A MelanieM Release Day Review: Lover, Lover ( Dreamcatchers story) by Liv Olteano

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

A Dreamcatchers Tale

Twin souls reunited.

Drew’s always been a fighter: first in martial arts competitions, and now as a dreamcatcher—keeping the people of Seattle safe from spaga attacks that would drain their life force in their sleep. All he has to do to become a full member of Team 32 is complete his first mission.

But the first person he must defend is his ex, Angelo… the only man Drew ever loved, even if he was the one to leave. Drew never got over Angelo, and it seems Angelo might feel the same, despite the heartbreak he suffered at Drew’s hands.

As the chase after a powerful and resourceful caster hits close to home, old feelings resurface. But if Angelo learns of the dreamcatchers, he’ll be a target for the spaga. And how can he trust Drew now that Drew’s keeping bigger secrets than ever?

I’m a fan of Liv Olteano and her Leader Murder series, so I was really looking forward to Lover, Lover, another story in Dreamspinner’s Dreamspun Beyond series.  One of the things I notice it mentions is that its a  Dreamcatchers tale but I can find no mention of previous stories so I can only  assume this is the first of a series.

That might explain several things I noticed about this story.  I have always loved Olteano’s worldbuilding.  She has a wonderful imagination and pulls from so many different mythologies to construct a fascinating and compelling universe to dive into.  In Lover, Lover, she has  started to do the same with her  Teams of Dreamcatcher fighters and their  “boss”.  In this case, the foundation is loosely native american, and the author layers upon that her monsters, her fighters (and all the ramifications that comes with acceptance into the Unit,) and  above all the amazing  arachnid Goddess/Boss/Head of their Region.  All this comes complete with training into the Guild, chants, elaborate settings (think gorgeous weblike interiors)….clearly Olteano has given much thought to their construction.

But I still was left wanting more. It’s still all very vague about the spaga, and the other creatures they are chasing and killing.  Plus there were holes left about the men’s ages etc.  Yes, I needed more information.

So all that attention to world building indicates that Lover, Lover is building up to a series where the other men in the team and story would find their HEA as well, hopefully.

But for me, that left the characterizations of and the romance between Angelo and Drew lacking.  I just don’t think the author had enough pages to do both here.  Neither Angelo or Drew felt very substantial and because of that, I just was never very invested in their  romance.  For me, Lady Arachnid (no not her name) was far more interesting and layered a personality then both of them. From her vivid descriptions to her lively airs, she stood out among them all.

Then there was the ending.  That resolution of the storyline was so rushed that it made your head spin.  No , consider this a case where the world building came to the rescue here because as sweet as the characters were, they just didn’t feel fleshed out, nor was there past history to glomb onto to make you feel you knew them.

Still I’ll look for another story to see if this Dreamcatcher world deepens and what  further adventures await the troop.  If you like sweet paranormal romance with really no angst you might want to check this one out.

Cover art: Aaron Anderson.  I like the cover but it could use more details.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 195 pages
Expected publication: February 20th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
ISBN139781640801660
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Breakfast at Midnight by Kim Dias

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Hope can be found in unexpected places.

Lonely, still struggling with his divorce, and suffering from writer’s block, successful thriller author Fred spends much more time in an all-night Denny’s than is healthy for any man. It’s the last place he thought he’d meet someone like Callum, who has literally run away from the internationally famous boy band Leos.

Despite their age difference, the two become friends, and their long nights of soul-searching might help them find the courage to face their problems: Fred’s deteriorating relationship with his daughter and Callum’s career issues. It’s easy for their lives to tangle together, and each might provide the other the means to move beyond the past—even if it’s not a journey they can take together.

Breakfast at Midnight by Kim Dias is short but the author does a remarkable job of packing a lot of heart, angst, and promise into 66 pages.  A first for me by this author, the story of two men, each having huge difficulties in their lives and professions.  They meet and connect at a Denny’s, that connection grows into a possibility for the future and while that happens, they set their own lives a little straighter as well.

That’s it.  Only the possibility of a HFN, but the manner in which the author builds the tenuous relationship feels realistic.  There’s no instalov which I appreciated, given the age difference and the problems each man is facing in their own lives.  There’s even the acknowledgement of the age difference, the idea the Callum has no idea who he is yet and needs to find that first (again a wonderful authentic touch), and that Fred needs time to work on his own issues and by the end of the story is well on his way to resolving some as is Callum.

At the beginning of the story the men met at a crossroads, something wonderful happens and now it’s up to them how the future unfolds.  At the end of the tale, we see the potential for a future.  That’s lovely.

Is the end a bit abrupt?  Yes.  Does the story have some narrative issues of its own.  Sure but the whole here it still sweet and real, it leaves you rooting for something more for both Fred and Callum, even if it’s not lasting.  I felt good after reading Breakfast at Midnight.  I felt hopeful and wanted to learn about what happens next.  Maybe the author will deliver that in another story.  Maybe not.  Either way, I recommend this one to you lovers of romance!

Cover Artist: L.C. Chase.  The cover art does a great job with both characters and the major element of the location of most of their scenes.  Love it.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 66 pages
Expected publication: October 11th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635338997
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Farlough by Xavier Mayne

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Newly turned thirty, Cameron North is preparing himself to spend his life alone. When he inherits his great-aunt’s teashop on the remote island of Farlough, he returns for the first time in more than a dozen years to a place where memories—and demons—flit close to the surface of his mind. There he meets Gwyneth, a sassy barista who becomes his instant best friend—until Cam discovers she’s the wife of his first love, Matthias. She has only the best of intentions when she arranges a reunion between the two men, and it forces them to finally discuss why Cam left the island so long ago.

With his heart broken anew, Cam retreats to his great-aunt’s house—where he learns he is not alone. Someone—or something—has pledged an oath to look out for Cam, and as he investigates the presence, he uncovers wounds that both he and his mysterious guardian sought to escape by coming to Farlough. Now Cam must figure out how to heal them—and himself.

Oh, that synopsis….what a teaser!  I had no idea which way this story was going to go, there was even a hint that there might be an element of the supernatural here but no.  It’s simply a wonderful contemporary romance about putting the past to rest, finding out who you really are and coming home.

I absolutely need to contact Xavier Mayne to see if Farlough is real.  He made it so for me, it came alive on these pages.  I wanted to meet these people and come for the Solstice celebrations (not that it was for outsiders).  I wanted to ride the Ferry and meet everyone that lived, laughed and loved so well on this amazing island.  From the librarian to the Misters at the Tea Room and so many others, this place had my heart soon after I arrived along with Cam.

Cameron North, what a journey the author placed him on.  From lonely orphaned boy to lonely man (by choice), it’s not until he returns to Farlough that he’s able to make himself (along with another) whole again.  I won’t go into spoilers here but every time I thought the author might take a wrong zag with the storyline here, Mayne came through.  The relationship dynamics here are beautifully done, handled with adult care and sympathy.  I’m talking about Gwyneth (a wonderful character and powerhouse), Matthias, Cam’s first and only love and Gwyn’s loving husband.  This entire element is just so well done. Plus did I say how much I love Gwyneth and family?  Why, yes I do!  Duck included.

I should also mention Cam’s Aunt.  Although, physically missing from the story, the way in which the author has written it and her, she is as big a presence here as any of the characters and the island itself.  I felt as if I knew her too.  And mourned her loss along with everyone else.  That’s wonderful writing.

The other mystery person, the one left with the duty of Cam’s guardian?  I liked him too.  This is the only place where I wish there had been a little more “time” or length to let me get a real depth of feeling from these two. I did get it later in the story but not in the beginning where it said it began.  That’s my only quibble here.  Everything else is outstanding from the Misters (I couldn’t get enough of them, so adorable) to Ari, who is such a sparkling, snarky bird that he needs his own story.   I hope  Mayne is listening.

Need a new contemporary romance?  Here’s one I absolutely recommend!  Farlough by Xavier Mayne!  And if you’re listening, Xavier, contact me and let me know if Farlough is real or not.  Maybe I should just let it go.

 

Cover Artist: Reese Dante.  That cover is perfect for the story in every way.  I love it.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Published May 22nd 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleFarlough
ISBN 1635334691 (ISBN13: 9781635334692)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Extrasensual Perception by Rayna Vause

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

extrasensual-perception-by-rayna-vauseIf a stalker doesn’t kill them, the heat between them might.

Christopher Vincent is desperate enough for a job that he accepts an offer to entertain as a psychic in a friend’s nightclub. Jackson Whitman, one of the club’s co-owners, is less than thrilled by the new act. To him, psychics are ridiculous and a liability. But when they come face-to-face, attraction flares to life between them.

Someone is watching Jack and Chris from the shadows. What starts as a series of creepy encounters leads to deadly attacks.

Jack and Chris must set aside their differences and work together to survive a homicidal stalker. But can they survive their explosive connection?

What a great story! Suspenseful, sexy, romantic with tones of the paranormal to spice things up! Extrasensual Perception by Rayna Vause has it all and then some.  A first book for me by this author, I fell immediately under this writer’s spell when she opened up her story with a chapter that is scary, haunting and ends on a note of uncertainty.  Boom, I’m hers.  I had to double check…is this really a Dreamspun Desires story?  Yes indeed it is but with a tilt more towards the Gothic novels I loved as well.

Christopher Vincent’s mother is famous as a medium but she’s had a stroke.  With mounting medical bills (and his mouth without a filter that’s cost him his job), they’ve had to close up her Fortune Telling store.  She’s in a slow recovery and rehab and Chris needs a job.  On top of that?  There are these terrible nightmares he’s been living with.

Vause slowly builds up her characters, and their relationships that are closely intertwined with one another, her settings, until she has a beautiful tapestry of lives and complicated personal dynamics waiting to be sorted out as a murderer stalks them all.  Its a crazy wonderful mixture of old lovers reuniting, a brother and sister trying to live their lives with the legacy of a toxic father, a mother and son truly gifted with sight, and a crazed killer on the loose.  Vause pulls it all together and makes magic.

Every character here is a layered human being.  I love watching Jack go from disbelief over Chris’ gift to full on acknowledgement of his ability to “see” events that will happen, feel things (made all the more real by Vause’s vivid descriptions).  And Chris?  I fell for him immediately.  Someone who doesn’t want to use his gifts, unlike his mother, but who is pulled by forces and the need to protect his friends into using every gift he’s tried so hard to reject.

We also get flashes of pov from the stalker’s/killer.  Yes, that definitely ramps up the action and suspense while not taking you out of the narrative.

Yet there is still a terrific lovers reunited storyline here.  Not buried like you may think, but woven in as part of the whole.  I loved that too.

This ends as it should, a HFN.  I would love to see everyone here reunited in a sequel.  This is  just too superb a couple (and secondary characters) to see them languish with just one book.  I hope this author is listening.  I highly recommend this book.  Grab it up and get started!

Cover art by Paul Richmond is just as terrific as the novel.

Sales Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 208 pages
Expected publication: January 15th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634776828 (ISBN13: 9781634776820)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Release Day Review: The Virgin Manny (The Mannies #1) by Amy Lane

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

the-virgin-mannyGrowing up and falling in love…

Sometimes family is a blessing and a curse. When Tino Robbins is roped into helping his sister deliver premade dinners when he should be studying for finals, he’s pretty sure it’s the latter! But one delivery might change everything.

Channing Lowell’s charmed life changes when his sister dies and leaves him her seven-year-old son. He’s committed to doing what’s best for Sammy… but he’s going to need a lot of help. When Tino lands on his porch, Channing is determined to recruit him to Team Sammy.

Tino plans to make his education count—even if that means avoiding a relationship—but as he falls harder and harder for his boss, he starts to wonder: Does he have to leave his newly forged family behind in order live his promising tomorrow?

The Virgin Manny is full of those wonderful things I like to think of as Amy Lane layers.  One, its those friends and families she memorably creates that orbit one or both of our main characters.  We always  want to get to know them more too.  They are often as interesting, adorable,  irascible (fill in the verb) and believable as our leading men.   We often come to love them so much that it does them a disservice to call them secondary or support characters. Tino’s sister, his best friend, his mom, his dad….ala familia? Yes indeed turning into ours as well.  Two, its not just one storyline.  Yes, there’s a main one.  But Lane weaves a tapestry of  entertaining and emotional threads for the reader and characters to follow.  It keeps both our hearts and minds involved as we wonder how Tino and Channing are going to handle a grief stricken child and their own evolving feelings for each other.  Its a tricky situation, especially as its only supposed to be temporary.  The possibilities for hurt are huge and the frailties of the child are acknowledged.

Tino also has his own issues and insecurities that he needs to work through. Channing too.  How they maneuver through their maze of emotions, questions about the future of any relationship, status issues and still make their connection to each other seem real and sexy?  True Amy Lane!

Do I heart this story?  Yes, I do.  And I loved Sammy, poor Sammy, lost, angry and grieving who has to learn to adjust and become a part of a new family.  Well, I adored him.

There’s some suspense but its the love and family at the heart of this wonderful story that sings.  I can’t recommend it enough.  Plus its the start of a new series!  Can’t wait for the next to appear.  Pick it up if you haven’t already and be prepared to fall in love.

Cover art by Paul Richmond.  Honestly?  Not my idea of Tino.  Its just ok.

Sales Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 228 pages
Expected publication: January 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634776801 (ISBN13: 9781634776806)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Mannies #1

A MelanieM Release Day Review: In Enemy Hands by MA Church

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

in-enemy-handsTwo very different civilizations—one bathed in bright sunlight, and the other veiled in shadow.

Bad decisions, declining resources, and a king on the brink of madness force Prince Varo Kutchif, third son of the royal family and a starship captain, to attempt the impossible: barter for Black Phospolrock, an energy source the mysterious Helkan kingdom has in abundance. Varo opens a line of communication with Adlar, an intriguing Helkan who seems to reciprocate Varo’s interest. He hopes so, because if negotiations collapse, Varo has orders to attack.

The Helkans preside over a planet shrouded in perpetual darkness. Several species have tried to exploit its natural resources through trade with them, but all have failed. Adlar Mondur is the older brother to the Helkan ruler. An assassin of the highest order, he’ll do anything to protect his king and his people—including tracking down the Yesri prince who crash-lands on their planet, leaving an ugly scar across its untouched beauty.

Thus begins a journey where two men from disparate civilizations grow from enemies to lovers.

In Enemy Hands by MA Church was a story I never wanted to end.  Great world building to the extent that you felt you were walking along side Varo, seeing the planet’s marvels and dangers through his  eyes, the flora and fauna each and every one detailed and enticing.  And the Helkans are  every bit as intriguing and captivating as their planet.  Church has naturally carried through to from a planet wreathed in darkness to its peoples.  They are pale, dark haired, yellow eyes, strong and, just as beautiful and lethal as their home.  The Helkans view their resources, including the precious Black Phospolrock, in a manner the rest of the galaxy does not.  Church lays out their society and culture clearly.

What little we learn of the Yesri, they are the opposite in every way.  Industrialized to the point that they have destroyed their planet’s habitats and resources, their  planet is covered in sun as is their high born people who are tanned, white haired with brown eyes.  Heavily divided into class systems, the disparity between them is getting greater, and desperation is driving the commands behind Varo’s mission into space.

Was I hooked?  Oh you bet!

And once the two met?  Even better.  Because every time I came up with an issue with the way I thought Varo should be acting (perhaps more assured, whatever), Church was there ahead of me, anticipating my questions about his behavior, putting forth answers through Adlar…well, it was amazing.  I’m not one of those readers who enjoy a captive situation but this made great reading.  It was a slow learning process for both men, no hurt/comfort, just discovering who each one was under a stressful situation.  Adler giving Varo space to grow and Varo being  able to see past his prejudices.  Plus the two of them together?  Sexy as hell.

There’s intrigue of course, and danger.  Enough here for two books.  I believe the author has left open enough possibilities that should Church wish too she could revisit this planet and couple easily.  Or we could see how  Wrief, Varo’s brother got on.   After this, I’m up for anything to do with the Halkans and its ruling family.

As I said this was an amazing story.  I loved it.  If you are a lover of science fiction, romance, M.A. Church, or all of the above, pick it up and start reading.  I highly recommend it.

Cover art by Anne Cain is perfect for Adler.

Sales Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 214 pages
Expected publication: December 30th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634776089 (ISBN13: 9781634776080)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Snow & Secrets (Stanford Creek #3) by R.J. Scott as Rozenn Scott

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5 

snow-and-secrets-by-rj-scottFirst comes trust, then love… then the fight to stay alive.

Pop star Tyler Hart is desperate for peace after a humiliating public scandal. It seems like Stanford Creek may well be the place to lay low. After all, it worked for his friends and former bandmates, Cody and Danny. He borrows a cabin and settles in for a quiet Christmas…well, not quite.

Garrett Campbell is on the run. Wounded in the line of duty, he escapes to the only place he feels safe, Stanford Creek and his brother’s cabin. Only he doesn’t realize he’ll have a roommate, and a sexy one at that.

Amid snow falls and winter winds, passion burns bright. When danger threatens to follow Garrett, he has to decide whether to run again before his secrets could kill him and the man of his dreams.

I’ve not read the other books in the Stanford Creek series but as it turns out, thats fine.  Snow & Secrets, the third story by RJ Scott writing as Rozenn Scott, works great as a standalone.

Scott loves to combine romance and action/adventure in her stories and Snow & Secrets has plenty of both.  Tyler Hart, pop star and member of a popular band, went through a bad breakup.  His actions post breakup?  Well, they led to a drunken night at a bar that ends in a blurry,  misguided bathroom hookup…that went straight to the tabloids.  Outed to all, its affected his band, his friends and Tyler is pressured to the point of panic attacks to get away from it all.

I love how deeply the author is able to get us into the wounded mindset that is Tyler Hart.  He’s in a bad place in every way and the author is able to let us feel his pain and connect us to this troubled man.

Next up?  Garrett Campbell who’s carrying enough emotional baggage (to say nothing of his physical injuries) to fill a 747.  Garrett’s last tour of duty, a secret mission, was one of nightmares.  Garrett carries the mental and emotional scars with him, unable to put it and the questions he has about the mission behind him.  Unable to continue to work as he has, he too needs peace.  And both men end up in a remote cabin in Stanford Creek.  Turns out they have close connections that lead to their being roommates.

Scott gives us two perspectives here, Tyler’s and Garrett’s.  We get to see what has driven both men to this  point and place, we watch them juggle with their pasts which continue to haunt them, their desire for each other in the close quarters, and the passions and strengths that come out when danger follows one of them into the woods.

Its not just the main characters we get to fall in love with. No, RJ Scott (as she is always so good at), gives us a cast of believable warm human beings to pull close around us like a comfortable, snug blanket.  We connect with everyone here.  Sisters, brothers, friends…enough that, even though this works as a standalone story, you want to go back and read the other stories because Stanford Creek has become real and inviting.  And yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing next.  Gong to pick up and dive into the stories I missed next.

I’m hoping that, since some of the mystery was left open-ended, that RJ will be taking this thread involving Garrett and extending it into the next story.  Fingers crossed.  I’d loved to see that happen.

Either way, here’s another RJ Scott story to love and one I recommend.  Pick up Snow & Secrets, grab a blanket to wrap up in and prepare to enjoy a wonderful romance.

Cover art is very much in keeping  with how I pictured the characters.

Sales Links

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Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

ebook
Published November 15th 2016 by All Romance Books
URL http://www.rozennscott.co.uk
SeriesStanford Creek #3

A MelanieM Release Day Review: When the Dust Settles (Timing #3) by Mary Calmes

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

when-the-dust-settles-by-mary-calmesGlenn Holloway’s predictable life ended the day he confessed his homosexuality to his family. As if that wasn’t enough, he then poured salt in the wound by walking away from the ranch he’d grown up on, to open the restaurant he’d always dreamed of. Without support from his father and brother, and too proud to accept assistance from anyone else, he had to start from scratch. Over time things worked out: Glenn successfully built a strong business, created a new home, and forged a life he could be proud of.

Despite his success, his estrangement from the Holloways is still a sore spot he can’t quite heal, and a called-in favor becomes Glenn’s worst nightmare. Caught in a promise, Glenn returns to his roots to deal with Rand Holloway and comes face-to-face with Mac Gentry, a man far too appealing for Glenn’s own good. It could all lead to disaster—disaster for his tenuous reconnection with his family and for the desire he didn’t know he held in his heart.

Glenn Holloway went from snarly jerk in Timing to redeemed, confused, and frankly adorable character in After the Sunset.  It was there that you started to want to get a HEA or even HFN for Glenn.  Mary Calmes let us see into his upbringing and life with dear old dad on the ranch which was not really a happy time.  So with understanding came the ability to connect with the man who was starting to undergo so many sea-changes in his life.  I’m sure Calmes was hearing from all her fans, as they clamored for his story.

Now here it is.

I have to say that while Glenn and Mac will never be Stef and Rand, the golden couple of the Timing series, they certainly are a wonderful addition.  The story picks up a couple of years later in the timeline.  Glenn has his restaurant up and running, the Bronc Burger having done it on his own. His staff a mix of LGBTQIA kids and adults who have become family, more so than his own who he only sees when Stef intervenes.   And Stef is getting ready to do so again.

By getting Glenn to go along on a Red Diamond cattle drive, along with Rand and his brother, and people who have paid for the privilege.  Its a huge undertaking and the last thing Glenn wants to do but he owes Stef a favor and Stef is collecting.

Its an interesting dynamics. Glenn wants nothing to do with ranching and cowboys (really his family per se) and now he’s going to be surrounded by them. Yep, its going to be intense.  We’ve not gotten a hint as to who is to be Glenn’s romantic interest up ’til now.  Usually you can tell in the books prior who someone is going to be in a relationship with but here?  Nothing.  So I was surprised to see that it was going to be Mac Gentry, someone we really don’t know much about.  Mac’s been a bit of a shadow character.  We “hear” all how “dangerous” Mac is, etc.  But nothing of substance.  That makes this somewhat one-sided going into the relationship.  I wish we’d had more of a hint, or knew more about Mac before this story.   Ah well.

Told from Glenn’s pov, Calmes still manages to show the reader where Glenn is making assumptions about the situations he’s in and the people around him.  Glenn’s on edge and in retreat to the Glenn we first met.  And he knows it.  Enter Mac.  Maclain Gentry.  Its up to Glenn and Mac to introduce Mac to the readers and that becomes an interesting proposition.  We have to accept that its a feelings first and quick jump to love, that it really is all about timing for both men. I think the author makes her case here.  You did get a feeling of weariness from each, a need to have something more in their lives.  I got it and connected with both men.

I won’t spoil the story.  I think the path towards love for both Glenn and Mac was natural, and it worked.  Being Mary Calmes, nothing is ever easy.  There’s some real thrills here I wasn’t expecting.  And some heartwarming moments when you get to see where Stef and Rand are with their family now that a couple of years have passed.  You get caught up with the goings on at the Red Diamond, a place I can never get enough of.

I’m sort of hoping that Mary Calmes isn’t through with the Red Diamond either.  She’s busy turning it into its own little bustling city.  Surely there’s many more stories to come.  While we are waiting, make sure you add When the Dust Settles to your TBR pile and all the stories in the Timing series.  They are classic Mary Calmes and that’s not to be missed.

Cover art by Reese Dante.  I love that cover.  You can feel that cowboy’s eyes just follow you.  Outstanding.

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Book Details:

ebook, 107 pages
Expected publication: November 16th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781634778329
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series: Timing – add to your Goodreads shelf here:

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Blind Love (Sword and Silk Trilogy #2) by Sedonia Guillone

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

blind-love-by-sedonia-guilloneAfter a harrowing seventeen-year separation, Hirata Morimasa leaves his home and secure future to search for his childhood friend, Sho. Blinded by illness when they were children, Sho was sent away, apprenticed to a blind masseur (an anma) to learn his trade, and then disappeared.

Desperate to find the other half of his heart and soul, Hirata willingly sacrifices the prestige and security of his father’s dojo to find him. When an anma who looks exactly like Sho crosses his path in front of a gambling parlor one day, the man flatly denies he is Sho. Hirata knows better and is determined to get the truth… and to get back the friend he’d lost. However, even though Hirata knows in his bones this man is his soul mate, Sho has changed in ways Hirata could not have prepared for in his wildest imaginings, changes that could continue to keep them apart… forever.

The second story in Sedonia Guillone’s Sword and Silk trilogy, Blind Love is a gorgeous blend of Japanese history, culture and a romance that’s perhaps more eastern than western in its outlook on love.  I found that remarkably true in keeping to its characters, its era, and the situation the men found themselves it.

Its a heartbreaking story in many regards.  Two young boys who love each other, separated first by birth into different levels of stature.  One is the son of servants, the other the son of a samurai who runs a dojo.  Then comes a devastating illness that  blinds Sho and is destined to separate them further when Sho is sent away and disappears. Told from Hirata’s pov, the author writes  boyhood scenes of happiness that we can easily connect with them, and then of the utmost terror when the separation comes. From all that has passed before, we know that Sho has become an essential part of Hirata and now that’s been torn away.   Trust me, the tears will flow.

What follows gives you some insight into that era and into the heart of Hirata as he grows up.  Its hard to believe this story is only 95 pages long.

Its what happens when the men meet again that I think readers (some/most) will have issues with.  If any have read or watched any Japanese books or movies, then this part will not surprise you.  Its very much in keeping with the tone of the romances or writings of that culture.  I’m trying hard not to include spoilers here.  It also seemed very, well if not reasonable, then understandable when you hear Sho’s pov of the story and that scene towards the end of the novel.  I thought the scene worked.  Plus it introduced us to a character, Aoki-san, who is a link to not only the couple in the first story, Flying Fish, but who will be half of the final couple in the last tale in this trilogy.  So its suitable that he plays such an inflammatory yet gentle role here.  Yes, its possible to be  both.  He is one to excite the senses in a soft way.  Trust me.  Read the story.

There is so much here.  Not just history of the Shogunate era but all the aggregate loss, compassion, guilt and anger that has built up between Hirata and Sho. Blind Love is also how two men who have never forgotten each other learn to triumph over their past and move on.  Again, all in 95 pages.  Quite remarkable.

There is one more tale to come.  Blossom of the Samurai (Sword and Silk #3), the story of Aoki, the beautiful actor and Toho Morimasa.  Who is Toho?  Well, now that’s another pleasure to be found inside Blind Love.  This is a wonderful series.  I highly recommend both books so far.  I’m sure I will love the third just as much.  I can’t wait to find out.

Cover art by Reese Dante.  I wish that the characters had a little more historical feel to them but I like the sepia tone  to the coloration.

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Book Details:

A Timeless Dreams title: While reaction to same-sex relationships throughout time and across cultures has not always been positive, these stories celebrate M/M love in a manner that may address, minimize, or ignore historical stigma.

ebook, 2nd Edition, 95 pages
Expected publication: November 9th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press (first published March 28th 2013)
ISBN 1634775430 (ISBN13: 9781634775434)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series: Sword and Silk Trilogy – add to your Goodreads shelf here:

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Suddenly Yours (One Fine Day #2) by Jacob Z. Flores

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5 

suddenly-yours-by-jacob-z-floresWhat happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.

Cody Hayes is having one epic morning-after. The hangover following a Vegas bachelor party is nothing new to him, and neither is the naked man in his bed.

His apparent marriage is a different story.

Carefully plotting every detail of his life carried Julian Canales to a Senate seat as an openly gay man. A drunken night of Truth or Dare isn’t like him… and neither is marrying a man he just met. He’d get an annulment, but the media has gotten wind of his hasty nuptials. If Julian’s political career is going to survive, he has to stay married to a man who’s his opposite in every way.

Now he must convince Cody that all they need to do is survive a conservative political rival, a heartbroken ex, their painful pasts… and an attraction neither man can fight.

If you are having a bad day and seriously need a lighted hearted, quick fun read to make the blues fly out the window?  Here’s a story for you.  Suddenly Yours by Jacob Z. Flores takes that workhorse of a plot, the wake up married in Las Vegas, and makes it adorable and warmhearted all over again. Cody Hayes is taking part of a drunken bachelor party celebration when a dare brings Cody over to Senator Julian Canales, enjoying a night off. What happens next is the sort of thing that movies and Las Vegas is famous or should that be infamous for.

But now post marriage equality, these stories can take on an entirely new spin and really, that’s also the joy here.  There’s no hiding in the closet, no tragedy (yes, I know that still occurs) but now its equally possible for a happy ending, for people to blink and move on.  Sometimes, I think we forget that.  We get the absolutely adorable Cody with his buoyant personality, from his dress to his expressions.  On the other side, we get the very serious politician, Julian Canales, whose determination to be a Senator and deliver the type of agenda that will help people most perhaps cost him a personal life and more a deep romantic one.  Flores brings them together for one night of hazy, explosive sex and then more when reality sets in and they (and us) really get to know each other.  Its the days that follow that seems believable, funny, and real.

Its a format that works when done right as its done here.  The author’s execution carries us along quickly in the story, we connect to the characters and we root for their romance.  Yes, its light and warmhearted.  You know where the plots going but its ok, you like the couple and the secondary characters and the ride is immensely enjoyable.  All that adds up to a satisfying romance.

This is book two in Flores’ One Fine Day series.  I’ve loved them both.  Can’t wait to see what book three brings.  I  recommend them all.

Cover art by Paul Richmond is just as adorable and cuddly as the story.  I adored it.

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Book Details:

ebook, 244 pages
Expected publication: October 15th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634776763 (ISBN13: 9781634776769)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series: One Fine Day