A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Helping Hand by Jay Northcote ~ Narrated by Mark Steadman


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Helping Hand audiobookAbout a year ago, I had the pleasure of reading this story by Jay Northcote. I enjoyed it, primarily because it was about two guys, Jez and Mac, who discover that their friendship with benefits could grow to be so much more.

It starts out as Jez giving Mac a helping hand one night after spending quite a few weekends in a row studying. Both second year university students, and young men with active libidos, they decide to watch porn one night after finishing their studies. One thing leads to another, and Jez, who spends more time looking at Mac’s package than at the movie, decides to offer a hand job.

Both are amazed at how good it feels, so Jez takes the next available opportunity to offer to give Mac a blowjob. Mac doesn’t resist, and the guys move to a new stage in their relationship. Further stages occur as they discover mutual hand jobs, kissing, frottage, and finally full penetration. Jez realizes, however, that it’s not casual for him anymore. He’s in way over his head because his feelings are involved, and he’s unsure of Mac because he has always claimed he’s not gay. And that’s exactly when they are discovered, and everything begins to fall apart.

Jez doesn’t want to be Mac’s “dirty little secret” for life, but can’t find a way to tell him that. What happens makes the conclusion of this story not only interesting, but heartwarming as well.

What I loved most about the audiobook version is the narrator. Mark Steadman gave the story the British authenticity it was missing when I was just reading the e-book. His accent and his ability to provide variety in the main and secondary characters’ voices made it perfect. Add to that, the story had just the right amount of sweetness and angst, stirred together with some great, hot and sexy scenes.

I recommend the audiobook version if you’re thinking of picking this one up. It’s terrific!


Cover art by Garrett Leigh is a black-and-white photo showing the bare upper torso of a reclining, dark-haired man with the right amount of five o’clock shadow and looking ready for anything or anyone who comes along.

Sales Link: Audible.com | Audible.co.uk | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Apple

Audiobook Details:

Published May 13th 2016 by Jaybird Press (first published June 24th 2015)
Original TitleHelping Hand
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHousemates #1 settingPlymouth, England (United Kingdom)

An Alisa Audiobook Review: In the Middle of Somewhere (Middle of Somewhere #1) by Roan Parrish and Robert Nieman (Narrator)


Rating:  3 stars out of 5


In the Middle of SomewhereDaniel Mulligan is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in—not at home in Philadelphia with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates looked down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Holiday, Northern Michigan, but he’s a city boy through and through, and it’s clear that this small town is one more place he won’t fit in.


Rex Vale clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his muscular body, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people.


When the two men meet, their chemistry is explosive, but Rex fears Daniel will be another in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in can be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia, where he discovers a secret that changes the way he understands everything.


This was a very emotional story.  Daniel has never had someone who loved and cared for him in his life, his father and brothers barely accepted his existence and his classmates never wanted to connect with him.  When he is in a small town for a job interview Rex helps him after an accident and then disappears the next morning he is sure that Rex is just another in the long line of people who wouldn’t care about him.


Both Daniel and Rex have a hard time with building a relationship, it more happens by accident in the beginning until Daniel is able to really see what is happening between them.  Rex lets Daniel into his life, but keeps him at a slight distance afraid that he will leave.  When Rex is there for Daniel when he needs him most it helps him start to see that he really can rely on someone else to care and help him.  It did seem as if Daniel had to have things happen multiple times for him to finally understand anything emotional.


I had a hard time with the narration of this story.  The narrator didn’t change voices for characters and with the different points of view within the story I had a hard time knowing who was talking to speaking at the moment and had to go back several times and re-listen to portions or stay very focused on what I was listening to.  The story would have been a 4 out of 5 rating, but I had to knock it down a bit due to the narration.


Cover art by AngstyG is wonderful and gives a good backdrop for the story.


Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Audible | Amazon |  iTunes


Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 13 hrs 26 min
Published March 25, 2016 (ebook first published July 10, 2015)
Edition Language: English

Series: Middle of Somewhere #1

A Free Dreamer Review: Song of Song by L.J. LaBarthe


Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Song of SongIt is the year 2275, and though some consider Earth a paradise, for most people on the planet or her outer-world colonies, it’s anything but.

Dex is a Boxie—a genetically engineered human created for the sole purpose of caring for wealthy bio-humans. His best and only friend is an AI cat named Manx, a secret Dex keeps from all around him. While he knows little about his sexuality, he’s attracted to Song.

Song designs ships that traverse deep space and has created the first fully sentient vessel called Fa’a. When he hears of a plot to capture Fa’a for nefarious purposes, Song flees Earth with a small band of misfits. Meanwhile, Dex’s fear of losing Manx drives him to take the cat and escape on a transport.

Song and Dex are brought together by chance. Just as their relationship blossoms from cautious and shy to romantic and erotic, new dangers threaten to destroy not only their love but also Fa’a, their friends, Manx, and all they care about.

I seem to have a thing for space operas lately, even though I usually prefer my sci fi to be set on Earth, without aliens… Anyway, I couldn’t resist the promise of an AI cat. I love cats and the idea of AIs fascinates me.

Sadly, “Song of Song” wasn’t quite as awesome as other books of the genre I’ve read recently. The idea behind the plot was good, but it lost me somewhere along the way.

There were a few things that didn’t make any sense to me. I’m almost tempted to call them plot holes. The leaders of large countries sign a treaty without reading the small print first? That seems horribly unrealistic to me. Another thing that bothered me was the fact that Boxies weren’t allowed to have relationships of any sort (romantic or not) with other people and yet they’re allowed to go to brothels. That seemed rather odd to me.

The idea of a fully sentient spaceship was interesting, but I’m not sure I quite understood how that was supposed to work. My technical understanding is rather lacking, though, so it might just have been me.

And honestly, I would probably find the thought of being inside a fully sentient rather creepy. Fa’a is depicted as omniscient to whatever is going on inside of her. I would probably be too embarrassed to ever undress. So I had a hard time relating to the MCs’ awe of her.

The romance part happened way too fast for my personal liking. Dex was essentially already in love with Song before he even met him. And for Song it was insta-love, even though he had other things to worry about when they first met.

The same goes for the sex. Dex felt like a very innocent character to me. And yet they stumble into bed asap and have amazing, mind blowing sex.

Manx was probably the best part of the story for me. I love pets with a real personality in my stories and an AI cat is the epitome of that. I want an AI cat too. Just so you know.

The troubles were resolved way too easily for my liking. Everything just fell into place easily and what seemed like insurmountable issues before, suddenly turned out to be a simple formality.

Overall, “Song of Song” was just an okay read for me. The concept was promising but the story itself fell a little short. Not a must read, but nice enough.

Cover: The cover by Anne Cain shows Song and Dex. In my mind’s eye, Dex looked a lot younger than he does on the cover. Other than that, I like it. Manx looks really cute.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 270 pages
Published January 18th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1623807174 (ISBN13: 9781623807177)
Edition LanguageEnglish