A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Italian Weddings and Funerals (Italian Stallions #1) by A.J. Llewellyn

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Rating:  3.75 stars out of 5

Luca Dell’Oro is the owner of an event planning business in California. He takes a job in Italy to cater a funeral for an Italian opera singer. The client is a grieving widower, the man Luca loved in sixteenth-century Italy. Luca is a vampire, but how is Francesco still alive? That seems obvious, but the details are sad and Francesco has many reasons to hold a grudge. At first, we’re not sure what his motives are for hiring Luca to bury his wife, Elettra. I will say the blurb is a little misleading, almost to misdirect you about the plot when there isn’t a lot of plot to begin with. This is a pretty straightforward second chances story with a lot of baggage.

I’m not sure why, but I didn’t expect this to be so funny. Everything in the first half of the book is entertaining. Luca does like to hear himself think. His reminiscences allow us to get to know him. Italian Weddings and Funerals, which he runs from his home, allows him to stay involved in the life around him. I loved learning about his unique vampiric powers little by little. He seems a man content in his life and in charge of his surroundings. He has hired an interesting cast of quicky employees. I was drawn in by the descriptions of them from Luca’s point of view. Unfortunately most of them are either not there or fade into the background during the second half of the book. The new characters we meet are not fleshed out. Even the man Luca shares a room with in Italy is barely mentioned.

In the second half, the tone changes which makes sense going from planning a wedding, to planning a wake. Still, Luca also changes when he arrives in Italy and the book seems to be more wrapped up in what is happening around him. In many ways, he ran away from Italy, his friends, his lover, his life–oh, there were reasons, but this is the first time he has had to confront his losses. It seemed strange to me that although Luca is quite wealthy, he chooses to cater for a living and basically be the help, and be treated as such by those who were once his equals. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was a form of self punishment for being a vampire, like denying himself food and love. He also seems to have been in mourning for centuries, never really living once separated from Francesco. I’m not sure I like this new Luca. But, Luca is a much more solid person as compared to Francesco, who comes across as selfish and weak–bound by the expectations of others and definitely spoiled.

The sex scenes are well written and explicit, but don’t seem meant for titillation so much as just part of what happens. Vampires like sex and blood, so if it will bother you for the main characters to have sex with others in the same story, be warned. I wonder if we will see Luca’s lover Keefe again since we spent so much time with him before Italy, although this too now seems like a pattern for Luca.

I will say I was pleasantly surprised by the way it ended, however it was also an abrupt turnabout. I mean they have been separated for centuries and jump right back into being together. Don’t you think they might have changed a bit over time? Wouldn’t they get to know each other again, and I mean for longer than a couple of weeks? Also, Francesco did seem to care for his wife to have spent 500 years with her and he really hasn’t had any time to mourn. It will be interesting to see how things develop in book two because nostalgia and memories are quite different than daily reality and right now, I think Luca deserves better. I also liked Luca better as a character without Francesco, or maybe just the humor and confidence he showed in his home environment in California. I would call this a HFN (happy for now.)

The cover art is by Martine Jardin. It has an old fashioned sepia feel and shows a place they spent time together in the past when they were young lovers and both met Elettra.

Sales Links:  eXtasy Books | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st Edition, 109 pages
Published March 15th 2011 by eXtasy Books (first published March 14th 2011)
ISBN139781554878253
Edition LanguageEnglish

New Release Tour for Risking It All (A Begin Again Novel) by Morningstar Ashley (excerpt)

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 Risking It All Tour Banner

RISKING IT ALL

MORNINGSTAR ASHLEY

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 09.07.18

Risking It Cover 

 

Cover Artist: Designs by Morningstar

Cover Photo: David Velez Fotografia

Blurb

Jaden King was raised in Boston to a wealthy family that taught him what love and hard work is. He has a challenging and rewarding career until everything was turned upside down. What was once a promising future has quickly become a frightening and unknown reality. After months of dealing with the fall out on his own, he decided getting away–or more realistically, running away–to White Acre and his best friend sounded like the perfect plan.

Danny Keegan is a laid-back man with simple tastes and an even simpler life. He adores the little town of White Acre where he grew up, he loves his parents, and he enjoys his uncomplicated life.  He’s always told himself the fact that he’s a closeted gay man in a conservative, parochial town wasn’t an issue and coming out of the closet wasn’t necessary. But with the addition of Jaden in his life he realizes as happy as he is, he could be happier and the future of a love of his own doesn’t seem so out of grasp as it always had.

When Jaden and Danny meet, their chemistry is undeniable but playful flirting doesn’t mean anything. They start spending all their free time together, and what started as a simple friendship quickly turns into something much more than either saw coming. But, Jaden carries a secret that could end it all before it even begins. And though Jaden is scared to tell the truth and risk everything that has come to mean so much to him, he knows that he can’t go on without laying himself bare, leaving Danny with an important, life changing choice to make. His content little life or what could be the love of his life.

Will Jaden’s truth be too much for Danny, or will Danny decide a life out in the open, full of love, laughter, and passion is worth risking it all?

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H57WCJR

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07H57WCJR

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07H57WCJR

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Excerpt

The doorbell chiming through the house interrupted his thoughts. Good, he was tired of thinking about it. Hence why he hated lying around doing nothing. Too much thinking happened. Sigh. Maybe he should just go back to Boston.

The chill that ran down his spine halted all thoughts of that. Not yet. He wasn’t ready.

He got up off the lounge. His body immediately protested the move, wanting nothing more than to crawl back onto it, but finding out who arrived at Mac’s humble abode was too intriguing to pass up. Plus, he was bored and nosy.

“Jaden!” Mac’s voice yelled out deep and loud as he stepped into the foyer behind Mac. Jaden swore the man had no manners.

“Mac, you do not need to bellow. Didn’t your parents teach you how to use your indoor voice?” Jaden asked as haughty as he could.

Mac startled, probably not expecting him to be so close, then his near-constant smirk appeared as he replied, “Forgive my rudeness, my King.” Then the man bowed. Snarky bastard was making fun of his last name.

Jaden was really enjoying getting to know Mac. “Clearly, the art of sarcasm runs strong in you. But I love the title. Do continue to use it,” Jaden replied with a wave and a wink. It was then he turned his focus on Danny—yummy, bearded, gorgeous Danny—standing at the front door. Danny was the epitome of tall, dark, and handsome but with a boyish next-door charm. Dark brown hair, tanned skin from his work outside, and hazel eyes—more gold than brown with little flecks of green around the iris—made Danny one yum yummy package Jaden wouldn’t mind unwrapping.

“Oh, wishes do come true. It looks like my handsome knight in shining armor has shown up to rescue me,” Jaden purred.

“I don’t know about the knight in shining armor bit, but I’m here to take you to Allie. She said you have plans to hang out tonight.” Danny’s voice was deep and smooth, sounding like silk would feel as it slid over Jaden’s skin.

Jaden didn’t know what he was talking about because he was sure he had no such plans. Something in Danny’s eyes told him to just go along with it. Maybe this had to do with the broken voicemail Bennett left him earlier. It had been so bad, he had no way of understanding what was said.

“Oh yes, my knight, how could I forget plans with my dear Allie? Let me just grab my things from my room then we can go.” Jaden walked upstairs to his room, torn between wanting to hang out with Allie and wanting to spend time with Danny flirting.

Five minutes later, Jaden was climbing into Danny’s truck—climbing being the keyword since the truck was so tall he felt like a child, small and clumsy, trying to get into it. It was the least graceful he’d ever been in his life.

The beast of a machine was over six feet tall and dark blue with silver running boards which did nothing to help him get into the vehicle without using all his muscle. His muscles weren’t much since he hated working out and figured all his walking in the city was the equivalent to going to the gym.

As soon as he settled into his seat—buckling up, of course—Jaden turned to face Danny. “Where is it we’re going exactly? Because I don’t remember making plans with Allie. Or are you kidnapping me? I could absolutely get on board with that,” Jaden said playfully. “I bet you’re the type with a secret sex dungeon in your basement where you torture poor innocent boys like me.” Jaden fluttered his eye lashes, holding his hands to his chest in mock innocence. “Not that I’m opposed to a little torture of the sexual kind.”

“You’re trouble, aren’t you, Jaden?” Danny glanced over at him, smirking before looking back at the road.

“With a capital T,” Jaden replied, biting his lip. “

All I know is Bennett needed you out of the house for something to do with Mac, and I owed Allie a favor, so I came to get you to take you to her.”

 

 MORNINGSTAR ASHLEY LOGO - Long

Morningstar Ashley is a transplant from the Yankee-controlled territory of New York, and now finds herself in the heartland of cowboys and longhorns—Texas. Armed with her imagination, wit, and trusty sidekicks in the form of her two crazy kids, devoted dorky husband, big lap dog, and rambunctious cats, Morningstar spends her time reading the books she loves, crafting her own characters, and arguing the merits of hot chocolate over the bitter brew known as coffee. (Hot chocolate wins, FYI.)

After a lifetime of trying to get people to realize her first name wasn’t Ashley, Morningstar decided the best way to settle the debate was to put her name on a book cover. Now she find the accomplishment of publishing so satisfying her mind won’t stop creating stories of love across the spectrum of LGBTQA+.

 

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