A MelanieM Review: Wild and Precious (Wild and Precious #1) by CJane Elliott


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Wild and PreciousAspiring writer Brent Granger has good friends and a great job at an arts magazine in DC, but he’s batting zero in the arena of love. Brent begins to get a clue why things aren’t working with women from his strong attraction to his gorgeous, gay, and already attached boss, Graham Stoneford. When he sees a personal ad from a man that quotes his favorite poet, Brent decides to do something wild and answer.

Enter Cody Bellstrom, easygoing bisexual musician, who is happy to initiate Brent in the ways of gay sex. Brent now has a new problem: he realizes he’s gay and no one in his life knows it. Cody tires of hiding their relationship, but Brent finds it challenging to come out to family, friends, and especially to Graham. In the end, Brent must confront the truth of where—and with whom—his heart lies.

Wild and Precious by CJane Elliott is one of those books where I wanted to either issue no rating at all or multiple ratings for various elements because at 80 pages this author has done so many things right that the parts where that irritate or pull the story down just don’t count as much for me as they might with others.

First, I’m going to start with my largest possible author peril of them all, the location of Washington, DC.  CJane Elliot knows Washington, DC.  This story is crammed full of the right streets and locations (yes, I knew where they are/were) and I can’t tell  you how often that doesn’t happen. Jets land in Bethesda..not  Oh, the howlers I’ve read.  So to have an author get it right?  Bonus points! Handing out the gold stars now.

I like the use of a poem, The Summer Day by Mary Oliver, that’s a lovely touch and an element that will flow through the story. I very much thought the author did a thorough job with her characterizations given the short amount of story.  Brent was a treasure. I enjoyed Brent’s sexual awakening and his easy relationships with his boss and friends.  The same goes for Cody Bellstrom, the easy going musician and his two amazing women friends.  They were an especially strong couple.

Graham was the lesser of the three individuals, and that was due to his position in the story, an irritation for some (including me).  I think that will also impact how most readers will feel about the twisting relationships and who ended up with who.  Most readers go into a story with the expectation that the couple they meet first off is the couple they end with.  Is that a reasonable expectation?  Does love always work that way?  What happens when the answer is no and the people in question are better off that way?  An even more serious question.  Perhaps one not many romance readers want to answer.  I found the shift between relationships uneven and thought it hurt the story because of the imbalance.

At 80 pages, its worth taking a different look at how one man found his sexuality and true love…and sent another one his path to his own. Yes, there is a sequel to this book, There You Are by CJane Elliott.  Look for my review soon.  Yes, I loved it.

Cover Art by AngstyG.  I don’t know about the cover.  It screams politicians and teenagers to me for some reason instead of musicians and hip music writers.  Just doesn’t work.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 80 pages
Published December 31st 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1632165295 (ISBN13: 9781632165299)
Edition LanguageEnglish

SeriesWild and Precious 

  • Wild and Precious (Wild and Precious, #1)
  • There You Are (Wild and Precious #2)

An Ali Review: Winter Ball by Amy Lane

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars
Winter BallThrough a miserable adolescence and a lonely adulthood, Skipper Keith has dreamed of nothing but family. The closest he gets is the rec league soccer team he coaches after work—and his star player and best friend, Richie Scoggins.

One brisk night in late October, a postpractice convo in Richie’s car turns into a sexual encounter neither of them expected—nor want to forget. Soon Skip and Richie are living for the weekends and their winter league soccer games—and the games they enjoy off the field. Through broken noses, holiday decorating, and the killer flu, they learn more about each other than they ever dreamed possible. Every new discovery takes them further beyond the boundaries of the soccer field and into the infinite possibilities of the best relationship of Skipper’s life.

Skipper can’t dream of a better family than Richie—but Richie’s got real family entanglements he can’t shake off. Skipper needs to convince Richie to stay with him beyond winter ball so the relationship they started on the field might become their happy future in real life!
This was sweet story about two everyday guys who fall in love.  The two men had been friends for years before their first sexual encounter and you can feel their bond from the very beginning of the story.  I enjoyed the fact that this wasn’t an insta-love and that there was a solid friendship in place.  The dynamic was interesting as neither man had ever been involved with another man before.  As their relationship progresses both men question what is happening between them and how their friends and family will react but their is no big drama with it.  Their questions and concerns seemed realistic to me.  These MC’s are just every day, average guys and that was a nice change of pace from some of the more stereotypical MC’s we see in the romance genre.  As usual with this writer, the writing was strong and well paced.  I think this is a lovely addition to her catalog of work.
Cover art by Anne CainI liked this cover and thought it not only looked nice but was a good representation of parts of the story.  My only concern with it is that it makes it seems like this is a Christmas story.  While a part of the story takes place at Christmas much of it does not and I hope that does not stop people from wanting to read it  at other times in the year.
Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here
Book Details:
ebook, 200 pages
Published December 25th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1623808987 (ISBN13: 9781623808983)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A BJ Review: Affiliations, Aliens & Other Profitable Pursuits (Claimings #3) by Lyn Gala


Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

Affliliations Aliens and Other PPA desire for status has brought Ondry and Liam to a human world to trade, but dealing with humans has brought up all the old pain in Liam’s heart. Even though Ondry would do anything to protect his beloved palteia, he doesn’t know how to protect Liam from himself. Worse, Ondry isn’t sure how to shield Liam from the shifting politics on the Rownt ship where the Calti Grandmothers are nothing like the ones they left behind on the planet.

With everything in their lives changing, Ondry and Liam have only each other. If Ondry can’t find a way to defend Liam from the ghosts of the past and overcome the impossibly short life span of a human, their small family might be over long before either of them is ready to let go. Ondry has always been a dominant and possessive Rownt, and with Liam in danger, those traits are necessary as he challenges the world to protect his lover.

In this third installment, the pace is slow and languid (maybe even a bit too slow at times which is why I couldn’t quite give it five stars), but it’s also full of depth and endeavors on some deeper level.

We get a dual POV with Ondry and Liam this time, which I very much enjoyed. Seeing his side of Liam’s claiming, and all that led up and went after, was fascinating. Diallo is there but not a focus this time, which I was pleased with. The story focuses more tightly back on the relationship of Ondry and Liam, how they interact with each other as well as with Rownts and humans.

The author also explores new territory by taking us off the Rownt home planet and into a huge Rownt where Ondry and Liam plan to advance his status through trade as well as eventually get in contact with a much advanced race to try and extend Liam’s lifespan to be a bit more in sync with Ondry’s.

The sex scenes were hot, and not just because of the tail sex! What I enjoyed most in this one was Ondry learning about. On a trading expedition with humans, Ondry happened to see two humans kissing. After some explanation about this tradition, Ondry, who is ever determined to give Liam everything his palteia wants/needs, proceeds to explore. Wouldn’t you know it, kissing ending up being something they could both enjoy at the same time. Yay.

As for depth, well, I loved the nuance of meanings and Ondry’s protectiveness and pride, and the further exploration of the whole concept of palteia and of value. How amazing to be valued so highly–to have someone always willing to listen. Swoon. Also saw depth because in seeing how humans are so different from aliens, this story also points out to us just how different each individual human is from each other one. Which got me to thinking how much effort we have to invest if we want to truly understand another individual. Unfortunately, in my life experience anyway, there are very few people willing to actually put in the time and effort to attempt to do so.

It’s hard for me to really envision Ondry and the Rownt. On the covers, we’ve seen purple skin and muscles and a tail. In the description, we get height and mass, talk of laying eggs and cracking out of shells (a mention of a claw caught in a shell). For some this this has evidently brought turtles to mind, but I’m not quite seeing that. While thin lips might fit with turtles, most don’t have sharp teeth. Regardless of what Ondry looks like, his other traits are enough to have won me over. Again.

There’s a twist at the end involving the introduction of a new human. I find that interesting and hope that we will get to explore the relationship between Mora and the Grandmother further.

The cover adds very little to what we’ve already been shown of the guys but does give the feel of being in space.

Sales Links:  Loose Id LLC | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:  

ebook, 186 pages
Published November 24th 2015 by Loose Id
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series Claimings with links to BJ’s reviews:

A Free Dreamer Review: Luck in the Shadows (Nightrunner #1) by Lynn Flewelling


Rating: 5 stars out of 5  ★★★★★

Luck in the Shadows cover“A new star is rising in the fantasy firmament…teems with magic and spine-chilling amounts of skullduggery.”–Dave Duncan, author of The Great Game

When young Alec of Kerry is taken prisoner for a crime he didn’t commit, he is certain that his life is at an end. But one thing he never expected was his cellmate. Spy, rogue, thief, and noble, Seregil of Rhiminee is many things–none of them predictable. And when he offers to take on Alec as his apprentice, things may never be the same for either of them. Soon Alec is traveling roads he never knew existed, toward a war he never suspected was brewing. Before long he and Seregil are embroiled in a sinister plot that runs deeper than either can imagine, and that may cost them far more than their lives if they fail. But fortune is as unpredictable as Alec’s new mentor, and this time there just might be…Luck in the Shadows.

I absolutely loved this. I’m always looking for great fantasy novels with very low key romance and this had the added bonus of Seregil enjoying the company of men as well as women.

The romance was as good as non-existent, really, but there’s definitely hope for Alec and Seregil. I loved both of them. Seregil the ever mysterious spy/thief who won’t talk about his past and Alec, who starts out so naive and then turns out to be so very clever.

The world building was excellent. Religion, language, history, culture, politics – it was all there. The map could have been a little more detailed, though. There were a lot of places I couldn’t find that were mentioned in the book. Or maybe I just seriously suck at map reading.

The plot had me hooked from page one, with lots of unexpected twists and turns. Very addicting and definitely not boring!

There was always some new intrigue to uncover or some new mystery to solve, while still having an underlying ultimate goal.

Usually, I read my m/m romance on my Kindle, but I decided to go with the paperback version for “Luck in the Shadows”. And I’m glad I did. I’m of the very firm opinion that any halfway decent fantasy novel deserves to be read in paperback and I just love my old, battered copy that I got off the internet for very little money. I’m old fashioned like that. And skipping back and forth between map and story is definitely easier with a paperback than with the Kindle.

If you’re looking for a great love story with decent fantasy, then you’d better keep looking. There is no love story here. If, however, you find yourself craving amazing fantasy with a hint of romance, then this is just the book for you.

The cover by Gary Ruddell looks like so many other 90s fantasy covers. Nothing mind-blowing, but definitely fitting.

Sales Link:  Amazon Paperback   | Amazon Kindle

Book Details:

ebook, paperback, both versions available in both languages

ebook, 476 pages
Published November 3rd 2010 by Spectra (first published September 1996)
Original TitleLuck in the Shadows
ISBN 0307774996 (ISBN13: 9780307774996)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesNightrunner #1
CharactersAlec í Amasa of Kerry, Seregil í Korit Solun Meringil Bôkthersa