A MelanieM Review: Ripe: Letters by Alan Semrow


Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5


Funny, sexy, evocative, and brutally honest, Ripe is Alan Semrow’s ode to relationships with men. In this epistolary book, Semrow writes to the men who have impacted his outlook, reminded him of basic life lessons, surprised him in more ways than one, and left him reeling for days. Writing to one-night-flings, men he has never met, and men he’ll never stop running into, Semrow touches on some of the most constant human themes—love, lust, desire, and the yearning for connection. All the while, the book details a man’s journey navigating and blooming by way of the modern gay scene. Readers will find familiarity and hard truths in Semrow’s statements about the intricacy and explosiveness of the intimate moments we share.

I honestly thought that reading someone’s letters written to men that they’d met and slept with  would come with, well, more introspection, more self examination in depth and less self frippery. Instead of getting the feeling that the author has spent real time pondering these man and their impact upon the direction his life took, the reader comes away thinking Semrow was writing his hookup version of Jimmy Fallon’s Thank you notes.   These letters read just that shallow.

And about as sexy and funny.

Each with a title such as Dear Sunday, Dear Flannel, Dear Only Child, they all quickly blend together into one familiar narrative. The author meets someone or arranges to hookup with someone, they go to bed, he leaves thinks about him/them, letter over.  On and on.  If you are looking for sexual details, yo can skip that too.

Ripe: Letters just comes across more as someone keeping track of all the men he slept with or couples and then making a note next to them.  “Liked him, would do him again”.  ‘Nice sex, he made me smile.’

Something you might expect to see in a little  black book (do they even have those anymore?), or a diary.  Certainly not anything of enough heft for a book, not in this format, at any rate.  Might have been funny but again, not as the   letters posted here. Perhaps instead of posting letters, the author will reflect on the whole, wait a while, and find a new path for an narrative adventure.

Cover art is cute.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Kindle Edition, 127 pages
Published October 1st 2018

A MelanieM Review: Lucky Town: A Badlands Novella (Badlands #1.5) by Morgan Brice


Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5


Psychic medium Simon Kincaide and his boyfriend, Myrtle Beach homicide detective Vic D’Amato, find that the only thing more frightening than murder might be navigating their first holiday season as a couple.

A trip back to Pittsburgh to spend Thanksgiving with Vic’s large, exuberant family means dodging old frenemies and a bitter ex-boyfriend. A cold case comes back to haunt Vic when a murdered woman’s ghost begs Simon for justice. Then a new murder back in Myrtle Beach looks suspiciously familiar, and the dead man’s ghost isn’t playing nice. When Simon gets a vision of the next victim before the crime occurs, he realizes that all the murders are supernaturally linked. Catching the murderer will take his psychic sleuthing skills along with Vic’s street smarts to avert a tragedy. Can they do right by ghosts past, present and yet-to-come without ending up in the crosshairs of a killer for Christmas?

I very much enjoyed Lucky Town by Morgan Brice after some introductory confusion over the characters, their past history and current situation.  It wasn’t until midway through the story that I went searching at Goodreads and found that Lucky Town is  a sequel to Badlands, something I wasn’t aware of when I started this novel.  I need to go  back now and pick up all the past history I missed that’s hinted at here from that  original story.  Yes, that means I don’t consider Lucky Town a stand alone.

A somewhat confusing introduction to this already established couple opens the story.  We find Simon and  Vic have moved together into Simon’s bungalow in Myrtle Beach, they are still adjusting to that fact, and making it their “home” together.  The author feeds us details of a past case where Simon was hospitalized due to a gunshot wound, a case that was both magical in nature and not only brought these two together but was the primary factor behind Vic moving to North Carolina with Simon.  So much missed past history there.  And its referenced (the case and the aftermath) repeatedly throughout this story.

Luckily, you’re told that Simon sees dead people, ghosts to be exact.  And they tell him things.

Vic knows and believes him.  Which is all good because the paranormal and supernatural is about to land on their doorstep once again.  As in multiple bodies worth.

Now I actually thought the case, the mystery surrounding it, the secondary cast brought in because of it, and the resolution the best part of this story.  I wanted  far more of this, root magic, everything then I actually did of Vic, Pittsburgh, and his family.  They just weren’t as interesting as Simon and the supernatural goings on in Myrtle Beach.

Plus this story is only 116 pages so that’s a lot to cram into a shorter novella.

Still I thought Morgan Brice did a terrific job with the supernatural mystery and cast of characters there.  Loved that element.  In some ways the sex here in parts overwhelmed the story and  relationship development as the book was so short.  I think that could have been balanced a little better.  However, I’m so intrigued by everything that I have read here that I’m not only going to seek out that first novel but read any further stories coming  out for release in this series as well.

If romance, a bit of the scary  paranormal and supernatural is your thing, this might be the series for you.  But definitely read the first story, Badlands, before reading Lucky Town, to get the foundation I needed and clearly missed.

Cover by Natania Barron.  That’s a good representation of the characters, but sort of a typical cover these days.

Sales LInk:   http://a.co/d/8FuMNP7

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 116 pages
Published October 29th 2018 by Darkwind Press
Edition Language English
Series Badlands #1.5


Lucky Town: A Badlands Novella

Restless Nights

Looking For A New Christmas Romance? Check Out Walking In A Winter Wonderland by Claire Castle (giveaway)



Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UKExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow in Kindle Unlimited
Length: 34,000 words approx.
Cover Design: Claire Castle

Colton Dawson is miserable this holiday season. Those he’d loved the most are no longer in his life. With one disappointment after another, how can he possibly get into the Christmas spirit? Maybe a change of scenery—a new place to put down roots—is just what he needs for a second chance to find some happiness.

Winterbourne Vale is only too happy to help his much-loved aunt and uncle run their café in Canada while on his short December break—even if it means leaving his home in the United Kingdom. After a defeated-looking Colton walks into the café, Winter is determined to lift his spirits.

Can Colton and Winter’s Christmas happiness continue long after the gifts are unwrapped and the decorations are stowed away?

Walking in a Winter Wonderland is holiday treat filled with special ornaments and glistening snow, hot tea and cold-weather kisses, along with some sexy shenanigans and plenty of holiday cheer. 

Claire Castle grew up surrounded by books. She has loved reading for her whole life. Her true love is romance and HEAs. When she’s not reading or writing, she can be found wearing comfortable leggings, drinking mocha and petting her west highland terrier. She loves collecting awesome mugs and paperbacks of her favorite stories.



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