manage the setting up of our Chicago office, Manny, the operations manager of Sanctuary, had said, sporting a broad grin. What can happen?

Well, fuck you, Manny, because I’ve seen Die Hard and I know what can happen to a guy in a high-rise. Like a cop with other cops looking for him. Like guns. Like Albany Ops picking up on the fact someone had followed him into the parking garage before the steel gates had fully shut.

And now Cain was faced with whoever the fuck this was, a steely-eyed, spiky-haired, uniformed cop with his hands near a gun.

“Hands where I can see them,” Cain snapped.

He forced his grip to stay steady. Manny was going to laugh at him when he found out Cain was pointing a gun at a cop. Manny’s empty gun. Talking of Manny, he really needed to channel the company’s weapons expert. He imperceptibly straightened his arms and bent his legs slightly. Cain had done the general gun-range training that everyone at Sanctuary was expected to do, but to be fair he’d spent his last visit there fixing the computer network in the office and hiding out.

Guns and Cain didn’t match well. Too loud, too destructive, too deadly.

In his earbud, Albany Ops were asking for an update, but Cain couldn’t answer accurately. He gestured with the gun when the cop didn’t automatically raise his arms.

“Hands. Up.”

The cop shook his head. “I don’t know what’s going on here, buddy, but one word from me and backup is on its way from my colleagues in the atrium,” the cop lied.

He had his hands out in front of him, and was apparently trying for the “innocent good guy in an elevator” look.

Cain was not falling for that. Albany Ops said this man was wanted for suspected murder. Said he was armed and dangerous. Said he was on his own and very much off the reservation.

“Hands behind your head,” Cain ordered with a small, gun-waving gesture.

“You realize this is assault with a deadly weapon against an officer.”

The cop still hadn’t moved his hands and Cain’s chest tightened. This wasn’t exactly going as he’d expected. Manny had assured him that having a gun gave you the edge. That all you needed to do was confidently portray that you would use the damn thing and people would believe you.

Evidently, he was failing big time at looking hard and ready to use the weapon.

About the Author

About RJ

RJ Scott has been writing since age six, when she was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies. She was told to write a story and two sides of paper about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born.

As an avid reader herself, she can be found reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror. However, her first real true love will always be the world of romance where she takes cowboys, bodyguards, firemen and billionaires (to name a few) and writes dramatic and romantic stories of love and passion between these men.

With over seventy titles to her name and counting, she is the author of the award winning book, The Christmas Throwaway. She is also known for the Texas series charting the lives of Riley and Jack, and the Sanctuary series following the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and the people it protects.

Her goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

Giveaway

Win a $15 Giftcard from Amazon or ARe, plus 2 further prizes of an ebook from RJ’s catalogue. Competition closes 4th December – midnight GMT.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. 

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Direct link is http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/f922301b62/?

Sanctuary – The Bullen Arc Series:

A series of connected stories set against the backdrop of the Sanctuary Foundation.

Sanctuary, a foundation offering witness protection to anyone whose safety is compromised. A Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Highly Recommended Series

Book 1 –Guarding Morgan (Sanctuary, #1)
Book 2 –The Only Easy Day (Sanctuary, #2)
Book 3 –Face Value (Sanctuary, #3)
Book 4 –Still Waters (Sanctuary, #4)
Book 5 –Full Circle (Sanctuary, #5)
Book 6 –The Journal Of Sanctuary One (Sanctuary, #6)
Book 7 –Worlds Collide (Sanctuary #7)