A MelanieM Pre-Release Review: Loving A Warrior by Melanie Hansen


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

BUD/S: six months of the most intense training there is. It’s survival of the toughest, and Matt Knytych is determined to come out the other side a navy SEAL.

Distraction is life or death. And just the sight of former marine Shane Hovland is enough to shake Matt’s concentration.

Shane came to BUD/S training ready to prove himself—again. Semper Fi is forever, but he needs a new start. Not this dangerous heat with a man he barely knows.

Everything they’ve ever wanted is riding on a thin, punishing line. And they’ll have to fight for more than just each other if they want to make it through intact.

After all, the only easy day was yesterday.


I started in with Melanie Hanson on her strong military story, Point of Contact.  Reviewed by both Barb, our Zany Old Lady and myself, each of us found it to be a moving, beautifully written 5 star novel. And each for very different reasons.  Now comes Loving a Warrior, the second in what feels like a series of SEALS themed novels and I’m just as caught up in her characters and storytelling as I was in the first.

Unlike the first novel where the men were out, well, one was at the start.  The men here are on a totally different journey.  Several of them in fact.  Both are first of all on that most intensive and exclusive of all paths…the one that might lead to getting their Trident and being a member of the SEALS.  That’s BUD/S training.  Hansen brings us directly into probably something the majority of us will never experience and can never imagine, what those men and now some women go through in their attempts to become SEALS. Only a tiny few make it.  As Shane and Matt are run through the hellish rigors of BUD/S, we are right there, sweating,  straining, even bleeding and almost breaking along with them.  It’s vivid, and so realistic that it makes you think about all the real soldiers going through training at this moment, doing everything they can to reach that almost unreachable goal.  Your heart is with them all.  Those that make it as well as those that don’t.

Along with the unrelenting stress, mental, emotional, and physical of BUD/S, there’s Matt and Shane trying to figure out their magnetic attraction to each other, one that threatens to become more and derail their  focus on their SEAL training which they can’t afford.

Matt and Shane are complex characters, Matt especially so because he’s got a hard veneer and laser focus on his goal to become a SEAL.  So for Shane to start to get under some of the barriers that Matt has erected takes time.  He seeks to understand   Matt and as he does, we do as well.  It works  both ways. Shane also has a background that makes his appear all too shallow when he’s anything but.  Matt makes certain assumptions about Shane that he also needs to overcome and a narrow view of the  future for himself that needs enlarging if they are to have a future.

This is not a HEA, but a realistic HFN as it should be for two soldiers.  I would love to see Melanie Hanson revisit them down the line in a sequel, perhaps as they both go off on assignments.

Loving A Warrior by Melanie Hansen is a beautifully written novel that is full of complex characters and a gripping plot that kept me connected from beginning to end. It is also a wonderful  complement to the first story Point of Contact.  I absolutely recommend this story as well as Point of Contact.  Both are just amazing and I can’t wait for another in this military series to be released.

Cover art is strong and has the characters well defined.  I like it although not as much as the first one.

Sales Links:  Carina Press | Amazon to come

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition
Expected publication: November 26th 2018 by Carina Press
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Heart’s Desire (Boystown #11) by Marshall Thornton


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

It’s February 1985. Nick struggles to recover from a gunshot wound, while taking on the case of a woman with a mental illness, who may or may not have witnessed a murder. As he attempts to determine exactly what the woman saw and how much danger she may be in, he juggles the approaching DeCarlo trial, an ill Mrs. Harker, and the sexually precocious Terry. Valentine’s Day with boyfriend Joseph produces some big changes in their relationship.

Life is evolving, but there’s no guarantee it’s for the better.

I find it interesting how Marshall Thornton has written each book as almost as a mirror held up against the life (both inner reflections and daily outer living) of PI Nick Nowak.  In some books the stories flow along with his struggles, both emotional and physical, occasionally ending up with some light and hope for Nick and the readers.

But with Heart’s Desire (Boystown #11), the latest in this  incredible series, the struggle gets darker, heavier for many around him, including his mother in law  (sort of), his friend with HIV, even his building super.  Oh, and himself, still fighting to recover from being shot  It’s going very slowly.And Nick can’t understand why he’s physically not himself, including no sexual relations with his boyfriend.

Joseph would like Nick to reject jobs that need surveillance, the very things have have gotten him injured.  That’s not something that Nick thinks can he do, and while he’s thinking about his relationship and his health, a case comes his way in fhe form of his super’s sister who believes she’s seen a dead body and refuses to go back to her apartment.  Should be easy excerpt that the  sister has mental  illness and there’s no body.  A typical case for Nick because it’s convoluted, dark, and, connecting the dots for Nick manage to bring him up against people that impinge on other parts of his life.

There are so many obligations and emotional strings tugging at  Nick now.  Mrs. Harker has terminal cancer and facing that and her role in his life is rough for Nick, equally so for Terry, the young student who spends most of his time with her and how has a “mature” boyfriend, another factor Nick and his friends are having issues with.

Marshall Thornton threads all these incredibly complicated storylines through the novel and Nick’s life with such craft and such raw, gritty writing that the narrative and characters stick to your heart, making you think, making you hurt for them.  And in this series and because we know the era and history, we fear for them.  We know what they are dancing around…the elephant in the room.  The tests that some haven’t or won’t take.  AIDS.  It’s the dark shadow that looms over Nick, his lover, and all his friends and any future they might have.

Heart’s Desire (Boystown #11) by Marshall Thornton is a must read story in a must read series.  I’m not sure how many the author plans.  If he intends to finish the 80’s, because we are at 1985 now and he other series, Pinx Video,  starts in the 1990’s.  I want more and yet I fear what’s to come.

I can’t recommend this story and series more highly  enough!

Cover art: Marshall Thornton. Works for branding the series and  storyline.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 210 pages
Published August 10th 2018
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBoystown #11

A MelanieM Review: In This Iron Ground (Natural Magic #1) by Marina Vivancos


Rating:  5 stars out of 5


Damien is nine years old when his parents die. What should have been the worst moment of his life begins a journey shadowed by loneliness and pain. The night of a full moon, four years and seven foster homes later, Damien flees to the forest, desperate to escape everything.

Instead, he finds the Salgado pack, and the earth beneath his feet shifts. Damien has seen the Salgado children in his school: Koko, who is in his class, and Hakan, two years older and infinitely unreachable. Damien is suddenly introduced into a world that had only ever existed in his imagination, where there is magic in the forest and the moon. He meets creatures that look like monsters, but Damien knows that monsters have the same face as anybody else.

Over the years, Damien and Hakan grow closer. First, just as friends and foster brothers in the Salgado house, and then into something heated and breathless when Damien joins Hakan at college. Despite what he may yearn for in the darkest part of the night, Damien knows, deep down in that bruised and mealy part of his core, that he’s not good enough to be part of the Salgado family, their pack. He’s not worthy of calling Hakan his home.

Even though he knows in the end it’ll hurt him, he’ll hold onto this for as long as he can.

In This Iron Ground (Natural Magic #1) by Marina Vivancos is as hard a book to review as it was at times to read. It’s also a magical, beautifully written, moving, and literary novel.  Full of unbelievable torture and pain and yet still manages to include flights of hope and passages of teenage normality and then flights of wooded spirituality.  And all the time it’s flowing out from the  wounded soul and form of Damien who ages throughout the story starting from the age of nine when he enters the foster system an orphan.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from that blurb but what I got was an  almost epic exploration of Damien’s journey through life. We jump into Damien’s life with a harrowing look at the  foster system.  Then we and Damien plunge into hell when he is delivered into the  horror of a  foster home and  its carers that will set a pattern for him for the next years that will have you wanting to scream. It’s here, listening to Damien’s “voice” as he suffers, withdraws, and internalizes the messages he’s hearing that the book becomes almost unbearable to read. The abuse he’s suffering during these chapters are the ones that warrants the notes at the bottom of this review.  The damage done, not physically, but mentally and emotionally to Damien is such that he carries it with him through the story, not dealing with how much it has truly affected him until 3/4 of the way through.

But while he’s enduring this, mind you he’s only 13, there’s also hope in the form of a pack of shifters unlike any I’ve read about in other stories.  Vivancos brings in a pack that  is layered with a Earth  religion, a spirituality you can feel amazingly, a pack family that comes forward to rescue, support, and finally welcome the human child.  I won’t spoil how incredible a job the author has done with the Soldado pack but for me they became as alive as a walk in the woods.  They  breathed life and that made their connections to Damien even more magical.

The book is broken up into two parts and yes at times is felt a little long as Damien and Hakan went off to college but this is still such a journey for Damien I can see why the author wanted to include each and every scene.Special details were giving to Damien’s emotional and mental health recovery which is an important element here.  Damien could not recover from the horrific abuse he suffered on his own.  He needed professional help, and with the gentle assistance of his friends, lover and pack, he gets the therapy he needs. Some of his session scenes make a powerful but quiet impact.  It’s a responsible thing to do, in my mind, after reading all the scenes in the beginning, for the reader to see Damien finally emerging into hope and light.

Yes, I loved this story and the amazing characters in the pack.  I see that the author is turning it into a series and can’t wait to see where it’s going next.  I do recommend it but please do pay attention to the warnings below.


Cover art: Natasha Snow.  That is a gorgeous cover by Natasha Snow.  The mountains, woods, and wolves.  Perfect.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 325 pages
Published September 3rd 2018
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Natural Magic #1

CONTENT WARNING: This book contains themes of emotional and (nonsexual) physical child abuse and the subsequent emotional, cognitive, and behavioural impacts.   Trigger warning also includes scene of suicide attempt by minor, physical and  sexual child abuse.

This story contains sexually explicit scenes between consenting adults and is meant for an adult audience.

A MelanieM Review: Private Charter by N.R. Walker


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Stuart Jenner’s job is high stress, high stakes, and everything he’s strived for. So why, when the apex of his career is within reach, does he stumble? At his doctor’s insistence, he books a privately chartered yacht to sail around the Whitsundays for two weeks of sun, surf, and sex. When his friend-with-benefits bails on him at the last minute, Stuart decides to go alone.

Foster Knight left the rat race behind six years ago, bought a yacht, and now calls the Great Barrier Reef his home. Sailing tourists around tropical waters is all in a day’s work, and he’s never been happier. When his next client arrives alone, the two-week charter will be the most private job he’s ever had.

Foster can see how stressed and exhausted Stuart is, and he promises him extensive rest and relaxation. Stuart slowly realises his original plan for two weeks of sun, surf, and sex might not be lost yet. Confined to a yacht, isolated by aqua-coloured oceans and the sweltering sun, Stuart and Foster are about to find out just how hot the tropics can get.

I hate to admit how many times I’ve reread this story already, especially that ending!   Something about Private Charter by N.R. Walker has just gotten under my skin.  When I need something happy to think about before closing my eyes, I reach for my Kindle and that fabulously moving ending that I know now by heart.  True, I believe I can recite it!

If you had asked me if I would have had that reaction from reading that blurb, I probably would have said no, not even with N.R. Walker as the author.  The timeline seems too short and the plot a little light. I should have known better.  This is N.R. Walker after all, one of my favorite author’s and this story is so much more than it seems.

Stuart isn’t just stressed out and exhausted.  He is at a crossroads in his life and a particular set of circumstances have led him to a sailing yacht and man who might be the only one to understand his dilemma and situation.   Against a gorgeous background of sailing and the ocean, Walker brings us two men oddly not that different from each other.  The characters of Foster Knight, owner and Captain of the White Knight and Stuart Jenner, corporate financier, are carefully crafted and so well layered that I was into both men immediately.  I was pulled onto their lives as they sailed the Whitsundays, exploring each other, letting Stuart experience the f freedom of being himself and revelling in it.

We did as well.  The chemistry that builds with them is amazing.  We feel the power and beauty of being under sail, the awe of the sea, and the joy it brings them both.  Plus the terrible pull of the deadline that the end of the voyage has on them both.

I was so caught up in every part of this story that I didn’t realize how quickly it was flying by.  When that incredible ending came (not the epilogue mind you, love that) but the ending that made my heart swell …well I wasn’t ready to let go of these men.  I wanted a movie, another book, anything!!!

Yep, hooked but good.

So I settle for rereading it.  Over and over.

Yes, I absolutely recommend this to all lovers of contemporary romance.  It’s turned out to be one of my favorites.    See if it will be one of yours.

Cover art is sexy, hot, but doesn’t really make me think of Stuart.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 244 pages
Published August 22nd 2018
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Rainbow Rodeo by BA Tortuga


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

As a teenager, Dalton Jakoby made Tank an offer-one Tank turned down gently. It was still embarrassing as hell, so when Tank returns to the Jakoby Rodeo Company after a big-time bull riding tour, Dalton decides polite but distant is the best course of action.

Tank is hurting from some tough injuries and ready for a lighter workload. He’s also ready to admit Dalton is an adult now, one he wants to get to know much better. While Dalton’s past makes him suspicious of Tank’s attention, he can’t stay standoffish for long… not with Tank.

The new romance burns hot, but problems inside and outside the arena threaten what Tank and Dalton might have together.

Trust me, there is nothing finer than frog hair as when BA Tortuga combines romance with cowboys and rodeo, two of her absolute loves.  Then place these men and their search for a HEA in Texas where the sun beats hot, the salsa even hotter, and the bulls are both reviled and heroic, and you know that BA Tortuga is at home.  Her characters will talk, move, love across the page with cowboy and redneck oozing from their personalities at a cellular level.

It’s in the names of the characters, in the pet names they call each other, the epitaphs that let fly across paddocks that stand in for terms of endearment among those toughed by years on the rodeo circuit, by loss, by experience, by seasoning.  And it’s not just the men but the women of the circuit as well.  All are here and well represented in the Jakoby outfit.

This romance is one of second chances.  Tank, a bull rider on the top circuit, returns back to the Jakoby operation to recuperate and work at assisting in the operation.  At one time, a teenage Dalton had a crush on him and he had gently refused the underage boy’s awkward first advances.  Now, he’s returned to find Dalton a man, and the attraction flares up once more, this time with nothing to stop it.  And nothing does…almost.

We get a marvelous look into the daily operations of a rodeo.  What it takes to put it out on a circuit, the grind, the fact that not all towns are welcoming, and the general wear and tear on body and soul.   On both people and animals.  Plus the very real need to seek some grounding somewhere….a home, a person to be centered in.

I loved the characters, the sense of camaraderie between the twins,Tank, the family and all the rodeo family.  Tortuga gives us a real picture and feel for how being on the road could bring everyone so close together…depending upon one another to have each other’s backs.  It all rang authentic, you could smell the dust, and the heat, and the love that springs up between Tank and Dalton.

There is also mixture of danger to go along with the hot sex and love, a really nice combination.

But what always keeps me glued to the page is the people, the places, and the love that flows there.  All types of love.  The family, the friends, and  above all the romance.  Really, you just can’t beat it.  All in the Texas heat and some rodeo.

What more do you need?  Yes, I highly recommend it.

Cover art : Paul Richmond.  I enjoy this cover by Paul Richmond. The stripes in the background almost look like part of the flag being pulled into the center with the  wonderful outline of the cowboy or cowgirl. It’s really gender neutral if you look at it. Perfect for a rainbow rodeo. Outstanding.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Published August 7th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: The Eye of Ra (Repeating History #1) by Dakota Chase


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Repeating History: Book One

Both Aston and Grant have a talent for finding trouble—it’s what landed them at the Stanton School for Boys—but this time, their mischief might send them to a completely different world.

When they accidentally destroy their teacher’s priceless archaeological artifacts, he demands they replace them. And since the teacher in question is Merlin, refusing isn’t an option for the two boys. Thanks to Merlin’s magic, they’re about to become time travelers.

The first piece on their list is the Eye of Ra, a mystical amulet belonging to the young King Tut. Ancient Egypt is nothing like Aston and Grant expected, with its war, disease, and lack of modern technology. To survive, they must befriend King Tut and learn to trust him—and each other. In a primitive world, where death and danger wait around every corner, one thing is clear: revisiting history could cost someone their life.

From the moment you meet Aston fidgeting away in a juvenile courtroom, he’s instantly identifiable from his jumbled emotions and thoughts.  Trying to be brave, on the cusp of breaking down in tears as he sits next to a father giving him no support other than his presence, he none the less recognizes the role he’s played in getting himself in this situation.

Yes, he takes absolute responsibility for all his actions, including the stealing the car and joyriding.  The hints as to why Aston is acting up comes later…the anger and pain that’s launching many of his bad decisions and actions stemming from the death of his mother and his abandonment issues.

All these feelings and thoughts are bubbling up inside of him…some clear, some not.  All speaking to his age and maturity levels.  And it makes him so easy to relate to in his fear and brashness.

Even when he lands his third chance and old patterns lead to yet more bad decision making, we get him. And Grant.  When they are pulled into Merlin’s class and circle of control, it’s at their own doing. Or is it?

A fight, a fire, a loss of precious objects of Merlin’s sends the boys on flights through time to retrieve them and return them safely back to Merlin.

Chase has crafted a highly adventurous tale, full of well researched details that add to the journey of Aston and Grant back to ancient Egypt.  The author brings the boy King Tut and his times vividly to life as Ash and Grant precariously befriend the boy Pharaoh, try to change history, and still retrieve the Eye of Ra which hangs around Tut’s neck.  It’s exciting, entertaining, and in many ways bittersweet for us and the boys to find that history can’t be changed no matter how much we wish it too.

Add to all this a burgeoning sort of attraction between Ashton and Grant, and you have the makings of a fantastic series and relationship.  I can’t wait to see where this all goes.

Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska, thought it captures the rush of adventure and the magic of the era.  Great job.

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 151 pages
Published May 16th 2017 by Harmony Ink Press (first published May 15th 2010)
SeriesRepeating History #1

A MelanieM Review: Magic or Die (Inner Demons #1) by JP Jackson


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

James Martin is a teacher, a powerful Psychic, and an alcoholic. He used to work for the Center for Magical Research and Development, a facility that houses people who can’t control their supernatural abilities, but left after one of his students was killed, turning to vodka to soothe his emotional pain. The problem is he still has one year left on his contract.

When James returns to the CMRD to fulfill the rest of his contract, he finds himself confronting the demons of his past and attempting to protect his new class from a possible death sentence, because if they don’t pass their final exams, they’ll be euthanized.

James also discovers that his class isn’t bringing in enough sponsors, the agencies and world governments who supply grants and ultimately purchase graduates of the CMRD, and that means no profit for the facility. James and his students face impossible odds—measure up to the facility’s unreachable standards or escape.

When I start reading a novel by a new author, I always try to approach that first chapter with a fresh outlook and happy  expectation that perhaps I’ve found a new writer to add to my TBR pile.  Sometimes it happens and sometimes not.  On the rare occasion I find an author that goes immediately on my auto buy list.  Welcome, JP Jackson to that list.

Magic or Die by JP Jackson is the first in their Inner Demons series and oh my, what a killer of a story and way to launch a series!  Immediately, Jackson gives us a main character in trouble.  James is a sodden drunk living in squalor.  He’s also a powerful Psychic.  One forced to be a teacher to other  young psychics at a Magical Research and Development facility.

The character of James is so well constructed. A drunk using alcohol unsuccessfully to stop the memories of the past from haunting him.  Or are they really just memories?  James is complex, and will show great growth over the course of the book.  And in a way great failure.  He’s amazing and the reader will commit to him utterly.

But James will come to teach a group of young Psychics.  Some wild, vulnerable, compelling, and the reader will come to ,well, if not love them, then, become inordinately fond of them.  We want them to succeed.  All will feel alive, horrifically, hauntingly, alive.

There are multiple stories being told here.  The author does a admirable job of keeping each one appearing throughout the entire story so you are always aware of the many threads flowing through it.  And their importance to the characters and overall arc.

There is one concerning Jame’s missing sister which is a stunner, one about the Covens and one of the pupils Jame’s will teach, more about the facility itself…all these intriguing narrative balls that the author keeps juggling to high suspense and our great entertainment and  sometimes horror.

Yes, I care about each and every one of these people/beings and need to know more.    Especially after that ending.

I used to absolutely hate cliffhangers.  That would  really guarantee a story a lower rating.  But over the years, that slowly changed until I can see my  way past that.  So  yes, this has a cliffhanger.  One that raised many, many questions for me that I hope are  answered in the next story.

Because everything leading up to that ending?  Just incredible!  The characters, the writing and plot!  So I can imagine the author knows exactly where he is going next here.  I want to be there too.

Pick up Magic or Die (Inner Demons #1) by JP Jackson and see why I cringed, cried, laughed, and loved everything about this story.  Then we can wait together until the next one is released!

Cover art is just perfect for the story and tone.  Love it.

Sales Links:

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Book Details:

ebook, 313 pages
Published July 2nd 2018 by NineStar Press
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesInner Demons #1

A MelanieM Review:The Wolf at Bay (Big Bad Wolf #2) by Charlie Adhara


Rating: 5 stars out of 5


Going home digs up bad memories, so it’s something Bureau of Special Investigations agent Cooper Dayton tries to avoid. When he’s guilted into a visit, Cooper brings along Oliver Park, his hot new werewolf partner, in the hopes the trip will help clarify their status as a couple…or not.

When Park’s keen shifter nose uncovers a body in the yard and Cooper’s father is the prime suspect, Cooper knows they’re on their own. Familial involvement means no sanctioned investigation. They’ll need to go rogue and solve the mystery quietly or risk seeing Cooper’s dad put behind bars.

The case may be cold, but Park and Cooper’s relationship heats up as they work. And yet if Cooper can’t figure out what’s going on between them outside of the bedroom, he’ll lose someone he… Well, he can’t quite put into words how he feels about Park. He knows one thing for sure: he’s not ready to say goodbye, though with the real killer inching ever closer…he may not have a choice.

I just love The Wolf at Bay (Big Bad Wolf #2) by Charlie Adhara.  It’s a first for me by this author.  I picked it up because I was intrigued by the cover and the description.  At the time I had no idea it was part of a series.  I had to find that out once I went scrabbling for more information at Goodreads for information about the author and found that there was a story that preceded this one.  Too late, I was already heavily involved with Cooper Dayton, Oliver Park, and Cooper’s visit home.

I’ll tell you immediately Adhara’s characterizations are amazing.  Layered, complex, and highly interesting people/beings emerge immediately from the story.  I didn’t have to read the first novel to get into the stress filled  relationship and shaky dynamics that is the partnership, personal and professional, between Cooper and Oliver.  It’s like being close to quiet lightning. it crackles and you don’t want to look away from the energy.

They are struggling to figure out how to emerge from what was clearly a disastrous event.  Cooper’s ex partner and his unwitting involvement  in his corrupt affairs.  Yes, this will send me running back to that first story but I didn’t feel I needed it to read this book.  I got enough information to feel satisfied that I had sufficient groundwork here to go on.

A call from Cooper’s family and  an invitation from Cooper for Oliver to accompany him seems like a good idea until a body is found under the gazebo in his family’s backyard.

How Adhara builds this case, all the emotions, the labyrinthine path filled with clues, old personal history, memories both good and bad is incredible.  The author builds it around Cooper’s family, his memories of his childhood, and his tenuous connections to his father in present time.  All the while as he and Oliver try to figure out where they stand with each other.  And keep Oliver’s identity as a werewolf from the family.  I did say that, didn’t I?

I’m so in love with this author and story.  I  need the next book in the series to arrive.  I guess the first story will have to do until then.

Love shifters?  Murder mysteries?  And romances?  Why not combine all three?  Pick up one beautifully written story with outstanding characters and a romance you will go crazy over in The Wolf at Bay (Big Bad Wolf #2) by Charlie Adhara. I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

Cover art is simply and relevant from a scene in the story.  Love it.

Sales Links | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 249 pages
Expected publication: September 24th 2018 by Carina Press
SeriesBig Bad Wolf #2

A MelanieM Review: Ground of Insurrection (Wizard Wars #1) by Mell Eight




Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Life on the prairie isn’t easy, especially since the prairie has a habit of eating people it doesn’t like. Ruse knows the dangers, but there’s so much more to the prairie than death.

The nearby country of Ammet, however, only sees an exploitable resource to be conquered. Caught between the political machinations of Ammet and his love for the prairie, Ruse can only hope he doesn’t wind up killed by one or the other.

I honestly hesitated on the rating because the imagination behind the concept of Ground of Insurrection is just incredible.  There have been sentient planets, yes.  Sentient plants.  But here you have a sentient eco system, one that came about via a mage war.  A sentient prairie that once was a man. Mind blowing stuff.

My mind went all over the place with questions that quite frankly the author never answered.  How?   What?  As in I wanted to know exactly what it feels like to be a prairie! One that gobbles up people mind you for sustenance among other things. The adjustments to life, mind, everything that had to have taken.  There’s the book I kept thinking….

But nope.  We get Ruse as a storyteller. One of the convict’s sent to the Prairie from Ammet as a part of the city’s survive or die program.  True, Ruse has his own secrets and each small village of criminals is interesting on its own.  That would be small towns that grew as the killers, perverts, thieves…one by one…started to figure out how to survive and come together long  enough to form a village structure.

The dynamics at work within such a village are fascinating too, especially the ease at which they each accept what other societies find horrifically unacceptable:  the serial killer who continues to kill leaving bodies of the unwary to be deposed of at dawn, the psychopaths, the thieves, all working together, in a criminal harmony.

Mell Eight has other elements at  work.  Espionage, treason, assassination, and more plotting than I was honestly interested in.  No.  My focus was on the Prairie, his existence, his beginning, and how the others started to interact with him.

He is a 5 star creation in my books.  The rest almost suffers next to him.

In fact, the ending brought up so many  questions and opened up a bunch of holes in the narrative for me.  The villagers starting orchards for one thing.  Orchards are the very bane of prairies.  Any  woody plant it because its the first stages of a forest.  The very introduction of something that could mean the end of such a ecosystem seemed all wrong.  Surely Ruse and the settlers/villagers would have come up with a substitute for apples and tree grown produce?

And yes, that other ending left me unsatisfied because I still had so many unanswered questions to begin with and now had more.  It wasn’t until I looked at the title on Goodreads that I understood that this was to be a part of a series.  Still….

Magnificent creation.  And I definitely need more.  So I can handle a little frustration if I    finally get the answers I’m looking for…in book 2.  Hang in there with me and check it it.

Cover art:  Natasha Snow.  Perfect cover.  Just love it.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Published June 13th 2018 by Less Than Three Press (first published June 11th 2018)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesWizard Wars #1

A MelanieM Release Day Review: From a Jack to a King by Scotty Cade


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

New York Times best-selling mystery writer Bay Whitman leads the life of a celebrity—at least on the surface. In public he’s self-assured and in control. Women hang on his every word, while men envy his confidence and swagger. But in reality, Bay is a loner. He’s shy and introverted, and his life consists of sitting in a dimly lit room writing his famous Jack Robbins mystery novels. His one vice—gambling. Winning an escort in a poker game will change Bay’s life in ways he never imagined.

Matthew “King” Slater is one of the hottest tickets in gay porn. He spends his days in front of the camera and his nights as a highly paid escort to the rich and famous. Deep down, he craves romance and a real connection, but his past makes it hard to separate the needs of his body from those of his heart. For now, it’s easier to think of sex as just a job. But while doing a shoot in Vegas, King is hired for a tryst at a famous hotel and casino, and his handsome client might blur the line between work and play.

OK, I’m going to admit right off the bat, I misjudged this book.  Not by it cover, but by the synopsis!  I thought I was going to get a typical high priced call guy/porn star meets and transforms a nerd sort of story and gets a life makeover himself.  All of which does kind of happen.

But…and it’s a huge one, Scotty Cade takes that barest of well if not themes, then outlines and fleshes it out with surprising twists in his characterizations, story framework, and unique elements.  It begins with his multiple pov, told from both Matthew “King” Slater and Bay Whitman.  We don’t actually hear the name Matthew used much until the end of the story which is appropriate because for much of this novel, it’s King Slater, the vastly popular gay porn star and high priced escort that you hear from.  We meet him in the middle of a “shoot” for a porn film, taking a call for a hookup later on.   And it’s our first inkling of the twist that’s coming when  we hear King’s inner thoughts, both on the shoot and the escort job to come.  The layers that Cade start to pour over his character to distinguish him from others you might have stashed away in your mind.  I don’t really want to give away the issues with King.  But needless to say, the author has done considerable research and it comes through how King internally voice’s his insecurities and deep fears.  It’s believable and his actions at all times feel authentic.

So too does the bullying element that has played such a restrictive, altering role in Bay Whitman’s life.  The author mentions the horrible effects that childhood bullying have had on him and it translates into the  character of Bay in the story. That simply said, they carry over into adulthood with often surprising ramifications on that persons life.  With Bay Whitman, Scotty Cade is able to show what course those repercussions might have taken with one person.  And again, Bay becomes someone you can connect with, a person who needs to create a persona to deal with the “outside”, to handle people and events that he himself thinks are beyond him.  It’s so easy to emphasize and feel compassion for both individuals.

I enjoyed the path the author plotted to their HEA, as potentially loaded with emotional potholes and outright craters I kept waiting for them to fall into. But the author was kind and, I believe, sympathetic  himself towards this pair that needed each other and love so badly.

He gives them a ending that, perhaps I had to suspend my belief a little more than usual (which is why the rating) but it’s also a tremendous way to end the story.  Did I enjoy it? Absolutely.  I was rooting for them after all.

I think you will too.

I definitely recommend From a Jack to a King by Scotty Cade.   If you love romance, and for two men who deserive a chance at HEA, I think you will love this contemporary novel.

Cover art: Paul Richmond. You can always pick out a Paul Richmond artwork.  This one is absolutely perfect for the characters, story, and of course, the cover.  Love it.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: July 3rd 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition LanguageEnglish