A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Temptations of Desire (Desires Entwined #3) by Tempeste O’Riley and Jeff Gelder (Narrator)

Standard

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

temptations-of-desire audioThis story overlaps the action that took place in Desire’s Guardian, the previous one in the series so I would highly recommend reading that before starting this one. Dal Sayer, cop and brother of Rhys Sayer (Desire’s Guardian) meets a gorgeous young man at the local LGBTQ center. The man, Alexander James Noble, introduces himself as Alex and tells Dal he’s the chef who volunteers there to prepare meals on Saturdays.

A personal chef for a businessman, Alex, who Dal nicknames Lexi, is gender fluid, switching back and forth to his female persona as the mood strikes him. However, Dal is unaware of that until one night he surprises Lexi when he drops by to see him. Lexi opens the door in his female wardrobe, and with the shock of seeing Dal there, he runs into his bedroom, locking the door behind him. It takes a while, but eventually Dal gets the story of heartbreak, pain and abandonment at the hands of his family who rejected him when they found out he liked to dress in his sister’s clothing. Dal slowly but surely wins Lexi’s trust as he remains supportive and faithful to him and assures him he accepts Lexi completely.

Throughout most of this story, the author weaves in the events that occurred concurrently in Desire’s Guardian, so much of what we learn is repetitive. However, one fresh piece of information is the arrival of Lexi’s twin sister, Lyric, and her family, including her husband who used to spout hatred toward Lexi when they were in high school. Apparently Ly is moving away from their hometown due to her husband’s job, so she arrives to share her good news with Lexi. What I found odd is it appeared that these twins had not kept in touch after he was dumped in front of a hospital by his father years before, and yet when she shows up, she’s fully supportive of his life and embraces both his male and female personas and her husband is as well!

The overused trope that disturbed me the most was the pressure Dal’s parents put on him to find a female, marry, and reproduce in order to give his father grandchildren so he’d want to survive his cancer and be happy. This issue was present in the previous story, but there was more time spent on those conversations in this one. And to be honest, I found the whole situation quite bizarre and sickening. Dal is not a teen—he’s a professional man in his thirties, and having to listen to the whole ridiculous argument from both of his parents was distasteful.

During the last twenty minutes of the story, we finally get fresh information as this is the point where Dal had been injured by helping Rhys rescue his lover. And though what happens with the couple is sweet and worthy of several sighs and “Ahh” moments, it doesn’t save the rest of the book. Topping all this was the ever-speedy narration by Jeff Gelder, who gave both Lexi and Lyric the same voice and narrated the book as if he was reading it for the first time. The narration did not add to the story at all, so I can’t honestly recommend it in audiobook format.

If it didn’t seem as if the whole story was just a rehash of the second book, I believe I would have liked it much more. I love cross-dressing men, and there were a few glimpses of “manties” so there was some redeeming value there. And I really liked Dal, until his way of dealing with his demeaning parents left me feeling ill. Lexi was a sweetheart through and through, and by the end I wasn’t so sure Dal deserved him. I’d recommend the e-book to those who want to complete the series, but as I said previously, it’s not a standalone.

The cover by Reese Dante is done in the same soft watercolors as the others in the series and features a set of scarves and multicolor bracelets—both symbolic of Lexi and very beautifully done.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook
Published June 15th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press (first published September 22nd 2014)
ASINB01H2JDU0S
Edition LanguageEnglish

SeriesDesires Entwined #3

A Lila Review: Witch King by T.A. Creech

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Witch KingKing Solna Nalion is tired of war. Standing in the aftermath of yet another battle over an ancient insult, he longs for the possibility of ending the wars at last — and finds it in Vius Tylele, a wounded warrior who is not what he seems. In light of Tylele’s charm and intelligence, Nalion schemes to unite their countries for a lasting peace, one that might even bring love.

Nothing is as it seems and Vius Tylele knows that all too well. But King Nalion’s marriage proposal, while ridiculous, has merit. Between petulant generals, tainted magic, and falling unexpectedly in love, Vius discovers he has more to lose than he thought. His country, his magic, and even his heart.

Witch King was a surprising find. I loved the book’s premise and how vivid the opening scene was. Solna’s and Vius’s connection became evident with the simplicity of their first contact and the reverence Solna had toward the injured man he kept in his arms until he had to let go.

From the beginning, we get a good view of Solna’s commitment to his people and how hard he had worked to defend them. It was nice to see a king willing to do everything to bring peace to his kingdom even if it was at his expense. Vius was lovely and his reasons, when different from Solna’s, were more important than his own happiness. We get two selfless men in search of more from life.

There are many secondary characters involved in the story. We get their names, relationships, and a good reason for most of them to be part of the story. There’s also a good sense of place, and the world build is perhaps too far reaching for such a short story. It has good bones; it just needed a couple of extra pages.

Yes, the story suffered just like any other novella from the lack of additional content to explain how things happened behind the scenes or to wrap-up every single loose thread. It feels like it’s missing some chapters and a solid ending. Overall, it’s a fantastic story with lots of potential to be turned into a novel or a series of novellas.

I like the cover, but personally, I’d had switched the two pictures, having King Solna on the bottom and Vius on top.

Sale Links: JMS Books | Amazon | ARe

Book Details:

ebook, 88 pages
Published: June 11, 2016, JMS Books
ISBN: 9781634861281
Edition Language: English

A MelanieM Review: Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters (Offbeat Crimes #1) by Angel Martinez

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

limegelatinandothermonsters_800Kyle Monroe, his irritating new partner, and their fellow freaks at the 77th Precinct must learn to work together to stop a vicious murderer that might not even be human.

Kyle Monroe’s encounter with a strange gelatinous creature in an alley leaves him scarred and forever changed, revealing odd abilities he wishes he didn’t have and earning him reassignment to a precinct where all the cops have defective paranormal abilities.

Just as he’s starting to adjust to his fellow misfit squad mates, Kyle’s new partner arrives. Tall, physically perfect, reserved, and claiming he has no broken psychic talents, Vikash Soren irritates Kyle in every way. But as much as he’d like to hate Vikash, Kyle finds himself oddly drawn to him, their non-abilities meshing in unexpected ways. If they can learn to work together, they might be able to stop the mysterious killer who has been leaving mutilated bodies along the banks of the Schuylkill.

Previously published, I somehow missed this the first time around and now got to enjoy a new adventure into the creative mind of Angel Martinez with Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters, the first in her Offbeat Crimes series.  Its another wild lollapalooza of creatures and mysteries thrown together and it starts with the 77th Precinct, also known as the “Island of Misfit Freaks”.  Its the precinct where any paranormal cop with a non-useful talent gets stuck, aka…the reject pile.  One cop can hear the unhappiness of waterfowl, another? Well, they’re not sure what he is or does.  He just is.  One’s a ghost who’s job is to maintain coffee pot and he’s bad at it.  And so it goes at the 77th Precinct.  Then we arrive at our main couple.  Kyle Monroe, on the short side, although he maintains he’s average who absorbs any paranormal talent nearby without control.  And Vikash Soren who’s at first reticent about why he’s been transferred…until he connects with Kyle and all hell breaks loose.

Half the fun and the charm of a Angel Martinez story is the inventiveness and down right quirkiness of the characters involved.  A cop that hears the unhappiness of waterfowl?  Thats sort of amazing and something I can picture as are all the other inhabitants of that Island of Misfit Freaks.  I grew downright fond of them all as the story progressed and I got to know them better.  Another?  The mysteries, murder cases actually, that the squad must investigate.  Often horrible, its a wonderful avenue for personal exploration for the reader as well as for themselves.  And it works beautifully here.  I enjoyed seeing the case being solved as much as I enjoyed the romance progress too.

As this is the first in a series, its a HFN which is fine.  There is so much more exploring to do as far as the Precinct and the characters go.  I can’t wait.  If the supernatural, the paranormal, murder mysteries, and romance is something you are looking for, here is a story that combines all of them to my delight.  That its written by Angel Martinez just seals the deal.  I highly recommend it.

Cover art by Posh Gosh really doesn’t relate as well as it should to the story line.  Its just ok.

Sales Links:  Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition, 91 pages
Expected publication: August 16th 2016 by Pride Publishing (first published May 24th 2015)
ISBN139781786514691
Edition LanguageEnglish

SeriesOffbeat Crimes #1, Tales From The 77th Precinct

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: The Law of Attraction by Jay Northcote ~ Audiobook narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davis

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The Law of Attraction audioWhen a professional relationship turns personal, it’s impossible to resist the law of attraction.

Alec Rowland is a high-flying lawyer in a London firm whose career is his life. He doesn’t have time for relationships and his sexuality is a closely guarded secret. After picking up a cute guy on a Friday night, Alec’s world is rocked to its foundations when his one night stand shows up in the office on Monday morning—as the new temp on his team.

Ed Piper is desperate to prove himself in his new job. The last thing he needs is to be distracted by a crush on his boss. It’s hard to ignore the attraction he feels, even though Alec’s a difficult bastard to work for.

Both men strive to maintain a professional relationship, but tempers fray, passions ignite, and soon they’re both falling hard and fast. If they’re ever going to find a way to be together, Alec needs to be honest about who he really is because Ed won’t go back in the closet for anyone.

This audiobook was outstanding. Jay Northcote created wonderfully endearing characters. Both men were sweet, and each had his issues. Ed was a new temp with the law firm, so he couldn’t afford to jeopardize his position when he realized the great one-night stand he had over the weekend is his new boss. And Alec, not knowing why he can’t seem to forget the beautiful young man he took home over the weekend, is shocked when he’s confronted with that man early Monday morning.

Alec’s family was stuffy and formal, and he desperately feared coming out to them. Caught with a young man when he was a teen, his father had beat him so badly he still has scars on his back, so it’s unlikely he’ll ever broach the subject again. On the flipside of that, Ed loves his family and is loved and supported in return. Later in the book when readers get to meet them, it feels like coming home to a place where people surround us in love.

I also enjoyed the slowly developing relationship between Alec and Ed, and the revelations Alec experiences as he’s finally enjoying his time with a man and starting to think of a future with him. I was happy to see that, when faced with the decision, Ed took the stance of staying out and proud even though it was difficult knowing he was turning from Alec. And finally, when he was ready, readers can experience and enjoy Alec coming out to his family.

The only things I would change, or at least would wish for, are to have witnessed the conversation at his law firm with his boss, and to have overheard his conversation with his “girlfriend” Belinda when he revealed what had happened and why.

The sex between the two men was hot but not overdone, i.e., there was not too much, but just like for Goldilocks, it was just right.

And last, but definitely not least, the narration was superb—from the pace of the story and narrative segments to the voices given to each character. It was a highly enjoyable experience to listen to a talented British voice actor as opposed to a narrator with a pseudo-Brit accent. Kudos to Matthew Lloyd Davis for a 5 star narration.

The cover art by Garrett Leigh features a black-and-white photo close-up of Alec in a suit. Very handsome and attractive!

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

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook
Published July 11th 2016 by Jaybird Press (first published February 5th 2016)
Original TitleThe Law of Attraction
ASINB01I5OKJPS
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Stella Release Day Review: Settling Down (Little Earthquakes #2) by Nicole Forcine

Standard

RATING  3,5 out of 5 stars

Settling DownIt’s been six months since Tim and Jae got together, and they’re giving Domestic Discipline an honest try. But when conflicting events conspire to interrupt their life, Tim starts to fray at the edges. He’s doing his best to handle everything, but he still struggles with unaddressed issues, both past and present. And seeing Tim trying to hold it together is breaking Jae’s heart.

There has to be a breaking point, and when it arrives, it’s Jae’s turn to take the reins, to provide them both with what they truly need.

I was waiting for Settling Down by Nicole Forcine since I read Shaken Up last year. This second installament is a nice short, well written and a pleasure to read. But to me it wasn’t so engaging as the first one.

Tim and Jae are still settling down (never a title was more appropriate), they are not living together yet, but the domestic discipline is working fine for them. Then the dom who badly hurt Tim in the past is in their town and Jae’s parents are coming to visit them the same week Tim’s dad is there. There is a lot on their plates at the moment. Can they find a little time for themselves?

As I said there are some secondary characters and new situations and they were well dealt, althought the book is just a novellas. Problem is they took too much space from the MCs’ relationship. I wanted more of Tim and Jae together. I would have loved to have just a couple of scenes where the domestic discipline was addressed, seeing how it worked, how they related to each other. I pretty much got nothing and I was disappointed. I missed all the hotness I recalled from Shaken Up, I simply missed Tim and Jae.

That said I still hope to have more about this couple in the future, they have more to tell us and I’m ready to read it.

The cover art by AngstyG follows the style of the first book. I like it.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 97 pages
Publication Date July 27th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634773241 (ISBN13: 9781634773249)
Edition Language English
Series Little Earthquakes #2

Barb, A Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Best in Show by Kelly Jensen

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Best In ShowJulian Wilkes has been keeping to himself for over a year—ever since he walked in on his lover with another man. Distraught and self-flagellating for missing the signs that his lover had been having outside affairs for quite a while, Julian suffers from writer’s block—not good for any author—and is hiding away in his hometown. His sister is his only friend, and she spends most of her time berating him for wallowing in self-pity.

Finally convincing him to get a companion dog, she literally drags him to Lingwood Animal Rescue where, instead of a dog, a large caramel-striped tabby cat named Marmalade gives him the eye and entices him to bring the big guy home. Little does he know, however, Marmalade is really Macavity Birch, direct descendent of the witches for whom the town is named. The current witch-in-residence, Mac’s Aunt Clare, has cast a spell on him, making the shifter unable to switch to his human form except at night.

Needless to say, human Mac is discovered, and Julian is not only shocked but also gets caught up in the family mystery when he reveals he’s recently obtained a journal written by Madeline Lingwood, who is Aunt Clare’s sister and the witch who gave this town its reputation. What will happen when Aunt Clare finds out Julian has the journal? And even more, what will it be like to spend his whole life as a cat, or worse yet, as a mouse?

This was a light-hearted sweet romance with both a geeky glasses-wearing MC and a hot redhead tabby cat shifter. Need I say more? Though short, the author did a great job building endearing characters, adding humor and wit to the story, and making this reader want a whole lot more of Julian, Mac, and the Lingwood witches. 

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza.  Adorable.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 87 pages
Expected publication: July 27th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634774760 (ISBN13: 9781634774765)
Edition LanguageEnglish