A Stella Review: Brush Strokes by E.S. Karlquist


RATING 4,5 out of 5 stars


Todd Navarro is halfway through college, trying to juggle his art studies with extra hours at work and finding time for his friends. Things aren’t exactly easier with the feud going on between the gallery he works at and the one next door. Or the fact that his dad just doesn’t seem to understand that art can be more than just a hobby—not everyone can be an accountant, dad! So when his best friend Mela invites him to a frat party, he only accepts because he needs a breather from everything regarding his future. So, really, he doesn’t expect to meet Daniel Berger, who might just be his future. Well, until he finds out that Daniel has a lot more to do with the future of the gallery than Todd would have ever guessed.

Brush Strokes is the first book by this new author and I already can say I can’t wait for more from her. I picked this title cause the blurb sounded really interesting and I am always looking out for new authors. That said, as soon as I started reading the story, I became desperate since I’m not a fan at all of the use of the present tense. Maybe cause my English is still a work in progress but I usually prefer the past, it simply makes the reading easier to me. So I was scared this novel was going to be a pain to finish. Instead, after the first pages, I was so engrossed with Todd’s life I totally forgot about the verbal form and felt fully comfortable with the writing. A wonderful writing style, detailed and clear, easy and full. Plus despite there was only Todd’s POV, it was perfect that way. I didn’t need to read Daniel’s thoughts, it was clear who he was, what he wanted, his fears, everything about him conquered me. Actually, both Daniel and Todd were lovely characters, so young but mature at the same time. Brush Strokes is not a YA story, it’s about two young men that instead of being careless and free, decided to be real and fight for their futures.

Because of some initial miscommunications, they became first friends. The attraction was strong, still, Todd was so sure Daniel didn’t feel the same, that he took his role as friend very seriously.

Nothing happened between them till the end, although a lot happened in their lives, there was a gallery to save, a relationship between brothers to mend, even a bunny to cuddle. And a lot of innocent sleepovers. Plus some truly amazing second characters, like Todd’s parents, Mela and Jesse, and the little kids.

I want to highly recommend this new release by E.S. Karlquist, I will surely reread it in the near future.

The cover art by CB Messer is cute, different and it fits the story, well done.

SALE LINKS  Interlude Press | Amazon


Kindle Edition, 230 pages

Published March 12th 2019 by Interlude Press


Edition Language English


An Alisa Audio Review: Going Overboard (Anchor Point #5) by L.A. Witt and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)

Rating:  4 stars out of 5


It turns out love and sex come easy when you’re falling for your best friend.


Second-class petty officers Dalton Taylor and Chris Ingram have been best friends since coxswain’s school. Now they’re stationed together in the Harbor Patrol Unit of NAS Adams. They’re content as friends, but secretly, they both ache for more. Neither makes a move, though; while Dalton is out and proud, Chris is closeted—even from his best friend.


Then another coxswain’s negligence nearly drowns Dalton. After a taste of how easily they could lose each other, neither man can keep his feelings hidden anymore, and it turns out love and sex come easy when you’re falling for your best friend.


Things aren’t just heating up between the friends-turned-lovers, though. The Navy is investigating the accident, and the Harbor Patrol chief isn’t going to let his star coxswain go down for dereliction of duty, even if saving him means throwing Dalton under the bus.


As the threats and gaslighting pile up, Chris and Dalton need each other more than ever—as shipmates, friends, and lovers. But if their chief prevails, the only way they can save their careers is to let each other go.


This was another nice story in this series.  Dalton is struggling to keep his feelings for his best friend hidden but when he is injured Chris steps up to help him.  Chris has kept his preferences to himself for so long but when the very real possibility of losing Dalton comes up he jumps in with both feet.


I really liked both of these guys and how easily they took to a relationship, but that is what can happen when you have been best friends for so long.  I could see their frustration and worry with how the accident was being handled and how the chief was treating Dalton.  I felt for Dalton when he was feeling down about his feelings for Chris and then his frustration when he had trouble getting back to normal after the accident.  I loved Chris’s endless support for Dalton and how all he wants is for him to be happy and alive.


It was so nice to listen to Nick Russo narrating this story as it’s been quite a while since I have had one of his stories and he did a wonderful job.  He continues to portray the characters’ emotions and it makes it easy to connect with them.  The different voices he used for the characters helped me keep up with what was going on and get an idea of the characters personality some more.


I like the cover art by LC Chase and it continues follow the pattern for the series.


Sales Links:  Audible | Amazon | iTunes


Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 7 hrs 30 min
Published: November 8, 2018 by Riptide
Edition Language: English

Series: Anchor Point #5


Cover Reveal for Gateway to Love by Sarah Hadley Brook



 Gateway to Love by Sarah Hadley Brook

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht http://brookealbrechtstudio.com

Release Date: October 19, 2018

Buy Link:  Dreamspinner Press eBook




About Gateway To Love


Ten days to finally make the leap from friends to lovers….


Craig and Mitchell have been friends for years, but each of them reached a point where that camaraderie became… more. Mitchell’s kept his feelings close to his chest. So has Craig, but now that they’ve graduated from UMKC, he knows it’s his last chance to show Mitchell they’re meant to be before their careers take them to opposite sides of the country.


He insists they can’t leave Missouri behind without one last adventure. Mitchell agrees to a road trip to visit all the touristy spots and say goodbye to their home state.


As they spend their days and nights together, buried feelings rise to the surface and hope blossoms. When their journey ends with a dance beneath the Branson stars, will they find love and a future together at the end of the road?


States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States. 

Category: Contemporary, New Adult, States of Love (Missouri)

Pages: 98 (ebook)

About the Author


Sarah Hadley Brook lives smack-dab in the middle of the Heartland and is the mother of two wonderful young men, as well as two cats. During the day, she works in the nonprofit world, but reserves evenings for her hobby-turned-passion of writing, letting the characters she conjures in her mind take the lead and show her where the story will go. When not working or writing, she can be found reading, working on dollhouses, trying her hand at new recipes, or watching old movies and musicals. In her ideal world, Christmas would come at least twice a year, Rock Hudson and Doris Day would have costarred in more than three movies, and chocolate would be a daily necessity. She dreams of traveling to Scotland someday and visiting the places her ancestors lived. Sarah believes in “Happily Ever After” and strives to ensure her characters find their own happiness in love and life.


Website: http://www.sarahhadleybrookwrites.com

Email: contact@sarahhadleybrookwrites.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sarahhadleybrookwrites

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/SHadleyBrook

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/SarahHadleyBrook

A Jeri Release Day Review: There Has to be a Reason by Kate McMurray


 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

there-has-to-be-a-reason-by-kate-mcmurrayI am a fan of Kate McMurray’s books. If I see she has a new one, I want to read it but I don’t rush to read it. But I also know that I will enjoy it. Just like I did with this one.

A college age romance with an out and proud guy and an in the closet, just discovering that he isn’t as straight as he thought guy.

Dave never thought he was gay. Didn’t think about guys “that way”. And then he runs into Noel. A guy he immediately thinks of as beautiful. And he is completely drawn to him.

Noel is out and proud at college, but still not out to his family. Until he is outed. Instead of going back in the closet, he lets his family basically disown him. Figuring out how to pay for college is worth it for him to live an authentic life. And although he has crushed on Dave from afar and Dave is now returning those feelings, he will not live in the closet.

The relationship between Noel and Dave was super sweet. I really loved how Noel was guiding Dave to discover who he is without sacrificing himself to help him do it. As much as he wanted to.

Dave also has a relationship with his best friend Joe who does not understand why Dave is hanging out with Noel all of the time as he is so different from them. So while Dave is trying to come to terms with his sexuality and his attraction to Noel- he is also dealing with his friendship to Joe suffering. 

This was a good read. Although it was “angsty” it wasn’t full of angst. There were a lot of sweet moments and the various relationships Dave had felt very authentic. Kate McMurray’s books remind me a bit of the old Nora Roberts. You know it is going to be a good read. It certainly won’t be the best book you’ve read, but it doesn’t disappoint.

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson.  The cover is gorgeous, pulling in the setting for the novel.

Sales Links



Book Details:

ebook, 206 pages
Expected publication: January 9th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1635332125 (ISBN13: 9781635332124)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: A Christmas Kiss by Annabelle Jacobs


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

a-christmas-kill-by-annabelle-jacobsKeeping secrets from your best friend isn’t right, but it’s easier than admitting you’ve fallen in love with him.

Sharing a late-night kiss with his best friend, Alex, is Riley’s dream come true. Waking up to discover Alex was too drunk to remember anything is more like a nightmare. Scared the truth could destroy their friendship, Riley keeps quiet and pretends nothing happened.

Alex can’t shake the feeling that he said or did something stupid on their group’s drunken weekend away—why else would Riley be avoiding him? Although the explanation he finally gets sounds plausible, Riley’s still acting strange, and trying to figure out why that is unearths emotions Alex has worked hard to bury.

Riley knows not telling Alex how he feels is probably selfish, but he wants one last normal Christmas before he has to come clean and face the potential fallout.

He should have known it wouldn’t be that easy.

I’m always up for a  holiday story and one about friends and love?  Absolutely on board twice over!  Annabelle Jacobs story, A Christmas Kiss,  starts with a drunken night and a shared bed.   For one man its everything he ever hoped for, for the other?  A blurry haze of memories he can’t quite get a hold of.  And for the reader?  A sometimes frustrating batch of lovely men, missed connections, and “why don’t you talk to him!”.  Truly, I spent half the book wanting to wap a miserable Riley into talking into a clearly miserable friend who missed him.

Jacobs does lay the groundwork for Riley’s actions and yet, to a degree, he still ends up frustrating not only his friends but this reader with his inaction.

Alex, a little more of an unknown quantity than Riley, is still a wonderful man and I found myself warming up to  him quickly.  Once the talking commences, and the frustration falls away, that holiday spirit of wonder and love drifts into place and A Christmas Kiss fulfills its promise.  Want another friends to lovers sweet, holiday romance?  A Christmas Kiss by Annabelle Jacobs just might be the story for you.

Cover art is ok, I would have hoped for something more relevant to the story than  just your male torso.

Sales Links

Amazon Universal link
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 145 pages
Published November 18th 2016 by Annabelle Jacobs
Edition LanguageEnglish

A VVivacious Review: Five Times My Best Friend Kissed Me by Anna Martin

Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
Five Times My Best Friend Kissed MeScott and Evan have been best friends since forever. But when Evan realises he is gay, he also realises that he has almost always held a flame in his heart for his best friend.
When Scott kisses him in the beginning of senior year, Evan believes his wildest dreams to have come true but when he finds Katie, Scott’s friend-with-benefits kissing Scott just minutes after, his hopes come crashing down. He decides to forget the kiss as a drunken misadventure, never to be mentioned again.
But even though Evan is ready to forget Scott’s drunken mistake, Scott isn’t so ready to have Evan forget him.
This story is a best-friends-to-lovers story, which is one of my favorite tropes. Evan and Scott are so good together and their story was so cute and so sweet and seeing them finally find each other was the best thing of all.
This book is very well written. I liked the 5+1 (Five Times My Best Friend Kissed Me and One Time I Kissed Him First) idea which the author says originated from fan fiction. It is my first encounter with such a type of story. It’s kind of like six short stories chronicling the epic love story of Scott and Evan. I felt like this particular way of writing the story made it much more interesting, especially as the story of the kisses is out of order, so there this awesome feeling of understanding how future events occurred which we learn about first based on things that happened in the past which we came to know about later. I kind of got the surreal feeling of time traveling to uncover the story of Scott and Evan.
Evan is an artist working to make ends meet he isn’t struggling and he is comfortable living in his own house, doing what he likes and actually getting paid for it. Evan is the type of guy who is trying to figure his life out in high school but is unable to as he has to keep a part of himself under wraps. But once he comes out he tastes the freedom of being who he wants to be and living life as he wants to. I loved Evan he is the kind of loner who has a really popular best friend.
Scott on the other hand is still figuring his life out but getting a job being successful at it and having multiple relationships still hasn’t helped him move on from that dreaded What If question. What if Evan and him could be something more?
Well this book does say five times and I really wondered if this story would be another angst-fest and if the author could justify the MCs letting each other go so many times. As it happens this story was considerably low on angst than I expected and everything that happens in the story feels natural and real and it makes sense that things would go down the way did. It is a beautiful story about how Scott and Evan become Scott and Evan and when they are together it is beautiful.
I loved the story it was one hell of an awesome love story with two characters meant to be with each other and their story, the path they take to find each other may have been long but in the end it made the story worth it.
Cover Art by Garrett Leigh. I loved the cover. I loved the sunset background with those orange tones and the two guys fooling around having fun. Personally the cover will make you look twice. It is really pretty.
Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: May 20th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleFive Times My Best Friend Kissed Me
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: The Music of the Spheres by Chase Potter


Rating: 5 stars out of 5    ★★★★★

Cover - The Music of the SpheresAn athlete and introvert from a family touched by loss, Ryan Mattson splits his life between reading and spending time with his dad and precocious younger sister. With the wounds of Ryan’s past almost healed, high school is simple, and so is everything else.

But that changes when he’s paired with Adam for a class project. Adam, the guy with birthmarks like flecks of mud and compost-brown eyes that hide behind dorky glasses. Grudgingly, the two young men work together, and as they do, an unlikely friendship is formed.

With the passing college years, their bond deepens and grows. Even Ryan’s sister and dad take a liking to Adam, and the family – always missing a voice – seems to gain another. But just as Ryan is forced to confront what Adam really means to him, his family is dragged toward crisis. And beneath the silent snows and starlit sky of a Minnesota winter, their friendship will be tested more than ever before.

I discovered Chase Potter through his wonderful debut novel, The Race for Second.  Two more stories followed, each even better than its predecessor, but now he’s written The Music of the Spheres, a novel so moving and heartwarming that I found it impossible to put down.

Its a tale of two young men, told from the perspective of Ryan Mattson, whose world was shattered when his mother died.  Rebuilding after that trauma made his small family stronger and more bonded but a little insular. So when a school assignment brings him into contact with Adam Haskamp, Ryan’s reactions aren’t exactly social. Then again neither are Adam’s.  Its not a particularly good first beginning but slowly, like a tentative dance, the two young men start to discover things about each other that they connect with.  How I loved this way to bring them together.  Potter made it feel so natural, you could feel it when the friendship kicks end and the vulnerabilities start to reveal themselves through the conversations and the descriptions of the body language and clothes.

Those characters are going to dig themselves so deep into your heart, starting with Ryan who doesn’t see himself as the special, caring person he is.  Ryan can be a little, no a lot, naive about things. Like those who just don’t pick up on clues while everyone else around them has not only gathered all the clues but solved the mystery and moved on to something else. I know people like that so I could see Ryan so clearly.  Adam too is painted so beautifully in words and descriptions that I could never get enough of him, every scene just cried out for more of his presence as his personality is so strong and yet so painfully vulnerable.  And together?  They have a friendship and romance everyone will want to see work and become something wonderful.

There’s Ryan’s father and brilliant sister and their own interactions with Ryan and Adam, at the start and as the relationship progresses.  Trust me, there is so much to love here.  You will find yourself quickly connected to these characters and their lives, your emotions riding along with theirs.  Yes, have that box of tissues handy, you will need it at times.

I’m not going into too much detail here, so much of this story should be savored, from the small revelations to the large painful realities everyone must go through.  It all feels so authentic that at times I thought my Kindle would bleed with the  pain and angst.  There are sections that some might feel a little slow but there are times in Ryan’s life when its introspection not action that he needs, so the pace feels right to me.

There is one nagging element, the tale of the disappearing blind dog.  He’s there and then, he’s gone.  I did talk to the author about this and was satisfied.  Unfortunately, I can’t say more at this time.  Hopefully that will change in the future and I will be able to update this review.  But it wasn’t enough to take away from the rating.

Need a story to lose yourself in?  Love a friends to lovers romance?  I haven’t even mentioned the magical inspiration behind the title, that might bring you to tears. It did me as did the story behind the cover.  The Music of the Spheres by Chase Potter has it all, deep friendship, family, self knowledge and enduring love.  Please don’t pass this one up,  I highly  recommend it to all.


Cover Artist: Chase Potter.  That is Chase and his husband, then fiance’, in that photograph on their engagement trip.  It makes that cover and its part in this book even more magical.

Sales Link:  Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 239 pages
Published January 21st 2016 by Chase Potter Books
Edition LanguageEnglish