A Caryn Review: Finn (Endangered Fae #1) by Angel Martinez

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I love this author!  This book is primarily a paranormal contemporary, but there is still a little bit of the fairy tale in it that this author does so well.

Diego is an unsuccessful writer barely keeping a roof over his head in NYC.  He has a compulsion to help those in need, human or animal, which not only got him a serious head injury with resultant seizures at some point in the past, but more recently led to his lover leaving him.  When he saw an emaciated man crouching on the edge of the Brooklyn bridge, he couldn’t just drive by – he went up to the man hoping to talk him out of jumping.  And proceeded to bring that man, filthy, malnourished, and more than a little strange, back to his apartment to care for him.

Finn was strange – every object in Diego’s life, no matter how mundane, was a puzzle to him.  Cars, machines, street food… it all seemed to be completely new to him.  His speech was delightfully formal and archaic and hinted at someone completely foreign (one of my favorite lines, when the doctor wanted to get some tests:  “What does he mean, drawing blood?  Has he issued challenge?”  I loved how he spoke, and I think if this book is made into an audiobook with a talented narrator it would be even more amazing).  Eventually, Finn admits to Diego that he is not human, that he is a pooka who slept for 700 years and awoke to the modern world, and found that he was unable to return to the world of the Fae.  And he is being slowly poisoned by the air and the water of this world, and he doesn’t know how to stop it.

These two characters just fit together.  Diego, humble, extraordinarily generous, exceedingly kind, and stronger than he acknowledges; and Finn, adventurous, spontaneous, artistic, with a charming combination of naivete and worldliness.  Finn is open about love and sexuality, and freely admits his admiration and attraction for Diego, though Diego is more guarded about how he feels about Finn.  They travel to an isolated area of Canada where Finn is finally able to regain his health, but they find that he is not the only supernatural being who has been sleeping…

This book really was shaping up to be a five star read for me.  I fell in love with both of the characters, and I was drawn into the danger and the adventure in the wilds of Canada.  The mystery of Diego’s true nature, and how Finn gradually helped him to acknowledge and embrace it, fascinated me.  I felt like the excitement was building and building, and I couldn’t put the book down, but the climax ended up falling a little short of the buildup.  And then the story meandered on for another few chapters that seemed irrelevant and even after I finished the book, I still didn’t know what the point of those chapters was.  So, I ended up taking off a star.  Regardless, I really enjoyed this book, and I will read it again, and I am very much hoping it is the beginning of a series!

Cover art by Emmy@studioenp is pretty but doesn’t say much about the book.

Sales Links:  Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 226 pages
Published May 22nd 2018 by Pride Publishing (first published July 2nd 2009)
Original TitleFinn
ASINB07C3MH4X8
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesEndangered Fae #1
CharactersFinn Shannon, Diego Sandoval settingNew Brunswick (Canada)

A MelanieM Release Day Review: From a Jack to a King by Scotty Cade

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

New York Times best-selling mystery writer Bay Whitman leads the life of a celebrity—at least on the surface. In public he’s self-assured and in control. Women hang on his every word, while men envy his confidence and swagger. But in reality, Bay is a loner. He’s shy and introverted, and his life consists of sitting in a dimly lit room writing his famous Jack Robbins mystery novels. His one vice—gambling. Winning an escort in a poker game will change Bay’s life in ways he never imagined.

Matthew “King” Slater is one of the hottest tickets in gay porn. He spends his days in front of the camera and his nights as a highly paid escort to the rich and famous. Deep down, he craves romance and a real connection, but his past makes it hard to separate the needs of his body from those of his heart. For now, it’s easier to think of sex as just a job. But while doing a shoot in Vegas, King is hired for a tryst at a famous hotel and casino, and his handsome client might blur the line between work and play.

OK, I’m going to admit right off the bat, I misjudged this book.  Not by it cover, but by the synopsis!  I thought I was going to get a typical high priced call guy/porn star meets and transforms a nerd sort of story and gets a life makeover himself.  All of which does kind of happen.

But…and it’s a huge one, Scotty Cade takes that barest of well if not themes, then outlines and fleshes it out with surprising twists in his characterizations, story framework, and unique elements.  It begins with his multiple pov, told from both Matthew “King” Slater and Bay Whitman.  We don’t actually hear the name Matthew used much until the end of the story which is appropriate because for much of this novel, it’s King Slater, the vastly popular gay porn star and high priced escort that you hear from.  We meet him in the middle of a “shoot” for a porn film, taking a call for a hookup later on.   And it’s our first inkling of the twist that’s coming when  we hear King’s inner thoughts, both on the shoot and the escort job to come.  The layers that Cade start to pour over his character to distinguish him from others you might have stashed away in your mind.  I don’t really want to give away the issues with King.  But needless to say, the author has done considerable research and it comes through how King internally voice’s his insecurities and deep fears.  It’s believable and his actions at all times feel authentic.

So too does the bullying element that has played such a restrictive, altering role in Bay Whitman’s life.  The author mentions the horrible effects that childhood bullying have had on him and it translates into the  character of Bay in the story. That simply said, they carry over into adulthood with often surprising ramifications on that persons life.  With Bay Whitman, Scotty Cade is able to show what course those repercussions might have taken with one person.  And again, Bay becomes someone you can connect with, a person who needs to create a persona to deal with the “outside”, to handle people and events that he himself thinks are beyond him.  It’s so easy to emphasize and feel compassion for both individuals.

I enjoyed the path the author plotted to their HEA, as potentially loaded with emotional potholes and outright craters I kept waiting for them to fall into. But the author was kind and, I believe, sympathetic  himself towards this pair that needed each other and love so badly.

He gives them a ending that, perhaps I had to suspend my belief a little more than usual (which is why the rating) but it’s also a tremendous way to end the story.  Did I enjoy it? Absolutely.  I was rooting for them after all.

I think you will too.

I definitely recommend From a Jack to a King by Scotty Cade.   If you love romance, and for two men who deserive a chance at HEA, I think you will love this contemporary novel.

Cover art: Paul Richmond. You can always pick out a Paul Richmond artwork.  This one is absolutely perfect for the characters, story, and of course, the cover.  Love it.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: July 3rd 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640801141
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Tight Quarters (Out of Uniform #6) by Annabeth Albert

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

Petty Officer Bacon, a navy SEAL and ace sharpshooter, has been on the front lines of more than his fair share of dangerous ops. Yet when a minor injury relegates him to the beta team, he’s tasked with what may be his riskiest assignment yet: the silver fox journalist he’s babysitting is the hottest, most charismatic man he’s ever encountered.

Award-winning journalist Spencer Bryant may have been named one of Pride magazine’s most eligible bachelors of the year, but he’s not looking to change his relationship status. He’s a consummate professional who won’t risk his ethics or impeccable reputation by getting involved with a source. Even a sexy-as-hell military man. But while Spencer can resist his physical attraction to Bacon, he has less control over his emotions—especially when the mission goes sideways and the two men are trapped alone.

Getting out of the jungle alive turns out to be easy compared to facing the truth about their feelings for one another back in the real world. And whether or not they can build a future is a different story altogether.

As I seem to say with every Annabeth Albert series, with each story her Out of Uniform series just seems to evolve into ever deeply layered  plots and a enlarged group of characters that connect to her center cast of military personnel.  Here in Tight Quarters, Albert brings in that ever present and important figure, the journalist and embeds him into the beta team of sharpshooter Petty Officer Bacon.

I loved this idea and theme for many reasons, not the least of which these men and women (journalists who go to war) have always fascinated me.  So to have Albert create a main character with a passion for the truth and need for adrenaline that would carry him with the soldiers out into a mission?  Perfect, and yet, not have all the information at hand to understand that perhaps in this case he might be a detriment and an obstacle as well.  So the author brings both an immediate tension into the group on several levels with the introduction of journalist Spencer Bryant and it works superbly.

Another element that also puts the reader on alert?  The team is not a well oiled SEAL team but an unsettled one, trying to find a way to gell together. Under new leadership and uneasy with each other, inserting an outsider, an openly gay one, is highlighting the cracks in the unit now becoming wide crevasses.

The combination of military life and romance is a wonder once more in the hands of Albert.  She paints in intimate window into the lives, tensions, and team dynamics of Bacon’s SEAL team as it’s unity flounders in the face of homophobia, uncertainty, and lack of leadership.  And then adds in her journalist to which there’s an not an instant attraction between both men,  Bacon and Bryant but a slow burn?  Wonderful and full of angst.

I loved the hot romance between the men but what really worked for me was that Albert never forgot the reality of the situation the men kept find ing themselves in.  For one?  That it took a while for the journalist Bryant to understand exactly what an impediment he was to the SEAL team’s mission.  That in actuality he was Bacon’s mission during a portion of the story…a scary, gritty portion.  And how that might have adversely effected Bacon’s career and their lives should the mission go “south”.

Secondly, that their romance had to take second place to careers and events currently taking place and that they had to assure people (command, publishers) of timelines.  That also felt covered in authenticity.

Plus I always love having characters from previous stories pop up again as they do here. Adore that and getting caught up again with their lives.

In short?  I believed in this men. Their passions for what they did for a living, and for each other.  Albert’s writing carried me away from my real life into theirs, one fraught with danger,  suspense, rules, regulations, and lastly a romance for all to connect with.  I was investing emotionally with them at all times. Yep, hooked hard.

 

Cover art is hot and sexy and in keeping with branding the series.

Sales Links:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: July 9th 2018 by Carina Press
Original TitleTight Quarters
ASINB07BRX2K1D
Edition LanguageEnglish
URLhttps://www.carinapress.com/shop/books/9781488081330_tight-quarters.html
SeriesOut of Uniform

 

A VVivacious Release Day Review: Stranger in a Foreign Land by Michael Murphy

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Rating: 2 Stars out of 5

Patrick is in Thailand when his cab gets involved in a brutal accident resulting in him losing all of his memory. Lost and confused not to mention tired, bruised and helpless Patrick finds shelter near a pineapple cannery where he meets Jack.  Jack starts to take care of Patrick now known as Buddy and earns his trust and more. Just as Patrick and Jack find themselves deeply in love Patrick’s past comes knocking in the form of his brother.

Oh! I have a lot to say about this one. There were just so many things in this one that bugged me right from the very beginning. The first and foremost one being the wandering POV. Right in the very beginning of this book when Patrick was all alone the author managed to make the POV wander between Patrick and Amnesia Patrick aka Buddy.

In the middle of Patrick/Buddy trying to save his life, you would find yourself in the middle of some exposition on money which actually held no relevance to the story whatsoever and ended on the note that it wasn’t the first and foremost thing on Patrick’s mind, maybe because he is trying to flee a car moments from exploding.

But, the wandering POV just didn’t let up and when we got to Jack, the POV changed every paragraph until it resulted in passages such as the one below –

“I don’t know,” Jack answered honestly.

Feeling uncomfortable, Buddy decided to make a joke, or try to anyway.

It was obvious to Jack what Buddy was trying to do.

“You obviously see the bed,” he said, gesturing toward the double bed against another wall.

By the end, I had no idea who was actually talking.

Generally, I can tolerate head-hopping to quite a great extent but since in this book it was happening from the very beginning, it kept bringing me out of the book, as a result, I just wasn’t as invested in the characters and therefore was hypercritical of everything.

For me the shower scene came across as very predatory, especially considering Buddy’s almost child-like enthusiasm with everything Jack. I was hyperaware of the power Jack had over Buddy in that situation and I truly feel that not addressing that inequality did nobody any favours because till the very end Buddy/Patrick is way too dependent on Jack for everything. Jack is his entire life and frankly if this relationship doesn’t pan there will be no Patrick which is a horrifying thought.

Also, would it have killed Patrick to sympathise with his parents? He acts as nothing short of a petulant child in all those scenes. I was actually quite shocked to face the reluctance with which Patrick approaches the entire ordeal of learning who he was. He definitely doesn’t seem interested and makes no efforts to reconnect or at least sympathise with his parents which was something I couldn’t understand. Like he refers to his mother as that woman, I mean yeah I know you have no recollection of her but she is your mother and just for that fact you owe her respect if nothing else.

For some reason the author goes back to calling Buddy as Patrick even though he has no idea what it is to be Patrick and more so ever has no interest in finding out either and considering how Patrick/Amnesia Patrick/Buddy reacts to everything Patrick, I really don’t think she should have gone back to it.

Also, I have got to mention this but Patrick at one point asks James if his/their, mother is aged, and I was left gawking, well she has to be older than you doofus and you are no spring chicken yourself. This was just one of those many things in the book that made the story veer into the implausible. I couldn’t relate to the story and the plot just seemed far-fetched.

I, for the most, liked Jack but it was very hard for me to tolerate Patrick he was just so many things at so many different times that it was hard to know who he was, whoever this character was, Patrick or Buddy since I am not even sure about that.

Despite its flaws, I still managed to finish the story which seems like an accomplishment in itself.

Cover Art by Bree Archer. I liked the cover though I have no idea who that model is supposed to depict.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 216 pages
Expected publication: July 3rd 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640802506
Edition LanguageEnglish

Release Blitz for Play it by Ear (Replay #2) by KM Neuhold (excerpt)

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 Play it by Ear RDB Banner

PLAY IT BY EAR

REPLAY SERIES, BOOK 2

K.M. NEUHOLD

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 07.02.18

Play it by Ear Cover 

BLURB

Lando

My muse is gone, and I haven’t written a word of music in over a year. Every time I close my eyes, all I can see is Dawson. Nine years ago, just before Downward Spiral’s first major tour, I met my soulmate and then I walked away. Now that I’ve finally tracked him down again, things have changed. I’ll have to make him fall for me all over again. But is it possible I put our single weekend together on a pedestal or could Dawson really be The One?

Dawson

A traumatic brain injury nine years ago left me deaf and with spotty memory of the first twenty years of my life. When one of the biggest rock stars in the world shows up and seems to know me, I’m not sure what to believe. Is it possible he’s telling the truth when he says he’s been in love with me for nine years, even if I can’t remember ever meeting him?

***Play it by Ear is the second book in the Replay series. Each book in the series will focus on a different band member getting a second chance at love. Each book can be read as a stand-alone.

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EXCERPT

The blank pages taunt me cruelly. No matter how many times I put the tip of my pencil to the paper, it remains blank. Have you ever felt like your entire life depended on your ability to do something that you suddenly couldn’t do? Not that I’m going to die if I can’t write. But if I can’t do this, the band will be dead, and I might as well die along with it.

“Just write,” I command myself, putting the tip of the pencil to the paper once more. “It can’t be that difficult. You’ve written three dozen songs, if not more. Just put one word in front of the other until you have enough words to fill three minutes or so.”

I drill the tip of the pencil into the paper, but still no words come.

“Goddammit,” I roar, snapping the pencil in my fist and throwing the pieces to the ground. “Dammit, dammit, dammit.”

A familiar resentment simmers in my chest. If Lincoln wasn’t such a mess, I wouldn’t be in this position. When we signed our first contract with Epic Records a decade ago, Lincoln and I agreed we’d share the responsibility of writing music. How many songs has Lincoln written? Two. Two fucking songs in ten years while I sit here with an ulcer over needing to get a whole album written in the next few weeks.

“Fuck you, Lincoln, and fuck me, too,” I mutter, heaving myself off the couch and heading to my kitchen to grab another beer.

How’s this for the wild Friday night in a rock star’s life? Drinking beer and berating myself in my deathly quiet penthouse.

I wander over to the window that takes up the entire east wall. City lights twinkle like stars all around, but when I tilt my head to see the actual stars, there’s nothing but hazy light polluting the sky.

I lift the bottle of beer to my lips and gulp down half of it in one go. None of this was how it was supposed to be. When we started this band, we were nothing more than best friends sharing a love of music. When we were signed by Epic, we were all so sure this was going to change our lives. We weren’t wrong. A decade later we have seven albums, three of which went platinum, we’re a household name, our songs—my songs—are on every radio station. We’re living the dream. So why does it feel so empty?

I rest my palm against the frigid glass of the window and wonder for the millionth time what the point of all this is.

The shrill sound of my phone ringing makes me jump. I reach into my pocket and see Archer’s name on the screen. There’s only one reason our band manager would be calling me after midnight on a random Friday.

“Is he okay?” I ask as soon as I answer. My voice sounds flat to my own ears, and I wonder if Archer notices it. I feel wrung out physically and emotionally. I’m a battery with only ten percent life left and no charger in sight.

“He’s in the hospital,” Archer replies, sounding just as exhausted as I am.

“How bad is it?”

“Not sure yet. They’re pumping his stomach. It looks like he drank a liter of whiskey. I found him asleep on his balcony, damn near frozen.”

“On his balcony?” I put my hand back on the freezing glass and shiver. “It’s like twelve degrees outside.”

“Yeah,” Archer agrees.

“What do you need me to do?”

“Nothing tonight. I just wanted to let you know, and I was hoping I could swing by to talk after he’s out of the hospital. Maybe tomorrow evening?”

“Yeah, any time,” I agree. “Do you want me to call Benji and Jude?”

“It’s okay; I need something to do to distract myself while I wait. Thanks though.”

“No problem. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

I hang up and gulp down the rest of my beer. Sometimes it feels like these aren’t the lives we were meant to live. We all got off track somewhere. I can pinpoint exactly where my life split into a before and after. I’ve written a dozen songs about him. I’ve stayed up nights thinking about him. I’ve gotten drunk and cried over him. I hardly know him, but in nine years, I haven’t been able to shake him. What I wouldn’t give to go back and do something differently. Maybe I’d never leave him. Maybe I’d beg him to come with me. I don’t know what I’d do, but it wouldn’t be this.

I toss the empty bottle in the recycling and amble to my bedroom, stripping out of my clothes as I go. Maybe I’ll dream some damn lyrics and save my own ass. More likely I’ll dream of him.

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I’m an author of m/m and new adult romance. I have a strong passion for writing characters with a lot of heart and soul, and a bit of humor as well.

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New Release Blog Tour for Tight Quarters (Out of Uniform  #6) by Annabeth Albert (excerpt and giveaway)

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 Tight Quarters (Out of Uniform  #6) by Annabeth Albert

Publisher: Carina Press

Release Date: ebook: July 9, 2018 | print: July 31, 2018

Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

About Tight Quarters

Petty Officer Bacon, a navy SEAL and ace sharpshooter, has been on the front lines of more than his fair share of dangerous ops. Yet when a minor injury relegates him to the beta team, he’s tasked with what may be his riskiest assignment yet: the silver fox journalist he’s babysitting is the hottest, most charismatic man he’s ever encountered.

Award-winning journalist Spencer Bryant may have been named one of Pride magazine’s most eligible bachelors of the year, but he’s not looking to change his relationship status. He’s a consummate professional who won’t risk his ethics or impeccable reputation by getting involved with a source. Even a sexy-as-hell military man. But while Spencer can resist his physical attraction to Bacon, he has less control over his emotions—especially when the mission goes sideways and the two men are trapped alone.

Getting out of the jungle alive turns out to be easy compared to facing the truth about their feelings for one another back in the real world. And whether or not they can build a future is a different story altogether.

This book is approximately 82,000 words

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

Subgenre: M/M Contemporary Military Romance

Excerpt 

“Came because I didn’t have anywhere else I’d rather be.” Bacon’s voice lowered, became more mournful. “And trust me, I’m every bit as pissed about that too. Fuck you for getting under my skin. Everything on base is too damn quiet right now. And I’m too…itchy. You make me itchy, Spencer, and I hate it.”

“I’m—”

“Don’t you dare say sorry.” Bacon’s mouth was millimeters from Spencer’s when he paused. Held. Gave him a chance to escape, but even though it was the height of stupidity, Spencer wasn’t going anywhere.

“I hate it too,” he whispered, right against Bacon’s mouth a split second before Bacon claimed his mouth in a punishing kiss. Spencer was used to being the aggressor with kissing. It was just how he was wired—he’d always been the one to take the lead in bed. But Bacon left no space for him to take over. In fact, all he could do was cling to Bacon and hope they didn’t burn the damn hotel down with the force of their passion.

It was like they’d been longing for this for years, not days, and like they were both longtime lovers reuniting and mortal enemies enraged at their attraction. Bacon kissed like he operated in the field—with deadly intent and utter precision as he systematically took Spencer apart, lick by lick, nip by nip, breath by breath. But really, who needed air with kisses like these? Bacon kept up the aggressive assault, body pushing him against the wall, mouth ensuring his compliance.

Finally, Bacon proved himself mortal after all and pulled away to gasp for air. “Fuck.”

“Still mad?” Why Spencer was goading him, he really couldn’t say, other than he wanted more of this wild, unleashed, more-than-a-little unhinged man.

“Very.” Bacon bit at Spencer’s ear, which made him shiver like a teenager in a backseat for the first time. God, he was putty for this man, absolute wet clay for him to mold and use. “So damn pissed.”

But he belied his words by sinking to his knees, as graceful as any dancer Spencer had worked with. He went straight for Spencer’s waistband.

“Wait.” Spencer had to regain a little control here, assert himself, not simply get caught up in the Bacon express train of lust and anger. “Still don’t know your name.”

About Annabeth Albert

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.  The #OutOfUniform series joins her critically acclaimed and fan-favorite LGBTQ  romance #Gaymers, #PortlandHeat and #PerfectHarmony series.

To find out what she’s working on next and other fun extras, check out her website: www.annabethalbert.com or connect with Annabeth on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify! Also, be sure to sign up for her newsletter for free ficlets, bonus reads, and contests. The fan group, Annabeth’s Angels, on Facebook is also a great place for bonus content and exclusive contests.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter.  In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two active children.

Connect with Annabeth: Twitter | Facebook | Facebook Group | Newsletter | Instagram | Website

Rafflecopter prize and code: Reader’s Choice of any Out of Uniform book in paper + surprise swag pack!

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