A MelanieM Review: Hat Trick (Harrisburg Railers #8) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

Stan Lyamin has seen many of his dreams come true. He’s found his soulmate, loves Noah like his own, hoisted the Cup, and has his Mama living with him in his new country. But his fantasies of a loud, loving, madcap home overflowing with childish laughter linger. When a distant family member passes, Stan and Erik immediately agree to take in the two orphaned children, but that means a trip back to Russia for Stan, an idea that both exhilarates and terrifies him.

Erik’s world tilts on its axis when a phone call wakes him and Stan in the middle of the night. Abruptly, Stan is returning to Russia, making deals, working with people who know people, and fully intending to bring two orphaned children home. The red tape is overwhelming, and Erik is alone in Harrisburg with the nearly impossible task of finding a nanny who can speak fluent Russian. Being on his own is one thing, but add in fears about Stan’s safety and team issues, and Erik is finding everything hard to balance; not least of which is spending quality time with Noah.

When their family expands from three to five, the journey won’t be easy, but love can always find a way.

Sometimes, especially now, you just need a story, that makes you laugh, feel absolutely wonderful down to your toes,  and makes your heart feel all shmoopy. That would be the latest in the Harrisburg Railers series, Hat Trick (Harrisburg Railers #8) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey.

This story has every element that’s guaranteed to make your face ache because it’s smiling so hard with the love and warmth that is overflowing from the characters and plot here. Yes, it feels that good.  Children, dogs, a grandmother, Elvis, well, not him exactly, but glitter, red tuxedos and so much more.  Plus you get Stan!!! Who I have to admit is my favorite Railer, he just is, fractured English and all.

Goalies, real and fictional, are just that special breed of human.  They take quirkiness to a whole new level and these two authors have always been able to bring that to the goalies they have created for their different hockey romances, Harrisburg Railers included.  But meeting him, heart to heart, is his soul mate Erik, another Railer.  Their relationship and deep love as well as  family is here, and it’s beautiful.

I love how the authors treat the expansion of Stan and Erik’s family, the careful consideration of the child already there, the patience and care with the new children coming into the fold.  It’s loving and endearing.  Plus we get the madcap too.

In the end, as usual, I’m left wanting so much more.  I can never get enough of Stan and Erik. I’m clearly obsessed here.  They make me feel great and just when I needed it the most.  I’ll probably be rereading it again instead of the news.

I love this series.  Such a variety in couples and plots.  Drama, suspense, hilarity, and romance.  And love of course, so much love.  I highly recommend them all.

 

Cover art: Meredith Russell.  I just love this cover.  It’s pertinent to the story and so clean and adorable.  Perfect!

Sales Links:

Amazon US | UK | CA | AUFR |DE (and other territories)

Apple Books | KOBO | Smashwords |Barnes & Noble

Book Details:

ebook
Published February 10th 2019 by Love Lane Books Limited (first published 2019)
ISBN 139781785641466
Edition Language English
Series Harrisburg Railers #8

Harrisburg Railers Series:

Changing Lines | First Season | Deep Edge | Poke Check | Last Defense | Goal Line | Neutral Zone | Hat Trick | Save The Date (30 June)

Charlie Cochrane on Her Fav Reads and her new release Old Sins (Lindenshaw Mysteries #4) by Charlie Cochrane (author guest post, tour and giveaway)

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Old Sins (Lindenshaw Mysteries #4) by Charlie Cochrane

Riptide Publishing
Cover Art: L.C. Chase

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Charlie Cochrane back again talking about the latest releases in her Lindenshaw Mysteries, Old Sins.  Welcome, Charlie.

 

🐾

 

 

What Charlie likes to read

Do you have a favourite book? I have many, in all sorts of genres. “The Charioteer” if we’re talking gay fiction, “Death at the President’s Lodging” if it’s mysteries, “Three Men in a Boat” for humour; the list goes on and on through different genre, fictional and non-fiction. Some of these books are a bit of a guilty pleasure, not least because I can see their flaws.

I’m a huge fan of classic age mystery writers; Dorothy, Agatha, Michael, Ngaio and the rest, but they have their feet of clay. Sayers could sometimes overcomplicate plots to the point of obscurity (which reader could really have worked out the sequence of events in Five Red Herrings?) and seems increasingly in love with her detective, Lord Peter Wimsey.  All of these authors shared a falling of their powers in later life – the last few Appleby mysteries are a pale shadow of the early ones – and, of course, all were products of their time, so modern readers might fund things which jar, such as anti-semitic references or the treatment of gay characters in a derogatory way.

Some of these authors reused plot ideas and devices. The classic story of the murderer assuming someone else’s identity, sometimes to benefit from inheritance, occurs again and again with Christie (as do other tried and tested story arcs). Marsh also showed an economy of plot, using the same method of murder both in a short story and again in a full novel. Her “Death and the Dancing Footman” falls into the category of “familiar plot” – the twist is the sort that an avid reader of the genre would soon spot –  but that doesn’t make it any less of a delightful comfort read. A sort of literary equivalent of mulled wine in front of a roaring fire.

The book has several of the staple elements of the archetypal classic age mystery: a country house, a house party cut off by snow, family rivalries, a sealed room death, an outsider who acts as ‘chorus’ and a witty, urbane and aristocratic sleuth, Roderick Alleyn. How I love “Handsome Alleyn” – I wonder if Ngaio loved him, too, like Sayers loved Wimsey. He seems just a bit too perfect at times.

That’s why I’m determined to show that neither of my male leads in the Lindenshaw series are anything less than human. They get angry, they make mistakes, they argue with each other, they make up, they talk about work, they refuse to talk about work…just like any of us. I’m also determined not to fall in love with either of them, although how can I resist falling head over heels for their dog Campbell?

A detective, his boyfriend and their dog. That’s the Lindenshaw mysteries in a nutshell. Old Sins is the fourth instalment in the series, and not only does Robin have a murder to investigate, he and Adam have got the “little” matter of their nuptials to start planning. And, of course, Campbell the Newfoundland gets his cold wet nose into things, as usual.

 

About Old Sins

Past sins have present consequences.

Detective Chief Inspector Robin Bright and his partner, deputy headteacher Adam Matthews, have just consigned their summer holiday to the photo album. It’s time to get back to the daily grind, and the biggest problem they’re expecting to face: their wedding plans. Then fate strikes—literally—with a bang.

Someone letting loose shots on the common, a murder designed to look like a suicide, and the return of a teacher who made Robin’s childhood hell all conspire to turn this into one of his trickiest cases yet.

Especially when somebody might be targeting their Newfoundland, Campbell. Robin is used to his and Adam’s lives being in danger, but this takes the—dog—biscuit.

Available now from Riptide Publishing.

 

About the Lindenshaw Mysteries

Adam Matthews’s life changed when Inspector Robin Bright walked into his classroom to investigate a murder.

Now it seems like all the television series are right: the leafy villages of England do indeed conceal a hotbed of crime, murder, and intrigue. Lindenshaw is proving the point.

Detective work might be Robin’s job, but Adam somehow keeps getting involved—even though being a teacher is hardly the best training for solving crimes. Then again, Campbell, Adam’s irrepressible Newfoundland dog, seems to have a nose for figuring things out, so how hard can it be?

Check out the Lindenshaw Mysteries.

 

About Charlie Cochrane

Because Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her mystery novels include the Edwardian era Cambridge Fellows series, and the contemporary Lindenshaw Mysteries. Multi-published, she has titles with Carina, Riptide, Endeavour and Bold Strokes, among others.

A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, Charlie regularly appears at literary festivals and at reader and author conferences with The Deadly Dames.

Connect with Charlie:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Old Sins one lucky person will win a swag bag from Charlie! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on February 16, 2019. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A MelanieM Review: Rough Terrain (Out of Uniform #7) by Annabeth Albert

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The camping trip from hell may be the first stop on the road to happily-ever-after.

Navy SEAL Renzo Bianchi has a soft spot for Canaan Finley, and not only because the man makes a mean smoothie. He’s the first guy to get Renzo’s motor revving in a long time. But when he agrees to Canaan’s insane charade—one all-access fake boyfriend, coming right up—he never expects more than a fling.

Creating a hot Italian SEAL boyfriend to save face seemed like a good idea…until his friends called Canaan’s bluff. Now he’s setting off into the woods with the very man who inspired his deception, and Canaan is not the outdoorsy type. The sparks are already flying when a flash flood separates them from their group, leaving Renzo and Canaan very much trapped…very much alone in the wilderness.

Working together to come up with a plan for survival is sexier than either of them expects. But back in the real world, being a couple is bringing its own set of hazards…

Everytime I think I have a favorite series by this author narrowed down, then Annabeth Albert goes ahead and releases a new story. In this case its Rough Terrain (Out of Uniform #7) and, sure enough my heart and attention is switched back to the Out of Uniform series from #gaymers or whatever series it happened to have landed on from the last Annabeth Albert novel I last finished reading.

It works like that with this author.

She has to ability to imbue her stories and characters with such vitality, such heart that they live beyond whatever electronic device you happen to be reading the novel on.  From the moment you meet them, dive into their lives and whatever messy situations they happen to be in, you are completely sunk!  Hooked by the fact that Albert has connected you heart to heart, thought to thought, emotion to emotion to these men and whatever she and this story has in store for them.

Rough Terrain has so much in store for us as readers and for its main characters!  From meeting Canaan Finley making smoothies and waiting for the SEALs to arrive, especially the one he’s crushing on to finding out about the upcoming weekend where Canaan desperately needs to appear with a date, the reader’s anticipation starts to rise.  We know who    he will take but how will Albert bring it about?  And what will happen.  Then we meet Navy SEAL Renzo Bianchi and oh my!

This is a series filled with complicated men and rough roads to coupledom. But never have I so eagerly awaited the path these two took together and was so rewarded with the story that followed.

The dynamics between them in various situations from normal daily routines to some of the most traumatic, life threatening scenes imaginable were extraordinary.  From the dialog, to the action I felt every moment, clung to the horror, and almost cried with relief with all the events that take place in the wilderness.  It’s truly amazing in every respect.  And that and the romance will make you want to read this story  over and over.  It’s really one of the highlights of the series.

If you love contemporary stories, here is a novel and a series you won’t want to miss.  If you are a fan of Annabeth Albert, you are probably, like me, already for the next one.

I highly recommend the story, series, and author.  I’m a huge fan of all three.

Cover art by Carina Press art department does a great job in continuing to brand the series with the color tone and overall design.  The figures do well by the main characters and storyline.

Sales Links:   Carina Press |  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Expected publication: January 14th 2019 by Carina Press
Original Title Rough Terrain
ASINB07GB8B4XR
Edition Language English
Series Out of Uniform #7

Series Out of Uniform /add to Goodreads here:

Off Base

Homecoming (1.5)

Off Leash (1.6)

At Attention (2)

I Do (2.5)

On Point (5)

Wheels Up (4)

Homebodies (4.5)

Squared Away (5)

Tight Quarters (6)

Rough Terrain (7)

 

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Sweet Clematis (Being(s) in Love #9) by R. Cooper

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Can a curse be a blessing?

Clematis works hard to embody every fairy stereotype. He can be a sulky prince or a submissive flirt, slutty and arrogant or silly and soft. He makes himself into whatever causes someone to want him. Combine that with beauty that’s incredible even for a fairy, and everyone wants him sooner or later… just not for long.

Well, everyone except the fairy Clematis secretly adores. But then, he’s never expected happily ever after, not when he’s spent years burying his emotions and making himself unlovable to push people away and protect his heart.

But his curse changes all that, and Clematis can no longer prevent his feelings from rising to the surface. He’s terrified that when his few friends see him for who he really is, they’ll abandon him, just like his parents did.

It’s hard to imagine friends who see past his act to the sweet person within, but maybe happiness has been in front of him the entire time, waiting for the real Clematis to break free and blossom.

So it’s not often a story has me sobbing by the first 18 pages, well, ok, not a story by R Cooper.  I adore R Cooper.  This author has a definite style and approach to  writing and their stories, especially this series.  It flows very naturally, with ebbs and eddies, long lovely narrative winding strolls through storied forests and a town occupied by humans and magical beings alike.  From the first novel, Some Kind of Magic, the author has been building an amazing universe and ever increasing,  always interlocked ,cast of characters.  And they flit, sometimes on gossamer wings or growl or stomp or what have you through each other’s stories, making appearances both large and small.

The romances take  time to come to fruition, slow like the seasons, but eventually, love and the couples find a way.  And it’s amazing.

But I don’t find myself sobbing in the first couple of chapter.  Nope, nuh uh.  But then again there’s no one quite like Clematis.

You see, Clematis has impacted just about every character, often badly, within this series. And we’ve always seen the ramifications of Clematis’ actions from the perspective of the other person/being’s life.

Until now.

Now we see the tragedy, the pain, the victim that is Clematis.  And I’m here to tell you that it’s shattering in R. Cooper’s totally quiet, disquieting way.

I spent most of this book reaching for tissues because just when I thought his gentle acceptance of  victimization,  of his state of awful existence for such a long period of time  had gotten to a point where I could see him working through issues and trying to see what those around him did, R Cooper delivers a blow, not with a strike of a hand, but with the cut of a narrative feather. One that goes so much more quickly straight to the heart.  To the reader and to the other characters finally getting a true picture of the fairy in their midst all this time.

What an incredible talent that exists in this writer!  In this one story, Cooper takes one character that has existed throughout all the series and now reveals Clematis to have been not the being represented at all, but a new truth uncovered.  And some of the beings from the other stories?  Well their actions don’t seem quite so shiny in retrospect given the new revelations here.

These aren’t novels where you can relay details because the plots are too complicated and linked with other beings and their stories.  Suffice it to say, the characters/beings are created so realistically that they come alive from the moment you meet them.  They shower glitter, shed fur, and weep tears that leave tracks that shine into your heart.

This is the ninth book.  I don’t know if there will be a tenth.  So many characters from all the stories appeared here that it almost felt as though the author was wrapping things up. Excerpt that, R Cooper style, they also stirred up things as well.  So your guess is as good as mine.

I love this series. Sweet Clematis (Being(s) in Love #9) by R. Cooper certainly shook things up in many ways.  I’m going to have to restock my  tissues, that’s for certain.

I will say it has a wonderfully happy ending for all the tears that was shed.  Just as I hoped for.

For those new to the Being(s) in Love series, I have no idea what to tell you.  Without the foundation of the other stories, you might be somewhat lost here, but it takes time to read all eight stories (which I adore) before getting here.  I do recommend you do that,  Just pick a lovely  spot, take you time, get comfy, and be prepared to go on a wonderful journey.  You’ll end up here.  For now.

Cover art: Paul Richmond.  Love this  cover but…somehow something is missing. Read the story and you will know what I’m talking about.  Because that’s not Clematis. Read and find out who it is.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 306 pages
Expected publication: November 27th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781640808188
Edition Language English
Series Being(s) in Love #9

A Boy and His Dragon

A Beginner’s Guide to Wooing Your Mate

Little Wolf

The Firebird and Other Stories

Frangipani and the Very Shiny Boy

A Dandelion for Tulip

All the Futures That Could Be

Treasure for Treasure

His Mossy Boy

Sweet Clematis

 

A MelanieM Review: The Burning Magus (Blue Unicorn #3) by Don Allmon

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

JT was a perfectly happy orc building cars in the Arizona desert until his old friend and sometimes lover Austin showed up and talked him into one last crime. Now “one last crime” has snowballed. With a new team of thieves—a supersoldier, a hacker, a driver, a graffiti artist, and a seafaring wizard—JT and Austin are determined to free an artificial intelligence from the dungeon of the Burning Magus.

For JT, this job is more than a prison break; it’s a do-over of The Job That Went Bad two years ago, the catastrophe in which JT lost his closest friend and then chose to abandon everything, even Austin. Maybe this time no one will die. Maybe this time JT can return to Arizona and bury his old life for good.

Except Austin won’t be buried. After two years alone, Austin knows he wants JT—not just as a partner in crime, but as the lover he always should have been. Maybe this time they won’t make the same mistakes, especially when it comes to each other.

With The Burning Magus, Don Allmon brings The Blue Unicorn trilogy to a close and does so in a manner  I’ve come to expect from this wildly imaginative author.

I’ve loved and been intrigued by the warped, bleak landscape of the universe that is the setting for this series.  The land and people contorted, twisted, and transformed into “otherness”…orcs, trolls, elves, and more.  History become fabricated, molded, and then worshiped along various lines as was self created religions.  Techno driven cultures, implants, wastelands of the environments and of the soul….nothing that Don Allmon forgot or left uncreated.

That included a trilogy arc of incredible cruelty, betrayal, revenge, loyalty, and love.  All done amidst cars, trucks, gadgetry,magic, and carnage.

Oh, and sex, lots and lots of sex.

All that continues here.

At the end I had to think.  It was as if the author, in his plotting of the final book, started picking up the proverbial narrative grab bag.  “I want that over there, and that, and that.”  You, there, honking big thing!,  I want you!”  And Allmon goes for the gusto with every nutso item the writer gets his hand on.  And then brings order to it    There’s an skillfully written suspenseful breakin scene!  Talk about action adventure right down to the techno spider thingy.  And a mad getaway.  Heroes in peril multiple times.  Bike chases, stolen cars, boats, AI’s who might be alive, and even Godzilla!

Did I mention tentacle sex? And dragons?

And for all this wonderful wild weirdness, Don Allmon doesn’t forget that what we as readers crave is the connectivity.  One character to another, the reader to the characters.  It’s all about the  emotions, the heart, the love.  That we also get.  Just when we need it the most.

If, at the end of the book, we’re left a little spent, exhausted.  Well, that’s to be expected.   Look at the path we’ve trodden together.  We’ve been shot at, abducted, lied to, wounded, lost our hope and found it again.  Along with love.  That’s a trip well spent.  A journey well taken and one I highly recommend.

Cover By: Simoné.  I love these covers by Simoné, they remain some of my favorite.  Perfect for the characters and storyline.  Fantastic!

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 219 pages
Published November 19th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Original Title The Burning Magus
ISBN 139781626497559
Edition Language English
Series Blue Unicorn

The Glamour Thieves

Apocalypse Alley

The Burning Magus

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Late Fees (Pinx Video Mysteries, #3) by Marshall Thornton

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5 (double for the recipe at the back of the story)

 

It’s Thanksgiving, 1992 and Noah Valentine is late picking his mother up from the airport. When he arrives he discovers that she’s made a friend on the flight whose also waiting for her son. When women’s son doesn’t show up, they eventually take the woman home for breakfast with neighbor’s Marc and Louis. Soon after, they learn that the woman’s son has overdosed—or has he?

Noah and his motley crew investigate over the holiday weekend; which includes a fabulous dinner, a chat with a male stripper, a tiny little burglary and some help from Detective Tall, Dark, and Delicious.

I can usually count on a Marshall Thornton story to be many things.  Always excellently written, beautifully researched if historic in nature, often heart wrenchingly poignant, gritty, and grounded authentically in whatever reality is going for current in that story. His characters are puzzle piece perfect for the story universes he creates. Realistic, believable, human and flawed.  His men have been sliced up by life, often by ex partners, and are in the process of re-assembling what’s left of themselves and their lives, if possible.  Through these men, we feel their pain, sadness, loss over dreams, rage, and even, a sense of irony at times.  Small flights of humor, a bit dry.

These stories and series (Boystown and Pinx Video) are incredible and in my opinion, must reads.  What I have never described one of those stories are is guffaw inducing or heartwarming or endearing. Nope, never thought those adjectives would find themselves into a Marshall Thornton review, especially one of his murder mystery novels.  Guess what?  All three apply here.

No one is more surprised than I am.

Late Fees (Pinx Video Mysteries, #3) by Marshall Thornton actually had me in tears of laughter at times!  All due to one character.  Angie Valentine, Noah’s mother.

Marshall Thornton has been awarded many literary prizes, and imo due many more.  But just for the creation of Angie Valentine, I would award him something special just for her alone!

She jumpstarts this story and Noah’s involvement in yet another murder mystery when she lands in LA on a visit to see her son.    On the plane she’s befriended (or the other way around) a woman, Joanne, also traveling to see her “gay son” Rod. They’ve hit it off swimmingly amidst drinks and perhaps some pharmaceuticals.  The memory Noah has of his mother Angie is not jiving with the woman he’s picking up late from the airport, along with Joanne. Lively, a little drunk or tipsy, this is a woman so full of life that strangers gravitate towards her. And she towards them.  Curious and outgoing…this woman is out for adventure!  But it’s her large heart that shepherds Joanne into Noah’s life and her’s.

Also into the lives of Noah’s neighbors downstairs, Marc and Louis, who are busy with decorating their space for the holidays and preparations for Thanksgiving for their small group of friends.  When Joanne’s son Rod is discovered dead, Angie invites her home with her and Noah…into Noah’s tiny condo.  Convinced that Rod wouldn’t take his own life, Angie, Noah, and the group is thrown back into a murder investigation with Angie finding out the truth about her son’s  past involvements for the first time.

Even as I write this I want to run back for my Kindle and start that story all over again.  The relationship between mother and son is tender, funny, complicated, and surprising.  With revelations on both sides,  it’s still Angie who keeps coming up with new layer after layer to herself that leaves Noah with his jaw on the floor while his friends just embrace the wonder that is this woman.  Trust me if I could have crawled into that novel, I would have too.    There is the scene in the leather bar The Hawk that is worth the price of this book alone!

As Noah, Angie, Marc, Louis and others investigate  the circumstances behind Rod’s death, Noah reaches out to Javier, Detective Javier O’Shea from previous mysteries.  That comes with it’s own problems and  emotional complexities for both men.  I love the dynamics that are being slowly played out between them, the tension and attraction never fades no matter the how long it’s been or the fact that Noah refuses to communicate truthfully with Javier.

Oh what a book!  Full of suspense, lots of twists and turns in the murder mystery but the heart of the story?  It’s in the relationships.  Between Rod and Joanne.  Angie and Noah.  Angie and well, everyone she comes into contact with and leaves better off.  And of course, Noah and his close family of friends at Thanksgiving.  It’s a cornucopia of emotions! We get a wealth of family of all types, love in every aspect, sadness, happiness, surprise, joy, and heartwarming sappiness too.  Did I forget to mention again the outright laughter?  Yes indeed, that as well.

There is another element, a huge one here in the series but as its not been disclosed in any of the blurbs I won’t do so in my reviews.  But I love the manner in which the author is dealing with it here, it’s just so well done.  Just as I would expect from Marshall Thornton.

I can’t let a review go by without mentioning some of the fun historically accurate elements folded effortlessly into this tale…a flyaway mention here and there.  Moonies in their yellow robes at the airport, Laserdisc players (shakes head), Sony Trinitron TVs, Sister Act on VHS (because someone didn’t have a Laserdisc player hooked up), the scandal of Sinead O’Connor on SNL…I hate to mention how many I actually remember.

I love this story, it’s my favorite so far in a series I love.  I will leave you with the words of a seemingly unflappable woman, who embraces it all, whether it’s everything a leather bar is showcasing or being questioned by an irate LAPD Homicide Detective.  Here’s an exchange between Noah and Angie at the end when she’s getting ready to leave for the airport:

“Mom, after this visit I don’t think I have any secrets left.”

“Well then I suggest that you get busy.

 

That’s her and their relationship in a nutshell.  Perfection.  So is this book.

If you need more incentive, there’s the Thanksgiving menu that the group dines on in the back.  Yes, you need that too!  Along with the pumpkin pie recipe.  *Throws up arms* Hows many more stars can I give this book?

Cover art by Marshall Thornton. Love that cover.  Works for branding the series and this story specifically.

Sales Link: Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 177 pages
Expected publication: November 10th 2018 by Kenmore Books
ASIN B07GZYZDSX
Edition Language English
Series A Pinx Video Mystery #3

Series:

Night Drop

Hidden Treasures

Late Fees

A MelanieM Review: Life In Union (Summit City #3) by Ethan Day

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Over the past eight months, aspiring author Boone Daniels has seen his entire life turned upside down and inside out. Having survived a recent auto-accident and an impromptu proposal of marriage from his one-night-stand-turned-boyfriend, Wade Walker, Boone has finally moved to Summit City to begin a whole new chapter.

Having adapted to several big life-changes within a relatively short window of time, Boone has embraced the idea of spending the rest of his ‘forever’ with the man he loves. However, he quickly recognizes that it takes more than finding true love and relocating to make a house feel like a home.

As Boone and Wade merge their separate lives into a life in union, they’ll struggle to strike a balance between ‘the me’ and ‘the we’. With patience and perseverance, they’ll eventually say their I Do’s and get that happily-ever-after…after all.

Well, in the long awaited third book in the Summit City series by Ethan Day, Boone and Wade are back in Life in Union and it’s every adjective I could throw from my Oxford English at and more!  It’s  gut wrenchingly hilarious,  so totally spew worthy in sections that they need to come with their own warmings!   There is some head-scratching  perplexing actions, yes, some sniffling and close to outright bawling scenes of sappiness…because, hey…wedding.

And that means all the wedding prep where someone turns into a total Groomzilla….not saying whom…mind you…that would be spoilery. But if you know your Boone and Wade, chances are you’re already nodding knowingly.

Diving back into this book is like being invited to visit family and friends you haven’t seen for a while.  People may have enlarged their own families, you can’t quite remember all the kids names, and oh hey there Uncle mumble mumble mumble…but one hug, one (or a ton) of outright snarky,  outrageous remarks accompanied by a oversized glass of wine shoved into your hand and you remember exactly why you love these people and why you feel like you’re at home.

Summit City and all its inhabitants has felt like home since Sno Ho (first published, and my first reading in 2010).  I laughed until I cried and laughed some more.  None of that book was repeatable. That’s where city boy Boone Daniels comes to ski  village Summit City and meets Wade Walker, golden boy, Olympic medalist, and town hero. To this day, it’s one of my favorite stories.  Bran muffins have never been the same.  Then came Life in Fusion. It was a transitional story as much as Boone and Wade were a couple in transition themselves.  More serious, it had an element that shook up all the readers and fans of this couple.  But no matter the story, Ethan Day’s memorable characters stayed true to themselves, trying to adjust to a new relationship and the combining of two households.  That’s the stage we find them at here.

I love, love, Ethan Day’s ear and talent for dialog.  Each character’s personality flows out so quickly and revealingly from their mouths.  It can be Jackie (how I love Jackie and the corn kids) or Gabe or anyone actually here, one or two words, a sentence and bam!  We know who’s speaking.  A precise portrait has been created out of a conversation, a sparkling bit of snark!    Even words mumbled or mouthed round bits of stolen Halloween candy become priceless howlers between two friends on a Halloween night.  Loved that scene.

People all around Wade and Boone are at various stages in their lives and relationships, some are being launched, some being revealed, others off on new paths…this story is a swirl of love, family, friends, and celebrations of all sorts.

The characterizations are wonderful.  Real, over the top as only some people can be, fallible, fragile, loving, and oh , so sexy, especially when it comes to Boone and Wade who can’t keep their hands and whatever off each other.

Especially the whatever.

I loved this story with a passion.  I love this couple with that same passion too.  Ditto Jackie and her corn kids.  Hubby too.  In fact all of Summit City.  I may not want to live there but I certainly would want to visit often.

For those new to this series, you really need to read the first two stories.  I don’t consider this a standalone novel.  It rests firmly and beautifully on the foundation built by Sno Ho and Life In Fusion so please read those first before coming to read Life In Union.  I think I’m going to go start all over again with my journey with these two.  My heart could do with more love and laughter at the moment and this series has it in abundance.

Love contemporary romance with a rush of snark, laughter, and downright raunchy wonderful sex?  Well, this is the series, couple, and novel for you.

Cover art: Reese Dante.  Love this cover and it’s consistent with branding the series.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 257 pages
Published October 1st 2018 by Self Published
ASINB07HXT185L
Edition Language English
Series Summit City #3

Sno Ho

Life in Fusion

A Summit City Christmas

Life In Union

A MelanieM Review: Gifts Given (Boystown #10) by Marshall Thornton

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Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5

In the tenth installment of the award-winning Boystown Mysteries. it’s Christmas 1984, and Nick is busy juggling a couple of cases with his hectic personal life. Sugar Pilson has decided to marry and has asked him to check up on her fiancé. Meanwhile, he’s hired to investigate a shady financial planner at Peterson-Palmer.

When the two cases begin to have too much in common, Nick searches for the link. Only to find out that he himself might be the link.

In Gifts Given, Nick Nowak and his friends are heading towards Christmas.  Nick is fumbling to find a gift for Joseph, he lacks a steady source of  employment as he has given up working for Owen’s law firm and Jimmy English after the last disastrous series of events, and  Mrs Harker isn’t feeling well.

As with all things Nick, the old and familiar seem to circle back around as a previous employer has come to him with a case.  He wants Nick to investigate his current in house investigator and the financial planner there as well.  At the same time his friend/former client/Chicago socialite Sugar Pilson needs his services too.  It seems that she wants her current boyfriend investigated.  And, oh, yes, someone seems to be following her.

Yes, Nick has a full schedule and that doesn’t even include Christmas dinner, murderous attempts on his life, and more worries about his relationship with Joseph.

If I have to make a note, the overall tone here is somber, sad, and, while moving, as glum as I’ve seen Nick in a while.  Its as thought the hope I saw has just about flickered out by the end of the story, which is something I’m missing.  Not that this isn’t realistic or true to form for Nick or the circumstances he finds himself in.

Its just every now and again, I’d love to see Nick win, one or two.  Maybe just one.  Outright.  Life can give him that, right?

Instead, here,  with one complex turn and revelation after another, Nick ends  up delving deeper and deeper into a convoluted mystery that has it hooks into the past, Who’s I won’t reveal but clearly it will stretch into more than one story if my guesses are correct.

I’m “enjoying” just how all the puzzle pieces are fitting together, even if the end result might make my heart hurt. I suspect it will ache quite a lot.  Plus a villain slipped away…to reappear again in another story?

The writing is crisp, the storyline, dark and involved, the overall tone more emotional and heavy, reflective but then again Nick is changing.  His inner circle wider, including Ross who is HIV positive who lives with Nick and Joseph.  A group of friends, an ability to accept help and need people which is a far cry from the Nick we meet in the first story.  This is a far more vulnerable, open, and  older Nick.  One I fear for more,  one for whom the losses are coming.

As if  he hasn’t had enough.

But it ends with a wedding, such as it was.  A temporary calm that was a small gift that NIck accepted.

What a series.  I highly recommend them all.

Cover art by Marshall Thornton/

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 213 pages
Published November 17th 2017
ASINB075CTYG83
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBoystown #10
Literary AwardsLambda Literary Award Nominee for Gay Mystery (2018)

Series:

Boystown Bundle 1 – 3 – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 A Time For Secrets – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 Murder Book – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 From The Ashes – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 Bloodlines – Amazon US | Amazon UK (ON SALE for 99c)
Book #8 The Lies That Bind – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #9 Lucky Days – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #10 Gifts Given – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #11 Hearts Desire – Amazon US | Amazon UK 

A MelanieM Pre-release Review: Love at First Hate (Porthkennack #11) by J.L. Merrow

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 

Bran Roscarrock has been living in the closet all his life. As heir to an expansive family legacy in the town of Porthkennack, old-fashioned ideals of respectability and duty were drummed into him since childhood, and he’s never dared to live—or love—openly.

Sam Ferreira, an old friend of Bran’s brother, Jory, is a disgraced academic desperate to leave his dead-end job. When Jory asks him to take over as curator of a planned exhibition on Edward of Woodstock, the fourteenth-century Black Prince, Sam leaps at the chance to do what he loves and make a fresh start.

But Bran’s funding the exhibition, and though sparks fly between the two men, they’re not all happy ones. Bran idolises Prince Edward as a hero, while Sam’s determined to present a balanced picture. With neither of them prepared to give ground, a hundred years of war seems all too possible. And if Bran finds out about Sam’s past, his future may not be bright, and their budding romance may be lost to history.

Bran Roscarrock has been a troublesome, complex character, along with his twin sister Bea, in all his appearances in JL Merrow’s previous Porthkennack stories.  Stern, righteous even in his belief about the Roscarrock position in the Porthkennack at the top of the  community and keeper of its  history, Bran has not been one that the reader sought to connect with.  Same with with his sister.  We knew there were reasons for their remoteness and often troubling behavior towards others (younger brother, Jory’s upbringing underneath them bordered on the horrible).  But the narrative walls remained high around these characters and the readers  feelings stood well back from any emotional connection.

Now with Love At First Hate, JL Merrow starts to bring all those narrative walls she has constructed over Bran and Bea the last two tales down and it’s an arduous journey.  Hundreds of years of Roscarrock upbringing and tradition stand in the way of both Bran and Bea’s freedom from their pasts,  and the stasis of their present behaviors.  They aren’t even aware of how totally mired in just how much the past has cost them until an attack on Bran brings a crashing halt to the routine of their lives.

That’s the startling introduction to this story.  An assault on Bran.  A shocking event that rattles the lives of everyone in the Roscarrock enclosed circle and without in Porthkennack, a clannish and tight-knit village culture that has existed for hundreds of years.  As chief landowner and landlord in town, Bran is not well liked for his policies of business first, people second or even third.  So the fact he can’t remember who attacked him, puts him at risk of another assault from any and everyone around him.

It also opens the door for a young historian to step into job of Curator of a project close to Bran’s heart.  That of an exhibition of the Black Prince.  Enter Dr. Sam Ferreira, someone with his own demons to fight and a past that follows him.  Sam is in need of a new start in life and Bran’s fight with the last curator has left the job open for Sam.  Because Jory is a friend, that let’s Sam glide right into the job he needs desperately and starts to love.

JL Merrow, understandably gets the every day inner workings of museums (see JL’s bio), their staff, the politics of the curating big exhibits and manages to make it all so lively, informative, and entertaining.  But even more, something I became totally invested in, was the passion and enthusiasm of the historians and Bran for their subject and era.  And the need to see it conveyed in a truthful and wide ranging manner for the public.  JL Merrow uses her characters arguing…madly, wonderfully, loudly…about the inclusivity of women, the poor, the middle class vs knights, the Black Prince perception, homosexuality, carnage vs taxation….just incredible well researched discussions…to illuminate her character’s personalities.  Merrow brings them closer together, makes them re-examine their own thought processes and emotions through the very way they look at the Black Prince’s exhibits and interpretations.  And in the journey through sifting out the “old” preformed ideas they  now realized were based on their pasts, the men become closer and find common  ground with each other.

It’s amazing to watch, it’s intimate and joyful in the change that occurs with Bran and yes, Sam as well.  In a way history was setting the men free of their pasts by loosing old preconceptions and providing paths for new ones.

As Bran and Sam hesitantly make their way through the Black Prince exhibit, others are also being affected. That includes Jory and Mal (and his son heir to Roscarrock), Bea who has been just as stock as her brother in that great grey rock of a hall of a house, bound by the sea and haunted by the ghosts of their parents.  So many lives get tossed about here, upset, and finally freed.

And yes, the mystery of Bran’s assault is solved as well.  I can’t help but feeling we haven’t seen the last of that one as well.

Love at First Hate demonstrates why JL Merrow and the Portthkennack series are a must buy for me.  The writing is superb, the characters are memorable (two characters who found redemption after being some of the least liked  people going), history made lively, vivid, and incredibly important in how its presented, and a whole HEA that made my heart sing.

Plus another visit to Porthkennack, a place that’s found a permanent spot deep in my heart.

There are 11 books now in the Porthkennack series, three of them by JL Merrow.  I have listed them below.  Real them all, I highly recommend them, starting with the first one and working your way here to Love at First Hate.

Cover art: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design.  That is a gorgeous design.  Both men work for Bran and Sam, plus that tone and design is great for the story and a place by the sea.  Love it.

Sales:  Riptide Publishing | Amazpm

Book Details:

ebook, 325 pages
Expected publication: September 3rd 2018 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626498327
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Porthkennack #11

Connected stories by JL Merrow in this series:

Wake Up Call

One Under

Love at First Hate

A MelanieM Release Day Review: A Fool and His Manny (The Mannies #4) by Amy Lane

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Seeing the truth and falling in love.

Dustin Robbins-Grayson was a surly adolescent when Quinlan Gregory started the nanny gig. After a rocky start, he grew into Quinlan’s friend and confidant—and a damned sexy man.

At twenty-one, Dusty sees how Quinlan sacrificed his own life and desires to care for Dusty’s family. He’s ready to claim Quinlan—he’s never met a kinder, more capable, more lovable man. Or a lonelier one. Quinlan has spent his life as the stranger on the edge of the photograph, but Dusty wants Quinlan to be the center of his world. First he has to convince Quinlan he’s an adult, their love is real, and Quinlan can be more than a friend and caregiver. Can he show Quin that he deserves to be both a man and a lover, and that in Dusty’s eyes, he’s never been “just the manny?

Well, now I can say it. A Fool and His Manny (The Mannies #4) by Amy Lane is my absolute favorite in the Mannies series.  Yes, yes, I know I’ve said that before.  But this time its true.  This is my favorite story.  Reading this novel is like being enveloped is large, welcoming mommy arms or walking in the door home and getting the welcome you always dreamed about from the family you  always wanted.

And yes, this tale is exactly why I  blather on and on about the necessity of writing, and establishing an amazing cast of supporting or “secondary” characters.  Not that any characters here could  ever be called that. Nope.  From the smallest person, tyke or kitty, to the most imposing. No matter how much time they spend on the page, their impression they make as part of the extended family on Quinlan and the reader is indelible.    There is no way to measure that out be it Wainscott or Nutbar, Jacob or Keenan.  We need them all exactly as they are.

This is a story to make you cry and sooth your heart.  Often at once.  For Quinlan is a broken young man who happens to fall into the family that will adopt, accept, and love him. Permanently.  Here you get the entire progression.  From Quinlan in the band, to his acceptance as the manny on the edge of family life, to watching as he get’s slowly pulled into the middle without his knowledge, the love flowing over and around him, like a healing balm.

As Dusty grows up and waits for him to realize that as well.

I may just start crying all over again.  Damn book.  Amy Lane gets me every time here.

There’s so much more here to this story.  Babies, kitties, a serious illness, a crappy mom, lots of real life stuff going on and its all done beautifully in perfect Amy Lane fashion.

Trust me on this one.  Just pick this book up and watch a fragile young man heal and fall in love.

Of course, the whole extended  Robbins-Grayson family gets assembled in books 1 through 3 so you really need to read those as well to get acquainted with everyone.  They are just as outstanding plus you get to meet all the others first.  Win win.  I listed them all below.  Read the entire series.  It’s one I highly recommend.  Just don’t forget to keep that box of tissues handy!

The cover by Bree Archer, wasn’t exactly my idea of Dusty physically but the emotions come through.  The style brands the series perfectly.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 230 pages
Expected publication: July 17th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleA Fool and His Manny
ISBN139781640805040
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Mannies #4

ISBN139781640805040
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Mannies #4

The Virgin Manny

Manny Get Your Guy

Stand By Your Manny

A Fool and His Manny