A MelanieM Review: A Dance Too Far (Too Far #1) by H.L. Day

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Love can be dangerous!

Valentin Bychkov, rising star of contemporary Russian ballet, appears to have everything: wealth, talent, success, and a face and body to match. Not that anyone can get close. Bypass the entourage and there’s still Valentin’s sharp tongue and acerbic wit to deal with. He may give his body freely, but his emotions are kept tightly locked away.

Max Farley’s life is a simple one. All he’s interested in is work, drinking, and picking up the latest in a long line of one-night stands. The way he chooses to live may not be to everyone’s taste but it suits him down to the ground. He’s never met anyone who’s made him want to confront the demons from his past. Until now.

A show in London brings the two together. Lust brings them closer still. But if rumors of Bratva connections turn out to be true, then dangerous men wait in the wings. One dangerous man in particular, who’s used to people following his orders without question.

Difficult choices need to be made on both sides. Valentin and Max need to stop playing with fire and let each other go, or face the consequences. But letting go isn’t that easy where love is concerned.

And some things are worth the risk.

Warning: This book contains a snarky ballet dancer with an aversion to clothes, a little too much wall sex and an overabundance of Russian heavies.

Well, this is a first, but I’m starting my review with that cover.  It’s extraordinary!  From that gorgeous, arrogant, and yes, mysterious visage, you are  pulled towards him and his story.  That lace covered forehead and matching collar!  Those lips, that metallic blue eyeshadow and that side glance!  Tell me you aren’t hooked?  Well, author H.L. Day was.  From the moment they saw that photograph, a  character was born and then a story created, and then a series.

That unforgettable picture launched Valentin Bychkov  and the name suites perfectly.

The story?  Let’s get to that.

I just loved both characters. Author Day has two complex men who could  each fill a novel with their back histories alone.  Valentin’s, when it is revealed, is steeped in his parents romance and then mysterious death that left him an orphan of easy prey, especially since he was a boy a great talents and ambitions.  Valentin remains someone who keeps evolving, as layer after layer is lifted, showing new aspects to his personality and story.

Max Farley’s life has also been one of pain and disillusionment, betrayal actually.  Something that will emerge later in the story.  I thought this element was dealt with far too quickly and easily for the topic which accounts for the 4 instead of 5 star rating.  I realize that there were other issues at hand here for the characters to deal with but to throw this in here at this stage of the story and in this manner and not bring it up again just struck me as a less than responsible treatment.  Especially given that underage boys, sexual slavery, and pederophilia is a business for the Russian mafia and has had its effect on Valentin.

The story was well written, full of suspense, lots of action, hot sex, and finally love and romance.  If it feels like the love flows between Valentin and Max too quickly I think it’s because we forget how the time flew over the course of the story.  Still the chemistry rocked between the pair.

Did I buy that Valentin was a diva ballet dancer?  Absolutely!  The ballet seemed to pour out of this character, it was a part of him, and it grounded him even further in my mind.   Did I get that Max was a sound engineer?  Not so much.  We only saw him briefly in that role. Once in the sound booth and then it was only one more time after that.  He’s supposed to be so great at what he does that he can swagger into his booth late, smelling of sex and in dirty clothes and not get fired.  He’s as much a diva in his profession as Valentin is in his.   That’s the way the music world works yet I never got that from him.  Nor from the lack of repercussions from the events that happen later on.  So that never rang true.  While we had a entire foundation of work and passion from Valentin, we were missing that from Max and it made him a little less substantial.

Of course, I’m thinking of this after all the fast moving events are over, the drama is done, and the boys are now safely together.  For a while there, the author had us questioning everything!

Which made this a wonderfully exciting, sexy, and romantic read.

Valentin poses some questions for himself and us at the end of the story.  The next book will answer them.  I’m already on it.  And loving it.

But for now I’m recommending you stare at that cover…a long, long, time.  Then go pick up the story and get acquainted with Valentin and Max.  What a ride awaits you!

Cover art: H.L. Day.  One of my favorite covers this year.  See my opening statements above.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 245 pages
Published February 15th 2019
ASINB07NTTRXR2
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesToo Far #1

A Lila Review: The Demon of Hagermarsh (Virasana Empire: Sir Yaden #1) by Beryll Brackhaus and Osiris Brackhaus

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

“The Emperor cares for each and every one of his subjects.”

Many consider the catchphrase of the imperial Lotus Knights to be nothing more but well-polished propaganda, but for Yaden, it is a way of life.

A young Lotus Knight himself, his first mission in service of the Emperor sends him to the remote village of Hagermarsh, a suspiciously friendly place on a planet known for its inhospitable people. But how to uncover a demonist coven when nothing bad ever happens?
Getting to know the villagers only makes things more difficult – the motherly fishmonger surely isn’t a demonist. Nor the gruff leader of the local militia. And definitely not the cute baker from across the street.

Or are they?

Come discover a dazzling, hopeful universe of knights and monsters, of psions, aliens and ancient deities! The Demon of Hagermarsh is the first book of ‘Sir Yaden’, an epic SF saga of grand adventure, romance, bromance and family, set in the multi-faceted Virasana Empire. It is a romantic adventure and can be read as a standalone.

The Demon of Hagermarsh is a well-written mix of paranormal and sci-fi elements. It transcends the MM Romance genre and set itself apart with a great set of characters and mystery elements. The descriptions include all senses and it’s easy to feel and understand Yaden since the reader is part of him.

It does have slow spots and lengthy descriptions but they can be appreciated when they become relevant further in the story. The battles and explanations could have been shorter but it helps the overall story.

The characters are three-dimensional and the reader gets a chance to cheer for their future. I wanted a bit more of Darios since he’s an important part of the memory chapters, but not much of the regular ones. I was intrigued by him and the possibilities of his future.

I like Colin and the innocence of his relationship with Yaden. The rest of the people in the village felt real and interesting. Even after everything happened, I wanted to revisit them and see how they have changed.

The small peek into Yaden life as a Lotus Knight and all his friendships opened the door for future installments in this saga. I’m definitely reading the next one.

The cover by Anna Tiferet is perfect for the story. It shows the setting as described by Yaden. Everything from the weather to the house stones is relevant to the story.

Sale Links: Amazon | iBooks | Smashwords

Book Details:
ebook, 212 pages
ISBN: 9781092150453
Published: June 3, 2019, by Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus
Edition Language: English

Series: Virasana Empire
Book #1: The Demon of Hagermarsh

An Alisa Audio Review : Prophesy (The King & Alpha #1) by A.E. Via and Nathaniel Black (Narrator)

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

Justice Volkov is the youngest Alpha Zenith to ever lead the wolf shifters. Following in his father’s large paw prints was a responsibility he met head on. Now at age thirty-three, he is alpha of the alphas. As a direct descendant of the original Siberian pack, his wolf is bigger and stronger than Justice, himself is sometimes able to control.

His wolf howled long and hard but Justice kept it inside. It felt like a bass drum beating against his rib cage. The harsh breaths, angry snarls and the determined pacing inside him was overtaking him.

Justice takes his role of leadership and his legacy very seriously. He has little time for romance, not to mention a true mate. His packs are his priority. With a human government trying to regulate them, an uprising of rogue shifters, and a violent team of scientists trying to experiment on them, Justice has his hands way too full.

Chadwick ‘Wick’ Bentley is not enthusiastic when the captain of his escort tells him he has to leave his comfortable London home and go back to the States. As the Vampire King, he has no choice but to get his species back in line before they cause anymore chaos. At over one-hundred years old, Wick is no one to trifle with, but his smooth, charismatic manner makes him quite unique, despite the negative reputation vampires have. Wick has had nothing but time up to this point. He doesn’t feel the need to make issues pressing. Nothing is urgent in his life. Until he meets Justice. His beloved.

“Natural enemies can’t be mates.” Or so Justice thought. He knows his skepticism and rejection is hurting his mate, so while he fights their connection, Wick gets help from a source very close to Justice to help him win his beloved’s heart. Wick is a force all on his own, but when he’s blessed with a special gift from the Mother herself, not even Justice’s powerful wolf can prevent the prophesy from being fulfilled.

This story DOES NOT contain/mention MPREG.
No multiple pairings. No cliffhangers. It ends with a very HFN.

Warning: This book is MM paranormal: If you DO NOT like hot, alpha men shifting into large wolves, or vampires feeding from their mates, this may not be your read.

So, this has been one of those books that I was unsure about when it first came out but figured the audiobook would be my best shot for actually finally try it out.  I really enjoy most of this author’s books and did enjoy this one (and I know there is a second book) but it just felt a bit unfinished to me, I am not sure why as I know the story arc is going to continue throughout the series but just felt that there was do much unsaid.

I loved that we got to see both Justice and Wick’s points of view and it helped to understand them more.  Now, I know there is the whole mates insta-love thing, which I love, but after a mate basically pushes the other away and suddenly changes their mind and is suddenly in love with their mate, I just had some trouble with that.  Justice means well and I know he has a lot on his plate but he just seemed to make a lot of small similar mistakes when it comes to the vampires’ way of life.  I felt more for Wick with how different and apart he felt from the other vampires but was so glad that Justice was there to help guide him though the changes he went through.  I unfortunately didn’t feel the love with the characters and didn’t feel their connection to each other.

This is my first book narrated by Nathaniel Black and he did a nice job.  His narration and the voices he used help me to keep track of the story and what was going on but I didn’t feel the emotion in his voice which I think was one of the reasons I didn’t feel the connection with the characters.

I liked how the cover art by Jay Aheer shows how different Justice and Wick are and it gives great visuals of the characters.

Sales Links: Audible | Amazon | Audiobooks.com

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 6 hrs 50 min
Published: June 19, 2018 by AE Via
Edition Language: English

Series: The King & Alpha Series #1

New Release Tour:The Demon of Hagermarsh (Virasana Empire: Sir Yaden #1) by Beryll Brackhaus and Osiris Brackhaus (excerpt)

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The Demon of Hagermarsh

Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus have a new MM fantasy book out: The Demon of Hagermarsh.

“The Emperor cares for each and every one of his subjects.”

Many consider the catchphrase of the imperial Lotus Knights to be nothing more but well-polished propaganda, but for Yaden, it is a way of life.

A young Lotus Knight himself, his first mission in service of the Emperor sends him to the remote village of Hagermarsh, a suspiciously friendly place on a planet known for its inhospitable people. But how to uncover a demonist coven when nothing bad ever happens?

Getting to know the villagers only complicates things – the motherly fishmonger surely isn’t a demonist. Nor the gruff leader of the local militia. And definitely not the cute baker from across the street.

Or are they?

Come discover a dazzling, hopeful universe of knights and monsters, of psions, aliens and ancient deities! The Demon of Hagermarsh is the first book of ‘Sir Yaden’, an epic SF saga of grand adventure, romance, bromance and family, set in the multi-faceted Virasana Empire. It is a romantic adventure and can be read as a standalone.

Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Smashwords | Goodreads


Excerpt

Banner of Hagermarsh Meme

Instantly, Yaden was on his feet and in the sales room, only to realise that he had absolutely no reason to do so except for his curiosity, but now it was too late for a credible retreat.

“Good day, Sir,” he greeted Colin, hoping he’d come across as a diligent shop servant and not some weirdo.

Colin looked a little startled at his sudden appearance, but he gave him that sunny smile of his. “Good day, Yaden. I thought I’d break with tradition and come in first, so the rest of them can follow. Me being the other most recent newcomer to the village and all.”

“Oh?” So that was why Colin seemed so out of place in Hagermarsh. “You’re not from here either?”

“Actually I sort of am. My family has owned that bakery for generations. But my mother and her sister ran away to Schimmelbach. They hated this place, so, I wasn’t born here.”

“Really? But what’s to hate here? Hagermarsh seems pretty nice so far.”

“I don’t actually know,” Colin replied with another smile, this time bittersweet. “Mother died when I was little, so Aunt Mildred raised me. And she rarely talked about their time in Hagermarsh.”

“So there’s a terrible, dark secret to this village?” Yaden tried to keep his tone down and not too hopeful.

Colin laughed out loud. “In Hagermarsh? If there is one, I haven’t been initiated yet. I only moved here a few years ago, when my Grandpa died and I took over the bakery. And so far, it’s been the nicest place I’ve ever lived in.”

Not a useful lead. Yaden feverishly tried to figure out a way to ask more questions without making their conversation sound too much like an interrogation, until he noticed that Colin was looking at him with that beaming smile of his. It made him terribly nervous.

“So … What are you looking to buy?” Inelegant, but at least it was a way out.

“A few odds and ends. We do need the General Store to open again. Which reminds me, can I have my basket back, yet?”

“Actually, I dropped it off with your apprentice yesterday. Didn’t he tell you?” Yaden had specifically told the youth to let his master know, but had only received the usual grunt in return.

Colin groaned dramatically. “Rory! That lazy foghead is going to be the death of me one day! Eithne insisted that regular work would be good for him and he would improve, but I swear he is getting worse. That’s what you get for listening to a kind old lady trying to barter off one of her grandsons.”

“I’m … sorry?”

“No, no, not your fault at all.” Colin’s smile was back again in a blink. How could a man smile that much? “I’ll deal with him. After all, he is my apprentice and I’m responsible for him. I’ll get him into shape eventually.” He pulled a small note from his pocket, scanned it and for the first time properly looked around the sales room, his eyes going wide. “Wow! This is so orderly. And so much. It looks like you have at least one of everything.”

Before moving from Erys to Lagoona, Yaden would have agreed. He vividly remembered the first time he and Darios had visited one of the big shopping malls in Ridge, the highrise quarter of Agami, and gaped at the sheer amount of stuff on sale they hadn’t even known existed. They sure had felt like clueless country bumpkins. But after a year in the Empire’s capital, he had gotten used to it to a point where the General Store’s range of goods felt rudimentary to him.

“Mostly I need a new pen and a whole bunch of different spices.” Colin smiled at Yaden hopefully. “Could you show me where everything is?”

“Sure, though we may not have exotic spices in stock. But we can order them for you.”

“That would be great. Okay, let me see. Most urgently, I need some garnak, ideally whole pods, and some dried lurka leaves. Do you have any terran caraway, by chance?”

There wasn’t much assistance Yaden could offer, apart from showing him where they kept the spices. Deciphering the labels on the tins would have taken him much longer than Colin. But he recognized them at a glance, and Yaden stayed with him to portion out the amounts he needed and bring them over to the counter.

When Colin followed him to the counter, he noticed Darios properly for the first time and did a double take at his size.

“Master Darios, who actually owns the store,” Yaden introduced.

Darios greeted Colin with an amicable grunt and put his book down to ring up Colin’s purchases.

“I promised Master Colin a discount in exchange for his welcoming bread,” Yaden reminded him.

“Oh, no, that is absolutely not necessary.”

Colin looked embarrassed, but Darios glanced at Yaden with a decidedly amused twinkle in his eye. Instead of figuring in a discount, he pulled two extra pencils from the box he kept under the counter and pushed them over to Colin.

“Thank you.” He smiled first at Darios and then at Yaden again. For a Leichnami he smiled suspiciously much, but his smile was warm and pretty and Yaden couldn’t bring himself to mind. “Well, I should be on my way before the rest of Hagermarsh starts wondering whether you have eaten me.”

Walking him to the door was ridiculous, of course, but Yaden trailed behind him.

“Will I see you at the scribba training tonight?” Colin asked when he stepped out onto the porch.

“I thought that is only for the fighting citizens?”

Colin shook his head. “No, it’s a bit of a social gathering, too. Lots of people standing around, drinking beer and giving useless advice to us poor fork-wielding folk.” He smiled yet again. “I could introduce you to some of the younger villagers.”

Yaden gave an exaggerated shudder. “I’m not sure I want to meet them if they are anything like Bridget from next door,” he grabbed the opportunity to gather more information.

“Oh, so you met Bridget?” Colin’s smile gained a decidedly snarky edge. “Did she give you the ‘in this village we don’t tolerate any bullying and you better not step out of line’ speech?”

“Actually, she asked me lots of questions. And she gave me the ‘if anyone bullies you, I’ll protect you’ speech.”

“She did?” Colin looked amused and indignant at the same time. “Now, why do you look worthy of protection to her and I get treated like a ticking time bomb?”

“I don’t know. Maybe I look harmless?” Which was more than a little ridiculous considering what Yaden was capable of.

“Mmh,” Colin huffed and shrugged. “Granted, Bridget is a bit odd. But there are some nice folks in Hagermarsh. They only act gruff when there is a chance of strangers observing them. Hagermarsh is a real community where people look out for each other. I think you’ll like it here.”

Colin gave him that movie-star smile again, but Yaden had to struggle keeping up his own.

Those last sentences had triggered all alarms in Yaden’s head. All of that sounded way too much like propaganda, crafted to keep the population calm, happy and ignorant of any ugly things happening behind the scenes. It sounded very much like the slogans the Lotus Pavilion PR team had drummed into his head. Colin had even the right kind of wholesome handsomeness that made believing such stories so easy. If Yaden managed to pinpoint where this propaganda was coming from, he’d be on the right track.

“See you at the training, tonight?” Colin asked.

Yaden only managed an affirmative grunt.

“Looking forward to it. Oh, and you may wanna bring some beer. That’ll go a long way in making you less of a stranger.”

Yaden grunted again. Maybe not beer, but he had unpacked a whole crate of different kinds of schnapps and brandy earlier. Those would surely work just as well. He managed a parting smile before Colin turned around and left across the road.


Author Bio

We are Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus, a couple currently living our happily ever after in the very heart of Germany, under the stern but loving surveillance of our cat.

Both of us are voracious but picky readers, we love telling stories and drinking tea, good food and the occasional violent movie. Together, we write novels of adventure and romance, hoping to share a little of our happiness with our readers.

Beryll: An artist by heart, Beryll was writing stories even before she knew what letters were. As easily inspired as she is frustrated, her own work is never good enough (in her eyes). A perfectionist in the best and worst sense of the word at the same time and the driving creative force of our duo.

Osiris: An entertainer and craftsman in his approach to writing, Osiris is the down-to-earth, practical part of our duo. Broadly interested in almost every subject and skill, with a sunny mood and caring personality, he strives to bring the human nature into focus of each of his stories.

Author Website: http://www.brackhaus.com/

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011014541510

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/Brackhaus

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brackhaus/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6427435.Osiris_Brackhaus

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Osiris-Brackhaus/e/B00IVTRO2E

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In the New Releases Spotlight: Another Dance by L.A. Ashton

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Another Dance by L.A. Ashton

NineStar Press
Publication: July 8th 2019
Cover Art: Natasha Snow

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon |

Blurb:

 

Kaito Watanabe has finally nabbed an interview with his idol, Cristian Alvarez. Kaito is a journalist who’s spent his entire life looking up to the figure-skating champion. Cristian’s passion on the ice unearthed a love of dance in Kaito and made him believe in the power of artistic expression.

Now Kaito is face-to-face with the man he’s always admired. He believes himself insignificant and ordinary, a moth drawn to the light Alvarez casts. He can’t allow himself to believe Cristian’s flirtations are anything but natural charm—but Cristian has other plans. The tension pitches higher, legs and fingers intertwine, and Kaito begins to wonder if his fantasies have a shot at becoming reality.

About the Author

L. A. Ashton is an LGBT+ author writing LGBT+ fiction. They enjoy rock music, traveling, and anything else that adds color to their daydreams. They believe in the healing properties of art and of having a cat firmly stationed on one’s lap. Their official site can be found at www.LAAshton.com.

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