A MelanieM Review: Lord of Ravens (Inheritance #3) by Amelia Faulkner


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

lord-of-ravensLover. Predator. Killer.

Laurence Riley’s inheritance comes with a price – one he’s not at all sure he can pay. When his urge to hunt grows out of control, he sends a desperate prayer to his ancestor for guidance. But he never expected that Herne the Hunter would answer.

Scion. Target. Victim.

There are horrors lurking in Quentin d’Arcy’s past, but they won’t hide there forever. Something ancient is coming to take him home: a creature of nightmare who feasts on the flesh of children. When the choice is between his own life and the lives of innocents, there is no choice at all.

Honesty is the worst policy.

A legendary horror comes to San Diego, but it’s merely an emissary. Laurence has seen the real monster, and it’s a darkness which will destroy everything he loves – especially if Quentin ever finds out what it did to him as a child.

It’s down to Laurence to prepare for war against a force which far outmatches him. The enemy has the most powerful weapon of all at his disposal, and if they’re to stand a chance, Laurence must master the same power.

He must learn magic.

Lord of Ravens is the third book in the Rainbow Award winning Inheritance series and contains mature themes and events which may be distressing to some readers. It has a moderate heat rating and an HFN ending.

Lord of Ravens (Inheritance #3) by Amelia Faulkner is another spectacular new author find for me as is her series Inheritance.  Lord of Ravens is the third book in the series and the one I read first (the other reviews for the previous books will follow soon).  It didn’t do anything but wet my appetite for the other stories.  I could follow some of the history the author provided of their pasts together but clearly I missed out on a wealth of feeling and relationship building that I will now go back and pickup.

Even having said that?  This story is still a 5 plus star rating.  Faulkner clearly loves and knows her mythology.  From Herne, the Lord of the Forest to other gods and goddesses, we travel through a myriad of plains of existence, from modern times to the magical forests and beyond in search of answers and the instruments of revenge for our couple, Quentin and Laurence.

In Lord of Ravens, Quentin and Laurence are still working on a relationship that’s very shaky.  One is prone to running, the other? Well, he has other outlets that he has used in the past and both are trying to overcome their urges to do both to stay together instead.  They are also trying to find their way to a sexual relationship.  The reasons to that slow build to sex lies in their past but we get a horrifying, gut wrenching answer in this story to one of the character’s rejection of all things sexual.  I will have to read the first books to see if there is  even a clue lurking in either of those stories to the revelation here.  But if anything, it just cemented my desire to know more about Quentin, Laurence and pulled me further into their universe and damnable journey together.

So deep did the author pull me into these characters lives, that I was sometimes shaking with fear, frustration, anger..all the emotions that they were feeling as the story moved forward.  Trust me, the glimmers of humor are scarce here.  But when Laurence goes running through the old woods, you feel the rush of the wind, and smell the leaves and rotting wood as he runs on his way, the descriptions are so vivid.   Equally, so when evil comes calling.  As it does several times in more than one form.  Then it becomes by turns chilling and surprising.

Quentin, oh poor scarred Quentin.  How your fear for him will grow.  I had no idea I would love him so.  By the end of the story I was reaching for book 4 only to realize its not there yet.  I wanted to wail in anguish!

Lord of Ravens?  Yes, there is a reason for that title and I won’t spoil the surprise for you.  Let’s just say its just the beginning of another element in this superb series, one I just loved.

There are people, a small group, mystical and otherwise, being pulled into the circle, that will help them do battle.  At least it seems that way.  But against what?  We still don’t exactly know but the vague picture that’s coming together is horrifying enough.

Amelia Faulkner has written a series that’s truly incredible.  Magical, suspenseful, frightening, richly layered, and yet still full of love.  Look for my reviews of Jack of Thorns (Inheritance, #1)  and Knight of Flames (Inheritance, #2) to follow shortly.  I can’t get enough of this author’s imagination, characters, and fantastic world building.  Please, bring on book 4 now!

Cover art is just perfect, with Herne standing outlined in the background as he is all through this story.

Sales Links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2iLjlUM

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2iiZRWj

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 327 pages
Published January 5th 2017 by LoveLight Press
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series: Inheritance

A Melanie Release Day Review: Chosen Pride (L’Ange #3) by Mary Calmes


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

chosen-prideJon Slade finally met his mate, but instead of it being the happiest day of his life, it became the saddest when wolf shifter Kelvin MacCurdy chose his obligations over their fated bond, leaving Jon to pick up the pieces of his shattered dreams. Lucky for him, Roman Howell, his boss and the owner of L’Ange, saw promise in the forlorn lion and put him to work so he wouldn’t have time to sit around and lick his wounds while he waited for his wounded spirit to heal.

Then the wolves make an official visit to L’Ange, and Jon finds out Kelvin’s pining for him is taking its toll on his position as the king’s champion. Though Kelvin’s training and the expectations of others steer him toward an intended mate, Jon has an unbreakable hold on his heart, and it’s no longer possible for Kelvin to keep himself from where he truly belongs.

But the conclave brings more than Kelvin to the château. It also brings a challenge to jackal alpha Quade Danas, a threat that Quade and Roman, Arman and Linus, and Jon and Kelvin may have to fight in order to keep L’Ange’s family intact. Jon never wanted to lead a pride, but the loyalty and devotion to one is ingrained in him. Kelvin was raised to punish anyone who questioned his king, but the calling to protect others runs through his veins just as deeply. To come out on the other side of the battle together, Jon and Kelvin will have to hold the darkness of solitary pride and broken hearts at bay—and find strength in belonging to something bigger than themselves.

Mary Calmes’  L’Ange series became a favorite of mine from the very first story Old Loyalty, New Love.  An old chateau, a mix of shifters, dark men with mysterious and painful pasts?  Yes, yes, and hell yes!  And as with my deeply loved Mary Calmes stories and series, a connecting story thread that both pulls at your heart and mind.  A vast estate that seems to beckon to isolated, wounded shifters and an Alpha set to  rule them  all.  An estate huge enough to hold the promise also of mates for them all as well.

Jon Slade, a lion shifter, was one such lone male without a pride who was taken in by Roman and Quade (after a rocky start).  His story began in the last amazing tale,Fighting Instinct (L’Ange, #2).  Chosen Pride picks up in the resulting aftermath.

If you had to ask me why Mary Calmes has such a large and loyal following, I would point to her ability to create characters such as Jon Slade.  Golden, strong, and unbelievably beautiful on the outside and yet now broken by the rejection of his mate.  Calmes makes  Jon and his heartbreaking situation so real, so painfully cruel that you almost bleed for Jon,  Doesn’t matter how pretty, how strong Jon is because those qualities won’t help him here.  Not even the strength of a lion can bring him his mate.  The irony.  The author has the reader so invented in Jon and his plight that you can’t even think about putting this book down, not for a minute.

There is also an equal tragedy going on with wolf shifter Kelvin MacCurdy.  He’s caught up in a vicious tradition that regards him as little more than a beast within his society, something to be breed for size and strength, nothing more.  We’ve gotten to know him during the last story too and become wrapped up in his complicated life and turmoil that led to him rejecting Jon to Jon’s and our astonishment and pain.

In Chosen Pride, Calmes brings out the best in her characters, and her series thread.  Other main couples appear in strong supporting roles necessary to both this story and the series.  There also a fox shifter that’s a sexy delight.  The minute I finished the story and went back and started it all over again wanting to see what details I had missed the first time around.

There’s several clues here, about the journey to another kingdom, the perils that await there.  I expect that Mary Calmes will use that in an upcoming book.  She doesn’t lay false trails.  Now I’m anticipating a journey that will make my heart stop and angst as well.  I can’t wait.

This is an amazing series.  So don’t start here.  Go to the beginning story and proceed from there.  It will become a favorite of yours as it has mine.  Its one I highly recommend.

Cover Artist: Reese Dante.  Such a gorgeous cover.  Its perfect for Jon and I love it.

Sales Links


Book Details:

ebook, 240 pages
Expected publication: December 26th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634779010 (ISBN13: 9781634779012)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series L’Ange:

A MelanieM Review: Hanging The Stars (Half Moon Bay #2) by Rhys Ford


Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

hanging-the-stars-by-rhys-fordAngel Daniels grew up hard, one step ahead of the law and always looking over his shoulder. A grifter’s son, he’d learned every con and trick in the book but ached for a normal life. Once out on his own, Angel returns to Half Moon Bay where he once found…and then lost…love.

Now, Angel’s life is a frantic mess of schedules and chaos. Between running his bakery and raising his troubled eleven-year-old half-brother, Roman, Angel has a hectic but happy life. Then West Harris returns to Half Moon Bay and threatens to break Angel all over again by taking away the only home he and Rome ever had.

When they were young, Angel taught West how to love and laugh but when Angel moved on, West locked his heart up and threw away the key. Older and hardened, West returns to Half Moon and finds himself face-to-face with the man he’d lost. Now, West is torn between killing Angel or holding him tight.

But rekindling their passionate relationship is jeopardized as someone wants one or both of them dead, and as the terrifying danger mounts, neither man knows if the menace will bring them together or forever tear them apart.


Hanging The Stars, the second book in the Half Moon Bay series, had a obstacle to overcome that most Rhys Ford books don’t start out with.  I wasn’t crazy about one of the main characters right off the bat.

West Harris was a minor character in a close-to-my-heart book, Fish Stick Fridays.  A twin in appearance only to Lang Harris the bookstore owner and wonderful MC of that story, much like Zig (really you have to read that book) I was ready to write this fellow right off.  Skedaddle, out of here!  Nope, Ford was determined to put West on the road to redemption.

Well, its a hard road, I’m telling you.  I wasn’t ready to accept him right at the start.

What’s not so hard to do?  Fall in love with Angel Daniels and his brother Roman.  Ford loves her down on their luck men.  When she writes about them, builds their characters, something special happens.  A magical spark ignites, a personality pops into place and boom, there rides into the story a layered, hunted man.  Tortured past, looking to better himself for any number of reasons, trying to escape the demons running so close behind him. That Angel Daniels.  In this case, its Roman his young highly intelligent brother that’s pushing Angel to get them a better life.  A few scenes, snappy dialog, and hints of their awful past. and there you are, rooting for these two to make it happen.

Then  West Harris enters the picture.  I swear most of the time I wanted to swat him one. Mostly because I was that irritated with him.

Turning around a prejudice towards a character is a hard thing for an author to have to do.  Making that turn here, well, it didn’t happen as smoothly for me as I think the author might have hoped.  I guess I thought certain connections should have been made far sooner than someone as bright as he was supposed to be.  Maybe it was because I adored Angel and Roman so much that they shone so brightly that took longer to connect with West.  That entirely possible.  I was certainly more emotionally engaged in the dynamics in the relationship between brothers first, and then between Angel and West.

Then all three, Angel, West and Roman, began to meld into a unit.  That’s when this story took flight.  I loved it when all three started to come together as a whole.  West became more layered, more a functioning human being.  The scenes as West and Roman discussed candy spreadsheets?  Priceless!  If Zig is focused on world domination, then Roman is be her CFO.  Rhys Ford should seriously consider writing a book filled with Zig’s and Roman’s and fantastical creatures and libraries bursting at the seams with books full of mystical things.  I’d buy them and hand them out on the street.  She writes children and pretweens like no one’s business.  I recognize them as I have one just like them in my family.   How much they enrich these stories can’t be measured.

Hanging the Stars pulled the mysteries together and the murderous reign of terror to an end in a totally satisfactory manner.  Yep, happy at the end. Ford left me wanting more as she always does.  And as we are all likely to get more…Half Moon Bay is a wonderful place.  I can’t wait to see who and what is coming next.

I recommend this story.  And the one before it.  The author too.  S’marvelous…all three!

Grab up the first and wait for this to come out.  And don’t be so hard on West Harris as I was.  He had Lang Harris (and 2 cats)  to overcome.  That’s a tough one in any case.
Cover Artist: Reece Notley.  I think its perfect for the character and in keeping with the series.

Sales Links – Pre Order



Book Details:

ebook, 206 pages
Expected publication: December 5th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series Half Moon Bay:

Fish Stick Fridays (Half Moon Bay, #1)

Hanging The Stars (Half Moon Bay #2)

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Connection Error (#gaymers #3) by Annabeth Albert


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Connection Error By Annabeth AlbertIt’s typical of video game programmer Josiah Simmons to be the last one on the plane on the way to the biggest meeting of his career. Though he’s (mostly) coping with his ADHD, he can’t handle another distraction. But he also can’t ignore his rugged seatmate—especially once he learns the military man’s a fan of his game.

Ryan Orson refuses to let his severe injuries pause his career as a navy SEAL. He’s got hours of grueling physical therapy ahead of him, and no time for anything that might get in the way of his return to active duty. But that doesn’t mean he’s above a little first-class flirtation with geeky-cute Josiah.

When a delay strands the pair in St. Louis, they agree to share a hotel room and a night of gaming. Neither expects their new connection to move to the next level in the light of day. Opposites may attract, but is this game over before it’s even begun?

My love affair with this series began with Status Update (#gaymers, #1) where I met Adrian Gottlieb, video game designer of Space Villager and his lover geoarchaeologist Noah Walters and solidified with Beta Test (#gaymers, #2) and the couple of that story, graphic designer Ravi Tandel and Tristan Jones.  Now comes Connection Error (#gaymers #3) by Annabeth Albert and it turns out, that yes here’s a couple I can love as much as the original I first fell in love with, that of video game programmer Josiah Simmon and injured Navy seal Ryan Orson.

Josiah popped up first in Beta Test during a gaymers party that Ravi and Tristan attended.  He was a stand out character there and clearly needed his own story so I was thrilled to see Annabeth Albert give him one here.  But what made him interesting there makes him a deeply layered, fascinating character here.

Young, he has a severe case of  ADHD, to the point that he lives at home, has a strict schedule and medications he uses to help him control it and function.  He’s highly successful at his job at Space Villager and about to lead a group of programmers into a new stage of development for the game.  Its a hugely busy and scary time for Josiah.  And due to Albert’s wonderful way with characterization, we see into the heart of Josiah.  His nerves, his fears, the way he functions or sometimes doesn’t at the office…every part of his life.  By giving us…this open, stubborn and sometimes fragile Josiah (a very believable one), we are quickly pulled into his life and connected to him.

Sitting on a plane heading to the same destination as Josiah?  That would be injured Navy Seal Ryan Orson.  His character surprised me.  I’m not  going to go into anything here.  Read the story.  But having Ryan here, real, hurting, stubborn, and impossible not to give your heart to made this story for me. Connecting him with Josiah?  Amazing.  Watching them work together to find a common ground for a relationship made for a book I never wanted to put down.

Annabeth Albert doesn’t do fast romances.  Her characters have their own issues to work through, sometimes they have personal blinders on, sometimes obstacles of their own making stand in their way to happiness.  Whatever.  It always takes a while for them to work through their differences and believe they can be happy themselves and with another person.  I love that about her stories.  Sometimes gritty, painful, and real.  So that when it works, when the main characters such as Josiah and Ryan realize that a future is possible together, well the joy and love just flows making the story and romance all the sweeter.

Plus…Space Villager.  Yep.  I still want the game.

This is the third book in the series.  In each book we get to see some of the couples from the previous stories.  I love that too.  I don’t know where the next couple is coming from but I can’t wait to read it.  This is one of my favorite series.  I highly recommend this story and all the #gaymer novels.

Cover art is terrific and works for the story.


Sales Links

Carina Press | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Itunes | Kobo Books

Book Details:

This book is approximately 66,000 words
Published September 2016 by Carina Press
Original TitleConnection Error
Series: #gaymers – Add to Goodreads here:

Its Release Day for Connection Error (#gaymers #3) by Annabeth Albert (excerpt and giveaway)


Connection Error Blitz BannerTitle: Connection Error

Author: Annabeth Albert

Series Title and Number: #Gaymers, Book 3, but stands alone well too


Cover Artist: CARINA PRESS

Release Date: September 5, 2016

Heat Level: 4 (explicit m/m sex, but lots and lots of plot too!)

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: approx. 66,000 words

Genre/Tags: Romance, M/m Romance, contemporary romance, military romance

Add To Goodreads



It’s typical of video game programmer Josiah Simmons to be the last one on the plane on the way to the biggest meeting of his career. Though he’s (mostly) coping with his ADHD, he can’t handle another distraction. But he also can’t ignore his rugged seatmate—especially once he learns the military man’s a fan of his game.

Ryan Orson refuses to let his severe injuries pause his career as a navy SEAL. He’s got hours of grueling physical therapy ahead of him, and no time for anything that might get in the way of his return to active duty. But that doesn’t mean he’s above a little first-class flirtation with geeky-cute Josiah.

When a delay strands the pair in St. Louis, they agree to share a hotel room and a night of gaming. Neither expects their new connection to move to the next level in the light of day. Opposites may attract, but is this game over before it’s even begun?

Book Three of the #gaymers series


Chapter 1

Somewhere between the third newsstand and the fourth moving sidewalk in LAX, Josiah regretted not joining his friend Ravi in training for a 10k charity race. Nothing like a flat-out sprint from the check-in counter to the slow-moving security lines and another dash from security all the way through gates to make him rethink his aversion to cardio. And the worst part was that for once in his life he’d made every effort to be on time, getting up before the alarm, starting coffee, making sure they were out of the house by o’dark thirty ready for his early morning flight to Germany via a stop in Washington, DC.

Passport? Check.

Carry-on with both laptops, tablet and assorted accessories? Check.

Suitcase with more shirts with buttons than he’d ever owned in his life? Check.

Double-checking that his ticket was booked under “Josiah” not “Joseph”? Total fail, but in his defense, it never occurred to him that the travel agency his employer used would give the wrong name. And the check-in attendant at the airline counter didn’t want to believe that there was a mistake. Thus, every careful endeavor he’d made to ensure that he was on time—early even—went up in a huff of waiting for a supervisor and then another supervisor.

And now finally he was sprinting to make sure he didn’t miss the plane. Forget being there in time to priority board, he was going to be lucky to make the plane period. His first time flying first class—thank you, Space Villager for being such a bestselling gameand it was off to an inelegant start thanks to a stupid mistake.

Finally, finally, he reached the last few gates of the terminal. The TV sets scattered throughout the waiting area were all taking about that huge freak snowstorm heading for the New York area and whether it might veer south enough to cause snow along the whole Eastern Seaboard. Josiah shook his head, trying to not get sucked in to the TV. As long as he got to Germany on time, it wasn’t going to affect him and he needed to stay focused on—

“Last call for Flight 324 nonstop service to Washington Dulles International,” the loudspeaker blared.

“I’m here, I’m here,” he panted as the gate attendant set the red phone back on its hook. He held out his ticket. The woman was around his mother’s age with very red lipstick and very short blond hair and a spectacular frown just for him.

“Ah. Mr. Simmons.” She looked up after scanning his tickets, decidedly less frosty once she saw his first-class seat number. “Come with me, I’m going to have to walk you down.” She spoke into a walkie-talkie as they headed down the walkway. “We’re going to need to gate check your bags. I’m so sorry, but the first-class overhead compartments are all full.”

“Crap.” She gave him a questioning look, and Josiah remembered that he was supposed to be Mr. Smooth and Sophisticated Project Manager, not some whiny kid. “Sorry. That’s fine. Just let me grab my laptop.” He grabbed the laptop with the longer battery life before the attendant put a pink gate-check tag on his two bags. “But…uh…fragile.”

She gave him a tight smile, but added a yellow Fragile tag to his laptop bag. “You’re in Seat 1A,” she said, handing him his ticket back. “You’ll get your bags back when we land, I promise. Enjoy your flight.”

After a brief conversation with the gate attendant, a male flight attendant shut the plane door behind Josiah. “Welcome aboard,” he said to Josiah in a tone that clearly meant, “thank you for pushing back our departure.” In fact, the plane was rolling away from the gate before Josiah almost tumbled into the empty aisle seat of the first row.

“You made it.” A warm chuckle eased past the pounding of Josiah’s heart.

“Wha—what?” he whipped his head over to the window seat—a farther distance than one might expect. The first-class seats were huge padded affairs and there was a thick console dividing the seats. And…hello, most gorgeous guy Josiah had ever seen.

Wide, mischievous smile. Sparkling hazel eyes. Unshaven jaw. Short dark brown hair. And holy hell, arm muscles for days. Bulging biceps with tats poking out of his T-shirt sleeves.

All of a sudden this flight started looking way up.

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to startle you. I just meant I was beginning to think I’d get the row all to myself.” The guy’s voice was possibly even more attractive than his model-worthy face, deep and soothing, with an undercurrent of the sort of confidence that never failed to make Josiah shiver.

And he was all Josiah’s for the next five hours.

Well, except for the part where he seemed ready to take a nap and tune Josiah out—the guy had a pillow behind his head and a blanket on his lap. He yawned, revealing gleaming teeth worthy of a toothpaste ad.

“You’re not a model, are you?” As usual, Josiah’s tongue leaped into action before his brain could restrain it.

“What? No, not a model.” The guy laughed, more of that smoky chuckle that did things to Josiah’s insides.

“TV star? Athlete? Because it seems like I should know you from somewhere, and I don’t want to get to DC and people be like, hey, you were next to that Laker the whole flight…” He trailed off because his friends were right that he had absolutely no filter, and that was triple true around Muppet-flail-worthy hot guys.

“Nope, not famous.” The guy studied Josiah for a long moment, considering, the sort of are-you-for-real expression on his face that Josiah was well used to. Seeming to come to some sort of decision, the guy stuck his right arm across the console. “Lieutenant Ryan Orson, US Navy.”

“Pleased to meet you.” Josiah accepted the handshake. Navy made sense given the Navy-emblazoned T-shirt stretched tight over the guy’s aircraft-carrier-wide chest. Holy crap, the guy was big. Josiah was a skinny 6’2” with big hands and feet that always got in the way. But this guy’s hand made Josiah’s feel downright dainty. “I’m Josiah, Josiah Simmons.”

“Well, Josiah, want to know a secret?” Ryan asked in a conspiratorial whisper.

“Sure.” Josiah was down with whatever secrets this guy wanted to share.

“Not only am I not famous, I’m not even supposed to be in first class.”

“You’re not?”

“Nope.” Ryan winked at Josiah. He had a very disarming wink, all good humor and twinkly eyes.

“The check-in clerk bumped me into first.”

“You got the nice clerk.” Josiah was still a bit grumbly over the name hassle.

“She lost a brother over in Afghanistan.” There was a subtle hint of “grow up” in Ryan’s tone. Josiah straightened, remembering again who he was supposed to be. And here was this impossibly attractive guy to practice on. Sure, he might be Josiah the clueless geek back home, but here he was Josiah the new project manager. This Josiah knew the right way to act and speak and could impress even tough audiences.

“That’s so sad for her.” Josiah tried for sophisticated empathy, something he knew he kind of sucked at.

“Yeah, it is.” Something indecipherable passed over Ryan’s face, his eyes getting darker and cloudier and that wide smile flagging a bit. “Anyway, guess she saw…the Navy connection and had a spare seat to bump me into.”

“What do you do? In the Navy I mean?”

The guy went silent, considering, and Josiah was afraid he’d been too nosy again, but right when he was about to apologize, Ryan finally spoke. “I’m a SEAL. I do a little bit of everything, but mainly I make things go boom. You?”

“Oh my God, you’re Special Forces. Do I ever have questions for you!” Josiah babbled again, only slowing down as Ryan’s easy smile morphed into grim line. “Sorry. I’m just excited because I’m a video game designer. And special ops is our new expansion pack.” And it happened to be the one Josiah was in charge of.

“You program games?” Ryan blinked, and Josiah wasn’t sure what he’d expected Josiah to do, but this clearly wasn’t it. “Anything I’ve heard of?”

Ah. That was it. He assumed Josiah was some sort of kid programming a dot matrix game in his basement. Josiah knew he looked too young for his job, because he was too young. At twenty-three, he was the youngest lead developer on the design team. Thus, he took no small amount of pride in saying, “Space Villager.”

“Oh wow, really?” There was a new note of respect in Ryan’s voice. “I love that game, especially the pod racer and first-person shooter expansion packs.” There was a hint of Texas or something else Southern in his voice, and Josiah could listen to him all day.

“Yeah? Well you’re going to love our special ops expansion pack even more.” Josiah projected far more confidence than he actually felt. He could make this project a success. He had to. The PR team had already hinted that the next expansion pack would revolve around special ops activities on a small war-torn planet, so Josiah didn’t worry too much about sharing this much with Ryan.

“I bet. My ex got me to back the crowdfunding drive, and I’ve been hooked ever since. My buddies were already teasing me about how much time I spent gaming, but there’s something particularly addictive about your game.”

Your game. Josiah liked the sound of that. He only knew a handful of women who played Space Villager, but the ones who did tended to be rabid fans. It was possible he might even know Ryan’s ex by her user handle, but Josiah had just enough self-control to not ask.

“Prepare for takeoff,” the pilot intoned over the PA. This was the part Josiah hated, the acceleration and stomach-dropping ascent. Today he hated it even more, knowing they might catch the edge of that storm. Focusing on turbulence that was probably hours away wasn’t logical, but then, Josiah’s brain seldom was.

“You always so antsy or are you a nervous flyer?” Ryan asked.

Oh crap. Guess he wasn’t doing such a bang-up job projecting the aura of a with-it project manager. He laughed nervously. “Both?”

“I promise we’re going to be okay.” Ryan gave him a quick friendly pat on the knee.

Oh. Josiah’s eyes went wide. Ryan was missing part of the pinky finger on his left hand and had some wicked scarring further up his forearm. Josiah tried not to stare, but knew he failed miserably.

“Mission gone wrong,” Ryan said gruffly. “Now back to flying, millions of people fly every day. It’s safer than car travel.” His tone made it clear further discussion of his hand was not on the table.

“I know flying’s safe. Knowing that’s not the same as believing it.”

Ryan’s answering laugh seemed to strip some of the tension from his face. “How well do I know that attitude. My ex got nervous before every flight, and his buddies used to razz him about it mercilessly.”

Man, two ex references in five minutes. Ryan must be totally hung up on his ex…wait. “His buddies”…What the hell?

“Your ex is a guy?”

“Yup.” Ryan’s smirk said he’d pegged Josiah ten minutes ago, probably when Josiah couldn’t peel his eyes away from those tasty biceps.

“Cool.” He was grinning, but he couldn’t make his facial muscles behave. Hot damn. Gorgeous, muscled, single, gamer, and gay. He ticked every last one of Josiah’s “perfect man” boxes. And if the gods were kind at all, Josiah could keep it together long enough to make a lasting impression.


Carina Press | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Itunes | Kobo Books

Connection Error Square

Meet the Author

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.

Represented by Saritza Hernandez of the Corvisiero Literary Agency

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A MelanieM Review: Full Circle: Forester Triad Act Three (Tales of the Forest #3) by Blaine D. Arden


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Full Circle“I have great responsibilities, but my path ahead is as foggy and blurred as the path behind me.”

With forester Taruif freed, Kelnaht has claimed him openly at Solstice before tribe and Ma’terra as his partner, but with their third, Ianys, bound by an old promise, their triad is still incomplete. Sneaking around puts the most strain on Ianys. He and Kelnaht must keep their relationship a secret or he will lose his daughter, Atèn.

When several children fall ill with more than a summer bug, truth seeker Kelnaht is assigned once more to investigate. What he finds is deadly and threatens the life of every underage child in the tribe, including Atèn. Then a wounded traveller is found in the forest, left to die after a vicious attack.

With Taruif and his apprentice on the hunt for a cure, Kelnaht focusses on the attacks, but the clues are few and more children are infected. Nothing seems to connect until both the traveller and Atèn dream of the same grey-haired elf. Driven by fear for his daughter, Ianys pulls away from his lovers. Kelnaht can only pray Ma’terra will guide him to a solution that brings them all together and keeps Atèn safe from harm.

I reviewed this story when I was happily reporting on the release of the trilogy in one volume, A Triad in Three Acts: The Complete Forester Trilogy
by Blaine D. Arden. There I said…”

“Its outstanding.  Full Circle: Forester Triad Act Three (Tales of the Forest, #3) starts off with first one, then another of the village’s children falling ill.  A heartbreaking scenario, especially true when the village has lost their children in the not too distant past. Then it sweeps up our triad, newly back together but keeping it a secret when Ianys’ daughter falls ill as well.  Yes, another mystery to solve, one so close to the heart for all three lovers that it threatens to tear them apart once more.

Arden makes us feel every bit of the direness of the situation, the pain of the parents, the building anxiety of the village as they wait to see whose children will fall next and the mystery as to where the illness is coming from.  You will be there in the square with them as the fear and anger builds, the hopelessness too.  Its such an incredible story because it also is where all the answers to the triad’s problems will arrive and all the history will be finally revealed.  Really, its one of those page turners I just couldn’t put down once I started.”

But that really didn’t explain the twisting, complicated relationships between Taruif, Kelnaht and Ianys I had come to understand and love (it took 3 stories but I finally arrived at wanting them to be together). Arden display of family dynamics at all levels of functionality, to the extremely poor to the tight knit, carries the reader to emotional highs and lows along with the characters themselves.  I’m not often a fan of menage or M/M/M but here I not only believed in the relationship but hoped for their future together.

Arden also had created a long ancient history and evil that had followed the village through the tales as well.  Its wrapped up here but not without grief and loss that will tear at your heart.  That the evil is rooted in something that you will be able to understand and even momentarily connect with is what helps define this as a 5 star story.  The evil is not a one dimensional being but one of such depth and authenticity that any reader will be able to recognize the pain at the center of it all.  Its makes everything that happens all the more tragic.

There is also a sensuality to the story.  These men love each other, even when one is angry and missing from their triad.  When they flow back together its sexy, sensual, and magic.

I loved this story.  Its was in turn…sad, bitter, sensual, exhilarating, heart-stopping suspenseful and finally full of love and joy.  It pulled everything together in an ending I loved.  I couldn’t and wouldn’t ask for more.

Book cover by Simone is lovely and perfect for the story.

Sales Links




Book Details

ebook, 1st Edition, 140 pages
Published August 15th 2016 by Cayendi Press
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesTales of the Forest #3, The Forester Trilogy #3
CharactersKelnaht, Taruif, Ianys

A MelanieM Review: The Orchard of Flesh (Arcadia Trust #2) by Christian Baines


Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

The Orchard of FleshReylan’s last assignment for The Arcadia Trust brought a rebellious human servant under his roof, and a volatile werewolf lover named Jorgas into his bed, leaving the self-reliant Blood Shade–known to the outside world as vampires–in no hurry to risk his immortality for them again. But when a new terror starts disappearing humans from a bad part of town, Reylan must do everything in his power to keep Sydney’s supernatural factions from the brink of war. Having an ambitious, meddlesome human in the mix is only going to make things worse…especially when that human is Jorgas’s father. Reylan will need all his determination and cunning to keep the peace under his roof, between the night’s power brokers, and in his lover’s troubled heart.

Christian Baines brings us back into the world of Reylan and the Arcadia Trust series by means of a mystery.  Humans are disappearing from a notoriously bad part of town and suspicions are pointing towards a Blood Shade, the preferred term for vampire.  Reylan is asked to investigate and does so because his interests are closely entwined and his curiosity piqued.

By launching us directly back into the seamy undersides of Sydney, Baines gives us the gritty, reality that is sometimes missing from supernatural novels with a romance bent.  As I mentioned in my previous review of the first story, The Beast Without, there’s no sparkle to be found anywhere near these Blood Shades, thank you very much.  And the werewolves?  They are alpha predators to the bone with neither beings exhibiting any guilt or making apologies about who and what they are.  Its sort of refreshing.

In fact Reylan is an asexual being..except for the fact that Jorgas seems to negate that whenever they come in contact to one another and then the heat between them is almost combustible.  Reylan has to ignore the fact that their union is considered an unholy alliance by all factions outside of themselves.  And what is it about this strange and unusual investigation that has so many threads leading back to not only the most powerful Blood Shade in Sydney, but to Jorgas’ father too.  Baines has a veritable tapestry of plot threads here, and he’s woven them skillfully throughout the novel that it carries us along, throughly connected to the characters, the relationships that are evolving and the new situations that are being revealed.

One of the things I love is the idea here of mannequins, an undead servant that is adopted by a Blood Shade.  It is a big deal, and not done lightly.  Brett, from the first novel is Reylan’s mannequin and things are not going smoothly with his transition from human to mannequin.  Baines lets us see what might happen when that occurs.  Here the person is unprepared and just perhaps, maybe even the wrong choice.  Its a fascinating element and I love watching it evolve.

But for all the locations, the mysteries, the grittiness and just the plain, out and out terrific writing, its the characters that stick with you.  I know they have since the first time I met them in The Beast Without.  I had to wait for this one.  And while, yes there is a bit of a cliffhanger, Baines has promised the wait for the third story won’t be as long.

You should read the first book in the series to get all the world building and characters firmly in place before picking up The Orchard of the Flesh.  But as that remains a favorite of mine, I would have recommended that to you as well anyway. Pick them both up and get started today. This is an amazing series full of remarkable characters.  I can’t wait for the third story  now to arrive.

Cover art is quite wonderful and works for the story and character.

Sales Links

Bold Strokes Books



Book Details:

Published August 16th 2016 by Smashwords Edition
SeriesArcadia Trust #2 settingSydney (Australia)

Series: Arcadia Trust:

The Beast Without (Arcadia Trust, #1)
The Orchard of Flesh (Arcadia Trust, #2)

A MelanieM Review: A Triad in Three Acts: The Complete Forester Trilogy (Tales of the Forest #1-3) by Blaine D. Arden


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A Triad in Three Acts“Your Path is muddy, Kelnaht, but don’t think avoiding the puddles will make it easier to travel.”
Kelnaht, a cloud elf, is a truth seeker caught between love and faith, when a murder reveals an illicit affair between two tree elves he desires more than he can admit. Kelnaht’s former lover Ianys once betrayed him, and the shunned forester Taruif is not allowed to talk to anyone but the guide, their spiritual pathfinder.

The guide mentioned puddles, but I envisioned lakes, deep treacherous lakes, and I was drowning.
Then a stripling goes missing from the tribe, and heavy rainfall hides all traces of his whereabouts. With days creeping by without a lead, it’s hard to keep the tribe’s spirits up, more so when Kelnaht’s own future depends on the elders. Taruif has been shunned for almost twenty turns, but now that a possible forester’s apprentice is coming of age, the elders consider reducing his sentence. Taruif could be set free.

“I have great responsibilities, but my path ahead is as foggy and blurred as the path behind me.”
Later, when several children fall ill with more than a summer bug, truth seeker Kelnaht is assigned to investigate. What he finds is deadly and threatens the life of every underage child in the tribe, including Ianys’ daughter Atèn. Then a wounded traveller is found in the forest, left to die after a vicious attack.

“There is always a way.”
Kelnaht, Taruif, and Ianys are meant to be together, but old promises and the decree of the elders prevent them from claiming each other openly at Solstice. Kelnaht can investigate murder and foul play, but he can’t see how he can keep both his lovers without breaking the rules. But if he believes in the guide’s words and trusts his faith in Ma’terra, they will find a way to clear the fog and puddles from their paths.

I read The Forester, the first book in The Tales of the Forest series by Blaine D. Arden when it first came out and promptly  fell in love. Drawn to the story by the lush, incredible cover by Simone’ and then by the tale of fae, a thwarted love and a triad, other elements in these tales drew me in and made me a complete adoring follower of the series.  The second book, Lost and Found: Forester Triad Act Two (Tales of the Forest, #2), just cemented that place in my mind and heart.  Now I got the final book in the trilogy and in a complete volume.  What a joy for me and those who have never read the series. So what were those elements you ask?

One, the use of a mystery or mysteries as a major plot point that Kelnaht, a truth seeker must solve  in each story, that brings out a truth or past histories about himself, or the other elves that he loves.  That would be his former lover Ianys and the shunner forester, Taruif.  Each of which is such an intriguing character that you are as drawn to them as Kelnaht is and these books let you see what it is he finds to love about each. Arden brings out the depths of character, the rage, the grief,  the flaws and you see them as Kelnaht sees them as his is the point of view of the stories.

Kalnaht is also such a mainstay as well as weaver of the tales and the triad here.  A cloud elf, he demonstrates incredible strengths…of character, of magic, and endurance and yet he too has his moments of fragility.  He is just a stunning main character and, for me at least,  the soul of these stories.

But Arden has surrounded Kalnaht with a  richness of culture. His village, his elders and village guide.  Its healers and its children.  They all play a huge part here and the author has imagined them brilliantly.  They live, work, laugh, and to our heartbreak, sometimes die and we feel everything that happens as though it is real.

And that  brings me to the last story in the series.  Its outstanding.  Full Circle: Forester Triad Act Three (Tales of the Forest, #3) starts off with first one, then another of the village’s children falling ill.  A heartbreaking scenario, especially true when the village has lost their children in the not too distant past. Then it sweeps up our triad, newly back together but keeping it a secret when Ianys’ daughter falls ill as well.  Yes, another mystery to solve, one so close to the heart for all three lovers that it threatens to tear them apart once more.

Arden makes us feel every bit of the direness of the situation, the pain of the parents, the building anxiety of the village as they wait to see whose children will fall next and the mystery as to where the illness is coming from.  You will be there in the square with them as the fear and anger builds, the hopelessness too.  Its such an incredible story because it also is where all the answers to the triad’s problems will arrive and all the history will be finally revealed.  Really, its one of those page turners I just couldn’t put down once I started.  I just love this series. Its amazing.

Love stories about fae and  romance?  How about ones with a mystery thrown in as well?  Here is a trilogy you just shouldn’t pass up.  I highly recommend  A Triad in Three Acts: The Complete Forester Trilogy (Tales of the Forest #1-3) by Blaine D. Arden.  All three stories are  amazing.  So are the covers.  Grab this 3 in 1 volume up and prepare to fall in love three times over.

Cover art by Simone is one of the best covers of the year as are all three of the other  covers of the trilogy.

Sales Links




Book Details:

ebook, 1st Edition, 309 pages
Published August 15th 2016 by Cayendi Press
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Tales of the Forest #1-3, The Forester Trilogy #1-3
CharactersKelnaht, Taruif, Ianys

The ForesterLost and FoundFull Circle


A MelanieM Review: Beta Test (#gaymers #2) by Annabeth Albert


Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Beta TestPlayer vs. Player. Fight!

Brilliant graphic designer Ravi Tandel is ahead of the game—he’s just been asked to present a top secret project at a huge conference in Seattle. All systems are go…until he learns his buttoned-up office nemesis is coming along for the ride.

Tristan Jones isn’t really the gamer type, but he knows the back end of the video game business inside out. Together, he and Ravi will give an awesome presentation. If they survive the cross-country trip first.

Tossed together in close quarters, Ravi’s shocked to see Tristan’s sexy, softer side emerge from such a conservative shell. He’s less shocked to learn his handsome colleague’s prominent family would never support an out-and-proud son. But Ravi didn’t struggle through his own coming out to hide who he is now. To be together, Tristan will have to push past his fear and ultimately decide: Does he want a future with Ravi? Or is it game over before they’ve even begun?

A rock solid fan of Annabeth Albert, the first story in this series, Status Update. also made me one of the series.  It couldn’t be helped really.  The series theme was a hook.  Gaymers?  You bet.  Plus Albert then went on to delight/frustrate me by creating a game that was both real enough that I could believe in it yet couldn’t download it and play the heck out of it.  That would be the popular videogame, Space Villager.  So I couldn’t wait to see where the author was going to take this series, and potentially, the game next.  My answer was Beta Test, a story I loved almost as much as the 5 star story that preceded it.  It was only a tiny smidge less, barely noticeable.

Geoarchaeologist Noah Walters and video game designer Adrian Gottlieb of Status Update are a hard act to follow-they had dogs (and we run into them again here) but once again Albert creates two layered, flawed and absolutely interesting men to connect with.   We meet both of them on their first day in the employee conference room at Space Villager.  And two more difference men upon appearance you couldn’t ask for.  Ravi is gorgeous, outgoing, graphic designer…so vibrant he leaps from the page.  Tristan is all tightness, awkwardness personified, and walled in.  The buttons on his shirt should probably go over his head he’s so buttoned up.  Yet, he’s also so appealing in his need to be there and his fears are understandable even if they don’t show to his colleagues.  The fact that we know these two will find each other starts the anticipation building.  Which brings up a plus for me.

I’m a huge fan of the slow ride to romance and love which Annabeth Albert does so well.  No slam bam thank you sir…which is fine too btw.  But I love the long path to relationships, the figuring things out, the slip-ups, the two steps (or more) back for every one going forward.  And yes, there’s plenty of that here, with both mens backgrounds and families. In the first book, and again here, its a road trip that serves to cement the men together.  Albert has either been to these places (most likely), done her research or both and its shows.  Wait ’til you visit Weed with Ravi and Tristan!  But its so much more. Its the game, its the pulling together for the show, and other employees…who also feel as real as everything else in this outstanding story.

My only complaint?  Annabeth Albert is making me wait for the next story in the series!  I want more.  More of these couples.  More of Space Villager.  More most certainly of this terrific writer whose stories flow so effortlessly from page 1 to the end, keeping me captivated, hooked on the couple and game right up until the last period.

Love contemporary romance?  Annabeth Albert?  Any combination of those?  Pick this and the story that starts the series up.  I love them and highly recommend them both.

Cover is terrific and perfect for the story.

Sales Links:   | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 178 pages
Published May 30th 2016 by Carina Press
Original TitleBeta Test
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series #gaymers 

A MelanieM Review: A King and a Pawn (Leader Murders #3) by Liv Olteano


Rating:  4.75 stars out of 5

A King and A PawnBert Cooper’s life used to be great, until his sister turned out to be a traitor. Now Bert feels the whole pack looks on him with doubt and suspicion. To prove his loyalty, he volunteers to be the first ambassador at Fey Court, gathering information to finally solve the Leader Murders and punish those plotting against the Council and community. At least, that was the plan….

When Bert meets Sir William Matthew Sims, Court Interrogator, and one hell of a sexy man, life becomes a balancing act. And when the Fey King is assassinated, things become really messy.

Pack politics, fey politics, treason, suspicions of treason…. Bert has to choose between being ruled by his fears or standing up for what—and who—he believes in. And it might just break his heart.

Liv Olteano’s Leader Murders series caught my eye from the first book, A Tooth For a Fang (Leader Murders #1) with its unusual take on the mate bond and its the potential for abuse normally not mentioned in other shifter fiction.  The author runs this theme throughout the two books that follow, throwing in multiple supernatural beings, political plotting and of course, murder mysteries that need to be solved all the way to the end. In each story  there’s a major couple linked heavily to each other in a memorable way.  In the second story A Counselor Among Wolves (Leader Murders #2), we ended with Bert Cooper, the somewhat pudgy beta to the wolf Alpha Weiss devastated by a betrayal and trying to deal with the consequences.  A King and a Pawn (Leader Murders #3)  picks up immediately after the events have taken place.

Bert is one of those characters readers flock to emotionally like geese to water.  He’s vulnerable, full of self doubts, loving, loyal, capable of being so much more than he thinks he is.  He’s overweight but instead of feeling bad about himself, he accepts it.  He likes it in fact…because in truth he will never give up his sweets or the fact the he adores cooking.  The model on the cover?  A perfect representation of Bert Cooper…chef, beta, manny, and werewolf.  Trust me there is no way not to fall in love with this character.  He’s fully fleshed out, anxieties included and watching him fall in love and find his strengths here is such a joy I intend to sit back and read it all over again.

Sir William Matthew Sims?  The Fey Court Interrogator?  Another gem of a character, along the lines of a hard diamond.  The history Olteano has created here for the Fey and the families is nothing short of nightmarish.  And believable as narrated by Will to Bert.  From their initial meeting to all the revelations about Will’s character and background…well, its a stunner.  And I never enjoyed anything more. For Will and Bert to become a couple requires them to overcome not just a Mount Everest of distrust but battles at court and more things then I  can go into here without making some major spoilage noise.  But the storylines are many and rich, you’ll never be bored and there is a sideline with families that hooked me completely.  I really hope Olteano considers revisiting this world at some time to check in on all the couples here to see how they are progressing.

And yes, all the other couples make appearances here as do minor secondary characters.  Plot lines get tied up,  the fat lady sings, true love wins out, and the ending is everything I hoped for and more.  Really I adored this book and series.  If you love shifters, or even if you just love romance, you will too.

Need a new series?  Love romance?  This isn’t a stand alone…so read all three!  I highly recommend them all.  But this is by far my favorite.  Oh, Bert Cooper!  How could Will not fall in love with you!

Cover art by Angsty G is absolute perfection.  Rarely do I say that when it has characters on it but Angsty G’s idea for Bert and Will mesh completely with mine and the story’s.  Great job.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 234 pages
Published June 17th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 163477342X (ISBN13: 9781634773423)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series: Leader Murders  – add to Goodreads here