A MelanieM Review: 717 miles Christmas Special by Sophia Soames

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

I promised myself many years ago that I would never set foot in London again.

I promised. Adam promised. I said I wouldn’t. He said I would never have to.

Yet here we are again, and life has become quite surreal. This is us, a good few years later, older and wiser with more baggage than the baggage belt at Heathrow.

And now it is Christmas and Adam is working too much and I have far too much time to think about things that shouldn’t really matter. Or maybe they should?

717 miles Christmas Special is a short novella to follow on from 717 miles, the novel, and should not be read as a standalone.

It’s the holiday season the world over and once again I’m brought back into the lives of Adam Vik Solheim and his husband, Felix Haugland, now married with the combined last name of Haugheim and the parents of a young daughter.  When I last left them, they were two years younger, just landed back in Oslo, and never intended to set foot in London again.

Ah, funny life’s choices and life’s turns.

How joyful, however, for me to dive back into the lives of these complicated yet oh so endearing and brave young men, and the circle of friends and family that gather around them.  Here we learn about the new challenges that life has brought them, how they are facing them together, and all the joy, turbulence and love the journey continues to bring them all.

I continue to gather them into my heart because, as it her wont, Sophia Soames’ magic with characterization and story has made these people so alive for me.  I picked them back up as I would old friends, pulling them into my home, settling them into chairs, wanting to know how they’ve been since the last time I’ve seen them.  That’s how real they are to  me.  These people are so human, so believable in the manner in which they face daily each of life’s hurdles, small, medium, and large.  It makes them so easy to connect with and love.

I hope to know more of their lives down the road too.  To keep checking in from time to time, on the uncles new family as well.

If you are looking for not one but two remarkable stories, grab up 717 Miles and 717 miles Christmas Special by Sophia Soames.  Make the acquaintance of these lovely young men and their  families and friends.  And then you will know why I love this author and her stories so.

Cover Artist: Miriam Latu.  I love her art work so much.  The covers just shine with personality and pull me in so.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 55 pages
Published November 1st 2019
ASINB07Z6FJCM8
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Mr. Naughty List (Home for the Holidays #2) by Leta Blake

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

I’ve held off for 24 hours before writing this review so I could digest the story, revisit some of my favorite scenes, and confirm that, yes, I did indeed love Aaron and RJ and their journey to love. All the feels are still present, and it’s hands-down one of my favorites of the year. Why? The characters drive this story and they are fully developed nice guys I wish I could meet IRL. Neither fit a standard mold and the couple together has quite a unique dynamic. These men made me want to crawl between the pages and hang out with them. I wanted to attend RJ’s concerts and sit in the back of the classroom as Aaron wrote on the board (you’ll know why when you read the book). And I wanted more, more, more of the development of their relationship as it went from a one-night stand to lovers (with lots of spanking) to boyfriends to more.

Aaron is a middle-school teacher who was told he’s lucky to have been hired there after an unfortunate strike against him when he was caught with pants down in the high school football coach’s office having sex with the married (unknown to Aaron) man. Why he was blacklisted and the coach continued with no consequence is something all US high school football fans might understand. But here’s the rub—his domineering, punishment-prone, nasty principal is none other than his mother. She gives evil mother a whole new twist with the evil boss angle added in. Aaron is in his late twenties and has about given up on finding a forever man. Naturally submissive, he wants to be dominated, spanked, and managed with a firm hand. Always in control in the rest of his life, he recognizes that he needs to trust someone enough to take that from him.

Enter RJ Blitz, musician, wanderer, and the Dom Aaron needs in his life. But RJ is Aaron’s former student—in his first year teaching high school, RJ was a senior in his class. Only a few years separate their ages but Aaron is sure this is insurmountable. Until RJ exerts his dominant personality and takes RJ by the hand for a night neither man will ever forget. It was messy, hot, and kinky. Oh, yeah!

I can’t find words to fully describe their dynamic. Every scene with these men was just wonderful—either hot, sexy, and steamy, or tender, loving, and caring. Both men have a lot to learn and they learn it together. RJ’s past taught him that relationships don’t last. Aaron’s past taught him that he’s not okay as he is. He’s gay and submissive and that’s just not good enough for Mom. After all, what if he embarrasses her? When he realizes it’s time to live for himself, with RJ’s encouragement, and when RJ embraces his own mother’s code—love is trust—the two finally move together toward their hopeful future. 

I very, very highly recommend this story to those who enjoy a D/s relationship, a younger Dom and older sub, and some kinky hot times. Family dynamics, including family of the heart, are front and center in this one. Definitely a book to be read any day of the year but most certainly perfect as a stocking stuffer. 

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 292 pages
Published November 11th 2019 by Leta Blake Books
ASINB07ZZDMG6W
Edition Language English
Series Home for the Holidays #2

An Alisa Audio Review: Nothing Special V (Nothing Special #5) by A.E. Via and Aiden Snow (Narrator)

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

The boys are back and fiercer than ever!

“We were a unit tonight, moving as one. Even apart, we are deadly, but when combined – we are f**kin’ unstoppable.” ~~ God ~~

Atlanta’s notorious narcotics task force is at it again. They are stronger, bigger, and better than ever. Especially when a city councilman sends RECON Marine, Edwin Steele – who’s been blacklisted from his Oakland department – to join the team. God and Day weren’t recruiting. They have a lot on their plates, like the fact they’re supposed to be getting married soon. They don’t have the time or the patience to integrate a decorated war hero with a slight chip on his shoulder into their well-oiled machine.

A hothead that’s uncontrollable and terrible with authority… but wasn’t that their team motto?

Steele was ready to hang up his shield. He was done fighting with bigoted bastards that couldn’t respect the job. He was good at fighting; he just needed the right team to fight with. When his uncle – City Councilman, Rasmus Steele – shows him a video of God’s team in action, he knows right away, it’s where his nephew belongs in order to restore his faith.

Steele pointed to the driver, a behemoth of a man wielding those massive firearms like a true beast… like a soldier. “And him. Who the hell is he?”

“That’s your new boss. Lieutenant Cashel Godfrey… they call him… God.”

Steele was skeptical about his new placement, but when he meets God’s technology specialist/computer genius, “Tech,” he’s willing to give it his all, and he definitely shows and proves.

Tech is stunning. His sweater vest and khakis, a stark contrast to the blue-jeaned roughnecks he works with. A beautiful sheep amongst the wolves. Steel thinks there’s no way the brilliant man would be interested in a hardhead like him, but Tech has a few badass hidden talents of his own and manages to fool him… fool all of them.

This story is a part of a series but can stand alone. It does not end on a cliffhanger and has a HEA. There are no multiple pairings in this novel.

It’s been quite a while since I read the last Nothing Special book, not because I wasn’t interested I just haven’t had the time, heck I’ve owned the ebook for years.  Well I was very glad to get the opportunity to listen to the audiobook and now want to jump right into the next one.

I enjoy the family all these guys have made and while most of the story focuses on Tech and Steele I like how we see almost all the previous characters and also get to see come of their points of view throughout the story too.  After a not so great first meeting Steele quickly integrates into the team.  Tech has been an integral part of the team but really wants to get out from behind his computer all the time.

Now, I don’t remember if this was in all the other books and I just didn’t notice then, but I got a little sick of hearing how hot everyone on the team was and the only referring to people as their nicknames except for some intimate moments.  I felt like I got to know these characters well and understand them, even when they made a stupid decision.  I liked that Tech and Steele were able to pretty quickly resolve the first few issues they had (which were mostly misunderstandings).

This book was narrated by Aiden Snow and he did a wonderful job.  I liked the voices he used for the characters and I could feel their emotions with how he read the story.  I was easily able to multitask and do other things while listening to the book because it was easy to keep track of where they were within the story.

I liked how the cover art by Jay Aheer shows the different characters/couples in the book.

Sales Links: Audible | Amazon | Audiobooks.com

Audio Details:

Audio CD
Published October 20th 2019 by Tantor Audio (first published December 12th 2016)
ISBN 1515944263 (ISBN13: 9781515944263)
Edition Language English
setting Atlanta, Georgia (United States)
Georgia (United States

Love Christmas Romances? Check Out the New Release Blitz for Peter Cratchit’s Christmas Carol by Drew Marvin Frayne (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Peter Cratchit’s Christmas Carol

Author: Drew Marvin Frayne

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: November 18, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 36100

Genre: Historical Holiday, LGBT, Christmas, romance, fairy tale, businessmen, ghost, prostitution, poverty, 19th century England, pirates, tear-jerker, time travel

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Synopsis

Peter Cratchit, a young lad preparing to make his way in the world, is the eldest son of Scrooge’s lowly clerk Bob Cratchit. Peter flourishes under the tutelage of his “Uncle” Scrooge and seeks to make his mark as a man of business, like his uncle before him.

One Christmas Eve, as Scrooge lays dying, Peter embarks on a risky ocean voyage that he believes will secure the future for his family. Onboard, Peter finds love, happiness, and success, only to lose it all by the voyage’s end.

Returning to London, Peter shuns his family and instead finds himself living on the streets, haunted by his failures and his dead lover, selling his body just to survive while he waits for the winter cold to claim him once and for all. But winter snows also mean Christmas is coming, and for the Cratchit family, Christmas is a time of miracles. Can a visit from three familiar spirits change Peter’s life again? Is there one more miracle in store for the lost son of one of Dickens’ most enduring families?

Excerpt

Peter Cratchit’s Christmas Carol
Drew Marvin Frayne © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Scrooge was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. He died some two years past on this very day, Christmas Eve. I would it were not so; yet I suspect the old man would not agree. He became rather infirm at the end, frail and forgetful, and though he did his best to remain cheerful, I know he hated to show weakness of any kind. It wasn’t a matter of pride, nor vanity; no, it wasn’t for his sake that he cared so. It was that, as he himself often said, he had become a sort of safeguard, a protector, to his family and to his community, and he hated the thought of us carrying on without him there, watching over us all. And we, of course, would clasp his hand and tell him that he would be looking over us in the next life, and that such thoughts brought us great comfort, and they should bring him great comfort too. And he would sigh, and agree with us, and settle in, at least for a while, until another great spasm wracked his breast, and his chest would heave with immense, raggedy gasps for air, and his worries arose all over again.

He died a good death, if it could be said that any death should be regarded as good. Though I have not spent nearly as many years as Scrooge did on this planet, I have knocked about a bit, and circumstance has shown me both great fortune and great tragedy. And as such, I have come to believe there is no good death to be had in this world. I have seen many poor wretches, past all hope of recovery from whatever it was that ailed them—whether it be an infliction of the body or the soul—beg for death, pray for it, and have watched it come in many guises, be it the cold, or the cough, or the cutthroat. I have seen their prayers answered, even if those answers came in some form of pain they had never envisioned. And yet I say, when the end did finally come, each and every one begged to stay, begged for their final breath to be forestalled, begged to live for even one moment more. Yea, though I have been on this world for less than a quarter of a century, I have come to know its horrors and have learned the greatest horror of all is that there is no world, no life, beyond this one.

Scrooge would not have agreed with this; oft he told us the tale of his visitation by his old friend, Jacob Marley, dead seven years in the grave before his return, and the further visitations by the three spirits who haunted him, also on a Christmas Eve. To Scrooge, there was no greater evidence of providence than this, and he lived such feelings in his heart for the rest of his life. I was glad of it; we all were, all of London town, though those of us who were closest to him felt his change of heart and his largesse most keenly. And many was the time, as a young man, on a Christmas Eve like this one, I sat cross-legged on the floor at Scrooge’s feet and listened to his tales of Christmas ghosts and astonishing spirits, of visitations to the past, and of the wondrous things that are yet to come.

Yet even then, I was a skeptic. After his tale was complete, Old Scrooge, as wise at reading faces as he was at managing his business, would frequently tousle my hair and tell me, “Young Master Peter, you must have the conviction of your faith. It is not enough to simply believe; you must know Christmas, and keep it in your heart all the year long.” Such words were enough for Tim and for the others; but I, I would only smile, and say, “Yes, Uncle Scrooge,” in a manner and tone that were always respectful, but that the cunning old man also knew to be mollifying. And Scrooge would then bend quite low—for he was a tall, wizened old fellow, and I have always been inclined to be undersized—and he would say to me, “You must not fear the world so much, Peter Cratchit.” And I would nod, and he would pat my cheek, or sometimes playfully pinch my nose. But what he meant by those words, I cannot say. In my experience, there is much to fear in this world, and much calamity the world will set upon the unwary soul who is not ever vigilant.

A growl in my stomach disturbed my thoughts. Time to dispense with these ruminations on the past; I was hungry. I willed my body out of its bed, a small recess in the side of a crumbling brick building used for the storage of livestock, a cramped pen to house the beasts before they were led to slaughter. The recess provided some shelter from the elements; there had been rain last night, so it was useful to keep dry, though the rain had been only a drizzle, and the weather was unseasonably temperate for so late in December. That was no small mercy.

The recess had once been a side door, now sealed up, when the building had been used for some other purpose, long forgotten to time. The smell of animal excrement that clung to the building—and to those who worked or, like me, dwelt within her—was formidable, but it also meant the alley I called my home remained deserted during the nightly hours. Safety in this life often comes at great cost. Those who have suffered at the world’s hands know this lesson all too well. The men who tended the animals had assembled a small cleaning station, clean water and a strong lye soap, behind the building, and they charitably did not begrudge my use of it from time to time, provided I did not tarry, and they did not see me. I hastened in my morning ablutions and made my way out to the street.

There was a bakery on Saint Martin’s Close; it was there I would seek to break my fast. Every morning, my repast was the same: two hot buttered rolls and a small tankard of ale. The only difference was whether the baker would tally the cost of his labors on my tongue or on my tail.

I made my way down Carol Street to the main Camden Road. I used to live on this very road, as a youth, but far down the other end from those places where I now worked and resided. Camden Town was named for Camden Road; the road was the heart of the ward, bisecting it in the north and making up the entirety of its western edge. It was impossible to be in Camden Town and avoid the Camden Road. And yet, in all of my wanderings through this neighborhood, I always avoided the familiar façade of my former house, with its chipped paint and ill-fitted front door. I was more interested in the thick, oaken door that led to the alley behind the bakery, where the business received deliveries of flour and other such supplies. I knocked. Some days, the baker answered promptly, as if expecting me; other days, like today, I had to wait. He was a busy man, having woke well before the dawn to assemble his breads and rolls and pastries and cakes. His bakery was a small one, but he did a good measure of custom, enough to keep him in flour and dough and sugar and coal for the ovens. Still, he had only one boy to help him prepare the daily wares—in this neighborhood, even relative prosperity resulted in genuine poverty.

Whether the boy was his son, or some urchin off the street, I do not know. The baker and I did not converse on such matters. It was, in part, because the man’s well of English was so deficient that any conversation would prove inconsequential at best. I could not identify his native tongue, and he spoke only the English of a tradesman and knew the terms for barter and exchange, and little more. My own English improved greatly under the tutelage of Ebenezer Scrooge, who gave me books to read and provided college-trained tutors to sharpen my intellect. I was beyond basic schooling by the time our families came together; but my mind was quick and hungered for knowledge, and Uncle Scrooge filled it with book after book on all manner of subjects—history, literature, economics, philosophy, mythology, the principles of business. I eagerly took it all in, save perhaps the poets, who I found too disordered, too insubstantial, to truly relish. Still, for an occasion such as this, the silver portion of my tongue was not really necessary. It was my tongue’s other talents that the baker was interested in. I suppose, in the end, this, like so much in life, was simply a matter of business. I needed what the baker had to offer; he felt the same. Talk would only prolong the necessities of exchange.

The man finally answered and hurried me inside. In nicer weather, he sometimes took his payment in the alley, but he did not like the cold and the damp, so he ushered me into a cramped cookery room stuffed with coal- and wood-burning ovens. I had no objection to being enveloped in warmth; it made for a pleasant change of atmosphere from my usual status at this time of year.

I could see by the sights and sounds of his distresses that my morning patron was more harried than usual. His eyes were darting around the room. His gestures were quick, and rough, and impatient. He was a large, hirsute man, with a rotund belly and a gray, prickly beard, which, at the moment, was dusted in a rather generous supply of flour.

I was no longer fond of beards; I generally preferred smooth-faced youths, like myself, and not the wooly chins of older men, though, in my line of work, older men were my main custom. And this was business, not pleasure, and the baker felt the same as I, especially today. Even as he penned me into his back kitchen, he continued to bellow orders to the boy out front. I often wondered what the boy thought of our exchanges. Perhaps it was of no consequence to him. Perhaps he was grateful he did not have to provide a similar service. Or perhaps he did. Who can say.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Drew Marvin Frayne is the pen name of a long-time author (Lambda Literary Award finalist) who is finally taking the opportunity to indulge his more sentimental and romantic side. When not writing the author lives with his husband of 20+ years and their dog of 10+ years in a brick home in the Northeast. Find out more on Drew’s Website.

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Don’t Miss Out on the Review Tour and Giveaway for Nothing Special V by AE Via

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Narrated by: Aiden Snow
 
Length: 12hrs 29mins
 
Nothing Special Series



Book #1 – Nothing Special – Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Embracing His Syn – Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Here Comes Trouble – Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 – Don’t Judge – Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

 
Blurb
 

Atlanta’s notorious narcotics task force is at it again. They are stronger, bigger, and better than ever. Especially when a city councilman sends RECON Marine Edwin Steele – who’s been blacklisted from his Oakland department – to join the team.


Steele was ready to hang up his shield. He was done fighting with bigoted bastards that couldn’t respect the job. He was good at fighting; he just needed the right team to fight with. When his uncle – City Councilman Rasmus Steele – shows him a video of God’s team in action, he knows right away it’s where his nephew belongs in order to restore his faith.


Steele was skeptical about his new placement, but when he meets God’s technology specialist/computer genius, “Tech”, he’s willing to give it his all, and he definitely shows and proves.


Tech is stunning. His sweater vest and khakis, a stark contrast to the blue-jeaned roughnecks he works with. A beautiful sheep amongst the wolves. Steel thinks there’s no way the brilliant man would be interested in a hardhead like him, but Tech has a few badass hidden talents of his own and manages to surprise him…surprise all of them.

 

A.E. Via has been a best-selling author in the beautiful gay romance genre for five years now, but she’s no stranger to MM. She’s been an avid reader of gay lit for over fifteen years before she picked up her laptop to place her own kiss on this genre. She’s also the founder and owner of Via Star Wings Books, having published a couple great new up and coming MM authors.


A.E. has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Virginia Wesleyan College that she used to start her own paralegal firm after she graduated in 2008. She spent five years preparing and filing bankruptcy petitions for struggling blue collar workers who couldn’t afford to file with a lawyer. It was a rewarding and satisfying career… but another path called to her. Writing.


A.E.’s writing embodies everything from hopelessly romantic to adventure, to scandalous. Her stories often include intriguing edges and twists that take readers to new, thought-provoking depths.


Now that she’s gotten over her 10 books published hump, she’s kind of known now for her hardcore, play rough and love hard, bad boy, alphas. However, she does like to push herself to step out of her comfort zone, exploring different tropes, but she won’t push herself into a whole other genre. She’s head over heels for gay romance and she has tons of more hot stories to tell.


Be sure to visit Adrienne on her social media pages and subscribe to her newsletter to never miss another release date! Go to A.E. Via’s official website http://authoraevia.com for more detailed information on how to contact her, follow her, or a sneak peak at upcoming work, free reads, VSWB submissions, and where she’ll appear next.

 

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