A MelanieM Review: Brandywine Investigations: Open for Business (Brandywine Investigations #1-3) by Angel Martinez

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5    ★★★★★

Brandywine InvestigationsWhen humans forsake the temples, the gods need to find other employment. Hades opens Brandywine Investigations after his divorce and his subsequent move to the modern world. If he was hoping for boring infidelity cases and lost dogs, he’s sorely mistaken as murder and mayhem find his agency and his extended family at an astonishing rate.

Includes:
Canines, Crosshairs & Corpses: Brandywine Investigations #1
No Enemy But Time: Brandywine Investigations #2
Dragons, Diamonds & Discord: Brandywine Investigations #3

Please note: The stories in this omnibus have been reedited, and expanded by about 18K (total.)

Its no secret, if you’ve been reading this blog, that I’m a huge fan of three things: fantasy, mythology, and the author that always manages to combine them in her imaginative and often addictive novels,  Angel Martinez.  So, I was thrilled to see a omnibus of tales that I had not encountered before, Brandywine Investigations: Open for Business (Brandywine Investigations #1-3) by Angel Martinez.  What I found was pure Angel Martinez heaven.

While the main focus is the Pantheon of Greek gods, others like the Egyptian god Set for example make appearances, along with the Gilgamesh mythic figures, and norse legends, all set elements of a Martinez narrative.  The author takes the whole of world’s theology and mythology and weaves it together in a wonderful literary tapestry, connected by larger than life characters as well as human.  Then she makes them so real, so heartstopping believable that you fall deeply in love with them and boom,  the connection between you and the characters and their world snaps into place.

The stories are stacked logically and chronologically.  I would rate them all equally, really I had no favorites here.  I loved them all.

Canines, Crosshairs & Corpses: Brandywine Investigations #1:  This one introduces all the characters and sets up a mystery that will thread itself through all the stories.  Here we meet Hades and Charon shortly after Persepherone has asked for a divorce.  It was, as we all know, never really a love match but Hades is bereft and has left the Underworld.  Martinez makes us believe in his emotional devastation, his climb to understanding and rebuilding his “new God life” and the street boy Ti he rescues.  The emotions here are killer, in so many ways.  There is humor, pain, angst, and yes, love.

No Enemy But Time: Brandywine Investigations #2: This involves all of the characters from the first story, but the focus is on Hades’ son, Zack (short for Zagreus, God of the Hunt or Resurrection) and his fallen Angel lover, Michael). This is one for breaking your heart several times over.  Turns out that Michael was Zack’s guardian angel but fell in love with his charge.  That cost his his wings.  Not in a nice way but in a come down from heaven and cut them off your body in front of your lover while you are screaming sort of way.  Still they have been happy.  But there are other fallen angels in the city and someone has been killing them and now they are coming for Michael.  The mystery is a wonderful one, the entire family comes together for Zack as its a race to help figure out who’s behind the plot against the fallen angels and how to stop it.  Just a 5 star story all around.

Dragons, Diamonds & Discord: Brandywine Investigations #3:  The collection ends with this story that pulls all 3 together, tying up the plot lines, the family stories, several relationships and ending with an altogether wonderful storyline about a dragon childrens author and Hermes, (yes that Hermes) nephew to Hades, corporate CEO and member in a band.  Really there is no end to Angel Martinez’ imagination, or depths to her stories.

Each line here sparkles with humor, a touch or more of pathos, swathed over  with layers of mythology and appreciation for the finer points of storytelling and relationship dynamics.  All that and a great tale too.  Plus dragons. I get dragons!

I don’t know if there are other Brandywine Investigations stories out there.  I certainly hope so, Angel Martinez has barely broken the surface of gods she can pull into Hade’s and Charon’s circle.  I know I need to know more.  And check in to see how Hades and Ti are getting on, along with Zack and Michael and the rest of the gang.

Do I recommend Brandywine Investigations: Open for Business (Brandywine Investigations #1-3) by Angel Martinez?  I absolutely do.  Its plain out terrific in every way.

Cover Artist: Mila May.  I am only so so on the cover.  I really don’t believe it does the stories justice, It was the title and author who grabbed my attention, not the cover which I would have passed on.

Sales Links:  Mischief Corner Books | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, First
Published April 27th 2016 by Mischief Corner Books, LLC
Original TitleBrandywine Investigations: Open for Business
ISBN139781310044854
Edition LanguageEnglish

SeriesBrandywine Investigations #1-3

An Ali Review: Bored, Stroked and Blueprinted by K.C. Kendricks

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

Bored Stoked and BlueprintedAs a boy, Mick Ambrose fell in love with cars. Now he owns and operates an auto restoration shop specializing in all things American Muscle. When the black 1969 Camaro Z/28 he years ago dubbed Onyx pulls into his garage, Mick forgets his first love in favor of her driver, Logan Gregg. Mick’s interested and cruises Logan at a speed worthy of the car he drives.

Logan Gregg’s plan to avoid entanglements in his life drives away when he stops at American Muscle to ask a few questions about restoring the Z/28 he inherited from his uncle. The owner of the shop is smooth as a well-tuned V-8 engine and twice as hot. Logan is quick to shift gears and take a closer look at Mick Ambrose and the road ahead.

But when Mick wants to get too close, too fast, Logan backs off. His past holds painful memories he can’t escape and the tattoos on his arms aren’t just for decoration. Working on the Z/28 brings the men closer, but Mick makes a mistake when he confesses his knowledge of the past Logan wants to keep buried. Mick knows a man has to settle his past to step into his future, but can he convince Logan?

KC Kendricks did a good job with this story, it’s a nice and sweet shorter story.  Mick is sure from his first meeting with Logan that he wants more with him and not just something casual.  Logan has trouble trusting others and has a bit of a push and pull relationship with Mick at the beginning.  The more time they spend together working on the car the closer they become.

Mick has been tired of hook ups for a long time, but never met anyone who he was interested in more with and Logan drives up in his dream car.  He can tell that Logan has some demons from his past to deal with but wants to help him move forward.  They both have to grow up a bit and accept that everything can’t be perfect all the time no matter how much you want it to be.

I quickly understood Mick’s feelings in the story, but it took a little longer to know Logan’s.  Neither want to do anything to hurt the other, but aren’t able to prevent it as much as they would like.  It takes time and patience for them to move forward.  I just wish we would have been able to know what Logan was thinking in some parts of the story.

Cover art by April Martinez is very nice and made me interested in the book.

Sales Links: Loose Id | Amazon | ARe

Book Details:

ebook, 97 pages
Published: 2nd Edition April 26, 2016 by Loose Id
ISBN: 9781682521274
Edition Language: English

A Stella Review: Black Dust by Lynn Charles

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RATING 4,25  out of 5 stars

Black DustNo matter how busy he keeps himself, successful Broadway musician Tobias Spence can’t outrun the memory of a tragic car crash from his past that claimed a friend’s life and permanently injured his former boyfriend, Emmett.

Even after losing Tobias, Emmett Henderson made peace with that awful night, living in his Indiana hometown where he has become a revered choral director. When his students are asked to perform in New York City, he decides to chance reconnecting with his former love, if for no other reason than to get a proper goodbye.

When Emmett and Tobias finally meet 15 years after parting ways, it is clear to both of them that their feelings for each other have not changed. As they explore their renewed relationship, the two men face old hurts and the new challenges of a long-distance romance. Will Tobias lose his second chance at love to the ghosts he can’t seem to put to rest?

“If the past comes back to visit you, maybe you should invite it to tea.”

Black Dust is my frst book by Lynn Charles, I was curious and excited to read it. Now I can say I’m surely going to read her debut novel, Chef’s Table, in the coming weeks.

What I soon appreciated was the prologue. I adore authors who give me the basical facts at the start and don’t let me beg for crumbs of past events. In the prologue set in the 2000 Emmett and Toby are a young but solid couple, they met two years ago during the auditions at the local theater when they were just 16 and 18 years old. It’s the night before Emmett prom and they are going out with their best friend, Scott when they have a terrible car accident and Scott dies.

Fifteen years later Tobias is a Broadway musician, he plays piano all over the world. He left Indiana and Emmett behind. He came back to his life, but the struggle to forget what happened and the dreams shared with his lover forgotten, is still strong and the youthful, broken promises hard to forget. Now his home base is NY and his best friend Malik, a sculptor.

Emmett is living in Indiana, working now as a choral director. As soon as the chance of  a couple of days in NY come out, he hopeful and calls Toby, asking for a reconnection.

Among the two, Emmett was my favorite character, he’s strong, real, loyal and beautiful in his heart. I soon felt a connection with his attitude, in his everyday life, his relationships with his parents or with his students. Yes I fell for him.

Point is I haven’t fallen for Toby, at all. And this is the only reason I’m not giving the story five stars. I couldn’t feel his emotions, I found him to be cold-hearted and stiff in everything he does. To me he didn’t stand out as a good person and was almost impossible to me to see him with Emmett. I said almost because at the end, thanks to the author abilities, I was finally able to understand his loss, his guilt and the tragedy he is still trying to overcome. Hats off to Lynn for this and for giving Scott an importance and lovable portrait, I missed him like Emmett and Toby did.

The author put in the story her whole musical knowledge and beyond. The MCs’ passion and work had a huge role in the book, but it never overwhelmed my reading, on the contrary, with the help of a well developed and interesting secondary characters cast, gave the plot a foundation and realism needed. I liked the style and the writing a lot, I think she did really great. The “second chance at love” stories are one of my favorite trope in the mm genre and Black Dust greatly delivered. The book was definitely worth my time and I recommend it.

The book and cover design by CB Messer is a winner. I like it a lot, an amazing style. It’s one of the reason why I picked the novel.

Sales Links:  Interlude Press |  ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 312 pages
Published April 7th 2016 by Interlude Press
ASIN B01DR4USSO
Edition Language English

A Paul B Review: For the Love of a Wolf (Wolves of Stone Ridge #34) by Charlie Richards

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

For the Love of a WolfStake Dolan, Dolan to his friends, is a firefighter for the Stone Ridge fire department.  He does not intend to insult people but he seems to have no brain to mouth filter.  So when he insults a detective who is helping to investigate a series of arsons going on in the community, he gets called in to see his supervisor.  He is told that he must apologize in writing to the detective, serve a three day suspension and “volunteer” his services clearing the brush away at the local nature park.

Cecil Rochette is a member of the local wolf shifter pack near Stone Ridge.  After his brother has mated with a cat shifter that was recently rescued from some scientists, thoughts of a mate are on his mind.  In the meantime, he has adopted a kitten for companionship.  Cecil decides to help the forest rangers in his pack with the annual clean up and brush removal.  Not knowing better, Cecil takes his new kitten with him to the park.  Cecil notices the kitten is missing and finds her in the branches of a tree.

Cecil is grateful when a hunky fireman offers to rescue the kitten from the tree.  Dolan states that as a firefighter, he has done this a number of times.  Cecil realizes that his would be hero is in fact his mate.  He kisses Dolan for his offer to help.  Dolan is taken aback by the forwardness of this man.  After all, Dolan is not gay.  Cecil realizes that his mate is new to man to man relations and decides he has to woo his mate before he can claim him.  Cecil just hopes that the reputation Dolan has as an insensitive loudmouth can be tamed.

I have been a long time reader of the Wolves of Stone Ridge series, which this is the thirty-fourth book.  What I like about the series is that Charlie Richards keeps her previous characters around as supporting players in her newer books.  They might not be mentioned for a few books but suddenly they appear again, like old friends back for a visit.  They are especially useful when initiating a new human mate into the world of the paranormal.  I know with each book in the series I will get a good story each time.  This and the related series (Kontra’s Menagerie, A Paranormal’s Love, A Loving Nip) are on my comfort reading list.

The cover art by Angela Waters is spot on as usual.  In the foreground we see a shirtless Cecil and his wolf while in the background we see Dolan in full firefighting regalia.

Sales Links:  eXtasy Books | Amazon

Book Details :

ebook, 106 pages
Published April 1st 2016 by Extasy Books
ISBN139781487406936
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesWolves of Stone Ridge #34

Series:  Wolves of Stone Ridge