A Stella Review: Jace’s Trial (Trials in Abingdon #1) by J.M. Wolf

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RATING 2 out of 5 stars

 

Life is a trial full of obstacles that stand between you and your goals. Do you have the courage to face your own trial?

Jace Garrison was a musical prodigy at Juilliard ready to take the world by storm. Everything he could ever want out of life was unfolding right before his eyes, until everything came crashing down at once.
With his muse gone, along with everything he loved, will Jace find the courage to move on?

Former Navy SEAL Gerard Ramhart had always played by his family’s rules and traditions. Until he fell in love with Riley Garrison. Unfortunately, before Gerard had the courage to propose to the man he loved, Riley’s life was taken away. Gerard was left devastated, with only his memories of Riley and the pain of losing him to keep him going.

One year after Riley’s death, Gerard finally makes it to Riley’s hometown in Abingdon, Virginia and meets his son Jace for the very first time. Two men grieving over the loss they shared, and during their time of heartache, something blossoms. Can Gerard help Jace find the will to live the life he’s meant to have? And can Jace find his muse and accept his feelings for Gerard, despite the fact that Gerard once belonged to his father?

 

Jace’s Trial is the first book in the Trials in Abingdon series by a new to me author, JM Wolf. I was very curious about this novel, I read the blurb and found it intriguing and different from the usual plots. So I approached the reading with great enthusiasm. Still, from the beginning it was pretty clear the book wouldn’t have been a success to me. At first I wasn’t understanding quite well why, then I realized the story was going on with an unreality I can’t accept in contemporary romance.

Although I read the blurb and so I knew what I was going to read, the first part of the story laid the basis for a disaster. Shortly (and I’m not going to spoiler the book) what happened is Gerard lost his lover, Riley, and one year later he went to Jace’s home (Riley’s son) and the day after they went out for dinner, a dinner more than once called a date, and things soon turned into more intimate as should be between them, The same night Jace asked Gerard if a relationship was possible. Of course I knew a romance would happen between them but not like that. And without revealing too much, yes Gerard said no but he was a liar cause the signal in just that two days were there and Jace got them.

The fact the MCs had a sort of “lust at first sight” left me a little dubious. I could accept this from Jace POV but not from Gerard, especially whe the author let me know Jace was the spitting imagine of his father. That led me to believe he wasn’t actually interested in Jace’s person, but in Jace as a substitute of his dead lover. From that moment it was hard to me to find the his character real and believable. Plus the age difference was too evident, although I usually love it, in this case it didn’t work at all, maybe because I saw Jace and his vulnerability as something to protect or maybe because both of them were  too hurt to start a relationship.

I went on with the reading hoping something would change and made the story more real to my eyes. At the end it was a pain to finish Jace’s Trial, I can assure you I did it just because I had to review it for the blog, otherwise nope. And if you follow my reviews, you know I’m very easy to please, just give me some kind of romance and I’m a happy reader. But when there’s something that bothered me I struggle and it’s impossible to find positive elements to praise. I don’t think I will read the next installment in the series.

The cover art by Rue Volley is good, I like the style quite a lot.

Buy Links – Available on KU

Amazon Universal Link: Smarturl.it/JacesTrial

Amazon US  

Amazon UK 

BOOK DETAILS

TRIGGER WARNING:
This book contains content of physical and mental abuse, grieving, and bottled emotions.

* This is Book 1 in the series, but can be read as a standalone story- no cliffhangers.*

Kindle Edition, 300 pages

Published February 20th 2018 by Encompass Ink

ASIN B079YBP3BM

Edition Language English

Series Trials in Abingdon #1

A Stella Review: Like a Gentleman by Eliot Grayson

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RATING 4 out of 5 stars

James Rowley, penniless younger brother of an earl, discovers his rejected sensational story has been stolen and printed under another name — and he’s certain his editor is the guilty party. Determined to get his due, he sets out for London to take revenge on the perfidious L. Wells. He means to have satisfaction, even if he needs to pose as a simpering fop in a pink waistcoat to get it.

Two years before, intrigued by his favorite writer’s talent and wit, Leo Wells had visited the Rowley estate incognito, seen James’s portrait — and promptly lost what was left of his heart. Ever since, Leo has fought his obsession with his favorite writer. Unaware of the manuscript’s theft, he’s bewildered and heartbroken when James, acting the part of a sneering dandy, visits him in person only to use his obvious attraction against him.

From Gloucestershire to London to Portsmouth, can two men with society and secrets dividing them find happiness?

I’m not a huge fan of historical MM romance and I’m always picky about the books I decide to read cause I don’t want to end hating them just because they are not set in the contemporary time. Nonetheless I wanted to have Like A Gentleman on my Kindle as  soon as I read the blurb, it strongly interested me and at the end the author, a new to me author, didn’t disappoint me at all.

This was a quick read, just a little more than 60 pages but they were very well done. Eliot Greyson simply succeeded in the greatest way possible with Like a Gentleman. I was able to find here everything I always look into my readings, well written words, engaging world, the characters built and likeable. I found myself into a good defined plot made of passion and revenge. And the chemistry between James and Leo was explosive. And there was some sweetness too. I couldn’t ask for more.

I’m now writing this review and to be honest, I want to reread the story, so yes, I’m going to do it right this second. Highly recommended if you are a fan of Regency romance or not, like me.

The cover art is simple and fitting to the era. I don’t despite it but I don’t love it either.

SALE LINKS  Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 69 pages

Published November 4th 2017 by Smoking Teacup Books

ASIN B0776F4GX7

Edition Language English

A Stella Review: The Best Gift (The Best Gift #1) by Shawn Lane

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RATING 2,75 out of 5 stars

Malcolm Rowland’s nearly year old relationship ends just before Christmas when he learns his boyfriend has been cheating on him.

Now Malcolm has no place to live and no job. His best friend, Dustin Jones, who has stood by him for years, takes him in. Dustin is determined to show Malcolm not only a great Christmas, but that love between the two of them can be the best gift.

The Best Gift was a cute story, very sweet and well written. I’m a fun of the friends to lovers theme so I enjoyed this short. The blurb tell you pretty much everything the plot is about.

That said, being long just 35 pages, you can’t expect to be a lot of development, on the contrary, I was actually able to know nothing about the characters and yes, everything happened quickly, maybe a little too quickly. The way Malcom and Dustin came together was so rushed it was unbelievable to me. And it left me with the desire to know so much more.

That’s the only reason I didn’t give The Best Gift three stars, but overall I liked it and will surely read more by the author.

The cover art is cute and simple, I like it.

SALE LINKS  JMS BOOKS  |  AMAZON

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 35 pages

Published December 23rd 2017 by JMS Books LLC (first published 2009)

ASIN B0777J2YNH

Edition Language English

Series The Best Gift #1

A Stella Review: Finding Home by Meg Harding

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RATING 3,75 out of 5 stars

Jaden Matthews has never known his father or his father’s family, but he’s about to get a crash course on having siblings. With the recent passing of his grandmother, he’s discovered he has three half-brothers and part ownership of a gym. In Serenity, Florida. His life in New York has hit a rocky road, so maybe this is the vacation he needs to get things back on track.

Chase Michaels lost his future in a car crash almost ten years ago, and he’s made a new one for himself in Serenity. One that doesn’t include getting emotionally involved with people who are just passing through. But Jaden makes his common sense flee and his gut react. He’s got one month with the man who made him believe in taking a chance.

Finding Home is the third book I read by Meg Harding and I’m now ready to say I like this author’s style quite a lot. With this new release she gave me everything I want in a story. The plot and the setting are very well done and the writing is pretty good.

What I truly loved were the characters, all of them, not just Chase and Jaden but the three brothers too, Zane, Elliott and Phoenix. How they were inclusive versus a new brother never seen and who is ready to take off them their grandmother’s inheritance, the same grandmother he never actually saw. Nonethless they were ready to show Jaden the beautiful town they lived in, hoping they will be  able to persuade him to stay and live close to them. I think they set a good example and very few people in their places would have thought with the heart and not  with the wallet.

I just hoped to have a little more about their own personal stories, I know Finding Home isn’t the three brothers’ book, but a little more would have made the story more complete. The same critic I have to move to the MCs and that’s the only reason why I haven’t rate the title higher. Although I enjoyed the novel a lot and I knew some of the MCs’ backgrounds, I missed something I can’t quite put my finger on to truly connect with Jaden and Chase, I saw their hearts but I wasn’t able to feel them. But this is just a sensation I had due probably to just my mood.

Anyway if you’re looking for a sweet and light story to relax, give Finding Home a chance. I can’t wait to read more by this author.

I love the cover art, it’s simple and clean but eye-catching and easy to remember.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 200 pages

Published July 3rd 2017 by Oceanside Press

ASIN B0711ZG4W9

Edition Language English

A Stella Review: Forged in Trust (Bay Area Professionals #4) by Mickie B. Ashling

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RATING 2 out of 5 stars

Dr. Ethan Marshall is the young medical student on call the night Tessa Duran murders her husband for abusing her twelve-year-old-son, Rino. Ethan stays in the cubicle while the rape kit is performed and is surprised when the boy resorts to prayers instead of tears.

Despite compelling evidence, Tessa is sent to jail for life. To avoid placing Rino in foster care, their parish priest agrees to raise him. Ethan is touched by Rino’s plight and visits whenever possible, but the connection is broken when the priest and young boy leave the area months later.

Raised by the Dominicans in California, Rino considers joining the order until a romance blossoms with a fellow student. After much soul-searching, he turns his back on everything familiar, and chooses his orientation over his perceived vocation. Upon graduating dental hygiene school, Rino takes a job at the office of Scott Gregory and Robin Kennedy.

Seventeen years have passed since that horrible night in the emergency room. Forty-three-year-old Ethan is now a Dominant in search of a full-time submissive. Twenty-nine-year-old Rino is adrift, longing for someone or something to help him find the serenity he’s lost along the way. As they rekindle their friendship, they realize they might be perfect for each other.

Forged in Trust by Mickie B Ashling was a huge disappointment, although it could have been a great success because it has all the things I need in my books: damaged character, age gap, BDSM, characters with different backgrounds, wealthy MC.

This novel is part of the Bay Area Professionals series but it works perfectly as a standalone, especially because the secondary characters (MCs in the previous books) take a lot of space, so you could have not read their own story and still easily understand them (I will talk more about this in a bit). Moreover halfway through the book I realized I had actually read the first book, Impacted, when I began to be obsessed with the mm world. And I remember I quite loved it. Probably my tastes changed in time and that’s why I surely will read it in the next future.

Back to Forged in Trust, one thing I liked was there was an initial part where I met Rino when he was a baby, the author showed me where he came from, what he went through and who he became. I understood the baggage he has on his shoulders.

And then a row of details I hated began.

First of all I didn’t like the writing, I can’t even explain why, it just wasn’t for me, it made my reading hard and discontinuous. I often had to reread the same sentences, maybe it was just that I wasn’t into the story at all, I don’t know.

Then religion plays an important role  and I don’t want to go into details, but I deeply despised a couple of things the author decided to speak of, and I’m saying this as a non churchgoer. They still disturbed me.

An important role is played by Robin and Scott from book #1. While I’m happy when I get to meet again the MCs I loved in the previous books of a series, here in Forged in Trust I met them too much. They were not part of the story as second characters, they had their own chapters (see the plural), long scenes I was no interested in reading, they already had their own space in another book, why I need to find their sex scenes here? Probably they were there to make up for the BDSM tag.

At the end everyone has important roles here, except for Rino and Ethan. And that made Forged in Trust barely a two stars read to me.

The cover art by Catt Ford is well done and lovely. I like it a lot.

Sales Links

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, First, 200 pages

Published September 4th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN 1634764706 (ISBN13: 9781634764704)

Edition Language English

Bay Area Professionals series

Impacted #1

Bonds of Love #2

Fractured #3

Forged in Trust #4

A Stella Review: Idlewild by Jude Sierra

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RATING 4,25 out of 5 stars

idlewildIn a last ditch effort to bring the downtown Detroit gastro pub he started with his late husband back to life, Asher Schenck fires everyone and hires a completely new staff. Among them is Tyler Heyward, a 23-year-old recent college graduate in need of funds to pay for med school. As their relationship shifts from business to friendship, Tyler falls for Asher and finds himself caught between the things he thought he wanted and the things he hasn’t allowed himself to dream about. Working together, they get to know each other’s dreams. Set in the backdrop of Detroit’s revival, Idlewild is a story about love and healing.

Asher is reopening Idlewild, the restaurant he neglected during the last difficult years, years where after losing his husband, he let himself be swallowed by the grief and overlooked his business. Asher is hiring new people, Tyler is one of waiters. He has decided to take a break from med school and work doing something he actually like. What both of them aren’t expecting is  the strong friendship that born between them.

Idlewild by Jude Sierra is a very good story, it packs a lot of feelings, real ones, the emotions come out through the pages so clearly. I liked how it is paced and I adored how I was able to see the love Tyler and Asher had for each other even before they realized it.

This is a book relation focused, there are some second characters, well defined too, but they don’t play huge roles in the plot, the focus remained spotted on the MCs and their initial friendship and it follows them in the discovery of a new unexpected love later. We see them deal with life, with their fears and the happiness found in each other arms.

I liked how John and Malik were presented and often mentioned, as it could have been in real life; because ex boyfriends and dead husbands can’t be forgotten in the span of a moment like  too often happens in books, while in RL you hurt, suffer and recover with time and the help of your beloved ones. And I saw exactly this in Idlewild, although maybe Asher isn’t really ready yet to go on, but he’s there, and Tyler is just waiting for him.

The only little negative note I want to make and the reason why I didn’t give the novel the five full stars, is the use of the present tense as verbal form, I’m usually not a fan of it but in this particular case it bothered me quite a lot because it seems it clashed with the writing. I can assure you the book is very well written but to me it wasn’t perfect just for the verbal form.

I feel to recommend Idlewild, especially if you are looking for a real story, with real characters and a real setting. I quite enjoyed it and I’m now interested in reading more by Jude Sierra.

The cover art by CB Messer caught my eyes at first sight, it’s well done and fits the story.

Sales Links

Interlude Press

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BOOK DETAILS

Published December 1st 2016 by Interlude Press

Kindle Edition, 250 pages

ASIN B01MAXJFMU

Edition Language English

A Stella Review: Kiss and Ride by Teodora Kostova

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RATING 4 out of 5 stars

kiss-and-rideWhat happens when you meet the right guy at the wrong time?

When Vincent Alesi’s estranged father dies, he gets on the first plane from New York city to Rome to be at the memorial service. Even if he has to max out his credit card. Even if he hates the man for leaving him. Even if it’s a day before Christmas.

Everything that can go wrong does go wrong, and Vin ends up trusting a complete stranger with all his secrets, even the ones he didn’t know he had.

Luca Romano’s job as a flight attendant takes him all over the world. But a jet-setting lifestyle is not what he wants. His dream of opening his own restaurant is being placed on hold over circumstances beyond his control.

Timing is everything…

When Vin bursts into Luca’s life, both men fall fast and hard. But their lives, their dreams, even the cities they live in couldn’t be more different.

Their few days together in Rome are romantic, emotionally intense, and leave them both wanting more.

Can a fleeting love affair change their lives forever?

I enjoyed Kiss and Ride very much, I was curious about it as soon as I read the blurb cause the story is set in Rome and I’m always on the look out for Italian settings in my mm romance. I have to say the author surprised me, the story was really well done and the relationship between Luca and Vin was hot and strong from the beginning. And most of all it felt real.

I saw in Luca a lot of Italian traits, the hospitality, the openness and the inclination to help and host Vin, a stranger he has just met in an elevator. The love for the good food and the cooking, the love for the traditions and the beautiful story of our Rome. I loved the main characters, both of them with a troubled past and with a strong determination to realize their dreams, both deep anchored to the blood links of their imperfect families.

I adore “love at first sight” books and Kiss and Ride was so romantic, how Luca and Vin met, how they helped each other and most of all how they wait for each other and for the right moment for them to be finally together and this time forever. The ending was perfect and deserved.

I feel to highly recommend this new holiday romance by Teodora Kostova, you won’t be disappointed.

I liked the cover art too, Jay Aheer is a guarantee with always well done and eye catching covers.

Sale Link

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BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 133 pages

Published December 1st 2016

ASIN B01N054R33

Edition Language English

A Stella Review: Tow Trucks & New Year’s Kisses by Lila Leigh Hunter

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RATING 4 out of 5 stars

tow-trucks-new-years-kissesA Jag with out-of-state plates is the last car Scott DeLaney expected to find when answering a tow call as a favor to his drunken godson. But, the tall man in the fedora seems like a nice reward until Scott finds out the stranger’s destination. Yes, he’d take care of the brooding man, but he has a selfish reason for it.

Finding himself in a ditch after dodging a deer is the least of Patrick Samuels’s problems when his rescuer arrives, wearing a tuxedo and driving a hot pink flatbed. Perhaps his older brother’s scheme will benefit Patrick after all.

Who knew that a New Year’s kiss is far more efficient than any boardroom strategy to seal a deal?

Tow Trucks & New Year’s Kisses was my first book by Lila Leigh Hunter and I really liked it. I can’t wait to read more stories by this author.

Scott is forty four years old, he has an ex wife, Alissa and a daughter, Larisa, who is just getting to be proposed by his boyfriend at midnight of the New Year. Scott can’t miss this moment for nothing in the world, but then he found himself in the middle of a snowstorm to save the hot man with the fedora who ended his car in a ditch.

Patrick lives in San Diego, he is in Scott’s town to sign up the contract that will make him the new owner of Scott company. And then the man who steps down from the pick tow truck blindsides him, tall, geeky glasses and long beard wearing a tuxedo. Both of them have a party they need to attend, maybe the same one?

I quite enjoyed the story, I liked the writing and the plot, but the MCs won me over. The chemistry between them is immediate and really hot. The desire in their eyes is clear and the MCs’ smart mouths made their meeting funny. I liked how passionate they are. Although the story is just thirty pages long, surprisingly I get to know a lot about Scott and sadly nothing about Patrick. That’s why I’m hoping the author will give me more of them together, maybe about their new life in San Diego. They are too hot and cute together, I need to know more.

If your looking for a hot and funny quick story, give Tow Trucks & New Year’s Kisses a try. To me it was a lovely surprise.

The cover art by Natasha Snow is well done like everything this artist usually does and it fits Scott perfectly.

Sales Links

NineStar Press

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BOOK DETAILS

Published November 21st 2016 by NineStar Press

Kindle Edition, 34 pages

ASIN B01N3PG4DB

Edition Language English

A Stella Review: Stroke of Luck by Posy Roberts

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RATING 3,5 out of 5 stars

stroke-of-luckAfter everything Marc owned burned to a crisp, he’s living off the kindness of others. A model condo is his temporary home, and his last dime went to essentials. He doesn’t need another distraction, but the fates conspire against him, setting up a chain of encounters that bring him face to face with Cas.

Cas’s love life has been in limbo for years, lovers moving on as soon as they discover how close he is to his best friend, Maisie. Then he meets Marc. The attraction between the two men can’t be denied, but Cas isn’t sure he can risk his friendship for a guy who will only end up leaving when he sees how close he and Maisie are.

When Marc and Cas discover they live in the same building, it’s kismet. But Marc has to invite chaos into his life if he and Cas stand a chance, and Cas faces a choice between friendship and love. Luck may be on their side… if they’re willing to risk it all.

Stroke of Luck is the latest story by one of my favorite authors, Posy Roberts. The story is quick and sweet, just what I needed when I read it. Nothing in common with the angst I got from books like Silver Scars.

Marc has lost everything he owned in the fire that burnt his apartment, he is now living in a condo offered by his friend Sylvia and shopping at Goodwill for his basic necessity. And just at the Goodwill he meets Cas, who is looking for Halloween costumes. Cas, who can’t keep none of his boyfriends cause they are all too scared and  not trusting of his friendship with his bestie Maisie. The chemistry between Cas and Mark is so strong, they fall for each other pretty soon.

I think the author did great, the story is funny and very light and the writing is good as always with Posy style. I loved Marc, he is definitely my favorite, while I couldn’t connect with Cas, probably his attachment with Maisie left me a little dubious. The relationship between Cas and Maisie is not the typical friendship, she is still in the closet and afraid to come out to her parents. She is basically using Cas in my opinion, so I couldn’t fully enjoy Cas until almost the end of the book when things finally started to change. By then it was too late to have more space for the MCs and I wanted more of Marc and Cas together. That’s why, althought I really liked the story, Stroke of Luck didn’t fully satisfy me and I’m still craving for more.

I like the cover art, especially in the use of the colors and well, the model smile is pretty good too.

Sale Link

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Book Details

Kindle Edition, 86 pages
Published October 26th 2016 by Labyrinth Bound Press
ASIN B01M29RHHU
Edition Language English

A Stella Review: Coffee Boy by Austin Chant

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RATING 4 out of 5 stars

coffee-boy-by-austin-chantAfter graduation, Kieran expected to go straight into a career of flipping burgers—only to be offered the internship of his dreams at a political campaign. But the pressure of being an out trans man in the workplace quickly sucks the joy out of things, as does Seth, the humorless campaign strategist who watches his every move.
Soon, the only upside to the job is that Seth has a painful crush on their painfully straight boss, and Kieran has a front row seat to the drama. But when Seth proves to be as respectful and supportive as he is prickly, Kieran develops an awkward crush of his own—one which Seth is far too prim and proper to ever reciprocate.

Coffee Boy is my first book by Austin Chant and I can’t wait to read more by this new to me author. I quite enjoyed his writing style.

The story is about Kieran, who just landed on an internship for a political campaign. He’s nervous but his ex-professor, who offered him the job, guaranteed a trans friendly workplace. Sadly the first impression isn’t great with employers that don’t bother to look at the pronoun pin Kieran wears. Luckily beside him there’s Seth. Seth who is hot but cold, still he’s the only one to understand which pronoun use with Kieran. Seth who is also crushing on their straight boss, Matthew. We follow Kieran through the internship and his day job flipping hamburger, throughout his struggles with people who can’t do right to him.

I liked Coffee Boy a lot. I liked the plot and the characters, even the secondary ones, like Jillian, Kieran best friend, the one who leaves everything just to go to his house and talk about a bad day. I loved how the relationship between Kieran and Seth develops and the deep care Seth has for Kieran, the attention he pretends other people show to him. And I adored Kieran and his smart mouth. The writing flew easily and made the story engaging and never boring. I liked the second part more where both of the MCs start understand the possible begin of something important among them. And the ending was great, real, sweet and funny. Four deserved full stars. Give it a try!

The cover art by Natasha Snow is very cute and fits perfectly the book. Well done.

Sales Links

NineStar Press

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BOOK DETAILS

Word count 27600

Publication Date October 31st 2016 by NineStar Press

ISBN 9781945952074

Edition Language English