A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Hexhunter (Hexworld #4) by Jordan L. Hawk

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Detective Bill Quigley first met Isaac, the mastiff familiar, the night Isaac was rescued from the witch who kidnapped and tormented him to force his magic for illegal uses.  He’s head over heels for the quiet young man who works for MWP (Metropolitan Witch Police) but Isaac doesn’t seem to return his regard. In fact, Isaac seems quiet and withdrawn most of the time; definitely not someone who’d appreciate Bill’s advances. So when Sionn, the owl familiar who works with Isaac, asks Bill out, he accepts and it seems to be with Isaac’s blessing.

But Isaac does indeed like Bill—he just feels inadequate and worries that his magic is tarnished after what happened. Plus, the witch Isaac’s familiar is attracted to doesn’t want him, and Isaac knows Bill only has a little magic and likely wouldn’t be interested in someone with damaged magic like his.

There’s plenty of time for a slow-burn attraction in this story, and that’s what happens. Just when it seems Bill might settle for Sionn in an effort to forget Isaac, an attempt is made on their lives and Isaac and Bill are thrown together in painful circumstances.  They can’t deny their attraction after that and that day begins a slow return of Isaac’s confidence and starts their journey to a lasting relationship.  Along the way there’s plenty of adventure and a dastardly scheme involving kidnapping children and experimenting with hexes to tailor the form the adult familiar takes so that the wealthy witches can have what they want.  Add to that, a surprise in the form of Bill’s half brother and the story has so much to offer that readers, like me, will get lost in the pleasure of this author’s highly creative and imaginative mysteries.

I am looking forward to much more in this wonderful hex world and most definitely I’m hoping Sionn gets his own book.  That little owl has a lot to offer!  I highly recommend this story and this series to readers of paranormal and mystery MM romance.

The cover by Jordan L. Hawk is done in a style similar to others in the series: above the title a profile of a man matching the description of MC Bill Quigley and below the title is the shadow of a mastiff, which represents MC familiar, Isaac, and it’s set against the background of an old street map of New York City.  Very creative and attractive.

Sales Links:  Buy from Amazon

Buy from Kobo
Buy from Apple Books
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Smashwords

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 244 pages
Expected publication: February 8th 2019
ASIN B07MM5SL79
Edition Language English
Series Hexworld #4

A Stella Review: Rat Park by Marina Vivancos

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RATING 5 out of 5 stars

Dominic has lived with an empty ache inside him for as long as he could remember. Maybe it started when he was six, hiding beneath his blankets as the wild animal noises of one of mom’s parties echoed in his head. Maybe it began the first time an adult plied him with drinks just to watch him stumble about.

Or, maybe, it was that he couldn’t even imagine what being loved should feel like.

Drugs washed all that away. It didn’t cure the ache, but it made him forget it for a while. Anything was better than being conscious. Than being himself. But life had another hard lesson for him: With drugs, the only way is down.

Dominic hits rock bottom when he’s twenty-three. Turns out, rock bottom looks a lot like the bars of a jail cell. With little left but his own thoughts, Dominic has to decide: Is this what I want for the rest of my life?

The world has never been kind to Dominic, but when he meets the Romeros, he wonders if that is about to change. Officer Catalina Romero seems to see something in Dominic that he is sure isn’t there. The more she pulls him towards her family, however, the harder it is not to go.

All his resistance disappears under the force that is Flor Romero. Spitfire, stubborn Flor—even at sixteen, he refuses to be taken lightly. As he grows older, putting a stop to what Flor obviously wants to happen between them is harder than Dominic would ever want to admit.

Dominic knows that he has too many demons to let anybody get too close. But life doesn’t prepare him for Flor, who just might be ready to fight tooth and nail for a place in Dominic’s life—and his heart.

The question is, will Dominic’s past keep him from his future?

Rat Park is the first book I read by Marina Vivancos and it will not be the last, I adored every single page, and I wasn’t able to find a little reason to give it less than the full five stars. It was a
lovely surprise. I have to admit at the beginning I was a little dubious, the story starts with Dominic when he’s just seven years old and things become soon nasty. Reading the first chapters was not easy, I was afraid the author was going to give me some difficult scenes to deal with. Yes, so many times during Dominic early years, I so wanted to shelter and protect him from the home he lived in. Although there were hard pages to read, not once the story was too dark or heavy to take. There was always some kind of hope in the background I could feel.

And then the author showed me how he grew up, among so many difficulties and unavoidable mistakes. And when Dominic finally met the hurricane called Cat, I was so happy for him and
cheated on him to try and be strong, positive and open to the good the lovely Cat and her family are ready to give to Dominic. But he wasn’t ready, it wasn’t the right time and so I saw him
struggle and fall and think bad of himself. And later his relationship with Flor was true and quite beautiful, built on solid bases and a powerful friendship and respect.

I loved Rat Park, the author did an amazing job, well written, well developed, interesting characters, I feel to recommend it if you’re looking for a real and brilliant novel. You won’t be
disappointed.

The cover art by Natasha Snow. The cover art by Natasha Snow is interesting, I like the black and white style and I can easily
see Dominic in the model face.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

BOOK DETAILS
Kindle Edition, 377 pages
Published January 28th 2019
ASIN B07MYPHNB1
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Inside Out (a Road to Blissville story) by Aimee Nicole Walker

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

This book came along at the perfect moment.  I needed to feel positive emotions, to smile, to find peace, and that’s what I got from the romance between Romeo Bradly and Julius Shepherd in Blissville.

Both men started their new jobs in the school district on the same day: Romeo as superintendent of the school district, and Julius as an advanced sciences teacher and tennis team coach.  The moment they shook hands, their spark ignited a curiosity and attraction that smoldered for months before circumstances put them in the same place at the same time again. Rome would be directing the high school play, and Jules would be composing the music.

Three very advanced and enthusiastic students had written the script over the course of a few years, one of them had composed lyrics for the musical, and the play was already approved by the school board. The story addressed bullying, homophobia, and other issues with which teens struggle in high school, and both Rome and Jules are passionate about seeing it produced.  Over the course of working together on the production, though Julius is at first reluctant to get involved with the sexy silver fox who is technically his boss, they meet for lunch and eventually date, growing closer as time goes by.

Rome is a forty-five-year-old widower whose husband passed away seven years before.  Jules is of mixed race, oldest of two boys, whose father passed suddenly eight years before, so the two have much in common over and above their interest in the students and their taste in music.  And when Jules finally lets down his reserve about dating the superintendent, they find their way to more than a simple attraction.

Those who follow my reviews know I adore May-December romance. Give me a silver fox any day, but then add in slow burn, and sweet, honest, openhearted conversation, laughter, and a love of all things music, and I’m sold.  The author’s writing and her creativity in managing the dance of love for these men was outstanding.  I loved each character individually and together.  And Julius’s mother and brother; Priscilla, Rome’s dragon secretary; Howie, his friend; and the host of other characters in this book were beautifully integrated.

The book ends with the perfect summary of their emotions: “in his eyes, I saw my future. In his smile, I rediscovered joy. In his heart, I made my home. This man turned me inside out, and I would follow him anywhere.”

I very highly recommend this and the best news is it can easily be read as a standalone.

The cover by Jay Aheer depicts two men’s hands and forearms intertwined. One is Black and the other Caucasian. It captured my attention and reflects the story beautifully.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 222 pages
Published January 14th 2019 by Chasing Rainbows Press LLC
ASINB07MTLPZZ4
Series Road to Blissville #6

Road to Blissville Series

Unscripted Love

Someone to Call My Own

Nobody’s Prince Charming

This Time Around

Smoke in the Mirror

Inside Out

Review Tour and Giveaway for Rat Park by Marina Vivancos

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 

Length: 71,000 words approx.

 
Cover Design: Natasha Snow
 
Blurb


Dominic has lived with an empty ache inside him for as long as he could remember. Maybe it started when he was six, hiding beneath his blankets as the wild animal noises of one of mom’s parties echoed in his head. Maybe it began the first time an adult plied him with drinks just to watch him stumble about.


Or, maybe, it was that he couldn’t even imagine what being loved should feel like.


Drugs washed all that away. It didn’t cure the ache, but it made him forget it for a while. Anything was better than being conscious. Than being himself. But life had another hard lesson for him: With drugs, the only way is down.


Dominic hits rock bottom when he’s twenty-three. Turns out, rock bottom looks a lot like the bars of a jail cell. With little left but his own thoughts, Dominic has to decide: Is this what I want for the rest of my life?


The world has never been kind to Dominic, but when he meets the Romeros, he wonders if that is about to change. Officer Catalina Romero seems to see something in Dominic that he is sure isn’t there. The more she pulls him towards her family, however, the harder it is not to go.


All his resistance disappears under the force that is Flor Romero. Spitfire, stubborn Flor—even at sixteen, he refuses to be taken lightly. As he grows older, putting a stop to what Flor obviously wants to happen between them is harder than Dominic would ever want to admit.


Dominic knows that he has too many demons to let anybody get too close. But life doesn’t prepare him for Flor, who just might be ready to fight tooth and nail for a place in Dominic’s life—and his heart.


The question is, will Dominic’s past keep him from his future?



January 28OMG Reads, Amy’s MM Romance ReviewsFebruary 6Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Wicked Faerie’s Tales & Reviews, February 8Diverse Reader, Boys Meets Boy Reviews, Mirrigold: Mutterings & Musings, Bayou Book Junkie

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 5 star review here.
Author Bio


When Marina was a child she couldn’t sleep. Night after dissolving night she just couldn’t sleep. Nothing much worked – until she started making up stories in her head. Suddenly, the transition into unconsciousness was a smooth dive into calm waters.


Marina is currently in a period of sleepless upheaval, and she hopes writing down the stories in her head will cast the same spell it did decades ago.


Marina hopes to write in a variety of romance sub-genres, from contemporary to supernatural to sci-fi. Her style, however, tends to focus on character-centred stories that explore different facets of the human experience, such as mental health. She also enjoys writing explicit, drawn-out sex scenes, so expect those to be a prominent feature of her stories.


Marina tends to keep to herself unless prompted, so don’t be shy in approaching her!

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A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: His First Family by Victoria Sue

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Rating 5 stars out of 5

Lorne Austen was relieved of his duties as omega and nanny on the day the alpha’s youngest children, twins, turned 15. He wasn’t even allowed to say goodbye—just booted out and sent on his way with his meager belongings. An omega’s life isn’t wonderful in this world and Lorne, though a sweetheart, is now 32 and past his prime, so his only hope is to find another job and make it on his own. Caught in a snowstorm, he’s found by Johnathan Owens, a doctor who is on personal leave after breaking off with his fiancé and taking care of his grandmother.

The two ride out the storm in each other’s arms in bed, but Lorne disappears the next morning. His reasoning is that Johnathan is too sweet and he doesn’t want to possibly become attached. Imagine his surprise when six months later, he arrives at a medical clinic seeking nutrients to help him survive his unexpected pregnancy and he finds Dr. Owens—the father of his babies.

The story of their relationship is somewhat complex, with the monkey wrench primarily thrown at Lorne by Johnathan’s ex-fiancé who is also a doctor. Unmated omegas aren’t allowed to keep their babies in this world and though it seems a simple solution, Johnathan hesitates to contract with Lorne—for other reasons, but of course, Lorne misunderstands. There’s lots of angst here. But there’s more complexity, as well, as the author builds the world of these alphas and omegas—not shifters. It’s the same world as the story of His First Christmas, another warm and fuzzy feelings book I enjoyed by this author.

I needed this story today! It gave me the perfect escape when I decided to focus on something pleasant. The author always grabs me by the feels early in a story and develops characters I can love. I know there are a number of readers who don’t care for mpreg stories but this one was more about the worry a couple faces when it looks like their baby (or babies in this case) may not make it through pregnancy, and the fear faced after the birth when the premie is struggling for survival in the neonatal unit.

Eventually the five of them become a family but it sure is an angsty push and pull along the way. I definitely recommend it to lovers of MM romance with memorable characters.

Cover by Jay Aheer features two men about to kiss and in the lower part of the panel, three babies sitting with backs to the camera represent the babies in this story. The cover and blurb sold me on starting this story, and the author made it very satisfying.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 167 pages
Published January 21st 2019
ASINB07N16H845

Book Covers and Artists! This Week’s Spotlight Artist: Aisha Akeju Our Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Cover Art by Aisha Akeju

Book Covers and Artists!

 

I’m so very excited about this month and perhaps into March.  We are getting back answers from artists and publishers to our questionnaire on Book Covers and Book Artists.  We asked how they came to work on covers,  what they thought about the current state of book covers, their inspirations, role models, and even the process the authors went through so see covers for their stories.  So many questions to help us get insight into an aspect of our stories we love and that, frankly, fascinates us, me especially.

We have sent out our questionnaires to many of our favorites artists and publishers who have been gracious enough to answer back so our Sundays will be full this month and probably into March with answers and insights from everyone from Garrett Leigh, Reese Dante, NineStar Press, Riptide Publishing, Meredith Russell, Dreamspinner Press, and more.  I can hardly wait myself.

For me, even before I could read, it was the cover that grabbed my attention, made me want to reach out for it.  Want to know what was inside…  Just as it was for so many others.  Book covers draw us to the story inside.  It makes us want to ask that question “what is that book about”?  Even before we read the blurb or are old enough to know what a blurb is. It’s the cover that tells a story, catches our eye, “says Read Us!”.  If the artist does their job.  That is.

For those great covers?  One glance and you’re hooked!  My eye slides by, boom and back it goes.  I  need to examine that cover and book closer.  I pick it up, turn it over, look at it, and often buy the story.  Job done.  It’s always been that way.  Gothic, fantasy, science fiction, name the genre…I still have the books and can go fish out the story and the cover artist that hooked me.

I can still remember the great Anne Cain cover’s for the first edition of J.L. Langley’s My Fair Captain.  Hot damn as they say.  It may have been the first of the half naked torso covers but to this day for me, it’s still one of the hottest.  *fans self*  All others have been just pale reproductions in my mind next to that one.  Fair?  No, but that is the power of that first impression.

Anne Cain has left a lot of those!

So have all the artists who has participated in Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words first venture into insights on Book Covers , Artists, and, their current role in Publishing.  We hope you enjoy it.

First up in our artist spotlight is someone I have long admired.  I found Aisha Akeju through the many stories of Megan Derr, Mell Eight, and other authors at Less Than Three Press.  They are unfailingly fantastical, highly artistic, incredibly imaginative,and always, always, make me look closer.  I just love her works.

You probably have seen her covers if you have read a Megan Derr story.  I have included the link to her website.  Please check out her covers there, also on the LT3 website as well.  They always have a section on the cover artist for each book you buy. I love that about them!  I have included a link to Less Than Three Press as well.  Gp and check out all their new releases as well as the covers!

 

This Week’s Spotlight Artist: Aisha Akeju

 

Megan Derr at Less Than Three Press forwarded me your email with questions for cover artists and while I can’t answer all the questions for lack of time, I’ve answered some of them below. Thank you for the opportunity to talk about something I love and I hope my answers are helpful!

AISHA AKEJU

aisha-o.com

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  • How much of your covers are original art and how much do you rely on using content purchased elsewhere?
I’d say about 90% of my covers are comprised of stock material, and about 10% are elements I’ve had to create for the covers. Because sometimes a request is so unique you can’t quite find what you’re looking for.
  • How much input comes from  the author and/or storyline?  
Pretty much all of it, I’d say. I work off of a cover request sent to me from the publisher. I wouldn’t know where to start without it. The cover request includes the book title, author, number in a series if applicable, and what the author would like to see on the cover. It also includes a brief blurb describing what the book is about. I’ll then do my best to fulfill the cover request.
  • How did you get to become a cover artist?
About eight years ago, a friend who I’d done some art for suggested I reach out to Less Than Three Press and offer my services as a cover artist. So I emailed, fingers crossed, and I was lucky enough to be picked up as a contractor. The rest, as they say, is history.
  • Do you have a favorite cover you have done?
I have quite a few favorites! Too many, probably. I quite like Dust on the Wing by Parker Foye, Hellbeasts by Katya Harris, A Honeyed Light by Freddie Milano, and The Neighbor by Bernadette Chapman. But I find I’m most proud of the covers that requires me to flex my graphic design muscles a bit. A few are: Pyre at the Eyreholme Trust by Lynn Darrow, The Devil You Know by Camilla Quinn, Defying Convention by Cecil Wilde, and The Show Must Go On by Buggy Brooks.
^^^^^^
  • Do you have a favorite cover artist yourself?
Natasha Snow! She creates stunning covers and I’m honestly in awe of her talent.
  • Did you look at book covers or were influenced by book covers as a child?
Oh, absolutely! I always gravitated towards the books that had covers I found appealing. I think it’s just natural when it comes to books. It’s perfectly fine to judge a book by its cover. You’re putting a lot of trust into a product you’re not sure about beyond a blurb. It certainly helps if the packaging is nice to look at.
  • What or how do you see the role of the Book Cover?
I think the book cover is integral to selling books. It’s the packaging that’s responsible for catching a reader’s eye and hinting at the story within.

About Aisha Akeju

A New Yorker born and raised, creativity has always been a part of Aisha’s life and is, in fact, in her blood. The daughter of an artist and museum director, Aisha picked up a pencil before she learned her ABCs, learning to draw at her mother’s knee and “borrowing” art supplies from her mother’s drafting table when she grew tall enough to reach. Her love of art has only been matched by her love of books, becoming a voracious reader at an early age after falling in love with the written word after her first taste of Green Eggs and Ham, and becoming a published author by the time she was nine years old. Her passion for art and books helped shape Aisha into the illustrator and graphic designer she is today. Her love of fantasy and pop culture weaves itself into her life and her work.

Aisha graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in Illustration, and prides herself on her unique style in all her endeavors. With several years of experience under her belt, Aisha currently works as a freelance designer, creating book covers and promotional images for independent presses, publishing houses, and self-published authors. In her spare time, Aisha illustrates for fun and profit, crochets gifts for friends and family, plays mom to a slightly evil and completely ridiculous cat, enjoys table-top gaming, and is a harcore kpop fan.

To learn more about what Aisha can do for you, please see her offered services and read testimonials from satisfied customers.

 

 

That’s our Artist of the Week.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Next week we have Garrett Leigh, who is both an artist and an author.  Let me know if you have any questions for our artists in advance!

 

Meanwhile check out the covers below for the upcoming reviews.  How do they strike you?  Do they tell you a story?  What are they saying?  And then check out what our reviewer has to has say about the covers and their relation to the story they are reviewing.  Interesting stuff!

 

Meanwhile have a great week! Stay warm if you are caught up in the polar vortex!  And always happy reading and listening!

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, February 3:

  • Book Covers and Artists! This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • This Week’s Spotlight Artist: Aisha Akeju
  • A Barb Review His First Family by Victoria Sue

Monday, February 4:

  • HARMONY INK PROMO Andrew Demcak 2emails
  • DSP PROMO Sean Michael on Educating the Professor
  • Alisa Review: Omega Teacher’s Secret (Men of Meadowfall #5) by Anna Wineheart
  • A MelanieM Review: Gage (Trenton Security #3) by J.M. Dabney 
  • A Jeri Review Rewind by Rowan Shaw
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: Tracker Hacker (Codename: Winger #1) by Jeff Adams and John Solo (Narrator)

Tuesday, February 5:

  • Release Week Blitz Not Dead Yet by Jenn Burke
  • BLITZ Diamond Heart by M.A. Hinkle
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Educating the Professor by Sean Michael
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Rebuild My Heart (Lexington Lovers #4) by Ariel Tachna
  • A Lucy Review: Bubbly (Uncorked #1) by Shea Balik
  • A Lila Review: Not Dead Yet (Not Dead Yet #1) by Jenn Burke

Wednesday, February 6:

  • Series Blitz – The Knights Club Series – CJ Baty
  • Review Tour Marina Vivancos – Rat Park
  • DSP PROMO Jodi Payne and BA Tortuga on Syncopation
  • An Alisa Review: In the Lion’s Den by Abigail Kade
  • A Stella Review: Rat Park by Marina Vivancos
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Inside Out by Aimee Nicole Walker

Thursday, February 7:

  • Release Day – JJ Harper – Gage (Redemption Series
  • Release Blitz – My Anti-Valentine Collection – DJ Jamison
  • DSP PROMO M.D. Grimm on Eye of the Beholder
  • A Caryn Review No Fae is an Island (Endangered Fae #4) by Angel Martinez
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Ruff Trouble by Sharon Maria Bidwell
  • A Lila Audio Review A Fool and His Manny (The Mannies #4) by Amy Lane and Kenneth Obi (Narrator)

Friday, February 8:

  • Gage, Trenton Security Book 3, by JM Dabney Blog Tour
  • Review Tour – The Other Book – Roe Horvat
  • Release Blitz – TL Travis – Forgive Me Father
  • An Alisa Audio Review From a Jack to a King by Scotty Cade and Kenneth Obi (Narrator)
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review Hexhunter (Hexworld #4) by Jordan L. Hawk
  • A MelanieM Releases Day Review: Eye of the Beholder by MD Grimm
  • An Ali Review : The Other Book by Roe Horvat

Saturday, February 9:

  • Joe Cosentino on Drama Castle (A Nicky and Noah Mystery Story)
  • Series Review Tour – NASU and ENRAI (Blood Sealed Book 1 and 2)

A Lila Release Day Review: Escape to Paradise (A Planet Called Wish #4) by Caitlin Ricci

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Rate: 5 stars out of 5

His attraction to men means Kalean is the black sheep of his wealthy and powerful family—but it won’t get him out of attending his brother’s pretentious wedding ceremony. Kalean doesn’t want to go, but if his parents insist, he has a stipulation: he’ll be there with a man on his arm.
On the pleasure planet, Wish, Kalean goes to a brothel to meet some potential escorts. But the man who captures his attention isn’t one of those on offer….


Descani is as surprised as anyone at Kalean’s attraction to him—and at his own interest in the young man. He’s even more perplexed as a bond begins forming between them.


But a murder rips apart Kalean’s family and redefines his role. He’ll be isolated on his cold and barren home world, far from the warm and colorful planet of Wish—and the arms of the man who’s coming to mean so much to him—unless he can find a way to escape the forces separating them.

Escape to Paradise has the perfect combination of sweet and sexy. It’s short but it has enough plot twists to keep the reader engaged. And great characters for everyone to love. It can be read as a standalone but reading the previous three books is worth it. I did want a little more from previous characters.

It’s an easy read with an amazing world-build and people from all around the universe. Everything from technology to food to sexual preferences are part of the plot.

Since the opening scene, the reader gets a connection with Kalean and Descani. Their quick friendship and easy banter are endearing. There’s a lot of promise in those few pages and the author delivers in the end.

The last part of the story felt a bit rushed but that’s expected on a novella. I enjoyed the glance at their future together.

I hope this is not the last book in the series.

The cover by Brooke Albrecht isn’t as beautiful as the previous in the series, but it goes well with the story.

Sale Links: Dreamspinner | AmazonKobo

Book Details:

ebook, 145 pages
Published: February 1, 2019, by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 978-1-64405-108-5
Edition Language: English

Series: A Planet Called Wish
Book #1: To the Highest Bidder
Book #2: Fantasy for a Gentleman
Book #3: Falling into the Black
Book #4: Escape to Paradise

A MelanieM Audio Review:His Consort by Mary Calmes and (Narrated by Scott Smith)

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

A new life in New Orleans is all Jason Thorpe had hoped: his quaint little store attracts a devoted staff and his warm, loving heart grants him a loyal circle of friends. He’s perfectly content, having left behind the chill of a confusing and danger-filled night in Washington, until he discovers something unbelievable lurking in the steamy darkness of the shadowy streets of the Vieux Carré, something that turns out to be terrifying… and utterly mesmerizing.

The prince of the vampyrs, Varic Maedoc, is visiting New Orleans when he finds out the man who once helped his counselor is there in the Quarter. He thinks to simply meet and thank Jason—until he lays eyes on him. Varic’s devoted himself to protect the honor of his race, and he’s never wanted a mate before… but he immediately knows he must have this man, and no one else will do.

Varic may want to bring Jason safely into his world, but someone who doesn’t like the human’s soothing influence on vampyrs has deadly plans that would disrupt Varic’s dreams. Now, unable to tell friend from foe, Jason finds himself wondering how to hold on to the prince’s heart when he’s fighting for his life.

I’m a big Mary Calmes fan, both of her contemporary stories and her fantastic supernatural series as well.  So I was enthusiastic to hear she was including vampires in her next release, His Consort and couldn’t wait to see what spin she would put on the vampire mythology. A plus was waiting until it came out in audiobook so I got the additional pleasure of listening to the superb narration of Scott Smith as he effortlessly voiced character after character, making each come alive for me, scene after scene.  That extra half point is his alone.

I found His Consort entertaining, enjoyable, and, honestly, a wonderful Mary Calmes story.  It has so many of her hallmark elements here.  It also had aspects to the story that sent me looking for answers I never found. Like will it be a series? For me (and others) I found a sort of similarity in format or perhaps setup in His Consort to another beloved series.  That would be Change of Heart.  Here we follow Jason to New Orleans and a new life after exiting military service and the death of his best friend.  He gathers around him, in a new home, new “family”, much like Kin did, then comes Varic with his group who we slowly get to meet and become close to, ala Logan, then towards the end of the story you can see as the two groups begin to come together as one.

It’s a complex, and slow process.  And very much has the feel of the author laying down the foundation for a series, not just the framework for one story.  So as Jason meets all these different people and various events happen…without meeting Varic, I really didn’t mind.  I was caught up in the world building the author was laying down before me.  Plus I really liked all the characters I was meeting, watching all the complicated dynamics play out, the new relationships form, watch Jason get his “besties” together and formed into an odd family.

Plus there is the whole vampire mythology thing going on here to explore.   Loved that.

So while there wasn’t an immediate romance (at least not Jason and Varic’s ) to connect with, there was so much fascinating story threads running around grabbing my attention that I didn’t want the audiobook to stop (and didn’t).  I had to know what was to happen next!  All the other couples, the devilish delights, and suspense ! Tiago and Hadrian’s story is definitely one I hope she is writing even now.  There are so many elements laid down that are similar in structure to Change of Heart that I’m hoping that it’s because this is just the first in a series and not just one story.

I will  say that I love the New Orleans location.  There is something special about that shop, customers, and the dynamics being played out there between the casts that need more exploration. I hope Malta is to this story what Egypt was to Change of Heart.  I can’t wait to find out.  So much promise here.  So many great characters waiting in the wings for their chance at love.  This is different in that you don’t get an immediate romance, but I thought the wait was more than worth it.

I definitely recommend this audio version of His Consort by Mary Calmes.  The narration by Scott Smith is splendid and the story just needs the sequel it cries out for.

Cover Artist: Reese Dante,  I love, love this cover.  That’s Varic to a T.  Just mesmerizing.

Audio Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audio Details:

Audiobook

Length 6:33

Published December 20th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published November 20th 2018)
Edition Language English

Want a New Contemporary Story and Series To Love? Check out Inside Out (Road to Blissville #7) by Aimee Nicole Walker (excerpt and giveaway)

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INSIDE OUT

A ROAD TO BLISSVILLE NOVEL

AIMEE NICOLE WALKER

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 01.14.19

inside out cover

COVER ARTIST: Jay Aheer/Simply Defined Art

BLURB

Romeo Bradly and Julius Shepherd moved to Blissville for the same reason: a fresh start. Romeo was looking for a school district where he could make a real impact in the lives of students and faculty, and Julius was eager to teach one of his passions to the best and brightest at a school with a nationally ranked science program. But the sleepy little town offered them much more than they’d bargained for—quirky people, unlikely friendships, and an all-consuming attraction that turns them inside out.

When unexpected circumstances threaten to cancel the school play, Romeo’s theater background and Julius’s musical expertise make them the perfect pair to save the day. Working together so closely makes it harder for the men to ignore their growing feelings. After all, the heart knows what it wants and doesn’t care about age gaps, race, or a professional conflict of interest. Romeo and Julius will learn that they have far more in common than they realize, and their differences will make them stronger if they give love a chance.

Their commitment to each other and the play will be tested when outside forces target them as a couple and exert pressure to cancel the production. Romeo and Julius vow to prove their love can conquer any challenge and will burn strong well beyond the curtain call.

Inside Out is a whimsical, May/December romance featuring a man learning to love again and a man falling in love for the first time. It is the sixth book in the Road to Blissville series and can be read as a standalone book or part of the series. This book contains sexually explicit material and is intended for adults 18 and older.

Buy Link: http://mybook.to/Inside_Out

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EXCERPT

It was nearly impossible to keep from checking the clock after receiving the text from Rome that he was on his way back to Blissville. I tried watching the football games on TV, but I couldn’t tell you the score or even who was playing. I also kept my ears tuned for the sound of his car pulling up outside.

The apartment I rented was above a garage and could only be accessed by walking through it, which might make many feel like they were trespassing. Wren did keep a classic car in the garage below and a ton of tools, so I was always cautious to keep the door locked. When I finally heard Rome’s car pull into the driveway and stop beside my car, I jogged down the steps and opened the outside door.

“Hey,” I said when he and Dolly reached me.

“Hey yourself,” he said warmly. I could see how badly he wanted to kiss me, so I stepped closer and met him halfway. I didn’t want there to be any hesitation between us unless we were in a place where PDA wouldn’t be appreciated.

“I wasn’t sure if I should kiss you in open view of Dare and Wren’s house,” he said, staring at my lips. “They might not be watching.” I moved until my lips were just a breath away. If he wanted me, he would need to come and get me. “Then again, they could have the binoculars out.”

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I am a wife and mother to three kids, three dogs, and a cat. When I’m not dreaming up stories, I like to lose myself in a good book, cook or bake. I’m a girly tomboy

who paints her fingernails while watching sports and yelling at the referees.

I will always choose the book over the movie. I believe in happily-ever-after. Love inspires everything that I do. Music keeps me sane.

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A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: A Late Summer Night’s Dream by Eleanor Harkstead and Catherine Curzon

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

What a wonderfully sweet, old-fashioned romance between an older man, who happens to be a professor and a widower, and a younger man, who happens to be pursuing his doctorate. They meet at the theater when Simeon mistakes his seat for one already taken and disputes it earnestly just as the curtain is about to go up.  When he realizes he’s in the wrong, he attempts an apology at intermission and is shocked to see the gorgeous older gent, dressed to the nine’s for the theater, with silver in his blond hair—everything that pushes Simeon’s buttons.  Afterward they go for a meal and both men realize they may have just had an encounter they will remember for a very long time. 

Anthony is enjoying his first evening out since his husband died several years before, and he’s even more excited by his, er, excitement with the younger man.  But even though they both agree to take it slow, and kissing is enough for now, Anthony has second, and third, thoughts and realizes he can never make such a good-looking younger man happy, so he puts a quick stop to their evening.

Is that the end of the story?  The end of their attraction? The end of this wonderfully humorous, sweet, tender-hearted romance? No way.  I actually slowed down to take my time as I was reading because every page, every moment in this story was filled with hope and love and energy.  I wish I could describe it better, but suffice it to say, this was a grand romance, worthy of the stage, no doubt a play on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and it deserves to be read and enjoyed.  Slow burn, age gap, recovery from grief, humor, romantic dinners, sweet kisses, and more.  I absolutely adored it.  And therefore, I highly recommend it.

The cover by Cherith Vaughn features a young man wearing a denim jacket in the foreground with an older silvery blond haired man in the background.  Though they represent the MCs in theory, they certainly aren’t an exact match and the cover isn’t necessarily one that would grab my attention.

Sales Links:  Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 79 pages
Expected publication: February 19th 2019 by Pride Publishing
ISBN 139781786517067
Edition Language English