A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: A Lord to Love by Sara Dobie Bauer

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

The Price and Morgan families have been feuding for years—over a piece of land that records show belongs to the Morgan family—but contains the Price family burial ground.  So Harrison Price hasn’t been able to visit his mother’s grave, and it’s wearing on the young man who was very close to her.  Now, to top it all off, his father has died, and they must settle this debate so his father can be buried next to his wife.

Lord John Morgan offers a solution.  He will give the land freely to the Price family if the youthful, handsome Harrison will agree to marry him. Outlandish? Yes, but not unheard of in their time. Men may marry, though it’s not common.  Giving the property away?  Well, John doesn’t really want it. He only held onto it because he enjoyed the fight and because it gave him an excuse to come to the Price holdings to possibly catch a glimpse of Harrison. 

John has loved the younger man for three years, ever since his heart was engaged by a violin recital Harrison gave.  He not only admires his handsome face and long, lithe body, he admires Harrison’s intellect and quick wit. There’s really nothing about the young man he doesn’t like, and now that Harrison has inherited the title and lands from his father, the two lords are a match made in heaven.  But will Harrison see it that way?  Will he see John as a love interest or just an old man, a neighbor who’s been keeping him from visiting his mother’s grave?

What I most loved about this story, aside from the premise of a marriage arranged by one man who has the hots for another, is how quickly the author engaged me with both characters and how fully she was able to sketch their personalities.  I felt the attraction.  I was there when the shy, virginal Harrison experienced his first kiss.  And I rejoiced with John when he realized his quest was not in vain. 

Though short, this story packs a punch.  I’m sure it will become a favorite among those of us who enjoy an outstanding MM romance.

The cover depicts two lords, dressed in the clothing of the time, above the lower pane that features a large old mansion.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: March 19th 2019 by Carnation Books
ISBN13 9781948272148
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Blue Umbrella Sky by Rick R. Reed

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Milt’s husband of many years, Corky, has passed away after suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, a horrible deterioration of mind and body.  As is the case with many who suffer from this disease, Corky forgot who Milt was at times and at other times was angry and resentful toward him. He escaped his home, sometimes while nude, and in short, tested Milt’s reserves to the nth degree.  But Milt never stopped loving him and now, sitting in his new mobile home in Palm Springs, California, he’s far away and yet still close in his heart.  Some thought Milt was being too reactionary when he packed up and moved across country, but he and his adopted dog, Ruby, are beginning to acclimate to their new lives together.

Then, along comes a flash flood and a friendly neighbor to rescue them. Billy Blue, handsome, young, a former singer, now working at Trader Joe’s is an alcoholic in recovery for several years and planning to stay that way, despite the emotional ups and downs he begins to feel when Milt enters his life. Though several years older than Billy, Milt is nevertheless exactly the man of Billy’s dreams and Billy has to exercise all his life lessons to remember that good things happen in their own time, not on his time schedule.

Those who follow my reviews know I get a little (okay, a lot) peeved when authors glaze over a “drinking problem” or have their character in detox and then have him live a happy life, drinking again whenever he’s out with friends—with no consequences.  But in this story, Mr. Reed presented alcoholism and recovery, through the twelve step fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, as clearly, kindly, respectfully, and honestly as I’ve ever read. And I’m old, so I’ve read a lot! I appreciate his attention detail more than I can say.

A frequently heard term in AA is “the joy is in the journey, not the destination.”  And for me, the joy was in the journey of reading this beautiful portrayal of a man coming to grips with the death of his husband, moving through the stages of grief as time goes on, and ultimately recognizing that it’s okay to love again.  There’s also joy in being present for Billy’s journey as he follows direction from his sponsor and does what he’s learned is most important to his balance—to put his sobriety first.  After all, he wouldn’t have any chance with Milt if he wasn’t the man he is today and that’s due to working the program. 

I simply loved this story.  It’s not explicit, thankfully.  That wasn’t necessary.  What was necessary was to allow two men to have an opportunity to get to know each other, become friends, and eventually move to a firm and loving relationship.  Slow burn, hurt-comfort, age gap, men over forty, grief, men with pets—I can think of many more tags I’d use for this one. But ultimately, the tag I’d use first and foremost is amazing.   Thank you Rick R. Reed! You have set the bar high. 

The cover by Reese Dante features two men in an embrace—perhaps a kiss about to happen—set against a beautiful blue background of the sky over Palm Springs.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 190 pages
Expected publication: March 19th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN B07NNX7J4Q
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review : American Dreamer (Dreamers #1) by Adriana Herrera

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Wow! This is a great debut novel. Not only heartwarming, it was also full of the richness of pride in a Dominican Republic heritage, and on a lighter note, full of descriptions of Afro-Caribbean foods that made my mouth positively water. 

Nesto Vasquez moves his Afro-Caribbean food truck from his original base in New York City to the wilds of upstate New York—Ithaca, home of Cornell University, to be exact. His mom has lived there for the past ten years, along with his aunt and cousins, and his strong family ties and need to prove himself and make his dreams come true are the driving forces behind the relocation. But more than family keeps him there, as he meets, befriends, and eventually falls in love with librarian Jude Fuller. Sweet, intelligent, and alone, Jude was ostracized by his religious family when he came out to them five years before. 

There’s so much to like about this story—the writing, the pace, the interesting information on the culture of the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean Islands. Add to that the personal touch, the relationship-building, the strength of family of origin and family of the heart, and finally the love between two young men—a love that very nearly didn’t survive when the drive for success in his career almost caused Nesto to lose track of the need for balance and for the love of his heart, his Jude. 

The secondary characters are terrific and include Nesto’s three best friends, each with a Caribbean heritage.  They grew up together and their moms banded together to keep them out of trouble and off the streets—a ploy that worked well, and coincidentally helped cement Nesto’s appreciation of a variety of Caribbean cuisine. Jude’s library coworker and bestie, Carmen, also has a DR heritage and is the first to encourage Jude to join her at the food truck, where he meets his eventual love. 

But there was also a very nasty, self-centered, homophobic, prejudiced coworker who undermines Nesto behind the scenes throughout much of the story. Misty works part time at the library as a grant writer and spends much of her time throwing monkey wrenches into Jude’s plans for a youth mobile library for his county—something much needed for rural teens. She also spends a great deal of time undermining Nesto’s budding business as she couldn’t bear his success while her son’s food truck was not thriving. She added a lot of angst and drama but, although I normally hate that sort of character, the author did a great job in bringing her to life and keeping her believable.

Though her first book, I’m sure this won’t be Adriana Herrera’s last and I’m definitely looking forward to more from her in future. In fact, we will likely get a story of each of Nesto’s three besties and I can’t wait! I very highly recommend this one to all lovers of MM romance, especially to those who enjoy stories rich in culture that inspire a reader to want to learn more.

The cover features a handsome Latino man who fits the description of the MC in the story. Very appealing, and in fact, I came back to this a number of times due to the man on the cover, until I finally picked it up to review. And I’m very happy I did.

Sales Links:  Carina Press  | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published March 4th 2019 by Carina Press
Original Title American Dreamer
ASINB07KN6G9CM
Series Dreamers #1

 

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Inside Out (a Road to Blissville story) by Aimee Nicole Walker

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

This book came along at the perfect moment.  I needed to feel positive emotions, to smile, to find peace, and that’s what I got from the romance between Romeo Bradly and Julius Shepherd in Blissville.

Both men started their new jobs in the school district on the same day: Romeo as superintendent of the school district, and Julius as an advanced sciences teacher and tennis team coach.  The moment they shook hands, their spark ignited a curiosity and attraction that smoldered for months before circumstances put them in the same place at the same time again. Rome would be directing the high school play, and Jules would be composing the music.

Three very advanced and enthusiastic students had written the script over the course of a few years, one of them had composed lyrics for the musical, and the play was already approved by the school board. The story addressed bullying, homophobia, and other issues with which teens struggle in high school, and both Rome and Jules are passionate about seeing it produced.  Over the course of working together on the production, though Julius is at first reluctant to get involved with the sexy silver fox who is technically his boss, they meet for lunch and eventually date, growing closer as time goes by.

Rome is a forty-five-year-old widower whose husband passed away seven years before.  Jules is of mixed race, oldest of two boys, whose father passed suddenly eight years before, so the two have much in common over and above their interest in the students and their taste in music.  And when Jules finally lets down his reserve about dating the superintendent, they find their way to more than a simple attraction.

Those who follow my reviews know I adore May-December romance. Give me a silver fox any day, but then add in slow burn, and sweet, honest, openhearted conversation, laughter, and a love of all things music, and I’m sold.  The author’s writing and her creativity in managing the dance of love for these men was outstanding.  I loved each character individually and together.  And Julius’s mother and brother; Priscilla, Rome’s dragon secretary; Howie, his friend; and the host of other characters in this book were beautifully integrated.

The book ends with the perfect summary of their emotions: “in his eyes, I saw my future. In his smile, I rediscovered joy. In his heart, I made my home. This man turned me inside out, and I would follow him anywhere.”

I very highly recommend this and the best news is it can easily be read as a standalone.

The cover by Jay Aheer depicts two men’s hands and forearms intertwined. One is Black and the other Caucasian. It captured my attention and reflects the story beautifully.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 222 pages
Published January 14th 2019 by Chasing Rainbows Press LLC
ASINB07MTLPZZ4
Series Road to Blissville #6

Road to Blissville Series

Unscripted Love

Someone to Call My Own

Nobody’s Prince Charming

This Time Around

Smoke in the Mirror

Inside Out

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: His First Family by Victoria Sue

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Rating 5 stars out of 5

Lorne Austen was relieved of his duties as omega and nanny on the day the alpha’s youngest children, twins, turned 15. He wasn’t even allowed to say goodbye—just booted out and sent on his way with his meager belongings. An omega’s life isn’t wonderful in this world and Lorne, though a sweetheart, is now 32 and past his prime, so his only hope is to find another job and make it on his own. Caught in a snowstorm, he’s found by Johnathan Owens, a doctor who is on personal leave after breaking off with his fiancé and taking care of his grandmother.

The two ride out the storm in each other’s arms in bed, but Lorne disappears the next morning. His reasoning is that Johnathan is too sweet and he doesn’t want to possibly become attached. Imagine his surprise when six months later, he arrives at a medical clinic seeking nutrients to help him survive his unexpected pregnancy and he finds Dr. Owens—the father of his babies.

The story of their relationship is somewhat complex, with the monkey wrench primarily thrown at Lorne by Johnathan’s ex-fiancé who is also a doctor. Unmated omegas aren’t allowed to keep their babies in this world and though it seems a simple solution, Johnathan hesitates to contract with Lorne—for other reasons, but of course, Lorne misunderstands. There’s lots of angst here. But there’s more complexity, as well, as the author builds the world of these alphas and omegas—not shifters. It’s the same world as the story of His First Christmas, another warm and fuzzy feelings book I enjoyed by this author.

I needed this story today! It gave me the perfect escape when I decided to focus on something pleasant. The author always grabs me by the feels early in a story and develops characters I can love. I know there are a number of readers who don’t care for mpreg stories but this one was more about the worry a couple faces when it looks like their baby (or babies in this case) may not make it through pregnancy, and the fear faced after the birth when the premie is struggling for survival in the neonatal unit.

Eventually the five of them become a family but it sure is an angsty push and pull along the way. I definitely recommend it to lovers of MM romance with memorable characters.

Cover by Jay Aheer features two men about to kiss and in the lower part of the panel, three babies sitting with backs to the camera represent the babies in this story. The cover and blurb sold me on starting this story, and the author made it very satisfying.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 167 pages
Published January 21st 2019
ASINB07N16H845

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Is It Over Yet? by L.A. Witt

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Oh my, I really enjoyed this story. It was transported back to the early days of reading MM romance when I first discovered LA Witt.  And at first, the story seemed to be following the lines of one of my old favorites, The Distance Between Us, but it quickly diverged and became totally unique.

Rhys and Derek are over, after nine years together, seven as a married couple, they are going their separate ways—once Rhys can find an affordable apartment, and they sell their home, and tell their adult daughter about the divorce.  The situation is more complicated when she announces she’s getting married in three months. Can they hold off telling her? Can they live with the tension of staying together that long?  Those are the issues that reminded me of the long-ago book.  But the new twist is that this story is much more character-driven.

Rhys bears the burden of guilt—after a night out drinking while away from home and during a rough period in his life, he slept with a stranger. But instead of being sneaky about it, he confesses to Derek, who is unable to forgive him. Trust was broken and there’s not much more difficult to repair between two people. As the action of the story proceeds, it’s very evident that Rhys is hurting. The pain of his own betrayal is sometimes beyond bearable. Yes, Derek is hurting, too, and normally cheating is a drop-dead, don’t read for me, but in this case, the cheating happened before the story opened, and the story was written in such a way that it didn’t affect my emotional attachment to the characters.  That is something not many authors can achieve because I had to leave personal prejudices aside to be able to see Rhys as much more than the a-hole Derek thinks him to be.

Of note, early in the story Derek mentions that one of his reactions was to go out and have sex with someone else. That’s the only time it’s mentioned, however.  He never sees himself in the role of cheater and he never seems to see his own actions as anything other than justified. He never tells Rhys and the subject is dropped.  I would love to have explored this further in the story because although he was “cheated on,” his own behavior should have been questioned IMHO.

The men go through an emotional rollercoaster ride as they travel across country to attend the wedding, and during the trip they face more hurdles than a track star.  I love the way the author slowly peeled back the layers of their relationship and their roles as father. Though Derek was the biological father, Rhys was a father in heart and action. The secondary characters were well-developed and important to the story but didn’t take it over. The focus was on the men and their emotional journey. All in all, I felt drawn to these guys, and by the end I was rooting for forgiveness—not only for Derek to forgive Rhys but for Rhys to forgive himself. 

I got the HEA I was hoping for. Very definitely highly recommended.

The cover by Lori Witt is really clever. The top pane is a guy holding his head, as is a different character in the bottom pane. Dressed in clothing one might expect the characters to wear, they represent the MCs.  And then the center panel is two wedding rings against a plain poster board background that has a jagged tear up the middle. This is where the title is placed. I really like this one. Spot-on for the story and beautifully done!

Sales Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 176 pages
Published January 8th 2019
ASIN B07L7VR883

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Advent Calendar Review: Exit Through the Gift Shop by Kim Fielding

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Kim Fielding has a way with words.  No doubt about it.  And it doesn’t seem to matter if the words are in the contemporary, historical, paranormal, or other style. This short contemporary story she crafted for this year’s holiday season is a fine example of her work. 

Alex is a gifted artist, but he dropped out of college and now does house painting. Surrounded by professionals—from his dentist parents to his siblings who followed in their footsteps—Alex isn’t content with his life but doesn’t know which direction to take to change it.  This year, during his family’s annual Christmas Compromise—a vacation that’s a compromise between his dad’s frugal ways and his mom’s wish for extravagancethey are in Orlando. But not at the famous theme park.  Instead, they are at one that features Poseidon and all things ocean-related, including the gorgeous pirate Alex meets when they exit a ride “through the gift shop.” 

The two hit it off easily and by the end of his vacation, Alex has invited Todd to his family’s rental condo to spend the Christmas holiday and Todd offers a shocking proposal for Alex that might allow him to make more than one of his dreams come true. 

Very definitely one of my favorites of the season, I highly recommend this to lovers of romance.

The cover by Garrett Leigh is done in the style of the Warmest Wishes books and features a pirate in the center of the opening, an amusement park in the background. Bright and colorful, the cover shows the perfect depiction of Todd in his role as a pirate at the park.   

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 34 pages
Published December 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781644050682
Edition Language English
setting Florida (United States)

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Saving Hannah by JP Barnaby

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

This was a fantastic action drama, with MM romance added.  Get ready for a ride on an emotional rollercoaster as JP Barnaby returns with the story of Thomas Aberthol, computer programmer, father of a little girl with leukemia, and ex-con who can’t get a job to afford the treatment she needs. And it’s the story of Aleks Sanna, Thomas’s former college roomie whose kiss one night sent Thomas running to the arms of a woman. 

Now, Aleks spots a human interest story about Thomas and his little girl, Hannah, and conceives a plot to get Thomas the money he needs and to get Aleks the man he still desires after all these years. 

The plot is complex and is more an action-based adventure than romance—complete with computer security breaches, money laundering, Mafia-type bad guys, kidnapping, FBI, and the threat of prison looming over Thomas’s head.  All this while he fights for his little girl’s life as she struggles to barely exist day-to-day until Aleks swoops in with a proposal that Thomas can’t turn down, even if he wanted to. 

Over a fairly short time, they rekindle a love that began in college, Hannah gets a new medication that promises a long-term remission, and the bad guys—at least some of them—are caught.

Ultimately, after losing 8 of my 10 fingernails as I chewed them to stubs, the men find a way to get through the crux of their problems and end up together as a couple in love.  I’m not calling this an HEA, but it certainly may be. It’s certainly open enough that the author may decide to give these men at least one more adventure together, and I would certainly be in line for that. 

I highly recommend this to readers who love a hair-raising action adventure with a nice MM romance added to the mix. Then add a sweet, but terminally ill little girl, some mainstream thugs with underworld connections, and a clock-ticking deadline, and we have a book that’s very difficult to put down, and very enjoyable to read.

The cover by Tiferet Design features a handsome young man on the cover with a little girl standing, back to us, in the background. Very attention-getting—both the man and the design.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press  | Amazon

 

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: December 18th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781640808058
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Loving a Warrior (Loving a Warrior #1) by Melanie Hansen

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

BUD/S: six months of the most intense training there is. It’s survival of the toughest, and Matt Knytych is determined to come out the other side a navy SEAL.

Distraction is life or death. And just the sight of former marine Shane Hovland is enough to shake Matt’s concentration.

Shane came to BUD/S training ready to prove himself—again. Semper Fi is forever, but he needs a new start. Not this dangerous heat with a man he barely knows.

Everything they’ve ever wanted is riding on a thin, punishing line. And they’ll have to fight for more than just each other if they want to make it through intact.

After all, the only easy day was yesterday.

What a wonderful story! The author created an interesting, realistic (I assume) look at SEAL training while giving us two men who were not perfect individuals but gelled beautifully together. I got to know them really well by the time I turned the last page. I definitely couldn’t put the book down during this compelling drama, and when real life interrupted my reading, I was not a happy girl. Honestly, though the attraction was there from the beginning, the men had a long road to sexual fulfillment. Definitely a slow burn/UST, one of my favorite themes.

Matt Knytych is fantastic character. He’s wanted to be a SEAL all his life and everything he’s ever done has been with the goal of being a SEAL like his Uncle Rick. So when he meets the gregarious, gorgeous, former marine, Shane Hovland, there’s no way he’s going to act on his attraction to the personable and sweet Shane. Nothing and no one will come between him and his goal.

Things change along the way during training when the two are thrown together as swim buddies and torn apart again when—well, each reader will see for themselves—happens. There was something special about Matt’s character that I can’t quite pinpoint, but he will be with me for a very long time. Maybe because he’s so close to ordinary—in an extraordinary kind of way—and maybe just because the author’s talent is no-holds-barred when it comes to delving into a character’s psyche so we readers can’t possibly fail to want more.

In his own way, Shane was also memorable, but I must admit there were a few times when I wanted to smack him. Again—a character worth reading, and one who improved vastly, in my opinion, over time, especially after his secrets were revealed.

The slow burn romance was perfect, the situations unexpected, the training grueling, the men unforgettable. What more could I ask for? Very highly recommended.

To enhance the overall experience, we’re given a gorgeous cover featuring two handsome, muscular men with a beach scene superimposed over the guys—a very nice representation of the theme.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 276 pages
Published November 26th 2018 by Carina Press
ASIN B07DCTPL94
Edition Language English
Series Loving a Warrior #1

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: The Law of Miracles by KC Wells

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

I’ll start by saying that there was literally nothing about his wonderful love story that I didn’t adore. It had all the ingredients that make a perfect story for me, including slow burn and two older MCs—both around 50—one of whom is a widower of two years and the other still recovering from the heartbreak of his long-term partner leaving him after over twenty years together. Add to that, adult children who are not only kind and compassionate, but witty and fun-loving and fully supportive of their father, Joshua.

This is a sequel to A Christmas Promise in which Joshua’s son, Micah, meets Greg, a young man who was lured into a gay bashing and then left for dead in the snow in rural Wyoming. And though it is a sequel, there’s enough backfilled information in this story that, in my opinion, a reader could read this without having read the first book and wouldn’t be lost. That being said, this was quite delightful as a follow-up to Greg and Micah’s love story.

Alex is the gorgeous, fit, state’s attorney who will be prosecuting Greg’s case against his bashers. The story follows a timeline of approximately a year—between the initial meeting to review evidence and the final trial outcome. During that year, Joshua meets Alex, the two hit it off and become friends, and then later explore their attraction to one another. What starts as two friends meeting for cooking lessons—Alex is going to teach Joshua—ends as two men who can no longer deny what they feel for one another.

But it’s a very long, slow burn. And I loved every minute of it. From the recipes being prepared (the author really triggered my hunger pangs with some of these mouthwatering dishes) to the camping trip the kids planned in the hopes of matchmaking, to the harrowing days of the trial, and finally, to Alex learning to trust again, every moment was just perfect. Even my family asked why I was constantly smiling. I tried to explain that I had fallen in love with two men who had captured my heart and wouldn’t let go. 

Concurrent with the development of feelings between Alex and Joshua, we were treated to glimpses of Joshua’s past with his lovely wife, Rachel, and Alex’s past with his partner, Theo. Greg was still on crutches when the story opened and Micah was still struggling to put together enough artwork for an exhibit he was set to do in their small town. They, too, were an essential part of this story and readers were treated to their growth as a couple as well as to witness the outcome of Greg’s work to convince other young men to stand against the thugs who beat them. 

From the first chapter, the author endeared these characters to me. Joshua’s repulsion over using his bare hands to squish the meatloaf he was preparing made him very human. The time that elapsed as he and Alex learned more about each other, met for coffee, watched movies, cooked together, and finally, acknowledged the spark of attraction was just right. My favorite scene—and there were many to choose from—is the Cards Against Humanity game Naomi set up. Little did she know her father had such an evil streak. It was great fun; so much so, I felt I was there. And my favorite quote in this book is an old adage: “There may be snow on the rooftop but there’s fire in the furnace.” That is most definitely very apropos here.

I could go on and on. There’s just so much to like, so many wonderful memories, such engaging characters that the least I can do is very, very highly recommend this story to lovers of MM romance, particularly those who enjoy men with a little “snow on the rooftop.”

The cover by Meredith Russell features two very handsome older men, each exactly like the author’s description of Alex and Joshua, set against a snowflake background.  Perfect in every way, I’m so happy to see a cover match the description of the MCs.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 305 pages
Published November 24th 2018
ASIN B07KVJCP74
Edition Language English