A MelanieM Review: Sweet William by Dianne Hartsock

Standard

Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

Sweet WilliamWilliam Wilkerson leads the life of the privileged rich. Head of his father’s shipping business, he indulges to his heart’s content in the pleasures of the flesh with Boston’s finest young men.

That is, until he reunites with Fredrick: his former tutor and the one man who captured his heart.

But William’s father has declared Fredrick off limits. And Fredrick, himself, believes he’s beneath the attention of the Wilkerson heir.

After having lost his current pupil to graduation, and with no prospects of a replacement, Frederick is homeless, hungry, and easy pickings for the men on the docks.

When Frederick is shanghaied into service on William’s own merchant ship, will William discover his plight in time to rescue him?

Sweet William is an short historical romance by Dianne Hartsock that is simply a sweet, quick lovers reunited story set in Boston in 1894, but sometimes manages to lose the tone and feel of the times its set in.

The blurb above pretty much sets out the entire story which Hartsock fills in for 48 pages, including lots of sexy encounters, some sexual assaults, and a romance that while sweet, never felt as thought it had much depth.

The story is like a pretty bauble as they would say back then, lovely if you don’t have too high expectations.  William, the heir, has been pretty much a man slut, behaving recklessly with men in an age where that could lead to jail if not a hanging (that’s not quite addressed here).  Frederick the teacher (only a few years older than William) is cast off, finds another job, loses that and somehow remains naive, longing for his first love, a bit of a “lost bunny” of a character with no apparent self preservation instincts.

The characterizations and back history just didn’t have enough time in the story to come together.  Or perhaps it was how they were presented in the story, but whatever it was, they lost a certain amount of chemistry and connection because it felt disconnected in the shortness of the tale here.

Yes, the villain was perhaps the final downfall.  He was evil incarnate in the “old fashioned” way.  His actions towards Frederick were vile, yes.  But there was just something about Frederick’s predicament that didn’t seem believable enough, that what followed lost their reality as well.  He  came away feeling more like Snidely Whiplash then a viable human predator.

And none of the above addresses the times the story was set in, which I only got a small feeling for.  In short,  maybe my expectations for an historical romance are set high, higher than this story reached.  Others might just overlook my issues, and enjoy the romance for the lovers reunited PWP short novelette it is.  I’ll leave the decision up to you.

Cover Art by: Adrian Rafail.  I love this cover. Its charming, the tone is perhaps as is the character.

Sales Links:  Wayward Ink Press |Amazon US |Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon DE | ARe

Book Details:

ebook, 48 pages
Published April 22nd 2016 by Wayward Ink Publishing
ISBN139781925222876
Edition LanguageEnglish
settingBoston, Massachusetts (United States)

A VVivacious Review: Five Times My Best Friend Kissed Me by Anna Martin

Standard
Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
 
Five Times My Best Friend Kissed MeScott and Evan have been best friends since forever. But when Evan realises he is gay, he also realises that he has almost always held a flame in his heart for his best friend.
 
When Scott kisses him in the beginning of senior year, Evan believes his wildest dreams to have come true but when he finds Katie, Scott’s friend-with-benefits kissing Scott just minutes after, his hopes come crashing down. He decides to forget the kiss as a drunken misadventure, never to be mentioned again.
 
But even though Evan is ready to forget Scott’s drunken mistake, Scott isn’t so ready to have Evan forget him.
 
This story is a best-friends-to-lovers story, which is one of my favorite tropes. Evan and Scott are so good together and their story was so cute and so sweet and seeing them finally find each other was the best thing of all.
 
This book is very well written. I liked the 5+1 (Five Times My Best Friend Kissed Me and One Time I Kissed Him First) idea which the author says originated from fan fiction. It is my first encounter with such a type of story. It’s kind of like six short stories chronicling the epic love story of Scott and Evan. I felt like this particular way of writing the story made it much more interesting, especially as the story of the kisses is out of order, so there this awesome feeling of understanding how future events occurred which we learn about first based on things that happened in the past which we came to know about later. I kind of got the surreal feeling of time traveling to uncover the story of Scott and Evan.
 
Evan is an artist working to make ends meet he isn’t struggling and he is comfortable living in his own house, doing what he likes and actually getting paid for it. Evan is the type of guy who is trying to figure his life out in high school but is unable to as he has to keep a part of himself under wraps. But once he comes out he tastes the freedom of being who he wants to be and living life as he wants to. I loved Evan he is the kind of loner who has a really popular best friend.
 
Scott on the other hand is still figuring his life out but getting a job being successful at it and having multiple relationships still hasn’t helped him move on from that dreaded What If question. What if Evan and him could be something more?
 
Well this book does say five times and I really wondered if this story would be another angst-fest and if the author could justify the MCs letting each other go so many times. As it happens this story was considerably low on angst than I expected and everything that happens in the story feels natural and real and it makes sense that things would go down the way did. It is a beautiful story about how Scott and Evan become Scott and Evan and when they are together it is beautiful.
 
I loved the story it was one hell of an awesome love story with two characters meant to be with each other and their story, the path they take to find each other may have been long but in the end it made the story worth it.
 
Cover Art by Garrett Leigh. I loved the cover. I loved the sunset background with those orange tones and the two guys fooling around having fun. Personally the cover will make you look twice. It is really pretty.
Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: May 20th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleFive Times My Best Friend Kissed Me
ISBN139781634771566
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Lila Audiobook Review: The Servant by Mary Calmes and Narrator Greg Tremblay

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The Servant audiobookAfter saving his younger brother’s child, Daemon Shar is cursed by a witch and runs far from home, a stray who will seemingly never be anything more. But destiny is hard to outrun, even for a man who is now more cat than man beneath his robes and cowl. A chance battlefield meeting between he and Ehron, a foreign lord, gives him purpose amidst the darkness of his accursed life. Soon Daemon finds that his true nature cannot be corrupted no matter the form he inhabits.

As Ehron’s consul, Daemon plots and plans to shape his new lord’s future so that he may leave it blessed when he runs away yet again. But he never counted on his soul hungering for Ehron’s brother Gareth or for his past to catch him by the tail at last.

The Servant is an excellent interpretation of an old fairytale. The world-build was extensive for such a short story. But at the same time, it allowed the reader to see the battles, the characters, and the extended periods of time in context. The story has a medieval feeling even when it’s a strong fantasy environment.

The opening scene was difficult to follow at times, especially the audio version. It took time to get used to all the characters and their voices. Plus, the story arc starts with Daemon using his real name and the servant taking part of the battle with him isn’t the one the book is named after. There are several POV changes during the story, and it was overwhelming in certain areas, and others lacked importance, but overall, every narrator added to the story.

Daemon’s and Gareth’s relationship can be considered insta-love.  Gareth falls for Daemon’s qualities since he couldn’t see his true form under the robes and cowl. In Daemon’s case, he’s attracted to Gareth’s kind heart and his devotion to his brother & their family.

The story moves slow, and it’s very detailed. Everything from Daemon’s clothing to Ehron’s future is important to the romance and suspense plotlines. Like most fairytales, the ending happened quickly, and the resolution felt rush. We get a lot of information that solves all the open questions within a scene, and on the next one, we get a HEA. I wanted a little more time for Daemon’s identity to be revealed and for him to enjoy Gareth. Even so, it was a lovely tale of family and devotion.

As always, Greg Tremblay delivered an outstanding listening experience. The fluidity of the voices and the details he added to each character simply added to an already good story. He’s one of the best narrators in the MM genre.

The DWS Photography cover is a variation from the ebook version which was produced in 2011. It worked at that moment, but now, it makes the book look outdated. More than a re-invented fairytale, the picture in the cover makes it look like an old children book.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner | Amazon | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Greg Tremblay
Length:  5 hours and 8 minutes

Published:  March 18, 2016 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN: B01D3T777I
Edition Language: English

An Ali Audiobook Review: Violated by Jamie Fessenden and K.C. Kelly (Narrator)

Standard

Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Violated audiobook coverDerek Sawyer thinks he has it all—a high-salaried position, a boyfriend, a dog, even a new cabin on the lake—until a business trip with his manager and best friend, Victor, shatters his world.

One night of drunken horsing around in their hotel room leads to the most intensely personal violation Derek has ever endured. As if the humiliation of working under his attacker every day isn’t enough, Victor reports Derek for sexual harassment. Now he’s without a job, without a boyfriend, and the mortgage on the cabin is due.

Officer Russ Thomas has worked with rape victims before, and it doesn’t take him long to sort out the truth in Derek’s tale. With his support, Derek finally reports the crime, months after it happened. But restraining orders and lawyers further Victor’s anger toward him, and even though a relationship develops between Derek and the policeman, Russ can’t be there to protect him all the time.

This was a very emotional story.  Derek is content with his life if not happy.  When he is violated by his friend he realizes how much he doesn’t like some aspects of his life.  He does everything he can to deal on his own without anyone’s help until he pretty much loses everything except his dog and cabin.  Russ can’t help but tell there is something wrong with his new neighbor and will do anything he can to help Derek and help him move forward.

You can’t help but connect with the characters and feel just how they are.  I could feel how desperate and isolated Derek felt about what happened to him and how hurt Russ is for Derek when he is told the story.  It takes awhile for Derek to fully open up to anyone and begin to move forward in his life after all that has happened.  This story had a great HFN ending a couple years in the future.  It made it more believable because with all that happened there really isn’t any way that everything would suddenly work out, they will always need to work thru their emotions together.

KC Kelly did a very nice job narrating this story.  I was able to connect with the characters feel their emotions in his reading as he used different voices for the characters.

Cover art by LC Chase is perfect for this story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Audible | Amazon | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 9 hrs 42 min
Published: March 21, 2016 (ebook first published August 7, 2015)
Edition Language: English

In the Spotlight: The Balance (The Eternal Dungeon #3) by Dusk Peterson (excerpt and contest)

Standard

balance6x9

The Balance (The Eternal Dungeon #3) by Dusk Peterson
Release Date: April 11, 2016 (reissue)

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Love In Dark Settings Press
Cover Artist: Dusk Peterson

Blurb

“‘The Eternal Dungeon is my home now,’ the High Seeker said. But as he spoke, he lifted his face and looked at the Vovimian carving, as a man might look at a beloved he must leave forever.”

The Seekers (torturers) in the Eternal Dungeon have always expressed contempt toward the Hidden Dungeon in the neighboring kingdom of Vovim, whose torturers abuse prisoners without restraint. But the balance between mercy and hell is not so clear as might be thought in either dungeon, and now that balance is about to tip. Only the strength of love and integrity will determine the paths of two Seekers whose fortunes are bound together.

A winner of the 2011 Rainbow Awards (within the “Eternal Dungeon” omnibus), this tale of love and adventure can be read on its own or as the third volume in The Eternal Dungeon, a speculative fiction series set in a nineteenth-century prison where the psychologists wield whips.

The Eternal Dungeon series is part of Turn-of-the-Century Toughs, a cycle of alternate history series (Young Toughs, Waterman, Life Prison, Commando, Michael’s House, The Eternal Dungeon, and Dark Light) about adults and youths on the margins of society, and the people who love them. Set in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the novels and stories take place in an alternative version of America that was settled by inhabitants of the Old World in ancient times. As a result, the New World retains certain classical and medieval customs.

 

Pages or Words: 90,000 words
Can be read as a standalone
Categories: Alternate Universe, Gay Fiction, Historical, Adventure, Queergender

Excerpt

He had awoken, on that day after, to find himself lying alone in bed.

It had all been a dreaming, then: the promise of everlasting love, the passion that had followed upon that promise, the warmth of Elsdon’s body – and more importantly, the warmth of his companionship. Layle had expected it to happen one day: his dreamings had become so real that he had begun to believe them.

The bedsprings creaked.

He reacted automatically, which meant he reacted violently. Reaching toward the only loose object at hand – the night-table next to the bed – he grasped it by its leg, wrenched it from the floor, and had begun to swing it toward the intruder before he checked himself in time.

He opened his eyes. Elsdon, fully clothed and hooded but with his face-cloth raised, sat beside him. He looked, Layle realized with amazement, more amused than fearful.

“By all that is sacred,” Elsdon said, speaking the mildest of oaths, “is this how you always greet your love-mates upon awakening?”

Layle slowly lowered the night-table, feeling the blood thunder within his body. “I’ve never had a love-mate before who slept with me.”

“I can see why, if this is how you wake from your sleep.”

Layle slowly raised himself into a sitting position. Elsdon was still smiling, he noted with growing incredulity. The Seeker-in-Training had made a joke about the fact that Layle was a killer born.

Buy the book

http://duskpeterson.com/eternaldungeon/#thebalance

Universal / Global Amazon – http://myBook.to/TheBalance_DPeterson
BN – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-balance-dusk-peterson/1115247368
kobo – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/the-balance-the-eternal-dungeon-volume-3
iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/balance-eternal-dungeon-volume/id1102706878?mt=11
smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/629188

 

BannerTemplate

Meet the Author

Honored in the Rainbow Awards, Dusk Peterson writes historical adventure tales that are speculative fiction: alternate history, historical fantasy, and retrofuture science fiction, including lgbtq novels and young adult fiction. Friendship, family affection, faithful service, and romance often occur in the stories. A resident of Maryland, Mx. Peterson lives with an apprentice and several thousand books.

Where to find the author:

 


Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, Divine Magazine, A.M. Leibowitz, Wake Up Your Wild Side, Full Moon Dreaming, Bayou Book Junkie, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, My Fiction Nook, Jessie G. Books, MM Good Book Reviews, Happily Ever Chapter, Charley Descoteaux, MM Book Escape, Bonkers About Books, Velvet Panic, The Hat Party, Outrageous Heroes, Open Skye Book Reviews

Final

Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: An e-copy of “Life Prison.”  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js