A MelanieM Review: Saddle Up (Clean Slate Ranch #3) by A.M. Arthur

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

 

Reyes Caldero keeps his past buried deep and his emotions buried deeper. But what he doesn’t say he always makes up for with his actions. When the hot chef he once saved from an abusive ex turns up at Clean Slate Ranch, the quiet cowboy is happy to act on their sizzling chemistry, even if he’s not ready to share his secrets—or his heart.

Miles Arlington needs to get the hell out of San Francisco, and heading north for a job near Clean Slate Ranch seems like just the thing. It doesn’t hurt that his secret crush slash onetime rescuer happens to work at the ranch. Miles has never been one for the outdoors, but the superhot Reyes has him ready to saddle up.

Reyes is happy to keep things casual, even though his heart has other ideas. And when Miles is forced to confront his past again, Reyes and Miles will have to put all their trust in each other if they want any chance at building a future together.

Saddle Up by A.M. Arthur is part of the Clean Slate Ranch series, one I haven’t read. However, I didn’t feel that diminished my enjoyment in reading the third book in the series where several of the couples were well established.  Arthur gave enough of their back history and the universe for this series that I felt that I knew some of the relationships not to feel that there were holes in the story or overall fabric of the group dynamics.

A.M. Arthur does broken men so very well and Reyes and Miles are no exception.  Each man is both running from their pasts. Reyes from his gang member teenage years and a horrific, brutal crime that he has kept his deepest secret secret.  Miles from his abusive, possessive ex-boyfriend and a night he can’t remember, an ex-boyfriend who won’t leave him alone. Both have come to Clean Slate Ranch for second chances.  Reyes as the head cowboy at the ranch and Miles under a new name as the head chef at the Saloon at the Ghost Town they have just opened up.

Assigned to bunk in together, both fight their attraction to each other while fighting their own demons.  Miles his fear and Reyes his anger, a combustible combination.  I liked how Miles slowly found his footing through creativity through his food, the Ghost Town’s history, and of course, the horses.  Helping him is Reyes, falling in love even though Mile’s isn’t in any emotional condition to handle it.

I liked their romance.  And perhaps, this is where not reading the other stories does hurt, but Reyes’ anger issues threw up red flags for me where Miles was concerned.  For someone coming off of a controlling, stalker abusive ex, to then have a older man wanting to “protect” him showing huge flashes of barely in control anger?  Uh, maybe not.

It does come out later on in the revelations in Reyes’ back history…still you do have to wonder.  Fear and anger/fight and flight can be two sides of the same coin but that doesn’t necessarily mean they belong in the same relationship.

I loved the elements with the horses, appreciated how they became part of Mile’s adjustment and more, part of Mile’s finding himself.  I could also have done with more of the Ghost Town and it’s merry group of workers, including Mile’s partner in the kitchen.

The drama with Geoff clearly showed me that perhaps I should go back and read the previous stories as I do enjoy this author’s writing.  More to add to my TBR list!

There was a suspenseful ending along with the wonderful HEA, almost a too quick HEA. I think I would have settled for a HFN with all that went on in this novel.  So many trials and tribulations, so many emotional upheavals and adjustments, that this ending almost felt to unrealistic.  Sweet, romantic, and lovely.  But unrealistic.

If you love A.M.Arthur, are a fan of this series, or just adore broken man and their road to HEA, then this is a story for you.

 

Cover art seems almost right for Reyes but that figure is too muscular for Miles, that stance too combative.  Would work great for another story however.

Sales Links:  Carina Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: September 17th 2018 by Carina Press
ASINB07C9F6436
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesClean Slate Ranch #3

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

An Ali Audiobook Review: Family Man By Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton/Colin Darcy (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Sometimes family chooses you.

How does a man get to be forty without knowing whether he’s gay? That’s a question Vince Fierro is almost afraid to answer. If he is gay, it’ll be a problem for his big, fat Italian family. Still, after three failed marriages, he can’t help but wonder if he’s been playing for the wrong team.

There’s only one way to settle it, once and for all—head for Chicago’s Boystown bars, far from anyone who knows him. Naturally, he runs smack into someone from the neighborhood.

Between working two jobs, going to school, taking care of his grandmother, and dealing with his mother’s ongoing substance abuse, Trey Giles has little time for fun, let alone dating someone who swears he’s straight. Yet after one night of dancing cheek-to-cheek to the sultry strains of Coltrane, Trey finds himself wanting to help Vinnie figure things out—no promises, and no sex.

It seems like a simple plan, until their “no-sex” night turns into the best date of their lives and forges a connection that complicates everything.

I originally read this book when it first came out in 2103 and I was new to reading this genre.  I really enjoyed it at that time.  When I had the chance to review this on audio I was both excited and nervous.  I wondered if this book would stand the test of time (and honestly many of my reads from then have not).  I’m happy to report that I enjoyed it just as much.  Honestly probably more because the narrator was excellent and really added to the story.
The story is told in alternating points of view.  We hear from both Vince and Trey which was a bit weird at first because one is told first person pov and the other third.  It took me a minute to get my head around that but once I got used to the change I was able to easily follow along.
Vince is almost 40 and kind of lost.  He has a good job that he enjoys and a big, loving family but he’s just not happy and he’s failed every relationship he’s tried.  A series of events lead him to Trey who is a younger guy he knows from the neighborhood.  Sparks immediately fly and Vince is able to take baby steps towards dating a guy.  His journey is a tough one and there were times I wanted to shake Vince, but mostly my heart ached for him.  He’s so caught up in his fear and his overwhelming family and cultural expectations.  At his core though he is a really good guy.  He is kind and thoughtful and once he decides he’s committed to trying this thing with Trey he’s all in.
Trey I also loved as a MC.  He’s in his mid twenties but he’s way more mature.  Unfortunately his alcoholic mother has ensured he grew up way before his time.  I really loved the plot line that Trey wants to wait to have sex.  It wasn’t for religious reasons, just he wanted it to be special.  I don’t think I’ve read that before in the m/m genre and I thought it was a lovely change.
I thought the authors did an excellent job showcasing what it’s like to live with an addict.  Trey’s feelings were so honest and real and I thought they made a wise choice in not trying to pretty any of it up.
One of the highlights of this book for me was the narration.  It was narrated by Colin Darcy who I had not listened to before.  He did an excellent job.  He really nailed all of the characters and his performance made the book even more emotional to me than when I read it.  I had not listened to this narrator previously but will definitely seek out his work in the future.
This new cover was done by Kanaxa and I love it.  It looks enough like the old cover to not be a jarring difference but at the same time it’s totally unique.  The cover models match my perceptions of the MC’s perfectly and fit the feel of the plot really well.
Audiobook Details:
Audible Audio, 8 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published March 12th 2013)
Original TitleFamily Man
ASINB07DFT349S
Edition LanguageEnglish
CharactersVincent Fierro, Trey Giles settingIllinois (United States)

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Test Of Valor (Valor #2) by Keira Andrews

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

The story had a slow start as it was focused on reestablishing Rafa and Shane’s relationship—being in love and living together in Australia as Rafa awaits the start of school and Shane establishes his security business. There was a lot of page time devoted to Rafa’s parents—the former President and First Lady of the US, now “just ordinary people” as Rafa’s mother reiterates a few times. Rafa and Shane share eye-rolling looks behind her back since his parents travel with Secret Service agents and other staff wherever they go and are the most unordinary people around.

For me, one of the saddest moments in the story came when the lead agent assigned to the President refused to even acknowledge that she knew Shane, though they had worked together in the past. He’s very definitely persona non grata to fellow agents now. That was the moment when I first started to see him as more than just the older man in this May-December romance. When I read book one, I couldn’t relate to him but this definitely helped so I tried to keep an open mind throughout this story so I could see he and Rafa as equal partners.

There is some excitement in the second half of the story, not quite the type of scenario I had envisioned, but definitely exciting, dramatic, life-changing moments. I loved that whole segment and I appreciate that the author kept Rafa’s parents true to their personalities, though a little softer around the edges—especially Rafa’s mother who was a typical B*8#h in every way.

This book stresses Rafa’s growth—in character and in age—and allows him an opportunity to step forward in family situations and to be the partner Shane needs him to be as Shane deals with his own repercussions from Rafa’s kidnapping in book one. But to be honest, as much as I recognized that intellectually, I still felt like he was the same kid as he was in book one and Shane the adult older man in all situations in which they were alone together. Yes, I saw growth in Rafa in his relationship with his parents, and yes, I could see that he attempted to be more of a partner to Shane but I never felt that Shane wholly accepted that. He verbalized it but his actions negated his statements.

There’s lots of sex scenes in this book so for readers who enjoy a super-hot romance, this one will push all the buttons. Personally, I thought it was a bit much, especially given the fact that they are an established couple when the story opens. But there’s no doubt that the two have chemistry.

Overall, it was an enjoyable story, and I liked it a bit more than book one. But neither character is going to stay with me long after I finish this book, unlike a few others this author has penned. Somehow, this just missed the mark of greatness I was looking for.

~~~

The cover by Dar Albert depicts an older man in a leather jacket and dark sunglasses set against a night city skyline that could represent Sydney, Australia. There’s also a young man to the left rear of the cover who is wearing a bathing suit, holding onto a surfboard with one hand and holding his curly hair back with the other. The photo depicts all the key elements in the story—the older man represents Shane, who is now working private security in Australia and the younger man is Rafa, who enjoys surfing in his spare time.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1 edition, 225 pages
Published April 26th 2018 by KA Books
Original TitleTest of Valor
ISBN139781988260334
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Valor :

Valor on the Move (Valor, #1) 

Test of Valor (Valor, #2)

An Alisa Review: Life Is A Stevie Wonder Song by V.L. Locey

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Authors know that their muse is a fickle creature. Best-selling spy novelist Stephen Ramsey has been in a hate-hate relationship with his inspiration for months. When Stephen’s publisher lays a legal ultimatum upon him, with a rapidly approaching deadline, he knows he must do something to kick-start his creativity or face the unemployment line. His daughter comes up with a possible answer: a summer camp for the creative soul. With nothing to lose, Stephen packs up his laptop, phonograph and beloved record albums and heads from Greenwich Village to the Catskill Mountains.

There, among a horde of college students attending for extra credits, is Declan Pomeroy, a photographer of fey creatures who is twenty-two years younger than Stephen. The woods are a magical place, and he quickly finds himself falling under the spell of the free-spirited photographer. Confusion wars with desire inside Stephen as he succumbs to the feelings welling up inside. But, sadly, summer camp always has to end. Can a man who has just found himself really leave the person that makes his heart sing?

This story just pulled me in and I really enjoyed it all the way though.  I love seeing guys have and accept a life altering change and see how it makes their lives better.  Stephen has succeeded as an author even as he has had multiple marriages come apart.  Declan is a free spirit who for the most part is very patient with Stephen’s slow acceptance of their connection.

The story is told from Stephen’s point of view which makes it easy to see his frustration with his writer’s block and confusion in regards to Declan.  When he gave himself the chance to let go and see what would happen it was freeing for him.  I was able to see Declan’s emotions through Stephen’s eyes even when he didn’t always seem to understand.  I loved Declan’s determination to stay true to himself and make Stephen make the big change of moving but it was for the better for both of them.

The cover art by Sloan J Design is nice and I love having visuals of both of the characters.

Sales Link: Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 87 pages

Published: 2nd edition, April 18, 2018 by VL Locey

Edition Language: English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Squared Away (Out of Uniform #5) by Annabeth Albert

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

This story has moved up to my favorite of the series, and in fact, it’s going on my Best of 2018 list.  Annabeth Albert took several tough-to-get-right topics, among them grief and sexuality, and put them into a poignant story of two young men who struggle to meet the emotional and physical needs of young children who are suddenly orphaned.  The men, Navy SEAL Mark Whitley, aka “Wizard,” the best medic in the field, and Isaiah, aka Ike, a young man who’s crushed on Mark for years, step up to take over the child care when Mark’s sister and Isaiah’s cousin are killed in an auto accident.   Unfortunately, Mark’s sister’s will is five years old and though it names him as the child’s guardian, there are now two more children.  On the other hand, her husband’s recent will names Isaiah as guardian of all the children and states that she agrees. However, without a signature, Isaiah is facing a long battle to get permanent guardianship. 

As with all of this author’s books that feature military characters, the setting and the circumstances are accurate and intriguing.  Wizard is on deployment when he learns of his sister’s death and is sent home on emergency leave where he finds that Isaiah has been on-scene since the accident, caring for the kids and holding off the memorial service for his return.  Originally attracted to the young man six years before, he aborted an intriguing sexual offer from Isaiah who was then much too young for Mark.  But in the meantime, he’s heard stories of Isaiah’s promiscuousness, even with Mark’s buddies, including Ben Tovey (On Point) and aside from the fact that sex doesn’t really interest Mark anyway, sex with Isaiah is most definitely off the books now. 

Days have passed since I finished this story and the characters and plot are still strong and clear in my memory. That alone is a tribute to how much I loved the book. I’ve been procrastinating about writing the review because I can’t find the words to fully express my appreciation of this author’s talent, her research into not only military life, but the intricacies of determining where one falls on the sexuality spectrum.  The sensitivity and concern for accuracy that she shows in the way the topic is presented comes through loud and clear. 

And thankfully, there are no tropes related to nasty relatives, and the children are precious without being overly precocious.  The support Mark receives from his unit and that Isaiah receives from his friends and aunts is wonderful but not overdone.  And the emotional changes in Isaiah’s relationship with his father don’t happen overnight either; they, too, take time to develop and are a welcome outcome of good communication. 

There really aren’t any negatives here for me.  And one other positive of note that needs to be included is the kissing! Ahhh, so satisfying. So sweet.  These two have a very special bond, and for once, I can enjoy a story without the bedroom becoming the most used room in the house.  Just sayin’.  It’s nice to have a romance between two MCs that doesn’t start with a hot and heavy sex encounter. 

I very highly recommend this book.  It can be read as a standalone, though readers should consider the whole series simply due to how outstanding it is.  If your interest is in learning more about Navy SEAL training, child custody issues, demisexuality and asexuality, including gray ace, this story would be perfect for you.   And if you are simply looking for an outstanding MM romance, look no further. 

Cover art: is hot, relevant and wonderful.

Sales Links:   Carina Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: April 16th 2018 by Carina Press
Original TitleSquared Away
ASINB0789LDCTR
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesOut of Uniform #5

A MelanieM Review: Point of Contact by Melanie Hansen

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Only love can heal an impossibly broken heart 

There’d forever been a thread running through Trevor Estes’s life—his son, Riley, strong and constant like a heartbeat. But when Riley is killed in combat, everything in Trevor’s life unravels into a mess he doesn’t know how to mourn.

Then Jesse Byrne, Riley’s friend and platoon mate, arrives on Trevor’s doorstep with a box of Riley’s things. Jesse’s all-too-familiar grief provides an unlikely source of comfort for Trevor: knowing he’s not alone is exactly what he needs.

Trevor never imagined he’d find someone who fills his heart with hope again. As the pair celebrate Riley’s memory, their unique bond deepens into something irreplaceable—and something neither man can live without.

But diving into a relationship can’t be so simple. Being together means Trevor risking the last link he has to his son…leaving Jesse to wonder if he’ll ever be enough, or if Trevor will always be haunted by the past.

Be prepared for Point of Contact by Melanie Hansen to break your heart and leave you sobbing on multiple occasions.   You have to figure that from the synopsis but the actual reading of it will rend your heart into little pieces, especially if you have children of your own.

All due to Hansen’s terrific writing and beautiful characterizations.  In Point of Contact we actually get to know and come to love Riley,  the son and  center of Trevor Estes’ life.  Through countless scenes of family intimacy that will seem so familiar to those with children, we connect with their fierce bond and familial love, and we watch with gut wrenching horror because we know the pain that’s approaching the oblivious father and son.  And no, you can’t and won’t want to stop reading.

Everything that happens within this story are events that happens to families everywhere.  Sons and daughters die in combat overseas leaving their grieving parents to try and deal with their deaths, their absences, their lack of futures…everything.  In part, this story deals with one father’s grief and inability to deal with his son’s death. Point of Contact and the author takes us with Trevor and Jesse from the moment Riley dies.  For Jesse, he’s there and that will impact him and their squad for the rest of their lives.  For Trevor?  It’s a ring of his doorbell and two military men with a somber duty to carry out.

All the intertwining threads here that continually bring Jesse and Trevor together with their love of Riley being the magnetic force and his love for them holding them all together.  Hanson also works with both Jesse’s and Trevor’s PTSD along with their deep-seated grief, problems within Riley and Jesse’s squad of survivor guilt and many more authentic elements pertaining to subject such as these.  All handled with sensitivity, believability, and great respect.

Flowing through all this is the growing relationship between Trevor and Jesse. I love how the author builds the relationship between these two men as they work their way through their loss and pain.  I felt their sorrow and yes, anger, and connected to them emotionally on this journey to love and HEA.  What an deeply moving story.

I loved this story and I highly recommend it.

Cover art is ok.  Its hard to tell if one man is older than the other.

Sales Links: Carina Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 451 pages
Expected publication: March 26th 2018 by Carina Press
ISBN139781488097058
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Caryn Advent Release Day Review: A Holiday Crush by CJane Elliott

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This story was very much what I’ve come to enjoy about CJane Elliot’s work.  There is angst, but it’s believable, the characters are appealing guys that I’d love to meet myself, they exist in a world complete with good friends who are essential to the story, and they have real jobs and real world concerns.  I like this type of contemporary so much better than billionaires and spies…

Brad is in his early 40s, and has been feeling for some time that his life doesn’t really have much meaning or direction, and he feels a “pervasive sense of weariness”.  He is a successful lawyer, but winning the big cases doesn’t bring him joy anymore, and certainly doesn’t make him feel that he is making a difference in the world.  As Christmas comes around, he is reminded again that he doesn’t have the partner he had hoped and planned for at this time of his life when he was young.

Michael had done some videography of Brad’s depositions, and though he is just Brad’s type, Brad didn’t pursue anything because the case was ongoing, and because Michael seems very young, and Brad doesn’t feel right with that type of age gap.  Fortunately for Brad, Michael is persistent, so when the case is over, he asks Brad out.  Brad surprises himself by accepting, and is introduced to Michael’s world of unconventional, bohemian friends.  Michael is outgoing, impulsive, and wears his heart on his sleeve, and he admires Brad in many ways from their time with the case, but then they also find they both share a love of music and singing.  Music is a part of Brad that he’s put aside to fit in with the other lawyers in the firm, and finding someone to share it with, especially someone like Michael who is so joyful, is a revelation.  Despite his misgivings about the age gap, Brad is utterly charmed, and starts finding ways to spend time with Michael.

The angst comes in when Michael’s friends start questioning what he hopes to get out of this relationship, and whether he is even serious about it.  Michael LOVES the holiday season, and despite his friends’ blasé attitude, he celebrates with gusto.  And that always includes falling in love, because isn’t that a thing to do at Christmas?  His friends think this is just Michael’s usual holiday crush, and they are persuasive enough that he starts to doubt himself as well.

So this is a story of how two very likeable guys learn to step outside their comfort zones, and find not only love, but new meaning in life.  I thoroughly enjoyed this story!  One warning though – this is a very politically slanted book.  And though I might agree with the politics to an extent, I’m not sure that I really wanted to read about them in my spare time.  What started out as introducing a liberal alternative to Brad’s life turned into a full on diatribe against the presidency, the congress, and Republicans in general, and the ranting was really turning me off.  I took off half a star for that, but decided that fortunately, the rest of the story was good enough that I could just skip over those parts…

Cover art by Paul Richmond.  The Cover is the series cover, cute and cheery but not really relating to the individual stories.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 50 pages
Published December 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640803121
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Sin and Saint (Executioners #4) by J.M. Dabney

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Eric and Ellison Gant better known as Sin and Saint were opposite sides of the same coin. They epitomized the nicknames given to them by their friends in the band Executioners. One thing Sin and Saint did well was fight and being inseparable means they have a lot of disagreements, but one thing they agree on is Sheriff Camden Pelter was theirs. The older, stoic man didn’t agree, yet they were determined to change his mind.

Camden Pelter had the daunting job of turning the Powers Sheriff Department around. The residents of the Georgia town didn’t have much faith or respect in the Deputies serving them. That’s where he came in and he was determined to do his job. That was easier said than done with two annoying brothers Sin and Saint who dogged his every step. No way in hell was he getting mixed up in the chaos that were the Gant Twins. Now if only if he could get them to listen and realize they didn’t have a chance of changing his mind.

Since the first mention of Camden Pelter and the twins, I (and tons of other fans of J.M. Dabney) have been waiting for this book.  Through story after story, Sin and Saint (Eric and Ellison Gant) have been chasing the older, gorgeous Sheriff of Powers, Georgia only to be rebuffed time and again.  Still, we knew that Camden would eventually come to the realization that the twins were his and we’d get that story.

And it would be full of sizzle and probably some kink.

However, I wasn’t expecting some terrific suspense scenes, high action, and some real twists to come our way as well.  Sin & Saint (Executioners #4) by J.M. Dabney delivers with a pack, a punch, and a high note on every level as the last story in the Executioners series.

For one thing, we now get up close to the twins.  The author delivers more nuanced characterizations with Eric (Sin) and Ellison (Saint), two who may look identical to those who don’t know them but who’s differences extend from the emotional to physical variations that have had an huge impact on one of them.  Past histories too that have done the same.  Camden Pelter comes in for close inspection in every way as well, from his background and local familial ties to his sexuality…his need to dominate and take care of those he loves.

Then all three men are pulled gently together to form a loving triad quite unlike any of the triads already in existence in the connected series.  It’s a slow, hot pace that should leaving you with a need for a fan.

However, Sin and Saint is not just about romance but also the need to tie up some loose ends with regard to the last corrupt  Sheriff and his organization.  In comes the high action, suspense, and some great twists in the narrative that I just adored.  Truly I love it when my expectations are overturned and the plot takes a turn I didn’t expect all of which happened here.

It ends as it should and I was hopelessly overjoyed and looking forward to the beginning of the new  series.  That would be the Trenton Security series, although I’m not yet sure that’s the name.  It will involve the guys in the Trenton group that we’ve meet before and were heavily involved here in this story.  And yes, I can’t wait!

So another great series, Executioners comes to an end with Sin & Saint but what an ending it was!  A great storyline, a long anticipated romance and triad coupling (can that be with three), and just some wonderful writing that drove this narrative crazily along to an ending that was exactly what I hoped for.   All that and more is why I’m highly recommending this story  and all the books in the Executioners series by J.M. Dabney.

If you haven’t met her glorious bunch of huge, damaged, sometimes violent men and the ones that love them, there’s no better series to start with that this one.  But now you have three series to read before the fourth series start, grab them all up and get reading! I have the list below for you all to check out.

Cover by Winterheart Designs:  I love this cover.  That’s  Sin and Saint personified.  Just perfection.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Edition Language English
setting Georgia (United States) 

A MelanieM Release Day Review: High Test by Elizabeth Noble

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The coffee is rich. Hayden isn’t. But Neal doesn’t need to know that—yet.

Hayden Owens is just your typical graduate student working his way through school as a barista for the Owens Coffee Company—no relation. But he keeps the “no relation” part to himself when he meets dashing architect, Neal Kirchner, a successful older man from an old-money family. Hayden doesn’t exactly lie, but he figures it can’t hurt for Neal to believe he’s a rich kid. After all, Hayden doesn’t want Neal thinking he’s a gold digger.

The closer they become, the harder it gets for Hayden to come clean. Something always seems to get in the way. When a company bankruptcy and a jilted, vindictive woman threaten to expose his charade, Hayden thinks it’s all gone down the drain. Luckily Neal is ready with some innocent trickery of his own.

High Test by Elizabeth Noble is a sweet contemporary romance from Dreamspinner Press’ Dreamspun Desires line.  While not exactly Cinderfella, it does have the rich man/poor man trope down  as part of the storyline.  Student Hayden Owens meets older rich Neal Kirchner at his university function for his department.  Their attraction is mutual and a relationship is built over a succession of dates.

The author’s characterizations are solid and multidimensional. We immediately like both men and understand the attraction between them, the age difference notwithstanding.  The same goes for the vast disparity in station and income…we are able to see the imbalance through the descriptions of Neal’s attire, house, etc. but his mannerisms are such, that he gently makes that fade away in his actions towards Hayden.  This is a lovely romance and their interactions and personal dynamics as they work their way towards a relationship will have you rooting for the couple.

There is some drama as there should be and then a wonderful finale.  All ends well and downright as romantically as you would have hoped for. Such a sweet, warm hearted read that I can’t help but smile as I recommend it to all lovers of romantic stories.

Cover Artist: Bree Archer.  I love the cover art and the character it represents.  Just perfect.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 202 pages
Expected publication: December 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781635339642
Edition Language English

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