A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Crocus (Bonfires #2) by Amy Lane

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The characters from Bonfires return and this time, their lives have finally settled down—or so they think.  But danger comes in many forms—mental, emotional, and physical—and the guys get a whammy from all sides.  Larx’s pregnant daughter, Olivia, comes home after ditching her boyfriend and dropping out of school. She begins a depression hibernation that isn’t broken until she has to step up and help said boyfriend who has shown up in town, been in an accident, and is now hospitalized.

Larx is dealing with a student who may be being molested in her home and that situation comes to a crisis at the same time he’s also helping Jamie, a young teen who’s living with his brother who was previously severely beaten and suffers from PTSD.  Unfortunately, paths cross in their neighborhood in the small town in California and when the girl’s stepbrother shows up with a gun and looks for her at the home of the kid with PTSD, Aaron arrives just in time to intervene and be injured in the line of duty. 

Larx honestly doesn’t know which way to turn when his lover is carried off in an ambulance, his young male student and his brother are traumatized by what went on in their home, and the girl who’d been hiding in the shack in their back yard takes off cross country in the middle of a major snowstorm. Could it get worse? You bet. Amy Lane weaves a complex tale of yours, mine, and ours that is definitely not The Brady Bunch. 

I love Larx!  I love his BFF, Yoshi!  Aaron!  And now Tane, Yoshi’s quiet and unassuming lover who steps up and helps the young man with the PTSD.  Olivia’s boyfriend is released from the hospital where he’d been suffering from a concussion, Jamie and his brother move in with them into Aaron’s old house, and the rest of the gang, including Kellan (Bonfires), who now lives with Larx, all manage to fit into Larx’s home and the chaos seems to have no end. 

I really enjoyed the underlying humor in many of the personal interactions, the strong and evident love between Larx and Aaron, the support for the young brothers, one of whom gave up everything to keep his baby brother from being enlisted by gangs, and the variety in the family drama.  Olivia’s depression and potential treatment was addressed, and even Aaron’s oldest daughter’s hostility was brought in when she was informed of her father’s injury and then abruptly cut off for the sake of everyone’s peace when she kept singing the same old tune. 

I suspect there may be at least one more book to come in this series as several threads remain unresolved.  Plus, if we are really lucky, we may get to attend a wedding between these two older men who captured my heart so completely in book one that I never want to see them disappear. 

I highly recommend this story. It’s full of action, adventure, drama, family issues, heartache, and of course, heartwarming interactions. 

~~~

The colorful and attractive cover by Reese Dante depicts a beautiful crocus that is symbolic of the storyline. Per the author, crocuses are tough enough to push their way through snow to give people “hope for a gentler moment in time.”

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 244 pages
Published April 17th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleCrocus
ISBN139781640806351
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Bonfires #2

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Squared Away (Out of Uniform #5) by Annabeth Albert

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

This story has moved up to my favorite of the series, and in fact, it’s going on my Best of 2018 list.  Annabeth Albert took several tough-to-get-right topics, among them grief and sexuality, and put them into a poignant story of two young men who struggle to meet the emotional and physical needs of young children who are suddenly orphaned.  The men, Navy SEAL Mark Whitley, aka “Wizard,” the best medic in the field, and Isaiah, aka Ike, a young man who’s crushed on Mark for years, step up to take over the child care when Mark’s sister and Isaiah’s cousin are killed in an auto accident.   Unfortunately, Mark’s sister’s will is five years old and though it names him as the child’s guardian, there are now two more children.  On the other hand, her husband’s recent will names Isaiah as guardian of all the children and states that she agrees. However, without a signature, Isaiah is facing a long battle to get permanent guardianship. 

As with all of this author’s books that feature military characters, the setting and the circumstances are accurate and intriguing.  Wizard is on deployment when he learns of his sister’s death and is sent home on emergency leave where he finds that Isaiah has been on-scene since the accident, caring for the kids and holding off the memorial service for his return.  Originally attracted to the young man six years before, he aborted an intriguing sexual offer from Isaiah who was then much too young for Mark.  But in the meantime, he’s heard stories of Isaiah’s promiscuousness, even with Mark’s buddies, including Ben Tovey (On Point) and aside from the fact that sex doesn’t really interest Mark anyway, sex with Isaiah is most definitely off the books now. 

Days have passed since I finished this story and the characters and plot are still strong and clear in my memory. That alone is a tribute to how much I loved the book. I’ve been procrastinating about writing the review because I can’t find the words to fully express my appreciation of this author’s talent, her research into not only military life, but the intricacies of determining where one falls on the sexuality spectrum.  The sensitivity and concern for accuracy that she shows in the way the topic is presented comes through loud and clear. 

And thankfully, there are no tropes related to nasty relatives, and the children are precious without being overly precocious.  The support Mark receives from his unit and that Isaiah receives from his friends and aunts is wonderful but not overdone.  And the emotional changes in Isaiah’s relationship with his father don’t happen overnight either; they, too, take time to develop and are a welcome outcome of good communication. 

There really aren’t any negatives here for me.  And one other positive of note that needs to be included is the kissing! Ahhh, so satisfying. So sweet.  These two have a very special bond, and for once, I can enjoy a story without the bedroom becoming the most used room in the house.  Just sayin’.  It’s nice to have a romance between two MCs that doesn’t start with a hot and heavy sex encounter. 

I very highly recommend this book.  It can be read as a standalone, though readers should consider the whole series simply due to how outstanding it is.  If your interest is in learning more about Navy SEAL training, child custody issues, demisexuality and asexuality, including gray ace, this story would be perfect for you.   And if you are simply looking for an outstanding MM romance, look no further. 

Cover art: is hot, relevant and wonderful.

Sales Links:   Carina Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: April 16th 2018 by Carina Press
Original TitleSquared Away
ASINB0789LDCTR
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesOut of Uniform #5

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Leaning Into the Look (Leaning Into #6) by Lane Hayes

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

I’ve found my favorite, by far, in this series and I want to go back—right now—and read it all over again!

Miles? Ah, Miles, how I love you so. A gregarious, flamboyant, redhead whose favorite color is pink and who likes to wear lacy underwear, he’s the king of mall shopping and he’s Eric’s personal assistant. And now? He’s the man who captures Grant’s heart.

Grant Kostas is a real estate mogul. Put in charge of the San Francisco branch of his controlling father’s empire, he’s about to land a huge contract for his leasing firm but his father comes sweeping in to make sure he does it right. And, to make sure he at least dates a Greek man if he can’t find a woman to make him happy. Mama comes along to cook for him, decorate, and reorganize his apartment. And he can’t wait for them to leave! Grant is actually a really nice guy who has social anxiety and who formerly had bulimia and when he first came out and escaped from his family he was a highly sought underwear model. He’s also a people pleaser, at least where his family and friends are concerned, so he finds himself offering to share his apartment with the gregarious Miles after he’s had no luck helping Miles find a place in the Castro that suits him.

Each man is very into the other, though neither wants to admit it, and they form a pact that they will never let their relationship go as far as falling in love. It’s to be sex and friendship only. Of course, that doesn’t work out and they do indeed fall in love. It’s so much fun along the way that, as I said before, I’d go back and read their story again. There are definitely some very hot sex scenes but there are also so many poignantly sweet moments, and moments where they are just enjoying San Francisco and all it has to offer a young gay man looking for adventure.

There are, of course, complications that mainly come in the form of interference from Grant’s father, including a “fake” boyfriend who happens to be an artist (Greek) working on Grant’s latest project. Grant doesn’t even like the man, yet he lets his father think they are dating. Imagine the complexity of what happens when Papa and Mama show up and both the real and the fake boyfriend are present. It’s time for Grant to grow up and take back his own life, and in the process, face facts with Miles. Miles needs to know he deserves to be loved wholeheartedly—manties and all. Thankfully, our guys get their HEA after a hard-won battle.

If you love this series, by all means pick this up. It can be read as a standalone, however, there are recurring secondary characters so it may be confusing to just start here at book six. In any event, IMHO, this is the best of the series so it definitely needs to be read and enjoyed by as many MM romance lovers as possible. Very highly recommended!

~~~

Cover art by Reese Dante follows the same theme as others in the series: featuring a lean, young man’s torso, in this case with business dress shirt open down the front, set against a background scene of San Francisco Bay. It’s easy to link it to the rest of the series, and it’s certainly eye-catching.

Sales Link:

AMAZON US: https://amzn.to/2DSuOKZ

AMAZON UK: https://amzn.to/2G32N9x

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 267 pages
Published March 21st 2018 by Lane Hayes
Original TitleLeaning Into the Look
ASINB07BMHZV3C
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesLeaning Into #6

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Outside the Lines (Bluewater Bay #22) by Anna Zabo

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

I’m a huge fan of the Bluewater Bay MM romance series so I was surprised to see a female on the cover of this one.  I love MM and I’m not a fan of adding in an F to that mix, but as it turned out, I need not have worried, since this is principally about Simon and Ian, and Lydia only plays a minor role in one sexual situation.    

Secondary characters, including recurring Bluewater Bay characters like Carter and Levi and Hunter and Kevyan and the new characters who helped in Simon’s store, Dexy and Jesse, were all amazing and well-developed. I particularly enjoyed the visit by previous characters! Most of all, I loved the storyline and the brilliant execution of a polyamory relationship involving a woman and two men, with the romance and love between the two men taking the forefront, while keeping both men’s love and friendship for the woman realistic and not detracting at all from the love between the men.

Before I read this I would have said it couldn’t be done, but I was so wrong. Simon and Ian took one look at each other and they were lost in lust.  Ian was psyched because he’d found an off-site location where he could rebuild the miniature set he was working on for Wolf’s Landing—and not only a perfect location but a perfect (and perfectly stunning!) man to help with the project. Simon, the owner of End o’ Earth, sells and paints models and miniatures. Watching him do the superlative work on a model when they first meet and seeing that gorgeous face and stunning body—what more could Ian ask for in the perfect specimen of manhood?  Well, being unmarried would have been ideal, but Simon is not. 

Finding out Simon and Lydia have a polyamory marriage is shocking but it allows the men to be together guilt-free and once Ian gets past the novelty of a lovely, friendly woman not only allowing her husband to have sex with him, but encouraging it?  It seems too good to be true. 

As time goes by and they learn more each other, Ian and Lydia become friends, and their mutual respect and admiration transcends the romantic relationship developing between Ian and Simon, allowing Ian and Lydia to grow to love one another as well—in a completely different way, of course.  But nevertheless, they do eventually find that love is the only word they can use to describe the unique relationship they foster. 

I really appreciated the way the author took the time to build this story. The dynamic between the men together, and between each of them individually with Lydia, and then the full threesome together was fantastic.  The story was sizzling hot, but it was also tender and loving and compassionate, showing the love of a man and woman, a man and man, and one friend for another.  It was just superbly done.  I’m totally impressed, and I highly recommend it to lovers of MM romance. 

For those who don’t like F in their MM, don’t worry—lady parts aren’t included.  At it’s core, the story really is a beautiful romance between Ian and Simon and told in alternating POVs so we get to experience all the emotion—from angst to love.

One more thing: I picked this up because I’ve read all the books in the Bluewater Bay series and I didn’t want to miss one, even though I was worried it was MMF.  As I state in my review, that’s really not a concern here.  And it most certainly can be read as a standalone despite the fact that a few characters from previous books are included in this one.  Not knowing them should not detract from one’s enjoyment of this story so please don’t miss a chance to read this gem.      

The colorful cover features all three characters, beautifully drawn by gifted artist L.C. Chase.  Lydia stands facing her husband, Simon, and his boyfriend, Ian.  It nicely represents the trio who make up this interesting story.

Sales Links Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 260 pages
Published December 18th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626496521
Series Bluewater Bay #22

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Reckless Behavior (Bad Behavior #3) by L.A. Witt and Cari Z.

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

This series is smokin’!  Action-packed, nail-biting, heartbreaking—this book has it all.  Though there’s not a lot of overt romance to this one, and no sex scenes, there is love—a deep and lasting love that’s developing between Andreas and Darren as well as the love of family.  In this one, Andreas’s children are kidnapped so the love of a father for his children is a primary focus of the book, but there’s also the familial love of a brother for another as Darren’s brother, Asher, falls deeper into his disease and the situation becomes critical.  As an aside, and without spoilers, we finally find out if Darren has the gene that has caused Asher’s mind to fail at such an early age. 

Andreas is still struggling with his healing ankle from the injury in the last book.  He’s screwed it up and needed a second surgery—but hang on folks—he’s about to make it worse when his kids are kidnapped virtually right from under his nose.  He and his work and life partner, Darren,  along with their highly personable and dynamic friend Paula, a detective we met in the last book, explore any and all possible leads to get the kids back.  Though their theories are sketchy at first, eventually, with the help of Andreas’s daughter Erin, who manages to get free of the kidnapers, the team is on the right track.  A tragic event in Darren’s life sidetracks him temporarily but he’s right back on the job as well.  He loves Andreas and his kids and will stop at nothing to help his lover get them back. 

This story is very fast-paced, filled with plot twists and turns, excitement, and hair-raising scenarios.  I loved every moment and literally couldn’t put it down.  I highly recommend this series to all those who enjoy law enforcement drama and romance, especially those, like me, who appreciate a writing team who can build excitement to fever pitch and yet give us a firm foundation to a wonderful pair of men whose love grows stronger with each story.  I can’t wait to get my hands on book four! 

Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh.  Love the  gritty black and white nature of the cover.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 264 pages
Published January 1st 2018 by Riptide Publishing (first published December 30th 2017)
Original TitleReckless Behavior
ISBN139781626496316
SeriesBad Behavior #3

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: The King’s Courage (North Pole City Tales #6) by Charlie Cochet

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

A sweet, exciting, and endearing conclusion to a beautiful holiday series, Charlie Cochet brings it in with a homerun with this tale of Eirik, the King of Frost, and Dasher, a, uh, dashing member of Rudy’s Rein Deer squad. 

Dasher’s friend Rudy Rein Deer is finally marrying Jack Frost.  The wedding of the year will take place at Jack’s palace in Svalbard, Norway, but Dasher isn’t looking forward to the wedding as much as he’s looking forward to the opportunity to get closer to Eirik, Jack’s father.  Dasher sees beyond the royal persona to the man beneath and he’s hoping to convince the king of his feelings and longing to someday having those feelings returned.

When the king lost his queen long ago, he locked away his frozen heart, but when he and Dasher have a chance to really talk and Dasher relates his own story of a lost love, that heart begins to thaw.

Of course, evil forces try to draw them apart and put Dasher in mortal danger. Can Eirik, Kringle, Jack, and Rudy find a way to save the day? 

This isn’t intended as a standalone as most of the characters from the previous series are present for this wedding and play a role in the story.  If you haven’t ever read these books, by all means, go get them!  It’s a wonderful series and this story provides the perfect ending to a set of stories that will warm your heart on a cold winter’s day. 

~~~

Cover by Paul Richmond depicts a young man dressed formally and holding a glass heart in his hands. Behind him stands a larger man in royal robes, representing the King of Frost.  Bright and colorful, the cover conveys a part of the story beautifully.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 77 pages
Expected publication: December 20th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640800328
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesNorth Pole City Tales #6

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Silk (A Material World #3) by K.C. Wells

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

My favorite of the series so far, in this story—which can easily be read as a standalone, by the way—a young male escort and his older client discover much more than a surface attraction when they first down and dirty between the blue silk sheets. 

Matt Dorning is twenty-seven and works as a waiter at his parents’ restaurant. He’s also an underwear model and an escort.  Does he have to do the escort work? Well, the extra income goes a long way toward his independence in living on his own in New York City, plus he loves sex so it’s win-win in his book.  The personable biracial man has plenty of friends, a hot body, and a keen intellect.  He’s on track to take over his father’s restaurant business—something he’s looking forward to in the future when his dad is ready to step down.  But for now, he’s livin’ life and enjoying every moment, and every repeat client, and every new opportunity.

Lucas Sawyer is forty-six, a highly successful entrepreneur, and unknown to most people, suffers from social anxiety.  It’s much easier for him to hire an escort than it would be to cruise a bar for a date, and he always keeps it simple by never hiring his escort for more than one night. No strings. No regrets.  His Park Avenue apartment is secure, convenient, and comfortable and the boys he hires seem so to enjoy their time with him between his silk sheets in his oversized king bed. And then he meets Matt and all bets are off.  Matt loves his job and he’s not afraid to ask for what he wants and to be a bit bossy in the bedroom—all things that Lucas hasn’t really experienced before.  Lucas is usually the dominant in the bedroom, telling the escorts what to do and when to do it, but Matt just goes for what he wants and that includes telling Lucas what to do and when to do it.  Matt has heard of Lucas from fellow escorts and knows he’s only going to have one night so he figures why not do what he wants? As it turns out, this approach really piques Lucas’s interest and he thinks of Matt long after he’s gone. 

As they see each other again, their dynamic begins to change and they share more than sex. Matt suddenly decides to help Lucas with his anxiety by inviting him to Matt’s brother’s wedding—something Lucas normally wouldn’t enjoy but does—and the bonus is the night they get to spend sleeping together before a nice round of wakeup sex the next day.  Over time, both men acknowledge that they aren’t really escort and client any longer, but Matt faces some huge personal challenges, and without any commitment from Lucas, he’s not sure what to do.  How will Lucas feel when Matt continues to have sex with his other clients?  Is there room for each man in each other’s lives?

This was a terrific story, very different from others I’ve read that featured escorts, and I enjoyed both the writing style and the cast of characters—all well-developed and interesting characters.  My favorite was Diane, Lucas’s grandmother.  I can’t tell you how happy I was to see that she was not portrayed as a faded lily—a little old lady who was on her last leg.  I bowl every week with women in their nineties and I aspire to be like them when I grow up.  Diane can go on that list—I loved her!

I also enjoyed the dynamic between Matt and Lucas and the development of each individual character and the couple as a whole.  They took their time and it wasn’t all about sex, though I must admit there were some smokin’ hot scenes! Whew! Get the personal fans out for this one. 

In all seriousness, however, I must say that I can very easily highly recommend this MM romance to all—and especially to those who enjoy age-gap.  Twenty years here with unforgettable characters.  Don’t miss out on this one. 

“““““`

The cover by Meredith Russell features two men reclining in a bed covered with dark blue silk sheets. The older man has silver hair and the shoulder tats described in the story and he’s staring at the camera, while the younger man is obviously biracial and sound asleep.  It’s hot and delicious and perfect for this story.  Very attention-getting!

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published September 29th 2017 by Island Tales Press (first published September 2017)
ASINB0762Y7Y1J
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesA Material World #3

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

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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

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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

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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.” 

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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