A MelanieM Review: The Truth as He Knows It (Perspectives #1) by A.M. Arthur

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Lies are the chains that keep you weighed down at rock bottom.

The Truth As He Knows It coverNoel Carlson is now living as a police officer in the town of Stratton, Pennsylvania.  The scars he carries, on body and in mind, are not the only reminders of the gay bashing in college.  It also left his first love and best friend Tristan institutionalized with brain damage. And Noel his only visitor.  Weekly visits to Tristan and some of the comments Noel has overheard at work have kept him firmly in the closet, even to his partner.  Then an official call to an apartment building on a nuisance violation changes all that.

The loud noises from an out of control female bachelor party brings Off. Noel Carlson and his partner face to face with a tied up, dazed male stripper. Since the stripper had violated no laws, Noel lets him go.  Later Noel finds that he can’t forget the gorgeous man in the thong with the butterfly tattoo.

Shane Joseph has had a terrible life and it has left him with overwhelming debts to repay, especially to the brother who sacrificed nearly everything for him. His two jobs, in a deli and as a stripper, leave him no time for a social life.  But when his last job brings a gorgeous cop to his rescue, Shane thinks his might be missing out on something.  Another encounter at the deli reinforces that impression, especially when it seems that Noel wants more than sex and a quick hookup.  Soon a shaky bond is formed and Shane and Noel start to hope that they might even have a future together.

But Shane has huge secrets that he is hiding from everyone, including his brother.  And past history has taught him that lying brings less pain than telling the truth.  But now those lies are piling up and threatening to drown Shane.  Shane wants to come clean to those he loves, including Noel.  But when the revelations are done, will Shane still have anyone to come home to?

Whew!  What an emotionally wrenching read.  A. M. Arthur certainly knows how to build a story complete with strong, vulnerable characters you grow to care about.  A carryover from Arthur’s Cost of Repairs (book and series), the reverberations of the events and gay bashing continue to spread through the storyline here.  The Truth As He Knows It is the first in Arthur’s new Perspectives series that will feature characters from the Cost of Repairs books and new characters such as Shane.  But honestly, as well written as this story is, I’m not sure I’m going to continue on.

As I stated before this author creates believable, viable human beings for her stories.  The settings, locations, and events that occur translate as authentic and real.  For example, the beaten-up old trailer and disreputable, grungy trailer park where Shane and his brother Jason, reside, is so vividly described that the reader will have no problem visualizing such a desperately poor and hard scrabble sort of existence both brothers have been living.  That aura of desperation and near poverty coats Jason and Shane, leaving them both with a grayness that can’t be washed off.  That’s marvelous writing.  And it continues with Noel and Tristan’s relationship, and carries over into all the interchanges and dialog between every main character here.  So why wouldn’t I want to continue? Why? Because of the unrelenting angst and pain these characters go through.

These characters have been abused, raped, imprisoned, beaten, left brain damaged, scarred, impoverished, victimized in almost every way and it’s not just in the past.  Its past, present, (and if I read the clues right), it continues well into their future…books that is.  The pain and abuse rains down on these people like a 40 year flood that’s just getting started.  Just when you think there’s a possibility of something positive happening or a hopeful turn of events,  the author beats the crap out of that bead of light with a steel baseball bat.  It’s not just the characters that are left reeling, but the reader as well.

I can take angst if it is balanced out with scenes that leave the characters and the reader feeling happy or hopeful or even satisfied that all the time spent reading that story was worthwhile.  And for me, that just didn’t happen.  I felt as beaten up as the characters when it was all over.  And the hints and clues laid down by A.M. Arthur for Tristan’s story made me feel worse.

There are other elements that some readers will have issues with like the constant lying and the out of relationship sex, neither of which bothered me. A. M. Arthur lays out a rational and logical reason for both of those things happening, including an abusive background for Shane that makes his bad decisions seem realistic if sad.  No, it’s that I want more in a romance, more love, more hope, less constant  sorrow.  So, I am leaving this story and series right here.  Not all readers will feel the same.  Others will have a higher tolerance for hurt/comfort or near constant angst then I do, and they will adore this story and most like the series too.  Plus its just that well written that you shouldn’t be surprised to find the tears flowing as certain scenes unfold. So…what’s left to say.

I’m not giving any recommendations one way or the other.  Instead, you know what type of reader you are so I will leave the decision up to you.  I have read and loved A.M. Arthur’s stories in the past, including some in the Cost of Repairs series like Foundation of Trust.  Arthur is a terrific writer. I will continue to pick up and read Arthur’s new books as they arrive (mostly).  I will let you all into what I discover!

Cover artist: ?  I loved that cover, intimate and sexy.  Too bad I have no idea who created it.

Sales Links:  Samhain Publishing      All Romance (ARe)         Amazon   Buy it here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 289 pages
Expected publication: February 10th 2015 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
edition languageEnglish
seriesPerspectives #1

A MelanieM Review: Forgiving Thayne (True Mates #2) by J.R. Loveless

Rating:  3.5 stars out of 5

Forgiving Thayne coverFor Nicholas Cartwright it was just supposed to be a typical night clubbing. Dancing, hot men, and if he got lucky and hooked up?  Even better. Then the man he left the bar with turned out to be his true mate and everything went to hell.  His mate rejected him, driving Nick away, demolishing all his dreams and hopes for the future.  That was six months ago.  Now Nick has tried everything he can to forget that night and the fact that he has a mate that doesn’t want him.  But he can’t and he is suffering, swamped with the need for the mate his wolf calls for and the pain and humiliation of knowing he’s been rejected.

Thayne Whitedove has always been a wanderer, a lone wolf who takes comfort in the casual hookups and the rare visit home to his pack’s lands.  Then Thayne commits a fatal mistake, one that is following him from place to place in deadly pursuit. The only way to correct his mistake is to accept the one thing he’s never wanted… his mate. Thayne must decide whether to keep running or to stay and fight for Nick’s forgiveness and acceptance.

Burying himself in his work, Nick pushes himself to the point of exhaustion while finding the touch of another unbearable. Suddenly his mate needs his help, and Thayne may be asking for more than Nicholas can find it in himself to give.

Forgiving Thayne is the first story I have read in J.R. Loveless’s True Mates series.  The first story, Chasing Seth, dealt with  veterinarian Seth Davies and his mate, Kasey Whitedove.  This couple figures prominently in this story and the author is careful to include enough information and back history on both of them that I didn’t feel that this story suffered by skipping over book one.  In fact, one of the main characters in Forgiving Thayne, Thayne Whitedove, made appearances in that story as he is Kasey’s brother, to set up a foundation for this one.

The only section where the world building might feel a little incomplete (the full history of the shifter natures of Seth and Nick) seems to be explored more fully in book one.  My curiosity and interest in this author’s shifter universe will send me to the beginning of this series and Chasing Seth for additional information.  Otherwise, I feel that this story can be judged on its own qualities and it has many good ones.

The Whitedove family is part of a Native American shifter tribe that expects a strict adherence to the tribal rules and regulations.  Running a foul of the highest of those laws puts Thayne in direct conflict with his family and tribe.  In addition, an old promise has kept Thayne moving from place to place with limited connections to home and territory.  I loved the richness of Loveless’ setting and shifter lore.  This author has built a deep mythology for their shifters and uses it as a framework for Forgiving Thayne.  The setting, especially the town of Senaka and the Wolf’s Den bar,  lend an authentic tone to the events and characters that appear in this story.  Building on this supernatural structure,  Loveless creates a key component of the plot and narrative that feels logical, yet still surprising.  In fact, I wish more of this aspect of the story had been expanded, to include more details and the reasoning behind it.  It was one of the more intriguing elements here and it made the story for me.

I think most of my issues dealt with the main characters, especially that of Thayne.  His actions and dialog is that of a gold plated jerk, a judgement that should have been disappeared once his reasoning and back history is revealed.  But that aspect of his character remains intact for the majority of the story primarily because the rationale created by the author and the consequences of  old actions just never make any sense.  Without going into too much detail or spoiler territory, the basis for a promise that has severe implications in adulthood never felt solid and his continued actions and poor judgement calls felt more contrived than believable.  To make this element even flimsier, the “aha” moment was diluted by a complete lack of drama that included the reactions of an old friend.  That person we believed in.  Thayne?  Not so much.

What holds up this romance and makes it work is the character of Nicholas Cartwright.  He’s lovely, angst ridden, and totally vulnerable in a way that the reader will connect with.  He saves the romance and the relationship because no matter how the reader will feel about Thayne, Nicholas is there to pull it all back together.

There is a third story on the horizon, Protecting Kai (True Mates #3).  I shall be in line when that one comes out and will pick up and start reading Chasing Seth to complete the back history and make sure I have all the series key components in mind.

Do I recommend this story? Yes, especially to those lovers of shifter romances.  J.R. Loveless throws in some fascinating new touches to wolf shifter lore and her characters have a certain sass and depth I find necessary and interesting.  So check it out and let me know how you feel, about Chasing Seth or Forgiving Thayne!

Cover Artist: Anne Cain has some nice touches and does a good job of branding the series with the same elements.

Sales Links:  

Dreamspinner Press eBook & Paperback

All Romance eBook (ARe)

amazon                       Forgiving Thayne

Book Details:

book, 290 pages
Published October 1st 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 163216213X (ISBN13: 9781632162137)
edition languageEnglish
url http://jrloveless.com/coming-soon
seriesTrue Mates #2

True Mates Series includes:

Chasing Seth (True Mates #1)
Forgiving Thayne (True Mates #2)
Protecting Kai (True Mates #3)  coming soon



A MelanieM Review: Midsummer Law (Midsummer #3) by Megan Derr

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

midsummerlaw400Kirby Hindon is Sheriff in MIdsummer, a magical, supernatural town.  On the easiest day, the job carries with it a almost constant list of surprises and supernatural  happenings that most Sheriffs never have to deal with.  But one of the toughest parts of his job is notifying the next of kin when someone is killed.  That’s the Kirby is facing now. Hobgoblin Kerry Greyling is dead and Kirby needs to contact his brother as next of kin.  The biggest surprise appears when Kerry’s brother, Merry, shows up to collect his belongings.

Merry is Kerry’s twin brother but they were alike only in appearance.  Where Kerry was dark, Merry is light as well as powerful.  In fact, Merry shimmers from head to toe.  He is a well respected and sought after clothing designer whose clothes are just as unique as Merry.  What happens when a lonely Sheriff  who also happens to be a witch meets up with an equally lonely hobgoblin?  Anything is possible in the town of Midsummer.

Midsummer Law picks up after the events of Midsummer Curse.  All the towns people are dealing with the aftermath of Ferdy the gremlin’s curse and the death of Kerry Greyling, Ferdy’s ex and all round rotter.  It’s been left to witch and town Sheriff Kirby Hindon to notify the closest kin of the deceased and depose of the body and personal belongings.  But what happens next is as unexpected to those involved as it is just what they need.

I love the town of Midsummer that Megan Derr has created.  A place where all the paranormal and supernatural belong, its both a haven and locus for events and relationships of all types.  We’ve had werewolves and kind of weres, weres and gremlins, vampires and vampire hunters and now a witch in search of love in the most unlikely of places.  Kirby Hindon has always existed on the secondary layer of the other stories as a character.  He arrives to haul off the culprit or at the ending of a nasty culmination of events.  Now he’s at the front of his own story and we get a better look at a lonely man with never enough time to practice his magic.

Merry Greyling, twin brother to the nasty Kerry Greyling, is a lovely delight of a character.  A sought after clothes designer, he wears what he makes, along with artfully applied makeup in unusual color combinations.  He’s powerful, quixotic, and lonely.  Hmmmm, where can a partner be found for him?  Derr brings these two together over the death of Merry’s brother and let the rest of the journey to love fall gently into place.

I say gently because there is no drama to be found here, that occurred in the previous story.  This is just two beings trying to work out a long distance relationship and it contain the commonplace errors and miscommunications  one would expect of such an attempt.  It gradually works itself out along the way as Derr starts to fold in the characters for the next short story in the series, Midsummer Baker.

This is a very quick read with none of the depth of the first  two stories.  There is no mystery involved, just two beings in search of love.  I did love the surprise that was Merry and wish we had much more of him and Kirby’s relationship.  We get a few answers to some left over questions but that’s it.  I missed the variety of characters and the layers to the plot that the other stories had, although the romance is a lovely one.   There were also one or two editing issues.  A moment where Kirby looks at Kirby (it should have been Kelly), easy enough to catch and fix but wasn’t.

Midsummer is a town guaranteed to pull you into its stories and relationships.  There is so much to discover here and so many more beings to meet.  I hope Megan Derr continues to develop stories in this series.  I can’t wait for more to come.

Cover art by Megan Derr.   She does a terrific job in branding the series and yet makes each design relevant to the story within.

Sales Links:     Less Than Three Press            All Romance eBook (ARe)        Amazon            Midsummer Law

Book Details:

ebook, 46 pages
Published July 2010 by Less Than Three Press
edition languageEnglish
seriesMidsummer #3

Midsummer Series in order they were written and should be read (available in print, ebook and audio):

Midsummer Moon
Midsummer Curse
Midsummer Law
Midsummer Baker
Midsummer Days (Print collection of all stories)