A MelanieM Pre-Release Review: Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

* Novel-length expansion of original short story found in Charmed & Dangerous anthology. *

Welcome to Dim Sum Asylum: a San Francisco where it’s a ho-hum kind of case when a cop has to chase down an enchanted two-foot-tall shrine god statue with an impressive Fu Manchu mustache that’s running around Chinatown, trolling sex magic and chaos in its wake.

Senior Inspector Roku MacCormick of the Chinatown Arcane Crimes Division faces a pile of challenges far beyond his human-faerie heritage, snarling dragons guarding C-Town’s multiple gates, and exploding noodle factories. After a case goes sideways, Roku is saddled with Trent Leonard, a new partner he can’t trust, to add to the crime syndicate family he doesn’t want and a spell-casting serial killer he desperately needs to find.

While Roku would rather stay home with Bob the Cat and whiskey himself to sleep, he puts on his badge and gun every day, determined to serve and protect the city he loves. When Chinatown’s dark mystical underworld makes his life hell and the case turns deadly, Trent guards Roku’s back and, if Trent can be believed, his heart… even if from what Roku can see, Trent is as dangerous as the monsters and criminals they’re sworn to bring down.

Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford is an ‘glued to your seat~ that just did not happen”great action-packed urban fantasy.  What makes it so intriguing and darkly addicting are her labyrinthine character relationships and dynamics built into the story.  Some are revealed immediately, some are built up throughout the story as the characters get to know one another and a level of trust is achieved.  Then there are the convoluted, messy tapestry of lives that Ford has been surreptitiously weaving throughout Dim Sum Asylum that explodes like narrative grenades at certain points at the story that just leaves you and the characters totally astonished and sometimes  shattered.  Ah, I love it when that happens!

Roku MacCormick is a tortured soul as he has lost so much.  His background and history is dark and pain filled yet he works for order as a police officer in the Chinatown Arcane Crimes Division, an unusual division all its own.  He’s about to get a new partner under circumstances you will need to read for yourself.  Trent is someone who will grow on you as he does on Roku.  He is also a reason (well one of them anyway) that I would love for Rhys Ford to write a sequel. I will let you discover the puzzle that is Roku and Trent together.  I will say that I love Roku and the character grows, healing a bit by the end of the novel. Together?  Roku and Trent start to form something extraordinary.

Roku is half fae/half human in a world that still considers anything fae something that should be “put down” because of the wars and their “insect” strangeness.  Yes, these aren’t your usual fae which I adored.  Ford has gone to species of insects for Fae Clans, from Mantids to Dragonflies, for her fae and it works beautifully.  This universe is so unusual and so appealing in its strangeness that I really need to know more. Especially about the “splices”, those genetically created beings made from fae and human DNA, think parents who wanted kids with wings, or some such nonsense.  No not Roku as he will tell anyone that asks, and yes, people ask him all the time. He was made the “normal” way. Rhys Ford has a universe here that cries out for a series as it full of magic and mysteries for ten novels, maybe more (that includes characters too).

Extraordinary world building, Odonata Fae, Mantid Fae, Crime lords, Ford’s magical, messy maze like relationships,  love, and characters I can never get enough of…Dim Sum Asylum is all that and so much more.  There’s mysteries, hate, love and romance.  And now if I can figure out how to bribe this author, I need a sequel because this is so much bigger than just one story.  It’s amazing!

And yes, it’s one I highly recommend you pick up and start reading when it’s out in June!

Cover art is wonderful.  Works for the story and characters.

Links coming soon

Book Details

Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Expected publication: June 9th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB06XBCN3R9
Edition LanguageEnglish
CharactersRoku MacCormick, Trent Leonard

settingChinatown, San Francisco, California (United States)

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Poppy’s Secret by Andrew Grey and John Solo (Narrator)

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Pat Corrigan loves his daughter, Poppy, with all his heart. It’s too bad he has to raise her alone. Nine years ago, just as she was conceived with his partner’s sperm, his partner, Edge Winters, walked out on him and hasn’t looked back—until he just now showed up on Pat’s doorstep. The thing is that Pat never told Edge that the surrogate was pregnant already when he left. Pat had just found out and was unable to tell Edge before he came home one day to find Edge packed and ready to relocate for a new job—without Pat.

So now he’s in a quandary—tell him or not. The thing is that Pat is starting to fall for Edge again, and his little girl seems to be in love with “Mr. Edge” as well. Add to his troubles and worries about this, the fact that his mother is diagnosed with cancer and Pat doesn’t know which way to turn.

This is a sweet story, along the lines of the old-time romances being retold as Dreamspun Desires books. Add to that, Andrew Grey’s inherent goodness and sweetness and you get the picture. Yes, there’s trauma, and yes there was a cover-up, but it’s highly likely all will work out by the end. The warm and fuzzy feeling I get when I read or listen to a story like this is exactly what I need for a pick-me-up when I’m a little down. John Solo did a great job narrating, and the story is only five hours long so pick this one up for a car trip or trail hike. I hope it makes everyone feel as good as it made me feel. And, yes—there’s a very definite and sweet HEA.

~~~

Cover by Bree Archer is a great picture of a little girl with her arms flung around the neck of her (handsome) daddy’s shoulders. Colorful and cute, it’s attention-getting.

Sales Links

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio
Published March 24th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published February 15th 2017)
Original TitlePoppy’s Secret
ASINB06XRVLQL2
Edition LanguageEnglish
URL

A Kai Review: Anything For You (A Middleton Romance #1) by Ethan Day

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Rating: 3,5 stars out of 5
 
Jason Miller was still in the closet and didn’t see himself coming out anytime soon (or ever). He was accommodated with his situation and just the thought of what his parents, sister, and co-workers could say about his sexuality put him hiding everything he was from almost everybody.
He had never found a reason to kick the door open, walk into the light of day, and tell the world he was gay. At least that’s what he kept telling himself — along with a multitude of other solid arguments.
When Jason met Chad Wellington, an ex gay-rights activist/coming out guru, he was immediately attracted. Chad was the one thing Jason never saw coming and like a moth to a flame, these two opposites ignited.  Jason didn’t count with the feelings he started to have for Chad. He was in love for the first time. How could he give up on it? But Chad wouldn’t hide forever, so would he man up and coming out? Would he do it for Chad?
Well, guys, I started hating Jason in this book. He was a nonsense bitch guy. I didn’t pick up on the the real reason he was in the closet. I mean, his sister was an out and proud lesbian and his parents loved her anyway. So, what was his problem? He was a coward. And the worse was that he bitched at gay couples who were out, just because he wasn’t. Can you understand that? I know he was jealous, but it was irrational and even he knew it.
Thankfully after he met Chad he grew a little on me. He was yet a coward, but he was also funny and became nicer through the book.
I loved Chad and his power. He knew what he wanted and he wasn’t shy about it.
When they first met I didn’t buy their connection. I felt like it had happened too fast. But along the story, I started cheering for them and connecting with them. Plus seeing them fighting for their relationship was great.
The story was centered around the coming out question and how it can affect a relationship.  I liked how it was written: fluid and with humor. I loved the funny parts, and I literally laugh out loud reading it.
Well, the only thing I really didn’t like about this book was how fast paced it was. I mean, it could have been more elaborate and a little more lengthy. I just wanted more. Lol
This book was a light, funny, and quick reading. It didn’t wow me or anything, but I really enjoyed it.
Sales Links  Amazon
Book Details:
Kindle Edition
Published February 19th 2017 (first published March 13th 2011)
Original TitleAnything for You
ASINB06X1F3WM5
SeriesA Middleton Romance #1

A VVivacious Review: The Art of Mutual Pleasure by K.A. Merikan

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Rating: 3.75 Stars out of 5
 
Benjamin Snowley is very ill. He suffers from the sinful affliction of self-pollution or masturbation. His moral descent began the day he caught Frederick Cory kissing, among other things, another boy. Since then he has been unable to stop.
 
Just as his health is taking a turn for the worse he comes across Dr. Tissot, an expert in treating this particular illness. But the unorthodox treatment he suggests might be a tad too overwhelming to follow through until a proposition to a stablehand sets Benjamin on the path of debauchery.
 
Will this unorthodox treatment cure Benjamin of what ails him or will it bring with it a whole new set of ailments to deal with?
 
This book is a fascinating read. It is intriguing how well the authors have managed to spin out the story for this book. I loved the premise of this book; it was bizarre enough to be completely believable. This book’s very well written and makes for a compelling read. This story is undoubtedly hot, but the added intrigue of their actions being forbidden makes it even hotter and somehow Benjamin’s misguided beliefs just give him permission to enjoy even the unlawful whole heartedly even if he might be unaware of it.
 
I really liked the characters of this book because even the most trivial characters in this book left an impression. I especially came to really like Benjamin in all his innocence and wantonness. I felt like the character is very central to making this story work because there has to be this perfect mixture of character traits for the story to not feel or read like it’s completely ridiculous.
 
While the sex in this book is beyond hot, I felt like it was heading into the border of too much of even a good thing can be bad. Because at one point I was like enough with this no-strings attached sex, I want feelings with my sex because at that point in this book I was really missing the kisses and the caresses. Thankfully it lasted for only a little while and the story headed into new terrain soon after.
 
Another point of contention I have with this story is Tom. Tom is an amazing character and I felt like there was a lot of potential between him and Benjamin and the fact that Tom just up and left didn’t feel like a good enough explanation for why he wasn’t the significant other in Benjamin’s life because the scenes between Benjamin and Tom have way more chemistry between the characters than those featuring Frederick and Benjamin.
 
Having said all that, I truly enjoyed the story as it is written. It is a hot, fascinating story that makes for a very enjoyable read.
 
Cover Art by Natasha Snow. I loved the cover for this book.
Sales Link: Amazon
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 153 pages
Published March 29th 2017 by Acerbi & Villani ltd
ASINB06XVXF5JM
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Caryn Release Day Review: Every Breath You Take by Robert Winter

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

One sexy, wealthy player with a painful past.

One idealistic newcomer with an untapped dominant streak.

One psychopathic killer.

Thrillers as a genre, especially with serial killers, are not something I usually go for, but I couldn’t resist the chance to review Robert Winter’s second book after being so impressed with his debut book, September.

Sooooo worth it.

Thomas Scarborough seemingly has it all.  Stunning face, body to die for, successful and influential career doing what he loves, intelligence, and wealth.  He’s an incredible lover, with a different man every week, but never with the same man twice.  He tells himself that it’s enough, that casual sex is better than a relationship, and the most he hopes for is gaining a friend when the hook up is over.  He’s been not just hurt, but utterly traumatized by events in his past, and doesn’t trust himself or anyone else to get close.

Zachary Hall has just landed his dream job in the U.S. Treasury, and moved from conservative, suburban Utah to Washington D.C.  He’s been closeted his entire life, and is looking forward to recreating himself as an openly gay man enjoying a thriving gay community.  He’s a little shy, a little inexperienced, but open hearted and enthusiastic.  When he walked into the piano bar Mata Hari, he had that classic moment of locking eyes with the most handsome man he’s ever seen across the crowded room.  It’s not his usual thing, but a few hours later he went home with Thomas, and connected with him not just sexually, but emotionally, in a more powerful way than he ever experienced before.  Thomas felt it too, but still told Zach it was one and done.

And all through the night, the killer watched the apartment, and Zachary, and Thomas.

The killer was really creepy.  In an over-the-top, brutally violent, Silence of the Lambs kind of way, with just a little bit of Gollum thrown in.  He’s obsessed, resourceful, and ruthless, and just waiting for the right moment to reach out and take his treasure.

Both MCs really grew throughout the story – Thomas started out closed off and wary, but was eventually able to find the courage to not only confront, but defeat his demons.  Zachary may have seemed innocent and naive, but found a surprising depth of strength and confidence in himself.  Although I took a while to warm up to Thomas – the author did a great job of portraying him as an asshole who is eventually redeemed – I was rooting for Zachary from the start.  The entire cast of secondary characters was engaging and moved the story forward.  The settings, especially the piano bar with it’s regulars, created the perfect framework to really build the characters.  Although there was really no mystery about the killer’s identity, I loved the suspense of wondering how and when he would strike.  The juxtaposition of the killer’s stalking and escalating madness with the growing friendship and attraction between Thomas and Zachary was really skillfully written, and kept me biting my nails right up until the end.  And of course, kudos to the author for choosing the ultimate in stalker songs as the title of the book!

The only reason I couldn’t give the book 5 stars is because the dialogue was frequently stilted, and during sex scenes was at times downright cringeworthy.  I hope that will be something that improves in Mr. Winters future works, but regardless, he’s on my auto-buy list now.  Highly recommended!

The cover art by Catt Ford is OK, I have to admit I had hoped for something a little more dramatic.

Sales Links

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 240 pages
Expected publication: May 5th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1635334969 (ISBN13: 9781635334968)
Edition LanguageEnglish
settingWashington, D.C. (United States)

Love Suspense and Romance? Check Out ‘Every Breath You Take’ by Robert Winter (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Every Breath You Take

Author: Robert Winter

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Release Date: May 5, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 221 pages

Genre: Romance, Thriller/Suspense

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Synopsis

When Zachary Hall leaves Utah for a job in Washington, it’s finally his chance to live as a gay man and maybe find someone special. In a bar he meets Thomas Scarborough, a man who seems perfect in and out of the bedroom. But Thomas never dates. He never even sleeps with the same man twice. Despite their instant connection, he can offer Zachary only his friendship, and Zachary is looking for more.

Thomas is tempted to break his own rules, but years before, he became the victim of a stalker who nearly destroyed his life. Even though his stalker died, Thomas obsessively keeps others at a distance. Despite his fascination with Zachary, he is unable to lower his barriers. Frustrated, Zachary accepts he will never have what he wants with Thomas and soon finds it with another man.

But young gay men in Washington, DC are being murdered, and the victims all have a connection to Thomas. Once again someone is watching Thomas’s every move. Can it be a coincidence? When the depraved killer turns his attention toward Zachary, Thomas must face the demons of his past—or lose his chance to open his heart to Zachary forever.

Excerpt

Across the street the man with the silver-framed glasses stood back in the shadows and stared at the front window of the garden apartment. He could see the back of his quarry’s head as he watched a small flat-screen TV.

Time passed.

Eventually the head nodded forward and then jerked up. When it happened a second time, the creature turned off the TV and then the lamp and headed to bed.

The man waited for another half hour with his back pressed against an alcove formed where two brownstones met. The street was quiet. Almost no one walked by, and the lone person who came down the street failed to notice him in the shadows.

The man felt his breath grow hoarse, and blood rushed in his ears as his heart began to pound. He cultivated that sensation as he reached into his coat pocket for the screwdriver that rested there and made himself imagine the creature’s hands touching the Beloved’s face. Stroking his body. He curled his fingers around the screwdriver and then clenched and unclenched rhythmically. Its thick handle felt rough against his palm because of the grooves and sharp edges he had chiseled into it. He had ideas for other implements that would serve his purpose, but for now, this would do just fine. This would make his point.

His throat was dry, and his eyes burned from focusing on the darkened window, but he felt invincible. The tension in his body climbed exquisitely, and when he could take no more, he slipped across the street and stepped down to the locked gate. It opened easily with his small set of picks. The gate made no noise when the creature went through it earlier, so he was confident and quick and didn’t bother to lock it behind him. Child’s play, he thought as he worked the lock on the apartment door.

The tumblers clicked into place.

He stored his lockpicks, slipped inside the darkened apartment, and then closed the door behind him as silently as he could. Streetlight came through the slatted blinds the boy had failed to close completely. He waited quietly until he heard a faint snore from the back and then removed his glasses and tucked them in an inside pocket of his jacket. The scarf his quarry had been wearing caught his eye, and the man bared his teeth as he lifted it off the coat tree and tugged it tightly between his hands. It was well made. It would hold. He smiled.

He slid through the gloom toward the room where the creature lay sleeping. He was hard, and the blood in his erection pulsed in time to the pounding of his heart. That boy had dared to touch his Beloved. He had probably even been fucked by him. But that wasn’t enough—oh no. He came back for more.

It had taken the man so long to find his Beloved and interpret his subtle clues. He finally understood what was required of him. The undeserving gnat must be chastised, and he would be the Beloved’s angel of retribution. He was conscious of the weight of the screwdriver in his pocket, the scratch of the wool scarf in his hands, and the power in his arms.

He reached for the boy on the bed.

Purchase

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Meet the Author

Robert Winter is a recovering lawyer who likes writing about hot men in love much more than drafting a legal brief. He left behind the (allegedly) glamorous world of an international law firm to sit in his home office and dream up ways to torment his characters until they realize they are perfect for each other. When he isn’t writing, Robert likes to cook Indian food and explore new restaurants.

Robert divides his time between Washington, DC, and Provincetown, MA. He splits his attention between Andy, his partner of sixteen years, and Ling the Adventure Cat, who likes to fly in airplanes and explore the backyard jungle as long as the temperature and humidity are just right.

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INTERLUDE PRESS Presents The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember (excerpt and giveaway)

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The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember
D
uet Books (YA Imprint of Interlude Press)

Purchase Links:

 Interlude Press | Amazon |Barnes & Noble   | Target | iTunes |  Google Books 

Smashwords | Book Depository  | Indiebound

Blurb

Having long wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the merfolk’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: Say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.

Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from the divine Loki. But such deals are never straightforward, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies.

* * *

Excerpt

Taking a deep breath to steady myself, I poked my head above the waves. My hair, gone limp and heavy with the air weighing it down, instantly flopped across my face. I pushed it aside and looked at the human through a parted curtain of wet blue locks. Its rippled form came into focus, and, even under the animal furs, I could make out a tapered waist and curves. A female. She stared back at me; her brown eyes widened. Her crystal breath came fast behind her mask. Then, she screamed.

I froze in the water. The high-pitched sound chilled me worse than the cold sea. The human’s gaze drifted skyward, as if she prayed to Odin. Her scream grew louder and louder. I laid a hand on the edge of the ice, ready to hoist myself out and try to calm her, but her harpoon whizzed past my ear. I shrank back. The human still howled, but her eyes had taken on a predatory focus.

I grabbed the weapon by the shaft. The tip of the spear grazed my palm, making a shallow cut. I ignored the pain. Easing back into the water, I stopped kicking my fins to stay afloat. My body sank deeper, and I kept my grip on the weapon.

With nothing to grab, the human couldn’t steady herself on the slick ice. She let the harpoon go, and I dropped it into the ocean; I hissed as salt water lapped against the wound on my palm. As the weapon sank, the relieved whales rose. Each of them gently brushed my hip as they took a breath, thanking me in their soft, dignified language of touch.

The belugas’ leader swam under me and nudged me up over the ice’s lip. The sudden weight of my body as the whale pushed me into the air made me groan with exhaustion. The human girl scurried backward. Even though her feet slipped clumsily on the ice, she put distance between us as fast as she could.

I wanted to study her, but glorious sunlight coated my scales. I tilted my head back as the heat seeped into me, making me drunk and dizzy with pleasure. The human watched me silently from twenty feet away. My body gleamed from my head to the tips of my fins; each of my scales glistened like gemstones. I should have been concerned about the human, but the blast of heat inside me blocked fear. As soon as I ate, all would be well again.

When my scales reached their absorption capacity, the fog in my mind started to clear. Usually, I might crawl inland and look for foxes to watch. But today, I didn’t dare stray too far from the water. If the human was brave enough to hunt a whale, I didn’t want to leave myself too vulnerable. I lay back on the ice and kept my eyes trained on the girl.

I’d never seen a female among the drowned bodies that littered the northern seafloor. How had she survived the shipwreck? She looked so small and fragile compared to the sailor I’d tried to save. How had she made it back to the surface and through the cold water when he could not?

She continued to scoot backward across the ice. My gaze followed her to a makeshift cave of splintered wood and wet furs. She must have saved some things from the ship, which might explain her survival. Crawling inside the shelter, the human braced another harpoon across her knees and squared her shoulders as if daring me to come closer. But the hostility in her posture didn’t quite hide the look of wonder in her wide brown eyes.

* * *

About the Author

Julia Ember is a polyamorous, bisexual writer and native of Chicago who now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Seafarer’s Kiss is her second novel and was influenced by her postgraduate work in medieval literature at The University of St. Andrews. Her first novel, Unicorn Tracks was published by Harmony Ink Press.

* * *

Connect with Julia Ember at Julia-ember.com, on Twitter @jules_chronicle, and on Facebook at facebook.com/juliaemberwrites.

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