A MelanieM Review: Family Matters (Brandywine Investigations #4-5) by Angel Martinez


Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

With his career firmly established and his reputation as a successful PI growing, Hades should have the perfect life with his human lover, his faithful ferryman, his dogs and the parts of his family still speaking to him. But murder and chaos are never far away for death lords as his nephew Dionysus and his oldest friend Charon are drawn into the maelstrom.

Includes: Books, Bulls, & Bacchanals: Brandywine Investigations #4 Midwinter Dancing: Brandywine Investigations #4.5 Pack Up the Moon: Brandywine Investigations #5

With Angel Martinez’s fertile imagination, she has created a universe in which Lord Hades gets a divorce, gets kicked out of the underworld and starts a detective agency.  Of course, there’s so much more to it than that.  It involves so many gods and goddesses hanging out in the “real world” as well as on the Olympic plain, all doing their thing.  It’s fun, it’s a madhouse of murder and mystery and the author often turns well-known mythology on it’s head time after time.  Yes, it’s also absolutely marvelous great times.

I’ve taken the two stories that make up Family Matters separately.  They both take place in the Brandywine Investigations universe and have some of the same characters, in that Dio and Leander, along with Hades and Ti makes appearances in Pack Up the Moon.

Books, Bulls, & Bacchanals: Brandywine Investigations #4: Rating: 5 stars

Everyone assumes life’s one big party for Dionysus, but even the god of wine and orgies has problems. His anger management issues are out of control, and his siblings suggest a visit to the Eternal Library to find a cure. The library of the gods is a strange and confounding place, though, one that Dionysus has avoided for centuries, and his certainty that the library hates him is confirmed when a killer strikes during his visit.

Life as the only librarian is blissfully peaceful for Leander, giving him the security and quiet he so desperately needs. Considered a monster as a child, Leander’s memories of his imprisonment in the Labyrinth left deeply carved emotional scars. But when a young woman is murdered in his library, he needs to emerge from his self-imposed seclusion to help find the killer who might still stalk the hallways.

Forced to keep company with Dionysus, Leander swings between whether the unpredictable and charming little god will keep him safe or drive him to distraction before the killer is found.

I absolutely loved this story.  Here again the author takes two well known mythological figures Dionysus and the Minotaur and puts her own spin on their characters, personalities, and back histories.   Personally, I like her take on them  better.  Dio as he’s called is a slightly damaged, loving chaos god whose brain was scrambled by what you might call an acid trip.  He wants to be loved and accepted for who he is.  Hard when part of that includes orgiastic events that he needs to feed his life force.  For too many lovers, that’s been  breaking point along with a certain impossible to contain destructive anger.  One that explodes when he finds his human assistant dead in the Underworld Library.

Leander, head librarian at The Eternal Library, is the Minotaur.  However, here, instead of a fierce monster, he was an abused teenager, unjustly imprisoned by his family and betrayed by Theseus.  He’s a figure of utter shyness, poignancy, with a good measure of PTSD thrown in.  All in a huge minotaur’s body.  All he wants is his books, his garden, and to be left alone with his red panda assistants (so  fantastically  adorable).   But one murder, several robberies, and that’s quite impossible.

The authors characterizations, wonderful plot, sweet romance, and all the suspense make this a 5 star romp that both endearing and edge of your seat exciting.  Loved it.

Pack Up the Moon: Brandywine Investigations #5 Rating 4.5 stars out of 5

Charon, Hades’ ferryman of the Dead across the River Styx, has watched Hades himself and several of Hades’ nephews all find love.  And quietly wished for love himself.  To pass in the normal world, he runs Stygian Funeral Home when he isn’t helping solve mysteries with Lord  Hades.  Then it happens, he has a run in with the raccoon demi god Azeban and his crow Kaukont and everything starts to go terribly wrong.  Or right after a very mixed up fashion even for a Chaos god.  With the world and all its souls hanging in the balance, can love and a ton of goddesses and Chaos gods save the day?

Chary, that wonderful Chaos god who has appeared in all the stories, now gets his own romance.  Long overdue and I’m so happy with the results.  No less than the utter end of the Death Lords and the World could be at stake here.  And the resolution and unlikeliest of heroes is also a Raccoon.  Well, a raccoon god and a crow.  There’s  the Martinez humor, a great deal of pathos in two characters who never thought they’d find love and do with each other, near death experiences, and a wonderful drum dance of goddesses and this story came very close to perfection.    Perhaps I wanted a little more comeuppance for the evil deeds done but maybe that ‘s not possible when you are talking about gods.

If you love mythology, Angel Martinez and her wild takes on everything from murder mysteries to every known god pantheon there is, this is the universe and stories for you.  Grab them all up while you are at it.  I highly recommend them all.

Cover art: Rebeckah Murray.  I like this cover.  Clearly different from the norm.  That Leander and Dio on the front.  I liked it.

Sales Links:  Mischief Corner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 502 pages
Published February 28th 2018 by Mischief Corner Books
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Brandywine Investigations #4-5

Please note: Books, Bulls & Bacchanals has been re-edited with a few story adjustments for this edition.

A MelanieM Review :Explore with Me (With Me Series #2) by Kris Jacen


Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Can two coming from such different backgrounds and points in their lives find a balance to explore together?

The Army is the only thing that First Sergeant Danny Glenn has known in his adult life. From the age of nineteen on, he’s worn a uniform every day. He’s seen so much in his twenty years but the last deployment did something to him. Danny’s begun to wonder if he can’t do more good helping people in the US instead of other countries but to do that he’d have to get out.

Doctor Liam MacNamara is finishing up the last of his residency in Emergency Medicine. Now’s the tough part, which offer to accept. He could stay in New Orleans where shifts are never dull or choose to uproot and experience somewhere different. College followed by medical school and then residency are the only things he’s known since he was eighteen. There’s got to be more out there, right?

Can a retired first sergeant and a brand-new doctor balance each other enough to explore their options together?

I so glad Kris Jacen went ahead and wrote another story in what became a series because it’s wonderful.  Explore with Me continues in the same universe and with the same characters and heptad as the marvelous Wait for Me. First Sergeant Danny Glenn is another member of the heptad that I fell in love with in the first story.

But the author removes him from that close-knit group and their support system by placing him in New Orleans.  I have to admit I missed them but they all will show up later.  By isolating him, cutting him away from his heptad, the focus is again primarily on him, his issues, and the problem at the moment, the one the places him at the hospital.    His doctor, Doctor Liam MacNamara, happens to be the baby brother of Mackay…yep  the same Master Sergeant Jeff “Mackey” MacNamara of Wait for Me.  Lian is also at a crossroads in his life, needing to figure out where to go next now that his internship is done.

Two men, one major attraction, close ties between them,  and both at crossroads in their lives. All you need for a wonderful, emotionally charged story and Jacen gives us that.  And she does so within the framework of the military she knows so well.

The members of the heptad (the group of soldiers that serves together and support each other) don’t have to be physically present to be a strong presence here.  No, they appear via  phone calls, texts, what have you.  And then of course, they do come when needed. They are family. All the nibbles and squeakers (the children as they are called), the dogs, the spouses (men and women)…everyone is here.  I love that about these stories.  Kris Jacen makes it clear that a soldier cannot be a soldier within their support system, their military heptad family which includes their actual ones.  That important message comes through strongly here for the readers and Danny.

The buildup to a relationship is slow and realistic.  I liked that too.  In fact I loved everything about this except maybe I wanted a little more at the end.  Maybe the author will give it to us in another story.  Plus there’s a certain soldier May that now needs his story told as well.  I hope they have a part to play in his.  This is a terrific series that I can see going on for some time.  It’s rich and full of love and wonderful people.  I can’t wait for the next one to come out.

I highly recommend this story and the previous one. It helps to have read Wait for Me to understand all the characters you meet here.   Take this soldier and the whole heptad into your heart today.

Cover art: Jared Rackler. I love the cover for this book.  Attractive and the colors are striking.

Sales Links:  MLR Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 127 pages
Published February 8th 2018 by MLR Press
Original TitleExplore with Me
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review : Bitten By The Alpha (Regent’s Park Pack #4) by Annabelle Jacobs


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Gareth’s heart is set on Cam, but Cam’s heart broke a long time ago. 

As alpha of the Regent’s Park Pack, Cam’s focus is always centred on its members—his personal life pushed aside after the death of his wife. Now that his pack has merged with the Primrose Hill shifters, he can’t afford any distractions.

Gareth’s been in love with his alpha for years, but his position as beta complicates matters. Added to the fact Cam still mourns his late wife, Gareth knows his feelings will never be reciprocated, so he buries them deep.

With the two packs already struggling to unite under one alpha, they get a surprise addition—one who causes more tension within the ranks. Under such strain, long-kept secrets are forced into the open. Gareth and Cam must deal with the aftermath, while also keeping the pack’s best interests at heart.

One of my favorite series is back with Annabelle Jacobs’ Bitten By The Alpha.  I’ve been waiting to see if Cam, Alpha of the Regent’s Park  Pack would get a mate and a HEA and here he does.  Through the first three books, much is made of Cam’s mourning the loss of his human wife, a woman he loved deeply.  And all the time while he grieved, Gareth, his Beta, has loved him.  What is worse, he’s known that Cam is his mate, something Cam could never have with his human wife.

Jacobs has several plot lines running through Bitten By The Alpha as she  always does with her stories.  Entertwined with the difficulties of any romance between Cam and Gareth (and they are huge), are the pack problems that have come up with melding the two packs, Primrose Hill and Regent’s Park, together now that the alpha from Primrose Hill has had his powers removed and been jailed for his crimes.  Still, even more troublesome are the undercurrents that someone is looking to destabilize the newly formed pack and its Alpha.

Yes, hooked in good with all the drama and suspense yet at heart it’s still a love story, although at first you’re not sure how reciprocated it’s going to be.  All the emotions that have to be worked through, all the dynamics of the pack and emotionally fraught issues between the men that need to be examined, including Cam’s sexuality are played out here.  Jacobs also supplies us with an amazing side story and strong female character who will luckily get her own story and LGBT romance, a fact I recently learned and am thrilled about.

This story is a clear representation of why I love this series so.  The characters are full of personality, well rounded, and layered.  The stories have multiple plotlines that keep you often on the edge of your seat, entertained as well as swooning over whatever couple is at the heart of the main story thread with a strong cast of characters that continue to show up book after book, making everything both familiar and fresh.   Yes, I am eagerly awaiting the next one in the series and I think if you love shifters and romance, this is a series you shouldn’t miss out on.  Start at the beginning and work your way through all the stories as each builds on the one prior to it.  I highly recommend them all.

Cover Design: Natasha Snow.  I love the cover and think it works well for the story. 

Sales Links:   Amazon |  Universal Buy Link

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 314 pages
Published February 27th 2018
Original TitleBitten By The Alpha
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Regent’s Park Pack :

Book #1 – Bitten By Mistake

Book #2 – Bitten By Design

Book #3 – Bitten By Desire

A MelanieM Review: The Lion Tamer (The Sin Bin #6) by Dahlia Donovan


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

One dominant Marine.

One troubled rugby player.

The Sin Bin will never be the same.

Gray Baird’s to-do list for the year includes starting a restaurant, claiming his submissive, and keeping his nosy friends out of his business. He has his work seriously cut out for him.

Scottie Monk prides himself on bullying his way through problems—and sometimes even people. His life is spiralling out of his control, but he refuses to break. The last thing he expects is to find peace in the confines of submission.

One man will try to tame a lion.

One man will try to heal.

And both men will have to join forces to deal with a toxic family and invasive paparazzi.

Each new story in The Sin Bin series made me sure I’d found the favorite  story and couple out of all of them…and I had. Until the next one.  This pattern held true with The Lion Tamer.  Dahlia Donovan has taken a sad and sometimes unlikable character that’s been appearing in every  previous story and slowly turned him into someone I not only connected deeply with but rooted for his happiness with everything I had.  That would be Scottie Monk,  a ex rugby alcoholic with anger issues up the wazoo.  Nasty to friends, unreliable, he’s on a downward spiral that anyone familiar with his  family would recognize.  And up until the previous story, The Unexpected Santa (The Sin Bin, #5), I wasn’t sure where Dahlia Donovan was going to take or leave him.

Gray Baird, an ex Marine and transplant to the UK is both the key to Scottie’s change in path and a whole new wonderful character.  Gray wants a sea change in his life and makes it.  New career as a chef, new home, and slowly, ever so slowly, a whole new set of people that become his family, including the autistic twins that he befriended in The Unexpected Santa.  The person he also wants to include in this new life is Scottie, but Scottie has to want to change his life, go to rehab, make his own drastic changes ..not for Gray but for himself.

This book has a gritty, realistic side (as does the entire series).  Donovan doesn’t spare the ugliness that is Scottie at his worst.  We  see the effects alcoholism has not only on the person deep in his addiction but on all of those around him.  The strains on the few friendships he has left, the growing exclusions from functions because of his behavior, and always the anger.  When submission and dominance start to help Gray and Scottie, both as a initial doorway to their relationship and as a revelation for Scottie, for whom love has always been an unknown factor in life, we get it.

You can’t separate out sections of this story as all threads flow naturally together into one vivid indelible tapestry.  The bdsm elements which are unbelievably hot and sexy, the raw and painful road to recovery for Scottie to sobriety,  the endearing and moving continued incorporation of twins Alice and Alex into Gray’s home and life.  Finally, their love and relationship along with all their friends and loved ones.  I can’t believe how much I love this story.

It’s so great to see all the other couples popping up to support this couple in whatever fashion is needed.  All the books and characters are so tightly intertwined that I may just start the series over reading them one right after the other.

The Lion Tamer (The Sin Bin #6) by Dahlia Donovan is one remarkable, warmhearted contemporary romance.  It’s moving, and oh so memorable.  I absolutely recommend it and the entire Sin Bin series.

Cover art:  Claire Smith.  I love the cover but it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the series.

Sales Links:  Hot  Tree Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

Published February 20th 2018 by Hot Tree Publishing
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series The Sin Bin #6

The Sin Bin Series:

1. The Wanderer – BC & Graham

2. The Caretaker – Tens & Freddie

3. The Botanist (short story) – Aled & Wyatt

4. The Royal Marine – Hamish & Akash

5 The Unexpected Santa (short story) – Gray & Scottie

6. The Lion Tamer – Gray & Scottie

7. The Haka Ever After (short story) – Tens & Freddie

8. TBD – Zeb & Silus

A MelanieM Review: Apocalypse Alley (Blue Unicorn #2) by Don Allmon


Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Home from a six-month assignment to war-torn East Asia, genetically engineered supersoldier Noah “Comet” Wu just wants to kick back, share a beer, and talk shit with his best friend, JT. But JT’s home has been shot up like a war zoars out of 5ne, and his friend has gone missing.

Comet’s only lead is a smart-mouthed criminal he finds amid the mess. His name’s Buzz Howdy. He’s a con man and a hacker and deserves to be in jail. Or in handcuffs, at least. The only thing the two have in common is JT. Unless you count the steamy glances they’re sneaking at one another. They have those in common too. But that just makes Comet all the more wary.

Despite their mutual distrust, they’ll have to work together to rescue JT before a cyborg assassin gets to him first. Racing down a miserable stretch of road called Apocalypse Alley, they must dodge radioactive spiders, a lonely cannibal, and a killer Buick. They also try to dodge each other. That last bit doesn’t work out so well.

When I last put down  The Glamour Thieves (Blue Unicorn #1), the first story in this amazing series, JT, Austin, and his elf lover were headed to his  home that he shares with the teenage orc he’s mentoring having stirred up more trouble and uncovered even more disturbing information after freeing the virtual intelligence known as the Blue Unicorn.  Trust me, you need to read that story.  One, it’s a dynamite adventure tale and two, without it, you will be lost diving into this one.

I love Apocalypse Alley but the truth is you won’t get a solid foundation of the world or overall series ARC without reading The Glamour Thieves first.  This story and series builds upon each other like building blocks and you can’t enter midway point.  It’s like being dropped on a warped yellow brick road and not knowing you’re headed to Oz.  Not that you’re all that sure of your destination here.  So many twists  and turns await you!

And it all happens at break-neck speed.  What an adrenaline rush.  I had to read it twice to gather together all the story threads and hints I missed the first time.  Props btw to Allmon for creating a character with the name of Urushiol.  As a park naturalist/Ranger, I’m highly familiar with this chemical compound as is anyone who’s come in contact with poison ivy.  I laughed myself silly when I saw that name.  Perfect in every way.  Anyhow, from the moment the story opens we start picking up speed as Comet returns expecting to find JT waiting to pick him up at the airport and  goes looking for him when he doesn’t show.  Each scene as Comet interacts with both Buzz Howdy (we’ve met him before) and others foe and friend gives the readers more information about the man.

Buzz is a known entity but we get into his head and yes heart here.  He falls for  Comet, quick yes, but you can see how and why it happens.

But mostly it’s a race.  A race to keep ahead of some of the worse villains out there, a race to find JT and crew, a race to stay alive…all in heart pounding, white knuckle…go all out scenes.  It’s wildly imaginative, horrifying, and incredibly suspenseful.  Did I say I loved it?  And just when you think it’s safe…a surprising twist shows up at the end that makes you want to go back and read books one and two again to see if there was anyway you could have seen this coming.  And now I need The Burning Magus (Blue Unicorn #3 to come out in the worst possible way.

So, yes, I  absolutely recommend this series.  It’s one wild  ride.  It has great characters, it’s gritty, suspenseful, full of twists and turns and more plots threads then you can shake a VR stick with.  It’s even got love such as it is.  But you need to start with The Glamour Thieves and then to Apocalypse Alley.  I’ll be waiting for you at The Burning Magus!

Cover by: Simoné. I love these covers.  Perfect in everyway from the tone and characters.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 201 pages
Expected publication: February 26th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleApocalypse Alley
ISBN 162649665X (ISBN13: 9781626496651)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBlue Unicorn #2

A MelanieM Review:Poke Check (Harrisburg Railers #4) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

One scorching summer in each other’s arms could never be enough.

Stanislav “Stan” Lyamin is happy playing for the Railers. The towering goalie is well-loved, respected, and making a home for himself even though that home only contains him, his cat, and his growing Pokemon trading card collection. Stan prefers it that way.

He’d given his heart to a man in a secret affair, and that man walked away, leaving Stan shattered. Now Erik is back in his life, and he has the same tumultuous effect he had on Stan’s heart as before. This time it’s not just a kissable mouth and sweet blond curls that Erik has brought to Harrisburg, there’s a soon-to-be ex-wife and a precious baby.

Despite the vow Stan made to hate Erik forever, he’s now finding it harder and harder to turn away.

Erik Gunnarsson’s dream had always been to play in the NHL, he just never imagined he’d land a contract with the Railers. Who would have thought that fate would put him on the same team as Stanislav Lyamin; the man whose heart he’d callously broken?

Secrets and lies had defined their summer relationship, and the choice that Erik made to end it all haunts him still. In the middle of a messy divorce and with a baby in tow, Erik finds himself back in Stan’s life. Now all he has to do is be the best dad he can be, prove to the team that he deserves the chance to stay on the roster and try his hardest to get Stan to forgive him.

Is it possible to persuade a man who hates you to give love a second chance?

I’ve been waiting for Stan’s story ever since being introduced to the goalie in the Harrisburg Railers series.  With his staunch Russian soul and broken English, Stan quickly won my heart and those of a multitude of readers.  We wanted his story and his HEA.  Now we have it in  Poke Check (Harrisburg Railers #4) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey. Should have known it would be a heartbreaker.

Turns out Stan has a secret love that went badly and ex shows up as a player brought up from their farm team to join the line. All the heartache and betrayal made fresh daily.  I love that Scott and Locey finally give us a window into this complicated man who misses his family, his mother and sister back in Russia, that he’s been creating a home for in Harrisburg.  Given his pov, we see his relative isolation (courtesy of his language barrier), his love for his team, and the crushing pain Erik’s handling of their affair has dealt him.  It is a visceral hurt for us all, due in part to the authors vivid and emotional descriptions that bring us deeply into Stan’s life.

Erik’s perspective also become’s a necessary part of their story.  We need to see what drove his decision, his interaction with his son, everything in order to connect with the man that hurt Stan.  Twining the two shared men’s stories strengthens our hopes and resolve to see them together.  You can see how clearly Erik needs not only Stan but the rest of the team for support, emotional and otherwise.

I loved watching the team meld together.  Locey is such an excellent sports writer.  Her scenes of the team together visually on ice, lining up as a team, mentally or figuratively, work to bring this novel alive.  So too the characters as breathing hockey players.  I

One element I very much appreciated was the development of the mother’s character.  There is no lop-sided villainess here but an individual not prepared to be a mother.  This is a thoughtful portrayal, realistic and believable.  I enjoy the hockey scenes as much as the romance….almost….lol.

There is a wonderful epilogue and a setup for the next story.  Honestly, this is one of my favorite series, full of complex men, with each relationship far different from the next.  I couldn’t recommend it more.  That includes Poke Check.

Cover Design: Meredith Russell .  Not my favorite cover.  Neither is my idea of the characters.  I mean have you seen Alex Ovechkin, the great 8, or any other of the Russian players?No match, not even close to the all American looking guy on the cover.

Buy Links:  AmazonUniversal Buy Links

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 178 pages
Published February 11th 2018 by Love Lane Books Ltd
SeriesHarrisburg Railers #4

Book #1 – Changing Lines

Book #2 – First Season

Book #3 – Deep Edge

A MelanieM Review:Lander (Oberon Cycle Book 2) by J.Scott Coatsworth


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Sometimes the world needs saving twice.

In the sequel to the Rainbow-Award-winning Skythane, Xander and Jameson thought they’d fulfilled their destiny when they brought the worlds of Oberon and Titania back together, but their short-lived moment of triumph is over.

Reunification has thrown the world into chaos. A great storm ravaged Xander’s kingdom of Gaelan, leaving the winged skythane people struggling to survive. Their old enemy, Obercorp, is biding its time, waiting to strike. And to the north, a dangerous new adversary gathers strength, while an unexpected ally awaits them.

In the midst of it all, Xander’s ex Alix returns, and Xander and Jameson discover that their love for each other may have been drug-induced.

Are they truly destined for each other, or is what they feel concocted? And can they face an even greater challenge when their world needs them most?

We emerge into the world of Lander just as the reunification of the two worlds ends  and start to see its shocking results upon the lands, Skythane and Lander kingdoms, even Obercorp itself.  All is chaos, more so brought on by the climatic and environmental changes wrought by the collapse of the atmosphere that separated the two halves.

The author’s vivid and moving descriptions of the aftermath of reunification quickly pull us into the madness and turmoil that our characters find themselves embroiled in.  Xander and Jameson struggling to find everyone in their group, Robyn and Quince, and yes, Alix returns to add an unusual thread of romantic drama as well as one of suspense of another nature.

Unlike other reviews where you can somewhat discuss elements of the plot, with J. Scott Coatsworth’s incredible Oberan Cycle Trilogy it’s almost impossible to do that without giving away important hints to one of the stories and clues to a huge   plot point, something I won’t do.  What I will say is that the author continues to build on the exciting and fascinating worldbuilding he started in Skythane.  It was so original and imaginative!  So too his characters and their plight.  What a journey they had throughout Skythane!

And then Lander.  Oh my.  This is less a romance but truly a science fiction saga.  Yes, there is love, of many forms.  Not just the love between Xander and Jameson which is tested, but Alix who loves Xander, Quince and Robyn (two incredibly strong female characters), even the love of Xander and Jameson for their people.   Plus Morgan is still here as well.  More twists and turns than you can count and all flowing smoothly through a tale you can’t put down until it says The End.

Yes, it’s beautifully written.

But it’s more than that.  It’s vast.  It’s huge on every scale you can think to rate a story.  It hits home emotionally, it’s suspenseful, it grabs at you intellectually, keeps you thinking about all the possibilities that may lie in store, and yes, makes you anxiously await the final chapter.

Each book now has been titled with the name of one half of the world’s people.  Will the third and final story bring them all together as one? This one ends not with a cliffhanger but yes, nothing is quite settled.  It can’t be.  Not yet.  The biggest battle is yet to come.  What can I say?  Read the books!  This is definitely not a standalone story.  You must read Skythane first, then Lander.  What joy!

I highly recommend them both.  The Oberon Cycle is looking to be a classic scify saga!

Cover art: Anne Cain.  Powerful imagery with a united world in the background.

Sales Links:  AmazonDreamspinner – eBook | Dreamspinner – Paperback

Book Details:

ebook, 294 pages
Published February 13th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition LanguageEnglish


In the Spotlight: La Famiglia (A Men of Gilead Novel) by Deanna Wadsworth


Title: La Famiglia
Series: A Men of Gilead Novel
Author: Deanna Wadsworth
Genre: M/M Romance Novel (standalone)
Release Date: January 23, 2018

Forrester Giordano comes from a huge, nosy Italian family, and with their homophobic jokes and slurs, he’s decided to stay in the closet. He finds respite in his bookstore in the quaint village of Gilead—where he has a huge crush on one of his customers, Kyle Benson.

Kyle is determined to live his dreams, and though life isn’t easy being deaf, one by one he’s making them come true. He’s scored a great job practicing law, bought a cute bungalow where he can finally have a big flower garden, and he has a dog he loves, Jasper. Now he just needs one thing to complete his happiness: a family of his own to make up for the one he never had.

Forrester and Kyle’s relationship starts off hot and heavy, and neither man can deny the depth of their connection. When Forrester’s little brother gets mixed up with their heroin-dealing cousin and his mother falls ill, Forrester has a decision to make—maybe the hardest of his life. For the first time, he’s found a man worth coming out for.

Unfortunately nothing ever goes according to plan with la famiglia.


“This is an amazing story in a series that just shines” – A Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

“Relatable and Real” – Amazon Review

“The best in the series….so far!” – Amazon Review


Deanna Wadsworth might be a bestselling erotica author, but she leads a pretty vanilla life in Ohio with her wonderful husband and a couple adorable cocker spaniels. She has been spinning tales and penning stories since childhood, and her first erotic novella was published in 2010. She has served multiple board positions at her local RWA chapter and is the current President 2017 for Rainbow Romance Writers of America. When she isn’t writing books or brainstorming with friends, you can find her making people gorgeous in a beauty salon. She loves music and dancing, and can often be seen hanging out on the sandbar in the muddy Maumee River or chilling with her hubby and a cocktail in their basement bar. In between all that fun, Deanna cherishes the quiet times when she can let her wildly active imagination have the full run of her mind. Her fascination with people and the interworkings of their relationships have always inspired her to write romance with spice and love without boundaries.


A MelanieM Review: After the Scrum by Dahlia Donovan


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5


When a former rugby player reinventing himself meets a man who’s afraid to move on, can love offer a path for them both?

When Caddock Stanford loses his brother and his rugby career, two of the most important parts of his life are gone forever. Now raising his young nephew, he seeks a quieter place away from the paparazzi and all the vices of his old life. Lust and love in the form of an eccentric man weren’t even on his horizon.

Francis Keen talks to his dog and his car. In his experience, people are less predictable and safe. His crippling anxiety keeps him anchored to his grandmother’s home. He wonders if he’ll ever find the courage to live—and to love.

Two men, so different, on track for a romantic collision… can they survive the impact? 

I’ve read all the Sin Bin series and I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment.  So it occurred to me that I never read the very first book that started it all…After the Scrum! This is the novel that launched the series and started to introducing the characters that appears throughout the stories that followed.  Of course I had to read it.  And see what the hell scrum meant.

Scrum.  A rugby term that means an ordered formation of players used to restart play, in which the forward of a team huddle together to gain possession of the ball.   Got that from the small glossary Dahlia Donovan gives us at the beginning of After the Scrum to clue us “Yanks” and non – Rugby oriented people into the various lingo, colloquialisms, and sports terms we will encounter therein.  [Note: I will admit to watching rugby without every actually caring about the game outcome or who’s playing…draw your own conclusions.] It’s a marvelous use here in the title.

Caddock Stanford aka ‘the Brute’ had been the star player for years on the national team until a injury sidelined him for good.  Then life hit him again when his beloved younger brother, Had, died during a diving accident, leaving him the guardian of Had’s four year old son, Devlin.  Overwhelmed, Caddock takes a chance on a new life in a seaside village in Cornwall called Looe.  A whole restart on life.

But Uncle “Boo” as Devlin calls him really doesn’t get the romantic start until decorator Francis Keen and his therapy dog Sherlock enter his bar and life.  Francis is needing that restart as much as Caddock does after a traumatic past and PTSD has made it hard for him to move forward.

I loved these characters and easily connected with them.  As with all her stories, the author’s dialog and narrative drew me into the characters and their relationship.  I felt apart of their lives  in such a close knit manner.  In a way, you felt steeped in the very life of Looe itself….whether wandering down to the Bakery or to Gran’s or the path to the sea.  Donovan pulls you into the small village dynamics and how it interacts upon individuals and their relationships.  Lovely.

I actually wanted more here as I enjoyed these two men and the family they become with Devlin and “Lock”.  I could have enjoyed a book twice this size because I just wasn’t prepared to let them go at the end.  Of course I feel that way at every one of her stories.  Still, this one is special.  Caddock and Francis are special.  And now I’ll have to reread all the stories for the parts about them all over again.

Loved the ending.

I love this story and all the Sin Bin books.  Start here!  This is one great couple you shouldn’t miss out on. I highly recommend it.

Cover art: Claire Smith.  I like the  cover. It has the softness that brands all the following stories.

Sales Links:  Hot Tree Publishing| Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 163 pages
Published April 2016 by Hot Tree Publishing
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: All The World’s An Undead Stage (Offbeat Crimes #6) by Angel Martinez


Rating:  5 stars out of 5

Old actors never die shouldn’t be literally true.

Carrington Loveless III, skim-blood vampire and senior officer of Philly’s paranormal police department, has long suspected that someone’s targeting his squad. The increasingly bizarre and dangerous entities invading their city can’t be a coincidence. So when a walking corpse spouting Oscar Wilde attacks one of his officers, Carrington’s determined to uncover the evil mind behind it all.

As a rare books librarian, Erasmus Graham thought he understood some of the stranger things in life. Sharing a life with Carrington’s shown him he didn’t know the half of it. They’ve survived attack books and deadly dust bunnies together and got through mostly unscathed.

Now his world and his vampire’s appear ready to collide again. Books are missing from the rare books’ collection—old tomes of magic containing dangerous summonings and necromancy. He’s certain whoever’s been stalking the Seventy-Seventh is composing their end game.

It’s going to take a consolidated effort from paranormal police, librarians, and some not-quite-authorized civilians to head off the impending catastrophe.

As I said before, I’m sort of running out of superlatives here.  Angel Martinez and this series, Offbeat Crimes, has given us wildly imaginative and perfectly wonderful in every way characters, over the top creatures like ginormous pills bugs from space and lethal flying verse spitting books, an overall arc and villain to literally die for.  Of course, some of the main characters here are already dead, including Carr, aka  Det. Carrington Loveless III, a vampire who has a real distaste for blood and lives off a “blood lite” version that he still finds barely edible.  Oh and he’s in love with a rare books librarian Erasmus Graham.  What a couple, a great one among quite a few memorable ones with this series.

In All The World’s An Undead Stage (Offbeat Crimes #6) Angel Martinez brings this  particular arc to an end, although I’m hoping with all my heart not the series.  A evil mage has been targeting the Seventy-Seventh Precinct and we are soon to find out who and why.

And it involves  zombie actors spouting verse coming to kill them.  Nods.  Of course it does.  Makes perfect sense.  In an Angel Martinez world.

And that’s just the opening act as they say.

Because there are layers and layers to these stories.  It’s never just about the villain and his nefarious plans for…well…whatever.  It’s also about relationships, romantic ones, working dynamics, interspecies communication, even something beyond that here as the Precinct is made up of all types of intelligent beings even if we aren’t quite sure of their origin.  All The World’s An Undead Stage is about the beings inside of it, working together to survive, go forward, and yes, thrive while loving each other and keeping the world safe.

That’s a tall order when you are facing evil of this magnitude.

And I’ve come to care deeply about everyone, every character here due to the author’s superb characterizations and writing skills.  How else do you explain me sobbing away here:

Carrington took a quick glance back at Hunter and LJ.  They held each other tight–strange orphans abandoned on the darkest possible of nights. LJ lifted a sleeve in a wave and Carrington returned it with a salute.  They were, without a doubt, the bravest jackets he had ever met.

We are talking about animated clothing here.  Two jackets…a couple, (LJ a leather jacket and Hunter, a pea coat) who have become two of the characters I’m fondest of.  At that imagery?  I’m bawling like a baby.  Especially if you knew the rest of the context.  The author has over the course of this series given these jackets life and personality.  Oh, yes, love and a relationship. You forget you are crying over flying bits of linen and leather but recognize them as beings that levitate and love each other, that have pride in being part of the Seventy-Seventh Precinct and show fear of loss.

Extrapolate that depth of characterization to the cast of beings, the humans with quirky “talents”, the wolf cursed to be a human, the vampire who can’t stand blood, the firestarters, the shakers and quakers, all the couples and the ‘animals’ who make up the Seventy-Seventh.  They are all here in amazing detail and dimension, alive, vivid and believable.

Carrington and Erasmus are at the top of this story as they focus on their relationship while adding up clues, hunting missing books, and dealing with Carrington’s mother.  All the various story threads flow easily together, weaving in and out, like some weird, wonderful supernatural tapestry.  I arrived at the end far too quickly, a little shaken, counting all the characters to make sure everyone arrived safely (still not sure I counted right).  And now I’m squinting at some of those lines of the authors.


I mean, it’s quite all right for 42 to be the answer to life, the universe and everything.  But really, “Someone feed the gouramis!”  Damn pesky fish.  More books, Ms Martinez, more books are definitely needed because as we all know carp are never to be trusted!

Read it…it will make sense..I promise you.  But if you are new to the series, don’t start here.  Read them all in order.  It’s such a pleasure watching the men, women, beings of the Seventy-Seventh learn to come together from a shaky beginning to the solid unit they are here that depends and yes, feels deep affection for each other (more for the couples).  For me this is a must read series.  I highly recommend it.

Cover art: Posh Gosh.  I like the covers and the way it brands the series.

Sales Links:  Pride Publishing | Amazon

Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published January 2nd 2018 by Pride Publishing
Original TitleAll the World’s an Undead Stage
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Offbeat Crimes – Add it to your Goodreads now: