An Alisa Review: Hunger (Chicken Ranch #1) by Amanda Young


Rating:  4 stars out of 5


Hunger- chicken Ranch kindleDisowned and cast out of his home, eighteen year old Declan Mayo turns to the only thing he can think of to help him get back on his feet. Working at Chicken Ranch, a rural brothel that caters to gay men, seems like the perfect solution. He isn’t about to let a lack of sexual experience stop him from taking what he sees as his only way off the streets.

Falling in love with one of his clients wasn’t in the game plan, but Declan can’t seem to help himself. Killian Hamilton is sweet and kind, with a stutter Declan can’t help but find adorable. Surely, if anyone could overlook Declan’s choice of employment, it would be a kindhearted man like Killian.

What Declan doesn’t count on is Killian’s connection to one of the brothel’s regular clients, or the way his love life is about to blow up in his face.


Amanda Young did a nice job with this story.  Declan is forced to find a way to support himself when he is kicked out of his home for being gay and when he sees no other choice he goes to Chicken Ranch for a job.  Killian goes to Chicken Ranch hoping to get off without the awkwardness of trying to pick someone up, but finds something much better.


I loved both of these characters.  Both were innocent in their own way, Declan by age and experience and Killian by his shyness and lack of social experience.  It was easy to connect with these characters and see their relationship slowly start to build after they see each other months after Killian visited the ranch.


The cover art is nice and caught my eye.


Sales Link





Book Details:

ebook, 104 pages
Published: 2nd Edition, August 16, 2016 by Amanda Young
ISBN: 9781596329577
Edition Language: English

Series: Chicken Ranch Gentleman’s Club #1

A Caryn Review: The Hearts of Yesteryear by Vivian Dean

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Hearts of YesteryearI really enjoyed reading a book where the MC is actually elderly, so unusual in the world of romances!  The theme of coming full circle, of finding what you really want out of life and finding the courage to pursue it even at that age, was truly compelling for me.  

John Paravati is a now 77 year old man who left his home in the small town of Shakersville, Illinois, for the bright lights of Hollywood in 1956.  We meet him when his movie career is essentially over, but he is still acting in commercials for cruise lines, and he and his costar are thankful they aren’t shilling adult diapers — now that is some realism, people!  He gets a letter from a developer in Shakersville who has renovated the old Crown Theater, site of his happiest and most painful memories from childhood, asking him to attend a grand reopening.  His initial response is seemingly irrational anger, because he’s never told anyone about his life in Shakersville, why he left, or the boy he left behind.  He’s afraid of going back to face old demons, but his assistant eventually convinces him to accept the offer because it will be good for his career.
Thus begins his adventure to confront his past, and the reason why he left home over 50 years ago and never looked back.  There are a few brief flashbacks, where we are introduced to his best friend and love of his life, Frank Henson.  And this is when I started taking points off my review, for several reasons.  Mainly, there was too little detail about John’s life, both in Shakersville, and the intervening 50 years.  The Crown is supposedly integral to why he became an actor, and why he fell in love with Frank, but there are only 2 brief scenes about that, and they certainly don’t justify his strong connection to the place.  And what happened to him after he left that continued to shape his feelings about his hometown and The Crown?  He’s out now, but was closeted for at least part of his career.  When?  Why?  All we are told is that he’s never been in love.  So I never did get a good feel for who John is now, and who he was as a teenager, though I feel it is to the author’s credit that I really wanted to know him better.
Frank is necessarily a much more minor character, but I still felt there was a lot more I needed to know about him to understand why his life turned out as it did.  His initial motivations for leaving John were very understandable, what with McCarthyism and homophobia so rampant at that time.  But why did he wait so long — even when changes in his life made it possible — to contact John if his feelings remained so strong for all those years?  I loved the idea of a man deciding to pursue his true feelings and coming out for the first time when he’s in his 70s, but I feel there was so much more that could have been said about that.  Keeping Frank somewhat peripheral was really a missed opportunity for the book.
And that is my rant about what I didn’t like about the book.  Increase the length, provide more detail and feeling, and this would have been a 5 star read for me.  But bottom line, this was a well written, sweet story, with a lot of self-deprecating humor about age and ageism, and likable primary and secondary characters that I want to know even more about.  Definitely worth the read!
Cover art is terrific and unusual for this genre.
Sales Links
Book Details:
ebook, 2nd Edition
Published August 6th 2016 by JMS Books (first published September 22nd 2013)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Magnified (Magnified #1) by Mell Eight


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Magnified by Mell EightOn her deathbed, Yani’s Great Grandmother reveals she has one last story from her past to tell: that of his Great Uncle Yakov, who helped her survive the Nazis. It’s a story of vampires and werewolves he can scarcely believe—and in the wake of his Great Grandmother’s death, Yani realizes the story is far from over.

The world of vampires and werewolves isn’t a safe place for a human, even one with Yani’s unusual family history. With danger at his door, the smart thing would be to run, but much like his Great Grandmother Yani has never been very good at running away—especially with his loved ones and the whole world at stake.

Magnified is the first in a new series by Mell Eight and a most unusual series its starting out to be.  A supernatural tale, it has all the typical elements one expects to find such as vampires, werewolves, succubi and more but one of its main characters and an important secondary character are Eastern European Jews, one of whom barely escaped the trains and gas chambers of WWII.  How they did it and their Jewish traditions they carry with them always as part of who they are is a central element to this story and I expect of this series.

I found this whole aspect of the story a wonderful layer not often found in my stories (see Astrid Amara’s Carol of the Bellskis (Bellskis, #1) among others). Not only does Mell Eight use Yani’s contemporary family’s religious celebrations as part of her important need for us to understand how strong this family is and their ties to each other and their faith but later on starts to pull in other threads that deepens the religious element when a mage with links to Kabbalah appears.

We start off the story as Yani’s great grandmother is telling the story of her childhood. Its the 1940’s and the swift move by the Nazis is occurring as they round up Jews and move them to the internments camps and the ovens.  We are propelled into these awful times and a heartrending if sometimes confusing narrative, one that quickly becomes clearer by the page.

The timeline moves along quickly as Yani ages from a young boy to a young man of college age.  The jumps in time are handled easily and are necessary to get to the action required by the meat of the story.

That’s the introduction of the world of vampires, werewolves etc to our young student.  Its an explosive one and one that was my only main issue here.  I would have expected a much larger reaction from Yani.  His reaction felt almost anti-climatic after all he went through. And it continued to bother me throughout the rest of the story.

There is a lot that the author is packing in here.  There are two main couples that are intended to flow into the next story and carry on the series.  It was almost too much for this book to handle.  We really didn’t get a background on the secondary couple, perhaps that’s coming in the next book.  But they had such an important part to play here that they came off less substantial without that background.

There is a very scary villain here, a true monster. One I can’t wait to see taken down.  I wonder how many books its going to take?  I will be there for every one.

Mell Eight packed a lot into this first story.  Religion, family, romance, mystery, horror…its a writer’s cornucopia and it almost exploded the seams of the story on element overload.  So much here to absorb that it got confusing at times. But in the end, Mell Eight pulled it off…sort of as there is a HFN ending.   I recommend this unusual story, its quite a ride even though I’m not quite sure where we’re going yet.

Cover by Aisha Akeju‘s cover contains relevant objects to the story.  I’m just not a fan of these simplified covers, just they don’t draw me in.

Sales Links   – Pre Order (others will follow)

Less Than Three Press

Book Details:

Expected publication: September 7th 2016 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN13 9781620048535
Edition Language English

An Alisa Release Day Review: A Fallen Heart (Zero Hour #2) by Cate Ashwood


Rating:  4 stars out of 5


A Fallen Heart by Cate AshwoodAfter his last disastrous relationship, Joseph Ford has absolutely no interest in getting attached again. Concentrating on working as a trauma nurse and keeping his life as simple as possible are his only goals. Unfortunately, his plans could be derailed by the charming, sexy Nash.


Things are looking up for paramedic Ridley Nash when he transfers to Station 217. He gets along with the crew, likes his partner, and is finally on a team willing to accept him—gay and all. It’s everything he’s always wanted, but when he meets Ford, Nash knows his life is about to get very interesting.


As Ford and Nash find themselves stuck in the middle of a homicide case, things become more complicated. For the last year, the mutilated bodies of teenage boys have been showing up all over downtown. With no leads, the police are getting desperate. One of the victims is found alive, and he’s the best chance the police have to catch the killer—if only they can get him to talk.


Will Nash be able to catch Ford when he falls, or is there too much standing in their way to make it work?


This was a nice continuation of the Zero Hour series.  I enjoyed the first book and liked this one just as much.  Ford has closed his heart off after his last relationship ended badly, but Nash starts to tear down those boundaries from the first time they meet.


Nash has recently transferred stations and is now Adam’s partner and is happy to be somewhere he isn’t persecuted for who he is.  Ford has never hidden who he is, no matter what his ex wanted, but is afraid to let someone else in.  Their mutual friendships with Adam and Sam from the first book help bring them together even when Ford is trying to stay apart.


This story is told from both characters’ point of view which makes it easier to connect with the characters.  Seeing how scared Ford is to lose himself in another relationship just broke my heart, but Nash is determined to show him that what they have is good and not like what Ford had before.  I can’t wait for the next book in the series to see more of these characters.


Cover art by Bree Archer is nice and follows the pattern for the series.


Sales Links





Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published: August 29, 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN-13: 9781634775793
Edition Language: English

Series: Zero Hour #2

In the Spotlight: Amy Stilgenbauer ‘Sideshow’ (excerpt and giveaway)


Sideshow 900px FRONT (Tumblr)

Sideshow by Amy Stilgenbauer
Release Date: August 25, 2016

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: C.B. Messer


Abby Amaro wants to sing at La Scala Opera House, but she’s a good girl, and in 1957 good girls get married. Still, when she receives her first marriage proposal, she freezes, knowing the way her suitor makes her feel bodes trouble. When he won’t take no for an answer, she flees, joining up with a traveling carnival.

Thanks to a burlesque trapeze artist and the world’s saddest clown, Abby bides her time and fits in until she can rejoin the world she knows. She doesn’t expect a sideshow strongwoman named Suprema, who captures her imagination. As the carnival makes its way across the Midwest, Abby learns much more than she had ever imagined—about herself, about her identity, and, most importantly, about love.


Pages or Words: 61,000 words
Categories: Fiction, Historical, Lesbian Romance, Romance



Abby couldn’t remember falling asleep. She only remembered the dark night and how, outside the window of Della’s trailer, the rolling slopes of Eastern Ohio slowly flattened into the farmland of the western side of the state and faded into darkness. She didn’t say much during the trip, but her mind was spinning, unable to process what she had done.

Once, when she had been a little girl, barely older than Annette was now, her mother had taken her and Natale to visit their aunt in Chicago for a week. It had been a nice visit. They had embarked on the train with a great deal of ceremony, and Za Teresa had spoiled the pair rotten, loading them up with peach-shaped marzipan and pizzelle until they were both sick. She hadn’t left Cleveland for any extended period of time since. Oh, sure, she’d talked and dreamt about it. Nonna often wistfully mentioned taking a trip back to her girlhood home one more time now that the war was over and taking Abby along to look after her, and then, if her opera career took off as she had once hoped, she would be visiting all the great cities. In her scrapbook, clippings of Palais Garnier, La Scala, and The Met were decorated with carefully drawn hearts and hopeful stars and the scrawled word: someday. Still, she had never imagined that when she departed the Coventry neighborhood again, it would be in a burlesque dancer’s trailer.

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Book Depository not yet available | Indiebound



Meet the Author ~ Amy Stilgenbauer

Amy Stilgenbauer is a writer and aspiring archivist currently based in southeast Michigan. She is the author of the novelette series, Season of the Witch, as well as the Young Adult novel, The Legend of League Park. Her short story, The Fire-Eater’s Daughter, was included in Summer Love, an LGBTQ Young Adult collection published by Duet, an imprint of Interlude Press. When she isn’t writing, Amy enjoys all things bergamot and tries to keep her cats away from her knitting.

Where to find the author:


Tour Dates & Stops:

25-Aug: The Novel Approach, Unquietly Me, Velvet Panic, Bayou Book Junkie

26-Aug: Oh My Shelves, Book Lovers 4Ever, Book Reviews and More by Kathy, A.M. Leibowitz

29-Aug: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Love Bytes

30-Aug: Butterfly-O-Meter, Kirsty Loves Books, MM Good Book Reviews

31-Aug: My Fiction Nook, BFD Book Blog

1-Sep: Prism Book Alliance, Open Skye Book Reviews, Happily Ever Chapter

2-Sep: Foxylutely Book Reviews, Bonkers About Books

5-Sep: Divine Magazine, Havan Fellows

6-Sep: Alpha Book Club, Molly Lolly

7-Sep: Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Charley Descoteaux

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