A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review : Oz (Finding Home #1) by Lily Morton

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Oz Gallagher is bored with his life and decides to leave London to take on a temp job in Cornwall as an estate manager. He has some experience and his degree in Art History should be invaluable but it’s not so much that he wants the job as that he wants out of London.

When he meets Silas, the earl who happens to be a veterinarian and is fully invested in getting the country estate he’s inherited out of debt, Oz is gobsmacked. Silas is nothing like he pictured and everything he’d want. Silas has all of Oz’s requisite kryptonite: a hairy chest on a guy who’s earnest and adorable. When asked about running an estate, Oz quips that being house manager at Ashworth House will be “like being a tour manager, only with less drugs and hookers,” and that’s when I knew I was in for a treat.

Oz figures it will be easy to keep his distance from the cute earl because they are from two different worlds but the men are drawn to one another and quickly become friends and companions—long before they become lovers.

In the future if someone asks me for the perfect example of a slow burn romance that has all the elements of humor, snark, sweetness, and incredible characterization, I’m going to suggest Oz.

One of my favorite moments in the story occurs in their tour of the neighboring estate—their competition, so to speak. Oz’s humorous quips and Silas’s reactions were delightfully funny.

The author’s ability to show the depth of emotion the men develop for one another is outstanding. Describing Oz at one point in the story, Silas says: “My Oz is like a hedgehog. Bright eyes, prickly and fierce on the outside with a soft underbelly that he’ll roll into a ball to hide.”

And Oz, speaking of falling for Silas: “I’d thought the moment when I fell in love would be dramatic and full of noise and energy. Instead, it’s in a quiet bedroom where a soft song plays and the light dances on the man’s hair and the planes of his face as he makes me back into me. The only man who’s ever valued that person.”

I’m deeply in love with both Silas and Oz. There’s not much more I can say than that. I invite all my fellow MM romance lovers to share this beautiful love story with me. It’s absolutely amazing!

The cover by Natasha Snow features a gorgeous young man—the perfect representation of Oz Gallagher.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 287 pages
Published November 20th 2018
ASINB07KKN5JFB
Edition Language English
Series Finding Home #1 setting Cornwall

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Nova Praetorian by N.R. Walker

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

As the blurb states, Quintus Furius Varus is one of the best lanistas in Rome. “Tall and strong in build, fearsome in manner, and sharp of wit, he trains the best gladiators bound for the arenas of Rome.” So when Senator Servius Augendus seeks personal guards, he comes to Quintus with an offer he literally cannot refuse, and Quintus ends up in Neapolis, contracted as a trainer of guards, and head of the guards assigned to protect Servius. The only good thing to Quintus is the contract period is limited, so once the threat is removed, Quintus can go home to his gladiators and resume his peaceful existence.

Kaeso Agorix was abducted from Iberia and brought to Rome as a slave. Purchased by Servius, he’s handed over to Quintus to train, and he’s given to Quintus as a personal slave for as long as Quintus is in Servius’s employ. By the time Quintus discovers Servius’s treachery and plot to gain power, not only his life is in danger, but also the lives of Kaeso and Quintus’s other gladiators. What follows is a complex plot of assassination and treachery and involves not only Quintus and his gladiators, but also Servius and his slaves, and the emperor and his royal guard, the praetorian.

This story is very, very long and very, very complex with characters who have Ancient Roman names, so it takes time to get to know each one, and it takes quite a long time to understand the politics and the atmosphere of the times. That all being said—it is time well-spent. A grand saga, created by the fertile imagination of NR Walker, the character development is outstanding in this large cast of mighty Roman warriors and deceitful Roman politicians. It’s interesting and exciting and the last chapters fly by quickly. I am happy to report that readers should be satisfied by the outcome, and it’s certainly worth sticking it out to the end.

I liked the character development as well as the world-building. Days after finishing, I’m still thinking about Quintus and Kaeso and wondering how they fared after the last chapter ended. In other words, I felt as if I was reading real history, and I want to go to Google to look them up. Seriously though, the author created an amazing saga with characters I won’t forget any time soon, and I very highly recommend it.

The cover features a Roman guard, holding sword and shield, on the battlefield with the sun coming up behind him. Beautifully done, it’s symbolic of the new guard—the nova praetorian.

Sales LinksAmazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 394 pages
Published October 24th 2018 by BlueHeart Press
ASIN B07JPHHDLM
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: The Spy’s Love Song (Stars from Peril) by Kim Fielding

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Rating: 4.5 stars  out of 5

Jaxon Powers is a rock star who has it all: fame, fortune, gold records and awards, and plenty of money. He agrees to travel to Vasnytsia with Reid Stanfill as his pseudo personal assistant after the state department pleads for his cooperation. The dictator in this small country is a fan. He may be the only fan since he doesn’t allow his people Internet access, and they only see state-run television, so no other access to the world outside their borders. The citizens will be allowed to attend the concert and Talmirov will be seen as a benevolent man.

Once there, they do one concert for the president and then have to wait several days for the big public concert, but Jaxon finds out all is not as it seemed, and Reid is actually a secret agent working to help the resistance in Vasnytsia to overcome tyranny. He also learns that there’s an underground movement of men and women who do get access to his music. He has fans in this country—brave men and women who are not only fans but are willing to help him and Reid escape when their plans go downhill. When the plot is found out and there’s an attempt on Reid’s life, he separates himself from Jaxon so the young man can get home, but even that doesn’t go according to plan and they end up together fighting for their lives.

I’m not giving a lot of detail in this review because this story deserves to be read. It’s not just a love story. It’s the story of unsung heroes—the commoners who rise up to make their country a better place. And it’s the story of Jaxon reaching deep inside and showing who he really is—a young man willing to go out on a limb to help so many people in their struggle for freedom. There’s quiet moments and times for introspection for the young man who was born in Nebraska and left at eighteen to make his way in the world. And there’s time to learn a bit about Reid and his sense of responsibility and perfectionism. There’s not a lot of sex in this story, just enough to secure the romance, so to speak, but it really wasn’t needed to make this story outstanding.

I loved all the secondary characters the author created. Even with the language barrier, they were believable, brave, strong, and certainly interested in their freedom. Looking back, I realize that I feel like these are real people and I wonder how they are doing today. Jaxon was a terrific character with so much to like about him. He owned his faults and tried to live up to his hopes and dreams and when push came to shove, he showed the world a strength of character many wouldn’t have known he had. Reid, however, was difficult for me to like. He was quite cold and standoffish at first. In fact, he was so in denial about the possibility that he deserved happiness and a future with a partner who loved him that it took forever for him to get there. On one hand, that was spot-on for his character, but on the other, it made him more difficult to love. I’m sure it’s a quandary for authors who need to find the perfect balance.

I definitely recommend this story to those who enjoy stories of intrigue and revolution, those who love rock stars, and those who are just looking for a high quality MM romance that has a lot of substance and isn’t bogged down by gratuitous sex scenes.

The cover by Bree Archer shows an excellent representation of Jaxon Powers with his curly red hair and slightly unshaven face. It’s a close-up wearing the clothing he dons while escaping Vasnytsia and it’s set against the background of the plain cement block apartment buildings where the impoverished citizens live. Perfect for this story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, Dreamspun Desires #67, 200 pages
Expected publication: October 2nd 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1641080558 (ISBN13: 9781641080552)
Edition Language English
Series Stars from Peril #1

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Band Sinister by KJ Charles

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Apparently Georgette Heyer’s work was the author’s inspiration for this book. So, first and foremost, I am embarrassed to say I had no idea who Georgette Heyer was. Agatha Christie? Yes. Georgette Heyer? Nope. So, though some reviewers may cite how wonderful the connection is, this one is clueless.

Was this typical KJ Charles? No. Not at all—nary a body to be found. But lots of loving, a band of gregarious rakes who call themselves the Murder, a sweet, innocent, virginal man with a mischief-making sister who breaks her leg and lands among the rakes—this one has so much more. A body simply wasn’t needed.

Sir Philip Rookwood inherited his estate when his older brother died suddenly after running off with the wife of the Frisby family who lived nearby. The problem to most who knew the Rookwoods is that Philip is the black sheep of the family—the illegitimate son who runs with a crowd of young men, many of whom are outrageous in their personality and their dress.  Philip is no doubt thought of as the same since he calls his group “the Murder.”  We find out this is deliberate since his friend Corvin’s name means crow, and between Philip’s “rook” and their friend John Raven, they form a murder of crows.  These three have been together since their boarding school years when all Philip had were his best friends and Corvin’s family who welcomed him as one of their own.

Guy Frisby and his sister, Amanda, have continued to live in the village for years after their mother brought scandal to them simply because their father gambled away their funds before he died. Their mother’s aunt gave them enough money to stay quietly in the country away from society where their soiled reputation won’t affect her daughters’ chances of making a good match.

Amanda reveals to Guy that she’s authored a scandalous book, Darkdown, featuring Sir Peter Falconwood and his dastardly friends. She admits she based it on rumors about Sir Philip and the men with him, and Guy is mortified. Then when Amanda’s horse throws her on Sir Philip’s land and she has to recuperate at his mansion, Guy vows he won’t leave her side so her reputation remains safe, or as safe as it can be given their history. Once there he meets Philip and his friends and realizes just how much trouble he’s in when he can’t take his eyes from the notorious rake.

As the days go on, Guy learns there’s more about Philip than anyone knows.  Aside from being serious about cultivating sugar from beetroot to help his tenant farmers, he’s caring, kind, sweet, and dangerous for Guy’s cravings for men. He’s never acted on his feelings, but his resistance is nil where Philip is concerned and the attraction is mutual. Being thrown together away from the eyes of the rumor mill gives them the opportunity to know each other in carnal ways and the author takes us to a time of innocence and surrender with a light-hearted twist to the romance. One of my favorite scenes is when Guy has his first fellatio experience and realizes the fluid is similar to oysters and he definitely doesn’t like oysters.

While Guy and Philip are occupied, Amanda is still healing from her broken leg and she and her doctor, another of Philip’s friends, are becoming closer. She’s also revealed that she authored Darkdown, the scandalous novel which delights Philip’s friends, especially Corvin, who sees himself in a promiscuous character and spreads the word to his London friends that this is a book that must be read. Things progress nicely until the bubble bursts and Guy and Amanda’s aunt and uncle arrive to lay down the law and break up the events at the mansion. 

A must read, this is KJ Charles’s lightest romance to date and she’s captured the sweet innocence of Guy Frisby perfectly. She’s also built intriguing character sketches of Philip’s other friends so I certainly hope we get to see them in their own books in the future.  Very highly recommended and not to be missed. 

Cover art is charming and works perfectly for this novel.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 224 pages
Expected publication: October 11th 2018 by KJC Books
ISBN139781912688029
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Syncopation (Twisted Wishes #1) by Anna Zabo

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

This rock star BDSM MM drama deserves more than 5 stars. If it were possible, I’d definitely boost the rating higher.

Ray Van Zeller is a songwriter and singer who has dreamed of taking his high school garage band into the big time since high school and has finally achieved a step in the right direction, as they’re going on tour to open for a big-name band. But Kevin, his friend and drummer, has been drinking heavily, and in a fit of temper, Ray hurls a bottle at the wall behind Kevin. Unfortunately, the action is caught on camera, making it appear that Ray is drunk and throwing the bottle at his bandmate. His band manager, Carl, focuses on that as he berates Ray and convinces Ray that taking the fall and pretending to do rehab will benefit the band’s publicity and popularity.

Since Kevin is now out, after hurried auditions, the band hires Zavier Demos—the man Ray salivated over in high school. Two years his senior, Zavier was gone before Ray had his band established. After Zavier completed Julliard and contracted as a timpanist in a renowned orchestra, his personal issues with the conductor caused him to resign, so he’s ready to assume a position with Ray’s band, Twisted Wishes. Unknown to Ray, Zavier has wanted a place with the band and he’s wanted Ray as well—he’s been watching both from a distance for quite some time. But Zavier doesn’t want Ray for a one-night stand or for a long-term romantic relationship. He wants Ray as his submissive.

Zavier is a Dom and is aromantic so has never had a relationship with anyone and that’s the way he wants it. No complications. No strings. No love. Sex, yes. Romance, no. Ray doesn’t know it yet but he needs the strength this friend can offer and the level of control Zav can deliver. Carl seems to have it in for Ray and shoots the young man in the ego after every performance. Ray’s on a high after a concert? No doubt Carl will be there to bring him down. But once Zav enters the picture, Ray picks up tools to control his scattered thinking and he begins to speak up for himself and more firmly take on the leadership role he’s been handed but hasn’t been able to handle as well as he wants.

Ray isn’t the only one who benefits though. Zavier can’t believe he’s found a beautiful and talented submissive who accepts his friendship and understands that there won’t be hearts and flowers with an aromantic partner. Ray seeks to please Zavier as much as Zavier seeks to please and take care of Ray. It’s a give and take match unlike any other I’ve read, but it’s oh so perfect for these men.

Anna Zabo is an author I discovered this past year and I’m so very impressed with their work. The action and plot are believable, the sex kinky and hot, the BDSM is carefully laid out and easily understood, and the characters are well-rounded, endearing, and memorable. Each character, including the secondary band members, becomes personal to the reader, and this reader most definitely wants more of them—all of them. This isn’t just a story—it’s a work of art. Very highly recommended.

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The bright and colorful cover features a tattooed man standing in front of a microphone as he tears off his leather vest. In the lower pane, fans are waving their arms and the background shows the floodlights that would brighten a stage. Very sharp and attractive and perfect for the story, even though the description of the MC would make him thinner and lankier than the cover model depicts. The only downside, but still attention-getting.

Sales LInks:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0789GZX16/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/syncopation-anna-zabo/1127659237

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/syncopation/id1326105335

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Anna_Zabo_Syncopation?id=t0RDDwAAQBAJ

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/syncopation-8

http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Syncopation/Anna-Zabo/Q264976640?id=7194974976389

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 295 pages
Published April 9th 2018 by Carina Press
Original TitleSyncopation
ASINB0789GZX16
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesTwisted Wishes #1