A Stella Review: Lock Nut (Plumber’s Mate Mysteries) by JL Merrow

Standard

RATING 4,5 out of 5 stars

Still waters run deadly.

Tom Paretski, plumber with a talent for finding hidden things, and his private investigator fiancé Phil Morrison have been hired to locate a runaway husband, Jonathan Parrot. The job seems simple enough—until their quarry turns up dead in a canal, and a photofit of Tom’s face is splashed all over the news, making him chief suspect.

The widow, petite ex–porn star Lilah Lovett, is convinced her husband was killed by his gay lover, but Tom and Phil aren’t so sure. Worried they may have precipitated Jonathan’s death, they’re determined to find the real killer. But with a web of incestuous ties linking the suspects, it’s hard to know who to trust. Especially when a second victim dies a gruesome death.

Meanwhile, with their wedding looming and them sharing a house now, Tom’s worried it may all be too much, too fast. The last thing he needs are the mixed messages Phil seems to be sending out. They’ll need to get back on the same track if they want to make it to their honeymoon together—and alive.

I’m crazy about this author works, I saw the name and pick every new book without even reading the blurb. That said, I have a confession to make: this time I screwed up. I was over the moon as soon as I received Lock Nut and like an osbessed I started reading it. From the beginning I realized something was wrong. I couldn’t remember Tom and Phil’s story and since Lock Nut is the fifth book in the series I wasn’t understanding how could I not. I went to Goodreads to check and realized my mistake: I mixed The Plumber’s Mate Mysteries with The Shamwell Tales series.  While I read all the titles in the second series, I completely and consciously ignored the first one because I’m not so into psychic abilities combined with mystery, it’s not my thing, I am a huge chickenshit. When will I learn to (at least) read a title and a series name and not just the author?

Anyway I decided to teach myself a lesson and went on with the reading, positive it was going to be a disaster. I found it impossible to not just like a story but actually understand the MCs, an established couple that met and told their stories in the last FOUR books of the series.

I had to change my mind, the author proved me wrong. And this is one more reason why I love her works, even if to me it’s so freaking hard to read her so British writing.

Not once I thought about giving up, there was nothing to give up, the plot was clear and I beautifully saw Phil and Tom, I knew them quite well, sure there is so much more to know, so many details and adventures I missed, but I learnt their natures and tempers, I saw their love. They “worked” (well, it’s more Phil’s job) so good together, throught moments of laughs and hotness, sweetness and banters.  And now I have to catch up on the series, hoping Lock Nut isn’t the last book.

The cover art by Chistine Coffee is not a winner to me, there is nothing special about it, sorry I don’t like it.

SALE LINKS:  RIPTIDE   |  Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 330 pages

Published May 12th 2018 by Riptide Publishing

ASIN B07D23W4Z6

Edition Language English

Series The Plumber’s Mate Mysteries #5

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: On the Ice (Stick Side #1) by Amy Aislin

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

These two characters came to life within the first few chapters and swept me away with their story. I honestly did not want to put this book down to go to bed, but my subconscious took over when I did, and I dreamed about Mitch and Alex. Without a doubt, these men are my favorite couple nominee for any and all 2018 MM romance awards.

Slowburn? Yes. Too much sex on page? No. Friendship? Yes. Characters who mature over time? Why yes. Yes indeed. And that’s not all there is to like about this story.

When college sophomore, hockey player, and kinesiology major Mitch Greyson shows up at an extra credit lecture at his small Vermont college with the express intent of interviewing the Tampa Bay hockey team’s sports doctor, he’s at first disappointed that the man is a no-show. But then he gets to speak to and flirt with the man who came in his place: Alex Dean, a Tampa Bay defenseman who happens to be in Vermont visiting family while his broken arm heals. But Alex wants nothing to do with flirty Mitch. Alex isn’t interested in sex or flirtation. He’s just not made that way. He’s demisexual, and in fact, isn’t even sure if he’ll ever find someone to love, and if he does, he’s not sure if it will be a man or a woman. He’s a 25-year-old virgin and perfectly happy to remain that way. Or so he thinks—until he gets to know Mitch.

Here’s my main sticking point in this story, and yes, it is addressed by the author at the end of the book. But it’s an in-your-face sticking point right from the beginning and may turn some readers off. How many people in 2008 and 2009 knew the term demisexual or knew what was meant by it? I don’t believe many recognized their own demisexuality, never mind in others during the years in which the story is set. Yes, I know the term was invented already, but in general, sexuality was thought to be heterosexual or homosexual at that point. The fine lines—shades of sexuality, so to speak—weren’t discussed and for people who felt they didn’t quite fit in one category or the other, there wasn’t a lot of info available to them to clarify where they fell on the spectrum. The author addresses this issue in her second author’s note (that in my opinion should come before the story, not after) and acknowledges that she took liberties with using the terms. However, I think it would have been easier to accept during the story if the characters acknowledged that they had just recently learned the term. Since it distracted me throughout the book, until I finally got to the author’s note at the end, I’ve dropped my rating a half star.

Fortunately, I was able to move past that and enjoy the balance of the story. And it was a love story, no mistake about that. This was the slowest of slow-burn romances, and so much better because of that. My interest level remained high throughout the book as both characters struggled with issues beyond their control—Alex with his grandfather’s dementia and Mitch with working for the funds he needs to be able to complete the degree he has his heart set on while still practicing and planning to be the best so he can be drafted by the NHL.

I highly recommend this love story to anyone who appreciates a variation from the same-old, same-old tropes and themes. Hockey seems to be a popular sport this year among authors; however, this story is more about the romance than the sport. Other than my issue with the demisexual terminology, this book made me feel the love and raised my spirits—the reason I read in the first place.

~~~

Cover art by Lee Hyat Designs displays the bare torso of a young muscular skater against the background of a hockey rink. The male could represent either young man as one is an NHL player and the other a college student on his school’s hockey team. It’s bright and attractive and a good representation for this story.

Sales Links:   Universal Buy Link

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition
Published May 8th 2018
Original TitleOn The Ice
ASINB07C3M67XS
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesStick Side #1

An Ali Audiobook Review: Free Falling (Extreme Escapes, Ltd.) by S.E. Jakes and Dorian Bane (Narrator)

Standard
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Sometimes falling in love is the most dangerous thing of all…

Blue’s a thief who lives for adrenaline and danger. When he meets Mick, a mercenary and a hitter, he feels an immediate attraction. But Mick reneges on a bet they’ve made, leaving Blue pissed and confused.

When they meet again a year later, Blue’s in terrible danger after having walked into the middle of one of Mick’s jobs. Mick saves him, and although the two men have fallen for one another, they have no idea how to handle that kind of intimacy that’s been forced on them.

But when Mick goes missing on a job, Blue’s the one to go after him, determined to save the man he loves no matter the cost.

I very rarely do re-reads and there’s a reason for that.  This book reminded me of why.   I find that over time my tastes change and things I really liked before often don’t hold the same appeal years later.  This series used to be one of my favorites though so I thought there was a good chance it would hold up.  It wasn’t a fail per se but I also wasn’t wow’d.
The two men have met in the past and now again a year later when Blue finds himself in the middle of one of Mick’s jobs.  The story is fast paced as is the love story.  It was very insta-love which was probably my biggest peeve with the story.  That didn’t used to bother me but has become a plot device I don’t care for anymore.  Also, the story is filled with sex scenes.  Too many for the length of the book in my opinion.  I felt like the story relied on their chemistry in bed more so that building an actual relationship between them.
This story was narrated by Dorian Bane.  I thought he did a good job on both MC’s.  I had never listened to a book by this narrator so it was a pleasant surprise.  I’m always looking for new narrators that I enjoy and I will be adding this one to my list.
Cover:  This book’s cover was done by CrocoDesigns.  I like the cover and think it looks really good.  It’s a really eye catching design.
Audiobook Details:
Kindle Edition, 134 pages
Published March 8th 2014 by Riptide Publishing (first published December 5th 2012)
Original TitleFree Falling
ASINB00IWAI7OQ
SeriesExtreme Escapes, Ltd. settingBogotá (Bogota) (Colombia)

A Lila Review: A Disposable Husband by Iyana Jenna

Standard

Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Husband-for-hire Gardner Fray will enter into a short term marriage with either a man or a woman, as long as the price is right. Providing a professional — though unusual — service, he guards against emotional attachment to his partners.

Kyle Simmons, an associate at a prestigious legal firm, is desperately in need of someone like Gardner. Unfortunately, he’s still tied to a very influential ex named Antonio who doesn’t want to leave the picture.

When Gardner agrees to marry Kyle, both men find their lives changing for the better. But can they overcome the hurdles thrown their way by the abusive Antonio? More than that, can they find love?

A Disposable Husband is a very short story that feels more like the outline for a longer book. I don’t like rating a story less than three starts but in this case, I can’t recommend it. There’s potential and some shiny moments but unfortunately, not enough to carry the book.

I liked the main idea and what little we saw about the characters. It was interesting and a nice spin to a traditional troupe. The main problem was the abrupt changes and the lack of cohesiveness. In reality, it was a group of snippets together with no final purpose; as if missing half of the story.

It’s normal for a short story to skip forward in time and to hint to off-page events, but in this case, it didn’t work. We finished with more questions than at the beginning and a sense of missing something that could have been good. I hope to see an extended version of this story in the near future.

The cover by Written in Designs is generic. It can fit any number of MM Romances and doesn’t add to the story.

Sale Links: JMS | Amazon | Nook

ebook, 24 pages
Published: April 21, 2018, by JMS Books
ISBN: 9781634866149
Edition Language: English

Review Tour – On the Ice (Stick Side #1) by Amy Aislin (excerpt and giveaway)

Standard

 

 
 
Length: 87,000 word approx.
Blurb
 

For college sophomore Mitch Greyson, determination and persistence are the name of the game if he wants to make it as a professional hockey player. A busy schedule of practices, games, classes, homework, two part-time jobs—and now, working with a tutor to help him pass the class he’s failing so that he can keep his scholarship—shouldn’t leave him with enough time to flirt with the NHL player in town. But that doesn’t stop him.

Placed on the injured reserve list until his broken arm heals, NHL defenseman Alex Dean is using the time off to be with his ailing grandfather and get a head start on the book he’s been commissioned to write. He doesn’t expect to get roped into a tutoring gig, especially not for cocky, smart-ass Mitch.

But Alex soon discovers that there’s more to Mitch than meets the eye…and he really likes what he sees. Only Alex doesn’t dare risk his NHL career by coming out, and a relationship between them would jeopardize Mitch’s chances with the organization too.

It looks impossible. Then again, the best things usually do…


Excerpt

“Good game against Colgate,” Alex said, pocketing his phone.

The mask slipped off Mitch’s face. “You were there?”

Alex shook his head. “Watched it on TV.”

Holy crap! An NHL player—Mitch’s hockey crush, no less—had watched his game. At a loss for words, Mitch stood there blinking at Alex like a putz.

“You’ve got impressive foot work,” Alex said.

Mitch continued to blink at him.

“You skated circles around Colgate and that goal in the third?” Alex smiled wide. “You broke Colgate’s end as if the defensemen were pylons. It was beautiful.”

“I—” Mitch cleared his throat. “Well, McCall passed me the puck at just the right time, so… I mean, I did figure skating for years and…” He had no idea what he was trying to say.

“Huh. I know a couple of guys who did some figure skating after their game slipped and it helped them rebound. It’s something I’ve been considering to improve my foot speed.” Alex leaned a shoulder against the wall and crossed his arms, but his cast got in the way so he ended up shoving one hand in his pocket and letting the casted one dangle. “Your training shows in your footwork. How else has it helped your game?”

In total disbelief that an NHL player was asking him for advice, Mitch said, “Figure skating is about using edges and your body to change direction on the ice. It’s about learning to cut a corner or to pivot the right way while maintaining your speed. It made me a better skater.”

“It shows.”

God, the compliments were going to go to Mitch’s head.

“What made you decide to stick with hockey instead of figure skating?”

Mitch shrugged and told the truth. “I liked hockey better.”

“Could you do a triple axel in full hockey gear?” Alex asked, a teasing grin on his face.

Mitch had to laugh. “I’ve never tried.” But now he was itching to.

“No? What about a—” Alex held his index finger up and moved it in small circles, “—with the leg out in front?”

“A sit spin?” Mitch scratched his head. “I actually think that one might be harder than the triple axel in full hockey gear.”

They stood there smiling at each other for a moment, Alex’s eyes the color of the Green Mountains in summer. The man was too gorgeous for words and he was nice to boot. Mitch couldn’t help staring at Alex’s mouth, red and surprisingly soft in an otherwise rugged face.

Alex cleared his throat and edged around Mitch. “I’ve got to get back to my friend.”

“Wait, I—” The hallway was empty so Mitch plastered his sex smile back on his face, walked right into Alex’s personal space, and put a hand on Alex’s hip. “Why don’t you come over tonight and we’ll—”

Alex palmed Mitch’s shoulders and pushed him away. “Look, kid—”

“I’m not a kid.”

Mitch.” Alex held him at arm’s length. “Whatever it is you’re trying to do here, it’s not going to happen. I don’t even know you.”

“What difference does that make?”

Alex dropped his arms. “I don’t jump into bed with people I don’t know. Hell, I don’t even jump into bed with people I do know.”

 

Alex wasn’t saying I’m not gay, but it did sound like he was saying I’m asexual or something similar, which left Mitch exactly nowhere.


May 8 – Xtreme Delusions, We Three Queens, Bookaholic & Kindle, MM Midnight Cafe
May 10 – Love Bytes, Mean Girls Luv Books, Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books, Kimmer’s Erotic Book Banter, United Indie Book Blog, Megan’s Media Melange, Urban Smoothie Read, Mainely Stories
May 11 – The Novel Approach
May 12 – My Fiction Nook, Katie’s Book Corner, Dreams & Screams Bookaholics, Love Unchained Book Reviews
May 14 – Drops Of Ink, Unquietly Me, Cupcakes & Bookshelves, Wicked Faerie’s Tales & Reviews, Making It Happen, Wicked Reads
May 15 – Joyfully Jay
May 16 – Valerie Ullmer, Queerly Reads, Mirrigold: Mutterings & Musings, Sarandipity, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
May 17 – Bayou Book Junkie
May 19 – MM Good Book Reviews

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Review here.  We highly recommend it!

Amy started writing on a rainy day in fourth grade when her class was forced to stay inside for recess. Tales of adventures with her classmates quickly morphed into tales of adventures with the characters in her head. Based in the suburbs of Toronto, Amy is a marketer/fundraiser at a large environmental non-profit in Toronto by day, and a writer by night. Book enthusiast, animal lover and (very) amateur photographer, her interests are many and varied, including travelling, astronomy, ecology, and baking. She binge watches too much anime, and loves musical theater, Julie Andrews, the Backstreet Boys, and her hometown of Oakville, Ontario.


Connect with Amy:
Website: http://amyaislin.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amy.aislin
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AmyAislinAuthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/amy_aislin
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amyaislin/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/amyaislinauthor/
Tumblr: https://amyaislin.tumblr.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16693566.Amy_Aislin
QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/amy-aislin/
Amazon: https://amazon.com/author/amyaislin

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Hosted By Signal Boost Promotions

 

Release Blitz Tour – Last Defense (Harrisburg Railers #5) by RJ Scott & VL Locey (excerpt and giveaway)

Standard

 

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 52,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
 
Harrisburg Railers Series
 
Book #1 – Changing Lines – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – First Season – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Deep Edge – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 – Poke Check – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

Two men afraid to feel, have to make choices that could end up breaking down their defenses and leading them back to love.

Every time Max Van Hellren steps on the ice he knows it could be his last time. At thirty he’s past his hockey prime but he’s also hiding a life-threatening injury that private doctors warn could kill him. This is his last season, and there’s a chance he could lift the Stanley Cup after fourteen years in the NHL. He just needs to stay safe and healthy; difficult when he’s known for his heavy hitting and with a propensity for dropping the gloves and putting his body in the way of pucks to keep his team safe.

A one night stand with a sexy man was just what he needed, dangerous and hot, but what if it turned into more? Would he actually have to share the secrets he so desperately tries to hide?

Ben Worthington had it all. A fulfilling job running the CrossRoads Shelter, his loving aunts, and a husband that understood his devotion to animals. Then, the love of his life left him, succumbing so quickly to an unexpected sickness that Ben never had time to say goodbye. The violent loss scarred him.

Unable to move past his fears, he moves from lonely encounter to lonely encounter, slaking a desperate need that is eating away at him, but never making a connection that could lead him back into love. One night with Max makes him want more, but will giving into the temptation open the door to feelings he can’t contain?

Can these two broken men ever find a way to be together?

 
Excerpt
 

“Nice dog.” I paused just this side of the players’ entrance at the deep voice coming from behind me. There was something about that man’s voice…the timbre of the bass or the way he spoke. Not sure what it was, but the last time he’d spoken to me my body had had the same kind of reaction. A spear of latent heat low in my belly followed by a shiv of icy dread.

“Thanks.” I wanted to stare at the door. Or run. I couldn’t do either of those, though, so I turned to face the bearded man. Christ, but he was fierce-looking. Like a Viking, with piercing eyes and an aura that screamed berserker. He was bigger than me. Taller by at least four inches and probably sixty pounds. He was wearing a suit, as Stan and Erik had been, but his looked incredibly fine on his burly frame. Dark blue with a silver tie and a white shirt. His biceps strained the material trying to contain them.

“His name is Bucky.” There now, I had spoken to the man who made my heart leap around inside my chest like a frog on a highway.

“Like Captain America’s sidekick?” He looked down at my worn T-shirt with Cap’s shield on it.

“Exactly like that.”

He took another step, which put him into my little personal space bubble, his gaze and mine locked. I wet my lips and jerked my chin up a bit. I wasn’t going to let some hockey player intimidate me.

“Cute dog. Hot owner.” He gave me a long, slow look, petted Bucky, and stepped around the dull-witted man trying to digest the fact Mr. Fear had said he was hot. “Are you coming in, or are you teaching your dog to open doors mentally?”

“I’m here to see Layton Foxx.”

“Yeah? Well, I’m here to participate in morning skate.”

“I know who you are. Max van Hellren. You played for Washington four years ago.”

He tugged the door open and settled a kind of bored look on me. “Yeah, that was me. You like Washington?”

“Hometown team.” Bucky barked to back me up. Max smiled. All the ferocity that oozed out of him dissipated when he smiled. The man was seriously fine.

“Maybe I can change your mind about which team to cheer for, Mr. Washington Fan.”

“Ben. My name is Ben.”

He nodded just once, his hand still keeping the door open. “Ben. I like that. Suits you. So, are we coming in or are we going to flirt here in front of Pete?”

A security guard peeked around the door and winked at me. I wanted to die. Right there.

“I don’t flirt,” I snapped. I stalked around Max and Pete and went off to find Layton Foxx. Determination hot in my breast kept me from looking back to see if Max was checking out my ass. I hoped he was and I prayed he wasn’t.

RJ’s goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

RJ Scott is the bestselling author of over one hundred 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.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, Dr. Who, Torchwood, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, two Jersey steers and a flock of assorted domestic fowl.

When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Hosted By Signal Boost Promotions