A Stella Release Day Review: Midnight in Berlin by JL Merrow

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RATING 2,75 out of 5 stars


One bad decision can change your life forever.

It’s midnight in Berlin, and drifter Leon is hitchhiking home in the rain, covered in feathers after a wild festival in the city park. He can’t believe his luck when he’s picked up by a hot guy in a Porsche. That is, until he learns his driver is a creature from his worst nightmares—and plans to turn him into one too. He runs, but he can’t escape the werewolf’s bite.

Christoph made one mistake, but he’s paying for it plenty. He took Leon for a rogue werewolf on his way home from a hunt, and by the time he realizes the truth, it’s too late to do anything but make Leon a monster to save his life. That doesn’t save Christoph from the pack leader’s harsh punishment.

As Leon struggles to cope with his horrifying new reality—and his mixed feelings for the man who bit him—he’s desperate to discover not only what’s happened to Christoph, but the secrets their pack leader is hiding from them all.

Secrets the pack will kill to protect.

First Edition published by Samhain Publishing, Ltd., February 2012.

I’ll be honest. I struggled a lot with Midnight In Berlin. And at the beginning I didn’t even understand what was wrong. This is a second release and I missed it when it was first published. In the years the author has become a favorite, her works are always so great. That’s why, although I badly wanted to put this novel down and start reading something else, I had to force myself to finish it.

The plot is actually interesting, a little boring at the beginning because I didn’t get it what was going to happen.  But then when there was some action and mystery to solve, I was interested and curious about Leon and Cristoph characters and their HEA. The writing superb as always and the scenes so well done, I felt I was there with the couple.

There were some elements I didn’t enjoy and why I rated the novel so low. First of all I was so upset  with the resolution of the little mystery, I actually felt cheated, I don’t want to reveal anything but I thought it was too easy to just put things like that. There were quite a lot of secondary characters and I would have so loved to know more about them, but maybe there was no space for them. In fact to me the story felt rushed and ended too quickly, it surely deserved more pages, that way so many things would have been more explained and developed. Most of all the romance part, almost inexistent, should have had a more important role in the plot. And most likely that’s the main reason why I had trouble connecting with Leon and Christoph.

Midnight in Berlin is not the masterpiece I’m used to reading by JL Merrow, in my opinion the author last years’ releases are the best she has done.

The cover art by Tiferet Design is awesome, I adore it and find it eyecatching. I love the colours and it’s fitting. I couldn’t have asked for more from a cover. Well done.

SALE LINKS   Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, Second Edition, 200 pages

Expected publication: August 24th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published February 21st 2012)

ISBN13 9781640801219

Edition Language English

A Jeri Review: Pop Life By Ryan Loveless

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Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

Pop LifeAndrew writes the songs everyone sings along with on the radio—tunes full of love, longing, and heartbreak. He has a knack for tapping into emotions, but when it comes to his own, the feelings aren’t so easy to manage. Sent to New York City to work on Irish singer Paeder Brogan’s first solo album, Andrew is caught in the middle of a boy band’s infighting and secret love affairs while battling the memories of his last trip to the Big Apple, which ended when English pop star Jamie Webster drunkenly kissed him.

Andrew’s heart leaps when he discovers he’s staying at the same hotel as Jamie, yet he doubts Jamie recalls him, even though Andrew wrote his biggest hit. Jamie remembers him, though, and he seems to think Andrew is the only person who can save him from his downward spiral. Even as his feelings for Jamie swell, Andrew faces the real threat that the maelstrom he’s walked into will pull him down alongside Jamie.

This book had a lot of promise. The premise sounded good, albeit done to death. Bratty rock stars, etc. But honestly, it was a bit of a mess.

Andrew is a song writer. He loves his job- and has the awards and divorce to prove it. But his songwriting partner sends him off to New York to meet with one of the guys from a boy band who wants to go solo. And in a super kind of twisted way, it is another pop star who helped orchestrate it because he wanted to see Andrew again. Even though they only had one brief encounter before.

This story was supposed to be about Andrew and Jamie. But really it is about Jamie’s insecurities, Andrew coddling him and then 3 other relationships amongst other people fight for the spotlight.

If this story had been broken down into two or more books, it would have been more cohesive. But there was Andrew and Michael. Andrew and Jamie. Jamie and Jeff. Jeff and Paeder. Paeder and Keelin. Paeder and his wife. And of course Russell who seems to clean up all of the messes. And there were A LOT of messes.

There were parts I liked, but more that I didn’t like. None of the characters were really fleshed out, nor were the relationships. And even though he was a clingy bitch- I have to say Keelin was my favorite and I almost hope he gets his own book. With only his relationship in it and not 15 others.

Cover art by L.C. Chase is beautiful and works for the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition, 200 pages
Published April 13th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press (first published May 28th 2011)
ISBN 1634772695 (ISBN13: 9781634772693)
Edition Language English

A Sammy Review: The Hush-Hush Crush by Liberty Lace

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Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5
The Hush Hush Crush coverScott and Sawyer Tate may be identical twins, but they’re otherwise pretty different. Sawyer likes to work out and is a firefight, while Scott would prefer a cold beer and to relax after work. But no matter how different they are, Scott can’t help his feelings for Sawyer, so when he calls him in need of a place to stay, Scott’s world is rocked. He moved to get away from his brother, but there’s no where you can move when you’re stuck inside the same four walls.
So this is my first story by Liberty Lace, and I was really hoping for some sparks of magic, but in the end, it was more of a brief flicker. I adore the tabooness of brocest, especially when an author plays on that, but this one didn’t feel like she played on it enough. It was neither here nor there, and the tension was talked about, but in terms of actually being there, it lacked.
There was a nice amount of steam, but besides that, this short didn’t really work for me. I wanted to love it, especially since brocest is hard to find, so I’m especially bummed that it just wasn’t right for my tastes.
In addition to the lack of a good story, build up of tension, and a magical spark, there were some editing issues. There was an overlap in British English and US English, as well as some random commas where they didn’t belong. Add that to the totally random ending of the story that left me rolling my eyes, and I just can’t give this a good rating. But, the author has potential. So, that’s why I gave it a bit more than I may have normally.
The cover art by Wilde City Press is pretty generic. I suppose it fits with them being twins, but other than that, it could be for any story.
Sales Links:  Wilde City Press |   Amazon | Buy It Here
Book Details:
ebook, 2nd
Published by Wilde City Press (first published August 14th 2015)
original titleWhen A Twin Peeks
ISBN139781925313413
edition languageEnglish

An Aurora YA Review: Evolution by Lissa Kasey

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 Rating: 5 out of 5  ★★★★★

Evolution coverGene Sage has only ever wanted to sing, but his band, Evolution, is pushing him toward the big time. He finds it hard to focus on making musical history when he’s dreaming of graveyards and seeing ghosts. And while all he can think of is hiding who he is from a world unforgiving of anyone different, he discovers he’s also the ultimate snack for vampires and demons. When Gene literally runs into—over—his idol, Kerstrande Petterson, rock god, vampire in hiding, and music cynic, his life falls over the edge into chaos.Jaded by the world and nearly a decade in the music business, Kerstrande thinks Gene wants to use him to make Evolution immortal in more than one way, but he can’t seem to brush aside the young singer’s enthusiasm.Getting involved with Kerstrande drags Gene into otherworldly power struggles. Between the ghosts stalking them, the media painting supernaturals as villains, and a vampire out of control in the city, the only way for Gene and Kerstrande to survive is for Gene to embrace his powers—and his destiny.I really, really enjoyed this book. One of my favorite things about the book was the descriptions. Straight away I had a very clear picture in my head of everything that was going on and that’s one of my favorite things about reading. It can, however, be hard to toe the line between using enough description that a reader can clearly picture the scene and using too much and having your story get bogged down in it which I don’t believe happened in this book at all.

Another thing I really enjoyed about the book was the two point of views for the two different main characters every chapter. It really made them both, especially Kerstrande, more likable and relatable to be able to see what was going on in both of their heads in their own unique voices rather than seeing the entire book through one’s eyes over the other’s.
If I had to nitpick, there was some exposition toward the beginning that slowed the first one or two chapters down, but it wasn’t something I really had a problem with since as soon as the plot got under way the book got right back to a good pace and I was certainly never bored by it, even in the first chapter or two when there was a lot of information.
Overall, it was a fun read, and one that I think was very well written. I would recommend it to people who like supernatural themes and modern fantasies.
The cover art was done by Paul Richmond and I really like it. It’s a pretty simplistic cover, but it has a lot of color and personality. It’s very eye-catching which is something that can always be helpful to a book. All in all, very well done.
Sales Links:  DSP Publications |  Amazon | Buy It Here
Book Details:
DSP Publications (a non romance imprint of Dreamspinner)
2nd Edition, first edition Harmony Ink Press
Release Date: July 28, 2015
Words: 71336
Pages: 250
ISBN-13: 978-1-63476-061-4
File Formats: epub, mobi, pdf
Coming Soon: “Evolution: Genesis”

A MelanieM Review: Roughstock: Blind Ride – Season One by B.A. Tortuga

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

Blind Ride cover 2Jason Scott is at the top of the field in his career, that of professional bull riding.  Jason, along with his traveling partner and best friend, Andy Baxter, are riding the circuit, both hoping to finish at the top of the boards and win enough money to see each of them set for life.  Jason and Bax have been dancing around the fact that they are crazy about each other.  Each is afraid of losing his best friend if they admit how much they actually love each other. It will take something huge to make a change in their relationship.

Being a professional bullrider is a dangerous game and in one horrible instant everything changes for both Jason and Bax.  When a ride on one of the top bulls goes wrong, an injury to Jason’s head causes him to go blind. Reeling, Jason and Bax retreat to Jason’s family ranch to recover and wonder what’s next for them both.  For Jason, it appears his life is over and he has nothing to live  for.  Bax is determined to prove him wrong, both personally and professionally.

Bax thinks Jason can ride the bulls even blind.  But it will take Bax, his love and their small circle of friends to prove to Jason that even blind bullriders have their life and love ahead of them.

I have a huge fondness for both the Roughstock series and its author, BA Tortuga.  So it pains me when I have to report that this story, while having so many of the great qualities I have come to expect from this series, is guaranteed to frustrate the reader to the point that it is hard to recommend it. First let’s look at the merits of this story.

The characters are wonderful.  Jason “Mini” Scott and Andy “Bax” Baxter are typical of the cowboys you will find in the stories of B.A. Tortuga.  Their personalities are so authentic to the bull riding circuit and the locale that I would also expect to run into them at any PBR event.  They become so real that they feel like a part of your family.  And it is this intimacy that connects the reader to them and their futures.  You feel the dust that coats them as they pick themselves up off the arena floor and the pain their profession inflicts upon their bodies.  They are just so realistic that you hurt for them.  And Tortuga is one of the best authors around when it comes to dialog.  The words that issue out of the mouths of her cowboys ring with authentic local flavor and colloquialisms.  And it does so without being hokey or off sounding.  Here they are heading down the road to get supper:

Bax threw his duffel back, too, sliding into the driver’s side. “So, where to? I figure that one little place where you circle your order will be closed.” “There’s that one place by the highway — about twenty minutes out. It’s nothing but old ranchers taking their women out. Nice T-bones.” And he always got tickled by those tables with the ads printed on them. Reminded him of going to auction with Pa-paw.

“That works.” The big dualie slid right into traffic like an elephant into a herd of zebras, Bax muscling them right in.

They scooted down 35, radio blaring. He found a pack of smokes in the console and lit one for Bax, then got himself one. Three days of rest, then Tulsa.

“You think we ought to try and hit home ‘fore Tulsa?” It was kinda eerie sometimes, the way Bax read his mind. Then again, they’d been on the road together for nigh on six years.

“We can. Momma’d like to see us. ‘Course, we could go on to the city. Goof off. Depends on how much you want Momma’s pineapple upside down cake.”

“Oh, I’d rather go see your momma.” That man did have a sweet tooth. Pineapple upside down was Bax’s very favorite.

“Cool. I’ll call her. Let her know we’ll be in.” He took a deep drag, grinned. Lord, lord. “I hope your knee’s up to riding fence.”

“Shit, you know it. Just don’t ask me to walk fence.” Wheeling around a little Honda, Bax started humming with George on the radio, off tune as anything. “Nah. You wouldn’t be worth shit in Tulsa, then.”

They both hooted, and Jason leaned back, easy in his bones. Man, event win number three. Check in his pocket. Him and Bax heading for steak.

Life, she was good.

Of course, we know it’s all going to change and soon.  But in that short exchange we see the ease and contentment of Jason and Bax’s relationship.  It sings of a friendship long established and perhaps much more.

And once they fess up and go for a full romantic relationship, it is still in keeping with their cowboy ways and personalities.  No flowers here.

 It was like a good ride, all motion and want and spinning. He tried to warn Bax, tried to let the man know he was gonna be way quick off the mark, but it wasn’t happening. And it didn’t seem to matter one bit. Bax was pushing him on, making these amazing noises, just as hot for him as the Fourth of July.

Their relationship is hot, sexy, and emotionally deep.  How we fall for them.

Pretty much everything works here for much of the story.  The narrative suffers a bit from almost too much sex.  We want more of Jason coming to grips with his blindness.  And we want to see exactly how Jason, with Bax and Coke’s help, will learn to ride again.  At one point, even Bax remarks that he and Jason have sex instead of talking.  OK, but as a reader, while I love the hot sex, I want more of the relationship that produces it.

After all I have been through with Jason and Bax, feeling side by side with them on their emotional rollercoaster, I want and deserve to have the emotional payoff I expect at the end of the story.  And that is exactly what’s missing.  No “aha” moment, no ending.  Nothing.  It just stops prior to Jason ever getting back up on a bull, even one on his friend’s ranch.  The emotional reward, the moment everything has been building up to never happens. Frustrating? You betcha.  And totally unexpected from this seasoned author.  And it is this aspect that dragged the rating down to a 3 star rating.

So who should read this book?  Well, hard core fans of B.A. Tortuga for one as well as fans of the Roughstock series.  Coke, AJ, Bax and Jason are the core characters of the Roughstock series so its good to have this part of the story.  But that lack of ending just makes me want to grab a beer and go watch some PBR instead of continuing to bemoan what could have been an outstanding book.

Cover art by Posh Gosh.  I like this cover, it feels more representative of the story and characters.  Terrific job.

Sales Links:  Pride Publications |  Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, Pride Publications (a LGBT imprint of Totally Bound, now Totally Entwined)
Published July 7th 2015 by Totally Bound Publishing (first published January 1st 2007)
original titleRoughstock: Blind Ride – Season One
ISBN139781784306397
edition languageEnglish
seriesRoughstock #1
charactersJason Scott, Andy Baxter settingUnited States

Books in the Roughstock series:

Roughstock: Blind Ride — Season One – Novel, m/m, core
Give it Time: the Seven of Wands – Novella, m/m
Roughstock: And a Smile — Season One – Novel, m/m, core
Doce — A Roughstock Story – Novella, m/m
Amorzinhos — A Roughstock Story – Novela, m/m, threesome
Roughstock: File Gumbo — Season One – Novel, m/m, core
Roughstock: And a Smile — Coke’s Clown – Novela, m/m,
Shutter Speed, A Roughstock Story: the Seven of Pentacles – Novella, m/m
Roughstock: City/Country – Novel, m/f
Roughstock: Picking Roses – Novel, m/f
Needing To: A Roughstock Story – Novella, m/m

Upcoming Roughstock Novels
Roughstock: What She Wants – Novel, m/m/f
Roughstock: Tag Team – Season Two – Novel, m/m
Roughstock: Terremoto – Season Two- Novel, m/m

Roughstock Shorts:
Cowboy Christmas (Coke and Dillon)
Barbed Wire and Bootheels (Sam and Beau)
Some Good Doctoring (CB and Jonesy) – Free Read

 

Dean Pace-Frech’s “Disappear With Me” Spotlight Post & Giveaway

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DisappearWithMe full siz

Disappear With Me by Dean Pace-Frech
Publisher:  Amber Quill Press

Buy Links:   Amber Quill Press  – All Romance eBooks

I am happy to announce that the Second Edition of Disappear With Me is available from Amber Quill Press!

About Disappear With Me…

Love is greater than hope or faith, but can Reverend Leander Norris convince a jury that the love he shares with another man is natural?

In 1910, the United Kingdom was in turmoil. King Edward died after only nine years on the throne. The social class system that upheld British society for centuries was being chipped away by social, political, and economic unrest across the Commonwealth. Amidst this backdrop, Reverend Leander Norris is accused of sodomy. After discovering his own self-worth and unconditional love, Leander finds the courage to stand up for what he believes is right and pleads not guilty to the charges. Throughout the trial, Leander’s past is revealed, including the temptations that bring the accusations against him. By the end of the trail, Leander is once again reunited with a romantic interest from the past, but it may be too late to rekindle any love that might remain, given the circumstances of the era and Leander’s likely sentence.

Excerpt:

“Are you not a scholar?” Weeks asked. “Do you not know the Bible that you preach from each Sunday?”

“I know it very well,” Leander answered. “But the Bible has many interpretations. I think you can guess that mine might be a little less than conventional.”

Weeks reclined back in his chair. He made a steeple with his fingers and rested them on his pursed lips. “You’re actually sitting here telling me that, as a man of God, you’re all right with buggery and feel you’ve done nothing wrong?”

“Mr. Weeks, do you realize you keep asking me the same question over again, using different words?”

“As your counsel, I need to be sure that I understand your position, the one you expect me to defend.”

“You sound shocked that I would suggest such a thing. I can’t have you defending me if you don’t believe it yourself.”

“Reverend, my beliefs about the situation are irrelevant; it doesn’t matter what I believe. I need to be able to defend our position in court and hope our defense can refute what the prosecution will present.”

“I have to have conviction in my sermons each Sunday morning. I think you also know you need to have conviction when defending your clients.”

“And I can assure you that I have that same conviction to make sure that you receive a fair trial. I will do my best—”
“Do your best to what? Go through the motions and make sure that the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed so it looks like I’ve been given a good defense?”

Weeks didn’t answer and that was all the answer that Leander needed. After a moment, Weeks tried to start again. “Look, Reverend, I am your assigned counsel for this trial. I am on your side. I want to see you get a fair trial, but you must understand what we’re up against is quite overwhelming.”

“I know; I’ve never done anything the simple way.”

“Sir, you must understand that we are going up against laws that are rooted in two thousand years of Christian tradition and about as many years of British attitude.”

“Mr. Weeks, do you love your wife?”

Weeks let out an impatient sigh. “Of course, but here you go asking intimate questions about me that have no bearing on my defending your case.”

“Humor me, sir. Do you love your wife?”

“Yes, I very much love my wife and family.”

“What if you woke up tomorrow and a constable showed up on your doorstep and arrested you because they said the love you share with your wife was illegal?”

Weeks didn’t answer him. Instead, in a quiet voice, he said, “You know you and I are just two people. We’re not going to change these laws overnight.”

 

Search “Disappear With Me” or “Dean Pace-Frech” on your other favorite sites to purchase romance books, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, iTunes, etc.

About Dean Pace-Frech

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With inspiration from historical tourism sites, the love of reading, and a desire to write a novel, Dean started crafting his debut novel, A Place to Call Their Own, in 2008. After four years of writing and polishing the manuscript, it was accepted and originally published 2013. His second novel, Disappear With Me, set in Edwardian England was published later that same year. Both novels were re-released in May 2015.

Dean lives in Kansas City, Missouri with his husband, Thomas (legally as of February 14, 2015), and our two cats. They are involved in their church and enjoy watching movies, outdoor activities in the warmer weather and spending time together with friends and family. In addition to writing, Dean’s hobbies include reading and patio gardening.

Dean is currently working a standalone title, Need Your Love, set in 1966, and The Higher Law, a continuation of the story of Frank and Gregory’s family set in the 1930s.

Connect with Dean Pace-Frech
Email deanfrech@aol.com
Blog: Dean’s Web Site
Facebook: Dean Pace-Frech, Author page or send a friend request Dean Pace-Frech.
Twitter: @deanpacefrech
Google+: +deanpacefrech
Goodreads: Dean Pace-Frech
Pinterest: Dean Pace-Frech

Giveaway

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In celebration of the wide release of Disappear With Me, I will be giving away 3 Ecopies of my first novel, A Place to Call Their Own, which is available from JMS Books.  Comment, follow me on Twitter, visit my author page, etc. to enter to win!  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prize provided by the author.

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A Stella Review: Loving the Astrophysicist (Astrophysicist #1&2) by T.N. Tarrant

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Rating 4 stars out of 5

Loving An Absent Minded Astrophysicist coverAt twenty-three, Dr. Liam McGregor is a well-respected astrophysicist, astrobiologist, and geologist. With no family, few friends, and no romantic prospects, he’s used to being alone. Focusing on his various scientific projects and taking care of his decidedly unusual cat help keep the loneliness at bay.

Jareth Manning is starting life over—new town, new job—after the loss of his husband. The last thing he expects is for the most absentminded, and beautiful, man he’s ever seen to take up residence in his heart. Nor did he expect to find himself a willingly humble slave to Her Imperial Highness, Empress the Cat.

But Jareth has learned that love doesn’t come around often and to hold on to it when it does. Jareth is willing to be patient if Liam is willing to take a risk after being burned before. They just have to survive Liam’s past returning.  

Eight years after Liam and Jareth marry, they want a child. Things don’t go well when they try to adopt, with terrible accusations thrown at Jareth. After recovering, they proceed with a private adoption, bringing home a beautiful little girl, Carinae. Then things get ugly, endangering not only Liam’s life, but Carinae’s.

How cute is a cat on a leash! Her Imperial Highness sure is amazing.

This book is a second edition and basically put together the two previous books in the Astrophysicist series by T.N. Tarrant. It’s a really sweet book with great MCs and some valuable second ones. I loved the plot too.

In the first part we meet Dr Liam McGregor, a twenty-three years old astrophysicist, geologist and astrobiologist, simply known as the absentminded astrophysicist. After being attacked by a colleague, he is soon rescued by Jareth, the new head of the security in the institute Liam works at. Where Liam is a chubby geek, Jareth is sexy and handsome. How can someone as the strong guard be attracted to the sweet Liam? But Jareth is determined to court him and show him he can be trusted.

“I think you’re beautiful, Liam.”

“How can you think so? I’m fat, scarred, and almost constantly bruised because I can’t even keep an eye on where I’m going, or I fall all over myself when I try to,” Liam objected. “Nobody has ever really wanted me,” he whispered.

Jareth knew only time would show Liam he was serious about wanting him. “You are perfect as you are, Liam. I thought you were absolutely breathtaking the day I met you, and I still think so. […]I was paying a lot of attention to you.” Liam obviously didn’t believe what he was saying. “But why?”

“I have no idea, Liam.” Jareth tipped Liam’s chin up so he could look into Liam’s eyes. […]“To be honest, I don’t really care why. I just know that I find you beautiful and sexy as hell, and one of these days, I want to strip you down and lick you from head to toe, front and back, and have you do the same to me, tangled up together until we can’t sort out who’s where.”

In the second part we find them after being together for eight years, planning on becoming parents. It will be a really hard journey, full of hurts, crisis, accusations, and fears. At the end it will be so worthwhile to get Carinae in their life.

I liked Liam and Jareth, I especially loved how Jareth is a positive characters. After suffering the loss of his husband, he went through dark times and started drinking. Thanks to his family who saved him, now he’s going on with his life and he’s ready for a new love. He’s protective and sympathetic with Liam and his world.

Son of two genius parents, Liam had an incredible and really bad youth, he was stabbed almost to death by his mother cause she couldn’t stand him for being smarter than her, with his father as witness. Liam lives for and in his work, he’s pretty much lonely, apart from his cat Empress and the sweet Aimee. He’s not used to be loved cause a lot of people took advantage of his great mind, just used him.

I put this book in my comfort list, a beautiful list to me. First of all it means that I’m surely going to reread Loving an Absentminded Astrophysicist.  I really loved it, it was an emotional reading but at the same time all the bad things were faced with lightness and positivity. So this is definitely a book to reread when I need a hope glimmering in a dark moment. So happy to have met Liam and Jareth and really well done, TN!

Cover Art by Bree Archer. What can I say about it? I’m a sucker for children, so I honestly can admit I even have read the blurb before requesting the ARC. I saw the cover and I had to read it. So if the aim of a cover is to catch the reader’s eye before the story, this cover to me is a winner, so sweet cute aww.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press    All Romance (ARe)    Amazon         Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 226 pages
Published February 20th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632164773
edition languageEnglish
Author Website: http://tntarrant.blogspot.com/
seriesAstrophysicist #1-2

 

 

A MelanieM Review: Stolen Dreams by Sue Brown

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Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

Stolen Dreams coverFive years ago Morgan Conway cheated on the man he loved all his life and their relationship imploded.  Now Morgan, an up and coming assistant movie director has moved on.  Morgan is engaged to be married to a popular actor, his career is going well, and the coffee shop he owns is busier than ever.  All is good. Until Morgan hears that the man he loved and lost is back in town.  When he shows up at Morgan’s coffee shop, all the old feelings return, unfortunately there for everyone to see, including his fiancé.

Shae Delamere was crushed when Morgan cheated on him five years ago. But when his father falls ill, he returns home and seeks out Morgan once more.  Despite the fact that Morgan is engaged and Shae lives in Texas,  they realize they never stopped loving each other.  Their renewed friendship brings conflict on every side.  Morgan still has a fiance. And friends and families unite to pull them apart again. As old alliances come to light and long buried secrets threaten to rise up and destroy them once more, Morgan and Shae must decide to either forgive and move forward or let their dreams of being together be stolen away forever.

Stolen Dreams by Sue Brown is definitely a book that will arouse strong feelings in a reader, although probably not the feelings the author had hoped for.  I originally read this story back in 2012 when a now defunct press released it.  It wasn’t  until I was halfway through that I remembered the story…and why I didn’t much care for it then.  And still don’t today.

The story starts off promisingly enough.  Morgan is happy on all fronts.  He has a gorgeous fiance who adores him, a career as an assistant director that’s taking off, and a coffee shop he owns that is popular with the latte crowd.  All good.  The interaction with his friends and employees is funny, sharp and gives the reader a good impression of the character and the story just underway.   Then  Shae Delamere, his ex (ex best friend, ex boyhood friend, ex lover, ex everything) resurfaces in town, and everything starts to head south, including the plot.

The official reason that Shae has returned is that his father is ill but there is another hidden reason as well.  That is probably one of the biggest issues to surface in this story.  Its that everyone has secrets…Godzilla- sized,  huge secrets that either everyone knows about or is being kept from one of the main characters.  The idea that any sort of respectful, equal relationship is or can be had between any of the characters here is tossed out the window immediately.  They all constantly lie to each other (some because they are protecting a person, others because they detest a person, or everything in between).  They did so in the past, are doing so now, and you are never sure what is too keep any of them from continuing this pattern.  The only reason any of the secrets come to life is because someone accidentally “spills the coffee beans” as it were.

I kept wondering why Sue Brown, who writes such beautifully compassionate and relatable characters, would choose to plot an entire story around characters almost guaranteed to be off-putting and somewhat shabby in their behavior, especially towards those they say they love the most.  I am not talking about the element of cheating here (although I know that’s a red flag for some readers).  That doesn’t really bother me in a story if the author makes a good case for it and it feels plausible for the characters involved.  Did I ever get that feeling here? No.  The explanation behind the original cheating element felt contrived and shallow (kind of like the characters).

No, the poison goes far deeper into the foundation of the characters themselves as created by Brown.  Shae, the one character everyone is supposed to relate to, commit to and understand comes off as cowardly, manipulative, and self serving.  Ouch. And  he’s the saintly one.  I did feel sorry for Morgan who is apparently so fragile (not that it comes across) that he must constantly be protected from everyone and everything around him, including the truth about past events and peoples actions.   Even his best friends feel that they know what is better for him than Morgan does.  Every action, almost every relationship is built upon a foundation of deceit.  And when it starts to crack, is it because people are finally doing the right thing?  Being responsible or even kind?  Nope.  It’s because a light bulb finally goes off, someone gets a clue and then the explosions begin.  Not because the author ever decides that someone in the story takes a moral or responsible stand.  No, turns out they would have continued to hide or lie if they could get away with it.

Sigh.

The last issue I have with the story after all these have been dealt with?  The ginormous hidden secret is easily guessed at early on in the plot.  That pesky old secret/author plot device that everyone is hiding is so obvious that you wonder when all their intelligence took flight. And then you realize it happened back in the beginning of the story when Shae Delamere comes to town.

Heavier sigh.

By the end of the unrealistic happy ending, I was more than ready to wash my hands of Stolen Dreams and all the characters I found within.

And I hate to say that because I am a huge fan of Sue Brown.  In a way, its great to see how much she has evolved as a writer since 2012.  I can’t think of a recent story she has written lately that I haven’t loved.  And I am eagerly awaiting the next installment in her Isle of Wight series, a favorite of mine.  So if you are new to Sue Brown, you might want to give this a pass. Seek out instead The Sky Is Dead or any stories in her Isle of Wight series. If you are a fan of Sue Brown, then you might want to pick this up and give it a try.  I’ll leave that decision up to you.

Cover art by Brooke Albrecht.  It’s a nice cover but doesn’t speak to the characters or story within.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook & Paperback   All Romance (ARe)   Amazon      Buy It here

Book Details:

ebook, Second Edition, 240 pages
Published January 30th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
(first published March 18th 2012)
original titleStolen Dreams
ISBN139781632164049
edition languageEnglish
url http://suebrownsstories.blogspot.com/

Review: Finn (Endangered Fae #1) by Angel Martinez

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Finn_432(1) coverStruggling writer Diego Sandoval spots a thin naked man from the rail of the Brooklyn Bridge, the pain and desperation inherent in that figure spurs Diego to action.  An advocate for the homeless, he wants to get the man help and then to a shelter.  But when Diego takes the man home to get cleaned up he gets the biggest surprise of all.  The man, Finn,  is in fact a Pooka,  a being left behind when the Fae closed the doors between worlds.  Worst of all, the city’s pollution and modern day chemicals are killing him. When Diego’s agent suggests he borrow a friends home in the woods up in New Brunswick to write, he jumps at the chance to get the Pooka, Finn, out of the city and into a more pristine environment where he can start to heal. But its not just Finn who needs healing but Diego as well, fresh off an abusive relationship.  Diego is not sure what to expect from their adventure in the woods but what happens is both more wonderful and horrific than anything he can imagine.

Fionnachd, a Pooka, awoke to a new modern world where nothing is the same as he left it and all the changes are ones that have the power to kill him, even the water and the air he is breathing is making him sick.  Rescued by a human who seems to glow with the light of compassion and something more, Finn slowly comes to care for Diego as he recovers from his centuries long sleep and illness.  When Diego takes Finn to Canada’s remote woods, Finn finally feels healthy and at home in the wild natural setting.  But something else lurks deep in the darkness, something that Finn accidentally awakes.  Like calls to like, so magic calls to magic, only this magical being is an ancient, evil spirit: the wendigo.

As Finn and Diego struggle to find a way to kill the wendigo before it can possess Diego and return to the the city, they find themselves falling in love.  Can a Pooka and a Human find love together or will the wendigo kill them first?

The púca (Irish for spirit/ghost) or pooka is an ancient Irish fae being, feared for its ability to assume all types of animals forms as it creates mischief and harm, usually after nightfall.  And while the pooka may be best known here in the US because of a large pooka rabbit called Harvey, trust me when I say, this is not your  parents pooka!  This fae being, Finn, is sinfully sexy, with long black flowing hair, and once healthy, a body to die for.  In Diego’s case, perhaps literally.  How I love this story!

It didn’t take me long to fall under the magical spell that Angel Martinez creates for Finn, the first in her Endangered Fae series.  With her first setting the melting pot that is Brooklyn, Martinez starts to spin a yarn that will incorporate a number of different mythologies into a romance with supernatural overtones.  There is the Irish púca (also pooka, phouka), the Wendigo from the Algonquian Nation, and Taliesin, a wizard and bard who acquired the gift of prophecy, found in Welsh mythology.  Layered onto such a fantastical foundation, Martinez brings in a main Hispanic character steeped in his own culture and language until this story just simmers with a richness of traditions, folklore, and diversity.

The story is told, in part,  from Diego’s point of view, a gentle city dwelling writer whose daily jaunts through the streets of Brooklyn include stops to check in on various homeless people who have become friends.  Diego delivers food, clothing and kindness and receives their trust in return.  Martinez manages to reveal Diego’s personality not through a summary of his character traits but through his actions.  And that’s a method that almost guarantees our affection and understanding of his nature and generosity of spirit.  Diego’s support system includes Tia Carmen,his wonderful landlady whose friendship, acceptance, and wisdom will be necessary for the events to come.  Through Tia Carmen, the story is peppered with bits of their language, cooking recipes and herbal medicines that Finn will need to recover.  I wanted to taste her chicken and stuffed poblanos, red beans, and rice along with Finn as he licked his fingers and asked for more.  It is this attention to detail and the layer upon layer that Martinez adds to her stories that make this such a multidimensional tale that will resonate with many.

There are so many characters to love here.  From the most important ones such as Finn (such a lovely construct of a Fae) and Diego, a warmhearted, heart torn, generous soul to Tia Carmen, literary agent Miriam, or even such fleeting characters as Tiff and Rodney West, homeless,discarded street people, Martinez has taken great care to make each and every one a believable individual, one character as well rounded as the next.   It’s the reason why you come to care for them all and remember their names long past the scenes they were mentioned in.  In Marinez’ world, there doesn’t seem to be any such thing as a “throwaway” person, whether they be real or fiction.  All matter, all count.  That just deepens my appreciation of her talents as a writer as well as my admiration for her stories.

Both the romance and the Wendigo are great elements here.  The romance is a slow build to love, especially as it has so many obstacles to overcome.  Diego’s ex boyfriend, the very nature of the pooka himself, and finally the absolutely scary Wendigo, a horrific delight for those who enjoy a little fright with their m/m love stories.  The Wendigo and its actions might gross out a few readers but the vivid descriptions and the manner in which Martinez gets her characters out of the wild situations they find themselves in is more than worth some of the gore found here.  Really not bad at all by some of the standard stuff I see or read these days.

Martinez throws hints and clues here and there, scattered about her plot, that point to the next story in the series, Diego (Endangered Fae #2).  I can’t wait to see what’s in store for my favorite pooka and his human love.  This is the second edition for Finn, and as I am unfamiliar with the first, it is the only edition for me.  I definitely recommend Finn for all lovers of m/m romance, the Fae, and the wild unknown.

Cover Art by Winterheart Design.  Nice cover, love the model who stands in for Finn.

Buy Links:    MLR Press        Amazon          ARe

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 205 pages
Published May 2nd 2014 by MLR Press (first published July 2nd 2009)
original titleFinn
ASINB00K3496AS
edition languageEnglish
seriesEndangered Fae #1
charactersFinn Shannon, Diego Sandoval
settingNew Brunswick (Canada)

 

Books in the series in the order they were written and should be read are:

Finn (Endangered Fae #1)
Finn’s Christmas (Endangered Fae #1.5)
Diego (Endangered Fae #2)
Semper Fae (Endangered Fae #3)