A MelanieM Review: Bitten by Desire (Regent’s Park Pack #3) by Annabelle Jacobs

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Two lovers from rival packs. Have they come together only to be forced apart? 

Alec Knight, a beta in the Regent’s Park pack, guards his heart carefully. Ghosts from his past keep him alone and angry, any hope of a relationship impossible while guilt from the pack wars still haunts him. With the anniversary drawing near, Alec needs a distraction.

As a lowly member of the Primrose Hill pack, Mark Appleton isn’t used to having his alpha’s attention. Lately he’s had more than his fair share, and not for the right reasons. Despite growing suspicions that all is not well, Mark tries hard to do better, but constant criticism leaves him desperate for a stress outlet.

Sex is a good way for shifters to let off steam, and while their packs attack each other with accusations and lies, Alec and Mark work out their frustrations in bed. Pillow talk and shared secrets lead to a closeness neither was expecting, but when pack relations reach an all-time low, any future for them seems out of the question.

If they want to be together, they’ll have to go against their alphas’ wishes—except Alec won’t and Mark can’t.

Bitten by Desire, the third in the Regent’s Park Pack by Annabelle Jacobs, is my favorite by far.  That’s saying a lot because I’ve loved them all.  But these two shifters, Alec Knight of the R Pack and Mark Appleton of the PR Pack really got to me.

First, there’s the Romeo and Juliet aspect of their situation or in this case Romeo and Jules as their two packs are at war.  Mark has already been a victim of his Alpha’s heinous behavior and need to win at any cost, putting Mark at forefront of a Council investigation into both pack’s recent actions. It also brought him to Alec’s attention as part of the storyline in Bitten By Design (Regent’s Park Pack, #2).  In Bitten by Desire, the pull Mark and Alec feel towards each other intensifies as Alec is unable to stay away from Mark, no matter the consequences.

Jacobs gives us both shifter’s perspectives, letting us feel the danger of the situation and the inevitability that drives them forward…yes, it’s the mate bond already forming.  It’s primal, sexual, and so very hot!  Alec also has an angst filled past that’s haunting him, keeping him in an unsettled state, along with his uncertain feelings for Mark and the stress of the Council’s investigation.  The author’s writing drops us into the hearts and minds of these men, letting us feel the push/pull of the mating bond as it strengthens…and it’s every bit as sexy and wild as it sounds.

Plus yes, there’s the fact that Mark’s Alpha is plotting against the R Pack.  Annabeth Jacobs continually ramps up the suspense and the danger around Mark and those around him the entire story, keeping the readers right on the edge.  This was a successful element here and my only disappointment was the sentences doled out at the end.  For me, I thought the Council was too light handed considering what Howell and his Betas had done.  But perhaps that was just me. Or maybe there’s more to come.  I hope so.  I love this series and for me Bitten By Desire is one of the best.  The writing is excellent, the romance primal, hot and shifter perfect,  and the storyline full of suspense and happy endings!   For the fullest reading pleasure, start with the first story, Bitten By Mistake and work your way to Bitten By Desire!  I highly recommend them all.

Cover Design: Natasha Snow is nice and hot.  But I’d like a little more detail.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Published October 12th 2017
Edition Language English

Bitten By Mistake (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK

Bitten By Design (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK

Bitten By Desire (Book #3)

A MelanieM Review: Bull (Brawlers #3) by J.M. Dabney

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Welcome to Brawlers Bar…

They said men only get better with age, distinguished and all that BS, but Archer “Bulletproof” Woods hadn’t gotten better. At fifty-six he was still as much an asshole as he’d been in his twenties and thirties, hell, maybe he was worse. Being a bouncer at a bar called Brawlers suited him just fine and he even tolerated the rest of the crew who’d taken up residence in his house when they’d had nowhere else to go. He was big, growly and homely that kept the parade of men passing through Brawlers at arm’s length for the past decade. One night changed all that.

What he’d thought was happily ever after turned into a nearly five year nightmare. Gregory Charles appeared to have it all, a successful business, sophistication, and a perfect marriage. His friend and best employee, Landon, begged him to come out to a friend’s bar to celebrate Landon’s anniversary. What could it hurt? A night without contemplating the hell that would come down on him the moment he served his husband with divorce papers would do him good. That is until he met the brooding older man staring into a whiskey straight ignoring everyone around him.

Watching for trouble was his job and Gregory screamed mistake as soon as the long, lean and handsome man sat down beside him. But he also knew when someone was in over their head and Gregory needed someone to watch his back. That someone was Bull, only time would tell if he’d have to fight Gregory as much as the man after him.

Bull‘s story is the one I’ve been waiting for.  I’ve love the huge, hulking father figure ever since I became aware of the Brawlers and their extended family.  It’s Bull and his house whose been the home and focal point of so many of these stories.  And it’s been Bull who’s been such a steadying influence on those around him when everything felt like it was being destroyed for them.  Yet Bull was ever lonely, alpha among alphas, and you wanted to get the know the person called Bull.  In Bull (Brawlers #3) by J.M. Dabney I finally got that story.

The solitary man isn’t the one I was prepared to find.  He’s hardly anywhere close to the men he houses, although he  clearly understands them and the violence that drives them.  Instead Dabney gives us a man full of pain and loneliness, hating it, yet perhaps thinking that his time for something more has passed him by because of his age.  The sadness is overwhelming.  Then Gregory appears at Brawlers, helping to  celebrate Landon’s anniversary and a connection is made that changes everything.

Gregory is a complicated character (they all are here).  Explaining more about Gregory actually gives away too much of the the plot for my comfort, however, let’s just say trying to serve divorce papers to a husband isn’t always the easiest thing when the husband refuses to accept them.  This is a hurt/comfort story and deals with issues of domestic violence and control.

Bull’s situation (he’s divorced with a grown child he hasn’t seen in awhile) plus his age all determines the manner in which he views his actions towards Gregory and any possibility of a relationship.  Gregory’s own demons also need to be dealt with by Gregory himself and others.  Broken, bruised men are the heart of most of Dabney’s stories.  For most, life has made them hard and violent, but for some, it’s left it’s marks in other ways.

The relationship dynamics here make any romance unsure and slow as it should be.  I loved the struggle and the carefulness taken to ensure more pain wasn’t inflicted.   I like that there is an awareness of the age issue, it’s addressed, and they move forward. Was it a little rushed towards the end?  Perhaps, but the whole is darn near perfect.

I think Bull is one of my favorite Brawler books of the series.  Of course, I do love the whole series and the one that follows it.  I have them all listed below.  Check them all out and check them off as I review them.  I highly recommend them all.

Cover design by Winterheart Designs is perfect for Bull, how I love these covers.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 199 pages
Published May 16th 2017 by Hostile Whispers Press, LLC (first published 2017)
ASINB06Y2GHQPH
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBrawlers #3

  • Executioners – third series

A MelanieM Review: Psycho (Brawlers, #2) by J.M. Dabney

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

Welcome to Brawlers Bar…

Life wasn’t easy when you were certifiable, Gerald “Psycho” Clemons lived on the fringes of society. Five years he hadn’t thought twice about riding with a group who saw most laws as flexible. When the leader of the group turned crazier than Psycho, he stepped in and made the man pay. He’d never been rewarded for his temper before, yet that’s what happened when he earned a permanent place and a job as a bouncer. Everyone walked a wide circle around him, and he liked it that way. One look from his cold black eyes and he had people backing up. Then he met a man who had to be crazier than him.

Decadence Bakery was Ben Morin’s dream come true, and he loved it, but he grew tired of his lonely existence. Six months earlier he’d turned on the open sign and hopefully changed his life for the better. Ben loved his small cottage in the middle of nowhere even with the 3 a.m. rumbling of motorcycles and loud music at the farm next door. Although one thing he didn’t love, was his new hobby of watching one of the terrifying men next door. What could a little harmless peek now and then hurt?

Sweet and older wasn’t his type, but Psycho couldn’t deny the need to possess the beautiful baker. It was stronger than even the insanity he barely kept at bay, could he have a man who looked passed it or would Ben run like all the rest?

J.M. Dabney’s explorations of the strange, sometimes twisted road to love between men who’ve been abused, hardened by life and their soulmates continues with Psycho.  The second story in the Brawler‘s series (see all connected series below), Psycho is employed at the Brawlers bar/club as one of their security men.  He does whatever it takes to keep the bar running smooth and it’s employees safe.  He’s also is one of those men barely under control at any given moment, only his boss Elijah, who seems to have ‘adopted’ him, easily brings Psycho back from the edge.

Dabney gives Psycho a profoundly disturbing, yet I suspect intentionally vague backhistory.  The author gives us just enough elements of Psycho’s background and upbringing if you can call it that to make one nauseous, letting the reader’s mind fill in the horrific blanks of how that could traumatize any child that survived it.  Yes, the name Psycho certainly fits the man.  It also makes his lack of socialization, verbal skills, and inability to recognize all the normal group/personal interactions and their subtleties understandable. It’s just all beyond him, and the rage that’s constantly with him is one consequence of that.

Here’s a brute whose actions and personality seem simple yet the truth is he’s anything but.  I loved that about this story (and series).  Dabney’s ability to create such brutalized, abused men, yet let us see beyond the surface into their backhistory into the trauma that made them, and the way in which they still find the person that accepts who they are,  despite their violence and still with the capacity for love.  Here Psycho’s man is Ben the baker.

Ben Morin isn’t quite the norm here.  Yes, he’s gotten out of a relationship and there will be some wonderful growth for him as a character, surprising growth.  Yet Ben, intelligent, accepting, loving Ben (with a little help), finds a new circle of friends and a home within the Brawlers circle and love, eventually, with Psycho.  There’s also an ex involved in a surprising thread here, but I won’t reveal who it is  and how it comes into play.  I was astonished myself how much I liked this aspect of the story.  And I admit I must have brushed over this when I came across it in the Executioners books.  Huh.  But watching these two get together is such a pleasure that sometimes I found myself just laughing out loud over the sheer joy and fun that was involved here.

Reading Psycho (Brawlers, #2) by J.M. Dabney was such a wild, wonderful experience!  I laughed so hard at places, wanted to cry over the abuse that made Psycho the man that he is, fanned myself a lot over the sexy scenes and was just so beyond happy at the HEA for all involved.  When it comes to a J.M. Dabney story, you get a village. By that I mean, all your beloved characters are going to make appearances, which is great by me.  I’m working myself backwards in the series but you don’t have to.  I’ve laid them all out for you below.  It certainly helps to know who everyone is because not only do they make appearances in each other’s stories and their relationships have matured (as they have) as the series advance.  The town of Powers, Georgia also undergoes a dramatic transformation from series one Twirled World Ink  to series three Executioners. So no, you really can’t call any of them standalones.  What I do call them is highly recommended.  Getting reading now!

Now onto Bull (Brawlers, #3), review coming soon.

Cover art by Winterheart Designs is terrific.  I just love the covers for this series, this one included.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 119 pages
Published April 18th 2017 by Hostile Whispers Press, LLC (first published 2017)
ASINB06XV7TLTX
Edition Language English
SeriesBrawlers #2 setting Georgia (United States)

  • Executioners – third series

A MelanieM Review: Crave (Brawlers #1) by J.M. Dabney

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Welcome to Brawlers Bar…

A quick pit stop for a comfortable bed to sleep turned into an eight-year stay. Vincent “Crave” Butler hit the road the day after college graduation and hadn’t looked behind him since. He’d swore to never stop moving, but the night he drove into Powers, Georgia changed the course of his life. He’d hit a bar called Brawlers with its rundown exterior and pride flag beside the door, the next day he had a job. Second in command to the Head of Brawler security, Crave found the place he didn’t have to run from. No one would call Crave sane. He lived to make people as uncomfortable as possible just for his own twisted amusement. That all changed when a certain cute as fuck bartender walked in for an interview.

No one wanted Twitch Harrison around. He was small, femme and annoying on his best days, downright abhorrent on his bad ones. When college turned out to be a no-go, and the parents canceled his credit cards he’d needed a job. Walking into Brawlers, the roughest gay bar in his hometown, was like a game of pick the thing that didn’t belong—him. The two owners, Scary and Tank, hired him on and four years later he was still that thing that didn’t belong. No one made it more apparent than bouncer Crave Butler who didn’t hide the fact he barely tolerated Twitch’s presence.

Crave threatened every man who thought they’d get the pretty Twitch but would Twitch rather be in their beds than his? Only one way to find out and he hoped Twitch was ready for forever because that’s what Crave was determined to have.

Crave (Brawlers #1) marks the new start of my backwards journey towards the starting point of all of J.M Dabney’s interlocking series. I say new because (you all know I can start at the most awkward moments in a series) I actually found this author through their first story in their latest series The Executioners and that story blew me away.  That was Ghost, a remarkable introduction to the town of Powers, Georgia that was swiftly followed by the equally 5-star novel Joker (Executioners #2).  Yes, I was well hooked by the author, the town, and the backhistory of the people and couples I was meeting that I only had bits and pieces of.  Then I find out there’s not one but two preceding series that give me all the back stories and history I could want.  Be still my heart.  So here we go backward one series, one book at the time.

Brawlers is a bar/club and each story in the series is named after a guy who works there and forms a part of the Brawler family (note: Executioners is a band that plays in the club). J.M Dabney specializes in brutal, damaged men, people whose lives have been full of trauma and ugliness.  Their bodies often reflect the scars their lives have left on them emotionally and mentally.  Some are self abusers (cutters) and others have sealed themselves off, preferring isolation to emotional pain.  Crave is one of the huge, rough, scary ones.  Hired as a bouncer, he’s brutal, violent, loves to fight, and has his reasons to be this way.  The author is clear on this.  Her characters aren’t thugs but men twisted and harmed by life, redeemable under the facade. Unable to communicate like most people, when he does say anything, it’s with no filters and guaranteed to start a fight.  It’s very safe way to stay behind walls but it makes it hard when there’s someone you want to protect as Crave finds out with Twitch.

Twitch is tiny, complicated and in pain.  I fell in love with this character immediately. He telegraphs both his vulnerability and the utter devastation he feels. He’s trying in so many ways to work through the damage done to him by his upbringing and more. Twitch has found the unlikeliest of homes and support at Brawlers if his past will leave him alone.

Dabney takes these most unlikely of mates, brings them together in somewhat combustible circumstances (a bar like Brawlers  where fights are common and the local police are corrupt at this point in the series) and makes it believable and heart wrenching.  Both men damaged in very different ways and yet looking for real love and stability.  Crave is someone who not only know what those scars are on Twink’s wrists and sides, but recognizes what they stand for.  He understands the dark places he see in Twitch because he has them as well.   This is not an easy romance.  It can’t be with characters like these and surrounded by others just as broken or out of the norm as they are.  There are fights, misunderstandings, pain galore.

I also found it fascinating because as the first story in the second series, many of the elements that make Ghost and Joker so great are being laid down here, so I’m watching the evolution of a town and “family”,  one I’m already familiar with as I started with a present time novel.  So I’m getting a time capsule effect here.

J.M Dabney has three connected series. Twirled World Ink (a tattoo shop) which is the first series which spun off into Brawlers the bar/club and now into Executioners which is the band who plays at Brawlers.  All the characters appear in all the stories so it helps to read all the books. I see the potential for another here after the Executioners with a Security Company. Right now each has four books each.  I’ll be reviewing them all.  It’s quite the universe!  The stories are gripping, the sex is hot and the characters are unforgettable.

If you love your hurt/comfort, your damaged men looking for love, you will love this story, this series and this author.  Follow along as I lead you through the books and loves of the men of the connected series of J.M Dabney!

Cover art is perfect for Crave.  Love it.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 129 pages
Published March 21st 2017 by Hostile Whispers Press, LLC
  • Executioners – third series

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Joker (Executioners #2) by J.M. Dabney

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Rating:   5 Stars out of 5

Joker, what a misnomer, but Jackson Webb’s friends were idiots. He’d joined Executioners almost three years earlier after the lead singer King caught him playing his guitar behind his garage. It broke up the monotony of his life, but once he got bored he’d move on to another distraction. He wasn’t nice. He sure as hell wasn’t friendly. He was what he was, his friends handled his attitude and standoffish nature just fine. At thirty-eight he was pretty sure he was too stuck in his way to change shit now.

Demetri “Dem” Urban was settling into a new life in the middle of nowhere. Okay, he was hiding from everywhere in a kitchen as far removed from his five-star kitchen back in New York. Gideon invited him to stay with him and his wife for awhile just until he could get everything back on track. He didn’t see it happening, but he had to admit the scenery wasn’t bad even if the man had the personality of a rabid, man-eating bear. Dem did like a challenge and that fit Joker Webb perfectly.

My first sighting of Joker was in Ghost (Executioners, #1), a deeply moving story that served as my first introduction to D.M. Dabney and that author’s interlocking series (Twirled World Ink, Brawlers and Executioners and hopefully more).  Of course, I started with the most recent in the series which has turned out a fascinating, fortuitous move and I’m now moving backwards to the beginning series.  And Joker aka Jackson Webb has appeared everywhere, a dark, violent presence, sometimes just a fleeting reference, sometimes more as a participant in a rescue or beatdown, but Joker has been an enigmatic thread running through three series who now when ready in Dabney’s mind, explodes into the cacophony that is his heartrending, beautiful and oh so memorable story.

Forewarning.  If you’ve read Ghost, which is where I fell in love with Joker, you knew peeling back the edges of Joker’s armor would be like staring into the abyss.  His past is stomach churning and even though the abuse and descriptions of what happened to him is handled “off stage” , there is no space for your mind and heart to run from his scars…physical, mental, emotional that are revealed here.  They feel intense, all too real, and full of suffering of the unimaginable kind.  For some of you, these are triggers and you should be aware of the impact they will have.  Even if they aren’t triggers, prepared to have the abuse that Jackson suffered stay with you  long after the story is over, which is as it should be I suppose.

Jackson is the town vigilante/Paladin and his friends’ worry now that Harper has found love, happiness and safety with Ghost. Jackson aka Joker is still on his mission to protect and deliver his own forms of justice to those thugs/bullies in town who have been under the protection of the old corrupt (and now dead) Sheriff.  Given that mission it’s no surprise that he’s often found in one of the jail cells,  with his friends called to bail him out.  Outside of jail, his little dog Killer is his constant companion and yes, unacknowledged therapy dog.  He’s violent, untouchable, moody, and broken.  Yet everything about him shouts need.  I wanted his story from the minute I met him in Ghost.  And love him completely.

Then comes Dem, a man from a loving home who sets his eyes on Joker, knows that he and that broken man are somehow ‘meant’ for each other like his mom and dad. Dem is unique. Some see him as broken too. Dem is also a character you come across in Ghost, but here Dem becomes a complete person.  I loved his parents, the background Dabney supplies for him and his reasons for being in this small town. He’s pretty easy to fall in love with himself.   In the book, it all makes perfect sense as do the characters.  Dabney’s characterizations and writing is so good, so perfect for the themes the author chose and the paths the story needs to take, that all I could do is be pulled in, totally absorbed by the drama and evolving relationships.

Dem’s pursuit of Joker shakes the man to his emotional and mental foundation.  It’s everything he fears and has no reason to understand.  Love. J.M. Dabney creates two of the most perfect, broken, believable characters and then takes us on their journey towards a love only they can find with each other, and a  small dog named Killer.  At times, your heart will break over the blackness and evil suffered, sometimes your breath will catch with hope as they get close at times a relationship only to see it crash under the weight of the past and reality, and finally  your heart gets to soar with laughter and love at what the author has wrought out of darkness and pain.

How I love Joker (Executioners #2) by J.M. Dabney and the entire series.  I highly recommend it and Ghost.  Start with Ghost and then read Joker.  And look for all my reviews of the Twirled World Ink, and Brawlers series by J.M. Dabney to come.  I’ll be covering them all and the evolution of a universe.

Cover Design: Winterheart Design.  I think the cover captures Joker perfectly.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Published August 29th 2017
Edition LanguageEnglish
URL https://www.jmdabneyauthor.com/executioners
setting Georgia (United States)

Series Executioners:

Review Tour and Giveaway for Joker (Executioners #2) by JM Dabney

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 38,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Winterheart Design
 
Executioners Series
 
Ghost (Book #1) – Amazon US | Amazon UK 
 
Blurb


Joker, what a misnomer, but Jackson Webb’s friends were idiots. He’d joined Executioners almost three years earlier after the lead singer King caught him playing his guitar behind his garage. It broke up the monotony of his life, but once he got bored, he’d move on to another distraction. He wasn’t nice. He sure as hell wasn’t friendly. He was what he was, his friends handled his attitude and standoffish nature just fine. At thirty-eight he was pretty sure he was too stuck in his ways to change shit now.

Demetri “Dem” Urban was settling into a new life in the middle of nowhere. Okay, he was hiding from everyone in a kitchen as far removed from his five-star kitchen back in New York as he could get. Gideon invited him to stay with him and his wife for a while just until he could get everything back on track. He didn’t see it happening, but he had to admit the scenery wasn’t bad even if the man had the personality of a rabid, man-eating bear. Dem did like a challenge and that fit Joker Webb perfectly.

Author’s Note: This story contains scenes of a violent nature, mentions of rape and torture (All off page from characters pasts) and severe abuse. If you, as a reader, find this objectionable or triggering in any way, you can skip this story without losing the transition to the next book

 

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 5 star Review here.

October 4 – Dog-Eared Daydreams
 

Author Bio

J.M. Dabney is a multi-genre author who writes mainly LGBT romance and fiction. She lives with a constant diverse cast of characters in her head. No matter their size, shape, race, etc. she lives for one purpose alone, and that’s to make sure she does them justice and give them the happily ever after they deserve. J.M. is dysfunction at its finest and she makes sure her characters are a beautiful kaleidoscope of crazy. There is nothing more she wants from telling her stories than to show that no matter the package the characters come in or the damage their pasts have done, that love is love. That normal is never normal and sometimes the so-called broken can still be amazing.

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A MelanieM Review: Murder and Mayhem (Murder and Mayhem #1) by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Dead women tell no tales.

Former cat burglar Rook Stevens stole many a priceless thing in the past, but he’s never been accused of taking a life—until now. It was one thing to find a former associate inside Potter’s Field, his pop culture memorabilia shop, but quite another to stumble across her dead body.

Detective Dante Montoya thought he’d never see Rook Stevens again—not after his former partner’d falsified evidence to entrap the jewelry thief and Stevens walked off scot-free. So when he tackled a fleeing murder suspect, Dante was shocked to discover the blood-covered man was none other than the thief he’d fought to put in prison and who still made his blood sing.

Rook is determined to shake loose the murder charge against him, even if it means putting distance between him and the rugged Cuban-Mexican detective who brought him down. If one dead con artist wasn’t bad enough, others soon follow, and as the bodies pile up around Rook’s feet, he’s forced to reach out to the last man he’d expect to believe in his innocence—and the only man who’s ever gotten under Rook’s skin.

With Murder and Mayhem, Rhys Ford rolls out another great series and another set of spectacular characters.  With storythreads convoluted as hell, and characters with pasts as twisted and hard to untie as wet sailor knots,  this is a story you just need to dive into and enjoy for the sexy, wild knuckle ride it is.

Starting with the fascinating character of Rook Martin, a high class thief trying to go straight, Rook has a background as startling as any you’ve might have come by.  I could go into it here by why spoil the pleasures that Ford has in store for the reader and Dante Montoya as he investigates Rook Martin’s background and stumbles into one shock after another.

So many pleasures here.  The characterizations are outstanding.  From the Cuban-Mexican detective Dante Montoya and his Uncle Manny, who I adore, his ginger haired partner Harry,  to the almost tangible heat that builds up between Rook and Dante, pulling them closer and closer until it ignites off the page.  And all the while a killer is loose, stalking a prey across the pages.  And the killer’s identity will keep you guessing right up until the reveal.

This is a marvel of a story.  I loved every minute of it.  The writing is smooth, action packed, vivid and everything I would want (and have come to expect from Rhys Ford, a go to author for me).  Grab this up and get reading.  You’re going to love it.

Cover art by Reece Notley is wonderful and works for the character of the detective

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press  on sale now for $0.99| Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 236 pages
Published June 5th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
Original TitleMurder and Mayhem
ISBN 1634762231 (ISBN13: 9781634762236)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Murder and Mayhem #1
CharactersRook Stevens, Dante Montoya settingCalifornia (United States)

Literary AwardsLambda Literary Award Nominee for Gay Mystery (2016)

A MelanieM Pre-Release Review: The Heart of the Lost Star (Tales of the High Court #3) by Megan Derr

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Kamir is on the verge of losing everything. Knowing full well he can’t meet the ultimatum his parents have issued, he instead finally puts in motion his plans to live completely independent of them. His plans are interrupted, however, by the unexpected return of his despised ex-husband—and thrown even further into upheaval when he ends up comforting the man he’s secretly loved for years.

Jader may not know where he comes from, but he knows where he belongs and what he wants—until he helps rescue some stranded Bentan travelers, one of whom look almost exactly like Jader, throwing his life and everything he thought he knew into tumult. Scared and overwhelmed, Jader flees—and lands unexpectedly in the arms of a man he’s always seen, but never really noticed.

Megan Derr is one of my favorite fantasy authors.  Her Lost Gods series remain at the top of my list of books and series to recommend.  Derr continues to demonstrate why I love her so with series and books like Tales of the High Court and The Heart of the Lost Star, the third story in the series.

Derr has built such an incredible universe through three stories now, threading through more mythology, cultural facts and world geography in each one, enriching each stories foundation, and enlarging our knowledge of the world these characters live in.  Even of the characters themselves.  Here gender isn’t assigned by physiology but chosen by the child when they feel  comfortable enough to choose.  And no parent has the right to force the child to live otherwise.  So Kamir, a male, can bear children, with his own twins of age to choose their own gender and it’s a lovely easy fact of life.

What’s not so easy is how they were born, and Kamir’s ex-husband’s treatment of Kamir and the children.  That is an element here that’s unfortunately too familiar even within a fantasy setting.  But Derr has created in Kamir a truly remarkable character, vulnerable, yet strong in his perseverance, graceful and kind.  Trust me, you’ll fall under Kamir’s spell just as Jader does.  Kamir has a complicated life, one he’s trying to uncomplicate himself, although love has a way of throwing in one more unexpected entanglement.  The same goes for Jader, an adopted Islander who’s now risen to a top position within the Kingdom.  Last thing he expects is his attraction to Kamir and his children, then events happen that throws Jader into turmoil…and more complications ensue for all.

At times this will seem like separate stories, one for Jader who is undergoing his own journey, one for Kamir who is fighting his own battles, and then one for them as a couple. All three stories are emotionally tumultuous, fraught with danger and suspense for each individual and the couple, and yet so full of love, especially towards the end, when it all pays off.  It’s full of adventure, high court politics (never a good thing), and passion.  In other words, a stunning great tale!

And yes we see something of the couples from the other stories as well, a trend I hope will continue because I want to see more of Kamir and Jader too.

If you can’t tell by now this is a book and series I highly recommend.  The writing is fluid and dynamic!  The characters memorable and the situations charged full of action and emotion.  I can’t wait for the next book to appear.  Neither will you once you get started!  Enjoy!

Cover art by JohnCoulthart.com  Love the covers.  It brands the series and works for the story.

Pre sales link:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon to come

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: August 23rd 2017 by Less Than Three
ISBN 1684310601 (ISBN13: 9781684310609)
Edition Language English
Series: Tales of the High Court  (add to Goodreads)

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Manny Get Your Guy (The Mannies #2) by Amy Lane

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Starting over and falling in love.

Tino Robbins’s sister, Nica, and her husband, Jacob, are expecting their fifth child. Fortunately, Nica’s best friend, Taylor Cochran, is back in town, released from PT and in need of a job.

After years in the service and recovering from grave injury, Taylor has grown a lot from the callow troublemaker he’d been in high school. Now he’s hoping for a fresh start with Nica and her family.

Jacob’s cousin Brandon lives above the garage and thinks “Taylor the manny” is a bad idea. Taylor might be great at protecting civilians from a zombie apocalypse, but is he any good with kids?

Turns out, Taylor’s a natural. As he tries to fit in, using common sense and dry wit, Brandon realizes that Taylor doesn’t just love their family—he’s desperate to be part of it. And just like that, Brandon wants Taylor to be part of his future.

Manny Get Your Guy (The Mannies #2) by Amy Lane is a sweet, heartwarming romance.  I’m just in love with this series!  The first, The Virgin Manny (The Mannies #1), with Channing Lowell and Tino Robbins gave us the foundation families and characters with Tino as the original Manny.  It was a terrific story but I have to admit I loved this one better.  Taylor Cochran was a shallow, sort of bad guy in that story.  Here in Manny Get Your Guy Tay gets his redemption, a new family, and a HEA love.  Yep, I’m all behind that.  That’s Tay on the cover with one of the Nica brood and it’s a perfect representation.  

Taylor’s horrible upbringing, his deep friendship with Nica, his issues with his sexuality and his injuries while in the service are all brought up and inspected here.  We see what made Taylor act the way he did in the first story and the  growth he shows here.  It’s an incredible range of character development and it works to not only bring the reader closer to Tay but also to make us see just how badly he needs the family slowly forming around him.

Brandon, with his snap judgements, actually was harder for me to like, funnily enough.  It wasn’t until he got over them and decided that Taylor was ok with with children that I started to connect with Brandon as well.

The children here are a real plus!  They are genuine, funny, and their interactions with Taylor made me laugh and sometimes cry.  Amy Lane does this family thing so well, pulling at our hearts with so  many elements in play, children, family, romance and more.  It all works.

It also makes me wonder where the series will go next.  Goodness knows Nica has enough children for 4 mannies.  I can hardly wait for book three.

I highly recommend Manny Get Your Guy.  Its heartwarming, tender, well-written and wonderful.  That cover says it all.

Cover art by Paul Richmond.  This has to be one of my favorite covers. As the most famous nanny in the world would say ” Practically Perfect in every way.”

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 236 pages
Expected publication: July 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635336474
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Mannies #2

A MelanieM Recent Release Review: Hawaiian Ginger (The Hawaiians #4) by Meg Amor

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Zane Andrews, a striking redhead and severely deaf dancer, has a love of pretty aloha dresses and girly feminine things. He comes from a poor, and extremely sheltered, cultish background. When he and Danny connect after the winning tango, things heat up quickly. But what about Zane’s relationship with Kaleho? Guilt eats at him and he wonders what he’s doing.

Danny’s a fourth-generation Hawaiian Big Islander, from the wealthy Lucerno ranching family. He’s a dark-haired, smoldering mix of Portuguese male and Argentine sensuality who was fighting his attraction to Zane. But even he can’t deny where his heart has taken him.

When Zane decides to face Kaleho, Danny disappears to Las Vegas. Zane’s worried he’s gone back to his old, glamorous life he had with Paolo. Has he lost Danny?

Zane’s first time on a plane to Vegas away from Hawai’i overwhelms him. And what if Danny rejects him? Then Zane’s past catches up with him. His abusive birth parents sue Danny and his adopted family, the Masterson-Mahikoas, sending everyone into turmoil.

Can they finally heal from the past abuse of dysfunctional family relationships? Will Danny and Zane be able to accept each other’s backgrounds, insecurities, and express their deep feelings for each other?

As Hawaiian Fragrance (The Hawaiians #3) was Danny Lucerno’s story, Hawaiian Ginger (The Hawaiians #4) is Zane Andrews.  Zane, as we’ve come to know him, is one of Rob and Kulani’s lost boys (the Masterson-Mahikoas household now).  Zane is deaf, embraces both his male and feminine sides, especially true when it comes to dresses, makeup and jewelry, outward extensions of that part of himself that feels “girly” most of the time while still enjoying the fact that he’s male as well. Getting to know Zane has been an important and rewarding element of this series.  Amor has researched the speech patterns of those with the same level of hearing impairment as  Zane so his conversations “sound” as natural as one would expect from someone who’s severely deaf.  Another realistic narrative touch? That Zane’s thoughts flow as naturally as would someone with full hearing.  Only the misplaced words or misunderstandings make it into both inner and outer dialogs.  After four stories, Zane’s “voice” is one that lingers in my head and heart, complete with missed words and letters from his lip reading or hearing aids on the flux.

Throughout the series the author has given her readers tidbits and clues about each of the  “lost boys” backgrounds and reason for their initial homelessness before Kulani found them and made them into a family.  Here Zane’s history comes out (thankfully not explicit) to the extent that we start to comprehend the deep hell of abuse he suffered and survived.  I get the feeling that the elements left about his shaking, his sister,  and the compound might come out in future stories, something that makes me cringe and want to know more at the same time.  Either way, I don’t think we are done with the horror that is the Andrews family yet.

With Zane you get Danny as this story picks up after their competition and beginning of their romance.  Told from both  perspectives (important when you have a character as impetuous and insecure as Danny), the main focus is on Zane, his path towards self-acceptance and love, and perhaps, the final steps to making the Masterson-Mahikoas a complete family right down to an enchanting cat Mr. Beaumont.  It’s quite the journey, taking all of the family (Rob, Kulani, Zane, Danny and the Twins as well as Beau and Matty) off to New Zealand to see the grandparents and meet new cousins The Twos.  I have to admit the family trip to NZ is  one of my favorite elements here.  From the magical landscape, the two sets of grandparents (I won’t get into them here, but yes,  as grounded and heartwarming as you would want), an unforgettable Christmas beach vacation and two young men, The Twos, who surely we will see again when the twins get their own story.  It’s here that Zane finally gains acceptance and an insight into cultures  who embrace a third gender in their people.  Amor brings in cultures, family, mysticism and more for one more shining example why this series and this story has such depth and becomes what I consider a “must read” for everyone.

Finally, it’s both Zane and Danny’s story as they work through their issues of acceptance of each other while dealing with their own continuing emotional “ground tremors and earthquakes” left behind by their upbringings and childhoods.  Luckily they have their dads and plenty of support to help them through this rough passage.  Amor also delivers moving, emotional scenes guaranteed to leave you in tears time and again throughout Hawaiian Ginger.  How I adored this book!  The only reason I didn’t give this story a complete 5 star rating was that I thought the surplus of sex scenes at the beginning of the story kept the reader from diving into the plot and new relationship between Danny and Zane.  However, maybe that was the idea.  They were using the newness of their sexual relationship to keep them from talking to each other about the things they knew needed to be discussed.  And the author wanted us to see that as well as deliver some very hot sex!  But I found I wanted to jump right  into the heavier layers and save some of this for later.  But that was just me.

The final pages of this book left me cheering! You will be too.  I highly recommend Hawaiian Ginger and all the stories in The Hawaiian series by Meg Amor but they aren’t standalones and should be read in the order they have been published for the reader to get the full background, relationships and watch the character growth that occurs.  More stories are coming and I can’t wait to grab them up!

For those readers like me who can’t get enough of this family and series, don’t forget to check out Meg Amor’s Hawaiian Ginger page with the referenced flowers, locations, models etc.  It’s not to be missed either.

Cover art by Syneca Featherstone has some of the elements I love although that’s not really Zane I see in my head.

Sales Links:  Loose id LLC | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 311 pages
Published June 6th 2017 by Loose Id LLC
ASINB072Q5J4CC
Series The Hawaiians