A Paul B Review: Dangerous Territory by Cari Z

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Dangerous TerritoryIn an alternate reality where shifter natives inhabit the Wild West, Carter Bly cannot believe how things have gone so wrong since his father’s death.  Having inherited half of the family ranch, Carter faces paying a dowry for his sister’s upcoming wedding.  Because of this and laws where the husband actually controls his wife’s property, Carter must face the fact that he is now a minority owner of the family ranch with no real say in how things are run.  Rather than live under these circumstances, Carter decides to buy himself out of the ranch.  However, his new brother in law is trying to make this impossible.  In order to pay for everything, Carter must get his part of the cattle herd to auction before his unscrupulous relative.

A family friend contacts the local shifter tribe to help Carter drive his herd through the canyon before the rains come.  The chief sends his son Rani as the man to help Carter.  The man states that he will walk his way, which will not be a problem with his shifter stamina.  As the two begin their two-week trek through the canyon, Carter becomes attracted to his guide.  However, Carter reminds himself it is better to be alone than to possible face rejection or worse from the man.  The men must survive the weather, snakes, and a crippling injury in their race to beat Carter’s brother in law to market.  But they must first survive the trip and each other in order to do so.

I found this to be an interesting twist on the shifter story.  This is not the old west as we know it.  The story is set in the late 1800’s in the Oklahoma Territory.  However, we have a Republic of Texas, a Dukedom of Louisiana and mentions the original thirteen colonies.  So it is definitely not our timeline.  The native tribes are all shifters.

I thought the pacing of bringing Carter and Rani was well done.  Carter tells himself that the feelings he beings to have for Rani are probably misplaced.  Rani on the other hand knows that Carter is attracted to him from the beginning but basically ignores the fact until later in the drive.  When Carter’s life if threatened is when Rani begins to show his feelings toward Carter.  The care Rani shows Carter gives Carter hope that there might be something more there than he realizes.  Cari Z once again comes through with this book.

The cover art by the author Cari Z shows a cowboy holding his lariat at sunset with a snake that appears to be coming out of the clouds.  It is a fitting cover for the book.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

Ebook, 56 pages
Published:  January 12, 2016 by Less Than Three Press
Edition Language:  English
ISBN:  9781620046937

A MelanieM Review: Dirty Heart (Cole McGinnis #6) by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5   ★★★★★

Dirty HeartFinal book in the Dirty Series arc.

Former LAPD detective Cole McGinnis’s life nearly ended the day his police partner and best friend Ben Pirelli emptied his service weapon into Cole and his then-lover, Rick. Since Ben turned his gun on himself, Cole thought he’d never find out why Ben tried to destroy him.

Years later, Cole has stitched himself back together. Now a private investigator and in love with Jae-Min Kim, a Korean-American photographer he met on a previous case, Cole’s life is back on track—until he discovers Jeff Rollins, a disgraced cop and his first partner, has resurfaced and appears to be working on the wrong side of the law.

As much as Cole’s fought to put the past behind him, he’s soon tangled up in a web of lies, violence, and death. Jeff Rollins is not only trying to kill Cole’s loved ones, he is also scraping open old wounds and long-forgotten memories of the two men Cole loved and lost. Cole is sure Rollins knows why Ben ruined all their lives, but he isn’t looking for answers. Now Cole is caught in a cat-and-mouse game with a cold-blooded killer with the key to not only his past but his future.

What a magnificent story!  Even with all the intricacies, cultural layering and mysteries that have flowed through all the stories of the Cole McGinnis series, really none can prepare you for this book.  Its just that powerful and emotionally wrenching.

The big mystery and heartache at the center of this series has been why  Cole McGinnis’s  cop partner on the force and close friend/brother shot Cole and killed his lover.  It was an act of betrayal that Cole never quite recovered from, even with his strong and passionate love for Jae-Min Kim.  Like that saying that all roads eventually lead home, Rhys Ford has been leading Cole and the readers back to the beginning where Cole will find out the answers to the violent action that shattered his life.  This is that book.

Little by little, more things from Cole’s past find him again.  Some are indescribably wonderful and moving, some heartbreaking, and raw.  You never know from page to page which element Rhys Ford is going to serve up, what you can be certain is that it will piece your heart, make you weep with either joy or pain with the believable anguish that Cole is going through, along with his family and loved ones.  There are some devastating events here, sometimes one after another.  After a while I thought I had become inured.

I was so wrong.

Its because Rhys Ford writes so beautifully that her characters resonate so with the reader, as does the pain and emotional turmoil they are going through.  Here emotions, thoughts, even rage that Cole had imagined he had buried rise up, overwhelming him, and the reader in the process.  At parts, the story is so moving, I had to stop reading, because I couldn’t see the Kindle any more through the tears.  I don’t think anything  can prepare you for parts of this book.

The  relationships here are deepened, even more realistic than ever as certain elements are revealed about peoples lives, the comedy that is a hallmark of this author ‘s writing and this series is ever present, a necessary levity when the angst threatens to swamp us and the lives involved.  Clowns and llamas are a perfect pairing and I can only imagine how Rhys Ford saw that.

Rhys Ford is not one to give up the mystery easily.  Its been years in the making so its a heart-racing, white knuckle, fast paced scary race at towards the end. What a shocker!  I did not see that coming, even after all those books, so well done, Rhys Ford.  That was  really a great twist. Then you went on and delivered further. How worthwhile an ending.  Its superb.  Ford really pulls it all together.  First a shocker, then a summation, and then a epilogue that will leaving you giddy with joy.

Dirty Heart (Cole McGinnis #6) by Rhys Ford is one spectacular book. Never has her characters been more nuanced, more moving and real.  The story includes stunning narrative explosions, a conclusion to a convoluted mystery spun over 6 stories and characters that will never leave me.  This jumps to into Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Word’s Top Ten Rec list.  Its February so for you readers still new to the series, you have plenty of time to read through the series before the book comes out in March.  Pay no attention to anyone trying to spoil this book for you.  No no NO!  Its too good a tale for that.  Make sure you pick it up fresh!  But pick it up you must!  Highly Recommended as is the series.

Cover artist Reese Notley does a wonderful job with the cover and branding the series.

Sales Links coming in March

Book Details:

Expected publication: March 2016 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
Original TitleDIrty Heart
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesCole McGinnis #6

Cole McGinnis Series:

Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Dangerous Territory by Cari Z

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Dangerous TerritoryWhen Connor’s spinster sister, Millie, marries a scheming money-hungry man who immediately takes steps to control the ranch Connor and his sister inherited when their father died a month ago, there’s little he can do to hang on to his share of the ranch. His only choice is to get his share of the cattle to market before his scheming brother-in-law, Percy, takes the rest of the herd. And Percy has already secured passage on the barge that goes to the town where the annual auction will take place, so Connor’s only choice is to take his cattle through Mason Canyon. The problem is that it’s in the territory of the local shifter clan, and the canyon is heavily populated by very large, very venomous snakes.

Keena, his father’s longtime foreman, is half shifter and arranges for the son of the new clan chief to accompany Connor and get him through the canyon safely. Shifters aren’t known for being helpful to others but the new chief sees this as a test for his son’s abilities and finds it an opportunity to help a neighbor who has coexisted peacefully with the clan for years.

Along the journey, the very quiet Rani finally opens up to Connor when Connor offers to teach him to ride his stallion. Can the two men ever find a common ground when it becomes obvious they are attracted to each other? Can they get the herd through the canyon without casualties from snakes or flooding? And more importantly, does Connor have any future without his ranch but with the possibility of having Rani at his side?

It’s amazing that the author was able to build a complex story which took place in multiple locations and still build three-dimensional characters, who were tough, yet gentle, and apparent enemies who manage to become lovers—all within a short 56 pages. All of the above questions are answered and there’s even more drama than what’s mentioned. The shifter population was different from the usual, and the form Rani shifted into is quite unexpected and unique. I really enjoyed this couple and would like to read more about them in the future. This novella could easily serve as the first book in a very interesting series, and if it does, I hope we get to see more of Connor and Rani as they make a commitment to remain together against all odds.

~~~~~~

Cover art by Cari Z is a very clever depiction of a cowboy silhouetted against a cloudy, orange-tinted sky. When one looks closely, a very long snake can be seen in the background of the clouds. This is the perfect depiction of Connor who has to make his way through the dangerous snake’s territory.

Sales Links:   Less Than Three Press | ARe | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 56 pages
Published January 13th 2016 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781620046937
Edition LanguageEnglishsettingOklahoma Territory (United States)

A VVivacious Review: Save of the Game (Scoring Chances #2) by Avon Gale

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Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5
 
Save of the GameEthan and Riley find themselves as roommates, team mates and… boyfriends?
 
While Riley may have just discovered his interest in the same sex after a good look at Ethan, Ethan is still pretty clueless about the phenomenal change of perception he has undergone in Riley’s eyes. But a bit of good natured snooping in a sub folder leaves Ethan confused and a drunken haze later sees him lock lips with Riley. But is this kiss one of those never to be talked about moments or just the first of many.
 
People who are thinking of reading this book should probably know that this is part of a series. I say this because I haven’t read the first part and I really didn’t think that me not having read the first book, would be a problem since the books followed different characters.
 
While having not read the first book didn’t lessen my enjoyment of it, it definitely would have brought a reduction in the number of head scratching moments. This book is pretty entrenched in the world of its predecessor. Like there are characters who have already been introduced and they come into this book with no introductions whatsoever so I had to take some time to figure out who was who but leaving that aside the book was awesome.
 
Ethan is the enforcer of his team, he is the tough looking guy with his tattooed exterior hiding a guy who loves just as ferociously as he fights. For Ethan family is priority. His family is who he fights and lives for. This also translates to his team who he loves but while Ethan fights for everyone no one has ever fought for him, no has ever fought his fights as their own. So he is used to fighting his own battles and looking after himself.
 
Riley is the product of absentee parents. Hockey is his life but there is a distinct lack of passion in his life. But when Ethan enters his life, Riley’s entire view on life undergoes a sea change. Riley is the level headed goalie, who never lets anyone score on him. He was the rock in their relationship while Ethan was the drama queen (not really but if you are comparing with Riley then definitely).
 
Riley and Ethan together are golden. All the issues that they had they solved in a really understanding way. As such personally their relationship just worked on so many levels, there was chemistry, there was understanding and I really liked the way they communicated. As such I guess the thing that had me convinced about these two was the way they overcame the obstacles to their relationship and just the way they handled life together be it family members, team members or just day to day living.
 
This book had that rare combo of excellent side characters. I loved the guys on the team by the end of the book they were like just another family to me, but anyone reading the first book would be familiar with them, especially Jared and Lane who keep popping up in cameo roles. But Ethan’s family really took the cake, I loved them so much his mother and sisters were just so family, like those really annoying characters you can’t live without who are a constant presence in your life and make life worth living. Also I loved the character of Benett Halley the guy who replaces Lane in the Jacksonville Sea Storm. He was just irritating enough to always be on the horizon but also contained enough to not be a complete asshole. I actually really liked his character maybe because usually such characters in books are irredeemable assholes but he surprisingly wasn’t.
 
Also this book has hockey in it. I don’t know why but I have come to love Hockey reading MM Romances, I am not a hockey fan but reading books featuring hockey has really got me trying to figure out the game. As such if you want to read this book you don’t need any working knowledge of Hockey, but it definitely added another dimension to the book.
 
This book is written as a slice of life fiction so the pace of things remains the same from the beginning to the end but it does tell a story in a fascinating way and ends it on a satisfying note, leaving you wanting more. I loved the book for its simplicity and its characters and the story, told in a very engaging and realistic way. Overall this book has me convinced to read the first book as well as the next one in this series.
 
Cover by Aaron Anderson. I liked the cover for the book but it is way too dramatic than the story what with the raging sea and the thundering storm but I guess the imagery is to accurately depict the “Sea Storm”.
Sales Links:    Dreamspinner eBook | Amazon | ARe | Kobo
Book Details:
ebook, 200 pages
Published January 29th 2016 by Dreamspinner
ISBN 1627980474 (ISBN13: 9781627980470)
Edition LanguageEnglishSeries Scoring Chances:

A BJ Review: Mocker of Ravens (SPECTR 2, #1) by Jordan L. Hawk

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Rating:  4.25 stars out of 5

Moker of RavensCaleb has spent the last six months adjusting to life possessed by the vampire spirit Gray. Unfortunately, after the events of Fort Sumter, the other agents of SPECTR view him more as a ticking time bomb than a co-worker.

The one bright spot is Caleb and Gray’s boyfriend, federal exorcist John Starkweather. But John has problems of his own. A supernatural killer is on the loose in Charleston, stealing the hearts of its victims to extend its own unnatural life.

With the help of a rookie agent, John, Caleb, and Gray must find the killer before it strikes again…or before they become the demon’s next victims.

Sometimes saving the world just isn’t enough… shakes head. After the events of the finale in series two, you’d think they guys would have found the respect of SPECTR. But no, it’s more like a tentative, tenacious acceptance, if even that. A new dickhead boss and more things for the boy to work though even as they are given a case up against a NHE with a seriously freaky power.

As I’ve come to do in the past books, its Gray the drakul who fascinates me the most. But the chemistry between all three partners in this unusual triad is palpable, vividly drawn, and sexy hot. They still have many things to work through, and we see some of them coming out nicely in this book. I never had noticed in the prior books that Gray’s parts are written in present tense and the rest of the POVs are in past tense. I believe I hadn’t noticed before because I read Hunter of Demons as a freebie, and there was not a great deal from Gray’s perspective in that one. The rest of the first ones were on audio. So noticing this point of view tense shift threw threw me a bit, but at the same time I do understand why its used. Gray is a creature that lives in the present rather than dwelling in the past or living in the future as humans do. Really rather cool when considered in that way.

Nicely paced with just the right amount of sexy times, action, and angst. The guys get a new partner, Zahira, and I absolutely adored her. Hope we will get to know more about her.

Beautiful cover featuring John that is different enough from SPECTR #1 to set it apart and yet similar enough to tie it in. Well done with that.

Sales Link:  Amazon   Buy it Here


Book Details:  

ebook, 95 pages
Published June 16th 2015 (first published June 10th 2015)
ISBN139781941230121
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSPECTR 2 #1

Coffee Sip and Book Break with ‘Sweet’ by Alysia Constantine (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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Sweet 1600px COVER (RGB) - Front

Sweet by Alysia Constantine
Release Date: February 4, 2016

Goodreads Link:
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: C.B. Messer

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Alysia Constantine, author of (Sweet).  Hi, Alysia, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Can you share a little  something about your story with our readers?

  • Tell us about your book.

Sweet is a love story, and also a story about how we tell stories.  I think these two things are related—most of us grow up having heard all manner of fairy tales and love stories, and we build expectations as a result of that, and our real lives don’t quite measure up.  Especially for those of us who are gay—we’re under a lot of pressure to be romantic and fall in fairy-tale love, or else be accused of fulfilling the stereotype about promiscuous gays.  On the surface, Sweet is the story of how two men—Jules, a baker mourning the loss of his husband Andy, and Teddy, a frustrated accountant—meet, how they court through pastry and shared pleasure, and how they fall in love.  But it’s also the story of what we expect from a love story, and from our own lives.  I might call it a self-conscious love story.

  • How difficult was it to get into the main character’s head?

In this story, the chapters shift between being close in POV to Teddy and close to Jules, but the main character is actually the third-person narrator, who occasionally interjects into the narrative to remind us that s/he is telling a story, that everything is an invention.  (To me, much as I hope people get caught up in the story, Sweet is about stories themselves, about narratives, and about how we invest in them.  Most of us get told throughout our childhood—no, throughout our entire lives—called something like “The Natural Inevitability and Superiority of Straightness,” and it’s a narrative in which we come to believe, unless something goes “wrong.” (That’s Freud’s idea, thank you Siggie.))  In my mind, that narrator is actually the main character.  The voice is half Cynical Omniscient and half Fairy Tale Believer, and I think it’s a voice very natural to me, very close to my own.  And, I would wager, a pretty common tone for those of us who’ve grown up gay or queer in a culture that’s generally hostile to anybody who’s not straight.  You get used to living as a pess/optimist: you’re prepared for the worst while hoping for the best.

  • Is this book a standalone or do you plan on visiting it again?

As I see it now, it’s a standalone.  The novel I’m working on next involves circus performers… a very different world!  I’m interested now in thinking about margins and outsiders—the circus really allows for that.  Sweet is about pleasure, to me.  I think I’ve written what asked to be written there.

  • Why did you choose to write M/M stories?

I don’t exclusively write M/M stories—the novel I’m writing now is about women in the circus.  But I am interested in gay/queer stories, and those are the stories I’m more inclined to tell, because those are the stories that are so often silenced now, or are missing from the past, and those are the stories I wished were taught in my English class as a miserable gay teen in the midwest.  Sweet was just naturally a story about two men falling in love—I don’t think the characters could have been anyone other than who they are.  I also felt a bit resistant to putting lesbians on display in a novel, making their lives a thing for consumption (women are always put up for view, lesbians most especially—it seems like men are much more rarely made the object of everyone’s gaze), but I’m past that now.  Not to say it isn’t a very valid critique, but I’m ready to write the stories I wished were there—about queers, no matter the gender.  And I think I’ve found a home for a story about lesbians that isn’t a salacious or voyeuristic home.  Interlude Press has, more than I can say, affected me so deeply—I wish it had been around when I was growing up.

  • Where do you find your inspiration?

For Sweet, I was inspired both by my past as a baker/pastry chef and by thinking about how and why we tell stories, and how powerful it can be to have a story that reflects some part of you.  I was inspired by the narrator’s voice, when it started speaking in my head, because it felt vital to me.  More than just a love story, this was answering back to all the love stories I’d ever read.  I was also inspired by all the good food I’ve eaten, and some really good recipes.  I try to keep myself inspired that delicious way.  I live in NYC, which has so much good and interesting food… I’ve inspired myself a lot.

Blurb

Not every love story is a romance novel.

For Jules Burns, a lonely baker, it is the memory of his deceased husband, Andy. For Teddy Flores, a numbed-to-the-world accountant who accidentally stumbles into his bakery, it is a voyage of discovery into his deep connections to pleasure, to the world, and to his own heart.

Alysia Constantine’s Sweet is also the story of how we tell stories—of what we expect and need from a love story. The narrator is on to you, Reader, and wants to give you a love story that doesn’t always fit the bill. There are ghosts to exorcise, and jobs and money to worry about. Sweet is a love story, but it also reminds us that love is never quite what we expect, nor quite as blissfully easy as we hope.

 

Praise for ‘Sweet’ by Alysia Constantine from Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-941530-61-0

Pages or Words: 246 pages
Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

Excerpt

“Speakerphone.”

“What?”

“Speakerphone. Put me on speaker so you can use your hands. You’re going to need both hands, and I won’t be held responsible for you mucking up your phone. Speaker.”

Teddy set his phone on the counter and switched to the speaker, then stood waiting.

“Hello?” Jules said. “Is this thing on?”

“Sorry,” Teddy said. “I’m still here.”

“It sounded like you’d suddenly disappeared. I was starting to believe in the rapture,” Jules said, and Teddy heard, again, the nervous chuckle.

Their conversation was awkward and full of strange pauses in which there was nothing right to say, and they focused mostly on how awkward and strange it was until Jules told Teddy to dump the almond paste on the counter and start to knead in the sugar.

“I’m doing it, too, along with you,” Jules said.

“I’m not sure whether that makes it more or less weird,” Teddy admitted, dusting everything in front of him with sugar.

“It’s just like giving a back rub,” Jules told him. “Roll gently into the dough with the heel of your hand, lean in with your upper body. Think loving things. Add a little sugar each time—watch for when it’s ready for more. Not too much at once.”

Several moments passed when all that held their connection was a string of huffed and effortful breaths and the soft thump of dough. Teddy felt Jules pressing and leaning forward into his work, felt the small sweat and ache that had begun to announce itself in Jules’s shoulders, felt it when he held his breath as he pushed and then exhaled in a rush as he flipped the dough, felt it all as surely as if Jules’s body were there next to him, as if he might reach to the side and, without glancing over, brush the sugar from Teddy’s forearm, a gesture which might have been, if real, if the result of many long hours spent in the kitchen together, sweet and familiar and unthinking.

“My grandmother and I used to make this,” Jules breathed after a long silence, “when I was little. Mine would always become flowers. She would always make hers into people.”

Teddy understood that he needn’t reply, that Jules was speaking to him, yes, but speaking more into the empty space in which he stood as a witness, talking a story into the evening around him, and he, Teddy, was lucky to be near, to listen in as the story spun itself out of Jules and into the open, open quiet.

When the dough was finished and Jules had interrupted himself to say, “There, mine’s pretty done. I bet yours is done by now, too,” Teddy nodded in agreement—and even though he knew Jules couldn’t see him, he was sure Jules would sense him nodding through some miniscule change in his breathing or the invisible tension between them slackening just the slightest bit. And he did seem to know, because Jules paused and made a satisfied noise that sounded as if all the spring-coiled readiness had slid from his body. “This taste,” Jules sighed, “is like Proust’s madeleine.”

They spent an hour playing with the dough and molding it into shapes they wouldn’t reveal to each other. Teddy felt childish and happy and inept and far too adult all at once as he listened to the rhythmic way Jules breathed and spoke, the way his voice moved in and out of silence, like the advance and retreat of shallow waves that left in their wake little broken treasures on the shore.

Only his fingers moved, fumbling and busy and blind as he listened, his whole self waiting for Jules to tell him the next thing, whatever it might be.

Buy the book:

Meet the author:

Alysia Constantine lives in Brooklyn with her wife, their two dogs, and a cat. When she is not writing, she is a professor at an art college. Before that, she was a baker and cook for a caterer, and before that, she was a poet.

Sweet is her first novel.

Where to find the author:

 


RainBannerTemplateTour Dates & Stops:

4-Feb

Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Book Lovers 4Ever, Hearts on Fire

5-Feb

A.M. Leibowitz, Love Bytes, Bayou Book Junkie

8-Feb

Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Divine Magazine, MM Good Book Reviews

9-Feb

Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance, Kirsty Loves Books, Just Love Romance

10-Feb

Happily Ever Chapter, My Fiction Nook, Havan Fellows

11-Feb

V’s Reads, Kiki’s Kinky Picks, Lee Brazil, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings

12-Feb

Jessie G. Books, 3 Chicks After Dark, Book Reviews and More by Kathy

15-Feb

Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Three Books Over the Rainbow, BFD Book Blog

16-Feb

Dawn’s Reading Nook, Inked Rainbow Reads

17-Feb

Prism Book Alliance, Up All Night, Read All Day, Molly Lolly, Alpha Book Club

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Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: $25 Interlude Press gift card to one winner, e-copies of ‘Sweet’ to five additional winners.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.
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