An Ali Release Day Review: Model Exposure (Haven Investigations #4) by Lissa Kasey

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
After being rescued by Ollie, Kade continues to suffer the aftermath of his ordeal, both physically and psychologically. Not knowing how else to clear his head, he pours his energy into Ollie—the love of his life—and Haven Investigations, but neither Ollie nor Kade can continue to ignore what they learned from their last case: Ollie’s brother, Nathan, might have betrayed Kade.

As they dig into Ollie’s past, secrets are revealed. Was Nathan’s death a suicide? Were Ollie’s parents much more than they seemed? Is someone out to kill Ollie, or is it Kade’s past coming back to haunt them again?

Amidst questions and uncertainties, one thing is clear: after everything they have been through together, Kade and Ollie have never been more in love and they want to get married. But first, they’ll have to deal with the continued threat of Kade’s past, the emotional wounds Kade fears are drowning him, and the possibility that everything Ollie believed about his family was a lie. A beautiful happily ever after awaits them—as long as they can survive long enough to make it to the altar.
 
This is the fourth book in the Haven Investigations series.  This is a continuation of the story from the third book and this should not be read as a standalone.  This story is told from Kade’s point of view.  He’s having a very hard time with his depression and anxiety which are fall outs from the incidents that happened previously.  
I have mixed feelings about this book.  I really love these two as a couple.  One of my favorite things about them is they’re not a traditional couple or traditional type people.  I always love when authors branch out and give readers something outside the norm.  I also like the fact that they’re pretty co-dependent and make no apologies about it.  Now I personally would never want to be as enmeshed as these two are, but again, I like that it’s different.  It’s actually something that the characters take note of and discuss.  I like when people are bold and unapologetic in their life choices (both is real life and in books).
On the flip side, I’ve not really enjoyed the overall plot in both this book or the last one.  They’ve been really over the top in my opinion and I feel like I have to suspend too much reality to follow along.  I prefer books that are a little more gritty and realistic.
If you’re a fan of the series you will probably enjoy this installment.  A few big relationship things happen between Ollie and Kade and the mystery of  Nathan is finally all wrapped up.  Despite my average feeling about the book as a whole I have to say there were some really touching scenes between these two men.  The date at the beginning was just fantastic.  
These covers are done by Garrett Leigh and I just love them.  They are some of my favorite covers in this genre.  I think they are very attractive and eye catching.  I love the artistry of them.  All the books in the series are complimentary of each other and they stand out.  As soon as you seen one of them you know they are all in the same series.
Book Details:
ebook, 256 pages
Expected publication: October 2nd 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635339789
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHaven Investigations #4

An Ali Release Day Review: Block and Strike by Kelly Jensen

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
block-strike-by-kelly-jensenJacob Kendricks is three months out of prison, estranged from his daughter, and ready to get his life on track. Taking care of the bum curled up on his doorstep isn’t part of the plan. When he realizes the man has been assaulted, Jake takes him to the hospital, where he learns that Max is his downstairs neighbor… and that he could really use a friend. Keeping Max in the friend-zone would be easier if he wasn’t so damned cute.

Maxwell Wilson has been bullied for years, and the only person who ever cared lives too far away to come to his rescue. Now his upstairs neighbor is offering support. Max remains cautious, suspecting he is little more than a project for the handsome Jake. When he learns Jake has had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, Max has to reevaluate his priorities—and muster the courage to take a chance at love.

Just when a happy future is within their grasp, life knocks them back down. A devastating blow leaves Max lower than ever and Jake wrestling with regret. They both have to find the strength to stand on their own before they can stand together.
This was a really well done, slow burn love story.  I enjoy slow burn stories but I feel like we rarely see them. As a result I was really excited when I started reading this and realized that’s where the story was going.  These two meet under very bad circumstances and the author takes the time for them to build a believable friendship and then a believable love story.  Both of these men have some issues that they need to work through and it’s something that they do together.  I loved that there was no magic solution……no them falling in love and then all their problems are solved.
I liked Jake’s character a lot.  He was imperfect and he made some mistakes but they were realistic ones and I sympathized with him.  Max was a little harder for me to connect with but he grew on me and I enjoyed the two of them together.  There are a host of side characters and I liked most of them and thought they added to the story.  A bonus is that the ex girlfriend and mothers were not painted as horrible shrews as so often is done in this genre.
My only complaint was that some of the plot twists felt pretty unrealistic to me.  I had to do some suspending of reality in a few places.
Overall though, I really enjoyed this.  I felt it was unique and well done and is a book that I would definitely recommend.
Cover art by Garrett Leigh:  I love the cover.  I think it’s striking and it fits the story perfectly.

Sales Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 266 pages
Expected publication: January 6th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 163533229X (ISBN13: 9781635332292)
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Ali Release Day Review: Summer Lessons (Winter Ball #2) by Amy Lane

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
summer-lessons-by-amy-laneMason Hayes’s love life has a long history of losers who don’t see that Mason’s heart is as deep and tender as his mouth is awkward. He wants kindness, he wants love—and he wants someone who thinks sex is as fantastic as he does. When Terry Jefferson first asks him out, Mason thinks it’s a fluke: Mason is too old, too boring, and too blurty to interest someone as young and hot as his friend’s soccer teammate.

The truth is much more painful: Mason and Terry are perfectly compatible, and they totally get each other, but Terry is still living with his toxic, suffocating parent and Mason doesn’t want to be a sugar daddy. Watching Terry struggle to find himself is a long lesson in patience, but Mason needs to trust that the end result will be worth it, because finally, he’s found a man worth sharing his heart with.
Mason wasn’t the most likable character in book one of this series so I wasn’t sure about him going in to this.  I have to say though that he completely won me over.  If you read Winter Ball, you’ll remember Mason as the guy who was pushy & said inappropriate things to Skip on his IT calls.  Once he realizes Skip & Ritchie are together he backs off and they become friends of a sort.  This book starts by showing us glimpses of Mason’s past and then fast forwards to his current life.  He’s a successful businessman but his personal life isn’t going like he’d like.  He’s a bit sad and lonely and he’s a nice guy who just wants to be loved.
Mason meets Terry through Skip and soccer and he’s immediately attracted.  The feeling is mutual but Terry is much younger and still living at home with his mother in a negative situation.  As the two men begin a tentative relationship, Mason realizes that no matter how much he cares, Terry still has to do some growing up to do.  Unfortunately love does not always go how you want it and both Mason and Terry have struggles as the story unfolds.  While parts of this were a bit painful to read, I felt the issues were treated very realistically.
The thing I really loved about this book (& the previous one in the series) is how well the author does every day people.  So many romance novels are filled with alphas and heroes or people with tragic backstories they are overcoming (& those have their place) but it is rare that you find a book with people just like you and me.  People with every day jobs and every day hobbies and every day concerns.  I loved that both Mason and Terry were flawed and had some problems but are really nice guys who care about each other and care about their friends.  I really liked them both, especially Mason, and I also really enjoyed the side characters.  Mason’s brother, Dane, and his story were particularly interesting to me and I’d love to see him have his own book at some point.  Skip and Ritchie from book one are in this quite a bit as well as some of the other team mates.
Overall I enjoyed this a lot.  It is both mildly angsty but sweet and romantic.  It has some humor and some smexy times.  And most importantly it had great character development and a lovely happily ever after.  While it is the second book in the series and there is a lot of overlap of the characters from book one, this could be read as a stand alone.  I ended up enjoying this more than the first book, Winter Ball, but that was good too and I would recommend reading it also.
Cover art by Anne Cain:  I love the cover.  I think it fits the story perfectly and it is a great compliment to the cover of the first book in the series.
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Book Details:
ebook, 260 pages
Expected publication: November 25th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634778944 (ISBN13: 9781634778947)
Edition LanguageEnglishSeries Winter Ball #2

An Ali Release Day Review: A Chance for Us (New Vampire Justice #2) by Jake C. Wallace

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

a-chance-for-us-by-jake-c-wallaceLove between a young man with a broken mind and the jaded New Vampire Justice officer who cares for him might be the last hope to stop a human-vampire war….

 

Justin Masters is stuck in a nightmare. Waking after seven years in a catatonic state, he falls desperately in love with the straight NVJ officer who saved him. Between that and dreams of being tortured and taking pleasure in the pain, which bleed into his waking hours, Justin’s sure he’s starting to crack.

 

The growing unrest in the vampire world should be Max Kincaid’s focus, but Justin’s struggle, along with Max’s confusing feelings for his ward, have him reeling. When Justin’s attacked, his resulting needs might be more than Max can fulfill, but he’ll be damned if anyone else will touch Justin.

 

As the NVJ investigates humans missing from a high-end bite club, they uncover a deeper plot that traces back to Justin. If those who want him have their way, there will be bloodshed. Justin and Max are in a fight to save Justin not only from those who would use him, but from his own mind.

 

This was a great way to continue this series.  I haven’t read the first book in a couple years, but it didn’t take long to get into the story and remember what happened in the first book.  Justin is trying to learn how to live his life while dealing with everything that has happened to him, even if he doesn’t remember everything.  Max is terribly confused about his feelings towards Justin, but will do anything to protect him.

 

Max and Justin were thrown together when Max rescued Justin.  When Justin starts to get flashes of memory from his years in a catatonic state things start to twist and turn because there is obviously something else going on.  Max and Justin are more of a couple in their interaction than they realize and it’s almost too late when Max finally catches up.

 

This story is told from both characters’ points of view, so it is easy to see both of their emotions and thoughts.  I could feel how frustrated and lost Justin felt, especially when he started have “dreams” about pleasure in pain.  When Max tries to resist his pull to Justin and goes out on a date with a woman, it pushes Justin to go into a bad situation.  Max feels desperate to get Justin back and show him how he feels.

 

Cover art by Reese Dante is perfect and I love the visuals for both of the characters, it also follows the pattern for the series.

 

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Book Details:

ebook, 274 pages
Published: November 11, 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN-13: 9781634777223
Edition Language: English

Series: New Vampire Justice – add to your Goodreads shelf here:

An Ali Release Day Review: Breaking Hell’s Rules by Lyssa Dering

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
breaking-hells-rules-by-lyssa-deringWhen succubus Reth finally meets their soul quota and gains freedom from Hell, they decide to take up residence in New Orleans. Immediately they discard the body they’ve been wearing since 1952 and slip into something a little more virile, pleased to find they get a cozy apartment for their trouble. Too bad the apartment has a joint lease with their body’s ex-boyfriend Jude.

Jude is walking around with a black eye and a bad attitude, and when Reth tries to explain things, Jude doesn’t believe them. Plus, he refuses to move out. Reth doesn’t want to take Jude’s soul, and they really like this body. So they show him some succubus action minus the soul-grabbing, hoping to scare him off.

But they never expected for the mortal to take a liking to them. And they never could have predicted just how pure Jude’s soul would be. When Reth unwittingly commits a sin against Lucifer, they’ll need Jude’s help to avoid an eternity of suffering… For them both.
This story was a mixed bag for me.  Some of it I liked a lot but some parts didn’t work for me.  I loved the concept of the story and all of the paranormal characters that were in it.  I thought it was a really unique idea for a book and the plot drew me in right away.  One of my issues though came up right away and that was that Reth was supposed to have no gender and therefore was referred to as “they” or “their”.  It kept confusing me and pulling me out of the story.  I would have to re-read sentences to figure out if “they” was Reth alone or Reth and Jude.  It also didn’t make a lot of sense to me plot wise because initially Reth explains that gender is just for humans but then every other paranormal creature in the story, including another succubus, are all assigned a gender and called “he” or “she”.
The biggest issue though was that I just didn’t feel any connection or love between the two MC’s.  There was a lot of telling me that they loved each other but not a lot of showing.  None of it felt believable to me.  Jude barely batted an eye to find out his boyfriend was dead and his body was now possessed by a demon.
There were a host of great side characters in this and I especially enjoyed the hellhounds.  It’s a cool world that the author has created and I’d like to see this turn into a series so we could see what happens to some of these creatures.
There were parts of this I really liked and then the above mentioned things that didn’t work for me.  Overall I would say it was a good read and I liked it well enough to check out some more works by this author.  If you’re looking for something outside the norm this would be a good pick.
Cover:  I think the cover is great.  I like it a lot and think it is perfect for the story.
 
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Book Details:
Kindle Edition
Published October 10th 2016
ASINB01IWLJ554
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Ali Release Day Review: Raven’s Rest by Stephen Osborne

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

ravens-rest-by-stephen-osborneMichael Cook has left his abusive lover and settled in the small town of Banning, Illinois. Having nowhere else to go, he checks into the Raven’s Rest Inn and soon learns that the haunted reputation of the hotel is well deserved. Michael gets a job at a local café, where he meets Trey Ramsey. Though Michael has misgivings about starting up a new relationship, Trey seems to be the complete opposite of Michael’s controlling ex, so he decides to give Trey a chance.

Life at the Raven’s Rest becomes increasingly frightening when the ghost of Coleman Hollis appears in Michael’s room. Coleman seems to want something from Michael, and the mystery deepens when Michael discovers he’s the spitting image of Coleman’s lover from years ago. Together, Michael and Trey must discover why Coleman’s spirit is drawn to the Raven’s Rest—and to Michael.

I enjoyed this spooky tale that is both mystery and love story.  Two loves stories actually.  As stated in the blurb Michael ends up staying in a hotel that has a reputation for being haunted.  Almost immediately Michael begins seeing things and something that feels like a cold hand brushes his face.  The townspeople all talk about the place being haunted and they also mention the previous owner’s son and his best friend both disappearing within a short time of each other.  As the ghost keeps appearing Michael realizes it’s drawn to him because he looks like one of the missing boys.  When a woman who calls herself the “town witch” gets involved this escalate quickly.
I had never read this author before and this was a good start for me.  I really liked the ghost part of the story and the mystery from the past.  It was a bit creepy but not too scary (even for people easily scared).  I had figured out who the bad guy was early on but that didn’t distract from my enjoyment of the story.  My only reservation was that I felt Michael and Trey fell for each other too quickly.  It was almost immediately and it didn’t really make sense to me considering Michael was days out of an abusive relationship.  I could have skipped the entire part with the ex to be honest.  I would have rather just focused on the ghost story and the two guys getting to know each other.
Overall though, I thought this was a really enjoyable read.  The characters were well done and the plot was very entertaining.  The steamy scenes are mostly off page which is a nice change of pace from many other romance stories.  This is just creepy enough to make this a great read for the Halloween season.
Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska.  I like the cover a lot and I feel like it is both well done and pertinent to the story.
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Book Details:
ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: September 23rd 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634777018 (ISBN13: 9781634777018)
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Ali Release Day Review: David, Renewed by Diana Copland

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5  stars

david-renewed-by-diana-coplandWhen interior designer David Snyder buys a beautiful century-old house in eastern Washington, he is reeling with heartbreak and looking for somewhere to put down roots. Unfortunately his new home comes with a laundry list of problems: electrical, plumbing, heating… things David knows nothing about. When his mother offers him the business card of a local handyman, David pictures an overweight, balding man in his fifties. But Jackson Henry couldn’t be further from that stereotype.

Dark-haired, muscular, and handsome, Jackson left a large construction firm in Seattle to take care of his sick mother. However, his hometown still has an active “good old boy” network, and finding employment in construction is almost impossible for an openly gay man. Determined to persevere, Jackson takes odd jobs as a handyman. He’s exactly what David needs—in more ways than one.

David isn’t ready for his attraction to Jackson, not considering the way his last relationship ended. But as the two men get to know each other, it becomes clear that the heart often knows best, and it rewards those willing to listen.

This was well written story and I liked both of the main characters.  I felt the romance between the two men became serious rather quickly.  It wasn’t quite insta-love but it was close.  Despite the quick emotional connection they weren’t physical until later in the book.  That part was a slow burn.  The relationship between them was sweet and I liked the two of them together.  Despite the drama going on in the story with David’s ex, David and Jackson had no drama or angst between them and came across and mature and reasonable adults.  There are host of side characters and they were all interesting and added to the plot.  It seemed like the author may be setting this up to be a series with Jackson and David’s friends.  That would be a good thing I think.  They were all quite entertaining.
While I enjoyed this I wasn’t wow’d by it.  The plot itself was kind of average and didn’t stand out.  I’ve read similar stories a bunch of times before.  Overall though I would recommend this book.  This isn’t my favorite of this author’s but it’s still a good solid read and the actually writing/story telling is well done.
Cover by Anne Cain:  I like the cover a lot and I think it is really good representation of both of the MC’s and the plot of the story.  It fits the book perfectly.

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Book Details:
ebook, 244 pages
Expected publication: September 21st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781634777285
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Ali Release Day Review: Poison Tongue (Afflicted Souls #1) by Nash Summers

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Poison TongueLevi Bell can see a person’s soul just by looking into their eyes. In Monroe Poirier’s eyes, he sees the devil himself.

When Monroe moves back to the small Southern town of Malcome, Levi is repelled by the darkness of the stranger’s soul. But Levi is cursed to love things dark and wicked, and he’s seduced each time he looks into Monroe’s eyes—and drawn to the swamp behind the old Poirier house.

As strange occurrences begin to happen when shadows and visions visit him in the night, Levi sees a flicker of something good in Monroe’s soul. But the need to submerge himself in the swamp’s murky waters grows stronger as Levi’s desire for Monroe becomes unbearable.

In his struggles to help Monroe save his soul, Levi will have to decide if it’s worth losing his own.

There’s not much I love more than a good gothic romance and this book made me very happy. The author did a great job of setting the atmosphere in this story. There are all the things a good Southern gothic should have.  A creepy, decaying house, an even more creepy swamp, terrible nightmares. a curse, a supernatural presence and a love interest that may be evil himself.
Despite Levi’s struggles with the ever increasing dreams of his own demise he still can’t stay away from Monroe.  Monroe is hated by the entire town and he is bullied and picked on.  Levi doesn’t know much about what happened when Monroe lived there before but he knows that Monroe’s soul is covered in black and that no matter what common sense tells him, he can’t stay away.  He doesn’t know if he’ll be Monroe’s salvation or if Monroe will lead him to his doom.  Most of the time he finds he doesn’t care.
The storytelling and pacing were excellent and I was on the edge of my seat for the entire book.  It wasn’t scary per se but it kept me completely focused.  I loved how well the world building was done.  I felt like I was right there with Levi.  Both Levi and Monroe were unique characters and I liked them both.  I felt Levi’s sense of fear around Monroe at the beginning but soon became intrigued with him myself.  The are three prominent side characters and they held interesting roles. There was a mystery surrounding one of them that I never figured out until it was explained.  The romance aspect is a slow burn with a lovely ending.
This was one of the more unique stories I’ve read this year and I imagine it will end up in my top 10.  I can’t say enough good things about it.  This is a definite recommend from me.

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow:  When I first saw this I thought the cover was a bit too dark.  Then I read the book and I realized it is the perfect cover for this story.

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Book Details:
ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: August 10th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 163477597X (ISBN13: 9781634775977)
Edition LanguageEnglishSeriesAfflicted Souls #1