A MelanieM Review: Scrap (The Bristol Collection #3) by Josephine Myles

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

In a battle of the alpha males, who will end up on top?

On the surface, Derek “Call me Dare” Nelson’s life is simple. He’s happy doing up campervans while living in a slightly illegal caravan in his riverfront yard. But life gets more complicated when a smooth-talking, handsome property developer offers to buy the land out from under his feet—the very same man Dare had to escort from a party nine months ago for causing a drunken scene.

Grant Matravers is living a double life, attempting to adjust to weekends as a single, soon-to-be-divorced gay man while staying in the closet during the week. The strain of keeping up appearances at work while missing his kids is bad enough, but add in an attraction to the shaven-headed, tattooed, totally unsuitable Dare and Grant finds his emotional barriers wearing dangerously thin.

Dare blasts through those barriers in a way Grant isn’t prepared for, challenging everything he thought he knew about himself as a gay man. But as their chemistry heats up and the intimacy between them grows, Grant edges towards a decision that could blow up in his face. Exposing a mess of complications that could destroy any chance for their happily ever after.

Product Warnings: Contains one sharp-suited man desperately in need of redemption, another whose thuggish exterior does a pretty good job of hiding his heart of gold, frotting in camper vans, a sensual head-shaving scene and several (noisy) guest appearances from Mas.

Of the three stories, Junk, Stuff, and Scrap of The Bristol Collection, I have to admit Scrap is teetering on my favorite here, primarily due to the character of Derek “Call me Dare” Nelson.  The reader first meets Dare in Stuff when he visits his favorite antique shop Cabbages and Kinks owned by Perry and run by Mas, the couple from that story.  Dare pops up throughout the novel, most importantly at the end where he meets and throws a drunken Grant out of Perry and Mas’ party.

Scrap, the title of the story, seems to come from the yard filled full of scrap metal that Dare uses to refurbish his vans.  Campers to us Americans.  Old VW’s and such, retrofitted with sparkling new counters and curtains, engines and more, ready to take on a new life and new family.  Its a job and life Dare loves, living on the land his family owned, working with his hands using skills his father taught him.   That Dare looked like a “tattooed, skin-headed thug” on the outside?  Well, never hurts when you’re gay and someone thinks  you’re deserving of a beating. Dare Nelson is that character that once you start peeling back the layers, you just love him more and more.  What’s one man’s scrap is another one’s treasure and while Dare may appear to be a human sort of scrap, he shines more than most.

Grant Matravers, well, he was the character that was going to be so hard to like here. Grant was the reverse Dare in a way.  Shiny on the outside but hollow in the inside where it counts. He was ugly, a downright cheating mess of a man in Stuff.  I really couldn’t understand how Myles was going to make him someone we would not only connect with but root for but redeem him she did.  Grant has so many things to work through, apologies to make, decisions to come to, hard choices to make.  While Dare knows who he is and has a solid foundation, Grant is only solid to the eyes but his core?  Needs rebuilding and each moment is pivotal for his character and those he loves.  This also includes his children and his ex-wife.

Josephine Myles always gets me with her well-rounded characters.  They have depth and a humanity that defines them beyond the normal quirkiness and flaws.  You fear for them, you love and take them to heart just as I did here and all the other stories.

The Bristol Collection is a total joy to read.  Each and every couple with their issues and romances to work through before they can get their  HEA is a story that will stay with you.  Scrap has me smiling even now as I remember why I wanted more at the end even as I thought is was great as it was.  Sigh.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book Details:
ebook, 258 pages
Published March 10th 2015 by Samhain Publishing
Original TitleScrap
ISBN 1619224925 (ISBN13: 9781619224926)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Bristol Collection #3

A MelanieM Review: Fair Chance (All’s Fair #3) by Josh Lanyon

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

Elliot Mills comes face-to-face with evil in this follow-up to Fair Game and Fair Play from bestselling author Josh Lanyon  

One final game of cat and mouse… 

Ex–FBI agent Elliot Mills thought he was done with the most brutal case of his career. The Sculptor, the serial killer he spent years hunting, is finally in jail. But Elliot’s hope dies when he learns the murderer wasn’t acting alone. Now everyone is at risk once again—thanks to a madman determined to finish his partner’s gruesome mission.

When the lead agent on the case, Special Agent Tucker Lance, goes missing, Elliot knows it’s the killer at work. After all, abducting the love of his life is the quickest way to hurt him.

The chances of finding Tucker are all but impossible without the help of the Sculptor—but the Sculptor is in no position to talk. Critically injured in a prison fight, he lies comatose and dying while the clock ticks down. Elliot has no choice but to play this killer’s twisted game and hope he can find Tucker in time.

I don’t know if Fair Chance (All’s Fair #3) by Josh Lanyon is the end for one of my favorite couples, Elliot Mills and Tucker Lance, but if it is, Josh Lanyon is sending them off in an magnificent “Bon Voyage” of a story!  Fair Game, the first story, is one novel I still return to when I want one of those comfort read romances, not because of the story line, which is downright horrific and scary but for the couple and the intense relationship and hot sex! That book never gets old.  Fair Play, the second story, was a little more problematic, still great, it dealt with Elliot’s father Roland Mills, his past with a sixties activist group and a missing person.  I love the interchange between Elliot and Roland, Roland and Tucker, and the dynamics between the three are always charged and somehow that book almost destroyed that for me (and them).   At the start of Fair Chance, things are still strained between father and son.

But Fair Chance?  It not only returns to the case and serial killer that made that such a stunning mystery, The Sculptor, but it takes the relationship between Elliot and Tucker and shows us just how far they’ve come from that first story.  The couple has worked on resolving their trust issues, open lines of communication between them and their partnership has evolved into a mature, warm, and deep-hearted strong one.  Still hot, amazingly sexy but now based more more than attraction, need and a love they were afraid to admit to.  All of which makes Tucker’s disappearance even more devastating when it occurs.

As others have  said, damn that blurb!  There are far too many elements given up there.  I wish that one in particular had not been mentioned.  But even with that huge one glaring at you (and a few more as well), Lanyon’s elegant writing, purposeful, elaborate construction of the mysteries and investigation, as well as the ever building suspense keeps one at the edge of both hope and despair along with Elliot.

Roland is present here as a steadying presence for his son just when he needs him the most and Elliot acquires a dog named Sheba, an amazing character in her own right.  All of these things are excellent and I  loved them.  But at the core here is Elliot, Tucker, and their love.  That’s at stake here with Tucker’s disappearance.  We never forget that, not for a moment.  Nor do we forget who Elliot is up against…evil incarnate in the form of the Sculptor and his plans for them both.  It’s a heart-stopping race and I was invested emotionally the entire story, and not just because of my love for this couple, but at the thought of just what was loose on those around them.  What an amazing read!

I highly recommend Fair Chance, along with its predecessors, Fair Game and Fair Play. This whole series is downright addictive as is this couple.  I hope Lanyon is going to continue the series but if she doesn’t she’s given them a powerful sendoff.  I couldn’t ask for more!

Cover art is ok.  I probably wouldn’t be happy with any cover depicting the characters as I have my own ideas of what they look like at any  age.

Sales Links

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
iBooks

Book Details:

ebook, 336 pages
Published March 13th 2017 by Carina Press
ISBN139781459293618
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesAll’s Fair #3 settingWashington (United States)

A MelanieM Review: Better Than Suicide (The Yakuza Path #2) by Amy Tasukada

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

A stash of drugs. A twisted cop. A mob on the verge of self-destruction…

Nao Murata is the new godfather of the Matsukawa syndicate. When Detective Yamada confronts Nao over a dead drug dealer, Nao knows his organization isn’t responsible. The Matsukawa doesn’t deal drugs… or does it?

When Nao discovers drugs in a locker owned by his syndicate, he no longer knows who to trust. With the police bearing down on the Matsukawa, Nao must make unlikely allies to find out the truth. Can he discover who is betraying him before time runs out, or will everyone suffer for a crime he didn’t commit?

Better Than Suicide is the second book in a Japanese mafia thriller series. If you like complex plots, gripping suspense, and a splash of romance, then you’ll love the next installment in Amy Tasukada’s Yakuza Path series.

I was wondering how Amy Tasukada was going to follow up her brilliant novel  Blood Stained Tea (Book #1).  That novel was a stunning violent look into Nao Murata’s life and rise to the top of the Matsukawa syndicate.  And no it was not a romance.  Neither is this.

It is, however, just as gripping, just as hardcore as that first story.  What’s missing is the shock factor of Blood Stained Tea (Book #1).  We had no idea of what was coming and that ending packed an emotional punch that I’ve still not recovered from.  It was shattering and so powerful it carries over into this story.  That’s perfect because Better Than Suicide deals with the aftermath of that event proving that it was a transformative act in many ways for Nao Murata and his Matsukawa syndicate.

Nao, already deeply traumatized by past events in his life, now is reeling from the attack by the Korean mob on Matsukawa territory and his part in the final assault.  It has vaulted him into the role of godfather of the family organization, a role he’s unprepared for and he’s surrounded by new people he either doesn’t know or trust or both.  It’s a deeply precarious position for anyone but especially for someone of his psychotic mentality.  Immediately, the author puts the reader and Nao on the knife’s edge and keeps us there for the rest of the story, rocking us across the blade, sometimes close to death, sometimes close to safety, however or whatever that is, represented here.  It’s gritty, it’s intense and it’s addictive.

Nao Murata remains the character you can’t look away from.  So complex, so compelling, he’s a dark Rubix Cube of a man, his soul ruined and traumatized by loss and pain, he carries death and violence wherever he goes and yet there’s another side to him that you are almost afraid to see appear that’s gentle and loyal to the extreme.  You get so pulled into Nao’s mindset that you forget that he’s also able to become a monster at the turn of the wind.  Then you remember and fear for all around him while still hoping that Nao will survive the obstacles that comes his way, be it the police or the Korean mob still actively coming after his family or a mole within the syndicate.

That balancing act is superb here. The suspense is incredible as Tasukada keeps us guessing all through the story.  We have no idea who Nao can trust and who he can’t. I loved all the twists and turns here.  Nao continues to mature while remaining the layered, fear-inspiring person we have gotten to know now over the course of two books.  I can’t wait to see where the author takes this character next, along with the Matsukawa syndicate and the new character she introduced in this story,

Lastly, we have the exquisite setting of Nao’s beloved Kyoto, seen from both the ugly side of the drug scene and the beauty and grace of the historic city.  Its the perfect foundation for such a tormented and complex character such as Nao as he fights to keep his family syndicate together, himself alive, out of jail and still the head of the Matsukawa family, and all the while hunting the drug runners and the traitor.

Better Than Suicide (The Yakuza Path #2) by Amy Tasukada is another gritty, intense, superb story.  It has  everything, outstanding characters, a  storyline full of layers, twists and turns.  Its gripping and so addictive you can’t put it down.  Just don’t go looking for romance here.  That’s not healthy for anyone in one of these stories and it just doesn’t plain occur!  Enjoy these crazy great crime thrillers for the suspense rollercoaster A rides they are!  I do and I love and recommend them both.  The author is working on book 3 and I can hardly wait.  Grab these up and start reading and I’ll see you back here for that review!

Cover art is just a great as the story within.  Eye catching and bloody.

Sales Links: Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 376 pages
Published May 16th 2017
SeriesThe Yakuza Path #2

A MelanieM Release Day Review: THE TAKEDOWN (Superpowered Love #8) by Katey Hawthorne

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 

Jody Aguirre’s family was kidnapped and tortured by witch hunters. After a few days of captivity, he’s all that’s left. Using his frosty awakened superpowers, Jody manages to escape and is rescued from the side of the road by Bren Faulkner’s stretch Town Car. Bren, a hot-thermal awakened with government connections, promises to help find the witch hunters who destroyed Jody’s life.

While navigating his trauma and pain, Jody comes to rely on Bren for more than just food, his house, and his superpowered connections. Brendan is all that reminds Jody what’s left to live for, and a strong advocate for justice vs. vengeance, like the proverbial knight in shining armor he is. As their affection for one another deepens and their attraction becomes impossible to deny, Bren wonders if acting on their feelings would be taking advantage. Jody, meanwhile, struggles to claw his way back to something like normality, knowing that Bren’s part of the solution, not the problem.

But none of it matters, if they don’t take down those witch hunters.

I  have loved Katey Hawthorne’s Superpowered Love series from the very first story Equilibrium (Superpowered Love #1) where the author introduced her superpowered humans called “the awakened”, each having a different elemental power (fire, water, electricity, etc.).  Unknown to the general human population, they are hunted by a faction called witch hunters and protected by an Awakened Force working with the FBI.  The Takedown is an emotionally intense story, dealing as it does with an horrific event in one young man’s life.    Happy, getting ready to graduate from college, Jody’s life goes to hell in one gruesome, nightmarish day.

While we aren’t there for the actual event where Jody’s father is killed, and he and his mother are kidnapped, we are for Jody’s harrowing escape.  Hawthorne jumps us into Jody’s plight and into his head, on the run, scared, doped up and in shock.  We stay that way for some time, along with Jody.  Even when picked up by Bren Faulkner, the trauma Jody has suffered has had consequences far past the physical ones he’s suffered. I’m talking the mental and emotional ones, PTSD, acute anxiety and more.  All this is treated here within the story as it should be for someone who has undergone such an atrocity. Plus it’s still going on as all the members responsible are still at large.  Thus the title, The Takedown.  For Jody is determined to bring down those who destroyed his family at all costs, even if it’s himself.  Something Bren is not ok with for reasons obvious and veiled.

We get Jody, we really do.  We can understand his need for revenge and the compulsion to narrow his life down to just the hunt.  Then there’s Bren Faulkner.

Bren Faulkner is a special character, one with many surprises for both the reader and Jody.  Bren has his own reasons for staying away from any romantic complications involving Jody no matter how hard it may be getting.  I loved the part where Bren turns out to be hot-thermal to Jody’s cold, a delicious touch. He’s also older than Jody, which gives Jody a strong support when he needs it the most.  Bren has as many layers and doubts about his role in Jody’s life as Jody does.  How that is worked out is something not to be resolved until the end, which I thought was smart indeed.  Too much else going on in between these two and around them for anything else to feel authentic and believable.

I loved the actual takedown part!  If I could “fist bump” the author and yell “hell yes” I would have.  It was suspenseful and Jody got his answers.  Perfect.

If you haven’t started the Superpowered Love series, I suppose you could read this story, but you would be lacking some necessary background information I find important to the novel.  Far better to start at the beginning and working your way through (don’t miss Riot Boy or Losing Better…love them)!  I recommend them all, including the free reads!

Cover Artist: PL Nunn does another splendid job with the cover.

Sales Links:  Loose Id and Amazon,

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 189 pages
Expected publication: June 6th 2017 by Loose Id LLC
ASINB071W9TVQW
SeriesSuperpowered Love #8

A MelanieM Recent Release Review: Hawaiian Fragrance (The Hawaiians 3) by Meg Amor

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Danny’s a fourth-generation Big Islander from the wealthy Lucerno ranching family. He’s gorgeous–a mix of Portuguese male and Argentine passion, all dark-haired, smoldering sensuality. His family disowned him for being gay, and now he’s part of the Masterson-Mahikoa “lost boys” family.

When he meets the wealthy, sophisticated, sensuous Brazilian, Paolo Bastini, he’s swept off his feet into a glitzy Las Vegas lifestyle of money and luxury–the world he grew up in. But it takes Danny away from Hawai’i where his soul roams free and his family lives. He struggles as Paolo plays loosely with their partnership and thinks Danny is being “a baby” for wanting a monogamous relationship. And who is this past lover firmly wedged in Paolo’s heart?

Zane is severely deaf–finding new dance partners is hard. When he loses another one, Danny steps in to dance the tango competitions with him. Jealousy flares and things reach dangerous levels between Paolo and Danny. His adopted and birth family must bond together in a daring rescue of Danny from the depths of Brazil.

But he’s not completely out of danger. Now he’s fighting an attraction to the feminine Zane, who’s always annoyed him. Which man has his heart?

Well, here we are on book 3 of The Hawaiians and if you’ve been following my reviews, you know that I’m completely and utterly gone on these stories.  Totally besotted!  Hawaiian Fragrance just adds another layer of love.  Its Danny’s story.  Danny Lucerno is one of the “lost boys” of the Masterson-Mahikoa household, a group of older throwaway teens that one by one were found and gathered under one roof by Kulani Mahikoa (the Orchid).  It’s now a two dad household with Rob Masterson added (Hawaiian Lei).  Of course, in Meg Amor’s universe, no one is an island, literally. So while it is Danny’s story, its also Zane’s (another throwaway) and Zane’s connection to Danny,  Danny’s past tumultuous relationship (non existent at the present) with his birth parents as he calls them and the new man in his life, Paolo, who his family isn’t all that comfortable with.  So we get Danny, Zane, the twins (how I love them), Kulani and Rob, Matty and Beau, everyone who’s entwined in the lives of the Masterson-Mahikoa family.  The family dynamics, as complex as they are loving, have a real family feel to them.  Danny is older but when Rob and Kulani are arguing about Paolo and his relationship with Danny, the love and decisions on how to handle the situation feel both “fatherly” and responsible while still treating Danny as an adult.  I love the way the different situations are worked through here, the communication avenue is left open to the teens, letting them know at all times they are loved and safe, no matter their age.

Another thing I can’t get enough of?  The author’s love of Hawaii and her ability to envelope her readers with her deep affection by way of her vivid descriptions of the flora, fauna and locations around the BI.  It’s lush and tropical and I can almost see and smell the beautiful aromas coming through the pages…

I pull out from Banyans and drive us out to Honaunau on the South Kona coast. In the small town of Kainaliu, I stop and buy us a pink can each of Pass-O-Guava Nectar-POG-at Oshima Drug’s. Zane points at the “buying cherry” signs for the ripe red coffee berry, and we both fill our lungs and exhale loudly, laughing. We always do this when they’re roasting Kona coffee, and the rich scent fills the air. If we continue along Mamalahoa Highway, we’ll get whiffs of fresh hot oil frying local Kona Chips too but today we wind down Napo’opo’o Road.

I love this road; it always relaxes me. Lush jacarandas snow their purple blossoms everywhere, and the flaming orange flowers of the poincianas are popping. There’s thick tropical growth either side of the road, towering avocado trees, coffee farms, and ocean views around every curve, all the way down the hill.

We cut across the flat bottom road to Honaunau. It’s a good time of the day to be here. Not many people getting into the water at Two Step, mostly just locals catching a late afternoon swim or snorkel. The energy will be good for Zane too.

 

Ah, the combination of Danny and Zane.  Its Danny’s story, but it needs Zane too.  Zane’s deaf so his speech here is that of someone who is deaf.  No it doesn’t take any getting use to and in the acknowledgement and dedication, Amor explains the speech pattern she uses for Zane and the friend  she based Zane’s speech pattern on “… Janet from years ago who had never worn hearing aids. Sam heavily consulted on this book and the upcoming Hawaiian Ginger to give accurate portrayals of sounds, speech, and things that go wrong with hearing aids.”  To me, it makes Zane that much more authentic and real.  I love Zane and together with Danny, they have become two of my favorite character in this series.

Danny has a lot of things to work out here, emotionally, intellectually.  Parts of this story are suspenseful, gripping and gut wrenching.  I was not expecting that in this story.  Plus Amor throws in the wonderful element of dance.  Zane is a dancer, but so is someone else, totally unexpected. The beauty of expression and desire of a certain Latin dance is explored here and it’s so well done.  There were so many surprises here.

Really, the characters are so beautifully written, the storylines incredible and the locations from BI to Las Vegas to places I can’t tell you without spoiling it are wild, real and will make you want to take flight and be there (mostly).

Hawaiian Fragrance (The Hawaiians 3) by Meg Amor is a deep joy of a book.  Its has romance, family, suspense, and the possibility of a new love on the horizon.  It ends like a Fred and Ginger movie, lightly, lovingly, and getting us ready for the next one in the series, Hawaiian Ginger which is Zane’s story.  I have it now in my hands.  Review coming soon!  But if you haven’t found or started any of these great books yet, get started!  I love this  whole series and the author has promised more to come.  I highly recommend them all.

Cover art by Syneca Featherstone is again gorgeous and as lush as Hawaii itself.

Sales Links:  Loose id LLC | AMAZON

Book Details:

ebook
Published May 2nd 2017 by Loose Id
ISBN13 9781682523568

Hawaiian Lei (The Hawaiians, #1)

Hawaiian Orchid (The Hawaiians, #2)

Hawaiian Fragrance (The Hawaiians, #3)

Hawaiian Ginger (The Hawaiians, #4) coming soon

A MelanieM Review: Hawaiian Orchid (The Hawaiians 2) by Meg Amor

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

Kulani is “The Orchid,” a young, insecure, pro-surfer who comes from a rough background on the Big Island of Hawai’i. He’s Beau Toyama’s cousin from Hawaiian Lei. But he’s also a healer and has a heart as deep as the ocean he’s part of. Like the great Hawaiians, who have gone before him, warrior Kulani Mahikoa epitomizes the spirit of aloha and love. Kulani’s not only healing his own wounds, but “The Lost Boys”—young, homeless, abandoned and abused gay boys he’s taken under his wing.

Rob Masterson is a wounded psychologist who’s trying to come to terms with his husband Tony’s death. When he died, they were separated but still living together. Can the lone and lonely New Zealand widower reconcile all the pieces of guilt and love, to heal and fall in love again? When he drops anchor in Kona Harbor and meets the exotic islander—young, bolshie Kulani—explosive heat makes sparks fly between them.

Is the age difference between them a barrier or something they’ll get past? Kulani has more layers than Rob ever bargained for. And Rob’s tangled knot of responsibility, grief and guilt with his New Zealand heritage and past life is something he needs to untangle.

Two wounded men have to learn to trust and love one another. Traveling between the South Sea Islands of beautiful New Zealand and the exotic Hawaiian Islands—they forge a sea change, finding a home for their shrapnel laced souls.

I discovered Meg Amor through the first terrific book in this series, Hawaiian Lei. Hawaiian Orchid (The Hawaiians 2) by Meg Amor cemented the fact that I’ve found something incredibly special, in this series and in this amazing author. From that forward where I learned the author had suffered two losses central to her heart, she brought that pain and loss to this story, making it ours through the character of Rob.  All the way, from the first sentence through to the dictionary at the end, Meg Amor held me captive by a tale layered in the need and search for love in all its aspects, from romantic to familial.  It does so within a deep and encompassing framework of various Pacific Island cultures and religions, the spirituality flowing through the storylines like a healer’s chant.  It takes place not only on the Big Island (BI) of Hawaii but also in New Zealand as Rob searches for closure for himself and a start anew finally with Kulani. For Kulani, he’s looking for acceptance, healing, and love too.  It’s his journey as well. This is a big story, big in heart, big in scale and the author makes this vast narrative intimate in emotion and connectivity for the reader.

Rob Masterson is a complex character. He’s older than Kulani, wounded by the loss of his husband, torn and beaten in ways by the way in which his marriage was ending and the way his husband died. Rob hasn’t healed when he meets Kulani, a gorgeous younger man.  Rob immediately recognizes in Kulani someone with wounds as deep or deeper than his but there’s an attraction between them than neither can resist.  Kulani is a character full of surprises for us and Rob.  That initial meeting of a sullen, young man lays the right superficial impression for the author to blow us away with the depths of pain and beauty awaiting below the surface.  She peels away the first layer slowly for Rob and us as Kulani slowly begins to open up and show his true self, only for Rob to realize how much he’s been holding back himself. Amor makes us believe in each man.  Their pain, sometimes awkwardness (Kulani’s), abruptness (Rob’s), and tenderness to and for each other is vivid, authentic and real.  So is the steps they take, forward and back,  towards a relationship.  It includes help and support from a number of other characters, including Beau and Matt from Hawaiian Lei and even their respective parents.  Again, the relationship dynamics here are complex and real.  And they make the story.

Now this story also contains a third element I won’t go into here.  It sets the stage for the third book in this series, Hawaiian Fragrance (The Hawaiians #3) which I’m going to read and review next.  Going into it here would I believe spoil something wonderful so I’m leaving it out.  But again, this aspect of the story, again just elevates Hawaiian Orchid and this series into another realm for me, that of the comfort read and the story I’ll read again and again.

The mysticism and spiritualism present in the first story is still here, toned down somewhat but it flows through as naturally as breathing air.  So beautifully done you might not even notice how deeply ingrained it is for these men and families.  But it’s there, especially in the reading Rob has done for him, one more important necessary step in the healing process for him.  Plus there are other elements that appear in the story as well, folded in so easily that I believed in them as much as Rob and Kulani.

This is an incredible story.  I highly recommend it as I do the one that starts the series. Hawaiian Orchid (The Hawaiians 2) by Meg Amor will be on my Best of List this year and it’s highly likely the series will as well.  Hawaiian Fragrance is next.  There’s something else you might want to look at! There’s a link here to the Hawaiian Orchid page on Meg Amor’s website. It contains more information on the meaning of the different orchids, the characters, the big island of Hawaii and much more.  Check it out!

Cover artist:  Syneca Featherstone. I just love these covers.  Beautiful and as lush as the islands themselves, the men are perfect!

 

Sales Links:  Amazon |    Loose Id LLC

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 302 pages
Published September 15th 2015 by Loose Id LLC
ASINB015G3F1N6
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series The Hawaiians :

A MelanieM Pre Release Review: On Point (Out of Uniform #3) by Annabeth Albert

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

Never fall for your best friend…

Pushing thirty, with his reenlistment looming, decorated navy sniper Maddox Horvat is taking a long look at what he really wants in life. And what he wants is Ben Tovey. It isn’t smart, falling for his best friend and fellow SEAL, but ten years with Ben has forged a bond so intimate Maddox can’t ignore it. He needs Ben by his side forever—heart and soul.

Ben admits he likes what he’s seen—his friend’s full lower lip and the perfect muscles of his ass have proved distracting more than once. But Ben’s still reeling from a relationship gone to hell, and he’s not about to screw up his friendship with Maddox, too.

Until their next mission throws Ben and Maddox closer together than ever before, with only each other to depend on.

Now, in the lonely, desperate hours awaiting rescue, the real challenge—confronting themselves, their future and their desires—begins. Man to man, friend to friend, lover to lover.

Really, it’s so hard to have favorites among Annabeth Albert’s series. Worse even to try and chose among her myriad of stories within those series.  I love her Out of Uniform series, which gets better with each book. On Point, the third installment, is now my favorite to date.  In On Point Albert takes secondary characters Ben and Maddox, makes them complex individuals with a relationship dynamic fraught with challenges and the potential for pain and growth if only one of them will make a move.

Ben especially has a lot of emotional growing to do and the reader follows him along every painful step in this journey.  Maddox too has some memorable moments here and the two men together, as friends and as potential lovers are narrative magic.  Albert writes real people with problems we can relate to and understand.  It happens here, even if some of the most drama scenes are ones we may never experience.  It’s the emotions that telegraph through the vivid descriptions and dialog that grip you and won’t let you go.

If you love friends to lovers, this is an excellent example of why that trope is so popular.  You understand Ben and Maddox as friends, your heart wants them to be more as much as they want each other. You absolutely believe in their love and that they can have a HEA if only they reach for it and each other.  Powerful stuff but I expect nothing less from this author.

I highly recommend this story and this author.  This series too!

Cover art works for the couple and for branding the series.  I like it.

Sales Links: Carina Press


ebook, 320 pages
Expected publication: June 5th 2017 by Carina Press
Original TitleOn Point
ISBN139781488022630
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesOut of Uniform #3

A MelanieM Review: Imagines (Imago #2) by N.R Walker

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Jack Brighton and Lawson Gale have been together for six months and are very much in love. Lawson’s work ensuring the survival of the Tillman Copper is as demanding as ever, and Jack’s work with the regeneration of the bushfire-ravaged national park is just as hectic.

When Jack suggests they take a short trip, Lawson agrees. But then he is offered a two-week research position in tropical Queensland to help determine why the Ulysses butterfly is on the decline. Figuring they could combine work and pleasure, Jack and Lawson go on their first vacation together.

Working alongside renowned professor Piers Bonfils isn’t easy. But personal and professional differences aside, Lawson is offered a more permanent role in Queensland. Torn between his new life in Tasmania with Jack and a dying species of butterfly he feels compelled to save, Lawson has to decide where his fate lies.

But fate changes the rules. On a research expedition into the depths of the rainforest, suddenly it’s not only the butterflies’ existence that hangs in the balance.

A butterfly’s life cycle never changes. From larvae to imago, their course is plotted by design. Jack and Lawson need to determine where they stand, if they live through it. Because the only thing more incredible than one imago is two.

Imagines, the sequel to Imago, is exactly what I hoped for in every way. NR Walker didn’t miss a detail in moving Jack and Lawson’s relationship forward within the framework of the imagery of the stages of the growth of a butterfly or in this case two butterflies.

And even more exciting, the author used as a support for her plot, both realistic field work and the stark realities and hazards placed on species today making survival a precarious and questionable goal for those scientists rushing to save them.

Combine both of those with the endearing qualities of Jack Brighton and Lawson Gale,  their deepening relationship, their love for each other and their respect for nature and their careers.  Well, N.R. Walker had me at page 1 (ok, it was  Imago, but hey, it’s  both of them).

At the start of the story, Lawson is still wavering on making a larger commitment to move in together, not wanting to shake up how wonderful things are at the moment between them.  Jack is ready for the next step.  I love how the relationship has matured and teetering on the edge of the next level.  The warmth and love between the MC’s just floods off the page.

Then comes the opportunity to research a decline in a butterfly species and a working vacation.  This element and section of the story was believable,suspenseful, and riveting to read.  I loved the vivid descriptions of the rainforest, the butterflies and all the people involved in the efforts to save them.  Of course, Jack and Lawson too, working through their partnership as they searched for answers to the drastic decline.  This ticked so many boxes for me.  I was deeply connected to the men and their search.

There was a side story with the french professor that sort of flew by, an intriguing bit, here and gone.  I’ll wonder  about him.  But that ending, oh that wonderful ending.  Be still my heart!   I don’t know if this is the end for Jack and Lawson but if it is, I’ll be putting these two book high on my to be reread list.  I loved them that much.  Grab them up and see for yourself why.

Cover art remains one of my favorite too. Switching out butterfly’s? Perfection.

Sales Links

Amazon DE

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 147 pages
Published April 8th 2017
Original TitleImagines
ASINB06Y599DJK
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesImago #2

A MelanieM Review: At Attention (Out of Uniform #2) by Annabeth Albert

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Rating: 4.5 stars ouf 5

at-attentionLieutenant Apollo Floros can ace tactical training missions, but being a single dad to his twin daughters is more than he can handle. He needs live-in help, and he’s lucky a friend’s younger brother needs a place to stay. He’s surprised to see Dylan all grown up with a college degree…and a college athlete’s body. Apollo’s widowed heart may still be broken, but Dylan has his blood heating up.

It’s been eight years since the teenage Dylan followed Apollo around like a lovesick puppy, and it’s time he showed Lieutenant Hard-to-Please that he’s all man now—an adult who’s fully capable of choosing responsibility over lust. He can handle Apollo’s muscular sex appeal, but Apollo the caring father? Dylan can’t afford to fall for that guy. He’s determined to hold out for someone who’s able to love him back, not someone who only sees him as a kid brother.

Apollo is shocked by the intensity of his attraction to Dylan. Maybe some no-strings summer fun will bring this former SEAL back to life. But the combination of scorching desire and warm affection is more than he’d expected, and the emotion between them scares him senseless. No fling lasts forever, and Apollo will need to decide what’s more important—his past or his future—if he wants to keep Dylan in his life.

Annabeth Albert has become a  “go to, must read” author for me quickly.  It started with her series #gaymers but Portland Heat and now Out of Uniform is also making her a comfort read as well.  If you haven’t started any of these series, walk-don’t run to your nearest computer and pull them up!  At Attention is the second in her Out of Uniform series and oh my, how I do love this one.  It has characters I met in the first, we’re talking Lt. Apollo Floros.  He’s widowed with twins and just the small amount of time he appeared in the first story, Off Base (Out of Uniform, #1), was enough to know that you needed more of him.  And that he had to have a HEA.

At Attention is his story and romance.  Sigh and swoon.  The author gives us a man who hasn’t yet dealt with his grief over losing his husband.  Apollo has just been going through the motions of adjusting to being an only parent with total responsibility of his twins, a job that’s taken him out of the field and the daily recognition of the hole in his life.  But actual mourning?  No, he hasn’t let himself do that and so he’s  stuck in a way that  not even his family   and friends know how to help him move forward.  I love how Albert makes us feel this man’s pain and loss as well as his love for his daughters and the man he married.  We see how much he needs to move ahead and yet how unable or unready he is to do so.

Then Dylan comes to town for a summer job and his brother, Apollo’s friend and teammate.  Who hasn’t had someone younger crush on them or had a crush on someone older?  We know how it goes and feels.  Albert captures those old feelings perfectly as well as what happened when the crush and crushee meet years later.  Its so hard to let go of those old impressions, especially if you’re the older person.  I love how that factors into this slow moving relationship because its so very realistic.

There are other obstacles here, not just that  past history.  Each is believable and realistic as they come.  And yet those sparks that fly between these characters are hot, hot, hot!!!  The chemistry that the author cooks up between Apollo and Dylan is combustible and I believe in that and them too.

Plus you throw in the girls and their love for Dylan as well and this story just sang for me.

So At Attention is already a favorite of the series and its just book 2.  What will the rest of the series bring?  I can’t wait to find out.  Please hurry up with the next story!

Cover art is lovely and works for the series and tale.

Sales Links

Carina Press

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: April 10th 2017 by Carina Press
Original Title At Attention
ISBN13 9781488022623
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Review: Skim Blood and Savage Verse (Offbeat Crimes #3) by Angel Martinez

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Words damage more than just feelings as Carrington hunts feral books menacing the city.

When a ferocious book attacks Carrington at his own birthday party, he believes it’s an isolated incident. But similar books soon pop up all over town, menacing innocent people with harsh bits of poetry and blank verse that deliver damaging physical blows. It’s a frustrating case with too many variables and not enough answers, and the stakes go up with each attack.

With the help of his misfit squad mates at the 77th and the public library’s Rare Books Department, the missing pieces decrease but not Carrington’s vexations. His commanding officer rakes him over the coals at the beginning of every shift. His police partner has lost patience with what she sees as his delusional relationship choices and his inability to pick the right man in a vast field of two. City Hall demands that the books be stopped immediately. It’s enough to put a nutritionally challenged vampire off his skim blood.

The book rattled violently on the table in an imitation of a step dance and printed words leaped out of the pages at frightening speed. Just before they slammed into Carrington’s head, the flying words shrieked at him.
“You starveling, you eel-skin, you dried neat’s tongue, you bull’s pizzle!”
He had time for a split second of horror before the words rammed into him with the force of several fists.

                                                  from Skim Blood and Savage Verse (Offbeat Crimes #3) by Angel Martinez

Yes, feral books are rampaging about the city slinging deadly poetry at people’s heads!  Angel Martinez, you might as well drop the mike and leave the building! This is why I love to read, to come across passages and indeed an entire story full of such paragraphs and plot threads so imaginative and lively that I burst into giggles still at the very thought of them.  And that’s just one element here.

Yes its poor Carrington, that vampire who needs to exist on skim blood with the worst taste in men who is the focus here (well one of them at any rate).  His feral book attack launches an investigation and soon his squad realizes there have been attacks all over the city.  The librarian in the Rare Books Department at the Public Library is just the sort to set him, well not straight, but on the path to HEA, if Carrington can get past his own proclivities for picking up the most shallow, mean-spirited men around.  That’s a terrific storyline going on while in pursuit of the rampaging feral books (I can never get enough of those). The author gets us into Carr’s head and heart here.  While we are often frustrated with him, its also easy to understand why Carr is why he is.

But there’s another romance here.  One I rate just  as highly.  LJ, also known as Leather Jacket. Yes, an animated object of clothing who’s a member of the squad (loosely) gets a lover. I won’t go into the details because they are too wonderful and should be explored within the story itself.  This romance turned out to be so adorable, so charming and mysterious (and on-going probably into the next story) that I was just as equally invested in them as well as in Carrington and Erasmus, the librarian.   I will, however, mention that for those who  like a quick romance, that doesn’t happen.  Carr has plenty of issues and those have to be dealt with first.   But we get a closer look at Carr’s family, his partner Amanda (who I also adore) and other respective members of 77th Precinct.

There’s a dangling bit of mystery left here at the end, a rather large bit that I hope leads into the next story.  The 77th Precinct and all its members are downright addictive! You never know what wildly scary case will come their way with love tromping along too.  Or maybe being propelled by fairies or blasted by fire.  Probably not.  All too mundane.  Which is why I cannot wait for the next book in the series to arrive.  Pill bugs from space and now deadly poetry spitting flying feral books!  What will Angel Martinez come up with next?  I’ve got the popcorn and am patiently waiting to find out.

Cover art by Posh Gosh is very pretty and includes that flying book.

Sales Links

Pride Publishing | Amazon

 

Book Details:

ebook, 137 pages
Published April 4th 2017 by Pride Publishing
ISBN139781786515520
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series Offbeat Crimes