A MelanieM Review: Lessons in Chasing the Wild Goose by Charlie Cochrane

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith like nothing more than being handed a mystery to solve. But why would anybody murder a man with no enemies? And was it murder in the first place?

I’m always so thrilled to see another Jonty and Orlando mystery be released from Charlie Cochrane.  It means I get to go back and spend my time with those deeply in love Cambridge Fellows I have come to adore over a series of stories that span 20 years of their lives together in approximately Edwardian England.

While the earlier stories follow a rigid timeline, the later tales are more fluid so I never know where they might fall along the 20 some span of years so far.  Lessons in Chasing the Wild Goose sees them in their later years, post WWI,  where the effects of that war is still raw, on them and England.  Both men still bear the scars of service, inside and out.  And as this story is to prove, they are far from the only ones.

There are so many things I admire about Charlie Cochrane’s writing and this series.  For one, its authentic, from the language down to the accoutrements of the people at every level of society you see within the stories.  And not once will it every feel anything but completely natural and easy (as opposed to a knowledge dump).  You become immersed in the times, first pre-war England and then all the horrors of  WWI, the very first war of devastating impact with chemical weaponry and  more.  We see it all through the eyes of Jonty and Orlando, Jonty’s family, and the extended “family” they have gathered together at St. Bride’s College, where they have taught all these years and met.

Then, there are the characters, no people, you have come to love over the series of stories.  Its not just Orland Coppersmith and Jonty Stewart, but everyone that Cochrane has created as foundation characters, including the Stewart family and the St. Bride’s College staff, from the head of the college right down to the men who take in the luggage and keep the grounds proper.  Not to forget the housekeeper at their cottage or the detectives they work with.  Nope, all real.  And when over the course of the years, some die, as the intrepid Mr. and Mrs Steward did, how I wept with loss.

So you can imagine, jumping into a new mystery is like coming home again.

Here Cochrane has come up with a doozy of a murder mystery. A man is hit by a car but his wife is convinced it was murder.  It kept me guessin with layers upon layers, surrounded with the poignancy of the survivors and the ever  deepening ramifications from WWI upon people and place.  Stepping up is Jonty’s sister and brother in law to help with the mysteries (yes, multiple) as well as the crew from St. Bride’s.

But the best?  Being gently swung back into the loving, long-established relationship of Jonty and Orlando.  It now has all the hallmarks of a couple who knows each other so well they answer for each other,  the adoration for each other, for each other’s intellects  to their aging bodies is cellular that it glows off the page.

How I love them and this series.  Its one of my heartstones of fiction and one I always recommend.  Now I have another story to add to my recommendations.  Love historical fiction and romance?  Pick up Lessons in Chasing the Wild Goose by Charlie Cochrane.  I hope you are familiar with all of the Cambridge Fellows Mysteries, of which this is but one.  Gather them all up and hold them close.  They are true gems!

Cover art: Alex Beecroft.  Love the cover.  Works perfectly for the story and its charming.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 104 pages
Published March 19th 2018 by The Right Chair Press
Original TitleLessons in Chasing the Wild Goose
ASINB0791HH4VB
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Cambridge Fellows

A MelanieM Review: Murder Takes the High Road by Josh Lanyon

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

From award-winning male/male author Josh Lanyon: a librarian finds himself in a plot right out of one of his favorite mystery novels

Librarian Carter Matheson is determined to enjoy himself on a Scottish bus tour for fans of mystery author Dame Vanessa Rayburn. Sure, his ex, Trevor, will also be on the trip with his new boyfriend, leaving Carter to share a room with a stranger, but he can’t pass up a chance to meet his favorite author.

Carter’s roommate turns out to be John Knight, a figure as mysterious as any character from Vanessa’s books. His strange affect and nighttime wanderings make Carter suspicious. When a fellow traveler’s death sparks rumors of foul play, Carter is left wondering if there’s anyone on the tour he can trust.

Drawn into the intrigue, Carter searches for answers, trying to fend off his growing attraction toward John. As unexplained tragedies continue, the whole tour must face the fact that there may be a murderer in their midst—but who?

Nothing better than diving into a Josh Lanyon murder mystery!  But I have to admit I have a fondness for librarians going back to my childhood and the endless hours I spent with them and their libraries, no matter what state I was living in at the time.  And of course, there’s that certain librarian  (The Mummy) who stood up and announced with utter confidence in her abilities to handle anything “I am a librarian!”.  As well she should.   As does Josh Lanyon’s intrepid librarian Carter Matheson deal with everything that comes at him, from the expected to the shocking, in this marvelous tale of murder and romance in Murder Takes the High Road.

Carter, you see, is on a trip of a sort I’ve always wanted to take for myself.  So it was easy to slide in next to him, along with the other author and series devotees visiting places important in books written by this author they adored.  However, there’s another huge element here.  Carter’s recent ex, the one he was supposed to be taking the trip with, is also on the tour with the new boyfriend.  The one he wanted Carter’s ticket for, the one that Carter refused to give up and is using now.  So many emotions in turmoil to go along with a long awaited tour that    Carter had been looking forward to.

Of course, Lanyon pours us into Carter’s soul and the  awkwardness and pain of the situation.  She let’s no small agony go passed by and soon we are deeply connected to Carter and the story (and everyone on the tour as well).  Before you can blink, there’s a murder..and mysteries, and a delightful handsome guy for Carter to share room, clues, and maybe just more with.

Yes, I ate this all up.

And at the end, when all the revelations were laid out, all the murderers exposed…I was totally satisfied.  Except that of course as with all of Josh Lanyon’s couples…I wanted more. Of them and more stories.  Can’t be helped.  It’s just the way of her stories.

So yes, I absolutely recommend Murder Takes the High Road by Josh Lanyon.  I loved it.  If you are a fan of murder mystery romances, I will you will too.  If you are a fan of this author, you’ve already read and know what I’m talking about.

Cover art is spectacular.  I just love it.

Sales Links:  Carina Press | Amazon

Book Details: 

ebook
Expected publication: April 23rd 2018 by Carina Press
Original TitleMurder Takes the High Road
ISBN139781459293595
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Where Death Meets the Devil by LJ Hayward

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Jack Reardon, former SAS soldier and current Australian Meta-State asset, has seen some messy battles. But “messy” takes on a whole new meaning when he finds himself tied to a chair in a torture shack, his cover blown wide open, all thanks to notorious killer-for-hire Ethan Blade.

Blade is everything Jack doesn’t believe in: remorseless, detached, lawless. Yet, Jack’s only chance to survive is to strike a bargain with the devil and join forces with Blade. As they trek across a hostile desert, Jack learns that Blade is much more than a dead-eyed killer—and harder to resist than he should be.

A year later, Jack is home and finally getting his life on track. Then Ethan Blade reappears and throws it all into chaos once more. It’s impossible to trust the assassin, especially when his presence casts doubts on Jack’s loyalty to his country, but Jack cannot ignore what Blade’s return means: the mess that brought them together is far from over, and Ethan might just bring back the piece of Jack’s soul he thought he’d lost forever.

What words do I use?  Highly entertaining! Incredibly suspenseful and thrilling!  Full of unforeseeable twists and turns with characters to die for! Where Death Meets the Devil by LJ Hayward is all that and more I can’t remember reading anything by this author before but in one story Hayward became a must read author.  In a story so smooth, so compelling that I stayed up until the wee hours, caught up in the gripping tale of Jack Reardon and Ethan Blade.  And then that ending!  Swoon!

The format Hayward chooses to help tell this tale definitely pulls you further into the intrigue and drama.  The story switches effortlessly back and forth  between the first time Jack encounters Ethan Blade in the torture shack to the present. You are caught up  reading, then you are flipping at just the right time in the narrative to emphasize the power of the moment. Brilliant.  You get to see the differing mindsets, the history between the men, the change perhaps in dynamics…I don’t think I’ve ever seen this format work so well or contribute  so much to the overall energy of the narrative.  It’s perfect.

So too are the characters.  I can’t say too much except that you will believe in these men, their flaws as well as their strengths.  They have true chemistry and given their tough conditions and situations, you will believe in that and them over and over again.  I’ll say no more.

Where Death Meets the Devil by LJ Hayward has a camel named Sophia, more plots twists than can fill a pool in an oasis,  and a ending I absolutely adored.  It also sent me running to the publisher begging for information about any news about sequels.  Yes, my readers, apparently there’s one in the works. Be still my heart.    So now I’m off to read this story again.  Yes, I loved it that much. You will too.  Put Where Death Meets the Devil on your TBR list and the author LJ Hayward on your must read list as well. You won’t be sorry.  I highly recommend them both.

Cover art: L.C. Chase.  I like the cover.  It works for the story.  Very jazzy.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 395 pages
Published February 26th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleWhere Death Meets the Devil
ISBN 1626497168 (ISBN13: 9781626497160)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Point of Contact by Melanie Hansen

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Only love can heal an impossibly broken heart 

There’d forever been a thread running through Trevor Estes’s life—his son, Riley, strong and constant like a heartbeat. But when Riley is killed in combat, everything in Trevor’s life unravels into a mess he doesn’t know how to mourn.

Then Jesse Byrne, Riley’s friend and platoon mate, arrives on Trevor’s doorstep with a box of Riley’s things. Jesse’s all-too-familiar grief provides an unlikely source of comfort for Trevor: knowing he’s not alone is exactly what he needs.

Trevor never imagined he’d find someone who fills his heart with hope again. As the pair celebrate Riley’s memory, their unique bond deepens into something irreplaceable—and something neither man can live without.

But diving into a relationship can’t be so simple. Being together means Trevor risking the last link he has to his son…leaving Jesse to wonder if he’ll ever be enough, or if Trevor will always be haunted by the past.

Be prepared for Point of Contact by Melanie Hansen to break your heart and leave you sobbing on multiple occasions.   You have to figure that from the synopsis but the actual reading of it will rend your heart into little pieces, especially if you have children of your own.

All due to Hansen’s terrific writing and beautiful characterizations.  In Point of Contact we actually get to know and come to love Riley,  the son and  center of Trevor Estes’ life.  Through countless scenes of family intimacy that will seem so familiar to those with children, we connect with their fierce bond and familial love, and we watch with gut wrenching horror because we know the pain that’s approaching the oblivious father and son.  And no, you can’t and won’t want to stop reading.

Everything that happens within this story are events that happens to families everywhere.  Sons and daughters die in combat overseas leaving their grieving parents to try and deal with their deaths, their absences, their lack of futures…everything.  In part, this story deals with one father’s grief and inability to deal with his son’s death. Point of Contact and the author takes us with Trevor and Jesse from the moment Riley dies.  For Jesse, he’s there and that will impact him and their squad for the rest of their lives.  For Trevor?  It’s a ring of his doorbell and two military men with a somber duty to carry out.

All the intertwining threads here that continually bring Jesse and Trevor together with their love of Riley being the magnetic force and his love for them holding them all together.  Hanson also works with both Jesse’s and Trevor’s PTSD along with their deep-seated grief, problems within Riley and Jesse’s squad of survivor guilt and many more authentic elements pertaining to subject such as these.  All handled with sensitivity, believability, and great respect.

Flowing through all this is the growing relationship between Trevor and Jesse. I love how the author builds the relationship between these two men as they work their way through their loss and pain.  I felt their sorrow and yes, anger, and connected to them emotionally on this journey to love and HEA.  What an deeply moving story.

I loved this story and I highly recommend it.

Cover art is ok.  Its hard to tell if one man is older than the other.

Sales Links: Carina Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 451 pages
Expected publication: March 26th 2018 by Carina Press
ISBN139781488097058
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: In Wild Lemon Groves by Selina Kray

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A telltale knock on a quiet winter night is a sound no husband wants to hear.

Sébastien Osaki has spent the past three years surviving the loss of his beloved Henry. When Seb lands in Amalfi, Italy, for their would-have-been tenth-anniversary trip, he’s haunted by the memory of the man he loved. Following Henry’s notebook leads him to some breathtaking coastal views but also right back to his despair. Seb’s there to get his groove back, not let the past wrong-foot him at every turn.

Enter Andrea Sorrentino, chauffeur, part-time pet whisperer, a Bernini statue in a soccer tee and tight shorts. From the moment Andrea picks Seb up from the airport, he knows just how to soothe Seb’s case of the sulks. But Seb isn’t sure he’s ready for Mr. Right Now, let alone a potential Mr. Right, in a part of the world where all roads lead back to Henry.

Can sun, sea, and eating your weight in pasta mend a tragedy-stricken heart? Will wine-soaked Amalfi nights and long walks through lemon groves work their magic on Seb’s wounded soul? Or will he slink back into the shell of his grief once his grand Italian adventure is over?

Sometimes a story just resonates with you and In Wild Lemon Groves by Selina Kray did just that with me.  From the location to the characters everything about this book is staying with me, taking me back to places, scenes, and people.  Reading this story became an almost visceral experience, my mouth watering through meals of local seafood, pasta, bread, and the ever present Granita al limone, my muscles ache in memory of the tortuous climbs up and down ancient steep stairways Seb walks worthy of mountain goats, and my mind and heart are envious of the sea, night stars and view that Amalfi affords the fortunate that visit and live there.

And while I’m luxuriating in all things Amalfi, I’m also deep into the characters of Sébastien Osaki and Andrea Sorrentino.  Seb grabs at your heart immediately as the point of view of this story.  On a personal journey of grief, loss, and just maybe recovery, he’s gone to Amalfi with his husband’s Henry’s travel journal, retracing Henry’s steps as Henry’s requested.  Henry was a travel writer and although he had been there ten years earlier, this time they would have gone together.  Now three years after Henry’s death, Seb is trying to find a way to move forward.   It’s a realistic, and deeply moving portrait of a man who still mourns his husband and has been mired in grief.  And you love Seb, he’s intelligent, self  depreciating, and kind.

Andrea Sorrentino is equally well drawn.  Layered, he starts off a bit “typical local Italian” but the joke is on us. Because that’s exactly the role he is playing up for the tourists.  He’s exactly…well, I won’t spoil that little revelation for you. He’s lovely, multidimensional, and  someone we can all connect with (and do).

Also, theirs is not a instant love relationship which I absolutely appreciated.  This is a realistic HFN.  It has to be because although they recognize they want to see where their feelings go, too much is new and there is also much that needs to be settled for them both.  A mature and adult ending to a mature and adult story!  Be still my heart!  It does let me beg the author for a sequel, however, so we can see how Seb and Andrea are doing down the road.  Pretty please?

And not  just Seb because there’s a whole cast of characters to care for here, including the “girls”, three woman staying at the Villa who became Seb’s  friends, listening boards, drinking and cards buddies and everything else.  Plus Lucy the manager, Andrea’s family…well, I could go  on and on….and I wish the book had too.  How I adored this story!

If you love contemporary romance, do not let this one pass you by.  It’s HFN but join with me in asking the author for a sequel.  Seb and Andrea cry out for their HEA!  In the meantime, I highly recommend In Wild Lemon Groves by Selina Kray.

Cover Design: Tiferet Design.  The cover is simply beautiful and one of my favorites with  Seb in outline and the Amalfi coastline so vivid below.  Perfect.

Sales Link:  Amazon Kindle |  Universal Buy Link: books2read.com/WildLemonGroves

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 212 pages
Published February 8th 2018 by Selina Kray
ASINB079329DCF
Edition LanguageEnglish

Review Tour : In Wild Lemon Groves by Selina Kray (excerpt and giveaway)

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Universal Buy Link: books2read.com/WildLemonGroves
 
Length: 55,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Tiferet Design
 
Blurb
 

A telltale knock on a quiet winter night is a sound no husband wants to hear.


Sébastien Osaki has spent the past three years surviving the loss of his beloved Henry. When Seb lands in Amalfi, Italy, for their would-have-been tenth-anniversary trip, he’s haunted by the memory of the man he loved. Following Henry’s notebook leads him to some breathtaking coastal views but also right back to his despair. Seb’s there to get his groove back, not let the past wrong-foot him at every turn.


Enter Andrea Sorrentino, chauffeur, part-time pet whisperer, a Bernini statue in a soccer tee and tight shorts. From the moment Andrea picks Seb up from the airport, he knows just how to soothe Seb’s case of the sulks. But Seb isn’t sure he’s ready for Mr. Right Now, let alone a potential Mr. Right, in a part of the world where all roads lead back to Henry.


Can sun, sea, and eating your weight in pasta mend a tragedy-stricken heart? Will wine-soaked Amalfi nights and long walks through lemon groves work their magic on Seb’s wounded soul? Or will he slink back into the shell of his grief once his grand Italian adventure is over?

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 5 star review here.

Excerpt
 

Scent of sea and palm,

Craggy and ancient, a world

Bathed in saffron

– #17, In Blue Solitudes, S. Wilson-Osaki


“A. S’okay.” Bleary eyed and bone weary, Sébastien stared at the sign for two minutes before it registered. He kept his distance, glanced around the bushel of sun-ripened cab drivers and chauffeurs waiting to squeeze every last euro out of their charges, but no.


This was him. Smile so bright it blinded, like glare off a windshield. Footballer’s frame decked in team colors and too-tight shorts. Face Bernini could have sculpted. Hair black as an oil slick, greased into a neat, perfect slope. His tortoiseshell eyes twinkled in Seb’s direction when he took a cautious step forward.


Signor S’okay?”


“Osaki. Yes.”


“Ah, Osokay.”


“Osaki. O-sak-i. Japanese.”


“You fly from Japan?”


“No. Canada. Montreal.”


Si, si, Signor Osaki. Sebastiano.”


Seb opened his mouth to correct him but nodded instead. “That’s me.”


“Andrea Sorrentino.” He thumped a hand on his chest. “You want I take your bag?”


“Uh…”


Before he could decide, the driver clacked down the handle on his extra-fee-heavy suitcase and hefted it under his arm like an unruly toddler. “Vieni, vieni.” He dove into the crowd before Seb could get his bearings.


Spotting the clean line to the exit, Seb set his own pace, his tipsy head still mired in a post-flight fugue. Thirty-two sleepless hours, plus a morning spent tracing and retracing his path through the labyrinthine halls of the Rome airport to make his connection, left him listless. With exhaustion but also nerves. What had he been thinking, shipping off to a country he’d never been to and where he didn’t speak the language?


The answer, of course, was Henry. Who should have been there, propping him up with his rock climber’s arms, but also with his wonderment, the kid-in-a-candy store way he’d seen the world. Henry had puffed all his energy and excitement and fire into Seb’s lead balloon and—in his latest impossible feat—made him fly.


Clutching his backpack like a life preserver, Seb practiced his deep breathing as he waded through the stream of travellers. More of a trickle, really, now that he was in the flow. One foot in front of the other, he reminded himself, looking for a focal point. A taut jean-clad ass, with a carefree swagger all its own, lured him the rest of the way. Seb staggered out of the airport terminal…


… into a whole new world. The hazy afternoon sun swaddled him like a warm blanket. Ripe with the scent of palm trees and petrol, the parking lot was more social gathering than frantic hub, with drivers chatting, smoking, and laughing as they waited for clueless travellers to wander by. Stoic mountains—silent sentries at the gate to paradise—shadowed the horizon, rings of mist crowning their crater heads.


Woozy with relief, Seb lowered his lids to half-mast and basked in the moment. This was Henry’s world. He was safe.


A hulking black SUV screeched to a halt in front of him, blocking the view. Before Seb could decide whether to be terrified or outraged, his driver slid open the side door, beckoning him into his luxury air-conditioned chariot. Too polite to give in to the urge to collapse across the seats and zonk out, Seb stumbled into the nearest chair. His hands shook as he fought with the seat belt. Something about that fateful click brought the reality back home—he was trapped in a jet-fuelled coffin with a man who could barely pronounce his name, soon to be zipping down a highway where speed limits weren’t even guidelines, thousands of miles from home, by a world-famous volcano that once scorched everything for miles—


Hand on his knee. There was a hand on his knee.


Signor Osakay? You want I get you espresso? Water? Food? Is no trouble.”


“No.” Seb shut his eyes, sucked in all the air he could. “I… I’m just tired. Didn’t sleep on the plane.” When he opened them again, he met soft eyes shimmering with kindness. His exhalation came easy. So did his smile. What was his name again? Andrea Sorrentino. A gentle name, full of music.


Granita al limone. Un momento.” A squeeze to Seb’s knee, and he hopped out the door.

 



February 8 – The Novel Approach
February 9 – Booklove
February 10 – Gay Book Reviews
February 12 – MM Good Book Reviews
February 13 – Hearts On Fire Reviews, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
February 14 – My Fiction Nook
February 16 – Love Bytes Reviews
February 17 – Open Mind For A Different View
February 19 – Mirrigold: Mutterings & Musings, Sarandipity Book Reviews

 

Author Bio

Selina Kray is the nom de plume of an author and English editor. Professionally she has covered all the artsy-fartsy bases, having worked in a bookstore, at a cinema, in children’s television, and in television distribution, up to her latest incarnation as a subtitle editor and grammar nerd (though she may have always been a grammar nerd). A self-proclaimed geek and pop culture junkie who sometimes manages to pry herself away from the review sites and gossip blogs to write fiction of her own, she is a voracious consumer of art with both a capital and lowercase A.


Selina’s aim is to write genre-spanning romances with intricate plots, complex characters, and lots of heart. Whether she has achieved this goal is for you, gentle readers, to decide. At present she is hard at work on future novels at home in Montreal, Quebec, with her wee corgi serving as both foot warmer and in-house critic.


If you’re interested in receiving Selina’s newsletter and being the first to know when new books are released, plus getting sneak peeks at upcoming novels, please sign up at her website: www.selinakray.net



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A MelanieM Review: Finders Keepers by N.R. Walker

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Needing a change of scene, Griffin Burke moves from Brisbane to Coolum Beach to start a new job. The beautiful white sand, aqua-coloured ocean, blue skies, and summer breezes are everything he longs for. What he finds is a mud-covered dog, lost and hungry, with a nametag and a phone number.

Dane Hughes is stuck in Surfers Paradise at a week-long work conference when he gets a phone call from his distraught mother. His dog, his fur baby, Wicket, has run away. Unable to leave and feeling helpless and miserable, he gets a text from a guy. “I think I found your dog…”

Griffin and Dane start talking, and Griffin agrees to look after Wicket until Dane can collect him. With a few days left before his new job starts, Griffin takes Wicket on some coastal adventures and sends Dane photos of their fun, and so the start of something new and kind of wonderful begins.

Griffin might have moved to Coolum in search of a new life, but what he finds is so much more. What he gets to keep just might take some four-legged help.

Ever see a cover and know immediately you must, must read that story?  That, without ever having to read the blurb, something (in this case an beyond adorable dog and his master) grabs you by your ever lovin’ romantic heart? Finders Keepers did that and then doubled down with a blurb that had me all blubbery.  As a dog owner, one of the worst fears is losing your dog…trust me.  So I could instantly transport myself into Dane Hughes’ shoes and emotional turmoil when he finds out that Wicket has escaped from his Mom’s house.  I teared up in empathy. Yep, NR Walker had me hooked before I even started the story.

Oh what a story Finders Keepers turned out to be!  The very definition of heartwarming, and romantic, and utterly real.   This is a book I will be sinking myself into over and over again.  I’ve definitely found myself a new comfort read in Finders Keepers and a new favorite couple or family, because that includes Wicket, a small dog with tons of personality.

The special wonder of this romance is the manner in which  NR Walker has it conducted.  Through a series of texts and pics between the men…the connection between them being Wicket, that irresistible canine cupid.  This format works for them and us as it intimately lets us into both  men’s lives and thoughts.  We get to know them as they get to know each other.  And their anticipation becomes ours as well when the time arrives to actually meet.  How my heart thumped wildly too.

One of the many things that I have always loved about NR Walker’s stories is her superb characterizations,  That continues here.  It’s not just Griffin Burke and Dane Hughes, two men who meet over a dog but understand each other on so many levels, including their jobs.  No it’s Bernice and K, who for me are also main characters.  Vibrant, real, by turns hilarious and poignant, these two memorable individuals almost cry out for their own story to be told.  I love them with equal enthusiasm.  Trust me you will too.

Finders Keepers can make you laugh, hiccup with nervous anticipation, sniffle with the thought of loss, and make your heart swell with the sheer amounts of love and happiness that bubble over throughout the story, especially at the end.  That’s what I call great storytelling and a wonderful romance.  I’ll be rereading this when I need a pickerupper.  But I highly recommend it now for everyone who hasn’t found it the first time.  You are in for a real treat!

Cover art: Humble .  I adore this  cover.  Eye catching, heartwarming!  A Hug in cover art.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Expected publication: February 2nd 2018 (first published January 31st 2018)
Original TitleFinders Keepers
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Review: On Davis Row by N.R. Walker

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Nearing the end of a suspended jail sentence should unlock a brighter future for CJ Davis, only the chip on his shoulder is as hard to shift as his bad reputation. Born into a family of career criminals who live down Davis Road, an address the cops have dubbed Davis Row, his name alone is like a rap sheet that makes optimism impossible.

Brand-new parole officer Noah Huxley is determined to see the good in men like CJ. After all, he knows firsthand that bad things can happen to good people. His colleagues mock his doe-eyed optimism, but Noah soon sees CJ’s bad attitude and bravado are weapons he uses to keep people at a distance.

Both men know one simple mistake can change a life forever. At first glance, they might seem to be polar opposites. Yet underneath, they’re not that different at all.

On Davis Row is another heartwarming, excellently written novel by N.R. Walker.  CJ Davis is born carrying a name that marks him as a criminal for the community that he lives in.  It doesn’t matter that he’s trying to escape all that name means or the people he comes from,  Just the  name itself brands him and beats him down.  He’s a Davis.  And  one small mistake costs him dearly and sends him off to prison where another would have gotten off.

Walker lets us into the heart and mind of  CJ the man who wanted hope and a future and found hell and a prison instead.  Now out he’s back working for the only man, outside of his Pops to offer him help and friendship, the man who runs the carshop where he worked growing up.  CJ is out but his situation is much the same. Until Noah Huxley comes into his life.

NR Walker’s stories are realistic and gritty as they can be hopeful and loving.  That’s a careful balance to maintain, especially with dealing with the subject matters here.  The author can’t gloss over the familial abuse, criminal family history, and prison past of CJ.  It haunts his every step.  Plus Noah’s work as a parole officer throws him up against the very prison system CJ just came out of and the man who sent him there.  You need to believe in the system and CJ’s family for CJ’s foundation to be real.   And it does.

But you also need the hope, the ability for a second chance for CJ to feel just as believable and NR Walker gives us that as well in the relationship that slowly builds up between Noah and CJ, despite all of CJ’s best defensive best efforts.

This is a marvelous story, just the type of NR Walker tale I love.  I just get so emotionally invested in these men and their HEA that when the end finally swoops in, it still manages to take me by surprise.  I’m overjoyed, sad to see another NR Walker story end, and start looking forward to another.

And yes, I highly recommend this one.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

29 pages
Published November 27th 2017

A MelanieM Review: A Viking For Yule by Jamie Fessenden

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

AFTER SAM’S GRANDFATHER nearly died in a blizzard one year ago, Sam has panic attacks in snow storms. So where does his friend Jackie propose they spend the holidays, as the last stop on their trip around the world?

Iceland. Of course.

But there’s more in Iceland than snow. When Arnar, a handsome Icelandic man, offers to escort Sam on a several-day tour of the beautiful countryside, they soon find themselves drawn to each other. But Arnar is firmly rooted in his native soil, and Sam has to return to the US in a week to care for his ailing grandfather.

Suddenly, yule can’t last nearly long enough.

A Viking for Yule by Jamie Fessenden is actually a sequel to the author’s very likable holiday story, A Cop for Christmas.  But honestly, this is the story I absolutely adore.  At the front?  It  absolutely redeems a wishy washy character so bland he threatened to fade into the snow in the first one.  That would be Sam.  Here he become a fully fleshed adult, someone we can finally connect with away from his Gramps.  We get to see the man,  watch how the gift of independence the trip lays upon him enables him to enjoy himself, the places and people, and grow as a person.  It’s not that Sam actually changes but more our acceptance of him and that’s a really great treat.

Next up is Arnar, the man who helps to act as Sam’s guide when Sam’s “Auntie Mame” and her dear friend take the time to make their own schedule.  Arnar, has his own issues having recently broken up with his partner. He’s not entirely happy to be involved with the “tourist” that his “aunt” has brought with her on her visit to see his mom.  I loved Arnar. He’s a man of depth and deep love of his country, a memorable character all around who sees something wonderful in Sam.

However, it’s Christmas time in Iceland and, while freezing, holiday celebrations are everywhere.  Which brings me to the third marvelous element of this story.  The author’s clear love and familiarity with Iceland.

This is as much a love story to Iceland as it is Sam and Arnar’s.  Sam and Arnar travel to many locations in Iceland, ones often famous for their Christmas markets, some for their geographical formations, and others for their religious significance. These travels are folded into the story with an ease that’s remarkable and a fondness that radiates from every scene.  Iceland is truly another main character here and it helps make the story.

Everything about A Viking for Yule is lovely. From the romance, the characters right to the ending, I just loved it.  You will too.  It’s not just for the holidays but one I could read any time of the year.

Cover Art by Reese Dante is perfect for the characters and storyline.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published November 29th 2017
ASIN B077TLWLZ4

NOTE: Though this novel includes characters from “A Cop for Christmas,” it is a standalone adventure. It isn’t necessary to read “A Cop for Christmas” first.

A MelanieM Advent Release Day Review: Welcome Home, Soldier by Deanna Wadsworth

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Clay and Daniel fell in love as enlisted men during Desert Shield, but Don’t Ask Don’t Tell meant they had to keep it secret. After Clay’s convoy was ambushed, PTSD changed him, and their relationship ended in a horrible fight on Christmas Eve.

Twenty-five years later, they’ve reconnected on Facebook, and Clay finds out Daniel will be alone on Christmas Eve. Impulsively, he sets out for Daniel’s hometown of Gilead, Ohio—where Daniel is now the mayor—to surprise him with a visit. But a blizzard strikes and Clay wrecks his car. All hope of seeing Daniel is lost—until a mysterious old man named Nick offers Clay a ride. The weight of past wounds and the scars of war might make their reunion awkward, but Clay is willing to take the risk to win back his lost love. Despite a lifetime of disappointing holidays, Clay hopes that this soldier is finally coming home for Christmas.

I don’t know if it  was the mood I was in or if I’m just such a sap for Christmas stories like these but Welcome Home, Soldier by Deanna Wadsworth  just hits all my buttons for Christmas stories. It has the second chance at love after a long period of time, a blizzard and a wonderful mystical element. Yes, even a dog.  I just loved it right down to that cover.

Two men love each other deeply as young men during the Army during Desert Shield.  It’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell but most importantly it’s the times and their youth, and then the changes in Clay when he’s the only one to survive an ambush of his  team.  They can’t survive as a  couple and  split up.  Now it’s twenty-five years later and Christmas Eve and they are about to reconnect.

Deanna Wadsworth has done a remarkable job in creating a story that manages to seem both  down to earth and yet at the same time wraps both of these older, worn men in some undefinable magical glow.  She gives you that awkwardness as they feel their way back towards each other as all those years apart, trying to see if there’s anything still there. It feels very real. But the author also manages to bring a Christmas magic to her story, a mystical element that makes anything possible, including the second chance at love for these two lonely men who have always loved each other.

Boy, was I sniffling away at parts, enjoying myself immensely.  Yes, this story was clearly written for me.   I just loved it.  Including that ending!  If you are just as sappy as I am, trust me Welcome Home, Soldier by Deanna Wadsworth is just the Christmas story for you.

Cover art by L.C. Chase is wonderful.  The artist captures them as young men before the breakup. But has the dog from the present times.  I just adore this cover.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 76 pages
Published December 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640803022
Edition Language English