A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review:A Kind of Home (A Kind of Stories #4) by Lane Hayes

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Isaac is the only member of the band Spiral who doesn’t have a life partner, but Lane Hayes remedies that with this story. Isaac left home as a teen when his parents broke up and his (adoptive) father kicked him out for being gay. He was so done with Springville, his small PA hometown, and the only thing good he could say about it was the fun he had with his friend Ned McBride, Ned’s family, and Ned’s brother Adam. Though Adam was straight, Isaac always had a crush on the brawny football player with a sense of humor and a gorgeous smile.

When he returns home to his Manhattan penthouse after the latest worldwide tour of his phenomenally successful band, he’s surprised to find Adam McBride is there. Through Ned, he had given permission for Adam to crash at his place while Adam was recovering from his divorce and deciding what direction his life should take. Unfortunately, he worked for his ex-wife’s father so he lost the job along with the marriage and is currently working part-time at a bar and part-time as a dog walker. And he has no plans to leave soon.

Isaac has loved his sterile white apartment, its peace and quiet and solitude, but he grows accustomed to the happy-go-lucky Adam being there, leaving his big red Converse sneakers laying around, cooking meals for Isaac, and practicing his baking—something Adam took up as a relaxing hobby and now wants to pursue as a career. Much of the chaos keeps Isaac from worrying about the nutcase who seems to be stalking him—someone who refers to himself as his “biggest fan.” But the companionship turns to more after one night when the guys get a little tipsy and the inhibitions come down. Isaac learns that Adam is not as straight as he thought, and he learns exactly why Adam came to New York—and it wasn’t just to chill out after his divorce.

The men slowly, very slowly (something I love!) develop a relationship that goes beyond friends-with-benefits and becomes so much more. And when danger strikes, and Isaac’s emotions come to a head, it looks like the one-time loner may just be left alone after all.

I enjoyed Lane Hayes’s writing in this one, her character development, and the clever mystery about the psycho fan. I also loved the love story and the evolution of the friends to lovers theme.

I hope readers will enjoy this slow-burn romance as much as I did. The author’s reveal of the carefully hidden psycho and the oh-so-sweet ending of the book is sure to please lovers of MM romance as much as it did me. I recommend not only this book, but the whole series as well.

Cover art by Aaron Anderson is similar in style to others in the series, but in this one, a bare-torso male is leaning against the wall of what appears to be a penthouse apartment, as it features a floor-to-ceiling window with a view of the city spread out below. This fits the story perfectly since it could be Isaac looking out over NYC from his Manhattan penthouse.

Sales Links:Amazon Dreamspinner Press

Book Details:

ebook, 224 pages
Published June 23rd 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleA Kind of Home
ISBN139781635336832
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesA Kind of Stories #4

Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: The Teacher and the Soldier (Ellery Mountain #2) by RJ Scott

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

I really enjoyed this second story in the series that started with The Fireman and The Cop, the story of Finn and Mal, both of whom make an appearance in this one. Primarily featuring Finn’s friend, Daniel Skylar, whose mother owns half of the Ellery Mountain cabin property where most of the guys live, Daniel is stunned almost speechless when he comes face to face with Luke Fitzgerald, who has returned to town to settle his father’s estate. His father was the nasty drunk killed in the first book, and Luke, a victim of his father’s physical abuse through his teen years, has not been back since he ran away at age eighteen.

Now, he has to sign papers for the other half of the Ellery Mountain Cabins business so that he can put the property up for sale, get back out of town, and hopefully, never look back.

At first, his time is spent hiding in his hotel room. His panic disorder is running high and he’s extremely resentful toward townsfolk, principally Daniel’s mother, who failed to intervene when his dad was beating him during his high school years. But when he finally ventures out and manages to try to conduct a civil conversation with Daniel, he loses his temper and pops him in the jaw. Not one for physical violence, the former soldier recognizes signs of anxiety and refuses to engage. In fact, he takes the time to get to know Luke and helps him to calm.

Over the few weeks Luke is in town, although he still wants to leave when the paperwork is settled, he comes to know Daniel, Finn, Kieran, Max and others and finds himself hovering between staying and going. His relationship with Daniel has progressed from friend to friends-with-benefits and now it appears that it may be even more than that. When he gives up and decides to head out of town, will Daniel be able to stop him? Does he even want to?

This is a sweet romance with engaging characters and return visits with old friends. I liked both the story and the pace and both characters were really wonderful men who totally deserved to be happy together.

I’m looking forward to the next in the series when we finally get to see what happens with Kieran.

~~~~~~

The attractive cover by Meredith Russell is similar to others in these new editions in that the background is an eye-catching sky blue with the lower pane featuring a panorama of the mountains and the upper pane featuring upper body shots of both MCs.

Sales Links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2q6M89I

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2pl6IX4

Book Details:

ebook, Second
Published May 10th 2017 by Love Lane Books Limited (first published April 22nd 2013)
URLhttp://rjscottauthor.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/the-school-teacher-and-soldier.html
SeriesEllery Mountain #2

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: The Fireman and the Cop by RJ Scott (Ellery Mountain #1) 2nd Edition

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

When Max Harrison arrives on scene at a raging fire at the police station in Ellery, though it’s only his second day on the job, he doesn’t hesitate to run into the burning building to rescue the cop who’s apparently trapped inside. He manages to get Finn Ryan out just before the building collapses and that’s likely only due to his size and strength as he was able to free Finn and then throw him over his shoulders to race ahead of the flames.

Though there’s an immediate attraction on both sides, Finn’s primary concern is in solving the arson crime, but then his brakes fail on his trusty pickup truck and the odds swing in favor of Finn being a target. Back in the hospital again, Finn refuses to believe he’s a target but he accepts Max’s help, and the two attempt to keep trying to build a relationship around their different schedules and busy lives.

But the man who wants Finn out of the way permanently is closer to Finn than he thinks and it looks like he might be successful the next time. Can Max get to Finn in time? Will Finn finally agree that Max might be in his life for more than a quick rescue and a quick night in bed? This story is fun and adventurous and lays the groundwork for future stories set in this small US town.

I recall reading the first edition of this story long ago. In fact, it may have been one of the first I ever read in the MM genre, and it led me to an appreciation of RJ Scott’s writing. Sometimes fluffy, always sweet, and often just the perfect touch to brighten a dreary day, this one is a delicious sample of how pleasant it can be to spend the afternoon with her heroes. Though it doesn’t have the depth of some of her longer novels, it certainly provides enough to fill my sweet tooth. And the best news is that it’s the first of a series so we’ll get to read the stories of Finn’s friends, Dylan and Kiernan, among others in the balance of the series. I’m looking forward to it. This one is definitely recommended.

The second edition features a new, bright blue cover by Meredith Russell. The lower pane is a panorama of the Ellery Mountain area and the upper pane features two very handsome rugged-looking men, one with dark hair, and one with light. It’s attractive and attention-getting and gives us a good idea of what the MCs look like.

Sales Links: 

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2q4jat1

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2plna9D

Book Details:

ebook, second, 115 pages
Published May 10th 2017 by Love Lane Books (first published January 14th 2013)
ISBN139781785640667
URLhttps://www.rjscott.co.uk
SeriesEllery Mountain #1 settingEllery, Tennessee (United States)

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: For a Good Time, Call (Bluewater Bay) by Anne Tenino and EJ Russell

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

It took me a while to get into this story because the authors took their time building the characters, their interactions, their backgrounds, and finally their attraction. But when I look back over the hours I spent reading this, I realized I enjoyed it overall, and there were points in the story where I couldn’t wait to get back to it if I had to put it down while doing daily activities.

If you are looking for a sexy romp, stop here, and don’t purchase this one. But if you are looking for a new perspective on sexuality, romance, friendship, and love, by all means, keep going and pick this up.

Seth Larson is a good-time party boy and king of one-night stands. Not interested in anything other than a hookup for most of his life, he’s shocked when the quiet, sexy Nate Albano, 37-year-old Special Effects Technician for the Wolf’s Landing TV show, turns him down cold after leading him on. Or at least, Seth thinks Nate’s been leading him on. It takes him a while to find out that Nate is so sweet and innocent of the sexual innuendos most guys thrive on that he didn’t even realize Seth was coming on to him until it was too late. No wonder Seth was shocked when he was looking for sex but was turned down flat! And Nate’s pretty embarrassed by that experience because he liked the guy and just can’t figure out how he misunderstood him.

Seth lives with his grandmother in the stately old mansion on Russell Hill where town founder Finnimore Larson established his estate. His family has lived there for generations, and Seth is employed by his father and uncle as the caretaker and all-around handyman in exchange for rent in the little apartment above the garage. When his grandmother wants to sell the place and move to senior living with her friends, Seth is fully supportive but the others, including his mother, are opposed to selling the house. Since they’re in charge of the estate and are supposed to be making decisions to care for the elderly woman, they have control. And Seth is determined to help his grandmother win her freedom from their oversight. Lots of family turmoil surrounding this issue ensues, but it’s sprinkled with some great humor.

Nate enjoys his job, though because of his erratic behavior as a result of past emotional upheaval in his life, he’s lucky to have been hired, even with a recommendation from Levi Pritchard. Looking at it as a new lease on his career, he’s dedicated and focused, and he and his best friend have come up with great ideas and even better execution for special effects for the show. He’s still grieving the loss of his former partner, Jorge, who left him three years before for another man—more so because he’s only ever had two relationships in his life. He’s gray asexual, so for him the relationship spark must come first. Even after Seth’s blunder, though, he realizes he does feel that spark of attraction with Seth, and he starts to wonder if he’s going to be lucky enough to get a third.

Seems hard to believe, given Seth’s history and reputation, but after they make amends from their first meeting, it’s very definite that they are indeed attracted to one another. Seth goes through pains to keep from offending Nate—so much so, that Nate starts to doubt Seth is even interested.

Once the storyline is established, the story moves along more quickly, but be prepared for the slower start while the groundwork is being laid. The authors did a great job piquing my interest throughout the story. Added to the romance is a potential murder mystery for the guys to solve. When the apparent weapon from Seth’s great grandfather’s murder is found, they take a genealogical trek through the Larson family tree, work on special effects to garner interest in the sale of the mansion, and visit with a few characters from past stories. Add in a feisty old lady and an extremely lovable dog and this became a book I couldn’t put down.

It’s not one of those mysteries readers can’t figure out, but the relationship issues sprinkled among the murder mystery and the plans for the house sale all combine to make this a different take on the usual romance. And when the men finally, finally get their act together, it warmed my heart.

Fans of Bluewater Bay will surely recognize the past characters and various locations highlighted and I’m sure they’ll enjoy this book, but so will others who are looking for a nice MM romance with an atypical couple. And no fear—this can definitely be read as a standalone.

Cover art by L.C. Chase does both a great job with the characters yet connecting it to the series.

Sales Links

Riptide Publishing

Book Details:

ebook, 358 pages
Published April 10th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleFor A Good Time, Call…
ISBN 1626495920 (ISBN13: 9781626495920)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Bluewater Bay #17

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Personal Challenges (Personal #4) by K.C. Wells

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This book is the culmination of the series which started with Making It Personal, the story of Will and Blake that served as the foundation for the characters and situations in the rest of the series. In book two we met Rick and Angelo, and in book three the focus was on Ed and Colin. I enjoyed most of the books, giving four stars to the early ones and five stars to book three. However, at least two years have gone by since I read that last book, and I have to be honest—the specifics of the characters and couples didn’t stick with me over the course of that time—understandable since I’ve read at least 500 more books since then.

That leads to my word of caution—this is not a standalone, and not only should you read the first three books before this one, but if it’s been awhile since you did, it would be in your best interest to reread, or at least review, the previous books before starting this one. I did not do that and my enjoyment of the early part of the book was compromised by my lack of recall. Of course, once I started to really get into the story, I did remember the situations in which the couples met and my enjoyment of this story increased exponentially.

Each couple in this series faces a personal challenge, or crisis, during this finale. For Will and Blake, it’s a medical problem with their newborn son, for Angelo and Rick, it’s simply a lot of interference from Angelo’s mother as she “helps” plan their wedding—for two years now—and it’s time to finalize everything. For Ed and Colin, it’s a voice from the past—Colin’s ex who contacts Colin to say goodbye as he’s dying and that leads to deep secrets being revealed and multiple heartstrings being pulled.

The story was interesting and I found myself looking forward to the next step in the process for each of the couples. At times humorous, most often serious, the author took the time to explore each couple’s issues in depth, and toward the end of the story it became highly emotional. And as luck would have it, I was in a waiting room surrounded by other people when I got to the last chapters. I had to furtively sneak a tissue out of my purse to wipe my eyes as I quietly sobbed through both the heartache and the heartwarming events as each couple came to closure in this story.

On a lighter note, aside from the main storyline, the author seems to have planted the seeds for a new couple to appear in a future book—Franco the ex-priest and Anthony, the wedding planner. I enjoyed their dynamic and would indeed like to see them get their own story.

So overall, yes, I recommend this to lovers of MM romance, and if you’ve enjoyed any of these couples’ stories in the past, by all means, pick this up.

~~~

Cover art by Meredith Russell depicts two men, both with bowed heads, one man with his arms around the other—a good symbol for the couples in the story without trying to depict any one individual couple. The sepia tones are fairly subdued and not necessarily attention-getting but the somber color scheme goes along with the seriousness of the issues the couples face.

Sales Link

Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Published April 7th 2017 by Island Tales Press
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesPersonal #4

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Disarming Donner (North Pole City Tales #5) by Charlie Cochet

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

disarming-donnerNumber 5 in the North Pole City Tales, Charlie Cochet brings us another very sweet story of elves, fairies, Jack Frost, and Rudy and his fellow Rein Dear.  Reading these stories is like reading an adult Christmas tale, complete with toy soldiers and sugar plum fairies. 

In this story, Cupid’s half-brother, Calder, is in North Pole City to train Cupid, now that it’s been revealed that he is part dark elf.  He needs to learn to control his magic, and Calder, a good elf at heart, is the most sensible choice. Calder is a big guy, handsome, dark-skinned, and attractive to the diminutive Donner, Cupid’s friend.  Donner, with his violet-colored eyes and sweet temperament unknowingly attracts Calder’s attention.  But Donner, like the others in NP City, wants nothing to do with a Dockalfar—a dark elf, and despite his attraction to Caldar, he keeps him at bay.  Until an accident happens that changes everything. 

Honestly?  These stories shouldn’t make any sense, and they shouldn’t be so darn cute or make me want to gobble them up faster than Christmas cookies, but they do.  Too sweet for some? Maybe. But I’ll bet once readers start this series, it will be very hard to put the books down. I know I’m sticking with it to the end of the series, and I recommend that others do the same.  Another super sweet stocking stuffer to share with my friends, this is my holiday auto-buy every year.

Cover art by the inimitable Paul Richmond depicts a shy Donner being courted by Calder with a sweet treat Donner won’t be able to resist—a perfect match for this story.

Sales Links

        

Book Details:

ebook, 68 pages
Expected publication: December 21st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634778138 (ISBN13: 9781634778138)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesNorth Pole City Tales #5

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Sleeping ’til Sunrise (Mangrove Stories #5) by Mary Calmes

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Sleeping Til SunriseNumber five in the Mangrove series, this story features sexy fire chief, Essien Dodd. Essien moved to Mangrove when he took the chief position so that his precocious daughter, fourteen-year-old Ivy, would have a safe environment in which to grow up. His ex-wife passed away from cancer during the past year, and he stayed with her and Ivy to care for them until the end. Now he has full custody, and he wants to provide the best home life possible for his little girl.

Essien is a caretaker—from his job, to his family responsibilities, to his friends and neighbors— if someone needs to be taken care of, it’s a sure bet Essien will find out and be there to help. He had divorced his wife when he knew he was gay and needed to come out, and he’s enjoyed his freedom as a gay man since then, but now that Ivy lives with him full time, he doesn’t pursue relationships or one-night-stands because he wants to be available for Ivy 24/7. Ivy, on the other hand, seems to want him to find someone, so much so, that she actively seeks gay men her dad might like. After the match with the school counselor fell through because he was much too young for Essien and because he refused to let his daughter set him up, he finally told her that if he ever finds a man it will be a man, not a young boy, and he’ll find him all by himself.

What he didn’t tell her is that he has his eye on the gorgeous Dr. Roark Hammond. And Roark seems attracted to him as well, but Roark has a secret, and it’s one that Roark feels will put any hope of a long-term relationship into the impossible-to-have category. Will Essien settle for being put off? Will Roark be able to allow Essien to be his caretaker? Will they sleep together ’til sunrise and wake to greet each new day with hope?

I really enjoy this series, and this one has one of the author’s trademark heroes in Essien—the nice guy who doesn’t realize how much others admire and like him and care about his happiness. Essien deserves to find his man, and the man in this story equally deserves a guy like Essien. There’s nothing about this story to dislike. It’s fairly short, a very light read, and a very sweet romance. Another great bedtime story for the holidays.

~~~
Cover Art by Reese Dante depicts a gorgeous black man, sans shirt, standing against a picturesque sunrise coming up over the Atlantic. It’s perfect for this story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 90 pages
Published December 16th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1627984712 (ISBN13: 9781627984713)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series Mangrove Stories with links to Barb the Zany Old Lady’s reviews: