A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Off the Ice (Hat Trick #1) by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn/Kirt Graves (Narrator

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Tristan Holt is nothing if not pragmatic. Despite a flourishing career as a defenseman for the Atlanta Venom, Tristan knows he can’t play hockey forever. One day he’ll retire – if an injury doesn’t force him to hang up his skates first. His backup plan? Finishing his business degree. But he doesn’t count on a very inappropriate attraction to his standoffish sociology professor, Sebastian Cruz.

Sebastian is on the bottom rung of the sociology department at Georgia State. He has his sights set on tenure, and he can’t afford to be distracted, especially not by a sexy student with a body straight out of Sebastian’s dreams. No matter how much Tristan tempts him, that’s one line Sebastian won’t cross. At least, not until summer classes end. After that, everything is fair game.

But Sebastian lives loud and proud, and Tristan is terrified of being the first out player in the NHL. Neither of them can afford to risk his heart when they can’t imagine a happily ever after. The problem is, unlike hockey, when it comes to love, there are no rules.

Any hockey romance is an autoread or listen for me.  I just can’t help myself, especially so one by author Avon Gale.  So I was really looking forward to listening to the new audiobook, Off the Ice (Hat Trick #1) by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn as narrated by Kirt Graves.

The first in a new series, I’m hoping it follows others in the Atlanta Venom team because several come across just as layered and interested as Tristan.  Tristan actually is my favorite character here, thoughtful, big hearted, intelligent, and sexy.  What’s not to love?  In comparison, professor Sebastian, who is older, comes off as judgmental, temperamental, and not as easy to connect with.  Oh, yes, and he’s a bit of a Dom.  Not that he’s not believable, Sebastian is, its just that he’s not so easy to like at first.

It’s lust at first sight, the liking comes later.  For both the characters and the reader.  At least for me.

As always, the hockey element is amazing.  From the interplay on ice to the team dynamics, the  game comes live and the love for all aspects of hockey is something that you can just feel as an active ingredient in this wonderful story.  It’s the foundation, framework, and spice that adds energy to everything that happens here.

The characters are so solid that even the supporting secondary cast feel just as noteworthy as Tristan and Sebastian.  You want to know more about each and every person you come in contact with and hope that new stories that arrive happen to bring these people further under the microscope.

I loved the romance, as stressful and argumentative as it got at times.  The authors made it, well, if not easy, then each characters perspective accessible.  Together the men are hot and sexy, the D/s was something they were exploring together as Tristan was new to the idea of a submissive role.  The heat factor here?  Off the charts.

Kirt Graves handled all of the roles and voices beautifully, no matter the gender.  It was easy to differentiate each character, and he made the story flow quickly.  I will definitely seek out more stories narrated by him.

Now I can’t wait for the next in the series.  Doesn’t matter whether it is the eBook or audiobook version.  I may want both.

In the meantime, I highly recommend this audiobook version for all lovers of contemporary romance with a hockey base.

 

Cover art is perfect.  Love the bench and the player with his skates.

Sales Links:    Audible

Audiobook Details:

Listening Length: 7 hours and 53 minutes

Audible Audio, 8 pages
Published May 15th 2018 by Riptide Publishing (first published October 30th 2017)
ASINB07D2JH1XZ
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHat Trick #1
CharactersTristan Holt, Sebastian Cruz, Ryu Mori, Trevor Morley, Daniel Bellamy settingAtlanta, Georgia (United States)

A Lila Audiobook Review: Once Upon a Wolf (Wayward Wolves #1) by Rhys Ford and Derrick McClain Narrator)

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Gibson Keller’s days are fairly routine: wake up early, get some work done, drink lots of coffee, and take care of Ellis, his older brother, stuck in wolf form after coming home from the war. It’s a simple life made up of long runs on two legs – or four – and quiet evenings…until Ellis chases a handsome man off a cliff and into the frozen waters beside their cabin, changing Gibson’s life forever.

For Zach Thomas, buying an old B&B is a new start. Leaving behind his city life, he longs to find peace and quiet, and hiking the trails behind his property seems safe enough – right up to the moment an enormous black wolf chases him into a lake, nearly drowning him. Discovering werewolves are real astounds him, but not as much as the man who rescues him from the icy water, then walks into Zach’s heart as if he owns it.

Loving a werewolf – loving Gibson with all his secrets – has its challenges, but Zach believes their love is worth fighting for, especially since his heart knows the big, bad wolf is really a prince in disguise.

Once Upon a Wolf has an interesting concept and a slow development. It has a different take on werewolves’ dynamics and relationships. I’m glad it was not an insta-love story–which I love as well-but the pacing gives the reader the chance to understand what makes this short story unique.

The story is more about the relationship between Ellis, Gibson, and Zack than a love story. I really like all the characters, especially Ellis. His relationship with Gibson and how they communicate even when he was in wolf form show the author’s attention to detail. Zach was a bit of a puzzle and I wanted more from him and his background.

Like most short stories, the amount of world-build and new information takes a lot of time to develop, leaving little time for other aspects of the story. It’s a strong start to a series, and I hope book two is better than this one.

Derrick McClain didn’t do much for this story. It felt flat and I have trouble following the characters at times. Other scenes were a bit over the top.

The cover by Reece Notley is simple and to the point just like the story. It’s interesting enough to make people stop and read the blurb.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Derrick McClain
Length: 3 hours and 49 minutes
Published: May 16, 2018 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN: B07D314G4X

Edition Language: EnglishSeries: Wayward Wolves
Book #1: Once Upon a Wolf

Real Life and the Blog. This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Real Life and the Blog.

Happy Father’s Day!

It’s short today.  As it sometimes happens real life interferes with the blog.  Between vet visits and Father’s Day, dog instructions, medications and plans, well, sigh, where did the time go?

I’ve been busy bathing dogs and celebrating with my father.  I hope everyone has had a full and happy day. So life is a bit frazzled and scattered today.  It will come together tomorrow.  In the meantime.  Check out all the marvels that await you this week and know we (sigh, I) will be pulling it together.

Enjoy!

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, June 17:

  • Father’s Day! This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, June 18:

  • DSP Dreamspun Promo Bru Baker on  Under a Blue Moon (Camp H.O.W.L. #2
  • Review Tour – Annabelle Jacobs – Butterfly Assassin
  • Review Tour – Overtime – V.L. Locey Signal Boost Promotions
  • An Alisa Review: Stowaway Heart by Suede Delray
  • A MelanieM Review:  Butterfly Assassin by Annabelle Jacobs
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: The Recruit by Addison Albright
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Damage Control by Kate McMurray

Tuesday, June 19:

  • DSP Promo Payne/Tortuga
  • Blog tour the Best Worst Honeymoon Ever by Andrew Grey
  • New Release Tour for Murder, Romance, and Two Shootings by Todd Allen Smith
  • A Lucy Review: The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever by Andrew Grey
  • A VVivacious Review: Just A Week by Jena Wade
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Under a Blue Moon (Camp H.O.W.L. #2) by Bru Baker
  • A Stella Review: Home Skillet (Culinary Kings #1) by Cate Ashwood & Sandra Damien

Wednesday, June 20:

  • BLITZ for The Merchant’s Love by Antonia Acquilante
  • Demon Familiar by Bellora Quinn and Sadie Rose Bermingham -Book Blitz and Review
  • DSP Promo Sandine Tomas
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review:  Denim by KC Wells
  • A MelanieM Review: Demon Familiar by Bellora Quinn and Sadie Rose Bermingham
  • A VVivacious Review Just A Year by Jena Wade
  • AN Alisa Review: Expecting (Pine Wood Falls #1) by Sarah Havan

Thursday, June 21:

  • DSP Promo KA Mitchell
  • DSP Publications Promo Michael Ruptured
  • Release Blitz Expecting by Sarah Havan
  • A Jeri Review Wash Out (Anchor Point #7) by LA Witt
  • A MelanieM Review: Life Itself by Elizabeth Bones
  • A Lila Audiobook Review: Once Upon a Wolf (Wayward Wolves #1) by Rhys Ford and Derrick McClain Narrator)
  • A MelanieM Review: Three More Nick Nowak Mysteries (Boystown #2) by  Marshall Thornton

Friday, June 22:

  • DSP Dreamspun Promo Andrew Grey
  • Falling Awake 2 by Kage Alllen Indigo Blog Tour
  • Release Day Blitz Something About You by Riley Hart
  • A MelanieM Review: Pack Up Your Troubles by Charlie Cochrane
  • A Stella Review Catch Me by Beth Bolden
  • An Alisa Release Day Review:Mystic Man by E.J. Russell
  • A Melanie Audiobook Review Off the Ice (Hat Trick #1) by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn/Kirt Graves (Narrator

Saturday, June 23:

  • RELEASE BLITZ – Professor Hot Pants by Ember-Raine Winters\
  • The Necromancer’s Reckoning by SJ Himes Blog Tour

An Alisa Audiobook Review: Slow Heat (Heat of Love #1) by Leta Blake and Michael Ferraiuolo (Narrator)

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

A lustful young alpha meets his match in an older omega with a past.

Professor Vale Aman has crafted a good life for himself. An unbonded omega in his mid-thirties, he’s long since given up hope that he’ll meet a compatible alpha, let alone his destined mate. He’s fulfilled by his career, his poetry, his cat, and his friends.

When Jason Sabel, a much younger alpha, imprints on Vale in a shocking and public way, longings are ignited that can’t be ignored. Fighting their strong sexual urges, Jason and Vale must agree to contract with each other before they can consummate their passion.

But for Vale, being with Jason means giving up his independence and placing his future in the hands of an untested alpha–as well as facing the scars of his own tumultuous past. He isn’t sure it’s worth it. But Jason isn’t giving up his destined mate without a fight.

This was a wonderfully crafted world and story.  Jason has just started university and isn’t supposed to find his mate yet.  Vale had resigned himself long ago to ever finding his destined mate when Jason walks in.

It was easy to connect with these characters and feel their emotions.  The world in which these characters live puts much more importance on having children than the safety of their carriers and that mindset causes Vale to push Jason away.  I could easily see how it was hard for these characters to follow the proper protocols and find their own happiness for the future.  I had some trouble with Vale continuing to have the same worry no matter how often he was told or shown there was no need.

Michael Ferraiuolo did a great job narrating this story.  I was easily able to connect with the characters feel their emotions as he used different voices for the characters.  While I enjoyed his reading of the story his speech pattern was quite slow and I had to increase the speed of the book more than I ever have before.

Cover art by Dar Albert is great and I loved the visual of the characters together.

Sales Link:  Audible

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 14 hrs 7 min
Published: May 7, 2018 by Leta Blake
Edition Language: English

Series: Heat of Love #1

An Alisa Audiobook Review: Staggered Cove Station (Coast Guard Rescue #1) by Elle Brownlee and Colin Darcy (Narrator)

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

Rescues are wild in the Alaskan terrain. So is romance.

Sun-kissed California guardsman Dan Farnsworth might be at home in the water, but he’s out of his element at remote, rugged, and freezing Staggered Cove Station. Acclimating proves hard enough, but he’s also digging into how the station’s previous rescue swimmer was lost at sea. Was it an operation gone bad or something more sinister? Add to that the instant tension between him and his partner—no-nonsense Alaska-born Karl Radin—and Dan has his hands full.

As his investigation heats up, so does the attraction between Dan and Karl, even if they don’t completely trust each other. But as suspicious events escalate to sabotage, Dan starts to fear that he and Karl won’t get the chance to become more than reluctant coworkers.

This was an alright story for me, more focused on the mystery than the romance between the two men.  Dan is trying to find out what really happened to his brother while not trying to bring any attention to what he is doing.  Karl can be a bit grumpy but wants to keep those under his watch safe and there seems to be something about Dan that’s not adding up.

I felt bad for Dan as he realized the full depth of his brother’s actions and to find out that the only family you had you never really knew.  Karl is very no nonsense and when Dan realizes he can trust him is willing to help him find answers.  I didn’t really see the relationship between these two building except for some off handed thoughts about attractiveness or how safe they felt with the other.  It takes extreme circumstances for them to do anything together or acknowledge it.  These two didn’t know each other long but were quick to jump together and go from there and I just couldn’t feel the connection.

Colin Darcy did a nice job narrating this story.  For the most part I was able to easily keep track of the story with the voices he used for each character though the voices didn’t connect with how I really saw the characters.

Cover art by Bree Archer is nice and gives a visual of the background for this story.

Sales Links:  Audible | Amazon |  iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 6hrs 11mins
Published April 20, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

Series: A Coast Guard Rescue Novel, Dreamspun Desires

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Hush by Tal Bauer and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

It’s impossible to summarize the “meat” of this story in a single paragraph. Even the blurb only covers part of it, but in a nutshell—Federal Judge Tom Brewer has hidden his sexuality ever since he was a young college grad eagerly looking forward to law school. In the climate of the early eighties, when men were first diagnosed with the new AIDS disease, there was no room for doubt if a young man wanted to become a successful lawyer, so he turned away from everything he was and buried his sexuality very, very deep. Mike Lucciano, the US Marshal assigned to the federal judges protection detail, is an out and proud gay man, and he may just happen to hold the key to that safely locked away heart of Judge Tom Brewer.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Joel Leslie made this story 5 stars for me, though the raw material was certainly exemplary to begin with. This action adventure, complete with political intrigue was done in combo with a beautiful heartwarming MM romance amidst the chaos of a federal court, terrorist plots, and political intrigue.

Action packed, nail-biting suspense abounds in this story. And just when I thought things were going to run smooth, they took a turn toward crazy. And the people? Who do I trust? Who’s guilty? Who’s innocent? Who’s clueless? And who’s simply misinformed? Amazing characters, awesome situations, a grand international adventure—all rolled into one powerful story.

There are plots and subplots, characters to love and characters to hate, and both subtle and not-so-subtle nuances to the importance of any given situation. There’s no doubt Tal Bauer is a storyteller and there’s no doubt Joel Leslie can take that story and run with it. A man of a thousand voices, he brings me to my knees in heartbreak when one of our characters is at death’s door. And he brings an ear-to-ear smile to my face when the joy of finally being the man he should have been able to be all along comes to Tom Brewer.

I very, very highly recommend this story in audiobook format to all lovers of MM romance, especially to those who love older men, action/adventure, political intrigue, and a heartwarming HEA.

~~~

Cover art depicts a man with a gun to the back of his head, set against a background of the metro DC area. Just perfect for the story!

Sales Links:   Amazon  | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Length: 19 hrs and 22 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 05-01-18
Language: English
Publisher: Tantor Audio

An Ali Audiobook Review: All the Way to Shore (Stories from the Shore #1) by CJane Elliott and Tim McKiernan (Narrator)

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Jonathan Vallen has never felt good enough. A gentle musician who loves to garden, he’s woefully unsuited to running Vallen Industries, the family business. When his father hires a hotshot executive, Marco Pellegrini, to save the company, Jonathan moves away and leaves his humiliation behind. A year later and forty pounds lighter, Jonathan runs into Marco on an LGBT cruise. Marco doesn’t recognize him, the sparks fly, and Jonathan pretends to be someone else for the week—Jonah Rutledge—someone good enough to be loved.

Marco Pellegrini has always been driven. He rose from poverty to the pinnacle of business success, and he’ll do anything to protect his reputation—including hiding his bisexuality. Having saved Vallen Industries, he’s weary of the rat race and ready for a more meaningful life. When Marco meets his soul mate for that new life—Jonah Rutledge—on an LGBT cruise, he prepares to stop hiding and start living.

Back on land, the romance crashes when Marco discovers his perfect man is not only a lie but the son of his boss, Frederick Vallen. Jonathan resolves to win Marco back, but Frederick takes vengeful action. Jonathan and Marco must battle their own fears as well as Frederick’s challenge to get to the future that awaits them on the horizon.

This was a fun and enjoyable story.  The blurb does a good job of explaining the plot.  The romance is well done and I enjoyed both of the main characters.  They’re a bit flawed but still good guys.  They each have a quirky side character which I also thought added to the story.
The story was narrated by Tim McKeirnan and I thought he did a good job on it.  I enjoyed the way he did both of the main characters as well as the side characters.  I thought the narration added to the overall story.  I had not listened to this narrator before but will definitely try him again.
Overall this was an entertaining audiobook.  The plot was fun and sweet and had really likable characters and the narration was also good.  It’s relatively short and would make  for a great summer pool side listen.
 
The cover was done by L.C. Chase and I think it was well done.  It fits the characters and the overall plot well.
Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes
Audiobook Details:
Audible Audio
Published April 19th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published November 23rd 2016)
Original TitleAll the Way to Shore
ASINB07CGQG495
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesStories from the Shore #1

June Continues Romance Month and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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June Continues Romance Month

With a break for Memorial Weekend, we are back at the topic of Romance, Royal Weddings, and stories! Yep, we didn’t forget! Often June is the month that kicks of the rush of wedding season and if its LGBT, it makes no difference, because it’s the weather driving the date as well as the timing.  So it’s back to romance, weddings, and stories!

So first of all  let’s go right to those wonderful recommendations for Royal Wedding Stories.  Here they are:

Royal Wedding Story Recommendations:

From ChaosMoon:

Tere Michaels Faith, Love, and Devotion series and Groomzilla
L.B. Gregg’s How I Met Your Father
E.M. Lynley’s Sex, Lies, and Wedding Bells
Legally Wed by Rick R. Reed
The Best Man by LA Witt
Until You  by T.J. Klune
First Comes Marriage by Shira Anthony
Wedlocked by Ella Fank
Wedding Favors by Anne Tenino

Megan Derr A Suitable Replacement
Megan Derr The Stable Boy
Megan Derr The High King’s Golden Tongue
Amber Kell Orlin’s Fall

Josh Lanyon Other People’s Weddings

 

From H.B.:

Hellion Club series by Aiden Bates (Book 2 and 3 come to mind)
Omega Society Auction by Eileen Glass
Dragon’s Hoard by M.A. Church
The Harvest series by M.A. Church
Wed to the Omega by Ashe Moon
The Pretend Husband by Declan Rhodes
Married for a Month by Cate Ashwood
Married for the Millions by Parker Avrile
Marriage of Inconvenience by M.J. O’Shea
A Marriage of Convenience by Devyn Morgan
Red River by Cardeno C.
Signed and Sealed by B.A. Stretke
Groom of Convenience by by Vicktor Alexander
King’s Conquest by by Valentina Heart

From Jeri:

What Binds Us by Larry Benjamin
Kitto (Tyack & Frayne #4) by Harper Fox
Betrothed: A Faery Tale by Therese Woodson
The King’s Courage (North Pole City Tales #6) by Charlie Cochet
Dear Mona Lisa… by Claire Davis & Al Stewart
Wedlocked (Preslocke #3) by Ella Frank & Brooke Blaine

 

Right now, I’m feeling gobsmacked as the British would say because I have only listed  half of the recommendations! These are wonderful.  I have so many more to give you, and that will come next week because of the length of the list.  And that we will announce 2 winners.

Winner Announcement!

The first winner?  That would be  ChaosMoon.   Congratulations. Please contact Stella at scatteredthoughtsandroguewords@gmail.com to receive your gift card.  Another winner will be announced next week along with the remainder of your recommendations!

Now about romance stories. I’ve read several this week that I just adored and they are all over the place genre wise.  Several I’m reviewing this week.  One, His Leading Man by Ashlyn Kane, is pure romance.  No angst, just lovely sweet road to love and HEA.  It left a happiness in my heart and a perfect way to fall into June.  Another?  A scary, rollercoaster A ride action story and total romance that ends Rhys Ford’s Sinners series, Sin and Tonic.  Angst galore, murder and suspense!  Totally at the other end of the contemporary spectrum.

Coming up I swung from the M/M historical romances straight from the WWI front and pages of Charlie Cochrane’s stories,Pack Up Your Troubles, which broke my heart before putting it back together again to the fantasy of Life Itself by Elizabeth Bones and the magnificent weirdness and horror of Bourbon and Bones by Dorian Graves.  All those are to come.  Be on the look out for them next week and the week after.

Romance across the ages, romance across the genres…even across the species!  Love in every form possible is what we celebrate in our stories we hold close to our hearts.  Vampire or were, WWI soldier or that of a warrior on a world far far away, we are captivated by  love and relationships, personalities and the path to HFN or HEA.

That’s our theme this month.  Chime in, give us more stories, favorite books.  LIstopia!  Here we come!

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, June 3:

  • Cover Reveal Magic or Die (Inner Demons, Book One) by JP Jackson
  • June Continues Romance Month
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, June 4:

  • Ashlyn Kane on His Leading Man (Author Guest Blog)
  • Release Blitz – Out, Proud, and Prejudiced – Megan Reddaway
  • In the Spotlight:  Cash Plays by Cordelia Kingsbridge
  • A Lucy Review: Whatever Comes First by MK Lee
  • An Alisa Review: What It Seems by Sydney Blackburn
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Hush by Tal Bauer and Joel Leslie (Narrator)
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: All the Way to Shore (Stories from the Shore #1) by CJane Elliott and Tim McKiernan (Narrator)

Tuesday, June 5:

  • BLOG TOUR  Blood Bathory: Absence Of The Sun by Ari McKay – excerpt and giveaway
  • DSP Promo Charlie David
  • Release Blitz – Made In Portugal by Ana Newfolk
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: BFF by K.C. Wells
  • A Lucy Review: Detour by Reesa Herberth and Michelle Moore
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: His Leading Man by Ashlyn Kane
  • A Stella Review: Out, Proud, and Prejudiced by Megan Reddaway

Wednesday, June 6:

  • Tour: Jaqui the Cat Mysteries by Alexis Duran
  • KICKSTARTER BLOG TOUR for Themensha by MxKnowitall
  • Tour for Mercs by Dorian Dawes
  •  Release Blitz, Tour – Ari McKay – Blood Bathory: Absence of the Sun
  • A Caryn Review:  A Tiny Piece of Something Greater by Jude Sierra
  • A MelanieM Review:  Demon Familiar (Wanted #1) by Bellora Quinn and Sadie Rose Bermingham

Thursday, June 7:

  • BLOG TOUR – Under Five by Michael War
  • JL Merrow on Wight Mischief
  • Series Recap Blitz Marshall Thornton – Boystown Series
  • A Stella Review: Plummet to Soar by  Z.A. Maxfield
  • A VVivacious Review: Military Emancipation, by David O. Sullivan
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review: The Foxling Soldati (Soldati Hearts #2) by Charlie Cochet and Manuel Pombo (Narrator)

Friday, June 8:

  • DSP Publications Promo Alan Chin
  • Release Blitz  – Annabelle Jacobs – Butterfly Assassin
  • Spotlight on Pack Up Your Troubles Series by Charlie Cochrane
  • A Lucy Review: Face the Music (Replay #1) by K.M. Neuhold
  • A Stella Review: His Wildest Dream (Portville Omegaverse #3)  by Xander Collins
  • An Alisa Review: Under Five by Michael War

Saturday, June 9:

  • Release Blitz – Behind The Lights by TL Travis
  • A MelanieM Review:  Sin and Tonic (Sinners #6)  by Rhys Ford

 

 

 

 

An Ali Audiobook Review: Bobby Green (Johnnies # 5) by Amy Lane and Gomez Pugh (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Vern Roberts couldn’t wait to turn eighteen and get the hell out of Dogpatch, California. But city living is expensive, and he’s damned desperate when Dex from Johnnies spots him bussing tables.

As “Bobby,” he’s a natural at gay porn. Soon he’s surrounded by hot guys and sex for the taking, but it’s not just his girlfriend back in Dogpatch—or her blackmailing brother—that keeps him from taking it. It’s the sweet guy who held the lights for his first solo scene, who showed him decency, kindness, and a smile.

Reg Williams likes to think he’s too stupid to realize what a shitty hand life dealt him, but Bobby knows better. What Reg lacks in family, opportunity, education, and money, he makes up for in heart. One fumbling step at a time, they connect, not just in their hearts but in their bodies, where sex that’s not on camera, casual, or meaningless, becomes the most important thing in the world.

But Reg is hampered by an inescapable family burden, and he and Bobby will never fly unless he can find a way to manage it. Can he break the painful link to his unrealized childhood and grow into the love Bobby wants to give?

This is the fifth installment of this series and takes places at the same time the events of the first four books are taking place. There are references to things that are happening with the other characters and most of them have some role in this. The story starts with us meeting Vern/Bobby (his porn name & what I’m going to use for the rest of the review) who’s living an unhappy life in a bigoted small town. A chance to work construction in Sacramento helps him get out but when that quickly goes bad, Bobby is desperate to not have to go back. A chance meeting with Dex gives him the solution he needs and leads him to working at Johnnies where he meets and becomes friends with Reg.

I have to be honest and say I don’t remember Reg or Bobby at all from the other books (but it’s been years since I read the first three books in this series). Reg is a veteran porn star at Johnnies and he’s the good natured guy everyone is friends with (& friends w benefits with). At first Reg was presented as being slow intellectually and I wasn’t sure this book was going to work for me. Characters with cognitive delays can be dicey for me. If there’s any hint of a power imbalance between the two MC’s I’m out. Fortunately (for me) this is not how this plays out. I thought the author did a good job looking at how social issues effect one’s IQ and how emotional IQ is also a big part of how people present. Reg has a really difficult life. He’s been responsible for his mentally ill sister since he was 16 years old. She keeps him captive in his own home and he has no life outside porn and no friends other than the Johnnies guys. His meeting Bobby changes his perspective and challenges what he thought he wanted out of life.

These two start off as friends and it’s a really slow burn between them. I really liked that change up from most romance books. They spent months just hanging out and snuggling and talking. It takes them both awhile to even realize they’re in love.

This book is pretty gritty and parts aren’t pretty at all. Reg’s sister has a very serious mental health issue and some of the scenes with her are pretty rough. She’s verbally and physically aggressive and poor Reg takes a ton of abuse. The situation Bobby is in in the first part of the book was also pretty difficult to read. There was one scene in particular where my stomach kind of knotted up for him.

Something else I think is important to note is these two are not together-together for the first 50-60% of the book and they both sleep with other people, on and off the set. They weren’t at a commitment stage yet, and honestly the way things played out seemed very realistic. I personally didn’t have a problem with it, although I admit a few parts were a little sad, but I think it fit the plot in a very true to life manner. I mention it though as I know that dynamic is a big “no” for a lot of romance readers.

I had previously read and loved this book so I decided to give it a try on audio and I’m really glad I did.  Sometimes a good narration can make a book even better and that was the case here.  This book was narrated by Gomez Pugh and I loved the way he did both Reg and Bobby as well as all of the side characters.  He captured the strong emotions that went on in this story and he made the grittiness of the book come to life.  I thought the entire narration was extremely well done.

This could be read as a standalone. There is a lot of interaction from the guys in the Johnnies group and all of them play at least a small role in this. Some (Dex, Kane and Ethan) play pretty big roles. You don’t have to read their books to be able to follow this one. You will spoiler yourself for multiple things from the first four books though. As someone who’s read all the books, I liked seeing the other guys and it was interesting to see them & their various issues from Reg & Bobby’s view points

This started a bit rough for me but ended up being my favorite in the series except for Chase in Shadows. These two are just fantastic together and watching them as they work through their problems (in life, not with each other) was really touching. They were perfect for each other & I was happy for them in the end like they were real people.

Cover:  This cover is done by Reese Dante and I think it is well done.  The cover models fit the descriptions of the MC’s very well and this cover goes well with the previous four books of the series.
Audiobook Details:
13 hrs 44 mins
Audible Audio, 14 pages
Published April 19th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published February 6th 2018)
Original TitleBobby Green
ASINB07CGFNCXM
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesJohnnies #5

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: The Solstice Prince (Realms of Love #1) by S.J. Himes and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

Standard

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

This is a very sweet, angst-free story about a young healer who was rescued from slavery and the prince who sees beyond the servant to the heart of the man beneath.

Jamie Buchanan was sold into slavery when his father passed away with tremendous debt. When the slaver’s ship takes on water, it makes port in the kingdom of Pyrderi, a kingdom totally opposite his homeland. This country is ruled by a kind king and his sons are no different, so when Prince Maxim spots the scars made by the chains that bound him, he tries to help the young man but instead scares Jamie away. Until circumstances make it clear that he is the young healer who has been reported missing from the academy and Jamie’s good fortune begins.

As the winter solstice ball approaches, Jamie and Maxim become closer and it’s very evident that the young prince wants Jamie by his side forever. Honestly, there was no conflict in this story at all. It was like listening to a fairy tale, especially given that it was told in the inimitable voice of Joel Leslie. I could listen to him for hours—and I have, many times! This time, he told Jamie and Maxim’s story beautifully and, of course, they did get their HEA.

There’s really not much more to be said. It’s a sweet romance, and I gave it 3 stars because it wasn’t highly complex and there were quite a few misplaced modifiers that I think I would have cringed at if I had read the book, but Mr. Leslie smoothed over them nicely and I was so caught up into the sweet romance that I just kept going. The additional ½ star, making it 3 ½ stars overall, is due to his outstanding narration.

Those who love a sweet, easy listening story should definitely pick this one up in audio. Heartwarming and recommended.

The attractive cover is done in bright colors with caricatures of the two principal characters: the prince and the healer. It depicts the story and grabs attention.

Sales Links: Amazon | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Length: 6 hrs and 1 min

Audible Audio
Published April 30th 2018 by Tantor Audio (first published November 24th 2017)
ASIN B07CGRWH98
Edition Language English