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

Standard

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

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

Standard

Rating:  3.75 stars out of 5

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

* * * *

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

 

 

A MelanieM Review: A Home For The Holidays by Joe Cosentino

Standard

Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

HomeFortheHolidayscoverBobby McGrath’s Christmas trip to the beautiful Italian island of Capri to meet his eccentric extended family offers stunning views—none more stunning than his third cousin, Paolo Mascobello, a real stocking stuffer. As the two young men embark on a relationship, Bobby, a driven law student, learns to relax and bask under the old Italian moon, and Paolo realizes there’s more to life than a frolic on the beach. For the two to find everlasting amore, Paulo must overcome his fear of commitment and learn to follow his dreams, and Bobby must get his wish for happily ever after.

Joe Cosentino’s A Home For The Holidays reads like a loving tribute to his family Italian background and the gorgeous island of Capri.   From the moment we meet Bobby McGrath, an overly serious young law student, whose life consists of family and college, Cosentino brings us deep into the arms of a family (Irish and Italian) who embraces the best and what most annoys about each other.  Its funny, lighthearted and will remind most of us of our own holidays and families.  What this family wants for Bobby is for him to have some fun, so his mother arranges for him to meet his Italian relatives in Capri for a vacation, one he will never forget.  It all starts with a conversation with his mother, president of her local PFLAG:

“Bobby, every Christmas your father and I buy you a nice gift and you return it. So this year before we go shopping, I’m asking you. What do you want for Christmas, exactly?”

I was tempted to answer, “How about the new Zeb Atlas DVD, Mom?” No longer reading my law textbook, I pressed the cell phone against my ear and responded, “My red sweater is getting frayed. I guess I could use a new one, Mom.”

“I don’t like red on you. I’ll get you a green sweater. It will go nicely with your eyes. You’ll be twenty-four in June. Nobody ever caught a husband wearing red clothes, except for Mrs. Klaus, and then look how overweight he was.”

I loved this bit of dialog.  The loving but exasperated tone,  the almost rote answers that said they both had had this conversation many times before.  Perfect.  The author obviously is channeling well known family dynamics and it works so well to make us care not only about Bobby but his family too.  What do they give him?  A trip to Italy and another family to love.

Off to Italy Bobby goes, luckily speaking Italian (thank you high school and college courses) and winds up happily in the middle of another large upscale Italian family and sometimes unhappy family dynamics.  His cousins own a large company that is a green energy corporation, live in a villa on Capri and is full of cousins of various ages and matrimonial status, uncles, aunts and the heads of the family, ‘Nonno’ and ‘Nonna’ Mascobello. Bobby also meets the gorgeous and uninhibited Paolo, his third cousin, who is everything a young serious American virgin has dreamed of.  Yes, virgin meets unrepentant island slut. Trouble indeed.

I adore the character of Bobby, nose in his books, the rest of him, heart and body belongs to his family.  So he definitely gets a shock to the system when he awakes to see a Italian god bending over him to wake him from his nap at the villa after arriving. Yes, that would be cousin Paolo and their first introduction.  Paolo been ordered to throw his partying aside to show his newly arrived American cousin around and Paolo’s being a bit sullen however lovely.  Too bad, Bobby’s smitten and the damage done.

The author does turn the character of Paolo around and gives him a foundation for his behavior that works.  However, the reader has to commit to the idea of a instant love here for Bobby and  Paolo.  I could see it for Bobby only if it faded into real friendship by the end of the visit with the promise of something more realistic for them both.  Bobby is a smart young man but hey, he is a virgin on a magical island and a young god who loves sex just happens to be right in front of him.  Who wouldn’t fall right over the edge?  How you stand on their relationship and romance, whether you believe fully in it or not, might make this book for you.

What really works for me here, aside from all the heartwarming family moments?  The vivid and almost lyrical descriptions that Joe Cosentino uses when Bobby is arriving on Capri or sightseeing all over the island with Paolo.  Air fragrant with aroma from the flowers blooming everywhere, the noises and sounds are conveyed along with the vibrancy of the people and the brightness of the sky and the sheer beauty to be found everywhere you look…the love the author has for Capri and the people there flows off the page in every word he has written.

“When we arrived at Piazza Vittoria in Via Caposcuro, Paolo took a bag from the scooter’s compartment and led me to a chairlift, which hoisted us into the sky. With my legs dangling over the dark Tyrrhenian Sea, I felt as if I were flying through a black hole. I waved to Paolo in the seat behind me, and he smiled like a proud parent at an amusement park.

When we arrived at Mt. Solaro, we stepped off the chairlifts. Paolo looked down at the homes nestled on layers of rocks. “This is the highest point on the Isle of Capri, five hundred and eighty-nine meters above sea level.”

“All I see in front of me is a thick blanket of fog. Is that because it’s been warm for winter?”

“Wait and watch.”

Paolo sat me down next to him on a flat section of the mountain, then nudged my side with his elbow and pointed to the fog. As if he was Moses parting the Red Sea, Paolo looked triumphant as the sun came up and the wind blew the vapors of fog upward, crowning the clouds and revealing stunning views of the Bay of Naples, the Amalfi Coast, and the mountains of Calabria in the distance. As we looked out over the turquoise water, white mountains, and azure sky, I felt like I was in heaven.

I pressed my shoulder against his. “It’s sheer magic, Paolo! And pretty amazing science.”

“We call it Acchiappanuvole, the cloud catcher.”

Trust me, when you finish reading this story, you will want to book your own flight to Italy and boat to Capri.   Maybe see your own or be your own version of Bobby and Paolo, you never know.  Adult fairy tales do come true they tell me, why shouldn’t Bobby have his?  Tis the season for the holiday stories to start arriving, pick up Joe Cosentino’s A Home For The Holiday’s and get started on your holiday reading today~

 

Cover artist Paul Richmond does a cute job with the characters and a wonderful job with the location.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon not yet available | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: December 2nd 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781634765367
edition languageEnglish
other editions
None found

A MelanieM Review: The Devil’s Brew (Sinners #2.5) by Rhys Ford

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A Sinners Series Novella

The Devil's Brew CoverMiki St. John’s life has been turned upside down but it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

His best friend, Damien Mitchell, is back from the dead. He has a dog named Dude. And more importantly, he and his lover, SFPD Inspector Kane Morgan, now share Miki’s converted warehouse.

For the first time ever, Miki’s living a happy and normal-ish life but when Valentine’s Day rolls around, Miki realizes he knows next to nothing about being domestic or domesticated. Nothing about the traditional lover’s holiday makes sense to him but Miki wants to give Kane a Valentine’s Day the man will never forget.

Can he pull off a day of wine and roses? Or will his screwed up childhood come back and bite Miki in the ass?

Rhys Ford’s The Devil’s Brew is a novella that slides in between Whiskey and Wry (Sinners, #2) and Tequila Mockingbird (Sinners #3), both full scale continuations of the Sinners series.  At 70 pages, it concentrates on Mika and a singular crisis in his life.  Valentine’s Day.  For other’s it’s merely stressful or happy occasion but for the near feral Miki, with his heinous foster life, its a completely unknown element.

One of the benefits of bringing Damien back to life is that it gives Rhys the ability to compare and contrast these two characters.  Brothers in everything but blood and background, Damien is a social being,  He gets holidays and loves Valentine’s Day.  He’s expects presents and gives them. Damien and Sionn are on the same extravagant page.

On the flip side,  Mike is shocked to find out that’s its a holiday.  He has to be clued in. That happens only to be told that he has to find a present for Kane, that Kane probably always has a present for him, and that its all a very big deal and he’s panicking because he’s has no idea.  He  was raised outside of any culture, other than that of abandonment and abuse.

Damien and Sionn appear briefly to set Miki into shock and motion.  Its then that Rhys Ford’s quick-fire descriptions and ability to deliver the power of a character’s emotions, however inarticulate they maybe, within a scene comes to life.  The reader feels Miki’s inability to understand what’s going on, his lack of emotional foundation for the holiday.  We also get that Mike feels especially shaky because his relationship with Kane and the Morgan family is still so new.

I have always loved that as the intensity builds, Fords uses humor the level it a bit, whether its Dude, the irrepressible terrier or in this case “a chunk of forest leftovers”…that “a blind gypsy dropped off a tribute to Herne in your living room.” That last  bit was courtesy of one of my favorite other characters in the series, the Morgan clan father, Donal Morgan, who has a special relationship with Miki.  The part he plays here will bring tears to your eyes.  At least it did to mine.  And some laughs as well.

It all ends on a hot, sexy note as all great Valentine’s Day’s should, making it one to remember.  With The Devil’s Brew, Rhys Ford made 70 pages seem full and rich, a terrific thing for a novella. I highly  recommend this story, this series and this author.

Cover art by Reece Notley is nice but has little to do with the subject of the  story other than the main character.  Still does a good job of branding the series.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 70 pages
Published May 21st 2014 by Dreamspinner Press (first published May 20th 2014)

A MelanieM Review: Potato Surprise: A Brimstone Prequel (Brimstone 0) by Angel Martinez

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Potato Surprise coverBefore Ness, before Corny, before Leopold and Heckle and Mac, there was just Shax and Verin and a newly stolen, er, acquired cargo ship. Join Shax on his first adventure in space in which a pampered demon prince has a lot to learn.

When a steel trap of celestial and infernal politics threatens to close around them, Shax and Verin flee Earth’s system in a stolen ship, leaving everything behind. It’s an elegantly simple plan, with a new ship and a new life as carefree brigands among the stars.

But the ship seems to hate them, and in order to have any sort of life they need funds. A frightened man offering them a contract to deliver three mysterious crates comes just in time, and Shax is sure their troubles are over. Out of his environment and in over his head, Shax scrambles to understand the players and the consequences of his new life. With cargo that’s not what it seems, shadowy motives around every turn, and a gorgeous rogue named Julian for a dash of added confusion, Shax’s grand schemes of a new start may be his demise before he can even begin.

First of all. Angel Martinez.  Let’s just get that  out of the way.  That author’s name is all I need to pick up a book.  The title Potato Surprise in combination with science fiction certainly added that dash of anticipation of  the quirky, the oddball, the unexpected, and the highly imaginative.  You will get all that here. Loved it.

Potato Surprise is a prequel to Brimstone (a collection I grabbed up after reading this wonderful story).  Here we get our first introduction to the space faring or fleeing demon Shax, his companion Verin, and their  newly acquired ship, renamed The Brimstone.  The Brimstone has a delightful IA with a drag queen personality, Ivana Cockatoo!  Together the three of them form a slightly less than formidable ship of privateers, willing to trade/ship  merchandise legal or otherwise, especially otherwise across the galaxy.  This includes those surprising potatoes.

Angel Martinez’ imagination is fearless.  Her demons  may know other demons that fit within our prescribed notions of what demons should look like and how demons should act, her demons may even be related to demons that act that way.  But Shax?  He is one surprise after another, loyal, with an endless and often troublesome appreciation for the “pretties”,  his charm is as boundless as his enthusiasms.  I adore Shax.  Verin  is a little more hard core or perhaps hard shell,..hard to say.  The other books I just now reading let me have more of a feel for his character and background.  But here Verin is a solid, loyal as well, presence in both the stories and in Shax’s life and he anchors the stories.   Verin may blow smoke, but there’s definitely fire behind it.

Oh, Ivana!   Ever since Kirk ended up temporarily with a flirtatious computer on the Enterprise, IAs with entertaining or wildly scary personalities have appeared in stories and screen plays.  I love Ivana Cockatoo.  Ivana immediately embraces the new name and new owners.  They certainly are a better fit for Ivana than the previous owner and this IA jumps into the new life with a joy that’s downright infectious.    Ivana is an equal partner in crime and party here, and valued family member.

Why Shax and Verin had to flee Earth is only sketchily filled in here.  More details come in the later stories.  There is a planet side romance, don’t all pirates have one?  That has its own tender, loving element of its own.  There are moments of beauty, scenes of glee and disgust, then its time to leave once more.  Off on more adventures, more travels and certainly more transactions that will get them into danger and the money they need to continue charging through the galaxy together.

The Brimstone’s crew has me hooked good and proper.  This prequel did that job beautifully.  I love Shax, Verin, and Ivana.  I can’t wait to see how far Angel Martinez takes this crew and what amazing things and places they get to go and what mayhem they commit when they get there.  Let me tell you floating bovines is in your future if you love this as much as I do!  Its not to be missed!

Cover art by Fredi McKay.  Wild and includes elements from the story, although not as I had pictured them in my imagination.

Sales Links:  Mischief Corner Books  |  All Romance (ARe)  |

Book Details:

ebook, First, 120 pages
Expected publication: August 29th 2015 by Mischief Corner Books, LLc
original title: Potato Surprise: A Brimstone Prequel
edition language English
series Brimstone 0

A MelanieM Review: Groomzilla by Tere Michaels

Standard

Review: 3.75  stars out of 5

Groomzilla coverWhen drama threatens to ruin a romance on a reality show, only a true friend can save a groomzilla’s wedding.

Daniel Green, an event planner with a neat, quiet, orderly life, reluctantly agrees to plan the wedding of his childhood friend Ander, an outrageous fashion designer soon to marry a wealthy entertainment lawyer named Rafe. To complicate matters, the happy couple have agreed to have their wedding made into a reality show—something that practical Daniel isn’t sold on.

Daniel is neither a romantic nor a wedding planner, but he’s the only person in the world who can manage Ander. Distracting him from his mission is Owen Grainger, a too-handsome-to-be-true producer whose quiet charm pulls Daniel into his orbit.

When the stress of the show triggers bad behavior from Ander, co-producer Victor Pierce decides it’s the key to a ratings bonanza, and he begins to undermine Ander and Rafe’s relationship to create more drama. Daniel is determined to protect his friend and his own reputation, but when he finds himself falling hard for Owen, there’s much more at stake than ratings.

Tere Michaels is a author who can tear at my heart with her characters and stories, her just concluded Faith, Love, and Devotion series is a perfect example of that.  So I was curious to see if she could deliver light hearted romance as well.

She does.  Tere Michaels style.

That means that angst, a pinch of sadness and a dash of anxiety gets thrown in with the humor and lighthearted romance.  It all starts with Daniel Green, an event planner with an unhappy childhood only made bearable by a boarding school friend Anders who is now Daniel’s only family.  Ander’s childhood is equally painful and they became each other’s support and heart sibling despite their startling differences in appearance and behavior.  Now Ander is getting married and wants Daniel to plan the wedding as well as be his best man.  Oh, and it’s all a part of a new reality online series.  What could go wrong?

That would be everything.

Daniel and Ander are both two damaged men who have worked through their issues, mostly, to become men who understand themselves and each other.  I loved Daniel, he’s worked hard to get where he is, with his own business, a degree from Harvard but he realizes that he’s starting to coast.  Ander is smarter than his extravagant exterior and I love the surprises that his character continues to deliver throughout the narrative, especially when you least expect it.  They are exactly the type of characters Tere Michaels does best.  Daniel and Ander look so different on the outside, one sort of nicely average, the other peacocky gorgeous, and yet so alike underneath where it counts. The author makes them believable, flawed, and so likable it hurts at times.

Ah, Daniel and Ander. Their relationship dynamics are the heart of the story, not the romance between Daniel and Owen, or even Ander and his fiance Rafe, and that’s probably why I didn’t connect as much as I did with Daniel and Owen.  It was because I was already invested emotionally in the deep friendship of Daniel and Ander and the wedding from hell.  I was so  caught up in what this wedding was doing to their friendship that it almost made everything else extraneous.  I also needed a little more of the Rafe/Ander dynamic, although what I had was delicious, especially those scenes  at the end.  And Victor felt exactly like a reality show “villain” and I couldn’t make my mind up where that  was good or bad.

Owen? Yes, I liked Owen even if I felt I didn’t get to “know” him as completely as I did the others.   I certainly could see him as part of Daniel’s life.  Perhaps if Daniel and Owen had their own story after Groomzilla and left this  one to Daniel, Ander, and Rafe,  that would have made me completely satisfied.  But that’s not how Tere Michaels wrote it, so I will say I loved so many portions of this story, and  the ending left  me  misty eyed and smiling. Those scenes with the video felt as “in the moment” as anything in the story.  These scenes were “character capsules”, delivering a punch of emotion that I had been  waiting for and now got. These were the people I  wanted more of, the ones I had gotten fewer glimpses of as the catastrophe of a wedding starts to overtake the story (pretty realistic element), ones that Daniel was missing too.  Really,that’s was wonderful thing to work into this plot. How the stress  can make the best of us go a little crazy and maybe even lose sight of who we are and who we love.

Oh, Tere Michael, how I love your writing, characters, and storylines. Not familiar with this author? Groomzilla is a fun place to start. I think you will fall in love with Daniel, Ander and Groomzilla.  I know I did.

 

Cover art by Anna Sikorska is cute but suffers from model use overload.  That dark-haired model is everywhere, from books about chefs (more than one) to geeks in love.  He’s cute but over used. This cover makes me think of other books instead of this one. A definite no no.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 160 pages
Expected publication: August 10th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781634761833

A MelanieM Review: The Baker (Workplace Encounters #6) by Serena Yates

Standard

Rating:  4 stars out of 5

The Baker CoverIan Wallace works as a baker for his tyrannical father in the family-owned Scottish Bakehouse in Casper, Wyoming. He wants to represent the bakery in the upcoming Tartan Day competition, but his father refuses to reveal the secret ingredients that make them so successful—unless Ian gets married and has a son, proving he is fit to continue the family line.

Just before New Year’s Eve, Cameron Lewis, a former Marine turned police detective, comes into the bakery for donuts for his department and some black buns for himself. Cameron is hooked, and as his visits become more frequent, they stir Ian’s father’s suspicions. But threats can’t stop Ian from donning his kilt and entering the competition anyway—to show his father what he can do on his own. Though he he might not have the secret ingredients, Ian and Cameron might still discover a recipe for happiness.

The Baker by Serena Yates is the first I’ve read in her Workplace Encounters series but I enjoyed it so much that I’m going to search out the rest.  The Baker charts the romance of  Scottish family baker Ian Wallace and Det. Cameron Lewis of the Casper, Wyoming police department.  This story manages to bring in Scottish baking and recipes, a Tartan Day and Hogmanay celebrations and rituals, and the pain and anguish of growing up under un-demonstrative  and autocratic father and makes it all gel together.

At first I had a difficult time getting a handle on Ian’s character.  At times he comes across as naive and younger emotionally than his age of late 20’s.  Then during other scenes, he acts accordingly to his age level.  I had to decide if his actions were reasonable and did they fit into his history as we knew it?  I came to the conclusion that someone who had grown up under in such a restrictive family, with such rigid expectations impressed upon them and with little love shown during their formative years, that his actions, however, odd at times, felt about right.

That one issue dealt with, I could concentrate on the romance and altogether charming interactions between Ian and Cam.  Their steps towards happiness and love were as touching as they were hesitant.  I appreciated the give and take between them and the fact that the men actually discussed important issues such as how open they were going to be about their relationship and the steps they were willing to take in getting to know each other better before making any important decisions.  It felt believable and realistic, given the place and backgrounds.

One more element I enjoyed, the fact that Cameron’s police department was not a hotbed of homophobia.  I don’t think any of us can separate the words Wyoming and Matthew Shepard in our hearts and minds but I hope that plays like the Laramie Project and other actions can make such an open-minded squad as much a reality as it is here in this story.  So yes, I adored his partner and fellow officers and the part they played in Cam and Ian’s romance.  Just lovely.

Finally, I enjoyed the Scottish baking recipes and traditions that the author folded into her story.  It added depth and interest to an already engaging romance.  Plus it gave me things to research…something I always get a kick out of.

Not familiar with Serena Yates or her Workplace Encounters  series?  Start with The Baker!  Its charming, its characters loving and believable, and their romance and climb towards a relationship is heartwarming.  I recommend it and look forward to reading more stories in this series.

Cover art by L. C. Chase is lovely.  I think that design is fun and captures the essence of the character and his passion, even if I doubt his father ever let him look like that inside his shop.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press |  All Romance |  Amazon |  Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 1st Edition, 133 pages
Published July 15th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press (first published July 1st 2015)
ISBN139781634762113
edition languageEnglish
seriesWorkplace Encounters #6
charactersCameron Lewis, Ian Wallace

Workplace Encounters Series with Goodreads links:

 

A MelanieM Review: Imposter in Zebra-striped Briefs (The Seattle Chronicles) by C.C. Dado

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

ImposterinZebraStripedBriefsFS (1)When recent college graduate Nathan Harris makes a life-changing move out from under his mother’s thumb and into his own place, he is determined to take some risks. He is tired of not being good enough, tired of allowing his fears to control him.

What he thought would be an exciting adventure ends up being one jaw-dropping mishap of embarrassment after another, leaving him with a life he doesn’t even recognize anymore.

His once boring, lonely existence has been replaced by a brownstone filled with colorful friends, a rough around the edges, tattooed bad boy best friend, and a stripper for a boyfriend who’s not even sure he’s gay.

I’m going to say right off the bat that I adored this story.  There is something about the characters, plot and writing style of C.C.  Dado that just resonated with me.  Its quirky, endearing, and the dialog is so appealing that you will find yourself smiling before you have finished reading the end of the sentence.  And its all wrapped up by page 73!

Imposter in Zebra-striped Briefs by C.C. Dado is a first story for me by this author.  But my fondness for this universe and endearing cast of characters is sending me on a quest for the first book in Dado’s The Seattle Chronicle series.  But back to this story. David, the “imposter stripper” is not only not  gay but ungainly as a dancer as well.  Only the need to help out a younger brother, the real stripper,  sends this man into the night in the afore mentioned zebra-striped briefs and a dancing gig at a bachelor party.  A gay bachelor party.

Brandon and Josh are getting married which has set off a slew of life-changing events, including their own.  Josh’s old apartment gets a new resident, and  Josh gets a new, socially inept best friend in Nathan Harris.  Oh, Nathan.  I loved this character,  Yes he has many of the same quirks you read in other nerdy and socially backward gay men, but in Nathan, somehow it all feels so fresh and adorable.  Nathan also comes with one awful family he is fleeing and a yearning for someone to love.  Little does he know that his future is uncomfortably wearing tight briefs and trying to “shake his booty” on the crowded party deck.

It all zipped by so quickly but I still remember the warm feelings and laugh out loud moments it left behind.  Could you call this a “gay for you” story?  Probably. HFN? That too.  But whatever the trope, this sweet, layered romance is a delight you will want to revisit. I hope that Dado brings these characters back so we can see where their future takes them…and all their friends as well.

I loved Imposter in Zebra-striped Briefs by C.C. Dado and definitely recommend it to all lovers of romance and M/M contemporary fiction.  Now I’m off to discover what the first book in the series has in store for me.

Cover art by Alexandria Corza.  Honestly, not sure whether I like this cover art or not.  Definitely eye catching, got the briefs but something about it is a little too harsh for the loving and endearing characters within.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 72 pages
Published July 1st 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
original titleImposter in Zebra-striped Briefs
ISBN139781634761352
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com
seriesThe Seattle Chronicles

A MelanieM Review: Retrograde (Flight HA1710 #1) by R.J. Scott

Standard

Rating:   4.25 stars out of 5

Retrograde FinalCo-Pilot Lachlan Donaghue wakes up in hospital, a survivor of the crash of Flight HA1710, with memory loss and the suspicion that he could be at fault for the tragic accident. When everything becomes too much he is taken home to hide, back to the small Irish town he grew up in and to the home he once shared with Rory.

Rory Kendrick watches the news, sees every hour of the disaster unfold and somehow just knows that Lachlan was in the middle of it all. What he doesn’t know is that Lachlan will be forced to come back home to hide and to heal. Lachlan needs a friend, not a lover, but sometimes the lines are just too blurred to make any sense.

Retrograde by RJ Scott is the  first in a new series that  revolves around a doomed flight.  Each story is told from the perspective of a survivor of the airline disaster and each story is written by a  different author.  I love series like this one because for each person we get a author with their own style of writing and take on characters.

RJ Scott was a terrific choice for the unfortunate co-pilot Lachlan Donaghue.  Scott’s gift for characterization and ability to convey an intimate relationship is needed when one of the character’s caught in a mental and physical trauma that has cost him his memory and so many people their lives.  We have to jump immediately over to his side and we do. Right from the start.

So much responsibility rests on his shoulders and he is unable to remember any of it…at first.  Told from Lachlan’s POV, when Lachlan awakes in the hospital room, the world has become a painful, scary, guilt-ridden place where people are demanding answers from him that his traumatized mind can’t provide.

RJ Scott makes this man someone we immediately empathize with even though we know almost nothing  about him.  Lachlan hears the  doubt in the investigator’s voice and  the angry, loud accusations from the ever present reporters trying to invade his hospital  room and temporary  sanctuary.   Lachlan doesn’t remember what happens…just that his friends and colleagues as well as passengers have died in the awful crash.  Alone, aching and in unmeasurable mental anguish, Lachlan is easy to connect with.  But he becomes someone we can love when his past arrives at his hospital room.

Rescue comes in the form of farmer Rory Kendrick, childhood friend and ex fiance.  Rory offers Lachlan his support, his farm and “their house” as a place to recuperate and be safe as the investigation continues.  Lachlan’s lack of memory doesn’t extend to their relationship and last fight that saw them split up.  That painful time is something that Lachlan’s remembers all too well.    RJ Scott takes us easily from their estranged present to their past and back again.  She establishes a loving relationship that really hasn’t faltered no matter what angry words and stubbornness has passed between them.  As a couple Rory and Lachlan are people we can love and do by the end of the story.

An ending that arrives too soon for me.  I wanted to know more about what happens next and how the investigation was moving along.  That will play out over the next stories and we will see it happen through various survivor’s eyes.  I can’t wait for that to happen.

While each story stands on its own, I believe that reading them in order will round out the series narrative in the right way.  I have listed them all at the bottom.  Use it to add to your TBR pile as I have mine.  I definitely recommend Retrograde by RJ Scott.  It was a quick, dramatic and satisfying story.   I loved the characters and the series format.  Wonderful job all the way around.

Cover by Meredith Russell is perfect for the story and the series.

Sales Links:   Love Lane Books ♦  All Romance (ARe)  ♦  Amazon  ♦  Buy It Here

Book Details:

Published by Love Lane Books Limited (first published June 12th 2015)
seriesFlight HA1710 #1

Series Promo banner

Flight HA1710 series

6 authors, 6 stories, 1 disaster

When Flight HA1710 crashes killing seven people the after effects are too many to think on. But how does the crash change people’s lives? From the pilot to the guy who missed the plane we chart the stories of those whose lives were impacted by the crash.

 

  • Retrograde (Flight HA1710 #1) by R.J. Scott
  • Velocity (Flight HA1710 #2) by Sara York
  • Flashbulb (Flight HA1710 #3) by Clare London
  • Fallout (Flight HA1710 #4) by Meredith Russell
  • Aviophobia (Flight HA1710, #5) by Serena Yates
  • Fracture (Flight HA1710, #6) by Amber Kell

A MelanieM Review: Little Wolf (Beings in Love #4) by R. Cooper

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Little Wolf coverOn the run from his old-blood werewolf family, Tim Dirus finds himself in Wolf’s Paw, one of the last surviving refuges from the days when werewolves were hunted by humans and one of the last places Tim wants to be. Kept away from other wolves by his uncle, Tim knows almost nothing about his own kind except that alpha werewolves only want to control and dominate a scrawny wolf like him.

Tim isn’t in Wolf’s Paw an hour before he draws the attention of Sheriff Nathaniel Neri, the alphaest alpha in a town full of alphas. Powerful, intimidating, and the most beautiful wolf Tim has ever seen, Nathaniel makes Tim feel safe for reasons Tim doesn’t understand. For five years he’s lived on the run, in fear of his family and other wolves. Everything about Wolf’s Paw is contrary to what he thought he knew, and he is terrified. Fearing his mate will run, Sheriff Nathaniel must calm his little wolf and show him he’s more than a match for this big, bad alpha.

I have read most of the books in R Cooper’s Beings In Love series and have loved them all,  Little Wolf included.  I admit to laughing out loud, emitting more than a few snorts over the dialog and sighing over the very hot sex scenes with Nate and Tim.  But I also recognize that this book also presented more challenges to the reader than I was expecting.  Those issues impeded my connections to the story and to the characters, so let’s get to those first before we get to the story’s strengths.

What were those challenges?  The main issue was the amount of time it took for me to become engaged with the characters and the town of Wolf’s Paw.  Tim is our narrator and we drop into the story as Tim, our “Little Wolf” is watching the mounted tv at the cafe he works at.  The tv is tuned to the soap opera, Dierdre’s Secret and it includes the  first ever “known”  werewolf actor.  The opening paragraphs is jammed full of information about the soap opera, the cafe and its denizens, the town, and the world around it.  We learn that supernatural beings are now a part of the  “normal” world, and the cafe Tim works at is owned by a fairy named Robin’s Egg (for the longest time I thought that was the name of the cafe instead of the owner).

We find out that the town itself, Wolf’s Paw is full of supernatural beings of all types, but mostly populated by weres and humans.  In fact so much world building is thrown at us that its hard to separate out the details we need at the time from the massive amounts of “universe building”being given to us and clump them back into piles of information that make sense to the plot and character.  It took chapters to figure out that Wolf’s Paw, the town, has historically been a sanctuary for those in need.  It has fed them, hidden them, and  protected them at great cost to itself, a situation that continues to this day.  But it is also, oddly enough, a town that puts on strange festivals, geared towards dating, and interspecies sex.  Yep, a sanctuary that sanctions sexual relations between weres, humans, and the like during festival time. Think Tinder or Grinder as a festival, and you’ve got the picture.  That’s just one of the puzzles the reader will have to make sense of when the book opens.

The thing is, Tim’s thoughts jumps around from person to person, from thought to thought that its hard at first to get a idea of his character and situation at  Wolf’s Paw.  His character, inner self, is elusive.  To us and to the rest of the towns folk.  And that fact makes it hard for us to connect with him at the beginning.  I had to plug away at chapter after chapter before Tim solidified into someone I not only cared about but truly loved.

It should never have taken so long.

I understand why R Cooper fashioned Tim and presented him this way but, frankly, it hurts the narrative.  Tim is in fight or flight mode…all the time.  He’s unbelievably stressed out, he’s being hunted, he’s hiding, and against his better judgement, he’s coming to care for those around him…not that he would ever admit it to himself or others.  Plus just the appearance of the town’s sexy Alpha Sheriff makes Tim’s sense go haywire and brings out emotions he doesn’t understand or know how to deal with.

It’s Nate that allows the reader to connect with Tim and begin to understand why he behaves as he does.  Tim is rude, cavalier about peoples opinions (on the outside) and more than a bit of a jerk.  But around Nate, that starts to change even while we still hear the snarky thoughts inside Tim’s head.  Nate the were who appears perfect on the outside and yet is hurting deeply inside while still trying to behave with honor and respect.  I adored Nate from the beginning, and through his interactions with Tim  the story starts to jell.

From that moment on, most of the chaff of the plot falls away, and we are left with the grains, the story we wanted all along.  As our understanding of Tim’s background and true personality fall into place, the dialog snaps with intelligence, verve and vitality.  It’s funny, and poignant and, heartrending at times.  And before we are even aware that it’s happened,  our thoughts and hearts are fully committed to Tim, Nate, and the rest of the complicated people in this oh so unusual town.

This is a long story, 380 pages worth of complicated people and history.  Most of which I loved.  Parts of which frustrated me more than a little.  For a smart, intelligent, and yes, naive young were, Tim makes you want to shake him most of the time.  I think the author has his ignorance go on far too long.  R Cooper has the other characters strewing clues about a certain situation all over the dang story surface, and yet, this brilliant young wolf doesn’t pick up on it?  That got harder and harder to buy into as the plot wore on.

Yet for all these issues, most of the time I still wanted to give this perplexing story a 5 star review!  Why?  Those same characters and situations that made me want to gnash my teeth are the same characters that had me reading until early in the morning.  I had to see the personal explosions I knew were going to happen, the clash of hunted vs hunter…to see evolve what Tim had been telling us all along…that the Little Wolf has teeth, claws and the predator abilities of a piranha, or werewolf as the case is here.   What scenes those were!  A white knuckle ride several times over, full of drama and action that had you holding your breath in suspense…it made that dense beginning so worthwhile to have plowed through.

R Cooper writes in the foreword that this story took her 2 years to write, and it shows, for good and for bad.  With a firmer editor, tighter reorganization, and a little ruthless pruning,  Little Wolf would be the 5 star read it has the promise of being. As it is, I give it 4 stars and the recommendation that, even if you want to stop reading several chapters in, keep at it.  Both Tim, and the story are deserving of your attention and time.   Have patience and you will be rewarded with a story and couple that will have you howling for more of them and this special town of Wolf’s Paw.

Cover art by Paul Richmond is perfect, at least for the little  wolf.  He has a feral quality that works.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press  – All Romance (ARe)Amazon   Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 380 pages, also in DSP Paperback
Published May 8th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
ISBN139781632169761
edition languageEnglish
seriesBeings in Love #4

Books in the Beings in Love Series: