A BJ Audiobook Review: Second Hand (Tucker Springs #2) by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton Narrated by Iggy Toma


Rating:    4.75 out of 5 stars

SecondHand-AudioCoverPaul Hannon moved to Tucker Springs for his girlfriend, but she’s left him with a house he can’t afford and a pantry full of useless gadgets. All Paul wants is to get back to normal, even if he’s not sure what that is anymore. When he wanders into Tucker Pawn for a gift to win her back, he meets El Rozal, pawn shop owner and all-around cynic.

El Rozal doesn’t do relationships, especially not with clueless straight boys still pining for their ex. El may make his living dealing in castoffs, but that doesn’t apply to men. Still, when Paul starts clearing out his old life, pawning kitchen equipment he never wanted in the first place, El is drawn to Paul in spite of himself.

Paul and El have nothing in common except a past full of disappointments. There’s no reason to believe the two of them could fit, but in El’s line of work, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. When it comes to love, El and Paul may learn that secondhand doesn’t mean second best.

This is actually the third I’ve listened to in this series, and my favorite so far. A very sweet story with enjoyable characters, interesting families and a cute dog. Neither of the guys are gorgeous or have fancy careers, but are both ordinary guys that I could relate to. El owns a pawnshop which had been his grandfather’s and has a hoarder mother (loved the way that was handled), and Paul dreamed of being a vet but didn’t do so well in school and ended up working at a vet’s office as a receptionist. Paul’s denial and story read very real to me, perhaps because overall he didn’t come across as the smartest tool in the shed. No that he was dumb, but he was refreshingly simple. Thoroughly enjoyed Paul and also liked his mother, especially her reaction at the end.

El’s big family was well drawn and interesting, as was his big bouncer friend Denver who is the MC in the next story (which I’m now eager to read). And I loved El both for his role in his family, for taking over her grandfather’s store with hopes of helping his mother, and for his easy going and relatable personality. The way he dealt with his attraction to Paul and the little one item a day limit ploy that Paul never did figure out was great. I felt the chemistry between the guys, not scorching hot but a slow, realistic burn that had me unable to stop listening.

I could relate so well to Paul’s desire to be number one for someone at something as well as to his cluelessness about when folks were flirting with or interested in him. And El’s words about the unimportance of things, which tied up beautifully at the ending, really spoke to me. The secondary characters were also very relatable and individual.

The narrator, Iggy Toma, was perfect for this story. The voices were different for each character and sounded just right. The emotions and nuances of character came through well. Overall, I listened to this story in one single day.

The cover by L.C. Chase ties is very cute and fitting for the series.

Sales Links: Riptide PublishingAudible | Amazon | iTune

Book Details: Published January 22nd 2016 by Riptide Publishing

A BJ Audiobook Review: Daylight Again (Hell or High Water #3) by S.E. Jakes and Adam North (Narrator)


Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Daylight Again audiobookBefore Prophet Drews can have a future, he must first put his past to rest.

Prophet Drews is a man on the edge, and he’s pulling Tom Boudreaux, his partner on the job and in real life, right over with him. When his old CO calls in a favor, Prophet asks Tom to join the off-the-grid rescue. But the mission raises all of Prophet’s old ghosts: CIA assassins, the terrorist Sadiq, and most importantly, John—traitor, former teammate, and Prophet’s first love.

To help bury those ghosts for good, Prophet and Tom gather the members of Prophet’s former SEAL team . . . and a spook named Cillian who’s been tailing Prophet for years. In the process, Prophet is forced to face his team’s shifting loyalties, ghosts who refuse to stay dead, and scariest of all, his own limitations.

With everyone’s lives in danger, Prophet and Tom must unravel a tangled knot of secrets, including their own. Prophet must decide how much to reveal to Tom, while Tom must decide how far he’s willing to go to help Prophet lay his ghosts to rest.

With books one and two of this audio series, I’d already read prior to listening. This one I had not, and since it’s very complex with a ton of characters, I was worried I’d be a bit lost. I needn’t have worried. The narrator did an excellent job of keeping me in touch with all the characters and his voice was easy to listen to.

This book picks up about four months after the end of the prior book, and it does finally provide a few of the moments I’d been waiting for between Tom and Prophet, and they lived up to my expectations in traditional Tom/Prophet style. Whereas book two explored Tom more, this one we get to see more inside of Prophet. I loved seeing a bit of a softer side to Prophet. Yes, in this book we see Tom and Prophet’s relationship solidified but not with flowers and sweetness. The times when they weren’t having sex showed how the act helped them both to deal with their emotions. Enjoyed BDSM elements that came into play in this one.

Having read the first book of the Dirty Deeds series and waiting impatiently for book  two for a while, I was pleased to see some bits of the relationship between Mal and Cillian come out in this story. It was also enjoyable to see more of Remy from book two and to finally see a few of the baddies get their due. Alas many more wait in the wings, including the ever-mysterious John.

As I’ve come to expect from this series, this book is packed with hot sex, action, ass kicking, fighting, interrogating, and even jumping out of airplanes. And the plot moved along very nicely in this one with quite a few of the questions about Prophet’s past with John being revealed, while still leaving much open and ending on a cliffhanger that will have me loading book 3.5 onto my iPhone tomorrow.

A few things I saw as inconsistencies kept me from giving it a higher star rating, such as in one of the final scene, Prophet’s wrists are tied behind his back and jerked viciously enough that he states he knows he’ll need them in casts again, but in the next chapter a few weeks later, they are not in casts and no mention that they had been. And the twist at the end didn’t sit “right” to me given what we know of all these men’s skills. Perhaps that will change as I read the next book, which I am eager to do, but I know that one is just a short and the knowledge that the final book in this series is unavailable at this time and quite a bit overdue makes me sad.

The cover by L.C. Chase fits those for the previous books in the series but isn’t as sexy as those prior.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Audible | Amazon

Book Details:  

6 hrs 57 mins

Audible Audio, 7 pages
Published December 16th 2015 by Audible Studios (first published May 2nd 2014)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHell or High Water #3, Extreme Escapes, Ltd.

A BJ Review: SPECTR: The Complete First Series (#1-6) by Jordan L. Hawk, 
Audio narration by Brad Langer


Rating:  5 stars out of 5      ★★★★★audiobook clipart bw

Audiobook cover of SPECTRSPECTR: The Complete First Series contains:
Hunter of Demon
Master of Ghouls
Reaper of Souls
Eater of Lives
Destroyer of Worlds
Summoner of Storms

What happens when an exorcist falls in love with the demon he’s supposed to destroy?

Unregistered paranormal Caleb Jansen only wants a normal life. But when the demon-hunting spirit Gray accidentally possesses him, Caleb finds himself in a countdown for his very existence.

Hotshot federal agent John Starkweather thinks he’s seen it all. But when he’s called to exorcise Caleb, he finds a creature that isn’t supposed to exist outside of stories. For Gray is a drakul: a vampire who drinks the blood of the demon-possessed.

If Gray can’t be exorcised within 40 days, the possession will become permanent. In the meantime, the three must find a way to work together. As they hunt down demons and save the innocent, the heat between John and Caleb explodes into passion. But when divided loyalties threaten his last chance at exorcism, Caleb discovers love may come at a price higher than he’d ever imagined.

I did a combination of listening to the audio and reading with this series, depending on what I was doing so this is not strictly an audio review. The narrator had a voice that was easy to listen to, and he did a nice job with the series. If you decide to purchase the full set audio from Audible, you may see a review there that indicates the audio is not unabridged. Rest assured, it is. There was a bit of a snafu when first released where a few sections were left out, that was corrected. Please don’t let that review stand in your way of purchasing the full audio as it is an enjoyable listen! The story takes place in the south, and there isn’t really a noticeable southern accent used (I’m Southern born/raised, albeit I not longer live there). However, that didn’t actually bother me. I’d much rather have that than listen to incorrect or overuse of particular southernisms as I’ve heard in some other books recently. So overall, a lovely series whether you read it or listen to it. Highly recommend. Now on to the individual stories, which all fit together wonderfully as a whole and should definitely be read in order!

Hunter of Demons – 4.5 stars

Right from book one, which I picked up free and read before getting into the series as a while, I could see that this paranormal is imaginative and different. The world building is solid and the two human characters captured my interest right away but adding Gray, the drakul, into the equation really upped the ante. I’m not usually all that hot on ménage, but this one is an exception. I adored the concept of this unusual threesome! Caleb and Gray’s internal dialogue was perfect. There are trust issues all around from the start. Between Caleb and John, since as an unregistered “mal” Caleb has always been leery of the government and isn’t pleased to find himself attracted to a federal agent. Between Caleb and Gray, because he blames him for his brother’s death. And of course John’s duty is to destroy Gray. Could there be any more tension among these three?! This was well-paced story and a quick read for me. The first is still free, I think. Read it and if you’re anything like me, you’ll quickly be chomping at the bit for the series as a whole.

Master of Ghouls – 4.5 stars

This one takes place just a few days after the end of book one. It starts off with a bang… oh, no, that’s a blow actually. In this second book, the mystery revolves around someone who is summoning demons and forcing them to possess folks snatched from the streets. We get plenty of heat, and we get to know the characters more. Gray and Caleb begin the first tentative steps towards understanding, but there is still a ways to go, while John and Caleb’s relationship deepens.   

Reaper of Souls – 5 stars

When an incubus murders an ally of a senator who’s very much anti-paranormal, John and Caleb are on the case. The mystery and action in this one was fast-paced, but it was something else entirely that made this my first five star of the series. This is the one where Gray truly became more of a character in his own right for me, where we come to see that his voyeurism of Caleb and John’s relationship is more than that. This one made me, someone who’s not big into threesomes, begin to long for that third party’s active participation. That little hint of it was like a combustion!

Eater of Lives – 4.75 stars

This one takes the prize for gruesome, icky, creepy bad guy. Cannibalism! The guys are on the case, Caleb’s forty days are running out, and John’s ex shows up to make the tension even higher. Emotions are really starting to run high in all three. I don’t want to give too much of the story away, so suffice it to say that the ending was very abrupt, yep a cliffhanger. Not a problem if you have the whole series, like I did, but I’m sure I would have been frothing at the mouth if I hadn’t had the next part in queue. The possession aspect of this series and the way John meshes well with both Caleb and Gray is just fascinating to watch unfold.

Destroyer of Worlds – 5 stars

And now we come to my most favorite book of the series. Now I know that even if I been one of those who had to wait a month for this next excerpt, it would have been well worth it. Fast-paced, plenty of tension, blazing heat, excellent characterizations, and twists galore. A betrayal that comes out of left field and turns everything on it’s head. But in this one we begin to get answers and the triad I’d been long for blooms. A heavenly delicious delicacy with a demon on top. Yum!

Summoner of Storms – 5 stars

John is finally forced to take off the rose-tinted glasses and face the knowledge that things he thought he knew and could trust in are smoke. Outstanding action and battle scenes with serious baddie ass kicking, lovely sexy, emotional, hot times, and a satisfying ending. Nonetheless, it left me wanting more of these three. And I am so glad that the author heard her fan’s please for more. Book one of SPECTR 2 is already available. Yay.

This series is awesome, highly recommended. If you don’t believe me already, pick up book one for free (Amazon, Kobo, B&N) and give it a read today.

COVER Art by Jordan L. Hawk: The covers which vary from Caleb, John and Gray are just STUNNING.

Sales Links:  Amazon Kindle |  Audible | Buy It Here | Goodreads Other Links

Book Details:  

798 pages

Published by Widdershins Press LLC (first published November 30th 2014)
edition languageEnglish
seriesSPECTR #1-6

A BJ Audiobook Review: Into Deep Waters by Kaje Harper; Narrated by Kaleo Griffith


Rating:  5 stars out of 5   ★★★★★audiobook clipart bw

Into Deep Waters Audiobook CoverFor Jacob and Daniel, two young gay men aboard a US Navy ship in WWII, the risks are high. Not only the risks of injury and death from Japanese planes and submarines, but the risk of discovery. Only a special kind of love is worth taking that chance. But from the moment Daniel meets Jacob’s eyes across a battle-scarred deck, he knows he has to try.

Being together requires figuring out what it means to be gay in an era when they could be discharged, imprisoned, or worse for admitting the desires of their hearts. Their relationship is measured in stolen moments and rare days of precious leave, with no guarantee there will be a tomorrow. And, if they survive the war, they will need even more luck to keep their love alive through the years to come.

This story was originally written from a prompt and photo submitted as part of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s Love is Always Write event in 2012.

This book blew me away. It’s an touchingly beautiful story of an enduring love that spans over a period of sixty years. While it begins and largely takes place during WWII, the last third of the book carries us through the rest of out heroes lives, touching briefly on important events like Stonewall, but mostly letting us watch as these men deal with things like post-war trauma, family acceptance, workplace concerns, coming out, births, adopting a cat, and all the small and large changes that personal and physical relationships goes through as we age. An amazingly real, believable, and relatable story. Bravo.

The book itself was a wonderful free gift from a talented writer, but I’m very glad she decided to take it a step further and put it into audio. I’d been meaning to read it for a while but hadn’t gotten to it. Since I listen to audio every day while driving and hiking with the dogs, I snapped it up right away when the audio came out. For those who enjoy listening to audio, don’t hesitate on this one. It’s one of the most worthwhile audible credits I’ve used lately.

Kaleo Griffith did an excellent job with the narration, most notably in bringing to life the emotion that this story so richly deserved. While the two men’s voices are not as vastly different as on some audios, I enjoyed the Jersey accent he used for Jacob very much. It fit and wasn’t at all overdone. And he did an outstanding job of aging the voices as the main characters matured and grew old.

Some of the scenes in this book are still stuck in my mind’s eyes weeks after reading, especially the scene in the ocean after the USS Gageway sinks. The author’s use of description read so incredibly vivid, I’d say it was like watching a movie except it really was more because not only did we see and hear, but I could taste and feel as well. Rarely have I felt so immersed in a scene whether in print or on the big screen.

Despite being set in wartime and feeling realistic, the author didn’t go overboard on angst, nor did she hype up the gore for the shock or thrill factor. Overall this was a heartwarming tale that spoke to me of destiny, of finding that one person and going through all the good and bad times, of nearing the end and looking back with joy on a life well-lived. And well-loved. This story is a gem, a treasure. You owe it to yourself to read it.

Sales Links:   Audible

eBook Details: 172 pages

Published May 8th 2012 by M/M Romance Group

Into Deep Water Series – Goodreads link M/M Romance Group

Audiobook Details: Unabridged, 7 hrs and 29 mins
Published October 19th 2015 by Kaje Harper

The author, Kaje Harper, generously agreed to answer a few questions which I was curious about, and which I hope you will find interesting as well.

BJ: What motivated you to bring one of your books into audio? Why did you choose Into Deep Waters?

KH:I’ve heard readers talking about how much they enjoy M/M in audio format. They apparently listen to audiobooks during work commutes (although the thought of hitting an angsty Amy Lane scene while cruising the freeway or on a public bus gives me a little pause. Maybe I’d stick to Eli Easton for those.) I can really see the appeal of audio while exercising or doing chores, or to rest your eyes after a day staring at a computer screen. But my pro publishers aren’t offering my books that way yet.

So I thought, why not try it with one of my self-pubs? It was hard to decide which one. Many of them are free novels, and I wasn’t sure if people would pay for an audio version of a freebie. Then… should I start with a favorite, or learn the process and make any initial mistakes on a book I didn’t care as much about?

In the end I picked my favorite of my own stories – “Into Deep Waters.” It’s a short novel, it has good reviews, there’s emotion that a skilled narrator could bring to the surface. And if I only do one, if the logistics aren’t there for another, then this book is the one I wanted to have in audio. This book, which is my tribute to the LGBTQ Americans who lived and loved through the decades past, and helped shape the acceptance that is building now in my children’s time.

BJ: How do you feel about the final audio? What was your own reaction upon listening to it?

KH: I love the final result. It was hard choosing a narrator. I had excellent auditions from some wonderful narrators, including guys who have a great following among M/M listeners already. But when my friend and producer, Jonathan Penn, and I heard Kaleo Griffith read the audition script, we agreed that he took the emotional passages of the story to a new level.

It’s funny – I don’t usually get caught up in the emotion of my own stories as I write them; I’m more on the outside, finding the words for the feelings. And definitely with a story I’ve edited a dozen times, I don’t expect much impact. But when I listened to “Into Deep Waters,” interpreted and intensified by Kaleo’s performance, I actually laughed and got choked up. At my own words! It was as if his reading made them fresh again for me. I hope others have the same response to it.

BJ: Do you plan to bring more of your stories into the audio?

KH:I hope so. It was fun to hear my words given new life. It depends on how this book sells, though. There was a fair bit of up-front investment, in time and money, to get a great narrator and produce the book. With luck, if it appeals to readers, then I’d love to do others. Some of my best-known books, like “Life Lessons”, are contracted to the publisher, but I have several novels that could be taken to audio as a self-pub release, if it seems like the demand is there.