A MelanieM Prerelease Review: Hellion (415 Ink #3) by Rhys Ford


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

From the moment SFPD Detective Ruan Nicholls meets Ivo Rogers, he knew the tattoo artist was going to bring chaos to his neat orderly life. A hellion down to the bone, Ivo is someone Ruan not only doesn’t understand but isn’t even sure he needs to. Everything about Ivo is vibrant, brash, cocky and arrogant and Ruan wants no part of him.

Or at least that’s the lie he tells himself when he damps down his desire for the social wild child life tosses into his path.

For Ivo Rogers, his life revolves around two things; his family and 415 Ink, the tattoo shop he co-owns with his four brothers. His family might be stitched together by their battle scars from growing up in foster care but their brotherhood was tight—and strong enough to hold Ivo together during the times when he fell apart.

Now Ivo faces a new challenge when he falls for a cop with an old-school mentality on what a man looks and acts like. Ruan is the promise of a life Ivo thought he’d never have but their thunderous clashes threaten any chance of a relationship. Being the family’s hellion makes it easy to be misunderstood yet Ivo has faith Ruan will not only embrace who he is but love him as well.


I thoroughly enjoyed Hellion (415 Ink #3) by Rhys Ford.  I had been looking forward to Ivo’s story and his HEA because Ivo is such a magnetic character with his long legs, kilts, high heels, dyed hair and attitude.  Also the baby of the made family of five men that make up this series and own 415 Ink, that tattoo shop.   Rhys Ford always leaves hints about the next story at the end of the preceding novel, so it wets the appetite for what’s ahead for that story and clues us into some of the plot.

Still I found this a lovely break from the others in this series.  Hellion leans more towards the introspective and less towards some of the more action/suspense elements that  have occurred previously.  I really sunk into that aspect of this story.  It occurs from both, actually more than both, characters pov.  For SFPD Detective Ruan Nicholls , it becomes an inward journey, taking a hard look at his upbringing and its effect on his identity as a gay man.  Also how his profession as a police officer may  have enforced certain aspects of his fear as well as his need to protect. There are so many layers to pull back from Ruan and there are other characters here that help with that reveal.

One of them is Cranston, his old landlord and a tough maritime sailor.  Also gay but of the era where you never spoke it or if or even acted on it, unless you courted death.  Cranston is an indelible personality , sitting in that rocker on the porch waiting for Ruan to walk by, talking about the past and, in his own way urging Ruan to escape the fate of the life that Cranston has made for himself.  This man has impact.  On Ruan and on the reader.  Which is all the more puzzling for what the author does with him  3/4’s of the way into the story.  After creating such an multidimensional man who has such a big part in Ruan’s life, she writes him off with a “he went to live with his sister in San Jose”.  I was bereft.    As was Ruan for a sentence or two.   I had envisioned this old man as an extension of the 415 Ink family because he was actually part of Ruan’s.  But no gone he was as Yoda would say.  In my opinion, it was a misstep this author rarely makes, so again I’m greatly puzzled by it, a great and impactful character tossed away.  And a hole left in the story that I felt greatly.

Ivo too looks inward and past.  To see if he’s ready to help Ruan move out of his box and strict zone of thinking into something that might bring them a future.  It’s a shaky step full of faith, strength, and the ability to trust someone outside the family.  And Ford makes us feel every bit of Ivo’s journey, past and present.

I thought everything about their relationship and dynamics works.  Sexy, strong, faltering at times when it hits upon the shores of Ruan’s box of fears and old mentality. But the chemistry and love the author writes into their relationship shines through.

Plus there’s Spot.  Love that cat.

And Maite Suppe, Ruan’s partner, a lively and layered character, as well as an appearance by Donal Morgan.  Win, and win.

As with all the books in this series, all the brothers and their SO (and kid) make appearances.  They are an integral part of each others lives and stories.  Ford also sets us up for Luke’s story which is next. It looks to be a heartbreaker.  I can’t wait.

If you are following the 415 Ink series, grab this up immediately.  Ivo’s story is a must read.  If you are new to this made family and series, then I recommend you read them in the order they were written to understand the family, the past histories, and the dynamics that are referred to within this story.  They are not what I call standalone novels.

Cover Artist: Reece Notley.  Rarely do I think that this artist misses on the cover but I do here.  I just don’t see either character in that model.  Neither the older Irish cop for Ruan or the tall  tattooed kilt wearing, high heeled Ivo with eyeliner and dyed hair.  Uh no.  That model could be anyone with ripped jeans and a nice bod. It doesn’t speak to the characters or story.  A total miss.  You’d think he’s at least have some tattoos right other than the one star? Ivo is covered in them.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, First, 240 pages
Expected publication: September 17th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language English
Series 415 Ink #3

415 Ink Series




A MelanieM Review: The Doctor Takes a Detour by Bren Christopher


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

An unexpected detour sets two men on the path to love and healing.

After being attacked by a drug addict, Dr. Josh Parker fled New York, his career as an ER doctor, and a failed relationship. Determined to start fresh, he takes a job as a concierge doctor to the wealthy older population of sunny Naples, Florida. Nothing to fear there. No trauma. No stress.

It’s a good idea that doesn’t last long. Traveling to his new home, he discovers a car accident and is forced to make a detour to render aid. There he meets sexy paramedic Ian Manolas.

Since Ian returned from the Army, every day has been a struggle to atone for past mistakes. The Glades Free Clinic is his chosen path to redemption. The people Ian helps are a world away from Josh’s wealthy clients though. Addicts, prostitutes, gang members: they all come to Ian’s clinic for help, not judgment. He’ll do almost anything to keep the clinic going, including roping in one reluctant—and hot—ex-ER doctor.

The attraction is immediate, but Josh wants nothing to do with Ian’s clinic. For them to have a future, both men must work together to find a path to love, while helping those who need them most.

The Doctor Takes a Detour by Bren Christopher represents a new contemporary romance by a new to me author.  After finishing the story, Bren Christopher is a writer whose backlibrary and future releases are on my list to be read.

Well written, characters I got quickly invested in, and a story that pulled me in,  The Doctor Takes a Detour was a smooth ride of a contemporary romance, one I really enjoyed.  The author has a mixture of serious elements here, PTSD, addiction, that are addressed through both characters. One through Josh’s past history, a traumatic ER attack, the other through paramedic Ian Manolas.  Both men were compelling, interesting, and I would have loved to have had an expanded section containing more of both men’s backgrounds,  It would have added a richness to the story and depth to their characters.

The author has so much in place to have given this a 5 star novel.  The setting was lush and vibrant, in some cases you could almost feel the Palmetto bugs and mosquitos!  The clinic had an authentic gritty, beat down feel to it.  Same goes for its patrons and staff.  This was a clinic you might see barely existing on the outskirts of towns of this everywhere where someone tries or tried to make a difference.

I loved the relationship and romance between the men, the dynamic was hot and the chemistry believable.  As I said I thought the book came close to a much higher rating..  As it is it’s a terrific read and a romance you will definitely enjoy.  It is one I recommend.

Cover Art: L.C. Chase.  Light, colorful.  In keeping with the title although not the seriousness of the story which deals with PTSD and drug addiction.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon


Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 214 pages
Published April 6th 2019 by Riptide Publishing

A MelanieM Review: His Heart or Mine (Individualists #1) by C.S. Joyce


Rating: 4 stars out of 5


“There’s something about the way he’s looking at me now, determined. Like he might ruin me if given half the chance.”

Success can mean a lot of things. To me it meant living a lie and getting away with it.
But pretending is exhausting. My sister’s wedding in Italy was exactly what I needed. A week on the Amalfi coast with sunshine, wine, and zero complications.
Too bad the universe saw an opportunity to ruin that plan. Because what could be more complicated than the arrival of an attractive man who sees right through my act? One that is determined to remind me that you can’t hide who you really are.
What if he tells people my secret? Or, worse still, what if I can’t control these feelings. Because right now I’m feeling all sorts of things – fear, anger, lust…
No, I need to keep this thing under control. I can’t give in.
But what if, just once, I didn’t fight it?

After a series of bad decisions, running away to Italy seemed like the perfect escape. A fresh start in a new country. Nothing, and no one would bring me back to Ireland.
When I meet Adam at my friend’s wedding, I’m captivated. There’s something about this rugged stranger that makes me forget that I keep messing up every part of my life.
I know it’s a bad idea and I know I’m playing with fire. But when anger turns to passion I know I can’t stay away.
He can pretend all he wants but that man belongs in my bed. He might only be here for one week, but I intend to make the most of it.
After all, I can’t ask him for more when I’m not sure I’ll stick around.
But what if, this time, I didn’t run?

I thoroughly enjoyed His Heart or Mine (Individualists #1) by C.S. Joyce.  The first in a new series, it also marked the first book by this author for me.  Told in alternating points of view, we see two men bound for a destination wedding in Italy.  For Adam, it’s his sister’s wedding he’s attending.  He’s an Irishman so deeply in the closet that he doesn’t even admit to himself that he’s gay for fear that he’ll lose the tight control he’s administered over his life all these years in denial.  On the other side of the aisle?  That would be Jacob, coming in to see the groom, his friend from medical school get married.  Jacob lives in Rome, Italy, a place he fled from Ireland after failing from completing med school with Michael. Jacob is happily out, teaching English, but feels a failure on so many other fronts and is about to run into the one man  that will want him to change his fleeing ways.

Oh instant love.  What a hard thing to get right and a theme I normally don’t go along with.  Except here, in His Heart or Mine, the characters are so well done, the attraction and arguments for their chemistry so believable, that I connected to both men immediately.  The author was quick not to dwell too long on any one factor, moving back and forth like you would in a good personal exchange, keeping the dialog lively and compelling.  You got it why Adam couldn’t stay away from Jacob.  And while the opposite was also true.  These two men were made for each other.

As they argued, kissed, and kept coming back for each other, the secondary characters sort of blended into the  background.  That was a shame.  I often feel a strong cast makes for a stronger story.  I would have liked Michael and his bride to have had just as strong an impact on me as to give us more insight into the lead characters.  I mean these two mean the world to Jacob and Adam, let us see why.

The backdrop of Italy, including Rome, is a lovely setting for most of this story and it adds to the flavor of their relatoinship and romance.  I could feel that wonderful Italian heat soaking into everything through the vivid descriptions.

In short, this was a terrific romance with great characters and it will make me seek out more by this author.  It will certainly have me waiting for the next release in this series.  Love contemporary romance?  Be sure to check out His Heart or Mine (Individualists #1) by C.S. Joyce.  Its one I definitely recommend!

Cover Art: German Creative Design.  I like this cover.  That certainly looks like Adam but it could have used a backdrop otherwise its too generic.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 176 pages
Published September 13th 2018
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesIndividualists #1

A MelanieM Review: In Vino Veritas by Sydney Blackburn


Rating: 4 stars out of 5


Anthony Beretta inherited the family winery at the tender age of twenty-four. It’s a struggle to keep it up, but he loves it and is determined to make it work even if it kills him. That is, if a motorcyclist doesn’t kill him first. He initially judges the man, attractive as he may be, on the basis of his appearance and apparently limited vocabulary. He soon discovers he’s wrong, but by then Oscar Kennett has already judged Anthony on his appearance.

Oscar thinks Tony Beretta is uptight and snobbish, and Tony’s speech for the charity they’re working on together reinforces that, even when he finds out Tony did it just to push his buttons. His adorable curls and sexy glasses might not be enough to change his mind, but maybe there’s more to Tony than meets the eye.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story of love found among the wines and  vines.  It was not only a terrific contemporary romance but a great way to connect with an author I hadn’t read in a while, Sydney Blackburn.

Somehow, I manage to lose track of authors and I never figure out why.  Maybe its the flood of stories I get, the titles and series I keep up with. But for whatever reason, some I forget to check up on so I’m thrilled when I read books like In Vino Veritas by Sydney Blackburn and, after finishing the story) to go romping back to Sydney’s backlist to see what I have missed!

In Vino Veritas (In Wine Truth), two men collide literally and make instant snap judgements about each other based on their clothing of the moment and their conversation and language.  Initial impressions couldn’t be further from the truth but it takes wine, a winery, and a celebration to  bring the men together.

I loved both men, their personalities and the chemistry between them did it for me.  The backdrop and foundation of the witery is absolutely  perfect for a romance and the character of Tony Beretta (and his mother).  It’s necessary in order to get into his framework of overworked, obsessive, passionate man in love with his  vines, the art of wine making and the land.  We need to see Tony in his element and we do.  So eventually does Oscar.

I wish we could have had more of Oscar’s background and seen him settled at work but the focus here is Tony and his winery as well as their romance.

I loved so many elements here that I could see a sequel. I enjoyed this couple and the location that much.

If you love contemporary romance, don’t miss out on In Vino Veritas by Sydney Blackburn.  It’s one I definitely recommend!

Cover art:  Natasha Snow.  I love this cover.  Its perfection from the colors to the composition.  It caught my eye immediately.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press  |  Amazon

Book Details:

Published August 13th 2018 by NineStar Press
Edition LanguageEnglish

John R. Petrie on Writing and his new release The Quarterback’s Crush (author interview)


The Quarterback’s Crush by John R. Petrie

Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas

The Quarterback’s Crush is now available at

Amazon (Kindle/Paper format) |  Dreamspinner Press  |  Harmony Ink Press  |  Barnes & Noble: 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host John R. Petrie on tour for his new release The Quarterback’s Crush.  Welcome, John, into our author’s interview chair!

~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with John R. Petrie ~

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

I tend to write characters who aren’t like me, so much as who I’d like to be.

What I love about the character of Dylan in The Quarterback’s Crush out from Harmony Ink on September 4th, 2018, is that he’s sweet and kind, but he lets his mind and mouth run away with what he knows he shouldn’t really say. He seems like he’s got a lot of fears, but he’s actually kind of fearless in many ways and I admire that.

  • 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 there’s a line between writing characters who are wish fulfillment and writing characters who are perfect and accomplished. The line to me is more about writing a character as opposed to writing a plot device.

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

I love doing research and thank goodness for Google and podcasts where I can learn about things, listen to interviews (especially important to hear how people talk, their syntax, and their vocabulary), and find out much more about smaller things that the characters are interested in that I know nothing about. I really needed to hear jocks talk so I can understand their cadence.

That being said, what I write about tends to be in the ‘real world’ so I haven’t had much of a chance to build my own world the way that science fiction and fantasy writers do. I admire them so much for creating an entire world or worlds to enjoy.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

For me personally? I’m single, so I’d love a HEA, but I’ll settle for a HFN. Call me. I like tall guys, but I’m not fussy.

  • Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

Some of my favorite prose authors are Jane Austen, Michael Cunningham, Andre Aciman, and TJ Klune. They’re all so amazing.

I’m also really, really influenced by plays and screenwriters and how the dialogue on screen and stage is so pithy and effective. From that angle, I’m hugely influenced by Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls) and Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars).

From my geek side some of my favorite comic book writers are Greg Rucka, Gail Simone, Jen Van Meter, and Kurt Busiek.

  • How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I have to quantify this answer first. Almost every job I’ve ever had has been around books. Libraries, book stores, and a publisher. The last time I moved, I had two boxes of clothes and twenty-two boxes of books. I love books. Love them!

That being said, a well written sentence is a well written sentence, whether it’s something that’s read on a computer screen, tablet, e-reader, or page. E-readers are wonderful for people with bad eyesight, people who don’t want to, or can’t, carry around big hardcovers.

Books will never go away, and they shouldn’t. E-readers, however, do give a lot of eyes to first time and beginning writers, which is always a wonderful thing.

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

The wonderful people at Harmony Ink Press paired me with the wonderful Adrian Nicholas, who took my ramblings about cover design and turned it into the cover. We went back and forth on a few things and Adrian couldn’t have been kinder!

  • What’s next for you as an author?

I’m working on a series of LGBT YA mysteries taking place in the Southern U.S. as well as an adult Gay romance in the world of a professional sport. (I don’t want to spoil anything on that one yet.) Plus I have a couple of cork boards filled with other ideas and characters. Now if only I could take a few months off of work… 

  • What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

I love characters who are unapologetically who they are. I love reading characters who aren’t passive in their journey. While there are characters who start their journeys because of external forces, I try really hard to write characters who are active in their own progression.

  •  What’s  the wildest scene you’ve imagined and did it make it into a story?

 Hmmm, I wrote a very adult story for an online website and it had some pretty wild sex scenes from my dirty imagination. For The Quarterback’s Crush, nothing too wild comes to mind. I really wanted the romance between Dylan and Timothy to lead up to the first kiss.

  • With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away?  To move past?  To widen our knowledge?  Why do you write?

 I think of it as the people in my head getting really tired of me being the only one who hears them. Seriously, though, I try to write so I can have a creative outlet that I don’t get in my every day life. For me, reading and writing are my attempts to find the universality of human experiences. If the book is horror or comedy or romance, the experiences we have about going through our lives will always ring through, no matter the genre.


Dylan Porter needs a Hail Mary….

Because it’ll take a miracle for him to pass English and trig so he can stay on the football team, get a scholarship, and go away to college—where the distance from his friends and family will give him the confidence to finally tell them he’s gay. But flunking his classes will put a stop to all of his dreams.

Luckily there’s Tommy Peterson to help him. In Dylan’s eyes, Tommy’s perfect. Short, smart, and sexy, he checks every one of Dylan’s boxes, so it’s no surprise when Dylan falls head over heels. Too bad Tommy doesn’t seem to feel the same, and a pining Dylan accidentally outs himself to the team. Now Dylan has to deal with the fallout of his coming out to the team, his dad, and his coach while trying to score the ultimate touchdown—the love of Tommy Peterson.


About the Author

John R. Petrie grew up in Boston and now lives in the Bronx, NY. Almost his entire working career has been spent around books, from his first job in the town library to more than twenty years bookselling in one of the biggest bookstores in the US. He’s also worked for the Housing Works thrift stores in NYC, which provides services for the homeless and HIV communities, as well as a comic book publisher.

He’s had stories published in True Romance magazine, had a play he wrote produced at his college, acted, danced, and was nominated for an acting award playing Belize in Angels in America.

He stays up too late, eats too much junk food, and has been reading Wonder Woman comics for over forty years.

He is very, very happy to have his debut novel published by Harmony Ink Press. He hopes to continue writing stories which make people smile.

 He can be reached at johnrpetriewrites@gmail.com and looks forward to hearing from readers and writers.

My email is johnrpetriewrites@gmail.com

My twitter handle is @johnpetriewrite

(I don’t do Facebook because I’m too afraid I’ll have to contact people from High School again.)

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Under a Blue Moon (Camp H.O.W.L. #2) by Bru Baker


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Once in a blue moon, opposites find they’re a perfect match.

Nick Perry is tired of helping people with their marriages, so when a spot opens up to work with teens at Camp H.O.W.L., he jumps at it. He doesn’t expect to fall in lust with the dreamy new camp doctor, Drew Welch. But Drew is human, and Nick has seen secrets ruin too many relationships to think that a human/werewolf romance can go anywhere.

Happy-go-lucky Drew may not sprout claws, but he’s been part of the Were community all his life. He has no trouble fitting in at the camp—except for Nick’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge the growing attraction between them and his ridiculous stance on dating humans. Fate intervenes when one of his private practice patients threatens Drew’s life. Will the close call help Nick to see a connection like theirs isn’t something to let go of?

Under a Blue Moon by Bru Baker is another strong novel in her Camp H.O.W.L. series. Camp H.O.W.L. is a highly expensive, secluded extended training ground for all were’s undergoing their first shifts.  Complete with psychologists, trainers, other doctors, and seasoned counselors who have been through it all, these teenagers are there to understand their new status and adjust that to the outside world…ie without letting the humans know that shifters exist.

It’s a remarkable theme to base a series on and it absolutely works as various staff have rotated out with each story.  Plus we have gotten to know the staff that remain as well as some endearing and not so endearing teens.

In Under a Blue Moon we have two new staff arriving at Camp H.O.W.L., one arriving as a result of the coupling from the first story (highly recommended).  It starts off hot, anonymous, and yes, meet cute.  Then things go downhill from there.

I really loved that beginning but unfortunately it sets up Nick Perry as a bit of a jerk for most of the rest of the story.   His stubbornness in failing to see Drew as anything other than a frail, unworthy human becomes especially irritating in the face of Drew having proved over and over that he’s anything but. I could see it at first but it carried on throughout the storyline far too long imo. Throw in the fact that Drew has been raised in a  pack environment for most of his life?  Well, after the upteenth time, you just get tired of reading about Nick period.  It wears you down.

What redeems the story is Drew.  He’s a terrific character as are all the secondary ones around him, many of whom you have met already in the first story.  The series basics as well as the book foundations are amazing.  They push you through the annoying elements until finally Nick overcomes his “human blindness” and sees the real Drew who is more than a match for him.

There was a lovely ending and of course, it makes me want the next story even more.

Want a great twist on a shifter romance and series?  Look no farther than the Camp H.O.W.L. series by Bru Baker.

Cover art:  Aaron Anderson.  Love the cover.  Works in every way.

Sales Links:


Dreamspinner Press

Barnes and Noble



Google Play

Book Details:

ebook, 228 pages
Expected publication: June 19th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Camp H.O.W.L.

Camp H.O.W.L.

Under a Blue Moon

A MelanieM Release Day Review: His Leading Man by Ashlyn Kane


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5


He wrote a comedy. Fate directed a romance.

Drew Beaumont is bored of the same old roles: action hero, supervillain, romantic lead. He’s not going to let a fresh gay buddy comedy languish just because they can’t find him the right costar. No, Drew bats his eyelashes and convinces everyone that the movie’s writer should play Drew’s not-so-straight man.

Aspiring writer Steve Sopol has never had a screenplay optioned. Now one of Hollywood’s hottest properties wants to be in a movie Steve hasn’t finished writing—and he wants Steve as his costar. Turns out the chemistry between them is undeniable—on and offscreen.

Drew swore off dating in the biz, but Steve is the whole package: sharp, funny, humble, and cute. For Steve, though, giving in to the movie magic means the end of the privacy he cherishes. Will the credits roll before their ride into the sunset?

Sometimes all you want is an extremely well written angst free romance.  One completely lacking in murderous ex lovers, psychotic stalkers, or even the normal life driven “why  did it happen to me/them” elements that realistically thread through some contemporary novels these days.  Sometimes, I just want happy.  A well plotted story, full of multidimensional characters who were easy to connect with, and, had a journey towards HEA that just pulled me in for hours.

His Leading Man by Ashlyn Kane is that story.  Two intelligent, nice, hardworking men who find each other at the right time in their lives and it works.  It was so enjoyable!  I fell effortlessly into the tale of actor Drew Beaumont and writer Steve Sopol on the set of Steve’s low budget movie Dog Gone that he’s written.  It’s Steven’s first screen play and his big break into movies as a writer.  For Drew?  This low budget film represents something different.  Smartly written, dialog his loves, as well the the comedic character and tone of the story?  And LGBT storyline?  It’s something he’s been looking to play.

Ashlyn Kane brings us right into the dynamics of creating a low budget movie, writing a screenplay and acting, all the while as two men discover each other and fall in love.  We get both points of view, a cautious relationship that moves from friendship to dating to love, and with each step, I fell in love with this couple and this story even more.

I first read Ashlyn Kane from her hockey books but it had been a while since I’d last turned a page of one of those.  What a delight to rediscover her and her stories again in His Leading Man.  This just showed me what I’ve been missing.  Now I’m off to see what else she’s been  writing in the interim.

Do you love contemporary romance?  One’s guaranteed to reach into your heart with a sweetness and lightheartedness that will make your day?  Then I recommend His Leading Man by Ashlyn Kane to fit the bill.

Cover art: Bree Archer.  Light, fun, and romantic.  It  works for the character and tone of the story.  Perfect.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner website |  Amazon.com.

Book Details:

ebook, 222 pages
Expected publication: June 5th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleHis Leading Man
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: The Gallery: The Permanent Collection (The Gallery #1) by Megan Derr



Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Welcome to the Gallery, where powerful beings enjoy peace, quiet, and the company of each other, where they are free to love as they choose, be it one, many, or anything in between.

The Permanent Collection comprises those paintings which never leave the Gallery. The beings within these paintings have bargained with the Curator to stay on forever in return for gifting him their powers, resources, or knowledge. They help the Curator in running the Gallery, and provide sustenance for the Curator.

Today’s featured pieces include: The Assistant, about a lonely, misunderstood young man and the unusual new job he is offered by the mysterious curator; The Tycoon is about a rough and powerful man who went missing several years ago, and has every intention of remaining so; Three Kings once walked away from their kingdoms, and now spend their days with each other; The Bastard Son is about a man who once fled betrayal and heartache, and now uses his deadly skills and famous sword to defend the Gallery. And in The Demon Slayer, an angel arrives to find the gallery under attack, and soon one demon is slain while another falls…

I have always loved this concept.  The idea of pictures actually being alive and here Megan Derr carries it into an unusual gallery.  This is the first Collection with another installment in the works.  This one introduces us to Rex upon his entrance into the Gallery.  And as he starts to understand it’s peculiarities and occupants, so do we.  It’s also presided over by one very special owner.

Rex, who’s identity is key here becomes a thread that ties all the paintings together, along with its owner.  It’s a unifying touch that pulls all the stories together as a whole, as well as creates a foundation for the set to follow.  I truly loved Rex and wished we knew more of his background.  Perhaps that’s coming still in the Semi-permanent Collection Gallery of Stories to follow (the one that he originally played a part in).

Each painting forms very quick tales of passion and love, flashes of depth (a man alone in a tower) to a twist  on King Arthur to three Kings…all different in taste.  I wanted more of some, not of others.  But with another book to come and an overall arc appearing, I’m hopeful that I’ll see more of these occupants as well.

This us just such a juicy novella…it wets your appetite for more.  More of these fascinating paintings, more of the owner and Rex of course.  And more from Megan Derr.  You just can’t go wrong.

Cover art:  Aisha Akeju.  Not a fan.  Most of the paintings in the gallery are formal and this should have reflected that.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Author’s Note: A few of these stories were freebies on my website. All have been edited for re-release and some, like The Tycoon and Three Kings, have undergone significant changes.

Kindle Edition, 65 pages
Published May 9th 2018 by Less Than Three Press, LLC
SeriesThe Gallery #1

A MelanieM Review : Captain Merric by Rebecca Cohen


Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

A tale of pirates, lost love, and the fight for a happy ending.

After he’s set adrift and left to die by his mutinous crew, the last person Royal Navy officer Daniel Horton expects to come to his rescue is Captain Merric. An infamous pirate, Merric is known as much for stealing his victims’ hearts as their jewels. Daniel’s world is about to be turned upside down when he recognises Captain Merric as none other than Edward Merriston, someone he thought he’d never see again.
Edward can’t believe Daniel Horton is aboard his ship. While Edward is willing to do anything he can to get a second chance at their happy ending, Daniel isn’t interested in digging up the past. But Daniel is one priceless treasure Captain Merric isn’t about to let go of without a fight.

Captain Merric first appeared as short story in a pirate-themed anthology. Now completely rewritten and extended he is ready to set sail again.

There’s nothing more fun than lust and love on the high seas so I was happy to sink into the new release Captain Merric by Rebecca Cohen.   I’ve enjoyed many of Rebecca Cohen’s historical romances in the past and this one turned out to be just as delightful.

It has not only a lusty pirate but one who turns out to be the the ex lover of Royal Navy officer Daniel Horton, one that Daniel had long thought dead.  Captain Merric, ne’ Edward Merriston, had also been laboring under some false assumptions about his old lover making their reunion highly emotional and  fraught with danger to them both.

I have always loved Cohen’s ability to bring her characters to life.  Whether they are shouting in anger, or trying to convince the man they have always loved to kiss him again, you believe in them.  And feel connected to them emotionally.  The story switches pov so you are able to see all the turmoil and actually fracturing of the foundation each man’s has built up over the years apart as the real story behind their separation comes out.  As this is going on, you get the glimpses into the pirate’s life that Edward has been living, quite happily as it seems.  From the island he lives on to the crew of his ship, we get the full picture of the man now called Captain Merric.

Poor Daniel Horton has lead a much colder, hard life and that is also left by the lack of explanation in the storyline.  It sort of works here.  But I wish that we would know if that contributes to the fact that none of his crew attempts to help him at the beginning of the book other than one person.  More of Daniel’s past would have made Daniel a more rounded character just as Edward was.

There are some things that, for the sake of the story, I just accepted, in terms of timing or coincidence, or just plain no I don’t think they would have accepted that.  But I was enjoying the story too much.  And I  loved the way the author got the men back together at the end.  What a lovely and downright sneaky touch.

When it comes down to it, I loved the characters, the writing flowed so smoothly that you were finished with the story before you realized it, the descriptions were colorful and made you see it clearly.  Ah, I just loved this romance!  I think you will too.  It’s definitely one I recommend.


Cover art:   Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design did a wonderful job.  Pirates!  And yes that’s Captain Merric all right.

Sales Link: Universal Buy Link

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 200 pages
Published April 6th 2018 (first published August 14th 2011)
Original TitleCaptain Merric
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Review: Hangover from Hell (Hangover #1) by Zakarrie Clarke


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A Hangover from Hell is exactly what greets rock star Callum Carter upon being rudely awoken by his partner, artist Daniel Flynn on the last morning of their ‘On the Road’ trip along Route 66.

They have been together for five years, after meeting when the infamous ‘enfant terrible’ was commissioned to paint Callum’s portrait.

Theirs is a story of lust, laughter and all-consuming love, although this remains a closely kept secret; until the morning they wake up in Las Vegas. Married.

Dan has no memory of this miracle taking place–only one thing seems certain–he has somehow managed to pull off a masterpiece on the mischief front, and inveigled Cal down the aisle..

I enjoyed Hangover from Hell (Hangover #1) by Zakarrie Clarke.  Bad boy rockers, quixotic artist lovers, oodles of miscommunication, and a wonderful premise.  They woke up married in Vegas after being together on the down low for 5 years.  That’s sort of irresistible. I had to know how this ‘unknown to me’ author was going to handle it.

Turns out, after a little disjointed beginning, really well.  We jump right into the morning after and everyone is just waking up from what had to have been a wild and wooly night of sex, drugs and rock n roll.  Then our boys get a look see at the new rings flashing on their hands and tiny spurts of memory of Elvis and a chapel start to come back.  Yes, it’s very funny.

The jumpy, disjointedness comes in recounting who exactly these men are and their history with one another. That part of the narrative could have a more fluid feel to it. That comes in small flashbacks scattered throughout the story while the men are dealing with the ramifications of their marriage in Vegas (that’s turned into a media frenzy).  The whole story actually occurs just over the course of a couple of days.

I thought the author did a great job with the characterizations and the dialog.  Each is easily distinguishable and I loved each man’s personality. Daniel Flynn is a  particular favorite of mine and I could clearly see him as the artist he was written to be.  The same goes for Callum the rocker and they both had genuine chemistry between them.

This is the first in the Hangover series so I’m interested in where the author will take it. That means I’m definitely in line when the next story releases.  In the meantime, I’m recommending Hangover from Hell (Hangover #1) by Zakarrie Clarke to all lovers of contemporary romance and bad boys in love.

Cover art is simple but nice.  I liked it.

Sales Links:  MLR Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1 edition, 276 pages
Published March 9th 2018 by MLR Press (first published March 8th 2018)
Original Title Hangover from Hell
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Hangover #1