A MelanieM Review: A Step too Far (Too Far #2) by H.L. Day

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Two men. Three identities. An unstoppable attraction.

Desperate for his luck to change, Jake Spencer manages to land a dance contract with Dmitry Gruzdev. The job has plenty of perks, including a simmering lust between him and Dmitry’s hulking brute of a bodyguard, Mikhail. Life is finally looking up. Except as the shine wears off, it becomes clear that Jake’s stepped into a world of darkness and depravity where Bratva answers to no one and allies are not what they seem.

Mikhail’s hiding a secret: there is no Mikhail. He’s simply a front for undercover operative, Ryan Harris. A means to gain access to Dmitry. Ryan’s not stupid. There’s no way he’s going to get distracted by a pretty face, no matter how attractive Jake might be. That would be far too dangerous for all concerned. Only it’s not that simple and before Ryan knows it, the line between personal and professional begins to blur spectacularly.

Lust develops into more. Secrets start to unravel. Ryan’s got an impossible choice to make: keep Jake safe or maintain his cover. But how much does Dmitry know? The hunted may be about to become the hunter, blowing both men’s worlds to pieces and leaving them with nothing.

Can a relationship built on lies ever lead to love?

Warning: This book contains a seductive dancer prone to getting into trouble, a gruff man who’s anything but, and a villain who just won’t go away.

A Step too Far (Too Far #2) by H.L. Day picks up after the events of A Dance Too Far where Dmitry’s loses his star dancer (and much more), Valentin.  Valentin’s escape has left a hole in Dmitry’s organization as a cover, the lack of a dancer a continuing blow to the mobster’s pride and other self interests and something needs to be done about it.  Immediately.

Questions that Valentin asked himself in the last story were what had happened to Mikhail, the stoic Russian bodyguard who had finally risked everything to help Valentin.  And why?  A Step too Far gives us those answers and so much more. Including the startling information that Mikhail is actually undercover agent Ryan Harris trying to gather intel and take down a Russian gang. The toll of being Mikhail is becoming too much, he’s seen and been a part of to too much. And now Dimitry has tasked him with finding Valentin’s replacement.

Day actually splits this character into Mikail/Ryan, that’s how it reads for most of the story because he’s two completely different personalities.  One cold, ruthless, and trying to being sexless.  The other warm,torn, intelligent, with a conscious that’s telling him he can’t keep doing this no matter the end result.   We see them both.  First it’s mostly Mikhail staying in character, then a mixture, and then finally mostly Ryan as that personality becomes dominant, dangerous while undercover.

The reason why?  A young dancer name Jake who to his peril falls naively into the space vacated by Valentin because he wants to dance and needs an apartment to live, while having little outside ties.  The perfect victim.  Unlike Valentin who had been with Dimitry for a decade when we met him (and endured the abuse and control), Jake is fresh, happy, bouncy even, full of optimism and, trust me, the reader just starts to cringe from the moment Dimitry ushers him into his office and shuts the door.

Because this is a darker story than the first.  Valentin had figured things out in a decades time, had methods to deal with Dimitry’s twisted love and abuse.  But here Dimitry feels no love for Jake, he’s just a commodity.  And what happens between Jake and Mikhail/Ryan is one that develops more than once because its with different men, a neat trick, narratively speaking.

Mixed in with all this is a deep espionage storyline, a high suspense thread that will have you on your seat,  and a long, drawn out climax and resolution  that includes timely and perfect appearances by Max and Valentin to give Ryan and Jake the ending their deserve.

The one thing that did bother me, the lack of therapy for Jake, was finally given a brief mention, a rationale as to why it didn’t work, and what was helping.  I’m not sure I ever bought it , and yes, that was one of my issues in the first story as well.  But at least it was mentioned here.  That was a step up.

I tried to think about how I compared the two stories and decided I couldn’t.  That was like comparing the two men as dancers.  Totally different in so many ways.  I liked some things about this story better but really not the characters.  The characters in both stories are amazing.  And this one leaves me wondering if there is anywhere to go from here.  Just not sure.

But if you love your contemporary romance with raw sex, open emotion, some darkness and wild suspense.  This story and the one prior to it, which you much read before this one, are just the thing!  Pick up Valentin’s story and then head straight for Jake’s. Be prepared to  be totally connected and unable to put them down.  I highly recommend them both.

Cover art: H.L. Day.  That’s post Dimitry Jake alright.  I like the cover but truthfully nothing can match that impact of the first one.

Sales Links: Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 275 pages
Published June 3rd 2019 by Amazon Digital Services
ASIN B07SNCMDNW
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review : Will & Patrick Wake Up Married Series (Episodes 1-3) by Leta Blake & Alice Griffiths /John Solo (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

OMG! I was hooked within the first ten minutes of this 11 1/2 hour audiobook. John Solo did a spectacular job interpreting the humor the authors infused throughout every page. His vocalizations and sound effects were spot-on. And the voice he gave each of the MCs was perfect for their characters.

I already hit one-click to purchase the second volume: books 4-6 in e-book format because I cannot wait one moment to pick up where this one left off. Will I listen to the audio when it comes out? If John Solo narrates it, you bet I will. And I very highly recommend everyone hurry to pick up this audiobook. This will most definitely make your day.

Quick summary – Will Patterson is a sweetheart—a young man who suffers from type I diabetes and is attempting to recover from alcoholism.  He slips spectacularly at a medical conference in Las Vegas and finds himself married to neurosurgeon Dr Patrick McCloud. For financial reasons, they can’t divorce or have the marriage annulled. Will’s connected to organized crime and the funds he inherited through the mob side of the family, with which he’s doing altruistic work to help the people in his town, will disappear if he doesn’t marry for love and/or if he ever divorces or annuls his marriage.

Patrick can’t believe his luck. Bad luck, that is. Well, maybe not. Will is hot and as time goes by Patrick finds more to love than not love about Will. Patrick is full of snark and vinegar though, and God forbid anyone find out he’s really a nice guy. No way. 

The major problem they have, other than the fact they got drunk married, is that Will is not over his ex. Ryan is annoying and very passive-aggressive and quite full of himself. I am hoping he gets his comeuppance by the end of the series. In the meantime, this volume ends on a high note. The guys have decided to stay together for now, enjoying a friends-with-benefits sort of relationship, with all the sex Will wants, and that’s something the never had with Ryan. Patrick’s heart seems to be getting engaged, so I have no doubt the next volume is going to be a treat. And I’m starting that the minute I finish this review.

Most highly recommended! In audio, for sure.

Sales Links:  Amazon | Audible

Audio Book Details:

Audible Audio, 1st edition, 12 pages
Published May 24th 2019 by Leta Blake Books (first published May 2nd 2016)
ASINB07S98HFY4
Edition Language English
Series Wake Up Married #1-3

BOOK 4-6 Wake Up Married serial, Episodes 4 – 6: Fight Their Feelings, Meet the Mob, Happy Ending

An Alisa Review: Surviving the Shadows (The Bearer of Truth #2) by Miranda Turner

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

Gabriel has been gone longer than predicted, and Evander is growing increasingly worried each day that passes without his return. Confounded by their leaders’ lack of answers, Evander and the team begin to fear the worst.

 

In the midst of fruitlessly searching Miami for clues to the Daemon Abaddon’s whereabouts, Evander begins to have disturbingly vivid dreams. With a little help from a newly returned and empty-handed Michael and Barabbas, Evander discovers Gabriel has been calling out for help across their nascent bond, and they set off to rescue Gabriel from the depths of the Underworld.

 

Gabriel is old friends with torture, and his captors haven’t been gentle. Despite growing weaker every day, Gabriel resolves to survive long enough for rescue, or to die fighting, until a Dark Seer begins to dredge up the terror of Gabriel’s horrific childhood, threatening to destroy his mind and soul. Nearing the end, Gabriel manages a last-ditch effort to contact help, reaching out to Evander in his dreams.

 

Against all odds, Evander and the team fight through the Underworld to reach Gabriel and come face to face with mortality. Sacrifices made for the bonds of brotherhood nearly break them, and Gabriel learns the hard way that embracing the darkness while fighting for the light may be the only way to survive.

 

From the underbelly of Reno to the glitz and glam of Vegas, Gabriel, Evander, and the men they call family will be tested, and the final confrontation with Gabriel’s maker may be the end of everything they hold dear.

 

Another well written story and I still love to see how in depth the world these characters have to navigate is.  When we last saw Gabriel he was telling Evander that he would be back soon but as weeks go by with no word the team begins to worry.  Thankfully Evander and Gabriel’s connection help them to find him.

 

I liked how much different Evander was in this story since he has realized that he is not as perfect as he had always been told.  And while he resolves to work harder on his and Gabriel’s relationship, which he does, it’s hard to do when they aren’t sure if there are on the same page.  Gabriel’s experience in the underworld makes him have so much more to work through but he is so much stronger than he gives himself credit for.

 

This story goes more back and forth between the characters, which I liked as it gave me more of an insight into Evander.  I hope that as time goes on Gabriel can see that it isn’t as necessary to sacrifice himself but that he can use more help from the others and I couldn’t help but feel that these two could support each other more if they would just let the other in.  Finally at the end of the book it seems Gabriel and Evander are starting to be united as one and on the same page but I can’t wait to see what happens with them in the next book.

 

The cover art by Lou Harper is great and I continue to like the visuals of Gabriel.

 

Sales Link: Amazon

 

Book Details:

ebook, 293 pages

Published: June 14, 2019 by Miranda Turner

Edition Language: English

Series: Bearer of Truth #2

A Lucy Prerelease Review : Love & Tea Bags (Pink Rock Series #1) by C.F. White

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Fate can be written in a tea bag too. 

Mark Johnson is hitting his forties and is stuck in a rut. 

He’s had the same boring office job for ten years, with no motivation or inclination to change it. The same crumbling house for ten years, with no cash or know-how to fix it. And the same Facebook status for five years—it’s complicated. It isn’t. He’s single. He just doesn’t want to correct it. That would be admitting defeat. 

The day a tea bag splats onto his face whilst he’s emptying the dregs of his morning cuppa at Macy’s Tea Shoppe is the one that makes him question each of his current life choices…the tea bag and that the shop is currently being run by one rather friendly, rather hunky, but rather young Australian named Bradley Summers. 

Tea has never tasted so good. The very best part of this book Mark’s inner musings.  He is pretty much a mess – stuck in a job that is going nowhere, in a house that is falling apart around his ears, listening to a mother who is just vile, and really only having one really good thing he can depend on.  Tea.  “Tea.  There was the answer to everything.  Everything.”  It is this good thing that leads him to Macy’s Tea Shoppe, owned by his one real friend in the world, Macy. 
“Macy was possibly the only one in Mark’s life who seemed to accept him for who he was.” He is 39 and sometimes talks like he is 79.  “…services we have to offer such a young whippersnapper like yourself.”

When he finds out his roof has to be fixed and he doesn’t have the money to do so, he sets off for Macy’s to drown his sorrows in tea.  After basically venting his spleen to Macy in the back of the shop, it turns out the one listening isn’t Macy, but her young cousin, Bradley.  Bradley, the Australian Adonis who is covering for Macy while she is with her parents and who happens to be a stripper.  A 21-year-old free spirit stripper.  The Adonis who forgets to take the tea bag out of the cup he serves Mark, which splats onto Mark’s face.  And so they meet.

Most of the story is Mark trying to find reasons why he can’t be with Bradley, why Bradley doesn’t really want to be with him, why friends only is the way to go and how he can ignore the longings of his own heart.  Someone has done a real number on Mark and he has lost all self confidence and sense of self worth. 

Bradley is sunny, sweet and YouTube famous as a stripper.  He believes in reading tea leaves, of all things and he is all about adventure and living life to the fullest. He is also in England short term.  Mark doesn’t want to have anything with Bradley.  Especially when he remembers Bradley is Macy’s cousin.  It’s complicated.

Some times Mark just made me laugh.  His fear sent him to the attic of his house to confront some old ghosts, after having sex with Bradley.  “It seemed for the second time that evening he was going to enter into a hole that scared the utter crap out of him.”

As secondary characters, Macy is really supportive and likeable but Damian steals the show. He and Mark have a physical history but now are just friends and Damian is a good one.  He styles Mark to get him out of the frump and pushes him to understand how good he is.  I really hope Damian gets a story, he deserves one. 

Mark’s parents are complicated beings, Dad lost all their money gambling in a mid-life crisis and Mom does whatever necessary to maintain appearances.  One of the most poignant scenes I’ve read in recent times is Mark’s conversation with his dad about dad’s regrets.  It was so heart breaking.

The ending is very rom-com and was very sweet and funny, if over the top.

Cover art is really pretty spot on with the blond Adonis and the tea loving Mark.

Sales Links Pre Order:  Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 307 pages
Expected publication: July 16th 2019 by Pride Publishing
ISBN13 9781786517951
Edition Language English

Blog tour for Surviving the Shadows (The Bearer of Truth #2) by Miranda Turner (excerpt and giveaway)

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SurvivingTheShadows-Tour Banner

Surviving the Shadows

The Bearer of Truth – Book 2

Miranda Turner

Genre: Gay Urban Fantasy

Release Date: June 14thSurviving the Shadows Cover

Cover Design: Lou Harper

BLURB

Gabriel has been gone longer than predicted, and Evander is growing increasingly worried each day that passes without his return. Confounded by their leaders’ lack of answers, Evander and the team begin to fear the worst.

In the midst of fruitlessly searching Miami for clues to the Daemon Abaddon’s whereabouts, Evander begins to have disturbingly vivid dreams. With a little help from a newly-returned and empty-handed Michael and Barabbas, Evander discovers Gabriel has been calling out for help across their nascent bond. With a little backup from an unlikely source, they set off to rescue Gabriel from the depths of the Underworld.

Gabriel is old friends with torture, and his captors haven’t been gentle. Despite growing weaker every day, Gabriel resolves to survive long enough for rescue, or to die fighting, until a Dark Seer begins to dredge up the terror of Gabriel’s horrific childhood, threatening to destroy his mind and soul. Nearing the end, Gabriel manages a last-ditch effort to contact help, reaching out to Evander in his dreams.

Against all odds, Evander and the team fight through the Underworld to reach Gabriel and come face to face with mortality. Sacrifices made for the bonds of brotherhood nearly break them, and Gabriel learns the hard way that embracing the darkness while fighting for the light may be the only way to survive.

From the underbelly of Reno to the glitz and glam of Vegas, Gabriel, Evander, and the men they call family will be tested, and the final confrontation with Gabriel’s maker may be the end of everything they hold dear.

http://getbook.at/SurvivingTheShadows

SurvivingTheShadows Teaser 1

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EXCERPT

“His aura has indicators that he practices or has practiced dark magic, but his underlying nature is fighting against it. Right now, his aura resembles an ouroboros.”

“A what?” Delsin asked.

“It’s a circle made out of a snake that is consuming itself. It’s supposed to symbolize wholeness or infinity, but in this case, our young magical friend over there is in trouble. If his magic continues to consume itself, there won’t be a renewal of life but a loss of something good and right as his magic perverts into something dark and unrecognizable.”

A visible shiver moved down Delsin’s body, causing him to wrap his arms around himself; clearly he’d been shaken by Nico’s words. “Can we help him?” Gabriel asked Nico.

Nico sighed. “Your savior complex is raising its ugly head again.” Delsin snorted, but Gabriel just stared Nico down. “Aren’t we supposed to be looking for your dad?” Gabriel stayed silent and lifted one eyebrow. “Ugh…fine, geez.” Nico stomped toward the teenage magic user with Gabriel and Delsin following close behind him, Gabriel’s face breaking out in a shit-eating grin.
Miranda Turner Logo

Miranda Turner is a single mom of eight living outside a small, hippie town in the middle of Ohio. She’s surrounded by children, chickens, and one temperamental editor kitty who is silently judging her on a daily basis. She is a voracious reader and an editor who decided she had different stories to tell. She firmly believes a happily ever after is there for everyone, but she likes to make her characters earn it.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authormturner

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/author.miranda.turner/

Email: author.miranda.turner@gmail.com

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Audio BLITZ for I Wished for You by Colette Davison and Piers Ryman (Narrator) ~ excerpt and giveaway

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Title: I Wished For You

Author: Colette Davison

Narrator: Piers Ryman

Publisher: Independently Published

Release Date: 6 June 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male Menage

Length: 06 Hours 24 Minutes

Genre: Romance, LGBT

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Synopsis

Three wishes.

Seb wants to be happy.
Matt wants to find ‘the one.’
Connor wants them.

Two drunken kisses.

Seb didn’t plan to kiss Matt and Connor, but he doesn’t regret it, even if it has changed their friendship forever.

Matt has never considered dating a man before, let alone two. Despite his confusion, being with Seb and Connor feels right.

One uncertain future.

Connor’s potential fate has stopped him living and loving. Can he face his fears to be with the men he loves?

***Contains explicit language and scenes***

Excerpt

“Wow,” Matt breathed as a shooting star shot across the now dark sky, trailing a tail of light behind it.

“That’s awesome,” Seb said. “Hey, aren’t you meant to wish on shooting stars or something?”

Matt stood, watching the sky intently. He’d finished his second can of beer and started on his third before he saw another shooting star.

“I wish I could find the one,” he yelled at the star.

Anything was worth a shot. Every girl he’d dated had held the promise of being the one, but every relationship had fizzled out within weeks or months. He was getting close to believing he’d permanently be shut in the friend zone by every woman he knew.

“My turn,” Seb said, leaping up to stand beside Matt. “Find me a star.”

“There might not be any more,” Connor pointed out.

A glance over his shoulder told Matt that Connor was still sitting, nursing a can of beer in his cupped hands. With their breath frosting on the air in front of them, Matt and Seb kept a fierce watch on the sky.

“There,” Matt said, pointing towards the far right as a star shot across the darkness.

“I wish to be happy again,” Seb yelled.

Matt turned to Connor. “It’s your turn.”

Connor shook his head.

“Why not?”

Connor met Matt’s curious stare. “I’ve already had one wish come true. I figure I’d be pushing my luck to make a second.”

Matt’s eyebrows shot up. “Oh? Do we get to know what this wish of yours was?”

Pink splashed across Connor’s nose and cheeks. He looked down, mumbling his answer. “I wished for friends. Someone I could count on. I met the two of you right after.”

Matt’s chest clenched. He tried to speak, but his voice stuck fast in his throat.

“Really?” Seb asked, staring intently at Connor as he sat in the middle chair.

Connor lifted his eyes again, staring at Seb and then at Matt. “Yeah.” He looked to the sky. “I mean… it was probably a coincidence, but I wished for you, and there you were.”

Tears stung Matt’s eyes. He ran his hand over them and down his face, sniffing loudly. “Well, fuck, Con…” He wasn’t even sure what it was he wanted to say. “I’m glad we met you, too,” he managed. “I’m glad we could help you when you needed us.”

“You still do,” Connor said softly. “Every day.”

“Okay, shut the fuck up now,” Matt said, trying not to cry. He flopped into the third chair. “I’m not nearly drunk enough to be getting this sentimental. More booze!”

Seb handed him a full can, and together, they sat and watched the occasional light show of falling stars as they drank into the night.

Purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

Colette’s personal love story began at university, where she met her future husband. An evening of flirting, in the shadow of Lancaster castle, eventually led to a fairytale wedding. She’s enjoying her own ‘happy ever after’ in the north of England with her husband, two beautiful children and her writing.

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