A MelanieM Review:Drama Dance (Nicky and Noah Mystery #8) by Joe Cosentino

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza is back at Treemeadow College directing their Nutcracker Ballet co-starring his spouse, theatre professor Noah Oliver, their son Taavi, and their best friend and department head, Martin Anderson. With muscular dance students and faculty in the cast, the Christmas tree on stage isn’t the only thing rising. When cast members drop faster than their loaded dance belts, Nicky and Noah will once again need to use their drama skills to figure out who is cracking the Nutcracker’s nuts, trapping the Mouse King, and being cavalier with the Cavalier, before Nicky and Noah end up stuck in the Land of the Sweets. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining eighth novel in this delightful series.

Take your seats. The curtain is going up on the Fairy—Sugar Plum that is, clumsy mice, malfunctioning toys, and murder!

With Drama Dance (Nicky and Noah Mystery #8) by Joe Cosentino  we’re into the eighth book of the series and the high camp edge this author rides between drama and comedy doesn’t seem as sharp here as it has in previous novels. And I’m so sorry to say that as big a fan as I am of this series. Having all the characters back on familiar ground such as Treemeadow College should work to ground them further in family and friends.  And it does to a point.

Yet, what is familiar can also become route.   I understand that the author uses some of the same descriptions because of new readers to the series and therefore, to this story.  But to those of us that have followed it faithfully, some elements within the series and story just aren’t working, for me at any rate.

I guess first and foremost is the fact that even now at book eight, their son Taavi is still referred to as their adopted son Taavi.  Maybe it’s just me, but you’d think that would have been dropped by now, or that the adoption reference come up less frequently.   Or, the fact that,if the author wanted to clue new readers into Taavi’s history, brought up in a  fresh way. But no. And since I’m on a roll here, the less than flattering name of the poor adopted  grandchild from friends of the MC’s parents often used as a “humor element”.  Not funny.   Again, just my opinion.  But unintentionally or not (and Im sure in this author’s case it’s not), it smacks of racism.

Two of my favorite characters within this series has always been the bickering  older  professor/husband duo of Martin and Ruben.  I am deeply fond of these two and their relationship.  They bicker sharply, lovingly, and their dialog is some of my favorites in the past stories and series.  And like everyone else in the novels, they have aged, getting older to the point that now it’s getting poignant.  And in the case of one secondary character who wants one out of his position, quite mean.  Probably realistic  Again there’s that line.

Are you as an author going tor realistic drama or high camp?  I’m not sure you can have both in this case or in this story.

I liked the idea of The Nutcracker as a vehicle for the players. It should have worked as a perfect foil  for high camp and delicious lines. But again somehow…even the nutcracker jokes were just a little off.  The dynamics between Nicky and the local detective seemed flat whereas they always had a certain tension between them before.  The villain and his capture?  It all seemed a bit familiar, as though it came from a killer and plot a few stories earlier.

Maybe a trip to America’s farmland is needed for them all.  Cheese, grandparents,  and all that. Or New Jersey.

I don’t know what the author has planned next for this series but if you are new to the characters and setting, start at the beginning.  You’ll find there the sheer joie de vivre that made me a fan to begin with.

Cover art is wonderful.  Vibrant, alive, a sure eye catcher!

Sales Links: Amazon 

Book Details:

ebook, 206 pages
Published August 1st 2019 by Joe Cosentino
ISBN13 9780463809051
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Review: Dine with Me by Layla Reyne

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Life never tasted so good.

Miller Sykes’s meteoric rise to award-winning chef is the stuff of culinary dreams, but it’s all crashing down around him. He’s been given a diagnosis that could cost him something even more precious than his life: his sense of taste. Rather than risk the very thing that defines him, Miller embarks on a last tour of his favorite meals while he still can.

But there’s a catch: he needs a financial backer to make it happen, and he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s sick.

Dr. Clancy Rhodes has two weeks to come to terms with putting aside oncology to work at his father’s thriving plastic surgery practice. When the opportunity to travel with a Michelin-starred chef presents itself, the foodie in him can’t believe it. It doesn’t hurt that Miller’s rugged good looks are exactly Clancy’s cup of joe.

As Clancy and Miller travel from coast to coast and indulge in everything from dive bars to the most decadent of culinary experiences, they’re suddenly sharing a lot more than delicious meals. Sparks fly as they bond over their love of flavors and the pressures of great expectations. But when Miller’s health takes a turn for the worse, Clancy must convince him he’s more—so much more—than just his taste buds. And that together, they can win a battle that once seemed hopeless.

I love stories that mix food with romance.  The two just naturally go together, a exploration of the sensual, the ability to explore new cultures through new  tastes and dishes, just the spices alone can be so heady.  Just like falling in love itself.  They are, as they say, a perfect blend.

When the chef or in this case, the author, gets it right.

And here in Dine With Me by Layla Reyne, the author gets it word for word, recipe by recipe, and scene by scene splendidly right.

I am not familiar enough with this author’s stories to know if this is the exception or the rule, but I mean to find out.  From the layered characterizations that spoke to me to the  many restaurants and dishes served up throughout the novel that speaks of the author’s love and appreciation of food and the chef’s in the kitchens, everything about Dine With Me was a journey to delight in and remember.

The author can go to making your mouth water for truffles to having your heart wrench over the pain being felt by the characters,Miller Sykes especially.   Clancy and Mike, as well as sall the other people here are so well crafted they become alive, and you fall into their lives from the moment you meet them and begin their journey.

And oh what a trip that will be… no spoilers here…but trust that it’s one you would wish to take yourself.  It sounds as though the author was intimately familiar with each and every place and for that Im envious and happy for her.  Those descriptions of the dishes and food are rich, you can almost smell the aromas, taste the umami, and let the savory and salt undertones  melt in your mouth.  OK, bring a drool cloth.

That ending?  It was everything I wanted and more.  It made my heart overflow.  Just what I need in my contemporary love stories and maybe even more.

So yes, run , don’t walk and get Dine with Me by Layla Reyne.  I love this story and only wish I could have lingered a bit longer is only to savor in this couple’s happiness and taste more of that incredible food by proxy.

Cover art by Carina Press does everything but make that table twinkle.  Pull out a chair for me.

Sales Links: Carina Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: September 16th 2019 by Carina Press
ISBN 148805391X (ISBN13: 9781488053917)
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: Will & Patrick Wake Up Married (Episodes 4-6) by Leta Blake and Alice Griffiths/John Solo (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

This absolutely wonderful and outstanding audiobook, featuring a superb vocal performance by John Solo, is a compilation of books four to six from the original Will and Patrick Wake Up Married series:

Four: Will & Patrick Fight Their Feelings

Five: Will & Patrick Meet the Mob

Six: Will & Patrick’s Happy Ending

In my opinion, John Solo far surpasses his previous best performances with his portrayal of both Will and Patrick. Each voice is distinct and the emotion conveyed with the tone of their words is spot-on. From Will’s shuddering vocal sex scenes with Patrick as they replicate Will’s long-held fantasies, to Patrick’s extreme emotion when he reveals his deepest, darkest secret to Will, both characters show their love and emotional support for each other long before they declare the words.

Part two is somewhat introspective as Patrick can’t work due to a pending malpractice suit so he spends his time with his new friend Jenny and working out his feelings for Will. Patrick is one of those people who is off-the-chart intelligent, but feelings? Uh-uh, he has no experience with those. Jenny helps him realize he’s in love with Will and that Will loves him too. 

In this part he also meets Will’s dad – at the point of a gun held to his head.  It’s just a joke – a sick one, no doubt, but Tony Molinaro is a mob boss, and Patrick takes the threat seriously.  He also thinks Will’s dad is seriously hot. In fact, he sees where his Puddin’ Pop gets his sex appeal.  I have to say that Patrick makes me laugh out loud with his bizarre sense of humor and snide off-the-cuff comments. And his pet word, Puddin’ Pop, is just perfect for Will and shows Patrick’s soft side, even in the midst of chaos.

Along the way in this saga, Will’s former partner, an emotionally abusive man, makes an appearance both in person and in memories. And, Will’s alcoholism is an underlying problem throughout the story, especially as Will constantly questions his decisions, and his sponsor gives him some advice that influences his relationship with Patrick. Then, when they learn they can get a divorce now that Will’s mob relatives have changed the “family” rules for divorce, Will looks at taking a break from Patrick as a way to examine his true feelings, but Patrick is devastated.  Though Patrick finally agrees, he installs a countdown clock on his phone so he can know, down to the second, exactly how long he has to wait before getting Will back.

Thankfully, Patrick is finally reinstated at the hospital, but the death of a patient sends him reeling and he heads out of state to visit his foster mother—the woman who always gives him unconditional love and support. There we see his family of the heart and learn more about Patrick’s early days.

There’s so much packed into this compilation. There’s hot, sexy, dirty talk, spanking, role play, and love. There’s so much love—family love, family-of-the-heart love, friend love, and finally, true love, a love for all time that comes full circle when Will and Patrick reunite.

I highly recommend this series, especially in this triple volume audiobook format because it gives the bigger picture and that picture paints my heart with happiness. There’s no way these two are going to be forgotten any time soon. Kudos to the authors for the story and most especially for their sense of humor, and double kudos to John Solo for bringing these characters to life. 

Cover art is different from the eBooks.  I like this, soft, warm hearted and pulls you into the couple and story.

Buy Links: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Audio Details:

Audiobook
Published July 31st 2019 by Leta Blake Books (first published May 2nd 2016)
Edition Language English
Series Wake Up Married #4-6

Narrated by: John Solo
 
Length: 15hrs 45mins
 
Wake Up Married Series


Episodes 1 – 3 – Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

An Alisa Review: Him Improvement by Tanya Chris

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

The course of true love runs through every neighborhood….

Only one thing stands between Gregory MacPherson II and his dream revitalization project for the gritty neighborhood of Ball’s End: a rinky-dink, run-down used bookstore called Hailey’s Comic. But when master negotiator Mac shows up to make a deal with the owner, he comes face-to-face with quirky, colorful Hailey—unexpectedly good-humored about Mac’s attempted eviction and, also unexpectedly, a hot guy.

Hailey won’t give up his lease, no matter how much money Mac offers. When it comes to consummating their mutual attraction, though, he’s a lot more flexible. Soon Mac has as hard a time prying himself out of Hailey’s bed as he does prying Hailey out of the building. But Hailey doubts Mac’s plans serve Ball’s End’s best interests, and he insists Mac give him a chance to prove his case. If they’re going to build a happy ever after, one of them will have to be remade….

This was a nice story.  Greg always thought he was helping with his economic re-development, this is until he saw it through Hailey’s eyes.  Hailey has lived a much different life than Greg and he wants Greg to see what he sees in the neighborhood he calls home.

Greg just thinks it’s going to be another typical day when he goes in to talk to Hailey but Hailey throws his world off orbit very quickly.  I loved how open and giving Hailey was even when he didn’t have much but didn’t seem willing to fret about it.

Seeing the story through Greg’s eyes we got to see how he was easily enamored with Hailey but could feel his floundering and I couldn’t help but feel for him.  I really liked Greg and that he was willing to open his eyes to what Hailey was showing him and even changing how he continues to do business though I hated that he continually seemed to doubt himself or his worth to Hailey and even his parents.  Hailey was a breath of fresh air and even if he seemed like a hippy he was able to make a stand on what he felt was important.  Seeing the story through Greg’s eyes we got to see how he was easily enamored with Hailey but could feel his floundering and I couldn’t help but feel for him.

I like the cover art by Alexandria Corza and the visual of Greg in his suit.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 227 pages

Published: September 3, 2019 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64405-541-0

Edition Language: English

Series: Dreamspun Desires

Release Blitz and Giveaway for Wolf Lost (The Wolves of Kismet #1) by Sam Burns

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal LinkExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow With Kindle Unlimited
 
Length: 50,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Natasha Snow
 
Blurb



An omega on the run.


An alpha fractured.


Sawyer Holt can’t go home. The Alpha who has replaced his father wants to use him as a tool to cement his political power, and Sawyer isn’t interested in marrying his father’s murderer.


Dez Sullivan’s leg may never heal from his last mission in Afghanistan, but he’s getting used to that. What he can’t adapt to are the nightmares and the tremor in his hand that the doctors insist is all in his head. Next to that, being a brand new werewolf seems easy, until Sawyer Holt blows into his life. The omega activates his burgeoning wolf instincts in a new way, and they threaten to overwhelm his common sense.


Both men are in Colorado searching for a new start, a new pack, and the safety they’ve lost. Their meeting is pure Kismet.

 

Sam Burns wrote her first fantasy epic with her best friend when she was ten. Like almost any epic fiction written by a ten year old, it was awful. She likes to think she’s improved since then, if only because she has better handwriting now.
If she’s not writing, she’s almost certainly either reading or lost down a Wikipedia rabbit hole while pretending to research for a novel.

 
 
 

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