A Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Banker’s Hours by Wade Kelly

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Banker's HoursGrant Adams is a twenty-six-year-old bank teller, recently transferred from another branch, when thirty-two-year-old Tristan Carr walks up to his window and enters his life. Little does Grant know that his OCD, well-ordered, neat and clean, lonely, virginal life is about to change for the better. And little does Tristan know that his easy going, unscheduled, untidy bachelor existence is about to go out the window.

From the moment he first sees Grant, Tristan knows he’s found someone he can love. And Grant? Well, though he thinks Tristan is hot, he’s also dirty and greasy from his job as an auto mechanic and most importantly, he’s straight, or so Grant surmises when he learns Tristan has a daughter. So when Tristan eventually asks him out, Grant assumes it’s as a friend, and he’s not sure he can behave like a friend in the presence of a guy who turns him on.

Grant is one of those characters who is very easy to dislike—he has a short temper, is very fussy about getting dirty, hates seeing things out of place, can’t tolerate being made fun of, and is quick tempered. But it becomes evident as the story unfolds that a large part of that is due to the way he was raised, his size and stature as a child being bullied at school, his anxiety over social situations, his lack of a strong friend base, and the disasters he’s picked to date. It’s no wonder he’s an OCD neat freak, never made it through more than one date with anyone, never been kissed, and most certainly is still a virgin. He certainly doesn’t make it easy for Tristan to love him, but Tristan does.

Tristan is the father of a fifteen-year-old girl, never married, and an ex-Navy man who inherited his family’s garage business. He also inherited his father’s home located behind the garage and has lived there carefree and clean-free for ten years. He sees his daughter ever y other weekend and tolerates her mother —a woman he had sex with when he first enlisted in the Navy and was unsure of his sexual orientation. Though he offered to marry Teresa when he found out she was pregnant, she refused, but for years she has acted as if she was the scorned woman he walked away from. Once Tristan started dating Grant, and realized he might be able to have a life with Grant, he told his daughter he was gay, and when Teresa found out, she went ballistic.

In the meantime, Grant is stunned that Tristan actually seems to want to date him more than once. He’s now had his first kiss and is looking forward to more than kissing. When his car breaks down in Tristan’s driveway after a date, it’s not the setup Tristan thinks it is so the two spend a platonic night together only to be rousted in the morning by Teresa. What can a guy do when confronted by his boyfriend’s daughter’s mother? Tell her it’s not what it looks like—they’re getting married. Oh, and by the way, it would have been good if Grant had mentioned that to Tristan first.

I really enjoyed this story. I kept expecting Tristan to lose his temper with Grant, and though the two did have some tiffs, Tristan remained a super nice guy. Grant, as I stated previously, is one of those characters who could be loved or hated by readers. He was quite irritating at times, and yet I found him to be so very needy and so very lucky to have found Tristan. The two made a wonderful couple, and I can just imagine what their future might be, especially as Grant grows emotionally and continues to change for the better.

Secondary characters were well developed and interesting and the situations, though bizarre at times, were actually plausible. Other than the deliberately snarky, often unlovable Grant, there was nothing about this story not to like.  I’d recommend it to lovers of MM romance and especially to those who enjoy characters who come into their sexuality a little later in life and those who love to hate a snarky character.

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Cover art by Anne Cain is an attractive light pink to mauve-toned background showing silhouettes of two men—one in a V-neck T-shirt and the other in a dress shirt with tie. Beautifully done, the artwork symbolizes both MCs and Grant’s penchant for pink and other Easter egg-colored dress shirts.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 290 pages
Expected publication: March 25th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
Original TitleBankers’ Hours
ISBN 1634769740 (ISBN13: 9781634769747)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Fit to be Tied (Marshals #2) by Mary Calmes

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Fit To Be Tied coverAnother amazing installment in the Marshal’s series by Mary Calmes. Miro Jones and Ian Doyle are two sexy, muscular alpha males— Deputy US Marshals who happen to report to Chief Deputy US Marshal Sam Kage of A Matter of Time fame. Miro and Ian first came together in all their rugged masculinity in All Tied Down and this story opens shortly after that one ended.

<spoiler>The men are now living together, and they love each other deeply, so when Miro pops the question, he’s shocked when Ian says no. Ian’s all about independence and his identity as a marshal and as an officer in the Special Forces reserves. He doesn’t want that identity jeopardized, and after all, being married is just about having a piece of paper, isn’t it? And Miro knows he loves him, doesn’t he? </spoiler>

To be honest, I was pretty surprised when this little tiff occurred at the beginning of the story, but I was happy to find out the argument didn’t end there; it became a recurring theme throughout the book, so I don’t feel that I’m throwing out a spoiler by stating that up front, though I did put in the tags. We have love, romance, sex, compatibility issues, and bickering over marriage as ongoing themes throughout the story, with an overlay of excitement, danger, intrigue, and an ongoing battle between Miro and Ian about Miro’s personal safety as he has a tendency to “leap before looking” during fugitive chases. There’s also a healthy dose of stark terror in this story as Miro and Ian not only ward off the usual crazies in their efforts to find and detain fugitives from justice, they also face a monstrous threat from Miro’s past which has far-reaching effects on their future.

As the two men discover, while facing multiple missions and dangers throughout the story, there’s more to trust than lip service, and there’s more to love than saying a simple “I do.”

As I said in my review of All Kinds of Tied Down: if you love M/M romance and you like law enforcement and action adventure mixed in with your visit with sweet and sexy alpha men, this is the book (and series) for you. However, a word of caution on this one: there is graphic violence in this story, so it is not for someone who can’t tolerate explicit details of violence and torture.

I love Mary Calmes’s stories, and this one is no exception. These two characters have moved to the top of my favorite couples list, alongside many of her others like Dreo and Nate, Rand and Stephan, and Jin and Logan, but what I love best about this one is that they are both big, strong, sexy alpha males with soft, gooey centers, and she shares their hopes and fears, both individually and as a couple, thereby endearing them to me further as I now know them intimately. If you are also a fan, by all means join me in hoping for a long and happy future for Miro and Ian. If you haven’t read a book by Mary Calmes before, I won’t ask where you’ve been— I’ll highly recommend this two-book series as a great place to start.

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Cover Art by Reese Dante depicts the “tools of the trade” of the Deputy US Marshals: gun, badge, and cuffs on a background of what appears to be a dark gray bulletproof vest. One additional item— a surgeon’s scalpel represents Miro’s nemesis who comes back to terrorize him in this story. Very cleverly done cover.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 228 pages
Expected publication: September 18th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
original title Fit to be Tied
ISBN13 9781634764889
edition language English
series Marshals #2

A Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Sense of Place by N.R. Walker

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5  ★★★★★
Sense of Place coverThe capstone in the trilogy of books making up the Thomas Elkin series, on my second read through this one, I found I loved it even more than I had the first time due to the subtle way the author tied the core of what makes this couple ticktheir keen sense of appreciation of all things architectureinto their love for each other and respect for each other’s ideas, concepts and experiences.

Thomas Elkin and Cooper Jones have been living together for a week or so when this story opens. Things are going well for Cooper in his position, and he’s just scored a huge job based on the work he did in prep for an architectural show in Philadelphia. This job can make his career and Tom couldn’t be prouder. As the job advances, and Cooper spends more time at work, rather than let the stresses break them up, the two work together to successfully fit in “couple” time.

Cooper’s chief problem is the property developer for whom he’s working is making advances to him left and right, and Coop spends most of his time diplomatically trying to call him off. It doesn’t help when Tom is so understanding, though from Tom’s perspective, Tom has total confidence in Cooper. However, when the straw breaks the camel’s back , a small confrontation and show of possessiveness on Tom’s part is enough to make Cooper happy, and they survive to the end of the job without losing their tempers or their employment. But in the meantime, at Tom’s workplace, one of the partners in his firm is making his life miserable by questioning everything he does. He knows it’s homophobia but can’t get the guy to back off, and it eventually results in Tom making a major life-changing decision.

On the surface, this story wasn’t as complex or intense as book two, Clarity of Lines, but as I stated at the beginning of the review, the subtleties made it even better and watching the men cope with family and job pressures yet continue to grow stronger as a couple was a pleasure. Tom and Cooper have found their personal “sense of place”when the place you’re in feels like homewhere you’re at peace. <spoiler>The way the author wove this in to the marriage proposal was sweet. And, the proposal itself was unique and unexpected and totally perfect. Sigh. </spoiler>

I highly recommend this series to anyone looking for a wonderful couple, with a sweet romance, age gap, and humor. And the bonus is that it leaves a warm and fuzzy feeling in your heart and a wish for more time with the men before you have to leave them. If you get the chance to read this series, by all means, don’t pass it up.
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Cover Art by Posh Gosh is very similar to the other books in the series and features the upper torsos of two men wearing suits, set against a background of tall buildings representing the architecture MCs in the series.

Sales Links:  Pride Publishing | All Romance (ARe) |  Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, Special Edition
Published August 11th 2015 by Pride Publishing (first published February 14th 2014)
ISBN13 9781784307417
edition language English

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Best Books and Covers of August 2015

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August header

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Best Books and Covers of August 2015

Looking back at our August 2015, never have I seen so many wonderful books as we read and reviewed this month.  Normally I would include those books with a 4.5 or higher rating, but we had so many excellent 5 star novels this month that I had to stop somewhere and left those off this time.

Did you miss out on any of our reviews listed below?  Give them and the books another look now.  These stories are too amazing to be missed.  And don’t forget the covers that we loved just below that.  Does it match your own lists this month?  Write us and let us know!

Best Books of August 2015 – ★★★★★

Get Your Shine On by Nick Wilgus (A Stella Review on 8/5)
Redemption by Eden Winters (A MelanieM Review on 8/7)
Evolution by Lissa Kasey (An Aurora YA Review on 8/8)
Definitely, Maybe, Yours by Lissa Reed (A Mika Review on 8/11)
Diamond Edge by Laura Harner (A MelanieM Review on 8/12)
The Harder They Fall by Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau (A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review on 8/13)
The Lightning-Struck Heart by T.J. Klune (A Stella Review on 8/14)
The Pillar the Kim Fielding (A BJ Review on 8/14)
Lucky Linus by Gene Grant (A Mika Review on 8/ 15)
The Homecoming by J. Scott Coatsworth on 8/21 (A Paul B Review)

Audiobooks:audiobook clipart bw

Nowhere Ranch by Heidi Cullinan, narrated by Iggy Toma (A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review on 8/17)

End of a Series:

A Piece of Cake by Mary Calmes (Jory and Sam) (A MelanieM Review) on 8/14

 

Favorite Covers of August 2015

Ink & Shadows coverDefinitely Maybe Yours coverLucky Linus coverThe Homecoming - cover2

 

 

 

 

 

Shadows and Ink by Rhys Ford, cover art by Anne Cain
Definitely, Maybe. Yours by Lissa Reed, cover art by Buckeyegrrl Design -made Mika want to read the story,
The Lightning-Struck Heart by T.J. Klune, cover art by Paul Richmond, powerful and unique
The Pillar by Kim Fielding, cover artist is Shobana Appavu.  Stunning and rich as the story
Lucky Linus by Gene Grant, cover art by Paul Richmond, photograph is again the reason Mika wanted this book
The Homecoming by J. Scott Coatsworth, cover art by London Burden, Paul thinks its one of the most gorgeous covers he’s seen all year.

Special Mentions to Kate McMurray’s The Rainbow League Series, cover art by Aaron Anderson.  Wonderful.

The Pillar coverThe Lightning Struck Heart cover

The Long Slide Home cover

Thrown A Curve cover

A Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Lead Me Not by Ann Gallagher

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Lead Me Not coverIsaac Morris strongly believes in spreading the word of the Lord as he firmly and loudly protests homosexuality at rallies organized by his church at any and all LGBTQ pride gatherings. Following in the footsteps of his father, the leader of the church which has a zero tolerance for that type of sexual deviant Sodomizer, he and his brothers are being groomed to take over the flock when, and if, his father retires. At one such protest, a gay man challenges him to prove that being homosexual is a choice. Stunned, Isaac begins to think through the possibilities of proving that one can choose to be homosexual and one can choose to come back to the Lord and be heterosexual again.

His twin sister, Ruth, encourages him and helps him to convince their father and older brothers that their plan is sound. Their nephew Griffin has been struggling with being gay and is due to be sent to a special camp as a last resort to save him. His father, Isaac’s brother John, supports the project in the hope that it will help Griffin see that he can become “normal” through a conscious decision to change. Ruth, a film major, and Isaac, a recently divorced man, have nothing to lose by setting up a house in Seattle to film a documentary while Isaac infiltrates the gay community to prove being gay is a choice. Motivated by the knowledge that he is helping Griffin and others like him, Isaac stifles his nausea at having to do this project. Focusing on the hope that he can help lead those sinners back to God, they move forward with their plan.

His first foray into attempting a hookup ends up with him being bashed in the alley behind the bar, CapitalOUT. Colton, one of the bartenders, accompanies the bouncers as they head into the alley to break up the fight and rescue the guy. It’s Colton who treats Isaac’s wounds and extends the hand of comfort, healing, and friendship to Isaac. And it’s Colton, whom Isaac turns to when he decides he needs some guidance before attempting this again. Colton is a sweet, quiet, confidant man who conveys a soft-spoken attitude and acceptance of the Lord’s way in most everything he does. Colton volunteers all his spare time at his church, a church which welcomes and supports LGBTQ members and provides a youth center for those teens who have been abandoned by their families.

Pastor Mike once saved Colton from the same fate, and Colton is firm about giving back to the church which saved his life. Over time, Isaac finally acknowledges that the church is based on love and respect for all who seek the Lord, and he has lengthy discussions and debates with the pastor about the sections of the Bible his father uses as a basis for his hatred of homosexuality. Pastor Mike shows Isaac a different interpretation and suggests that Isaac’s father is using the Bible for his own means to spread hatred, rather than love. (To clarify here, no one knows who Isaac’s father actually is.)

Isaac also discovers that he has feelings for Colton, feelings he never felt for his wife, and feelings which scare him. How can he come to care for a man? Is he really gay? Can he possibly go back when this film production is done? And can he break the heart of the wonderful man he’s come to care for? The decision is taken from his hands when his brothers discover his confidential video of his private thoughts about each situation he’s been thrown in. They also discover that he works now as a bartender at CaptialOUT, and they come storming in to pull him away— but not before revealing his secret to Colton— a secret which clearly devastates Colton and tears the couple apart before they ever have a chance to commit to each other.

This is an absolutely wonderful story. It’s long, and non-explicit, but that seems of little importance as it clearly shows the depth of love two men can have for each other. This story is not so much about the sexual attraction as it is about other things that attract one person to another. The beauty of the soul of a man, his goodness shining through, the buildup of trust between two people and yes, even the butterflies in the tummy when their gazes meet across a room.

What happens to Isaac and Colton and how the issues are resolved is both fascinating and engaging and I quickly reached the point where I didn’t want to put the book down. I highly recommend this story to all lovers of M/M romance, and especially to those who struggle with the arguments related to religion and homosexuality and the “word of God” in the Bible. I found the story quite educational and enlightening without feeling as if I were sitting at the foot of a preacher and being spoon-fed Bible studies. This story is also great because it can be shared with family members who prefer to read non-explicit romances or those who may be considered too young to read such stories. I can summarize by saying that when I finished the book, I was stunned by the powerful message and the depth of feeling conveyed to readers. Don’t hesitate to read this one.

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Cover Art by L.C. Chase depicts two men, representing the MCs, standing against a background of a crowd of protesters holding up homophobic placards.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 415 pages
Expected publication: August 24th 2015 by Riptide Publishing
original title Lead Me Not
ISBN 1626492778 (ISBN13: 9781626492776)
edition language English
settingSeattle, Washington (United States)