An Alisa Review: Celebrations in the Season of Long Nights (Escape From the Holidays) by Mere Rain

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

Having escaped his abusive family by winning a scholarship to college, Shahin promised himself he would never go back. So when his plans for winter break fall through and he’s left homeless for a month, he decides he’d rather camp in the park than go home. But he doesn’t realize it’s the solstice, the longest night of the year, the start of the season when the supernatural is at its strongest.

Yima is a demon-hunter, a duty passed down through his family. He doesn’t resent it, but it does get lonely, especially since his work is at its most difficult and dangerous when everyone else is celebrating with family. After he rescues Shahin from an demon attack and finds that he has nowhere safe to stay, he takes him back to his flat. He just arrived in town and hasn’t even gotten the electricity turned on, leaving the two men with little to do but talk.

It isn’t a surprise when they end up in bed, though what at first feels like a temporary comfort grows over days spent together into a deeper bond. Nomadic Yima has to find a way to stay without demons coming after his lover, and Shahin has to decide whether he can risk his heart loving a man who constantly puts his life in danger.

I felt for Shahin from the beginning, as he is trying to survive without any support from his family.  Yima is quite mysterious and not very open.  While I liked Shahin, I didn’t feel much of a connection to Yima though I know he is used to being secretive.  Shahin finds a surrogate mom along the way too.  It was nice for them both to find acceptance and somewhere to belong.

The cover art by Catherine Dair is nice and is one of the holiday series styles.

Sales Link: Mischief Corner Books | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, ~12,500 words

Published: December 12, 2018 by Mischief Corner Books

Edition Language: English

A MelanieM Review:The Deafening Silence (The Yakuza Path #4) by Amy Tasukada

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

An unproven alliance. A broken promise. A mafia boss must shed blood to secure peace…

Nao Murata is on the verge of brokering peace between his syndicate and the rival Mafufgumi mob. To seal the deal, he’ll need to pick up Russian prostitutes to appease his newest ally. When the exchange goes sour, both sides draw blades and Nao has no choice but to care for a blood-soaked enemy. If the man doesn’t make it through the night, Nao and his crew will pay with their lives.

Outnumbered and stranded in enemy territory, Nao is forced to fight his way out before the Mafufgumi Godfather takes the deal off the table. As his wounded enemy’s heartbeat slows, Nao must act fast or condemn his syndicate to a brutal war.

The Yakuza Path: The Deafening Silence is the third book in a series of Japanese mafia thrillers. If you like twisty action, authentic settings, and a touch of gay romance, then you’ll love Amy Tasukada’s pulse-pounding series.

Since my first introduction to Nao Murata in the bloody and absolutely brilliant first story in this series, Blood Stained Tea, I’m almost confounded by my deep emotional involvement in the welfare of someone who is admittedly a murderous psychopath, one who’s barely contained rages have seen him want to spill the blood of dozens, often by his bare hands or any implement nearby.

But this is Japan, centuries old with ancient traditions and a culture to match. All built with such subtle nuances and  layers that can shield or hide behind.  Just as its many characters  demonstrate with their personalities.  Tasukada clearly loves and understands Japan in all it’s natural and historic beauty to the gritty darkness of the Yakuza underworld.  It has all  figured in greatly in this series as both the foundation, setting, and emotional framework for it’s characters.  Kyoto, Nao’s personal passion can stand in as another character all its own.

All those layers are built into the labyrinth personality of Nao as well.  Part of the reason for his murderous rages and psychotic breaks?  That can be found in the horrendous death of his first lover, perhaps his only love, at the hands of a rival gang boss.  It broke him, and whatever way he mended was not rational.  Of course, it doesn’t help that he was the son of the rival Yakuza gang and was already familiar with a brutal way of life.  But the dichotomy here is that the author shows us repeatedly another man.  One who loves his cat, and his tea, and who once wanted only to flee with his lover….

That is the one still seen occasionally, one the reader is still privy to his thoughts, when the rages are quiet.  Nao is a narrative tour de force.  Scary, memorable, everchanging, especially since he become the head of the family.  He needs to navigate the Korean crime families constant infiltration of Kyoto, manage his Yakuza’s many businesses and shaky alliances, all while reporting to the very top of the Yakuza boss who doesn’t trust him.  All while his mind seethes and surges like a red tide within him calling him to kill.

And at his side is another character who has shown incredible growth over the series,Aki Hisona, Nao’s personal secretary.  Aki loves Nao, a terrible fate as everyone who has cared for Nao has died, horribly. The reverse has also held true.  Everyone Nao has loved has died as well.  Nao has become convinced that the city of Kyoto has killed them.  A jealous mistress indeed.

This is not a romance.  Don’t even begin to look for one.  This is a brutal, bloody, gritty tale of crime, murder, culture, and a Yakuza crime family you can’t turn away from, starting at the top.

Amy Tasukada writes so beautifully, so skillfully here that just a twitch, a slip in a conversation sets off an avalanche of foreboding.  Everyone here is playing a game, some are merely good at it, some are masters, you have to read the story to find out who is playing the long game.  There is betrayal, untold amounts of bloodshed, and complexities beyond belief.  I expect nothing less from Nao and his gang and from this author.

I was astonished at Aki.

The author informs us at the end it will be a while until the next release as she wishes to “get it right”.  She has never, ever, gotten it wrong yet.  I would wait years for the next in this series if I had to.  It’s troubling, brilliant, and there’s no way I can predict the path going forward.  For any of them.  So yes, I’m obsessed.  So hopefully it won’t be terribly long for the next installment, maybe end of next year.

I absolutely recommend this   story and all the others in the series but they must be read in the order they were written.  Line them up like the narrative finds they are, and then devour them.  Just don’t expect any romance, unless it’s Nao’s love for Kyoto and even that comes with it’s own layer of pain and angst.

Cover art by Natasha Snow.  I’m in love with these covers.  Simple, bloody, perfection.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Buy Link


The Yakuza Path Series


Book #1 – Blood Stained Tea – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Better Than Suicide – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – One Thousand Cranes – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 228 pages
Published December 1st 2018 by Macarons & Tea Publishing
ASIN B07KKFK1XB
Series The Yakuza Path #4 setting Hokkaido, 2015 (Japan

Blood Stained Tea

Better Than Suicide

One Thousand Cranes

The Deafening Silence

A Lila Advent Calendar Review: Guess Who’s Coming to Karamu by Cy Blanca

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Grant Cary, a twenty-eight-year-old grad student, has let his Kwanzaa shopping go to the very last minute. In his rush to get home, he quite literally bumps into Will Sheritan, a fortysomething software developer, in the elevator. But luck favors (or curses) the adventurous, because their elevator shuts down due to a blackout. Grant and Will learn about each other’s pasts and find more than just a casual interest.

Will has never celebrated Kwanzaa, and he’s reluctant to enter into a relationship, but exploring a new tradition—with a new friend—might brighten his lonely holiday. And if Will accepts Grant’s invitation to join his family for the Karamu feast, Grant might get his Imani gift early.

Guess Who’s Coming to Karamu is an interesting story about a holiday I have never heard about before. I’m glad the author took the time to explain it but I would have loved to see the actual celebration scene between the two MCs.

The misunderstandings between Grant and Will were a little too many for my taste but they didn’t last more than a couple of silent minutes. I enjoyed how they explain things to each other and their willingness to learn.

Overall, it’s a nice holiday story with unique characters but an abrupt ending. I wanted a bit more of the start of their relationship

The cover by Brooke Albrecht follows the 2018 Advent Calendar | Warmest Wishes template. The picture within matches Grant.

Sale Link: Amazon | Nook | Dreamspinner

Book Details:
ebook, 25 pages
ISBN: 9781644050491
Published: December 1, 2018, by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady :The Magician’s Angel (The Christmas Angel #3) by Jordan L. Hawk

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Vaudeville stage magician Christopher Fiend is performing in the little town of Twelfth Junction. Next stop is Chicago where he will audition for the big time, his hopes set on a career in a venue as big as New York City. Edward Smith’s brother not only owns the theater, he lives and breathes it, but Edward wants nothing to do with theater. When he spots the green carnation in Christopher’s lapel during his performance, he realizes they are of a kind and when his attention is returned, they spend “quality time” together during intermission.

Then during the second half of the show, when a dead body turns up in Christopher’s act, everything stops, the performers are stuck in this little town during the investigation, and Christopher’s hopes for his big time audition are crushed. Not only that, the lone police officer suspects him. No one knows he spent intermission with Edward, and he doesn’t want to jeopardize Edward’s reputation so they decide to solve the crime together.  What follows is a highly detailed investigation that nevertheless left this reader in the dark. Kudos to the author for an excellent mystery. 

The one thing that bothers Edmund is that clearing Christopher’s reputation is going to send him on his way to Chicago and, though it’s only been a short time, Edmund is falling in love with the clever magician.  However, the angel, purchased by Christopher in Port Angeles early in his career, may have other plans for them.

Readers will have time to enjoy this and spot the link to the previous book. This is one of several books written by authors using the common theme of a Christmas angel crafted in the 18th century who finds her way to those who need her as time goes by. The series does not need to be read in order, though it is fun to go step by step to try to find the link from one location where she pops up to another. The angel is the only link—there’s no crossover of characters. I love these stories so far, and this is no exception. Those who want a treat that does not put on calories should consider enjoying this series.

The cover by Meredith Russell depicts a gorgeous young man in a tux, sporting a green carnation boutonniere, the scene set against a background of stage curtains. This is the perfect depiction of both the character and the locale of the story.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

ebook, 108 pages
Published December 2nd 2018 by Jordan L. Hawk
ISBN139781941230336
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Christmas Angel #3

 

The Christmas Angel Series

Christmas Angel – Eli Easton – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Summerfield’s Angel – Kim Fielding – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Christmas Homecoming – L.A. Witt – Amazon US | Amazon UK
A Soldier’s Wish – N.R. Walker – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Shrewd Angel – Anyta Sunday – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Christmas Prince – RJ Scott- Amazon US | Amazon UK

Loving the Christmas Angel Series? Check Out Our Review Tour and Giveaway for The Magician’s Angel (A Christmas Angel Story) by Jordan L Hawk

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK


Length: 27,000 words approx.Cover Design: Meredith Russell

The Christmas Angel Series

Christmas Angel – Eli Easton – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Summerfield’s Angel – Kim Fielding – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Christmas Homecoming – L.A. Witt – Amazon US | Amazon UK
A Soldier’s Wish – N.R. Walker – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Shrewd Angel – Anyta Sunday – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Christmas Prince – RJ Scott- Amazon US | Amazon UK

Blurb

Vaudeville stage magician Christopher Fiend lives for the spotlight. His chance at big time stardom awaits him in Chicago, the next stop on the circuit after the little town of Twelfth Junction.

Edward Smith wants nothing to do with his family’s theater. Until Christopher catches his eye on opening night, then treats him to a very special performance during intermission.

When a dead body turns up in the middle of Christopher’s act, suspicion immediately falls on him. If Christopher and Edward can’t work together to clear his name, Christopher won’t make it to Chicago in time. Edward knows he shouldn’t get attached to a man who will be gone in two days, but his heart—and a very special angel—have other ideas.

The Christmas Angel series of holiday romances follow the travels of an angel ornament through the decades as she inspires (and sometimes nudges) lonely men to find their Happily Ever After. The Magician’s Angel is the third in series, which can be read in any order.

The Christmas Angel Series

In 1750, a master woodcarver poured all his unrequited love, passion, and longing into his masterpiece—a gorgeous Christmas angel for his beloved’s tree. When the man he loved tossed the angel away without a second thought, a miracle happened. The angel was found by another who brought the woodcarver True Love.

Since then, the angel has been passed down, sold, lost and found, but its magic remains. Read the romances inspired by (and perhaps nudged along by) the Christmas angel through the years. Whether it’s 1700s England (Eli Easton’s Christmas Angel), the 1880’s New York (Kim Fielding’s Summerfield’s Angel), the turn-of-the-century (Jordan L. Hawk’s Magician’s Angel), World War II (L.A. Witt’s Christmas Homecoming), Vietnam-era (N.R. Walker’s Soldier’s Wish), the 1990’s (Anyta Sunday’s Shrewd Angel), or 2018 (RJ Scott’s Christmas Prince), the Christmas angel has a way of landing on the trees of lonely men who need its blessing for a very Merry Christmas and forever HEA.

Dec 2Amy’s MM Romance Reviews, Dec 4 Cupcakes And Bookshelves, Xtreme Delusions, Dec 6My Fiction Nook, Open Skye, Sexy Erotic Xciting, The Secret Ko, Rainbow Book Reviews, Dec 8 Mirrigold, Dec 10Making It Happen, Megan’s Media Melange, Two Chicks Obsessed, Dec 12Drops Of Ink, Lillian Francis, Momma Says: To Read Or Not To Read, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Wicked Reads, Dec 17Bayou Book Junkie, Dec 19MM Good Book Reviews, Dec 21 – Bonkers About Books

 

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words review here.

 

 

Author Bio

Jordan L. Hawk is a non-binary queer author from North Carolina. Childhood tales of mountain ghosts and mysterious creatures gave them a life-long love of things that go bump in the night. When they aren’t writing, they brew their own beer and try to keep the cats from destroying the house. Their best-selling Whyborne & Griffin series (beginning with Widdershins) can be found in print, ebook, and audiobook.

Need another Christmas Story? Check out Our Review Tour and Giveaway for Old Acquaintance by Annabelle Jacobs

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 50,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Natasha Snow
 
Blurb
 

There are two sides to every story, even those buried in the past.


When Sam spots the hot guy moving in next door, he’s all for going round to introduce himself. That soon changes when it turns out his new neighbour is in fact an old school acquaintance, Charles Whitmore. Sam didn’t like him back then, and fifteen years haven’t altered that.


Splitting up from his long-term boyfriend means a move across the city for Charlie. As luck would have it, his immediate neighbour is a guy he went to school with, Sam Gellar. While Sam is less than welcoming, his best mate is more than happy to invite Charlie into their social circle. Whatever problem Sam has with Charlie, Charlie resolves to get to the bottom of it, because, frosty beginnings aside, Charlie likes him.


With Christmas just around the corner, fate thrusts them together, and they get on so much better than they ever did at school. Despite his efforts not to, Sam develops feelings for Charlie, and they appear to be reciprocated. If Sam wants to take things further he needs to either confront Charlie about their past–a past Charlie seems to have forgotten entirely–or let it go and move on. Sam knows deep down that he can’t let it go, but it never seems the right time to bring it up. Until it is.

November 28Amy’s MM Romance Reviews, OMG Reads, November 30Cupcakes & Bookshelves, Urban Smoothie Read, The Blogger Girls, Archaeolibrarian, December 3 – Sexy Erotic Xciting, Mikku-chan, December 5MM Good Book Reviews, BooksLaidBareBoys, December 7My Fiction Nook, Wicked Faerie’s Tales & Reviews, Megan’s Media Melange, Wicked Reads, December 12Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Making It Happen, December 14Bonkers About Books, Mirrigold, Valerie Ullmer, Book Lovers 4Ever, Lillian Francis, Open Skye Book Reviews, Bayou Book Junkie, Bookaholic & Kindle

 

Annabelle Jacobs lives in the South West of England with three rowdy children, and two cats. An avid reader of fantasy herself for many years, Annabelle now spends her days writing her own stories. They’re usually either fantasy or paranormal fiction, because she loves building worlds filled with magical creatures, and creating stories full of action and adventure. Her characters may have a tough time of it—fighting enemies and adversity—but they always find love in the end.
Twitter – https://twitter.com/AJacobs_fiction
Website – www.annabellejacobs.com
Email – ajacobsfiction@gmail.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ajacobsfiction

 

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A Lucy Review : Old Acquaintance by Annabelle Jacobs

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

There are two sides to every story, even those buried in the past.

When Sam spots the hot guy moving in next door, he’s all for going round to introduce himself. That soon changes when it turns out his new neighbour is Charles Whitmore, an old school acquaintance. Sam didn’t like him back then, for good reason, and fifteen years haven’t altered that.

Splitting up from his long-term boyfriend means a move across the city for Charlie. As luck would have it, his immediate neighbour is a guy he went to school with, Sam Gellar. While Sam is less than welcoming, his best mate is more than happy to invite Charlie into their social circle. Whatever problem Sam has with him, Charlie resolves to get to the bottom of it because, frosty beginnings aside, Charlie likes him.

With Christmas just around the corner, fate pushes them together, and they get on much better than they ever did at school. Despite his efforts not to, Sam develops feelings for Charlie, and they appear to be reciprocated. If Sam wants to take things further, he needs to either confront Charlie about their past—a past Charlie seems to have forgotten entirely—or let it go and move on. Sam knows deep down that he can’t let it go, but can’t find the right time to bring it up either.

One of my favorite things to read is the enemies to lovers and second chance stories, so I was excited for this one.  Sam takes notice (through the window) of the hot new guy  moving in next door.  Sam’s best friend, Dave, is also watching and swears the man looks familiar. Sam is making plans to maybe go say hello when Dave figures out who the man is.  “Wanker Whitmore.  His new hot neighbor was the one person he’d hated at school.”  Doesn’t it figure?  Fifteen years ago, Charles Whitmore beat up Sam’s then best friend at school, Nigel.  To add insult to injury, Charles also has a cat, something Sam abhors.  That’s it, this is going to be a nightmare.

For his part, Charles has just broken up with someone he cared about and who cared for him.  “Even though their split had been about as amicable as it could be, it still hurt.”  They are still friends and Charles is going to miss him.  He’s also now across town from his ex, Tim, and their friends.   Charlie is hurting a bit. When he runs into Dave and Sam, he doesn’t remember them from school but he’s happy to have someone to talk to.  Dave is polite, Charlie is not.

While they get to know each other again and Sam thaws, sort of, I liked the interaction.  What kept it from being higher for me was Sam hanging on to this grudge for FIFTEEN YEARS without ever asking Charlie for his side.  The fact that Nigel turned out to be a total jerk doesn’t even weigh in with Sam. I didn’t appreciate that at all.

Sam has some concerns about Charlie and I was glad to see not only does Dave validate them but urges Sam to talk about them with Charlie.  Even better, Sam does.  Communication here was good and they acted like adults.

It’s a very low angst story with some likeable, if a little bland, characters.  It didn’t wow me like I had hoped but it was an easy, quick read. 

Cover design with ornaments and Sam, fit the bill pretty well.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 147 pages
Published November 25th 2018
ASIN B07KWGRB1F
Edition Language English