A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Enjoy the Dance (Dancing #2) by Heidi Cullinan

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

enjoy-the-dance-by-heidi-cullinanWhen Spenser Harris spots a young man with a black trash bag hovering outside his apartment door, his first thought is panic, the second is that the boy must belong to the Spanish-speaking family across the hall.  But then he learns the true story, and all the compassion of this kind-hearted kindergarden teacher comes to the forefront as he opens his arms and his heart wide to take in the homeless teen. They have more in common than the teen, Duon, suspects. Spenser was once a child of the foster system and didn’t find family until he had aged out of the system when Avenues for Homeless Youth placed him with a lesbian couple through the GLBT Host Home Program Spenser is determined that Duon won’t have to go through what he did and immediately makes plans to become an eligible home. 

Speaking of the neighbors across the hall, Duon was indeed looking for them, more specifically for Tobias, the adult son of the household, a man who instructs dance at the studio where Duon takes lessons in exchange for work. The studio is owned by Ed and Laurie (Dance With Me) and is the best thing in Duon’s life to-date. Tobias also works as a barista at Starbucks and as a nursing home janitor and sometimes even squeezes in an extra job when it looks doable. He’s the sole support of his undocumented immigrant parents who, in turn, are the sole support of his sister’s three kids. His sister, an addict and all around ne’er-do-well is generally MIA, and between avoiding INS and needing someone to watch over the kids, his parents can’t work so earning money to support everyone falls to Tobias.

This story is the love story of Spenser and Tobias but the theme is family—family of the heart as well as family of origin—for better or for worse. And it’s about the love of one person for another, with or without a blood relationship. Spenser lost his sisters when they were taken into the foster care system after his mother was arrested when Spenser was a young child. His mother is out of jail now, and he’s seen her once, but his sisters are lost to him. His heart and psyche bear the scars of abandonment from that incident and from the loss of all his foster homes. It seemed to him at the time that no matter what he did, he was never good enough. Wheras Tobias has grown up in a loving family but in a world where every misspoken word could lead the INS to their door. And every wrong deed done by his sister could bring the focus of DHS children’s services to their door and therefore INS as well. Fear is a very real emotion for Tobias, every single day.

But Duon seems to bridge a gap for both men, and Spenser finds family where he least expected it, as he’s virtually adopted by Tobias’s parents, and Tobias finds not only his own family in Spenser and Duon, but help where he least expected it. Together, they forge a new future as Tobias, Duon, and Laurie teach Spenser how to overcome his fear of failure and enjoy the dance.

I hope it’s obvious by now that I totally enjoyed this story, and I highly recommend it. It’s one of those stories that gets better with each page turn. In fact, I have never highlighted so many passages, so many quotes, so many things I thought were memorable and worth saving—not just to write the review, but to use in my life choices. A simple example is: “All lives cast shadows. Pretending otherwise is how we end up accidentally living in darkness.”

And this next passage really sent an arrow to my heart as I am aging, hopefully gracefully, while attempting to maintain my integrity and dignity: “…one day, no matter what we do, there will be darkness and end. But the time between the spark and the curtain’s close is ours to shape.” I have no words that would truly do justice to how much I respect Heidi Cullinan. After reading this book, both my eyes and my heart have been opened to the plight of both undocumented immigrants and teens in foster care, particularly “queer teens.” Please don’t skip over the Author’s Note at the end of the story. I’m trying to force down the tears as I write this, knowing there are young gay, lesbian, or transgender youth out there who are suffering at this very moment. I wish I was in a situation to do more right now, but I can donate something, and I will. 

On a much lighter note, I really need to thank the author for introducing readers to the joys of using Tajin as a seasoning. It’s as good as, or maybe even better than, described in the story. It just goes to show, you never know what you will find when you open a book by Heidi Cullinan!

Cover Artist: Kanaxa is perfect for the story.

Sales Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 273 pages
Expected publication: October 11th 2016 by Heidi Cullinan
Original TitleEnjoy the Dance
ISBN139780996120364
Edition LanguageEnglish
URL http://www.heidicullinan.com

Series:Dancing – add to your Goodreads page below:

 

Avenues for Homeless Youth

An Ali Release Day Review: Breaking Hell’s Rules by Lyssa Dering

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
breaking-hells-rules-by-lyssa-deringWhen succubus Reth finally meets their soul quota and gains freedom from Hell, they decide to take up residence in New Orleans. Immediately they discard the body they’ve been wearing since 1952 and slip into something a little more virile, pleased to find they get a cozy apartment for their trouble. Too bad the apartment has a joint lease with their body’s ex-boyfriend Jude.

Jude is walking around with a black eye and a bad attitude, and when Reth tries to explain things, Jude doesn’t believe them. Plus, he refuses to move out. Reth doesn’t want to take Jude’s soul, and they really like this body. So they show him some succubus action minus the soul-grabbing, hoping to scare him off.

But they never expected for the mortal to take a liking to them. And they never could have predicted just how pure Jude’s soul would be. When Reth unwittingly commits a sin against Lucifer, they’ll need Jude’s help to avoid an eternity of suffering… For them both.
This story was a mixed bag for me.  Some of it I liked a lot but some parts didn’t work for me.  I loved the concept of the story and all of the paranormal characters that were in it.  I thought it was a really unique idea for a book and the plot drew me in right away.  One of my issues though came up right away and that was that Reth was supposed to have no gender and therefore was referred to as “they” or “their”.  It kept confusing me and pulling me out of the story.  I would have to re-read sentences to figure out if “they” was Reth alone or Reth and Jude.  It also didn’t make a lot of sense to me plot wise because initially Reth explains that gender is just for humans but then every other paranormal creature in the story, including another succubus, are all assigned a gender and called “he” or “she”.
The biggest issue though was that I just didn’t feel any connection or love between the two MC’s.  There was a lot of telling me that they loved each other but not a lot of showing.  None of it felt believable to me.  Jude barely batted an eye to find out his boyfriend was dead and his body was now possessed by a demon.
There were a host of great side characters in this and I especially enjoyed the hellhounds.  It’s a cool world that the author has created and I’d like to see this turn into a series so we could see what happens to some of these creatures.
There were parts of this I really liked and then the above mentioned things that didn’t work for me.  Overall I would say it was a good read and I liked it well enough to check out some more works by this author.  If you’re looking for something outside the norm this would be a good pick.
Cover:  I think the cover is great.  I like it a lot and think it is perfect for the story.
 
Sales Links
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Book Details:
Kindle Edition
Published October 10th 2016
ASINB01IWLJ554
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Ben and Shiloh (The Belladonna Arms #4) by John Inman

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

ben-and-shiloh-by-john-inmanShiloh Smart is alone and looking for a fresh start. Convinced he’s finished with love forever, he signs a lease at the Belladonna Arms, a tacky, run-down apartment building situated high on a hill in downtown San Diego.

Determined to turn his back on romance, Shiloh works hard at carving out a life for himself where love doesn’t stand a chance and staying single is all that matters.

Then his drag queen landlord’s nephew, Ben Moss, moves in. Thanks to a rumor Ben has heard since childhood of a fifty-year-old crime and a fortune in stolen money, he sets out to find the loot supposedly hidden decades ago in his uncle’s apartment building.

The minute Ben spots a kilted Shiloh toddling off to work at the Scottish restaurant up the street where he waits tables, he falls hard and fast for the aloof young redhead. Even a hidden treasure can’t compete in Ben’s eyes with the beautiful waiter with the fiery copper hair.

But even while he diligently works to break down Shiloh’s defenses, Ben doesn’t give up his quest for buried treasure. Soon, as their friendship deepens, the two young men join forces in a search for the stolen cash.

As the treasure hunt gathers steam and all the tenants get involved, Ben and Shiloh come to realize the greatest treasure isn’t buried in the Belladonna Arms at all. It’s buried far deeper—in each other’s hearts!

Its always a pleasure to take a trip back to the Belladonna Arms, that aging apartment building sitting high on a hill in San Diego that happens to be full of love pollen waiting to fall on the most unusual of couples.  In this fourth installation, its Ben and Shiloh who gets the heap helping of pollen and much, much more.

Shiloh Smart, like all the people who end up at Belladonna Arms, has been dumped by his boyfriend.  Now homeless, he needs a new place, close to his work (a restaurant that calls for him to wear a kilt) and that’s also cheap enough for his budget.  He has no intention of ever, EVER, falling in love again.  His heart is closed up good.  Except that the Belladonna Arms has other ideas and people in store for Shiloh and that would be Ben, the nephew of our endearing drag queen, Arthur.

For me, Ben and Shiloh was a little different story then the normal Belladonna Arms tale.  For one, we have a mystery to contend with, plus it seemed more of a ensemble story than normal.  While we do concentrate on Ben and Shiloh who are an odd and adorable mixture, all our other couples are very present here as well.  I have to admit I loved seeing them all, making it even harder to pick favorites.  I might even have a new favorite character in Shiloh’s mom.  She’s hilarious.  Inman surrounds his new couple with all his old ones, adding in the resident cat and her kittens (also adorable), and a mystery from the past to boot.  My mind was swirling all over the place, thinking about Sylvia and the new baby, our fav kleptos, and where the heck did that new couple with the bow ties come from? So it wasn’t always on Ben and Shiloh like perhaps it should have been, least that’s my opinion.  Not that there wasn’t tons of sex. Hey, there was!  I was just missing some other component…

I’m just not sure Ben and Shiloh got the depth of treatment that, say Ramon and Barney  did in Coming Back (Belladonna Arms #3).  That was an amazing, angst driven story.  My heart hurt for Ramon.  Certainly that’s not called for in every story.  Not everyone needs to go through what Ramon did.  And perhaps comparing the two isn’t fair as the characters aren’t the same in makeup and history.  However, the differences struck me none the same.  One book was deeply centered about one couple, and this was lovingly a Belladonna Arms affair.

However was my heart and mind happy and satisfied?  You betcha!  I love Belladonna Arms.  I could sit on the steps and watch the goings on all day and all night long side by side with the kitties.  There are still rooms to be filled.  Another just got emptied.  Love pollen at work again.  Who will be next up the steps of the Belladonna Arms?  I can’t wait to find out!

I highly recommend this series and this story.  Pick them all up and get acquainted with some of the most delightfully quirky characters you will ever want to fall in love with.

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson.  The artist does a terrific job with the character and with branding the series.

Sales Links

        

 

Book Details:

ebook, 204 pages
Published October 10th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 163477146X (ISBN13: 9781634771467)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series: Belladonna Arms: Add to your Goodreads shelf here:

Ride into Romance with The Rancher’s Son (Montana #2) by RJ Scott (excerpt and giveaway)

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 The Rancher’s Son (Montana #2) – RJ Scott

Author: RJ Scott

 
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
 
Length: 66,200 woords
 
 
Series
 
Blurb
 
A man without memories, and the cop who never gave up hope. 

When he wakes up in hospital, the victim of a brutal beating, John Doe, has no memories of who he is or who hurt him. The cops can find nothing to identify him and he can’t remember anything to help… except the name Ethan and one recurring place from his dreams. Three words, and they’re not much, but it’s a start. Crooked Tree Ranch. 

Cop, Ethan Allens has never stopped searching for his brother and his brother’s best friend who vanished. When a report lands on Ethan’s desk that may give new leads he jumps at the chance to follow them up. The man he finds isn’t his brother, but it’s someone who could maybe help him discover what happened ten years ago. 

What neither man can know is that facing the very real demons of the past could very well destroy any kind of future they may think they have together. 

Author Bio:

RJ Scott is the bestselling gay romance author of over ninety MM romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing. 

 
RJ also writes MF romance under the name Rozenn Scott.
 
The last time she had a weekís break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldnít defeat.
 

Giveaway

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Don’t miss Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Word’s Review here by Barb the Zany Old Lady! Highly Recommended!

Its Release Week for Lyssa Dering’s Breaking Hell’s Rules (excerpt and giveaway)

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Breaking Hell’s Rules – Lyssa Dering

Author: Lyssa Dering
 
Length: 25,000 words
 
 
Blurb

Freedom wasn’t supposed to be this dangerous…

When succubus Reth finally meets their soul quota and gains freedom from Hell, they decide to take up residence in New Orleans. Immediately they discard the body they’ve been wearing since 1952 and slip into something a little more virile, pleased to find they get a cozy apartment for their trouble. Too bad the apartment has a joint lease with their body’s ex-boyfriend Jude.

Jude is walking around with a black eye and a bad attitude, and when Reth tries to explain things, Jude doesn’t believe them. Plus, he refuses to move out. Reth doesn’t want to take Jude’s soul, and they really like this body. So they show him some succubus action minus the soul-grabbing, hoping to scare him off.

But they never expected for the mortal to take a liking to them. And they never could have predicted just how pure Jude’s soul would be. When Reth unwittingly commits a sin against Lucifer, they’ll need Jude’s help to avoid an eternity of suffering… For them both.




Excerpt

The room was thick with tension, but Jude was feeling reckless. He set the cards back on the table and came up to Reth’s back, pressing his lips to the top of his spine. When Reth didn’t tell him no, he settled his hands tentatively on his hips.
Reth turned his head, looking at Jude over his shoulder. When he next spoke, it was in a near-whisper. “I already told you this wasn’t a good idea.”
“I’m just…” He sighed. He didn’t know what he was doing. He’d never touch a stranger like this, or someone he’d only rubbed up against once. He stepped back, shoving his hands into the pockets of his sweats. “Sorry. This is stressful. Everything is stressful.”
“I understand.” Reth turned around, abandoning his cabinet search for alcohol. He averted his eyes but then focused them back on Jude. “I need you to do something for me, even though you’re stressed.”
“What?”
“Don’t tell anyone what I’ve told you. About what I am. About what you saw.”
Jude couldn’t help but laugh. Who would he tell, anyway? His mom? She didn’t need to hear about his love life, especially when it was a mess. She’d taken a couple of years to be okay with him being queer, but demons? That would take her years to get comfortable with. And his best friend Brett was always traveling for work and wasn’t great at long distance communication. “They’d think I was crazy.”
“Good. Actually, it might be better if I left. And you could pretend Tyler ran out on you.”
The mention of Tyler pinched Jude’s chest. “He did run out on me. Basically.”
“Perfect.” Reth tried to leave the room, but Jude grabbed his fingers.
“Hey, wait. What’s going on? You can tell me.” Reth stilled but didn’t say anything. “We already decided that you were staying, that you were going to help me with the rent. Just tell me what’s going on so we can handle it.”
Several strained seconds passed in which neither of them moved. Then Reth turned around and pulled Jude into a searing kiss.


Author Bio

 

 

Lyssa Dering is an author of queer erotic romance. She writes about damaged characters in impossible situations who, despite often horrifying struggles, will always get their happy ending.


Twitter: http://twitter.com/lyssadering
Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/lyssadering
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/lyssadering
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100013162894226
Website: http://lyssadering.com

 

 

   

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