A Mika Review: We Found Love by Kade Boehme & Allison Cassatta

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

We Found Love coverIt’s no surprise Riley Connors is dealing with issues. He was kidnapped as a young boy, and his parents abandoned him after his newsworthy return. He bounced from foster home to facility and back. Now an adult, ghosts from his past continue to haunt him. After a suicide attempt, he is locked away in Hartfield so that people can make him tune in to emotions he has tried to bury. 

Hunter Morgan had the kind of love that spans ages. But the stress of college and adulthood became too much to handle, and the love of Hunter’s life turned to drugs. After he overdoses, Hunter finds himself soaring out of control on the same miserable path. His brother finds him and calls an ambulance, and the sister Hunter would rather not have calls it a suicide attempt, landing Hunter in Hartfield. 

Finding love isn’t easy, but it can happen under the most dire circumstances. Together Hunter and Riley may be able to grow from their pain. But they will need to learn to live for themselves, letting love come second.

Kade Boehme & Allison Cassatta are one of my new favorite writing duos, oh man, the potential that comes out of their stories are so exciting. Best description for this story is Rihanna’s song “We found Love”.  How could two people survive love in this situation? They survived and came out on top. My emotions were all over the place with this one. For the life of me I couldn’t see an outcome for these two with the situation that was presented. Riley and Hunter were such sweet guys who met at their worst but made it until the best of them was okay. I loved how the authors presented each guy with different reasons of being institutionalized. I really enjoyed the concept, damaged guys are my weakness. These two hit all the marks for me.

Riley had such an angry disposition about himself but it’s totally understandable seeing as what he went through. I hated that he basically had given up on life because of his past until Hunter came along. I’m glad he did who knows what would Riley have done if not. I wanted Riley to get better for himself instead of his love for Hunter, but he did what he needed to do. I do think it was harder for him because of the letdown his life has been up to this point. One of the most emotional parts of the book was when Hunter told the story of Cory which started his self destruction. I cried super hard through it, it was so sad to see a young person go through that. That event shaped his life into something he wasn’t happy with. I was extremely happy to see the outcome of these two, and wanted more from them as far as their future plans. I know they both had to work on themselves but I would have appreciated a longer ending.

Cover Artist Allison Cassatta’s cover was amazing! Both guys definitely portrayed the guys to a T. I love this description of these two it made them more human on cover, the scars, tattoos and gruffness was accurately portrayed.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press     All Romance (ARe)      Amazon       buy it here

Book Details:

ebook, 214 pages
Published January 5th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632166777
edition languageEnglish
url

A Mika Review:  Unwrapping Hank by Eli Easton

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Unwrapping Hank coverSloane loves a good mystery. He grew up as the son of two psychiatrists, so he finds most people tediously easy to figure out. He finds his way to Pennsylvania State University, longing for a rural experience, and ends up being lured into joining a frat by Micah Springfield, the hippest guy on campus.

 Nothing in Sloane’s classes is as intriguing as Hank Springfield, Micah’s brother and fellow frat house member. Hank looks like a tough guy—big muscles, tattoos, and a beard—but his eyes are soft and sweet. He acts dumb, but he’s a philosophy major. He’s presumably straight, but then why does Sloane feel such crazy chemistry whenever Hank is around? And why does Hank hate Sloane so much?

When Sloane ends up stuck on campus over Christmas, Micah invites him to spend the holidays at their family farm in Amish country. It’s a chance to experience a true Americana Christmas–and further investigate the mystery that is Hank Springfield.

Can Sloane unlock the secrets of this family and unwrap the heart hidden inside the beefcake?

I really enjoyed this novella length book. I liked Sloane from the beginning, he was hilarious. Sloane is a freshman new pledge living in the Delta Sigma Phi at Pennsylvania State University; he is extremely cynical for such a young age. We can attribute these to his not so attentive parents, who are world class psychologist and jet setters. Sloane immediately attacked to the big buff guy with tattoos washing dishes in the frat house. Hank is that guy, I liked him, sure he seemed a little OCD-ish with the working out, but to each it’s own. I honestly didn’t see him as the frat type based on the other guys but that’s what I liked about the story.

Instantly Sloane is taken with Hank, because how could he not? This guy is a walking contradiction. I liked the little ways that Sloane tried to figure Hank out. It was down right funny at times. Micah is definitely a character that steals certain scenes. He’s Hank’s older brother and president of the frat, he also a sweet, down to earth guy. I liked Micah because he was super supportive to both guys.

Sloane’s parents end up ditching him for Christmas, thus leaving Sloane all alone in the States. Who comes to the rescue, Micah of course? I don’t want to give away the rest but there are definitely sweet moments, electricity moments, and tears to me.  An Amish sighting and all types of pie. There are instances where Sloane doesn’t know what to do, but between Micah being extremely helpful and Hank playing coy, I felt we all were winning. I hope Eli decides to give us Micah’s story because I need to know his decisions.

I definitely recommend Unwrapping Hank by Eli Easton.  It has terrific characters and enjoyable plot.

Cover Art by Reese Dante. Actually I think the guy on the cover looked way older then “20 years” old. He looks like a 30 yr old gym rat; I did like the gift and the dog aspect.

Sales Links:   All Romance eBooks       amazon            buy it here

Book Details:

eBook, 135 pages
Published November 14, 2014 by Eli Easton
ISBN: B00OWIQH5I
Edition Language: English

Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review – Blue Days by Mary Calmes

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Blue Days coverFrom the moment Dwyer Knolls is called into the conference room early on a Monday morning, fearing that he’s about to lose his job, his life takes an unexpected turn for the better. He’s not fired— instead he’s praised for his work, despite the fact that his former boss had criticized him for creating a huge mess on one of his projects. But his former boss is the one who is fired and when he meets the new Managing Director, Dwyer is praised for that job he once thought he screwed up. The Managing Director and others who will now be part of his team were brought in directly from Japan to bring life to their company, Sakura Industries. Among them is Hiroyuki Takeo, a stunning young man who will later become Dwyer’s friend, his boss, and the man he eventually falls in love with.

These relationship dynamics take place over the course of three years and nothing comes to a head between them until one day when Dwyer unexpectedly finds himself alone on a plane with Takeo. They’re heading to Florida to make the final decisions on a huge real estate deal which could make or break their careers. Despite how much he loves being in Takeo’s company, Dwyer knows that this long weekend will be excruciating for the simple reason that he’s grown to love the stunning, slender, young man and he’s afraid he’ll tip his hand. He’s one of the few people who know what Takeo is really like— that he’s competent and caring, smart and dedicated, but just so worried about making sure that everything is perfect for everyone else that he’s perceived as a negative perfectionist who is never happy.

Dwyer knows Takeo inside and out and he also knows that he cares deeply for the man, maybe too deeply. When the two find themselves staying at a bed and breakfast and sharing one room, Dwyer nearly turns back. He’s shocked when it becomes evident that Takeo has been harboring lustful feelings toward him, and presented with the opportunity to act on their lust, the two go at it hot and heavy.

This story is fairly short, definitely sweet, with a bit of a reverse on Mary Calmes’s usual formula. Dwyer is a big guy, friendly, smart, competent and a huge support to his supervisor and teammates. Takeo is small and slender, socially inept, and the son of the company’s owner who can’t seem to do anything that pleases his father. Yet he’s the boss, the supposed alpha of the pair. Their chemistry flames when they do finally get together and their HEA is secured in a warm and loving partnership. The book takes its name from Blue Daze, a flower that grows in the Florida Panhandle, and from the fact that in Japanese culture, blue represents purity, calmness and stability.

I recommend this to fans of Mary Calmes and those who enjoy a sweet, simple M/M romance. And for those who love epilogues, there’s a brief mention of Aaron Sutter and his love, Duncan Stiel from “Parting Shot”.

The cover art by Reese Dante depicts a young man wearing a suit and gazing out over a body of blue water with a field of blue daze flowers in the background. It depicts the sweetness of the story perfectly.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook          All Romance (ARe)      amazon              Buy It here

Book Details:

book, 98 pages
Published November 5th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632163578
edition languageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Christmas in His Heart by Havan Fellows and, Lee Brazil

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

beacon hill at night  Xander Leahman wasn’t happy with the corporate life so when his best friend called and asked his help to find a manager for her craft store, he jumped at the chance for a change in scenery and time with his bestie.  But Xander wasn’t prepared for the attraction he felt when he saw the grumpy but gorgeous owner of the restaurant next door to Craft Time.  On impulse, Xander found himself agreeing to take the job and relocate on the chance that his heart knew what it was doing.

For Dermot Alasdair the twinkling lights and jolly holiday decorations bring nothing but pain.  While others are celebrating and enjoying the company of friends, family, and lovers, Dermot remains alone, isolated by secret and memories he has never divulged to a single soul.  By now, Dermot has almost convinced himself that all he needs is his restaurant and solitude to be content, if not happy. Then the arrival of Xander Leahman at the neighboring craft store throws his carefully laid out life into chaos.

Xander’s a happy, exuberant person who loves Christmas and can’t understand why the man he is so attracted to lacks the Christmas spirit.  Now more than ever Xander is determined that he will find a way to open Dermot’s heart to Christmas and to a forever love….with Xander, of course!

The holidays are almost upon us and what better way to bring Christmas cheer into home and heart than with holiday stories of celebration and romance.  Havan Fellows and Lee Brazil collaborated in this lively holiday tale of a man whose past robbed him of more than just the Christmas spirit and the fellow who’s determined to bring it back, along with a major dose of romance and love.

The authors certainly relay the historic charm and community of Parkersburg, the town where the story  takes place.  We are plopped into the “grinch like” mind set of one Dermot Alasdair making his way through the cobble streets of town to his restaurant.  Immediately its clear that the holidays and the Christmas decorations are his personal Kryptonite.  And when he is not mentally complaining about the inconvenience of bell ringers and such, he is focused on the financial health of his restaurant, always a precarious thing in the food business.  The last thing Dermot expects is the intrusion into his life of Xander Leahman, a change will he only reluctantly welcome.

Fellows and Brazil make it plain that Dermot is a character that has more pain in his heart than anyone in his situation should, and that, clearly, there are dark reasons behind his bah humbug behavior.  He is buttoned up, clinched in, and as tight as they come to pull in all the old chestnuts, all of which brings out our sympathy and compassion for this sad man.

Xander is more Santa’s helper than corporate desk jockey.  His typical ebullient frame of mind is perfect for Craft Time and his presence is just what his best friend needs.  Xander’s arrival touches off a set of small emotional explosions in all around him, but mostly in Dermot and surprisingly in Xander himself.

I thought the story moved along smartly, in fact, it’s narrative pace was almost too fast.  Xander fell a little too hard too quickly as did Dermot.  And the hot relationship, or hot and cold relationship that springs up could have done with some simmering time instead of heating up to a boil from the start.  But that aside, their relationship is hot, sexy, and sometimes quite funny, which is needed to offset the pain and poignancy to come.

I throughly enjoyed Christmas In His Heart by Lee Brazil and Havan Fellows.  It’s a wonderful way to crank up that holiday cheer!  So deck the halls, light up the Kindles, and put some music on.  Love is in the air and Christmas is winding its way into our hearts!  Put Christmas In His Heart on your holiday reading list today!

 Cover Artist:  Laura Harner.  Love the cover, filled me with holiday cheer!

Sales Links:    All Romance (ARe)       amazon        buy it here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 119 pages
Published December 4th 2014 by Lime Time Press
ASINB00QEB3GGY
edition languageEnglish

Barb, the Zany Old Lady Review: Counterpunch (Belonging #2) by Aleksandr Voinov

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Counterpunch Riptide CoverBrooklyn was deemed responsible for the death of a young woman in his law enforcement job but instead of getting a manslaughter charge, he was sentenced to life as a slave. And since he was always into boxing as a sport, his new owners put him into boxing for profit in the slave prizefighting circuit. And he’s damn good–so good that he comes to the attention of wealthy boxing fan, Nathaniel Bishop. Bishop buys his services post-match one night, services that are always available for the right price, and Brooklyn preps himself for the usual—stud service for some wealthy client who wants to make use of all that extra testosterone after a match.

What he gets is not “the usual”. Nathaniel wants him all right, but he wants his acceptance more than he wants to dominate Brooklyn in sex. He slowly works his way into Brooklyn’s life, instilling confidence in the boxer, and hope for his freedom. Nathaniel is a lawyer and he believes that he can get Brooklyn free. He points out all the areas where he feels that Brooklyn was made a scapegoat and shouldn’t have been sentenced to slavery. He even manages to get Brooklyn away from his current trainer and into a training regimen with a new trainer and sparring partners who are worthy of working with the boxer who will one day be the champion on the slave circuit. It’s during these months of training that Brooklyn and Nathaniel become closer, and though Brooklyn finds it hard to verbalize his love for Nathaniel, they do love each other, and that stokes Brooklyn’s hope for a brighter future even higher.

Circumstances come to a head, however, when the boxer Brooklyn fights for the gold belt dies as the result of the knockout Brooklyn hands him. When Brooklyn tries to get away, he’s sent back to his original trainer and security handler, both of whom now feel they have an excuse to be even more brutal to him. And what happens to Nathaniel? He’s missing from Brooklyn’s life, gone without a trace, leaving Brooklyn wondering why he left himself open to feeling something for another person when he knows his case is so hopeless.

I love Voinov’s work. The characters are so tough, their circumstances so darkly depressing, yet their spirit remains strong. This is an excellent example of the author’s skills in bringing a character to life. I felt so sad for Brooklyn, watching what he was going through in his slavery, yet still keeping his sense of self. And the ending was so complex, yet simple, so heartbreaking, yet full of hope for Brooklyn’s future. I can’t recommend this story highly enough. If you like a dark, gritty alt universe story with a hero who’s flawed, this is the one for you.

Cover Art by Tami Santarossa – The drawn cover depicts the principal character in a relaxed stance looking out the window at the world beyond. Though it does symbolize his lack of freedom, I would prefer something either darker, like a character with a bloody cut above his eye, or in the process of throwing a punch in a boxing scene. This cover doesn’t express the explosive and dark world within.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing     All Romance eBook (ARe)   <a href=” Amazon       Counterpunch

 

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published September 15th 2014 by Riptide Publishing (first published November 2nd 2011)
ISBN139781626492080
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/counterpunch
seriesBelonging #2

 

A PaulB Review: Death Gets A Boyfriend by Sophie Bonaste

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Rating 4 out of 5 stars

DeathGetsaBoyfriendFSAfter spending thousands of years taking souls, Death meets someone who might make his lonely existence worthwhile. Slated to take the soul of Thomas Neilson, Death for once does not take the human’s life. Months after a relationship develops between the two, Death is presented with a choice. He must either let Thomas die or millions of others will die instead.

Having spent thousands of years helping people move onto the afterlife, Death finds his existence to be rather lonely. He has isolated himself from the other immortals in Heaven staying primarily in his room during his down time. One day, Death hears the buzzer that signifies “the Boss” wanted to see him. Upon receiving his next day’s list, the Boss states that “times will change.” Considering his boss as a bit odd at the best time times, Death wonders what is coming along. Looking at the list, the name of Thomas Neilson makes Death feels something he has never felt before.

The next day, when Death goes to attend to Thomas’s passing, he cannot bring himself to stop Thomas’s heart like he has done billions of others. More surprising, Thomas can see and hear Death. This is the first time anyone has seen him and Death wonders what makes Thomas so special. As Thomas recovers from the accident that should have killed him, Death cannot stay away. He checks in on Thomas in the hospital and later when Thomas goes to his parent’s house. It seems that they share a love for novelty tee shirts and oddball comedies.

Back in Heaven, Death is once again summoned to the Boss’s office. Archangel Michael starts in on Death about having a relationship with a human, which is prohibited for immortals in Heaven, much less on earth. As Death starts to defend himself, the “Boss” tells Michael that this is part of his master plan and he cannot be upset over Death’s actions. The Boss once again states that times are changing and Death will have to make a choice soon.

As time goes on Thomas and Death become closer. They go out on dates and finally one night they make love. Soon after, Death is summoned once again by the Boss. He tells Death that Thomas’s death has been predetermined. Death must either let Thomas die this time while saving a little girl, or let millions of others die because this girl would grow up to find a cure to cancer. This cure will still be found but will take another fifteen years resulting in the premature deaths of those millions. Even though Thomas’s death would mean he would never see him again as humans and immortals do not intermingle in Heaven, Death lets the predetermined plan play out. The Boss summons him back to Heaven where he tells Death that a new form of being has been created called a guardian. They are humans who died heroically saving other people. As a reward, they will be made immortal and will be charged with protecting innocents on earth. The first such guardian is none other than Thomas. They are reunited and begin the rest of eternity together.

I loved how Death and Thomas bond throughout the novel. Thomas teases Death over his choice of novelty tee shirts. They share an interest in quirky movies. All the while, they have to recognize the fact that no other human can see Death. At one point, Thomas puts in his Bluetooth receiver in his ear to make believe he is talking on his cell phone instead of death. The date night at the restaurant was also well done.

I love how this was a different take on Death. Clad in mostly white novelty clothing, it is definitely not the stereotypical Grim Reaper. His use of modern technology like his game system to relax was also a fun twist.

The cover art by Christy Caughie shows the depiction of Death and Thomas with New York City in the background. I was slightly disappointed that Death was not wearing one of his novelty tee shirts but otherwise the cover was well done.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press    All Romance eBook      Amazon Death Gets A Boyfriend

Book Details:

Ebook, 139 pages
Published September 24, 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 978-1-63216-154-3
Edition English

A MelanieM Review: Foundation of Trust (Cost of Repairs #5) by A.M. Arthur

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Not everyone gets a second chance with their first love.

Foundation of Trust coverDavid Weller had it all and then it was gone.  Once day David had a loving partner and soon to be stepson, a business he enjoyed and his health.  In one day’s time, everything David thought he knew and had in his life shattered and was gone.  A devastating diagnosis,and a partner who disappeared along with his son.  All gone.

Now four years later, David is still trying to cope with the past and not doing a very good job of it.  He has started a catering business with a friend that’s thriving but his private life is a mess.  Afraid to trust, filled with anger, David spends his nights in one night stands and increasingly dangerous hookups, using pain to assuage his memories and fear.  And then the impossible happens when his ex partner reappears, son in tow and everything changes.

Owen Hart has a life filled with poor life choices and bad decisions.  But Owen thought he left everything behind him when he met David Weller.  Knowing and loving David meant accepting his own homosexuality, loving David meant having a home not only for himself  but for his son.  Then Owen was forced to leave David and the life they had built together.  No warnings, Owen and his son just disappeared.  Now years later, Owen is back to make things right and hopefully make David love and forgive him once more.

A chance encounter proves to David and Owen that the feelings they had for each other remain as explosive as ever, but the wounds inflicted on David by Owen’s disappearance are deep.  Can David ever forgive Owen for his deception and the pain he caused David?  Both men have changed in the years gone by but when a second chance at love and a future together opens up, can the past be forgiven in order for them to have a future together?

Foundation of Trust is the fifth story in the Cost of Repairs series by A.M. Arthur.  As it is also the only story I have read from that series, I approached with carefully wondering how it would work as a stand alone tale.  I shouldn’t have wondered, Foundation of Trust is a beautifully written and well structured story that works on its own.  A tale of poor life choices and second chances, it’s enduring theme and characters pulled me into their story completely, keeping me happily committed from the beginning to end.

I love the reunited lovers trope.  In Foundation of Trust, A.M. Arthur works her magic to give us two wounded men who are truly incomplete without the other, no matter how hard one of them tries to deny it.  In bits and pieces, the author slowly unravels the steps and bad choices that destroyed their partnership and drove Owen to disappear, taking his son who David loved like his own with him.  The devastation that action had upon David and the emotions and pain that followed  come across as utterly deep, and long lasting.  The betrayal and disappearance shattering David just when he needed Owen’s support the most.

A thread that runs throughout this story is the impact a heartrending medical diagnosis can have upon a person’s life and mental outlook.  Without support and with a disasterous back history, learning that one has a serious medical condition is shattering and Arthur is able to bring that situation to life with David’s character.   It was a realistic and moving choice and it works here beautifully.

Owen too has had a troubled past, one that refuses to let him go.  Without giving away any spoilers, I thought that Owen, his strained relationship with his son, and the tough fight ahead of him to make amends and be forgiven are all realistically portrayed.  Owen is as full of pain over the damage he caused, not only to David but his son as well.  Arthur makes sure that there is no instant forgiveness or easy solutions to these mens issues and problems of the past.

I enjoyed this story so throughly that it will send me back to the rest of the series to see what else A. M. Arthur has in store for the characters involved here.  If you love a story of lovers reunited,  of past hurts and betrayals overcome and redemption earned, then Foundation of Trust by A. M. Arthur is the story for you.  I highly recommend it and am now off to search out her other stories and series to date.

Cover artist Lyn Taylor did a wonderful job of bringing the characters and tone of the story to the design and tone of the cover.

Sales Links:   Samhain Publishing       All Romance eBook (ARe)   Amazon  Foundation of Trust

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 239 pages
Expected publication: October 21st 2014 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
original titleFoundation of Trust
ASINB00KT23WJU
edition languageEnglish
seriesCost of Repairs #5

Books in the Series Include:

Cost of Repairs (Cost of Repairs, #1)
Color of Grace (Cost of Repairs, #2)
Weight of Silence (Cost of Repairs, #3)
Acts of Faith (Cost of Repairs #4)
Foundation of Trust (Cost of Repairs, #5)

 

 

A Sammy Review: Ben Raphael’s All-Star Virgins by K.Z. Snow

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Pride that depends on the approval of others is a false pride, layered on from outside yourself like gold leaf. When the leaf begins to flake and chip, you see the base material beneath it. When you see the base material, the shiny deception exists no more. What are you left with?

Soul-crushing disillusionment. A sorrow that seems absolute.

All Star Virgins coverThere’s something about youth that is so wonderful and yet so sad. This is displayed perfectly in the story of five young boys who attend Ben Raphael Academy, a boarding school, together. They’re more than friends, they’re family, but in the midst of a chaotic world filled with typical teenage drama, they’re virtually invisible.

When one of them comes up with a plan to change that, to make them become noticed and to highlight their “mystique” as virgins who aren’t trying to chase tail, a rare breed among boys their age, the rest go along. What starts out as a simple act to try and make a quiet, forgotten group noticed and desired winds its way into a far darker journey of discovery, loss, and love.

I forced myself to look at the sky. The stars wheeled thickly overhead. This night, they seemed like a gateway to infinite possibilities, not a glittering veil over a dark, suctioning void.

I went into this thinking it was going to be a fun, cute Young Adult story. I’m not typically one for that genre, but this sounded interesting.

Well, I can say for certain that cute and light were not quite what I got out of this. It speaks volumes about the thought process of youth and how they seek to be seen, but more than that seek acceptance. It was all a very sad reality to me. And while there is an element of romance in this between Rider and Jake, I feel the heart of the story lies more in the group of boys themselves.

Reading the blurb again, I think it sounds a bit cheesy toward the end in regards to an unspeakable tragedy, and when I read what this tragedy was, it may have at first seemed over-dramatic and far-fetched, but the more I thought about it, the more realistic it actually was – and that thought made me incredibly sad.

*POTENTIAL SPOILER REGARDING POSSIBLY TRIGGERING TOPIC: I was also surprised at the heaviness of a certain topic in this. I will say that if anyone has a hard boundary line when it comes to relationships between minors and adults of the more manipulative nature, you should steer clear of this. For some reason, I didn’t expect it to happen. Granted, this isn’t a long book, but it still surprised me when the initial idea was hinted at and then fleshed out.

I do think that the tragedy aspect of it, as well as the taboo relationship part, would’ve been more impactful in a book of novel length. With this being 134 pages, everything was quick, and the brief glimpses we got of this issues being dug into were quite nice, but just not enough given the weight of them.

In general a good story, but certainly not something I’d suggest if you want a quick, light read. Quick, yes, but light, not so much.And although I’m not an expert regarding the classification of a young adult story, this does depict teenage boys going through life. While there are several references to sexual activities, and times when we see what leads up to it and the aftermath, there are no explicit sexual details. As such, I’d say it does fall pretty well into the Young Adult category.

Cover Artist: Maria Fanning provided a simple cover that at first seems quite basic in regards to the type of story. Boys in a boarding school – thus a boy with a uniform on the cover. Yet, when you get into the story, the backdrop of the cover comes to have a great meaning, and really highlight a beautiful element of the story.

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink eBook        All Romance (ARe)          Amazon            Ben Raphael’s All Star Virgins

Book Details:

ebook, 134 pages
Published September 25th 2014 by Harmony Ink Press
ISBN139781632162571
other editions
None found

A PaulB Review: Elijah’s Ghost (A Wizard’s Touch #4) by Amber Kell

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Rating: 4  stars out of 5

“It only takes one event to change the world.”

Elijah's Ghost cover

Elijah Trenton is an average student at wizard school. His true abilities are found out after an accident in one of his classes. He must learn how to live life with his new found skills and the attention of Devin Stewartson, his crush in one of his classes. He must also deal with family and enemies who want to use this power for their advantage while trying to keep himself and his friends safe.

Elijah’s Ghost is the fourth installment of Amber Kell’s “A Wizard’s Touch” series. While you can read the book as a stand-alone, there are parts of the plot which reference past events in the series.

The book starts out in the middle of a History of Spell Casting class, where Elijah Trenton is listening to his professor drone on and on. The only things that make the class bearable are the professor’s assistant who summarizes the class on cue card, his roommate Porter and his crush, Devin Stewartson, one of the “D” triplets introduced in earlier books. Elijah is surprised when the assistant yells at him to take cover, as it is the first thing she has ever said. After making sure Porter and Devin are safe, all hell breaks loose in the classroom, with the professor ending up dead.

Up until this point, everybody has considered Elijah an average wizard at best, including Elijah himself. He has failed to master the basic spells needed to pass his classes and hopes to just graduate and teach Magic Theory, considered the most basic of all classes. When the Headmaster of the school questions what has occurred, it is learned that Elijah is a necromancer. His world is then turned upside down.

Enrolled in new classes and a new tutor hired by his father, Elijah and the school learn not only can he interact with the dead, but is the most powerful necromancer to come along in ages. Because of his strength Elijah is unable to banish his avatar. Devin suggests that they talk to Jaynell, the powerful wizard who lives at the local wolf pack house for help.

Once at the pack house, Elijah discovers that it is haunted. Elijah then attempts to cast the spirit out. Back at the school, Elijah and Devin have a romantic encounter, but Elijah is troubled because Devin did not act the same as he had before they went to the pack house. Porter tells Elijah that Devin is possessed by the spirit Elijah tried to cast out and only killing the spirit will free Devin. Porter does this but the result is killing Devin. Elijah must now go to Hades and reclaim Devin’s soul for him to live again.

I enjoyed how Elijah slowly starts to accept his powers through the book. He has been beat down from family and fellow classmates as lucky to be at wizard school. When he discovers his powers, he feels like a screw up because he has not recognized his gifts to date. As he begins to learn of his powers, the negative feelings are still there even though everybody is telling him how special his powers are.

The courtship between Devin and Elijah was well done. Devin is tentative with Elijah because Elijah’s world has been turned upside down with his new skills and he wants Elijah to have time to adjust. Elijah is tentative because of his own low self esteem and knows Devin is bisexual. An encounter with a girl after one of Devin’s brothers clears up earlier misunderstandings and Elijah realizes Devin wants him.

I enjoy how Ms. Kell brings in new elements into her series, this time including ghost to go along with the wizards and weres. She includes characters from previous books in the series, but they play a supporting role. With Jaynell and Elijah now on board, Ms. Kell has set up future books for a potentially cataclysmic showdown with a future (or past as we are dealing with the paranormal) powerful enemy. I look forward to see where she takes these characters forward.

 

Cover Art by Posh Gosh. Well done cover depicting Elijah, Devin and Elijah’s avatar “puppy.”

Sales Links:   Totally Bound Books       Amazon   Elijah’s Ghost

Book Details:
115 Pages
Published September 19, 2014 by Totally Bound
Edition language English
Series A Wizard’s Touch #4

Books in this series include:

Jaynell’s Wolf (A Wizard’s Touch, #1)
Kevin’s Alpha (A Wizard’s Touch, #2)
Farren’s Wizard (A Wizard’s Touch, #3)
Elijah’s Ghost (A Wizard’s Touch, #4)

A Wizard’s Touch: Volume One (A Wizard’s Touch #1-2)

A MelanieM Review: Infected: The Lost Weekend (Infected #7.5) by Andrea Speed

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Infected-the Lost Weekend coverAn Infected Short Story

Roan is hired by Scott to look for a hockey player friend of his. After a long night of celebratory drinking, Scott can’t quite remember what happened to his friend, and he isn’t answering his cell. Roan discovers Scott’s friend was much more troubled than he ever realized, and that some mysteries should remain unsolved.

Scott, one of Roan’s professional hockey player friends, is missing his teammate after a drunken night on the town.  When the friend doesn’t show up for practice, a search is launched with Roan doing the investigating.  What follows is a revelation into a player they thought they knew but turns out  no one had any idea of what was bubbling under the surface.

Andrea Speed takes our favorite Infected characters off on a weekend investigation for one of Roan’s friends.  It’s not a complicated case and it is solved almost as quickly as it begins but what matters here is the characters, their relationships and the journey the investigation takes them all on.

Infected: The Lost Weekend by Andrea Speed is a short side story to a long, densely layered, and evolving series.  There is really no way to impart the pertinent series details in such a short story and Speed doesn’t try as it would not begin to do justice to this astonishing character and series.  You must approach this story with the full knowledge of the ongoing plot and relationships.  If you lack that background, this probably won’t make as much a impact on the reader.  But a side story takes it for granted that you realize that the backstory will be missing and goes on from that standpoint.  And from that point of view, Infected: The Lost Weekend delivers the sort of character interaction and dialog the readers have come to expect from this author and series.

I am a huge fan of Andrea Speed and Infected.  I enjoy her stories as much for the peculiar and obscure cultural references as I do Infected’s evolving plot and characters.  Here I get both.  Involved in this storyline are Scott, a bisexual professional hockey player and friend of Roan’s.  Holden Fox,  ex high priced prostitute, Scott’s lover who plays an increasing part of Roan’s operations as a part-time investigator.  Really, I just love Holden.  His is a voice almost as strong as Roan’s and that’s a remarkable achievement.  For Roan is one of the strangest, strongest, and angst driven characters I have had the pleasure of meeting in the pages of a novel.  The Lost Weekend combines the three of them on a short journey of discovery.

The investigation into the events of a drunken weekend and a missing hockey player are given a fairly realistic treatment.  It is a short examination of a person’s ability to hide their true personality and issues behind a facade and the ease with which others assume that who they see is the real persona.  It makes you think about how many assumptions you might make in a day about people you think you know but really don’t know anything about.  Scott knows just enough about the missing player to know that he’s in trouble but nothing more.  It’s up to Roan to solve the puzzle to the man’s personality and find the solution to the case.

The resolution  won’t surprise anyone but again its the journey here not the end of the trail that matters.  Did I wish for more?  Certainly, but I always feel like that when it comes to Roan and his group of highly individual and quirky friends.  For those of us who crave a new Roan story, this provides temporary relief until the next installment appears.  Or perhaps you can head over to Andrea Speed’s website for a new free “online only “story as well.   Devil’s Night, part one is up now and if you are like me, you can never have enough Roan or the Infected universe.

If you are an Infected fan (and doesn’t that sound wrong) and a lover of all things Roan, then pick up Infected: The Lost Weekend and get your Roan fix in while we are waiting for the next story to drop.  If you are new to this character and series, start at the beginning of Roan’s tale and work your way forward.  It’s really the only way to see the character development, understand all the relationships that emerge and marvel at a story line that gets more convoluted with each new installment.  Love the series, love, love the characters.  Infected is one of Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words must reads of any year.

Cover art by Paul Richmond.  The Infected covers are dramatic, and darkly beautiful.  They also do a terrific job of branding this series.  I can spot an Infected novel just by looking at the cover instead of title and author.  Great job.

Sales Links:    Dreamspinner Press    All Romance eBooks (ARe)    Amazon   Infected: The Lost Weekend

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
30 pages
Published September 1st 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
Series:  Infected

Here are the Infected series novels in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters, events and overall plot:

Prey (Infected, #1)
Bloodlines (Infected, #2)
Life After Death (Infected, #3)
Freefall (Infected, #4)
Shift (Infected, #5)
Lesser Evils (Infected, #6)
Undertow (Infected, #7)
Infected: The Lost Weekend

Epitaph (Infected, #8) not yet released
Trick or Treat

Infected, Special Edition (Books 1-4)