A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Hexslayer (Hexworld #3) by Jordan L. Hawk

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

As exceptional as others in this series, Hexslayer is the tale of Nick, a horse familiar who has no love lost for any witch and snubs his nose at the MWP—Ministry of Witch Police—even though one of the familiars who found his witch and works there is his brother, Rook (The 13th Hex).

For years, Nick has housed feral familiars in the tenement apartments above his bar, Caballus.  He’s made it his personal business to assist any and all familiars who do not want to be tied down to a witch and has even been operating an underground escape route for those who need to get out of the city.  No one knows of that except his employee Kyle, however.  He’d certainly never let on to Rook, who is now a “goody two shoes” in Nick’s book.

But when Nick meets Jamie MacDougal, MWP witch and former war hero, something clicks and he’s shocked to realize he may be looking at his own witch.  Refusing to believe it, and definitely not willing to act on it, he’s surprised to find that Jamie came back from the war with an artificial leg and that Jamie is not typical of any witch he’s ever met before.  In fact, the man is so sexy and so sweet that Nick decides to propose that he and Jamie form a temporary bond, to be separated by a hexbreaker after one month.  They will work together to solve the mystery of who is killing feral familiars in a ritualistic way and leaving the bodies surrounded by blood and symbols for all to see. 

What he doesn’t count on is falling in love.  And what Jamie doesn’t count on is finding out that someone close to him is involved in the nefarious plot to do away with familiars altogether. 

There’s mystery and intrigue, action and adventure, fighting and loving, and very definitely a happily ever after in store for these two men who seemed to be mismatched from the start, but in reality, they form the other half of each other’s soul. 

I highly recommend this story, and in fact this entire series, to lovers of mystery and romance.  If you love the author’s Whyborne & Griffin series, you are sure to love this one too.  This can be read as a standalone; however, there are repeating characters from previous books so reading the first ones in the series is recommended.   In any event, don’t hesitate to pick this story up. 

~~~~~

Cover art by Jordan L. Hawk features two men in the upper frame of the cover, the smaller one representing Jamie in the background, the larger, darker-skinned man in the forefront representing Nick, Jamie’s familiar and horse shifter.  The lower frame shows the shadow of a horse superimposed on a Hexworld map and linking this cover to others in the series.  Though somewhat dark, it is very attention-getting and perfectly portrays the theme of the story.

Sales Links:

Amazon | Amazon UK | Kobo | Smashwords|Nook | iBooks

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 344 pages
Published October 6th 2017 by Jordan L. Hawk
ASINB075J6XQXR
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHexworld #3

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Suspicious Behavior (Bad Behavior #2) by LA Witt and Cari Z

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

This story picks up where Risky Behavior left off and Detectives Darren Corliss and his older partner, Andreas Ruffner are persona non grata in their precinct. Actually, they’re not really popular anywhere in the police department because it was their investigation that sent the mayor, the former commissioner, and multiple crooked detectives to prison.  At the very least, the fallout caused many to resign and family members left to suffer from the consequences of the crooked cops’ actions.  On the surface, one would wonder why they wouldn’t be popular after having busted such a large crime ring, but as the story goes on, many of the repercussions are shown and the behaviors directed at them by other officers was damn depressing.

On the bright side, these men are dynamite together—both as detective partners and as boyfriends/life partners.  In fact, by the end of the story, the L word was said.  Not sayin’ who said it, just be aware that it’s a fun side benefit of reading this story.  And for those looking for man on man loving, I need to say there was very little sex in this one.  How could there be?  As the story opens, Darren is still recovering from the shoulder wound he suffered in the last book, Andreas’s children are visiting, Darren’s brother is being committed to a home for his early onset Alzheimer’s Disease, and again, not sayin’ who, but another injury strikes the pair later in the book. But it really didn’t matter because the love shone through, and the caring and concern each shows the other, the strength of their partnership, and their attitude as they worked together as a team were all stronger than ever. 

Not knowing quite what to do with them, especially while the departments are being reorganized due to the loss of so many officers, their captain assigns Darren and Andreas a cold case file with several unsolved serial killer murders.  When they study the notes in-depth, they realize that this is one serial killer who changed his motives, victims, and methods after several killings each time.  And that leads them back to the officer who was investigating, who just happens to be Trent, the IA detective who’s now in prison for his role with the mayor in masterminding the previous corruption.  Complex? Yes.  Interesting? No doubt.  Compelling? Intriguing? Frightening? Suspenseful?  Yes, yes, yes, and yes!  This is a fantastic murder mystery/action drama by two very talented authors. 

The series does not end on a cliffhanger, but does leave plenty of room for personal growth and new situations to develop.  We still don’t know if Darren has the same gene as his brother, Andreas’s oldest daughter has a date with the ER doc they met in the last chapter (and Daddy’s not pleased!), and none of the cops who ignored their pleas for help as this latest mystery came to a head are happy with them as the repercussions for their failure to act add up. 

I’m definitely looking forward to more from this dynamic duo—both the characters and the authors!

~~~

Cover art by G.D. Leigh is similar to the artwork used in book one and features a professional-looking man in a dark trench coat against a dark background and city skyline—possibly Darren.  In combination with the cover for book one, which featured a different character but similar cover, this sets the mood perfectly for the story.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon link to follow

Book Details:

ebook, 283 pages
Expected publication: August 21st 2017 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626496293
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBad Behavior #2

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Gabriel (Legacy Ranch #2) by R.J. Scott

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Author’s Note:
Be aware: emotional and physical abuse are depicted on the page in this book.

Reviewer’s Note:

Be warned—this one is heavy—emotionally heavy—with topics of abuse, past and present, physical and emotional.  Gabriel is one very damaged man. 

When Gabriel escaped from Hank Castille’s ranch years ago, he made his way to Dallas where he was “rescued” by a man named Stefan.  At first, Gabriel was so grateful to have someone who cared about him, he thought he was in love with the man. But Stefan set him straight on that—though Stefan cared about him, he also cared how Gabriel could benefit him and though Gabriel never seems to see the truth in the relationship, it’s evident to readers that Stefan is his pimp and is an emotional and physical abuser. But Stefan wraps his abuse in pretty words and gives Gabriel a place to stay, clothes, and a paycheck. It’s earning this paycheck that brings him into the Stafford Hotel where the owner, Cameron Stafford, needs an escort for a family event.

Cameron is blind, well, almost blind, but his eyesight is deteriorating rapidly and he’s fighting a power struggle with his hotel magnate father and his sister’s husband, both of whom want a part of the successful Dallas hotel.  Cameron owns it outright, however, thanks to the savvy of his deceased grandfather who made sure no one could absorb it back into the rest of the company.  Cameron is gay, single, and blind—three strikes against him per his father and brother-in-law. The single is because his last douchebag boyfriend took advantage of his blindness and stole from him, so he hires an escort to accompany him to his other sister’s engagement party.  To do this, he relies heavily on his bodyguard, known only as Six, and against Six’s judgment, he moves forward with his plan. 

The story encompasses a year in their lives, a year in which the two men come to mean something to each other and Gabriel starts to see some of Stefan’s actions as less than humane. (Getting choked until one blacks out will do that to a person.)  The kindness he thought he felt from Stefan is tarnished by the reality, especially when he starts to pay attention to calls from one of the other young men who was abused at Hank Castille’s hands—a young man named Kyle who now manages the Legacy Ranch for Jack and Riley Campbell-Hayes.  The ranch is intended as a safe place for the men who were abused by Hank and others like him, and for horses who are rescued from abusive situations.  Each client of the ranch is assigned a horse and together the therapeutic environment serves as a positive in their recovery.  They have a place for Gabriel whenever he’s ready for it—no strings attached.

Gabriel almost waits too long to seek help, but when he does, it’s Cam and Six who help get him to the ranch, where over time, the much-needed healing begins to take place. 

This is a love story, but it’s somewhat a secondary plotline.  The focus is more on the abusive situations, the reality faced by so many young men, the difficulty of asking for help, and the very real need for trust to begin to lay any foundation for a long-term commitment. 

I am enjoying this series, and though this was a difficult story to read in places, it was very necessary to take each step along the way.  As the story ends, there’s been no quick fix, however, there is a very strong hope for the future for the two men others might consider damaged or disabled but they know are stronger than ever with each other. 

I highly recommend this one, especially for readers who like hurt-comfort stories, but pay attention to the author’s warnings.  She’s very clear on the graphic scenes included, but my favorite sentence in the forward is where she very eloquently states: “I have a spectrum of readers and I know that some may consider this to be an on-page trigger, and it was important to me that I let you know.” 

~~~~

Cover art by Meredith Russell features a very handsome man set against the background of a big city skyline—both perfectly representing Gabriel and the city of Dallas.    

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | KOBO | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

Book Details:

ebook, 126 pages
Published August 2nd 2017 by Love Lane Books Limited
Edition LanguageEnglish
URL http://rjscottauthor.blogspot.com/2016/03/the-legacy-series.html
SeriesLegacy Ranch #2

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Red Fish, Dead Fish (Fish Out of Water#2) by Amy Lane

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Amy Lane exceeded all my expectations with this series. She’s known for sweet romance and is also the queen of angst. Her humor is fantastic and she’s one of the best storytellers ever. But until this series, she’s not done the action, suspense, and chilling drama that she’s done here. This story, like the first one in the series, was highly complex, horror-filled at times, riveting, emotional (of course!), painfully difficult to read at times, and provided readers with a highly driven team of MCs who literally race against the clock to find and stop a crazed serial killer who happens to be a former cop and has gotten his hands on a fellow female officer.

The main characters are interesting and perfect for each other—the slender-built, introverted attorney (Ellery) who might appear stand-offish or snobby at first meeting to those who don’t know him. But he has a reputation for being highly skilled at defending the underdog, and that was proven in the first book when he successfully helped the firm’s sexy, bad-boy investigator (Jackson) get his brother-of-the-heart out of a murder conviction by finding not only the real criminal but uncovering a ring of murders who rape and torture their victims before killing them. And the worst? They’re cops.  That Ellery and Jackson found each other and love each other—though that’s yet to be expressed as of the end of book one—is only icing on the cake.


As with book one, I was totally absorbed in the mystery within the first chapters and completely on board for the romance between Ellery and Jackson.  Jackson is as prickly as his mean, snarling cat, Billy-Bob, but Ellery manages to tame them both.  In the course of continually pulling Jackson out of scrapes with death and in between trips to the hospital for various injuries he suffers in the line of duty, Ellery learns that the latest victim is Jackson’s mother—the woman who gave birth to him, though she never nurtured him enough for him to consider her his beloved mom.  That honor goes to his best friend’s mother who literally pulled him from the hell that was his childhood and saved his life. 

Nevertheless, the action is intense and each time there’s a lull or a new lead comes up, a new facet to the mystery appears, and the guys are off and running again. Well, Jackson is off and running and Ellery is attempting to get him back—all in one piece, please. 

The fast-paced final chapters and the heartbreaking and heartwarming events and character interactions, including dialogue between Jackson and Ellery’s mom who Jackson refers to as Lucy-Satan, are priceless.  Add to that the intrigue that Owens didn’t just pop out as a manic serial killer—he had to have been groomed to the role—and who better to look at than Captain Karl Lacey, the military man who came all the way from Nevada to interview with Ellery, only to turn around and go back without imparting any news.  It seems it was more of an exploratory mission of What do you know? than anything else and sets the scene for book three, which will hopefully come out within the next year.  Oh and by the way, I finally realized why the names Ace Atchinson and Sonny Daye seemed familiar.  Ms. Lane threw these two characters from Race for the Sun out early in this story as either red herrings or key characters in the mystery that will continue to unfold in book three. Can’t wait.

The author also provided four short stories – vignettes of action that takes place between books one and two; stories that originally appeared on her blog.  This is a nice bonus read for those who love her work and this series specifically. 

If you like action-packed, suspense-filled dramas from a master storyteller, don’t hesitate to pick up this book.  It’s much better to read book one first, however, so put the series on your TBR.  It’s definitely one of my top picks of 2017.

~~~~~~~~~~~

The attention-getting cover art by Reese Dante features a gold fish in a glass and a knife dripping with blood, both appropriate to the story. It’s also bright and colorful and similar to the cover of  book one.  Tagline: There’s blood in the water and death in the air.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 330 pages
Expected publication: August 4th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleRed Fish, Dead Fish
ISBN139781635337648
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesFish Out of Water #2

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Draakenwood (Whyborne & Griffin #9) by Jordan L. Hawk

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

It’s difficult to imagine that a person can have such a fertile imagination that she can create characters and situations, not only set historically in the turn of the twentieth century, but also consisting of unfailingly original paranormal beings and activity, but Jordan Hawk pulls it off every single time. This is no exception. To top it off, running through these stories is a love that grows stronger with each installment—Griffin Flaherty and Percival Whyborne—two men who hold a very special place in my heart.

In this installment, someone is killing off members of the founding families of Widdershins, sucking the blood from their bodies until only the husk is left, and it looks like Whyborne is the murderer. Now, he’s going to have to get involved in finding the culprit before the monster gets to his father. Griffin, of course, is by his side and they’re joined in the adventure by two new members of the Endicott family—Whyborne’s distant, and estranged, relatives.

Whyborne’s twin sister, Persiphone, and their mother, Heliabel, both of whom are now ketoids who live in the sea also join in. And one of the funniest, laugh-out-loud moments of the story occurs when Percival comes upon Persiphone and her lover—his secretary, Miss Parkhurst—engaged in a sexual act on his desk in his office. The scene is priceless and I’m laughing even now as I write this review. Poor, unsuspecting, naïve Whyborne had no idea up to the moment he opened his office door. Hilarious!

In the usual way the author builds these stories, there’s plenty of background information and the suspense continues to build as the story unfolds—to the point where I was madly and avidly reading every word as quickly as I could devour them. This was quite an adventure as the maelstrom fought to take care of those whom it had collected for Widdershins, including Griffin, whose life is in deadly peril when he’s taken by the monster into the Draakenwood. The only available person to lead the battle to save his family and friends is Percival and he rises to the task, most ably assisted by both the police force and the gang of librarians who’d helped him in the past.

Honestly, there are barely words to describe how ably the author weaves the tale and instills it with both humor and terror alike. There are definitely more adventures awaiting our guys in the future, however, as the setup toward the end of this one indicates. Have no fear—Whyborne and Griffin are together again at the end of this book—along with a new piece of office furniture for Whyborne. (That original desk had to go!)

I highly recommend this book and this whole series to all lovers of MM romance and paranormal adventure. It’s simply wonderful.

~~~~

This cover by Lou Harper, though done in a similar style to the others in the series, is much more colorfully attractive than the ones previously done and features two characters from the story. To be honest, though I know one is Whyborne, I’m not sure who the other is since the features don’t look the same as past covers featuring Griffin. So overall, it’s attractive, but leaves me wondering who it represents.

Sales Links

Amazon | Amazon UK | Kobo | Smashwords | Nook | iBooks

Book Details:

ebook, 246 pages
Published June 2nd 2017 by Widdershins Press
ISBN139781941230251
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesWhyborne & Griffin #9

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Just Add Argyle (Fabric Hearts #3) by K.C. Burn

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This installment of the series started out slow as the author built the background of Tate Buchanan, a guy who’s always been called stupid—by friends, bosses, coworkers—and by his mother. He’s dirt poor, a high school dropout, and always getting into fights. Usually the fights are to defend some other guy, and frequently it’s to stop a gay bashing, but he always ends up in trouble. He’s also been known to mouth-off to his bosses or to others when he loses his temper so it’s no wonder he’s well-known by cops.

We first met Jaime Escobar in Plaid Versus Paisley when Caleb was trying to hookup Dallas with his cousin Jaime. Known as a player, Jaime keeps a low profile because unlike what his family believes, he’s not interested in any hookups—he wants a man to love him for who he is and to plan for a future together. In other words, he’s looking for a certain spark and for someone who wants commitment.

An EMT, when he’s called out with his partner to treat an abuser and the guy who saved another young man from being raped, Jaime meets Tate—the guy who stopped the attack. And though it seems the two would have nothing in common, Jaime feels that spark he’s been searching for.

This story is not one of insta-love. We get to know Tate and his life circumstances—a verbally abusive alcohol- and drug-addicted mother who would like to pimp him out for money to feed her habit and a learning disability in which he confuses numbers so spectacularly he dropped out of high school and accepted his label as stupid.

Jaime, on the other hand, can’t seem to forget Tate and goes to great lengths to find out who he is and to meet him again. He’s Tate’s first date when he gets the man to finally agree to see him, and from that point on, we get to see a new world unfurl for Tate—a world he richly deserves. But again—it’s not speedy. It takes quite a while for the changes to occur and for both men to come to terms with the feelings they have for one another.

There’s more action, disappointment, surprises, and romance in store for the two and it made the story so much better than I initially thought it was going to be. I’m hooked on these two guys, but especially Tate. What a hard-to-get-to-know but a man-I-want-to-adopt sweetheart he turned out to be!

I definitely recommend this story to those who love MM contemporary romance, age-gap, disabilities, and, of course, with Raven in this story as Tate’s new friend, there’s kilts! Lots of sexy guys in kilts! Highly recommend.

~~~

The cover art by LC Chase depicts a single male wearing an argyle vest and jeans set against a yellow plaid background—the perfect representation for the story as Tate favors argyle, considering it his good luck charm, and Raven convinces him to wear that plaid to model a kilt for a Tartan Candy calendar. 

Sales Links

 Dreamspinner | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

ebook, 204 pages
Expected publication: April 21st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published April 17th 2017)
ISBN139781635335682
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Fabric Hearts:

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Undertow (Whyborne & Griffin #8.5) by Jordan L. Hawk

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

undertowIn an era of very non-equal rights for women, Miss Maggie Parkhurst (Whyborne’s secretary) is given a voice and the fortitude to seek and to follow through on her desires. She’s also extremely clever and has the strength of conviction when it comes to her belief in assisting the woman she’s come to love: Persephone, twin to our favorite hero, Percival Whyborne. This clever installment in the Whyborne & Griffin series takes place concurrently with Whyborne’s visit to Kansas where he and Flaherty have gone in the story, Fallow.

Maggie is attracted to Persephone but hasn’t had the courage to let her know, and indeed, Maggie is struggling with that attraction as the story opens. But as the menace comes to a head, and Persephone is endangered, Maggie’s strength and persistence are what saves the day.

With this novella, Ms. Hawke shows her versatility by creating a strong FF couple and seamlessly weaving their story into what is already a memorable and highly enjoyable series. There’s nothing even mildly disruptive here, and in fact, I enjoyed Maggie’s musings on why Dr. Whyborne seems to always need his friend, the detective Griffin Flaherty, with him on all his trips. Later in the story, the pensive Maggie thinks it odd that the handsome Mr. Flaherty never seems to be in the company of a woman, rather he seeks to visit Dr. Whyborne at the museum, and at times, he even eats lunch with him there. These little sidebar thoughts added just the right tone of whimsy and speculation, and I thoroughly enjoyed them.

There was some semi-explicit lady loving later in the story, easily skimmed for those who aren’t into girly bits, but the story was principally about the mystery of who is killing ketoi. We also get a revisit from the Fideles group and an opportunity to see the defensive powers of the “librarians” led by Mr. Quinn—another highly enjoyable segment of the story.

I wouldn’t recommend reading this as a standalone, but it’s the perfect complement to the series and serves to enhance the overarching mystery surrounding the Widdershins paranormal activities. Plus, it’s nice to know that Whyborne’s sister is going to get her HEA with the indomitable Maggie Parkhurst. Highly recommended.

Cover art by Lou Harper is lovely and pertinent to the story.

Sales Links

Amazon | Amazon UK | Kobo | Smashwords | Nook | iBooks

Book Details:

ebook, 90 pages
Published January 20th 2017 by Jordan L. Hawk
ISBN13 9781941230237
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Bluewater Blues (Bluewater Bay #15) by G.B. Gordon

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

bluewaterblues_600x900Jack Daley left his music career behind—along with his domineering father—and is struggling to make a new life for himself and his autistic sister in Bluewater Bay. When a summer storm sweeps a handsome stranger into his general store, Jack is more than ready for a fling. No strings attached, because Jack can’t share the secrets he and his sister are hiding from. Unfortunately, his feelings refuse to stay casual.

Mark Keao is married to his job as a costume designer on Wolf’s Landing. He’s autistic, so he’s used to people not knowing how to interact with him, but that doesn’t mean he wants to be a hermit. Especially when he meets Jack Daley, who dances with brooms, shares his love of the blues, and gets him like no one else. But relationships have proven complicated in the past.

Just when Mark is ready to try anyway, Jack pulls back. But Mark isn’t giving up, and neither is Jack’s sister. And then there’s the music both men love, bringing them together time and again. It will take trust, though, to bring them together for good.

This first half of this book was difficult to read, and I imagine it was difficult to write, as well. How do you create a romance and eventually a sexual relationship with someone who cannot bear to be touched?  GB Gordan pulls it off by painstakingly laying the groundwork throughout the beginning, and rewarding us with a beautiful relationship between two wonderful men and an even more beautiful relationship between a man and his autistic sister. 

Jack Daley left everything behind the night his sister was attacked, and he thought the attacker, a friend of his father’s, was killed.  Taking his autistic sister across country, always hiding and living in fear, has taken its toll in more ways than one. Margaret has never had the education, therapy, or medical treatment she should have had for her disorder, and Jack has given up all hope of ever having a relationship because he can’t leave her on her own, even for a night. Scrimping and saving the money their grandmother gave him before her death, they finally land in Bluewater Bay, Washington, where they open a small grocery store and live a quiet but lonely life.

Until one night when a new customer comes in, and Jack loses himself in the man’s tall, lanky form and beautiful eyes—eyes that rarely ever hold his gaze. What he doesn’t realize when the man darts off is that Mark Keao has a form of autism himself, the higher functioning symptoms formerly known as Asperger’s Syndrome.  He does well in his job as a costume designer at the Wolf studios because he enjoys the feel of the fabrics beneath his hands, and with his earplugs in, the often loud and chaotic sounds don’t send him off the deep end.

What they ultimately discover when Mark keeps attempting to get to know Jack is that Mark can touch Jack, though it’s not possible for Jack to touch him.  When they persevere, though, Jack has what he believes to be the hottest sex of his life and realizes he may be in deep trouble because he doesn’t see how he’s going to walk away from this man.

As the story evolves, a little more of the truth of Jack’s life leaks out until a crisis with Margaret finally enmeshes both of their lives for the better, and Mark helps Jack get back in touch with the one thing he missed most from his carefree youth. 

As I said at the beginning, this is a beautiful love story, and the love Jack has for his autistic sister shines through nearly as much as the love he has for the man who has finally broken down his barriers. Kudos to GB Gordon for tackling such a tough job and bringing us such a sweet romance. 

Cover art by L.C. Chase is heartwarming and wonderful.

Sales Links

Riptide Publishing

6f71e-all2bromance2bbutton

7104e-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

Book Details:

ebook, 198 pages
Published October 17th 2016 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626494572
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Bluewater Bay

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: A Kind of Honesty (A Kind of Stories #3) by Lane Hayes

Standard

Rating: 4.5 hearts out of 5

a-kind-of-honesty-by-lane-hayesMusic is drummer Tim Chalmers’s great escape and the one thing that’s never let him down. But his band Spiral’s meteoric rise to fame has made it difficult for him to maintain a low profile. Unwanted press pesters him after a public breakup with a volatile ex-girlfriend who loves the limelight as much as he loathes it. Tim’s main goal is to avoid confrontation. However, when a handsome stranger in a dive bar turns out to be someone he might know, everything changes.

Carter Hamilton-Temple might be a successful financial consultant with more brains, sophistication, and charm than most, but he always falls for the wrong guys: closet cases or men with issues. He can’t fight his attraction to tattooed rock star Tim, but can he trust his own judgment? When the thrill of danger combined with a fierce physical connection proves too strong for either man to resist, a quiet liaison away from the public eye and curious friends seems like a safe bet. But some secrets are hard to keep. When rumors threaten to rock his world, Tim realizes it’s time to confront his fear with his own kind of honesty.

When Spiral’s drummer, Tim Chalmers, finally dumps his bat-shit crazy super model girlfriend, he finds solace in a seedy gay bar in LA.  Disappointed that he can’t find what he needs, he’s preparing to go when he meets a gorgeous cowboy, though it’s evident that this cowboy with his designer label clothing is from somewhere other than “the range”.

It’s an unforgettable night of sex, but just that, nothing more. Until one night back in New York when Tim attends a party for friends Zeke and Benny, and there he is—his cowboy, but now in his true persona—a stunning man who’s self-assured, happy, and drop-dead gorgeous.  Tim has to have him, and the feeling is mutual. 

The two embark on a friends-with-benefits strategy that seems to work for a while to keep their connection under the radar, except that Tim slowly starts to realize he wants more with this man, and the demands of being in a band rising in popularity in a rock star world, plus the fact he’s never told his mother he’s bisexual, make it seem like an impossible dream.

I’ve always enjoyed Lane Hayes’s stories, and this one is right up there with the best.  Tim is one of those guys that you sometimes want to hug and sometimes want to slap. But when I stayed with him, through his ups and downs, it was a treat to see the change in him that the love of a wonderful man brought out.  He had to face reality or lose Carter, and believe me, Carter is not someone you’d want to lose. For all his outward appearance of an intelligent, confident, wealthy, and self-assured businessman, inside Carter was still the little boy with no mom and an elderly father who never participated in Carter’s youthful endeavors, leaving him lonely and afraid to reach out for love. 

Tim, on the other hand, does have a family—a mom who he describes as crazy, a sister who is even crazier, and a nephew who adores Tim and vice versa.  He doesn’t want to lose them until he reaches a wall. To get past that wall, he has to be honest, mostly with himself, but with his family and friends and the love of his life, Carter.  Being there for his emotional tug of war, participating in his struggle, and witnessing the outcome make this one of my favorites of this series.  Knowing the prize would be a HEA with Carter certainly fed my enjoyment.  Featuring some secondary characters I loved to hate and two MCs who were engaging and endearing, I recommend this one to readers who love a good MM contemporary romance.

Cover art by Aaron Anderson.  Works for the story and series.

Sales Links

        

Book Details:

ebook, 240 pages
Published October 7th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634777867 (ISBN13: 9781634777865)
Edition LanguageEnglish

SeriesA Kind of Stories #3

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Tart and Sweet (Candy Man #4) by Amy Lane

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Tart and Sweet by Amy LaneIn the Army, Robbie Chambers turned on his lover out of fear—and he hasn’t been able to live with himself since. Now he’s out of the Army but still trapped in the closet that brought on his most cowardly moment, and he starts to think he’ll never be able to fight his way free.

Until he sees Cy McVeigh. Beautiful and uninhibited, Cy is dancing on the boardwalk at Old Sac for no other reason than the moment called for it. Robbie not only joins in the dance but is smitten from the very beginning.

However, Robbie still has old business to clear up, and when he helps out a kid in need and comes face-to-face with the man he betrayed, he’s forced to come clean with himself. He can’t redeem his mistake if he’s still locked into his old patterns, and he won’t ever be worthy of Cy if he can’t earn Adam’s forgiveness. He’s going to need all the help he can get from the people at Candy Heaven in order to make things right with his past so he can have a future with Cy.

Oh, Amy, Amy, Amy. You have a way of taking my heart, tying it in knots, giving it a good shake, and then smoothing it all out so that I’m left feeling happy and content and well satisfied. 

Lovers of this series will find even more to love in this installment.  Robbie Chambers, the soldier who broke Adam’s heart, has found his way to Sacramento, to the “Old Sac” area where Candy Heaven sits along the boardwalk.  Trying to prove to himself and his parents that he’s straight, he has a girlfriend in tow for the dinner with the family, but before the evening is over, his attention is captured by Cy McVeigh. The sleek, dark-skinned dancer has a positive, upbeat attitude that can’t be missed as he moves to the beat of music and grabs Robbie and his date to dance along with him. When the dance is over, Robbie knows what he has to do. 

Within a few days, he’s broken up with the girl who was someone he picked up in a bar and didn’t really want to have a relationship with, and he looks up Cy, the man he can’t get out of his mind.  As coincidental circumstances unfold, Robbie ends up helping Finn (Candy Man), who’s been injured by a passing car while crossing the street, and he finds himself in Candy Heaven, talking to Darrin and Ezra, Darrin’s protégé.  If you haven’t followed the series you won’t get as much out of this book, but if you have, you will find this a very satisfying story, with visits from past characters, including a surprise visit with Mikhail (Mickey) and Shane from Making Promises. Let’s just say I’m happy I wasn’t in public because I had a definite fan girl moment when the proud Russian dancer showed up as Cy was instructing children in his dance class.

Each of the characters in this series has a role in this story, providing closure to any open threads and hope for their futures.  But mostly, it’s about Robbie and Cy, Adam and Finn, and Robbie’s efforts to find forgiveness from Adam and Adam’s ability to provide it.  As with others in this series, there’s growth and maturity, difficult decisions to make, and redemption and forward movement as those decisions become a new way of living. 

I can’t recommend this highly enough. I would need pages and pages to go into detail on every little thing I liked or loved about it.  It’s difficult to talk about this book without mentioning the series since this is the capstone on what has been a wonderful adventure with the gang at Candy Heaven. 

The bright and beautiful cover, obviously done by the talented Paul Richmond, is in keeping with the theme of the other books in this series and depicts a dog and a cat, likely those owned by Adam and Finn, the MCs from Candy Man, who play a principal role in this final episode of the series.

Sales Links

        

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Published September 5th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleTart and Sweet
ISBN 1634776984 (ISBN13: 9781634776981)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesCandy Man #4