A MelanieM Review: Hunter (Brawlers #4) by J.M. Dabney

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Welcome to Brawlers Bar…

If there was a way to completely destroy his life, Hunter Black would do it. He was a catastrophe waiting to happen. Survival was his only priority and having to leave his old life behind that meant a job of the legal variety. He’d found one as a bartender at Brawlers Bar and a safe place in a huge house with the rest of the bar crew who quickly became the family he’d never had. The one thing Hunter didn’t need was his old life tracking him down.

Deputy Wren Gramble hated his job and his weekend assignment of staking out a bar in the middle of nowhere waiting for drunks. Although he’d heard the homophobic and racist jokes going around about the crew and customers, he kept his head down and stuck to his job and nothing else. He despised being driven back into the closet, but he’d reached the end of the line and what he’d do if he earned another transfer he didn’t know.

Linus Trenton was considered the normal one in his family and according to the weird ones that meant he should be punished on a daily basis. He never came out one way or another, if he found someone attractive he was attracted. His life was complicated enough having a crush on the sweet and awkward Hunter but now he had to throw Wren into the mix. Linus didn’t have time for dating or romance, most of the time he didn’t even think about having a sex life, although, Wren and Hunter were ruining his calm.

Hunter was in lust with the handsome deputy the minute the man pulled him over, but a man like that wouldn’t give him the time of day. His friend, Linus, was another matter altogether. Hunter wanted both. His bosses made it work with their man, why couldn’t he? Could Hunter prove he wasn’t as much of a screw up as he appeared or would he have to call in backup to claim his men?

Hunter (Brawlers #4) by J.M. Dabney surprised me in many ways.  For me it seemed to hold  the least amount of angst that i’ve come to expect of the Dabney men and the Brawlers series.  Hunter is quiet to the point of utter silence, he’s so clumsy that he often poses a danger to himself and others, shy with a self esteem that seems to exist at basement level.  He’s bearish with long hair (how the cover missed a motherlode there) and everyone seems to want to look after him.  Surprisingly again, the author is stingy with Hunter’s backstory. At least with the others, we’ve gotten an idea of the circumstances that brought them to Brawler’s.  Here we just get the barest outline of jail time and some juvenile arrests, not nearly enough.

Those details are left for Linus Trenton and Deputy Wren Gramble, the two men vying for Hunter’s love and ending up as a threesome.  As the fourth book in the Brawlers series, it’s also the one that sees the most storyline involving the corruption within the Sheriff’s Department and how that affects Hunter, Linus, and Wren.  This book also sets the stage for my all time favorite stories and series, the Executioners.  So maybe, Hunter just had too much to do.

But whatever the case maybe I felt as though this threesome was missing some of that magic, or vivid relationship interactions that brought the other three stories alive.  Somehow I never felt as connected to these men as I did all the other couples (and it’s not due to the fact that it’s a menage – those can be very hot).   Maybe it was that it felt as though it happened too fast, or just that Hunter had ignored Linus and then he didn’t.  I’m not sure what the element here is that made me wishing for all the other couples stories again but the spark, that heat, never flared.  Sweet, happy even, yes….but never quite Brawlers red hot.

There are some really funny moments here to enjoy. I can always count on the author to supply those, usually along with some major angst which is missing here.  Dabney’s  wonderful dialog and  rough hewn characters are always something I look forward to and I needed to see Hunter get his HEA which he does.  Most importantly though, the author is tying up some story threads and setting the tone and overall plot in place for two of the best books of the connected series (all three), that would be Ghost and Joker.  I have listed all the series and stories below.

I don’t really consider any of these stories stand alone as they flow from one person to another, connecting, developing and using each as a foundation for the next.  So remarkable.   So one more jump backward to the Twirled World Ink series to see where it all began.

Whether it’s Hunter or the Brawlers series, I absolutely  recommend them all.  Then continue to  finish off all the series and wait for the rest to be released just like me!  I can hardly wait.

Cover art by Winterheart Designs is showing just the torso.  I think this is a miss as they could have included Hunter’s signature long hair.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

book, 160 pages
Published June 13th 2017 by Hostile Whispers Press
Series Brawlers #4

A MelanieM Release Day Review: ​The Bunny and the Billionaire by Louisa Masters

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 

Spending their fortunes and losing their hearts.

Hardworking Australian nurse Ben Adams inherits a substantial sum and decides to tour Europe. In Monaco, the home of glamour and the idle rich, he meets French billionaire playboy Léo Artois. After getting off on the wrong foot—as happens when one accuses a stranger of being part of the Albanian mafia—their attraction blazes. Léo, born to the top tier of society, has never known limits, and Ben, used to budgeting every cent, finds it difficult to adjust to not only Léo’s world, but also the changes wealth brings to his own life.

As they make allowances for each other’s foibles, Ben gradually appreciates the finer things, and Léo widens his perspective. They both know one thing: this is not a typical holiday romance and they’re not ready to say goodbye.

Stories don’t get any more Dreamspun Desiry than The Bunny and The Billionaire by Louisa Masters.  Between that title which screams 60’s B or C romance movies (and the Harlequin Romance paperbacks this series pays homage to) right down to the storyline, everything about The Bunny and The Billionaire is one great shoutout to those types of romances we adore.

Here a great guy, a male nurse, who inherits a ton of money from his last client.  Ben goes off to visit her favorite places, sees a mysterious handsome guy (part Arab Prince/part Parisian Aristocracy) who sweeps him off his feet, they romance around Monaco, then they live happily richly ever after. That’s sort of it, but in the hands of Masters, it’s totally works, the characters endearing, the dialog witty ,settings are charming and romantic.  Believable?  Ok, maybe not.  But, the point it, that it’s thoroughly enjoyable and the relationship was a steady build right into your heart.

Especially Ben.  He really stumbles into your heart, bad clothing and all.  My only complaint?  I wanted us to have his best friend, Dani, come there too.  I adored her and we only got to see/hear her through Ben’s phone.  Other than that, I loved Ben and his open heart.  How could Léo Artois not fall for him?

Yes, it’s a fairly quick fall, but Masters makes a good case for it.  Plus it all calls for a good suspension of belief anyhow so you’re just going with it.  Things like this only happen in the movies right?

By the time the book ends, I’m sighing with total happiness over this couple, their friends and of course, hoping that Masters will bring them all back for another magical romance cruise for some love in Monaco!  We can always hope.

Looking for a story that’s the very definition of sweet romance?  Here it is.

Cover art by Bree Archer.  Love the cover.  Works great for the book and the character.

Sales Links:

 Dreamspinner Press | Books2Read

Book Details:

ebook, 204 pages
Expected publication: October 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781635338768
Edition Language English

J.C. LONG on Characters, Writing, and his new release ‘Hearts in Ireland’ (Guest Blog/Tour)

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Hearts in Ireland (World of Love) by J.C. Long
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reamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Valerie Tibbs | Tibbs Design

Available for Purchase at

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host J.C. Long here today on his Hearts in Ireland blog tour. Welcome, J.C.!

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Welcome everybody to the next stop on my Hearts in Ireland blog tour! I’m J. C. Long, author  of Hearts in Ireland, coming May 10th, 2017! I’m so glad to be here on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. I love to talk about myself (just joking, haha. Okay, maybe not entirely a joke) so today I’m bringing you an interview! The people folks here at SW&RT asked some really good questions, and I’m really excited to answer them! Without further ado, on to the questions!

How much of yourself goes into a character?

I try to make my characters far more well-rounded than I am. If a majority of my characters were like me, the stories would be pretty boring pretty quickly, I think. But, with that said, there are definitely elements of my personality or little quirks that do shine through into the characters, though I don’t often realize it until I’ve finished writing. Noah Potter in my novel A Matter of Duty shares my love of spicy food and aversion to certain textures of food, like tofu. The self confidence issues that the character Tate suffers in Broadway Babe are very much my own. But Ronan, from this upcoming story, is the closest to me. He has the most of me I think I’ve ever put into a character.

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

I think it’s important for an author to avoid the perfect, idealized characters as much as possible. Perfection is boring. No one wants to read a character that doesn’t make a mistake, because those are usually characters with absolutely zero agency.

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

Honesty time: I hate most research, which does influence what I write, I think. Let’s just say you will NOT be getting a Victorian era historical from me (I hate that era, anyway). When I select a project that requires research, I always want it to be something that I love and am interested in. My Hong Kong Nights series required quite a bit of research into the city, but I found it to be really interesting and fun. Science fiction and fantasy have a great appeal because of the ability to make up worlds and cultures as I go along.

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

Yes! I have a contemporary romance WIP that’s sitting about 75% finished. I can’t touch it yet. It involves a character who loses his grandmother, who raised him. This time last year my grandmother passed away, and that loss was devastating. Any time I approach that story I get overwhelmed and can’t think straight. I hope to finish it one day, when the time is right, but for now it’s on hold.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

I didn’t read romance much as a teenager; I was far more into scifi and fantasy. I do read it now as an adult. I’ve developed an appreciation for just how wonderful the genre is (and how difficult to write, as a writer, when the world is a dark and scary place).

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

I like this question. Part of the cover process for me is trusting the artist and the publisher. They know what’s marketable and what will sell the best. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve loved all of the covers I’ve had for my books. With Hearts in Ireland I was given three choices, and I was stuck between the one you see and a second. My boyfriend actually was the tiebreaker for me.

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

My favorite? That’s a bit difficult. Each story is meaningful to me in its own way. This one is the one that my heart is most invested in, I’ll say that. I can tell you my least favorite—it’s always the one I’m working on right now!

What’s next for you as an author?

I’ve got a busy year ahead of me! I’m currently working on the follow-up to Broadway Boys. When that’s finished I’m jumping into the third book in my Hong Kong Nights series and after that the third book in my Gabe Maxfield Mysteries series (the first and second will be out sometime this year).

Blurb:

When the future is shrouded and it’s hard to find direction, maybe it’s time to let the heart lead the way….

Ronan Walker stands at a crossroads, unsure how to pursue his education… unsure if he even wants to. Now that his mother is gone, all he has left are the wonderful stories of her youth in Ireland, and he’s drawn to the land of his ancestors. There, he seeks out his mother’s family and meets Fergal Walsh, who works at Ronan’s aunt’s bookstore. A love of literature facilitates a fast friendship between the two men, and even though Ronan cannot deny the potential—and his desire—for more, he cannot see a future for the two of them when he leaves Ireland. Fergal must persuade Ronan to give school in Dublin a chance—and convince Ronan that his heart has already found its home.

 

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

About the Author

J. C. Long is an American expat living in Japan, though he’s also lived stints in Seoul, South Korea—no, he’s not an Army brat; he’s an English teacher. He is also quite passionate about Welsh corgis and is convinced that anyone who does not like them is evil incarnate. His dramatic streak comes from his lifelong involvement in theater. After living in several countries aside from the United States, J. C. is convinced that love is love, no matter where you are, and is determined to write stories that demonstrate exactly that.

His favorite things in the world are pictures of corgis, writing, and Korean food (not in that order… okay, in that order). J. C. spends his time not writing thinking about writing, coming up with new characters, attending Big Bang concerts, and wishing he were writing. The best way to get him to write faster is to motivate him with corgi pictures. Yes, that is a veiled hint.

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A MelanieM Release Day Review: Two Cowboys and A Baby by BA Tortuga

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A little bundle of joy means big changes.

Hoss McMasters has a working ranch, a bull riding career, a nosy momma, and a best friend he’s been in love with since he can remember. He’s a busy, happy cowboy, living the good life.

Then one morning he discovers a baby on his doorstep.

Well, Hoss does what any reasonable man would do—he calls his momma and his buddy, Sheriff Pooter, and they head to the clinic to see if Doc knows of any suddenly not-so-pregnant girls.

In the meantime, Hoss and his best friend, Bradley, have their hands full trying to care for an infant, run a ranch, and deal with the sudden confession that Bradley doesn’t hate Hoss for coming out to him in high school. In fact, Bradley’s been trying to catch Hoss’s attention for damn near a decade.

Well, hell.  Two Cowboys and A Baby.  Shakes head.  Really, its hard to get much cuter than that.  So of course, I loved this sweet baby left on the doorstep story by B.A. Tortuga, a favorite author of mine.  B.A. talked about loving tropes like this in her author guest post on this story (read it here), but the tale of how these long time friends (yep since childhood) finally move towards HEA and a family is heartwarming and sweet.  Of course, there’s some wild plot doozies here that I throughly enjoyed.  There’s almost a ‘B.A. goes Texas soap opera’ thrown in but who knows?  Totally possible so I rolled with it.  These days  anything goes so it could happen.

I of course, loved Hoss.  The author makes Hoss and his profession so painfully real with all its breaks, pain, and physical wake up in the hospital realism.  That the part of the life, people never see when watching the rodeos.  Here (and in all of B.A. Tortuga’s stories) its laid out in all it stark, bill and injury-laden reality. Another element that I look forward to when reading a Tortuga novel?  Her families and its another key element here.  Bradley has been a part of that, living as he has been on Hoss’ land in a trailer.  But all that’s about to change with a baby bundle lands on Hoss’ doorstep.

I think if I have only one major issue here, it would be Bradley’s behavior at one point.  His lack of faith in Hoss and inability to talk to him.  I kept trying to rationalize that as fear but still it seemed as unlike the man’s personality as laid out before so it brought down the rating.  There’s another hugely intriguing area that just cries out for its own story.  If you read this book you’ll know what I’m talking about and who.  I hope the author is already working on that. What a story that would be.

As it is, I loved Two Cowboys and a Baby.  Its sweet, heartwarming and a wild journey of two men towards HEA and a family.

Cover Artist: Bree Archer. Cover art is perfect and just as cute as the story.

Sales Links

 

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: March 15th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635333855
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Release Day Review: A Matchless Man (Lexington Lovers #2) by Ariel Tachna

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of  5

a-matchless-manNone of the matches caught his eye as much as the matchmaker himself.

Growing up poorer than poor didn’t leave Navashen Bhattathiri many options for life outside of school. All of his concentration was on keeping his scholarships. Sixteen years later, he’s fulfilled his dream and become a doctor. Now he’s returning home to Lexington and is ready to prove himself to the world. In doing so, he reconnects with Brent Carpenter—high school classmate, real estate agent, all-around great guy… and closet matchmaker.

Brent makes it his mission to help Navashen develop a social life and meet available, interesting men. Unfortunately Navashen’s schedule is unpredictable, and few of those available, interesting men value his dedication like Brent does. Brent’s unfailing friendship and support convince Navashen he’s the one, but can he capture Brent’s heart when the matchmaker is focused on finding Navashen another man?

A Matchless Man (Lexington Lovers #2) by Ariel Tachna is another heartwarming, loving romance from the Dreamspun desire.  I haven’t read the first  Lexington Lovers story but this one is a definite winner.  Ariel Tachna uses her intimate knowledge of the Indian family unit to great advantage here with the character of Navashen Bhattathiri.  Navashen is returning home to Lexington, ready to settle down with his new job, wanting to buy his forever home and  finally start his new life as a out gay doctor.  Included in those plans are Navashen’s parents living close by and his adult younger brother with a learning disability brought on by a premature birth and lack of oxygen to the brain.

The family dynamics are such that you get a feel not only for the adult Navashen but for the life he had as a child as well.  You can sense the isolation of the mother (self imposed), the father’s role, that  wonderful brother.  That family, each member and its culture is vividly, sympathetically portrayed.  You understand their actions, even their fears, and it makes them come alive.

That goes for all the characters here.  From the other secondary ones like the retired math teacher and hardware store owner, to the other main one in Brent Carpenter, the real estate agent who helps Navashen find his “right” home, and get settled within the community.  Brent too has his own issues,  primarily dealing with his ex, wife that is.  Brent is bi-sexual, something that confuses Navashen who is less experienced with his own sexuality.

Tachna packs this story with quite a number of themes , each is handled honestly and with delicacy and humor.  Akshat, the brother especially jumps to mind with the  way he’s been sheltered and now starts to assume more responsibilities when he moves in with his brother.  The joy, the growth…this character just shines off the page.  Yet you never forget his history or his position in the family.  Its just terrific.

Also the way Brent’s bisexuality is talked about, his choices and Navashen’s as well.  There is adult discussion going on here, and yes, some emotional denial, but that’s all too human as well.  Tachna shows how that isolation that exists in the Bhattathira family extends in many ways to all members.  In Navashen, he’s had blinders on  until he finished his internships and got his degree.  Now he’s still focused on the house and his brother.  That’s seems very real too.

This entire story reads true.

The angst, such as it is, is believable, built on human foibles and the barriers raised up out of past fears.  But watching the characters work their way through their problems to arrive at a place where they can see a future together?  Beyond wonderful.

I loved this story.  Now I’ll have to find the first in the series to see what I missed.

Cover art by Paul Richmond shows Navashen, a terrific representation of the character.

Sales Links

        

 

Book Details:

ebook, 224 pages
Expected publication: October 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634773705 (ISBN13: 9781634773706)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series Lexington Lovers – add it to your Goodreads shelf here:

Unstable Stud (Lexington Lovers, #1)
A Matchless Man (Lexington Lovers, #2)

A MelanieM Review: Wriggle & Sparkle by Megan Derr

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

wriggle-and-sparkleLynn is a kraken shifter in every way: detailed, tenacious, resilient, and hard-working. Also possessive, vain, arrogant, and demanding. It makes him an excellent agent for the Federal Bureau of Paranormal Security and Investigation—and impossible to work with, as the long list of partners who have transferred away from him will attest.

His newest partner is a unicorn, possibly the worst type of paranormal for work that often turns ugly and violent. Everyone knows unicorns are too delicate for such things. Then Anderson proves to be a unicorn like no other, the kind of partner Lynn has always wanted—the kind of partner he wishes was more. But if there’s one thing he’s learned, it’s that the only thing harder to keep than a partner is a lover.

Warning: Contains tentacle porn

I’ve read many different types of stories from Megan Derr but never a love story between a unicorn and a kraken. So Wriggle & Sparkle was a definite first.  But as expected Megan Derr delivers not only a wonderful offbeat romance but several unusual cases for these partners at the Federal Bureau of Paranormal Security and Investigation to solve.

Its all about the Wriggle and the Sparkle, as in Lynn the kraken and Anderson the unicorn.  Neither will fit your idea of what a typical kraken or unicorn should be,  In fact they don’t fit most of the paranormal world’s idea either.  Lynn is a gender shifter, sharp dressing, detail oriented crack detective…who can’t keep a partner for longer than a flick of a tentacle.  His newest matchup?  Anderson…a slutty, sparkly unicorn who goes against what most unicorns (and the paranormal world) think unicorns should be.  He’s also snarky, intelligent, and appreciates the finer points of the kraken in front of him.  Things start to spark and sizzle immediately between the two, but peculiar cases both pull them together while pushing them emotionally apart.

This is a collection of cases so it doesn’t always flow as naturally as I wanted it too from chapter to chapter but as I have a tendency to like that format it didn’t bother me as it might others.

I loved the natural history that Derr created for her kraken species.  Its fascinating and Lynn comes with a sibling who has an important role in his life and in this story. The fluidity and naturalness which with Derr folds her background and world building works so well here that I found myself believing in her krakens and unicorns wholeheartedly.  Even down to the tentacle sex.

This is not my first story with tentacle sex.  The way Derr handles it feels exactly right to the species involved and the body type they are in at the moment.  Yes, these are shapechangers with all that entails.  I have to admit most of the time with such disparate species I tend to roll my eyes a bit.  Not here.  Derr more than makes her case for interspecies love and then seals it with a resounding “hell yes”.

Along with layered characters, as I said there are some interesting paranormal cases to solve.  Some weird, some heartbreaking…but all will command your interest.  I easily could have had several more to read about.  But then again I feel that about about almost all of Megan Derr’s stories.

The reason why is here on display.  Its her attention to detail.  In compiling a natural history for her kraken, very little is left out, right down to offspring and incubation.  I loved that.  It pulled me in and let me connect emotionally to the couple and the events as they occur.  From the dialog to the clothes to the very hot sexy scenes, Lynn and Anderson were a couple I found I could fall in love with and root for.  Which I did all the way to the end of the page.

I think you will do the same.

I highly recommend Wriggle & Sparkle by Megan Derr.  Its romantic, suspenseful, intriguing and fun.  And of course, sexy.  Check it out for yourself.

Cover art by Aisha Akeju works for the character of Lynn and the story.

Sales Links

Less Than Three Press

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Book Details:

ebook, 260 pages
Published August 10th 2016 by Less Than Three Press (first published January 2014)
Original TitleWriggle & Sparkle
ISBN139781620048221
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: 7&7 – Anthology of Virtue and Vice by Andrea Speed , Carole Cummings, Rick R. Reed, John Inman, Serena Yates, Clare London, J. Tullos Hennig

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Rating: 4.25 out of 5

7 & 7 AnthologyHumankind possesses a dual nature, the ability to rise to the brightest heights—or sink to the darkest and most perverse depths.

What inspires some to reach the pinnacles of virtue while others cannot resist the temptations of vice? Is it something innate, or a result of destiny and circumstance?

Delve into the minds and spirits of saints and sinners alike with a collection of stories that explore the call toward good or evil—and the consequences of answering it. For while rewards certainly await the righteous, there are also pleasures to be found in the darkness. Venture off the expected path with some of the most innovative voices in LGBT speculative fiction as they present their unique takes on the classic vices and virtues.

Many authors including: Andrea Speed, Brandon Witt, Sean Michael, J Tullos Hennig, Carol Cummings, Rick R. Reed, John Inman, Rhys Ford, Clare London, Pearl Love, Jamie Fessenden, J. S. Cook, Amy Rae Durresson, Serena Yates

I found this to be an absolutely wonderful  anthology…however not if you are looking for stories of romance exactly.  This anthology is released from DSP Publications which means its stories are less romance based and more driven towards content elsewhere, which in some cases here is horror.  That’s fine, if those are not to your taste, skip over them and proceed to the next.  This is a wonderful smorgasbord of authors and a wonderful way to taste their various narrative talents.

Which ones were some of my absolute favorites?

Heirs to Grace and Infinity by C. Cummings – 5 stars (31 pages)

Urban fantasy in which a fugitive sorcerer matches wits with the bureau’s top agent to save children.  Its imaginative, wonderful in its world building and keeps you on your seat.  It was just terrific in every way from the characters to the plot. C. Cummings is one of my favorite authors. This is why.

Hope by Rick Reed – 5 stars out of 5 (47 pages)

Looking for hope in crises around a mother’s death and one’s personal life.  This was such a deeply moving story of loss and hope.  One man moves home to his mother’s house after she’s died, to deal with the aftermath of her loss.  His grief, those of her friends who loved and took care of her…and the house that’s now his and the new location.  Its powerful, moving and so beautifully done.

The Darkness of the Sun by Amy Rae Durreson – 4.5 stars out of 5 (41 pages)

A grieving Priest finds his faith.  Another story that is based in loss and takes a different tack altogether.  The author has a wonderful feel  for the trail and the life of this simple priest who has lost his way.

Prudence for Fools by Sean Michael – 4.5 stars out of 5 (41 pages)

A disgraced seer is thrown out of court and returns to the tribe of his husband but is haunted by his visions.  I loved this  story by Sean Michael.  This seer and his husband, a couple of long years, are wonderful and their relationship is one I connected to immediately.  Michael pulls us into this world and the situation quickly.  Another story that could have filled twice its pages.  I found it gripping, the couple moving in their deeply loving relationship and the tribe is one I wanted to learn more about.

Red Light Special by Rhys Ford – 4.5 stars out of 5 (38 pages)

An Elf, a Knight and a Succubus plus Detroit and one of my favorite authors who writes with snark, a vividness thats startling and a pizazz that flies off the page.  Really.  This is a story that needs no review.  Just read it.  It works.  It hilarious and sexy.

Horseboy by J. Tullos Henry – 4.5 stars out of 5

A Horseboy of the Lebanon, a Templar Knight, and intimate desert secrets.  A bit of history, a bit of the supernatural.  A short story I found that works on every level, it kept me connected and involved in the action and the time period.  Great job.

There are many in the 4 star to 3 star range. Those I enjoyed as well.  And won’t cover here.  There were only a few that I was disappointed in.  That’s a great number is an anthology this size.

The Gate by J. S. Cook – 2.75 stars out of 5 (21 pages)

A gay man sees a seedier, dark side of the wartime effort.  Set in the 40’s during the wartime, I felt this went nowhere.  Little setup, little ending.  I know the author was going for noir but it went south instead.

The Rendering by J. Inman – 1 star

Fat gay guy goes on a date set up by a computer dating service and ends up….

Well, I saw the ending coming from the very beginning.  Why?  For starters, I knew the historical ingredients of the product being sold and the links being made in the story.  The clues were obvious as to where it was going to go.  Some have called this fat shaming…others strictly horror.  I thought it just beyond obvious and boring.  That it came from one of my favorite authors made me want to cry.  That’s the horror.

Those are the highs and the lows.  The highs and all the terrific stories in the middle far outweigh the lows.  I highly recommend this anthology.  Its a feast all around.  Pick it up and start sampling.

Cover is simple and it works.

Sales Links:  DSP Publications

Book Details:

ebook, 360 pages
Published May 10th 2016 by DSP Publications (first published March 10th 2016)
ISBN 1634773608 (ISBN13: 9781634773607)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Jackson & Nick (Storming Love: Wild Fire #6) by Laura Baumbach

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Rating:4 stars out of 5

Jackson and Nick coverFireman Jackson Kain and ER physician Dr. Nick Kirby would both like nothing better than to leave behind their high-pressure NY City lives for a just a few days in the peaceful wilds of Northern Ca. Two ordinary men exploring their growing relationship in glorious, undisturbed beauty of nature. Before this trip is over, both men will need all their specialized abilities and training to survive their romantic interlude turned WILD FIRE.

Recuperating from an work-related injury, NY City fireman Jackson Kain convinces new boyfriend Dr. Nicolas Kirby to spend a few days at a secluded California cabin in the woods far away from the hustle and bustle of their stressful worlds.

Nick is a cautious man with protective walls around him that persistent, persuasive Jackson is determined to breakdown, scale or tunnel under. These few days are Jackson’s best chance to convince Nick he is sincere and reliable in all things, including matters of the heart. Unfortunately, both men are going to get more opportunities to prove themselves than either bargained for.

What was supposed to be a relaxing break from the world to get to know one another better turns into a struggle for survival, that pits both men against nature and time.

Another story in the Storming Love series by MLR, this one is highlighted by the fact that its author is Laura Baumbach, an author I love.  Secondly, this is the first new story from that author in a long while so I was so happy to get this story and start reading.  I quickly fell into the author’s style of writing and the two main character’s relationship, which is still in the first stages of working things out and seeing if they mesh with each other.  They are at that first crucial big step, the first vacation away with each other.  This time a trip with a cabin in the woods…de-stressing time for one who is a doctor and a last minute relaxing vacation for another who’s been out on work related injury leave.

Baumbach lets us fall easily into their lives, showing us the rush, pressure, and fears of the 24/7 lifestyle that consumes Dr. Nicolas Kirby and the determination of Fireman Jackson Kain to have Nick put that behind him and enjoy the time together.  And they do, for a while.

We get sweet and sexy scenes and then the scramble is one to survive and outrun the forest fire.  Its a white knuckle trip all the way, mixed in with relationship dynamics and personal  revelations.  I had invested enough of myself in this couple that I was with them emotionally as they fought through the fire and their own fears.

My only issue is that the story was too short. I was connected to these men, their situation was dire, their relationship still new and there was so much to explore here and  plus, hey, its was  Laura Baumbach!  I wanted much, much more.

Still I love the Storming Love series.  They are exciting, wonderful romances and really you just can’t go wrong here.

Why not start your exploration of the Storming Love series here with Jackson & Nick (Storming Love: Wild Fire #6) by Laura Baumbach.  It’s a fast, sexy, story and then go find the others.

Cover art by Kris Jacen is a great representation of the story, setting and with a hint of the characters.

Sales Links:  MLR Press |  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 73 pages
Published October 8th 2015 by MLR Press, LLC
ASINB016DXVWLS
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesStorming Love: Wild Fire #6

 

Its Back to Foothills Pride with When Adam Fell by Pat Henshaw (excerpt and giveaway)

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WhenAdamFellFS

When Adam Fell by Pat Henshaw
Release Date: February 24, 2016

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: AngstyG

 

Blurb

When his lover Jason’s drug addiction spiraled out of control, TV celebrity chef and cookbook author Adam de Leon walked away from him. Adam also abandoned his renowned restaurant in San Francisco to start a small bistro in the Sierra Foothills.

Five years later Adam is battling the conservative leaders of Stone Acres, California, to open a new restaurant in historic Old Town when Jason turns up on his doorstep—a recovered Jason, now going by the name David and claiming he’s overcome his addictions. What’s more, he begs Adam to take him back and says he’s ready for their happily ever after.

Adam has enough on his plate with problems plaguing the opening of his restaurant. And now he’s having a hard time deciding which to follow—his head or his heart.

 

Pages or Words: 29,800 words
Categories: Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

Excerpt

I watched Jason rise from the stoop.

He looked good. His golden hair sparkled in the day’s first light. A happy smile tinged with nervousness spread across his lips. He was wearing a silver-gray Bogner jacket, some sort of expensive pants, and sturdy boots. Hanging from his shirt collar, his sunglasses looked like those high-priced titanium ones. All in all, the guy standing in front of me could easily have fit into the young, hip app crowd now flooding the valley. Too much money and no idea where to spend it. He looked like a guy who’d eat at the Bistro and then fucking strut up to me after dinner, put a wad of Franklins in my pocket, and whisper, “Quit this job and come cook for me.”

Nothing tempted me, especially not the hundred-dollar bills I’d thought were Monopoly money the first time I’d seen them. Nothing had moved me like this, seeing Jason rise straight up in front of me like a fucking miracle.

Standing there in my scuffed clogs, beat-up jeans, and ratty Stanford Cardinal T-shirt, I felt underdressed for this particular dream. Shouldn’t I at least be wearing my chef’s regalia, toque and all? Shouldn’t I have a Henckel in one hand and a Wüsthof in the other? Or maybe clutching a shield made of my cooking classics, which I’d written with an angry, tormented mind but a clear eye to royalties?

“Cat got your tongue?” the vision asked.

“Fucking A, man. Is it really you, Jason?”

“Sorta. Who else would come knocking at your door looking like me?” He flung his arms out like he wanted me to hug him or some shit.

I backed away and kept my hands to myself, though my dick perked up immediately. Did Jason have a twin or a younger brother, somebody who resembled him? I didn’t think so. All I’d thought for five years was nobody—and I mean nobody—could ever have come back from where my Jason had buried himself. At least I never thought so.

There’ve been moments in my life when I was sure I was losing my mind. When I knew whatever tenuous grasp on reality I thought I had was really smoke up my ass. This moment smacked of those. As the legendary John Fogerty sang and the great Yogi Berra is supposed to have said, it was like déjà vu all over again. Only not.

“What the hell are you doing here?” I asked. Suspicion tasted bitter on my tongue.

Slowly his arms came down, and he gave me a pained but understanding look.

“Yeah, well, it was too much to hope we’d just kiss and make up.” His husky croak had once made me roll over and do anything he asked, but not now. “Can I come in? It’s a little chilly out here.”

I wasn’t cold, but then I’m tall and stout, a real cliché chef image. Fuck, I guess somebody’s got to be the cliché, right? It’s how clichés are born.

I shrugged at his question, swiped at the sweat rolling from my forehead, and moved aside. “Kitchen’s downstairs.” I gestured to the steps.

He walked past me, letting his hand trail over my groin. Once I would have nearly come at the gesture. Now I ignored my dick because my mind was numb and had been for years. He might think he could reawaken my love and lust, but I was pretty fucking sure that ship had sailed and gotten lost at sea.

Buy the book:

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon |Amazon UK  | Barnes& Noble

Meet the author

Pat Henshaw, author of the Foothills Pride Stories, was born and raised in Nebraska where she promptly left the cold and snow after college, living at various times in Texas, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and Northern California. Pat enjoys travel, having visited Mexico, Canada, Europe, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Egypt, and Europe, including a cruise down the Danube.

Now retired, Pat has spent her life surrounded by words: Teaching English composition at the junior college level; writing book reviews for newspapers, magazines, and websites; helping students find information as a librarian; and promoting PBS television programs.

Her triumphs are raising two incredible daughters who daily amaze her with their power and compassion. Fortunately, her incredibly supportive husband keeps her grounded in reality when she threatens to drift away while writing fiction.

Where to find the author:


Tour Dates & Stops:

FEBRUARY 24, 2016 – RELEASE DAY BLAST

Parker Williams, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Divine Magazine, The Hat Party, Happily Ever Chapter. BFD Book Blog, Bayou Book Junkie, KathyMac Reviews, Velvet Panic, Unquietly Me, 3 Chicks After Dark, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Tasty Wordgasms, My Fiction Nook, Making It Happen, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Molly Lolly, MM Good Book Reviews, Kirsty Loves Books

 

VIRTUAL TOUR: FEBRUARY 25 – MARCH 9

25-Feb: Velvet Panic, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

26-Feb: BFD Book Blog, Book Lovers 4Ever

29-Feb: Jessie G. Books, Kirsty Loves Books, Hearts on Fire

1-Mar: Inked Rainbow Reads, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

2-Mar: MM Good Book Reviews, Open Skye Book Reviews, KathyMac Reviews

3-Mar: V’s Reads, Divine Magazine, Love Bytes

4-Mar: Making It Happen, Unquietly Me

7-Mar: Havan Fellows, Happily Ever Chapter

8-Mar: The Novel Approach, A.M. Leibowitz

9-Mar: Bayou Book Junkie, Alpha Book Club, Rainbow Gold Reviews

 

Giveaway

Enter to win a Win one of THREE $10 Starbucks gift cards.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

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A MelanieM Review: End Street Detective Agency Volume One (End Street Detective Agency #1-2) by Amber Kell, R.J. Scott

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Rating:  3.75 stars out of 5

End Street Detective Agency Vol 1Dragons, vampires, werewolves, fae, witches and one very confused human.

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Sam, 100% human (no, really) inherits a crumbling building and a private detective agency from his Uncle.

Bob, a brooding stubborn and ancient vampire turns up at his door and refuses to leave.

Before Sam can say ‘I only want human cases’ he’s knee deep in werewolves, dragons, vampires and witches.

Book 1 – The Case of The Cupid Curse

Sam Enderson is a human detective who inherits a building from where his Uncle used to run a detective agency. He finds himself working for paranormal creatures despite his resolve to stick with humans only. To supplement his income as a new PI Sam rents out rooms in the large house.

Bob is a vampire and turns up on Sam’s doorstep to rent a room. Sparks fly and Sam is attracted to the vampire despite himself.

Sam is cursed by a witch, and has two cases landing on his desk. Werewolves, annoying ghosts and a grumpy gargoyle are enough to drive Sam mad. But somehow in amongst all of this he has to find a missing fae and a missing shifter child.

Book 2 – The Case of the Wicked Wolf

Naiads, humans, sirens and a challenge for Alpha make up the intricate story in the race to rescue the missing children.

Sam and Bob have more than just the case of one lost child to handle. Not only is Shelby Hartman missing, but other paranormal children have disappeared. The race to rescue the children is hampered by naiads, humans, sirens and a challenge for Alpha.

Hartman Hunter is desperate to find his daughter. He turns to the demon Danjal Naamah for help. The problem is that Danjal is the only person Hartman has ever loved—the man he let go for the sake of the pack…

NB: Previously released as two separate books.
Word count for End Street Volume 1: 64,500

I started this series at book four and then had to scrabble back to the beginning and start where most readers began.  I’m not sure I made a mistake because I picked out a early pattern that has continued through all the books I’ve since finished.  With each story this series gets progressively better.  The plots deepen and the character drop what qualities I found irritating (and yes, frankly whiney) towards the  beginning of the series.  So it was probably a very good thing that I started with books where the characters had lost some of the attributes and mind boggling naivete found in books 1 and 2.

This mostly applies to Sam, a being who refuses to accept that he’s not human.  Everyone  else knows he’s not, from the fae to the  ever present gargoyle.  But Sam?  Nope, with the stubbornness that becomes highly irritating.  I mean who wouldn’t want to be able to do the things he can do in the world Amber Kell and RJ Scott have built?  And they don’t lay any real reason for Sam’s unyielding prejudice/stubborn unwillingness to see himself as anything other than human, when all the events and his powers say otherwise.

Luckily that starts to disappear somewhat or become palatable after this volume.

But I knew there was more coming.  Plus I got to see how he met Bob the vampire.  I adore Bob.  Plus all the other beings that inhabit his house/detective agency are so cool, with  very distinctive personalities that they make up for the places I want to deliver a “Snap out of it” ala Cher in Moonlighting to Sam.  What saves Sam?  He’s really cares, he’s also just a determinedly stubborn in wanting to do the right thing.  A sort of supernatural knight charging off to fix things, with a whole passel of supernatural beings running after him to help.  That’s charming and each case connects to the next, getting better and better.  You will love what’s coming next in Vol. 2.

These were my rating for the individual stories but really, don’t pass any of them up.  You need them to build, one on top of the other.

  • Book 1 – The Case of The Cupid Curse.  Rating: 3 stars out of 5
  • Book 2 – The Case of the Wicked Wolf. Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Next up, Vol 2, (dragons) and then The Case of the Purple Pearl, that’s a real winner.  I love this series and recommend it.

Art work by Meredith Russell.  Love this cover.  Works beautifully for the characters involved.

Sales Links:  All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 201 pages
Published October 5th 2015 by Love Lane Books Ltd (first published June 28th 2013)
ASINB0168MICJ4
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesEnd Street Detective Agency #1-2