A Paul B Release Day Review: A Nice Normal Family by John Terry Moore

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

a-nice-normal-familyLeonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Sir Richard Branson, Walt Disney, Jay Leno, Whoopi Goldberg, Nelson Rockefeller, Agatha Christie, Steven Spielberg, Harry Belafonte, Winston Churchill, and Richard Strauss.

These are the names that young Jackson “Jacko” Smith learned from his tutor at a young age.  Famous people who have overcame their dyslexia to do something important for the world.  He uses these names to help guide him through the decisions he makes in his life.  What some would consider extraordinary, he sees as a nice, normal life.

Diagnosed as dyslexic in pre-kinder, Jacko receives help from most of his family to overcome the disability.  While his mother would not approve any special help, his father and siblings make sure he gets the extra help he needs.  It is through his second tutor that he meets Samuel “Sammy” Collins.  The two youngsters become best friends with Sammy helping Jacko out with his school work.   As they progress through school, they must deal with setbacks life has for them.  Between bullying, lost loves, and general anxiety about the future, the boys stay friends through the years.

As they move on to adulthood, Sammy trains to be a teacher dealing with students with disabilities.  Jacko takes a job with the city cutting lawns.  His ability to think differently than most others will fuel his rise through the ranks until he gets to management.  Along the way, Jacko realizes that he has feeling that are more than friends for Sammy, who has been out and proud his whole life.  The pair marries and set off creating their life together, like any other Australian couple.  What follows leads the pair to the pinnacle of Australian power, something neither of them imagined.

This is a wonderful book that sets out the life of Jacko as he struggles with his dyslexia, issues with his mother, bullies, and xenophobic people.  While this is a book about the lives of these two men, it also deals with several issues currently facing Australia specifically and other parts of the world.  The author touches on monarchist, partisanship, foreigners, and the current debate on marriage equality in Australia.  (In the book, the issue has been settled for several years.)  The book also serves a mini-travelogue of Southeast Asian countries.  If you want a book that deals with family dynamics, a touch of politics and a friends to lovers story, I highly recommend A Nice, Normal Family.

The cover art by Maria Fanning shows the Collins-Smith family as I pictured them.  Jacko, Sammy, Max and Kate are pictured in front of a harbor on the Australian coast.

Sales Links

        

Book Details

ebook, 350 pages
Expected publication: September 30th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634775465 (ISBN13: 9781634775465)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Paul B Review: Acceptance (Forbes Mates #3) by Grace R. Duncan

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

AcceptanceQuincy Archer has been on the run for the past two months.  Being tepay-sa to his jaguar shifter pride means he is next in line to lead.  But even before he found his wolf shifter mate, he never wanted the title he was born into.  However, his father just won’t accept his decision.  In order to protect his destined mate from trouble, Quincy decides to go into hiding.  However three jaguars enforcers have found him in suburban Pittsburgh and beat him to within an inch of his life.  Too weak to shift or to get away in human form, he instructs the EMTs that arrive to take him to Presby hospital, where his mate works as an ER doctor.

Miles Grant has been working a lot since his mate ran off.  While he understands that Quincy is trying to protect him, Miles still feels the pain of separation even if they have not claimed each other yet.  He has been working extra shifts to deal with the loneliness.  As he is ending a shift, he smells his mate as he is brought in by ambulance.  Miles has to make sure that Quincy is able to shift to heal but still have a reasonable explanation for his rapid recovery. Miles is grateful for the time they spend together while Quin heals; he knows that they will have to be apart again soon.

Once Quin gets on the road again, the enforcers who pulverized him send him photos of Miles stating that he is next.  Realizing that running away is not keeping Miles any safer, he decides to go back to the Forbes wolf pack territory and face this with his mate and their friends.  When Quincy confronts his father who denies any knowledge of his beating or the threats against Miles, Quincy does not know what to believe.  His father may be an ass, but he takes ownership of the bad things he has done.  If his father is not the one chasing after him and his mate, just exactly who is after Quincy and why?  With the help of their friends and an unlikely ally, the group sets about to find answers so that Quincy and Miles might have some peace as they try to start their lives together as mates.

I really enjoyed this third installment of the Forbes Pack series.  While it could be read as a standalone, having read the previous two books would provide some context to the story.   It was good to see the protagonists of the previous books used in a major supporting role in this book.  The plot lines from the previous books are wrapped up well and give a satisfying ending.  Through the story, Quincy learns that while being a solitary figure such as a jaguar shifter is drives his instincts, sometimes you need the help of friends to get things done.  While this book could be used as a finale to the series, I do hope we see more from this group of “pups” and “cats.” 

The striking cover by Reese Dante portrays the main characters as I would picture them.  The upper portion has the dark haired Quincy and the ginger Miles in human form while below that are their jaguar and red wolf.  It is truly nicely done.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press: eBookPaperbook | iTunes | Amazon 
B&N  | Kobo   | ARe  

Book Details:

ebook, 236 pages
Published July 8th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 163477406X (ISBN13: 9781634774062)
Edition LanguageEnglish

SeriesForbes Mates 

  • Devotion (Forbes Mates #1)
  • Patience (Forbes Mates #2)
  • Acceptance (Forbes Mates #3)

A Paul B Review: A Time to Rise by Tal Bauer

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Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars

A Tiime To RiseFor all the holiness that surrounds Vatican City, evil lurks within its walls.

Alain Autenburg has been a member of the Swiss Guard for the past twelve years.  As a member of the group of men charged with protecting the Holy See and the Supreme Pontiff, the Swiss Guard have been serving popes for centuries.  Unbeknownst to most within the Guard, there is a subset within their numbers who are members of the Knights Templar.  They are responsible for ridding Rome of all the unholy paranormal happenings going on in the city.  Alain is the current Knight responsible for these duties.

Cristoph Haase is a new halberdier in the Swiss Guard.  Older than most of the other new soldiers in the pope’s army, Christoph is not quite sure why he is in Rome.  While it is the top assignment of the Swiss army to be selected as a member of the Guard, Cris is not sure he fits in.  Resigning would not only end his military career, but also leave a stain for any future private employment.  To make matters worse, Cris is fighting his attraction to and non-committal response from the Sergeant in the “Special Projects” office of the Guard, Alan Autenburg. To make matters worse, the sergeant is assigned to be his mentor.

As the attraction between the two grows, Alain has severe reservations about letting Cris into his world.  The last time he let someone in it almost destroyed him.  Alain wants to protect Cris from the things that go bump in the night.  A relationship with this new recruit would put in jeopardy, especially if he were to be trained as his replacement.  All that changes when Cris is cornered in a bar one night by an incubus who is trying to steal his soul.  The incubus shows both men their deepest desire.  They must now move forward with their relationship while fighting demons being called by someone within the walls of Catholic leadership.

This is a well-crafted book with enough tease of romance and action to fulfill the premise of the book.  Alain wants to be with Cris but the last man he was close to was hurt by his line of work so he Is very hesitant to follow his feelings.  This drives Cris crazy with what seems to be Alain’s flip flopping on whether or not to see where their feelings lead.  The secondary characters work to move the story along.  Of special note is Father Lotario.  The chain smoking, vodka swilling exorcist is not what one expects to find. I hope there are more tales of Alain, Cris and the demon fighting men of the Vatican.

The cover art by Aria Tan is perfect for the book.  Alain is standing in profile with the Vatican City skyline in the background.  You can also see Cris looking on in the background.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details

ebook
Published May 2nd 2016 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781911153481
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Paul B Review: Wolfsong by T.J. Klune

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

WolfsongI always anticipate the next TJ Klune novel.  When I found out that this book would be a shifter book, I was doubly excited.   I am happy to say that I was not disappointed.

Oxnard Matheson was twelve when his father walked out.  His father told Ox that he had to be a man now that he was leaving.  Without his father’s income from the garage that he worked at, Ox’s mother struggled to pay the bills.  Fortunately, the garage owner, Gordo, took Ox under his wing.  Gordo made sure that Ox and his mother held onto their house and gave Ox work in his garage even though he wasn’t of legal age.  This would continue until Ox’s sixteenth birthday, when Gordo and the guys at the garage welcomed him as an official member of their crew. On his way home, he runs into a ten year old boy.

Joe Bennett’s life has not been easy in his short ten years.  Most of his pack was slaughtered by hunters when his father (the alpha) and uncle were out looking for food.  The family moves east afterward.  Then a previous pack member kidnaps and tortures Joe to get back at Joe’s father for not protecting the pack.  Joe is rescued six weeks later but the damage is done.  The kidnapper escapes and Joe goes into a shell.  He does not speak for 18 months until he meets a young man who smells of “candy canes and pinecones and epic and awesome.”  Joe’s family is shocked and grateful that this young man, Ox, has turned Joe around after just meeting.  Much to their surprise, the young future alpha of their pack gives Ox the stone carved wolf statue after just meeting.  This is a wolf shifter’s most prized possession given at birth and usually only given to one’s mate.

The years go by and Joe’s father Thomas teaches his son the lessons needed to become the next alpha of the pack.  Thomas also sees something in Ox and starts teaching him as well, as he will be the next alpha mate.  But troubles from the past come back to haunt this small but powerful pack.  The kidnapper returns and this time sets his sights on Ox.  The pack once again must mourn the loss of some of their own.  However, will the actions of Joe to exact revenge on the kidnapper be the one thing to not only tear the pack apart but his relationship with Ox?

The characters in this book are charming, delightful and strong when need be.  Ox might not be the brightest character around, but his strong character draws people to him.  Thomas gives him the choice to become a werewolf but Ox turns it down each time saying it is not right for him at the moment.  He leads what would turn into his pack of humans at the garage when Gordo leaves with Joe.  The rest of the Bennett pack looks to him for leadership in Joe’s absence.  Joe’s exuberance over meeting his mate after suffering from PTSD from the kidnapping is cute.  You would think he was a four year old at Christmas time.  While Joe going after his kidnapper seems like a good idea to someone who has suffered at his hands, the decision will affect the rest of the pack for the next three years.  Joe’s refusal to talk to the pack is especially hard on Ox.  Once reunited though, you get the feeling that this will be a power couple in the shifter world. 

The cover art by Reese Duncan is stark and perfect for this book.  The cover shows two wolf paw prints on a dark background.  It sets up the tone for the middle and latter parts of the book perfectly

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 400 pages
Published June 20th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634771656 (ISBN13: 9781634771658)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Paul B Review: Love Comes To Light (Senses #6) by Andrew Grey

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

love comes to lightArik Bosler receives a call from Ken Brighton offering him a two week fellowship to study art with him in Northern Michigan. Normally Arik would be ecstatic about this opportunity. However, he was injured six months ago, severely burning his hand, making it impossible to paint. Arik agrees but decides that he would go say hello to the renowned artist and thank him for the opportunity then take off. What good is studying with one of the modern greats if you cannot actually apply the lessons learned?

On his way, Arik stops at a gas station close to his destination. A huge intimidating man comes to fill up his gas tank. Being five foot nothing, Arik has always been scared of men who had some considerable height. However, this man also intrigues Arik despite his fear.

Reg Thompson is this man. He is a biker who belongs to the local motorcycle club. While he looks intimidating, he really is a giant teddy bear. He doesn’t mean to scare the cute man and tries to draw him out. He even puts his mechanic into place after the mechanic teases Arik about his height, or lack thereof.

After the two meet at a dinner arranged by Ken, the two men begin to talk and find out they have a lot in common. Both are artists who have had to deal with basically absentee parents. Arik grew up with drug addicted parents. Reg’s mother became distant after the death of Reg’s sister and the onset of mental illness. While Reg has dealt with the trouble of his parents, Arik has allowed the problems of his parents to fester.

As the two grow closer, Arik meets the rest of the members of Reg’s motorcycle club. While only there for ten minutes, Arik is convinced that Reg is no better than his parents and begins to distance himself from Reg. To make matters worse, Arik’s mother shows up wanting to talk with him. Arik must deal with his past if he wants a future that is happy instead of bitter.

This is the sixth book in Andrew Grey’s Senses series. These books can be read individually but having read the past books brings context to parts of the storyline. I absolutely love this series. Usually one of the major characters, if not several of the supporting characters has a handicap of one kind or another. However, this handicap does not define the character. It is a part of the character like being gay or blond. The most powerful character throughout the series, Patrick the opera singer who lost his voice, speaks the most powerfully. He, along with Ken his partner, help show Arik that he might not be able to paint like he used to, he still could develop other methods of expressing his creativity.

The other characters that helps Arik is Bobby Jo, a young girl in the county children’s home who is facing another surgery to fix her malformed hand and Jerry, a young boy from a previous story who is stricken with a muscular disease that has curled his hands. I look forward, as always, to the next book in this series.

The cover art is perfect for the book. L.C. Chase has our young blond Arik standing a few feet away from Reg, who is wearing jeans and a leather jacket without a shirt. Reg looks like he is coming out of the bay to the garage of his service/gas station. They are what I thought they might look like.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details
EBook, 206 pages
Published: March 18, 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 978-1-63477-128-3
Edition Language: English
Series: Senses

Love Comes Silently (Senses #1)
Love Comes in Darkness (Senses #2)
Love Comes Home (Senses #3)
Love Comes Around (Senses #4)
Love Comes Unheard (Senses #5)
Love Comes To Light (Senses #6)

A Paul B Review: Nuts About You (Nutty Romances #1) by Kate Lowell

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Nuts to YouNathan works at the bulk store.  He particularly enjoys when one of the regular customers, Vince, comes to buy birdseed for his feeders.  He also feels a bit guilty.  The reason?  Nathan is responsible for Vince buying a lot of that birdseed.  He is a squirrel shifter.  Nathan’s favorite pastime and obsession is shifting into his squirrel form and watching Vince from on top of the bird feeders.  How can he deny his squirrel self some of the birdseed and nuts that happen to be in the bird feeder?  It is just an added benefit of watching this hot man walking around in his house half dressed.

One day, Vince catches the squirrel sitting on top of one of the feeders.  Tired of having the furry creature stealing the seed from the birds.  Vince throws a shoe at the squirrel, knocking him down to the ground.  Thinking that the little guy is seriously injured, Vince feels guilty and takes the squirrel inside.  Getting nowhere after calling a vet, Vince decides to nurse the squirrel back to health.  After the squirrel fails to escape through a window, Vince is surprised when Nathan emerges from his squirrel form.  Nathan wonders what Vince will think of him now that his secret has been revealed.

This was a cute short story.  The author brings us a different form of shifter and uses his nature well.  There is a focus on nuts in all shapes and sizes.  Nathan is as timid as his animal nature.  The scenes once Vince discovers Nathan’s secret are steamy and flavorful.  Vince’s occupation is put to good use.  The one thing that I did not like about this book is that neither character seems to have a last name revealed.  For me personally, I like characters to have full names.  It  seems to make them more real to me.

The cover art by Ana J. Phoenix is quite appropriate.  It shows a squirrel clinging to a trunk of a tree.  It is a very cute cover for the book.

Sales Links:   ARe | Amazon

Book Details

ebook
Published January 7th 2016
ISBN139780994857019
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesNutty Romances #1

Series:  Nutty Romances

  • Nuts About You (Nutty Romances #1)
  • Rise of the Alpha Squirrel (Nutty Romances #2)

A Paul B Review: Quentin Heart, Vampire Bounty Hunter by Amber Kell

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars               ★★★★★

Quentin Heart Vampire Bounty HunterQuentin Heart basically has no time for a social life. Between finishing up his wizardry degree and taking care of his mother who has had a relapse with cancer, life seems to pass him by. To make matters worse, bill collectors are demanding payment for his mother’s treatments, none of which seem to be working. Quentin spots a flyer advertising bounty hunting services for paranormals. As he is entering the wizardry lab at the university, his best friend Glenn calls him and demands that Quentin joins him at the club that evening. After several hours of research, Quentin leaves the lab building only to find a pack of bone wolves (werewolves made from the hides of dead animals) that lead him to the body of his friend Glenn. After dealing with authorities,

The next day, after guest lecturing for a class at the university, Quentin visits his mother at the hospital. She explains that his father was a fae who was part of the royal family. One of the wolves that has been following him around is actually his father trapped in a spell along with his uncles. Quentin next goes to claim the body of his friend to arrange for burial when he is informed that it is no longer in the morgue. It has walked away. Pissed that a reckless vampire turned his friend, Quentin decides to work for the bounty agency in the hopes of making sure no one else suffers Glenn’s fate.

His first assignment is to bring in the leader of the local vampire clan. Quentin marches into the clan’s mansion, casts a spell and transports the vampire to the local police station. The clan’s second, who has now become leader due to Quentin’s actions, thanks Quentin for getting rid of the leader nobody liked. Jakinson, the new leader, states that since the bounty hunter has done him a favor, he owes a favor in return. He gives Quentin a necklace that Quentin would later find out marks him as Jakinson’s mate. Quentin must now deal with a very possessive vampire on top of finding his wayward newly made vampire friend, the rogue vampire that attacked Glenn, and deal with his mother’s declining health and the bills that are associated with her care. If you throw in somebody who seems to be after him, life just got a lot more complicated for Quentin.

Amber Kell is one of my favorite authors and this book did not disappoint me. She has a way with books about powerful wizards. Quentin Heart is your typically preoccupied nerd researcher that has his world turned upside down but circumstances that are beyond his control. He shows his strength in that he makes Jakinson realize that he will not be the submissive mate that most vampire leaders expect. He is faced with some tough decisions that involve his family but comes through them in the end. I also enjoyed the fact that the author has given Quentin enough possible enemies that there should be several more books in the series to come. I highly recommend the first book in this new series.
The cover art by Meredith Russell shows our hero wearing his glasses holding one of his spell balls with the city landscape in the background. It is how I would picture Quentin would look like. It is an excellent cover for the book.

Sales Links:  ARe  | Amazon

Book Details

EBook, 314 pages
Published: January 29, 2016
Edition Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-311-09104-8

A Paul B Review: Broken Prince, Mismatched Eyes (The Mauritanian Saga Book 1) by Layla Dorine

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars       ★★★★★

Broken Prince Mismatched EyesCaden DeMott might be the son of a noble but he clearly is not treated as such.  Born with two different colored eyes, many people in the area believe that he must be evil according to their traditional beliefs.  His stepmother makes his life miserable and effectively keeps him away from his stepbrothers.  Even his father can be distant at times to keep peace with his wife.  The only companionship Caden can rely on is his two dogs.  Because of all of this, Caden is withdrawn.  One morning, his father informs him that due to a business arrangement made by his stepmother several years ago, he is to be married to the prince of the family’s most important trading partner, the country of Mauritania.

Prince Rhys Gwyther was supposed to be married three years ago.  However, an accident while he was touring a mine left him almost a paraplegic.  But with determination and a lot of hard work, Rhys has learned to walk again, albeit with a limp.  While there are some in the kingdom calling for him to be bypassed as heir, Rhys is bound to live up to his birthright.  He makes the week voyage by boat from his country to the DeMott estate to meet his future husband.

When Rhys arrives, things go from bad to worse for the two of them.  Rhys takes an immediate dislike to Caden’s family.  But in Caden he finds potential for a mate.  However, both young men are waiting for the other to fall along long established patterns of abuse that they have suffered due to their “deformities.”    This will continue to shape the beginnings of their relationship.  Outside factors also contribute to drive the young couple apart.  Rhys’s father adds to the problem unintentionally making a decision meant to help them but only makes matters worse.  Will they find their happily ever after?

I really enjoyed this novel.  Caden and Rhys each have had their own problems over the years and have dealt with them as best they could.  These problems almost doom the relationship before it even starts.  Only after they agree to forget what others say and concentrate on just themselves do things begin to turn around.  But Caden’s family and past, along with those who do not feel Rhys should be the next king continue to threaten the princes.  The conclusion of the book wraps up the causes of the problems for both men, with the villains getting their just comeuppance.

The cover art by Kellie Dennis is just stunning.  Our two heroes are standing with shirts partially opened exposing well-formed chests above a picture of a boat sailing toward the land of Mauritania.  It fits the book really well.

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

Book Details

Kindle Edition, 328 pages
Published December 4th 2015 by Wayward Ink Publishing
(first published January 1st 2013)
ASINB017WXGBM8
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series:  The Mauritanian Saga