A MelanieM Review: Thrall by Avon Gale and Roan Parrish

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Rating: 1.5 stars out of 5

Dating Sucks & Love Bites 

Happy couple Mina Murray and Lucy Westenra have begun to garner national attention for their quirky New Orleans true-crime podcast, Shadowcast. When Lucy’s brother Harker disappears while researching the popular new dating app Thrall, they’re thrown into a real-life mystery. Aided by their social media expert, Arthur, and Harker’s professor, Van Helsing, they follow the trail, hoping to find Harker before it’s too late.

When their investigation crosses the path of a possible serial killer, the line between fantasy and reality begins to blur. And as they race against the app’s countdown clock, so does the line between friendship and love. What starts as a flirtatious rivalry between computer-savvy Arthur and techno-averse Van Helsing becomes much more, and Mina and Lucy’s relationship is tested in the fires of social media.

As they get down to the wire, the group discovers that nothing on their screens is as it seems—including their enemy.

 

Well, what a surprising review to write.  I will say upfront that this story came back to me after another reviewer who  simply could not get through 11 percent of it.  Looking at the authors (two favorites of mine) and the story synopsis, I decided to read it.  Their take on Bram Stoker’s Dracula sounded interesting and I’m always up for a new release from them.

Wow, just wow.  I’m beyond astonished.

Whatever interesting themes or storyline these authors may have had is lost in a (at least for two readers here) totally indigestible format.   Whether you are scrambling to gather facts and a storyline through a series of Twitter feeds to the Podcasts of Mina and Lucy or alternating Diary excerpts, the disjointed presentation on whole just loses the reader and, in fact the characters and plot.

How can there be any character development, relationship dynamics, or even storyline flow when there is basically nothing to follow in this fragmented and yes muddled format.  It often comes across as more of a writer’s exercise than an actual novel.

So for me Thrall by Avon Gale and Roan Parrish is an indecipherable read, illegible style wise, born out of an interesting idea for a story and format that, imo, should have stayed in the minds and on the drawing boards of these authors.  The imaginative idea of it is the only reason it got as high a rating as it did.

Cover Art is jarring and would be perfect for a murder podcast.

Sales Links: 

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2NNhs8v

All other vendors: https://www.books2read.com/u/bazLN6

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 529 pages
Published September 27th 2018 by Philtre Press
ASINB07GY2H67X
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Of Sunlight and Stardust by Riley Hart & Christina Lee

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

When Tanner Rowe purchases a home and barn in rural Michigan, he’s trying to fulfill a promise made to his recently deceased wife, Emma. She’d always been drawn to the place, often remarking that the partially burned and dilapidated barn called to her. Now, Tanner hardly knows where to begin to not only start to renovate the house but to enjoy life again. 

Cole Lachlan is literally living off the land when Tanner runs into him. Homeless and broke, the former convict has been out of prison awhile but he can’t shake his past and is struggling to find work and a place to live. His past follows him wherever he goes, though, so he’s shocked when Tanner offers him work to fix up his barn in exchange for room and board.

Clay finds a journal buried in the floorboards of the barn—a journal that leads them to the story of Tom and Charlie, two young men who lived and loved there in 1948.  Over time, as Tanner and Cole get to know one another better, they read the journal, and like Tom and Charlie, they ultimately fall in love.

A bizarre series of coincidences leads the men to find out more about Tom and Charlie and what really happened to the young men who had plans to leave the area and find a place where they could be free to love. Then, a new problem crops up. Local small-town gossips lead the sheriff to believe Cole is responsible for a theft, and the accusation nearly drives a wedge between the two lovers before the real culprit is found. Between their bizarre dreams of Tom and Charlie and reading the last pages of the journal, Tanner and Cole believe the men may have died in the barn in 1948 and then a shared dream and an out-of-town visitor unexpectedly lead Tanner and Cole to the truth of what happened seventy years before.

Not quite a reincarnation story, but mighty close to it, the underlying theme is love: Tanner’s love for his wife, the love he and Cole begin to feel, and the love for all time that’s carried through seventy years for Tom and Charlie, who are finally put to rest with love and care from those who came to know them.

A beautiful love story, sweet and poignant, emotionally heartwarming and heartbreaking, I very highly recommend this to lovers of MM romance. 

The cover depicts two bare-chested men embracing, one with tattoos, one without. Very attractive and perfect for the MCs in this story.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 269 pages
Published September 18th 2018 by Christina Lee and Riley Hart
ASIN B07HHKN646
Edition Language
English

A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: The Librarian’s Ghost (The Supers #2) by Sean Michael

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

I was really excited to read this one because I enjoyed the first one in the series, The Supers. Coming off of a house exploration where there was no paranormal activity, the guys get asked to investigate McGregor Mansion. The gothic style house was built in the 1780’s, so there have been plenty of deaths on the property. There is something weird and dangerous going on right away.

Many of the details just don’t gel for me in this book. We’re told Payne McGregor is at his wit’s end and is ready to pay for an exorcism, yet at the house he seems resigned, dismissive of the things that are happening. We keep getting told how rude Will, the cameraman, is to Payne upon meeting, but I didn’t read it that way at all so I was a little confused. It wasn’t until about chapter four that we even get a bare bones description of what Payne looks like (trim beard and glasses.) Then, even though he is older than the other characters, and highly educated, he ends up sounding the same way they do when he thinks or speaks. As soon as possession came up, Flynn said he was “out” which I assume was a stress response to what happen in the first book. It’s unclear to me if he was kidding or not, but he does stay with the team.

There are other things that don’t work for me. For example, near the beginning Will is worried about demons. Later, randomly, we get this sentence “‘None of the workers saw a demon, though, right?’ Payne offered.” Why was Payne worried about demons? (As a weird aside, daemon is the Latin word for the ancient Greek daimon which is just a benevolent spirit; the idea of malevolent “demons” is ancient Near Eastern and Abrahamic. I thought it was strange Will used holy water and then prayed at one point, even if it was casually done in fear. If the author is going with quasi-Christian ideals, what is done with the bones later is anathema. My personal preference would have been to do without religious references altogether.) The first book was more atmospheric, even though the situation turned out to be less dire. I also missed the sexual tension from the previous book. I like forced proximity as a trope, but the time shifting scenario created to get Payne and Will together didn’t help cement their attraction like it was meant to. The banter seemed forced and the flirting was strange and awkward. Even if they were being influenced by a ghost, this was handled in a very clunky way so I didn’t feel emotionally invested in the explicit sex scene that happens after.

The plot moves towards the final showdown in the basement. This time when Will is possessed it is very noticeable; if it had been that bad in the beginning I doubt the men would have been able to shrug that off and still get together so it makes me understand what the author was trying to do at the beginning. The other problem is what they do with the bones. No matter how you slice or dice it, they broke the law. Since there are clues about where this takes place (Aero bar and Coffee Crisp), my best guess would be Canada. I don’t know Canadian law but the Coronor’s Act or the Archaeology Act would have to be considered. In the UK, it would be the Burial Act of 1857. If this takes place in the US, state laws differ, but every jurisdiction has some kind of law governing the discovery of human remains. In Utah, for instance, it is a third degree felony for anyone except an archaeologist, the Medical Examiner’s office, law enforcement, or a licensed mortician to disturb, move, remove, conceal, or destroy human remains. Since they are filming this to make a TV show, it’s a problem. Maybe in trying to appeal to all audiences the author was vague about which country this actually takes place in, but the devil is still in the details. Like when after all this incredibly disgusting stuff happens, Will kisses Payne on the neck before they take a shower. I cannot even convey how skeeved out this made me.

This could have been a nice opposites attract story with the mild mannered librarian and the cameraman who looks like a biker–with both of them liking organization and being compatible in the bedroom, it would have worked. As it is I have a difficult time believing they are moving in together after two days. While I really liked the first book in the series, this suffers a bit by comparison. Since there are two more ghost hunters in the group, I would expect there to be two more books for Jason and Darnell who are barely mentioned in this book. I would cautiously recommend this book if you like ghost stories and want an easy read as long as you are not too concerned with having a lot of detail.

The cover artist is Alexandria Corza. It is in keeping with the other Dreamspun Beyond covers. The model represents the main character Payne, who is a librarian. Some of the scenes also take place in the library of the mansion so it’s appropriate to the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, Dreamspun Beyond #29, 210 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640807389
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Supers #2

An Ali Review: Lucky by Garrett Leigh

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Dominic Ramos is a Premiership football player with a secret. There are no trophies for being gay in his game. Locked into his rep as the meanest defender on the pitch, keeping his secret is soul-crushing, but love has no place in his sport, even if his soft heart craves it.

Lucky Coleman is on his knees when he meets a man with more money than sense. It’s a Grindr hook-up for cash, not a love match, but dreaming of his desperate, kind eyes earns a place amongst his numerous bad habits.

Meeting once was risky, twice pushes Dom’s courage to the limit. Losing Lucky seems inevitable, but his tight grip on his image counts for nothing when Lucky starts to fall.

Catching him could cost Dom everything, but if he can set his heart free, getting Lucky long term might be a risk worth taking.

This was a classic Garrett Leigh book.  It was everything I love about her stories.  She’s the queen of taking guys who are at rock bottom in their lives and somehow turning things around for them and giving them a beautiful happily ever after.  This book was no exception.
When we meet these two they are in bad shape.  Dom is a professional football player so he has a good career and money but he is isolated and lonely and drowning in self hate and grief.  He’s in such a bad place he can’t even imagine something better.  Lucky is basically homeless and struggling to eat and find some where safe to sleep.  He’s trying to find a job and he has one friend but he’s turned to Grindr hook-ups for cash when he meets Dom.  And while his issues are different, Lucky also doesn’t have much hope for a better life.
When the two men meet their hook-up is electric.  They are instantly attracted to each other and they begin to cautiously meet up but neither knows anything about the other.  At first they keep things sexual but they quickly become something more to each other.  Despite being each other’s emotional life line they can’t maintain any semblance of a relationship until they deal with their bigger issues.   
 
I loved the writing in this and the connection between these two jumps off of the pages.  You can feel their connection from the very beginning.  There is a slow burn vibe to the book because Dom has to work through his issues.  I’m not a fan of “coming out for you” stories and I’m really glad that the author handled this is a way that showed this was all about Dom and what was best for him.  
 
Despite having very serious topics, this wasn’t especially angsty.  There were some ups and some downs but it all felt realistic and necessary. There was an Easter egg from one of this author’s other books and a set up for the next book in this series, both of which I enjoyed.  Overall, I enjoyed this a lot and think it was another really enjoyable story by Leigh.

Cover Art:  Garrett Leigh @BlackJazzDesigns  Striking and gorgeous.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 282 pages
Published September 18th 2018 by Fox Love Press
ASINB07H55CFYB
Edition LanguageEnglish

Cover Reveal for One-On-One (Cayuga Cougars #5) by V.L. Locey – excerpt and giveaway

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Add to Goodreads


Cover Design: Rêverie Design & Formatting

 
Cayuga Cougars Series
 
Book #1 – Snap Shot – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Open Net – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Coach’s Challenge – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 – Overtime – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

The past few years have been a bit chaotic for Cougars new associate coach, Lancaster Hart. After an amicable divorce he began living his life as the gay man he’d kept closeted for far too long. With the recent move to Cayuga, he’s away from his support system and properly made sweet tea. Despite a roster filled with new friends and associates, he’s spending his nights alone.


As his team gears up to make a run at the Calder Cup, Lancaster discovers that not everything in upstate New York is wine, woodlands, and chilly conservative ideals. At a summer music festival, he first lays eyes on Townsend Harris, folksy/blues singer by night and mayoral office assistant by day. Lancaster is enraptured with the man’s powerful sultry voice. Also, Town just might be the most beautiful man he has seen in all his forty-one years.


The two hit it off at an informal meet and greet after the show, where they spend the night talking and sipping wine. One evening of conversation and an incendiary goodbye kiss leads them into a scorching love affair that might be exactly what Lancaster has been searching for his whole life. Can his team pull off professionally what he’s hoping to do privately as well? Or will capturing their dream evade both the Cougars and Lancaster?

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.

 

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Review Tour and Giveaway for Lucky by Garrett Leigh

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 70,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design
 
Blurb
 

Dominic Ramos is a Premiership football player with a secret. There are no trophies for being gay in his game. Locked into his rep as the meanest defender on the pitch, keeping his secret is soul-crushing, but love has no place in his sport, even if his soft heart craves it.


Lucky Coleman is on his knees when he meets a man with more money than sense. It’s a Grindr hook-up for cash, not a love match, but dreaming of his desperate, kind eyes earns a place amongst his numerous bad habits.


Meeting once was risky, twice pushes Dom’s courage to the limit. Losing Lucky seems inevitable, but his tight grip on his image counts for nothing when Lucky starts to fall.


Catching him could cost Dom everything, but if he can set his heart free, getting Lucky long term might be a risk worth taking.



September 18Mikku-chan, Urban Smoothie Read, Lelyana’s Reviews, Gay Book Reviews, Cdawgz Reads, Gay Media Reviews, My Mind’s Landscape, Dilyana’s World, September 20Katie’s Book Corner, Open Mind For A Different View, Cupcakes & Bookshelves, Megan’s Media Melange, Rainbow Gold Reviews, The Blogger Girls, Bookaholic & Kindle, September 22Love Unchained Book Review, The Librarian’s Corner, Sanaa’s Book Blog, September 26Bonkers About Books, Making It Happen, Amy’s MM Romance Reviews, Wicked Faerie’s Tales & Reviews, Wicked Reads, September 28The Way She Reads, Reading In Sarah’s Corner, My Fiction Nook, We Three Queens, Diverse Reader, MM Good Book Reviews, October 1Book Lovers 4Ever, Sexy Erotic Xciting, October 3Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Kimmers’ Erotic Book Banter, Jim’s Reading Room, October 5 Mirrigold, Lillian Francis, Bayou Book Junkie, Nerdy Dirty & Flirty, Mainely Stories, SLLY 

 

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

Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Fox Love Press.


Garrett’s debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards.


When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.


Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with renowned LGBTQA+ photographer Dan Burgess.


Website: http://www.garrettleigh.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/garrettleighauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Garrett_Leigh

Giveaway

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