A Stella Review: Detour (Transportation #1) by Reesa Herberth  and Michelle Moore

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RATING 5 out of 5 stars

Ethan Domani had planned the perfect graduation trip before tragedy put his life on hold. Smothered by survivor’s guilt and his close-knit family, he makes a break for the open road. He doesn’t know what he’s looking for, but he’s got the whole summer to figure out who he misses more: his boyfriend, or the person he thought he was. It’s just him and his memories . . . until he almost runs over a hitchhiker.

Nick Hamilton made some mistakes after his younger brother died. His violent ex-boyfriend was the most dangerous, and the one that got him shipped off to Camp Cornerstone’s pray-the-gay-away boot camp. His eighteenth birthday brings escape, and a close call with an idiot in a station wagon. Stranger danger aside, Nick’s homeless, broke, and alone. A ride with Ethan is the best option he’s got.

The creepy corners of roadside America have nothing on the darkness haunting Ethan and Nick. Every interstate brings them closer to uncharted emotional territory. When Nick’s past shows up in their rearview mirror, the detour might take them off the map altogether.

I loved the new release by these new to me authors, Reesa Herberth and Michelle Moore. I first picked it brcause the blurb was so interesting and I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed at all, on the contrary it was so much more. I wasn’t ready for me to be so engaged from the characters I quickly finished Detour. And for me spending just a couple of days for a book so long is not easy, that’s why I tend to choose books max 250 pages long.  Plus I usually don’t read about characters so young, I prefer my couple to at least being into their thirties. That’s to say, although the interesting blurb, Detour could have been a disaster to me.

Then it happens I found a story so well done I had to stay up late in the night.

In my opinion the main reason why I adored the book stand in the MCs. Sure, Nick and Ethan are very young, but they are not the usual eighteen years old boys with  nothing to worry about. Both of them, in different ways, already went through hell and they are not back yet. This trip they are taking (well, actually only Ethan is on his graduation trip, Nick sadly has nowhere to be) will try to heal their hearts and give both of them some hope, it will help them to overcome the deep grief they have.

So many details caught my heart and I confess more than once I shed a couple of tears, they way they lost themselves, how Nick is scared and angry, how Ethan feels guilty to have survived the death of his beloved boyfriend. Some scenes were so packed with emotions, I felt my heart ache for these young men. But the authors did a great job and at the end Detour is a light book, funny and sweet. I completely fell in love with Ethan and Nick, they were adorable and I so hope to have more about their happy ending.

The cover art by Kanaxa is not a winner to me, I usually like this artist works but this one is fitting but I don’t like it at all.

SALE LINKS  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 339 pages

Published May 7th 2018 by Riptide Publishing

ISBN 1626497435 (ISBN13: 9781626497436)

Edition Language English

A Stella Review: Lock Nut (Plumber’s Mate Mysteries) by JL Merrow

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RATING 4,5 out of 5 stars

Still waters run deadly.

Tom Paretski, plumber with a talent for finding hidden things, and his private investigator fiancé Phil Morrison have been hired to locate a runaway husband, Jonathan Parrot. The job seems simple enough—until their quarry turns up dead in a canal, and a photofit of Tom’s face is splashed all over the news, making him chief suspect.

The widow, petite ex–porn star Lilah Lovett, is convinced her husband was killed by his gay lover, but Tom and Phil aren’t so sure. Worried they may have precipitated Jonathan’s death, they’re determined to find the real killer. But with a web of incestuous ties linking the suspects, it’s hard to know who to trust. Especially when a second victim dies a gruesome death.

Meanwhile, with their wedding looming and them sharing a house now, Tom’s worried it may all be too much, too fast. The last thing he needs are the mixed messages Phil seems to be sending out. They’ll need to get back on the same track if they want to make it to their honeymoon together—and alive.

I’m crazy about this author works, I saw the name and pick every new book without even reading the blurb. That said, I have a confession to make: this time I screwed up. I was over the moon as soon as I received Lock Nut and like an osbessed I started reading it. From the beginning I realized something was wrong. I couldn’t remember Tom and Phil’s story and since Lock Nut is the fifth book in the series I wasn’t understanding how could I not. I went to Goodreads to check and realized my mistake: I mixed The Plumber’s Mate Mysteries with The Shamwell Tales series.  While I read all the titles in the second series, I completely and consciously ignored the first one because I’m not so into psychic abilities combined with mystery, it’s not my thing, I am a huge chickenshit. When will I learn to (at least) read a title and a series name and not just the author?

Anyway I decided to teach myself a lesson and went on with the reading, positive it was going to be a disaster. I found it impossible to not just like a story but actually understand the MCs, an established couple that met and told their stories in the last FOUR books of the series.

I had to change my mind, the author proved me wrong. And this is one more reason why I love her works, even if to me it’s so freaking hard to read her so British writing.

Not once I thought about giving up, there was nothing to give up, the plot was clear and I beautifully saw Phil and Tom, I knew them quite well, sure there is so much more to know, so many details and adventures I missed, but I learnt their natures and tempers, I saw their love. They “worked” (well, it’s more Phil’s job) so good together, throught moments of laughs and hotness, sweetness and banters.  And now I have to catch up on the series, hoping Lock Nut isn’t the last book.

The cover art by Chistine Coffee is not a winner to me, there is nothing special about it, sorry I don’t like it.

SALE LINKS:  RIPTIDE   |  Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 330 pages

Published May 12th 2018 by Riptide Publishing

ASIN B07D23W4Z6

Edition Language English

Series The Plumber’s Mate Mysteries #5

A Stella Review: The Fortune Hunter by Bonnie Dee

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RATING 5 out of 5 stars

A man with nothing finds everything.
Abandoned at birth, WWI veteran Hal Stanton faces bleak employment prospects in post-war London. Desperation spurs him to reinvent himself to hook a wealthy wife, one he will be devoted to even if he feels no real passion. But when he meets his fiance’s cousin, Julian Needham, it’s all he can do to keep his heart in check and his eye on the prize.

From the moment he’s introduced to the charming stranger Margaret plans to marry, Julian suspects the man’s motives yet fights a relentless attraction. He’s determined to reveal Hal as a fraud but must handle the matter delicately to protect his sweet cousin’s feelings. A weekend at the family estate should allow time and opportunity for him to expose Halstead Wiley.

Even as the men match wits in a battle of attempted unmasking, powerful sexual attraction threatens to overcome them both and win the day. Can a true love connection possibly grow between these adversaries without destroying lives and loved ones?

I rarely read historical mm books, but once in a while a blurb or a cover or an author’s name catches my interest and I have a go. The Fortune Hunter by Bonnie Dee was simply amazing. I will definitely reread it and reread again and again. A huge success. It has all the elements I look for in a historical story, not necessarily in the mm world. It’s a romance, a pure romance, the kind of story that lets you dream and brings you into the MCs’ world. I simply adored it, that’s why it deserves all the five stars.

I’m often dubious about characters set in a non contemporary time, because what I want to find in my books is the chance to empathize with them or to fantasize, and more than once it doesn’t happen. In this case I got both, maybe because the story is set in a not so far away historical period, just after WWI, maybe because the author is very good at writing. Anyway I read her new release in a one sitting, I savoured every single scene, every word, and I deeply loved it.

I saw the attraction between Hal and Julian, I followed them while they struggled with their fears and doubts, and I cheered on them to finally find a way to be together. I learned their pasts and started to love both of them, and actually the second characters too, from the first chapters. Every single one well developed and defined.

I enjoyed the plot, I think the author delivered an amazing story, there is no cheating here, which is something I’m not comfortable with, on the contrary, not just the MCs will get their HEA. I felt every feeling Hal and Julian felt, their desire to be in each other arms. And more important, to me the story seemed very realistic.

I feel to recommend The Fortune Hunter, even if you are not a huge fan of historical romance like me, I’m sure you will love it.

The cover art is likeable and well done.

SALE LINKS    AMAZON

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 235 pages

Published January 2nd 2018

ASIN B077XLY1ND

Edition Language English

STRW Interview with M.A. Church on her new release ‘Texting, AutoCorrect, and a Prius’ (author interview and excerpt)

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Texting, AutoCorrect, and a Prius by M.A. Church
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza

Available for Purchase at Dreamspinner Press

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have M.A. Church here today talking about writing, characters, and her latest release,

Texting, AutoCorrect, and a Prius.  Welcome, M.A.!

 

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Our Interview with M.A. Church

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

A lot. Many of my characteristics, thoughts, feelings, and reactions are built into my characters. Actually, both my main characters have many of my personality traits.

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

Absolutely! Research plays a vital role. I mainly write paranormal and sci-fi, but I spend a lot of time checking mythology. I’m a firm believer in you have to understand a myth before you can flip it on its head.  If I’m writing about werecats, I feel it’s necessary to the understand habits and reactions of felines, whether they’re big or small.  Many of my paranormal stories are based in present day, so I have to make my shifters fit into that environment.

I do enjoy research, but I love making up worlds and cultures. It’s one reasons why I’m so fond of sci-fi. But even with that, research plays a key role in making the unbelievable believable.

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

I have but not recently. There was a scene in Shadows in the Night where the main character’s mother was dying. I struggled with it because it was close to when I lost my mom. It caused some bad moments, but I got through it. Frankly I think it made that scene much stronger.

  •  Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I’m good either way.  I like HEA, but sometimes the story just isn’t set up for that. I’d much rather have an ending that is HFN than to force HEA. As long story ends with the characters happy, I’m good, even if all their issues haven’t been resolved.

  • How do you choose your covers?  

The main thing I look for is something that highlights my story and picks up the feeling of the book. I want something that portrays a very basic element of the book so readers know at a glance what my story is about.

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

I’d say it’d either be The Harvest series or Trouble Comes in Threes from the Fur, Fangs, and Felines series. The Harvest was originally written right after my mom passed away. The books kept me from losing my mind.

Trouble Comes in Threes doesn’t have that memory connected to it, but it was the first threesome I ever wrote. It was well received, fortunately. And I did worry about how to portray a threesome believably.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

I have a book coming from Dreamspinner in October called Dragon’s Hoard. It’s part of the new Dreamspun Beyond line, and I’m very excited about that.

At Sixes and Sevens is under contract with Dreamspinner and will *probably* be out in November. It could be October, though.

Blurb

Clay McDonald finds the perfect car on Craigslist and is quick to send the seller a text:

Is your penis still for sale?

AutoCorrect strikes again. Damn—he should’ve proofread. How embarrassing.

Luckily Darrell Anderson, a mechanic and the owner of the Prius, is more amused than offended, and the two men agree to meet. When they do, the attraction is instant, and a date is arranged. But a series of mishaps, misunderstandings, and misplaced assumptions sorely test the new relationship.

In a contemporary romantic comedy about the perils of technology and dating in the modern world, a text that went so wrong might just lead to something so right—but only if Clay can refrain from jumping to conclusions and give love the benefit of the doubt.

 

 

Excerpt

“Whoa, whoa. The truck is fine, and there’s nothing wrong with it. You didn’t hear me because I drove the Prius. Which means you’re going to need to take me back up to the shop since I left my truck there.”

Darrell groaned. Of all the rotten, underhanded…. “Oh, come on. Seriously? You just ruined my Saturday.”

Bert laughed, a cocky little grin on his face. “Hey, I told you it had to be parked here.”

Darrell continued to grumble as he went back to arranging the food. “I was trying to forget about it. Does that mean you posted the ad on Craigslist?”

“As a matter of fact, I did this morning.” Bert opened his beer. “It should be up already.”

Of course it was. “Lovely. Just what I want to do on my weekend off. I’m assuming you put my cell phone number on the ad?”

“Yup.” Bert sipped his beer, then put it down on the counter. “Look, if something comes up, just let the call go to voicemail.”

Darrell poured a soda for himself. “Thank you, Captain Obvious.”

Bert smirked, then drank some more of his beer as he studied Darrell.

“What?” Darrell demanded as he opened the chip bag.

Bert slowly sho✒︎ok his head, an overdone look of pity on his face. “You’ve got all the symptoms.”

Darrell knew he was going to regret asking, but just like a moth to the flame, he couldn’t resist. “All the symptoms of what?”

“BBS.”

“As sure as I’m standing here, I know better, but okay….” Darrell scrubbed his hand over his face. “I’ll bite. What is BBS?”

Grinning madly, Bert took another sip of his beer, then with exaggerated patience, put it on the counter. “Blue ball syndrome. Dude, you desperately need to get laid. You’re grouchy, your sense of humor has left the building, and quite frankly, your one-liners need a couple more lines.”

Darrell tilted his head back, stared at the ceiling, and sighed helplessly. “I had to ask, didn’t I?”

About the Author

M.A. Church is a true Southern belle who spent many years in the elementary education sector. Now she spends her days lost in fantasy worlds, arguing with hardheaded aliens on far-off planets, herding her numerous shifters, or trying to tempt her country boys away from their fishing poles. It’s a full time job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it!

When not writing, she’s on the back porch tending to the demanding wildlife around the pond in the backyard. The ducks are very outspoken. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two grown children.

She is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Social Media Links:

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A Stella Review: Wake Up Call (Porthkennack #1) by J.L. Merrow

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RATING 4,5 out of 5 stars

South London mechanic Devan Thompson has gone to Porthkennack to track down someone he’s been waiting all his life to know. But Dev’s distracted from his quest by Kyle, a broodingly handsome local of only a few months, who’s already got a reputation as an alcoholic because of his strange behaviour—including a habit of collapsing in the street.

Kyle Anthony fled to Porthkennack to escape from the ruins of his life. Still raging against his diagnosis of narcolepsy—a condition that’s cost him his job as a barrister, his lover, and all chance of normality—the last thing he wants is another relationship that’s doomed to fail. But Dev’s easy-going acceptance and adaptability, not to mention his good looks, have Kyle breaking all his self-imposed rules.

When disaster strikes Dev’s adored little sister, Kyle steps up to the plate, and Dev sees a side of his lover he wasn’t prepared for: competent, professional—and way out of Dev’s league. With one man determined that they don’t have a future, and the other fearing it, life after Porthkennack is starting to look bleak for both of them.

Wake Up Call is the first book in a new series from Riptide Press, set in the town of Porthkennack in Cornwell. I picked this release just because it is written by one of my favorite authors, JL Merrow. I have to say I’m now very curious to read the other stories in the series, all written by a different author, but all of them can be read as a standalone.

It’s not a surprise I loved Wake Up Call, it was really well done, well written too because JL is an amazing writer. Well developed in the plot and in the characters, not just Kyle and Devan, but I knew quite a lot of the secondary characters too, and that was the only reason I didn’t give the book the full five starts. I admit, I fell in love with Ceri, at some point I almost hoped to have another story with Ceri and Devan as MCs. I think she stole my heart and through all the story I was there waiting for her to take the scene. Sometimes my liking for her put a shadow on the main couple. I would love to read Ceri’s own story and I don’t even care it would be a MF or FF book, I just want more of her.

That said I adored Devan and his smart mouth, he was always so positive and open even when he should feel down for all the things life threw on him. And I loved how he approached Kyle and took in his illness, just like everyone should have done. The attraction between them is clear from the first time they laid eyes on each other, but they took their time and it was perfect. And then when big problems happened, they were both ready to help in any way they could. 

Wake Up Call has everything I need to find in a good book and everything I learnt to find in Merrow‘s stories, the humor, the characters never boring and useless,neer shallow, beautiful settings and complete plots.

I think the cover art by Garrett Leigh well depicted the book and its setting. I like this cover and others in the series.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 320 pages

Published April 17th 2017 by Riptide Publishing

ISBN 1626495408 (ISBN13: 9781626495401)

Edition Language English

Series Porthkennack #1

A Stella Release Day Review: My Dragon My Knight by John Inman

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RATING 4,5 out of 5 stars

Danny Sims is in over his head, torn between his abusive lover, Joshua, and Jay Holtsclaw, the bartender up the street, who offers Danny the one thing he never gets at home: understanding.

When Joshua threatens to get rid of Danny’s terrier, Danny knows he has to act fast. Afraid of what Joshua will do to the dog, and afraid of what Joshua will do to him if he tries to leave, Danny does the only thing he can do.

He runs.

But Danny isn’t a complete fool. He has enough sense to run into the arms of the man who actually cares for him—the man he’s beginning to trust.

Just as their lives together are starting to fall into place, Danny and Jay learn how vengeful Joshua can be.

And how dangerous.

I have to say I wasn’t expecting a story like the one I got to read in My Dragon, My Knight. I’m used to laughing with John Inman and his works, while this new release is more serious and angsty, I was waiting for some drama of course, the blurb is pretty clear, but I wasn’t ready for this level of abuse.

I’d like to make a little promise. The book speaks loudly of domestic violence, if you are not comfortable with it, the author has written a lot of great and different stories, just go there and skip this new one. I read My Dragon, My Knight and soon after another story with the same theme, and although I have never been victim of a violence like this, it made me cringe more than once. I soaked up and then I couldn’t take it anymore.

That said, John Inman has confirmed how talented he is, I loved the plot, I loved the characters but what conquered me was the writing. This novel was a pleasure to read, I spent one night on it and I didn’t even realize the time passing. It totally captured me and my heart. The words were never too many and just the right ones. Yes the writing totally satisfied me, actually the whole story filled my craving for a good read. You know when you read a book and you want more? Not always is a positive thing, often it means the author lacked somewhere or you simply wasn’t in the mood. Well, this time my mood and My Dragon, My Knight aligned.

Danny had a special place in my heart. I was happy for him to have found Jay on his path, first a friend to trust, then a place where he and his dog Jingles can take a shelter, finally a special person to love. And then there is Jay. Gentle, caring and ready to wait for Danny to be brave. I loved how, although he had lost his lover just the year before, Jay wan’t closed in his grieving, on the contrary his openness made him more lovable.

Now I would like to explain why I didn’t give My Dragon, My Knight the full five stars, because not sure if I have been clear so far but I really adored this book. One thing I couldn’t overcome and ignore, the death of a second character, not going to tell you who because I don’t want to spoil your reading, but of course someone will die. I could have easily done without that.

My Dragon, My Knight by John Inman is a winner, I surely will reread it in the next future, it has all the little details I like to find in my books, friends to lovers, age-gap, characters with huge baggage on their shoulders, cats! I feel to highly recommend it.

The cover art by Reese Dante is simple, real and fitting. I like the font, the colors, everything.

Sales Links

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 200 pages

Publication Date: March 31st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN13 9781635332858

Edition Language English

A Stella Review: Merry Christmas, Mr. Miggles by Eli Easton

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RATING 5 out of 5 stars

merry-christmas-mr-migglesToby Kincaid loves being the junior librarian in his hometown of Sandy Lake, Ohio. He spends his days surrounded by books and chatting with the library patrons. He especially adores the head librarian, Mr. Miggles, who is kind, witty, knowlegable about everything, and hopelessly addicted to Christmas. Sean Miggles is also pretty cute—especially for an older guy who wears ties and suit pants every day.

But Sean keeps himself at a distance, and there’s a sadness about him that Toby can’t figure out. When Sean is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he gives up without a fight. Toby realizes that he alone can save the library—and their head librarian.

Toby will need to uncover the darkness in Sean’s past and prove to him that he deserves a second chance at life and at love too. And while Christmas miracles are being handed out, maybe Toby will get his own dearest wish—to love and be loved by Mr. Miggles.

I have no words to say how much I loved this new release by Eli Easton. It shouldn’t have been a surprise cause I already knew how well the author can writes and engage me with his books.

I finished Merry Christmas, Mr Miggles in one night, it caught my attention from the start and I couldn’t stop reading about Toby and Sean, who work together at the Sandy Lake Library, Toby as a junior librarian and Sean as the head librarian. Two great men with so much passion and two hearts bigger than an house.

I fell in love with both of them, Toby is young and full of enthusiasm, with his smart mouth and his  new love for Sean, the man who has no family and gifts Christmas presents to all the people who frequent the library without them knowing. There is a well done plot, a real story, things happen, need to be resolved and while Sean is almost resigned, Toby is fierce and resolute to prove Sean innocence and the necessity of a library like their own for  all the amazing people who support both of them. Truly beautiful people, Toby’s parents too.

I love the atmosphere, I felt and smelled the library, I felt the strong sense of community. I got to know not just the MCs stories, but a glimpse of what was going on in the secondary characters lives too. Plus, sex in the library!

Merry Christmas, Mr Miggles is a sweet book, it lifted my spirit and put me in a good mood. If you’re looking for a romantic reading, with some sad moment and a lot of love, this one is for you. Don’t miss it.

The cover art by Reese Dante is cute like the book.

Sales Links

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Book Details:

Publication Date: November 23, 2016 by Pinkerton Road LLC

ASIN B01MQIX7MD

Edition Language English

A Stella Review: Stained by Chris T. Kat

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RATING  4,5 out of 5 stars

StainedBlair Clark has reached his breaking point. Forced to leave one job because of sexual harassment, he’s having difficulty finding another. Since no one believes what happened, Blair’s left with a stain on his employment record that he can’t get rid of. He’s had to move back home with his mother. As if that’s not bad enough, he realizes his crush, Travis, is simply using him. His romantic life looks as hopeless as his job search.

Jack Ross is sure he’ll never find anyone who’ll love him for who he is. All anyone sees is the port-wine stain on his left cheek—not the man behind it. Even his mother thinks he should get rid of it. But the procedure is difficult and painful.

When Blair applies for a secretarial position with Jack’s firm, both men learn that beauty is, indeed, in the eye of the beholder. It’ll take a lot of trust to chase away their insecurities, but if they take a chance on one another, love will find a way.

I read Stained at the right time, it was exactly what I needed. I’m a huge fun of Chris T Kat, I can always count on her talent when I’m looking for something sweet. This new and unfortunately last novel was no exception. I devoured it.

Blair’s life sucks. He is 25 years old and back to live with his mum after he lost his job. A wonderful mum, loving and funny but most of all always encouraging. Blair is on job hunt as a secretary after a bad work experience where he was sexually harassed. He met Travis in his old job and he fell for him. But the guy is mean, he had no respect for Blair’s ideas and opinions, on the contrary he hurt Blair more than once. During one of these times he literally crashed with a man with a stained face. And the day after, during a job interview the man with the stained face reveals to be the new boss. Jack is an architect, he inherited the firm of his father. He’s tired of people staring at him and calling him bad names. When he met Blair, he is soon attracted to him and being caring is easy.

Stained is a super sweet story, although to me it was never too much. It was well done and easy to read. My only problem? I wanted a little more, especially in the development of the relationship between the MCs. It missed some spice and it would have be perfect. Nonetheless I think the author did great with Blair and Jack, both stained in different way, one physically, the other in the soul. Yes the title was very fitting in this case. I have to say at the beginning it was hard to me to like Blair, seeing him with Travis made me so angry with Blair himself. I wanted him to open his eyes soon and beat the guy. Luckly he fulfilled my wish. And then when he meets Jack and I read about them together I start to love them, because at the end they were perfect for each other.

I feel to recommend this story if you’re looking for something easy, quick and sweet. I was conqueered and satisfied.

The cover art by Bree Archer is a winner, I love it, it’s cute and the models are exactly how I picture Jack and Blair.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 112 pages
Expected publication: June 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 163477051X (ISBN13: 9781634770514)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Stella Review: THE KITCHEN BOY by August Li

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RATING   4 out of 5 stars

The Kitchen BoyKitchen servant Yoli is one of only three men who know a carefully guarded secret about High Commander Koehen, the brilliant general who united their lands against a common invader. The enemy wants that secret, and they are willing to use either kindness or cruelty to obtain it.

Yoli must decide if his loyalties lie with the commander, who has shown him more affection than anyone in Yoli’s life, or with his own best interests. High Commander Koehen’s attention is capricious at best—he summons Yoli only when it is convenient for him, and Yoli knows there’s little hope of a future together. Is a glimmer of a hope for love worth sacrificing a chance for prosperity beyond his wildest dreams?

 

I read The Union of Sun and Moon by August Li last year and I was pleasurably surprised by the style of the author. As soon as I saw The Kitchen Boy I wanted to read it. This is a second edition but I missed it earlier. And now that I read it I’m surely going to  devour whatever else they wrote in the past. I like their style so much, it’s hard to explain but I get a sense of peace and sweetness.

The Kitchen Boy is the story of Yoli, who after having been sold by his own father when he was only six years old, works now as a servant in the kitchen of the High Commander Koehen, the man who was able to fight for the union of a great kingdom. The same man suffers of very hurtful migraines that only Yoli seems able to relieve, although their meeting is not just the medical kind. Until the enemies will capture Yoli and torture him to discover the weakness of Koehen.

This was a great story, I was caught from the start and couldn’t put it down till the end. It greatly engaged me with the amazing characters and world building. We get to know quite enough of the world the story is set in, I honestly wasn’t expecting so much in  not so many pages.

The author made me like the characters a lot, even the supposed bad one Brunarious. Of course Yoli was my favorite, a pleasure to see. So strong and brave and generous in his simpleness. He went through so many abuses and hurt in his life. I get to feel his deep emotions, the fear to hope for more, the sense of inadequacy, his loyalty to a man who showed him a glimmer of a future he never hoped to dream for himself. I enjoyed not just his hot time with Koehen, our hero, but his learning scenes with the wizard Vlaad (which maybe needed to be explored a little because there was more to know about the magician and his relationship with the MCs and maybe I was hoping in some menage moments).

I liked this story a lot, well written and developed, great characters, good tempo. All of these made The Kitchen Boy one of my favorite books in the mm fantasy genre.

The COVER ART by Anne Cain is well done and fitting, I can easily see Yoli in it, learning to read. Still I have a note to make, I would have been happier to see a cover made by the author, I like August style, in the writing and in the design I saw around.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 2nd Edition, 126 pages
Published April 6th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press (first published February 2nd 2013)
ISBN 1634771273 (ISBN13: 9781634771276)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Stella Review: Happy by Chris Scully

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RATING  4,5 out of 5 stars

HappyGrowing up Greek-Canadian, Peter Georgiou always knew his duty was to his family, for whom twenty-first century rules don’t apply. In his early thirties, Peter still lives at home, dates who his parents tell him to, and works at the family restaurant. But watching his two best friends find happiness in each other’s arms has made him worry over his destiny.

When Louie Papadakis returns home to nurse his broken heart and start a new life, he can’t believe his sister is dating his high school crush, Peter. There’s a sadness behind Peter’s eyes that draws him in, and a chemistry he wishes he could ignore. After his closeted ex broke his heart, Louie is afraid to fall in love again, especially with a man who’s keeping secrets.

As Peter finds himself drawn to Louie in unexpected ways, old and new worlds collide. Then a family crisis forces Peter’s hand, and he must decide if he’s willing to sacrifice his happiness for family duty.

Are you happy?”

It was a simple question. Should have been a simple answer. So why was it still rattling around in Peter’s head an hour after Adam had asked it? And why did his insides squirm uncomfortably every time he thought about it? Of course he was happy. Wasn’t he?

He rinsed his hands under the bathroom faucet and chanced a final glance in the mirror. The man staring back at him certainly didn’t look happy.

I remember when the author first posted (maybe a couple of years ago, I’m not sure) the idea for this story. I was soon curious about it and my enthusiasm when I saw it finally published was huge. I read the Inseparable series some time ago and Until September last month. I can say Chris Scully is one of my favorite authors. I like her style a lot and her books are always a pleasure to read.

Happy is the story of Peter, a thirty-something guy in the closet, oppressed by his Greek parents who expect him to marry a nice Greek girl and make his own family. Two years ago he quit his job after his dad had an heart attack and started helping his parents’ restaurant. Now in a relationship with Demetra, of course recommended by his mum, he can’t take this life anymore, especially now that his two best friends, Adam and Joe,  had finally found happiness in each others arms.

Moving to Vancouver after college was the only way to not embarrass his family with his sexuality but now Louie has come back home, Toronto, and he is recovering from a bad relationship with a deep in the closet guy. He needs to mend his broken heart but it’s hard to be home again after so many years away. He’s feeling lonely and with no friends to hang with. Then he meets Peter, his sister’s new boyfriend. Peter and Louie basically grew up together same greek neighborhood, same school. Peter was the hottest boy and of course Louie has a huge crush on him. Fifteen years later a lot of things have changed but some are still the same.

Peter seems to not be ready to come out of his closet and Louie can’t settle for anything less than a full disclosure. Can they be happy together?

I loved this book a lot, it was light and deep at the same time, easy to read and all the characters were enjoyable and real. I liked watching Peter and Louie become first friends then start to feel more, even if the attraction is clear since their first meeting. Although nothing really happens between the MCs till over the 70% of the story, I appreciated the slow burn, because Peter is still in the closet and Louie is not ready for a new relationship yet.

Finally I want to thank the author for giving me  a little more about Adam and Joe from the Inseparable series, I liked this couple so much years ago and to meet and follow them to a truly HEA was perfect.

I’m conflicted about the cover art by Bree Archer. I like it but it’s not really a winner and forgettable. I would have preferred something different.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 165 pages
Expected publication: March 30th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634771397 (ISBN13: 9781634771399)
Edition LanguageEnglish