A MelanieM Review: Suspicion (Diversion Book 7) by Eden Winters

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

Lucky “Simon Harrison” Lucklighter left behind his criminal past to become one of the best agents in the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau. He’s found a committed partner in fellow agent Bo Schollenberger and built a life.

Now, enemies within the SNB and a friend’s betrayal leave him nowhere to turn—not even to his mentor.

His boss’s life, the future of the SNB, and Lucky’s career depend on him. With the help of his lover, an old enemy turned ally, and a man Lucky thought he’d seen the last of, he must stand and fight for what he believes in.

Even if he has to step outside the law.

Suspicion picks up after the events in Reunion, the sixth book in Eden Winters’ fabulously entertaining and complex Diversion series.  There Lucky “Simon Harrison” Lucklighter had quite the reunion with his father as well as old lover.  Bo Schollenberger too had his emotional travails and sorrows that almost broke him and them.  Now with Lucky recovered, the focus shifts back to their shared office and enemies at the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau’s Department of Diversion Prevention and Control.  And that  also means danger for Walter, Lucky’s boss, mentor, and unspoken “father” stand-in.

Through six books, we have been through incredible growth with these characters.  Emotional and great personal development as they matured and endured great upheavals in every sector of their lives.  Near death experiences, addiction, great loves lost and reunited, unbelievable angst, and yes, betrayal, laughter and joy.  This is quite the saga.

At this point, Lucky and Bo have settled into an established relationship, out at work as a couple,live in nephews, pets and all.  It’s been hard won, and we’ve been with them every step of the way.  Lucky and Bo, along with all the supporting cast of characters either from their work or from outside (Lucky’s sister, people from their pasts…) are all so well constructed.  Flawed, vivid, ornery at times, and all so real that you often forget they don’t exist outside this series.  They feel that authentic as do their situations and everyday complex realities of the pharmaceutical business.

Winters plot is tightly laid out,  dense layers threaded through with both an overall series arc as well as a singular storyline plot makes for a complex, adventurous tale.  A monkey box puzzle sort of feel at times, not sure if it’s going to be scary or fun or both. So many twists and turns for us and our main characters to fight through, one hurdle, one barrier or more at a time.  At its heart is Lucky, scrabbling with everything in him for the people he loves, Bo, Walter, his extended family, trying to figure out who to trust while coming out ahead.

How I love this man and the man he loves.

Eden Winters has said she has two more books  planned for this  series.  That both distresses me because it means the end is in sight for this series I love and that it not over yet. Something to celebrate.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting both Lucky and Bo, please don’t start here.  Do these great characters and their series justice by starting at the beginning.  I’ve listed them all for you below.  Watch that first inauspicious meeting, then that wild  ride of a road to romance, love and a settled relationship you will find here.  It’s one hell of a rocky road and should be read in the order they were written.  Don’t miss a book.  I highly recommend them all, including this one, Suspicion (Diversion Book 7) by Eden Winters.  

It’s one of my favorites this year!

Cover art: LC Chase.  It’s always hard for me to really get into these headless torso covers.  They are overdone these days, especially those with a gun.  I’d at least like to a Lucky the Cat or another element special to this story or series included.

Sales Links: Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 281 pages
Expected publication: January 5th 2019 by Rocky Ridge Books
ASINB07LDYVBTV
Edition Language English
Series Diversion – add to Goodreads here.

Diversion

Collusion

Corruption

Manipulation

Redemption

Reunion

Suspicion

A MelanieM Review: Kingdom Volume 2 (Kingdom #2) by R.J. Scott

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

The Demon’s Blood

When Simeon, a mountain lion shifter meets Asher, a blood demon, there is instant attraction. But, how can they act on the way they feel when there is an entire kingdom at stake.

The Incubus Agenda

Nicholas Tarrant has worked hard for his position on the Werewolf Coalition. Having access to whatever is happening inside the Coalition is important to the Underground and he’s good at blending in.

Brody Lennox is sent to Glitnir to broker talks of peace but is dragged broken and bloody into the Council chambers. Ludvik wants him killed as a traitor.

Can Nicholas save Brody? Or is Brody too broken to be saved?

The Third Kingdom

The story that began as a simple Retriever case, has become the tale of the fight against a thousand years of evil.

The wolf shifters have Niceros to take down. The Vampire Twins have to deal with Cassius. The Second Kingdom is in disarray and Simeon, Asher and Phin are desperate to calm the unrest.

An alpha needs to accept his role, a blood demon has to become the King he was meant to be, and the Vampire twins have to end the war.

Against all this, Reuben and Ethan, lovers separated for a millennium, are thrown back into a war to end the poison that is Ludvik Peitrol.

In a battle on the barren fields of Arberfan is where this story will end.

Kingdom Volume 2 (Kingdom #2) gathers the last three books of the Kingdom series into one as the saga builds to its series ending finale.  RJ Scott put the narrative sink into these stories, I mean there’s vampires, werewolves, elves, incubi, mages both good and evil, demons, thrones at stake, multiple couples finding love while raising an army and going to war…simply everything and it works.  I was only missing the dragons here.

The final three stories also fills in the rest of the universe building and mythology.  As twins Micah and Joseph, their mates, and the rest of the Resistance race to gather the rest of the races and Councils against Ludvik Peitrol, these stories see at what cost working for the Resistance and that strategy comes at before the final battle can be fought.

Let me take them one by one…

✒︎The Demon’s Blood – 5 stars


When Simeon, a mountain lion shifter meets Asher, a blood demon, there is instant attraction. But, how can they act on the way they feel when there is an entire kingdom at stake.


Asherkan Iblis is a blood demon, a slave to elves and a soldier. He keeps the fact he has royal elvish blood a secret. His half brother returns to broker peace but reveals he is actually there for much more and Asher faces a decision that could lead to his death.


Simeon Blue, brother of the leader of the Feline Guild, mountain lion shifter, is tasked to accompany Phin on a mission over the Red Mountains and into the Second Kingdom. He has to talk to the Guild but all they want to do is stay in isolation and his mission is fraught with danger.


When Simeon is wounded Asher hides him and suddenly, next to a king’s death, a cousin’s hate, and Ludvik’s black magic, love falls on the agenda.

The Demon’s Blood takes two great side characters and brings them into the spotlight they deserve.  Asher the half  bl0od demon, half elf was an intriguing persona the first time we meet him.  Here we get to see the exacting price blood demons pay for their genetics and past as a creation/slave of vampires.  We also learn more about Asher’s background in particular.  He, honestly, could have his own series, he’s that strong a character.  In Simeon, Scott has balanced him with a cat shifter of equal strength and a real solidity that translates successfully that we can understand why he can be a foundation for Asher.  Layer in court politics, intrigue, black magic and hot, sexy, romance?  That makes The Demon’s Blood a great story on every level.   Plus we get all the other characters too.  Love it!


✒︎The Incubus Agenda – Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5


When Nicholas Tarrant sees a broken and bloody Brody Lennox dragged into the Werewolf Coalition he has to decide. Stay under cover or help the incubus live. His decision is simple.


Nicholas Tarrant has worked hard for his position on the Werewolf Coalition. Having access to whatever is happening inside the Coalition is important to the Underground and he’s good at blending in.


Brody Lennox is sent to Glitnir to broker talks of peace but is dragged broken and bloody into the Council chambers. Ludvik wants him killed as a traitor.


Can Nicholas save Brody? Or is Brody too broken to be saved?

The Incubus Agenda is great more for who it introduces as well as for the romance between werewolf and incubus, Nick and Brody.  I love that the blurb gives absolutely nothing away as to a major storyline here and neither will it.  Needless to say, it’s a stunner and makes this story while pulling together more of the entire mythology of the Kingdom tales.  Scott takes us into the heart of Glitnir where Brody is being tortured and Nicholas must come to a decision either to save him or continue undercover.  Wonderful hurt/comfort here as well as that instantaneous “wolf knows his mate”  bonding that occurred earlier with another pair (which laid the groundwork here).  I wish we had more time with Brody and Nicholas but with everything that goes on here to prepare us and the Resistance for the final book and battle, I think it came off fine.


✒︎The Third Kingdom – 5 Stars out of 5


The story that began as a simple Retriever case, has become the tale of the fight against a thousand years of evil.


The wolf shifters have Niceros to take down. The Vampire Twins have to deal with Cassius. The Second Kingdom is in disarray and Simeon, Asher and Phin are desperate to calm the unrest.


An alpha needs to accept his role, a blood demon has to become the King he was meant to be, and the Vampire twins have to end the war.


Against all this, Reuben and Ethan, lovers separated for a millennium, are thrown back in to a war to end the poison that is Ludvik Peitrol.


In a battle on the barren fields of Arberfan is where this story will end.


How can love survive the evil that is another’s hate?

The final battle, the final everything.  The Third Kingdom, that kingdom that arises after the foretold “twins” use magic on the battlefield to smite down the great evil.  Trouble is only one of the twins has magic…plus they are greatly outnumbered and several of their main support characters are in identity crisis.  What’s a band of Resisters to do?

That’s the question here.  How does RJ Scott pull it all together to take down the centuries old evil that is Ludvik Peitrol?  In a huge and marvelous way is the answer.  All the characters and their mates are here,  all the questions get answered, the battles get fought and the villains fall to the doom, assisted of course by various methods not to be named here.  Its suspenseful, action-packed tale that doesn’t forget that there’s plenty of couples in love riding off to battle and perhaps their deaths.  It doesn’t disappoint at all.  Well, maybe I wanted Ludvik to suffer even more at the end but you can’t have everything.  Well, maybe more stories.  I love this universe and characters, plus it’s full of even more secondary characters that could use stories of their own.  Now wouldn’t that be lovely?

 

Cover art by Meredith Russell.  The thing about these covers is that they are too mundane. Where’s the magic?  The shifters or demons or castles even?  I think they missed the mark here.

Sales Links

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2sUq864

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2rTSJUA

Book Details:

ebook
Published June 21st 2017 by Love Lane Books Limited
URL http://www.rjscott.co.uk
SeriesKingdom #2

A MelanieM Pre-Release 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

Other links coming soon

 

Book Details:

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

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Treasure for Treasure (Beings in Love #7) by R. Cooper

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

treasure-by-treasureA Being(s) in Love Story

In the nineteenth century, the dragon Dìzhèn put the small coastal town of Everlasting under her protection. Her family was supposed to carry on the tradition, but all of Dìzhèn the Great’s heirs eventually left rather than live in the shadow of such a powerful dragon.

Only the youngest dragon of the current generation remains: Zarrin, the softhearted disgrace of his family. He might be weak, small, and afraid, but he is determined to show the humans they have not been forgotten… one human in particular. The problem is, Zarrin can barely get that human to talk to him.

It should be a dream come true to have a dragon trying to get his attention. But Joe refuses to bow to Zarrin like everyone else. Yes, Zarrin is sexy, oddly gentle for a dragon, and stares at Joe with a gaze so hot it makes him shiver. But hurt, mistrustful Joe can’t believe Zarrin’s promises that he’s here to stay. Joe doesn’t realize he is the treasure Zarrin has been looking for his whole life, a treasure he once let slip through his fingers out of fear. Now, to win Joe’s trust, Zarrin has to be brave and become as strong as Dìzhèn herself.

Treasure for Treasure (Beings in Love #7) by R. Cooper is another wonder of the slow build in story writing.  I’m a long time fan of both R. Cooper’s, this series, and this style of narrative.   R. Cooper has never rushed into anything when coming to a character build or story thread.  Its always a long and winding path this author takes us on.    We get a feel for the location, the geography, the village, the local townsfolk, and the main characters in a leisurely yet sure manner.  Much like a expect dry stacking those field walls of stone, Cooper leaves little space between the layers as quietly and slowly each character fleshes out and becomes deep and believable.

Joe we meet in all his past and then current pain and conflicted feelings about the town and the dragons who own it.  His sense of being an outcast, his sexuality as part of the cause is contrasted with that of the statue of the dragon in the square.  Powerless versus the power implied.  Its a wonderful starting point, especially where the author takes the story and Joe next.

Joe is such a special character, a believable human, pained, flawed, artistic, and angry.  Then comes Zarrin,  And in this character, Cooper really rises because you always believe that Zarrin is truly a dragon who can take the shape of a human.  Not a human masquerading as a dragon.  His thoughts are that of a dragon who doesn’t quite understand the humans he’s supposed to be protecting.  His emotions?  Also not that of a human as well.  Its as though the author has authentic knowledge of what a dragon must actually be like should be exist.  Or at least one like Zarrin, beautiful golden Zarrin who wants to claim his Treasure but has no idea how to do it.

He does get some help from the most unlikely places.  There’s a marvelous secondary cast of characters.  And the townspeople are as varied as one might expect to find in a real town, from the phobic to the hunters to those accepting and warmhearted.

And there’s Joe and Zarrin’s slow build to understanding and a relationship.  Just waiting for that first kiss is something else.  But the reward is just as great.  I was never frustrated as one might expect because I was so fascinated by the process and trying to see when and how Zarrin and Joe were going to figure it all out. I was so engaged in their own misunderstandings that the places where I might have been frustrated passed right by.

This is just such a  marvelous tale.  Of love and romance, of dragons and treasures found.  Of two beings so right for each other that nothing could stand in their way.  Not misunderstandings, not a town, nothing.  I loved this novel.  Its one I highly recommend, especially if you’re a fan of the slow build.

Cover art by Paul Richmond.  For some reason, this cover just seems off, the proportions or something, which is  unusual in a Paul Richmond cover.  Just not a fan of this one.

Sales Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 340 pages
Expected publication: December 12th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 163477888X (ISBN13: 9781634778886)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBeings in Love #7

A MelanieM Review: North Star (North Star #1-3) by Posy Roberts

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

North StarHugo and Kevin were best friends and secret lovers in high school, but a chance meeting years later proves that the spark that drew them together before is still there. In Spark, Hugo and Kevin must try to put together a relationship while overcoming the obstacles of coming out, divorce and children. In Fusion, an unexpected illness may tear apart all they’ve been building. And in Flare, though they’ve finally settled together happily, outside forces are working hard to upset their family.

North Star is a bundle of all three of Posy Robert’s North Star trilogy stories, a total of 876 pages of wonderful contemporary m/m romance and true love.   Its one thing to have them as separate stories (blurbs below), but its another to read it as one long saga of a love affair that starts as young teenagers, reunited later as grown men.  How would that work?

Pretty smoothly actually.  I found the flow was almost seamless.  As one story ended, the next picked up almost at the same point, making it to continue your connections to the characters and all the many threads the author is working here.  But at the same time, close to 900 pages is a lot to read at one sitting (I know). So if you need to stop at one book, and then continue on later, well, you can do that too and still be able to pick up Hugo and Kevin’s story.

In fact, I think I might recommend you still do that.   I loved these stories.  And the characters, Hugo especially.  Hugo is such a bundle of contradictions, so human.  He’s vibrant, vulnerable, and he comes alive on every page.  So too does his friends, especially Summer.  Kevin and his household too get into your heart, from his soon to be ex wife Erin and his children.  But a huge 900 page dose of Kevin almost proved too much for me.  I understood the reasons why he behaved as he did, Posy Roberts made that very clear.  But I think perhaps it went on too long, at least for me, and in those wonderful words of Cher, I dearly wanted him to “snap out of it” long before Flare started.  What kept me and my impatience in check was the timeline and the events that were happening.

There are some very wonderful and moving elements here, including a complication with Kevin’s wife.  How this is handled is one of the stars I think of the series.  The dynamics between the three of the them, and the children, the growth of Kevin and Hugo’s relationship at this stage as well as having Erin’s point of view in Fusion?  It made this my favorite story of the three.  It felt real, loving, and got straight to my heart.

 

Spark – Book 1:North Star: Book One Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

In their small-town high school, Hugo and Kevin became closeted lovers who kept their secret even from parents. Hugo didn’t want to disappoint his terminally ill father, and Kevin’s controlling father would never tolerate a bisexual son. When college took them in different directions, they promised to reunite, but that didn’t happen for seventeen years.

By the time they meet again, Hugo has become an out-and-proud actor and director who occasionally performs in drag—a secret that has cost him in past relationships. Kevin, still closeted, has followed his father’s path and now, in the shadow of divorce, is striving to be a better father to his own children.

When Hugo and Kevin meet by chance at a party, the spark of attraction reignites, as does their genuine friendship. Rekindling a romance may mean Hugo must compromise the openness he values, but Kevin will need a patient partner as he adapts to living outside the closet. With such different lifestyles, the odds seem stacked against them, and Hugo fears that if his secret comes to light, it may drive Kevin away completely.

Fusion – Book 2: Rating 5 stars out of 5

How do you tell your friends and family you’ve fallen in love with a man when they’ve only ever known you as straight? How do you explain to your kids that you loved their mother very much, but your new partner is your best friend from high school?

Kevin Magnus must figure it out while trying to build a relationship with Hugo Thorson, whose bigger than life, out-and-proud drag queen persona is simply too big to be contained in a closet—even for the time it takes Kevin to come up with an explanation for his kids and Erin, his soon-to-be ex-wife.

But Erin faces an even bigger obstacle—one that shakes the entire family to the core. When she unexpectedly turns to Hugo, they form a connection that forces Hugo to grow up and offers Kevin the chance to become the kind of father he wants to be. Despite the coming complications, they’ll all benefit from a fortunate side effect: it becomes clear that Hugo is very much a part of this unconventional family.

Flare – final book in the North Star Trilogy  Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Hugo Thorson and Kevin Magnus are learning to live again after the death of Kevin’s wife, Erin. They’re doing everything they can to make a stable home for Kevin’s kids, but that stability is threatened when Kevin is served legal documents: Erin’s parents want custody of Brooke and Finn.

Meanwhile, Hugo is offered several acting jobs; to encourage him to take them, Kevin hires a nanny who is very hands-on with the kids. But Hugo feels distanced from his new family, so he makes the decision to leave his eclectic neighborhood and moves in with Kevin. He quickly finds he has a hard time fitting in with the suburbanites, and Kevin’s passive-aggressive “friends” make Hugo feel anything but welcome. Yet he keeps his concerns a secret and tries to take it all in stride.

When Brooke is bullied about having two dads, Hugo realizes his mere presence might be doing more harm than good. The stress will force him to make a choice: does he stay and fight for the family he loves, or does he walk away to let them live in peace?

In the final story, Posy Roberts pulls it all together, the struggles, the relationship and personal growth the men go through in order to become the true partners and family unit they have been dreaming and working towards from the moment they reunited and perhaps even longer, the moment they met.  I think this is where Kevin finally clicked for me as a character and as the perfect ying to Hugo’s yang.   It also deals with another strong topic, bullying.  Again, its addressed in a direct and wonderful way by the author by using Brooke, the daughter we have come to know and care about just as deeply as the main characters.

How do I love these characters?  Oh so much.  By the time the last sentence rolls around, I was so sorry to see them all go.  I think you will be too.  Having them all in one bundle makes it so easy to pick up and enjoy them all over again.

Need not one but three stories to perk up your summer reading?  Love contemporary romance and lovers reunited?  Pick up North Star (North Star #1-3) by Posy Roberts, a 3 in 1 total package of romance and reading enjoyment.  I highly recommend it.

 

Cover art by Anne Cain works for the characters.  Its lovely.

Sales links

      

 

Bundle Details:

ebook, 876 pages
Published August 5th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634775201 (ISBN13: 9781634775205)
Edition LanguageEnglish
URLhttps://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/north-star-by-posy-roberts-7341-b
SeriesNorth Star #1-3