A MelanieM Review: Upside Down by NR Walker

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Jordan O’Neill isn’t a fan of labels, considering he has a few. Gay, geek, a librarian, socially awkward, a nervous rambler, an introvert, an outsider. The last thing he needs is one more. But when he realizes adding the label ‘asexual’ might explain a lot, it turns his world upside down.

Hennessy Lang moved to Surry Hills after splitting with his boyfriend. His being asexual had seen the end of a lot of his romances, but he’s determined to stay true to himself. Leaving his North Shore support group behind, he starts his own in Surry Hills, where he meets first-time-attendee Jordan.

A little bewildered and scared, but completely adorable, Hennessy is struck by this guy who’s trying to find where he belongs. Maybe Hennessy can convince Jordan that his world hasn’t been turned upside down at all, but maybe it’s now—for the first time in his life—the right way up.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I love this story. Upside Down by NR Walker is a joyful melody of complex, endearing characters on a journey of self exploration, revelation, and love. That their path is a 5 minute bus ride and a daily bus route, their cheering and support squad a small group of best friends and strangers on the bus that becomes the Soup Crew?  Well, that’s just some f the magnificent and quirky elements that give the main couple and this story it’s staying power.

I have always treasured NR Walker’s stories because of her ability to build these incredible characters that feel so real to me.  Whether it’s a botanist with a passion for butterflies or an American geologist transplant in the outback in red dirt country, their search for fulfillment and love has stayed with me long after I finished their stories.  Their series remain favorites to this day.  I struggled with them, and celebrated in their HEA’s.

With Jordan O’Neill and  Hennessy Lang it’s exactly the same.  For Jordan, an intelligent, quirky (his words), gay librarian, he already is in possession of too many labels.  But he’s been so unhappy when it has come to romance, he just doesn’t want a sexual relationship.  So when his best friend and fellow librarian, Merry, suggests he may be asexual, he’s not sure he wants another label or what exactly that means.

What follows here is a gentle, revelatory exploration of what it means to be asexual through two characters, one, Hennessy, who has long accepted the fact that he’s asexual and knows what that means to him in every aspect of his life, mentally, emotionally, and, yes, physically.  And the other in the person of Jordan who has been foundering in his relationships, not knowing the reason why until he steps into that meeting and hears himself pouring out in words.  This entire portion of their story feels so powerful and yet so intimate and affirming.  Walker is able to give out so much information you realize later but in the moment?  It’s all heart and feelings and pent up emotions coming out that have never been verbalized before by Jordan and others.

And oh, the humor!  From the total group of strangers on the bus that start listening in on the conversations between “headphone guy” and Jordan that slowly coelesses into the wonderful advice giving Soup Crew, and the magnificent Merry, or Jordan’s roommate Angus, or any of the other superlative characters that inhabit this story and circle of friends or the library, this is a gift that never stops giving narratively speaking.

I smiled and laughed the whole story til my face hurt!  Then read it again.  My heart needed it that much.  Motherfucker! lol

The writing is top notch, the characterizations outstanding and the plot incredible but still the combination soars still further into something memorable that exceeds a 5 star rating.  It’s definitely in my top five Best of for 2019.  So grab it up and get reading.  Yes, I highly recommend it.

Cover art is adorable.  Love it.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 251 pages
Published March 19th 2019
Original Title Upside Down
ASIN B07PVDGQV8

A MelanieM Review: Magic Wept (The Mages’ Guild Trilogy #2) by Andi Van

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

The Mages’ Guild Trilogy: Book 2

Jorget wants desperately to hone his magical abilities, but it’s almost impossible in Archai Castle, where the mad king would kill him if he caught him using his forbidden talents. But a chance presents itself when Jorget’s mentor, the royal priest Denekk, sends him on a quest in search of a magical weapon. While it seems his opportunity to make a name for himself has finally arrived, Jorget has no idea what he’s really getting himself into.

 

In the Mages’ Guild of the Dragon’s Claw, Kelwin Tiovolk and his beloved, guild leader Tasis Kadara, are finally enjoying a peaceful life. Unfortunately, it can’t last—the king has designs on a weapon that can destroy the guild, and in order to protect his home, Kelwin will have to leave it.

 

Saving the guild seems impossible with so many determined to stop them, but if Kelwin and Jorget stand together, they might find the strength to defy the odds and preserve all they hold dear.

The middle book in the trilogy is often the hardest story for the author, and perhaps the reader.  It has to act as a bridge between the first story that launches the saga, where lies the power of introducing us to the characters and universe and then it has to carry us over to a third tale that will triumphantly bring all the many story threads together, answering our questions and, hopefully, giving our characters a HEA they all deserve. That’s quite a story load for any bridge to carry.    Plus it has its own narrative chores to carry out.  It must move a complicated plot forward, expand on existing characterizations, and, even do a little more revelations in the foundation/universe creations (here it’s in the mythology world building here that Van is creating).

Yes, that middle novel can make or break a trilogy.  So I’m so happy to tell you that I was just as enthralled with Magic Wept as I was with Magic Fell.  With everything this story had to accomplish, it did that and more as a compelling fantasy tale I couldn’t put down.  Van enlarged on the mythology started in the first story,  gave the reader many stunning twists here, introduced new characters and expanded on ones we barely met in the first novel, Magic Fell, by bringing them into the main group here.  I’m loving Emlynn the giant who never grew too tall,Jorget who’s mouth runs faster than his brilliant mind,  and many more.  Toddlers, butterflies, and dandelions, oh my!

Andi Van is able to balance the magical, the fantastical, with the ability to horrify in a split second.  And then go back again.

The characters that you find here, all of them, no matter the gender, or gender fluid, or gender identity, are all complicated, living beings.  That they might happen to be dragons, magical cats of a thousand years or a baby who can make butterflies dance about your heads, you take them all into your hearts and embrace them fully.  Which means you are fully invested about what happens every second of every page.

Which is a lot.

There is more world building, action and suspense, and, yes, its setting us up for the final story Magic Triumphed..

For those of you seeking heat in your fantasy, this is not the trilogy for you.  This is a true YA story with no heat at all.  Love, romance perhaps, but no sex.  It’s a wonderfully imagined, deeply satisfying fantasy adventure with great characters and world building.

I definitely recommend Magic Wept (The Mages’ Guild Trilogy #2) by Andi Van and Magic Fell.  Now onto the trilogy finale.

Cover Artist: AngstyG.  These are just gorgeous covers, and work not only for the trilogy but for the characters as well.

Sales links:  Harmony Ink | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 180 pages
Published September 18th 2018 by Harmony Ink Press
ASIN B07DKX7TC6
Edition Language English
Series The Mages’ Guild Trilogy #2

A MelanieM Review: Count the Shells (Porthkennack #6) by Charlie Cochrane

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 

Michael Gray returned from World War One injured, but at least he returned. Others were not so fortunate, including his first and greatest love, Thomas Carter-Clemence, with whom Michael had parted bitterly before the conflict began.

Broch, the Carter-Clemence home in Porthkennack, was an integral part of pre-war holidays for the Grays, the two families drawn together in the wake of their sons’ friendship. Returning to the once-beloved Cornish coast for a break with his sister and her family, Michael has to find the courage to face old memories . . . and dare new relationships.

When Thomas’s brother Harry makes an unexpected appearance, Michael is surprised to find himself deeply attracted to Harry for his own sake. But as their relationship heats up, it unearths startling revelations and bitter truths. Michael must decide whether Harry is the answer to his prayers or the last straw to break an old soldier’s back.

 

In Count the Shells (Porthkennack #6), Charlie Cochrane once again brings her marvelous way of incorporating soft, sometimes unusual romances with her love of history.  The author never fails,  with her incredible ability , to bring this post WWI historical time frame accurately alive, right down to the songs and events of the era, and then add a poignant and lovely romance as well.

Here in the shadows of WWI, we are looking at a vastly different England.  It’s dealing with returned soldiers and the ramifications of war, as well as the memories of those that fell on the battlefields.  The wounds for most are still fresh as is the grief for those they buried.   Michael Grey is one dealing with both.  Injured but alive, he’s still mourning over the loss of the one man he considers his one true love, Thomas Carter-Clemence.  Parted on bad terms over a argument, Thomas joined up and then died on the battlefield,  their hoped for reconciliation never to be.

We meet up with Michael and his young nephew on a beach, counting shells in different languages.  For Michael, each shell represents a different lover he’s had.  Thomas is always the first, and the ones that follow?  Lost too.  It’s a sad refrain that his discerning nephew nevertheless asks him to repeat, and a sweet introduction to the times and characters.

Then the author sweeps us into the lives of the two families, the Greys, and their neighbors, the Carter-Clemences with the appearance of Harry, Thomas’ brother.  What starts off as a gentle reintroduction and re-acquaintance of the families as Harry and Michael establish a friendship becomes something quite unexpected when the author starts to deal out revelations that shake up the story just as WWI shook up England at the time.  The rest of the story becomes how to reassemble your vision of the things and people you know and move forward.  Again, it’s a very shattering yet familiar thing to have to deal with during that time period on a number of levels.

I thought the relationships here  were all very moving and the dynamics realistically laid out.  Doesn’t matter whether it’s between  brother and nephew, brother and sister,   sister and husband, brother and  brother in law and mostly brother  and brother of the man he loved.  Count the Shells brings  out life’s tapestry in all its interconnections,  lets us look at the power  when  one string is broken and then the ability to mend and make it whole.

I loved this story.  It’s thoughtful, moves perfectly for the plots and elements as laid out.  It allowed me to glimpse into post WWI England via the mind and heart of Charlie Cochrane and that’s a wonderful thing.  Yes, I highly recommend this story and author.

Cover art by L.C. Chase is perfect and in keeping with the character and setting.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 253 pages
Published October 16th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626496545
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesPorthkennack #6

A MelanieM Release Day Review: His Mossy Boy (Being(s) in Love#8) by R. Cooper

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A Being(s) in Love Story

Years ago, a very intoxicated Martin nearly died in the woods outside Everlasting, and a beautiful creature saved him, although Martin’s done his best to forget it. He spends his time in a haze of weed as he avoids his emotionally abusive mother—and the way he feels about men. Martin is already a weirdo in his isolated small town; he doesn’t need a sexuality crisis too. He’s a mess, but someone—or something—always seems to take care of him, usually a tall, sarcastic deputy by the name of Ian Forrester.

No one knows much about Ian, which is how he and his family prefer it. Ian has resigned himself to a lonely life keeping his secrets and guarding his forest. It’s safe to dream of Martin, because Martin never remembers Ian helping him. Besides, Martin barely speaks to Ian, so nothing can ever grow between them. Right?

But with the dragons—and the magic—back in Everlasting, suddenly anything seems possible, even a happily ever after for two men who never expected one….

When I pick up an R Cooper story I know exactly what I’m getting into.  A long, densely layered, fabulous fantasy tale, a slow burn romance so slow moving we are talking a smouldering peat fire, one that’s simmering under the surface and takes chapters, hundreds of pages to come to fruition. No you won’t get any sort of instant love here.  That’s the absolute love and joy for some, and total frustration for others.  For me?  It’s what I love and know I’m getting from the opening sentence.

His Mossy Boy is just part of a rich tapestry of tales that R. Cooper has been building in their (Being(s) in Love series, each story adding more vibrant storylines, characters and history to an overall mythology and town of Everlasting.  It’s sheer magic!  And like any wonderful bard R. Cooper takes their time.  Always has and I expect always will.

Martin is young man in pain.  Emotionally abused by his mother, uncertain about his sexuality, Martin feels like a freak, unloved and worthless. He takes refuge in alcohol and drugs, often ending up in a stupor outside and alone.  Cooper brings us into the mind and heart of this bruised and aching man through Martin’s perspective.  And it’s often a tortuous one.  Especially with his scenes with his mother, as she drags down and kills what little hope and progress he’s made to to self worth through the day.  It’s heartbreaking and all too believable.

But Martin has someone looking over him.  Deputy Ian Forrester who has he own secrets and heartbreak.  We get Ian’s perspective too.  We get his insight into the town, into Martin, and we see the blinders, well, not blinders but perhaps lack of knowledge is keeping him from making the right decisions about Martin and their future.  To get these two together will take the entire book.  They will come so close at times but fear, low self esteem, town pressure and more, even magic seemingly strives to keep them apart.

There’s even dragons!  Joseph and Zarrin, his sister Zazzy and Bernard the chatelaine, the dragon parents and the town of Everlasting feature prominently here.  Did I mention this is a densely woven incredible tapestry?

But primarily it’s about getting Martin to accept himself, to see beyond other’s abuse of him and their intolerance and to be brave enough to reach for what he wants and think he deserves it.  And not just Martin alone.  There are two that need to believe that boundaries can be broken, rules bent so lovers can be together.  In the end it all comes together in a powerfully simple walk down the street holding hands that makes you want to cry in happiness.

Yes, I love this story and this author.  Neither one, the story or the series is for the impatient.  Neither is the author for that matter.  But for those of us who love to meander, take our time, looking around, appreciating the trail as much as the  destination. Those of us who love the slow burn, the hesitation before the kiss…well, this is magic.

It helps to have read the story before this one, Treasure for Treasure (Beings in Love #7) to get background history on Joseph and Zarrin.  Indeed pick up the entire Beings in Love series.  It’s wonderful.  I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.  His Mossy Boy and the rest are all highly recommended!

Cover Artist: Paul Richmond.  What an absolutely gorgeous cover.  Its perfect for the story and characters.  One of my favorite of the year.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 350 pages
Expected publication: September 11th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635338850
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Beings in Love #8

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour: A Cambridge Fellows Mystery novella (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries) by Charlie Cochrane

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith like nothing more than being given a mystery to solve. But what happens when you have to defend your greatest enemy on a charge of murder?

I’m a huge fan of Charlie Cochrane.  Her love of history and her ability to bring various eras to life vividly and memorably on the page can be seen no where better than her Cambridge Fellows Mysteries.  In this series, her remarkable characters Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith meet in St. Bride’s College, Cambridge, England, 1905.  That was their first story Lessons in Love.  From that start, we watch these two men grow, sometimes falter, mature, and continue to love each other through the years and history that follows.  The last book release was Lessons for Sleeping Dogs (Cambridge Fellows #12) and the year was 1921, setting Cambridge. Of course, they are at their beloved St. Bride’s College, a place that’s kept their secret and them safe all these years.

Their greatest enemy here? Well, that would be their neighboring college next to them…one so dastardly that the name is often never spoken.  Especially since its Head has been involved in several imbroglios and a nasty encounter with a beloved member of their small group of friends.  Now their are being asked to investigate whether one of their worst enemies could actually be innocent of murder?

What follows is a charming, complicated (it’s Jonty and Orlando of course) murder investigation.  It will touch on many past elements and stark realities about that era.  Soldiers in what we now call PTSD from the war being one of them,  Jonty’s past abuse as a child, and others are all threads included here. If you are unfamiliar with the series, they might slip by you without a much of a trace.  But if you are, they deepen much of the poignancy that flows here.  Jonty and Orlando have been together 20 years at this point, a lovely measure of time.  Yet still the fear of being caught out hangs over them and they are always cautious with themselves and their relationship.

The author bring’s us into Jonty and Orlando’s lives again gently, her conversations with them flows with the language and usage of words of the times yet it never feels forced or hard to read.  Indeed, its warm, welcoming, and easy.  After all these stories, it feels like  walking into the drawing room again and seeing old friends.  What a joy.   The story flew by all too quickly and it was another case closed before I knew it.

I hope Charlie Cochrane never closes the books on her Cambridge Fellows Mysteries.  I hope Jonty and Orlando never really get so old that they can’t go sleuthing together and that St. Bride’s will always be waiting for them when they return home.  Unfamiliar with the series?  Start today with Lessons in Love and work your way through.  There’s some real heartbreakers in the series but don’t worry.  The sun continues to shine on them both.  This is proof and a great story to boot.

Cover Illustration by Alex Beecroft is utterly charming and perfect for the story. Had no idea this talented author was an artist as well.

Buy links:    Amazon | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 82 pages
Expected publication: August 14th 2017 by The Right Chair Press
ASINB073Z3LL3K

A MelanieM Review: Werecat: The Sim Ru Prophecy by Andrew J. Peters

Standard

Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

The final installment of the Werecat series, a finalist in the 2016 Romance Reviews Readers’ Choice Awards.

A fugitive from two murder investigations in New York City and a bizarre, big cat attack at a bank in Barbados, Jacks Dowd flees to South America to find the ringleader of a shifter terrorist organization deep in the Amazon. The world is on the brink of all-out war between shifters and humans, and Jacks needs to somehow broker a deal for peace.

But a special U.S. intelligence agency emerges as a new, possibly even more dangerous enemy. Both the terrorists and the U.S. government will stop at nothing to get an arcane codex that could unleash an unstoppable threat to mankind or exterminate werecats everywhere.

While Jacks dodges danger from both sides and decodes the ancient book, he’s left with the impossible choice of how to use it.

Final installment?  Hmmmm, maybe…..

I say that because when I finished the story, the first thing I did was write the author asking if, surely, there was another story just around the corner because you couldn’t leave Jacks and the Werecat series like this.  No, there wasn’t a cliffhanger. But there was left open the possibility that Jacks still had a huge task to accomplish, one I very much wanted to read about because this is a wonderful series.

Werecat: The Sim Ru Prophecy takes up right after the last story, The Fugitive ends, with the threat of interspecies warfare, Jacks trying to track down the head of the murderous werecat splinter group called The Glaring and the world on the edge of exploding.  Peters continues to build his intriguing mythology here, bringing in more ancient history and god elements.  As Jacks investigates how the werecats came into being in his search for the werecat leader Tepe in the jungles of South America, the reader gets pulled deeply into the mysteries the author is constructing.  There are more murders, increasing mystical elements and of course a government/military conspiracy worthy of any major action/adventure movie.

Throw in Jacks and his human lover, Farzan, still trying to steady their relationship, and Jacks realizing the reality of the human/werecat age span, and still have a romance /love affair and this story has oodles to offer.  That is if any of them get out of this alive.  The odds are definitely not in their favor!

I gobbled up this book in one quick read, I couldn’t get to the next scene fast enough.  So much action, so much  suspense and yes, a ton of surprises here.  And I can’t talk about any of them because everything is folded in together, melded like one great riveting mythological tapestry, that to give out one fact, just points to another spoiler and that’s just not going to happen.  Wonderful writing and great storying telling here.  It made me want to smack all four books together for one continuous read.  I just may do that.

The characters are real and believable, the settings vivid and authentic and the situations tense and suspenseful.  Trust me it’s a white-knuckle ride most of the time.

Why not five stars?  Because of that little nudge towards another story.  Peters would only say it’s not in the works yet.  Argh!!!!  We need to know what Jacks is going to do next…the future awaits him and us.  Andrew J. Peters, are you listening?

Until he does, grab up all the Werecat stories and read all the way through to this one.  What an amazing saga!  It’s a series I highly recommend.

Cover art works, especially with that wall in the backdrop.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 287 pages
Published June 27th 2017 by Vagabondage Romance
ASINB072WT8PPN

A MelanieM Release Day Review: After the Sunset (Timing #2) by Mary Calmes

Standard

Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5 

after-the-sunset-by-mary-calmes-iiTwo years after riding off into the sunset with ranch owner Rand Holloway, Stefan Joss has made a tentative peace with his new life, teaching at a community college. But the course of true love never does run smooth. Rand wants him home on the ranch; Stef wants an exit strategy in case Rand ever decides to throw him out. Finally, after recognizing how unfair he’s being, Stef makes a commitment, and Rand is over the moon.

When Stef gets the chance to prove his devotion, he doesn’t hesitate—despite the risk to his health—and Rand takes the opportunity to show everyone that sometimes life’s best surprises come after the sunset.

I first read After the Sunset (Timing #2) by Mary Calmes when it came out in 2011, so I wondered how I would feel about it diving into this couple and series the second time around.  Honestly, I think I’ve loved it even more.  Something about Rand and Stef just resonate with me.  They have from the first story, Timing, and the joy and satisfaction I got from reading this sequel returned all over again.

After the Sunset moves the time frame for the series ahead two years.  Rand and Stef have settled into life on the Red Diamond, well, sort of.  Adjustments are still being made.  Stef is now teaching at a community college and the ranch is becoming more self sufficient as Rand expands his business with Stef’s help. Sounds great, right?  With Rand and Stef nothing is ever that easy.  With their past histories, their complication personal dynamics, and a somewhat messy family relationships about to push into their lives, things are going to get lively…Mary Calmes style.

That means that Stef’s need to make a commitment to Rand and the ranch will come into play yet again.  This time for the doubting ranch hands who are not only a cornerstone of the ranch’s success but have become part of the family there as well.  I love how this is their story too.  We get to see more of life on the Diamond, the secondary characters, and Rand’s extended family.  It all becomes necessary to know them better as people and as part of the ranch to get Stef settled deeper into ranch life and as a permanent fixture there as a half of the Rand/Stef couple.

There is so much drama here.  Between Stef and Rand’s cousins, Stef and a few local homophobes, plus all the amazing Stef and Rand sexy interaction.  That I  can never get enough of.  For me they just sizzle.   I love the dynamic they have  going on.  I don’t specifically categorize it because I get it with this couple.  It works for me, and I just find them hot.

One character get a spotlight on him here and that’s Glenn Holloway.  We met him briefly in the first book but his role is hugely expanded here for reasons I won’t go into because they run into spoiler territory.  I ended up liking Glenn.  He went from your basic jerk on the range to someone you start to understand and connect with towards the end.  Which is probably is really good thing considering the next story features Glenn as the main character.

So I’ve completed Timing and After The Sunset once more.  And fallen in love all over again with Stef and Rand and the Red Diamond and its crew.  Even Bella the Rhodesian Ridgeback has a huge place in my heart.  Mary Calmes series has a way of doing that.  They burrow in deep and even if its been awhile since you’ve visited with them, one visit brings all the reasons flooding back why you loved them so in the first place.  And yes, I highly recommend this series.  Coming up next?  When the Dust Settles (Timing, #3).  I’ll let you know what I find.

New cover by Reese Dante is darn near perfect. I think she has Stef captured exactly how I think he looks.  Truly one of Mary’s golden boys.

Sales Links

        

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition, 169 pages
Expected publication: November 2nd 2016 by Dreamspinner Press (first published August 16th 2011)
ISBN 1634777131 (ISBN13: 9781634777131)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series Timing – add it to your Goodreads shelf here:

A MelanieM Review: Forgive and Forget (Dreamspun Desires) by Charlie Cochet

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Forgive and ForgetHe’s hot. He’s dangerous. And he can’t remember anything.

As the owner of Apple’n Pies, Joe Applin leads a quiet, uneventful life, content to spend his days serving customers who come from all over to eat his delicious homemade pies. Along with his motley crew—Bea, Elsie, and Donnie—Joe couldn’t be happier in his little kingdom of baked goods and java.

Experience has taught Joe that love is overrated—and at times dangerous. He has no intention of repeating past mistakes. But then he meets a mysterious, handsome man with amnesia, and Joe can’t deny something sweet is in the works. He isn’t one to take risks, not with his heart and certainly not with his life, but the more time he spends with the man he knows as Tom, the closer he is to losing both.

Charlie Cochet’s Forgive and Forget picks up and runs with the ‘mystery man who can remember who he is’ trope and turns it into a wonderful quick moving romance in another of Dreamspinner Press’ Dreamspun Desires series.

Starting with the character of Joe Applin and the welcoming crew at Joe’s pie cafe, Apple’n Pies, Cochet creates a memorable cast and location guaranteed to pull the reader in and keep them throughly absorbed in Joe’s little corner of the world and his developing romance.  I thought Joe Applin had such a nice balance of quirks and professionalism, that it made his cafe real, his pies sound mouth watering delicious and his character believable and someone I could connect with.  You laughed with Joe and you hurt with Joe, that’s how much I liked this character.

I felt that way about Bea, and Elsie and Donnie too.

Then along comes “Tom”, aka our mystery man.  Tom is the one that seems too good to be true.  Handsome, good at everything, his eyes all but sparkles and yes, he’s gay and attracted to Joe.  Had Charlie Cochet been writing another story in another series, maybe I might have had a little eye roll here.  But again, the author is writing a story in a series that’s bringing back a style of romance that is perhaps not only a tad naive in outlook but originally launched when plots were, if not not as complex, then maybe more streamlined in approach.  So Tom is welcomed with a wary if swift embrace by all, including this reader, and the romance is on.

Yes, I loved that approach to romance too.  Its warmhearted, sexy, and occasionally funny.  You want these men to be together, no matter the odds, a clear sign the author has succeeded in her writing and in the love building between Joe and “Tom”.   There’s the mystery and a bit of suspense.  The ending brings things full  circle which is, again, in keeping with the format of the series and writing this story is going for. I won’t spoil it for you. Needless to say I loved this story and absolutely recommend  it to all.

Forgive and Forget is a quick, heartwarming, absorbing story.  I picked it up and forgot about everything else until I put it down.  I wouldn’t even mind if Charlie Cochet gave us a trip back to their world and let us in to see how they are doing, a Forgive and Forget  II.

Until then, go grab this up and get started on an enjoyable  trip to a New York pie cafe owned by a man named Joe and his  mystery man searching for love and something more.

Cover art by Paul Richmond continues the terrific job that is a hallmark of this series.

Sales Links : Dreamspinner Press | AReAmazon

Book Details:

ebook, 194 pages
Published April 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleForgive and Forget
ISBN139781634770170
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesDreamspun Desires

A MelanieM Review: Jury of One (Lindenshaw Mysteries) by Charlie Cochrane

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

JuryOfOne_600x900Inspector Robin Bright is enjoying a quiet Saturday with his lover, Adam Matthews, when murder strikes in nearby Abbotson, and he’s called in to investigate. He hopes for a quick resolution, but as the case builds, he’s drawn into a tangled web of crimes, new and old, that threatens to ensnare him and destroy his fledgling relationship.

Adam is enjoying his final term teaching at Lindenshaw School, and is also delighted to be settling down with Robin at last. Only Robin doesn’t seem so thrilled. Then an old crush of Adam’s shows up in the murder investigation, and suddenly Adam is yet again fighting to stay out of one of Robin’s cases, to say nothing of trying to keep their relationship from falling apart.

Between murder, stabbings, robberies, and a suspect with a charming smile, the case threatens to ruin everything both Robin and Adam hold dear. What does it take to realise where your heart really lies, and can a big, black dog hold the key?

What marvelous characters! What a hedgerow maze of a plot! With Jury of One Charlie Cochrane moved her cozy mystery series even closer into my heart.

Characters Adam Matthews and Robin Bright melt you with their genuineness.  By that I mean, I believed in them utterly.  Their kindnesses and their doubts about the relationship in its newness, their intelligence and perceptions about each other and the people around them.  I accepted them as real and moved forward into the story from the first page.

The two person pov continues and I love it here.  Both Robin and Adam are strong, necessary voices here and the contributions the different perspectives make to the plot and relationship are necessary to the story and series.  We see what Robin’s continuing need to hold onto his flat is doing to the relationship on Adam’s side and his.  That’s the more intimate element.  Then when it comes to the larger scope, that of the murder mystery or mysteries here, we see how segments in both of their lives are starting to add up to a startling…well, that’s best left to the author and this wonderful book.

I think what really engages me here is the details in their lives.  Having teachers in my background, I understand when Adam faces a evening of grading papers or other such things that he has brought home to work on. He’s used to it or was until Robin entered his life. Now he loves the companionship but it seems to be missing. And Robin?  Coming home so exhausted from his cases and long hours that he can barely keep his eyes open to see his way to their bed, let alone  converse, eat, or make love in a new relationship?  He’s a inspector on a murder case and that’s his life.  Something brand new for Adam and a huge adjustment for them both.  Neither backs away from it, the author makes sure of it but I love how its handled.

And then there’s himself, that big black Newfoundland Campbell who lends a ear, a discerning look or much, much, more when needed.  Yes, I adore him too.  He’s as much of this family as Adam and Robin and the village they live in.

So make room Midsomer Mysteries, I’m adding another English mystery series to love.  I can’t wait for the third mystery to arrive.  For those of you new to the series, you have several choices.  The audiobook is out and my review will be coming shortly.  Or you can follow the ebook route.  Either way catch up.  This is a series to treasure if you love your murder mysteries and a realistic wonderful main couple like Robin and Adam, with a big Newfy thrown in for good measure.

I highly recommend them all.

Cover art by L. C. Chase is well done and works for the mystery inside.

Sales Links:   Riptide Publishing |  ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 298 pages
Published March 21st 2016 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleJury of One
ISBN 1626493766 (ISBN13: 9781626493766)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series:  Lindenshaw Mysteries

Its Back to the Foothills with Behr Facts (Foothills Pride #3) by Pat Henshaw (excerpt and giveaway)

Standard

BehrFacts-Preview

Behr Facts (Foothills Pride #3) by Pat Henshaw
Release Date: October 28, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: AngstyG

Banner300x250

Blurb

Big, burly CEO Abe Behr is dismayed to discover someone—possibly a family member—is stealing from Behr Construction, which primarily employs Behr relatives. Abe takes the unprecedented step of hiring an outsider, likeable CPA Jeff Mason, to go over the books and help find the culprit. They are drawn to each other as they talk to workers, including Abe’s two younger brothers and their shifty cousin.

Since he has sacrificed romance all his life to build the business, Abe’s surprised by his feelings for the handsome Jeff. He’s even more shocked when they are confronted by bigotry in the Sierra Nevada foothills community, which is being inundated by gays moving from the San Francisco area. As he and Jeff get closer, Abe must come to grips with coming out to a family and community that aren’t very tolerant. Fortunately, being the head Behr helps him find his footing and grab onto love when it bites him.

 

 

Excerpt

“You ever come up the bank to sit under my tree? Looks like a much more comfortable place to fish. Not as rocky at any rate.” Jeff took a drink of his beer as I again scrambled to keep up. “My dad called it the Fishing Tree. He seemed to think fish congregated off the shore there.”

We sat in silence. It was my turn to talk. I’m pretty good in business situations. Not so much in social ones. At social events, mostly I hold up walls. Shake hands. Grunt a lot. Let others carry the conversational load.

Lorraine set our meals in front of us. The full burger with everything for him. The grilled mountain trout and steamed vegetables for me.

“You do a lot of fishing?” I managed after a long silence.

“Not really.” He gave a self-deprecating laugh. “My dad said fishing couldn’t be taught. He said it was something intuitive. I never had any idea what I was doing. So I never saw any use in fishing. I never saw any fish either.”

Again, silence as I processed and caught up. “It’s not rocket science. You figure out what kind of fish you want. Where it lives. Lure it to you. Then catch it.”

He looked skeptical and almost self-conscious. “It can’t be so easy,” he said with a little laugh.

“Why not?”

“What about the different rods, lures, tackle, stuff?” He looked so serious, as if I were missing the point. As if I didn’t understand. He was right. I didn’t.

“Look. You can catch fish with your bare hands. If you want to. The extra stuff is just extra stuff.”

“If you say so.” He shook his head, a smile still on his lips. “Have you ever caught a fish with your bare hands?”

I lifted my hands and looked down at the mess that were my paws. Calluses, nicks, cuts, punctures, blunt fingers, the bandage now off the one with the splinter. These were the hands of a man who’d framed houses as a tall, rangy preteen and had lived in construction ever since. Could I catch a fish with my bare hands?

“Yeah. All it takes is absolute stillness and patience.” I sighed. “Not a whole lot of people have both together. Somebody once told me it’s all about Zen.” Somebody else said the only reason I could do it was because I was too stupid to know it was impossible.

“Zen.” His tone said he was surprised I knew such a word.

“You know, like the Eastern religion,” I answered. “Though why we still call it Eastern is beyond me. It’s really Far West, not Far East to us.” I was grumbling and rambling. Avoiding for some reason.

He rattled me. Nobody ever rattled me. I’m Abe Behr, the big Behr.

He was studying me as intently as I was him. He appeared too beautiful, too perfect, too unscarred. I just hoped his accountant skills were as perfect as he looked.

“What kind of fish you want to catch?” I asked. Staring at him wasted our time.

He pointed his fork to my plate. “How about that? It’s good, right?”

“Trout,” I agreed. “Lots of different kinds of trout.”

He looked like he’d never eaten any in his life.

“This is trout from our lake. Have a bite.”

He’d finished his burger but didn’t make a move on my fish. His expression was split between wanting to dig in and reluctance to do so.

“Just taste it,” I growled. “It won’t bite.”

His eyes snapped up to meet mine. His puzzled stare asked if the stupid bear had deliberately made a joke or not. Then he gave a happy, hearty laugh, and his fork raided my fish.

“So? What do you think?” I asked after he swallowed.

“I think you made a great joke,” he said with twinkling eyes. “And the trout is delicious. Is this why you threw your catch back? Did you know you’d get it cooked perfectly here at the cafe?”

“Naw. I was stalking the pie. Fish was a bonus.”

“They have good pie here?”

“Wait and see.”

Pages or Words: 90 pages
Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

 

Buy the book:

Dreamspinner |Amazon |Amazon UK |Kobo |All Romance Ebooks (English titles only)

RC

Meet the Author

Pat Henshaw, author of the Foothills Pride Stories, was born and raised in Nebraska and promptly left the cold and snow after college, living at various times in Texas, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and Northern California. Pat enjoys travel, having visited Mexico, Canada, Europe, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Egypt, and Europe, including a cruise down the Danube.

Now retired, Pat has spent her life surrounded by words: Teaching English composition at the junior college level; writing book reviews for newspapers, magazines, and websites; helping students find information as a librarian; and promoting PBS television programs.

Her triumphs are raising two incredible daughters who daily amaze her with their power and compassion. Fortunately, her supportive husband keeps her grounded in reality when she threatens to drift away while writing fiction.

 

Where to find the author:

 

 

 

BannerTemplate
Tour Dates & Stops:

 

Final

Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: A $10 Starbucks Gift Card to 3 winners.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
//widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js