A MelanieM Review: Robby Riverton: Mail Order Bride by Eli Easton

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 

Being a fugitive in the old west shouldn’t be this much fun.

The year is 1860. Robby Riverton is a rising star on the New York stage. But he witnesses a murder by a famous crime boss and is forced to go on the run–all the way to Santa Fe. When he still hasn’t ditched his pursuers, he disguises himself as a mail order bride he meets on the wagon train. Caught between gangsters that want to kill him, and the crazy, uncouth family of his “intended”, Robby’s only ally is a lazy sheriff who sees exactly who Robby is — and can’t resist him.

Trace Crabtree took the job as sheriff of Flat Bottom because there was never a thing going on. And then Robby Riverton showed up. Disguised as a woman. And betrothed to Trace’s brother. If that wasn’t complication enough, Trace had to find the man as appealing as blueberry pie. He urges Robby to stay undercover until the danger has passed. But a few weeks of having Robby-Rowena at the ranch, and the Crabtree family will never be the same again.

Damn, what a kerfuffle. If only Trace can get rid of the fugitive while hanging on to his own stupid heart.

Do you know how there can be a disconnect between a blurb and the actual story at times?  Well for Eli Easton’s Robby Riverton: Mail Order Bride, there was one not only between the synopsis but also between the cover as well.  Both ended up veering far off from the charm and drama that is this m/m historic romance.

From that first line, you might think you are getting a high farce, a comedy, but its hardly that.  Robby Riverston is a serious actor who has finally getting the roles he’s wanted after paying his dues on the stage in New York  for years.  He’s worked hard and he’s a gifted actor about to get his break until he ends up at the wrong place at the wrong time and sees one of the city’s most notorious criminals murder someone.  Unfortunately for Robby, they see him too.

A ticket out of town is his only option and one thing after another leads him to Flat Bottom.  At one point he assumes the “role”  of a woman who was supposed to be a mail order bride but reneged along the way.  As any good actor does, Robby treats “Rowena” as just that, a role he is playing.  From the makeup he wears, to his dress and mannerisms, he becomes this character and a part of the Crabtree family, a situation he feels guilty about because he comes to care about these people. So yes, no high farce to be found here.  Instead, simply a desperate man trying to elude killers and a family like no others adjusting to a Easterner in their midst.

Eli Easton does bring up another element when Trace Crabtree, the oldest son and Sheriff, figures out Robby’s secret.  How the dynamics work between these men is an aspect to this story that also surprised and delighted me.  Trace has his own issues to work through, about his past, his place within the town, and his feelings about Robby.  All while trying to keep him alive as well as his family when the killers come calling.

I  loved the characterizations and the town.  All the Crabtrees absolutely grew on me, even the father.  Easton pulls it all together in a thrilling suspenseful ending and a happy epilogue that will leave you smiling.

I highly recommend Robby Riverton: Mail Order Bride by Eli Easton to all lovers of romance, even if you arent a complete fan of historic fiction, I think you will love this one too.

Cover art, while cute, is so far off the mark.  Robby would never look like that. “Rowena” was always impeccably dressed with her makeup on at all times.  That cover gives a completely false impression of the story.  Fail.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published April 26th 2018 by Pinkerton Road (first published April 24th 2018)
Original TitleRobby Riverton: Mail Order Bride
Edition LanguageEnglishsettingNew Mexico (United States)

A VVivacious Review: Flowers for the Gardener by Sharon Maria Bidwell

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Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

Richard finds himself dealing with major life decisions after his father’s death, but he finds dealing with his mother, Ruby Gardener most difficult. If life weren’t difficult enough, there is the added complication of Ethan Fields.

Ethan and his father have been employed by the Gardeners for many years, though Ethan now finds himself dissatisfied with his work though unwilling to leave. He finds himself resenting Ruby and he wants closure from Richard for whatever it was that they shared.

Will Ethan and Richard stop falling into bed together long enough to work through everything that still remains unresolved between them or will they just drift apart at the end of the day?

Hands down, this is unlike any story I have ever read which was completely unexpected and it totally blindsided me. I had no idea people could create a contemporary romance this nuanced. This book was like a revelation and Sharon Maria Bidwell is an artist.

Initially, I thought this book would be a nice romance counting on social differences to provide the most conflict but I had no idea what I was in for and I must credit this book on how complicated a single thread of thought can be made in fiction. I really don’t hold contemporary romance in any of my favourites lists but done the way it was in this book, I could really see myself turning over to the other side, quick.

This book was off to an unsteady start which I was definitely going to take as an omen but the beginning of this book is somewhat like climbing a rickety staircase inelegant but oddly charming. The writing of this book is… unique. There are sentences that rub me the wrong way, feel overly dramatized but then there are other sentences which even being all of the above make me laugh out loud with the images that are conjured up in my head.

There is this really long conversation between Ethan and Richard in the very beginning of the book and the scene changes perspectives a million times which made me feel like a ping pong ball in a match. Like it was hard to keep track of whose turn it was at present and it felt like I was playing a game of match the following, trying to match the emotions to their respective owners. Again this was something I found irritating but oddly charming though this is an idiosyncrasy that is only true for the very beginning of the book.

Ethan and Richard are on opposite sides of society, they are basically employee and employer and wealth will always be an issue, because while Richard can think of money as a constant for Ethan it is a very current and variable issue which does provide conflict in this story but not all of it. There is also a little bit of the rich in wealth, poor in sense thing going on with Rich not understanding how employing Ethan could put their relationship into an ethical dilemma, but I also feel like that particular issue is seen differently by these two characters. For Ethan wonders, if Rich employing him makes him look like a rent buy while Rich is only trying to make sure Ethan is financially stable even outside of their relationship. Then there is the fact that they are both dealing with loss albeit in different ways and while Rich can lean on Ethan for support, Ethan feels denied of the same privilege. Then there is the matter of Ruby Gardener, Rich’s very opinionated mother who wants things to be exactly as she wants them to be and how both characters are in conflict with her though this fact is not recognizable early in the book.

This book has to be the slowest burning romance in the history of slow-burning romances wherein the characters already share a sexual relationship, it was kind of amazing because generally, it is the UST that drives a slow burn romance but here, was one with so much unresolved tension without any of it being sexual. This book is kind of an award-winning type of book because there so much detail in the book and so much going on, though you really don’t realize it. The fact is that the more detailed a work, the more complicated it becomes though that is surprisingly not the case here. This book has challenged a lot of my pre-conceptions on writing and storytelling, it has been an amazing experience.

Now I know you might be wondering why this book only has a four-star rating if it truly is award-winning good. The fact of the matter is that I have analysed this book to the extent that I can see its faults, this book only has three well-developed characters and another character comes of surprisingly underdeveloped atleast that is what I tell myself because I just couldn’t warm up to Sapphire.

Since Ethan and Rich already had a sexual relationship I felt that they needed to realise a relationship between themselves. In most slow burn romances the UST is resolved prior to the very end of the book such that you get to see exactly what I mentioned above the realisation of a relationship. Now since this book also features a lot of unresolved tensions between our MCs I wanted these tensions to be resolved before the ending of the book so that these two could realise their full potential as a couple. Alas, this wasn’t the case and I fear I have lost the opportunity to see these two as a couply couple.

This book has been a challenge for me one that I have really enjoyed and so far it is unparalleled in the amount of nuance that went into creating this romance.

Cover Art by Written Ink Design which I really liked.

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 227 pages
Published April 28th 2018 by JMS Books, LLC
ISBN139781634866194
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: The River City Chronicles by J. Scott Coatsworth

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

A group of strangers meets at Ragazzi, an Italian restaurant, for a cooking lesson that will change them all. They quickly become intertwined in each other’s lives, and a bit of magic touches each of them.

Meet Dave, the consultant who lost his partner; Matteo and Diego, the couple who run the restaurant; recently-widowed Carmelina; Marcos, a web designer getting too old for hook-ups; Ben, a trans author writing the Great American Novel; teenager Marissa, kicked out for being bi; and Sam and Brad, a May-September couple who would never have gotten together without a little magic of their own.

Everyone in the River City has a secret, and sooner or later secrets always come out.

I always seek out an author’s forward, if there is one, before start into a book.  It often gives me insight into the writer’s mindset when laying out their story and characters, even the inspiration behind the origins of the tale.  In this case I got that and more.

J. Scott Coatsworth’s love for his adopted city of Sacramento, the River City of the title and setting here, is deeply established and he lets us know exactly why it’s so ingrained that its almost a living character here in The River City Chronicles. Close behind it?  Coatsworth’s love for Italian language which he speaks and teaches,  Italian cooking, and the style and format of ‘Armistead Maupin’s Tales Of The City.

The author has gathered up all these elements, given them a mighty swirl, tossed together with his own marvelous imagination and a dose of magical realism and come up with The River City Chronicles by J. Scott Coatsworth.  What a magical heartwarming glorious blend it is!

It all starts off with Matteo and Diego, a married couple recently arrived from Italy.  They’ve reopened a restaurant where one of their relative’s old Italian restaurants was but the new one isn’t being received very well.  It’s called Ragazzi, meaning ‘the boys’.  But a bit a magic is about to  happen when one gets the  idea for a cooking class that brings in an odd mixture of people in various stages of their life and circumstances.

The very idea of a cooking class, one where you can almost smell the ingredients, plunge your hands into the dough, get wafts of the aroma of vanilla, the heat of the ovens…its a experience that just conjures up memories.  Which is exactly what the author does here with vivid descriptions and later on wonderful recipes you will be jotting down to try.  It, the  preparation, the cooking, the memories and yes, perhaps the magic, start to intertwine these peoples lives and ours until I was barely aware of the time going by outside of the story.

And oh these people, because that’s what they became to me.  Each person, each couple, carrying their troubles, burdens, voids in their hearts where children or family should be, others looking for love or asking for the approval to move on with their lives to love once more.  All the characters here are so beautifully created, so multidimensional that they are all on equal footing.  Each and every one is so important to the story and will gain equal measure in your heart.  It’s a large cast but it simply doesn’t matter.  You invest yourself completely in their lives and their stories.  You hurt with them, you laugh with them…the entire spectrum of emotion will be trotted out here between the kids thrown out of their homes to the May/December romances and  so much more.

The River City Chronicles is a rich tapestry of lives…messy, complicated, wonderful, human lives.  It’s filled with love, cooking, Italy through the language and recipes, and the singular location of Sacramento.  And I can’t get enough of it.

I want more of it.

Like visiting that restaurant you have picked out as yours and visit over and over because the food is perfect, the atmosphere warm and welcoming, the people inside familiar and everything about the place makes you anticipate an evening that  will fill your heart with love and memories.  That’s how The River City Chronicles makes me feel as well.  I hope that J. Scott Coatsworth feels that there’s more tales to tell here.  I certainly hope so.  Raguzzi is doing so well, so are the cooking classes.  Who knows who will show up next?  Scott, are you listening?

Trust me, this book is magical.  I highly recommend it.

Cover art is beautiful.  It’s dark, magical an lovely.  I love it.

Sales Links: iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Goodreads

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, First, 380 pages
Published May 30th 2018 by Other Worlds Ink
ISBN 1732307513 (ISBN13: 9781732307513)
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Alisa Audiobook Review: Slow Heat (Heat of Love #1) by Leta Blake and Michael Ferraiuolo (Narrator)

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

A lustful young alpha meets his match in an older omega with a past.

Professor Vale Aman has crafted a good life for himself. An unbonded omega in his mid-thirties, he’s long since given up hope that he’ll meet a compatible alpha, let alone his destined mate. He’s fulfilled by his career, his poetry, his cat, and his friends.

When Jason Sabel, a much younger alpha, imprints on Vale in a shocking and public way, longings are ignited that can’t be ignored. Fighting their strong sexual urges, Jason and Vale must agree to contract with each other before they can consummate their passion.

But for Vale, being with Jason means giving up his independence and placing his future in the hands of an untested alpha–as well as facing the scars of his own tumultuous past. He isn’t sure it’s worth it. But Jason isn’t giving up his destined mate without a fight.

This was a wonderfully crafted world and story.  Jason has just started university and isn’t supposed to find his mate yet.  Vale had resigned himself long ago to ever finding his destined mate when Jason walks in.

It was easy to connect with these characters and feel their emotions.  The world in which these characters live puts much more importance on having children than the safety of their carriers and that mindset causes Vale to push Jason away.  I could easily see how it was hard for these characters to follow the proper protocols and find their own happiness for the future.  I had some trouble with Vale continuing to have the same worry no matter how often he was told or shown there was no need.

Michael Ferraiuolo did a great job narrating this story.  I was easily able to connect with the characters feel their emotions as he used different voices for the characters.  While I enjoyed his reading of the story his speech pattern was quite slow and I had to increase the speed of the book more than I ever have before.

Cover art by Dar Albert is great and I loved the visual of the characters together.

Sales Link:  Audible

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 14 hrs 7 min
Published: May 7, 2018 by Leta Blake
Edition Language: English

Series: Heat of Love #1

In Our Spotlight Tour: INSIDE DARKNESS by Hudson Lin (giveaway)

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Inside Darkness by Hudson Lin

Riptide Publishing
Cover by: Natasha Snow

Sales Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon

 

 

Welcome to the blog tour for Inside Darkness! I’m Hudson Lin and I’m here to share some behind the scenes sneak peaks about my debut novel, available June 11th. Leave a comment on the tour posts for a chance to win a $10 gift card from Amazon!

 

About Inside Darkness

 

He’s come in from the field, but the darkness has followed him home.

 

After a decade as an aid worker, Cameron Donnelly returns home jaded, tired, and with more than just a minor case of PTSD. Plagued by recurring nightmares but refusing to admit he has a problem, Cam quickly spirals into an alcohol-infused depression, and everyone around him is at a loss for how to help.

 

Journalist Tyler Ang met Cam on a reporting assignment in Kenya, and their first encounters were rife with hostility and sexual tension. Back in New York, their paths continually cross, and each time, Cam’s brokenness reminds Ty more and more of his own difficult childhood. Letting Cam in goes against Ty’s instinct to live life autonomously, but the damaged aid worker manages to sneak past his guard.

 

Their relationship is all sharp corners and rough edges, and just as they’re figuring out how to fit together, a life-threatening accident puts it all in jeopardy. If they want a future together, both will have to set aside their egos and learn to carry each other’s burdens.

 

 

About Hudson Lin

 

Hudson Lin was raised by conservative immigrant parents and grew up straddling two cultures with often-times conflicting perspectives on life. Instead of conforming to either, she has sought to find a third way that brings together the positive elements of both.

 

Having spent much of her life on the outside looking in, Hudson likes to write about outsiders who fight to carve out their place in society, and overcome everyday challenges to find love and happily ever afters.

 

When not engrossed in a story, Hudson knits, drinks tea, and works the nine-to-five in the beautiful city of Toronto, Canada.

 

Connect with Hudson:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Inside Darkness, Hudson is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on June 16, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Release Blitz and Giveaway for My Anti-Marriage (My Anti-Series Book 3) by DJ Jamison

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 40,000 words approx.
 
My Anti Series
 
My Anti Valentine (Book #1) – Amazon US | Amazon UK
My Anti Boyfriend (Book #2) – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

Can one drunken night in Vegas and a pair of wedding rings lead to a happily ever after?


Love has never been a good bet for Chris, so going on a Vegas wedding trip for his friends is bittersweet. Especially when Ant, the last man to break his trust, is suddenly along for the ride. Which explains why Chris wakes up in his hotel room with the mother of all hangovers. Not so much why Ant is in his bed … or worse, wearing a matching wedding band.


Ant invited himself on a Vegas trip, gambling on a second chance with the man who got away. He never dreamt he’d be the one with a wedding ring on his finger, but if their predicament gets Chris talking to him again, he’ll make the most of it.


Between keeping their secret from friends and trying to figure out what really happened that first crazy night in Vegas, passions ignite. If they can hold on to their fresh start, maybe the Vegas motto doesn’t have to hold true: What happens in Vegas doesn’t have to stay there.

   

Author Bio


DJ Jamison is the author of more than a dozen m/m romances, including the Ashe Sentinel series and the Hearts and Health series. She writes a variety of queer characters, from gay to bisexual to asexual, with a focus on telling love stories that are more about common ground than lust at first sight. DJ grew up in the Midwest in a working-class family, and those influences can be found in her writing through characters coping with real-life problems: money troubles, workplace drama, family conflicts and, of course, falling in love. DJ spent more than a decade in the newspaper industry before chasing her first dream to write fiction. She spent a lifetime reading before that, and continues to avidly devour her fellow authors’ books each night. She lives in Kansas with her husband, two sons, two fish and, regrettably, one snake.


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