Release Day Blitz Of Sunlight and Stardust by Riley Hart & Christina Lee (excerpt and giveaway)


 Of Sunlight and Stardust RDB Banner




RELEASE DATE: 09.21.18

Of Sunlight and Stardust Cover  

Cover Design: JAY AHEER/ Simply Defined Art

Cover Image: Strangeland Photography


After the death of his wife, Tanner Rowe takes a step toward making her dream come true and buys the house with the dilapidated barn she’d been inexplicably drawn to in the picturesque Upper Peninsula. But after a year, he still can’t get past his grief long enough to make the repairs he’d promised.

Recently out of prison, Cole Lachlan has little to his name. Homeless, broke, and without many options as a felon, Cole heads to Red Bluff with hopes of a second chance. There, he meets Tanner, whose loneliness mirrors his own and soon, Cole is trading room and board for rebuilding the burned-out barn on Tanner’s property that hasn’t been touched in seventy years.

Turns out, the barn holds a lot more secrets than either of them could have imagined. After unearthing a hidden journal from 1948, Cole and Tanner spend their evenings poring through the pages and reading about a young man pining after his best friend. As they delve deeper into this forbidden affair from the past, the more Cole and Tanner’s own relationship shifts—from acquaintance to friend…to undeniable attraction.

But as they begin to deal with the newness of falling in love amid Cole’s past and Tanner’s loss, they also become more determined to unravel the mystery of the young lovers who’ve captured their hearts, the rumors about the fire, and what really happened that fateful night.




silhouette of shadow man with interstellar in the sky


Tanner’s eyes snapped open. He didn’t know what had woken him so suddenly, but the moment he did, he realized he’d fallen asleep with Cole on the couch, that Cole’s head was on his shoulder.

It was a little weird…and a little not weird…or maybe he was looking for it to be weird or not? As he sat there a moment, focusing on the heat of Cole against him, the feel of his head on his shoulder, it felt good. Christ, Cole felt good to him.

It wasn’t the first time that seeing Cole, touching his skin, studying his hands or his back, felt right. That truth hit him in the gut, so the moment Cole groaned in his sleep and turned his head, Tanner slipped out from under the blanket.

For a moment he considered trying to lay Cole down. Did his knee hurt? Was the position uncomfortable? But he didn’t know how to do it or if he should do it, and he suddenly really fucking needed to get out of the house.

Tanner shoved his feet into his shoes. Thankfully, he was wearing jeans and a tee he’d put on before going to look for Cole last night. His keys were on the kitchen counter, so he swooped them up and quietly sneaked out of the house.

Last night had been…something. How he could breathe easier after the loss of Emma, how much Cole’s friendship meant to him, Tom and Charlie, and falling asleep on the couch. It was…a lot, and he wished like hell he had his fishing supplies so he could go fishing.

So what could he do?

Guilt made his stomach tumble because he knew Cole would wake up and wonder where he was, might even think he’d done something wrong, which he hadn’t. Tanner just didn’t know how to do…whatever he was doing. It was like he was learning how to live again.

He drove around for a little while, taking in the small town he and Emma had loved. What would she think about his friendship with Cole? He knew Emma, and she would be glad Tanner had him, that he’d allowed himself to have someone.

The more he drove, the more he began to feel slightly foolish for leaving the way he had. Who cared if they fell asleep on the couch together? Who cared if having Cole around eased some of the weight in his chest?

So instead of driving around town for no reason, Tanner turned and headed for the general store. He’d get some bacon and eggs, then go home and make breakfast for them.

Riley Hart Logo Banner

Riley Hart is the girl who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s a hopeless romantic, a lover of sexy stories, passionate men, and writing about all the trouble they can get into together.

She loves reading, flawed characters, and hanging out with her husband and children, who she adores. She and her family live in Southern California, soaking up the sunshine while also missing seasons. Not a day goes by that she isn’t thankful she gets to wake up and do what she loves.

Life is good. Riley also writes young adult and new adult under the name Nyrae Dawn.






Christina Lee Logo

Once upon a time, I lived in New York City and was a wardrobe stylist. I spent my days shopping for photo shoots, getting into cabs, eating amazing food, and drinking coffee at my favorite hangouts.

Now I live in the Midwest with my husband and son—my two favorite guys. I’ve been a clinical social worker and a special education teacher. But it wasn’t until I wrote a weekly column for the local newspaper that I realized I could turn the fairytales inside my head into the reality of writing fiction.

I write Adult, New Adult, and M/M Contemporary Romance. I’m addicted to lip gloss and salted caramel everything. I believes in true love and kissing, so writing romance novels has become a dream job.




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A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Of Sunlight and Stardust by Riley Hart & Christina Lee


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

When Tanner Rowe purchases a home and barn in rural Michigan, he’s trying to fulfill a promise made to his recently deceased wife, Emma. She’d always been drawn to the place, often remarking that the partially burned and dilapidated barn called to her. Now, Tanner hardly knows where to begin to not only start to renovate the house but to enjoy life again. 

Cole Lachlan is literally living off the land when Tanner runs into him. Homeless and broke, the former convict has been out of prison awhile but he can’t shake his past and is struggling to find work and a place to live. His past follows him wherever he goes, though, so he’s shocked when Tanner offers him work to fix up his barn in exchange for room and board.

Clay finds a journal buried in the floorboards of the barn—a journal that leads them to the story of Tom and Charlie, two young men who lived and loved there in 1948.  Over time, as Tanner and Cole get to know one another better, they read the journal, and like Tom and Charlie, they ultimately fall in love.

A bizarre series of coincidences leads the men to find out more about Tom and Charlie and what really happened to the young men who had plans to leave the area and find a place where they could be free to love. Then, a new problem crops up. Local small-town gossips lead the sheriff to believe Cole is responsible for a theft, and the accusation nearly drives a wedge between the two lovers before the real culprit is found. Between their bizarre dreams of Tom and Charlie and reading the last pages of the journal, Tanner and Cole believe the men may have died in the barn in 1948 and then a shared dream and an out-of-town visitor unexpectedly lead Tanner and Cole to the truth of what happened seventy years before.

Not quite a reincarnation story, but mighty close to it, the underlying theme is love: Tanner’s love for his wife, the love he and Cole begin to feel, and the love for all time that’s carried through seventy years for Tom and Charlie, who are finally put to rest with love and care from those who came to know them.

A beautiful love story, sweet and poignant, emotionally heartwarming and heartbreaking, I very highly recommend this to lovers of MM romance. 

The cover depicts two bare-chested men embracing, one with tattoos, one without. Very attractive and perfect for the MCs in this story.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 269 pages
Published September 18th 2018 by Christina Lee and Riley Hart
Edition Language

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: A Few Good Fish (Fish Out of Water #3) by Amy Lane


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Please tell me this isn’t the last book in this series! Amy Lane had not done an action adventure thriller before this series, but she certainly knocked it out of the ballpark when she matched up a wealthy, handsome, gay, high-powered defense attorney, Ellery Cramer, with the bisexual office PI, Jackson Rivers, who grew up virtually on the streets.

In this third installment, the committed couple planned to take a bit of time to allow Jackson to recover from their last encounter with the powerful rogue soldier, Colonel Lacey, who is apparently selecting certain soldiers to be brainwashed into being killing machines—assassins for hire. Unfortunately, quite by accident, a case falls into Ellery’s lap that is connected, and the two are off on an adventure again in an effort to clear a young nanny’s name in a hit-and-run investigation.

They didn’t know, however, that their every move was being monitored by Lacey and his cohorts through bugs placed in their phones, their vehicles, and in their home—including their bedroom, where the two allow their secrets and their desires free reign. Deciding to get this guy once and for all, they head toward San Diego, his base of operations, after securing their loved ones in safe houses with extra protection.

As unlikely as it might seem, they renew an acquaintance and end up working closely with Ace and Sonny from Racing for the Sun, a story I read quite a long time ago. Now that the author has tied the characters and the circumstances surrounding their meeting and eventual relationship together, I have to go back and read that one again. I need more of those two. And as an aside, I need more of their lodger, Lee Burton, and his new love interest, Ernie (yes—Ernie and Burt!). Both men are instrumental in the plot to get “the bad guys” in this story but their journey to happiness is just beginning so more, more, more, please.

This story has everything I love—super villains, kidnapping, injury, hospital vigils, strong characters, revisits with former MCs, romance, hot sex, supportive family and friends, surprises, explosions, and more. What’s not to like? And by the way, I do believe Lucy-Satan is my new all-time favorite secondary character. That’s Jackson’s pet name for Ellery’s mother. A strong personality, highly intelligent, a force of nature, intuitive, and able to present as a concerned and loving mother one moment and a stubborn attorney and businesswoman in the next. Seriously, it’s really nice to see multiple female characters important to the story who are strong and supportive, instead of nasty and twisted.

There were so many characters in this cast who deserve attention and kudos but not enough space on this page so I’ll just say that this story deserves attention not only for the high caliber of the adventure, but also of the characters—main, secondary, and pets.

Very highly recommended.

Cover Artist: Reese Dante.  Love these covers, brands the series with something that at first glance seems whimsical and then perilous with the fish trapped in the water bottle.  Perfect.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 290 pages
Expected publication: August 28th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleA Few Good Fish
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series Fish Out of Water:

Fish Out of Water

Red Fish, Dead Fish

A Few Good Fish

Hiding the Moon

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Escaping Exile (Escape Trilogy #1) by Sara Dobie Bauer


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Robinson Crusoe meets Dracula in this outstanding paranormal adventure. There are even cannibals as the innocent man who washes ashore on the island, Edmund Baines, is dragged away from danger to his “home” on the nearly deserted island. The problem is, as Edmund discovers when he awakens, that he may have been saved from one danger to be plunged into another.

It’s amazing to me that the author was able to create a world where vampires could be banned to exile for killing one too many innocents, and then she created an unforgettable character in Andrew, who was turned vampire by an Elder in the year 1066. And though he’s starved for human blood, he holds off on killing Edmund, or drinking from him, because there’s something about the fearless young man that piques his interest. Fascinated, intrigued, and finally caring for Edmund, it isn’t until he must drink from the young man to save him from the cannibals who have arrived at Andrew’s house to claim the human-scented new arrival that he finally breaks down and takes what he needs.

But their adventure is hardly over. The head vampire who originally sentenced Andrew to solitude on the island has arrived to mete out a new punishment, or will it be a reward? To find out, simply hit your one-click button. This story doesn’t take long to read, but it’s fascinating, interesting, and all-round fun entertainment for a few hours of your day.

If I had one complaint it would be that the story is short—a little over 20K words—but one would never know it by how much adventure and romance is packed in those words so it’s only a minor concern. Plus there’s a sequel on the horizon. Yay! I highly recommend this to all who enjoy a daring adventure reminiscent of the classics we read (and watched) as children. Add in a touch of MM romance and some smokin’ hot scenes and it’s a sure win.


The cover by Natasha Snow depicts a moonlit lagoon superimposed by a long-haired man with naked torso. I’m not sure whether the man or the lagoon is more gorgeous but it’s the perfect cover for this story.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Published August 13th 2018 by NineStar Press
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Escape Trilogy #1

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Blyd and Pearce by Kim Fielding


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

I loved this fantasy adventure from the very creative mind of Kim Fielding and found it very difficult to put down once I became swept up into the adventures of this very unlikely—yet ultimately perfect for each other—couple.

Daveth Blyd has lived on the streets in the section of town known as the Low for most of his life. Poverty is a step up for Daveth and others in the Low. When he had a chance, he managed to earn a place in the Tangye city guard, though it wasn’t long before an accusation of theft cost him his job and his reputation. He’s now a PI, searching for missing children and wayward spouses.

Blyd meets Jory Pearce when he’s hired by Lord Uren to locate a family heirloom ring that Jory apparently stole. Jory is an entertainer—of various sorts. He’s a singer, an actor, and a whore. He’s also a thief, as he does indeed have the ring, but he’s got a story to tell that turns the whole search for the truth upside down. The good guys aren’t so good and the bad guys aren’t so bad. The story is an amazing, complex, entertaining adventure that I highly recommend.

One of my favorite scenes in the story took place in a very serious moment, when the men were attempting to warn Prince Clesek about a plot to assassinate him. Ms. Fielding added a scene outside the castle that completely cracked me up. Was her subtle message to not take life too seriously? I don’t know, but I do know it’s one of the reasons I love her work. She does inject humor in situations where characters are starting to get full of themselves, or at times when readers need a break from the tension. In this case, the timing was perfect.

The main reason this didn’t hit five stars for me is that I didn’t enjoy the dynamic between Blyd and Pearce, at first, as much as I did between some of her other fantasy characters like Ennek and Miner. I went into this story with high expectations—and that’s the author’s fault because she is so highly talented and has already given us memorable fantasies—including the Ennek Trilogy and Brute. There’s not as much romance—one on one couple time—in this as I thought there’d be. But it’s a slow-build, forever MM partnership that ends on a note that leads me to believe we will see more of these men in the future. And if or when we do, I will be first in line to read more of their adventures.


The cover by Tiferet Design captures the spirit of the story perfectly. It’s done in black and white and depicts a caped man, with a knife in each hand, standing in front of a tunnel in a dark rundown area. On the other side of the tunnel is bright light and beautiful castle-like buildings. The man’s knives have left a few splotches of blood on the ground – the only color to the cover. Very well nicely done, it’s great to see a cover that matches details of a story so well.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 210 pages
Published July 24th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: On the Ice (Stick Side #1) by Amy Aislin


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

These two characters came to life within the first few chapters and swept me away with their story. I honestly did not want to put this book down to go to bed, but my subconscious took over when I did, and I dreamed about Mitch and Alex. Without a doubt, these men are my favorite couple nominee for any and all 2018 MM romance awards.

Slowburn? Yes. Too much sex on page? No. Friendship? Yes. Characters who mature over time? Why yes. Yes indeed. And that’s not all there is to like about this story.

When college sophomore, hockey player, and kinesiology major Mitch Greyson shows up at an extra credit lecture at his small Vermont college with the express intent of interviewing the Tampa Bay hockey team’s sports doctor, he’s at first disappointed that the man is a no-show. But then he gets to speak to and flirt with the man who came in his place: Alex Dean, a Tampa Bay defenseman who happens to be in Vermont visiting family while his broken arm heals. But Alex wants nothing to do with flirty Mitch. Alex isn’t interested in sex or flirtation. He’s just not made that way. He’s demisexual, and in fact, isn’t even sure if he’ll ever find someone to love, and if he does, he’s not sure if it will be a man or a woman. He’s a 25-year-old virgin and perfectly happy to remain that way. Or so he thinks—until he gets to know Mitch.

Here’s my main sticking point in this story, and yes, it is addressed by the author at the end of the book. But it’s an in-your-face sticking point right from the beginning and may turn some readers off. How many people in 2008 and 2009 knew the term demisexual or knew what was meant by it? I don’t believe many recognized their own demisexuality, never mind in others during the years in which the story is set. Yes, I know the term was invented already, but in general, sexuality was thought to be heterosexual or homosexual at that point. The fine lines—shades of sexuality, so to speak—weren’t discussed and for people who felt they didn’t quite fit in one category or the other, there wasn’t a lot of info available to them to clarify where they fell on the spectrum. The author addresses this issue in her second author’s note (that in my opinion should come before the story, not after) and acknowledges that she took liberties with using the terms. However, I think it would have been easier to accept during the story if the characters acknowledged that they had just recently learned the term. Since it distracted me throughout the book, until I finally got to the author’s note at the end, I’ve dropped my rating a half star.

Fortunately, I was able to move past that and enjoy the balance of the story. And it was a love story, no mistake about that. This was the slowest of slow-burn romances, and so much better because of that. My interest level remained high throughout the book as both characters struggled with issues beyond their control—Alex with his grandfather’s dementia and Mitch with working for the funds he needs to be able to complete the degree he has his heart set on while still practicing and planning to be the best so he can be drafted by the NHL.

I highly recommend this love story to anyone who appreciates a variation from the same-old, same-old tropes and themes. Hockey seems to be a popular sport this year among authors; however, this story is more about the romance than the sport. Other than my issue with the demisexual terminology, this book made me feel the love and raised my spirits—the reason I read in the first place.


Cover art by Lee Hyat Designs displays the bare torso of a young muscular skater against the background of a hockey rink. The male could represent either young man as one is an NHL player and the other a college student on his school’s hockey team. It’s bright and attractive and a good representation for this story.

Sales Links:   Universal Buy Link

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition
Published May 8th 2018
Original TitleOn The Ice
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesStick Side #1

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Survivor (Survivor #1) by T.M. Smith


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

When Taylor Langford is thirteen, his world is turned upside down by the murder of his parents. The only reason he wasn’t killed was because his mother shoved him into a crawlspace in the attic and told him not to come out unless she came for him. But the man who ultimately found him, rookie cop Frank Moore, becomes the most important person in Taylor’s life from that day forward.

This is an absolutely wonderful May to December, very slow burn MM romance, with engaging characters, an exciting plot, and a terrific narration. That’s win-win in my book! Frank and Taylor have a bit over ten years age difference, or at least that was my impression from the audiobook, and Frank never puts the move on Taylor, even when he slowly realizes what he feels for the young man is more than friendship. In fact, neither man alerts the other about their feelings that develop long after Taylor has passed puberty and high school and is finishing college. Taylor knew from a young age that Frank was his ideal man in every way, and as he aged those feelings only became stronger.

But it’s not until it’s so evident to their friends and extended family members—Taylor’s foster parents and Frank’s partner and his wife—that Frank finally decides to tell Taylor how he feels. That occurs at Taylor’s graduate degree graduation party, and by the time it happens, readers like me are rooting for this couple. Both characters are really well-developed and three dimensional—people I’d love to know in real life.  The fact that the murderer is back after a ten-year absence and wants Taylor dead only adds to the excitement of this story.

Nick J. Russo did a wonderful job with the narration, providing a variety of voices, both male and female—each distinct and easy to recognize. That definitely made the audio experience worthwhile.

I definitely recommend this story to lovers of age gap MM romance and most definitely recommend it in audio format.

The cover depicts a handsome young dark-haired man sitting against a colorful background done as an abstract painting with the Seattle Space Needle in the background, representing the locale of the story. Very colorful and attention-getting.

Sales Links:

Book Details:

Published August 28th 2017 (first published 2017)
Original TitleSurvivor
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSurvivor #1

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Second Chance by Jay Northcote


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A beautiful and unique love story, Jay Northcote seems to have put so much of himself into this book that it brought the characters, especially Nate, to life and gave me a deep appreciation of the struggles many transgender persons face in daily situations that some of us simply take for granted.

Nate and his teen daughter, Cass, return to his hometown to live with his mother until Cass finishes high school. She had some problems related to drugs and boyfriends and depression at her former school but she and her dad on are on good terms now and he believes she’ll benefit from being in his small hometown. He and his mother are also on good terms in their relationship—nothing like the struggles they went through when Nate was Nat and wrestling with his need to be the same on the outside as he was on the inside.

When Nate runs into Jack, his former bestie, he doesn’t reveal who he is. Now in his midforties, Nate’s changed enough that he’s not recognizable at first glance and he’s not willing to face the twenty questions most people ask. For his part, Jack thinks the guy looks familiar—he’s definitely hot and attractive—but Jack is suffering from depression and is kicking an addiction and simply isn’t in a good space after life as he knew it fell apart and he had to return home to live with his parents.

The two men do eventually gravitate back together, first as friends, and over time their feelings grow stronger, though neither admits that to the other. When they have sex, Nate is impressed that Jack is respectful of the terminology Nate prefers to use, and he’s even happier that Jack seems to have no issues with experimenting in various ways and genuinely seems to enjoy sex with Nate—as much as Nate enjoys it with him. To Jack, the biggest issue in being with Nate is his parents’ attitude. They are not gender respectful to Nate and can’t seem to get past the fact that today’s Nate is the past Natalie.

I looked forward to every page in this book. The writing was polished and mature; the story was exactly right for the times; the family drama was believable; and the characters were three-dimensional and engaging.

The plot was interesting, educational, and because I’ve followed along on social media as the author transitioned over the past few years, it felt very personal. I cheered for these two men as they navigated through their new relationship while living life with family who knew them as teens and now must learn to accept them as the very different men they are today.

Kudos to Jay Northcote for bringing this story to life. Everyone deserves a “Second Chance” and I’m so happy these men got theirs.


Cover art by Garrett Leigh is a black-and-white close-up of a good-looking older man, with dark hair and beard. He’s the perfect depiction of Nate.

Sales Links:Universal Buy Link

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 240 pages
Published April 20th 2018 by Jaybird Press
Original TitleSecond Chance
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Point of Contact by Melanie Hansen



Rating: 5 stars out of 5


How do I put what this book meant to me into words? I can’t find terms to describe this outstanding work. Phenomenal, Heartbreaking, Touching, Realistic, Emotional, Hopeful? All of these, yet none can do the job on its own.

The book is in two segments: before and after.  Before Trevor’s son, Riley, is killed in action in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and After as Trevor starts the painful process of trying to survive without his reason to live. I’m still reeling as I write this. That section was so emotional for me that tears are still leaking, and those who know me know that I don’t let those suckers loose easily. 

My son was in a similar situation, IRL, the year before Riley shipped out.  My parent trigger was pulled over and over again throughout this realistically told story.  The rare calls that only came during the night, which was their daytime.  Going off grid on patrol somewhere top secret.  The IEDs and constant danger from snipers and suicide bombers.  All that and more.  It was a very painfully emotional year for me and as I read Riley’s story and Trevor’s reactions, I was right there with them as my heart beat too fast, or I felt lightheaded, frightened, and finally, sobbing.  Honestly, I don’t know how a parent can survive the loss of a child, but if there are words to describe the hell that is having your child in a situation like Riley was in, Ms. Hansen surely found them.  Kudos for such an outstanding and sensitive portrayal of that time period. 

And the after?  Trevor was so broken it didn’t seem likely he could put one foot in front of the other.  The stages of grief are clearly portrayed. The breakup with Carl, the slowly developing friendship with Jesse, Riley’s BFF and battle buddy, and their long and very slow burn that develops into so much more—all inevitable as readers could tell by the time it happened. The beauty is in the journey we take with Trevor and Jesse along the way as they revisit their memories of Riley: the child, the friend, the soldier.  And, as with the main characters, the secondary characters are well-developed and have their own issues and impact from their time in Afghanistan, most notably PTSD. The author doesn’t gloss over any of it.  Each issue is addressed, some more in-depth than others, all of it making for an emotional read. 

Riley isn’t a fleeting character either. Though he dies in this story, his memory is kept alive throughout the book, in part during Trevor’s stages of grief, but in part through his annual visits to Arlington National Cemetery, where Riley is buried alongside other soldiers who gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.  There is a romance in here.  Honest there is, but the couple’s story is wrapped up in so much other emotion that needs to be addressed, the romance is almost secondary.  Jesse and Trevor together were beautiful, though they didn’t come together as a couple until the latter part of the book.  And when they did, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses.  There is so much emotional depth to this story that I’m back to saying what I did at the beginning of this review: there are no words that can do it justice. 

Topping my Best of 2018 list, this book deserves to be read.  Grab the tissue box, find a quiet place where your sobbing will not bother others, and just read.  Read until your heart breaks and heals itself, because it will heal, and by the end of the story, joy is in store for all those who finish.  Joy and a sense of peace and accomplishment and the knowledge that you’ve just read something very special.  Needless to say, I very highly recommend this story to all lovers of MM romance, angst, age gap, hurt-comfort, and deep feels on all stages of life’s spectrum. 


The somewhat bland-colored cover features a rear view of two men gazing into one another’s eyes.  Neither appears to be younger than the other so it doesn’t quite represent the characters and isn’t appealing. 

Sales Links: Carina Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 451 pages
Expected publication: March 26th 2018 by Carina Press
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Ever After by Riley Hart & Christina Lee


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This is a sweet fairy tale so well done that I was left feeling warm and fuzzy and somewhat in love with the characters in the same way I did when I was a child and first heard the story of Sleeping Beauty and her prince.  The authors created a timeless world in which a man loving a man was not unheard of but was considered unacceptable.  But it was not punishable by death, and by the end of the story, readers could hold out hope that in this particular magical kingdom same sex love might become so much the norm that it wouldn’t even be remarked upon.  If Prince Merrick gets his wish, that may well happen. 

Merrick is under a lot of pressure from his family to choose a bride so that he can ensure the future of the kingdom.  The only one who seems to support him in his hesitation to choose just anyone without being in love with them is his sister.  In fact, throughout the story, she’s his champion, even arranging for several intriguing plot points that throw him in the path of his one true love. 

Cassius is a simple man, devoted to his family and excited by the prospect of being chosen as valet to Prince Merrick.  Promoted through the ranks rather quickly, he doesn’t have a lot of friends and he’s never told his family of his preference for men.  When he gets to know the real Prince Merrick, he discovers a young man who truly cares about others and who has an artist’s soul.  Merrick enjoys the little things in life and appreciates the beauty of nature more than the beauty of his family’s pompous surroundings.  He’s like no other and certainly not like Cas had imagined the future king would be.

Merrick and Cas fall in love over the course of weeks together.  It’s all the little everyday things Merrick does for Cas—like taking him riding, or encouraging him in his story and poetry writing, and eventually making a stop to meet Cas’s family.  Merrick loves Cas’s beautiful nature and the heart of a poet.  He admires his humility and, of course, the two eventually become romantically involved, though they know their days together are numbered.  Cas has already made up his mind that he’ll leave Merrick’s service once the prince chooses a bride at the Winter Solstice Ball. 

The fairy tale plot thickens as the prince sees his love from across the room.   But as should happen in any good fairy tale, his love runs, leaving both heartbroken.  Of course, the authors wouldn’t leave us there and we do eventually get a happily ever after, but it’s the sweetness of reading their adventure that makes this story most memorable.  And make no mistake—there’s no major drama or heartache in this one.  It’s purely sweet—as in a magical fairy tale. 

Kudos to both authors for bringing us this story and, on a personal note, for giving me one more memorable fairy tale to add to my favorites list.  I highly recommend this to those who want to simply go away to a sweet place, daydream to their heart’s content, and end the day on a happy note.    


Cover art is a caricature depiction of Prince Merrick offering his hand to Cassius at the Winter Solstice Ball.  The outfits exactly match the descriptions in the book. It’s colorful, sweet, and exactly right for this story. 

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Detail:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 262 pages
Published February 26th 2018 by Christina Lee and Riley Hart
Original TitleEver After
Edition LanguageEnglish