A MelanieM Review: Kissing Alex (Bodyguards Inc. #6) by R.J. Scott

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Kissing AlexMartial arts expert Lewis is the kind of bodyguard who slips under most people’s radar. Quiet, reserved, but constantly on alert, he’ll do his job, keep his charges safe, then relax by reading Shakespeare in his spare time.

When he’s given a case involving a spoiled celebrity singer, Lewis isn’t all that impressed. The job is nothing but babysitting a pretty boy, and he’s used to diplomatic postings with depth and challenge. What could he possibly have in common with the man he’s being forced to look after?

Alex became the envy of many when he and his fellow bandmates won second place in a huge TV talent show. He has more money than he knows what to do with, no life goals, an ex-boyfriend selling a sex tape and now, someone who wants him dead, or at the very least maimed.

Can Lewis keep Alex safe, even when things usually in his control go to hell? Is running to a remote Scottish island the only way for them to stay alive?

I’ve missed several stories in R.J. Scott’s Bodyguards, Inc. series but if Kissing Alex is any indication of this series, I’m going to have to rectify that asap.  I loved this story.  Its everything I look for in a romance and more.  It has two wonderful MCs with a combustible connection to each other, a location that called to me, and a storyline that had outstanding secondary characters that I wanted to know more about.  It also had several other threads running through it to keep it interesting and moving along at a fast clip.

Although this is part of a series, you can read it as a standalone and come at the characters blind as I did.  Scott gives us a complete portrait of each, filling in bits and pieces of each character’s history along the way until each man is fully alive, breathing before you on the page.  I had no favorites here.  Both Lewis and Alex each won my heart equally.  But the real piece of perfection here was putting the two men down on the island of  Stoirmeil, isolated away from  most things we take for granted like wifi but on home ground for Lewis.  R.J. Scott made me see that island, from the magic of the stone circle to the daily lives of its small group of its inhabitants.  She  also made me feel their fierce, heart deep love for their land and history.  I got to watch Alex fall for the island as much as he did for Lewis, it was the perfect backdrop for their love to grow and for the story to take place.

Quite frankly, I forgot about the rest of the story, the bodyguard aspect so drawn in by the magic of the location and their romance.  It was wrapped up nicely and I loved the ending.  But was I ready for this to end?  Never.  I wanted more of their lives.  I want them married, I want more of this island, and that family.  R.J. Scott created something special here.  And it was difficult to let it go even as happy as I was with the ending.

So, RJ, if you are listening, a side story please?  Let’s return to Stoirmeil….on a bonny summer day, for a wedding on the beach, maybe two.  In the meantime, I highly recommend this story.  Its romantic, it has men in kilts, its sexy and it will make you want to book a plane ticket to Scotland and then a ferry ride to the next island out.  Trust me on this.

Cover art by Meredith Russell. The model is the perfect representation of Alex. But a huge opportunity was missed by not showing us something of the beauty of the Scottish island of Stoirmeil.  That makes this cover way too bland and not tied into a main theme of the storyline.

Sales Links:  RJ Scott  | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published April 25th 2016 by Love Lane Books
ISBN139781785640414
SeriesBodyguards Inc. #6

A Jeri Review: Dinner for One by Meg Harding

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Dinner for OneBastien is head chef and part owner of a VERY French restaurant that has gotten nothing but rave reviews, has lines out the door and a reservation list months in advance. James is a food critic for a well known newspaper and gives Bastien his first not so rave review. No big deal right? Until James buys a pastry from Bastien at his nephews base sale and is shocked to find out that the pastry chef and the restaurant chef are on in the same. Even worse, he is incredibly attracted to him.

Bastien and James begin a romantic relationship. And it is rather sweet and romantic. Being that one is a chef and the other a critic- although Bastien doesn’t know that- much of their relationship revolves around food. How very French!

The deeper they get the more worried James is for Bastien to find out who he really is. The guy who panned his restaurant.

Some of the things I really liked about this book: the sex is hot hot hot! So hot that Bastien reverts to French while in the throes of passion. Whew.

Both James and Bastien are very close to their families. I love that. I love that Bastien is always there for his sister and niece and that James has a brood of siblings to go to. It was all very sweet, but very realistic.

THE FOOD! Don’t read this book while you are hungry. Seriously. It is akin to grocery shopping while hungry.

The relationship was very equal in my opinion. There was never one man trying to woo the other while the other sat back. Well, until after the big fight.

Speaking of the fight. The way James goes about trying to win Bastien back is just perfect. Seriously perfect. It was so sweet, so perfect. And Bastien’s answers to everything were wonderful. A bit vague, but you really need to read it.

My only nit picky, didn’t like a lot things: Bastien seemed to get out of work pretty early usually. For a hot restaurant in NYC, he wouldn’t be walking out the door until at least 1am in not later. Not 10. And except for a one here and there, James seemed to abandon his critic job while he was with Bastien. How else to eat elaborate meals together late at night?

For a switch, no one is a jerk, no one is in the closet, no one was abandoned by family for being gay. All around it was a new, refreshing read. And I believe there are more in the series to come. Making my reservation now.

The cover art by Reese Dante is absolutely perfect, with the two men in the background and yummy food front and center.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: July 13th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634773942 (ISBN13: 9781634773942)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Designs of Desire by Tempeste O’Reily ~ Audiobook narrated by Max Lehnan

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

designs-of-desire audioDreamspinner Press, book 1 in the Desires Entwined series

James Bryant suffers from a joint disorder and has to use crutches to get around. The crutches aren’t just because of the disorder, though—they are the result of an attack by a former lover. James is an artist, but he’s currently working for a design firm so that he’ll have a safety net income and benefits. As a junior in the firm, he’s surprised when he’s given a prestigious job to design the interior concepts for a hotel catering to LGBTQ couples. And that’s where he meets Seth Burns—the gorgeous, wealthy, CEO of Carrington Enterprises, and unfortunately, also a dominant personality. And the last thing James wants is to get involved with someone like his former lover. Too bad, too, because this one is super hot and apparently very interested in James.

Seth Burns can’t believe his luck when he’s assigned the very talented James Bryant for his project, but he’s quickly on the defensive when he learns what happened to James in the past. Willing to put his need for control on the back burner until he and James get to know one another, he finds that the sweet young man is not only more talented than he originally assumed, he’s also more emotionally fragile. And when James is confronted with his ex-Dom again and further injured, Seth helps James pursue having the man prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

After Seth and James initially become involved, Seth encourages him to pursue his career as an artist and cut back at the design firm. Not long after that Seth learns that the sister of his heart has been killed in an accident, and he’s been named guardian for her daughter, the daughter for whom Seth was the sperm donor. James immediately opens his heart and his home to both Seth and six-year-old Dani, and the journey toward the formation of their new family begins. But the journey is not without multiple bumps along the road, including yet another threat to James’s life—this time from an unexpected source. Will these men ever be able to overcome all the odds against them? It’s difficult, but with the help of the bodyguard Seth hired and James’s BFF, Chase, they manage to overcome the odds against them and find the path to their happiness.

This is my first book from this author and I enjoyed the story, even with all the twists and turns. I liked the characters, both MC and secondary, and I was pleased to see there’s more coming up in this series. My major disappointment was with the audiobook narration of Max Lehnan. The poor narration placed a burden on the story that I found difficult to overcome. His narration was so poor I can only give it one star. However, rather than average that with the four stars I’d give the story, I am going with 3.5 stars overall because I hate to penalize the author’s rating for something like this. I see that there’s a different narrator for the last two books in the series so I’ll definitely be moving to them next. And I recommend the e-book version to MM readers who enjoy stories with family drama, especially those who find happiness with family of the heart.

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The cover by Reese Dante is done in a very soft, soothing, watercolor with a faded background headshot of two men about to kiss. In the forefront is a hand holding a paintbrush and with rings on each finger of the hand, signifying the ring splints worn by MC James—the perfect cover for this book.

Audiobook Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, 7 pages, 6 hrs 18 mins
Published December 4th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press, LLC (first published July 28th 2013)
Original TitleDesigns of Desire
ASINB00H3945LQ
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesDesires Entwined #1 settingMilwaukee, Wisconsin (United States)

An Ali Review: Wildflowers by Suki Fleet

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Rating:  5 out of 5 stars

WildflowersXavi doesn’t believe in love anymore. Love has never changed the outcome of anything. It has only hurt him.

Sam is sick, and he wants one last thing. He wants Xavi to be with him, to stay with him until the end. Xavi drops everything and promises Sam he will be there.

As they travel across the countryside in a stolen sea-green Cadillac, they search for something neither has the courage to admit he’s looking for. But as the days slip away, Xavi isn’t sure he can keep his promise; he isn’t sure about anything. He can’t help Sam do this. He can’t stand by and watch Sam suffer, can’t be content to let Sam give up.

Saving Sam becomes the only thing that makes any sense, the only thing Xavi wants. Loving Sam becomes the most important promise he will ever make. Now he just has to convince Sam that life—and love—are worth fighting for.

I’m not even sure I have the words to express how much I loved this book.  It’s told from Xavi’s point of view as he struggles to come to terms with, not only his relationship with Sam, but the many painful choices he’s made in his life.  The writing is haunting and melancholy throughout most of the story but it drew me in and I couldn’t put the book down once I had started it. whoI highlighted many passages that I thought were especially moving. It’s a short story (only 80 pages) but there is a lot of plot and even more emotion packed in to it.  The characters were richly done and the emotional pain Xavi is going through jumps off the pages at you.  I found myself empathizing so much with him.  Most of the story revolves around Xavi and Sam but there are a host of side characters that add to the plot and  who were also really well done.   It is an angsty story (but you knew that from the blurb) and I’m not going to lie, my eyes filled with tears more than once, but it is well worth every minute of the pain because there is beauty here too.
Cover art by Garrett Leigh. I like the cover and think it fits really well with the plot of the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:
ebook, 80 pages
Expected publication: July 13th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634774779 (ISBN13: 9781634774772)
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Alisa Review: Awakening the Alpha by Carolina Valdez

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

Awakening the AlphaBlaze Canis is doing what he loves best. As a shooting range instructor just outside Yellowstone National Park, the former Navy SEAL sniper is still handling firearms. When Shoshone Native Logan Swift Rider walks into his target shooting class one morning, the attraction each man feels for the other is swift and magical. Since Blaze’s SEAL teammates never knew he was gay, let alone a werewolf, he’s confident his new lover need never know of his two natures.

 

Logan opens his heart and body to loving Blaze in the most intimate ways possible. When he learns what Blaze has hidden of himself, Logan is shattered. Although raised in both the white and Native worlds, it’s Logan’s Indian heritage that tells him he may have fallen for a witch, a skinwalker.

 

Can Blake convince Logan there’s no evil involved in what he is or will Logan remain convinced he’s been making love to a monster?

 

Logan and Blaze come from very different backgrounds.  Logan’s Native American heritage and teachings give him a different view of the world from many while Blaze has always really hidden who he was from the world.  They both feel a deep connection to the other very quickly.

 

When Logan finds out Blaze is a werewolf, he begins to rethink everything he knew about Blaze because of teachings from his youth.  It takes some deep soul searching for him to be willing to talk about his concerns and see Blaze again.

 

It took a bit for me to connect with the characters, not quite sure why.  Chapter 1 is more of a preface to me and I kept trying to connect it to the MCs to it, but that doesn’t come until a bit later.  Once I really got into the story I could see how open Blaze and Logan were with each other while still holding a bit back.  I’m not sure they ever really resolve the problem, it’ more of both of them just saying okay we’re good.  I also didn’t like that there was never a real ending to the “relationship” that Logan had back in California and no mention of it to Blaze either.

 

Cover art by Syneca Featherstone is wonderful and perfect for this story.

 

Sales Links: Loose Id | Amazon | ARe

 

Book Details:

ebook, 110 pages

Published: June 7, 2016 by Loose Id

ISBN: 9781682521519

Edition Language: English