A MelanieM Review: Coach’s Challenge (Scoring Chances #5) by Avon Gale

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

It’s been decades since blackmail forced Troy Callahan to retire from playing professional hockey, and he’s built a successful career behind the bench. When he’s offered the opportunity to coach the Asheville Ravens—the most hated team in the ECHL—he’s convinced that his no-nonsense attitude is just what the team needs to put their focus back on hockey. But Troy is disheartened when he finds out the Ravens have signed Shane North, a player known for his aggression—especially when Shane’s rough good looks have Troy thinking inappropriate thoughts about a player, even if he’s set to retire at the end of the season.

Shane’s career in the majors never quite took off. Wanting to quit on his own terms, Shane agrees to a one-year contract with the Ravens and finds himself playing for a coach who thinks he’s an aging goon, and with a team that doesn’t trust him, Troy, or each other. Despite his determination not to get involved, Shane unwillingly becomes part of the team… and is just as unwillingly drawn to the gruff, out-and-proud coach. As the Ravens struggle to build a new identity, Shane and Troy succumb to the passion that might cost them everything.

I hate coming to the last of the released books in a series I love, especially this one.  Scoring Chances has really grabbed at my heart with the stories of competing teams in the ECHL, whether it’s been the  Jacksonville Sea Storm, Spartanburg Spitfires, and here finally the reviled Asheville Ravens, and the hockey players within those teams that love and fought hard on and off the ice.

What a group its been.  Closeted players, tormented coaches, goalies tossed away by their families and rich kids coming into their own and finding love and themselves on and off the ice.  Avon Gale has captured the essence of this game at its most basic while giving the readers great romance and yes, sexy men.

ECHL is a special place.  Easy Come Hard to Leave as the author has mentioned the East Coast Hockey League is called.  The players come into it not solely by draft, although those lucky enough to be drafted by the NHL are sent there first to learn the ropes and get seasoning.  No, hockey players can just show up and try out, no draft needed.    It lends itself to a special type of player and mentality.  And a camaraderie between the players off the ice after the games are over.  It’s an atmosphere where the pay is miniscule, the hours long, and the passion for the game hot.

We get that in these stories and from these men and couples.  Certainly so here from the man trying to rebuild one of the most hated teams in the ECHL.  That would be the Ashville Ravens. In Coach’s Challenge (Scoring Chances #5) by Avon Gale we finally get an inside look at the team we’ve only seen on the other side of the rink.  Usually its after they’ve tossed slurs at some of our favorite men or even committed crimes against them.   Now we get the flip side as Troy Callahan takes on the unenviable job of coach and rebuilding this team completely after the events of the last story.

Troy has given up the chance to coach in the NHL to rebuild the Ravens and all the reasons why fall out quickly.  Troy’s character is hockey tough, his personal pain still  driving him, and he’s easy to connect to.  So is the man arriving late to training, Shane North, a hockey player in the last year before retirement and looking to go out the right way.

Shane North, older, looking for one last year of hockey, played honorably, is a perfect person to represent a ECHL player.  Someone with years of playing behind them who still wants to play, that one more year.  Who continues to love the game.  He’s human, layered, and so personable that I just fell in love with him.   And his rickety car that barely made it to Ashville.

Between Shane and Troy, the chemistry is immediately hot, the dynamics perfect, and I love the way their relationship plays out  professionally and out of uniform.

There is still fallout from the scandal and NHL proceedings that entwine throughout the story.  The intrigue and suspense just adds to the overall depth and enjoyment.  But the real stars here remain the game and the romance.  The action on the ice, the plays, the excitement! You can almost imagine these teams and players are real.  That goes for the love and romance too.

I just adore this series and hope eventually to see another story release.  There are other players here that need their HEA and story told.   I’ll be waiting for it and them.

Until that happens, I’ll be content to reread this series as is.  Are you new to it?  I highly recommend each and every story but read them in the order they were written to understand the history of the teams, the players, and the Kelley Cup.  It’s a journey you won’t want to miss out on.

Cover art: Aaron Anderson.  Again, another great cover that brands the series and the story.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published June 26th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Original Title Coach’s Challenge
ISBN139781635337662
Edition Language English
Series Scoring Chances #5

Reviewer note: arcs purchased directly from Amazon for the entire series.

Scoring Chances Series – add to Goodreads here

Breakaway

Save of the Game

Power Play

Overtime

Empty Net

Coach’s Challenge

A MelanieM Review :Save of the Game (Scoring Chances #2) by Avon Gale

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

After last season’s heartbreaking loss to his hockey team’s archrival, Jacksonville Sea Storm goalie Riley Hunter is ready to let go of the past and focus on a winning season. His new roommate, Ethan Kennedy, is a loud New Yorker with a passion for social justice that matches his role as the team’s enforcer. The quieter Riley is attracted to Ethan and has no idea what to do about it.

Ethan has no hesitations. As fearless as his position demands, he rushes into things without much thought for the consequences.Though they eventually warm to their passionate new bond, it doesn’t come without complications. While trying to financially help Ethan, Riley must hide his family’s wealth so as not to hurt Ethan’s immense pride. For their relationship to work, Ethan will need to learn when to keep the gloves on and let someone help him—and Riley will have to learn it’s okay to let someone past his defenses.

As much as I love baseball, hockey and hockey players have slowly become my new boys of summer.  The NHL’s “Hockey for Everyone” campaign during Pride month just further solidified that position.  And we have some outstanding LGBT hockey romances to read and fall in love with, including Avon Gale’s Scoring Chances series.

Save of the Game by Avon Gale is the second story in that series (one I had somehow overlooked and now catching up on).  And it’s another winner of a romance, contributing to the series and universe the author is building for this series and just an overall giangatic pleasure to read.

Picking up with the ECHL teams involved with a fierce rivalry and loss from last season (book one Breakaway), Save of the Game picks up with the aftermath with goalie Riley Hunter and his new roommate and teammate, Ethan Kennedy.  Riley is one we started to get to know in Breakaway.  There he was still a bit of an enigma.  But here, we get the man and it’s everything I was hoping for.  Complex, quirky as goalies are, unexpected, and compelling in his strange upbringing.  I liked him to begin with and then fell in love the more the layers pulled back to reveal the heart of this man.

Where Riley is all quiet and  interior walls, Ethan is all loud, prickly, and defensive in other ways.  His barriers are obvious, his emotions thrown out there but as a man he’s as irresistible as Riley.Maybe it’s because Gale has written this man with a heart as big as the team he loves so fiercely.  Given their diverse personalities, the march towards a  relationship is as quirky, loud, funny, painful, and just plain amazing as they are.

There are wonderful other characters here.  The teammates that will become important players in other stories or already have been, the families of both men  who  are vibrant characters in their own right.  No one here is someone you will easily forget.  Trust me on that.  Everyone makes an indelible impression on you.  On and off the ice.

Oh, but when they get on the ice!  The action here is incredible, the pace as fast as you would expect, the games and flow is actually thrilling.  Avon Gale can write hockey!

If I could buy a crazy Jacksonville Sea Storm jersey I would.  I’m that nuts about this team.  Even their rivals.  There is something about the ECHL (Easy Come Hard to  Leave as the East Coast Hockey League is known as ) that pulls you in and makes you a rabid fan.  Avon Gale is one.  She’s made me one too.   This great series will go a long way to making you one as well and picking up the phone to see where your own ECHL team may be.

If you aren’t familiar yet with either Avon Gale or any of her hockey stories, here is a series to start with.  I highly recommend them.  Including Save of the Game, which I love.  But start with Breakaway and work your way through.  I have listed them all below!  Enjoy!

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson,  I love these covers.  Perfect for the characters and do a great job branding the series.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

book, 200 pages
Published January 29th 2016 by Dreamspinner
Original Title Save of the Game
ISBN 1627980474 (ISBN13: 9781627980470)
Edition Language English
Series Scoring Chances #2
setting Jacksonville, Florida (United States)
New York State (United States)
Florida (United States)

Scoring Chances Series

Breakaway

Save of the Game

Power Play

Overtime

Empty Net

Coach’s Challenge

A MelanieM Review:The Doctor’s Date (Copper Point Medical #2) by Heidi Cullinan

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Sequel to The Doctor’s Secret
Copper Point Medical: Book Two

The hospital’s least eligible bachelor and its aloof administrator hate each other… so why are they pretending to date?

Dr. Owen Gagnon and HR director Erin Andreas are infamous for their hospital hallway shouting matches. So imagine the town’s surprise when Erin bids an obscene amount of money to win Owen in the hospital bachelor auction—and Owen ups the ante by insisting Erin move in with him.

Copper Point may not know what’s going on, but neither do Erin and Owen. Erin intends his gesture to let Owen know he’s interested. Owen, on the other hand, suspects ulterior motives—that Erin wants a fake relationship as a refuge from his overbearing father.

With Erin suddenly heading a messy internal investigation, Owen wants to step up and be the hero Erin’s never had. Too bad Erin would rather spend his energy trying to rescue Owen from the shadows of a past he doesn’t talk about.

This relationship may be fake, but the feelings aren’t. Still, what Erin and Owen have won’t last unless they put their respective demons to rest. To do that, they’ll have to do more than work.

When I was reading the first story in this series, The Doctor’s Secret, I was loving the world that Heidi Cullinan was building and the characters she was introducing us too.  It’s never just a couple, but a foundation of friends, family, a network of co workers and townspeople that form a tapestry that make a place and people come alive for us.   I did get wrapped up in the courtship and romance of Jack and Simon but…and so remarkable and Heidi Cullinan like…there were two characters I couldn’t take my eyes off of.

Like lightning bugs in the darkness, flashes of brightness flickering away,  the characters of Owen Gagnon and Erin Andreas kept pulling my attention towards them when it should have been solely situated on Simon and Jack.  There was something about these two argumentative and yes, oddly broken men that I could never look away from. And I wanted their story…badly.

So here came The Doctor’s Date (Copper Point Medical #2) and honestly?  It’s my new favorite story.  I’m hugging this thing so hard because it’s everything I look for in a romance and more. It’s love, and healing, and self discovery, and finding the perfect someone and a home, and even redemption.  The author picked up the pot of narrative contemporary romance perfection, gave it a toss or two, and out came Owen and Erin’s story.

There were scenes from The Doctor’s Secret where your heart just broke for Erin, especially as he prepared to stand  alone against his father. That fight continues here.  Both Owen and Erin have to face huge issues in this story dealing with their fathers, abuse, and their upbringing.  Cullinan writes so realistically about the impact childhood abuse has on adult men that your heart shatters for them over and over. Just as realistically, it’s been dealt with, at least by one of them with years of therapy and in some cases medication.  This is a element I’ve seen lacking in far too many stories.  They include the abuse but not how the characters have dealt with the impact authentically.  Here we believe it and in them.

There are so many moments here from the auction to the important elements with the violin which swing from comedy to deep angst to tissue laden scenes that will leave you weeping for joy.. I read and read until this story was finished and then started it over again.

From the serious issues with the board (suspense and white knuckle action) to the hilarious competitive bromance between Owner and Jack to the novelty socks that carry such meaning, The Doctor’s Date is one book that is a treasure chest of story threads to keep exploring read after read.

And the next one is already coming out.  I think Copper Point Medical series just might be my new favorite Heidi Cullinan series.  This story definitely is.  I highly recommend it.  It’s now on ;my comfort reads list.  Pick it up, the first story too.  I bet they will make yours as well.

Cover art: Kanaxa.  As cute as that model is and as perfect as it brands the series, there is one glaring omission that almost ruins the cover.  No socks!  Socks, novelty socks, for both men, is a huge element here, and the model is sockless!!!!!  I would have photoshopped something onto his feet at least.  Utter fail. See Heidi’s guest post on socks here.

Sales Links:Goodreads • Publisher • Audible • Ripped Bodice • Barnes & Noble • Google Play Ebook • Google Play Audio • Apple Books • Kobo (US) • Kobo (Canada) • Amazon (US) • Amazon(Canada) • Amazon (UK) • Powells

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 448 pages
Published June 18th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
Original Title The Doctor’s Date
ASINB 07PNPP1GD
Edition Language English
Series Copper Point Medical #2

Copper Point Medical Series

The Doctor’s Secret

The Doctor’s Date

The Doctor’s Orders

A MelanieM Review: Made in Manhattan (Made In #2) by Ana Newfolk

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Will they get a second chance to rekindle their love?

Isaac was kicked out by his family at a young age.
It took him years of hard work to become his own man. Now he’s helping the LGBTQ youth of Lisbon so they don’t have to go through the same.

Max has a long and troubled past.
An ER nurse in New York City who volunteers at the local Liberty center, he knows first hand what it’s like to lose your family and having to make it on your own.

A chance encounter between the two a year ago has them hoping for a happy ever after, if not for the distance between them, but when Isaac takes a temporary work placement in Manhattan, the two men have an opportunity to find what their love is made of.

Will they make it, or will life’s tests tear them apart for good?

Made In Manhattan is the second instalment in the Made In series by Ana Newfolk. It is a standalone gay romance novel with a HEA ending and no cliffhanger. Fair warning, there will be naked man-parts touching, a touch of angst, and the claws of an overprotective cat.

Made in Manhattan is 62k words and features the same main characters from Made In New York – A Christmas Short Story.
You don’t have to read it, but you may want to find out how Max and Isaac first met.

I first fell in love with this universe and characters with the first story in the series Made in Portugal.  And while the blurb and tours may indicate that this is a standalone story, imo, I don’t feel that is entirely true.  So many of the characters and foundation for this novel rests in the first story. You need that knowledge of who these people referenced here are, well as all the events,locations, and even youth centers visited.  These two stories are intimately connected as both couples and casts travel back and forth from Manhattan to Portugal repeatedly, mixing past storylines with this one, and even future ones in novels to come.  So yes, not a standalone.

However,Made in Manhattan (Made In #2) continues to enrich and layer this series universe being created by Ana Newfolk.  This time the couple is  Isaac and Max, two people we met in Made in Portugal.  Both are men who were tossed out of their families for being gay but with different results immediately afterward, the revelations of which will unfold here in this story.  We know Isaac’s having seen it happen in Made in Portugal.  That leaves Made In Manhattan to be Max’s story. His past history that returns, his turbulent romance with Isaac, and many other serious themes that run through this story.

In addition to a complicated romance, Ana Newfolk deals with issues of feelings of abandonment, domestic violence, homelessness, shelter living, even family court.  And the author does so with a realistic eye towards a system that doesn’t always work with the best interests of the child.  While that seems like a lot to fold into a story, it all works.  Especially when using two separate countries, as Portugal and the US, specifically Manhattan where the other “sister” LGBT youth center is located are linked, not just by the two operations but by families and couples.

While I was missing the lushness of the Portuguese countryside and culture that I got in the first story, the complexity and suspense built into Max’s story made up for that.  However it sounds like a return to Portugal is coming in the next novel.  And I can’t wait.

All of these people are slowly feeling like family and a return to the series means seeing them all once more as they all make appearances in each novel. Made in Manhattan (Made In #2) by Ana Newfolk is a warm hearted, sweet, layered contemporary romance, much like the one before.  I highly recommend them both.

 

Cover Artist: Rhys Athanasiadis-Lawrence, Ethereal Elaine.  love that cover.  Its exactly as I picture the characters and its eye catching to boot.

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US

Amazon UK

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 221 pages
Published January 15th 2019
ASINB07MT34MSG
Edition Language English
Series Made In :

Made in Portugal

Made in Paris: A Christmas Short Story

Made in Manhattan

A MelanieM Release Day Review: ​ Alcatraz! (Repeating History #4) by Dakota Chase

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Repeating History: Book Four

In their further efforts to recover the historical artifacts lost when they set fire to Merlin’s office, Ash and Grant go back to the early 1930s, where they must infiltrate Alcatraz Prison and secure a locket belonging to Al Capone. They find themselves at odds when Ash plays the role of a prisoner, while Grant is a guard. Capone takes a liking to Ash, whom he sees as a younger version of himself, and places Ash under his protection.

Before they can return to their own time, the boys must help foil an escape from the Rock, expose a corrupt and dangerous guard, and secure the pendant.

Dakota Chase continues the incredible YA fantasy series with a jump back into time to the infamous prison island of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay.  A series that started because two boys with at odds social backgrounds were both in juvenile criminal court with three strikes against them, which most likely meant prison with the judge presiding over their cases.  But instead, in an strange, perhaps even mystical toss of the coin, both Ash and Grant were sent to the Stanford School for Boys .  To learn to “straighten up ” their act so to speak.  Instead by accident , when arguing with each other, they set fire to their history teacher’s office and destroyed it and all his collection of relics.  He wasn’t pleased considering it had taken him centuries and more to collect all those mystical artifacts and that he turns out to be none other than the Merlin!

Now both Ash and Grant are tasked with going back through time and finding, collecting, and bringing back each and every one of the relics lost in the fire or suffer the consequences.

And if they happen to learn something about history, humanity, and even themselves, growing a bit in the process….well. who is to say if Merlin had that planned all along.  It certainly hasn’t occurred to either of them yet.

Of the two boys, Ash is still the most angry, tilting at windmills, feeling put upon by fate and Merlin.  He has so much growing and maturing to do.  We still need to find more of where all this heat, and angre is pouring out from.  Grant with  his upper class upbringing has also made many adjustments, both to Ash, his attraction to Ash (both are gay), his situation at the school,  and the situation that got him there.  Think more hacker, less anger.  Still neither boy, and they are typical teenagers in so many ways (thoughts, dialog, and actions) have yet to understand the full consequences of their actions.  Here it will start to come home.

Dakota Chase’ research, no matter what the subject, and its incorporation into the storyline, has been flawless over the series to date.  That continues here with Alcatraz.  From the stomach churning boat journey across the Bay, the meeting by the guards, the motions through the gates into prison hell, you actually feel like you are walking into Alcatraz as it must have existed during the days of Al Capone’s “stay”.  The details are chilling, vivid, and, cuts to the bone of the matter of what it was like to be a prisoner or lifer in Alcatraz.  That includes men there solely because they loved other men.  What is shocking is that the prison wasn’t closed until 1963.  I have seen those cells personally.  You can’t believe any human beings were ever put into cells like those.  And the author has used great discretion here in the day by day existence of these men. This is a YA novel afterall. No sex and graphic violence, still real and alive.

Part of the joy of these stories is the discovery with Ash and Grant of the roles they are meant to play in finding said relic, how they need to retrieve it, and then get back to their time period.  So I won’t go into that here.  Again the characterizations are superb, the writing tight, and the storytelling  moves swiftly from start to finish.

No, here my only complaint (small one that it is) is the length of the quest and the swiftness with which they completed it.  I think that’s probably due to the location, who their “companions” were there, the seriousness of the boys situations, and , frankly, the need for the author to pull them out of there before realistically something would happen to them.  They had to get in and then get out.  Unlike the other stories where both Ash and Grant became parts of a “community”, where we almost fell in love with some of the people in the past, here we are dealing with seriously criminal elements, including Al Capone  who even at his most benevolent is still a murderer.  So it was much harder to feel engaged for the population there unlike all the other stories where there was an enormous  pull on your emotions and you wanted to know what happened to them after the boys returned.

For Ash and Grant, whether they fully acknowledged it or not, this story was them seeing what could have happened to them had they not been sent to the school.  They both might have ended up in prison.  For Ash this trip was a revelation about how poor judgement  sometimes comes truly with a high cost.

Time and the next story will see how much this personal growth will be carried forward by both of them. I can hardly  wait.

Cover Artist: Tiferet Design.  I am so in love with these covers.  They have both a retro feel that wouldn’t be out of place in a Hardy Boy adventure and yet still seems so fresh.  It’s as great as the story!  Kudos!

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st Edition , 180 pages
Expected publication: May 14th 2019 by Harmony Ink Press
ASINB07PDRQH71
Edition Language English
Series Repeating History #4

Series:

The Eye of Ra

Hammer of the Witch

Mammoth!

Alcatraz!

A MelanieM Review:To Be Continued (#lovehim #3.5) by S.M. James

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Welcome to Webcon. Where the biggest and brightest internet celebrities come face to face with their fans.

Brought up in the ‘live for likes’ culture, Digi Lynch has amassed an impressive following. His channel is taking off, and Webcon always delivers a boost in numbers, thanks to his rivalry with ex-vlogging partner, Gram Saito.

Gram is popular, confident, and rising to the kind of fame worthy of a second gen internet sensation. And he’s up to his old tricks.

Digi can’t turn a corner for fear of being pranked and his reaction blasted online. And after one of Gram’s most high scale pranks yet, Digi decides it’s time to get even.

The animosity between Digi and Gram heats up as old feelings resurface, and Digi is forced to decide whether a life in the limelight is worth it …

Before they both go too far.

A YA contemporary novella, To Be Continued is the prequel to Not Gonna Lie and will show you where it all began for Gram and Digi.

To Be Continued (#lovehim #3.5) by S.M. James is the last of the available stories in this author’s must read YA series, a fact that’s making me sigh already.  That it’s ending here, on the “first half” of Digi and Gram’s story? Worse because this is not one of those happy stories.  It’s full of pain, the punch in the gut ways only family and those we care for but have blinders on can deal blows. It’s being young and trying to figure things out.  It’s real, sometimes mean and in every way authentic as S.M James gets under these characters skins and emotions like no other.

You have two boys now teenagers who used to be friends only a year ago, their animosity fueled in part by their mother’s  who are competitive in their online blogs and make sure it carries over to their sons, who have blogs and followers of their own.  A twisty world, a heartbreaking way to grow up online and Digi has had enough.

The strength and pain of his feelings come through so powerfully that we are carried swiftly along through several days of events to an abrupt end.  It will make sense and make us want to grab for the story still out of reach until May.  We need to know what happened to everyone next.  But as James tells us in the title  this is To Be Continued….

If you ask me to pick a couple as a favorite, I probably would have swayed towards Brooks and Damien….but there’s something about Digi and Gram.  Well of of them.  They get to you.  In their struggles to find themselves.  Their sexuality and their path to love.  Each and everyone has a deep place in my heart.   This story is just one more reason why.

But don’t start here.  I listed all the books below.  They are short and incredible.  Read them in the order they are written and then wait with them to see what happens with Digi and Gram.  Is it time yet?  Are we there?

 

Cover art: Story Styling Cover Design.  That’s perfect in a way.  Brands the series and has the tone down.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 114 pages
Published April 4th 2019 by May Books
ASIN B07P3SMSSR
Series #lovehim #3.5

Series #lovehim

That Feeling When (Archie and Landon)

No Big Deal
To Be Continued(3,5) Digi and Gram
In Real Life(4.5)  Archie and Landon  coming soon, hopefully.

A MelanieM Review:To Be Continued (#lovehim #3.5) by S.M. James

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Welcome to Webcon. Where the biggest and brightest internet celebrities come face to face with their fans.

Brought up in the ‘live for likes’ culture, Digi Lynch has amassed an impressive following. His channel is taking off, and Webcon always delivers a boost in numbers, thanks to his rivalry with ex-vlogging partner, Gram Saito.

Gram is popular, confident, and rising to the kind of fame worthy of a second gen internet sensation. And he’s up to his old tricks.

Digi can’t turn a corner for fear of being pranked and his reaction blasted online. And after one of Gram’s most high scale pranks yet, Digi decides it’s time to get even.

The animosity between Digi and Gram heats up as old feelings resurface, and Digi is forced to decide whether a life in the limelight is worth it …

Before they both go too far.

A YA contemporary novella, To Be Continued is the prequel to Not Gonna Lie and will show you where it all began for Gram and Digi.

To Be Continued (#lovehim #3.5) by S.M. James is the last of the available stories in this author’s must read YA series, a fact that’s making me sigh already.  That it’s ending here, on the “first half” of Digi and Gram’s story? Worse because this is not one of those happy stories.  It’s full of pain, the punch in the gut ways only family and those we care for but have blinders on can deal blows. It’s being young and trying to figure things out.  It’s real, sometimes mean and in every way authentic as S.M James gets under these characters skins and emotions like no other.

You have two boys now teenagers who used to be friends only a year ago, their animosity fueled in part by their mother’s  who are competitive in their online blogs and make sure it carries over to their sons, who have blogs and followers of their own.  A twisty world, a heartbreaking way to grow up online and Digi has had enough.

The strength and pain of his feelings come through so powerfully that we are carried swiftly along through several days of events to an abrupt end.  It will make sense and make us want to grab for the story still out of reach until May.  We need to know what happened to everyone next.  But as James tells us in the title  this is To Be Continued….

If you ask me to pick a couple as a favorite, I probably would have swayed towards Brooks and Damien….but there’s something about Digi and Gram.  Well of of them.  They get to you.  In their struggles to find themselves.  Their sexuality and their path to love.  Each and everyone has a deep place in my heart.   This story is just one more reason why.

But don’t start here.  I listed all the books below.  They are short and incredible.  Read them in the order they are written and then wait with them to see what happens with Digi and Gram.  Is it time yet?  Are we there?

 

Cover art: Story Styling Cover Design.  That’s perfect in a way.  Brands the series and has the tone down.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 114 pages
Published April 4th 2019 by May Books
ASIN B07P3SMSSR
Series #lovehim #3.5

Series #lovehim

That Feeling When (Archie and Landon)

No Big Deal
To Be Continued(3,5) Digi and Gram
In Real Life(4.5)  Archie and Landon  coming soon, hopefully.

A MelanieM Review: No Big Deal (#lovehim #1.5) by S.M. James

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Angus Reid has always hoped for a roommate. As the only openly gay student at Pinebrook Private, he’s never had the kind of friendship everyone else in his year does, until Tyler shows up. Tyler is sweet, thoughtful, and absolutely adorkable—and better still, he couldn’t care less that Angus is gay.

Unfortunately, falling for your straight roommate is never a good idea, and during a snowed-in weekend, Angus learns this lesson the hard way.

A YA contemporary short story, No Big Deal is the prequel to To Be Honest and will show you where it all began for Angus and Tyler

No Big Deal is as the blurb says the prequel to the marvelous YA road story romance, To Be Honest, second novel in S.M. James’ outstanding YA #lovehim series.  And yes, yet another story I’ve read out of sequence.  I just can’t seem to read this series in order which is really doing it, the author, and me a disservice.

Because had I read this before To Be Honest, I would have had so much more insight into the characters and the issues they faced going into that story.  It would have made an already layered and moving reading experience that much richer.

No Big Deal is the story of Angus and Tyler’s first introduction, our look into their first steps as roommates and friends, and some hidden clues into each person’s back histories and personalities, especially when it comes to the LGBT community.  All of which have important roles to play in the next story.

This is a short story of 38 pages so it does just fly by but the writing is smooth and so beautifully done.  The characters as bright, funny, thoughtful, and engaging as I remembered.  They act their age, with so much depth to their emotions and mental acuity that its a pleasure to watch them grow as individuals and in their relationship.  In this story and in the series.

Told you, I read the other story first.

Don’t you do that.  Read all these amazing book in the order they were written.  Each and every one is a treasure.   More to come that, yes, I read out of order too. Sign.

Oh, and no sex, no heat, definitely YA all the way, this is also just meeting for a first time story.

Cover Artist: Story Styling Cover Designs. The cover art is so simple yet appealing, and perfect for the characters.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 38 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by May Books
ASINB07FX69TTC
Edition Language English
Series#lovehim #1.5

Series #lovehim

That Feeling When

No Big Deal

A MelanieM Review:That Feeling When (#lovehim #1) by S.M. James

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Dance Academy reject, Archie Corrigan, resents the stereotype guy ballet dancers are gay. Because he isn’t. At all. Forced to reassess his life goal at Camp Crystal Cove, it’s by sheer dumb luck he meets Landon Summers, who turns everything Archie was sure of into chaos.

Poor boy turned teen heartthrob, Landon Summers, is the name on everyone’s lips. With his unexpected leap to fame, his agent advises him to keep his bi status on the down low. Not a problem! Until Landon meets Archie.

Their unexpected friendship leads to an inevitable kiss, but their moment is caught in high definition and used as fuel for blackmail. If the truth gets out, Landon’s career could be over, and Archie will be forced to acknowledge the one thing he’s fought to deny.

But how do you go back to your average life once you’ve experienced That Feeling When … you’re finally happy?

I discovered S.M. James and her incredible series when I picked up and read the moving, 5 star story In Case You Missed It, the third novel in this #lovehim series.  That one story just did it for me on so many levels that I had to seek out the rest of the series and, well, start from the beginning.

Why, oh why, have I not found S.M. James before?  What a treasure!  And this series!  I’m running through them far too fast for my own liking because they should be enjoyed far more slowly for the precious caches of revelation, joy, romance, and love each represents.  And what a better way to start a journey with a loosely connected group of people than with That Feeling When (#lovehim #1) by S.M. James.

A coming out and coming of age story set in a summer camp for privileged youth, it delves far below surface exteriors and expectations to get at the truths that lie below.  The story is told from two points of view.  That of Archie Corrigan, scion of one of America’s wealthiest, most influential men (and power couple, his mother is famous in her own right).  His sister and twin is with him as well.  That he is there is due to a lost bet with his father, one that he sees has altered his future permanently  in an awful way. To say he’s unhappy is putting it mildly.  Then he meets Landon and everything goes crashingly off course.

The other perspective?  That of Landon Summers, famous actor, finishing a role in a movie on location at the camp.  That white sounding name is everything he is not.  He’s a bi aboriginal from Australian, homesick, his part in the movie isn’t going well, and he’s feeling lost.  Until he meets Archie.

The relationship between Archie and Landon will make Archie reevaluate not only his sexuality, but his lack of action in making his own path, his being courageous and passionate towards those things that mean the most to him.  After figuring out what they are, if he didn’t already know, and even eventually coming to a greater understanding of his parents and their love and role in his life.  Austen doesn’t let any stereotype go unflipped or unshattered with her characters.  Relationships were by turn subtle,funny, wry, and real at every turn/ It didn’t matter if it was a cringe inducing conversation with a girl over a phone or one you never expected to have with your mother.  I could see each happening in real life as clear as could be.  They each felt that authentic.

And while Archie is painfully trying to work his way through his thoughts about his sexuality, his parents, and, well, everything.  Landon too is feeling lost in his own way.  The author is so good at letting the reader into the heart and soul of this young man so far from his mum and home.  In a place where the night sky’s are so foreign and no one sounds like him.  His need for home becomes almost palpable and will bring you to tears….

The relationship dynamics between Archie and Landon?  Oh, how special.  It just clicks right off the page.  You get it, because it’s magic, you feel the chemistry as though these two were real.  The angst as Archie tries to figure out if he’s brave enough to be gay, Landon as he knows it has to be Archie to work it all out for himself…that’s real too.

There is still plenty of drama here and angst.  But I love the ending.  It’s HFN but these two get another book later on.  Plus you will see them again in book two.

Well, as I said this author and series has me well and truly hooked.  The writing is superb, the characters wonderful and the stories one to take into your heart.  Over and over again.

I didn’t start here but I wish I did.  Yes, I highly recommend That Feeling When (#lovehim #1) by S.M. James.  I also recommend the author and series.  Grab them all up and have a binge fest!

They are all on my must rec list!

Cover art is wonderful.  Light, bright, yet contains elements from the story.  Perfect.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 343 pages
Published September 16th 2018 by May Books
ASINB07DTB7MJ4
Series#lovehim #1

Series #lovehim

That Feeling When

No Big Deal

A MelanieM Pre-release Review: Jacked Cat Jive (The Kai Gracen #3) by Rhys Ford

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Stalker Kai Gracen knew his human upbringing would eventually clash with his elfin heritage, but not so soon. Between Ryder, a pain-in-his-neck Sidhe Lord coaxing him to join San Diego’s Southern Rise Court, and picking up bounties for SoCalGov, he has more than enough to deal with. With his loyalties divided between the humans who raised him and the Sidhe Lord he’s befriended and sworn to protect, Kai finds himself standing at a crossroads.

When a friend begs Kai to rescue a small group of elfin refugees fleeing the Dusk Court, he’s pulled into a dangerous mission with Ryder through San Diego’s understreets and the wilderness beyond. Things go from bad to downright treacherous when Kerrick, Ryder’s cousin, insists on joining them, staking a claim on Southern Rise and Kai.

Burdened by his painful past, Kai must stand with Ryder against Kerrick while facing down the very Court he fears and loathes. Dying while on a run is expected for a Stalker, but Kai wonders if embracing his elfin blood also means losing his heart, soul, and humanity along the way.

In a series that by turns has been dark, gritty, wondrous, and wild in the previous stories, Jacked Cat Jive has me gobsmacked with it’s , dare I say it, jacked up gloriously layered plot,  the multiple story threads running and twisting and turning each pulling your attention this way and that, while the author carefully weaves a vivid complicated tapestry that will pull them all back together into a stunning whole.

It’s a stunning series, grounded in a warped universe where dragons fly over cracked highways, elven palaces grow themselves, and the peace between humans and non is tentative at best in a world where neither quite understands the new laws of nature and reality can buckle along with the ground.

If someone would ask me what are my favorite elements, I couldn’t tell them, because there are far too many.  From the world building to the characters and the weirdly complicated, often twisted relationships.  This is a harsh landscape, not only of land but of the mind and soul.  And Rhys Ford gives us the same tortured, determined, and incredibly real beings that now inhabit it.

Kai Gracen has undergone many changes since , the first story in the series, Black Dog Blues.  He’s grown, learned more about his past, accepted responsibilities ,j and given much thought as to what his genetic pool makes him as a person.  It’s a journey of self that continues, along with his relationship with Ryder, the High Lord of the Southern Rise Court (Mad Lizard Mambo (Kai Gracen #2).  Talk about your slow burn!  They haven’t even kissed yet!  And it’s book three!

This story is so crammed full of high adventure, suspense, breathtaking hijinks and political manipulations of all sorts along with the just ol pull at your heart emotions that this author never forgets is needed as the heart that holds it all together.  It’s the perfect combination of them all and I couldn’t stop reading once I started, I think I ended somewhere around 3 am.

We are introduced to new characters even as we brace to let old ones go. Ford breaks our hearts even as she prepares us for further attachments and excitement to come.  Really this is my favorite story in the series yet.  And that is saying something.  Because this series is already full of favorites.

The writing is tight and flows like a fast moving river.  The characters are both real and fantastical, flawed and incredibly moving.   And the universe building, which continues to evolve, is absolutely stunning.

If you love urban fantasy, here is a series for you.  But they are not standalone stories but should be read in the order they are written.    Already I’m primed for the next in the series.  I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Kai, Ryder, and everyone they care for.

I highly recommend this and all the stories listed below.  Stay tuned

Cover Artist: Chris McGrath. I like the cover, Bright, colorful although not quite as edgy nor my idea of Kai.

Sales Links:  DSP Publications | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 253 pages
Expected publication: March 5th 2019 by DSP Publications
ASIN B07L8LZSLK
Edition Language English
Series Kai Gracen #3

Mad Lizard Bites(.05)

Black Dog Blues

Mad Lizard Mambo

Jacked Cat Jive