A MelanieM Review: Taylor Maid (Dreamspun Desires) by Tara Lain

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Rating: 4 stars out of  5

Taylor MaidHe’ll marry the maid to get $50 million but a secret could queer the deal.

Taylor Fitzgerald needs a last-minute bride.

On the eve of his twenty-fifth birthday, the billionaire’s son discovers that despite being gay, he must marry a woman before midnight or lose a fifty-million-dollar inheritance. So he hightails it to Las Vegas… where he meets the beautiful maid Ally May.

There’s just one rather significant problem: Ally is actually Alessandro Macias, son of a tough Brazilian hotel magnate. But if Ally keeps pretending to be a girl for a little while longer, is there a chance they might discover this marriage is tailor-made?

Tara Lain’s Taylor Maid is another hit in the utterly charming series from Dreamspinner, Dreamspun Desires that seeks to replicate and perhaps even better those series romances from decades ago. You know, with familiar names like Silhouette?  That cover duplicates the retro charm of an earlier time effortlessly as does this story by Tara Lain.

Once again, a old familiar plot gets a M/M update and I loved it.   Runaway heiress is now an heir, who is being pressured into a business merger marriage by his father.  Escaping to the United States, he uses makeup, expertly, transforming into an adorable  maid. Next?  Ally meets a billionaire’s son in need of a wife in order to hold onto his fortune because of a cause in his grandfather’s will and a duplicitous father.  Yes, I can see those heads nodding in recognition, you know this storyline like the back of your hand (why not go with a cliche here).

What turns an old workhorse of a plot into a fresh new adorable pony of a story?  The characters, dialog and a romance you want to cheer for, that’s what.  The character that I fell in love with immediately was that of Ally aka Alessandro Macias, runaway heir of Brazilian hotel conglomerate magnate.  Ally is brave, beautiful, fierce and every bit a magnificent drag queen in the making.  I could read an entire series of books about Ally.

So its no wonder that Ally turns the world upside down for desperate rich boy Taylor Fitzgerald, who needs a bride, gets one and then can’t figure out why he’s attracted to his new “wife”  when he’s gay to his bones.  Its so much fun watching this story play out. There’s some angst but not too much, a little suspense, a little drama, lots of humor and plenty of passion.

Tara Lain moves her  story quickly along, it zings where it should, sings where it should and ends happily ever after…just as it should.

You can actually get a subscription to the Dreamspun Desires books, just like you could the old romances.  So far, I’ve loved them all. Definitely put this on your TBR list if you are a lover of the old-time romance stories, or sweet tales of love.  Tara Lain’s Taylor Maid  is a story you won’t want to miss.

Cover art by Paul Richmond is perfection.  I love  the retro look of these covers, its charming and a throwback to another age.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 218 pages
Expected publication: March 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleTaylor Maid
ISBN139781634768146
Edition LanguageEnglish

 

A BJ Review: Solid Education by Bianca Sommerland

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Solid EducationGage Tackett comes off as a bad boy—detached and maybe a little dangerous. Definitely not Vet Sciences Professor Derek Paulson’s type. Which he tells himself, repeatedly, every time the other man attends his class. Until the day he looks over to see Gage’s seat is empty.

When Gage arrives at Derek’s veterinary clinic with a frostbitten stray dog, the lines of their teacher/student relationship are blurred. Derek realizes his most difficult student has a few things to teach him. Things he’s more than willing to learn.

This was a new to me author, and one who I noticed writes mostly in the M/F romance genre. However, the cover drew me in on first glance–I’m a sucker for both dogs and blonds. For the most part, I really enjoyed the author’s writing style. But there were several times when I found myself confused, when the guy’s conversation just really lost me.

I am a totally dogaholic, so I thoroughly enjoyed the parts of the story about the dog(s). Derek being a vet, Gage a vet student and former military dog handler still grieving the loss of his service dog, Gunner. Then the rescue of the stray, and the way Matty brought the two men together and even changed the path of their future. All of that was sweet and completely awesome. I loved how Derek used Matty to get Gage into his bed (not for sex, mind you, but for snuggling and cuddling). So sweet.

However, when it came to the guys themselves separate from dogs, well, I admit that it took quite a while for me to connect with either man. I feel that I would have enjoyed this much more if both Derek and Gage were more fleshed out more in ways outside their connection to dogs.

Derek came across as haughty and aloof at first, and while we get to see later that it’s due to his having been hurt before—well, there wasn’t enough backstory of that to make me feel enough for him to truly understand why/how a man of his looks and station in life would so readily pull away from wanting a real relationship and begin to act as he was. I mean, hell, we all get hurt. That’s life.

Gage’s loss of Gunner, his military dog was poignant—the visit he makes to the military dog memorial had me close to tears. But there was little background on Gage himself, really. And while it was mentioned that Gunner had helped Gage with the nightmares (obviously due to PTSD), the details on what incident or incidents started them were missing.

The build up of sexual tension and chemistry developing between the two worked well, but I felt let down when the actual sexy bits arrive. For me, they felt rushed, almost skimmed over, which kept them from being as hot as I’d hoped for.

Overall, this is a sweet story that any dog lover should enjoy. Aptly showing how the love a dog can enhance and change our lives.

Sales Link:  Amazon


Book Details:  

Kindle Edition, 142 pages
Published September 14th 2015
ASINB015EPMZCG
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Free Dreamer Review: The Relics of Gods (Between Heaven and Earth #1) by Yeyu

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Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

The Relics of the GodsWhat is worse: Being so broke you can barely afford food, getting hired for dangerous missions way out of your league, suffocating under mountains of unanswered questions—or wanting to sexually dominate someone who can kill you without lifting a finger?

Lu Delong is a mercenary who evaluates antiques most of the time and deals with the paranormal on rare occasions—even though it’s supposed to be the other way around. When he joins a dangerous quest for an ancient artifact, he meets and becomes strongly attracted to a mysterious and powerful immortal named Cangji. Despite his friends’ warnings and Cangji’s icy, unsociable demeanor, Delong is unable to resist befriending him. However, Cangji is deeply involved in a matter beyond mortals, and Delong is drawn into a chaotic struggle by both visible and invisible forces.

Always the pacifist who wanted to live a simple human life, Delong never imagined he’d end up involved in a conflict that will affect everything from the lowest insects on earth to the highest gods in heaven.

I wanted to like this book. I really, really did. I mean, dragons, gods AND Asian fantasy? That just had to be awesome. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed.

First off, the author’s style really didn’t work for me. It felt awkward and a little clumsy. It didn’t really fit the setting of the story. The way Delong talked felt way too modern.

Then, there were the MCs themselves. Delong soon got annoying. He was very whiney and extremely naïve. He seemed to fail at everything and followed Cangji like a dog. He got jealous over the most ridiculous things, like a dog-like demon creature. He didn’t behave like a grown man. At times, he actually read more like a three-year-old throwing a temper tantrum.

We didn’t really get to know Cangji. He’s the silent, mysterious type. He has some terrible secrets, but we never really find out what those are.

Overall, these two felt like the stereotypical seme/uke pairing you’ll find in most yaois. The only difference is that Delong wants to be the dominant part in the bedroom.

There are lots of minor characters, that seem important at first but they quickly disappear after they’ve served their purpose, never to be heard of again.

The love story didn’t work for me at all. I really couldn’t understand why Delong would fall in love with Cangji. Cangji seems more annoyed by Delong than anything else. Delong mostly gets ignored or glared at. And yet there’s insta-love on Delong’s part. Why? I have no idea. Cangji doesn’t get his own POV, so I don’t know how he truly felt about Delong.

Somehow, the plot moved too fast and yet didn’t seem to go anywhere either. There was mission after mission, Delong gets hurt, Cangji grumbles and rescues him, every minor character is evil. Honestly, I was rather bored at times and seriously considered skimming great parts of the story. It didn’t feel like I’d miss anything important if I were to just read the beginning and the end.

There was also a lot of mythology mixed in. Usually I love that and I like to think that I’m not completely clueless about the topic. But here I felt like I would have needed a degree in Chinese mythology to get all those references. There was a glossary at the end of the book, but I think the author should have explained at least the basics during the story itself.

And before I forget, the blurb is missing a warning about some dub-con kink. Oh, and it does get rather violent at times.

Long story short, I was sorely disappointed by this book. It had great potential but didn’t live up to it.

Cover: The cover by Reese Dante is absolutely gorgeous, just like most DSP covers. I love that dragon.

Sales Links:  DSP Publications |  Amazon

Series: Part 1 of the Between Heaven and Earth series

Book details:

ebook, 350 pages
Published January 6th 2015 by DSP Publications
Original TitleThe Relics of Gods
ISBN139781627987790
Edition LanguageEnglish
URL
SeriesBetween Heaven and Earth #1

A Lila Review: In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

In the Middle of Somewhere coverGrad student, Daniel Mulligan is the youngest of four brothers. They were raised by their father after their mother’s death. The oldest three followed their dad’s path, working with him in the family’s car repair shop. Daniel knew at an early age that he wanted to do something different in order to escape everyone’s shadow. He’s working on his dissertation by the time the story starts.

 After applying to multiple jobs across the country, including in his home state of Pennsylvania, he gets an interview in Holiday– a small college town in Michigan. After the interview, faith intervened and he meets Rex Vale. They have great chemistry from the moment they met and a second chance encounter gave them the opening to reconnect and explore a possible relationship.

Their time together allowed them to learn more about themselves and how they work together. We get to see how real life interferes with the relationship they are trying to build and how events out of their control morphed their perceptions of what they had achieved until that point.

Even so, we get a strong HFN that can be considered the start of a HEA.

 In the Middle of Somewhere is a book that showed on my friends’ newsfeeds almost every day when it was first published. Most reviews were grouped into two camps, like it or hate it. I’m in the middle, no pun intended. It was a hard book to read and rate. I didn’t no connect with Daniel or Rex until the seventy percent mark. If I had to rate the book up to that point, I’d had given it two stars– a DNF was a very real possibility early on. For me, the last part of the book redeemed the characters and their love story. Perhaps, a solid four for that part.

 Getting used to the book’s POV, first person present tense, didn’t take much. After a couple of paragraphs, I had no trouble with it. Unfortunately, the POV created a distance between the narrator and the reader. As a narrator, Daniel felt younger than his thirty years. His internal dialogues were repetitive and all over the place. It was easy to get annoyed by him and miss important parts of the story.

 It took me longer than normal to finish reading it because the middle part is longer than necessary. The day-to-day events became monotonous and the time lapses too wide. One thing I enjoyed about this story were the secondary characters. They saved this part of the story giving us a welcome distraction.

 The first rays of love between Rex and Daniel are what make this book worth it. The MCs come from different backgrounds and have different ideas of what they wanted from life, but when they are together, nothing else matters. Their slow built and quiet companionship let the reader see how two damage boys became smart and loving men against all odds.

 As the first book in the series, we didn’t get all the answers we would want about particular events or the MCs’ future, but there’s enough information to entice the reader into reading the next book.

 The cover by AngstyG works well with the story setting and the characters. I just wish the model representing Rex was a little closer to the book description, though.

Sale Links: Dreamspinner | Amazon | ARe

 Book Details:

 ebook, 350 pages
Published: July 10, 2015, by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 9781634768702
Edition Language: English

Series:  Middle of Somewhere
Book #1: In the Middle of Somewhere
Book #2: Out of Nowhere

Its Release Day for A.M. Leibowitz’s ‘Anthem’ (excerpt and giveaway)

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Anthem (Notes from Boston #1) by A.M. Leibowitz
Release Date: March 1, 2016

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Acquitted Books
Cover Artist: Brett Kessler

Blurb

Trevor Davidson has everything going for him. He’s just moved out on his own with three friends, and he’s landed a job as music director at a large Boston church. He has high hopes for marrying his long-term girlfriend and settling into a comfortable, devout lifestyle.

Andre Cole has spent the past few years throwing himself into a dead-end job at a Cape Cod-based call center. When an opportunity to move back to Boston arises, Andre believes it will be the do-over he needs to put his past behind him.

A chance meeting in a club on New Year’s Eve brings Trevor and Andre together for a brief but steamy encounter. Both assuming that’s the end of it, they are unexpectedly thrown back into each other’s lives when Trevor’s church hires Andre for their website design. While Andre is content at first to move on, Trevor’s conflicted feelings bubble over into his songwriting. Before he can stop it, his ode to Andre becomes an inadvertent Christian radio hit.

Unfortunately for Trevor, he isn’t the only one who knows the song’s hidden meaning. Someone has leaked the story and upended Trevor’s life. In order to put the pieces back together, he needs to learn to be honest with his girlfriend, with Andre, and especially with himself.

 

Pages or Words: 85,000 words/270 pages
Categories: Bisexual, Contemporary, Polyamory

Excerpt

A sliver of light and the door thumping shut alerted him to the presence of someone else. His hands stopped moving, hovering over the keyboard. He looked up to see Pastor Bret standing at the back of the aud.

Trevor jumped, his face flaming, and he was glad for the dim light hiding the red flush he was sure marked his cheeks. “Uh…hi?” he squawked out.

“Don’t stop on my account,” Pastor Bret said. “The song is fantastic. You’ve been holding out on us, acting like you didn’t have anything big for the recording. Where’ve you been hiding that one?”

Covering his tracks, Trevor joked, “Under my hat.” His stomach churned.

“Uh huh. Well, I’d like to see you finish up your new song so we can use it. How long do you think it’ll take?”

“It’s about done, but—” He coughed, stalling while he worked out what to say to Bret to put him off. “I was thinking about changing some of the words, though. It’s not—I mean, it doesn’t specifically say God or Jesus, and it probably needs some other fixes. You know, so it sounds more…spiritual.” Trevor gritted his teeth in frustration as the inspiration for the song rose to the forefront of his mind.

Bret looked thoughtful. “I don’t know. Can you play it for me?”

All the blood which had previously rushed to Trevor’s face drained away, and sweat trickled down his neck to his collar. “I—”

“Not sure you want anyone to hear it til it’s perfect, eh?” Bret laughed. “Come on. Don’t worry that it’s not good enough.”

Oh, God, help me! Trevor prayed. “Okay,” he heard himself say, even though he’d really meant to say, No way in hell.

He played the opening chords and began to sing, quietly at first and then with more confidence. “You touch my heart…”

He immersed himself in the song and in the memories he’d drawn on to write it. It didn’t matter what it was about; he was perfectly capable of making it sound like a love song to his God. He kept his gaze trained on the chord sheet in front of him, not daring to look Bret in the eye just in case. When he was through, he let the note fade away and closed his eyes. He didn’t want to see Bret’s reaction.

It took a moment, but Bret finally broke the silence. “Wonderful. I wouldn’t change a thing. When we have a thousand members all singing this together, they’ll all know who they’re singing it for.”

Trevor’s immediate reaction was, No, they won’t.

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Meet the Author

A. M. Leibowitz is a queer spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. Ze keeps warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing about life, relationships, hope, and happy-for-now endings. In between noveling and editing, ze blogs coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, writing, books, and hir family.

Where to find the author:

 


Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, Divine Magazine, The Hat Party, Three Books Over The Rainbow, KathyMac Reviews, BFD Book Blog, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Bayou Book Junkie, Elaine White, Unquietly Me, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, MM Good Book Reviews, My Fiction Nook, Happily Ever Chapter, Molly Lolly,

Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Alpha Book Club, Wake Up Your Wild Side, Louise Lyons, Boys on the Brink Reviews, Inked Rainbow Reads, Love Bytes, Velvet Panic, Kirsty Loves Books, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Cheekypee Reads and Reviews

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Giveaway

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