A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review : With a Kick Collection #2 by Clare London and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Volume two in a collection of novellas that take place in With a Kick, an innovative ice cream shop where they make ice creams with liquor for an extra “kick.”

The first story is Pluck and Play featuring Curtis, a young man who’s had his ups and downs in life—mostly downs—but works hard to be a Jack-of-all-trades to many. Basically, if you need an odd job done, it’s Curtis you call. Friends with the staff at With a Kick, Curtis stops in when he has time between deliveries and sometimes even to make a delivery there. It’s on one of those visits he notices the handsome cowboy playing a guitar on the street corner.

Riley is making his living as a busker. His cowboy boots, hat, and accent identify him as American. His ability to carry a tune isn’t the best, or is it the shite music he plays? Curtis can’t decide, but he does decide he’s attracted to the man. Through a series of good days and bad, the two get to know one another and start a sexual relationship, until Curtis’s former lover—and abuser—comes calling. He blackmails Curtis into owing him money for a van Curtis bought from him. But what Curtis doesn’t realize is that instead of having no one to turn to, he has a ton of people willing to back him up, and they are led by Riley and by Brian, Phiz’s boyfriend (Slap and Tickle) and including Eddy and Nuri (A Twist and Two Balls).

The story is heartwarming, funny, and very British. Performed by the inimitable voice of Joel Leslie, it couldn’t be more entertaining. Riley even gets an ice cream named after him, one with bourbon and chocolate crunchies and named Pluck and Play.

The second book on the audio is Double Scoop, which features Patrick, the With a Kick shop owner, and Lee, his young assistant. Lee has been in love with Patrick for a long time, but it isn’t until a freak accident occurs that he finally has his chance to spend the night with the older man. Unfortunately, Patrick is so worried about how Lee might feel the next day that he overthinks everything and constantly puts his foot in his mouth. If he’d just say what’s on his mind he and Lee might have a chance.

Most of the story revolves around Patrick and his misunderstandings—both the ones he perceives and the ones he creates. It makes for a great story, even though I really wanted to whack him in the head a few times to knock some sense into him. The gang of friends, including those who show up in the first story, comes to the rescue in this one, too, as everyone chips in to not only settle affairs at the shop but to assist Patrick and Lee and show them how very much they belong together from now into the future.

I love the voices Joel Leslie brings to this audiobook, not only for the MCs but also for the host of secondary characters. He makes it fun and interesting and an audio I definitely didn’t want to have to shut down when real life intruded. I recommend not only this collection but also collection number one in audiobook format for many hours of listening pleasure.

The cover by Lou Harper is in the same theme as that of volume one and features a handsome young man with a sweet treat, obviously created at the With a Kick ice cream shop, in the bottom right corner.

Buy Links

Audible US

Audible UK  

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 8 hours and 58 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Jocular Press
Audible.com Release Date: April 5, 2019
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English, English
ASIN: B07QHFNXBW

Love Listening To Your Stories? Check Out the Audio Tour for With a Kick Collection #2 by Clare London and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

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AUDIOBOOK REVIEW TOUR 

Book Title: With A Kick Collection #2

Author: Clare London

Publisher: Jocular Press

Narrator: Joel Leslie

Release Date: April 2, 2019

Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance

Trope/s: Opposites attract, friends to lovers

Themes: Diverse romances, May/Dec, finding community

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length:  8 hours 58 minutes

Includes 2 standalone novellas with a connecting arc

Buy Links

Audible US

Audible UK

Add on Goodreads

Romance, London, and alcoholic ice cream – what’s not to love?

Blurb

This collection includes Clare London’s second two charming London-based novellas of the With A Kick series – Pluck and Play, and Double Scoop.

Read the enthusiastic reviews at the individual book pages!

WITH A KICK: A new and enticing ice cream franchise, with a unique blend of full flavour, mischief and romance. Patrick and Lee are struggling to make a success of their alcoholic ice cream shop in the centre of tourist London. At the same time, their business partnership may take a turn towards the personal – if either of them can find the time and nerve to go for it! Meanwhile, they cater to the wild and wonderful range of customers in the area, many of whom have their own romantic agenda. Will ice cream be the final ingredient they’re all looking for?

Each story is a self-contained romance, but will follow the history of the shop throughout.

PLUCK AND PLAY: Curtis is a cheery young entrepreneur, secretly licking his wounds after being beaten up by his ex-lover. Handsome cowboy Riley is stranded in London without money. His consolation is his music, and his fascination is Curtis. Their music brings them together, Riley’s guitar and Curtis’ poetry. But when Curtis is threatened by his ex-lover, Riley intends to be the man to help.

Ebook Link

DOUBLE SCOOP: A sudden disaster strikes the novelty ice cream shop, With A Kick, threatening the livelihood of its owner, Patrick, and also his assistant Lee. The last thing in the world Patrick wants is to hurt Lee, but deeply-held insecurities prevent him from confessing his love. And how long will Lee wait to make his own move? Hopefully the disaster brings a new opportunity for them to make a go of things.

Ebook Link

Collection #1 has also been released, featuring Clare London’s first two novellas, A Twist and Two Balls and Slap and Tickle, and also the two bonus short stories Nice and Snow and Smack Happy.

Buy Links and Listen to a sample here:

Audible US 

Audible UK 

Amazon Universal link (all territories)

Amazon US 

Amazon UK 

Also listen on SoundCloud

About the Author

Clare London took her pen name from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with her other day job as an accountant.

She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with award-winning novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic, and sexy characters.

Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter-three stage and plenty of other projects in mind… she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.

Clare loves to hear from readers, and you can contact her on all her social media.

Join her occasional newsletter.

Author Links

Audible Profile

Blog/Website

Facebook  

Twitter

Amazon

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW TOUR SCHEDULE

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

Scattered Thoughts on the Rainbow Quiltbag. This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Scattered Thoughts on the Rainbow Quiltbag

So I was sort of at a loss as to what to write about this week, my thoughts were all over the place.  And as usual, it came to me through a conglomeration of pictures, hits to the heart, books, people, and just moments in the weirdness that is my mind.

What all clashed together?  Well, it started with this quote from a story I’m reviewing next week from NR Walker.  It’s called Upside Down. If you haven’t read it, run out and grab it now.  I’ll be reviewing it later on.

 “Asexuality is defined by the absence of something.”

 

Boom!  What a way to start a novel and to set off an astonishing inner monologue by a character who’s intelligent,endearing, compex, and seeking answers to his sexuality. And not happy with the article he’s been reading. Of course, he hasn’t exactly finished it as his best friend and fellow librarian will later point out.   But it prompts a discussion over the fact that he feels that as a person he doesn’t feel that he’ should be defined by an absence of anything.  What follows is an extraordinarily well written story about  one man’s journey towards understanding  his asexuality,  two men in love,and their heartwarming romance and path to HEA which includes a daily bus ride, a Soup Crew and a cast to carry your heart.  One of my two 5 star reads in a week.

And for this blog and many others a story with characters that are Ace is standard, just part of the LGBTQIA spectrum we read and review.  Genderqueer, Non-binary, and Genderfluid , Pansexual, Aromantic, Intersex, our reviews (along with the books we are offered) have expanded far beyond what this blog first began with.

I couldn’t be happier or sadder that it took so long.

When Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words first took its first baby steps years ago, all our stories (I was at first the only reviewer as the owner), the only stories primarily out there were M/M.  Slowly I remember one or two transexual  short stories trickling in, a couple of bisexual characters in others that people angrily fought over in reviews on GRs and here because bisexuality  was still so poorly understood by some writers that they still considered it that “way station” to gayness, instead of a legitimate sexuality all its own.

But for the most part, M/M, with the F/F fiction for the most part not being carried along side.

Now things have changed.  We do read and review the spectrum.  Yes, perhaps, it’s still heavy on one or several sides, but we are getting better as does our choices of books  sent in to read and review.  That’s grown steadily larger too.  Perhaps to to ePublishing, eBooks?  I don’t know, but grown it has as Yoda would say.

It’s not just our stories but the change is reflected in the authors who mirror the rainbow of stories we read and review.

You wondered what else sparked this all things Rainbow?  This…I have someone at the Star Wars con and they posted this pic..

 

Our stories have always been full of geeky nerds we love to fall in love with and one recent story I read even featured a Con, with an enormous amounts of fans.  If its Star Wars, can it’s fans of any shape, size, color, or sexuality be far behind?  I think not.

I guess from a Pride Squadron to a librarian looking for answers to a YA #lovehim series that continues to astonish me, the full spectrum of the Rainbow hit me full force this week, as did a bit of “wow I’m so happy we’ve come so far”.

I know we have a long way to go but as it’s pouring outside and I’m looking forward to setting in with another book this afternoon (and GoT tonight).  I’m still so happy at the strides made ….steps forward are still that.  Movement ahead.  And that’s where I’m focused!

What are your thoughts on all this?

And btw?  I’m both Star Wars AND Star Trek! lol  Just don’t ask me which Captain….we don’t have that much time!

Now for our schedule this coming week!  There be dragons ahead tonight!

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, April 14:

  • This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Release Blitz for Finding Finlay (MC Securities #2) by Ruby Moone (excerpt and giveaway)

Monday, April 15:

  • DSP PROMO LaQuette on Under His Protection
  • DSP PROMO Royal Blue
  • Release Blitz – Ace in the Picture by Jude Tresswell
  • Release Blitz – Outshined by Clancy Nacht & Thursday Euclid
  • An Ashlez Review: Outshined by Clancy Nacht & Thursday Euclid
  • A Stella Review: Indulge Me (Kitchen Gods #4) by Beth Bolden
  • A MelanieM Review:To Be Continued (#lovehim #3.5) by S.M. James

Tuesday, April 16:

  • Release Blitz – Lillian Francis – Under The Radar
  • Blog Tour – Strokes on a Canvas by H. Lewis-Foster
  • Blog Tour – Galen’s Redemption (Links in the Chain #2) by Parker Williams
  • An Ashlez Review: Catastrophe by Deirdre O’Dare
  • A Stella Review: Galen’s Redemption (Links in the Chain #2) by Parker Williams
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Where There’s A Will Deanes (Get Out #4) by Sean Kennedy
  • A Lila Release Day Review: Under His Protection by LaQuette

Wednesday, April 17:

  • Release Blitz – Wrong Way Home – K.A. Merikan
  • Release Blitz  – Indulge Me (Kitchen Gods #4) by Beth Bolden
  • AUDIOBOOK REVIEW TOUR – With a Kick Collection #2 by Clare London
  • An Alisa Review: Coming Home Finding Home #2) by Carly Marie
  • A Stella Review: Let Me Show You by Becca Seymour
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review – With a Kick Collection #2 by Clare London

Thursday, April 18:

  • Sale Blitz for Love & Family Book 1: TABOO FOR YOU
  • Cover Reveal for  Rebecca Cohen’s Anthony, Earl of Crofton
  • Release Blitz for – Tainted Love by T.S. Hunter
  • An Alisa Review: Because of Sam by J.D. Walker
  • A MelanieM Review: Tainted Love (Soho Noir #1) by T.S. Hunter
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review:  Playing in the Dark (Glasgow Lads #4)  by Avery Cockburn

Friday, April 19:

  • Series Blitz/Review Tour – Holeshot Series – Lynn Michaels
  • Starting From Zero by Lane Hayes Book  Blitz
  • Release Blitz Grace Kilian Delaney – Living On A Dare
  • An Alisa Review: Hunter (Roam #2) by Dez Schwartz
  • An Ali Review: The Holeshot (Book #1) by Lynn Michaels
  • A MelanieM Review:  This Is Not A Love Story by Suki Fleet
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Best Behaviour by Matthew Metzger

Saturday, April 20:

  • Release Blitz – Alex Jane – Devil Next Door (Criminal Delights: Obsession)
  • A MelanieM Review: Heated Rivalry (Game Changers #2) by Rachel Reid

A Lila Audio Review:Trick Roller (Seven of Spades #2) by Cordelia Kingsbridge and Wyatt Baker (narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

It’s the height of summer in Las Vegas. Everyone believes the serial killer Seven of Spades is dead—except Levi Abrams and Dominic Russo—and it’s back to business as usual. For Levi, that means investigating a suspicious overdose at the Mirage that looks like the work of a high-class call girl, while Dominic pursues a tough internship with a local private investigator. The one bright spot for both of them is their blossoming relationship.

But things aren’t so simple. Soon Levi is sucked into a dangerous web of secrets and lies, even as his obsession with the Seven of Spades intensifies. Dominic knows that Levi isn’t crazy. He knows the Seven of Spades is still out there, and he’ll do anything to prove it. But Dominic has his own demons to battle, and he may be fighting a losing war.

One thing is certain: the Seven of Spades holds all the cards. It won’t be long before they show their hand.

Trick Roller is one of those rare books in which the sequel is better than the first book. It’s also slower and less complicated. The reader has more time to get into the characters and be part of their growth instead of concentrating primarily on solving the mystery.

I enjoyed the amount of detail in the story. It’s not info dump, but a great characterization. The author takes time to plant small details about the characters, their past, present, and hard times. The story is an intricate web of events and personalities that move the plot forward.

Levi and Dominic aren’t perfect, which makes the book interesting. They can be anyone we know dealing with their everyday issues. Their relationship also develops in this book and I’m glad they were in sync during the story. It was them against the world. The book has an ending, but the series ends in an interesting cliffhanger.

This time around, the narration by Wyatt Baker wasn’t as bad. Yes, I still had issues recognizing the speaker but I was familiar enough with the characters.

The cover by Garrett Leigh has elements from the story and it matches the previous book in the series.

Sales Links:  Riptide | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Wyatt Baker
Length: 7 hours and 56 minutes

Published: March 19, 2019 (Audio Edition) by Riptide Publishing
ASIN: B07PJM5QS7
Edition Language: English

Series: Seven of Spades
Book #1: Kill Game
Book #2: Trick Roller

An Alisa Audio Review: Model Investigator (Haven Investigations #3) by Lissa Kasey and Brian Hutchison (Narrator)

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

With his lover, Kade, missing, androgynous former model turned private investigator Ollie Petroskovic is ready to kick some ass to bring him home.

Ollie and his ex, rock star Jacob Elias, need to find Kade and free him from the clutches of his manipulative family. But with Ollie suffering from chronic migraines and Jacob unable to bear loud noises, they are hardly the dynamic duo. It takes a lot of sweet talking on the part of Jacob—and patience Ollie doesn’t have—to find Kade. Only Kade’s not whole anymore. The fight for Kade’s heart and mind is far from over.

It’s Ollie’s turn to guide Kade through nightmares, self-doubt, and PTSD. Kade’s memories are scattered, fragmented with possible horrors, and he’s not quite sure what is real. Ollie will have to draw on his investigative skills to clear Kade of the terrible accusations his family has made and help Kade unlock the truth. But in doing so, he ignores his own health, which could have catastrophic consequences for everyone, especially when digging up the past could be lethal for them all.

Oh man, I thought the last book had a bad cliffhanger ending, this one was just as bad which frustrates me even more when I really liked the story.  Needless to say I will be waiting for the next book to come out on audio.

I loved that this started right after the last book and that helped quickly jog my memory from the last book.  For the most part they seemed solid in their connection and even when doubts seemed to surface it wasn’t serious more of the once I figure this out everything will be fine kind of mindset.

This story was told from Ollie’s point of view and man is he a worrier, always having a bad version of thing popping into his head.  I loved how their friends and then Kade knew how to help him to get out of that haze.  Kade was harder to read but it came down to him not wanting to be too emotional in front of Ollie but I think they are able to figure out where they were both coming from.  I was however frustrated that Nathan’s death was once again put on the back burner though it looks like the next book is the last in the series so it should be tied up by the end of that one.

Brian Hutchison did a great job narrating this story.  I was easily able to keep track of the characters and actions in the book through his use of different voices and emotions.

Cover art by Garrett Leigh is great and I love the visual of Kade, though I always pictured someone bigger in my head.

Sales Links: Audible | Amazon |  iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 9hrs 12min
Published February 14, 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

Series: Haven Investigations #3

A Lila Audio Review: Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Lord Thornby has been trapped on his father’s isolated Yorkshire estate for a year. There are no bars or chains; he simply can’t leave. His sanity is starting to fray. When industrial magician John Blake arrives to investigate a case of witchcraft, he finds the peculiar, arrogant Thornby as alarming as he is attractive. John soon finds himself caught up in a dark fairytale, where all the rules of magic—and love—are changed.

To set Thornby free, both men must face life-changing truths—and John must accept that the brave, witty man who’s winning his heart may also be about to break it. Can they escape a web of magic that’s as perilous as love?

Salt Magic, Skin Magic is a magical adventure that intrigues the reader from the very start. The more we learn about the characters, the more complicated they get. Their identities are intrinsically attached to the settings and the turn of events. And all senses get engage as the author paints a vivid picture of Thornby’s and Blake’s lives. 

The magical elements mixed with the historical period and the hot but sweet romance set the frame for a story that goes beyond the main characters. All the relationships and friendships are relevant to the plot. As well as the locations in which the characters meet and live. 

The magical system created by the author is interesting and refreshing. It has some common elements to ground it, but the additions give it credibility. The pacing is also well crafted and it has the right amount of backstory and interesting spins to move the action forward.

I did want more answers. The end, as with any other good story, felt a bit rushed. Plus, we don’t get the answers to all the turns and twists the author introduced us. But this doesn’t take much from the story. 

Joel Leslie is one of my favorite narrators and the main reason I selected to review this book. The blurb was interesting and I knew Joel will make it exceptional. 

The cover makes more sense after reading the story. It’s not one that would have made me pick up the book, though. 

Sales Links:  TantoriTunes | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Joel Leslie
Length: 9 hours and 14 minutes

Published: February 12, 2019 (Audio Edition) by Tantor Audio
ASIN: B07N44S2BC
Edition Language: English

Location as a Main Character. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Location as a Main Character

I may have talked on this topic before but once again it struck me as I read several stories this past couple of weeks how impactful a location can be in a novel.  When done in a certain manner, well researched and folded into the story in a way that feels natural and powerful, the setting of a novel can become almost another main character.  It asserts a strong personality over the characters, their burgeoning relationship, and sometimes even their ending.

The setting can contain not only geographical limitations or expanse, barriers or doors to freedom for the couple.  In some locations is can be full of cultural  or religious overlays along with family implications that will play out throughout the storyline.  All that can come from setting your novel at a certain destination.  Like say South Korea, or Japan, or any place in the Middle East Or how about Alaska or parts of the outback in Australia?  Or planting trees in parts of the wilderness in Canada?  Or maybe a vineyard in Brazil?   All those  All of those are settings in novels that I have read.

In a recent case, the location and use of culture in the storyline saved the novel for me as I was less invested in the main couple and more committed to the secondary characters and the people around them.   Creating a setting that feels real, authentic is key to pulling in your readers and giving your characters a firm foundation for their lives and new romance.

Off the top of my head I can think of authors who gift of the vernacular and ties to certain locations have made an indelible impression on me with their characters, and stories, in some cases series.  There’s Neil S. Plakcy with his incredible Mahu series (Hawaii), BA Tortuga (any of her Texas series), NR Walker’s Red Dirt Heart series (Australia), Amy Tasukada’s brilliant The Yakusa’s Path (Japan), Marshall Thornton’s Boystown (Chicago), and that’s just for starters.  As soon as I hit post, I’m sure my brain will be flooded with a ton more along with a bunch of personal smh’s.

That’s not including the amazing historical novels of Elin Gregory or Charlie Cochrane, among others who bring eras along with towns vibrantly alive.

Through these stories I have walked through places and towns in Iceland I can’t pronounce and always hoped to see.  The authors have made me see them.  I’ve visited temples of the Sun in Mexico and walked in the burning heat to amazing places in the outback in Australia.  I’ve witnessed the Southern Star and the Aurora Borealis up in the Arctic Circle.  All thanks to authors who made me feel as though I’ve been there, through great details, gorgeous descriptions, and fantastic writing.

What stories or authors have done that for you?  Taken you places, made you see them, feel them, along with the characters and their relationship?

Tell us, and let us go along for the journey as well.

The most recent books were:

The Yuchae Blossom (World of Love) by Asher Quinn – South Korea

Arctic Sun (Frozen Hearts #1) by Annabeth Albert – Alaska

So, again what are yours?  I can’t wait to find out…..

Now for this week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words….it’s Cherry Blossom Festival time here so that’s what I’m leaving you all with…

 

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, April 7:

  • Location as a Main Character.
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, April 8:

  • PROMO Hunter by Dez Schwartz
  • PROMO Sean Michael
  • An Alisa Audio Review Model Investigator (Haven Investigations #3) by Lissa Kasey and Brian Hutchison (Narrator)
  • A MelanieM Review: Royal Rescue by A. Alex Logan
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Wicked Games (Queen City Rogues #2) by Aimee Nicole Walker
  • A Lila Audio Review: Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

Tuesday, April 9:

  • PROMO BA Tortuga
  • BLOG TOUR Laws of Attraction by JP Sayle
  • PROMO Royal Rescue by A. Alex
  • A Stella Review : Cowboy Seeks Husband by Leta Blake & Indra Vaughn
  • An Alisa Review: Perilous Hearts (Deviant Hearts #3) by A.E. Ryecart
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: Inked Music by Sean Michael

Wednesday, April 10:

  • Review Tour – Marina Vivancos – Honeythorn
  • PROMO Andrew Grey
  • Book Blast Chasing Chance (Gilcrest University Guys #1) by M.E. Parker
  • An Ashlez Review: Chasing Chance (Gilcrest University Guys #1) y M.E. Parker
  • A Stella Review : Honeythorn by  Marina Vivancos
  • A Stella Release Day Review: Soft Place to Fall by BA Tortuga
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Soulstealers by Jacqueline Rohrbach

Thursday, April 11:

  • TOUR THE DOCTOR TAKES A DETOUR by Bren Christopher
  • PROMO Mickie B. Ashling
  • Release Blitz – Trusting Him by L M Somerton
  • An Ali  Review: Trusting Him by L M Somerton
  • A MelanieM Review: The Doctor Takes a Detour by Bren Christopher
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Fracture (Unbreakable Bonds #6) by Jocelynn Drake & Rinda Elliott
  • A Lila Audio Review:Trick Roller (Seven of Spades #2) by Cordelia Kingsbridge, Wyatt Baker (narrator)

Friday, April 12:

  • Review Tour – Garrett Leigh – Jude
  • Book Blast – Always Ours: An MMM Menage Romance by J.P. James
  • BLITZ Moonstruck by Aleksandr Voinov
  • An Ali Review : Jude by  Garrett Leigh
  • A MelanieM Review: Moonstruck by Aleksandr Voinov
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Impacted! (Bay Area Professionals) by Mickie B. Ashling

Saturday, April 13:

  • PROMO Starting From Zero by Lane Hayes
  • A MelanieM Review:For The Win (#lovehim #2.5) by S.M. James

 

An Alisa Audio Review: Romancing the Undercover Millionaire (Romancing the… #3) by Clare London and Seb Yarick (narrator)

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

Can poverty and privilege find a loving compromise?

Alexandre Bonfils, a rich and spoiled second son, is tired of being ignored and decides to help when the family’s exclusive wine business is in trouble. Going undercover in the warehouse, he loves the adventure—and the chance to be close to the sassy and sexy manager, Tate Somerton.

Tate is hardworking and financially struggling, bringing up his siblings on his own. A suspected saboteur at work is his latest challenge, but now he also has a clueless, though very attractive, new intern. There’s an immediate spark between the ill-matched couple, until a shocking accident cuts short Alex’s amateur sleuthing.

While recovering in the generous care of Tate and his family, will Alex realize what belonging really means? Passion and pride come together to fight for the company they’re both committed to preserving, but can a personal bond remain when the dust settles?

I continue to get these stories hoping that I will enjoy them more but continue to feel like they aren’t living up to my hopes, they aren’t bad but I’m not sure they are for me.  Alex is basically a spoiled playboy, with depths that no one knows, but is suddenly foisted from his lavish position with the company.  Tate works hard to keep control of his life and make sure that his employees are taken care of even if it works him to the bone.

I had trouble with how quickly Alex changes his tune when he goes undercover, he finds what he’s been missing down deep but it just seems uncharacteristic.  Tate was leery about the new intern but very quickly seems to get over his hesitation of dating an employee.  I thought Tate’s family was adorable and a bit over the top but they all loved each other.  I didn’t really connect with the two men all that well, I understood Tate’s life much more than Alex’s but all the interactions didn’t add up to me.

Seb Yarrick did a nice job narrating this story.  For the most part I was able to keep up with the story because of the different voices he used but they constantly seemed to get quieter as the story went on that I would have to focus more.

Cover art by Alexandria Corza is nice though the picture doesn’t connect with either character.

Sales Links:  Audible | Amazon |  iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 7hrs 15min
Published: February 14, 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

Series: Romancing The …

An Ali Audio Review: Handle with Care by Cari Z and John Solo (Narrator)

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 Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

A fragile heart needs extra care.

Burned-out social worker Aaron McCoy is on vacation for the first time in years–boss’s orders. Road-tripping to his brother’s wedding with his best friend, Tyler, seems a fun way to spend the mandatory two-week leave, and they set out for Kansas–and a difficult homecoming.

Aaron’s mother was a drug addict, and his adorable younger brother was quickly adopted, while Aaron spent his childhood in foster care. As Aaron mends fences, Tyler hopes to show him that this time, he won’t be left behind to face his problems alone.

Aaron’s opening up to how right it feels to be with Tyler and to the possibility of taking the leap from friends to lovers. But along with the wedding celebration comes a painful reminder of the past. Aaron’s heart is still breakable. Can he put it in Tyler’s hands?

I am always leery about reading books where a MC is a social worker. That’s the field I work in and I drive myself crazy when authors don’t get stuff right.  I decided to give it a try anyways because I’m a fan of this author’s and it includes two of my favorite tropes: friends to lovers and road trips. 
 
This was well done and I enjoyed it.  Aaron and his best friend take off for Kansas to go to a wedding.  Along the way Aaron has to deal with a variety of insecurities and unresolved issues from his childhood.  Tyler is there to be a support and as they go along they realize that they’re falling in love.
 
The book is fairly short so a lot of the issues were dealt with a bit more superficially than I would have preferred  (I want ALL the angst) but it was still entertaining.  Their romance was lovely and sweet and I really liked them together.  It was one of those book couples you are rooting for.
 
The audiobook is narrated by John Solo and I thought he did a very good job.  I have liked all of his narrations that I have listened to.  I think a good narrator can really add depth and emotion to a story which I feel was the case here.
 
Cover Art:  This cover was done by Alexandria Corza.  I don’t really care for it.  The Dreamspun series has had various formats for the books in it and this format was one of my least favorites. 
Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible
Audio Details:
Audible Audio, 6 pages
Published February 21st 2019 by Dreamspinner Press (first published October 16th 2018)
ASIN1644054906
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Audio Review: The Spy’s Love Song (Stars from Peril #1) by Kim Fielding and Drew Bacca (Narrator)

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

For a singer and a spy, love might be mission impossible.

Jaxon Powers has what most only dream of. Fame. Fortune. Gold records and Grammy awards. Lavish hotel suites and an endless parade of eager bedmates. He’s adored all over the world—even in the remote, repressive country of Vasnytsia, where the tyrannical dictator is a big fan. The State Department hopes a performance might improve US relations with a dangerous enemy. But it means Jaxon’s going in alone… with one exception.

Secret agent Reid Stanfill has a covert agenda with global ramifications. Duty means everything to him, even when it involves protecting a jaded rock star. Jaxon and Reid’s mutual attraction is dangerous under Vasnytsia’s harsh laws—and matters get even worse when they’re trapped inside the borders. Romance will have to wait… assuming they make it out alive.

Once I got past of certain stage this story, I thoroughly enjoyed the audiobook of The Spy’s Love Song (Stars from Peril #1) by Kim Fielding as narrated by Drew Bacca. But it did take a bit of time and an admission that yes, this is a work of contemporary fiction, and no drop a certain expectation of reality here.

That started with someone of “rockstar/country star status” heading off   to an unstable communist dictator block associated country like Vasnytsia for a concert and he’s going by himself.  No members of his band, no handlers, no setup crew, no security, especially not his own security in this day and age, and only one person?  Uh no. Eye roll.

That  alone would raise suspicions as to the mission they were on. Can’t do spy missions with an entourage. So dump any idea of a certain authenticity here and just go with the flow.  It made it more enjoyable, at least for me.

Once past that notion, and a certain stumbling steps with the narration, the story took off once we landed in the country of Vasnytsia,  the combination of the peeling back of the layers of true  situation there politically and the slow build of the relationship between Reid and Jaxon was terrific.  I loved the contrast between worlds and the tension sexually and outwardly with the mission.

Then as everything goes haywire the suspense it out of this world and the novel becomes absolutely gripping.  I was totally invested in the characters, the wild ride of emotions and scary undercover mission they were on, and that ultimate moment was out of this world.  It more than made up for the shaky start in my opinion.  I was there with them all the way.

As for the HFN ending?  Sort of perfect because that was the only way I could see it for them.  Now I’m looking forward to more in this series.

As I said the narrator grew on me as did the story.  This is the first audio from Drew Bacca and I will look forward to more from him as well.  I thought he did a good him distinguishing different voices and getting into the story.

I definitely recommend it.

Cover Artist: Bree Archer. The cover really doesn’t do it for me, it’s in the brand style but otherwise eh.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audio Details:

Audiobook, 6 pages
Published February 28th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press (first published October 2nd 2018)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesStars from Peril #1
settingEurope