A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Expanded Hearts (Heartland #2) by Logan Meredith

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Expanded HeartsPsychologist Victor Mascari and his partner, spa-owner Derek Jameson, have been together eight years, but their relationship is still evolving. Derek distrusts monogamy because of his parents’ messy divorce, but as marriage equality advances, Victor’s doubts about their open relationship are growing. He doesn’t necessarily want a legal union, but he’s increasingly concerned about how others view them.

When Victor comes home to find Derek with another new conquest, he’s annoyed… at first. As he gets to know Antonio, Victor discovers the young man is intelligent, self-assured, and charming. This time, it’s Victor who is intrigued by someone else and Derek who thinks Victor’s interest is crossing the lines they’ve agreed on. If Victor wants to keep Derek, he’ll have to let Antonio go.

But Antonio is in real trouble and has nowhere to turn. Victor and Derek take him in, and it soon becomes clear how well he fits into their lives and how strong the bonds between all of them are growing. A committed relationship between three men—all very different in age and background—is enough of a challenge, and then the horrifying secrets of Antonio’s abusive past emerge.

I honestly did not expect to enjoy this story as much as I did. Open relationship? Ménage? The blurb intrigued me, however, and I’m so happy I took the plunge. What the blurb doesn’t tell us is that Antonio leaves shortly after he and Victor get to meet and talk for a while, and part of Victor’s intrigue with Antonio is his feeling that Antonio was hiding too many personal details, over and above the fact that he ate breakfast as if he was starving, and his clothes were worn beyond what’s considered fashionable. When he happens to meet him once again, he arranges to treat the young man to lunch.

When Victor’s partner, Derek, a gorgeous, tall, muscular black man finds out, he blows his top. He feels as if Victor went behind his back and arranged a date. And that’s totally unlike Victor, the forty-something, slender, self-effacing psychologist. There are so many starts and stops and complications between Victor and Derek about Antonio that even his name begins to drive a wedge between them—all this without Victor ever even taking Antonio to bed. And Antonio has disappeared anyway, so why the continued strife, Victor wonders. But all of that drama added to the three-dimensional character-building the author put together so that we become as entangled in this story as the characters are.

As it turns out, there’s so much more to Antonio than either man knew, and his background turns out to be positively heartbreaking. He’s also linked to one of Victor’s patients, and his hoped-for relationship with Antonio, whether real or platonic, will definitely cause Victor trouble with his professional ethics.

Once they have found Antonio, reconciled their differences about him, and brought him under their wing, rather than finding peace, the intrigue surrounding Antonio follows him, and not just from outside sources—Derek’s mother comes into play at this point in the story when she happens to drop by and “catch” Victor with Antonio. Unfortunately, she not only never accepted Derek as gay, she never supported his eight-year relationship with Victor—primarily because Victor was both older and white. Her character is very reminiscent of a Bible-thumping wicked witch, and she positively reels when she finds out from Derek just why the “boy” was brought into their home. Her prejudices know no bounds, and she’s possibly one of the best/worst examples of a nasty mother I’ve read.

In the early stages of the story, I found myself aggravated as I read—first by Derek and then by Victor. I wanted them to find some common sense and just get going, but around the 40% mark, I realized I was so caught up in the story and the drama surrounding Anthony that I couldn’t put the book down, and I stayed up late one night just to get to the conclusion. It was very, very good, and I recommend it to all my fellow MM romance lovers.

The drawn cover by Paul Richmond isn’t very appealing, mostly due to the colors used, but it does closely represent the three characters who ultimately form a strong ménage relationship in this story.

Sales Links

        

Book Details:

ebook, 224 pages
Expected publication: August 12th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634775376 (ISBN13: 9781634775373)
Edition LanguageEnglish

SeriesHeartland #2

A Paul B Review: Ashley (Demon Elite 5) by April Kelley

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

AshleyAshley Wilkins is an asshole and he knows it.  He is the Demon Elite’s interrogator and he’s damn good at his job.  However, Ash has used methods in the past which would not pass muster with the Geneva Convention.  And Ash feels guilty about this.  When a video of teammate Raven’s kidnapped brother Iain shows up, Ash cannot help but feel for the young man being tortured by the underlings of Victoria Mize.  The fact that Iain is cute as hell makes him want to take action.  While viewing the video, Ash finds a key clue as to the location where Iain is being held.  Justin assigns his interrogator to go out in the field and help with the rescue effort.

Iain Liron knows his brother has worked for a government agency.  Having just come out of rehab, Iain loves his job at a local coffee shop.  One day, his brother’s boss kidnaps him to use as leverage against his brother to make him do her dirty work.  He is hanging around in the literal sense with his arms tied above him hooked on a meat rack.  The beating he received is meant to serve as a message to the Demon Elite squad but Iain is not sure if his brother’s team will be able to rescue him in time to save his life.  When help does arrive, his rescuer is the most gorgeous man he has seen.

While clearly attracted to Iain, Ash believes that he is not good enough for him.  His life as an interrogator means he has done thing as bad as or worse than what was done to Iain while he was being held.  He feels that Iain could not possibly feel anything but contempt once he knows the full extent of what he has done.  Iain meanwhile tells Ash that everybody has something in their past.  Iain is a recovering addict and has learned to take things one day at a time.  Throw in Iain’s overly protective brother Raven and this relationship definitely has its problems at the beginning.  When the threat to the Demon Elite’s partners comes to their lakeside safe house, the men must mobilize to neutralize the situation before one of their loves pays the price.

This fifth book in the Demon Elite series once again goes to the theme of redemption for both the team member and the rescued love.  Both men know they are imperfect men and each tries to cope with it in their own ways.  Ash will do some sort of good deed without his team’s knowledge.  Iain just wants to get his life back on track after getting involved with drugs.  By the end of the book, Ash realizes that Iain means that he does not care what he does for a living and begin to move forward with their relationship.  I cannot wait for the next book.

The cover art by Latrisha Waters follows the pattern of the series.  Ashley is on the cover, shirtless, with the Demon Elite crest in the corner.  The model looks like what I would think Ashely the “farm boy” would look like.

Sales Links

eXtasy-WebsiteLogo

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Book Details

EBook, 111 pages
Edition Language:  English
Published:  August 12, 2016 by eXtasy Books
ISBN:  978-1-4874-0844-2

Series:  Demon Elite:

Loving the Demon Elite Series by April Kelley? Its Release Day for Ashley (Demon Elite 5)! (author guest post/giveaway)

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Ashley

Ashley By April Kelley
Release Date: August 12, 2016
Publishing: eXtasy Books
Buy Links:  eXasty Books | Amazon

AshleyTITLE: Ashley
SERIES:  Demon Elite   Number in Series: 5           

AUTHOR(s): April Kelley
COVER ARTIST: Latrisha Waters

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have April Kelley here today to talk about her latest release Ashley and the series Demon Elite.  Welcome, April.

Demon Elite is not a Paranormal Romance series

That’s right. The Demon Elite series doesn’t have one shred of a paranormal element in it. Don’t get me wrong. I love paranormal romance. It’s my favorite sub-genre as a matter of fact. It’s just that Demon Elite is not in that category, even though it sounds like it might fit in there.

The only way it does is that the main characters fight like Demons. You see, Demon Elite is a team of assassins. Mostly, they take out the criminals in the sex trafficking industry. They all feel very strongly about what they do and the goal they’d like to achieve, which is to stop sex slavery and trafficking completely. They used to work for a secret government agency, but had to leave when they learned their leader was also selling human beings to the highest bidder. Now they are independent contractors on a mission to stop they’re ex-boss.

The Demon Elite team works very closely with the Newell Brothers. If you’ve read Lakehouse Security, then you’ll recognize that last name from those books. Both teams are currently living and working in the lakehouse mansion so the Lakehouse Security boys visit the Demon Elite stories from time to time.

While I was writing Locke’s Love (Lakehouse Security #4), I needed a name for Locke’s team. My son, who loves video games (he’s a teenager) said something about a person having DeMon13 as a gamer tag in some shoot’em up video game. So that had to creative juices flowing long enough for me to come up with the rest on my own.

Thank you DeMon13, whoever you are.

So, yes it’s a contemporary romance series about a group of assassins. For those that love paranormal, though, I get it completely. I love shifters and vampires as much as you do. I even have a paranormal series available. It’s sold everywhere books are. But I just have one question: have you tried an assassin?

BLURB:

Saving Iain means finding a small bit of redemption, but what Ash gets instead is so much more.

Ashley Wilkins has done some bad things, torturing people until they give him the information he wants, but all that was in his past. Making amends for all those wrongdoings will never happen. He knows that, but that doesn’t stop him from trying, which is why he takes a break from interrogation to save Iain Liron’s life. Iain is a recovering drug addict who understands all too well what finding forgiveness means. Can he make Ash see that he’s more than just his past sins?

LENGTH: 32009 words
CATEGORY/TAG: M/M Contemporary Romance
HEAT LEVEL: 4 flames

About the Author

Living in Southwest Michigan, April resides with her husband and two kids. She has been an avid reader for several years. Ever since she wrote her first story at the age of ten, the characters in her head still won’t stop telling their stories. If April isn’t reading or writing, she can be found outside playing with the animals or taking a long walk in the woods. If you wish to contact her, email authoraprilkelley@gmail.com. Please visit her website at authoraprilkelley.com

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